Listen to the "Loon Garden" sample from one of the E-mu Emulator II's stock library of sounds, and it may sound familiar in an unusual way. Instead of invoking a feeling of being near the Great Lakes, you might get taken to dance floors or mixes of the past and present, from 808 State's "Pacific State" and Sueño Latino's "Sueño Latino (Paradise Mix)" (both vaguely tropical numbers from 1989), to the more recent Rustie's "Up Down (feat. D Double E)" and Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" (NSFW). Philip Sherburne tracked down the story of a sample that keeps coming back, collecting more examples and getting some great insight into a number of notable tracks.
"Enya emerges from the shadows wearing a full-length black taffeta dress and a velvet shrug. She’s 54, but she has the skin of someone much younger — or someone who spends most of her time in an Irish castle. She looks like a mix of Deanna Troi and my mom, which is to say, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She appears, nods as the room applauds her, and disappears without a word. “Now, for a light mingle,” the exec announces." -- Anne Helen Petersen on Enya, her avoidance of celebrity, her history, her massively successful career, and her castles.
A Beginner's Guide to the Synth is a nice long write-up to the history of the synthesizers, from their origins up to the present, with embedded sound samples. For a deeper dive into the history of the hardware, learn the secrets of the synths from Sound on Sound.
The Night Terrors present Megafauna, a composition for organ, theremin, drum set, and synthesized bass. [more inside]
Are you interested in making ambient, drifting, densely-layered electronic music? But don't know where to even start? This is the most thoughtful and gentle introduction I'm aware of, from a fine musician. It's a 45-minute video workshop from Rich Vreeland aka Disasterpeace, composer of the gorgeous, acclaimed Fez soundtrack. Rich composes a Fez-like track on the fly, explaining what he's doing in the process. While he uses Logic and the softsynth Massive in this workshop, his general approach and attention to sound design and synthesis will be applicable to whatever software or hardware you choose to use. (Hat tip to sparkletone for the link. Fez previously on Metafilter.)
808 State is an English electronic group that formed in 1987, and take their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine and their shared state of mind. As a trio, they produced their iconic track, Pacific, which fused influences of house music, jazz fusion and exotica. The group changed membership a bit over the years, but one way or another 808 State have released six albums* to date, and a number of singles, EPs, and promotional discs. 808state.com has a ton of information, including an extensive visual discography, a list of other productions and remixes, and over a gig of demos, live tracks, and other non-album audio to download. Given the group's 27 year-long history, there's a lot more to see and hear. [more inside]
The BeyondSynth Podcast is a podcast with artists and producers who make synthwave/new-retro/electronic music. From his home base in Canada, Adam talks to the top artists in the scene. Links to guests' music pages for each episode inside. [more inside]
If cruising through neon wireframe landscapes is your kind of thing, and previous mefi posts haven’t satisfied your burning desire for synth wave/retro electro/neo 80s, then perhaps you would be interested in a few of the following albums... [more inside]
Your hair is falling out and your teeth have gone, your legs are still together but it won't be long
Fad Gadget was the brainchild of Leeds-born electronic music pioneer Frank Tovey He died on April 3, 2002, just as his career was entering a new phase with his first arena tour in support of Depeche Mode's Exciter tour. He left a legacy of 10 albums, most of which are now out of print, and his name is largely forgotten, although his legacy (ever so slightly NSFW) lives on. [more inside]
Celebrating the memory of beloved synth pioneer Bob Moog and commemorating his birthday, Google's home page (currently in Australia, live in the US tomorrow) is a fully working, multi-trackable Moog synthesizer. Share your masterpiece!
Delia Derbyshire, most famous for the original Doctor Who theme tune, would have been 75 years old last Saturday. In celebration of her pioneering work on electronic music, and her role at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, British remix artist Soundhog created an hour-long mix of Derbyshire's words and music, combined with more work from the Radiophonic Workshop and other electronic music pioneers of the time. (mp3 download) [more inside]
When not terrorizing Mr Bond, from the late 1970s until 1994, Mike Mangino and Chris Shepard were in a basement full of musical toys, novelty space microphones, a TR-606, and a SH-09 in Piscataway, NJ recording cassettes as the band Smersh. In 1981 Smersh released their first cassette under their own label of Atlas King. They never rehearsed, they couldn't read music, and they never played live, and they contributed to far too many compilations throughout the known world. In the early eighties they established a unique sound that is known and loved, combining cheap electronics and wild guitar sounds with distorted vocals. By trading cassettes they garnered international acclaim leading to releases on dozens of other labels. [more inside]
In 1978 a tiny English company called Electronic Dream Plant produced their first product, the EDP Wasp synthesizer, the first of a short-lived range of creepy-crawly-named devices. In the golden age of big wooden and metal synths the wasp was made of plastic, battery-powered, with a built-in speaker, a keyboard with no moving parts, and used a brilliantly minimalist CMOS circuit design (in fact, people are still copying the Wasp filter circuit). It was the first analog synth to be truly affordable. The Wasp's accessibility, unique sound and portability saw it quickly used by musicians ranging from buskers to rock stars. [more inside]
Adachi Tomomi, Alex Baker, Ian Baxter, Ithai Benjamin, Lesley Flanigan, Lorin Edwin Parker, Peter Blasser, Phil Archer, Todd Bailey, Tommy Stephenson & Patrick McCarthy, Tuomao Tammenpaa, and Vasco Alvo are all featured in Nicolas Collins' extraordinarily good book Handmade Electronic Music.
Earlier this year, the BBC's Arena produced and aired an excellent documentary on Brian Eno entitled "Another Green World" containing "a series of conversations on science, art, systems analysis, producing and cybernetics". [more inside]
Kasio Kristmas (2 3 4 5) Traditional Christmas Songs played on a casio keyboard by a man in a conehead mask.
folktek do beautiful things with sound and sculpture that are so unique as to defy description
Gijs Gieskes is an astonishing inventor/hacker/bender/maker of electro/mechanical/audio/artistic devices.
What The Future Sounded Like (1 2 3) is an excellent documentary about the birth of electronic music. [more inside]
Herbie Hancock delivers a TED Talk. Not much talking, plenty of jamming. Marcus Miller and Harvey Mason accompany Hancock. Check out the monster Watermelon Man that starts around fourteen minutes in.
It's time to learn about . . . the Stylophone! (YouTube link) This very portable instrument has been used in some famous songs, and has inspired many to do Stylophone versions of their own faves like Pacman, Star Wars Death March, and The Model. The Stylophone master of all time is quirky Brett Domino, who not only made the short film in the main link but does this lovely 80's Hits Medley. (All links go directly or indirectly to YouTube.) [via ZoomForum] [more inside]
The Tone Generation is a radio series by Ian Helliwell 'looking at different themes or composers in the era of analogue tape and early synthesizer technology'. The original globe-trotting series: Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, USA, Canada, Rest of World. Bonus programmes: Expo 58, The RCA Synthesizer. All links are to MP3 files, except the first one. Alternatively, you can slurp down the lot in one go by subscribing to the podcast feed.
It seems almost incredible that Ursula Bogner's musical talents should have remained undiscovered until now.
Matmos provides a song-by-song exposition of their synth-only* album Supreme Balloon, including explicit pics of the gear they used. Highlights include the Electronic Valve Instrument, the Coupigny, & everything else.
*Mostly - all sound sources were synths, some software controllers were used.
*Mostly - all sound sources were synths, some software controllers were used.
Imagine a massively multiplayer music studio, connected worldwide over the Internet. Log in, and everyone sees a set of synths, effects, sequencers, or other custom patches. Everyone’s looking at essentially the same screen, and can add beats, trip out effects, slide the bpm up and down, and reprogram synths — all at once. That’s the basic idea of netpd.
Have you ever seen a synth and said "Man, what this needs is cartoon eyes?" A bit similar to the Buchla Box or theremin in that they don't have a keyboard to control the sounds -- it's probably closest to the Booper, invented by The Weatherman from Negativland (or, well, Circuit Bending), the Thingamagoop is a photosynthesizer... which means it basically uses light sensors to generate sounds. The signal's run through a couple oscillators and, well, it comes out as somethin' that's pretty dang awesome. I'm on the fence on pickin' this one up. On one hand, it's a really neat toy that makes noise... on the other hand, um.... um.... I dunno. It's not made of candy?
David Webber makes awesome sound art things from christmas trees, pot plants, household stuff, food blenders and hard drives. His good friend Ray Wilson builds awesome modular synths. Ray will also show you how to make your own Weird Sound Generator.
DIY Instruments: Guitar, Bass, A Drum, Yokobue, Pipes, analog synth sound effects. And for those of you who don't want to build anything - you can play the spoons.