‘Silent Night’ On 70’s Monster Synth, The ‘Live Electronic Orchestra’

Composer, engineer and former nuclear weapons specialist Don Lewis shared this live performance of Silent Night.

Lewis performs on his Live Electronic Orchestra (LEO), a custom plexiglass monster synth that he created in the 1970’s. It incorporates organ, multiple synthesizers, drum machines, a vocoder and more:

Lewis is the subject of a new indie documentary, The Ballad of Don Lewis, which is available on DVD.

Black & White Photo: Ned Augustenborg

Paul Woolford, Maceo Plex, and Bernard Sumners submit respective remixes of New Order’s ‘Be a Rebel’

Paul Woolford, Maceo Plex, and Bernard Sumners submit respective remixes of New Order’s ‘Be a Rebel’Rs 208385 Neworder 20150623

New Order have shared part one of their “Be a Rebel” remixes, directing re-imaginative duties to Paul Woolford, Maceo Plex, and Bernard Sumners. All three reinterpretations highlight the late ’80s electronic sound; Sumner’s “Outlaw Mix” fully immerses fans with a vintage showcase of vocoders, keys, drums, synths, and bass. Both Woolford and Maceo Plex’s remixes cross over into contemporary deep techno and progressive while incorporating break-beat and synth-pop.

New Order recently announced a homecoming show in Manchester, UK on September 10, 2021, after which they plan tour the United States at venues such as Madison Square Garden (New York), The Gorge (Washington), and the Hollywood Bowl (California). A full list of dates is available here; the first part of the “Be a Rebel” remixes can be found below.

Featured image: Nick Wilson

San Holo plays Santa with emotive remix of ‘Last Christmas’

San Holo plays Santa with emotive remix of ‘Last Christmas’San Holo

Over the years, alternative takes on Wham!‘s “Last Christmas” have become as much of a holiday staple as tinsel and mistletoe. “Last Christmas’” ability to so consistently attract covers year in and year out seems only to be part of the magic of the holiday season, and San Holo is the latest to apply his touch to the seasonal classic.

Joining the ranks of fellow “Last Christmas” revisionists such as Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani, and Tinashe, San Holo could be found playing Santa on the morning of December 25, affixing a bow to the top of his “Last Christmas” spin on SoundCloud and YouTube. An aural experience from start to finish, the “San Holo Remix” swaps out George Michael‘s timeless vocals for the bitbird founder’s own in spin that emotively harnesses the spirit of the Christmas season.

Featured image: Emily Shuey

Texture is a free, rich granular reverb plug-in with mid/side for Mac, Windows

You deserve some instant ambience – ready to pour over your sounds like so much maple syrup. Hell, yeah – and download this now, as it’s free only in December.

AudioThing have been busy, busy with their very attractive range of plug-ins focusing especially on both some exotic digital effects and analog recreations. (Plus they did that Soviet wire recorder echo with Hainbach – reminder link below.)

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I’ll say it again: I love free things not only because they … you know, don’t require money … but also because they give developers the freedom to focus on something specific, and not a bunch of knob creep.

“Things” promises to be “a series of smaller plugins covering a wide range of effects, focused on sound design and creativity.” The price of this plug-in will eventually be 19 EUR – meaning more of that simplicity I’m talking about – but the intro is free.

Texture is really, really simple – a bit like vintage hardware that never existed.

There’s a simple granular sampler running, and a reverb, and a dial between the two. Get raw granular textures by turning the dial to GRAINS, go for more blurred cave ambient by cranking up to REVERB, or find somewhere in between. There’s a simple pitch octave switch (something I always find myself adding to granular patches in Pd, actually).

And there’s also in addition to the MIX control a Mid/Side mode. That routes the granular effect to just the left/ride sides, while keeping the reverb across the stereo field.

I’m sure there’s a Reaktor or Max for Live device that does what this does but… it’s just so pretty. I almost want to change into a nice sweater just to touch it.

So have at it – 64-bit Windows and Mac support, VST2, VST3, AAX, AU (Mac), and it’s even Universal 2 Binary for macOS, so native for Apple Silicon. Simple activation scheme, too.

Ooh, wait – free, and it is native to M1. Looks like we just found a new plug-in to use for benchmarks. I see a lot of Things


Xmas up your Ableton Live with these free themes and chime-y sample pack

Go bright and daring with Ableton Live color schemes – including one very green option – and load up with some samples from a Christmas ornament. It can be festive, or it can be … something else entirely.

Back in the days of Live 4, life was more colorful. Some of the schemes were a nightmare for people with various types of color blindness; some maybe just didn’t hold up to more refined taste standards later.

But … you know, there is something about transforming your Live color set, even to something extreme. It can help break you out of a rut. And you can even make the thing look insanely forest green if you want. It’s all the latest from Madeleine Bloom, released earlier this month but well worth a mention while some of us are getting days off work/Zoom or at least looking for something to liven up December, with or without a particular holiday.

Live Themes #11 features Battleship, Fungus, Laser, Metal and Midnight. That’s for Live 10 and later (including Live 11 beta), but Live 9-compatible stuff is still available on her site.


And if that’s not enough free stuff for you, the most prolific free Live Pack producer on planet Earth is back with something he calls Christmas Bears. This is not the sound of gummi candies squishing or something that growls, but a sample of a very kitsch-y looking Christmas ornament.

It can sound charming, innocent. It could make the trailer for your new indie Hallmark-style Christmas feature. Or… uh, maybe I’ve watched too many movies, but it sounds like with just a little more reverb it’s perfect for your Christmas-themed splatter flick where a bunch of toys cross over from Hell to murder everyone, or maybe Tom Nook sucks you into your Nintendo Switch.

Just, you know – whatever you’re into. That’s what sample packs are for, erm, self-expression.

In all seriousness, this is an excellent lesson in how to create complete instruments out of your samples – and it has hilarious Christmas-themed knob labels. Christmas cheer is chorusing. And Frequency Modulation is just the kind of miracle we should have every day of the year. (“Ding! dong! merrily on high; the carrier wave is ringing!”)

Here is Brian with the explanation. Honestly, to sound designers, this is exactly what those Hallmark movies should be – explaining instrument racks, natch.

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Now I have 24 hours to figure out what Amplitude Modulation Boxing Day is. It sounds good, right? Let’s make it so.

Illenium and Dabin unwrap timely Christmas present, ‘Hearts on Fire’ with Lights

Illenium and Dabin unwrap timely Christmas present, ‘Hearts on Fire’ with LightsScreen Shot 2020 12 24 At 8.07.29 PM

Merry Christmas from Illenium, Dabin, and Lights.

It doesn’t take much to put dance music Twitter on high alert in this day and age, and Illenium knew exactly how to drum up excitement when he broadcasted that he wasn’t leaving 2020 in his rearview just yet, even after unloading “Nightlight” and “Paper Thin” this fall. How Illenium and Dabin had still yet to appear on the same collaborative headline was incomprehensible, but the two longtime friends and tourmates had been moving towards putting that to rest dating back to December of 2019. Exactly one year later, with a catastrophic pandemic in between, Illenium and Dabin have finally brought fans’ melodic pipe dream to reality, calling in vocal backing from Lights to unwrap a timely Christmas morning gift, “Hearts on Fire.”

Let’s just preface this second paragraph by stating that if you’re still combing through your track of the year hopefuls, it’ll only take one playback of “Hearts on Fire” to add it on there. Illenium and Dabin’s first-ever union couldn’t have fulfilled any more of the monolithic expectations surrounding it if it tried. Melding the duo’s unexampled emotive intellect through blissful acoustics and Lights’ anthemic hymns, “Hearts on Fire” incites daydreams of what it’d be like to someday experience it in person.

On top of arriving as a holiday giveaway, “Hearts on Fire” doubles as an early birthday present for Illenium, who celebrates his milestone 30th trip around the sun on December 26. The single is also grouped with Illenium’s prior two counterparts on Spotify, potentially alluding to a larger project on the way.

Featured image: Emp Media

Dombresky adds upbeat groove to Anabel Englund’s ‘Underwater’

Dombresky adds upbeat groove to Anabel Englund’s ‘Underwater’89048013 1350879058456270 212351341485472706 N

The September release of Anabel Englund and MK‘s “Underwater” proved a formidable follow-up to the latter’s remix of Englund’s “So Hot,” issued alongside Nightlapse in mid-July. The dance music community reacted accordingly when Englund and MK formally convened for the single, from the former’s debut album, Messing With Magic. Now, Dombresky, is treating fans to his own embodiment of the track.

Starting off with Englund’s enchanting vocals and a synthesized chord progression, the track engages sharp kicks with an upbeat, poolside signature that adds a bit of warmth to this winter season. The velvety intonation of the original seeps into the head-bopping groove of Dombresky’s spin, making it impossible for listeners to stand still.

Although more “Underwater” remixes are slated to land on January 8, 2021, Dombresky can be found competently leading the charge until then. Keep an eye out for more, and stream Dombresky’s sensational output below.

Featured image: Victor Ciardelli IV

Good Morning Mix: Begin the day in Belgium with Armin van Buuren’s Tomorrowland 2013 set

Good Morning Mix: Begin the day in Belgium with Armin van Buuren’s Tomorrowland 2013 set10547062 10152262840888316 4340288379756001250 O

Though each set that’s led Armin van Buuren to step on a Tomorrowland stage has been special, his July 27, 2013 slot at the Boom, Belgium-based festival’s main stage was slightly more so. “I just want to make a very special announcement,” the trance figurehead told the crowd as he stepped up to the decks. “I just came straight from the hospital, and I want the world to welcome…my wife just gave birth to a son, so I’d like to dedicate my whole set to my new son.” As the rain poured down, van Buuren proceeded to fill the once-in-a-lifetime one-hour and 33-second set with a diverse set of selects ranging from the Shura Vlasov mashup of the Armada Music head’s “Coming Home” and OneRepublic‘s “If I Lose Myself” to “This Is What It Feels Like” and even a bootleg of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Today, Dancing Astronaut ventures back to this fateful evening to not only wish Armin van Buuren a happy birthday but also kick off a Tomorrowland New Year’s Eve Good Morning Mix series. In the time leading up to Tomorrowland’s virtual NYE event, Dancing Astronaut will revisit Tomorrowland sets from artists slated to perform at the dance-focused finale to 2020. Follow the journey with our Tomorrowland NYE Good Morning Mix series, and learn why Tomorrowland’s Around The World festival was named our top digital event of 2020 here.

Featured image: Marc van der Aa

New initiative launched by Recording Academy and Color of Change to create racial justice in music industry

The racial justice organisation Color of Change has teamed up with The Recording Academy to share the #ChangeMusic road map, an initiative aiming to generate positive change and racial justice within the Grammy awards organisation as well as the wider music industry.

Developed with the goal of holding the Academy accountable, the map sets out five steps of action and provides various resources to help stimulate progress.

The project’s mission statement says that #ChangeMusic will “work to increase the number of Black people and other underrepresented groups in key roles in the Academy, [its] affiliates, and across the broader industry” and “identify and dismantle systemic barriers to representation and equitable treatment of Black people and other under-represented groups across the industry.”

In addition, it sets out planned investment in Black careers and funding for anti-racist training, as well as additional financial pledges to support the goal of racial justice within the sector.

Speaking in a press release, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said: “In a year of uprising, sickness, and distance, music has been both a healing force and a call to action. It’s helped us process our pain and drive social change. This moment offers an unparalleled opportunity to change patterns of exclusion and degradation and take action toward progress.

 “To honor and amplify Black artists’ past, present, and future contributions, the music industry must tear down the barriers that have been up for far too long. #ChangeMusic is our first step.”

Read DJ Mag’s feature, ‘Dance Music is Black Music: six months on’, where we speak to figures about fighting racism within the electronic music scene.

View the #ChangeMusic road map here.