I was feeling a bit avante garde today and whipped up a Christmas video for you all. The video was shot around Austin and edited in Vegas Video. The music was done in Ableton LIVE...if anyone is wondering.
Have a GREAT HOLIDAY!! I'll catch ya all on the flip side.
I discovered some new music last week that I really fell in love with so I thought I would share it with the masses. The group is called LowHero.DLL, which is an electro-alt-pop solo effort by Jonathan Chalker, who is currently residing in Florida. LowHero.DLL has three offerings right now: a single released this September named "Black...Bored", an EP from 2009 entitled "Sub-Intellect" and one full length album released in 2008 called "FM_Era". The two early albums are definite synth-pop with an unique edge. If I had to draw comparisons for his first two albums I would say "Fischerspooner" and "Ladytron", but even that is limiting. Its a little difficult to put comparisons to Jonathan's work because it is pretty original. Not only is his use of electronic texture interesting in a pop context, but his lyrics are clever, a bit humorous and offer more than just the typical relationship focused fare that alot of current synth pop seems to suffer from.
Jonathan's newest offering is bit of a departure from the synth-pop goodness of the first two releases, but is probably my favorite of his work to date. "Black...Bored" as described by Jonathan is "inspired by such acts as PIL, Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, and Big Black". The magical thing about this is that, yes you can hear the influences but, it doesn't rob the electronic nature of Jonathan's music and what you get is a refreshing blend of alt-pop that sticks in your ear and make you want to listen over and over. Jonathan was kind enough to point me to a couple of SoundCloud tracks for me to post for you all. If you like what you hear, mosy on over to LowHero.DLL's band camp page, where all of his material is available to listen to and download for very reasonable prices. There are also CDs for sale.
It's been a little while since I've done an absurd music of the day post. I ran across these two videos that are definitely absurd AND holiday themed, so I thought I'd share... The first one is a Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer / Police mashup, and the second is something very Hungarian and odd with a big giant Christmas Chicken. I'll let you figure that one out for yourself. Enjoy!
My friend Mark Mosher, who also released a great electronic album this year called "I Hear Your Signals" created an Ableton LIVE pack for his blog readers and fans for Christmas. Mark is also interested in creating a community around this live pack for users to post their own notes about the instruments as well as receive updates from Mark. Mark is also giving away the root samples so that folks who don't have Ableton LIVE but do have instruments such as: Absynth, Alchemy, ElectraX... etc can create their own compatible sounds.
I haven't downloaded this yet. I plan to do that this evening, but if this is like any of Marks previous synth work, the pack should be meticulously, well thought out and very cool sounding. Check it out. http://www.outpostexperiment.com/
This has gone around the web in the last 5 days or so, but I think its pretty interesting, so I thought I would post it. Here is a demo of the Teenage Engineering OP-1 keyboard. This unique synthesizer and sampler looks like it could either be an amazing breakthrough or just another cool oddity that hit the market and flopped... like the Jazz Mutant Lemur. With rumors of the OP-1 going for a retail price of over $1000 I think its future is a bit dubious... but man it sure does sound cool. Check it out.
It's that time of year again boys and girls. Yup the holiday gift giving fervor is in full swing (ooh boy), so I thought I'd chime in again this year with my list of 11 fun and geeky-cool items under $60 to give to your favorite electronic musician on your list! To find out more about an item, click on the title links.
This t-shirt looks like tons of fun. It's a playable, wearable synthesizer t-shirt from Think Geek. You may have to also purchase a bat to keep people from fondling the keys while your wearing it though. ;-) (from ThinkGeek)
Do you have an electronic musician on your list that's full of a lot of hot air? ;-) Well unplug him and shut him up at the same time with this awesome melodica style keyboard! (from ThinkGeek)
3. Korg Monotron Synthesizer $59.99 The Monotrone is an affordable, palm-sized analog synthesizer complete with ribbon controller and a VCO, VCF & LFO. Lots of great noise potential for small amount of bucks! (from ThinkGeek)
Korg has 4 different flavors of vintage tees available for sale: MS-20, Trident, Mono/Poly (my favorite) and the Doncamatic. These would make awesome gifts for anyone who loves Korg Synthesizers. (from Korg)
Well that pretty much wraps up my gift list for this year (pun intended ;-). Hope you find something for the synth geek on your list!
P.S. If you like this post, you may like the gift list I made last year for electronic musicians. You can read that one HERE
The Dirty Disco has been my new favorite band for a couple of months now. I like the fact that they can write catchy songs that don't make me feel like I just bathed in a pool of cotton candy afterwards. They are in the process of releasing a new single for their song "Storyteller" and they have posted their new video for the song. The video has a Logan's Run meets Clockwork Orange meets F242 Headhunter vibe (without the giant egg) that I really like... so I'm sharing. Here you go :)
ps. if you really like them you can check them out on their facebook page HERE
Probably one of the more difficult processors to understand when you are a newbie to electronic music creation is the compressor. I have had many friends new to electronic music asking me what this processor does, as well as I have had to explain this to many an executive when trying to get my equipment budgets approved, so I thought I would post an overview here for anyone interested.
Compression was originally created to control the range of dynamics of a sound. Think of it as an automatic volume control. Although, compression has many applications aside from recording, a perfect example of how compression is used and what it does, is easily illustrated in a typical vocal recording scenario. When you record vocals you want to get the signal to noise ratio as high as you can. Meaning that you want to have a loud voice signal and a low noise signal on your recording. However, vocalists can be very dynamic and if you set your recording levels to be perfect when they are singing loud your signal to noise ratio will drop when they sing a quiet part. If you set your levels to be perfect when the vocalist sings quietly, then you will distort your input when they sing louder. To solve this problem you need to reduce the overall dynamics of the incoming signal. Back in pre-historic times the engineer would ride the faders to keep a signal's volume under control. Nowadays, fortunately for all of us, you can apply a compressor to this problem that will automatically adjust the volume to fit with the levels that you specify. So in a nutshell, compression controls the volume of a sound, keeping it within levels that the user sets.
Controls on a Typical Compressor
On most of the software compressors there are pre-sets that you can use for the most standard compressor applications. However, like anything its better to know what the controls on the compressor actually do. This will give you the power to make intelligent tweaks to get the compressor to do exactly what you want it to. Don't be beholden to presets!
Threshold - This is the signal level at which the compressor will start reducing the incoming signal. This is usually measured in dB (decibel). Typically you want to set this so the signal level is just below the threshold. Notice in the picture below that the peak incoming signal is -8.1 dB. You can see that I've set the threshold to -10.0 db. This will reduce the signal of anything that is louder than -10 dB.
Ratio - This setting refers to the amount of gain reduction that will take place on the signal if it surpasses the threshold. For example if the ratio is 5:1, then a signal that exceeds the threshold by 5dB would be reduced so you would only see a 1dB increase instead of a 5dB increase at the output.
Attack & Release - On the most simple level, the attack refers to how long it takes the compressor to pull the volume down on the signal once it reaches the threshold and the release refers to how long it takes the compressor to returns the signal to its original level.
Soft & Hard Knee Compression - Hard knee refers to compression that happens abruptly where soft knee compression is more gradual. As you can see in the graph below, hard knee compression squashes the signal as soon as it reaches the threshold.
With soft knee compression the signal starts to be compressed gradually as it approaches its threshold. See the soft knee compression chart.
Output or Make Up Gain - This setting specifies how much the over all signal should be boosted after compression. Some compressors have a setting to do this for you automatically.
Additional Features Some Compressors May Have
Side Chaining - Some hardware and software compressors allow for side chaining. This means that there is a separate input aside from the original audio input. This input can be used to introduce an audio signal that can act as an envelope for the compressor acting on the signal coming in through the normal inputs. A good easy example of this is when you hear an announcer on the radio talking over music. When the announcer starts talking you can hear the music get softer so you can hear the announcer more clearly. This is done by having the signal of the announcer informing the compressor when to attenuate the music. When the announcer stops talking, the absence of the signal returns the compressor back to its original level bringing the music back up in volume.
This setting is typically found on compressors that have a side chain feature. This allows you to have more control on the compressor's release value when side chaining. For example, using our announcer scenario up above, if the announcer took a long enough pause while speaking the compressor would release, bringing the volume of the music back up momentarily until the announcer started speaking again. This would sound unexpected and sloppy. To fix this you would set the Hold control to 40 to 60 ms after it detected silence from the announcer before it would return to the original volume level allowing for pauses.
So there ya have the very basics of the compressor. There are obviously more nuances and things to know to be well schooled in the sorcery that is compression. Stay tuned for some more advanced compression topics in the weeks to come :)
Free VST Compressors to get your feet wet with: (Click on the bold face names to go to the VST website for download)