September 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
A 40 minute excursion into the underground with old-school ethic and new-school technology. One for the warehouse moments.
Track List (Respect is Due)
Nalepa – Seattle Flight
Cowboy Rhythmbox – Shake
Meat Beat Manifesto – Radio Babylon
D.H.S. – House of God (D.H.S. 20 Year Remix)
XXXY - Werk
Bandshell – Rise Em
Tom Budden – Rock Tonight
Hot City – You & Me 4 Eva
Mike Huckaby – The Upstairs Lounge
Sascha Dive – Underground Railroad (Willie Graff & Tuccillo remix)
New York Transit Authority – Off The Traxx
Mosca – Eva Mendez
Pattern Select – Tale of the Tape
Tempted – Fack Tanto
Drums of Death – Tear The Box Apart
Teeth – Percolator Meme
Huxley – Let It Go
WAX – WAX 30003 A
AFTRPRTY – Smoke Machine
September 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Champion synth manufacturers Novation have recently announced a new synthesizer called MiniNova that takes their UltraNova synth’s sound engine and packages it in a smaller unit, aimed at electronic music producers who are looking for depth in a compact form.
Novation Strikes Back
2012 has been quite a solid year for synthesizers. With companies such as Moog, Arturia, Casio, and Dave Smith Instruments releasing new synths this year, it’s been a great time for hardware enthusiasts. Not to be outdone by the competition, esteemed synth manufacturers Novation have stepped into the ring with a new piece of gear called MiniNova that takes the best elements of their UltraNova synth and packages them into a smaller package with some new features. The result is a product that has obviously taken some visual cues (such as mini keys, a vocoder mic and wood panels) from Korg’s incredibly popular MicroKorg line, but with a sound and feature set that is uniquely Novation. As much as the synth looks like the MicroKorg, remember that Novation is the company who brought us the ubiquitous Bass Station in 1993, a pint-sized VA synth that completely changed the game with its portable size and deep sounds.
The Novation MiniNova is a analog modeling synthesizer based on the sound engine found in the company’s flagship UltraNova synth. It features three oscillators, up to five effects, two filters, six envelopes, three LFOs, and 36 different wavetables. The instrument comes loaded with 256 factory patches and has room for an additional 128 user patches, all of which are found via the large “genre select” knob and a scroll wheel to cruise through the individual patches. A parameter matrix on the right side of the synth offers 24 variables for tweaking that can be accessed by four knobs and a switch at the far right. In the midst of this matrix is also a dedicated filter cutoff knob for instant access. The MiniNova has two quarter-inch outputs, stereo headphones output, MIDI in/out, and XLR and jack inputs for routing sounds through the vocoder and on-board effects. Power can be supplied via USB or a through the included 9V DC power supply.
One new feature that Novation has introduced with the MiniNova is Vocaltune, an effect that can tune your voice to the note being played on the synth in real-time. The synth also comes with an expressive new vocoder engine which can be fed by either the included gooseneck mic or the external input. Other performance features include a robust arpeggiator and the new Animate buttons which “let you apply up to eight deeply expressive modulations, with a hold button that latches any or all of the animations,” as Novation explain on their site. The Novation MiniNova drops in October 2012 with a suggested retail price of $629 and an expected $400 street price.
(Originally published on Dubspot.com)
September 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“I call it functioning art. I look at a piece of gear and try to figure out what I can do to make it more ergonomic and pleasing to the eye. Most designs are inspired by the artist that contracts the modification.”
Jesse Dean Designs
Jesse Dean Graves is an artist, turntable technician and industrial designer who specializes in the customization of music gear such as Technics 1200s, Pioneer CDJs, Native Instruments’ Maschine, and just about anything else you want to bring him. He’s worked with heavyweights such as DJ Q-Bert, DJ Muggs (Soul Assassins), DJ Q-Ball (Bloodhound Gang), Chris Kilmore (Incubus), and DJ Scratch (EPMD). But you wouldn’t guess any of that by meeting him; his humble demeanor and obsession with deconstructing electronics and crafting new objects overshadows the impressive portfolio of work that you can find on his website and YouTube channel.
“Since I was a kid, I always ripped things apart to see how they worked,” he explains during a visit to his Lancaster, CA studio/workshop where there was a buzz of creation happening. His assistant Brandon was working at a workbench of Maschine mods (one of his most popular products) while Jesse explained what sorts of customizations he does. “What I do mostly is Direct Image. That means, what you see…colors, textures, and feel. I do some mods to electronics too, depends on the gear,” he explains. “97% of the time I can find a way to do it. Turntables, microphones, keyboards, rack gear, guitar cabs, guitars, MPCs, Maschines, mixers, speakers, and much more.”
Some of Jesse’s recent projects include making the finish on a set of turntables look like a guitar, creating a custom skateboard for Pioneer, and installing Novation Dicer modules in a Technics turntable. Many of these projects seem to be inspired by the discovery and manipulation of new materials, as he explains: “I watch a lot of progress in different industries. Automotive performance, aerospace, and of course electronic automation. I try to use these technologies and materials in my designs. There are so many people studying and creating new materials and processes, I try to utilize this progress in the manufacturing of my designs.”
Technics 1200 Customizations
One of Jesse’s recent projects was a set of turntables created for Chris Kilmore of Incubus (see above video) that features wood paneling and the first modification to incorporate a pair of Novation Dicer units into the turntable chassis. Modifying 1200s was his first love and specialty, and he’s customized a number of them for aesthetic reasons as well as improved performance. “I love Technics turntables,” Jesse tells me when asked about how he found the path to customizing them. “I built a set of turntables for fun. They were a busted pair of 1200MK2s I had laying around. I stripped them down, powder coated the chassis, changed the LEDs, and engineered out a straight tone arm. They were pretty cool. I showed them to a friend, he asked if I could do something to his 1200s—it all started going from there.”
On the technical side, Jesse shows me a few modifications that aim to enhance the Technics 1200s’ functionality, including a straight, carbon-fiber tonearm. “Carbon fiber dose not transmit sound waves like metal alloys,” he explains. “Plus straight tonearms have a direct back pressure. Unlike the s-arm it pushes straight back. The s-arm pushes out when the record is pushed back. So I incorporated the two together to make a awesome performing scratch tone arm.”
Another mod he’s created is a new tonearm PCB board for Technics turntables. “I enhanced the original design to fit today’s wants and needs. For instance I made the zip tie mount more rugged so the board no longer breaks in this weak spot. And I built in internal grounding.” In addition to modifications, Jesse stresses the importance of maintenance. “Tuning is also very important and the right setup is critical. Tuning tables helped me come up and engineer products for better performance, such as different materials tonearms are made of and weighting for tracking on a record.”
NI Maschine Modifications
One of Jesse’s most popular products (and more affordable ones as well) are his wood panels, graphic overlays, and metal knobs for Native Instruments’ Maschine and X1 MIDI controllers. While these are somewhat simple modifications compared to some of the custom work that Jesse does, the upgraded knobs and wood panels do bring a touch of class to the devices. He also offers a wood stand that will combine the X1 and Maschine together in one stand, at the same height. The wood trim kit for Maschine costs $49.99, Maschine covers cost $15.99, and the Maschine knob kit is $34.99.
Lego CDJ 2000
May 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
Traxman – Itz Crack
Moodyman – Saturday At The Rock
Goth Trad – Anti Grid
Pachanga Boys – Time
Scuba – Adrenalin
Tennis – Make it Good (Larry Heard Mix)
Franck Roger & Terence Terry – Hustling Peoples
Laps – Joyful Process
Clayton Steele – Distorted Point of View
Dj Deeon – Where The Hoez (Uh Oh)
Boddika – Basement
Barem – Is (D’Julz Remix)
Jay Haze – Neighbor 2
Franck Roger – Bring it Back (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
The Grizzl & J. Phlip – Bakupgrl (Original Mix)
Renegade Soundwave – RSW
Cobblestone Jazz – Across The Nation
DJ Assault – Tear The Club Up
Drexciya – Bang Bang
Drexciya + Lamin Fofana – Unknown Journey II
D.S.R. – We’re Going Deep
May 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Summer heat from a good friend and sick selector from Beantown – DJ Kid Ray
Styloid Process – Tracklist
1. Little Helper 17-4 / Butane & Ryan Crosson
2. Anti Amid / D. Diggler
3. Stand Beside Me (Glimpse RMX) / Tom Demac
4. Estetico / London Ground
5. Deconditioned (Freaky Disco RMX) / Saytek & DZeta n’ Basile
6. Basic Tool / Trickski
7. Intelligence / Rick Wade
8. ibox / Roberto Clementi
9. Bounce 2 / Rene Breitbarth
10. Walkin Away / M.in feat. Chriss Vogt
11. Policrom / NTFO
12. Deo / Roman Flugel
March 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Recorded LIVE on 3-14-12 in the Dungeon Kitchen. Nothing but the raw mixing styles. Keeping it flavor. Two Technic 1200s, Pioneer DJM-800, 100% Vinyl Record Mix.
Karsten “Vealchop” Lesso is a staple of the Los Angeles nightlife collective, one of the dedicated DJs who can be found many nights of the week rocking house music to a Downtown crowd in clubs, bars, afterhours, and regegade jams on a regular basis. If you’re not careful you could take this dedication of craft and refined selection for granted. But don’t. Vealchop brings evolution to the game with a selection that rises above genres and continues to shake asses for heads on the real real.
Dj Vealchop - Directive Mix Vol. I Tracklist
01. DHS – Attention Earth People – TinoCorp
02. Jens Bond – Pictures In The Dark – Highgrade
03. Hot Chip – No Fit State (Audion Remix) – EMI
04. Samim feat. Lil Dirty Ghetto Bastard – House Nation – Tuning Spork
05. Mitaka & The Little – Lifeguard – E:Minor
06. Lump – Save Me (Jay Haze Remix) – Futuredub
07. PhonoKemi – Smile – Highgrade
08. Resmann & Meinhardt – Chapeau – Upon You
09. Moodymann – JAN – KDJ
10. Heartthrob – Future’s Past – Minus
11. Interceptor – Together (S-Man’s Miami Mix) – Murk
12. Harry Axt – 2 Voices – Rompecabeza
13. Serafin – 36 Barner Oberland – Bruchstuecke
14. Phage & Dreier – Unseen – Highgrade
15. Lutzenkirchen – Monster In My House – Platform B
16. Guido Schneider – Earth Browser (Jambi’s Deconstructing Guido Mix) – Tuning Spork
17. Black Action Committee – Heaven – DNH
18. Masaya – El Choquero (Agnes Dub Mix) – Perspektiv
19. Eats Everything – Whatever Whatever – Dirty Bird
20. Virtual Boy – Long Distance Call – E:Minor
21. Kenny Hawkes – Ashley’s War Part 2 (Kenny’s Spacewalk Mix) – Paper
22. Voice Stealer – Evaluation – Subvert
March 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Korg Monotribe was 2011′s geek toy to have, an analog monophonic synth that squeals like a 303 with classic Korg MS-20 filters. It’s a fantastic machine and for $230 it’s one of the least expensive ways to get into subtractive synthesis.A recent update for the Monotribe brings new functionality and improved sequencing to the device and Korg have recently announced a Mono Mania contest where you can win a 24-karat gold-plated Korg Monotribe (fresh!) But.. (and it’s a big but) the one drawback to this device is that is does not have MIDI capability built-in. This seems to have been a calculated choice as Korg seem to have built this device with modification in mind.
Part of the reason for the Monotribe’s popularity is the open-source attitude that Korg seems to have taken with this product. While opening the device will void your warranty, Korg have included notes on the inside of this product that actually illustrate solder points to MOD your Monotribe for further functionality. Now most of us (myself included) don’t own a soldering iron and haven’t the slightest idea of how to start tinkering with the electronic side of this device. But that’s where Amazing Machines comes in. This Brazilian company is offering a plug-and-play solution to MIDI for the Monotribe for $88US. Check out their site for more info and for a full breakdown of the process involved, Sonic Lab (below) has a nice video that shows what you’ll need to do to install this mod. Positively brilliant. Can’t wait to get our hands on one.
March 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Numark iDJ Live
Last week I became slightly obsessed with finding a DJ control surface for the iPad. There was a possibility of hotel party on the weekend and I didn’t want to bring a computer or DJ rig.. but I really wanted to bring some music. The iPad itself is not an ideal dj interface; the lack of tactile control ruins the fun for me. Now you’d imagine that within the prolific world of DJ applications there might be more hardware controllers on the market for iPad use. But most developers have focused on the application side of the experience rather than the hardware.. and there’s really not much out there besides this piece of hardware designed by Numark that works with Algoriddm’s popular Djay iOS application. So I gave it a shot.. what the heck, right? Sam Ash has a 30 day return policy. But you know what? After a week of playing with this thing, I don’t think it’s going back.
Now I feel the best way to approach this mini-review is in Top-Gear style (if you’ve never seen Top Gear, they have what I’d call a reverse complement-sandwich approach) where I’ll begin with where this device falls short and why you’d never want to use it for a pro gig. I really didn’t think that I would like this device for the sake of it’s DJ-Hero style design and immediately upon opening the box I realized this interface lacked many features that I take for granted in other dj setups.
The initial groans happened when I realized that the headphone / monitor functionality of this program/device happens via a simple 1/8th inch stereo to mono splitter cable. This means you must run a mono output if you want to use monitor headphones. In addition there’s no headphone volume on the iDJ Live (a splitter cable gives you the headphone output). After playing around with the output options on different stereos I concluded that I could not deal with the sound of this split/mono signal. Some modern house tracks seemed to phase into the abyss without the stereo field. The next issue I found was that the EQ works fairly well but there’s no mid-band EQ, only Hi and Low (mid exists in the Djay app but not on the interface). The third thing I realized about iDj Live was – no pitch faders. The pitch faders do exist within the Djay application but they are therefore on your iPad – not the place where I want to find them. Upon realizing this I thought – well the sync better work.
And here comes the good news. The Djay application is actually a well-designed app that has been finessed to give you the feel of working with vinyl. The BPM detection and sync functionality are actually really good. Djay misread the tempo on a few of my tracks but for the most part it could detect and match the BPM of most house tracks I ran through it along with some dub, bass, techno and electro. Now an interesting thing about the sync feature is that it doesn’t seem to work the same way that Traktor does with Beat Grids. It does detect a Beat Grid, and to some extent it reads the timing / phrase. But it’s not always accurate. Strangely, this is part of why I started to like this device.
While Djay offers a beat-matching functionality, it’s not perfect and therefore you have to pay attention to the mix and adjust things as you go. With Djay and the iDJ Live I found I had JUST ENOUGH control over the mix that I could keep it running for a good three or four minutes. There are four buttons (two for each deck) at the top of iDJ Live and I found that a quick press in either direction could nudge a track back into the mix fairly easily. The platters on the device are actually a lot of fun in Scratch Mode, but be sure to switch modes when you’re using the EQ because a small bump can skip your record. I can forgive this because the scratch function is tactile and accurate. I found that I could drop a beat into a mix by hand and quickly get things in sync with minor adjustments.
As a DJ who came up on 1200s and CDJs, I like beat matching. I believe this love has a lot to do with the meditative side of the DJ experience. It also provides the gratification of training your ears and timing. When I am IN the mix I find more spontaneity in my mixing and choice of music. When I’ve used Traktor I find that my mixing is often very structured and when the Sync button is depressed I get incredibly bored with the DJ experience. With the iDj Live and Djay app, two things happened that made me enjoy the experience. First, I had to ride the mix a bit (even with sync being used) and the control experience of the platters reminded me of turntables. Second, I got away from my computer. I spend far too much time in front of a computer monitor and I’m eager to get away at any chance. The iPad is not exactly getting away from the computer but it’s different enough (and small enough) to make it feel like a different experience. Add to this the tactile control for scrolling through your music library with the Numark hardware, and it just feels better than a laptop.
One benefit of using the iPad as your music source is that you must decide what to put on it. By limiting my music selection to whatever fits on the iPad there is a back-to-roots sort of thing happening. It used to be that you had to fit ALL your music into one or two bags for a performance and you’d practice with those tracks. Today there is endless possibility for selection when you have a 3TB hard drive and I find that a lot of DJs don’t take time to create a flow with their mixes. I’ve always felt that art is best created with limits, and DJing is no exception. I’ve recently found a nice workflow of dumping all my new tracks onto the iPad and then later using the iPad and iDJ to sift through the music and find mixes. For some reason the experience is much more gratifying than dropping tracks into Ableton or Traktor. Being away from the computer allows me to listen differently and I can discern which tracks need to stay in the collection and which can go.
Currently iDj Live sits on a small shelf in my living room with the iPad plugged into a small Bose portable speaker. It sounds nice when the levels are set at 50% – just loud enough to rock out but soft enough to not bother the neighbors. I don’t use the splitter cable nor do I use headphones for mixing with this unit. I find that the waveform display allows me to cue up a track visually while using the platters and the bpm sync is usually close enough to drop the track in and use the + and – buttons to get things running in sync. The EQ is not extensive but if I find tracks that work together in this sort of setup they are guaranteed to work together in a pro format. And that’s part of the point of all of this. When I play professional gigs I’ll most likely use 1200s, CDJs, and possibly Serato/Traktor. But I don’t have room for a massive digital DJ setup in my house (and I’d rather spend that money on synths these days). I’ve been looking for a solution to this dilema and for $80, the iDJ Live seems to be working fairly well. It’s small, light, easy to use and a lot of fun to have sitting around for spontaneous mix sessions. I look forward to future updates of Djay as well. Algoriddm seems to be doing great things with this program.
Ps, Did I mention that my 14 month old LOVES it?