Friday, April 26, 2013

Korg MS-20 Mini Song Demo

Cool little demo of a track completely made with the MS-20 Mini.  Very Japanese-y melody, but if you get beyond it you can hear a great range of stuff.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Daft Punk's New Single "Get Lucky" is finally here; What do you think?

After many sleepless nights for Daft Punk fans, "Get Lucky" featuring Pharrell Williams is finally here (you can grab it on iTunes here, or any number of websites).  This track actually leaked earlier this week with unmastered vocals, and many of us were left guessing if it could be the real thing, or if it was just a Pharrell impersonator, considering a leak with only unmastered vocals is so unusual.

I initially wasn't too keen on the track, as it's such a far departure from previous work.  The radio edit is only 4:07, and it just seems short to listen to.  Furthermore, we're all accustomed to DP using repeats to drive a point home, especially in the case of Human After All-- the title track of which is 5:20 of repeats with slow variation.  Putting a pop vocalist on a DP track takes away from the familiar, almost comforting house style.  The other problem is the two clips that were released first, which are the two main parts of this song, are the ONLY parts of this song.  You've heard parts A and B since the beginning, and the only thing left that's new is Pharrell.  The album version is supposed to be about 6 minutes long, meaning we're missing a full two minutes of what I can only assume to be instrumental music-- hopefully Nile Rodgers will take a bigger spotlight in this time.

On the positive side of this release, it notes a major departure from the past-- it's always good to see a band take on a new direction, and this is a welcome one.  "Get Lucky" sounds like a legitimate disco song.  Purely from a technical standpoint, the recording is a masterpiece.  It has the warmth of a vintage record, yet the crisp and clear sound of a modern record.  The performances are tight.  And the vocals are catchy!

I know there's a large group of people perhaps disappointed in this track, but you have to keep in mind, it is a radio edit, and it is a "featuring Pharrell" track, meaning he's bringing something new to the table, and he's the star.  And you've also heard these parts probably 100 times listening to the previews, so there's also that part of the expectation to.

So in short-- I like this track a lot.  The recording is some of the best I've heard in a long time, this is a new direction for dance music, and that's all worth applauding.  If you hate this track, remember this is a 74 minute record, and we've only heard 4 minutes of what is probably the most mainstream moment of the record.

Don't forget to grab the new record on Amazon, who still have the best price for the vinyl version.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Future Music's In the Studio with Chromeo [Video]

It's no secret that Chromeo has a knack for synthesis, and this Future Music In the Studio demonstrates just how synth crazy they are-- and hits home with what this blog is all about.  The above video shows their studio (I believe in Canada) with their fantastic array of analog and digital synths and drum machines.  Currently, the band is writing its next record in New York City with a reduced synthesizer setup, judging from their Vine account, so this video is slightly outdated, but they still have some of the same gear and work the same way.  The video below shows them working on a song from scratch, so there's a wealth of great information here.  This video was in Future Music magazine a couple years back, but has only become available on YouTube this week.  Be on the lookout for their new record in the fall.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Korg MS-20 Interviews with the engineers of the Original and Reissue

Curious to see the behind the scenes of new Korg MS-20 mini?  Here are two interviews with two of the original engineers, Mr. Fumio Mieda and Mr. Hiroaki Nishijima.  They go into detail about the making of both synths, the choice of components, and some of the characteristics and quirks.  Great video for electronic specialists and MS-20 fans.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dave Smith demos all the features of the Prophet 12 [Video]

I'm a huge fan of everything Dave Smith does, and the Prophet 12 is no exception.  I'm normally a pretty die hard analog fan, but the P12 shows the strength of 4 digital oscillators, plus sub oscillator.  This thing sounds absolutely huge, and the quick modulation routing is fantastic.  Dave has really outdone himself.  Check out this demonstration of all the cool features, and tell me you don't want this thing.

High Definition Daft Punk "Get Lucky" ad featuring Pharrell Williams, plus other Daft Punk news! [UPDATED]

High definition "Get Lucky" ad from this weekend's SNL ad.  Full collaborators for Random Access Memories includes The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, Animal Collective's Panda Bear, Paul Williams, Giorgio Moroder, DJ Falcon, Chilly Gonzales, Todd Edwards, Pharrell Williams, and Nile Rodgers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Korg Volca Beats, Bass, and Keys are Official [Videos]

Korg currently has its finger on the pulse of analog enthusiasts everywhere, and the new Volca series is no exception.  With a rumored price of $150, these should be a no brainer for the public-- an analog drum machine, 3 voice VCO polysynth, and a 3 oscillator 303-style bass sequencer are all easy buys for musicians.  I'm tempted to grab all three, considering the price.  For a full spec sheet, visit the official Korg site.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Korg Analog Boxes: Real or fake? We decide!

The first picture of the supposed new Korg Analog boxes emerged a few days back, but I wasn't quick to believe what looks like an artist's render of new possible gear.  It wasn't until the new images, seen below (click for full size!), really caught my attention, and I thought this could be a possibility.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Todd Edwards talks about his collaboration with Daft Punk for Random Access Memories

Are you at a fever pitch for the new Daft Punk record coming on May 21st?  As if the first video in this series with Giorgio Moroder wasn't mouthwatering enough, Todd Edwards has somehow hit right on the head what Random Access Memories is all about-- bringing back the live sound of dance music.  Todd talks about using his sample techniques for the new record, what it's like to work with Daft Punk, the feeling of the new record, and why he had to move to LA afterward.

The most important thing to get out of this video is the important turning point we're seeing from Daft Punk.  As I've mentioned before, the record indicates a shift from conventional French house sound-- samples and filters all day-- back to a more organic record, of actual recorded performances in the studio.  The past 15 years have seen young producers trying to recreate those special moments on Discovery, Homework, and Human After All-- but now we're in for an entirely new treat, as the group bucks that trend for a classic 70's feeling.  Todd points out how this will inspire young producers, who may not be able to recreate recordings like this per say, to at least consider the advantages of using a live bass performance, for example.

He even goes on to talk about how dull the scene is becoming, and he's right.  As much as I love 80's and disco influence, the lack of variety and repetitive sample styles is ultimately becoming the downfall of the genre.  Hopefully RAM will take younger producers to a place where they haven't been, where imperfections of performance add an organic quality to the music, and return the "soul" to dance.

Novation unleash the Bass Station II: My take on the new super-value synth

You have to hand it to Novation-- after sitting out of the analog crowd for the past few years since retiring the Bass Station, they've come roaring back with perhaps the best deal in analog synthesis.  The Bass Station II is an analog monosynth with two oscillators (DCO), a sub oscillator, ring modulator, a noise generator, two filters (Acid and Classic types), two envelopes, two LFOs, distortion send, and filter FM.  To top it off, it's also got a built in sequencer.  The street price is $499.

This is an INCREDIBLE feature set for a synth of this price.  The original Bass Station hovers right around this price on eBay, but this should easily blow those out of the water, considering the original had issues with its construction, and the BS2 boasts more features.  While the DCO's would be considered inferior to the VCO's of the Minibrute and MS-20 mini, 3 oscillators helps make up for that shortcoming.  Essentially, you've got a synthesizer that's taken the best parts of its current competitors.  The layout of oscillators is the same as the Sub Phatty and Mopho.  The distortion and FM filter amount are borrowed from the Mopho and Minibrute (and possibly the Phattys as well).  My favorite feature is the switchable filter, because the filter is so much of the sound of the synth.  Including two filters (diode-ladder, which is the Acid Filter, and the Classic being derived from the original BS) adds a tremendous boost to the scope of the sounds.  Also, who doesn't love the colors of this thing?

Unfortunately, we don't have any good sound demos yet, aside from the brief appearance in the 21 year of Novation video (seen below).  The original Bass Station's sound is well respected.  You can expect this thing to sell very well-- its tonal advantages over the Minibrute, lack of a daunting patch bay a la MS-20, and keyboard and interface improvement over the Mopho Module should hit the right spot of the market-- assuming everyone hasn't already made their only monosynth purchase already.

Word is that the Bass Station II should be hitting enthusiasts this June, at a $499 pricetag.  For more information, full specs, and a more in depth look at features, check out the official Novation page.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Daft Punk Random Access Memories Collaborators - Giorgio Moroder

Hear slightly more new Daft Punk in the first part of this awesome series on the collaborators of Random Access Memories.  Also, hear what synth legend Giorgio Moroder has to say about the Daft Punk and Moog modulars.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Trésors - "Pleine Lune" [Anoraak Remix]

Anoraak never fails to impress with his remixes.  He's a natural at capturing his sound in other's tracks, and his mix of "Pleine Lune" by Trésors is no exception.  Free download, to top it off.  Check it out.