In his latest video, synth guru Chris Calcutt (-Calc-) shares a trick for getting interesting stereo field effects with the Novation Summit.
By taking advantage of the Summit’s Aux outputs, you use the two synth engines to create interesting binaural effects.
Here’s what he has to say about it:
“Figured I’d make a video about a little Summit “Hack” I’ve been using for a while now. Summit can be an absolutely KICK ASS stereo instrument with very powerful stereo behavior.
Just use the same preset on parts A and B in a Bi-timbral Multi, and then use the two sets of outputs. Take Part A to the left side and Part B to the right side of your mixer and hey presto…. Stereo power at your fingertips.
With Part A and B’s oscillators independently generated you can get some great oscillators out of phase stereo stuff going on then you can process the left and right channel either together or independently from the two synth engines if you like.”
Calvin Harris has revealed he is working with The Weeknd.
The Scottish DJ and producer, who has been releasing under his Love Regenerator alias frequently in 2020, has shared a clip of a new track alongside Canadian singer/songwriter, The Weeknd.
The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, recently performed a concert on Tik Tok, where he played an unreleased song that had fans in the comments searching for an ID. Now, a clip from Harris in the studio has revealed the name of the track to be ‘Out Now’, and is rumoured to be included on his forthcoming, sixth studio album.
Check out the clip from Calvin Harris’ Instagram below.
After announcing his new album earlier this week, London rapper Dizzee Rascal has dropped new track ‘L.L.L.L (Love Life Live Large)’ ahead of the full album release in October this year.
The song, which features Chip, was premiered alongside a brand new video on GRM Daily yesterday (20th). He also shared the track list for the forthcoming ‘E3 AF’ album, with names like D Double E, Smoke Boys and Steel Banglez serving as some of the collaborators.
Dizzee Rascal released his first album, ‘Boy In da Corner’, in 2003. He won the 2003 Mercury Prize for his debut, and follow up albums including ‘Showtime’ and ‘Maths + English’ were certified platinum records. He has charted five UK number-one hits, including his collaborative track ‘Dance wiv Me’ alongside Scottish DJ/producer, Calvin Harris.
You can check out the new track below, and pre-order the album ‘E3 AF’, which is out on October 9th, here.
Our friend Andreas Roman, hailing from Sweden, that storied landof music machines, is back with another of his deep-dive reviews. Next up: Synthstrom Deluge.
And yes, again rather than rush a review of a new toy with the very first version of its firmware, Andreas takes the time over the long haul working with the instrument the way we do as musicians.
Let’s start with a track from Andreas first, made entirely on the device: “this one really pushes the Deluge as far as polyphony, synth engine, and [production] goes. Samples are field recorded straight into the Deluge from the river where I live.”
That was the first track I ever heard from Scott Hansen, known as Tycho, from his debut album Past is Prologue. I heard it on a good year, the kind with festivals and blue skies. My friends were always around and every house had a party in its kitchen.
That was some time ago, but those images return to me when I sit down and play the Deluge, perhaps because the tones from this remarkable instrument remind me so much of Tycho’s work. It takes me to a place where the rain was always warm and the sun would never set.
The origin story
The Synthstrom Audible Deluge begins with Rohan Hill in New Zealand. Hill is an accomplished musician with a solid education in technology. He used his mix of skills and passion to build hardware for his own musical projects, and from this tinkering emerged the idea that eventually led to the Deluge. Hill’s original ambition was to build a few units and sell them to friends, but when Ian Jorgensen came on board in 2015, the concept grew into the possibility for a business. Jorgensen’s experience as a music publisher and events organizer helped shape the plan and in 2017, Synthstrom launched their debut product.
The Deluge embodied Rohan Hill’s ideas about music workflow. But it was also a response to a long-running lament across the world of electronic music – that making and performing music with computers wasn’t as satisfying as it had promised to be. For full-on productions in a single piece of hardware, you’ve got few options – keyboard workstations, legacy behemoths from Roland and Yamaha, and more modern boxes constrained in functionality. That’s not to knock the Octatracks or Electribes, but there was room for a new approach.
So the message was clear – to all you musicians wanting to fully unchain yourself from a computer, the Deluge creators hear you.
Bring me everything
Okay, so what is the Deluge and what can it do? Actually, what can’t it do? It’s a complete production environment. I won’t call it a groove box, cause I’d be selling it short if I did. If I listed every feature in detail, you’d start the search of what’s missing and of course, you’d find something and you’d go, “Hey, it doesn’t really do everything after all.”
But really, as far as sitting down and writing a track, create an album or build a show, all the tools you need are here. Synths. Sequencers. Samplers. Drum tracks. Recording. Looping. Audio streaming. Mixing. Mastering. Performance. You can approach it as a singular environment away from the computer. Or it’s great in context, too, with modular and midi gear, external processing and whatnot. It doesn’t have to play on its own. It’s just pretty damn great when it does.
A grid without limitations
With an instrument so rich and deep, it’s more about how you work with the Deluge and less about its options. It has an eight-by-sixteen grid that looks a bit like monome’s original controller, but above hovers a control panel with buttons and knobs that do (a lot of) different things, depending on context. I suppose you could say that you write and structure your music on the grid, and you shape your sounds and mix with the panel. If the grid is your sheet, the panel is your tool to conduct the music on that sheet.
It’s a somewhat abstract workflow, despite the fact that the views are familiar. There’s a piano roll for synths and MIDI output and you got x0x-step style for drums and samples, though you can throw in synths in the x0x-view and apply sampled sounds in the piano roll interface. Each button-push is a binary affair – just operate the grid buttons and sounds will play. It’s so familiar that the first adjustment is just to the freedom of the grid. We’re now all used to the more traditional sixteen push buttons lined up in a single row. Here, you move across the grid to access more sequence steps and it doesn’t stop at 64 or 128 or 256 or whatever else silly number we’re usually limited to by sequencers – it stops whenever you say it stops. I get to choose the length of my sequence? Me? Petit mois? Get out of here.
This is the way Synthstrom approaches almost everything. Those limits you’re used to, many of them don’t apply here. The Deluge defines its own rules on how to write a song on an electronic instrument. It’s a full circle where the traditional meets the future and they get along just great.
Synths and samplers
The Deluge isn’t necessarily going to replace your favorite synth. But its onboard synths are not to be dismissed, either. Like any instrument worth its salt, the Deluge has character and if you appreciate that, it sounds bloody great.
Granted, the onboard synth presets, ranging from SH-101 bass patches to Daft Punk leads, reach varying degrees of success. Envelopes are a bit limited, but the filters are great, especially the Drive filter. You can get low-pass and high-pass filters running in parallel to add flavor or just trim the frequencies.
And the Deluge truly excels at long, sweeping pads, evolving leads and deep, subtle bass. This is what brings me back to that summer, those sustained tails and dripping delays – that grain and dust behind the chords, and the soft but present bass that carries it all. Scott Hansen would be pleased. Modulation lets you go still deeper; Deluge has plenty of sources and destinations to route your sound design from here to strange but cool places.
As far as the sampler goes, it doesn’t have the atmospheric presets of the Elektrons, or anything to add dirt/grunge like a vintage SP box. But I kind of like it that way, because with a neutral sound, I can add my own color through a Chase Bliss pedal or two, resample the results back into the Deluge and take it from there. Naturally, the Deluge streams audio, so if you have a five-hour improvisation going with your pedalboard, you can just hit record, limited only by your SD card size (and maybe your sanity). One New Zealander can make this work, even as Akai and Pioneer for unknown reasons can’t. Audio recording can be used for real-time looping as well, with a few clever automation moves akin to tapping your feet on a pedal to add layer upon layer.
There’s an onboard microphone, which I at first dismissed with a nonchalant wave. But as I was carrying the Deluge with me in my backpack, like one tends to do when one is out and about (to shop for groceries), I stopped by the river, sat down and recorded some water ambience straight into a sample kit and applied it in a song. Turns out, the microphone’s great for capturing textures and environmental sounds.
Onboard mixing has volume, panning, and a simple but efficient two-band EQ – on each track and on the master. There’s the odd omission of a master compressor, and I say odd because the Deluge has so much else covered, it’s an interesting choice to leave out such a fundamental part – especially as the output truly benefits from some light compression. There is a side chain compression effect present, though, which gives you the classic pump. You also get reverb and delay plus chorus, phaser, saturation and so on.
The more gritty effects struggle tend to destroy the sound rather than enhance it, and this is perhaps where the Deluge is at its weakest. Work them too hard, and the overall image tends to get a bit over-processed. Elektron’s distortion effects are more flexible. But you can still use streaming and resampling to add your own outboard effects.
Also, these mixing parameters and a few others are accessible from the song view, which essentially makes it your interface for live performance – complete with DJ filter sweeps and EQ thumps, stu-stu-stutters and delay tails, reverb showers and mute-unmutes.
Even if you’ve been on grids before, be it a Launchpad or a Medusa, you are only partially prepared for what it’s like to work with the Deluge. The idea to embrace is that you don’t need to follow a specific process to get stuff done. Shortcuts and quick commands allow you to leap between views as ideas strike, reaching out to edit almost anything from anywhere.
Writing music on the Deluge is an organic affair, not a linear one. You can batch clips into sections and then construct songs from them. The hierarchy is not there to string you along. It helps you focus on what’s important, and give you the option to follow a hunch when it wants to take you somewhere. Once you’ve learned to move between the views, you’ll find it’s not just a convenience, it’s a great way to work with music.
For me, as a piano player, I’m finding that when I’m fluent with the Deluge, I’m not programming it. I’m playing it, no matter if I’m designing a sound, building a loop or patching together a song. It’s also worth connecting a controller, since the Deluge responds to both velocity and aftertouch.
The Deluge has grown at an amazing rate since its launch. After three years, the firmware is now on 3.x, with a huge amount of functionality to explore. Polyrhythms? Yep. Different time signatures? Sure. Does it talk CV? You bet. How’s it with MIDI? Super. Battery-powered? The rechargeable kind. Multi-sampling? Ja. Does it look cool? I certainly think so. It even cues up your projects as you load them, allowing seamless transitions from one set to another, no glitch or anything, and that combined with audio streaming, virtually removes any limits for set lengths or similar bodies of work. So you can work on your symphony in the morning, get into your jingle and commercial stuff during the daytime hours, throw in your stems as the evening comes, and DJ the night away, all with just the Deluge.
And that’s the point. This instrument takes a holistic view of music production. You can start with one note and finish with an album without ever moving from this one box. For some, that idea sounds great in theory but just gets confusing when you have to learn a new device. For others, it’ll be a blessing and they’ll shed tears of joy that someone finally went ahead and built this thing. But no one can argue that it’s anything but a marvel, the kind of genius design that could only be spawned from a singular vision where development grows from skill and inspiration rather than design-by-committee.
That this comes from a small, boutique maker doesn’t mean you compromise. Customer service, presentation, build quality, design, the manual – everything about Synthstrom is alpha level, challenging the competition not only in design and implementation but by taking the business side of it seriously. It’s a gem that glitters from all angles. If you’re serious about hardware, this could be the one.
Ed.: Obviously the other device that had a similar set of goals – albeit with its own workflow – was the planned dadamachines composer pro. We saw that in early prototype form at last year’s Superbooth, but it seems not to have made it to production.If the developers revisit the idea, we’ll obviously take a look.
The sonic path to Joachim Pastor‘s debut LP is paved with sensory-appealing soundscapes that make use of supple melodies and taut rhythms to propel listeners closer to his inaugural longform production. Pastor commenced the album rollout with June’s “Sol Invictus,” and continues to envelop his following with the cycle’s sophomore single, “Right Now.”
Providing plush support for afterglow revelry, “Right Now” instructs a soothing clinic in downtempo tones and an understated framework that, despite its minimalism, does not comprise when it comes to mellifluousness. For fans of Shallou, Kasbo, and Solstis, among other artists who deal in dreamy tones, “Right Now” offers a sleek reprieve from the supercharged, festival-driven electronic format.
New York bar-goers shouldn’t expect live music to be a regular component of their socially distanced evenings out, thanks to a new guideline that effectively halts organized live music events. The mandate, detailed on the State Liquor Authority website, prohibits “advertised and/or ticketed shows,” and only permits “incidental” live music events, maintaining that “music should be incidental to the dining experience and not the draw itself.”
Events that would require patrons to purchase tickets to see a given performance would be in violation of the new requirement, which also appears to extend to events that include a cover charge. Further, New York bars are not allowed to advertise live entertainment.
The new stipulation comes as a surprise to bar owners in New York, many of whom depend on live events to attract patrons. New York Upstate reports that several owners already began to schedule ticketed events prior to the introduction of the rule and will now be forced to cancel them. The measure is reportedly a part of New York state’s ongoing campaign to discourage groups of people from mingling, in an effort to minimize further spread of the novel coronavirus.
It’s no secret that the entertainment industry, especially live event venues and touring musicians whose primary source of income came from now-cancelled live performances, has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Save Our Stages Act, a bipartisan bill spearheaded by Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn with support from the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), has now been co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.
On August 18, Schumer, alongside NIVA representatives and LCD Soundsystem member, James Murphy, spoke at a press conference outside Baby’s All Right in New York, where they voiced their support for the bill. Murphy highlighted the importance of independent venues within communities, stating,
“These venues are places that occupy parts of cities that nobody wants to be in when they start. They fill in the gaps, and communities spring up around them. They take those warehouses that nobody wanted to be in and they build places that foster the most diverse music scene in the world.”
He went on to stress the importance of financially supporting these venues during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding,
“You can’t knock out all the mom and pops and think that more mom and pops will spring up. If we knock them out, it’s just chains. Write your senators and ask them to support this bill—it’s critical—or this whole industry is going to go away without it.”
Schumer vowed to “do everything [he] can to get this [bill] done ’cause it’s so effin’ important,” commenting,
“These places have to survive. Saying, ‘Well, we can do without these,’ is like saying you can do without your liver or your right arm—we need them very much.”
For details on the proposed Save Our Stages Act, check out Congress’ website.
SIDEPIECE, Party Favor and Nitti Gritti‘s aptly-named house side project, burst onto the scene in 2019. Their first track under the new alias, “Wanna See You,” turned heads, but their second track, “On My Mind,” produced alongside Diplo, turned into a worldwide hit. Now, on just their third single together, SIDEPIECE are already nearing the title of “household name.”
Following up a hit as big as “On My Mind” can be tricky, but Party Favor and Nitti Gritti stick the landing. “Fallin For You” is a tech house powerhouse that sounds equally ready for intimate clubs and main stages everywhere. It follows in a similar vein as “Wanna See You,” where a short sample catches the ear, but a series of progressively wild drops over a sturdy bass line does the heavy lifting. In other words, “Fallin For You” sounds like it’s destined to be another hit.
Dancing Astronaut caught up with SIDEPIECE to chat about their latest track, their relationship, and what’s in store for their side project.
“Fallin For You” comes on the heels of “On My Mind,” your massively successful track with Diplo. Do you feel added pressure following up such a hit?
Party Favor: “In a way, I think there is always pressure because we want to always outdo the last record we put out. Coronavirus put such a halt on everything. We had about six songs that would have been out by now, unfortunately, so the time feels right to start getting these records out!”
Nitti Gritti: “Yeah, there is always pressure, but it’s honestly very exciting to be able to get the pressure since the record did so well. It’s a good sign. Kind of like getting nervous before a big show. I think this record is a perfect follow up though.”
Were you surprised to see how positively “On My Mind” was received considering how new your project was to the scene?
Party Favor: “When Ricky first showed me the early draft of that song, I immediately knew it was going to be something special. The vocal alone stands out as such a simple but effective groove. Diplo was also teasing it for almost a year and people didn’t even know we were on the record, haha. You obviously never know what will hit, but I personally had an inkling it was going to crush.”
Nitti Gritti: “I’m glad that one came out. To be honest, it was actually an old sample, so to get the vocals and sample it was a huge win for us all. It’s amazing to see millions of people dancing and vibing to that record.”
“Fallin For You” is only your third SIDEPIECE track, but it already sounds like it has potential to be another hit. What have you learned from working with each other so far?
Party Favor: “When I first reached out about forming SIDEPIECE with Ricky (Nitti Gritti), it was really just to test the waters of his interest, and when we started playing demos back and forth, it became clear that we were on the same page. Each time we link up, we crank out a few songs. It feels so natural and our skills complement each other. We have such a love for house music but wanted to come in and disrupt the scene a bit; bring our spin to this world.”
Nitti Gritti: “I’m just constantly learning from Dylan (Party Favor) and I think almost every time we get in the studio together, we come out with something we love. It was great to do most of this song in person as well. I remember us working on it before one of our first live sets.”
You’ve each individually released huge bodies of work this year, how do you balance your solo career aspirations and your goals with SIDEPIECE? Will SIDEPIECE ever become your main piece?
Party Favor: “For us, this started as just a fun project to release creatively, and over time, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. There’s no pressure to conform to what both Party Favor and Nitti Gritti are in our main projects. It’s a love of making music. I hope the sky’s the limit for SIDEPIECE and [that it] can be that main piece. Time will tell!”
Nitti Gritti: “I always love making a million different kinds of music anyway, so it’s fueling me to continue to do so, especially since the SIDEPIECE project has done well. It will always be hard to balance all the music [that we as] producers make, but it’s an honor to be a part of something so fun and carefree. We literally just make songs we love and release them. It’s kind of refreshing to just home in on one sound aside from my other project!”
At the start of July, Dom Dolla and Sonny Fodera teamed up to drop “Moving Blind,” an immediately infectious house cut with a nasty synth line fronting the dance floor offensive. As August comes to a close, “Moving Blind” receives a well-deserved remix from the incomparable UK duo, Gorgon City.
For their take on the “Moving Blind,” Gorgon City start by bumping up the BPM and injecting a bit of flavor into the bass riff. The distorted vocals remain intact, but the original’s droning synth is treated to a massive overhaul. “Moving Blind’s” saw line sounds bigger than ever as the production pair transform it into a sinister breakdown before the final chorus; needless to say, it’s Gorgon City at their finest.
Four Tet has remixed Tame Impala‘s “Is It True?”—successfully fuzing two of 2020’s more defining audio aesthetics in the form of a chilled club track.
Although the original’s indie-funk has been left at the door, Four Tet does what he can to preserve Tame Impala’s psychedelic dreamscapes, churning in his signature synthed-out string sound along the way. The remix finds its real success, however, in its spacey ambiance and harmony found throughout its various complementary elements. Sure, the remix has a lead instrument, but rather than push it so far forward that it controls the track, Four Tet pulls it back with a touch of veteran restraint, allowing the tune’s overall synergy to take center stage rather than one defining element.