Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Free Commodore 64 Synth (Windows only)

De La Mancha created Basic 64: a free software synth inspired by the 8-bit sounds of the classic Commodore 64. It's available as a free VST download for Windows. No Mac version, so I haven't tried it yet... but if you do, feel free to comment! Read on for details.

Features include:
  • 6, 8, or 16 bit sound quality
  • 3 oscillators, with individual ADSR envelopes
  • Oscillators can be sync'd and ring-modulated by each other
  • Pitch envelope modulation
  • Pitch wobble option
  • 2 tempo-sync LFOs to modulate pitch, cut-off and pulse width
  • LFOs have attack/release curves
  • Tempo-sync arpeggiator
  • Flexible routing to state variable filter (LP, HP, BP)
  • Envelopes can be reset or continuous at retrigger
  • Monophonic / polyphonic option
  • MIDI learn / MIDI CC support
  • 128 presets by sinkmusic & WhiskeyPriest
Get Basic 64 here.

"Free Commodore 64 Synth (Windows only)" > read the full post

Free loops and samples

In an effort to give people a "Try Before You Buy" option, Peace Love Productions has released a free 1GB "taster" collection of audio loops and samples in a range of genres, including Hip Hop, Rock, Trance, Chillout, Electro House, Deep House, DJ Scratches, Techno, Ambient, and more.

You need to sign up and verify your email address, before they send you the download link --> PLP Taster

"Free loops and samples" > read the full post

Who Ya Gonna Call?

You've probably heard all the fuss about the use of Autotune on X-Factor. Here's LSS lecturer Ben Wood on Channel 4 News last night.....

"Who Ya Gonna Call?" > read the full post

Monday, 23 August 2010

Online Music Mixing

Mixing & mastering: get a pro in, or do it yourself?

It's one of those dilemmas.

In recent years, several online mastering services have emerged (including the famous Abbey Road Studios'), but now a team of professionals takes things one step further (or back), offering a complete mix-down service, and all handled remotely......read on.

The team behind Online Music Mixing are four sound engineers whose credits range from The Libertines and Kasabian, Orbital and The Prodigy to Girls Aloud and The Ting Tings. The idea is that, while the likes of GarageBand and Live have led to ever more people making music at home, not everyone can be a great songwriter or musician and a great producer - so the OMM team are there to help.

Prices range from £175 to £450 per track, depending on your choice of engineer. And it's not just a case of firing off a bunch of files and hoping, either: "Effective information exchange is critical," says co-founder Daniel Hulme. "Our aim is to create a one-to-one dialogue between client and engineer, even though it's all done remotely."

If you decide to try OMM's service, please leave a comment with your thoughts!

"Online Music Mixing" > read the full post

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Live Beat Series Europe tour

After several successful events in the USA earlier this year and an appearance at the Midsummer Music Conference in Portugal, Ableton & Novation are bringing their Live Beats series to Europe this September, with 14 events across 8 countries........read on.

The Live Beats events are designed for musicians and producers of all skill levels to learn more about using Ableton Live and Novation hardware. They provide an opportunity to receive training from demonstrator Thavius Beck, who will mainly focus on the hands-on music making potential of Live and Launchpad, but will also be showing off other Novation hardware and demonstrating how Automap - the control software that comes with Novation's controllers - can be used to take your Ableton Live sessions to the next level.

At each event, Thavius and local Ableton & Novation demonstrators will be on hand to answer questions, as well as offer tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your software and hardware. There will also be a chance to win a Novation Launchpad and Ableton Live 8 at each event.

Dates & times for Live Beats events:
  • Tuesday 7th September, Production Room, Leeds, UK, 18:30
  • Thursday 9th September, Digital Village Clapham, London, UK, 18:30
  • Saturday 11th September, Teach Music, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 19:00
  • Monday 13th September, Just Studio Kulturbrauerei, Berlin, Germany, 18:30
  • Tuesday 14th September, Just Music, Hamburg, Germany, 19:15
  • Wednesday 15th September, Hard Rock Cafe, Cologne, Germany, 19:00
  • Saturday 18th September, Just Music, Munich, Germany, 16:00
  • Monday 20th September, microFusa, Madrid, Spain, 19:00
  • Tuesday 21st September, microFusa, Barcelona, Spain, 19:00
  • Thursday 23rd September, SAE Institute, Milan, Italy, 18:00
  • Friday 24th September, Percorsi Audio, Acquapendente (VT), Italy, 18:00
  • Monday 27th September, Rytmus Aula, Stockholm, Sweden, 18:30
  • Wednesday 29th September, ProLyd AS, Oslo, Norway, Time TBC

"Live Beat Series Europe tour" > read the full post

Friday, 13 August 2010

Noise Annoys: A Taste of DNA...And Other No Wave Delights

I just re-bought a CD by DNA, avant garde punk titans, and it opened up a world of unlistenable New York "No Wave" bands whose only mission statement was to annoy...

In the early 80's a group of bands sprang up who thought punk was growing soft, if indeed it had ever been that tough to begin with. With a foot planted in both the art and the music world these artists blended the two disciplines until music and performance were intrinsically linked in their presentations, as much influenced by Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns as The Ramones and Television. If this sounds all very pretentious it is worth remembering that they all produced an invigoratingly unholy racket as well as talking bollocks...Most considered such punk icons as Patti Smith to be as boring as the mainstream bands that early CBGB's punk was meant to replace such as The Eagles. The No Wave acts consumed drugs, partied and rocked as hard as Led Zeppelin, it's just their music was about a primitive NOW rather than goblins and wizards.

Egg headed pretention-meister Brian Eno picked up on the emergent scene and decided to document it in the epical album "No New York" which gathered together four of the most original groups and spread the nihilistic message. It was originally going to feature 10 acts but featured artist James Chance persuaded Eno that his band and friends were the only people worth featuring proving that rock star egomania thrived even in this defiantly "non rock" environment...

Below are a few of the best No Wave bands, "best" is a loose term, most of them are equally irritating and one of our tutors said DNA should be renamed DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). A good place to get an idea of the world that spawned this underground phenomenon is the film Downtown 81. This is a rambling mildly fictionalised day in the life of graffiti artist Jean Michel Basquiat who wonders about spray painting, looking stoned and running into gigs and rehearsals featuring a selection of No Wave acts including DNA, James Chance, members of Blondie pretending to be a No Wave band, Debbie Harry as a fairy godmother and oddly Kid Creole....

The live clips below are mainly from this film and give you an idea of the quirky energy of No Wave.


James Chance and the Blacks


Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

A compilation was released by Soul Jazz called New York Noise which gives a good round up of the main players if you want to investigate further...


"Noise Annoys: A Taste of DNA...And Other No Wave Delights" > read the full post

Monday, 9 August 2010


All anybody does is make lists these days, not like when I were a lad and you were happy with a piece of coal for amusement, we feel the need to rate everything even in the purely subjective territory of music...so never wishing to be out of the loop I took a straw poll of one and created a few lists of my own...

Best use of a leotard in rock:

Winner: Kate Bush

Runners up:

2) Mick Jagger
3) Freddie Mercury

Best band hair of all time:

Winner: Steel Pulse

Runners up:

2) A Flock of Seagulls
3) Johnny Thunders

Worst album cover of all time

Winner: Mansun - Six

Runners up:

2) Coldplay - X&Y
3) U2 - No Line on the Horizon

Worst video of all time

Winner: David Bowie & Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Stree

Runners up:

2)The Pretenders - 2000 Miles
3)Anything by Tool

Worst performance at Live Aid

Winner: Bob Dylan

Runners up:

2) Duran Duran
3) Ultra Vox

Dumbest rockstar face

Winner: Paul McCartne

Runners up:

2) Chris Martin
3) Adolf Hitler

Worst voice of all time

Winner: Jemini

Runners up:

2) Alanis Morissette
3) Billy Corgan

Best music documentary

Winner: The Decline of Western Civilisation Part 2, The Metal Years

Runners up
2) The Devil and Daniel Johnston
3) Dig

Best front man

Winner: G.G. Allin

Joint runners up:

Daphne & Celeste

Best songwriter

Winner: G.G. Allin

Runners up:

2) Burt Bacharach
3) Diane Warren

Biggest penis in rock

Winner: Gene Simmons

Runners up:

2) Jim Kerr
3) Robert Plant

Sexiest punk girl on Youtube

Winner: Girl With A Giant Tongue

Runners up:
None as I stumbled on it while looking for Gene Simmons clip...

Best list sites when bored

Winner: Oddee

Runners up:

2) Best Gore
3) Mr Skin

Maningrey - If you get the music related pun of the picture at the start of the post email info@londonschoolofsound.co.uk for a mystery prize....

"lisztomania!" > read the full post

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Free Reverb plugin

DUY are giving their Z-Room reverb plugin away for free. Very nice of them....
It's nice sounding, and very controllable - from their site:

High quality density and diffusion provide an unparallelled sound quality.
Total control over parameters which had never been available to the user before, with a friendly and intuitive user interface.
Three modes: Deluxe, Economy and Earlies. The second allows to free processing time, and the third focuses the strength of the algorithm on the processing of Early Reflections.
An exclusive Rehearsal Mode allows you to set the parameters while hearing the real impulse response of the reverb. This is one of the finest tools to evaluate the quality of the reverb.
You can choose between several room responses (reverse, gate, hall, room, stage...). All these values can be modified with the Stretch and Pre-delay parameters.
Processing time is freed when you choose not to include Early Reflections.
Internal 64-bit processing.
Independent mixing controls for each of the three selectable bands, as well as for the Direct, Early Reflections and Reverb signals.
Total control over the iteration depth, with six levels of calculation.
Over 50 presets are included.
Z-Room is the only reverb that allows you to control the time base of the reverb's algorithm.
Visualization of the Direct, Early Reflections and Reverb signals in the time domain.

Head to here to register, and they'll send you the download link. It comes in RTAS, VST, AU and MAS for the Mac, as well as VST for the PC users among you. Enjoy!

"Free Reverb plugin" > read the full post

Friday, 6 August 2010

Pay what you want, for Planet Earth

Camel Audio has released Planet Earth: a new sample library featuring sounds for electronica, ambient, and dance music producers. Until the end of August you can choose what you want to pay for it - as little as £1! By default, the amount paid is split equally between Friends of the Earth charity, and Camel Audio - but you can tweak the split any way you like.

You get 150 sounds + Alchemy Player VST/AU instrument offering a further 150 sounds.

For audio samples and details, visit Camel Audio.

"Pay what you want, for Planet Earth" > read the full post

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Max Fuel, the First

Puremagnetik has released Max Fuel, the First, a bundle of ten highly refined Max For Live devices, created to work in Live for production & performance, bringing the deeper potential of Max For Live to the end-user without the need to learn Max. The devices fall into three categories: Software Instruments, Audio Effects, and Control Devices. Presets, devices racks, and clip examples are all included in the package.

Retails for $38 (£24).

To learn more, and watch the introductory video, go here.

"Max Fuel, the First" > read the full post

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Metal Militia

Nice nipple plates Missy, you truly are a Heavy Metal goddess....Maningrey has been shaking out the dandruff to a selection of classic metal, here are my current faves...and some disappointments...

For some reason I have found myself downloading a load of old metal albums, this is not a genre I have had much experience with but having almost exhausted all the other types of music out there from D n'B, Dubstep, Best of Eurovision ballads and Bag Pipe Dreams play the Moody Blues, I decided to see what all the tattooed 'alternative" hoards find in this racket. I was surprised at how many had stood the test of time and the ones that proved a damp squib.

Metallica - Kill Em' All

Am I the only person who finds later day Metallica either idiotic ("Of Wolf and Man") or dull as two ditches ("The Thing That Should Not Be")? While it was Alchoholica's ability to add new textures to thrash that soon put them streets ahead commercially of the Anvils of this world, it also made them a little tepid. Heavy metal is only exciting when it is completely unaware of its own idiocy or the band are young enough to get away with lyrics such as " No life till leather, We are gonna kick some ass tonight" and sing it with conviction. This blazing debut is rough around the edges with a wasp in a coal mine production but pound for pound it is the most rocking set they ever produced, no acoustic ballads about war, no southern rock boogie, just 9 rifftastic tunes about leather, phantom lords and more leather..Like Judas Priest in no way gay..This little beaut takes no prisoners and in "Seek and Destroy" features two of the best riffs of all time...Motorbreath is still shit however....

Slayer - Reign in Blood

This albums has everything wrong about metal, lyrics about goblins and wizards (sleeves?),no tunes, hundreds of solos and bad hair...but it all works! The best way to describe this album is simply to list the best bits, like a classic comedy it has moments that are constantly quotable...One to embalm and keep!

The cover is awesome, combining the worst bits of Bosch and Bruegel this is a Hell that makes you want to run to your mummy and swear you will never ever be bad again. Also features two giant penises which nobody noticed at the time due to all the gore...

The opening scream like a cat caught in a dishwasher or balls in a zipper.

The opening lyrics to "Necrophobic":"strangulation, mutilation, cancer of the brain, limb dissection, amputation, from a mind deranged!"

The way Tom Araya growls "Enter to the realm of Satan!" in "Altar of Sacrifice" and manages to make it sound scary rather than cheesy. His shouting through out the whole album basically invented the Death Metal "grunt", much more fun than all that Axl Rose style wimpy falsetto.

The way he sings "leave you ripped and torn" in "Reborn".

The rain at the beginning of the final track "Raining Blood".

The two best metal riffs of all time in "Raining Blood" intro and "Angel of Death" middle section.

Soundgarden - Superunknown

After wading through lots of grunge "classics", including the holy scripture that is "Nevermind", I found that only "Superunknown" was actually still any good. Nirvana sound like Bryan Adams, Alice in Chains are always out of tune, Pearl Jam were always shite and Mudhoney, well I just didn't even bother to download any...Everything else Soundgarden did was poor but for some reason the planets aligned and their freaky mixture of Sabbath, psychedelia, unusual scales and colossal vocals were hung onto actual songs and riffs you can whistle as you deliver the milk. Everything is so murky and layered that strange cool bits keep popping out of the mix at unexpected moments like the the squiggly bass riff in the middle of "My Wave". While technically proficient players they use their skills to investigate interesting avenues rather than just showing off, songs are in odd meters with alternative tunings and possibly due to Kim Thayil's Indian heritage the riffs and solos are sitar like with disorientating effects. In fact its only due to Chris Cornell's viking wail that people got this album, everything else sounds like its was destined for cult bargain bin obscurity.

Faith No More - Angel Dust

Faith No more have a lot to answer for; funk metal, baggy shorts, synths in rock and nu metal...But "Angel Dust" is a genuinely weird album on reappraisal. Following on from the huge hit "Epic" which wedged their whiteboy funk, operatic vocals and pomp rock keyboard sound into the top ten of every frat hour beer bust in the US forever, Mike Patton seized control of the band and took the newly christened (by me) "Paedophilia Rock" to the charts. "Paedophilia Rock" is a combination of singing songs in as many styles as possible while avoiding a melody and making you think of old Amish kiddy fiddlers, surrounding this with musical accompaniment from a haunted circus, making every lyric about how depressed and useless Americans are but somehow making it all rock!

All the bands that tried to follow this approach were horrible, Korn, Incubus, Limp Bizkit so yet another crime is added to the list above but in its way this album is more progressive than Kid A as it made experimental music something teenagers wanted to jump around to while Kid A was bought by people who read the Wire..

Megadeth - Rust in Peace

Megadeth were always seen as Metallica's wannabe idiot brothers, mainly because Dave Mustaine was booted out of the first line up of Metallica and his voice was even more grossly unpleasant than even Jemini at Eurovision. But I have to say if you like your songs massively long and complex with lashings of twiddling guitar solos and lyrics bashing politicians, evil wizards and organised religion then this could be the album for you! The solos just keep on acomin' kids, each more technically perfect and more Middle Eastern sounding than the last, oddly reminding me of punk legend's(and kings of alternative cred) Television. It's interesting how some bands fly under the radar of "cool" (admittedly having a grinning skull man on your album covers does not help) while producing music genuinely without boundaries while ultimately dull musical semi literates like Beck gain critical hosannas. The almost Public Image post punk meets King Crimson prog after reading "The Sheltering Sky" racket of "Hangar 18" is the best example...

Pantera - The Great Southern Trend Kill

This is just a raging bracing blast of hate, that makes the Tube journey to and from work entertaining. The singer looks like an extra from "Oz" (best TV series eva my friends), the guitar player is a mountain troll and they played in front of a southern flag like a KKK convention but Pantera made the long slow trudge from awful glam metalers to marginally less awful south rawk thrashers to textured metal gods, best shown on the creepy song below...

System of a Down - Toxicity

Rabble rousing Armenian Americans these guys avoid the sophism of so many alternative metalers (stand up Korn) and plunge headfirst into agitprop finger pointing. Merrily ignoring the ironies of being corporate slaves while bitching about their White Collar American paymasters, a paradox that other "political" bands such as The Clash and Rage Against the Machine never resolved, SOAD take pot shots at all and sundry while never forgetting they are entertainers first and foremost and there to open up teenagers minds not burn cars. Weirdly reminiscent of some of Zappa's more poppy outings this album is lean and wiry where Soundgarden are thick and sludgy, just one guitar a fistful of crazy time changes and strange chords sprinkled with a voice that says "NO" in a really catchy way.

When this was No1 in the States during September 11th it was perfect cultural symmetry.

Here are two "classic" albums that did not make the cut...

Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine

I know I know, hard to believe! But for such an influential album apart from the obvious classic singles it drags like a stone. Stiff rather than funky every riff sounds like a rip of "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin, the guitar solos that we all raved about are in fact really annoying, why not just get a turntables rather than making your guitar sound like one? The killer blows to this albums status are the vague lyrics and terrible rapping, Zac De La Rocha makes Mike Patton sound like Slick Rick and compared with the razor sharp poetry of System of a Down it comes across as rather ill informed and juvenile.

Guns and Roes - Appetite for Destruction

First of all "Welcome to the Jungle" does rock and I even enjoyed "Paradise City" (apart from the 'orible synth part) but the rest?? Boring boogie woogie rock like an Aerosmith tribute act, nasty misogynistic lyrics and of course that ear splitting fires alarm screech. Slash does play some fancy solos but you can't help thinking of the ridiculous self parody he is now. Ultimately this is not a million miles away from such tripe as Poison or Motley Crue, G n'R just happened to be better musicians so you get drawn in to their murky world, but take a step back and its a little depressing.


"The Metal Militia" > read the full post


Not really audio based, but pretty cool all the same. SeeSaw is kind of Spotify for TV, with a stack of free and rental programs.
In Beta at the mo', so get in early and register before they go invite only.
Anyway, back to catching up with classic episodes of the Young Ones....

"SeeSaw" > read the full post

iVoxel Singing Vocoder for iPhone and iPad

Here's the rather cool singing vocoder from VirSin. It comes with a stack of samples, with the ability to record your own. Instant Daft Punk vocals!

Pretty awesome, but I so wish this was available as a plug-in!

"iVoxel Singing Vocoder for iPhone and iPad" > read the full post

Awesome touch-screen for Traktor

Yeah, take all those iPads, Lemurs, and any other piece of crap they have been trying to pass for a touch-controller until now and throw them all away.

This is the future.

Or rather, maybe not, but it sure should be.
In fact what it should be is just like this, except without a touch surface but just projected in thin air and then waving your hands through the projection (I have seen demos of something like that before, but I couldn't find links to that now).

Anyway, I am digressing. Watch this video but don't keep the volume of your computer too high or you will miss the sound of your jaw dropping.

Finished? Good. Now join the club of those asking how much will it cost and where do I get one. It's a very popular club, we're there too.

Some details can be found on this website, and immediately things start sounding less exciting than we hoped. Some guy developed this technology to work as an interface between you and a dj software. It's a few dollars per year to buy (or lease?) the licence to turn any windows powered touch-screen laptop in to a stupid controller for Traktor. So you need a laptop with touch-screen and it will only act as a controller for one specific application, but not on Macs. Which is rubbish already, and it gets worse where no more details are provided of this gorgeous screen being used in the demo. This apparently is a prototype and not planned for production.

So ok, it aint' gonna happen this year, maybe not even next year. Still, watch this movie again and ask yourself what it would be like to have this interface. Think about how a regular powerpoint presentation about sales this quarter or health and safety on the workplace would still make you look like a demi-god.
Please, someobody, somewhere, make this happen. And then let's talk about an installment plan. I am starting to save money now.

"Awesome touch-screen for Traktor" > read the full post

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