New Russian Vacuum Tube Synthesizer, Apparatus

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Eternal Engine Electronic Music Instruments shared this video demo of the Apparatus – described as “the first Russian duophonic synthesizer based on vacuum and gas-filled radio tubes.”

The audio path of the instrument is based on vacuum and gas-filled radio tubes, using circuitry solutions that Eternal Engine says are “in the spirit of the first half of the 20th century.”

Features:

  • Kenoton rectifier power supply
  • Audio path based entirely on radio tubes
  • Two independent thyratron oscillators with quartz frequency stabilization, which ensures frequency accuracy throughout the entire operating range
  • Voltage-controlled second order vactrol filter with the possibility of self-oscillation and overdrive
  • Voltage-controlled amplifier, based on the traditional schematic of tube opto compressors
  • Triode asymmetric overdrive
  • Velocity-sensitive ADSR envelope generator with two trigger modes
  • MIDI Clock synchronizable low-frequency oscillator with retrigger option and smooth waveform morphing: saw-triangle-reverse saw in triangle mode or pulse width modulation in square wave mode, sample & hold
  • Auto and continuous modes of portamento / legato
  • Monophonic and duophonic mode
  • Powerful headphone amplifier, compatible with low impedance load
  • Analogue VU meter

Audio Demos:


Pricing and Availability

The Eternal Engine is priced at $1,899 USD. See the Apparatus site for details.

Imagine clubbing, space odyssey-style, with this pandemic-proof suit concept

If you can’t be rid of the pandemic, why not transform the clubber? A speculative project has you suiting up like you’re going to encounter Alien or ask to open the pod bay doors – but its futuristic features are all real and doable, right now.

Micrashell, announced this week, is the work of Production Club, a creative studio who specialize in immersive experiences and have worked with everyone from The Chainsmokers and Skrillex to Amazon. Of course, that also means that like the rest of us in the arts, they’ve also got time on their hands to ponder what to do when there’s no audience.

And the results are wild. This suit doesn’t just protect you from the virus. It also integrates a phone, the ability to vape (yeah, really) or sip on a drink, and reimagines how you might communicate and hear sound. Read on, because that includes the ability to mute people in a way that has to be the coolest made-up notion in sound since Get Smart‘s Cone of Silence.

It’s extreme, but like good speculative work, as you dig in, you find creative ideas that could lead somewhere.

Is it a workable solution to the current situation? Well, no, probably not, given that vital protective equipment isn’t available to front-line health workers. But we’re already seeing strangely science fiction scenarios we wouldn’t have imagined before – and the 1918 pandemic victims certainly wouldn’t have envisioned digital tracking or drone surveillance on one hand, or sophisticated protein sequencing to produce faster vaccines on the other. So there are real ideas to be explored here, and there’s no question the global notion of what you would wear has shifted, just as the pandemic a century ago inspired masks. So it’s worth pulling this apart and understanding why – and how – it could be made.

Mike808 (Miguel Risueño), Head of Innovations, tells us more.

CDM: You’ve done of course some major event production. Can you tell us where you come from that led to this work, and this project?

Miguel: Jaja, thanks! My background is originally in music technology and audiovisual engineering. My current resume on events started by designing the stage for my own DJ show 12 years ago. ^_^ From there, it kept escalating; we started Production Club in 2012 and that’s how I worked with Zhu, Skrillex, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Chainsmokers, Notch (Creator of Minecraft), Intel, Amazon, YouTube Gaming and some other cool cats.

How about this project? Obviously, it’s partly imaginative and speculative, which is great but – was there any consultation of people who could tell you a bit about how to make something like this work?

The idea was born in a brainstorming session where we tried to vomit as many ideas as we could on “how to solve this problem” – [that problem] being, the concert and event industry going to s***. Our background comes from “if it doesn’t exist, then go build it”, so that’s what we are doing.

The design – as you well said – is speculative and imaginative in nature, because that’s pretty much the only way we know to come up with big ideas. Production’s Club mentality is always concept comes first, execution after. So far we have always been able to figure out how to successfully build our ideas, but of course, this is an especially ambitious one. I always remember a quote from the last Miyazaki movie [Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises] that said something like “Inspiration unlocks the future. Technology eventually catches up.” And I feel that perfectly synthesizes our mindset.

We consulted some third parties we believed necessary when designing the suit – this was mainly a doctor, a biologist, a sport scientist, a systems architect, and a fashion designer. The concept design team on the suit itself is also pretty badass and already known for some of our best designs (Sadgas, Juan Civera, Fran Zurita and this cat). Finally, we have a Technical Director in-house who’s main responsibility is to figure out how to build what we design (scenic, lighting, production, automation, spatial, etc.) so all those + a bunch of other Production Club badass members helped to get where we are. [Check Sadgas’ site for more conceptual 3D work from this Spanish designer, including wild suits and designs.]

Oh yeah, there’s a sonic element, too? Sub resonators? Is this something like a more elaborate take on the SubPac (immersive audio system)? Or how does it work?

Yes! There’s a sonic element to this which is one of the most important parts. The SubPac-ish system is cool, but what is most interesting is the audio and music processing. Since the suit can be used in a club with a pre-existing audio system or just on its own we have defined three ways to listen to music.

One way is by using the integrated external mics to feed the internal speakers, kinda like when you go to the bank and talk to the cashier. Another one would be more like a silent disco, where the DJ or FOH [front of house sound] directly streams pure audio to the different Micrashell suits out there.

The final one is kind of a mix of the two — a direct feed from the DJ gets processed using spatial and psychoacoustic rules, so the audio that the user perceives feels more realistic and “club-like” even if the club doesn’t have a PA. At the end of the day, it’s a way of tricking the brain to make everything more real and immersive, as being inside of the suit will isolate you on some level.

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Honestly, this clip is probably more relevant now than when it was made. I’m sure I’m far from the first person to reference it in the context of privacy or personal listening technology.

I saw some other specific sound features, you’re proposing — machine learning analyses of sounds, or a “software system that allows you to control the audio levels of different sources individually”?

The part of this you can’t see is the fact that you can decide to “not listen” to somebody, based on certain rules that you define. It’s similar to privacy settings on a social network but with audio. So, for example, if you are dancing by yourself and don’t want to be bothered, you could create a rule where only your friends or friends of friends can talk to you. The voice signal is digitally controlled so we can do things like that. Of course there are other [use cases], like having different levels and processing paths for different people or music sources.

Have you constructed any of these elements before, in other contexts? Are you building anything now? (Are you also making cloth masks like so many of us?)

Jajaja, didn’t have the time to make the masks myself, although I do love sewing. 

Regarding having built some of these items before… most of the ideas come from stuff that already exists, or that we have built before, or that we are positive that could be built. Creating a suit that could go “straight into production” was one of our main design constraints since day one. Funny enough, we already created a hi-tech suit for Skrillex’s show years ago, although it had nothing to do with this one. ^_^

In the days of audiences, the crew has also produced futuristic environments for stage shows. Look at all those unprotected people, so close together – wow. ZHU – ‘Dune Tour.’ Stage, lighting, and visual design by Production Club.

Had you already thought of partners who might be up for this, or who might be interested in the concept?

Currently, we are working in our own prototype which is based on what we can get done in-house with our 3D printers (Form [from Formlabs] and Prusa), sewing machines, Arduino [hardware prototyping platform], and Unreal Engine [3D/graphics platform].

But this is actually the right step before anything else; otherwise we won’t be able to tell a potential fabricator or partner what’s really needed or where are they f***ing up. >_< Fortunately, a lot of unexpected people and brands have already contacted us, but there’s not much I can say yet besides that.

Lastly, where are you now? How are you spending the lockdown, especially with events off for a while?

We have temporarily closed our design studio in DTLA [downtown Los Angeles] to comply with the social distancing orders. Physical events are cancelled for a while yes but that’s why we are working to bring em back soon! At this very specific moment, I’m blasting Noisia Radio in my home studio, it’s 1 am, and my two cats are fkn around trying to break shit — actually, one is sleeping, as that’s pretty much all he does, I have realized during this quarantine.

And full specs:

PHONE INTEGRATION
• Seamless integration and suit control based on smartphone app
• Connection provided to charge/recharge phones/devices

VOICE COMMUNICATION
• Wireless voice communication system based on physical proximity and orientation
• Privacy driven communication system based on user-defined rules for social interaction.
Options include:
– Everyone can speak to you
– Only certain groups of people (i.e. people in your contact list)
– Specific people you select
• Software system that allows you to control the audio levels of different sources individually (DJ,
ambiance, friend_1, friend_2, … friend_n)
• Voice subsystem that allows you to modify how your voice is presented/streamed to other
users in real time – think like AR filters for audio – for example vocoder, talkbox, octaver, pitch
modulation, etc.
• Internal (voice) and external (ambiance) microphones

SOUND SYSTEM & AUDIO PROCESSING
• Integrated, controllable internal speaker system that allows you to listen to live music in 3
modes:
– Directly streamed from the DJ/band (dry)
– As an emulation of the room’s sound based on psychoacoustics (wet)
– As a passthrough from the room thanks to the suit’s embedded microphon
• Contact bass speaker cones integrated in the back area to transmit low frequencies under
150hz by direct contact with the user’s body

BASIC NEEDS & SUIT HANDLING
• “Top only” suit design allows the user to wear their normal clothes, use the toilet and engage in
intercourse without being exposed to respiratory risks
• Hand latch system to facilitate dressing and undressing the suit

FASHION ACCESSORIES & ADD-ONS
• Accessible NFC pouch
• Strap system allowing expandable garment to fit people of different sizes
• Quick attachment features across the pouch and suit allowing for add-ons and fashion
customization (i.e. patches, velcro, magnets, hooks)

SUPPLY SYSTEM
• Supply system based on partially disposable canisters allows users to vape and/or drink safely
from your suit. Drink can be alcoholic, non-alcoholic or a liquid meal replacement
• Snap system based on magnets and differentiated plug-in shape makes it easy to plug your
canister in the proper slot
• Remaining amount of drink and vape monitored through canister embedded RGB light and
smartphone app
• This system removes the possibility of being roofied as the drink remains enclosed
inside of a custom canister and not exposed to external agents once the user starts
drinking
• This system allows for pre-made drinks so long lines at the bar could be mitigated or
fully eliminated
• Supply nozzles are controlled from smartphone app and have 4 modes each: clean, fully
deployed, fully retracted and scratch mode (doubles as a stick to allow to reach different
parts of the face)

LIGHTING
User customized monitoring and emotion broadcast lighting system comprised of
several groups of screens and addressable RGBWA SMD LEDs to serve as indicators of
the user’s mood, needs, warnings, messages, desires and more. For example, a rainbow
lighting chase effect across your suit can express joy, while a static red light could
express “busy” or a “green” slowly intermittent shimmering light could express “idle” or
“resting” state

CAMERA
Pan + tilt camera system with RGB LED monitoring has three main functionalities:
– “Camera app” function as an added extra POV camera that connects with your phone to
take snaps and videos
– Proactive computer vision safety recording based on AI analysis of external agents can
be set up to record based on the system’s perceived level of threat or just “trigger
word” that records remotely based on cloud platform
– “Chest eye” system that allows you to see in realtime things that your suit or helmet
subsystems might be occluding

Khruangbin share lead single from forthcoming studio album, ‘Mordechai’ [Stream]

Khruangbin share lead single from forthcoming studio album, ‘Mordechai’ [Stream]Khruangbin ByMaryKang2

Khruangbin has announced their new studio album Mordechai, out June 26 via Dead Oceans and Night Time Stories. Marking the Texas trio’s fourth LP release and third full-length of brand new material, Mordechai eagerly anticipates prominent vocals from the heavily instrumental-centric band on its entire track list. Derived from the Thai word for “airplane,” Khruangbin has captured the scene with their unconventional sound and eclectically-influenced tracks—their mix of funkadelic, dub, soul, and global tastes mystifyingly difficult to pinpoint down to a label.

The psychedelic three-piece band also unveiled lead single “Time (You and I)” and its quirkily heartwarming video treatment. The new song features comedians Stephen K. Amos and Lunga Anele-Skosana as they groove out and plant sand castles around rainy London. With bassist Laura Lee’s vocals highlighting the disco-infused number and its rhythmic pulses, “Time (You and I) is a shiny precursor to Mordechai.

Featured Image: Mary Kang

Skrillex, Tame Impala, Four Tet, Jonah Hill, and more locked in for Remote Utopias charity livestream event

Skrillex, Tame Impala, Four Tet, Jonah Hill, and more locked in for Remote Utopias charity livestream eventSkrille New Press Pic Credit

The volume of digital events that has cropped up since the global lockdowns began has been remarkable. Stacked virtual lineups that could easily challenge most major festival lineups have become the norm, and now NTS Radio is throwing their hat in the ring with Remote Utopias, benefitting The Global Foodbanking Network. The internet radio brand has rounded up a stellar lineup of performers and contributors including Skrillex, Kelsey Lu, Four Tet, Tame Impala, Erykah Badu, and many more.

Remote Utopias kicks off a 24-hour run on NTS.Live starting Saturday, May 2 at 8:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m. PDT / 1:45 a.m BST on May 3). The event will feature more than just streaming DJ sets too—Erykah Badu will be hosting a guided meditation session, along with poetry and photography showcases, and more. Jonah Hill, JPEGMAFIA, Zack Fox, Bicep, and more are all locked in as well, making Remote Utopias one of the most diverse digital lineups to surface yet. See the full lineup below.

Skrillex, Tame Impala, Four Tet, Jonah Hill, and more locked in for Remote Utopias charity livestream eventRemote Utopias

Bandcamp will waive its revenue fee on first Friday of next three months

Bandcamp has announced that it will waive its revenue share on the first Friday of every month for the next three months. 

For 24 hours each month from May to July, 100% of spending on music and merch on the platform will go directly to artists and labels. Last week, following the success of March’s 24-hour fee-free day, which saw $4.3 million being spent on music and merch, Bandcamp revealed that it would do the same this Friday, 1st May. 

Yesterday, 27th April, it was revealed that as well as on 1st May, fee-free days would also take place on 5th June and 3rd July. 

“Musicians will continue to feel the effects of lost touring income for many months to come,” Bandcamp co-founder Ethan Diamond wrote in an official statement. “So we’re also sharing some ideas below on how fans can support the artists they love and how artists can give fans new, creative ways to provide support.”

As a show of solidarity to support the artists and labels impacted through the pandemic, we have launched a weekly roundup of the most vital Bandcamp releases. Check out the most recent one here. Have a dig, and add some stuff to your wishlist to buy on the fee-free days.

We’ve also been inviting artists to share recent additions to their Bandcamp collections in our new feature series, Selections.  

Read our feature about the rise and rise of Bandcamp, one of the most vital platforms for independent music, here.

 

Saudia Arabia purchases $500 million stake in Live Nation

Saudia Arabia purchases $500 million stake in Live NationEdclv 1

The Saudi Arabian government’s sovereign wealth fund has recently purchased approximately $500 million worth of stock from Live Nation, representing a 5.7 percent ownership of the company’s shares. The purchase was disclosed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund earlier this week, which amounts to an investment of 12,337,569 shares into the company and now marks the Saudi governemtn as Live Nation’s third-largest shareholder.

Shortly after the purchase was announced to the public, Live Nation’s stock prices rose with a 2 percent increase as trading opened earlier this week. The company’s share prices dropped by approximately 40 percent since January 1st, due largely to the ongoing spread of coronavirus, which has left a crippling impact on the ticketing and events company. Among the recent wave of cancelled and postponed shows, Live Nation has released their refund plan which offers ticket holders the option to receive a full refund for their purchase or a 150 percent credit to purchasing future tickets through the platform.

H/T: The Hollywood Reporter

Facebook announces addition of pay-to-watch streams coming soon

Facebook announces addition of pay-to-watch streams coming soonStreaming Feature Image

While live music fans have been lamenting the cancellations of festivals and venues, we’ve been treated to an onslaught of free live streamed performances. However, as the closures continue on, possibly even into 2021, we may be trending towards the end of free live streams.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced they will be adding “the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook – anything from online performances to classes to professional conferences.” This detail came buried in a post highlighting Facebook’s changes attempting to make communication while social distancing easier.

Facebook is the first of the major streaming platforms to experiment with an optional pay-to-watch feature on live streams. The update will certainly prove to help artists financially struggling through lockdowns, but could also prove to frustrate music fans who have become accustomed to free streams. As of now, no artists or festivals have announced plans to move to the payment system.

Idris Elba’s struggling DJ sitcom ‘Turn Up Charlie’ cancelled after one season

Idris Elba’s struggling DJ sitcom ‘Turn Up Charlie’ cancelled after one seasonTUC 101 Unit 00468 RCW

Every DJ knows it—they can’t all be smash hits.

Idris Elba‘s Netflix venture, Turn Up Charlie, appears to be a one-and-done. The sitcom, which Elba create and stars in, follows the story of a struggling DJ who reluctantly tries his hand at being a nanny. The first season, which landed in March of 2019, was met by mix reviews from critics, holding down a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 53 percent.

Despite the lukewarm reaction to the show’s pilot season, Elba was reportedly already working on ideas for season two, though Netflix and the UK electronic veteran “didn’t see eye to eye on [the project].” Despite the end of Turn Up Charlie, Elba has kept busy as of late, most recently turning in a new release on mau5trap and a slot on Lady Gaga’s global COVID-19 benefit.

H/T: NME