Oh Drat Podcast March 2011

This month’s Oh Drat Podcast features a broad selection of everything from hip hop to acoustic soul, four on the floor electronica to blues. As always, you can subscribe in iTunes via the link below, and this month I’m experimenting with hosting on Mixcloud rather than Soundcloud – let me know if you think the service is better this way…

Tyler the Creator – Yonkers
Lo-fi Sunshine – Inside Looking Inside
J*D*a*V*e*Y – Lazy Daze
Panther God – Touch n Feel (Mindelixir Remix)
Jaetriks – Revolution of the People
A Daase – Goodnight
Shakka – Drivin’
Infinite Potentials – Lovesong
Sheila K Cameron – From My Room
Memotone – Sleeping with the Insects

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Oh Drat Podcast March 2011 by Oh Drat on Mixcloud

Apogee Duet 2

Apogee Announce Duet 2

Apogee’s new product announcements this year, Jam and Mike, have been focused on providing mobile markets with low cost, single input interfaces – until now, with the unveiling of the two in, four out Duet 2.

The Duet 2 takes Apogee’s beautiful design ethic to a new level with its sleek black and aluminium looks, and a full colour OLED display which shows off metering, grouping, muting, limiting and phantom power status. The large front encoder is now complemented by two touch sensitive pads, assignable in the newly updated Maestro software.

Redesigned converters and preamps that take advantage of Apogee’s research in their top end Symphony system now support ultra high quality 192kHz sample rate

Beauty’s only skin deep, of course, so it’s just as well that Duet 2 features totally revamped inner workings. Redesigned converters and preamps that take advantage of Apogee’s research in their top end Symphony system now support ultra high quality 192kHz sample rate, soft clip limiting promises to smooth out hot signals and provide warmth instead of nasty digital clipping, and fully balanced outputs.

Two final upgrades to the initial incarnation of the Duet may be of particular interest to music producers and live musicians; the interface has changed to USB2 from FireWire400, and yet achievable latency has been decreased, and outputs have been increased to allow a separately adjustable headphone output. A review of ONE is in the works, which will be shortly followed by Duet 2 – keep your eyes peeled! (until then, head over to the Apogee site for more information…)

Maschine

Review: Native Instruments Maschine 1.6

Maschine’s greatest achievement has been dragging staunch hardware users away from their MPCs and towards computer based production. It’s been a real investment for early adopters, as two major updates since the original release have seen Maschine grow from a great idea with slightly flawed implementation into a tour de force of production potential – and all for free. 1.6 continues this tradition, and brings some radical additions to Maschine’s workflow, perhaps most notably audio plugin support and full 64 bit support. Have Native Instruments succeeded in giving Maschine all the tools it needs to compete with a DAW, or are they over egging the pudding and taking the focus off its core features?

the 1.6 update finally implements both instrument and effects plugins in VST/AU format

A long requested feature by Maschine users is plugin support, and the 1.6 update finally implements both instrument and effects plugins in VST/AU format. Rather than simply shoehorning the capability in, however, there are a variety of workflow tweaks and additions to maximise both the advantages that plugin support brings and the ease of use of plugins within a project.

In 1.6, rather than each pad having a source select and two effects slots each pad is comprised of four modules, one of which one can be an input source and the other three effects – or all four effects, should you wish. You can route groups and sounds to each other through the module chain, too; you could dedicate a group to being an effects bus and load in effects chains into each of the 16 pads, then send sounds or groups to the chains in those groups via an aux channel. This is a very powerful but at the same time very simple system, made even more powerful now that Maschine’s outputs have been doubled to 16.

handling of plugins is implemented really effectively

Actual handling of plugins is implemented really effectively. Maschine will attempt to map plugin parameters in a sensible way, but if, by the plugin’s design, automatic mapping doesn’t do such a great job, learning is built into Maschine and is as simple as switching learn mode on, fiddling with the control in Maschine and then the plugin. These mappings can be saved, so you can create different presets to load for different uses, and your favourite can be saved as the default that will load whenever you load that plugin – a godsend when a plugin developer has assigned their plugin’s CC messages alphabetically, for instance.

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Athey Road - First of Spring

Athey Road – First of Spring

How wonderful that, for those of us in the UK at least, the clocks have given us that extra hour of daylight in the evening. The title to this track by Athey Road was what caught my eye initially, but what caught my ear and gave me the impetus to write about it was the Erykah Badu vocal snips that are used more like an instrument than any discernible message.

recorded vocals can have so many applications for an electronic music producer

From this technique, to the ‘composite phrases’ style of vocal appropriation to create new messages that J Dilla mastered, to the isolation of words from a song until they become poetic in their mantra-like nature by artists like Burial, recorded vocals can have so many applications for an electronic music producer. Perhaps the human voice is the most versatile instrument of all…

Profisee - Logan's Run

Profisee – Logan’s Run EP

In Profisee’s Logan’s Run EP, an almost bizarre melding of pop and darker electronic styles creates a schizophrenic, unsettling pace to the EP, but at the same time makes for a refreshing listen.

melding of pop and darker electronic styles creates a schizophrenic, unsettling pace to the EP

The Vienna sampling This Means is possibly the EP’s finest moment, with its post industrial drones creating a bleak atmosphere just before moving into Why Today, the EP’s closer, and the mood becomes lighter, despite loss being the focus. Curiously they are the only two tracks on the EP produced by the same person, Scharkz,  yet the EP has a coherent sound as a whole with contributions from S-Type, Poirer, and Process Rebel. It’s definitely worth the free download…

Sun Glitters - Everything Could Be Fine

Sun Glitters – Everything Could Be Fine

Fellow Englishmen will understand my high spirits over the past few days. As the days begin to finally get longer and warmer, the way our entire demeanours change is unmistakeable, and that change finds its way into every aspect of our lives, not least our attitudes to music and choices when creating it.

I get the feeling that my ears would receive this hazy, post dubstep LP from Sun Glitters entirely differently if we were back in November

I get the feeling that my ears would receive this hazy, post dubsteppy, future garagey, Burial reminiscent LP from Sun Glitters entirely differently if we were back in November, and I would hear the fuzz and cavernous vocal effects as a call to hibernation, thick clothing and burrowing in. In the light of the optimism that sunshine instills in my bones, I see brilliant sunlight, smell barbecues and feel grass on my neck, and long for the magic that ensues in the darkness of summer’s nightfall… Does the context in which we perceive sound affect our judgement when we make music too?

Native Instruments Razor

Native Instruments Announce Razor

Native Instruments have just announced a forthcoming addition to their range; Razor is an additive synthesiser developed by Erik Wiegand aka Errorsmith, the man also behind NI’s Smith N Hack and MMM.

the introductory video demonstrates Razor’s propensity to emit gut punching bass with gusto

Details are thin on the ground at the moment, but the introductory video demonstrates Razor’s propensity to emit gut punching bass with gusto and shows its multi screened, clean looking interface. Other info’s thin on the ground at the moment, but when there’s more I’ll have it…

Kadija Kamara

Interview: Kadija Kamara

Kadija Kamara is a singer, songwriter and producer based in London who has featured on a variety of club tracks as well as working on her own brand of what she calls Alternative Soul, recently releasing her debut EP Changes, which I reviewed here. I caught up with Kadija for a chat about the reactions to her EP, her production process and studio setup and the piece of gear she couldn’t live without…

Oh Drat: It’s been a month since Changes came out – what’s been the best thing that’s come out of getting the EP actually out there?

Kadija Kamara: It’s just the relief at first, there was a lot of apprehension and stuff, last year I was supposed to drop an EP and that never happened, so when it dropped I was really relieved! I’ve had a lot of positive feedback too, a lot of people have said that it sounds quite fresh, which is good, because I feel like a lot of music that’s on the radio at the moment sounds kinda the same – when a song starts it’s difficult to know whether it’s going to be a singer on the track or a rapper or just a dance track… but I’ve had people hit me up to say it sounds fresh, and they’d love me to perform and so on, so it’s had a positive knock on effect.

I feel like a lot of music that’s on the radio at the moment sounds kinda the same

OD: Excellent. It’s interesting that you spoke about the sameyness of a lot of music, because you can definitely hear a variety of influences in your music, and then you have this ‘alternative soul’ moniker. Is that just about the way that you’ve taken influences from various types of sources?

KK: Yes, very much so, I’d say. Going through listings on iTunes or whatever you see Alternative Pop, Alternative Rock, and I noticed there wasn’t an Alternative Soul and I just thought why, because there are so many different types of soul. I love soul but I didn’t want to just put myself in one category, so I thought Alternative Soul best describes my music  – and a lot of people say to me ‘so what’s alternative soul, then?’ because nothing’s been categorised as it before. I listen to Jazz, Rock, I like my pop,  country, folk, and I love it. The way I see it, great music is great music, and there’s something that draws me to all those styles. Just being thrown in as ‘soul’ kinda limits your target audience, and I don’t want to be limited. And so… alternative soul!

OD: Now in your introductory video you were down at a record fair… does getting your fingers dusty looking through vinyls give you inspiration?

KK: Vinyl? Oh, definitely. I’ve got loads of vinyl at home, and lots I’ve inherited from my parents as well, and… well vinyl represents vintage as well, and vintage represents quality. I want people to think quality when they hear my music and I would love to have my own vinyl, but vinyl is SO expensive! I think it’s making a comeback, I’ve had a few people at shows ask me if my EP is coming out on vinyl – it doesn’t sell as deeply as CD and MP3 though, so I think if I do I’d probably do a limited edition.

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Cableguys Curve 1.2 Public Beta

Cableguys announce Curve 1.2 Public Beta

Cableguys, a team of plugin developers based in Berlin, recently put out a public beta of version 1.2 of their popular soft synth Curve. Curve is an interesting synth, despite the initial impressions garnered from a cursory glance at the clinical user interface.

Another intriguing feature of Curve is its community focused design, turning individual users into nodes in a collective brain of sound generation

It features high quality, aliasing free waveform generation, but rather than the standard choices of simple waveforms, Curve allows you to draw your own oscillator waveforms (LFOs, too) to create unique sounds.

Another intriguing feature of Curve is its community focused design, which sees presets make their way into the cloud, in effect turning individual users into nodes in a collective brain of sound generation. Cableguys’ design process is also very transparent, with user suggestions playing a major part in the direction of the synth; the top three suggestions from the 1.1 release have been added to 1.2, namely modulation of individual oscillator parameters, LFO rates, and the ability to prevent presets finding their way into the cloud, for those secret weapon patches you want to hold close to your chest.

Keep an eye out for a review of Curve 1.2 soon – the demo of 1.1 can be downloaded from the Cableguys website now…

Aloe Blacc - Loving You Is Killing Me

Aloe Blacc – Loving You Is Killing Me

Loving You Is Killing Me, a track included on Aloe Blacc’s current album Good Things, released last September, has just received the video treatment. Blacc’s smooth footwork is impressive – and he’s certainly kept on his toes by his diminutive dance partner!

The simple ingredients to the track combine to create a track that transcends a time period

The simple ingredients to the track, bass, horn, organ, a smattering of moog-y synth, a relentless breakbeat and Blacc’s velvet tones combine to create a track that transcends a time period, much like Sheila K Cameron’s work that I wrote about yesterday, and simply sounds like great soul music.

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