Able to roll through chords, make organic arpeggiations, and spin out hypnotic melodies, Strum looks like the most addictive Max for Live device in recent memory.
The Device is so elegantly designed, it’s actually hard to believe it didn’t come from Ableton. But the basic idea is you arpeggiate organically through a pattern rather than robotically like arpeggiators normally do. “Strum” is not a bad way to put it – but it’s technically even closer to the way pianists interpret a glissando.
If you a touch strip-equipped Maschine or Maschine+, this feature is built in – trigger NOTES plus the horizontal touch strip, which NI dubs the Smart Strip. You can strum on the touch strip directly, or hold down notes or use chords and then strum on the touch strip. You get less landing area than on the twice-as-long, slightly wider Push strip, though – and the controls lack the granularity and extra features here. You can also use Maschine / Maschine+ in MIDI mode if you have that instead of Push – set the Smart Strip to PITCH or MOD as desired.
I’m sure there are other examples using this or a mod wheel… see comment at bottom, probably even other Max for Live devices to check out, too.
This is especially ingenious on Ableton Push, hardware that seems like it was born for this very technique. You’ve got a grid which is kinda sorta expressive on Push, and very precise for finding melodies and harmonies. And you’ve got a big vertical touch strip just waiting to do something.
Evidently, it was waiting to do this, because you have easy two-handed technique using the touch strip to gliss/strum through the chords in the other hand. (That favors righties, arguably, but it works with little effort either way.)
But if you don’t have Push, this still looks terrifically useful – because a mod wheel or other controller (even an expression pedal, I imagine) would work beautifully, too.
That’s already clever, but they kept going with extra features.
For more quantization: If you want to rhythmically synchronize the output with your song, there’s a synced LFO.
For more organicism, Orbit wanders around the pitches for a fluttering sound.
Now, the Max for Live community is so mature at this point that it’s almost impossible to mention anything without someone saying “but have you seen…” – which is terrific! So if this spurs that reaction, give a shout in comments.
After playing this for a little bit, some thoughts:
Turn on ‘through‘ first so you still hear notes before you strum with mod wheel / etc.
Remember with Push (for example), you need to match the Device to what your push strip is set to – pitch bend, mod, whatever.
For organic fluttering/bouncing with Orbit like you hear in the demo video, set a high value for Speed (the second number, a rate in Hz) and a low-ish value for amount (%).
Don’t forget the octave values at bottom
Adjust V. Variation for more organic qualities by adjusting the velocity
And most importantly, you’re not limited to two-handed operation! One-handed works just as well – record or play back an existing Clip, and use Strum as an effect.
Is Sequential – which has collaborated with Tom Oberheim on the OB-6 and recently introduced a Prophet-5 reissue – going to reissue the classic Oberheim OB-X?
We haven’t seen any official word from Sequential on this yet, but on Jan 5, 2021, the company has filed to trademark ‘OB-X’ for use with ‘Musical instruments, namely, keyboards; music synthesizers’. And the company traditionally introduces a new synthesizer around the time of the NAMM Show, which is scheduled this year for Jan 20-23, as an online event.
The Oberheim OB-X is a pioneering polyphonic analog synthesizer, originally available in 4-, 6- and 8-voice configurations. The OB-X features a dual VCO + VCF + VCA synth voice, with the filter based on the Oberheim S.E.M. The S.E.M. was also the inspiration for Sequential’s OB-6 design.
“It’s not often that you get to revisit your past, retrieve some of its magic, and give it new life,” said Sequential head Dave Smith, on the release of the Prophet-5/10 rev4. “It’s gratifying to rediscover that its sound and aesthetics are just as appealing now as they were then.”
Could a similar reissue be coming for the OB-X? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Galantis have always been able to balance the modern electronic sound with broader pop sensibilities, a trait that has helped propel them to headliner status around the world. The duo has worked with everyone from Dolly Parton to OneRepublic, and up next is JVKE, a rising pop force who was discovered en masse due to his viral TikTok hit, “Upside Down.” Galantis explained how the collaboration came together, stating,
“‘Dandelion;came about after JVKE requested to hop on a Galantis Instagram Live. I recognized him from TikTok and I asked him what he was up to. He said he was working on an idea for a song and started to sing it for me. I really loved the vibe and he asked if I was down to work on it together. We ended up sending it back and forth and it became this natural organic collaboration with no real plan or goal. The past year has really changed how we make music and work with other artists, with negative circumstances actually opening doors to unlikely opportunities.”
“Dandelion” sounds like another classic feel-good anthem from Galantis, but the lyrics paint a more somber picture. It’s another resume booster for the super-duo, but it’s a massive step in vocalist JVKE’s bourgeoning career. Moreover, it’s more evidence supporting the emergence of TikTok as a legitimate way for young artists to find footing in the traditional music landscape.
Roland’s latest outgrowth from their shared hardware platform is a groove machine, song arrangement tool, and looper – one that acknowledges some people want to do both beats and vocals.
We’re getting now a tone of stuff based on Roland’s ZEN-Core engine – as promised. That engine resembles a lot of slightly older Roland workstations and such, but it’s finding its way into low-cost gear.
The MC-101/707 went down this road. I’m still wrestling with the MC-101 but I’ll be honest in that these boxes never made a terrific amount of sense to me. There’s a lot of capability but also a lot of menu diving and workflows that just feel like they’re out of another decade. (There’s not an easy quick sampling workflow, for one.)
The MV-1 starts with some of those same pieces, but the combination starts to make more sense. There’s both a TR-style step sequencer and a 4×4 pad configuration with velocity sensitivity, in an MPC-style arrangement (with RGB colors, naturally).
And it does a lot in one box, so basically:
Program beats, record loops and samples, multitrack, mixdown and finish
Velocity-sensitive pads 4×4
TR-style step sequencing
Mic in (plus internal mic)
Built-in effects (for vocals, per channel, mastering)
Finish projects onboard and connect to the cloud
Shares sounds with Roland Cloud, connects to Roland’s Zenbeats iPad app
And they’ve made the different levels stupidly simple – in a really good way. It even says WORKFLOW on the top (which is a little funny). But you get the sequencer level (for patterns), section, song, and then mixer and even mixdown for finishing. That’s about as clear as any hardware or software maker has made this, and it is the opposite of the convoluted approach of the MC. I know it’s probably about new users, but I sure as heck welcome not getting lost in menus, and I have a little bit of experience.
So you still get hands-on parameter control, you can still make on a row of steps like a TR, and you get velocity-sensitive pads for playing percussion with some expression or adding melody. Sounds good to me.
What’s new here is the addition of sampling and vocals, and it promises to finally make it easy to record and load your own sounds onboard. There’s an onboard looper and live sampling.
That’s really the part I’m most interested in and maybe the least clear on this – we have to dig through the documentation and test this to see how it works.
They’ve also added effects – Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer, and Doubler (which they say are “modern,” although I guess that now means anything after 1985). You also get reverb, chorus, “mastering” effects, and dozens of variations, so I suspect a lot like what we’ve seen on TR-8S and MC-101/707.
Also friendly to vocalists, there’s an XLR mic input with phantom power, plus a built-in mic so you don’t lose any ideas if you don’t have a mic handy.
There are also dual headphone jacks, which … makes me sad about social distancing, but yes.
And it all runs on battery power.
Street is around US$699, with the whole thing on preorder. But that to me is the winner – low price, battery power, runs on its own. This may not be an advanced DAWless powerhouse, but for it shows some promise for people wanting something simple.
It just also adds to the pile of stuff that won’t sway me from my Boutique Series and TR-8S, Roland. Because that ZEN-Core engine while it delivers a large quantity of sounds tends to have a quality that sounds… a bit like 90s Roland gear, sorry. (That’s as in the 90s and ‘noughts digital Roland gear.) The circuit modeling in the Boutique drum machines and TR-8S just sounds great, plus now Roland tucked some brilliant FM sounds into the TR-8S.
In other words, while the MV-1 looks a lot simpler and less expensive than some producer-oriented tools, the big competition is actually probably from Roland/BOSS. A lot of vocalists are likely to still prefer the workflow of a BOSS looper, which is not what you get out of this. And you can always finish tracks in Ableton Live or Logic.
That said, I’m interested to check out exactly how sampling and looping work. The workflow integration stuff makes sense. Building a box that encourages people to finish tracks – that’s always a real thing.
Oh, and tucked into the announcement is one other little detail that could have implications for the rest of the product line. Roland says they’re using Roland Cloud to let you load in new sound packs (well, of course they are), but also as a way to save your own projects.
I hope – hope – this also means an easy cloud workflow for loading and retrieving samples.
Roland has also offered integration with their Zenbeats cloud app. That’s cute, and gives iPad owners another way to work.
But notice they’re leaving a hole open to the competition – there’s no Ableton Live export, which clearly lots of folks want, and we still have to see how easy it is to get at your samples.
Oh yeah, and there are rumored Novation boxes on the horizon, too. Well, if we have another long span of social distancing ahead, maybe there’s still a chance for more people to find boxes they love, and for all of us to finish some music.
AZ Magazine has announced the first five recipients of its 2020 Creative Fund.
Five recipients have been chosen by AZ Mag, an award-nominated online community and platform for Queer Trans Intersex Black People & People of Colour (QTIBPOC), following a successful fundraiser in 2020. A further five recipients will be announced at a later date.
As part of DJ Mag’s ongoing collaboration with AZ Mag, we will be sponsoring and mentoring one recipient, Xilhu Ayebaitari Ese to create a Dance music project. Xilhu – whose artist name is Ayebaitari – will be using the grant to launch a new project, Queer Rave: a community project that celebrates and represents queer, female and genderqueer Drum & Bass DJs.
Xilhu is a DJ, video artist/editor, performance artist and creative, who aims to develop Queer Rave as an opporunity to “reimagine and and transform” the d&B scene as an inclusive and open space that is accepting of all genders and sexualities.
“Queer Rave is here to give a platform, recognition and empowerment to these DJs,” says Xilhu. “As well as a connected network of queer ravers and community.”
Queer Rave will use its AZ Mag creative grant to create a live streaming platform for DJs, and to curate artist-based content and radio shows. The grant will go toward purchasing equipment required for the project to take off. DJ Mag will be providing ongoing mentorship and facilities to Queer Rave throughout its development.
In his latest loopop video, host Ziv Eliraz shares 13 ways to get more out of your synthesizer.
Eliraz demos his tips with a Moog Subsequent 37, but the techniques will work with others synths that have the necessary features.
Check out the video and share your thoughts on it in the comments!
0:00 Intro 0:30 Digital osc 1:30 MIDI control 4:10 Pitch bend wheel ideas 5:10 Musical bends 6:55 Use the matrix 9:15 Controllers 10:05 LFO fade in 10:55 Const on 11:42 Res gain comp 13:40 Plugin uses 15:10 Automation 16:10 Switch mod 17:10 Other mods 18:10 Mod only 18:45 Outro
Roland today introduced the MV-1, a standalone music production workstation that lets you create complete productions, with vocal recording, pattern generators, ZEN-Core sounds, mastering effects and more.
The MV-1 can work as a standalone, battery powered workstation, but also can connect to your phone, tablet or computer, along with MIDI gear, to be the center of studio productions.
Record vocals with modern effects like Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer, and Doubler
Over 3000 sounds for modern styles
4×4 pads and TR-REC step sequencer for drums, basslines, and melodic parts
Songwriting tools and generators get you started and keep you flowing
Interface with your smartphone, tablet, or computer for easy file transfer
Plug-and-play integration with Roland Zenbeats app expands your production capabilities
High-quality mixing and mastering effects
Make music on the move with power via a mobile battery or USB
Built-in mic and XLR mic input with phantom power
Stereo ¼-inch I/O, dual headphones jacks, and MIDI I/O
Roland MV-1 Video Demo:
Pricing and Availability
The Roland MV-1 will be available in Jan 2021, with a street price of about $700.
In mid-December, Subtronics launched Cyclops Recordings with a hefty imprint opener: the 19-track compilation LP, Boot Camp. Featuring a wrecking-crew of up-and-coming bass acts such as LEVEL UP, Leotrix, Al Ross, Akeos, Syzy, and more, Boot Camp provided a platform for more than 20 artists who used the album as the place to showcase their best absorptions of modern bass sound. Not to be overlooked is the label head’s own contributions, manifesting in three new originals, “Tractor Beam,” “Point Breeze,” and “Scream Saver VIP.”
Boot Camp can be split into three subdivisions, “High Knees Headquarters,” “Psychedelic Division,” and “Heavy Artillery.” In commemoration of the launch, Subtronics gifted fans and his “Cyclops Army” a brimming drum ‘n’ bass bootleg of TikTok’s viral “Oh No,” which samples The Shangri-Las’ timeless rock classic “Remember (Walking in the Sand).”
Dancing Astronaut caught up with Subtronics to gain insight on the inspiration behind Boot Camp and its many facets. Find his latest bootleg, Boot Camp, and the interview below.
Can you explain the three sonic subsets on Boot Camp?
Subtronics: “The High Knees Division is basically what that particular style of music generally makes people do: high knee kind of jumps. It is specifically designed for tunes that fall more under the umbrella of what people these days would refer to as ‘riddim’ (dubstep, not riddim dancehall). I originally came from that community, so I want to represent it as accurately as possible and give the kids who want ‘dubstep riddim’ some of the best material we can find. Obviously, not all of the tunes in this division are textbook ‘riddim’ by any means, but it’s the general theme and aim. ‘Riddim’ is more of a spectrum than a specific wall for a genre. Anything over say, a 5, gets put on High Knees.
The Psychedelic Division is probably the style that I listen to most in my spare time. Its key mission is to find and distribute as much forward thinking, outside of the box, tunes that are completely free from restrictions, rules, and genres as possible. There is literally no song too weird or out there for this group. I might put a full ambient soundscape on it one day, who knows! It is where we experiment with the newest things, and where we don’t expect everyone to understand what we are trying to do. It’s for the most cutting edge and forward thinking but also trippy songs we can find.
The Heavy Artillery Division is pretty much what it sounds like—it’s for the heavy rip your face off stuff [that’s] probably a crowd favorite. These are the songs that will most effectively destroy a crowd of people, tunes specifically engineered to leave the dance floor a smoldering crater. Truly the home of the angry robot sounds.
Why name it Boot Camp? I have ‘Cyclops Army,’ my giant fan group on Facebook that is very active, so it felt right to keep the mission going for my next step, Cyclops Recordings. You’ve joined the army, now here is your training.”
Were there any major influences for this project?
Subtronics: “Honestly, my key driving mentality has been my own experiences with labels in the past and what I didn’t like about how my releases with them went. I intend to run this from an artist’s perspective and give everyone exactly what I would want if I were releasing on the label.
I have been heavily inspired by people who are able to create a theatrical and almost plot-driven story line parallel to the music they release. Porter Robinson stands out to me especially with his Worlds project, for example. Ganja White Night also comes to mind, with Ebo their visual artist and Subcarbon [their label].
My mission statement truly stems from an inner desire to share songs that excite me and at the same time freak me out. When I find a crazy song, the first thing I have to do is get in someone’s car or my own and play it for anyone who will listen, so the label is that experience, but for everyone to hear.
Another major component is that I was an artist who struggled to find a platform for almost a decade because I was ‘too weird’ or ‘not cool enough.’ Crowds really didn’t get it at first. Today, I see tons of other insanely talented artists going through a similar thing, artists far more ahead of their time than I ever was at that stage who deserve the biggest platform possible to share the incredible things they create.
If there is any way I can try to pay back the blessings of having my career, any way I can show gratitude or pass on what has been given to me by the incredibly talented producers who came years before I did and helped me out when I was a new face, I will do everything in my power to do that. Also, Flume. Totally unrelated but I have to just throw the name out there because I worship him. Isn’t Flume awesome?”
Do you have a favorite track from the compilation?
Subtronics: “I love all of these songs, and I really mean that, they all hit, but ‘Swing‘ by Smith just hits in the exact spot. It fits my personal exact fucking taste just perfectly, and when Smith dropped that DBZ AMV with it a few months ago, I probably watched it more than 100 times. S-tier bass weight type beat.
‘Poison Muffins‘ by Syzy stands out as well, simply because it has been a legendary dub in the community for a while. I was so honored that Syzy let us release it, but I was so honored that everyone released with us honestly. Thank you again to all the artists for trusting us with your hard work.”
Are there any interesting background stories behind your discovery and subsequent signing of certain songs to Cyclops?
Subtronics: “My collaboration ‘Point Breeze‘ with Chee is funny because we made it well over a year ago when we were roommates. Those days were for sure fun times. My ‘Scream Saver VIP‘ was made in a panic while prepping for a festival because I needed to upgrade my set just a little bit more.
My other song ‘Tractor Beam’ was extremely close to being put on my String Theory EP, but I could not think of a second drop in time. As for all the other tunes, 99 percent of the A&R process was me sliding into Twitter DMs being like ‘ayyyyy hi starting a label u got any tunes?’”
Are there any particular artists on the compilation who you feel listeners should be paying special attention to at this current moment?
Subtronics: “Honestly, all of them. Every single artist on the compilation is going to have a massive career. I do want to shout out one in particular though. Phonon has figured something out and mastered it to a degree that literally 90 percent of touring bass music struggles with, and that is set pacing. He takes the audience completely outside of the box, ventures all the way to full-on freeform jazz breakdowns, then wipes everyone’s pallets dry, and out of nowhere, smacks them in the face with the newest, freshest sounds in dubstep right now. It is the perfect juxtaposition.
The only other artist I have ever seen pull it off so beautifully is GRiZ, because Grant can go from full big band funk with backup singers and everything, then out of nowhere drop it into crazy dubstep. Nothing gets a crowd response like that. It is the peak of proper bass music. In order for there to be big impact, you need big shock value and big contrast. There is no better way of pulling that off than going entirely outside of bass music and then slamming back into it. Phonon’s set does that the entire time. It is an incredibly hard art to master and that dude had it locked in his second time ever even using CDJs.
I would also be remiss not to mention how well Level Up does this. Coming from an unbiased standpoint and viewing it as an artist, she pulls songs from a jukebox that spans the lifetime of all our favorite songs, old and new, and always blends them into some crazy double. Big proud of that lady.”
Are you surprised by how popular riddim has gotten? What future do you see with it?
Subtronics: “Oh man, I have gone on so many rants about this topic before and there are many things I want to touch on. Huge yes. Years and years ago when there was a much smaller number of us ‘non-mainstream’ type dubstep nerds floating around on SoundCloud, we started forming groups and Google Hangouts. Everyone started virtually meeting each other and getting closer. We all sounded noticeably different from the ‘bro-step’ and trap music that was popular at the time. We were all much more inspired by UK-sounding dubstep in all its flavors, and many different vibes were covered during those years. The genres all had a bunch of different weird halfway names, and some solidified more over the years than others. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone call a tune ‘robostep,’ but I was trying damn hard to make it at one point.
Anyway, the dubstep term ‘riddim’ I believe came about from a popular tune leaking site. They needed a code word to find leaked dubplates from our specific corner of dubstep (I say ‘our corner’ to signify the community I was a part of). At the time, I had almost no following. It was much more about artists like Trollphace, Getter, Subfiltronik, etc.) Most of us honestly didn’t go with the phrase at first. 12th Planet was calling it swamp, Getter sarcastically tried getting everyone to call it trench, and for a while it was just kind of a bunch of weird names flying around.
Eventually, it just became ‘riddim’ even though riddim was already a gigantic other genre that had been around for decades and falls under the dancehall category. A huge portion of the scene did not want to call it that for that exact reason, but I think it just kind of stuck due to the number of people that already adopted the name. Anyway, yes at first we were literally just making shit post songs for the internet culture of it, never thought it would blow up or be a popular thing and that is kind of why we fucked with it. It was for sure counter culture, and we would frequently joke how ‘riddim would never pay the bills.’ We did it purely for the love of it because it was fun to make and to post new shitty clips on SoundCloud every week so the same 20 people could comment ‘AYY 55555555555.’ Maybe if you were lucky, Lebawski would come in with an all-caps freak out.
Fast forward to three festival seasons later, and now kids think ‘riddim’ is mainstream. Almost dystopian levels of surreal hit me when I see that shit, it legit blows my mind. It feels like a movie with a punchline at the end because we joked about this for years and now some people think it actually is mainstream??!!? WTF?!?!?! Fuckin’ crazy how shit worked out. Literally unbelievable on so many levels.
That being said, after five years of hearing ‘Passout’ on repeat, ‘riddim’ is certainly moving forward at an incredible pace and new ideas are constantly being pushed. Labels like Halcyon are innovating and pushing melodic/future/tonal riddim along with countless other incredible producers. Homies like Danny (Voyd) and Hamish [MARUADA] are giving new definition to what it means to be heavy. Production gods like Voltra are blending hyper-complex supersongs in with key ‘riddim’ attributes. Thousands of incredible new ideas are circulating and splintering off. Dozens of groups of friends are creating all their own waves at once and the scene is getting exponentially more diverse and cutting edge.
We have seen a massive rise in headphone music as opposed to dance floor music, especially since everyone has been locked inside. With a much more cerebral wave of music, surely the entire scene has been changed and influenced. It is constantly evolving in many different directions.”
How do you feel your own sound has evolved in the past few years?
Subtronics: “Obviously, I am by no means ‘textbook riddim’ and to be honest, I never really was. As I have grown and learned more as a producer, I continue to do more and add more of my own unique style. My number one goal is to sound the most like myself and the least like anyone else as much as possible. If I piss off a bunch of genre elitists (check that box off) for not making the same sound done a million times over and over (lame sounds the elitists think I should be producing just because it makes them happy), my mission has been accomplished. As I have evolved, my main goal—and I think I have succeeded—is to cover and learn as many different styles and vibes as possible, but still always sound like myself.”
Which track of yours would you want a future fan who has never before heard your music to listen to?
Subtronics: “I produce such a range of music that I would want them to listen to a bit of each to get a sense of like, the overall vibe, so I suppose one from each category:
E: I would also like them to listen to “Headband” with Ganja White Night without skipping. Also “Hit Em” with Boogie T, “Nuclear Bass Face” with Boogie T and NGHTMRE, and my “Oh No” bootleg of the viral Tiktok song that just dropped on my SoundCloud.
Ok well, that is too many, sorry ’bout that, I couldn’t think of an answer because there’s too many different vibes that I try to curate, but pick one trippy one, one heavy one, one ‘riddim,’ and one wobbly. I think if we have learned anything from this interview, it’s that I don’t exist in one genre.”
Anything special we can look forward to in 2021?
Subtronics: “A lot of really big collaborations, probably a few EPs, so many things for the label, and also some super nice merch. We have a lot in the works on the live event, festival, and touring side too for when things go back to normal. Also, I will continue to smoke a lot of weed and pet my dog. I plan on doing all the things and then some.”
With a handful of dynamic releases spanning the likes of Armada Music, Brooklyn Fire, and Black Hole Recordings, brother duo VRDGO have proven adept at constructing powerful dance-floor weapons that resonate with electronic enthusiasts industrywide. Bringing their multicultural background and intuitive exposure to music into their distinct style, the rave promoters-turned-producers set the standard high early on in the new year with their first release of 2021, “Visions.”
Arriving on their own imprint Estilo Recordings and receiving support from MORTEN on Miami’s Revolution Radio, the latest cut displays the siblings’ electrifying electro and progressive stylization at work. Flourishing with aggressive arpeggiators, pounding four-on-the-floor rhythms, and daunting brass synths, “Visions” emulsifies the darkest of club energies into a production both melodic and hard-hitting. Backed by a slew of electronic mainstays including Hardwell, Carl Cox, R3HAB, Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, and more, VRDGO prime themselves to conquer airwaves and sound systems in the approaching months.
Stream “VISIONS” below.
This is a sponsored editorial, selectively curated by Dancing Astronaut’s partnerships team in collaboration with our advertisers.
Is a week into 2021 too early to open up the producer of the year conversation? We’re only kidding (not really), but there was never an ounce of reservation for DubVision to enter the new year with the spot-on level of house imperium in which they departed 2020. The brothers are now officially writing in their name on 2021’s sonic scoreboard, and while it may not be the suspected inclusion during Martin Garrix‘s Tomorrowland New Year’s Eve performance, it’s admittedly something even more reassuring with the delivery of “Deeper.”
“Deeper” of course finds a home at none other than STMPD RCRDS, and DubVision’s admission into the year plunges further into their kinetic repositioning within house. Comparatively wielding a similar high-octane foundation to “Like This,” “Deeper” is incontestably unlike anything DubVision has fastened to their tenure when scanning their prior decade-plus of top-notch showings, but the single serves to be another source of open-and-shut confirmation that the two siblings stand alone when it comes to each and every street of house music.