A recent episode of Mylar Melodies’ Why We Bleep podcast features a great in-depth interview with electronic musician BT.
The interview digs into his extensive studio and Eurorack modular setup, goes deep into BT’s approach to organizing his studio to make it an effective tool for making music, explores how to make the most of your time when you’re not feeling inspired and more.
BT also raises his concerns over the use of AI to clone a musician’s personal signature, which could lead to piracy not of specific recordings, but of a specific musician’s approach to songwriting.
There’s so much great music. Let’s dive in and impulse buy as much great stuff as we can handle. Strap in, because these releases can soothe you, cheer you, move you, groove you, and remind you of what we’re doing on this planet.
Lady Blacktronika has a release full of pitch-perfect, deeply felt House. It’s exquisitely mastered, too, via Kevin McHugh at Valence. It’s a release from this week that you’ll feel you should have always known. And it’s also wonderful listening to Akua Grant swap Jeckyll-and-Hyde style between this persona and the brutal techno of Femanyst.
Florian Meindl in Berlin makes acid like it’s never going out of style. He’s just… a force. This city has always been hard working; Florian makes it sound like the factories are running at full tilt – and if you missed techno in these months, inject it back into your brain:
St. Louis’ Ron S put this out in October, but Talus is such finger-licking good soul-healing, raw, grooving techno that it needs a mention here. Seriously, any midwinter depression not cured so far by this list, I can’t help you.
I’m not sure what the “Kompromat” is, but it sounds like it was worth the good time.
Speaking of good moods, NERK and BIZZ O.D. from Berlin team up for a witty, weird two-track EP to remind you what silliness and happiness feel like. The tracks are sharp, pared-down, and not drowning in seriousness and reverb the way so much music had become. There is also just a ridiculously effective groove tugging away underneath both.
Music for weirdos. Smart weirdos. Smart weirdos having a really good day. (Remember those?) Also with stylish video:
I’ve been following DJ T-1000‘s releases here consistently for a reason – there’s a longer narrative Alan Oldham is unfolding, one that’s as persistent and powerful as a marathon techno set. And while he’s been transferring the legendary Generator releases from reel-to-reel, he’s saved the best for last. This is absolutely fresh and deep, as Alan reveals the mind-blowing collaboration with Pen Jackson (“Ethan Nep Sevy”):
From France, Franck Vigroux pushes out to the very limits of timbre, like the invention of a new material pushed until its molecules break up. For some reason, there’s a Bandcamp bug that’s telling me this is a preorder, even though it released on November 25. (Someone reported my new release just did the same.) But maybe all of us have broken through to the future of music, finally.
Speaking of good things that happen when you’re working on incredibly time-intensive Max for Live device development, the supremely underrated producer Noah Pred has quietly let loose an album of sharply-composed groove spectacles in the form of Arcologies. This is exactly the kind of excellence that is flying under the radar right now – but more on Noah and what he’s been up to in his science laboratory of patches soon:
It’s so often those crackling, exposed ambient trips that read as pure emotion, without the tyranny of making an object. So as Belfast’s own Space Dimension Controller releases a container ship full of ambient creations, these feel not so much like excess bits as they do the real, personal story. They’re chilling.
Super-strange shadowy techno out on the imprint “Detroit-Berlin” (which is, despite the name, in Belgium) comes from the eccentric imagination of Eden Grey. And it’s just brilliant. Happy birthday, Marcel, apparenty.
Finland-based AGF/poemproducer is a tireless champion of everyone else’s Bandcamp, so let’s pay some attention to the utter genius of abundANTIA, a forceful and acrobatic set of sonic etudes from back in July:
We’ve been tracking Zoë Mc Pherson and Alessandra Leone as they continue their excellent release schedule for their SFX platform, and they have a mesmerizing AV escape in the form of “Grounding in outer space”:
Russia’s Gost Zvuk is also full of tasty curiosities, and they’ve come through again. I’ll let them explain Loopdad, because I can’t, but also out today (Saratov is southwestern Russia, in the heart of… uh, well, Saratov Oblast, basically):
Loopdad is a cryptic young producer from Saratov and we couldn’t refuse his proposal to release a “loopdad tribute”, as he’s moving to the next stage of his musical endeavour. He defines his genre as a “new school crib music”. And what he’s trying to convey is a feeling of “dark jazz playing in the distance”. To each his own, but obviously, there’s a touch of obscure, post-beat vibration, melted with spoken word and if you’re into new rap territories – “Dramadayz Navigator” is here for you.
Our friend Tim Shiel from Melbourne has not only a charming, personable, affable compilation of collected gems, but an answer to why to do this thing in the first place. And it’s the very opposite of Spotify metrics and behavior monitoring – and something I think can speak to all of us. From Spirit Level:
“Music is abundant, purpose is scarce.” – Mat Dryhurst
When music is everywhere, gushing freely out of internet pipes like a hose-gone-wild – why add to the noise? Why do it? Why bother?
I’ve spent a lot of this year looking for the answers to those questions, and here’s what I’ve got so far.
To connect. Not with anonymous listeners on platforms, but with the people closest to you, the like minds and the kindred spirits. Connection is a basic human need, but often it feels like it’s in short supply. Humans need hope and love in the same way they need water and food. Hope and love multiply, when you have your people around you. This is how families work. We all need to be reminded how good it feels to squad up.
To dream and to lead. Artists don’t tend to think of themselves as leaders, but its often the ‘creative types’ who everyone else turns to when they need guidance. Consciously or not, artists analyse and parse patterns of emotion and information deeply, and then publish the results for the public good. We do it in the form of pop songs or drum beats or soundscapes or whatever. Artists digest a diverse diet of humanity, processing the good with the bad. Along the way we tend to dream up new and better futures that can’t be imagined from inside the matrix. Artists can dream when others fail to, and we need dreamers desperately right now.
To breed empathy. From my experience, artists are kind. They are not simply tolerant of others, but they actively seek to understand perspectives that are foreign or confusing. They are generous of mind, spirit and wealth – at least the ones I roll with anyway. If you fold empathy deep into your work as an artist, you’ll nudge other people in the same direction. You’re helping to provide an antidote to all those bits of the modern human experience that feel so cold and uncaring.
2020 has been a mess. Many challenges still lie ahead. We live daily with a growing awareness of just how much is “not quite right” in the world. But here’s a plan. Find your purpose, then look for your people. Once you’ve found them, do not settle for less than close and meaningful connection. Be dangerous in your ideas – but kind in your actions. Organise and nurture each other, then move boldly forward into the world with empathy and purpose.
As we reflect on what it means to make sounds as humans, I think there’s nowhere better to conclude than on the compilation pieced together from international artists by Scotland’s Remembrance Species, in an effort to save the seabird and the axolotl:
Selection curated by Bell Lungs of Remembrance Species Scotland and Laura Luna Castillo of Lunetario Editorial.
All proceeds from album sales will be split between Umbral Axochiatl, an axolotl conservation charity in Xochimilco, Mexico City and Scottish Seabird Centre, a seabird conservation charity in North Berwick, Scotland.
And bonus, from March – a reminder that what we need to do is to change models completely, ygam’s From our Future Selvesis an insistent serenade from the future to change our world now:
‘From our Future Selves’ is Berlin-based label ygam’s first non-profit various artists compilation. This 12-tracks gathering was put together to support the organization ‘Friends of the Earth’ in their aim at challenging the current model of economic and corporate globalization, while promoting solutions that help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. All proceeds from the album will be donated directly to them. In its drive to raise environmental awareness and inspire togetherness, this compilation also shares a sonic facet only slightly explored by the imprint so far: the dance floor’s rhythmical occurrences. Indeed, through their various contributions extending from power electronics and heavy bass deconstructions to dense techno cuts, artists propose a wide variety of approaches to club-oriented music and ways for bodies to engage in cadenced investigations.
ygam stands with the missions of ‘Friends of the Earth’ :
• To collectively ensure environmental and social justice, human dignity, and respect for human rights and peoples’ rights so as to secure sustainable societies. • To halt and reverse environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources, nurture the earth’s ecological and cultural diversity, and secure sustainable livelihoods. • To secure the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, women, groups and individuals, and to ensure public participation in decision-making. • To bring about transformation towards sustainability and equity between and within societies with creative approaches and solutions.
Reader Wayne Keller shared this video, that documents how he makes music in a studio that’s designed to make the most of a tiny space.
He calls it the ‘Den of Smallitude’ and says it features “atrocious acoustics, zero daylight and permeating, lingering scent of thick coffee by the gallon.”
Keller has not let his tiny workplace keep him from making music. He’s tricked out the space with a collection of MacGyver-worthy moving, folding & sliding elements that allow him to pack a lot of music gear into a small area. As a result, the studio is uncluttered and, with quirky decor and custom lighting, is a great space for making music.
Watch for sliding turntables, movable gear racks, wall-mounted gear and fold-out keyboards.
“I built all the sketchy, moveable stuff out of a busted Ikea shoe rack, Dodge Dakota hood hinges, Honda Civic cam gears and random scrap metal,” he notes. “Tetanus resistance a bonus.”
He notes that his gear is mostly used and ‘temperamental’, including: Roland Aira TR-8s, MX-1, TB-3, JD-Xi, MidiFighter Twister, Korg Microkorg, Boss rc-50, Casio PT-80, DigiTech RP-355, Boss LS-2 line selector, Pioneer DJM 600, Technics 1200s, a few looping records (with tape on ’em, Kink style) and Audiokit Synth One. Everything is synced by Ableton Live MIDI clock, except Pioneer mixer & 70’s Casio.
Check out the video and let us know what you think! And if you’ve got your own tricks for making the most of a tiny studio space, share them in the comments!
Insomniac‘s newest Park ‘N Rave Concert Series addition is not for the faint of heart. From January 8–9, 2021, Pasquale Rotella‘s titan events team will partner with HARD Events to welcome JOYRYDE to the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino for two ground-shaking installments in the drive-in events string.
Car passes to the HARD-curated double-play start at $500, granting admission to a maximum of 5 people per car. Tickets and further information on two-day event, which serves as one of the year’s only opportunities to see JOYRYDE play tracklist-spanning selections from BRAVE live, can be found here. In the meantime, fans can revisit JOYRYDE’s debut LP, released in April, here.
The east-central African festival has become a global beacon for adventurous music lovers. But this year, you can virtually teleport to Kampala and take in some yourself – right now.
Indian cultural activist Aneesha Kotwani documented last year’s edition, for some small window into the festival. (Pictured at top, 2019 edition crowds – for a little bit of the feeling of that energy.)
Kampala is contending with COVID-19 like everyone else – and this exposes the sorts of inequities exposed in every country this year. But as both Uganda and your neck of the woods cope with the twin challenges of social distancing and disease, we are at least treated to a virtual trip to Uganda for a mental and musical escape.
And yeah, this is 2020 – they’re proceeding to put this on, evidently even with a highly limited, socially distanced secret party on the location. For the rest of us, though, there’s musical inspiration:
And yet again festival organizers treat the world to a rich survey of both local talent and connections to experimentalism from other corners of the world.
So for instance, there’s the rapid-fire collisions of obscurities and futuristic grooves in NSASI’s playing:
These live, fabulous “tribal afro-futurist” performances from Faizal Mostrixx:
For some more soulful playlists from Kenya, there’s Nairobi’s Nabiswa Wanyama:
You also get more traditional selections like Kalalu cultural group, highlighting the musical practices of the Basoga people:
This year that has also included performances recorded in other spots, collected in a virtual assemblage as a kind of ceremony of faith, in this year of isolation, that events will gather together again.
Anyway, it’s all on now – live-streamed but also available on demand, so that either way you can stumble into unexpected music, just as you would at a festival.
There is a ton, a ton of programming from across the full length and breadth of the African continent, as well as Europe, the Middle East, and… um, Canada and the USA, even – and a bunch of Afro-centric collectives.
I can’t complain, as even though I’m in gray shut-down Berlin now, we had the joy of beginning 2020 with the incredible Nakibembe Xylophone Troupe, who got their break at Nyege Nyege. And for all the darkness of 2020, it felt like a miracle to watch this ensemble onstage at Berghain together with Indonesia’s Gabber Modus Operandi – an explosion of pure musical energy, like standing inside a warp core reactor.
Screens are certainly not the same, but I do hope these screens mean we can send some energy to wherever you are – and plant seeds that bring us all together soon. Check out the festival at:
“I actually listened to this mixtape about three days ago, and it rocked me so hard I shit a huge stone-hard log…” This outro, pulled from “The Sherriff Of Midi,” is just one example of the absurdity of Baauer‘s new mixtape, The Boptape. Fresh off a Grammy nomination for his seminal PLANET’S MAD, Baauer returns with “19 mutant songs” stuffed with ridiculous transitions, samples from every genre under the sun, and of course, speaker-knocking beats.
To name just a few, The Boptape‘s eclectic samples include Dropkick Murpheys’ “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” Lil Baby’s highly memed “wah wah wah,” a verse from Drake, and the viral “Hmmm” freestyles. From top to bottom, The Boptape never fails to surprise and excite, despite being Baauer’s most experimental work to date.
All in all, the light-hearted atmosphere of the Twitch streams the project was created in oozes out of the tracks, making for one of the most fun projects of the year. Stream it below, or watch the mixtape’s visualizers on Baauer’s YouTube.
Jeremy Olander will return to the helm on December 11 with a momentous three-track crooner, dishing out several of his most anticipated and sought-after 2020 productions through the release of his upcoming Rubicks EP.
Heard in full-length and quality for the first time on Dancing Astronaut, the EP’s title track delivers the sophisticated and nuanced club flare that fans have come to expect from Olander and his signature label, Vivrant Records. “Rubicks” puts Olander’s melodic prowess on full display; however, the real stars of the show are the melancholic synths that ebb, flow, and jive their way through the tune’s progressive-inspired drops. The result isn’t necessarily a peak hour, hands-in-the air face-melter, but rather a refreshingly contemplative and intricate house tune that reveals just a bit more of itself with each and every listen.
Those who have followed Olander’s ironclad mixes through lockdown may recognize “Rubicks” as the adorned “Berns ID 02,” a production that’s caught the attention of aficionados since at least March. The remainder of the release, available December 11, features equally revered IDs in “Summit” and “The Mist” (previously regarded as “Balance Tour ID” and “Whiskey Jar ID,” respectively).
Pre-save the full release here, and listen to its stirring lead single, “Rubicks,” below.
After arriving in a limited edition, 12-inch format for Record Store Day in August, Gorgon City‘s REALMEP has gone digital. Under the REALM EP musical masthead, Gorgon City constituents Matt Robson-Scott and Kye Gibbon convene a trio of past releases, capping off the triptych with an inclusion that, to date, has only been available on vinyl: “Trapdoor.”
Evidence that the UK duo’s house focus has never been sharper, “Trapdoor” catalyzed crowd reaction towards the end of 2019 when Gorgon City subjected it to road testing during a string of REALM club shows. Given its demonstrated history of dance floor galvanization, “Trapdoor” is a suitable start to REALM EP, which also includes “Grooves On The Vinyl” (2017), “Roped In” (2019), and “Elizabeth Street” (2019). Stream below.
Featuring interviews with Errol Anderson, Shy One, Tash LC, and Bone Soda’s Tommy Gold, the short film explores the connection artists have with electronic music, and about electronic music’s roots in Black history.
Speaking in a press release, Play Nice studio said: “This story is about acknowledging the past and presenting the future of electronic music, through our cast who have been inspired by the countless Black musicians in this space. Our cast, who are also inspirations in their own right shaping sonics and nightlife in London, are now undoubtedly going to shape a whole industry post-lockdown.”
The Design Museum is still showing the exhibition with safety measures in place, including reduced capacity, social distancing rules and the compulsory wearing of face masks. Learn more about ‘Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers’ here. You can watch the documentary on Youtube below.
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