COVID-19’s impact on China’s electronic music scene explored in BBC podcast: Listen

A new podcast documenting the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Chinese underground electronic music scene has been released as part of a BBC series.

Released as part of BBC World Service’s The Cultural Frontline podcast, the episode ‘Covid-19 And China’s Changing Club Scene’ explores how clubs in China re-opened in April this year after parts of the country immersed from tight lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to the Frank McWeeny in the programme, Cookie Zhang, founder of Shanghai-based label Eating Music, said that she was seeing far more new music releases come out of the country than ever before. “Before, we had many events but less people doing creative things in music itself,” she said.

Artist and co-founder of Chengdu Community Radio, Kaishandao, explained that travel restrictions and a two week quarantine period for anyone entering the country was allowing local music scenes to blossom with a “new wave of creativity” – filling the gap from an absence of international artists. 

This provided a unique opportunity to expose and nurture homegrown talent. “I’ve been lucky enough to perform at some of the best underground clubs in China, a position that I would have never gotten before, let’s be honest,” Kaishandao said.

Listen to the full episode, ‘Covid-19 And China’s Changing Club Scene’, on BBC World Service here

Read DJ Mag’s longread about how the SVBKVLT label carved out a new radical noise for Shanghai’s underground electronic scene in 2019. 

With Endlesss Studio, sampling, riffing, collaboration connect from mobile to Mac

We’ve seen plenty of efforts to make it easy to build song ideas from samples and loops on mobile. With a Mac launch, Endlesss now does what it set out to do – make those sound materials connect everywhere.

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It’s been a trip to watch Endlesss evolve, partly because the tech has to keep up with the expansive imagination and musical dexterity of founder Tim Exile. Long before any app aspirations, Exile had already built a virtuoso sampling persona in his own music, with layered loop gymnastics powered by Reaktor. It was always a nerdier, more hyperactive take on the Loop Station riff.

And about those Loopstations – the odd thing is, for all the permutations of “anyone can make music” apps built around sampling and looping, nothing has had quite the impact on musical culture as something like BOSS Loop Station hardware. That is, if you actually do have some musicianship – singing, rapping, beatboxing, playing a violin or accordion or whatever – you may already be really satisfied just plugging in a pedal and layering loops that way. And maybe you don’t have to be terribly great at this, because whatever you play, it’s yours. No one else is making it.

So yes, you do have quite a lot of apps that allow you to construct music from loops in ever-easier ways, with ever-more-minimal flat mobile interfaces. But then, we’ve had something like that ever since GarageBand and before that, ACID.

The unique conceit of Endlesss is to do something that loop pedal can’t, that even previous computer software didn’t really do, and keep a cloud-based journal of what you’re making.

Endlesss is constantly capturing ideas – committing them to storage after the fact when you find something you like. Then your ideas take on what it calls a Rifff, and Endlesss also has a splashy colored visualization that looks like a paint splatter.

The Endlesss app brought the first mobile-centered addition to this – letting you collaborate and jam, in person (with Ableton Link), or – conveniently socially distanced – online. You could then export the results to your DAW. Endlesss was from the start uniquely focused on the musician (by emphasizing mic input sampling), and on that global community.

But it’s really connecting that back to the DAW that shows some potential. Endlesss Studio has the same workflow on a Mac (soon on Windows PCs, too), which also means a bigger screen and familiar workflows, including for people who find tablets and phones cramped (or didn’t invest in higher-end hardware).

But this also means a complete flow from mobile to Mac. Apple tried their hand at this, evidently in response to overwhelming user feedback – even Grammy-level artists were already using the default iOS Voice Memos feature as a sketchpad wherever they were. Apple accordingly beefed up that app and eventually has added integrated sync in its flagship DAW Logic.

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Endlesss Studio is purpose-built for this task. You can run it as a standalone music production tool, or bring its VST3 or Audio Unit plug-in into your tool of choice (Ableton Live, Logic, GarageBand, Reason, or what have you).

Once there, you have the ability to browse your own Rifffs and Jams – locally and worldwide online. And you can record new loops, mess with loops, and mix and arrange Rifffs.

What’s unique is the fluidity of those different tools. If you really prefer to work on the Mac, all the mobile-style tools are there – they just work now in whatever your existing production tool is, so you can finish stuff effectively, use all your favorite finishing effects, and you don’t have to wrap your head around a new way of working. If you like the mobile method as a scratchpad and a way of improvising, your materials show up, too.

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Endlesss has a steady ramp in difficulty, too, so that people who do have a musical background – or want to explore – don’t hit a wall. So you have complete control over time signatures, scales, longer loops, and more advanced meters and rhythms. You can turn quantization off.

There is also a nicely powerful array of effects to play with, including bread-and-butter stuff (filters, reverb, gate, delay, saturator) but also more exotic offerings (keymashing, heavy distortion, repeat, ring mod, multicomb, and more).

You also get a lot of sampler fun, including sample settings with names like zap, bubble, growl, and wave. You can scratch, jump, and reverse. It sounds like a Batman fight more than technical terminology – deliciously so.

It’s still very Tim Exile, basically – nerdy sample mangling, which could ultimately deliver some of its long-term appeal.

Behind the scenes:

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I think the main deciding factor here is whether you want the mobile-to-Mac workflows and connected Rifffs. If you do want online access to other folks doing stuff, it’s always there. I suppose this has some strong parallels to the gaming world. Some people prefer games that are single-player only, to be lost in that world at their own style and tempo. Some want multiplayer, but only with friends. Some love that wide-open ability to just find online buddies at any time of the day or night. And some are a combination.

As Endlesss has matured, it is also up against a growing array of competition. If it’s just sampling on mobile you want, you have loads of options. Hainbach and Bram Bos went the tape looper route, if you want some solid one-on-one time with a vintage hardware-style recorder.

Closer to what Endlesss does, Andrew Huang recently unveiled Flip, an app he made with a developer team led by Oliver Greschke (of Elastic Drums fame) plus Christian Blomert (co-creator of touchAble) and Matt Davey. (Disclosure: I worked with Oliver on the WretchUp app as a co-developer.)

Flip clearly has some of the Elastic DNA in it, but that’ll be a good thing for some. It still provides very accessible sampling, and it also comes with a ton of depth in effects and sample mangling that newcomers and advanced users alike will enjoy.

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Here’s Andrew on that approach:

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It’s worth considering some of the competition may come from the DAWs themselves, and whether they’re able to integrate sampling directly. What Ableton are doing with comping, for instance, is already powerful, and it does allow you to work right in the environment where you make songs.

But you certainly have choices. If Flip (and other mobile samplers) want you to make music everywhere, Endlesss binds all that everywhere together. And… well, you can still just record into your DAW, import audio samples from other gear and mobile, or just plug in a hardware looper and be done with it. I’m sure people will go down all those paths.

Endlesss Studio is US$99 intro; then after March 2021 (oh dearthat sounds far off), it’s $199.

https://endlesss.fm/products/studio

Diplo to headline virtual concert ahead of Georgia runoff elections

Diplo to headline virtual concert ahead of Georgia runoff electionsDiplo Featured Image Joe Larkin

As the Georgia Senate runoff elections rapidly near with nationwide implications on the line, the music industry bands together to make a push for political engagement. Recruiting Diplo and Dave Matthews, among others to headline, the Georgia Comes Alive concert welcomes 40 artists for a one-day virtual endeavor ahead of January 5, 2021. The digital event will take place on December 26 at 3:00 p.m. EST / 12:00 p.m. PST.

Portugal. The Man, Big Gigantic, and Bob Weir’s one-off supergroup, The Lame Ducks, also lead a hefty lineup for the get-out-the-vote initiative. The festival will go towards supporting local grassroots organizations Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and CivicGeorgia.

Donate any amount to receive streaming links on the day of the show here.

Diplo to headline virtual concert ahead of Georgia runoff electionsPoster

Featured image: Joe Larkin

Bitwig adds a free 808 – multisampled and 808 bass and Grid patch ready

Bitwig’s new 808 freebie is massively multisampled and uniquely integrated with Bitwig Studio – which opens up the possibility of playing bass lines on it or integrating it with modular patches in The Grid.

All about the holiday giveaway. Uh… holidays… okay at this point we’re just describing it as “the year at least is ending.”

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First, here’s how to get it:

You’ll need to update to the latest Bitwig Studio, 3.3.1. (3.3 just recently exited beta, and the 3.3.1 release only just dropped.) You should see a notification once you launch Bitwig. Note that 16-Track and even 8-Track work with this, meaning in the latter case you might already own a Bitwig license and never touched it. Now’s your chance.

Once you’ve installed that, open the Package Manager: File > Settings > Packages > Essentials Collection > Bass-08.

Bass-08 isn’t a new device – it uses the device structure you’ve already got, which in this case is a big convenience in the Bitwig Studio workflow.

So you’ll find it by adding an instrument, and choosing Presets, then looking for Bitwig > Bass-08.

Plenty o’ presets.
(Yeah, my browser is spare – I like working preset-free.)

There are loads of 808’s out there – I think if you don’t have one installed somewhere already, you probably don’t own a computer or sample-based drum machine, so I’m curious how you’re reading this far.

But there are some twists here. Bitwig massively multisampled their 808 recreation – 2474 samples in total. And they made a bunch of tweakable devices, with pre-mapped tone controls, and patterns and presets for playing.

Powerful features in there, based on the Bitwig architecture.

Crucially, there are three additions here:

  1. You’ve got chromatic Pitched presets so you can make 808 basslines or other pitched 808-based sounds.
  2. Multisampling means that you can have variations of sounds as you play for a less-sampled sound.
  3. Individual drum pieces can be loaded up, which is convenient for patching with The Grid.

808 bass is probably the most popular application, but I do mean other pitched sounds, too. They’ve made pitched renditions of basically everything, so you can, say, jam across the octaves on the 808 conga, too. Those presets work with equal temperament by default, but don’t forget that Bitwig Studio now has robust support for other tuning systems, too.

Tuned percussion you can play chromatically – already available as a number of presets for quick access.

I especially like the idea of doing weird things with this and Bitwig’s various devices. And it sure sounds good:

On the same note of “reimagining now-cliche drum machines,” check out the previously mentioned SC-808 for SuperCollider, which has also seen updates since I wrote about it.

I do think there’s something about the 808 sound. But opening up these different approaches to it lets you connect to that familiar part, and push it in some new directions. Something old, something borrowed, something kind of blue… well, let old acquaintances be forgot and all that jazz.

Let us know what you make.

https://www.bitwig.com/stories/bass-08-120/

Wait, Bitwig, just read the URL – was your blog post at the 120 bpm default?

Peter Bjorn and John finish off their year with ‘Endless Play’

It’s been twenty years since Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John first came together as a band to create subtly moving indie pop pieces. It’s been fourteen since they reached commercial success with their breakout single, “Young Folks.” And it’s only been nine months since they released their ninth studio album, Endless Dream. But much like other artists scratching at the relentless itch to write and spend their quarantine lost in a creative haze (ahem, Taylor Swift), they decided they weren’t quite done yet. So they continued to write, one song each, for their last project of 2020—Endless Play

Written from each of the band members’ point of view, Endless Play is a lifetime of stories condensed into twelve short minutes. As a band that has weathered the storms of two decades, putting out music both as a collective and as individuals during that time, it wouldn’t be far fetched to expect their material to become stale, their instrumentation simple and overplayed. But on this humble EP, they stretch beyond what their past dictates and lean into what their present sounds like, as honestly as they possibly can.

While Peter’s “Season of Defiance” brings forth images of calm, grey skies set across a beach wet with sea foam with its gentle guitar picks and lo-fi vocals, Bjorn’s “Gone Gone Gone” sets the sun on that scene, tossing its guitar in the backseat of a car as it aimlessly drives down an empty road, singing along to a familiar folk tune on the radio. The final contribution—John’s “Gonggong”—goes deeper into the night, with robust percussions simply demanding attention, not letting up until you give it. It may be a short journey to take, but it feels like every emotion you’ve had in the past year has been analyzed and simplified to just three simple songs: “We sure do need to stay defiant these days and not be scared into silence and submission,” Peter notes. “So it’s a very gentle call to arms I suppose, in a couple of coupled together sentences that you can read a lot into if you like…or not. “

Connect with Peter Bjorn and JohnSpotify|Instagram|Facebook|Twitter

Free Steinway Piano Virtual Instrument

Free Steinway Piano Virtual Instrument
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Soniccouture has released a free 2.8GB piano virtual instrument, Hammersmith Free.

It’s based on their Hammersmith Model D Grand, which offers features like additional mic positions and a deeper sample library.

Features:

  • Free Download
  • 2.8 GB Library
  • 21 Velocity layers
  • Schoeps MK4 Mic Pair
  • Kontakt Player 6 NKS Compatible

It’s available now as a free download.

Data Dump Generator Random Sample Playback Virtual Instrument

Data Dump Generator Random Sample Playback Virtual Instrument
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The Data Dump Generator is a new sampled-based Software Instrument that lets you load your own samples, or use the Sound Bank provided, and create randomly generated melodic loops and constantly mutating rhythms.

Features:

  • Trigger samples in a wide range of ways
  • Load unlimited amount of samples for random playback
  • Generate unlimited melodic loops using the randomizer function
  • Generate random rhythms using dump amount / probability function

Includes:

  • 1 x Data Dump Generator Software Instrument VST3 64 Bit For Mac
  • 1 x Data Dump Generator Software Instrument VST3 64 Bit For PC
  • 1 x Data Dump Generator Software Instrument Audio Unit 64 Bi for Mac
  • 1 x RandomiZer Sound Bank: 100 Royalty Free WAV samples to power the Data Dump Generator.
  • 1 x README File

Pricing and Availability

Data Dump Generator is available now for £10.

Live music crowd experiment tests effectiveness of same-day COVID-19 testing

1,000 Barcelona residents participated in a live concert medical study on Saturday, 12th December to evaluate the effectiveness of same-day COVID-19 screenings for physical events.

According to a report by The Associated Press, 500 of the volunteers were randomly selected to enjoy a free five-hour concert inside Barcelona’s Apollo Theater after passing an antigen screening – a test which produces results in 15 minutes but with less accuracy than those with longer waiting times. 

Although selected volunteers had to wear FFP2 face masks and use hand disinfectant, social distancing wasn’t enforced in order to emulate a real concert atmosphere on the dancefloor – a rare indulgence for attendees while the rest of Spain remained bound by health authority rules to remain seated and two meters apart. But speaking to The Associated Press, Dr. Boris Revollo, the virologist who designed the study’s protocols, emphasised that: “This is not a party, this is a scientific study.”

The other half of volunteers who did not attend the concert were sent home to form a ‘control group’, in an attempt to help decipher the accuracy of the pre-screening tests and to analyse if there was any contagion left inside the concert hall.

The study was organized by Primavera Sound in conjunction with Barcelona’s Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation. Investigating options to hold cultural events in the future, the organisers hoped that same-day screenings could work as a tool to allow the events sector to safely re-open until the majority of the population have been vaccinated against coronavirus. 

In Germany, a study performed in August concluded that there is a “low to very low” risk of attendees contracting coronavirus in indoor concerts, provided they follow correct hygiene procedures and the venue is well ventilated with limited capacity. The study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, was carried out by scientists from Halle University, and involved three successive gigs with 1,500 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 50 in attendance. 

In the UK, some festivals have been optimistic about the future of physical events and have already announced their full lineups for 2021 – with We Out Here Festival next August confirming Call Super, SHERELLE, and Overmono amongst others.

For now, more scientific research will be necessary to investigate how safe in-person physical events will actually be – meanwhile other festivals, such as Glastonbury, have halted any lineup announcements due to complications with securing live events cancellation insurance for next summer. 

In Spain, over 48,000 people have died from COVID-19 to date.

Season two of Foreign Family Collective’s ‘Intermission’ mix series forges forth with Tycho submission [Stream]

Season two of Foreign Family Collective’s ‘Intermission’ mix series forges forth with Tycho submission [Stream]Tycho

After supplying the season two opener to Foreign Family Collective‘s “Intermission Broadcast Mix” on November 26, ford. passed the sonic baton to Tycho, who assumed possession with poise, putting forth the tenth installment in the Intermission saga. With “Mix 010,” Tycho—lesser known as Scott Hansen—whets streamers palates for the new Tycho content that they’re to receive on December 18, the land date for Weather Remixes. Fortunately, the forecast for sneak previews of what is yet to come on the re-imagination of Tycho’s fifth studio LP is good, with the ambient auteur slipping several advance listens into the Intermission mix.

A characteristically lucid showing of musical self from the San Francisco creative, “Mix 010” of the Intermission series serves as a suitable warmup for the Mom + Pop/Ninja Tune-distributed Weather Remixes. It also adds further luster to Intermission cohort, which, to date, features submissions from SG LewisJai WolfRobotakiChet PorterWhethanTOKiMONSTA, Mild Minds, and ODESZA. Tycho fans can catch him live on January 1 for a New Year’s Day livestream experience, “Solo Ascent.”

Featured image: Exchange Los Angeles

Absolut, Beatport complete #DanceAway2020 New Year’s Eve lineup with addition of Honey Dijon, Nicole Moudaber, and more

Absolut, Beatport complete #DanceAway2020 New Year’s Eve lineup with addition of Honey Dijon, Nicole Moudaber, and moreHoney Dijon

After announcing their 2020 New Year’s Eve event #DanceAway2020 at the tailend of November, Absolut and Beatport are rounding out the virtual affair’s roster of talent with the addition of seven new artists. Newcomers to #DanceAway2020’s guest list include Honey Dijon, Nicole Moudaber, Patrick Topping, Sydney Blu, BLANCah, MACHÌNA & SEKITOVA, and Mendy Indigo. Of note, #DanceAway2020 will be Honey Dijon’s first livestream set since the COVID-19 quarantine commenced.

By expanding the digital event’s lineup, Absolut and Beatport position the bow atop #DanceAway2020, completing the package, which will also feature performances from Carl Cox, TOKiMONSTA, Jamie Jones, Jaguar, BLOT!, RayRay, and Jixo & Danz. Sitting in excess of 20 hours, the marathon livestream will host performances across more than 15 timezones and cities, such as New Delhi, Dubai, Shanghai, London, Miami, and Los Angeles.

On December 31, #DanceAway2020 will broadcast live from Beatport’s YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as its Facebook page. More information on #DanceAway2020 is available here.

Absolut, Beatport complete #DanceAway2020 New Year’s Eve lineup with addition of Honey Dijon, Nicole Moudaber, and moreBPABS FullLineUp FBEventCover 2

Featured image: Gala Festival