Brainy beats and hyperactive microedits are back, with a new, digital-native ease. Meet the North Hollywood-born kid who’s making trackers fresh again.
In his teens, Ghostwerk came into that love of MOD music and trackers – early forms of computer music sequencing that present an alternative version of the way most music software now works, and lending themselves to uniquely meticulous patterning of melody and rhythm. That scene peaked some time in the 90s, but its light has been kept alive. And it’s been greatly modernized, as in the case of music production tool Renoise, which finds appeal even among people who never used the originals.
Ever with an ear to this kind of raw, nerdy talent, Detroit Underground has issued the debut full-length.
And the sound is fresh and new. There are the signature flourishes that might recall the glitchy aesthetics of 90s game and computer music, but it’s woven into a calm, collected new form. Instead of being frenetic and aggressive, the resulting music drips cool. All that precision and detail melts into gentle, Nevada zen, a warm wash of relaxed grooves.
It sounds nothing if not futuristic, at a time when so much music seems forced into regressive retro, or desperate to conform to tastes.
Ghostwerk skates effortlessly between IDM, trap, glitch, vapor wave, but with all that vocabulary subsumed into some smooth, understated voice. It’s a first release, but it sounds like it’s dropped out fully formed.
In other words, he’s taken the archaic magic of the tracker, and used it to engineer some irresistible trans-genre perfection. It’s raw and unadorned, not flooded with a gravy of reverb and distortion and apocalyptic trappings like so much music does at the moment. So this doesn’t hide: it’s like you’re given a direct channel to his brain.
In the spirit of that transparency, one video just screencasts his Renoise display:
Teaming with Kero from the label, there’s also this glitched-out analog video-mangled video spotlighting that funky danceable goodness:
After we gave out a bunch of free stuff from Sonic Bloom, we’ve got more giveaways again. I’ve been given a “s*** ton” of codes. Of course, if you go cough up a few bucks, you can have a beautiful yellow cassette tape. But if your PayPal account is empty, sign up here and we can make this record go as viral as it deserves.
If you want some Renoise insights from this guru, let me know that, too. It seems he tapped into a rich network of expertise – and the results remind us why sharing knowledge is so fruitful. The future looks bright again.
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Standing on the sidewalk in Manhattan’s financial district in the shadows of glass skyscrapers, it is easy to forget how close you are to the water. But just a few blocks away, there are docks, and sea gulls, and ferry boats ready to take you island hopping.
When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, New Yorkers were forced to confront their proximity to the ocean. The storm surge inundated neighborhoods throughout the city.
Seawater poured into the streets, flooding out apartment buildings and filling the subway tunnels. As the waters rose, the distinction between low and high ground suddenly became very apparent. As Paul Greenberg, author of American Catch, explains that “nothing acquaints you with your city’s topography like living it in the eye of a hurricane and feeling that water flow up and rise up and start to swallow the city.”
Hurricane Sandy took the lives of over 100 people in the United States and caused around 50 billion dollars in damages. And the devastation it caused can be traced in part to global warming. Scientists have calculated that 83,000 more people were flooded out because of sea level rise than would have been otherwise. And pretty quickly politicians began talking about climate change.
“There is a wake up call here and there is a lesson to be learned” said governor Andrew Cuomo in the aftermath of the storm. “There is a reality that has existed for a long time that we have been blind to, and that is climate change, extreme weather, and our vulnerability to it. It’s undeniable that the frequency of extreme weather conditions is up. So it’s going to be a rethinking [and] redesign of how we protect this metropolitan area from this increased frequency.”
Architects and engineers are considering all kinds of different ways that cities can redesign their infrastructure to prepare for climate change. There’s talk of floodgates, and massive seawalls that would stretch across the entire harbor. But Paul Greenberg says that one of the solutions for New York’s future might lie in its past.
The Big Oyster
New York was built at the mouth of the Hudson River, and that fertile estuary environment was filled with all kinds of marine life. But one creature in particular shaped the landscape: the oyster. It is estimated that trillions of oysters once surrounded New York City, filtering bacteria and acting as a natural buffer against storm surges.
Oysters are unusual mollusks in that they build up structures in three dimensions, constructing underwater architecture layer by layer. The result is massive, complex reef structures (a bit like coral reefs).
Oyster reefs once covered over 220,000 acres in Hudson River estuary and sometimes grew as high as 20 feet tall. Like coral reefs, they cut down on coastal erosion and provided habitats for all different kinds of fish.
Much as coral reefs help protect many tropical islands from hurricanes, oysters protected New York City. They broke up large waves before they could crash onto the shore. And below the surface, their rough texture would increase friction and slow down the water.
Most people don’t associate New York City with oysters today, but back in the 1700s the city was famous for them. Before colonization, the indigenous Lenape people ate lots of oysters. When Dutch colonists arrived, they found they “could just walk down to the shore anywhere in lower Manhattan where everybody was living and break off a few oysters to eat,” says Mark Kurlansky, author of The Big Oyster.
It was food for rich and poor alike, he explains, sold by street vendors and fancy restaurants and served in all kinds of ways.
Huge piles of discarded shells stacked up in the water and on the streets outside of shucking houses and restaurants.
As the city developed, builders used oyster shells as a construction material. They were burned for lime and ground up to create mortar — they were even used to pave streets. Pearl Street got its name from being paved with crushed shells.
The demand for oysters was so great that it eventually outstripped New York’s bountiful supply. By the mid 1800s the area’s natural oyster population was almost entirely depleted. But that wasn’t the end of the the Big Oyster. Oystermen began farming oysters in the shallows of the harbor, and by the 1880s the city was producing over 700 million oysters per year.
Still, there was a problem lurking in the water. For years, the city had been dumping industrial pollutants and sewage straight into the harbor without a second thought. Then, in the early 1900s, New York was hit with deadly outbreaks of Cholera and Typhoid, epidemics which public health experts traced back to oyster beds.
The city was forced to put a stop to oystering, and New York closed its last remaining bed, off the southern edge of Staten Island, in 1927. Water quality continued to deteriorate until oysters could no longer survive. By the middle of the 20th century, New York’s world-famous oysters were all but gone, leaving the sea bottom barren and the city exposed.
Pollution continues to be a problem in New York, but in 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which regulated the waste being dumped into waterways. Little by little, water quality in the harbor has improved, and now many different groups are trying to bring back the New York oyster. There are many obstacles to oyster restoration, including FDA rules that make things difficult and a lack of oyster larvae. But one of the biggest challenges is actually a structural one — the physical landscape of the harbor has totally changed due to dredging. The harbor has gotten deeper, and has a flat muddy bottom.
Kate Orff, a landscape architect, founder of the Manhattan firm SCAPE and author of Toward an Urban Ecology, says that this environment is not conducive to oyster growth — “any oyster that lands on the bottom of the bay’s bed will then immediately be covered with silt.” The solution: “we need to lift those oysters off of the bay floor provide substrate” they can attach to.
That challenge gave Orff the idea for “oyster-tecture.” The concept was to build giant nets made of fuzzy marine rope, and elevate them about a foot or so off the seafloor. These nets would then be seeded with oyster larvae and the oysters would be able to grow from there.
With a relatively small architectural intervention, a new piece of climate-proofing infrastructure could form: an artificial oyster reef.
The oysters, which are filter feeders, would also help clean the water that passes through these new reefs.
If the oysters became a self sustaining population, the structure could grow to keep pace with rising sea levels.
When Orff debuted her “oyster-tecture” designs in 2010 (as part of an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art called Rising Currents), they were speculative designs that sparked a lot of discussion. But Hurricane Sandy brought new attention to sea level rise and opened new funding avenues for coastal resilience projects.
The project received 60 million dollars of funding and will be carried out by the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. Now SCAPE is in the process of designing artificial oyster reef breakwaters off the south coast of Staten Island, which was once an epicenter of the city’s oyster economy and was also hit particularly hard during Sandy.
The design has evolved a lot from the original rope-based proposal. The plan now is to build a necklace of offshore breakwaters out of large rocks and stones, and seed them with oysters so they grow into reefs.
Much like a natural oyster reef, the Living Breakwaters are designed to break up dangerous waves before they reach the shore. These will reduce coastal erosion, build beaches, and make storms less dangerous, but they won’t keep flood water out altogether.
Sea walls are hard barriers that block the movement of water into the shoreline, but the architects at SCAPE say that uncertainty around climate change makes designing a wall difficult. As seas continue to rise and storms become more frequent and more intense, it’s hard to predict exactly where a wall should be built and how high it needs to be.
Walls can also block natural flows of water through an estuary, and cut off humans access to the shoreline. So rather than trying to hold the line and battle the ocean, the architects at SCAPE want to slow the water down and let it through—creating a buffer zone of cleaner, calmer water along the shore.
This project also aims to enhance the coast by reviving its ecosystem. In addition to reducing waves and filtering water, the living breakwaters will provide some of the habitat that oyster reefs once did. With the help of marine scientists, the architects designed pockets within the breakwater structure they call “reef streets,” that provide shelter for juvenile fish. Of course, to realize this vision, Living Breakwaters is going to need a lot of oysters.
School of Fish
Located just south of Manhattan, Governor’s Island is home to a unique institution: the New York Harbor School. It’s a just a regular public high school school, except students commute by ferry and take some unusual classes like scuba diving, marine biology and underwater robotics.
The school also coordinates a program called the Billion Oyster Project, where students learn about the harbor through oyster restoration. Right now, they are growing millions of oysters on the island in big tanks. Program participants go around the city and collect shells from different restaurants (over 500,000 shells are discarded each week!). These shells provide a substrate on which they can grow oysters.
The Billion Oyster Project is an official partner on the Living Breakwaters project, meaning that oysters grown by New York high school students will soon be protecting Staten Island.
The New York Office of Storm Recovery is scheduled to begin construction of the Living Breakwaters project in 2018. The team will monitor their growth over time and hopes to have a robust reef system well underway by 2025.
Even if successful, though, the project is not about returning New York harbor to the way it was before. No architect can do that. They are creating something totally new—part ecosystem, part infrastructure. And they hope the project inspires other architects and engineers to try and design landscapes for humans to better coexist with nature.
Historically, many infrastructure projects have been built to meet some narrow human need, often at the expense of the environment. “I think our changing world really requires a new approach” says Gina Wirth of SCAPE. “We need to integrate ecosystem thinking into all of our engineered and infrastructural systems, all of our urban systems.”
The architects at SCAPE aren’t claiming that oysters can save New York from climate change. There isn’t any one solution to a problem so immense and complicated. Researchers at the organization Climate Central recently ranked New York as the most vulnerable city in the United States to sea level rise, with over 426,000 people living in zones that could face serious flooding by 2050. When you start projecting out further than 2050 the scale of the problem becomes hard to fathom.
Kate Orff sees the Living Breakwaters project as a step toward a healthier relationship between the city and the sea, but to protect New York and other coastal cities in the long term, she says there are a lot of other interventions that will need to be considered—like stopping new development along the coast, lifting existing buildings up, and eventually retreating from flood prone areas. Because New York is a city by the sea, and the water is only getting closer.
Beam Camp Seeks Proposals for Spectacular Projects Propose a Project for Beam Camp Deadline January 7, 2018 Application fee NONE
Beam Camp is a collaborative building and design summer camp in Strafford, NH that works with kids aged 10-17 to make the seemingly impossible possible. Our award-winning program has been featured in the New York Times, Wired, NPR, and designboom, and offers young people the opportunity to cultivate hands-on skills while exploring innovative thinking, design, problem solving and the creative process.
An intergalactic salvage station struck by a meteor, a solar-powered cinematic riff on a French film from 1902, a 2-story arboreal kaleidoscope: every year, Beam Camp solicits proposals for unique and spectacular large-scale projects that serve as the centerpiece for a 25-day session of camp, during which they are built and brought to life by 100 campers and staff. Our Project Team works with the winning designers (Project Designers) to translate their designs into the camp context. Precision of craft, skill, and imaginative thinking are paramount in our projects and the work of our staff and campers — please take some time to familiarize yourself with our past projects.
Beam Camp wants:
Fantastical proposals from creative individuals and teams, including but not limited to Artists, Designers, Filmmakers, Architects, Builders, Engineers, Musicians, Fabricators & Technologists
Visionary ideas that culminate with a unique, ambitious, and spectacular product
Proposals that communicate a clear vision (sketches, diagrams, and other visuals are always helpful) and represent your/your team’s expertise
take advantage of Beam’s facilities, community, landscape, and rural setting
utilize a range of materials, processes and techniques
allow us to create the majority of the components onsite and from scratch
Beam Camp Disciplines and Facilities include:
Full wood and metal shops, equipped with a range of hand and power tools
Textile, dye and sewing stations
Molding and casting facilities
Audio equipment and instrument selection
Food Garden and Commercial Kitchen
Project Proposals must include:
The title of your proposal, accompanied by a brief description of the project (3 sentences)
A detailed description of the project, along with applicable visuals (sketches, diagrams, renderings, etc. are encouraged)
Information about all the participants: names, emails, experience (resume, CV, portfolio, etc.) and phone numbers of everyone involved
You are NOT required to:
Include nature, children, or camp as a theme in your project proposal
Provide a detailed breakdown of how your project would be realized by 100 Beam campers (that’s our job)
Be at Beam for the entire camp session if your proposal is chosen; the length of your visit depends on your schedule and the needs of the project
Budget and Expectations
Project Designers will receive a stipend of $3,000.
Project Designers will be reimbursed for all reasonable travel costs related to site visits
Beam Camp will allot a budget of $12,500 for Project materials and expenses, including those related to prototyping and design
Project Designers should have a general understanding of the processes, techniques and materials involved in their proposal
Project Designers must be available for weekly Skype meetings January 30 through June 30 in order to facilitate any necessary development, prototyping and problem solving
Project Designers must be able to provide plans according to the project schedule
Wednesday, 25 October 2017: 2017 Beam Project RFP opens Sunday, 7 January 2018: RFP closes; all proposals must be submitted by 11:59pm EST Wednesday, 17 January 2018: Exploratory meetings scheduled with all selected semi-finalists Tuesday, 30 January 2018: Project Designers are selected Friday, 1 June 2018: Final project plans/blueprints due 28 June—22 July and 26 July—19 August 2018: Projects are realized at Beam Camp
Project Proposals must be:
Submitted in .pdf or .doc/.docx format using the form below
Submitted no later than 11:59PM EST on Sunday, 7 January 2018
Incomplete proposals will not be considered; please make sure yours is complete before submitting. If you have any questions regarding the proposal process, acceptable formats, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us: projectproposals [at] beamcamp.org
It’s easy for me to assume that everyone has already seen or got Moog’s excellent iOS apps, but that’s not always the case. If you don’t know any of these fine apps then now would be a very good time to look as they’re all on sale. So let me give you a quick overview of what’s there and you can decide what you do next.
Filtatron was the first app that Moog released and was a bit of a surprise in many ways. It wasn’t what we’d expected. Moog describes it as “is a realtime audio filter and effects engine”.
Here are some Filtatron basics:
OSCILLATOR – A high-resolution, alias-free DSP oscillator with sawtooth and square waveforms, adjustable frequency from 0.3 Hz to 2kHz.
FX MODULES – Amp provides warm, smooth overdrive with feedback control. Delay can be modulated by its own LFO (with rate and depth controls) and delay time is smoothly interpolated for analog-style delay time tweaks.
LFO – Five waveforms: sine, ramp, sawtooth, square, sample & hold, with crossfade and morph between adjacent LFO shapes.
ENVELOPE FOLLOWER – Uses the volume envelope of sound inputs to sweep the filter, with controls for amount and speed.
PRESETS – Filtatron comes loaded with edgy presets to kick-start your sound.
RECORD AND PLAYBACK – All audio processed in stereo, 16bit, 44.1kHz resolution. Filtatron will record samples up to 10MB.
FILE SHARING – Easily move audio files back and forth between the Filtatron and your computer. Built-in email function allows sharing presets with your Filtatron bandmates. Samples can also directly be shared on SoundCloud.
MIDI MAPPING – Almost every parameter can be controlled over MIDI. Use hardware controllers or external sequencers to control Filtatron remotely. Check the MIDI menu on the ‘About’ page.
The next app that Moog released was Animoog, which they describe as:
powered by the new Anisotropic Synth Engine (ASE), is Moog Music’s first professional polyphonic synthesizer designed exclusively for the iPad. ASE allows you to move dynamically through an X/Y space of unique timbres to create a constantly evolving and expressive soundscape.
Animoog was quickly followed by Animoog for iPhone, which, as you can guess is very similar to Animoog.
Last, but absolutely by no means least is Model 15. Moog describe it as:
The Moog Model 15 App is the first Moog modular synthesizer and synthesis educational tool created exclusively for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Each facet of the Moog Model 15 modular synthesizer has been meticulously recreated in this application to ensure the power and transcendent sound quality of each module remains intact. The character, harmonic complexity and mystique of the Moog Model 15’s modules, from the legendary Moog 921–series oscillators and 904A Low Pass Filter, to the coveted 907 Fixed Filter Bank have been painstakingly preserved.
Now to what the sales are all about:
Filtatron is on sale for $1.99 (down from $5.99):
Animoog is on sale for $9.99 (down from $29.99):
Animoog for iPhone is on sale for $1.99 (down from $5.99):
There are many things to be scared of on Oct 31st. Ghouls, ghosts, and kids are everywhere. It’s easy to stay indoors all day (and all night). Horror movies and pranksters aside, Halloween isn’t as scary as it seems! If you want a bit of fun, take a look back at our Weekly Flickr series and our features on Amanda Chapman and her ’31 Looks of October’ series:
The week of Halloween over 90 millions pounds of chocolate gets sold, which is twice as much as Valentines Day. The fats in chocolate have been scientifically linked to increases in heart disease, the leading cause of death for the majority of ethnicities in the United States killing 1 in 3 people per year. SPOOKY!!!
Hallmark has ranked Halloween as the 6th most popular card-giving occasion, and we’re not talking about e-cards, folks. Approximately 20 million cards are sent for Halloween every year, meaning more trees are cut down. Although the majority of trees are cut for agricultural purposes, paper production accounts for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions (due to deforestation) and contributes to the loss of some 100 species per day considering forests are the hub of terrestrial biodiversity.
Children are scientifically proven to act differently, on this day in particular, according to studies in deindividuation, which is a psychologically coined term referencing pubescent individuals undergoing a loss of self-awareness in groups. Children in costume are also more likely to steal money and candy than non-costumed kids. BEWARE! On the bright side, if your child has no friends and likes their clothes as is, you’re in the clear.
The world-renowned Harry Houdini couldn’t have gone out with more of a BANG. He passed on Halloween Day of 1926. Need we say more? Today just makes one’s skin crawl.
We hope these facts made you feel better about going out tonight. Just kidding, we know they didn’t. Let this post serve as a warning. Be afraid…be very afraid.
A London event puts music technology, labels, performances, education, and installations under one roof – plus the ‘Serendiptichord’ and music for swimmers.
From London, CDM’s roving UK bureau chief and mobile maven Ashley Elsdon of course brings us our preview.
Every now and then, an event comes along that really captures my imagination. That could be because of the people involved, it could be because of the technologies that are being shown, or it could be because of the music itself. Rarely do you get a mix of all of these, but We Are Robots seems to be just that.
We Are Robots: Future and Innovation of Music is a festival that aims to bring the industry together, which is a big claim. The event itself spans over four days with live performances, label collaborations, interactive workshops, exclusive and never seen before sound installations and more. It’s worth checking out the site to see just how much there is going on because it’s a lot.
As part of the event there will be a series of sound installations over the four days. These installations are available for free, and are conceived by a host of sound artists including Yuri Suzuki. There’s creative coder Tim Murray-Browne, the mind behind sonic sculptures including wearable instruments for dancers (‘The Serendiptichord’), a 20 minute score imitating the algorithms of swimmers (‘Music To Swim To’) and a frozen moment of music designed for listeners in space (‘Anamorphic Composition 1’).
Meanwhile a groundbreaking student conference on Friday 3rd November, also hosted by Chris Hawkins, will be exploring crucial topics including the future of music education plus artist management and songwriting hosted by Point Blank Academy and more. This is London’s first opportunity and space for tomorrow’s stars to educate and flourish.
There are some great companies and organisations taking part too. Some names you’ll know and expect, and others might be new to you or less expected. Here’s a selection from those who are going to be there, Ableton, Arturia, Genelec, Hackoustic, Moog, Music Hackspace, Native Instruments, Pioneer DJ, Point Blank, Rough Trade, and Serato. There’s more besides.
So all in all this is going to be something worth visiting. I’m looking forward to, if you’re thinking about going you should check out their site first. It’s also worth checking out the people performing as well.
Channel 4 has this evening launched a new set of promotional idents, the first since 4’s major rebrand two years ago. The films adopt a new tone, though continue to make use of the ‘broken up’ Channel 4 logo blocks introduced then, this time using them to form a C4 giant, who strides and booms his way across the UK.
“The first set of idents focused on the blocks’ origins and discovery and they told the viewer that Channel 4 is alternative, it’s different and challenging,” says Alice Tonge, ECD at 4Creative, Channel 4’s in-house agency. “We wanted to evolve them, so we see these as the next chapter. It’s taking the deconstructed 4 and showing how the blocks can exist in and interact in the real world.”
Directed by Dougal Wilson, the films are packed with comedic moments – not least the giant’s foghorn voice – but also aim to reinforce the values important to 4. “We use these idents as an opportunity to remind people why they’re watching Channel 4,” continues Tonge. “Not just what they’re watching with a spinning logo.
“In these idents the giant shows that we’re proud supporters of disability … and the ‘white cliffs’ ident is showing that Channel 4 knows that different cultures and backgrounds and ethnicities make the UK a better place to live. It’s a real celebration of that – I think it’s a really positive message.”
The films are not afraid to also acknowledge that Channel 4 may not be for everyone. “Channel 4’s got an alternative voice that not everyone agrees with, but it’s vital,” says Tonge. “In the ‘fanfare’ ident, the giant has a booming voice and some people are putting their headphones on and shutting the door and other people are celebrating it. That’s demonstrating that this is an important, alternative voice. We understand that not everyone’s going to agree with that but it’s a really vital voice to have.”
Branding fans will also notice that the giant’s call plays homage to Channel 4’s original Lambie-Nairn ident, launched in 1982, remastering its soundtrack ‘Fourscore’ for a new era. “We wanted to really communicate Channel 4’s personality,” says Tonge. “Not everyone’s going to remember that mnemonic but quite a lot of people will. It’s there to really reinforce the brand. All of these things are really there to reinforce the Channel 4 brand and the quirkiness and the humour is another side to Channel 4 that we wanted to get across.”
Executive Creative Directors: Chris Bovill, John Allison, Alice Tonge
Creative Director: Dan Watts
Creatives: Chris Bovill, John Allison, Dan Watts, Dougal Wilson
Production company: Blink Productions
Director: Dougal Wilson
Editor: Joe Guest, Final Cut
Music performed by Dougal Wilson
Philadelphia-based artist Caitlin McCormack (previously) continues to explore the decay and remains of once-living things in her intricate crochet work. McCormick constructs her pieces using a labor intensive process that involves stiffening discarded textile materials with enamel paint to create brittle bone-like material. She then crochets fantastical intertwined skeletons of humans, birds, snakes, devils, and two-headed bats, which are displayed with stark black backdrops, glass cases, and lathed bases that reference old-fashioned displays for scientific specimens.
Her new show, Lazarus Taxa, refers to the paleontological concept of species that disappear and reappear in the fossil record. Lazarus Taxa is currently on display at Paradigm Gallery + Studio. You can also follow her on Instagram.