Creative Coding with Adam Rokshar

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Many of us are either left-brained or right-brained. We expect the lefties to write software for the righties to create art with. It’s rare to find someone comfortable on both sides of this intersection, but Adam Rokshar pulls it off with style. He develops beautiful video software with Max for Live, teaches Max to other musicians, and performs a unique blend of future funk under the name RUWA – using the software tools he himself created!

Adam recently taught a workshop at the Electronic Music Producers Meetup in NYC, where he walked the audience through two of his newest creations. He recently released the M4L device RokVid, which makes it easy for anyone to create a pretty impressive realtime video performance – right inside Ableton Live! The device can load a series of video files that can be intercut and transformed all in time with a Live set, with little preparation. There are eight different video effects in RokVid; these can be blended together to create everything from subtle filtering to an electro-acid video freakout. All the transformations can be connected to elements of your musical performance. So, kick drums might crossfade between video clips, or maybe you’d like your video to get darker as the music gets louder. The possibilities are extensive!

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Next Adam showed off a device called GlitchPix. It works a little like RokVid, however it’s based on transforming still images. All you need to do is drop some images into the device, and it will generate live video in time with your performance. The device only has three sliders, but it’s surprising what you can get out of it with minimal effort.

While RokVid and GlitchPix are impressive bits of programming, what is REALLY incredible is that in addition to creating them, Adam has somehow found time to make amazing music and videos using his tools. His production on RUWA’s newest record “Science Fiction” is tight, soulful, electronic R&B that reminds me of early Prince tunes. There are also a number of videos for his songs, many of which have been made using his video devices.

I’m looking forward to another workshop with Adam and hopefully there will be a RUWA live show in NYC soon. Check out “Science Fiction” on RUWA’s bandcamp page! You can get RokVid from Ableton.com and Glitchpix from Winksound.com. If you’d like to learn more about creating cool things with Max and Max for Live you can get in touch with Adam through his website http://makeyourselftransparent.tumblr.com

New Sounds from Deadboy

I’m thrilled to see that UK-based producer Deadboy has posted a new track on his Soundcloud page. His early singles on Well Rounded records and recent EPs on the Scottish powerhouse label Numbers get a lot of plays at my house.

The new track “Quan Yin” has a melodic, dreamy, sound that is reminiscent of early 2000s era Warp Records releases, with a rhythm that is pure 2-step. The release notes for this song call it a B-side which means I can’t wait to hear the A-side.

If you haven’t already heard Deadboy, I recommend checking out “U Cheated” on Well Rounded, “If U Want Me” on Numbers, and “Here” also from Numbers.

Certain Creatures live at Mercury Lounge – Gig Review

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to catch Certain Creatures, the current project from Brooklyn-based Oliver Chapoy (ex-Warm Ghost), live at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. He performed a set of simmering, dark electronic music from a stark black stage using little more than a table of some eurorack modular gear, a synth, and stompboxes. The performance was definitely one of the best I’ve seen so far this year.

The last time I saw Certain Creatures was about a year and a half ago when he played at Glasslands alongside Brooklyn stalwarts Tippy Toes and Weeknight. That night his set had been ethereal, a warm fog of electronics floating over the club.

This time around, his sound has progressed into a darker study in hazy Brooklyn techno, right at home alongside the black on black rock acts also on the bill. Each song flows into the next, melodies emerging from between the layers of modular noise. Hooks bubble up just long enough to get cheers from the crowd before being swallowed and churned out into the next track.

The stage visuals consist of simple grey waveforms and static being projected across the stage. For a moment, things look a bit like the cover art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” album. That’s not a bad comparison really. I imagine if Ian Curtis had stuck around long enough to follow the rest of his band into the dance era, his music might have sounded a bit like Certain Creatures!

Styles Upon Styles Records has just released a new two song 12″ from Oliver as a part of their Bangers and Ash series. Be sure to check it out, it’s getting a lot of play here in the office, and I can’t wait for his next show.


**Nerd footnote: Martin Hannett, the mad genius who produced “Unknown Pleasures”, recorded tons of beautiful electronic atmospheres in the studio while working with Joy Division. These recordings have been released as an album called Joy Division: In the studio with Martin Hannett which is really more like a Hannett solo record. It would sound right at home at a Certain Creatures gig.