With a little more than three weeks’ notice, the Grammy Awards have made a last-minute decision to postpone their 2021 show scheduled for January 31, with sources citing concerns over the unrelenting COVID-19 spread around the United States, specifically the Los Angeles area, as the reasoning.
While the award show’s organizers have not officially disclosed the news as well as a new confirmed date, sources claim that the Grammys are currently looking towards a rescheduled night in March. The Grammys had originally detailed a ground plan with no live audience, as well as only allowing presenters or performers in person at the STAPLES Center, although it’s unclear at the time of writing if that will remain intact.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, canonical house music label Defected Records hosted We Dance As One 3.0, a virtual music festival rife with house acts such as Dom Dolla, Eats Everything, and Low Steppa, among others. Though all those who received the We Dance As One 3.0 rang in the new year with soothing, soulful house selects, Gorgon City‘s ID-filled set, delivered live from Printworks, was among the evening’s most preeminent.
Gorgon City’s We Dance As One 3.0 virtual set features six brand new IDs as well as a slew of tantalizing originals, and far as Dancing Astronaut is concerned, there is no better way to set the tone for the day than by threading it with a full hour of house. Watch the full set below.
The UK Government is being urged to take immediate action after Brexit touring plans were rejected by the EU.
It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals — including free, longterm working travel arrangements for artists and crew. Without such a framework in place, costs involved in UK artists playing Europe, and vice versa, risk becoming prohibitive for many, with emerging and rising talent and grass roots organisations expected to be hit particularly hard.
As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make such tours far more expensive and complicated. It raises further fears over what this fresh blow could mean for the recovery of a UK music industry, which was worth £5.2billion before the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.
Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis has denied claims the festival has been cancelled for 2021.
Responding to comments made in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview by Spice Girls’ Melanie Brown — AKA Mel B — the festival’s co-organiser, Eavis, jumped onto Twitter to quickly reiterate that a formal decision has yet to be made on whether to pull this year’s weekender.
“I know that Glastonbury’s been cancelled, so a lot of big stage performances are on hold again this year, which is sad but we’ve got to get this virus under control,” Brown had told 5 Live host Nihal Arthanayake, sparking rumours that Spice Girls could be on the bill for Glastonbury’s Sunday evening ‘legends’ set as part of the outfit’s 25th anniversary.
Nope, no news this end. Will let you know right here as soon as there is news
Despite denying that the event has now been postponed for a second year running due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eavis has already confirmed that tickets for 2021 will be valid for 2022 should Glastonbury not go ahead this year. Her father and the festival’s founder, 85-year-old Michael Eavis, has already received the first vaccine dose and believes his world famous gathering can go ahead if enough people also receive the necessary inoculations.
Glastonbury has been among the most vocal forces calling for UK government support with coronavirus insurance to help protect against cancellations and postponements this summer. As of Tuesday 5th January, the UK has gone back into a national lockdown which will run until mid-February at the earliest in a bid to curb surging COVID-19 infections, meanwhile across the globe in New Zealand tens of thousands have been attending festivals as life continues to return to something like normality, with new cases of the virus now numbering less than 80 across the country.
The first details from Lollapalooza’s 2021 installment have informally come to light. In a recent interview on SIRIUS XM‘s Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk, Journey guitarist Neal Schon let it slip that the classic rock band is set to headline Lollapalooza in April 2021.
“Hopefully [Lollapalooza will] not get pushed back because the vaccine is finally here. And hopefully they start dispersing it very quickly so everybody can get back on their feet and can get out and hear music, ’cause that’s what heals the world, I think.”
Schon also disclosed that Journey has a brand new studio album due later this year. Notably, it will be the first Journey LP to feature the group’s new members, drummer/producer Narada Michael Walden and bassist Randy Jackson.
At this time, Lollapalooza has yet to declare 2021 dates or a lineup for 2020’s rumored follow-up.
Lying somewhere between organic and artificial in its sound, the vocal synth Pipa – available as both an iPad app and a Mac and Windows plug-in – is genuinely new and refreshing.
I’ve been playing around with it a little late, but I absolutely adore this little gem. It’s something that begs you to plug in a little MIDI keyboard and actually mess around, and you can bend it to all kinds of contexts. It can make quirky vocal a capellas like you hear in the demos, but you can also treat it as a unique oscillator with some vocal-ish characteristics.
So yes, this is the “vocalese” plug-in if you want it to be. But it’s really a synth, with all the fluid control of parameters you’d expect.
It’s the work of a small but prolific boutique plug-in maker in Stockholm called Klevgrand.
Also, crucial – if you read this today Tuesday 5 January, there are intro deals on both. (Sorry for not much heads-up on that.) Half off, so US$24.99 on desktop and $9.99 on iPad.
Digital instruments today tend to use one of three methods:
(Big) samples. You’re spoiled for choice with this – massive sample libraries with dozens of gigabytes of sounds. Yes, they’ll sound like a real chorus or vocalist, but the samples are so large you’re practically just playing a recording of the choir. It’s very effective, and it allows you to compose something that sounds like real singers.
Formant filters. This family of approaches is the descendant of voice synthesis. It’s that obviously artificial sound you may have heard – which is itself desirable.
Wavetables. Generally in combination with 2, you can also use sliced up wavetables. Pipa is related to this, but with a very significant twist.
Since the main challenge here is how you piece together little audio snippets into the finished result, the third method uses machine learning. That hasn’t shown up in a vocal synth. (It will.)
Simple digital synths of the 80s and 90s also tried using vocal wavetables, but it’d be more or less the same wavetable repeated everywhere, so it also sounds obviously artificial. (That’s the “dooh dooh” sound many of us grew up with on Roland and Yamaha General MIDI gear.)
Now, granular wavetables. What makes Pipa interesting is that it uses wavetables, but combines them with granular playback – so you get lots of overlapping wavetables for a smooth, consistent sound.
There are two advantages to that. One, that sounds more organic and voice-like than just repeating a wavetable or using formant filters. But secondly, the controls give you more continuous parameters you can shift as you play – which is desirable in a synth.
The developers explain that they’ve taken a big database of wavetables, all from actual vocal samples. That’s the same technique as used on older gear, just you have a lot more of them and morph between them. (And you retain phase alignment, which means you can morph smoothly.)
Loads of responsive parameters
We’re all overusing the term “expressive” these days. Let’s talk about what this really means – you can plug in a MIDI keyboard and how you play and what you do with the mod wheel and whatnot actually makes the sound transform. It’s more playable. It’s more fun. And that’s what this is, thanks to an array of different parameter choices.
Voice controls. You can choose “male” and “female” (which determines which wavetables are used) and play them across any pitch range, or use “mixed” to transition from one to the other automatically based on played pitch. As in any voice synth, part of the artificiality comes from your ear’s ability to hear particular formant-pitch relations – and of course, you’re free to break those rules, so these are fluid qualities.
The granular bit is in “fluctuation,” “randomness,” and “voices.” The plural “voices” is actually just two, but you get sounds that resemble larger choruses depending on how you set other parameters. (You can also set the stereo stage using the pan and spatial width controls.)
Playing with fluctuation and randomness you can get a wide range of smoother, thinner sounds and richer textures, some of which begin to sound like instrumental-vocal hybrids. So you can get more artificial, synth-y sounds with fluctuation at zero, natural vocal sounds in the middle, and some more granular / textural sounds as you crank up fluctuation and randomness.
The human side of the voice control is the vowel, dynamics, and body/nose/air controls, which help you model the natural characteristics of the vocal tract.
Envelopes and modulation. Note those Mod buttons next to vowel and dynamics. And note the LFO. And the envelopes.
The sounds you get in the demos largely have to do with setting the vowel shape and envelopes. Again, because this is a synth, you can produce those effects y using live synthesizer controls and either routing in control or playing. That makes Pipa a perfect choice both for something you want to play with a MIDI keyboard and something you want to drop into a modular environment and treat like a patchable oscillator. (Think Reaktor, VCV Rack, Bitwig Studio, etc.)
The vowel and dynamics mods can also be mapped to external input, including key tracking or (if your keyboard supports it) aftertouch. (You can also use these mappings in those aforementioned modular worlds.)
There is no lyric support in Pipa. But that’s what’s kind of extraordinary about this engine – all those vowel shifts that sound like vocalese and even sound like they have consonants are just clever use of rapid envelopes. And that’s actually pretty great.
Control. There are two control buses, both of which can be assigned with a learn control, and each of which has its own attack fader. That last detail is unorthodox and really welcome.
You also have pitch bend and legato controls, with both a range and attack control on pitch bend (also really clever).
Reverb and Room. There are a lot of reverbs paired with this instrument – 6 algorithms under Reverb (plus width and size), and another 5 algorithms under Room. You can combine them if you like, meaning you can use Reverb as your channel reverb but use Room to give the sound some natural body.
Side note – I even paired this with the old wavetable approach (the one that doesn’t use these granular techniques). I tried layering some 90s vocal patches from the Roland JV-1080 (which is lurking in your Roland Cloud subscription if you have one). The results were strange and, to me at least, entertaining. Let’s see what tracks come out of that.
If you want some quirky, cute vocalese sounds, or something a bit artificial and playable, or something in between – Pipa is brilliant. Lovers of granular instruments will be immediately at home, too. (A caution, as with any granular instrument – depending on where you set envelopes, you can max out your CPU by creating too many grains.)
There’s particularly nothing like this on iPad, since those massive sample libraries won’t fit, so it’s great to be able to sketch some stuff while lying around.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, David Guetta continued his“United at Home” series with a year-end performance at the Louvre Glass Pyramid in Paris, France. Presented in partnership with PS5 and Xiaomi, Guetta’s set invited fans across the globe to celebrate the new year with another philanthropic livestream after previously raising $1.5 million for UNICEF, Les Restos du Coeur (meaning “Restaurants of Love”) and the Musée du Louvre through his previous United at Home” sets in Miami and New York.
Exhibiting one of the finest art collections in the world, the Louvre Museum adds to Guetta’s list of unique live settings. Though the New Year’s Eve festivities are over now, the set, which showcased Guetta’s “future rave” sound while unloading a lengthy list of originals and remixes, including an exclusive rework of his 2009 smash hit “Memories,” with Kid Cudi, is available to re-experience below.
The pair were no strangers in the studio, having previously collaborated on a number of occasions, including the recently released ‘Lunch Break’, which also featured Thundercat and Dorian Concept and was released via Grand Theft Auto Online. An earlier track, ‘Masquatch’, also forms part of the best-selling video game franchise’s musical legacy.
Responding to the news of Doom’s passing, which sent shockwaves through the hip hop and wider music world, Flying Lotus took to Twitter to express his grief and sadness.
I hate to say this but we were actually working on an EP. There were more songs that I haven’t even heard. https://t.co/i3772B7bDS