Here’s a jam I recorded on my new Korg Kaossilator 2. I restricted myself to a short, unedited session with no post processing or other mistake-fixing. What you’re hearing is just the sound recorded directly in the device while I improvise on it.
The Kaossilator 2 is so much fun I am starting to drool over the Kaossilator Pro which is bigger and more powerful. Honestly though, the fact that I can keep this little thing in my pocket makes it much more usable.
If you are not familiar with Kaossilators, the sound is super fat. The Kaossilator 2 has a full hardware PCM engine with 150 different sound programs. It has drum patterns, kits, chords, bass, acoustic, lead and sound effect banks, each of which can be played in any key on the touch pad which can be switched to dozens of different scales. One of the coolest features is a gate arpegiator with 30 different rhythmic patterns so if you put the scales and arpeggiator together you can get pretty precise good control of notes and timing. It even has variable swing.
Oh, there’s also an iPhone/iPad app called iKaossilator (see what they did there?) which really is a different beast. It’s good for the same kind of stuff but it has very different abilities. It’s more like a five track looping sequencer. You can edit your five tracks in only a limited way but they remain independent. This limits additive layering but enables more precise mixing because you can solo and mute five parts. The 16 beat loop length also really expands the options. No gate arpeggiator though.
Overdubbing into two independent beat-matched loopers allows you to build up and break down tracks. You can also cross fade them. It has some serious limitations which may annoy some (no undo, no ping ponging) and it only does up to 8 beat loops which is a real killer if you want to do anything like a pop tune or most things with chord progressions. Nevertheless, for electronic dance music, various bass music styles, jazz genres like afrobeat and anything else with layers and loops, it’s an excellent sketch pad for making beats.
Yamaha produced a kind of experimental control surface for electronic musicians called the Tenori-On. The interface is a little too experimental for my taste, but it does show how you can control almost every aspect of a multi-track composition with a simple matrix of lights – track volume, modulation, instrument selection, melodic sequencing and pattern composition to name a few. I had a chance to play with a software reproduction of this device for the iPhone. The result is a very rough sketch of a melodic electronica vibe:
What could you do if digital media could manifest more physically? How would you interact with it? What if you could touch and interact with a physical space that is accessed remotely? What if you could integrate the online world of digital media with the physical world?
My good friend Jim Poe, DJ and label master of Republic Music, founding member of New York’s legendary FSR crew and confirmed good guy – he’s been busy and that means we all get lucky. In this sample set he gets together with JP as “Mancusian Circus” (whatever that means) and broadcasts a sturdy set of galactically eclectic vibes across Bondi Beach (as you do).
The musical angle seems to be a “Nuyorican melting pot” with healthy helpings of Afrobeat, Disco, Dub, Deep House and what is, to my ear, a sprinkling of Brazilian Funk, Japanese LoungeCore and Hawaiian Country … or something! I don’t even know. Jim! JP! Where do you get these sounds?
The unassuming two perched their decks up near the skate bowl and pumped the life-giving bass across the surfscape in the early autumn sun. If you want to catch more of this kind of thing, why not head to their Thursday gig at the inimitable Ching-a-Lings on Oxford St in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
No cover, no mirrors, no attitude.
Sounds like my scene. I’ll try to be there, say hi. More details are to be had thither: https://www.facebook.com/TheMancusianCircus
I was recently reminded, while listening to an interesting business podcast called Think Act Get, of a fantastic book I read last year, one that sat in my mental reading queue for at least a decade. The book is called The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind spending a little while thinking about big questions.
If you’re wondering whether you will like it, just read the following quote slowly and properly, you will probably feel the same way about the whole book:
That was after some of us were discussing the Great Masters of Wisdom, and someone was saying how all of them came from the East, and I was saying that some of them didn’t, but he was going on and on, just like this sentence, not paying any attention, when I decided to read a quotation of Wisdom from the West, to prove that there was more to the world than one half, and I read:
“When you wake up in the morning. Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say. Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.
“What’s that?” the Unbeliever asked.
“Wisdom from a Western Taoist,” I said.
“It sounds like something from Winnie-the-Pooh,” he said.
“It is,” I said.
“That’s not about Taoism,” he said.
“Oh, yes it is,” I said.
“No, it’s not,” he said.
“What do you think it’s about?” I said.
“It’s about this dumpy little bear that wander; around asking silly questions, making up songs, and going through all kinds of adventures, without ever accumulating any amount of intellectual knowledge or losing his simpleminded sort of happiness. That’s what it’s about,” he said.
A while ago we blogged about masterful bassist Nathan Navarro producing some pretty dope dubstep wobbles live on a bass guitar. At the time, Nathan was using the Source Audio Hot Hand which a lot of our visitors have been particularly interested in.
In case you don’t know, the Hot Hand is just like a guitar pedal, except that you can activate it by moving your hand. But it’s better than that. If you want to continuously change an effect, like a Wah Pedal, you can use it to modulate the sound. Of course the sound doesn’t just have to be a Wah Wah, and it works great for a lead guitar as well.
Better than that, you can actually control two parameters at once, so, really it’s more like a 2D control surface like a laptop trackpad. Being a modern control, you can choose what parameters you control, so it’s no surprise that Nathan manages to pump out some serious wub wubs and wow wows.
Great news for anyone who has been holding out before getting one of these babies, since our previous post there is a new version, the Hot Hand 3. It’s compatible with everything, has a huge wireless range and gives more options and more control than the earlier versions.
Check it now:
As Nathan demonstrates, you can have the Hot Hand on the headstock of the guitar or bass and move the whole guitar to generate an effect, or you can have the Hot Hand ring on which allows hand movements to do the same… or, if you’re Nathan Navarro, both at once!
Since working on Racer and launching it a few people have said, ‘oh it’s like such and such a game’ but I’m yet to find something that is truely as unique as this AND is in a browser. Racer is a multi-player, multi-device Chrome Experiment. A retro-style slot car game played across screens. On phones or tablets, Android or iOS. Anyone can join. No apps. No downloads. Just the mobile web. It’s now up for The FWA Cutting Edge Project of the Year. If you think it deserves it please cast a vote!
Here’s Racer being demo’d at Google I/O 2013 – live demos are always nerve wracking, thankfully this one went smoothly.
Also awesome and cutting edge is that there’s also an installation version that runs on the same code base as the mobile game. The table was at Google I/O 2013 and another Google event ‘Zeitgeist’. Here’s a couple of pics of the table:
In addition to the table version, there are two flight case boxes containing a line up of mobile devices ready to play. This version also runs on the same code base. Here’s a pic of the cases and me demo’ing it at Cannes 2013 in the Google tent :