When DVRKO emerged last summer, it was clear nearly from the get-go that although this was another masked producer arriving on the scene, DVRKO would be anything but predictable. So far, as the anonymous producer has continued to build out an impressive catalog of original works, he’s managed to keep things fresh and forward. The latest addition to his arsenal continues the producer’s upward trend with “Wasted On You.”
DVRKO’s newest signals the growing anticipation for our collective return to dancefloors, as “Wasted On You” teems with house-primed, late night intrigue, and a heavy dose of feel-good appeal making for one of DVRKO’s strongest outings to date. DVRKO’s readiness to reassume his spot behind the decks in your city’s favorite club is clear from the track’s core to its perimeter.
“Wasted On You” arrives after DVRKO’s first single of 2021, “Don’t Save Me” featuring Tyler Graves and a stellar remix pack for “Broken Famous” from January which included Robbie Rivera, LA Riots, and more. Listen below.
Want that new synth feeling, but for free? That’s the hybrid-vintage-modeled-new synth SYSTEM-8 this month from Roland – and we’ve got the sound designer of its new preset library to tell us why we should download it.
Okay, first – the SYSTEM-8. It’s the pinnacle of what Roland did with PLUG-OUT and models of vintage gear, but mashed-up into a new monster synthesizer in hardware and software, all using the circuit modeling (ACB) tech that I love so dearly. Obviously, the hardware isn’t free, but the Roland Cloud plug-in version is free to try now through April 20. You can grab the SYSTEM-8, plus the new Driven patch collection.
Not only do you not need much money, but you don’t need much hard drive space, either – it all clocks in at just a few MB. You do have to install Roland Cloud first, if you don’t have that. But then just go to Library, type SYSTEM in the search box at top so you don’t have to scroll, install SYSTEM-8 first, then once that download finishes, get SYSTEM-8 DRIVEN, too.
Serendipity: Francis Preve is CDM’s wacky neighbor who appears from time to time, and he’s the creator of Driven – hence his signature all over it. And so here’s Francis’ very biased take on why he loves the SYSTEM-8. I always enjoy listening to Fran’s biases, because they tend to be well informed. So it’s a good argument for the download, plus a set of tips on how to use it.
Roland didn’t ask for this – so they’ll wake up to it in Japan, presumably. Opinions of the sound designer only.
I watched too much Cobra Kai lately, so I just did an 80s karate dance around to that music and now I need to go ice my hips. Turning it over to Fran: -PK
Francis Preve on SYSTEM-8
It’s rare that a digital synth will steadily remain in production for close to five years, but the Roland System-8 hit that anniversary this year. While there’s well-deserved attention given to the new Jupiter-X and Xm series (which, frankly are fantastic) the System-8 still clocks in at just under $1500, making it a perfect first synth for diving into professional hardware or adding a genuinely powerful four-octave controller as your bedroom studio grows.
Thanks to Roland’s steady stream of firmware upgrades—and the ability to sideload Roland’s up to three top-notch Plug-Out emulations of their iconic analog gear, the System-8 is a synth that can remain fresh and engaging long after the “new gear dopamine” wears off.
It may seem strange to sing the praises of a synth that’s not old enough to be vintage and not new enough to be trendy, but having had it in my studio since its release, it’s clear why the System-8 has such longevity.
Here are eight tips for this evergreen synth – some applying to both hardware and software. The software version is available on Roland Cloud, so you can easily test drive it there to check out the features that keep it one of the primary go-to’s in my studio.
Software + hardware features
1. It gives you sound design options that rival modular rigs. This synth, like a well-stocked Eurorack rig, lets you mix and match oscillator types, filter types, and apply audio-rate modulation to various destinations – but simply turning knobs. What’s more, the sequencer (hardware version only) can be applied to multiple parameters without including note data (more on that below). It’s also polyphonic and has a save button.
[Ed. Francis stops short of this but I’ll go on – there are enough modulation source selections here to basically make this a semi-modular, and there’s cross-modulation and ring mod, to boot. I recently wrote up the SYSTEM-100 for Roland, and while that’s the one that has patch cords on it, there are actually just as many modulation options here. -PK]
2. Waveforms galore. Each of the two primary oscillators can be set to one of four modes—independently—and every mode has six options. In analog mode, you have the holy trinity of saw, square, triangle, and “super” stacked versions of those. In the second oscillator mode, there are six digital options that range from logic operations to a version of the 808 cowbell. The final two oscillator modes deliver impressive FM results, with mode 3 offering iconic FM like tubular bells and “knocking bass” —while mode 4 provides complex multi-operator FM for dubstep, techno, and EDM results. From there, the System-8 includes a Color parameter that does tricks like PWM on the analog waves or modulator depth on the FM types. As if that wasn’t glorious enough, the Color function can be modulated by things like envelopes, LFOs, or even the sub-oscillator.
3. Filter types. The filter can function as one of eight different filter types, with an additional non-resonant high-pass filter on each. In addition to its AIRA resonant low-pass/high-pass mode, the System-8 also offers models of the Juno and Jupiter-8 filters, two formant/vowel filters, the “Sideband” filter from the original V-Synth (which is reminiscent of a comb/flange processor), and even the filter model from the original AIRA System-1. There’s also a “Harmonic” filter that’s cool for feedback effects. The various LPF/HPF modes include three roll-off slopes for each (12, 18, and 24). Taken together, that’s well over 30 discrete options, not including the benefits of the added HPF.
4. Audio-rate via sub-oscillator. The System-8 sub-oscillator is also more capable than many others. For starters, you can add a sine or triangle at the fundamental or up to two octaves lower. The Color parameter makes another appearance for fine-tuning either waveform. There’s also a secondary tuning control that covers up to an octave in either direction—in cents—for interval tuning or detuning. But the most interesting feature is that it can also be used for audio-rate modulation of the Color parameter for very unusual and (depending on the tuning) sometimes harsh results.
5. Step-sequencing. The onboard step-sequencer has a clearly X0X vibe, with buttons for each step. It’s most often demonstrated as a cool and versatile musical pattern sequencer using notes, but here’s the twist: You can turn it on and twist knobs without playing notes and those adjustments will be recorded. You can also hold a button and adjust a knob for Elektron-style parameter lock step patterns. So, in this manner, it can be used as a very sophisticated modulation source with a little forethought.
[Ed. There’s no step sequencer in the software, but check the very capable arp section. It would be cool if Roland did stick a software recreation of the step sequencer in there, though, as they’ve done with the drum machines in Roland Cloud.]
6. Vocoding. There are audio inputs on the back for routing signal into the System-8, but on the back is a Line/Mic switch that activates a simple pre-amp so you can plug in a microphone for vocoding your patches. Yes, a vocoder is baked into the architecture as well.
[Ed. — and it would be really, really nice to see effect versions of Roland Cloud instruments generally. Right now they do lack audio in, meaning that’s one reason to plug in the actual hardware.]
7. CV/gate outs. Also on the back are dedicated CV and gate outs that send real voltages to your other modular gear and/or vintage synths.
8. Plug-outs. So far, all I’ve covered is the AIRA engine in the System-8, which is so comprehensive that you might have forgotten that the hardware is 100% compatible with the Plug-Out synths on Roland Cloud. [Ed.: Reminder – this means that you can use the SYSTEM-8 hardware to host other models from Roland Cloud, even with it unplugged from your computer.In fact, the SYSTEM-8 is probably the synth from Roland to get if that’s your notion.]
Currently, I have the standard set of Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and JX-3P, but over the years, I’ve swapped out the JX for the SH-101, just to keep things interesting. Not every Roland Cloud synth is Plug-Out compatible, but many of the analog classics are. So in addition to the expansive synthesis engine described above, you can also add some very credible vintage gear to the synth. From there, you can also split or layer the Plug-Outs—so if you want to have an SH-101 bass on the left and a Jupiter pad on the right, sure thing, no problem.
When the System-8 first came out, I often said it was a “desert island” synth. Five years later, the only thing I’d change is that spelling. “Dessert” is more like it.
Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf raised their flag on the road to becoming one of bigroom’s most prestigious names exactly a decade ago, delivering genre-defining classics along the way like “Fifteen,” “Rocket,” and their Bootshaus ID with Hardwell that was uncovered as a New Year’s Day present. Blasterjaxx are now solidifying ten years as a duo with a commemorative release as the leaders of Maxximize Records partner up with RIELL for the fittingly branded “Rulers Of The Night (10 Years).”
“Rulers Of The Night (10 Years)” wholly embodies what has driven Blasterjaxx’s staying power, linking RIELL’s pure vocals with their quintessentially powerful leads and high-octane bigroom sound. Blasterjaxx shared a sincere message alongside the release to reflect back on how far they’ve come over the last decade, stating,
“It already has been 10 years since we – Thom and Idir – decided to move forward with Blasterjaxx in the way as it is right now. We’ve been through many highs and lows and we have created beautiful memories for more than a lifetime. 10 years ago we could have only dreamed about making our living by playing and creating music – sounds that truly comes from our hearts. This occasion calls for a special record to celebrate our lustrum. We’ve teamed up with the amazing Canadian singer [RIELL], who helped us write the most personal lyrics our music has ever known. ‘Rulers of the Night’ is our anthem to celebrate 10 years of Blasterjaxx. One decade passed, many more to follow! Thank you for your endless support.”
Content warning: This article contains information relating to sexual abuse
A lawsuit has been filed against Bassnectar, reporting the DJ and producer for sexual abuse, grooming, human trafficking, and the manufacture and possession of child pornography, it has been revealed by Nashville-based law firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent.
The lawsuit against the US DJ, real name Lorin Ashton, was filed on behalf of two women, Rachel Ramsbottom and Alexis Bowling, who report that they were sexually abused by Ashton when they were minors, and that he solicited sexually explicit photographs of them. The lawsuit also names Ashton’s label, management, touring and affiliated charitable organisations for their alleged involvement in a “human trafficking venture”.
Ashton has denied the lawsuit’s reports. A statement shared by his attorney, Mitchell Schuster, reads: “These outrageous claims — which were clearly designed for the media, rather than for the courts — are completely without merit, and we eagerly look forward to proving so.”
Reports of Ashton’s alleged sexual misconduct with minors, as well as various reported instances of manipulative and abusive behaviour, first came to light in June 2020 through a number of online sources. One of these sources included an Instagram account, which collated statements from women as well as private messages and emails exchanged with Ashton.
In light of those reports, which he denied, Ashton announced that he would be “stepping back” from his career in July 2020. “I am stepping down from my position of power and privilege in this community because I want to take responsibility and accountability,” Ashton said at the time. “I feel intense compassion for anyone I may have hurt. I truly hope you allow me a chance to work together toward healing.”
“The rumours you are hearing are untrue,” he continued. “But I realise some of my past actions have caused pain, and I am deeply sorry.”
The lawsuit states that Ashton contacted Ramsbottom and Bowling through Twitter while they were high school students under the age of 18. According to a report by Billboard, the lawsuit states that, “After performances, Bassnectar would invite these underage girls to his hotel room and demand that the girls shower so that they were ‘clean’.”
The lawsuit continues: “He would then have sex with them, requiring the sex to be unprotected, without a condom, and would provide large sums of cash and other items of value in exchange.”
Billboard reports that Ashton required Ramsbottom and Bowling to keep their relationships a secret, while reportedly soliciting sexually explicit images of them and controlling their lives, including what they could wear and who they could spend time with.
The lawsuit states that, after the reports made against Ahston in 2020 came to light, the DJ contacted Ramsbottom and Bowling to tell them he would “always love them”, and attempted to pay them to keep them from speaking out against him.
The Guardian reports that, during the summer of 2020, Ashton admitted to Ramsbottom to having “engaged with multiple women who were ‘too young’, and acknowledged in his own words that there was an imbalance of power dynamic due to his age, the fan/celebrity dynamic, his male privilege, and his celebrity privilege.”
In an official statement announcing the lawsuit, one of Ramsbottom and Bowling’s attorneys, Brian Kent, wrote: “This lawsuit is about seeking justice not just against Bassnectar, but against the corporations that cooperate in and help facilitate the abuses he is alleged to have committed.”
The legal firm representing Ramsbottom and Bowling, Laffey Bucci & Kent LLP, also stated that “anyone with information about Bassnectar or who has been victimized themselves” can contact them. Contact details can be found via this link.
In a statement shared with Billboard, Kent said: “While this is just the first two lawsuits that have been filed, I don’t want to definitively say that these are the only two.”
Two of the biggest names in bass music have finally released their long-awaited collaboration. After teasing it in sets for a year, Excision and Subtronics officially unveiled their heavy handed new single “Bunker Buster.” The collaboration is exactly what longtime fans of the two selectors would expect from the festival circuit regulars. “Bunker Buster” packs a gritty punch, offering decimating low end in anticipation for the return to live events. In fact, the release comes shortly after promising updates on Excision’s Lost Lands and Bass Canyon.
The only other time the two have come together on a song was for Subtronics remix of “Vault.” It was only a matter of time before the pair would link in an official capacity, and “Bunker Buster” proved to be well worth the wait. Excision is following up his previous 2021 releases “Unbound” with Sullivan King and “The Last Time” with Whales. This also marks the latest release on his new label Subsidia Records. This is Subtronics first release of 2021 after a banner 2020 that saw him announce the formation of his own label Cyclops Recordings and follow upScream Saver EP. Stream “Bunker Buster” below.
The world-renowned livestream DJ platform, Cercle, has announced its first official Apple Music room. For some time, the French platform was assessing ways to dilate its purview while maintaining a fair distribution of royalties.
So far, Apple Music subscribers can stream some of Cercle’s highest praised livestreams, including Fatboy Slim at Brighton i360 or ZHU at Hakuba Iwatake in Japan. True, the visual appeal of a Cercle set is a monumental component, but access to it is only a YouTube click away. Now, with their iPhones locked, fans can support Cercle and their favorite electronic artists on an alternative leading DSP. Through the new medium, Cercle will roll out more iconic mixes from their YouTube channel in addition to premiering exclusive sessions on Apple Music.
Paul Souchier, the head of communication at Cercle, said in a statement,
“We’ve been waiting several years for a streaming service to be able to legally and fairly feature our sets, as this has been a major issue in the electronic music world. We are delighted to finally deliver them on Apple Music on the dedicated Cercle page, and to be able to compensate all the rights-holders – the labels, the artists but also the DJs creating these sometimes anthological and timeless sets.”
Paul Souchier, per Music Week
Check out Cercle’s brand new Apple Music room here.
OVERWERK has been a figure on the scene for a decade, and while the Canadian producer’s output hasn’t quite been extensive over the years, his sound has consistently remained fresh between sparse releases. Now, OVERWERK is back with his sophomore LP, Vessel, nearly four years after his debut studio offering.
Rounding out at eight new tracks, Vessel reflects considerable growth for a veteran producer, finding OVERWERK, born Edmond Huszar, shifting away from the club-ready complextro fare he build his brand on and more towards a moodier, darker mid-tempo appeal. While parts of the LP do clearly parallel sounds from earlier in Huszar’s career, overall, Vessel largely signals a welcomed, perhaps modernized departure in style for the career-long independent force. Listen to OVERWERK’s latest below.
deadmau5 has introduced OSC/PAR, an AU/VST3 plugin for macOS and Windows that broadcasts your real-time musical events from your favorite DAW into any OSC-capable client over the network.
The plugin sends out your transport information, MIDI notes played, automation events and even your song list as they happen during live playback. Those events are converted to OSC messages that can sent over WiFi or local network connection and used in other apps or hardware devices.
“OSC/PAR was originally developed as an essential need for a stage to FOH networking solution,” shares deadmau5. “I’m actually pretty stoked to be sharing this with everyone as a handy little tool for all your DAW to OSC needs.”
OSC/PAR works with OSC/PILOT, a bi-directional control surface application. As the overlap between audio and visual application space continues to grow, there is a need for a simple way to control these applications in a desktop application.
OXI Instruments has shared a series of video demos for their upcoming OXI One sequencer, a powerful step sequencer that features four independent sequencers, LFOs, arpeggiators, configurable CVs, randomization features and more.
Four modes are available per sequencer:
MULTI – 8 tracks with totally independent parameters: start-end steps, length, division, etc. Configurable MIDI outputs and scale note filtering.
CHORD – palette of chords types and voicings, with a dedicated chord menu.
POLY – up to 7 voices, 4 CC’s and plenty parameters per step.
MONO – Full control of a monophonic track, with complete visualization of the melody.
Full connectivity & battery powered
Use it as composition tool with your favourite DAW
Take control of your Modular rig: 8 Cvs and 8 Gates fully configurable, 1 modulation Cv input
Bluetooth to unlock wireless power. Control awesome apps in your tablet, smartphone or any other BLE MIDI device.
MIDI routing from/to USB, TRS, BLE and Cvs.
5 Sync modes and dedicated Clock I/O
Store up to 15 projects with up to 16 patterns for all the sequencers
Live arranger with song view let’s you arrange and chain patterns visually
Performing keyboard with arpeggiator and chord triggering
Up to 128 steps per sequencer
Compact dimensions: 36 x 14 cm
1.5 cm thick
Premium anodized aluminium case and knobs
Bright OLED display
USB C port
Intelligent pattern randomizer
Scale and root randomization
Retriggering (ratchets) randomization
Instant loop function
Extend, zoom, duplicate and move your patterns in all directions
One LFO per sequencer with assignable destination
Up to 32 CC’s recording automation (per step)
Configure all LFO and CVs parameters and options from their respective menus
Pricing and Availability
OXI plans to launch the OXI One later this month. See their site for details.