Deadmau5 iPhone app

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I think the albums-as-applications concept will probably go a lot further than just a simple track-mixing app like this one by electronica artist Deadmau5, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Deadmau5’s iPhone app ($3 on iTunes) lets you load any of 10 quantized Deadmau5 tracks into its dual-track playback engine, which works pretty much like professional DJ software while being easy enough for anyone to experiment with.

You can change BPM, control up to four concurrent effects, skip to the next phrase or back to the last one, loop a phrase, and cross fade between the two tracks, or from one to the next. When some albums cost $18 on CD, a $3 album that includes the ability to remix it each time you listen seems like a pretty good deal. And since the tool is so easy to use, it lets anyone DJ a dance party by plugging their iPhone or iPod Touch into a stereo and letting ‘er rip. (wired epicenter)

(See RIAA, it’s all going to be all right… just a little less linear and with a lot less packaging to throw away.)

Fotoplayer

This is what I want for Christmas. Talk about old-skool drum machines!

In the early days of silent motion pictures, it was realised that background music had a great influence on the audience. Before movies had sound, many picture theatres had special ‘player pianos’ to reproduce music mechanically from piano rolls. The music was meant to accentuate the mood of the film. Some player pianos were elaborately extended, with pipe organs and sound effects installed in adjacent side-cabinets, so that the accompanist could create sounds to match the action on the screen. Several of these mechanical music makers — called photoplayers – were produced and the Fotoplayer brand was one of the most popular. Fotoplayer was a trade name used by the American Photo Player Company. From a location in the front stalls or orchestra pit, the operator of a Fotoplayer would follow the action on the screen while pulling cords and pushing buttons to make sounds that brought ‘life’ to the film. The cords activated such dramatic sound effects as a pistol shot, steamboat whistle, bird chirp, cymbal crash, bass drum and wind, while the buttons activated thunder, the horse trot, telephone bell, Klaxon horn, and other strange noises. The Fotoplayer, it can be truly said, comes with bells and whistles! And all this before electronics. (powerhousemuseum.com)

Muxtape

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Since its launch in March of ’08, Muxtape has become ridiculously popular. I’ve made a mix that you can listen to here. Some background:

There’s nothing like making a mix-tape for that special someone, but when was the last time you actually bought a blank cassette and put in the two hours to actually do it? Or a mix CD for that matter? Well, as the times change and digital slowly snuffs physical media, it’s good to know we can still whip one up. Thanks to Muxtape.com, your mix can be compiled without desperately searching for that lost glue stick. Despite some by-passable restrictions — a 12-song maximum per identity — the service only requires a quick registration before you can dig into your computer’s crates and craft your comp. With a simple yet savvy interface and a flourishing community to trade with, Muxtape makes life easier for that enthusiast looking to share the latest finds or woo a crush. (Exclaim! Magazine)

Absolut Quartet

The Absolut Quartet is essentially a marimba played by rubber balls that fall on to the keys after having being shot into the air by 50 miniature robotic cannons. You can “interact” with the quartet using an on-screen keyboard.

But if you think that sounds cute and no big deal, think again.

First, the quartet doesn’t just reflect back what you keyed in. It “creates” its own music based on your composition, and plays that back.

What is more, the music you and the rest of the world hear and see on screen isn’t just the video and sound of the marimba being “played” by flying rubber balls – the quartet’s other no less bizarre instruments are also played at the same time.

They include a number of percussive, drum-like sound-producing devices, and a set of spinning wineglasses rubbed by robotic fingers.

Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman are the two US robotics, artificial intelligence and contemporary music developers who built the quartet for Swedish vodka company, Asbolut.

They are seriously off-beat characters, both previously postgraduate students at MIT’s famous artificial intelligence and media labs. Since graduating both have been involved in projects blending art, music and technology.

Paluska, for example, attracted attention with his Holy Toaster, a device that is said to “miraculously produce a perfect imagine of holiness on every piece of toast that emerges from it.” (smh.com.au)

[The Absolut Quartet is available for interaction and viewing online between the hours of 9AM and 11PM EST at http://www.absolut.com/absolutmachines.]

David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — And Megastars

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The fact that Radiohead debuted its latest album online and Madonna defected from Warner Bros. to Live Nation, a concert promoter, is held to signal the end of the music business as we know it. Actually, these are just two examples of how musicians are increasingly able to work outside of the traditional label relationship. There is no one single way of doing business these days. There are, in fact, six viable models by my count. That variety is good for artists; it gives them more ways to get paid and make a living. And it’s good for audiences, too, who will have more — and more interesting — music to listen to. Let’s step back and get some perspective. (Wired)

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