Dave Grohl SXSW Keynote Speech

Dave Grohl, SXSW,

Today, Dave Grohl took to the stage at SXSW, donned drugstore hipster glasses, and delivered one hell of an inspirational keynote speech.

He talks about hanging with last year’s speaker, Bruce Springsteen (you know, no big deal, just THE BOSS), his humble beginnings as a young punk rocker in the DC area, demonstrates “multitrack recording” using two tape recorders, describes his life-changing years with Nirvana, Kurt Cobain (of course), recording Nevermind at Sound City (the studio he made a film about), changing the world, the again life-altering aftermath that resulted in Foo Fighters, and finally  becoming a cool dad. His mantra throughout the speech is that “the musician comes first.” He stresses the ultimate importance of the human element in music, communicating without words, finding your own voice, and screaming it out til it’s gone. Weirdly, though this is a tech blog, I share the same values and that is why time and again, no matter what toys come out, I always return to the guitar for inspiration.

Grohl is undoubtedly at SXSW this year to promote his new movie, and although he preaches the DIY ethos of his youth, he has become over the course of his astounding career too hugely successful to be considered ‘indie.’ But the thing is, he HAS followed the beat of his own drum and forged his path on his own terms, and is still the living embodiment of RAWK. He is today’s rock superhero, in a world where there may not really be any more on the way. Although he has entered the pantheon of  immortal ‘classic’ rockers, Dave is one of the last of these dinosaurs championing the rock and roll dream and telling you to pick up a guitar and start a band. So if you haven’t already, watch his speech and BE INSPIRED, punk!

Bleep Drum Makes Bleep Better!

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

Remember the Dam [Funk] Drum from Bleep Labs? Probably not, since it was so limited and sold out immediately. Well you’re in luck, my little sickies, because now Dr. Bleep has a new little bleeping machine to cure the common tone lust: The Bleep Drum.

I’ll take two and call you in the morning, Doc.

Be sure to read the prescription from Bleep Labs:

The Bleep Drum is an Arduino based lo-fi rad-fi drum machine designed by Dr. Bleep.

– Four sounds, two with pitch control
– Four selectable sequences
– Record patterns just by playing them
– Tap tempo
– Reverse mode
– Hyper Noise 30XX mode
– Stereo 1/8″ output

Is it available as a fully built device?
It will be starting early April. You can order it now and we’ll ship it as soon as it’s ready.
The kit currently ships in 1-3 days.

Can I add my own sounds?
Yes but you have to mess with the code a bit. We’ll be releasing a tool to convert .wav into text that can be copied into the Bleep Drum code.

Where is MIDI it should have MIDI and CV and GPS.
It can take trigger pulses for the pads and tempo. MIDI is just a hack away. See the hacking guide for more on the expansion port on the left side.

How is this different than the Dam Drum 2.0?
The Dam Drum 2.0 was a limited edition device for Dam Funk that is all sold out. The Bleep Drum is the same hardware but has different sounds as well as HYPERNOISE 30XX mode.

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

MR-808 Reproduces 808 Sounds With Robots

Often, digital emulations of analog instruments are just horrid. It’s far more interesting when someone attempts to reproduce sounds of digital origin with analog instruments. This is exactly what Moritz Simon Geist pulls off with the MR-808, the first drum robot that recreates the classic sounds of the 808 drum machine in the physical realm.

Electronic music is usually repetitive by nature. Our brains get bored very quickly of hearing the same exact sounds over and over, and tend to tune them out. To create something interesting, composers are thus compelled to introduce variation and randomness, so called “human” qualities, into their music.

By turning what was once just a computer generated sound into a mechanical process, Geist has managed to inject a bit of unpredictability into what has by now become a recognizable artifact of eighties music.  And he does it with style, building it all into a large scale model of the well-known little drum box. The MR-808 uses an Arduino Microcontroller and MIDI to trigger motors and solenoids which hit drums and percussion instruments. MAX/MSP was employed to deal with latency and a lighting control system.

MR-808 – mechanic drum robot Filmography: David Campesino on Vimeo.

Read part of Geist’s Sonic Robots manifesto “Robot Vision”

What would Asimov say? The vision is to have a decent electronic pop-band where no sound is generated inside a computer, but where robots play the structures humans are not able to. We want the haptics, the error and the visual behavior of machines playing the beats and notes! We want a crowded and dirty stage with cables, machinery and lights all over, pulsating like a single heart. Drums are the base of music, with the “MR-808″ we created an awesome drum machine to start with.

I think the key phrase here is “robots play the structures humans are not able to,” for what would be the point other than to relieve humans of the job of keeping the beat? It’s interesting and a little bit scary to think of what the next steps for computers and robotics will be once artificial intelligence is fully realized. There are already computer programs that can analyze music and write new pieces based on learned qualities and patterns. What happens when a computer is so powerful it can analyze all music in existence and spit out something no human would be capable of producing? And what happens if it’s actually good?

Learn more about Sonic Robots at http://sonicrobots.com/mr808-eng/

Death Grips Epic Battle

Death Grips No Love Deep Web album cover censored

Death Grips is in the midst of a war with their label Epic after leaking their own album today.

According to their twitter yesterday, “The label wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB ’till next year sometime’,” [so] “The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you.” At 12am PST they released No Love Deep Web via their website, thirdworlds.net, which prompted Epic to shut it down.

In an age where most are complaining about dwindling album sales, Death Grips’ marketing tactic is just hilarious, not to mention the uncensored version of the album art featuring a penis with the title written on it in black marker. Gotta give it to Death Grips for being punk as fuck! It will be interesting to see how the rest of this debacle plays out. In the meantime you can stream the album via the band’s soundcloud, or follow any of the number of links showing up on twitter.com/deathgripz, unless that too gets shut down somehow.

Buy Death Grips: The Money Store

***UPDATE***

To disavow allegations that this was all a publicity stunt, Death Grips posted cease and desist emails from Epic on their facebook page, and were subsequently dropped from the label. 

What are Buke and Gase?

(image via wired.com)

If you haven’t heard, Buke & Gase are a band of two scruffy young instrument builders who happen to rock instruments of the same respective names. Also they are a boy and a girl with the same first name. Confused yet? Ok let’s get this straight. The Buke is a baritone ukulele played by Arone Dyer, who also sings, and the Gase is a guitar/bass hybrid (formerly called the Gass, but that didn’t read well enough with the general public) constructed and played through (also) home-made amps by Aron Sanchez. The duo also plays their own percussion live with their feet. These two first impressed me when they were part of a math-rock band called Hominid, and they’ve taken the complex contra-rhythmic style to the next level with the warm, fuzzy, acoustic stylings of Buke & Gase. Their new digital-only EP Function Falls drops today on Brassland Records. Stream it over at wired.com or buy it on bandcamp.