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Modular Music

Music made with modulars. Because that’s what we got the thing for in the first place, didn’t we?

Scanning Through The Waves

Cover photo by Ian Wallman If you’ve never heard about Scanner then you’ve probably been spending the last 20 years on the un-illuminated side of a far away planet listening to … well … basically nothing. Calling him prolific and multi-talented is almost an understatement. Since the beginning of his career he’s released [...]

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#INSTANTBONER are Joe Steyer and Matthias Millhoff, two musicians and producers from Berlin, Kreuzberg. They believe that modular systems and improvised electronic music are a perfect fit for the dance floor. The duo works with a combination of modular synth (for melody, basslines, drones and vocals; this is Matthias’ part) and a computer-based drum machine (Joe’s part) and prefers to create their music live on stage than in the protected context of the studio.

On the 1st of May 2015 we had our first official show in Berlin. In the following year we worked a lot on our setup and tried to make it as flexible as possible but also establish a significant sound within this flexibility. We were never trying to work on tracks in the studio, we decided from the beginning that we want to be a real live act, create everything on stage, with the pressure to deliver something to the people. We tried to play as much as possible, mainly around Germany. This year we played again on the 1st of May at the same spot and this time it was streamed by Be-At TV [ed. link is below]. It’s really fun for us to play a set, the vibe and the venue influences us from set to set and we try to create something special every time.

Their video Instantmotion was born as a way to explain what they do in their live shows.

[…] we got many questions about what we actually do with all these knobs, lights and cables. To give some answers we put together a short video which we believe speaks for itself.

For those who are interested in knowing the technical specifics behind this video:

[…] The sound you experience is actually the simple patch you see in the video. Only the Hexinverter Mutant Bassdrum is not visible but is triggered by the very first cable plugged into Pamelas Workout. The hihat is a noise from the FMVDO with MakeNoise Maths envelope 2, the bassline is played by the Doepfer Dark Time into Verbos Complex Oscillator and Manhattan Analog SVVCF with the TipTop Z4000 Envelope. The Pad is the mighty OP-1 shaped by Maths envelope 1. Modulation of bassline and hihat are coming from the QuadLFO. The Reverb is Z-DSP with the Valhalla-Card and is also modulated by the QuadLFO. And finally the Mixer/VCA is the ADDAC Quintet Mixing Console.

The Be-At TV live stream (well the archived version of course) can be found on the Be-At TV website here: www.be-at.tv/artists/instantboner

Chosen Waves 011: #Instantboner – Instantmotion

#INSTANTBONER are Joe Steyer and Matthias Millhoff, two musicians and producers from Berlin, Kreuzberg. They believe that modular systems and improvised electronic music are a perfect fit for the dance floor. The duo works with a combination of modular synth (for melody, basslines, drones and vocals; this is Matthias’ part) and a [...]

HannesHannes

Chosen Waves 008: Moritz – Elephants

You probably heard the name Moritz Scharf already. If not, you most certainly heard about Endorphin.es, the makers of the Futrhrrrr Generator, the Shuttle Control and the Terminal. Moritz is one of the two guys who run Endorphin.es, but he’s also a prolific and talented musician. It’s not a rare thing to find that somebody [...]

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Chosen Waves 007: Nedemo – Phonogene

Nedemo by Gohan Tapes Gohantapes is a Japanese Tape-based music label and “collaboration enabling collective” (as they state on their website). Their second release Nedemo is described as: […] the year long collaboration of two British guys who live at opposite ends of Japan. Ally Mobbs, a beat making finger wizard based in [...]

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Chosen Waves 006: Rupert Lally – Day One

Day One by Rupert Lally Rupert Lally is a British musician, who lives in Switzerland. He’s been around for quite a while producing several albums solo and in collaboration with Norway-based Espen J.Jörgensen. His new album Day One was released on Bandcamp on 15.01.2016, and will be featured in a CiTR broadcast on 17.01.2016, at [...]

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Time for some modular beats, the video above shows a live-performed version of Waveguiding by Joseph Fraioli (who’s track Swarm we have seen in our first post about modular music). The track opens in what we could almost call “classic IDM” fashion, with some complex rhythmic structure (I think mostly curtesy of Circadian Rhythms) and then later adds more melodic/harmonic layers to it. The structure is simple, but effective.

His Vimeo page tells us that:

Joseph has established a reputation for complex and fearless sonic experimentation with his ten critically acclaimed albums as Datach’i, which seamlessly weave together everyday sounds with avant-garde textures and beat making

His Vimeo channel (which can be found at vimeo.com/jafbox) features several similar videos. The choices in titling his pieces (eg. Circadian Rhythms, Basimilus Acid or Nebulæ) hint at him focusing quite a bit on the technical side of modular music and the video’s description usually contains a detailed overview of the patch and the modules used. Still, most of his videos are not technical demos, these works are musically refined, with a great attention to detail and timbre and go way beyond what we usually see and hear in this type of videos.

Chosen Waves 005 – Joseph Fraioli

Time for some modular beats, the video above shows a live-performed version of Waveguiding by Joseph Fraioli (who’s track Swarm we have seen in our first post about modular music). The track opens in what we could almost call “classic IDM” fashion, with some complex rhythmic structure (I think mostly curtesy of [...]

HannesHannes

Berlin-based Jasper Walden is one of those modular synth musicians who enjoys and develops the art of playing for an online audience. He started just 10 months ago – with a relatively compact system, playing the above piece titled Descent – and has hence uploaded 8 more videos. He tells us a bit more about Descent and why he got into modulars:

This one was my first modular video. I didn’t initially plan on doing a video. The approach was to have 2 melody-lines that work good together, because I usually was only able to have a drone and a melody on top – not two melodies working hand-in-hand.

Inspired to get a modular, very likely because how it looks and then it makes these lovely unexpected sounds, which I couldn’t create with anything else. Plus it’s great to have everything in one place : sequencer, effects, wavefolders, etc. and at hand. No browsing, no routing. All modular and all hands on. But I haven’t realised that before I had a bunch of modules. The type of music I recently make on my modular synth is inspired a lot by Alessandro Cortini, especially his live performance ‘Trash Audio at the Apothecary’.

Jasper Walden, who studies physical engineering at the Technical University of Berlin, used to play piano and drums, but as of lately he’s focusing more on the modular synth and extending his knowledge of music theory. His approach to music comes from counterpoint and movie scores. He tells us that he hasn’t used the modular to play live yet.

[…] I would perform with my modular – I have never done so tho. Problem is, when performing with a modular synth, it is hard to keep it interesting for an audience for more than 20minutes without silence in between.
For techno that’d probably work – but with this melody-merging-type of music I’d either have to re-patch or need a massive modular synth. Which I totally need! :-)

More Videos by Jasper Walden

Chosen Waves 004 – Jasper Walden

Berlin-based Jasper Walden is one of those modular synth musicians who enjoys and develops the art of playing for an online audience. He started just 10 months ago – with a relatively compact system, playing the above piece titled Descent – and has hence uploaded 8 more videos. He tells us a bit more about Descent and why he got into [...]

HannesHannes