MOD Devices made a guitar synth you can actually play like a synth – so your guitar is the CV

It’s the sound and expression of a modular synth, but you can mix it with guitar sounds and play it with the guitar techniques you already know. Here’s the latest no-extra-cost addition to MOD Devices do-it-all mobile effects boxes.

Guitar synths themselves are nothing new – see Roland et al. But you can run up against two deal killers. First, they typically require special pickups and cables. Second, as synths, many of these instruments are pretty restrictive – like a dumbed-down synth preset made for guitarists.

Plug in your guitar, and play.

Enter MOD Devices’ Guitar Synth. The idea is simple – just nail tracking by making it quick and responsive, then give you a complete set of synths and effects to play. It works right out of the box with whatever guitar (or bass) you want to play. Done.

MOD Devices’ stuff I’ve reviewed before; it’s like having a self-contained, purpose-built, dedicated computer in a rugged mobile stomp format. You get an extraordinary amount of customization in running effects. That’s a natural match for this instrument. I imagined this would be a paid add-on, but it’s not – it’s free to any existing MOD device owners, so also a decent argument for taking the leap as a guitarist.

The real breakthrough here is adding the synth capabilities without having to rethink how – or what – you play. Because the Guitar Synth fast and accurate at tracking, your playing – string bends, legatos, harmonics – all get translated to the synth. And you can mix in effects from the massive MOD library, with any blend of your source guitar playing you like. This can be as out-there and synth-y, or as subtle and guitar-y as you desire, for lack of a better way to word that.

The footswitches are all assigned to additional filter sweeps, modulation, and note bends. I still wish MOD made a box that had more foot expression on it, like some integrated expression pedals, though you can always add those externally if you so choose. (That’s why I tend to favor the Dwarf – you might as well go small here and add only what you need.)

A look at one of the sprawling pedalboards – pre-built for you, so you can just plug and play. (Click to embiggen.) Of course, you’re free to create your own or customize this one, too, with hundreds of modules now at your disposal.

But the real edge here is the fact that you’re cramming a virtually limitless pedalboard into the MOD – and then using tracking to control it. It’s really a bit like having a complete modular rig you can play with your guitar and foot – and for a fraction of the cost, complexity, size, and all-around awkwardness of trying to do that with a full-blown Eurorack on its own.

That being said, this is an extension of MOD’s already-great support for control voltage. So if you do want to mix and match hardware modular, MOD’s software-customizable solution, and a guitar, you could go for all three. Gianfranco Ceccolini explains in a news statement:

The support of Control Voltage by the MOD platform dates back to 2018 when the company released a comprehensive package of officially supported CV modules at the MOD Plugin Store, following the announcement of the Duo X.

In 2020 the “CV Addressing” feature was released, which allowed the control of conventional guitar effects by the CV modules, bringing automation of control to conventional guitar rigs.

The addition of the AutoToCV plugin closes a gap between the Modular and the Guitar Pedal worlds, allowing for a new type of synthesizer that is played in a much more organic and abstract form. Both the new AutoToCV Pitch plugin and all the synth boards are available for free for all MOD Devices users.

With the Dwarf, that’s especially mobile. So if you do have hardware pedals you adore, there’s enough space in your bag to add this and an entire synth on top of it, without adding a single pickup or other form of specialized hardware.

They’ve made some nice demos. I’m not a guitarist, so I can’t test this part, but I do love the MOD solution in general, and its options are truly deep.

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You get five different synth boards you can plug and play – and of course, you build whatever you want from their library.

For more on MOD, check my review:

More on the Guitar Synth:

Nicolás Jaar curates compilations exploring Polish experimental music history

Nicolás Jaar has curated a new compilation highlighting experimental Polish radio from the latter half of the 20th century.

The two volumes of ‘Would It Sound Just As Bad If You Played It Backwards? A Collection of Sounds from the Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia (1959​-​2001)’, out now via Jaar’s Other People label, pull from the archives of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio (PRES) in Warsaw. Featured sound works are by artists Krzysztof Knittel, Bohdan Mazurek, Magdalena Dàugosz, Barbara Zawadzka, Rudnik (who’s quoted in the title), Bogusław Shaeffer, Wlodzimierz Kotoński and Elżbieta Sikora.

“We acted without any initial plans or electronic scores,” Knittel says of PRES’ ethos. “There were no goals to be achieved, no creative method defined in advance. We used our aesthetic and technological knowledge freely, the shapes of tracks emerged during our shared work in the studio.”

The volumes are covered early pieces by Polish artist Zofia Kulik, whose career overlaps the compilations’ time period from the 1960s to present. 

Jaar has also mixed selections from the two collections, streaming now via the Other People SoundCloud. Listen to that Below and check out the compilations on Bandcamp.

Ojerime shares video for new single, ‘Alarming’: Watch

London R&B artist Ojerime is back with a new single called ‘Alarming’. Watch the video for the track below. 

It’s the follow up to her 2020 mixtape ‘B4 I Breakdown’ and recent single ‘Jetset’. Ojerime’s textured voice leans into soulful guitar and drum production, singing about the “emotional tug of war” of dealing with a toxic partner you know you shouldn’t keep going back to.

“‘Alarming’ is about ignoring all the red flags displayed because you spent time and effort to be with this person,” Ojerime told The Line of Best Fit. “Once you have it you realise you’ve lost your boundaries and they’re no good for you, so you become no good to them in return and move on with your life.”

Ojerime has been active since the mid-2010s, releasing her debut EP ‘The Silhouette’ in 2015. Read her candid interview with gal-dem from 2020 around the release of  ‘B4 I Breakdown’. 

Check out the visualiser to ‘Alarming’ below.

New community ownership initiative launched to protect the UK’s grassroots music venues

Music Venues Trust is launching a new endeavour to ‘Own Our Venues‘ in an attempt to provide stability and longevity to live music venues.

An extension of the group’s ongoing efforts to advocate for grassroots music venues (MVT defines these as “small- to medium-scale venue[s]… focused on the development and presentation of new live music,” in the New Statesman), Music Venues Properties is a  Community Benefit Society which will seek to purchase freeholds and rent them out to live music operators “at a fairer rate than their present landlords, with greater security and better understanding of the sector,” according to the Crowdfunder information. Fans can also invest in MVP via the fundraiser and see a 3% APR on their investment, encouraging the music community to gain ownership of these spaces.

The initial plans include raising £3.5 million to purchase the freehold of nine properties that MVP has already identified. Six of those venues are in England, two are in Wales and one is in Scotland.  

MVT’s ownership coordinator Matt Otridge told NME, “We’re hoping that eventually it will grow and grow into a point where we have hundreds of venues that are owned by Music Venue Properties and hundreds of venues that would benefit from having a landlord that literally can’t be motivated by profits because it’s a not-for-profit organisation, as well as a landlord that shares their ambitions in seeing more money going back into the circuit.”

According to Music Venues Trust, 93% of grassroots music venues are tenants with an average of 18 months remaining on their lease. 

For more information, check out the campaign on Crowdfunder, read this in-depth feature in the New Statesman, and watch the video below.

Bandcamp’s payment system for Android to remain in place following court agreement

Bandcamp’s new owner Epic Games and Google have come to an agreement over Google’s impending changes to in-app purchases for Android users.

Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced in a statement that Bandcamp will continue to process in-app Android payments using its existing system while Epic and Google’s court battle is underway. The final ruling is expected some time in 2023.

Instead of switching to the new Google Play Billing policy, which requires all apps in the Google Play store to use Google’s own payment system — and pay 30% of all in-app sales to Google — and not external payment platforms like PayPal as Bandcamp had been doing, Bandcamp will be putting its usual 10% revenue share in an escrow holding account until the case is concluded. The Google Play Billing change was planned to come into effect on 1st June, which is when Epic’s escrow holding pattern will start. 

“Fans can keep supporting artists on Android as they have, and we’ll continue paying artists the same share of sales,” Diamond wrote. “Moving forward, we’ll continue the fight to allow artist-first business models like ours on Android.”

Another effect of Google Play Billing change “would impact [Bandcamp’s] ability to pay artists quickly,” Diamond says. “Instead of receiving payment after 24 to 48 hours, artists may not be paid until 15 to 45 days after a sale.”

Should the court rule in favor of Google, it is possible that Epic Games and Bandcamp will have to pay for the difference of the 10% share escrow account to Google, according to the court stipulation document. The document also makes it clear that this agreement only applies to the Bandcamp app in the Google Play app store. 

Read Diamond’s full statement here and find the court filing here.

Liam Doc announces new EP ‘The Mk4 Tape’, shares single: listen

Liam Doc is set to drop an extended EP in June.

Incoming via the DJ and producer’s own Eyeangle Records imprint, which has released tracks from the likes of Alex Martyn, Cloudy Lemonade and LWS, six-track EP ‘The Mk4 Tape’ will land on the 10th June.

His first release since last year’s ‘KTOI Trax’ on Shall Not Fade, the EP announce lands alongside first single ‘Faith’ – which you can check out below.

Pre-order ‘The Mk4 Tape’ here.

Premiere: Reflec ‘Glue’

The sixth release on Berlin-via-London DJ Tasha’s Neighbourhood label comes courtesy of Reflec. Listen to the opening track, ‘Glue’, below. 

The London producer serves up three original cuts of weighty breakbeat techno. Geared fully toward the dancefloor, it’s the beefy rhythms that carry these cuts, with flourishes of sci-fi synth, prickly acid and warped bass hitting all the right nerves to help rewire your feet for the rave. With an added remix of ‘Spectra’ from dBridge, this one’s a winner. 

‘HOOD006’ will be released on 10th June. Pre-order it here

Tale Of Us announce full line-up for Afterlife Ibiza residency 2022

Tale Of Us have revealed the musical guests for their upcoming Afterlife residency at Hï Ibiza this summer. 

Joining Carmine Conte and Matteo Milleri for their first season back on the White Isle since 2019 will be the likes of Chris Liebing, Rüfüs Du Sol, Amelie Lens, Stephan Bodzin, Adiel, Patrice Bäumel, Mind Against, Dax J, Vaal, Mathame, Clara Cuvé, Recondite, ANNA, Colyn, Woo York and more.

There will be a mix of DJ sets and live performances across the main Theatre hall and dark-themed Club room, with both spaces fitted out with immersive visuals and light displays. As usual, Tale Of Us will take the closing slot in the Theatre every week.

The Thursday residency kicks off on 7th July and runs weekly through 22nd September, when there’ll be a closing party with TBA guests. 

See the full list of guests below and find the line-up breakdowns on Hï Ibiza’s website.

Exit Festival adds Adam Beyer, Gerd Janson, Kristen Velvet, more to 2022 festival

EXIT has revealed over 50 artists set to perform at the 2022 festival’s dance arena.

The event, which welcomed over 180,000 guests in 2021, will return to Petrovaradin Fortress in Serbia from the 7th to the 10th July this year, with even more acts set to join EXIT’s three dance stages: MTS Dance Arena, No Sleep Novi Sad and Urban Bug.

Among the new acts to be added to the line-up are Drumcode boss Adam Beyer, who will play b2b with label affiliate Enrico Sanguiliano, Blond:ish, and Stephan Bodzin, who will play live. They’ll be joining already confirmed names such as ANNA b2b Sama’ Abdulhadi, Carl Cox, Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta, and Honey Dijon.

Elsewhere, DJ Tennis and Gerd Janson have also been announced for the event, alongside Berlin club Watergate’s Kristin Velvet and Jamiie, as well as Mochakk, ARTBAT, Lenske label regular Airod, and Dax J.

You can check out the full line-up below, which will also feature headliners in the form of Alok, Calvin Harris, Afrojack and Boris Brejcha, below.

Beastie Boys announce 30th anniversary vinyl reissue of ‘Check Your Head’

The Beastie Boys are reissuing the long out-of-print limited-edition box set of their 1992 album ‘Check Your Head’ for its 30th anniversary. 

Originally released in April 1992, ‘Check Your Head’ is Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and the late Adam “MCA” Yauch’s third studio album as a trio. It features tracks ‘So What’ Cha Want’, ‘Pass The Mic’ and ‘Gratitude’. In 2009, they released a quadruple-vinyl remastered version that was exclusively available through the Beastie Boys’ webstore.

Now, the box set is getting a reissue on 180g vinyl, complete with the two LPs of live versions, remixes, B-sides and bonus content from the original limited-edition run. That’s out next month, on 24th June.

See the full tracklist on the Beastie Boys’ website.