This posting on Gizmodo about a swanky art-project LED music box reminded me of the far less swanky but considerably funkier Drum Buddy - a crazy home-made light-triggered scratch-able drum box played by New Orleans DJ/Musician Mr Quintron. If you ever see Quintron and Miss Pussycat playing near where you are, it's worth a few quid to see them. Alternatively, you can buy yourself a Drum Buddy for $999 and recreate the vibe at home.
If, like me, you're far too cheap to save up for a Sidstation but still like the idea of making music that sounds like it was composed on a Commodore 64, the Retro-GS01 is the VST synth for you. It was created by Saul and Gary at Simple Media, who've made a few interesting little things, including a virtual theremin, and a whistle synthesiser. MORE (They're also working on a pipe organ synth, obviously.)
So now you've got that Arp2500 at one end of your loft, what better way to set it off than with this fully-restored victorian pipe organ? Perfect for living out your Captain Nemo fantasies. There are plenty of (disappointingly small) alternatives mentioned in this thread. Bidding starts at £8,000 and you've got a week to raise the money.
The very gay-sounding software company Fabfilter (and their spin-offs Aceoscillator and Neat-o-envelopegenerator) release version three of their minimal synth One today. It was only invented in March, so three full versions by August seems enthusiastic. It's a great sounding thing synth which is simple enough for me to program, but charging $79 for the full version seemed a bit steep. The main new thing in version three is that it's polyphonic, which I suppose means it should now be called Fabfilter Ten. But it isn't. Above? Some fab filters.
So P Diddy has been given a black, diamond-encrusted hPod to take to the MTV Awards. Isn't it still a bit dorky to have a Hewlett Packard iPod, rather than a real Apple one? (Via Gizmodo)
When I see great-looking hand made pedals like this (out today, $79 from Protone Pedals), I sometimes wish I didn't have all my guitar sounds in one slightly sterile digital PodXT
Dre seems like a pretty straight-out-the-box guy, so I'm guessing that none of his MPC3000 samplers have been customised by Forat, unlike this Louis Vuitton MPC2000XL, owned by Kanye West (who doesn't seem to call himself "Kon the Louis Vuitton Don" so much anymore) (and no, that's not Kanye in the picture, it's Nick Cannon the actor). Tyrese has a brushed-steel MPC3000, the guy from Black Eyed Peas has a blue one and a black one, and this dude got a polished steel finish to match his H2.
I have no idea what THIS page is about. It contains badly-taken photographs of a japanese man and... Damn! that's a lot of high end studio gear. Babelfish doesn't seem to be able to translate it, either.
Another, even more geek-friendly Dre interview HERE. He talks about how he records vocals. Every Dre vocal is recorded with a Sony C-800g (you can buy one for £4195 here, plugged into a Neve 1073 preamp, made in Cambridge, England.
Ps: Here is a guy who's built his own Sony 800G clone at home. Unfortunately, he missed off the mad-looking cooling fins, and made it out of a bit of old pipe.
CLICK FOR PART THREE
Why do I love Dr Dre so much? Five new reasons in THIS interview:
1) He's spent the last two years studying music theory.
2) He has a piano teacher.
3) His piano teacher introduced him to Burt Bacharach.
4) He's going to make a rock album when he finds the right lead singer.
5) He doesn't like sampling.
Bonus cool thing for geeks like me:
6) He has five MPC3000s lined up in his studio because he doesn't like changing the disks.
(Thanks to Peter K for breakfast and inpiration for Dre Day)
CLICK FOR PART TWO
I'm sure that, like me, you've been wondering about the guy in the red suit here. He's Terry Lee Bolton, a country singer who "COMBINES ROCK, SOUTHERN ROCK, BLUES, POP, R'N'B AND EVEN A LITTLE WHITE RAP, SLAPS IT IN A BLENDER AND MIXES IT ALL UP AND THEN DRIVES IT IN THE DIRECTION HE'S MOVING IN, STRAIGHT FORWARD WITHOUT LOOKING BACK!" and only ever speaks in block capitals. He's my new hero, because he's sponsored by 23 different music companies. If you work for a music company, and you'd like to sponsor me, do get in touch. More about Terry
How sweet would this full-on modular Arp 2500 synthesiser look in the corner of your living room? Only 100 were ever made, but unfortunately, this one ended up in Malaysia. The starting bid is £4,200 and the listing ends on 27th August. No bids yet, surprisingly. MORE
Ross Bencina's Audiomulch has been in Beta for years now, and a new version is out today. It's well worth a download - you can use the beta free for 90 days. You can arrange a wide range of 'contraptions' into hugely complicated networks full of mixers, splitters, delays and crossfaders. It's great for quickly generating mad ideas from thin air.
I love seeing new midi controllers. While FRONT lacks the hideosity of the Jambass I mentioned yesterday, it's a lot more interesting. The big knob slides up and down and twists, and the tongue-thing at the end can be wiggled in some way. Plus, it seems to have wood in it, which is essential for good musical instrument manufacture. At the moment it's just a sponsored dissertation, but Phillipp Haselwander (the Austrian responsible) gets a high five. More
The Prophet 10 is two Prophet 5's bolted together into a dual-keyboard monster. He's asking $1,800 as a starting bid, so you've got to really, really love vintage synths (and not have a PC capable of running Native Instrument's Pro-53, which would allow you to set up a three keyboard Prophet, if you really wanted to.)
There's a new version of Arturia's enormous Moog Modular re-creation out today. I'd always imagined it would fantastically good fun to sit down in front of a massive modular synth and just fiddle with stuff. So along came a free demo and I've got the synth I always imagined. Was it fun? Not really, it's a massively complicated, intimidating machine - you have to really know what you're doing to make any noises at all. I'm sure if I'd spent £££££ on a huge box that filled up most of my house, then I'd invest the time to learn it, but I'm shallow and I want instant gratification. That's why I'm saving up for their Mini Moog emulator, which is really easy to use and sounds... right.
It's not quite portable (weighing 14lbs, with mains-only power), but somehow the new Lanilei is rather more desireable than the ThinAmp. It's valve-powered, and that picture of a mermaid on the front is embroidered. There isn't enough embroidery in music gear. The whole Little Lanilei range is great-looking (and heavily embroidered).
Ever since Nick Rhodes used to draw waveforms on the screen of his Fairlight CMI at Duran Duran gigs, I've firmly belived that all music can be improved by the drawing of elaborate three dimensional graphs. Now, with version 2.0 of Soundlandscape, I'm about to be proved right. Most of their website is utterly incomprehensible: "The use of morphing allows building the temporary phoneme by defining the starting and ending phoneme spectrum." but don't worry about that, look at the pretty pictures and make strange noises. There's a 30 day freebie here. (Windows Only)
Solid Stand" have just revealed their one and only product. It's a keyboard stand with a footpedal. Press the pedal, and the stand will move up and down. As they say, it's perfect for keyboard players who want to stand up during their set. It costs $1295. There's nothing else to add, really.
I always wanted one of these. It's a Nagra SN minature tape recorder, as seen in every spy film ever. I don't think I'll be spending $1,500 on this one, though.
Everyone seems to be interested in old-fashioned step sequencers again. SoS just reviewed a CV-to-midi converter which allows ancient sequencers to control and sync to computers, and everyone wants a Latronic Notron - the 90s hardware sequencer that Bjork and Howie B used - now selling for $2,000+. Out today is the snappily named SQ42 - a baffling looking multi-channel sequencer inspired by the hugely desirable Korg SQ10 (above). You can download the demo here.
I haven't had time to play with it, but it looks interesting.
Guitar Geek has a great collection of beautifully-drawn guitar kit setups. Predictably, the more famous the guitarist, the less kit they have. Above is the setup for AJ from Verve Pipe (no, I hadn't), yet poor Jimi Hendrix just has a couple of pedals and one (!) amp.
It gets pretty baffling pretty quick, but this page has everything you ever wanted to know about the Synclavier - the £60,000 sampler that rich musicians spent their platinum album royalties on in the eighties. The best bit: NASA used a Synclavier computer in the Galileo spaceprobe.
Who wouldn’t want to buy something made out of brass and gold by old German men in a converted barn surrounded by cows? Unfortunately, I don't have $9,000 to buy a Brauner microphone, so I’ll settle for this video, in which ‘Dirk’ shows Stephen Spielberg around his beautiful, machine-filled, home.
The new ThinAmp might sound good, it might have plenty of on-board digital effects, but it's still possibly the least rock'n'roll product ever made. It's manufactured by AXL, makers of cheap guitars, who helpfully remind potential customers that it's ideally suited for elderly men strumming stratocasters on their yachts. Tony Blair has already ordered one.
... is this, the SPM MMC1. It's a posh volume control for mastering. The main thing is that it costs £56,158.99. Do you think they have many in stock?
Ryan Francesconi has just released version three of his very cool, very experimental OSX program Spongefork – which uses the mouse and keyboard to translate gestures into sounds. If you’re looking for a MIDI controller (like the fantastically gay Jambass above) to use with it, look here.
Who could not love a company called Rocktron? They relish their uncoolness by sponsoring Nickelback and this guy above. Their new pedal is called the Silver Dragon, and they're just a little bit too excited about it, explaining: "Yes, the control is actually called 'Awaken'"
There's something fantastically 80s about these new Mercurio Guitars. They've applied loads of money and brain power to solve a problem that nobody has. You pay them $3,000 for a guitar. Then you buy a load of pickups, and pay Mercurio $75 each to slot them into 'modules'. Then, you can swap pickups in and out of your guitar whenever you want to. Which would be... never!
If you think it sounds like a terrible idea, wait until you see their tele-shaped guitar with three huge black holes cut out of it...
There are plenty of tiny companies making weird, interesting VST instruments for very little money. But one of the weirdest and most interesting is NUSofting. While big companies are producing endless retro-influenced synths, they invented Peti, which is a harmonium and accordion simulator, and Harp Time, which is (obviously) a harp simulator. There are free demos of both on the site.
Their new one is Microrock, which looks like a guitar amp and sounds like a guitar being fed through loads of distortion and effects. But it's a mono synth, so don't expect it to actually sound like a guitar.
Essentially, it makes all the noises that Liam Howlett should have used on the new Prodigy album. But didn't.
Bored of downloading free VST instruments? Sick of analog synths and 909 kick drums? So visit http://www.oddmusic.com/ and visit the gallery of experimental and vintage musical instruments (complete with sound samples in slightly annoying .m3u format). Look out for the Stalacpipe Organ, which uses electrically-powered hammers to play 3 1/2 acres of stalagtites in a cave and the 9-foot long Harmonic Guitars. But the sound I really want someone to make a brilliant record with is the Bazantar, a five-string double bass, with 33 extra sitar-style strings. It's a bit like a bass sitar, and would sound great on a Basement Jaxx record.
Still, there's always someone to spoil the party, and this time it's the Trimeister. There's really no need for that kind of thing.