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)
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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...
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)
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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.
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...)
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)
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.
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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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