Jeff Mills Debuts His Battle LA Inspired Drum Machine

Jeff Mills, one of techno’s earliest pioneers, is no stranger to this science-fiction aesthetic in techno. From Detroit to Berlin to Chicago, Mills has been a major part in the development of a number of booming dance hubs across the globe. His musical aesthetic is well-defined yet intriguing, and we can always count on him for some heavy grooves. Having held residencies at some of the world’s best nightclubs, such as Tresor, Jeff Mills is one of the most exciting performers in the industry, often sporting a TR-909 as the quintessential focus of his setup. His records are played by countless DJs, although his accomplishments reach far beyond the dance floor and the studio. Somewhat of a tech guru, Jeff Mills is constantly pushing the envelope, always innovating new technologies.

 Recently, Jeff Mills has created a unique interactive exhibition, perhaps the first of its kind. On March 23rd, he debuted his “Weapons” Exhibition in Tokyo; featured as the centerpiece was his own custom-built, UFO-shaped drum machine. This drum machine, known as “The Visitor,” was constructed by gutting a 909, inserting its electronics into a new housing, creating an interface that is both user-friendly and intuitive. Rather than the linear structure typical of many drum machine, “The Visitor” has its buttons laid out in a circular fashion; this, he says, is a far better visual representation of an instrument that is playing a looped sequence. With the help of sound artist and designer, Yuri Suzuki, the two have created a beautiful piece of hardware eloquently combining music and hardware.


“The Visitor” Drum Machine by Yuri Suzuki & Jeff Mills

Jeff Mills is known to hit the buttons pretty hard on his gear, in the heat of the moment this is common for many artists. He has fitted “The Visitor” with arcade game buttons and knobs designed to withstand a beating. Thus, he has transformed the classic sound of the 909, an instrument that has come to define a large part of his style, into a retro-futuristic innovation far better suited to his performance style and visual aesthetic. Functionality aside, the mere visual appeal of The Visitor Drum Machine is enough to have everyone from the technology fans and art enthusiasts gawking at the sight. You won’t see this in the DJ booth every day.

According to Axis Records, “Jeff’s new project is the exhibition ‘Weapons: a small but potent collection of music affiliated avant-garde objects’ which consists in an immersive scenario paying tribute to the genre of Film Noir from the 40’s and inspired on a conceptual investigation experience based on the strange phenomenon of the infamous American UFO sighting over the city of Los Angeles in the winter of 1942 and famously known as ‘The Battle Of Los Angeles'”

Given his endeavors into music, art, technology, and science fiction, Jeff Mills is clearly a “Jack Of All Trades” (no pun intended!) who has successfully bridged the gap between the digital and analog eras, preserving the sounds of eras past while expanding on them, and embracing any new technology that will facilitate the creation of great art. With one of the brightest intellectual minds in the electronic dance music community, he is a true pioneer who, in years to come, will continue to shape and develop the music we hold so dearly to our hearts.

Roland Unveils AIRA System-1M Modular Synth

Last week Roland teased us with an image of their next product in the AIRA series, with no information other than two captions – “Get Patching” and “Musikmesse Frankfurt 2015.” Recently, there has been much speculation as to what the product might entail, but the wait is over.

Yesterday, at the Musikmesse conference the Roland System-1M, a modular version of the System-1 synthesizer, and four digital FX modules, entitled Bitrazer, Demora, Scooper, and Torcido were revealed. While the original System-1 and the modular reissue (System-1M) are built with the same electronic components, they are different in two ways:

aira-modules-631x718Firstly, the original System-1 includes a keyboard, while the AIRA System-1M modular must be controlled by an external keyboard or sequencer. Secondly, the modular gives you far more versatility with flexible routing and additional FX modules for purchase. The AIRA System-1M and accompanying modules use 3.5mm mini-TRS patch cables, and can be mounted into any standard Eurorack.

The synth is scheduled for a June release, while the FX modules will be hitting stores in the 3rd quarter of 2015. For more info, check out the official Roland AIRA Modular page by clicking here.

Pioneer Launches RM Series

pioneer monitorsPioneer, makers of the industry-standard DJM and CDJ series, is much more than just a company for DJs; they have come to dominate a number of other markets, such as car audio, home theatre, and music production. In the recent years, the company has produced the S-DJ monitors, delivering a great pair of monitors at a bargain.

Musikmesse is upon us, and Pioneer has just announced a new line of studio monitors, the RM series. The RM-05 and RM-07 speakers feature Pioneer’s newly-patented acoustic tube technology, designed to reduce standing waves that are inevitable in small and/or untreated rooms. The coaxial drivers create a far cleaner stereo image, with a 3-band EQ and grooves along the ports for a cleaner bass response. With die-casting aluminum, the RM Series is a highly unique product built to the same quality specifications that Pioneer is famous for.

The speakers are scheduled to be released in May 2015 with a suggested retail price of $585 and $775, respectively – keep checking back here for more updates. In the mean time, take a moment to check out the official product video from Pioneer.

Click here for more info 


roland aira

Roland AIRA Modular System Announcement


Roland has seen much success in recent years with the release of their AIRA series, which includes a vocal transformer along with digital reissues of the System-1 Modular, TB-303, TR-808, and TR-909, named AIRA System-1, TB-3 and the TR-8 (the latter of which fuses the 808 and 909). Due to the success of the AIRA product line, there has been much speculation about a new addition to the series. Earlier this week Roland vaguely confirmed the speculation, posting the image above on the AIRA mini-site with the caption “Get Patching”.

The image featured on Roland’s site shows a patchbay, so it’s clear that this release will be a modular unit of some sort. The layout is similar to the System-1, although it is uncertain whether this is just a modular version of the same circuitry, or an entirely new machine altogether. We see four modules in the image and can only make wild speculations.

Roland will be officially announcing more details at the Musikmesse Fair in Frankfurt next weekend. Until then, check out some Roland related videos below. We’ve included a video of A Guy Called Gerald jamming with Roland Gear, our exclusive interview with Kink in the Roland booth at NAMM 2015, as well as a throwback to the old Roland System 700 and 100m.

Gear Review: Exponential Audio R2 Reverb & Excalibur

reverbReverb can easily make or break any record, and electronic dance music tracks are no exception. Michael Carnes, one of the men behind the Lexicon PCM plugins, is somewhat of a digital reverb guru. His company, Exponential Audio, has created software used by major players in the music, film, and gaming industries.

Although they produce some phenomenal software, Exponential Audio is a small company, which allows them to offer professional products at an affordable price. The two reverb units are R2 and PhoenixVerb, both of which are compatible with mono, stereo, and multi-channel audio formats. Both plugins feature a convenient keyword-based preset navigation system, making it easy to explore and recall presets. And while the two plugins sound amazing in their own ways, they are actually quite different from each other sonically.

The first of the Exponential Audio reverb plugins, PhoenixVerb, is the more natural and realistic sounding of the pair. Keep in mind, however, that natural does not mean cold or lifeless; this software can impart warmth and depth into any sound in your productions. This plugin is a phenomenal option for those looking to capture the feel of an acoustic space. All in all, the sound is overall very rich, lush and pleasant to the ear.

R2 Reverb, the younger brother of PhoenixVerb, is designed to be more of an “effect” reverb, meaning that it is supposed to “color” or otherwise change the sound. This reverb has seen some serious mileage, most notably on several games from the Halo series. Try dropping this one in a dub techno track to add a dark industrial tone, a minimal track to fill in some of the gaps, or on a vocal sample with a delay for some trippy, ringing echoes.

Exponential Audio plugins feature streamlined and straightforward graphic user interfaces (GUI), both conserving CPU and providing simple manipulation of controls. In addition to their R2 and PheonixVerb, they have recently released Excalibur, an powerful multi-FX plugin. Excalibur brings you modular control over a plethora of built-in FX, including reverb, delay, flanger, phaser, chorus, pitch shifting and ring modulation. This plugin has already been hailed by big players in the various audio industries, and for a limited time only, you can purchase Excalibur with special introductory pricing. For just $119, you can purchase Excalibur through Friday, April 10, after which the price will return to normal ($199).

For more info, check out the Exponential Audio website by clicking here



Allen & Heath Release New Analog Mixer

Xone 43 featured

Allen & Heath introduced the Xone:43, a new mixer to their popular mixer series.

Like their flagship Xone:92, the Xone:43 will feature an analog voltage-controlled filter (VCF) with low, high, and bandpass configurations with resonance control. It boasts all the features one would expect from a high quality mixer. Four phono/line channels with incredibly smooth channel faders make up the Xone:43, with a three band EQ per channel. While a four band EQ would have been nice, it is by no means a deal breaker.

The Allen & Heath Xone:43 is available now with a retail price of approximately $1,300. For more information, take a look at the video below or head over to the Allen & Heath Official Site.

traktor logo

Traktor Announces New “Stems” Audio File Format

traktorTraktor by Native Instruments, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of software and hardware for DJs/Producers, has just revolutionized the industry with the newest addition to their Traktor DJ software.

On March 27, the company announced in a press release that they would be introducing a new multi-channel audio file format called “Stems.” These files, saved with the extension .stem.mp4, will contain the original stereo file as well as four channels (each with different instruments/vox) which can be mixed and blended to taste within the Traktor software; say hello to instant remixes, edits, and mashups. Stems are an open file format, which means that anybody can create their own stem files; they are set to hit the market this summer, and the folks at Native Instruments would like to see them adopted as a new industry standard; with support from artists like MK and Luciano, and retailers like Beatport and Juno, there is no doubt that Stems will hold a prominent place in the future of DJing. For more info, check out the press release by clicking here.

Beatport Releases Free Mobile Streaming App


beatport iphone

Beatport, one of the most prominent electronic music retailers, has graced us with an amazing gift. The company, now owned by dance music mogul Robert Sillerman and his SFX Entertainment, has just released an app for iOS/android. The music streaming app, simply named “Beatport,” can be downloaded for free on your mobile device for on-the-go listening wherever you are. While Pandora and Spotify have always done us well, they are simply not platforms designed for underground dance music; thus, Beatport is filling a large gap in the streaming market.

The mobile app is not the only instance of the company expanding into other areas; Beatport features remix contests, sample packs, and many more resources for fans and artists alike. In the works now is “Beatport Live,” a video streaming site for live DJ sets. It’s an exciting time for the company, and their future will undoubtedly hold innovation and success.

Video: Kevin Saunderson & Matthew Dear Collecting Samples

Kevin Saunderson

“Ford moves people with cars. I move people with music” – Kevin Saunderson

Inspiration can strike in many forms. In the industry rich city of Detroit, Kevin Saunderson grabs his Zoom H4N and ventures into the Ford Assembly Plant to embrace the machines and technology. The process of collecting sounds is complete…the result? Well now we’ll just have to wait and see what the Detroit mastermind comes up with.

Just like Kevin Saunderson in the Ford Assembly Plant, Matthew Dear embarked on a similar sonic journey at one of the General Electric factories. Tuning in to the frequencies and energy of the environment, these artists are able to interpret sounds and translate that into music that is widely appreciated throughout the world.

Take a look at the two videos below to see the process behind two techno visionaries taking the music directly to it’s core.

SXSW To Feature Playable Synth Space

synth spaceSXSW is finaly upon us, and we can barely contain our excitement. In particular, we’re really stoked for the Gear Expo, which takes place on Thursday, March 19 at the Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5. The main reason we’re looking forward to the Gear Expo is the upcoming addition of a “Synth Space,” a room filled with playable synthesizers for your enjoyment.

Synth Space will draw crowds of all types, as it is a truly unique exhibition in the United States; best of all, it’s open to the public, so you won’t have to shell out the big bucks for a conference badge. This will undoubtedly be an event not to miss – when else are you going to have a chance to use all these classic synthesizers (and newer synths as well) in one place? Synth Space will feature analog, modular, digital, and hybrid synthesizers.

Here are the details, according to the website:

The Music Gear Expo celebrates six years in 2015 with a host of new offerings. In addition to the much loved expo portion, the show will feature a number of special activations including: the Stompbox, Shred Shed and the brand new Synthesizer Space plus the Gear Lounge, Gear Expo Store and Flatstock Stage.

Open to all registrants, showcasing artists and the general public, the Expo has become the key destination for musicians, buyers, gear and tech aficionados at SXSW. It is located adjacent to the popular Flatstock Poster Show on Level 1 of the Austin Convention Center.

The SXSW Music Gear Expo hosts a unique range of companies, from established names in the industry to independently owned up-and-comers. View the 2015 exhibitors.

More info:

SXSW Gear Expo

Synth Space