A 32-piece orchestra needs need a pretty big stage for all of those musicians and their instruments. Jonathan Kayne has solved this problem by replacing those pesky humans with stepper motors. The members of his band never talk back, and they play everything from All-Star to Piano Man to The Mandalorian theme.
THE BEST Electronic Music
Google Arts & Culture’s online exhibition offers a fascinating look at the history of electronic music. The museum features content from cultural partners around the world and looks at the people, technology, and creativity that paved the way for modern music. You can also play with AR Synth, a virtual electronic music studio.
The Vector is one of the niftiest electronic music makers we’ve seen. Its 16-voice hybrid synthesis module can create some badass sounds. Its touchscreen lets you manipulate complex sounds visually, as shown in this in-depth video from Red Means Recording. It’s currently sold out but its makers are working on more.
If you’ve ever attended an EDM concert, you know that most of the performing is done on laptops, synthesizers, and other instruments with buttons and knobs. Norwegian comedy show Kollektivet pokes fun at the experience when a duo of DJs gets a new piece of equipment and doesn’t know what any of its buttons do.
Do you have a place in your heart for the sounds of the 1980s? Sonicware’s portable synthesizer makes FM sounds like many electronic instruments of the era, but can merge multiple sounds into one. It has a built-in 4-track sequencer, effects, filters, and more than 300 preset sounds. Their 8bit Warps synth looks nifty too.
Zone out with this soothing music video from filmmaker Kevin McGloughlin, who once again fills our rods and cones with brilliant imagery. He shot the full-spectrum infrared footage with a drone over Sligo, on the west coast of Ireland. The chill track was performed by Re: Buddha, Japanese Zen monks who create electronic music.
Microsoft Windows has a long history of throwing annoying and cryptic error messages at us. Video artist 4096 decided to memorialize some of the operating system’s various foibles over the years with a fun-filled electronic music remix inspired by this Japanese video. MacOS even gets into the game at 1:24.
Eight Minutes Upside Down has created a fantastic series of videos which explore the many tracks that sampled sounds from other musicians. In this episode, you’ll hear how electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk influenced artists from Beck to Sir Mix-a-Lot to The Chemical Brothers to Miley Cyrus.
Roland’s latest electronic rhythm maker, the TR-6S packs a six-track sequencer into a portable, battery-powered box. What really makes it special is its ability to play sounds from famous drum machines like the 808, 909, 707, 606, along with preset and custom samples, as well as FM-generated tones.
This unique MIDI controller makes it easier to play by teaching music theory. Simply select one of its 840 pre-loaded scales, and it maps only the applicable notes to its right pads, and chords on its left pads, so you can’t play a bad note. It has 96 velocity sensitive pads with polyphonic aftertouch and RGB backlighting, plus 24 hotkeys.
Toto’s 1982 hit Africa has seemingly been covered a million times. But we can say with certainty that this is the first time we’ve heard it played by a pair of high-voltage Tesla coils. We could almost feel the hairs on the back of our neck standing up from the electricity. Performance by Franzoli Electronics.
Japanese electro-punk group Electronicos Fantasticos is known for making music with unusual instruments. In this clip, musician Ei Wada shows off an electronic guitar known as the “CRTelecaster” that uses feedback created from the screen of an old CRT television set to produce sounds. More CRT goodness here.
This pocketable, palm-size gadget is a real-time performance controller for MIDI- or OSC-compatible music software. It has two backlit, velocity sensitive pad grids, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and a joystick for adding expression to your digital music. Pairs with iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows via Bluetooth LE or USB Type-C.
We all know that bees make a buzzing sound when they fly about. But electronic musician Bioni Samp knows there’s way more subtlety to the sounds they produce. To create his music, he records and processes these bee sounds, along with others made from the resistive properties of their honey. From Great Big Story.
If you think that electronic music was born in the 1970s or 1980s, you’d be wrong. Bandsplaining introduces us to Silver Apples, a group who was way ahead of their time, creating innovative glitch-pop sounds back in 1967. They even worked with Jimi Hendrix, but faded into obscurity after a controversial album cover did them in.
Electronicos Fantasticos! shows us how an electric fan can be used as musical instrument – first as a sort of electric guitar, and then as a bass. The sounds are generated by a light behind the fan blades that influences a photosensor circuit held by the musician. Their wild performance of Blue Monday is a must listen.
Korg’s recently launched Nu:Tekt line will create DIY instruments, effects, and utilities for electronic musicians. First up is the NTS-1 a tiny, build-it-yourself polyphonic synthesizer with a digital oscillator inspired by the prologue and minilogue xd. Sound demo here.
Visual artist Kevin McGloughlin teamed up with with musician Max Cooper for this mindbending audio-visual collaboration. Reminiscent of the work of the great Philip Glass, Cooper’s repetitive and driving sounds are reflected in surreal scenes which were digitally copied, tweaked, and pasted to repeat endlessly.
A droolworthy tool for any musician’s arsenal, Headrush’s looper pedal on steroids features a 7″ touchscreen UI, an onboard mixer and effects, and up to 9 hours of internal recording time. It offers numerous inputs and outputs, and comes pre-loaded with 300 percussion loops.
Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z combines a synth and sequencer in a minimal device. It can record 8 audio tracks and 8 control tracks at once, and has a 2-octave keyboard, speaker, microphone, headphone jack, and USB-C/MIDI ports built in. It also works wirelessly with iOS.