On December 12 and 13, Gorillaz will stream a series of Song Machine performances from Kong Studios’ basement. The animated group’s three performances (split up so viewers worldwide can tune in) start at 6:00 a.m. EST. Tickets cost approximately $20 for one show or $40 for all three, and are available on Gorillaz’s website.
Apple hits the holiday market hard, unveiling the newest model of AirPods , the over-ear Max, just in the nick of time for this year’s gift giving season. Sporting a wireless and truly sleek retro-inspired design, Apple’s new premier line of headphones will be hitting stores on December 15 and comes with a price tag of $550 per unit.
Reviews on the new cans are still out, but Apple purports that they’ll deliver high-fidelity audio among an Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, and spatial audio. While the price for the AirPods Max is a bit hefty among competition in its class, Apple often justifies this among their products’ users with their high personal standard, generally reliable connectivity, and attractive designs for its new mainline products. Other notable features for the AirPods Max include positional sensors that automatically detect when the headphones are being worn, a hearty battery life of up to 20 hours, and a transparency mode that dims the noise cancellation so listeners can hear the environment around them.
The new tech was introduced in a visual feature set to a brand new piece from Soulwax titled, “Empty Dancefloor.” Much like the headphones’ timeless design, David and Stephen Dewaele’s venerated modern-retro sound serves as the perfect backdrop for Apple’s latest delivery. See the Apple AirPods Max intro and hear “Empty Dancefloor” in full below.
Mutable Instruments has introduced Blades, a dual multi-mode filter for Eurorack modular systems.
What sets Blades apart is that options commonly presented as multiple choices (low-pass/high-pass, serial/parallel) are presented here as a continuum, ready to be explored at the twist of a knob or with a CV.
The filter response is continuously variable between low-pass, band-pass and high-pass, and delivers intermediate shelving responses, for more nuanced spectral coloring.
A dual cross-fader circuit allows the routing between the two filters to smoothly vary from single to parallel to series.
Originally conceived as a complex filter, Blades is capable of much more, including:
A dual distortion with spectral color control
An oscillator mixer with crossfading, wavefolding, and enough filtering to clean up the mess
A voice, using one filter as an oscillator, then distorting, folding it and filtering it with the second filter
A complex oscillator capable of FM, PM and AM
A CV-controlled overdrive stage precedes each of the two filters.
Overdrive response continuously adjustable between soft-clipping and 2-stage wavefolding.
Two multi-mode filters
Clean 2-pole (12dB/octave) state-variable design.
CV-controlled filter response, continuously variable between low-pass, band-pass and high-pass.
CV inputs with attenuverters for cutoff and resonance.
Unattenuated frequency CV input, calibrated for 1V/Oct tracking.
Clean self-oscillation across the audio range, extending into very low frequencies, with constant amplitude.
Modulating the filter response is akin to modulating the phase of the self-oscillation tone.
Unique routing possibilities
Continuously variable (and CV-controlled) routing from single to parallel to series.
With a signal patched into filter 2’s audio input, the routing knob and CV act as a crossfader.
Filter 2’s cutoff can be set relatively to filter 1’s cutoff.
Here’s the official intro video from Ben Wilson (DivKid):
A Swiss nightclub in the town of Lausanne has been transformed into a temporary blood donation centre during the coronavirus pandemic.
People have been able to donate blood on the dancefloor of the disused MAD nightclub – which has re-opened for the service after a ten month closure due to restrictions limiting the spread of COVID-19.
“It was almost heartbreaking to see a place like this which has existed for almost 35 years asleep for so long,” said Igor Blaska, club manager. “So of course we were proud to organise any activity that was possible.”
Once a multi-floor warehouse packed with sweaty party-goers, MAD, which stands for ‘Moulin a Danse’ or ‘dance mill’, has encouraged former clubbers to book blood donation spaces over social media.
One Facebook post said: “In view of the current situation, the Interregional Transfusion of the Swiss Red Cross was looking for a place. It is enthusiastically that MAD has agreed to make its premises available and will warmly welcome donors.”
After the club’s first blood donation drive on 23rd November, 70 people donated blood while watching concerts on the giant screens, according to MAD’s Facebook page.
Speaking to Reuters, one reveller-turned-blood donor, Olivier Rebel, said that it felt good to be back at MAD, which is situated in the centre of the town’s nightlife district. “I came without question because it is a legendary place,” he said.
Maybe it’s not about being DAW-less or having particular software or gear. Maybe it’s just having your hands touch a box from the future that gets you into that state of music play. Andreas gives us an in-depth review of the $499 Bluebox.
Our resident compact hardware guru from Sweden Andreas Roman is back, from the latitudes up toward the Arctic where folklore tells us of mythological obelisks covered in knobs that make some really fine grooves and sound. (Or at the very least, things are dark enough right now that making electronic music is the only sensible thing to do!)
Andreas’ thoughts are always a pleasure for me to read, not least because he always sends us music to transform our mood. So let’s begin there, because whether or not you need a Bluebox, I think you’ll be glad to have these. -PK
First up, “made entirely with the Sequential Prophet 12, making use of the Bluebox synced multi-tracking to build layers from the Prophet, and then applying on-board Bluebox effects, EQ, and mixing for space“:
Let’s start with a slice of truth from my past. When I was a teenager and the other boys played soccer, I took a job in a video game store to save up for a Yamaha MT8X [cassette mixer]. That was an eight-track porta-studio, kids, and I wrote an entire album on that thing.
No wonder. This box was from the future. It had multi-track recording. Sync. Analogue mixing options. A combination of features that were found in plenty back then, but today are as rare in hardware as snow at Christmas (where I live, that is). And yet, like honesty, it seems we still want and appreciate it so much that when Korg launched their April Fool’s joke about doing a portable cassette mixer in the volca format, we wanted to believe. Cruel, Korg. Very cruel.
Well, 1010music heard our woes and they’re bringing us mercy with their latest product, the Bluebox.
Like 1010music’s Blackbox, a neat and compact desktop sampler, the Bluebox is a no-nonsense product that does exactly what it promises. It’s a mixer. That records. Multiple tracks, at once, through its six stereo inputs. It can go on for hours, if the MicroSD card can take it.
Then, you can work on the mix with panning and volume, sends and EQ per track and on the master, outboard effects and onboard delay and reverb, and compression to glue it all together. There are also options to switch between alternate takes, if you liked the bass on your first session but preferred the lead on your third. It syncs through MIDI. And this all fits in the palm of your hand and can run from a portable USB power source (though it’s pretty demanding, so make sure you’re using a strong enough battery or adapter).
Put this next to the Blackbox, and besides the fact that they look like super cute twins, you have a complete solution for creating beats and songs in the Blackbox and record and mix in the Bluebox. Thanks to flexible midi mapping, you can even make this micro rig controllable from your favorite knobs and sliders interface and bring this on stage for live performance.
So at the back, you got six stereo inputs that can be rewired to become twelve mono if you so prefer. That’s twelve tracks recording to the SD memory card. (My Yamaha had eight, to a 30 minute Maxell cassette tape. Not bad, 1010music. Not bad at all.)
You also got three outs which can be used for cueing, monitoring and external processing. They’re not as flexible as the ins and serve different purposes, but their presence still allow a great deal of combinations. It’s tight between the connection points so if you’re using them all at once, your choice of cable will make a difference. If they’re too thick, they won’t fit next to each other, but choose wisely and you’re good.
It took me about ten minutes to unbox the Bluebox (oh, snap), make myself a cup of coffee, run the four outs from my Prophet 12 into two Bluebox stereo ins, figure out how to arm for recording and then actually record something. It’s silly easy. I was almost left a bit underwhelmed, thinking – “Hookay. What now? I’m like … what? Done?” And I suppose if I’d been happy with the results, I _would’ve_ been done. But obviously, with all these options available, there was plenty left to explore.
While the luxury of several outs from an instrument is a great convenience when you’re tracking into a mixer, not all kits have this option. Line-level synth gear, which is what the Bluebox primarily is made for, often settles for just a mono out or a stereo pair rather than multiple dedicated outs. Even so, you might have a fantastic thing going with your single Novation AFX Station and a batch of sequences, and in this case, the Bluebox not only records several tracks at once but also accepts and sends midi clock, allowing you to layer your work in perfect sync.
I tested this by connecting Bluebox MIDI into my Synthstrom Deluge. [See Andreas’ review of that, too.] The Synthstrom accepted the clock at once and I recorded with no hassle – six sequences from the Deluge in as many takes. Overkill, one might say, to split up a single session from such a potent groove box. Not at all, I would reply, if you want to widen and expand your song beyond the onboard mixing capabilities of whatever box you’re on. Even if it’s a unit wired to the teeth with line outs, such as the Tempest, Analog Rytm or TR-8S, the options you get when you split up your recording like this make for a case all its own, especially when you can save the master track as well, essentially making it your rendered result of your final mix.
I’m aware I’m stating the obvious here. But now the obvious can now be done in a way that doesn’t require a computer. The Bluebox doesn’t reinvent mixing and recording but it brings something to the process that we haven’t seen for awhile, in a form factor that I don’t think we’ve ever seen at all.
With summing and recording covered, there’s also what comes out from the Bluebox and potentially back in again. I’m a great fan of outboard effects. I don’t own many, but those I keep I do because no sampler or synth can equal them. So I threw something together in my Blackbox and used its three outputs to record three tracks into the Bluebox.
The Bluebox’s second output can be assigned to send its own path to outboard gear, so I brought out my Chase Bliss Audio Generation Loss, connected it to the Bluebox second output, and assigned one of the tracks to run through this chain. The result was as expected – a simple and straightforward way to add that lovely nostalgia flavor to one or several tracks. Things got more interesting when I decided to record this. I armed a free track and taped the Generation Loss version of the track into the Bluebox, which gave me a perfectly synchronized version of the source material in glorious, fluttering tape-like mono. I panned that one to the hard right, the original source track to the hard left, and suddenly I wasn’t so much mixing or recording as I was sound designing.
It’s a powerful addition to using external effects in a context where you not only mix, but can record the results as well. If you know of any other palm-sized hardware mixer that can do this, let me know.
If you only want to give your mix some room, though, the onboard delay and reverb are both good. They’re crisp and clean with lots of options that can take you from the ordinary to the crazy. But their role is clear – even if you can be experimental, their purpose is to create space where it’s needed and save the funkier explorations to any favorite effect you got lying around.
Each track as well as the master has its own four-band EQ. Each band is configurable from low shelf and lo cut to high shelf and hi cut. You’re able to adjust frequency and gain on each one, so things can quickly get out of hand if you don’t know what you’re doing.
By comparison, you can’t really go wrong with the Blackbox’s onboard filter. Whichever way you tweaked this one knob value, you got good results. Not so with the Bluebox. It easily destroys or elevates your mix with just the slightest touch of your hand – and I quickly learned that the difference between great and awful was only a nudge away. It wasn’t obvious to me what nudge, though, and while this of course exposes my lack of sound engineering skills, I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t know all that much about these things when they get complex-ish. I find comfort in giving myself up to someone else’s idea of basic mixing principles.
This is partly why I like the SSL SiX mixer so much, which I’ve been working on for the better part of this year. Someone decided for me the behavior of the compressor, like 1010music did in the Blackbox which you can’t really tweak at all, and I can enjoy the tactile process of working with faders and knobs while I know I won’t get into too much trouble. In the Bluebox, they’re giving me so many parameters, I don’t know what I’ll do with them all.It’s just something you should be aware of. You need to do the work to get it right and the gaps between good and bad aren’t soft and nuanced. But the end results are worth it, because in this labyrinth of options, there are sweet spots to be found. I might be spending just a few minutes with the SiX until I’ve found what I’m looking for, but the hour I’m pouring into the Bluebox before I’m happy is nevertheless an enjoyable one. Just for another reason. It’s also worth noting that recording happens post-fader and EQ, which isn’t a given in this context and as a consequence, quite useful.
Ed.: Let me distance myself a bit from our reviewer here and say – looking at the interface 1010 have chosen here, I do see exactly this risk. As opposed to the musicality of a more tested mixer design, I sort of expect exactly the danger Andreas is describing here – but then I also don’t know that I’d expect a tiny mixer-recorder like this to be ideal for precise equalization, certainly not without adjustment.
Some of us use mixers not only as boards to make a track go from good to great, but also as an instrument. I remember a lovely song, “Opera,” from Daniel Lanois’ album Flesh and Machine where in the video, he plays only a mixer as the track keeps pumping, his session musicians adapting to the way he reworks the song.
In this context, the Bluebox is not a tactile alternative. Like the Blackbox, while its features allow for some cool improvisations in a live situation, its interface does not. I can hardly fault it for that, seeing as it’s very clear on its proposition that convenience is a factor. But if you’re going to use the Bluebox live, it cries for external control. Fortunately, thanks to a clever midi Learn function, the Bluebox accepts mid input from your favorite controller. Just hook it up, activate said feature and work your controller to map it to any Bluebox parameter you prefer. Not all of them can be assigned to external control, but the ones you really need and a few more, do.
If you’re comfortable with the format, there’s no doubt the Bluebox brings a convenience and flow to the mixing and recording process that one simply is not used to, when one approaches these things with a computer and a sound card, or a traditional analog mixer. If I want to plug in all my gear and record my session in one go, it’s hard to find a more streamlined solution. File transfer from the Bluebox is easy, so I’ve also used it to just record six clean tracks from my sessions and move them into the Blackbox, where I’ve then applied the sampler treatment before assigning the takes to multiple outs for final mixing through my SSL SiX.
With all this said, the Bluebox innovates to a large extent by entering a market that has no competing products. You’ll find behemoths or tools whose essential features are oddly crippled. The closest you’ll get if you don’t go the Tascam route and look into their Model series, is a groove box that carries a strong, inherent sound with solid onboard mixing options, such as the Toraiz SP-16 or the Roland MC-707. But those come with their own limitations, not in the least that they can’t spit out much more than a few minutes worth of audio. [Ed.: Yeah, that’s how different they are; I don’t know I would have even made the comparison! Bluebox it is!]
Samplers that do offer streaming, aren’t sufficiently equipped to handle a mix the way the Bluebox does. I’m thinking the Deluge and the Blackbox, for example. Or good old Octatrack. All good-sounding instruments. Can’t touch the Bluebox as far as final output goes, though.
So for some, this is going to be a no-brainer. Maybe you just need a way to mix your live jams and record the results for further explorations elsewhere. Maybe you don’t like DAWs. Or you’re just curious. Desk space is tight but you take mixing and recording seriously.
For others, it’s a chance to contemplate if portable mixing and multitrack recording to boost was the blocker that stopped you from making great music, or if the itch was elsewhere. Either way, the Bluebox is a catalyst release and the fact that it’s done with the impeccable quality and attention to detail that 1010music is known for, makes me feel the world’s a slightly better place with the Bluebox in it.
Let’s finish with more music.
“More traditional, recorded from all the Blackbox outputs into the Bluebox, dry, and then mixed in the Bluebox. Slightly harsh in the higher frequencies, but the onboard features of the Bluebox added a lot to the space and room”:
London based imprint 51-53 will drop its second release on Friday 11th December – a two track EP entitled ‘Fela’s Groove’ from the label’s founder, Blankson.
Under the moniker Blankson, Fab Goualin channels the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti in his debut 12” pressing.
Speaking about the EP, Blankson said: “2020 has been an important year for Black progression, black heritage and the Black struggle, so this EP was made in the same spirit of protest and perseverance that Fela made his music, which is now more important than ever.“
As a homage to his musical hero and an ode to his own Nigerian heritage, the nine minute title track nods to elements of Kuti’s 1975 classic, ‘Everything Scatter.’ In a stripped down contrast, the B-side, ‘Black, No Sugar’ is a darker sounding four-to-the-floor format.
The EP’s artwork was designed by visual artist Rafi Spangenthal, featuring an emergent Nasturtium African Queen – a flower symbolising optimism to represent the label’s vision.
After unveiling a star power-laden lineup for its 2020 New Year’s Eve affair and presenting a preview of the four stages across which the digital event will unfold, Tomorrowland now lifts the curtain on the livestream’s schedule.
In addition to a gleaming fireworks display that will formally usher in the new year at midnight, viewers can expect a wealth of new music. “I’m going to play so much unreleased music and I really want to take people on a journey, playing some different sounding stuff and new things–I want it to be more of an experience,” Garrix stated in a press release.
Charlotte de Witte added,
“I’m playing some exclusive tracks and unreleased stuff–techno music with some trance influences.”
Ticket options are broken down into three tiers, each priced at $24 (€20), $30 (€25), and $59 (€50). The first tier includes access to all four stages, while a NYE Pass + on-demand pass allows viewers to relive all the performances on-demand from January 1–14. The top-tier Home Celebration Pass includes four on-demand passes. Learn more about tier pricing and packages here, and see the stage breakdowns here.
Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers argued that major labels are to blame for low artist income from streaming platforms, appearing before MPs yesterday as part of an inquiry into the financial impact of services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Rodgers called for the three major labels – Sony, Universal and Warner Music – to do more for their artists and give them a fair share of streaming revenue. “When you see the disparity, it’s just absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
Rodgers said: “It’s not the streaming services that we have the problem with, it’s fantastic that they can distribute our product in such an effective, wonderful way and keep a great digital trail. It’s the labels that are perpetrating this.”
Rodgers said that labels need to be more transparent with artists who were “really kept in the dark” about the worth of their music through streaming. He pointed out that non-disclosure agreements meant that artists were unable to accurately see how much a stream is worth and how the royalties were being distributed.
Rodgers said: “We don’t even know what a stream is worth and there’s no way you could even find out what a stream is worth, and that’s not a good relationship.”
He said that the UK could be a “leader” in changing the music streaming model, suggesting that rules could be enforced so that streaming companies would have to buy a licence to use an artist’s material, allowing artists to take a larger cut.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting live music events, many musicians have had to rely on streaming as their only source of income – leading to calls to re-evaluate the economic imbalances of streaming services.
DJ Mag España is celebrating a decade in print with a cover stars mix series.
Launched in 2010, DJ Mag España has printed over 100 physical issues, with cover stars like Armin van Buuren, Hot Chip, Marshall Jefferson, Richie Hawtin, and Carl Cox fronting the magazine.
To celebrate the last decade, DJ Mag España has revealed a mix series featuring some of the magazine’s cover stars, including DJ Nano, Eats Everything, Kevin Saunderson, Helena Hauff, and Nic Fanciulli,
Speaking in the latest print issue, the team at DJ Mag España said: “We wanted to thank you the only way we know: with music. For that, we asked 10 of our cover stars of the past 10 years to give us a special, exclusive mix for you to soundtrack this issue of DJ Mag Spain.
We thank you deeply for taking their time to give us these unique pieces of music, to Kevin Saunderson, Eats Everything, Marshall Jefferson, Helena Hauff, Blond:ish, Nic Fanciulli, Andres Campo, DJ Nano, Shimza and Regal. They also catch up with us briefly, to let us know what they felt and lived throughout this 2020.”
You can see all the mixes, and read the interviews, via the DJ Mag España website here.
A Thousand Dreams, adheres to the same melodic prospect as ARMNHMR’s debut album, The Free World, released in February. The follow-up EP rouses a heavy mix of electronic sub-genres, notably witnessing future and melodic bass climatically clash. The intensity of productions is complemented by comforting states of tranquility, workshopped by handful of up-and-coming producers such as KLAXX, SHSTR, NvrLeft, and Heimanu who assist on tracks “Somebody To Love,” “Learn To Love,” “When I Fall,” and “This Is Goodbye.”
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