Thursday, 28 July 2016

The legend is back...

After a long hiatus, the unsurpassed synth legend that is Vangelis is back with a new studio album...

It is said to be released on 23 September, and it is a project inspired by, and dedicated to, ESA's Rosetta probe launched in 2004.

The tracks so far released on the internet show that the music, as many fans expressed on forums, thankfully is not a bombastic symphonic score in the vein of the rather controversial Mythodea.

Whilst Vangelis always excelled in orchestral and quasi-orchestral creations, one has to go back to the '70s and '80s to find real emotional punch and intricate musical ideas in the few albums he released in this vein... The more recent output, with the exception of the score for 1492 Conquest of Paradise and El Greco (the studio album, not the soundtrack), was marked by hugely overblown arrangements where the emotional impact and the musical inventiveness has suffered at the expense of wall-to-wall orchestrations.

The teaser tracks (so far a few short excerpts on Youtube) show that this is not a return to the vintage Albedo 0.39 and such space music albums from Vangelis. It sounds like a through-and-through contemporary affair, and the orchestral passages sound more like the epic and passionate sounds of El Greco.

Rosetta's Waltz also shows that, again unlike Mythodea, we shall be treated to incomparably more melodic content and passionate driving arrangements reminiscent of the Vangelis albums of yesteryear.

Let's see how the full album hangs together - alas, we have to wait a couple of months until then...

Deep Mind to the 12th power

Screengrab from Behringer teaser video No. 5

A slight detour into gearheads' territory, as such news don't come around very often.

In 2014, originally based on an interview in, rumours started about Behringer working on an analogue synth.

In 2015, there have been wonderings and wanderings on forums, whether the plans are still "on" or it's all been forgotten.

Well, mid-2016 it is all reality. Cue the to-be-released DeepMind12 analogue splendour...

Whopping 12 voices in an analogue synth, which seems also aided, even augmented according to first impressions (see 5th teaser video below), by digital effects.

So after many years of mixing desks and other audio gizmos of quite respectable caliber, now a whopping synth beast is in the making in their product portfolio.

It appears to have arpeggiator and undoubtedly some more digital control 'oomph', too - if they bolted onto it such a display and digital effects module... Step sequencing please? Pretty please? :)

It will be presented in October it seems, and judging from the videos, it is claimed to have a very "organic" feel when played.

So apart from gearhead enthusiasm, it is yet another "retro" synth beast and it will be interesting to see price point and features compared to e.g. Korg current offering.

The 5 teaser videos so far released by Behringer are below:






Monday, 25 July 2016

A new underground

WEATNU or "We Are The New Undergound" is a notable development in the rapidly diversifying independent and underground music scene. At its roots, it stands for the more avantgarde, less mainstream, electronic music - as difficult it is to sometimes draw a line between the two.

Emerging with its internet radio and social network presence, and its digital magazine, it has its roots in the avant-garde, and focuses on the art-form of the musician.

It is growing rapidly, as it is about helping the electronic artist through exposure., accepting diverse underground styles from Synthpop to EBM, DnB, IDM, Industrial, Leftfield and avant-garde, indie pop, dreamwave, shoegaze, Indierock, Ethereal, House, Deephouse, Synthwave, even mod music, tracker music, etc.

It is completely free to be part of, and in the landscape of ultra-commercial (and far from indie) music, it is an exciting development - just judging from the number of talents it acquired in its various forums over the past months, it is testament to the tireless work of Almark Thaolen, its founder and curator.

It has just released its first summer compilation CD, too, which alongside endeavours like the Ambient Online yearly compilation initiative curated in the US, give an insight into a rather non-mainstream electronic music scene.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Feeding digital vultures

After two busy summer months, finally returning with a topic that may be of some help to indie/unsigned musicians...

As the late Umberto Eco famously and astutely put it, the internet gives you everything - reliable material and crazy material. One would add, some crazy material is not only unreliable, but it actively seeks your money... for dubious services that contradict basic logic of (in this case) music industry and marketing.

In the case of budding musicians wishing to promote their creations, this far from positive take on the internet's wonders applies very much when it comes to the digital vultures that try to capitalize on musicians' aspirations.

The classic recipe is ubiquitous, unfortunately: myriad so-called "push promotion" websites, twitter accounts and the like try to make musicians believe that they shall make the musicians' creations known to N (N is usually a very eye-watering large number) individuals, organisations, forums etc.

No matter how much one wishes to promote one's beloved musical or other output, one has to ask the fundamental question before clicking on some payment button: even if it is true, what do the recipients of these so-called "promotional" services' messages, tweets etc. think? How do they act when they are bombarded indiscriminately by these myriad messages, all promoting myriad artists they never heard of?

It is a rhetoric question. Please, please, do not feed these vultures... If you find them on forums and blogs, mentioning how many "genuine" cases they made famous, most of those are made up usually or... they represent an infinitesimal proportion of artists that via other channels usually "landed" some sought-after objective for themselves.

Look at the case of licensing services, too - the fundamental rule is that if they promise you licensing deals, placements in adverts, films etc., they must not ask you upfront fees. Any, any, reputable and real agency will make their money by representing that artist - yes, yes, it sounds simple and very basic, but it is astonishing how many budding artists end up feeding these vultures.

Let's just name GoDIY Records here as it is something highly representative of the very professional-looking and -sounding carrot dangling outfits. Because I had the dubious honor of being contacted by them very recently, the email exchanges are highly representative and are a perfect summary of how these outfits' business model runs - and would share the classic steps in shutting their attempts down:

Step 1: Highly professional-looking email, with links to websites and social media profiles. Offering the Moon on a very pleasantly shaped stick, but, beware: setup fees and monthly fees.

Step 2: If the artist asks about these fees' justification, further emails, even very touchingly personal phone calls may follow (!). One feels utterly flattered by such attention. They waive the hefty setup fee, offering to only take monthly membership...

Step 3: If the artist asks: have they even listened to my music and can they describe how it fits their clients' needs?... The answer is usually vague: "we found your tracks on xy (e.g. ReverbNation and the like) sites", and "your sound" is perfect...

Step 4: Artist ask them: how come they have not googled or looked in myriad other places where the music is reachable, why do they build a vague and sweeping opinion based on one or two tracks on an anyway dubious "artist promotion" website? Reaction: usually silence and communication ends.

Step 5 may follow sometimes: Ask them how do they differentiate themselves from other "services" that need upfront fees for the honor of being "represented" and are simply praying on budding artists? Result: usually silence and all communication ends. At least with the mentioned outfit, this, instead of a reply detailing their business model and "success stories", resulted in the (very much expected) silence.

Budding musicians, please, no matter how enticing some vultures sound, please, do ask the pertinent questions.

Corner them.

Use their own rhetoric and probe, probe, probe.

What have you got to lose?

A genuine service (never mind that it would never want money upfront) would be able to answer the basic, but surprisingly effective, probing questions.

You do not offend them. If they are in the business and if they are professional, they a) fully appreciate your objective queries, and their motivations, b) they are after your music and they do not just drop you because of some justified probing questions. If they do, it is already a sign that you should stay well away from them!

The internet has brought countless such digital vultures and, alas, judging by their number, they are making a living because indie/unsigned musicians are feeding them...