URGENT: Dutch music geeks Steim need your help

Steim is the Amsterdam-based electronic music lab best known around here for inventing the Cracklebox. They've done a great deal more - lots of work on experimental interfaces, touch, gesture etc. And now, Steim is in trouble: "Things are not well at STEIM. We are in the danger of losing our structural funding from the government, based on a review from the advisor board which called us 'closed and only appealing to a niche audience'. The outlook isn't exactly bleak, but at the moment our future is unclear."
If you're part of the 'niche audience' for Steim (i.e. you enjoy doing interesting musical things with electricity) then please click here and spend two minutes filling out an email form to write a letter to the Dutch government. Thanks! (Image via Mikest)

Michel Waisvisz of STEIM playing live in 2003

As you've probably already read, if you follow that kind of thing, Michel Waisvisz of Dutch sound lab STEIM died last week. Here's a rather wonderful clip of him in action at the NIME conference in 2003 - stick with it, the last minute or so is kind of awesome. In the interest of fairness, I should also link to this clip, from 1994, which looks like a Saturday Night Live sketch. In case you missed it, STEIM's funding troubles inspired a long and interesting debate over at Analog Industries.

25 Awesome things I've failed to post on Music Thing over the last couple of months

  1. My new favourite Wikipedia page is Unusual types of gramophone records. (Thanks, Steve)
  2. Bleep Labs BitBlob is the only thing to buy this Christmas. A patchable synth encased in a pyrex glass jar complete with glowing monsters. $216, limited edition of 30...
  3. Another xmas essential is Benge's Twenty Systems album - a lovely booklet/CD package with twenty tracks recorded on twenty different systems, from Moog Modular to NED Synclavier. (More pics here at Hardformat)
  4. New synth #1: Dave Smith Mopho, tiny yellow all-analog synth for $399 (from Analog Haven). Like the button marked 'push it', don't like the lack of knobs.
  5. The Trons are a robot band from New Zealand (MySpace) (Thanks, Louis)
  6. Totally Wired is an interesting-looking obsessive documentary about the Berlin synth store Schneiders Buero. Trailer. (Thanks, Luka)
  7. Wonderful podcast #1: Welcome to Mars, the series about sci-fi and the cold war is now a book and CD (and Simon James, who did the music, has an album on the way)
  8. MT Reader (and MPC1000 JJOS guru) Nym got ADSR tattooed on his stomach.
  9. Where's the party at is a great-looking sampler module kit on a single PCB, complete with dozens of breakout points for circuit bending.
  10. New synth #2: Moog are re-releasing their Taurus bass pedals, in a limited edition of 1,000. $1,695, all analog, based on the original circuitry but with midi and proper memory. People have been asking for this in forums for years, but I'm amazed they've actually done it.
  11. David Dewaele from Soulwax (another MT reader) explains their extremely fun-sounding live setup to Future Music mag - a mix of Ableton and analog gear. Unfortunately, it's an audio slideshow, so rather than scanning through the article you have to listen for 8 minutes...
  12. Most people in Scandinavia now hate Goodiepal, apparently.
  13. Goldbaby just released a nice set of drum samples sampled through an EMU SP1200
  14. Yamaha released a bunch of stupid music-themed concept phones (thanks, Matt)
  15. Wonderful podcast #2: Us and Them is a genuinely mind-blowing collection of Cold War propaganda music - you can download all seven episodes from the sidebar of the Clerkenwell Kid blog
  16. New synth #3: Korg Microkorg XL - very long awaited follow up to the absurdly successful Microkorg (if they'd only sold the actual synths that appear in music videos, they'd still be rich). Gone are the wooden end cheeks and light up buttons, replaced by an interesting-but-ugly look slightly reminiscent of the Micromoog.
  17. Steim is now safe. The Dutch Council for Culture has agreed to help fund the Amsterdam home of strange clicky music and gestural interfaces. The blog-inspired letter writing campaign apparently helped. (Previously...)
  18. The Indamixx Laptop is a $499 netbook loaded with Linux music apps
  19. Such a shame this live audio to sewing machine interface is nothing more than a concept and a mockup. (Thanks, Fab)
  20. In the not-awesome-but-understandable camp, the Chimera BC16 is currently off-sale as they catch up with back orders (finally). Shortly before that was announced, they put up the price of the wonderful BC16 to £280.00. Still a good price, but not the astonishing bargain it was at £116, when it was first announced. (Previously)
  21. Korg Nano controllers are now also available in black. Not sure if that's an improvement or not.
  22. During brain surgery, "Banjo player Eddie Adcock was kept awake to perform while surgeons poked and prodded different areas of his brain." (With picture) (thanks, Samuel)
  23. In October, someone claiming to represent the New Yorker got in touch, wanting to buy paid links...
  24. Great clip of the Monkees and a big Moog Modular
  25. Eric Archer's 'sound cameras', hacked from old 8mm movie cameras, seem certain to become 2009's essential hipster accessory.

Jörg made an excellent 'Speaking Object'

Love this: "during my 11 days at STEIM i did a working prototype of the second incarnation of the "speakingObject" (no better title still). it's basically a vocal synthesizer controlled by two buttons and a three axis accelerometer. it works without a computer. the two wires are just power and sound out. the finished object will work on batteries and include an amp plus speaker so there will be no wires at all." More at Jörg's site.

Cracklebox samples at Freesound Project

The other morning, I got a Cracklebox through the post from Steim (thanks, Michel). It's a very nice thing, and I thought I should share it, so I recorded this sample pack for the Freesound Project. If you can make anything musical from the samples, then a) you're an awful lot cleverer than me, and b) I'd love to hear it.
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