This vaporwave synth was made with a VHS tape deck – and it’s surprisingly deep

In these trying times… well, we definitely need to hear rare 80s synths with some friendly, fuzzy VHS deck warble, right? Wish granted!

This saga starts with SampleScience’s Vaporwaves, which was a grab-bag rompler/multi-sampled instrument full of 80s sounds – FM mallets, glass pianos, Rhodes, onboard VHS effects. And yes, of course it also came with a triangle and a classical statue and some pink and purple vaporwave graphics.

But Vaporwaves 2 is really more than a sequel. This entire multi-sampled instrument focuses on one fairly obscure 80s FM synth. (I actually now know what it is, because I bugged Pierre until he told me. But I’m sworn to secrecy.)

$30, Mac + Windows.

There are 45 FM sounds recorded into there, with a full 1.04GB of sound. And whereas this could have just been a sample player with an amplitude envelope, call it a day, there’s more. So you get a preamp processor, multiple voice modes, multiple filter modes, and an LFO with both configurable target and source.

I’ve been playing around with it, and it’s really beautiful. So in addition to being able to get wonderfully retro sounds, I already can imagine it being bent into some other ambient and experimental contexts. Sometimes you just need a simple instrument for some added inspiration – and since we can’t get to flea markets for the moment, this downloadable instant gratification can fill in.


This being CDM, of course we need to know more. And – oh God, I’ve used this VCR. (It’s rare now? I hope I didn’t miss my chance.)

Pierre explains:

The VCR I used is the Panasonic PV-S4670, it’s an S-VHS compatible VCR which is rare. The sounds have been recorded on very bad tapes though because I wasn’t getting the effect I wanted with good tapes. I remember that in the 90s broke musicians were using VHS as a way to get “high” quality recordings for cheap. With good tapes and recording in SP mode, the sound is actually quite good.

For Vaporwaves 2, I artificially degraded the tapes by putting them in the freezer. I took the idea from Brian Grainger, a dub techno/idm artist mostly known for his work as Milieu/Coppice Halifax. In his case, he would burry his tapes in his yard for a day to see what would happen. I really like the sound he got by using this technique.

We have some behind-the-scenes photos, taken on a suitably grungy 2000s-era digital camera.

Also, LaserDisc. Courtesy the developer. Someday, maybe you’ll get near such fine studio sound equipment.
Memories, like the corners of my … closet.

The freezer trick was never necessary before; we were able to just keep re-taping Fraggle Rock and Doctor Who over tapes again and again, so I’m glad to know this new technique.

Features list:

  • 45 FM synth sounds recorded on VHS
  • 1.04 GB of sounds
  • Multi-LFO
  • Lowpass/Highpass filter
  • Multi-voice mode and glide control
  • Amplitude range controls
  • Preamp
  • Available as a VST/VST3/AU plugin for Windows and macOS (High Sierra and Mojave, Catalina via the Maize Sampler Player)

Oh yeah, and for more inspiration – Brian Grainger has a YouTube channel. I don’t know how I missed that.

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Vaporwaves 2 Plug-in

Premiere: Timo Maas – Die Schraube (Anja Schneider Remix)

Premiere: Timo Maas – Die Schraube (Anja Schneider Remix)Anja Schneider Electric Island Credit Wes C

Esteemed talent Timo Maas has made his way back into the Music is 4 Lovers fold with a tasty three-piece EP he’s dubbed Karma Clash. Among the EP’s equally legendary remixers, we’ve got the pleasure of premiering Anja Schneider’s take on the middle track, “Die Schraube.” She transforms the original, a sultry, acid-tinged composition, into a peaktime-ready rumble by heightened bass and added compression. Driving percussion beneath ties it altogether, serving as an equally pleasurable counterpart to the off-kilter synth bits from Timo that are left in. Her rendition has already received big support in the form of John Digweed, who gave the piece a spin during a recent Bunker Session.

Through lockdown, Anja’s been keeping busy curating new episodes of her Club Room podcast while working on new music in the studio. Timo Maas has been keeping a similar routine.

Featured Image: Wes C

Daft Punk’s film score for Dario Argento might not be happening after all

Daft Punk may not be scoring the new film from Dario Argento after all. 

A statement shared by the producers of the Italian directors new film, Occhiali Neri (Black Glasses), clarifies that no official agreement has been made for Daft Punk to produce its score.

The statement comes in the wake of comments made by the Suspiria (1977) and Inferno filmmaker in a recent interview with Italian publication, La Republica. In the interview, Argento is quoted as having said that Daft Punk had reached out to him to express their admiration for his work, and to ask to collaborate with him on a score. “They heard from French friends that I was shooting a new film and called me [to say], ‘We want to work with you’”, he said, according to a translation if the interview in The Film Stage, adding that the duo considered his new script to be one of his “most interesting”.

Further comments from Argento suggested that Daft Punk were set to send him new music soon, and would be meeting him in Rome once coronavirus-related lockdown measures were relaxed. 

However, despite widespread reports that Daft Punk were confirmed to score Occhiali Neri (Black Glasses), producers Conchita Airoldi at Urania Pictures and Brahim Chioua at Getaway Pictures have now tempered our excitement by saying that Argento’s comments reflected a “desire” to work with Daft Punk, rather than confirmation.. 

The statement reads: “Urania Pictures and Getaway Films, producers of Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses, wish to react to the rumours currently circulating, following an interview in La Repubblica in which Argento stated that Daft Punk were to compose the soundtrack of his new movie.

“This statement reflects Argento’s desire to work with Daft Punk, however there has been no agreement nor discussions between both parties. The movie is currently in pre-production, and Dario’s wish is not on today’s agenda.”

If the score were to come to be, it would mark Daft Punk’s first collection of music since 2013’s Random Access Memories, which went on to be the best-selling dance music vinyl LP of the last decade, with ‘Get Lucky’ being named the fourth most listened to song of the decade. 

Arturia’s stay home plan: software 50% off and free, tons of tutorials

Sure, we’re inundated with stay-at-home music messages at the moment. But Arturia has one of the biggest menus of offerings – and crucially, they also teach us how to use their stuff. That’s worth an extra check-in.

Software deals

First, the deals –

Free: As I’ve mentioned before, iSpark is free on iPad and a nice little drum machine through April 30 – that’s Thursday, so act quick. Pigments (desktop plug-in) is an all-in-one synth with an unlimited trial through July, and Analog Lab is free in the same time period, for preset access and basic controls from the V Collection.

SYNTH ANATOMY has done an iSpark tutorial for you iPad users:

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Pigments I think CDM readers will especially like, in that you get FM, wavetable, sampling, and virtual analog in a single instrument. There are a handful of plug-ins gunning for that territory at the moment, but it does have its own unique spin on the all-in-one notion, and all of the ingredients of Arturia’s software stable. You could do a lot of damage with it between now and July – and if you really decide you like it before May 7, it’s 50% off now.

50% off: There’s 50% off any individual software, effect, or sound pack lasts through May 7, so you’ve got about a week left:

Now, you might actually want to pass on these deals in certain circumstances, just because Arturia’s bundle pricing is so aggressive.

I’ve been using a lot of this stuff myself, so my own humble opinions (to take as you will):

On the synth side: V Collection 7 (that’s v the letter, as in virtual, so “vee collection seven”) will run you 499EUR but split payments are available, and you get 24 instruments. That’s a lab-sized museum full of instrument models.

If you wanted to focus on one historical synth model, I’d pay particular attention to the Buchla Easel V or the [Moog-inspired] Modular V. Either of those at 74EUR is a deep instrument and a solid investment. I’m also personally partial to the newer Synthi V and CZ V – especially that last one, as Casio’s synth history hasn’t gotten near enough love in general, and the modulation and effects options Arturia added make it a deep workstation.

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Buchla’s Music Easel gets a powerful software recreation, now on sale.

On the effect side: The effect bundle is now pretty irresistible at 399EUR – I’ve been using it the last weeks, and it’s probably one of the best effects deals on the market, even when compared to subscription offerings. Happily this is no longer divided into the “XX You’ll Actually Use” line-ups, but rather one reasonable bundle that gives you anything.

That said, for 49EUR each, a little focus is not a bad thing, creatively or budget-wise. Any one of the filters offers some sequencing options, so it’s down to which flavor you like. Compressors, delays, too, are really a matter of preference in color and interface.

And reverb – well, I think a plate reverb is pretty indispensable, so out of this whole 50% sale, the Rev PLATE-140 is pretty much a must-buy if you don’t have an EMT in your collection. It’s impressed a few friends here who have some other recreations. And including this vintage plate in your arsenal is just one of those things – it can be hugely useful both for really short delay times and light application all the way up to cavernous, wet, long delays.

If you do have a go-to EMT, the next-best must-by may be Arturia’s unique Rev INTENSITY. The combination of a digital reverb with envelope follower, filter, and sequencing and modulation is something really special.

Rev INTENSITY is a different kind of reverb – a multi-effects reverb-based sound processor and instrument, effectively.

All of these have big skeuomorphic interfaces, which I know not everyone loves. But they increasingly do provide some useful visual feedback – especially on the INTENSITY, which uses that real estate with some purpose.


Okay, deals are one thing – but the main thing is, now is a great time to actually learn to use the stuff. Skill development is a good place to turn even on days when you might not feel as creatively inspired. (Plus, a couple hours in “school” mode, and if you’re the kind of person who doodled on the side of your homework, you may find that creativity returning!)

Arturia have been both hosting live workshops and posting tutorials. You’ll find all of that on their page, too, but I want to draw particular attention to a few items.

Tomorrow Thursday at 6PM Central European Time (that’s noon east coast USA, 9am west coast), you get a run-down of the DrumBrute Impact. That instrument has a really unique sound and tons of playable features, but a stupidly low price. Since it isn’t a clone of something else, you get something different in your tracks. And its user interface is from our generation, rather than the 1980s. Bryan at Arturia will show it off; I’ll be in my studio with mine tuning in to see what he demonstrates:

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The Pigments workshop is also don’t-miss since the software is free through mid-summer. Or, well, I missed it, but – time delay, it’s a thing.

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There’s a playlist of more tutorials, too:

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The MicroFreak is one of the more interesting instruments on the market at the moment, packing a ton of sound and functionality into a small, economical package. So you’ll want to check in on this sound design tutorial:

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(You might well find some even better deals on a MiniBrute, so there’s a tutorial on that, too.)

I am right now figuring out what to do with the KeyStep Pro that just arrived, but it offers a lot of power for us keyboardists – especially having waited for this functionality to migrate over from the BeatStep Pro to something with actual keys on it. There are a few short tutorial/demos on that, as well, which gets especially interesting for performance.

But wait – there are no audiences! Well, “performance” is just as relevant when jamming in the studio and improvising in tracks, even if I leave out that whole “streaming” thing.

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Lastly, if you make stuff with any of these tools, or learn some specific techniques, we’d love to hear about it.

Hey manufacturers / users – I know a lot of you are doing this, too, especially while we’re all avoiding going out. So if you’re a gearmaker and want to make sure CDMers don’t miss your stuff, do get in touch. And users, if there’s anything you’re keen to see, let us know that, as well.

Kali Uchis delivers new EP ‘TO FEEL ALIVE’

Alternative singer Kali Uchis has dropped her new EP TO FEEL ALIVE. The short and sweet project is only 10 minutes long, but just enough to keep listeners satisfied. She has had a few obstacles in the way of dropping her sophomore album and with everything up in the air due to the pandemic, TO FEEL ALIVE is here to help us hold out just a bit longer. 

This release is an airy 4-track cut that works through all the feels that make you feel alive. Inspired by mellow sounds and instrumentation from her prior release, TO FEEL ALIVE is laid back and bluesy. Opening up with “honey baby (SPOILED)”, Uchis’ vocals float in and out of natural soundscapes. The opening track slowly transitions into slow-burning melodies on “Angel” and throughout the rest of the project. Blending components of hip-hop and futuristic sounds, TO FEEL ALIVE is cohesive and filled with smooth composition. Wrapping up the four tracks with the self-titled track, Uchis breathlessly leaves everything on the track.  She doesn’t hold back as she unravels over a love gone sour. While may not be the album we are impatiently waiting for, there are definitely some sleepers on this EP.

The new 2020 release is her latest drop since her debut album Isolation back in 2018. Kali has still been in the lab, delivering features to Kaytranada, Tyler the Creator, and many more. There’s no telling when the next album will come but in the meantime, check out her EP up top. 

Connect with Kali Uchis Spotify | Instagram | Twitter

Berlin club [ipsə] severely damaged following arson attack

Berlin club [ipsə] has been severely damaged following an arson attack in the early hours of Monday morning, 27th April.

Emergency services arrived at the club shortly after 5 AM on Monday. According to a tweet from the Berlin Fire Brigade, the fire filled the 400 square metre interior of the venue. One firefighter was injured while tackling the blaze and was taken to hospital. As Der Tagesspiegel reports, the blaze was brought under control by 1 30 PM. 

A statement shared by [ipsə] confirmed that the blaze had been caused by arson, and that it had led to the “complete destruction of the entire indoor area and parts of the outdoor area” of the club.

“Standing in the ruins of what dozens of people put years of energy and passion into is almost excruciating – and it is unbearable to imagine that this happened purposefully,” the club’s statement reads. 

It goes on to explain that, given the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, “insurance companies won’t compensate the damage to our entire inventory, including the technical equipment”. 

Read [ipsə]’s full statement below. 

A donation page has been set up to help [ipsə] pay for damages and rebuild. You can donate here

Photo credit: Rob VonHier

Kevin Parker reveals he lied to his first label about Tame Impala being a band

Kevin Parker reveals he lied to his first label about Tame Impala being a band58383307 10156197109580777 1465249451902763008 O

In a new exclusive interview with Rick Rubin, Kevin Parker shares that he “outright lied” to his first record label that Tame Impala was a band. The Perth-originated multi-instrumentalist appeared on the Rubin’s Broken Record podcast on April 28, opening up about early influences as well as the creative process behind his latest album The Slow Rush.

Parker’s psychedelic brainchild Tame Impala has frequently been mistaken as a band despite being the Perth-originated act’s solo endeavor. The multi-instrumentalist admitted that he chose the moniker Tame Impala to give the impression that there were multiple members.

“In fact, the record label when they signed us didn’t even know it was me that was playing drums and guitars and bass and multi-tracking,” reveals Parker.

The Currents creator also contextualized his initial decision to work on Tame Impala under the guise of a band and his later choice to share the truth. Listen to the exchange around the 16-minute mark.

“I outright lied to them when we met up. The contract that we signed was for three of us. I didn’t want to say it was just me, for a number of reasons. Number one, I was kind of shy. Looking back, it’s like, why the fuck didn’t you just own it?”

Parker’s roots in the Perth music scene also played a part in his hesitation to fully display his solo project, due to the collaborative aspect of the tight-knit community—felt through its inclination towards forming bands and playing gigs together. In the episode, he speaks to the difficulty to converge his individual musicality with his communal work.

“I didn’t know how to translate what I was doing at home and expressing on my own. Because that music was sensitive – I guess is the word – and nuanced, and genreless. But the music I was making in bands was what we listened to as a group – angsty, heavy kind of stuff.”

Listen to the full episode below.


Amoeba Music closes iconic Hollywood location in wake of COVID-19

Amoeba Music closes iconic Hollywood location in wake of COVID-19Amoeba

Shortly after launching a GoFundMe campaign in a bid to lessen the financial distress induced by the coronavirus pandemic, Amoeba Music has announced that its iconic original site in Hollywood will shutter for good. Amoeba Music has occupied the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga since 2001, and in the 19 years that have ensued, the record store swiftly became a cultural landmark in the local community that attracted starlets like Lana Del Rey and casual vinyl perusers alike. A press statement from the shop reads,

“The massive impact from the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of our iconic Hollywood location at 6400 Sunset Blvd. With no reasonably foreseeable opportunity to re-open in our current location, we are instead focusing on hopefully opening in the fall in our previously announced new home at 6200 Hollywood Blvd.

This situation has been forced on all of us, and we feel this decision is the most responsible and practical one.”

Although Amoeba’s central location is closing, Amoeba Music nevertheless will move forward with its plans to open a new location in Los Angeles, with construction on the new store slated to begin “within the next few weeks,” according to Amoeba co-owner, Jim Henderson.

Amoeba Music initially shared details about its move to 6200 Hollywood Boulevard in February. At the time, the vinyl purveyor indicated that the alternative location would likely open in the fall of 2020. Amoeba Music had originally obtained permission to remain at 6400 Sunset Boulevard until the move to 6200.

“There are so many unknowns and uncertainties for a business like ours. The only thing we do know for certain is that we want to survive. We want to be there for our amazing customers and our incredible staff long after this pandemic disappears. The only way we can keep Amoeba Hollywood alive in the long run is to make this difficult decision now.”

In a newly disseminated statement about the store closure, Amoeba Music confirmed that it will continue to work towards a fall opening at its new location. The 6200 Hollywood Boulevard address will join Amoeba’s two other stores, located in Berkeley and San Francisco, respectively.

Featured image: Grant Henderson/Alamy Stock Photo