Ambient Composer Harold Budd Dead At 84

Ambient composer Harold Budd has died at the age of 84.

Budd (1936 – 2020) released a long string of influential ambient classics, ranging from The Pavilion of Dreams in the 70s; to his masterpiece collaborations with Brian Eno, The Pavilion Of Dreams and The Pearl; to series of more recent collaborations with a variety of artists, including Robin Guthrie, Clive Wright, Daniel Lanois, The Cocteau Twins & John Foxx.

The news was shared by several via Facebook, including Ambient Church:

“We just learned the tragic news that legendary composer Harold Budd has passed from this world. He was 84. He left us an unbelievable treasure trove of beautiful music that enriches our lives every day and will bless generations to come. Our hearts go out to his family on this sad day. Rest in peace Harold. You will be missed.”

Budd’s music incorporates classical and jazz influences, but centers around the interplay between his keyboards, effects and silence.

Budd’s career took off in the early 70s, when he moved away from classical avant garde and found his own voice embracing ‘pretty’ sounds.

“By then I had opted out of avant-garde music generally; it seemed self-congratulatory and risk-free and my solution as to what to do next was to do nothing, to stop completely,” he said.

“I resurfaced as an artist in 1972 with Madrigals of the Rose Angel, the first of what would be a cycle of works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. Madrigals refused to accommodate or even acknowledge any issues in new music. The entire aesthetic was an existential prettiness; not the Platonic ‘to Kalon’, but simply pretty: mindless, shallow and utterly devastating.”

Harold Budd & Brian Eno – First Light:

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Kaskade shares second single ahead of ‘Rocket League Season 2’ EP, ‘Solid Ground’

Kaskade shares second single ahead of ‘Rocket League Season 2’ EP, ‘Solid Ground’Kaskade

Ahead of his forthcoming EP, Kaskade has shared his second single for Rocket League Season 2. The arcade-inspired “Solid Ground” follows Kaskade’s “Flip Reset” with WILL K., named after a popular Rocket League maneuver. Monstercat has yet to share the date for Kaskade’s debut EP on the label, but did share that more material from the “When I’m With You” producer is on the way in the coming months.

“Solid Ground” is a nostalgic renewal of Kaskade’s progressive house temper, decisively evocative of his 2015 fan-favorite cooperative with Illsey, “Disarm You.” Beginning December 9, players can set Monstercat songs, including Kaskade’s latest, as Player Anthems which will be cued in-game when a player scores a goal. Additionally, the “Neon Fields” arena will be added to Rocket League, intended to bring a rave look and feel to the game.

Featured image: Mark Owens

The BPM Festival announces line-up for 2021 festival

The BPM Festival has announced the first 30 artists set to play the event’s return to Costa Rica, taking place from 3rd – 7th of March 2021. 

Scheduled to take place across five days and nights on the coastal surf town of Tamarindo, the first round of artists announced for the festival include Dubfire, Loco Dice, Nicole Moudaber, Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Sonja Moonear and Stacey Pullen, with more names yet to be announced. 

Attendees will be expected to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines according to Costa Rica’s country-specific rules, including the wearing facial coverings in all public spaces, proof of medical insurance, and a Mandatory Health Pass form. 

The line-up announcement for the March festival follows news of the coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out at the beginning of next year, which has indicated that fans should cautiously expect more event news over the coming months as confidence slowly returns to the festival sector.

On Thursday, We Out Here Festival announced the full line-up for its 2021 edition taking place 19th to the 22nd August in Cambridgeshire, with Call Super, SHERELLE, and Overmono on the bill amongst many other names.

The BPM Festival Costa Rica takes place from 3rd – 7th March 2021. You can learn more about it on the festival’s website

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Arturia’s V Collection 8 makes the massive instrument library bigger; here’s what’s new

It’s the virtual equivalent to someone dropping off the keys to a massive vintage studio. Version 8 leads with new retro additions, a vocoder, and various improvements and features suite-wide.

And that’s really a lot of the appeal of Arturia’s V Collection. It has so much inside that you almost don’t need to think about it. You just get a little bit of everything – so much so that you could feel like you’re stuck for ideas, and randomly decide on some classic instrument and Arturia has an extensive version of it just waiting in their installer. Or you pick up a magazine article about a favorite historic track and get reminded that way. (Someone I’m sure goes and installs the whole set at once; I usually don’t, partly to save on hard drive space, but mainly because… it’s overwhelming. It’s almost too much power.)

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And even with Roland making their back catalog available in Roland Cloud, and Native Instruments with their broad Komplete, there’s simply nothing quite like Arturia’s V Collection for presenting all these vintage recreations as is – a massive historic library.

So, okay, what does 8 bring to the table? (This will confusing to the uninitiated, so clarification first. V is virtual, not “five.” 8 is the version number. You’ll see a lot of V’s.)

New instruments (3 surprises + 1 not-a-surprise)

You get 3 new things you’ve never seen before + 1 recently new thing added to the bundle + 2 upgrades to existing instruments… and 700 new patches. Let’s break it down.

There are four new instruments in there. They can’t say what the original brands were, but I can. One of them we did see back in May – the OB-Xa I gave an extensive review. It’s not the only Oberheim recreation, but it is perhaps the deepest and broadest.

Source: Oberheim OB-Xa (and bits of the 1979 OB-X)
Year: 1980
Type: 8-voice analog polyphonic synth

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The others are pretty big would-be hits, too. And while a lot of software developers are covering the same ground, the E-MU recreation and retro vocoder have the potential to be a bit more of a draw even relative to other options.

Emulator II V gives your samples some lo-fi character, while staying playable. It’s certainly an interesting historical recreation – though there are a few Dave Rossum creations I wouldn’t mind seeing in software.

Source: E-MU Emulator II
Year: 1984
Type: 27.7 kHz, 8-bit sampling instrument

Dave Rossum’s work on E-MU is really coming into its own – as we work out in the 2020s what all that digital design from the 80s, 90s, and start of the 21st century meant. And I’m personally excited to hear Dave talk about the Emulator II. I think it’ll be worth exploring in depth.

(PS, the other important thing to know about Dave is that he’s still designing – check the excellent Sound Semiconductor chips, which continue the legacy of the unique architectures that produced so much of the sound of synth history, in a newly-produced chip.)

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Vocoder V is both a vocoder and and an effect, with built-in sample playback capabilities. So you can sing into it, or use it as a synth, or apply it as an effect – or a combination of all three.

And of the whole range here, this is the only one that is actively still produced – as a hardware creation, from Moog Music. That version from Moog costs as much as a decent used hatchback, though (a cool five grand street). And I do see some twists here – this is also way up in priority for my review (this and the E-MU remake).

Source: Moog Vocoder (designed by Bob Moog himself)
Year: 1978
Type: 16-band vocoder

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And tutorial – though they do say this is ‘original’ so I wonder if what they’ve done is just ape the Moog look but done something different. Full look soon:

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Jun-6 V is obviously a remake of the Roland classic – digitally-controlled analog. Iconic, essential. The one edge the Roland recreation gives you is the ability to run their stuff as hardware as well as software. But Arturia’s software tends to be more modern onscreen, and we’ll have to see how the features line up here. I can absolutely imagine using this on a screen even when using the Boutique from Roland in hardware – both.

Source: Roland JUNO-6
Year: 1982
Type: 6-voice analog polysynth

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Upgraded instruments (2)

Some existing V Collection library instruments get an update here.

Stage-73 V2 is a physically modeled recreation of a number of Rhodes piano models. V2 is a huge upgrade, with its own integrated pedal rig and loads of customization and other features.

And just as importantly, Arturia say they’ve completely reworked the physical modeling for more accuracy and expressive playability.

In addition to that new JUNO, the Jupiter-8 – erm, sorry, “Jup-8” also got a second look in V 8. It was a solid remake to begin with, but the new version is redone with Arturia’s latest DSP – so expect better, more authentic sound. Plus on the less-authentic but potentially interesting side, it also gets all that new Arturia modulation and sequencing stuff.

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New Analog Lab hub, new stuff for all instruments

For quick access to presets and a useful library of what’s in there – plus an easy starting place for beginners – Analog Lab V is an all-new take on this single hub. It looks really clean and useful relative to the original, at least at first glance.

It’s got a new GUI, browser, macros (which work now across all instruments), and playlists for organizing presets – sort of a very basic MainStage for Arturia stuff, if you like.

The common features across the whole suite are also important:

  • New preset browser
  • New right-toolbar
  • New in-app tutorials
  • Macros with 4 macros pre-mapped
  • MIDI control

Having four macros across the whole range means there’s always something to tweak.

Of course, as always, if you don’t want the full suite, these individual instruments are available a la carte – as is the new Analog Lab V (which replaces the now-discontinued Analog Lab).

Here’s everything:

What isn’t here is – no word yet on Apple Silicon support. (Asking about that.) And NKS support is lagging a bit, too – “NKS compatibility currently unavailable for Analog Lab V, Vocoder V, Emulator II V, Jun-6 V, Jup-8 V4 and Stage-73 V2.”

But otherwise, it’s relatively compatible – Windows 8.1 or later, macOS 10.13 or later, 64-bit standalone, VST, AAX, and AU (Mac).

Let us know what you want to know while we take this for a test drive.

Gorillaz drops trailer for mixed-reality live shows with 14-piece band: Watch

The Gorillaz have dropped the trailer for their Song Machine Live From Kong virtual shows taking place this weekend, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of December.

The 14-piece virtual band led by Damon Albarn will play songs from Gorillaz’ new album and audiovisual project,’Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez’ – blending real time performance from the basement of Kong Studios with exclusive animation by Jamie Hewlett.

Marking the band’s first live performance since 2018, the unique mixed-reality gigs can be watched from anywhere in the world and across multiple time zones. Albarn will be joined with Noodle, Murdoc Niccals, Russel and 2D, as well as some “very special guests”. 

Gorillaz’s new album, ‘Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timez’, was released on 23rd October, featuring Robert Smith from The Cure, as well as guests Beck, Elton John, Kano and St Vincent. 

The band have also announced that they’ll be embarking on a five-date tour across Europe in 2021, with stops in Barcelona, London and Porto. 

Tickets for Gorillaz Song Machine Live From Kong start at £15 for a single show and cost £30 for all three. The digital party pack allows guests to watch the performance virtually with friends via a private video hangout. 

Gorillaz Song Machine Live From Kong takes place virtually on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of December. Full ticket information can be found here.  

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Arturia Intros V Collection 8, Adding 4 New Instruments

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Arturia today introduced V Collection 8, the latest version of their virtual instrument bundle.

The new version introduces 4 new instruments:

  • Jun-6 V “Legendary easy-to-use polysynth with an irresistible creamy sound that stirs the soul.”
  • Emulator II V – An ‘80s sampling icon
  • Vocoder V – a 16-channel vocoder, supercharged with its own sampler and synth engine.
  • OB-Xa V – base on the classic polysynth

It also features 2 upgraded titles:

  • Jup-8 V4 – The polyphonic flagship reborn with a colossal new sound and modulation engine.
  • Stage-73 V2 – EP classic with redesigned physical modeling

Official intro videos:

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Pricing and Availability:

V Collection 8 is available now with an intro price of $499 (normally $599).

Jean-Michel Jarre Announces Free New Year’s Eve Concert, Welcome To The Other Side

In partnership with the City of Paris and under the patronage of UNESCO, electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre has announced a free New Year’s Eve ‘concert-spectacular’, set in a virtual recreation of the Notre-Dame de Paris.

Welcome to the Other Side, scheduled for Thursday, December 31, is a free concert experience created with the intent to send a message of hope for 2021.

Jean-Michel Jarre will perform live from a studio near the cathedral in Paris, while his avatar plays inside a virtual Notre-Dame. The 45-minute concert that Jarre will perform will be comprised of tracks from his recent GRAMMY-nominated album Electronica, as well as new reworked versions of his classics, Oxygène and Equinoxe.

“Virtual reality is to the performing arts today what cinema was to the theatre in its early days, a kind of curiosity,“ shares Jean-Michel Jarre. “I believe that VR will become tomorrow, a mode of expression in its own right.”

Here’s what they have to say about the event:

“The live stream experience on December 31 will be produced as a cutting-edge simultaneously-mixed-media creation. Welcome to other side of reality, welcome into the New Year, welcome to your own personal celebration, welcome to a global party, all via your own chosen dimension:

– In total immersion on the social VR platform VRchat, accessible either simply via PC, or in virtual reality for the audience equipped with VR headsets

– Live-streaming on Jarre’s & other social media platforms via any PC or Mac, smartphone or tablet

– Live audio broadcast on Radio France’s France Inter, French public radio

– Live TV broadcast by French BFM Paris news channel”


NORTH AMERICA – 5:25pm EST/2:25pm PST

The audio of the concert will also be released on January 1, 2021 at 12:15 am CET // December 31, 2020 in North America at 6:15pm EST/3:15pm PST on all music streaming platforms.

Maceo Plex confronts racism and diversity in latest single, ‘Cinemax’

Maceo Plex confronts racism and diversity in latest single, ‘Cinemax’Maceo Ple Dancing Astronaut Credit David Holderbach

Maceo Plex breathes new life into The Quantic Soul Orchestra’s raw and inspiring “Pushin’ On,” preserving the English funk outfit’s head-on social commentary amid a dark dance floor renovation on his latest release, “Cinemax.”

Sophisticated percussion, signature swerving basslines, and an undeniable guitar riff make up the sonic backbone of “Cinemax,” but what really defines the track is the message of resiliency from Alice Russell’s original vocal sample. In a press release following the single, Maceo Plex delineated the source material, stating,

“We are leaving the past behind. It is time to unify, leave racism and division behind. The lyrics tell this story. The song itself is a deep drink, always building with a forward momentum.”

While this latest release finds Maceo Plex using his sonic platform to talk the talk, it’s worth noting that the Cuban-American DJ is no stranger to using that same platform to walk the walk. Just recently, Plex donated all proceeds from his summer single “Nu World” to the ACLU in the name of fighting voter suppression. Listen to “Cinemax” below.

Featured image: David Holderbach

SG Lewis’ latest album single proves a good ‘Time’ [Stream]

SG Lewis’ latest album single proves a good ‘Time’ [Stream]SG Lewis

Over the past year, SG Lewis‘ ongoing times rollout has scripted the soundtrack for electronic’s triumphant return to the dance floor—even before the album was announced. Shortly before he formally set the date for the forthcoming LP—his first—on October 27, Lewis told Dancing Astronaut, “I’m always looking for an intensity of emotion and euphoria. I would want people to take that away from listening to my music.” For seasoned SG listeners, this goes without saying, thanks in large part to its conspicuousness on times’ freshman, sophomore, and junior singles, “Chemicals,” “Impact,” and “Feed The Fire,” respectively. This tradition of intent unsurprisingly holds true on “Time.”

Led by Rhye-supplied vocals, “Time” continues the expedition into future disco that “Feed The Fire” forged, this time across a lively span that sits in excess of four minutes. It’s mood music, no doubt, that carries the spirited torch from one times tracklisting to the next. Lewis contextualized “Time” in a press release, stating,

“‘Time’ is a song that is central to the album thematically and sonically. Rhye has one of the most unique and distinctive voices out there, and I’ve been a fan for so long. We wrote the song at Rhye’s studio after watching the sun set in Topanga Canyon, a memory which makes this song even more special to me. The beat initially started from a piano loop and a Dennis Edwards sample Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs had started working on with Julian, which I then turned into the instrumental late one night in Nashville.”

“Time” is an emblem of the emotion and euphoria around which Lewis has oriented his musical endeavors and certainly, times. To feel it, all streamers need to do is listen. Hear times below, and pre-order the album, due February 19, 2021, here.

Bizarre 70’s Moog + Psychological Experiment Project, Campfire Orb, ‘Not Approved For Therapeutic Purposes’

Author J. Robert Lennon shared the story of a bizarre lost 70’s Moog + psychological experiment album, Campfire Orb, that brings together the 70’s infatuation with the novelty of electronic sounds, pseudoscience, psychedelic drugs and tragic death.

Lennon was browsing through the items at his local library sale (pre-pandemic), and came across a set of recordings by Dr. Noving Jumand. Here’s what Lennon has to say about it:

“Jumand was something of an Ithaca legend back when I first moved here in the nineties, though he’s mostly forgotten now. He’d come to town for a Cornell PhD in psychology, and was teaching as a lecturer, when he got approval for a controversial study involving the effect of narrative on human behavior. A few of his subjects—students, getting paid five dollars an hour—ended up hospitalized, and one was (and perhaps still is) committed to a mental institution.

This created all kinds of paranoid rumors about Jumand’s narratives—that they were in some way magical, or had been funded by the defense department—but it turned out that he’d given half of these students an experimental drug cocktail, derived from Phencyclidine, and this is what sent them on their dangerously dissociative journeys.

An investigation followed, during which it was revealed the the subjects knew they might be drugged and had signed release forms saying so; and the ones who were hospitalized already had histories of mental illness and drug addiction that could explain their reaction. As a result, no criminal charges were brought against Jumand—but the University cancelled his research and kicked him off campus. He eventually went on to form a quasi-utopian collective that lived in makeshift geodesic domes on some farmland outside of town, and died at 43 when he—accidentally, it’s believed—drove his bicycle off a cliff and into a waterfall.

Anyway, one extant artifact of his brief period of notoriety is a series of rare recordings of his narratives, made in collaboration with some former Moog employees he met at a swap meet in Trumansburg.

You can preview the album via the embed below or via Bandcamp:

Note: There’s no information to be found on the Internet about Jumand or these recordings, so the provenance of these recordings is unclear, at best. If any readers have additional information about the Moog connection or background on Jumand and these recordings, please share it in the comments.

via boing boing