In this video, UK synthesist Benge (Ben Edwards) shares his take on a brief history of monophonic synthesizers.
The video is the first in a new six part series exploring his passion for vintage synths and studio gear, and how he uses it on his productions and collaborations.
In this episode:
SWITCHED ON MONOSYNTHS – A brief history of Monosynths, with the Minimoog, ARP Odyssey, Roland SH101, SH5, Korg 800DS, Yamaha CS40M, Elka Soloist, EMS VCS3, Buchla Music Easel, and various related sequencers: Moog 960, ARP 1601, EMS TKS
SYNTHESISER CLUB – ARP / Rhodes Chroma, ARP 2500
PATCHING TODAY – Emu Series 2000 Modular synthesiser
VIDEO LAB – Brief introduction to the lab, Panasonic WJ-MX50, Sony Camera, Grass Valley Indigo vision mixer
00:00 Opening Titles 00:33 Introduction 01:32 Switched On Monosynths 17:58 Synthesiser Club 19:43 Commercial Break 21:51 Patching Today 32:15 Video Lab 35:02 Outro/Coming Up Next Time
Developer Tim Shoebridge has introduced PolyChain DIY, a MIDI utility that lets you poly-chain together up to eight separate instruments simultaneously.
Instruments can be hardware synths, electronic keyboards, samplers, grooveboxes, multi-timbral sound sources, even soft synths running as a VST in your DAW. If you can connect to the instrument via MIDI from your computer then PolyChain DIY can control it.
You can choose from four different poly-chain algorithms, create poly-chain zones across your keyboard, transpose your instruments, set their priority, control pan spread across your instruments as well as other basic sound attributes, if your synths have suitable support via MIDI CC automation.
Note: PolyChain DIY is a module for Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular. Voltage Modular runs on Windows and Apple Mac, both as a standalone application and as a VST plugin for your DAW. Modules can be purchased and downloaded using Voltage Modular’s online store. Voltage Modular itself is free to download.
The widely recognized black beetle-clad 1998 LP Mezzanine, from English trip-hop luminaries Massive Attack, turned 24 earlier this month. Since it’s original unveiling more than two decades ago during an era of incredibly experimental and dynamic electronic dance music, the internationally revered album still remains as monumental of a work today as it was then. Though the record is considered as timeless of a project as ever, the band itself has evolved and transformed since its early heyday of the late 90s. Originally founded by singer-songwriter Robert Del Naja and Bristol-DJ Collective Wild Bunch members Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall—and joined by many others including producer Tricky, on and off throughout the years—the band is most notably recognized for establishing the trip-hop sound.
The genre, characterized by soulful vocal samples, sensual melodies, oscillating dub grooves, and a hip-hop rhythm, was firmly established through Massive Attack’s 1994 album Protection and then permanently cemented on the 1998 follow-up. The record is a sultry, cinematic work that feels as intact as ever; a rarer quality to find in today’s electronic output. Mezzanine is a special album due to its nuances: with every listen, a new instrumental sample or hypnotic melody lulls you into a new plane of discovery down the wondrous rabbit hole of Massive Attack’s sonic signature.
Stream the groundbreaking album in its entirety below.
Japanese development team PikoPiko Factory has launched a Kickstarter project to support development of the Profree-4 open source synthesizer.
Profree-4 is an original synth design, based on the voice circuitry of the Sequential Prophet-5. Unlike the original, it’s a mini-synth, features MIDI support, can run on batteries, can be used as a keytar and has a built-in speaker for mobile use.
After development, all technical information of Profree-4 will be provided under the “Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0.International” license. This means that anyone can build, make and sell the Profree-4.
It’d be criminally understating Hardwell‘s comeback to say that it’s been going more than well so far. Since the very second he entered Bayfront Park and subsequently broadcasted the existence of Rebels Never Die, he’s kept a white-knuckle grip on dance music. And Hardwell is now formally solidifying the pathway to his sophomore effort’s complete arrival, confirming its bimonthly single rollout pattern—although there’s no end date just yet—after delivering “Broken Mirror” and “Into The Unknown“ just two weeks apart from “F*CKING SOCIETY.” After Hardwell pulled back the curtain on all of the Rebels Never Die track names earlier this April, “BLACK MAGIC” was confirmed to be the name of an ID that our eyes were immediately drawn to and it’s now taking its seat as the LP’s fourth single in as many weeks.
Out of all 14 of Hardwell’s Ultra IDs—not including his 2022 rework of “Spaceman”—”Black Magic” was the one that seemed to most closely revisit the sonic identity that he held more than a decade ago. Coming as an indirect sequel to “Blue Magic” from 2009, “BLACK MAGIC” funnels elements from Hardwell releases both new and old—like “Encoded” and “Retrograde“—while brightly carrying the Rebels Never Die torch forward for another seamless leap into the bigroom-techno rebranding he brought forth in downtown Miami. There’s now ten IDs still on the board that Hardwell could potentially choose from for his album’s fifth single slot on May 13 but we’ll likely have to hold on another week to find out the exact answer from the Revealed Recordings king.
Hot Creations label boss Jamie Jones has released a smashing new tune on Defected Records, just in time for the eagerly anticipated Ibiza season. “I remember back in my early Ibiza seasons around 2000. There were these big anthems that used pumped up 909 hi-hats, a heavy kick drum, a looping disco groove. Producers like Armand Van Helden and Full Intention did it so well. I wanted to re-create this for the 2022 dance floor, and ‘My Paradise’ is what came out,” Jones said of the single, which marks his first release on Defected in three years.
“My Paradise”—named after Jones’ widely celebrated Ibiza event and brand, Paradise—sees him infuse the song’s ear-catching vocal with a touch of disco. Combined with a vivacious bassline, this euphoric cut is dance floor ready. Stream the groovy tune and its exclusive extended mix below.
Carl Cox is the self-proclaimed “gate-keeper” of dance music. After years of DJing acid-house and dance music at illegal raves and hundreds of clubs internationally for five decades, the esteemed producer is still committed to his music career, and to his lifelong passion turned professional hobby: motorbikes.
Presented by the BBC‘s Rick Faragher, Carl Cox: Music and Motorbikes hones in on Cox’s obsession with motorbikes, camaraderie within the realm of motorsports, and how it translates to the main stage, not to mention his career in music. Cox delineates his lifelong passion for bikes, what led him to establish his very own motorsport team in 2013, and competing professionally in races, including the Ulster Grand Prix, North West 200, and the Isle of Man TT.
The half-hour documentary includes exclusive sound bites from Cox, who speaks on his musical legacy and the unconditional love he has for speed, racing, and fellow motorbike enthusiast and friend, The Prodigy‘s frontman, Keith Flint. “There’s always an element of danger when you’re riding a motorbike and I think some people like that—riding on the err of danger. For me, I’ve always felt that the energy of [The Prodigy’s music] and Keith, it all just makes sense for me on the track. The power of the engines starting, and whisking past you… the energy of it all—it’s just such a high level,” Cox said, citing Flint’s music as his favorite to listen to when racing down the speedway.
The documentary, released on April 18, is available to stream for free here until May 16.
Some of dance music’s most essential purveyors, Aluna and Jayda G, have recently released an unexpected but more than welcome collaboration via Mad Decent, “Mine O’ Mine.”
“This track was pure inspiration in the moment. Myself and Jayda started with nothing and built the production, melody and lyrics from scratch, just following our thoughts and feelings about having pulled through 2021 and looking forward to 2022,” Aluna said of the single, which serves as an ode to their blossoming friendship.
“Mine O’ Mine” is Aluna’s third release so far this year, following her recent collaboration with LouisThe Child, “Cry,” and “Forget About Me,” with which she made her return to Mad Decent alongside Diplo and Durante.
One of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artists to Watch in 2022, STAR SEED are returning to the release ring, this time with “Play Me” in tow. Produced alongside Crunr, “Play Me,” which arrives on the heels of their official remix of The Chainsmokers‘ “High,” takes inspiration from the ’80s, carrying with it a distinctly retro feel. It’s the second time that STAR SEED have teamed up with Crunr; the trio convened for the first time on “Voice From The Sky,” released in July 2021.
“We held on to this song for a while since it is a little different from other songs in our discography. But we want to continue to be seen as a multi-genre artist project and we love how this song turned out and love working with Crunr,” STAR SEED said of “Play Me.”
The one-off is STAR SEED’s fourth track of 2022 and more loosely follows their three-track Digital Forest EP, disseminated via Ophelia Records in January. Stream “Play Me” below.
NAP, the free and open-source live visualization toolkit, has an all-new look, powerful GPU computation capabilities, a Web portal … and it even runs on a Raspberry Pi. Your next installation is calling. Let’s check it out.
NAP 0.5.0 hit earlier this month. The developers emphasize that this is a major (emphasis theirs) new release, full of fixes and improvements and a new look. The artist-driven toolkit I’ve covered here before, so here’s your refresher:
That story also includes lots of dreamy use cases involving lights and installations and digital art. And that’s the important thing about this breed of tools – it’s indie, underground stuff that comes straight out of real-world digital artmaking.
And if you’re overwhelmed by choice, maybe the key advantage of NAP is that it’s so low-overhead – even energy efficient. In today’s world, that surely matters, and it makes this your shoe-in choice if you’re looking for something efficient for an installation, not just “throw a bunch of GPUs and fans at it” festival stage stuff. (I do love that, too, natch.)
Let’s get to what’s new, though.
Computation on the GPU. NAP is powered by Vulkan, the latest Khronos cross-platform API (so the next generation of legacy APIs Direct3D and OpenGL). The latest is the ability to run computation on the GPU, too.
Web portal. The ability to run stuff from a Web portal is just great in practice – all you need is a browser view to work with parameters in your creation. I’ve talked about this being great in Resolume’s REST API, Isadora does this – it’s great. And it’s especially welcome here, especially when you have options like running on Raspberry Pi (see below), because it facilitates easy remote control of your stuff.
There’s a node module that does the work for you, then you get a NAP Dashboard that spits out the website – see the webportal demo.
All of it runs on Raspberry Pi 4. Yeah, and it runs well. And you can use Vulkan compute. Just going to quote them on this:
Added full support for the Raspberry Pi 4, Raspbian Bullseye (11), armhf, including access to the GPIO pins & Vulkan Compute / Rendering. Performance is quite impressive, most demo apps run at about ~80-90 fps. And we expect it to improve. You can download the pre-compiled package right here or compile NAP from source, following the regular build instructions. To make life easier we pre-compiled QT for you. The entire engine and toolset is supported, including the compilation, packaging and running of all demos, apps and editor. We are already using it in production. The pipins demo shows you how to get started with the GPIO pins & NAP.
Tim Groeneboom wrote a great tutorial on how to develop and deploy NAP on the Raspberry PI 4 using CLion. Including general tips & tricks to get more out of NAP running on the Raspberry Pi.
New themes, new look. They’ve also totally rebuilt the UI and icons, everything looks nicer, and you get multiple themes.
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