Laurie Anderson, in video, on the stories behind her custom-built instruments

A violin can be totally transformed – and the performance with it – from ice skates to neon instruments to ventriloquists’ dummies. Laurie Anderson in this film talks about her many ingenious instrumental inventions.

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All the highlights are there, starting with the notion of a piece with no beginning, no end, a looping violin, and playing while ice skating until the ice melts and she falls. (That piece has a poignant story which I won’t spoil…) I must admit, while I knew the tape and phonograph violins best, some of the other stories I find even more inspiring.

It seems a worthy challenge to all of us to reconsider the instruments we play, pause, and imagine how the gestures of playing them and the dialogues we have with the objects as expressive devices might be itself hacked. And that could even be your software or drum machine or what have you – or stepping away and adding other objects.

In the series:

Self-playing violin – Duets on ice.

Tape bow violin – including work with Bob Bielecki and the manipulation of reel-to-reel tape decks at the same time, and It’s Cold Outside.

Viophonograph – made for the Nova Convention for William S. Burroughs.

The Dummy Suzuki – a hybrid of ventriloquist’s dummy and tiny practice instrument.

Neon Violin – United States.

Ned Steinberger violin – used now, also as a digital controller.

Synclavier violin – by none other than Max Mathews… and she sampled a crashing computer, excellent.

DIY Stradivarius bow – unfinished.

The Hologram Bow – United States Live.

The Video Bow, using lipstick cameras.

The Talking Stick – a harpoon-like digital controller for Moby Dick. It’s funny she mentions that watching someone use a laptop is like “watching someone iron,” because one of the first DIY music events we did featured a MIDI iron by Ranjit Bhatnagar, so basically, never say never. Anyway, this is a wonderful granular controller.

Her dog, a blind rat terrier, who learned piano as a kind of therapy after her loss of vision. (Really. The story also doesn’t end there; again, I won’t spoil it but… there is another violin.)

We’ve talked about accessibility of music and the blind before, but never before beyond humans. Wow.

Tilt – built on a carpenters’ level with a sensor.

Wearable instruments, including hearing.

What’s especially compelling here is also that she talks a lot not just about what the instruments themselves do, but how she adapted to the challenges of playing them. I also find it interesting that she adapts a lot of existing objects – my colleague Tad Ermitano who worked on three MusicMakers Hacklabs with us is especially great with this.

If you want still more Laurie Anderson, here you go –

How we made Laurie Anderson’s O Superman (with a byline by Anderson herself, for The Guardian)

A Life of Storytelling:

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Plus she and many others are featured in this history of the vocoder for The New Yorker:

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A Tribe Called Quest reissue classic 1991 album ‘The Low End Theory’ with 30th anniversary edition

Five digital audio bundles including ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ are included

Brian Coney

Monday, September 27, 2021 – 11:40

A Tribe Called Quest have reissued their classic 1991 album ‘The Low End Theory’.

Originally released on 24th September 1991, the New York hip hop group’s seminal second album got a 30th-anniversary reissue on 24th September. 

As well as a new range of merch, five digital audio bundles including ‘Check The Rhime’ (Remixes) and ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ are included. Go here for full info.

Produced by Q-Tip and released via NYC’s Jive Records, ‘The Low End Theory’ was certified platinum by the RIAA in 1995. Revisit the classic video for ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ below.

Earlier this month, Wu-Tang Clan’s Redman featured on a new posthumous track by ATCQ’s Phife Dawg. It’s taken from the late rapper’s forthcoming album, ‘Forever’.

Last year, fellow Tribe member Q-Tip announced he had three new albums ready to drop, ‘The Last Zulu’, ‘AIGoRhythms’, and ‘Riotdiaries’.

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Wavedash, fknsyd team up for ‘Status Quo’

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Wavedash have returned for their first post-World Famous Tour delivery, reuniting with fknsyd for a glitching new single that blends their heavier bass roots with softer melodies fit for a humming indie tune. “Status Quo” follows Wavedash and fknsyd’s 2020 collaboration, “Stallions.”

Wavedash recently took the stage at Porter Robinson‘s Second Sky affair on September 18 and 19, with the Texas-based trio’s full set now available for fans to relive on YouTube. First playing out “Status Quo” during their appearance at the Oakland Arena Grounds, after encouraging the crowd to lift its hands and clap to the beat (similarly to how “Stallions” was first introduced), Wavedash’s Second Sky stint maintained an enthusiastic energy that entranced the entire audience.

Featured image: Jasmine Safaeian

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Gabry Ponte, Henri PFR join forces to give Cindy Lauper a modern disco flip

Gabry Ponte, Henri PFR join forces to give Cindy Lauper a modern disco flipGabry Ponte Henri Pfr The Feeling

Few acts define an era within their genre as well as Cindy Lauper. Her vibrant and tenacious “crazy hair don’t care” attitude is a perfect representation of the raw overtones of the ‘80s, and is so iconic that it can be infused into other tracks with just a well-used sample.

Case in point, the new release from Gabry Ponte and Henri PFR‘s “The Feeling,” a disco delight that samples Lauper’s famed “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” for an instant bump in volatile pop flare. Taking on such a storied and recognizable vocal is a tall task, but the two tastemakers truly rise to the occasion.

The new release manages to split the difference between modern production and ’80s nostalgia, pairing sharp guitar riffs with the smooth synth work of the current era. The result is a track that’s truly timeless, fit for everything from a retro dance party to the modern club.

Gabry Ponte and Henri PFR’s “The Feeling” is out now on streaming services worldwide. Listen below.

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Adventure Club continue ‘Love // Chaos’ rollout—stream ‘Here’

Adventure Club continue ‘Love // Chaos’ rollout—stream ‘Here’Adventure Club Superheroes Anonymous 11 Thissongslaps Larry Try

“Here” has arrived as one of several album singles released ahead of Adventure Club‘s sophomore LP, Love // Chaos. The veteran melodic bass duo publicized the upcoming record’s official tracklist in February, with “Here” then declared as the forthcoming album’s 18th tracklisting.

Featuring Dancing Astronaut Supernova KARRA, “Here” is a quintessential Adventure Club offering. Distinguished by alluring vocal chops layered over sharp synth drops, the production pair’s latest single arrives alongside an official visualizer. As the wait continues for the Canadian outfit’s full-length album, stream “Here” below.

Featured image: Larry Try

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ZAXX lengthens nostalgia-filled reunion with bigroom hybrid, ‘Back To U’

ZAXX lengthens nostalgia-filled reunion with bigroom hybrid, ‘Back To U’Ubbidubbi21b 019

ZAXX has truly taken matters into his own hands when it comes to putting bigroom back into the dance music limelight (for the US at least) in 2021. The New Yorker went on a short-lived release pause for the summer after making his first-ever cycle through Rave Culture with “Diddy Bop,” but has now returned to complete a trifecta with the sound from his earliest days, delivering “Back To U” on Actuation.

“Back To U” might sound familiar to some considering that ZAXX had flashed the then-unnamed production on his IG stories a few months back, posing the question of what he should do with it. After expectedly receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, ZAXX knew he had no option but to pull the project file back up and finish it. Crossing bigroom with a touch of both trance and deep house, “Back To U” parades the high-level, forward-looking production pedigree that has continually kept eyes on ZAXX’s push to reinstate the early-2010’s style.

While the wait for another sought-after ZAXX ID from Tiësto’s Electric Zoo set currently ensues, listeners can stream his latest single below.

Featured image: Rukes

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Ben Böhmer materializes sophomore LP, ‘Begin Again,’ on Anjunadeep

Ben Böhmer materializes sophomore LP, ‘Begin Again,’ on AnjunadeepBen Bohmer Photo By Luke Dyson 1

Anjunadeep’s very own Ben Böhmer describes his sophomore album on the label, Begin Again, as “the most personal music [he’s] ever written.” The German producer first ID’d the album’s lead single, “Beyond Beliefs,” during a prodigious Cercle set, live from a hot air balloon above Cappadocia in Turkey. Finally, after turning in four album singles over the past few months, Begin Again is streaming everywhere in its final 11-track form. In a recent tweet, the 27-year-old wrote,

“To me, these tracks represent all the ups, downs, joys and uncertainties of life and I hope in some small way it can serve as a reminder that any challenge in life gives us an opportunity to reflect, reset and go again.”

On September 26, Böhmer also delivered a YouTube livestream from Berlin’s König Galerie in partnership with Amazon Music to showcase tracks from the album, as well as his “brand new live setup.” Böhmer already has seven European tour dates locked in for the 2022 “Begin Again Tour,” a couple of which are already sold-out.

Check out the album’s official merchandise here, browse Böhmer’s forthcoming performances here, and stream Begin Again below.

Featured image: Luke Dyson

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Meet the World’s No. 1 DJ and win a Pioneer DDJ-1000 controller

DJ Mag is offering one lucky winner the chance to win a trip to Amsterdam to meet 2021’s No.1 DJ backstage.

Now in year five of a long-term partnership, Top 100 DJs has raised more than £80,000 for Unicef, the world’s leading children’s organisation. With this money, Unicef has been able to provide enough life-saving vaccines to protect more than one million children worldwide.

This year, the fundraising focus shifts to Unicef’s Vaccinaid program, which aims to deliver two billion vaccines, as well as millions of treatments around the world.

Join the Top 100 DJs in supporting the cause, and to be in with a chance of winning a once-in-a-lifetime prize. 

As well as being flown to Amsterdam and put up for three nights in a four-star hotel, one lucky winner will attend the Top 100 DJs awards ceremony as a VIP guest of honour, where they will watch the World’s No.1 DJ collect their award before having the chance to meet them backstage.

Finally, the winner will leave Amsterdam with a Pioneer DDJ-1000 all-in-one DJ controller (worth £1,159) and a DJ Mag goody bag.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply enter via our Crowdfunder to support Unicef’s mission.

Attacco turns any mic – and any surface – into expressive percussive music input

Attacco’s Virtual Controller, now in beta, makes anything into a percussive MIDI controller – not just for triggers, but expression, too. And you don’t need special hardware, either.

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Ever been finger drumming during a studio session? Well, now… that’s an input, too. So to is any microphone or contact mic or drum trigger. Basically, instead of relying on some proprietary solution, the developers at Attacco have built all the intelligence to software – and figure you can BYO mics and low-latency audio interface. (Side note on that: I’m ecstatically happy with the current-gen MOTU M4 I bought for a pretty low price, have a UAD Arrow plugged into the M1 Mac mini, and I’m hearing all the latest gear from Focusrite and whatnot work well, too. It’s pretty incredible what you can get in audio interfaces nowadays, with audio fidelity and reliable performance that once required a big investment.)

This opens a lot of possibilities – a practice pad turns into a basic digital drum kit. Objects become controllers. A lot of the versatility is down to mixing and matching mics.

The software interface is also attractively designed, with lots of musical options and visual feedback:

Now, you could do this any number of ways, but what Attaccoo have done is to allow you to access not just the attack transient, but also mapping different timbres, positions, speed, and velocity. Software analysis is doing some heavy lifting here and making this more expressive.

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Some quick toying around shows some good results so far, and I’m now off to wrangle some other mics to test more. Let us know what you think.

You have to sign up with email, or a Google or Facebook account, but then there’s a free beta version 0.1 for 64-bit Windows VST and VST3 and 64-bit macOS AU and VST3. It is a beta and not a “1.0” release, so do read those known issues before you get started.

Rome-based Audiokids worked on the macOS version, and – unrelated to this, they have a really cool granular-ambient-convolution generative thing called Undertone. There’s a 15-day demo of that… so, huh, lots of stuff to play with.

Thanks, Nerk!

A new documentary about US rap by Louis Theroux is in the works

A new documentary by Louis Theroux on US rap and hip-hop is in the works.

Focusing on the “new world” of the genres, with an emphasis on Florida and nearby southern states, the hour-long film will take place as part of Theroux’s forthcoming, three-part BBC series, Forbidden America.

“The world has gone through massive changes in the last few years, in particular from the effects of social media,” the documentary filmmaker said in a statement. “This new series looks at the way those changes have affected people in America who are in different ways involved in dangerous, extreme, or morally questionable lifestyles.

“Far-right groups that have found new influence through gaming and streaming services. Porn performers who have seen power shift to them as they’ve embraced creator-controlled apps and called out alleged predators in the industry. And in the rap world young men with big dreams caught up in feuds and high-risk behaviour in the click-driven world of social media.”

Set to broadcast via BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, the premiere dates of Forbidden America are to be announced.

It’s not the first time Theroux has delved into the world of rap. As part of his Weird Weekends series, in 2000, he explored the southern hip-hop industry as it eclipsed those of the east and west coasts.