Steelberry Clones got our hands on the newly released Sketch Synth 3D for a review (version 1.0.4). To best describe Sketch Synth 3D you can say that it is both a synth and a control interface that lets you shape and scalp your soundscapes in 3D. You can use it straight out of the box; but sketch synth also offers you the ability to extend and control your other synths in 3D using Midi output and OSC input & output. We made a short test run of the app on an iPad 2 featured in the video below:
Sketch Synth 3D has a quite different and “rough” UI that may take some time to get used to, but once you have gotten used to it, it is fairly easy to jump from different performance and editing modes. The sounds coming from the Sketch Synth 3D are quite intriguing and easy to manipulate. In one sense from a music creation perspective this app is somewhat what you could expect from an updated KORG Kaossilator. To draw sounds in 3D you can use a touchpad, accelerometers and automated envelopes. This gives you control over the shapes that your sounds take on. However, although beautiful and innovative we still feel that the app has some more steps to take before it is a viable alternative – especially seeing that the sketch pad tends to have glitches in the animation, we lack a sense of real flow in the animations. What is nice though is the ability to load samples and effectively manipulate otherwise fairly dry sounding sounds and take you music making to the next level – adding ambient feels to it. You can either use Sketch Synth’s sound engine to apply effects to samples (including wav files of your own), or you can use it to output OSC or MIDI to your existing synths.
We start of the live reporting from the Swedish electronic music fest ElectriXmas, that took place this weekend, with an exclusive interview with Necro Facility.
Necro Facility consists of Oscar Holter, who writes the music and plays all the instruments, the vocalist Henrik Bäckström, who also writes all the lyrics and finally Cristopher Hedström a session player. The band started in 2001 when both Oscar and Henrik were in the Swedish “Högstadie”, 14 and 15 years old. They released their first demo in february 2001. They released 2 more demos before getting signed to Progress productions. They released their debut “The black paintings” in 2005.
Make sure to follow our coming reports from ElectriXmas over the course of the next few days, including acts like Tyske Ludder and Hocico
We do apologies for the bad sound on the live on stage performance parts in this video
Find out more about ElectriXmas by clicking the logo below:
Here are a couple of recent additions at Radio Stereoklang, enjoy!
Florian celebrated his release Black Whiteness Ep1, in Brig, Switzerland. Florian is Jann Skoglund-Voss, artist, songwriter and producer that grew up in Norway, currently situated at the west coast of Sweden. This is the first release since the debut album “Tics and Tricks”-08. The release was held at the acclaimed club concept “El azra” in Switzerland. Black Whiteness Ep1 is now exclusively available at www.florianrox.com The multi-instrumentalist Florian has spread his light in many a dark club throughout the last years with his retro-futuristic electro-funk. His debut album is being played in lounge bars across Europe, but when he does his live-act, there is no sitting down. Several of the album tracks has been played in European radio stations and TV-shows, and the track “Pleasure smile” climbed to #1 on the Norwegian chart Sorlandstoppen.
Electro-pop singer Little Boots has come top of the BBC’s Sound of 2009 list, which aims to highlight the best new music talent for the new year. Little Boots is 24-year-old singer and keyboard player Victoria Hesketh from Blackpool, whose influences include David Bowie, Gary Numan and Kate Bush. Little Boots was already highlighted as a promising act on Dolphin Music’s issue 2 of Music Planet magazine. Her original sound and creative setup includes a Yamaha Tenori-On, a Stylophone and a MicroKorg…mixed with a traditional piano.
This tune is the second single from Kebu’s upcoming album. He composed the tune already in 2008 and the tune is a tribute to one of his biggest influences, Jean Michel Jarre.
Only analog synthesizer were used in recording the tune. The tune was also recorded by analog gear only and mixed with an analog mixer. The tune is from Kebu’s upcoming debut album, which is planned to be released in 2012.
The single is distributed by Ubetoo Beats:
Equipment used: Hohner String Performer, Roland Alpha Juno, Roland Juno 60, Korg Mono/Poly, Korg Poly-61, Moog Prodigy, Logan String Melody, Arp Axxe, Touched by Sound DRM1, Vermona DRM1 MkIII, Roland TR-808 (snare attack only), Electro Harmonix Small Stone, Lexicon MPX500, Allen&Heath GS1, Yamaha MT4x. Cubase & Live only used as MIDI sequencers with the tape sync handled by a Roland TR-626.
Steelberry Clones had the great opportunity to talk to Steve Jansen during his recent visit to Sweden. Steve Jansen was former percussionist in the legendary 1980’s new romantic act Japan (also featuring David Sylvian, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn). After the band decided to quit in 1982 Steve has embarked on a long and successful journey, some times in collaboration with his brother David Sylvian on his solo albums, sometimes in more unknown appearances together with Japanese artists like Yukohiro Takahashi (YMO), but also driving more pop orientated endeavors with the Dolphin Brothers, which he started together with Richard Barbieri. Steve Jansen has at many occasions been dubbed as one of the most important percussionist of his time, and the characteristic sound that gave way for their all time selling album Tin Drum, has provided him with the opportunity to play with most of the leading artists since then. I wanted to know more on what has happened since then, his views on today’s music scene and the evolution of electronic music, as well as discovering his more recent works in the border lands between pop, ambient, arts and experimental music.
Today’s music scene
Steve Jansen is a highly productive musician, if it is not something on his own doing you will certainly find Steve in collaborations with David Sylvian, John Foxx, or as part of the band on tour with Ryuichi Sakamoto in Japan. So I asked Steve to give me an update on what he is up to right now and his collaboration with Sugizo.
Most recently Steve has been involved in finalizing Mick Karn’s new Dalis Car album, partly to keep his spirit alive, but also as a fund raising initiative for his relatives. Steve has therefore been active both as a mixer and performer of the new album and engaged in the process of reworking some of the new tracks. The yet untitled album is due out in the October – November time frame. As most of you know Mick Karn died recently and one of things that Mick Karn was doing at the time was to produce a new Dalis Car album. Dalis Car’s first album “The Walking Hour” released in 1984 was an interesting album where the borders between various musical styles were mixed to create a very unique album at the time. With Sugizo Steve recently contributed a rhythm track to a new recording, a track also featuring Mick Karn on bass.
With some thirty years as a musician, working across most prominent genres – as a new romantic pop star as part of Japan, to exploring the fields of ambient electronics and jazz fusion, to bridging the gap between modern art visuals and experimental music, it is highly relevant to ask Steve’s view on today’s music scene. Steve says that today’s scene is of course in many ways very different from back when he started his career. The power of the record companies put a lot of constraints and pressure on the bands to deliver on time, but also to make music in line with what they and the fans were requesting – “pleasing the record label almost became a means to an end”, Steve says. Today you have much more freedom to explore and the artists does not work under the same pressure. So although it is harder to make a living you are the one in control. With modern music technology you almost have endless possibilities to manipulate sounds and craft your own ideas – inside your head.
Back to Japan
You really cannot write about Steve without touching on the subject of Japan, both as a band and as the country where both David and Steve over the years has continued to find inspiration, collaborations and a solid fan base. When Japan ended as a band in 1982, (doing their last tour in Japan, followed by a live album), the band members ended up doing several projects on their own or in collaborations with each other.
I wanted to know how this fascination with Japan as a country came to shape their music going forward. Steve tells me that it has probably been more that they have all individually made their own subjective interpretations of the music. And although it was a strong influence on the Tin Drum album, Steve says that more recently it has been more important for him to embrace modern rhythms and electronic sounds, although that he has in his collaboration with Sugizo been working to incorporate the sounds of traditional Japanese Taiko drums.
Steve and David Sylvian have over the years done several highly acclaimed albums where they have been exploring the boundaries of ambient, electronic and jazz. As a listener you can easily picture late night improvisations where Steve and David together with other musicians like Harold Budd and Robert Fripp, would jam together beautiful ambient landscapes. I wanted to know if this was an accurate image of the music production process and how the songs took their shape.
Time for yet another synth-pop pioneer to enter the front stage, here at Stereoklang. I had the pleasure to talk to none other then Andy McCluskey, 50% of the legendary act Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, OMD for short. Few other acts have had such an influential role in the development of the electronic pop music scene, with classic hits like Maid of Orleans, Enola Gay, Messages to name but a few. I wanted to ask Andy all about OMDs re-emergence on the music scene, their work in the studio, past and present, and of course their most recent album “History of Modern”.
For those growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s, OMD was as well-known to “synthpoppers” as any of the other leading acts at that time, i.e. Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, Gary Numan, Yazoo to name but a few. I asked Andy how it all started. He lets us know that he and Paul started composing music when they were about 16, basically making music with what they had at hand (consider this was mid 1970s really primitive in other words). Andy was asked to join the band that Paul was involved in, but pretty quickly realized that they had much more in common and decided to go on their own. So in the very early days, what was later to become OMD, it all started as a pure hobby. Back in Liverpool it is easy to picture two young guys at home listening to Kraftwerk and dreaming of success. It was also in Liverpool that their first real gig came about, at a club called Eric’s. It was also at Eric’s that they saw other bands that were thinking along the same lines, like The Normal (featuring Daniel Miller) that made Andy and Paul realize that what they were doing had relevance on the music scene.
Steelberry Clones – “where did the band name come from?” Andy – “we were assigned to do a one off event and we really wanted to come up with the most preposterous name they could ever think of – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – having absolutely know meaning whatsoever”. “There were no master plan!”.
With a career covering decades I certainly thought that Andy would think of any of their great concerts or when any of their now legendary albums like the poetic “Architecture and Morality”, ecstatic “Junk Culture” or “Dazzle Ships” hit the shelves, selling millions of copies, being the obvious choice. But no, Andy tells me that the biggest milestone for him was when he, in his own hands, was holding their first ever 7” vinyl single “Electricity”. “This was a record by Paul and I!”, Andy says. This must truly have been a magic moment, as a any teenager at that time with a passion for music would browse through the import boxes in your local record shop as a weaken treat, finding rare issues of cool acts, imagine then to find your own piece of work.
With the single in hand, gigs started to come and OMD played as warm up act to Joy Division. Then Gary Numan, who had just bought their single Electricity asked if they would like to perform with him. The following year OMD themselves were the main attraction. Andy also remembers that this was also the first time, when performing with Joy Division, that they saw a real Pollard Syndrum in live action. The Pollard Syndrum was one of the first electronic drums and was capable of many different sounds. The sound favored by most recording artists was a sine wave that pitch-bends down, most famously heard at the beginning of “Good Times Roll”, the opening track of the Cars’ 1978 debut album.
History of Modern
“History of Modern” represents a highly anticipated come back from one of the most influential electronic pop acts to date. Skeptics were questioning if they could re-invent themselves and why are they doing a retro-flirt. I kindly asked Andy about the retro-flirt and although Andy was not so keen on the term retro in relation to the new album he admits that if going back to your roots and re-discover that unique and distinctive OMD sound, ”then yes let us call it retro”. For Paul and Andy it was really important to get that “voice” of OMD back, that sound they left behind. “We spoke with our own authentic sound”, Andy says.
Starting to work on the new album it was important to OMD that it shouldn’t be a copy; they needed to have new and fresh ideas. According to Andy “there are too many bands of our generation that do not have anything more to say.”
There is so much good music out there and very little reaches our ears, that is why we started our SoundCloud player where you as an artist may share your work and promote it in prime position among your peers and electro friends. In the player we have tracks from AfroDJMac, Lebatman, Bears in Nippon and todays contribution from JSD, which is a nice JM Jarre, Tangerine Dreams type of composition, enjoy
Promote your electronic music at Stereoklang by Stereoklang Produktion
Nitzer Ebb needs no further introduction, but fact remains that Bon Harris and Douglas McCarthy with albums like, “That Total Age” and “Belief”, in the late 1980s set the scene for EBM going forward, with their devotion to pounding bass rhythms. Having toured with Depeche Mode few doubt their impact on electronic music and after a break in the 1990s the band finally reunited and went on tour again in 2006. Last year the critically acclaimed album Industrial Complex came out and as of right now they are on a long European tour together with Die Krupps. As a special treat for fans both bands play jointly on stage and an exclusive mini album called Rhythm of the Machines can be obtained on site. Stereoklang met up with the band backstage and had a long chat about gear, the synth/EBM scene of today, the shift of label and how they still maintain a enthusiastic crowd everywhere they go.
How has your new material been received and how did the collaboration with Die Krupps come about?
Well it is not technically all that much new material, but it has been laid out to fit our tour and the collaboration we have with Die Krupps. But we are of course pleased with the response we have received so far and our fans seems to like it. The idea of collaboration with die Krupps happened in November last year when we met each other in San Antonio, Texas. However we do have a long joint history together, so when Ralph contacted us in the studio with the idea of doing something jointly we were all for it.
You are celebrating 30 years as a band next year, how do you work to continue excite existing and new fans?
The most important thing is honesty and be 100% true to what you do. We work hard to produce shows that match the expectations of our fans, but we are also very demanding on ourselves to deliver quality over quantity. You need to show on stage that – You mean it!
Sunday synth morning focusing on the KONG drum machine in Reason 5. Using MIDI and an AKAI MPK I tried to see how you could experiment around with the KONG as a means of generating more experimental sounds. All in all 5 different KONGs are used in this song, paired with additional Combinators and one Dr OctoRex for adding more punch. The video is merely a live shoot in order for you to get a feel for the basic set up in creating this type song and which filters and effects are used.
The song is called “Sisters”, I might do a more robotic version of it at a later stage, we’ll see
More Steelberry Clones tunes can be found here:
Well we are definitely not the first to jump on the Facebook bandwagon, but who cares – now we are and we are happy to invite you to come and “Like” our fan page.
So why are we on Facebook now, well here are a couple of reasons:
1. Easier for you to comment and interact with us
2. We want to have one place where we can be a bit more speculative
3. We sometimes receive freebies that we would like to be able to share with you
4. Some things we learn are too much rumors for the blogg
5. Competitions and events -this is a way for easy interaction with you guys
So, it is brand new, there are still loads of stuff to be done, but make sure to head over to Stereoklang on Facebook and press the “Like” button
Cheers from the Stereoklang crew and depending on your whereabouts we promise to buy you a beer if you are in the neighbourhood.
Saturday morning synth music with robotic voices – original tune from SBC, enjoy