New York house legend Carlos Sanchez has passed away. Sanchez was an instrumental force in the New York underground dance community for more than 40 years. Most recently, he worked as a part-time professor at Pace University where he taught a “World Music/The Underground” course, per Mixmag. Fellow New York house DJ Sal Paradise spoke out on Twitter:
The house legend had been spinning at some of the Big Apple’s most notable underground clubs since the 1980s. No cause of death has been revealed, but the Sanchez made his health issues public a few years back. In 2018, a fundraiser featuring François K, DJ Spinna, Bamboozle (Soul Clap), Naeem Johnson, Easy Mo Bee, Sting International, Shawn Dub, and Trevor Fox was held in support of Sanchez’s recent kidney failure. The event was held at NYC’s Black Flamingo to support the late DJ as he began dialysis treatment, awaiting an essential kidney transplant. New York’s The Lot Radio held a special tribute show on March 28th in honor of the underground icon.
5,000 people attended a gig in Barcelona as part of coronavirus study this weekend.
On Saturday (27th), 5,000 music fans packed into the floor space of Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi 17,000-capacity arena for a concert courtesy of Spanish indie pop band, Love of Lesbian.
The gig was part of a pilot project between the Spanish government and venues, who are assessing if utilising rapid coronavirus testing systems could effectively prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at bigger events.
To attend the show, ticket holders were required to attend a nominated testing centre for a coronavirus test on Saturday. Although the event was non-socially distanced, guests were required to wear face masks throughout the gig.
In a year that is finally bringing tuning into music tech headlines, here’s a tool from ODDSound and Richard James that promises to help – and it’s free to get started. Let’s talk to the developers.
Tuning is an essential element of music – it’s just our tools that are limited. So if you want to tune your synths to a tuning from most of the planet’s musical cultures, or a historical tuning, or a mathematical or acoustic solution that fits your music, or something more experimental – your solutions are pretty fragmented. Some soft synths do have great facilities for editing and applying tuning, but support is still spotty, and it’s harder still to sync up different software and hardware instruments.
Richard James (Aphex Twin) and the developers ODDsound worked together to design three tools that address this:
MTS-ESP, an initiative to standardize a way of letting software talk to each other, including a free and open source library anyone can add to their tools.
MTS-ESP Mini, a free tool to quickly add support for MTS-ESP tools in your Mac or Windows host of choice – and let you load existing tunings.
MTS-ESP Suite to edit and explore tunings and work interactively with your software and hardware – whether or not it was built with this support in mind.
And here’s the really good news – you likely don’t have to switch tools to start using this. For instance, I was literally this weekend playing with Modartt’s Pianoteq instrument, which already has an excellent tuning editor built-in. (Yes, that’s right – the much-maligned piano, the instrument that a lot of people blame for dumbed-down 12-TET, is actually not even tuned by piano tuners quite the way this is implemented in most computer software. Cough.)
So the nice thing about this approach is, I can just add the free plug-in and sync up other instruments (or multiple instances of Pianoteq).
Check the full list of plug-ins, which also includes Xfer Serum, TAL-Sampler, u-he’s Hive 2, Audio Damage’s awesome Continua + Phospher + Quanta, and more. You can also work with Silent Way from Expert Sleepers, which means you can get your software in tune with analog modular gear, as well.
This isn’t just for supported software, though. You can also use standard MIDI messages (both pitch bend and specialized tuning messages) to work with other software and hardware. The hardware topic is an interesting one, and one to follow up on soon.
You also don’t need, uh, money. You can get started for free:
Plus you can use the Suite version for free for 30 days without restrictions. It also has Novation Launchpad support so you can play around on hardware. (I suspect that can also be made to work with grids like Push since it’s all just MIDI; I’ll try both.)
It seems like there’s nothing yet on Linux, but the library is BSD-licensed so someone can certainly step in.
(This is funny, too – I’ve never seen a panic button for tuning, but here it is: “Bypass button to return to 12 TET instantly.”)
I think it’s worth revisiting the deep dive we did with Khyam Allami. His free browser-based tools can be used to generate tunings you can use with MTS-ESP Mini and MTS-ESP Suite, too, so that’s also relevant.
Also, it’s worth pairing Khyam’s work with this tool, precisely because – see below – they made a conscious effort to avoid choosing presets. (There’s a reference to that in the article with Scala, so now is the time to start talking about how to build decentralized community-based tuning efforts!)
The creators on how this works and why it matters
I spoke with the team from ODDSound to tell us more about what they’ve built, and they answered collectively.
Peter: So it seems like part of what makes this special is the ability to bring all your hardware and software together at once, right?
Damon, Dave, Oli: Yeah, I guess there are two things going on – MTS-ESP as a sync technology and the Suite as a way to drive it. The MTS-ESP Master plugin is a rabbit hole all its own and it’s far more expansive than the prior VST side solution, but the MTS-ESP technology is novel. Computers have never had a master tuning table that can be edited and warped in real-time (at 64-bit accuracy) before. The most interesting point is that this is the first dynamic microtuning system – until now you could load tunings into a synth and play it, but this allows you to change any note, chord, or entire tunings in real-time, for all connected gear and plugins. You’re no longer restricted to using a single tuning, you can automate notes in all sorts of strange ways.
How was Richard / Aphex Twin involved?
Rich is a friend of ours (Dave used to live in Cornwall, Damon still does, Oli’s family does). He and Damon have been making microtonal music for years and frequently discussed the problems faced by composers. He’s wanted something like this for a long time, so he was only too happy to spend the time to work it out with us and design a solution. We pointed out to him that this sort of project is commercial suicide, so he offered to help promote it too. 🙂
He demonstrated a lot of the methodology he was currently using and its relative pros and cons. Dave implemented the basics of an auto-configuring retuning system, then Oli jumped on board and took it to extremes.
So I notice there aren’t built-in tunings to start with. Is the assumption that folks bring their own?
Our beta testers came with plenty of their own tuning systems but we wanted to avoid having to canonise them and chose to provide some simple and easy-to-compose-with presets. It’s hard enough trying to make an entire industry implement your code, but becoming tuning gatekeepers was a step too far.
It’s having the tools to be able to do this stuff that’s important. You can pick up an instrument and create a scale by ear from it really quickly using the MTS-ESP Suite, that can then be applied to everything. You can take a recording of people singing in local intonations and create a scale from it and be harmonising with it in minutes rather than hours.
What’s the intended audience for the ‘Suite’ versus the free plug-in?
The free plugin is ideal for creators that really just want to work in a single tuning system. They can have the plugin load in their default template, then all MTS-ESP plugins work just like a 12-TET musician would expect, at no cost (because why the hell can’t you do that already?!). If all you want is to work in a specific tuning the free plugin is ideal, it was a gesture to help people that can’t afford to buy software but want to be able to compose electronic music using a different tuning system.
The Suite is a whole new world of composition, it allows a level of note articulation never seen before at 64-bit accuracy. I suppose in this sense the free plugin is to help cultures that have been abandoned by music manufacturers because they didn’t conform to the imperial tuning standard, whereas the Suite is to provide a way of extending the capabilities of electronic music.
Where do you imagine folks are likely to get started?
The Suite is 100% free for 30 days and it’s a lot of fun, so you might as well grab that, a copy of the Surge beta, and load some of the preset tunings. You can be up and composing in under ten minutes.
I’ve seen the GitHub repository — developers could presumably go there and implement the standard, easiest via the library?
Yes, there’s literally one code file you include to add support for MTS-ESP; for almost all developers, you add that file to your build and use its functions when you need to convert note number to pitch. No need to include the binary, use the master code, any of that – just the one file and you’re in the system and you’re compatible. There’s also enough code provided that a developer could make a competing Master plugin, a few folks are looking to do just that.
Apart from that, nothing also stopping folks from finally implementing MTS [MIDI Tuning System] on hardware or software, and letting that also talk to the client, right?
Yeah, the suite ships with a Client plugin which bridges between the MTS-ESP core and whatever else you have – it’ll do MTS if you support it, or MPE, or whatever. It’s pretty comprehensive – if there’s a way to microtune an instrument (be that one note at a time with pitchbend, as a last resort), it’ll do it!
Implementing MTS Realtime on hardware makes things work very smoothly. MPE plugins work as well as MTS-ESP plugins, albeit you use the Client to bridge you. Basically Rich has a lot of gear, and we were determined to get it all working 😉
As I understand it, you’re also pushing some best practices for hardware makers, too, right?
The big push on the hardware side is for MTS bulk and single-note messages. Up until now, nothing sent single-note MTS messages, but Rich (Aphex) got Novation, Moog, and Waldorf to implement them over the past couple of years, so there’s a range of hardware that works out the box with the system now. Expert Sleepers are updating their MIDI-compatible hardware (such as Disting EX) with MTS single/bulk changes and we’re talking to several other manufacturers about it now. Anything that supports MPE can be used too, but MTS support is far preferable because it sends fewer messages.
Thanks so much! Well, I do hope this is useful to developers of hardware and software as well as users.
The juicy bit – and users, this means it’s more likely your favorite instrument by add support soon:
Any plugin that receives and processes MIDI note data can be made compatible with MTS-ESP using the Client API. All it takes is to include libMTSClient.h and libMTSClient.cpp from the ‘Client’ folder in your build.
Time to sharpen our ears and keep learning about tuning!
Bonus: A friend points me to alt-tuner, a very cool-looking tool for Reaper that takes a related approach to dynamically assigning tuning. Reaper users will want to have a look, of course – but mainly, anyone already using alt-tuner, would love to hear your thoughts on how this comparesfor your use case.
Ja Rule has sold his Fyre Festival oil painting as an NFT for $122,000.
Following the rise in popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — a token that defines ownership of a piece of a digital asset such as an MP3, gif, video clip, PDF or any digital file — Ja Rule has joined the likes of Aphex Twin and Calvin Harris by auctioning his first NFT.
According to Consequence of Sound, a 48″ by 60″ oil painting of the doomed Fyre festival’s logo, which has hung in the rapper’s New Jersey home since Fyre’s headquarters closed several years ago, sold for $122,000 via an NFT auction on the rapper’s Flipkick.io App last week.
The rapper had previously told Forbes of the painting that he “just wanted that energy out”, and that among the item notes for the auction lot, Ja Rule had written “Fuck This Painting”.
Upon arrival, attending festivalgoers were met with a lack of fundamental accommodations like food, water, shelter and medical care, which “created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions,” according to the aforementioned lawsuit. On-the-ground reports immediately started to flood the internet, and it all went downhill from there.
While Billy McFarland remains in federal prison on a six-year sentence for Fyre-related wire fraud, in July 2019, Judge Kevin Castle ruled that festival co-founder Ja Rule, and Fyre’s head of marketing Grant Margolin, would not be liable for the festival falling apart.
Before the pandemic forced the abrupt cancellation of events more than a year ago, Phoenix, Arizona was emerging as one of the most active and enticing dance music markets in the country outside of LA and NYC. Regional promoter Relentless Beats has a proven track record of solid club shows and festivals, now pivoting to socially distanced pod events that abide by state, federal, and CDC guidelines as COVID lockdowns loosen across the US. Now, Relentless Beats looks to return with DISCIPLE, LIFELIGHT, and VISIONS—three back-to-back-to-back pod shows running Thursday April 1 – 3, featuring a grip of talent that crowds haven’t seen in quite some time.
Fans will be able to enjoy a socially distanced experience in their pods, which can be purchased for parties of five starting at $150 plus fees, with the option to add three others at the gate. Each pod is 10’ by 8’, distanced 6’ from the next, with concessions and merchandise ordered through a system that delivers directly to the fans. Best of all—Dancing Astronaut has partnered with Relentless Beats to offer fans a chance to win a five-pack of tickets for each night of events.
The always forward-thinking Burning Man has officially rescinded its 2021 theme, “Terra Incognita,” due to the theme’s insensitive connotations. The latin phrase, meaning “unknown land,” is traceable back to the Egyptian scholar Ptolemy. Concerns arose about its implicit biases regarding the country’s colonial history after Burning Man issued a statement announcing the theme and gently urging its attendees to begin planning for August. “Terra Incognita” reflects the exploration of undocumented regions; according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term may also apply to mental exploration. However, Burning Man chose to make a modification,
“When we learned the phrase [Terra Incognita] has a colonial history, and it reflected some of our implicit biases and default perspectives, we retitled it.”
The official revised Burning Man theme is now “The Great Unknown.” The festival board will make an official statement on whether or not the event is happening no later than the end of May, according to the Reno Gazette Journal. After a year of isolation and upended human connection, the two themes are to reflect the exploration of a newfangled social landscape. Stuart Mangrum, director of the Philosophical Center of Burning Man Project, wrote,
“This is an invitation to emerge from our collective isolation, to explore the unfamiliar contours of a changed world, and to reimagine ourselves, our community, and our culture in ways that might not have been possible before this period of plague and pause.”
Keep up to date regarding the return to Black Rock City throughout the spring and into the summer here.
Leave it to Oliver Heldens to name a song after an electric avian Pokémon. And, true to its namesake, “Zapdos” is electrifying. This was one of many IDs dropped during Heldens’ set at the iconic Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam which was filmed as part of Digital Mirage Festival and posted to YouTube in June 2020.
The track is vintage Heldens and does not feature vocals but rather focuses on the uplifting beats and bass that harps back to tracks like his 2013 release “Koala.” Heldens elaborated in an Instagram post,
“When I created this track last year, I was a little bit similar mind space as when I created ‘Koala,’ which I did in 2013. They both draw inspirations from the Electro / Club sound from around 2006-2009.”
Heldens goes on to say “both Zapdos and Koala are influenced by 2012/13 UK deep house. This kind of music just doesn’t get old to me.” While “Zapdos” certainly keeps things fresh, it is damn good to have that nostalgic, club-ready sound back in full swing. “Zapdos” is Heldens second original release in 2021 following up on dance floor hit “Never Look Back” featuring Syd Silvair. Heldens also recently remixed Glass Animals’ hit song “Heat Waves”. Listen to “Zapdos” below.
The live event, a concert which sees orchestral renditions of much loved classic club records from The Hacienda’s heritage performed on stage, will make four additional stops in the UK this summer and beyond – with the sold-out, rescheduled Manchester performance featuring as part of the mini tour.
The first event, which will take place in Blackpool on the 29th August, before the Castlefield Bowl Manchester event takes place in September, with two additional dates on the 15th and 16th October taking place at London’s Printworks and Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena. A final stop in Manchester — the home of the original Hacienda — will take place on Friday the 12th November at the city’s epic Mayfield Depot venue.
Speaking about the tour, DJ Graeme Park, who performs alongside Manchester’s Camerata orchestra as Hacienda Classical, said: “After a year of frustration, I’m excited that Haçienda Classical is back to thrill the nation with positivity and love. I’ve never been more ready to return to the stage with the whole crew to share the joy with some big new songs as well as some massive favourites too. I’m pretty sure the country is ready to share the love too.”
Tickets for all dates apart from Castlefield Bowl will go on general sale Thursday 8th April at 10AM. Register now for the pre-sale, which takes palce on Wednesday 7th April at 10AM, via www.fac51-thehacienda.com
With a long list of label appearances to his credit, LEFTI‘s expertise as an ever-sharp signee in the disco house space has been well established. In recent years, the funk arbiter has made his name known via Sakura Music, Mark Knight‘s Toolroom Records, Big Beat, and Nurvous Records, among other imprints. And now, as LEFTI’s artistic footprint expands with the foundation of his very own label, the New York native can add Quincy Boy Records to this roster.
Originally conceived as a conduit for the content that LEFTI chose for self-release, Quincy Boy Records will naturally play host to some of the label head’s own originals and collaborations; however, it is also primed to welcome releases from other creatives, who currently include Calo Vance, Sum Bloke, clavette, and Bubs. The curatorial undertaking colorfully commences with LEFTI’s “I Demand,” which finds him taking aim at an effervescent, get-out-of-your-seat aesthetic.
In an interview with Dancing Astronaut, LEFTI discusses how “I Demand” sets Quincy Boy Records’ groove in motion, his motivations for establishing the label, and its namesake. Both “I Demand” and the Q&A can be found below.
To date, you’ve released music on a variety of different platforms including Toolroom Records, Big Beat, and Nurvous, among others. What motivated you to found your own record label at this point in time as opposed to another?
LEFTI: “Well, the idea is to still release with other labels. I have releases coming up this year on Quincy Boy, of course, but also with Toolroom, Basement Sound, and Perfect havoc. Initially, I just wanted a lane to be able to self-release some songs, but as soon as I started putting the whole thing together, I instantly wanted to make it more than that.”
What motivated you to name the label Quincy Boy Records?
LEFTI: “After Quincy Boy himself, my exotic shorthair cat! He’s always the star of my sessions here and it seemed like the right thing to do. He’s also the king of the crib.”
How does “I Demand” embody what is to come from Quincy Boy Records, and what were your motivations for selecting this single as the debut?
LEFTI: “It’s all about groove and energy and this song has both, so this record seemed like the best way to kick things off. I want to release cuts that I want to play out, and I like to keep my sets full of groove with a nice dynamic of energy.”
How developed is Quincy Boy Record’s roster of new music to be distributed this year; can you tell us about any of the projects that your new label will host?
LEFTI: “I couldn’t be more excited for our first year of releases, which is pretty much all scheduled. I will be doing some collaborations, but we have some singles and EPs coming from Calo Vance, Sum Bloke, clavette, and last but not least, our Parisian friend Bubs.”
This week on The Space Station, we’re kicking things off with another unofficial remix from the UK legends NERO. This time they’re reworking Tame Impala’s dream shoegaze hit “Disciples” into a twinkling synthwave gem. Rezz joins Audius with a menacing take on Porter Robinson’s “shehealseverything.” Then there’s Bender’s rendition of ZHU “Cocaine Model,” a stand out track and stand out remix from the enigmatic producer’s first album. Cole Jackson’s rework of “Borns – Electric Love” takes the catchy, summer time hit and gives it a reset for the summer of 2021 and much more. Forget the words. Use your ears.
Introducing The Space Station, our exclusive Audius playlist focused on exposing new and exciting music from independent artists.
Since 2009, Dancing Astronaut has been sharing music for the love of it. Like many electronic music fans, we grew up on Soundcloud. We got our start sharing mash-ups, bootlegs, and remixes from then unknown artists who were pioneering a new style of sound on the internet. Unfortunately, those days are far behind Soundcloud, but our crate-digging and music-sharing obsession is still going strong. And, if you’re anything like us, you’re sick and tired of seeing the same artists populating every EDM playlist on Spotify.
So where do you turn? The answer is simple; AUDIUS.
Finally, there is new platform that’s as exciting as Soundcloud felt during those early years.