Archive for August, 2010
Sorry for the recent lack of proper content. Major Max/MSP project in progress. Hard to concentrate on anything else, when you’re in that mind-frame. Normal service will be resumed, though. In the meantime, thanks to Solar Flares for this vid!
Weren’t we just talking about how Oval’s Markus Popp seems determined to release as much music as possible this year? Well, here’s another free MP3 EP (Ringtones II, no less), this time via The Wire magazine.
“Two Rios (Explosive Mix)”, the latest in CSAF’s 10-20 2010 series of free MP3 downloads, is an unedited recording of a rehearsal for connect_icut’s performance at the Vancouver Central Library as part of the Walk in Here/You Are installation. It began life as a purely generative piece, supplied for the installation (which also features audio from Loscil, Magneticring, Kellarissa, Circlesquare, Anju Singh and Brady Cranfield). The piece is very much sample-based and – as such – might be considered a sort of epilogue to Fourier’s Algorithm.
As previously mentioned, Markus Popp – aka Oval – has decided to follow up his comeback 12″, Oh, with a free download EP, cheekily titled Ringtones. The two sides of Oh were very clearly compartmentalized, with side A featuring Oval’s most conventionally “musical” material to date and side B presenting some of the raw materials used in the construction of these surprisingly beat-driven tunes. Apparently, the upcoming 2CD album, O, will use a similar structure.
Although the tracks on Oh’s B side are exceptionally brief, they feel satisfyingly like a logical development of the classic Oval sound. The side A tracks are highly enjoyable too but there’s a sense that Popp’s musical personality is being lost in the quest to make his tracks musical and give them personality. Therefore, long-term Oval fans are likely to find the shorter, more abstract pieces – which Popp has dubbed “ringtones” – more nourishing.
As the title suggests, the Ringtones MP3 EP consists of a few more of these abstract sketches. One might reasonably speculate this release is Popp’s acknowledgement that his rawer tracks are actually more musically satisfying. It seems more likely, though, that he’s simply feeling generous after holding out on his public for around a decade – he probably just wants to release as much stuff as possible.
In any case, Ringtones features eight pieces plus a bonus track available exclusively through FACT magazine. The whole thing lasts only nine minutes, which means that the EP would probably make a pretty kick-ass 7″, if Thrill Jockey chose to get it pressed up. The pieces themselves are even rawer (and perhaps, for that very reason, even more satisfying) than the building blocks presented on the B-side of Oh. Song titles like “Tapasbar” and “Candyplex” do a great deal to evoke the whimsical nature of the music, which is modestly but deeply beguiling.
Despite its apparently throw-away nature, Ringtones is absolutely essential listening for Oval fans everywhere. Go download it from Thrill Jockey.
For people who perform live digital electronica, Jazzmutant’s Lemur device is something of a holy grail. The Lemur is a fully programmable multi-touch MIDI controller, which essentially let’s you create whatever configuration of hands-on knobs and sliders you’d like to use to control your favourite audio software. The rub is that the Lemur costs around $2,000.
The price of the Lemur seems to have dropped considerably in recent months, which must have something to do with the threat posed to it by the Apple iPad. The first rumblings of this threat were heard when MIDI controller apps started to appear for the iPhone. The most popular of these apps seems to be Hexler’s TouchOSC system (which actually uses a standard called OSC, rather than the more common MIDI but it amounts to the same thing).
The iPhone doesn’t seem to pose much of a threat to the Lemur, simply because its control surface is so small. But with the release of the iPad, which is significantly closer to the size of the Lemur and which retails for as little as $550… well, you can see why Jazzmutant might want to drop the price of its device.
The iPhone version of TouchOSC apparently works very well on the iPad and Hexler is currently developing a new version (TouchOSC+) that will take advantage of the iPad’s increased size and resolution. For some of us, this makes the iPad pretty hard to resist. There are just a couple of problems.
First of all, a lower-end iPad has such a small storage capacity that it would be basically useless for anything else you might want to do with it. An MP3 player with only 16GB of ROM? Fuck that! If you were to buy an iPad that you could actually get your money’s worth out of, you’d be looking at spending more like a thousand bucks, after tax and warranty.
Second, the iPad can’t send MIDI or OSC directly to your computer – it has to go via a wireless router. This would essentially mean taking another piece of gear to shows, suffering some occasional time lag between the two devices and dealing with the hell of configuring wireless networks. The whole thing would probably be pretty unreliable too. Basically, wireless sucks and the fact that you can’t just send the messages via a USB cable is fucking ridiculous.
Actually, depending on who you ask, it may be possible to create a “computer-to-computer network” between a Mac and an iPad – eliminating the need for the router (and possibly the time lag). However, this is said to be even less reliable/stable than going through a router. It really would be nice if you could just plug the thing in. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent of the computer-to-computer network for PC users.
So, what to do? Probably, it’s a waiting game – waiting for the + version of TouchOSC, waiting for the price of iPads to drop and waiting for Apple to get over its idiotic obsession with making everything wireless. Having said that, Apple is unlikely to get over any of its idiocies any time soon and the thought of being able to build totally customized controllers for under $1,000 is still pretty tempting.