spinning round and round since 1998

Not much to say about this video apart from how much talent this guy has! Seeing this up on stage rather than some of the lukewarm ‘live sets’ we see these days would be a seminal moment in anyone’s life… Ableton Live, three Launchpads, two APC20s, iPad TouchOSC and a couple of mics.

So, tomorrow’s the big day for UK DJs and hardware manufacturers alike, with everyone descending on Birmingham’s NEC for three whole days.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the digitaldjtips.com team for the weekend and we will be finding out everything and anything about all the shiny new gadgets, and delivering it all right into your eyeballs. We will be filming, snapping, interviewing, stalking… and tweeting. You can follow all the action from @digitaldjtips and @djs_life by searching for the #ddjtbpm hashtag.

You can also meet the team and other digital DJs this Saturday at 13:00 on the Novation stand. We’ll be the ones wearing the t-shirts as below (courtesy of my lovely wife, accidentalvix) and the big smiles.

You can't miss us.

Beatport's announcement

Beatport have announced a beta programme for their new non-Flash site. Many people have complained (including myself) that the Flash interface is clunky and resource hungry. This is particularly true for OS X users who have long suffered from battery drain, excess heat and CPU wasting.

No Flash. Geddit? Thanks to DC Comics

The company have decided to go down the Google route of dishing out limited invites to allow for a slow ramp up of usage, with each new invite coming with two more to dish out.

Why is this good?

The old interface relies on a closed plugin created by Adobe (Macromedia originally, for you lot too young to remember). This makes it a nightmare for accessibility and pretty much excludes smartphone access. The site can also be slow to load and it is a lot harder to share a link to a track, release, artist or label page.

But there’s a mobile site!

Yes, but functionality is not nearly as intuitive, and frankly, listening to clips is a nightmare. The iPhone has an app for that, but with Android and other mobile OSes creeping up the usage stats, unifying the experience between desktop and mobile makes sense for everyone.

Is it any good?

Let’s hope so! I’m not sure how many people have access, but I’m sure we will hear soon enough.

What if I like the Flash site?

Good news then! Beatport have said they will keep both running indefinitely (or until people are used to the new one, I reckon).

A little bit of irony that didn’t escape me is that the page announcing the beta is filled with Flash videos from Youtube. Coinkydink or an inside joke? The site is meant to go live “Spring 2011″ according to the site. I guess that depends on how the testing goes.

I just want to take a moment to say thank you – from the bottom of my heart – to The Winstons. Without this obscure 60s Soul band, electronic music would never be where it is today. Never heard of them before? Yes, you have. Listen to the track Amen, Brother, released in 1969 as an obscure B side.


The Winstons – Amen, Brother

Now listen again to the six seconds, starting at 1:25.

What you hear is the most famous six seconds in music. Ever. this sample has been used by artists as wide ranging as Altern-8 to Amy Winehouse to Hixxy & Sharkey to NWA. And the most fascinating part is they never made a penny in royalties for their legendary sample. I guess you could say electronic music is based on “open source” foundations.  If it sounds like I am over-excitedly talking this up, it’s because I am. This free-to-use clip deserves more praise than any one person can give to it.


The Amen Break

Now sit back, relax and watch 18 minutes of fascinating history… played from vinyl, of course. :)


The history of the Amen Break

So, from everyone in electronic music – fans, producers, DJs, record labels, sampler manufacturers – we thank you, Gregory C. Coleman, Ray Maritano, Quincy Mattison, Sonny Pekerol, Richard Lewis Spencer and Phil Tolotta.

This will always be a signature track for the upstairs room at Sankeys, Manchester. Such a great bassline that kicks in and changes the pace. Blurs the line between Techno and Progressive House! Now time to put my shades on so the massive strobe light doesn’t blind me!

Here’s a bit of filthy minimal techno I am digging right now. Maetrik is hot shit and between this and ‘Paradigm House’, you can see why!

BONUS: Also check out Zecapx – Ozer View on Beatport. Dark and banging.

Native Instruments have finally revealed their latest bit of DJ kit which was teased a couple weeks ago. The new package is a combination of MIDI hardware mixer and software, very much in the vein of Serato’s ITCH packages.

Some musings of my own as well as from other respected sites:

  • The system is effectively two MIDI channels and two analogue channels, with the samplers using wet/dry control. This means it is stuck with two virtual decks and two sample banks along with turntables or CD decks.
  • Ean from DJTechTools had a hand in designing the system, meaning controllerism is at the heart of this mixer.
  • The audio interface uses the guts of the Audio 4 DJ, meaning rock solid performance and great sound quality.
  • The hardware use HID for control. This allows for much higher resolution, meaning smoother jog wheels and filters.
  • The software features will eventually feed down into the original Traktor [Scratch] Pro software, giving current owners the chance to use Samplers and some of the new streamlined interface tweaks.
  • This thing is true Plug n Play meaning no messing about with settings. SIMPLES!

There has recently been a slew of new 4-deck controllers from some of the biggest hitters in the industry. Allen & Heath launched the DX/ITCH package at BPM 2009, Denon have just announced the DN-MC6000,  American Audio have the VMS4 and I’m sure there are other just around the corner from the likes of Vestax, Reloop and Numark.

Pricing and availability

The Traktor Kontrol S4 system will be available this winter for a suggested retail price of $999 / 899 EUR or around £750. The case will be available at the same time for $189 / 169 EUR or around £140.

Now check it out in action!

Here are some other blogs covering the system:

Check out this awesome track from LCD Soundsystem I heard on Proton Radio. Epic and bangin’ at the same time!

EDIT: New vid as the last one got removed.

Native Instruments just announced on various social channels a new video with Dubfire demonstrating some new software/hardware.

Upcoming new Traktor system roadtested by Dubfire in this video:

EDIT: Skratchworx has a fair write up about the hardware.

To quote:

  • Large form factor like the Torq Xponent and Amercian Audio VMS4
  • 4 channels
  • 4 hot cues
  • Transport controls below the jogs
  • Sample player – looks like 4 slots per deck (or maybe 2 decks plus 2 sample banks?) with play, volume and maybe F for filter (should silence the haters at last)
  • 4″ Jogwheel with a big ass Traktor logoSome sort of status bar showing different lights – on air, samples, deck a/c and deck b/d indicators, keylock and master
  • Loop controls to crunch or expand the loop with what looks like an numerical readout
  • Built in track navigation and loading
  • Big filter on each channel
  • Lots of lights for ease of use in the dark
  • I can’t make out effects controls, but seeing as this controller largely mimics the interface of Traktor, I expect these controls are across the top

This is really nerd heaven for fans of Traktor Pro and/or Techno music. Legend Richie Hawtin playing live. You can see he has a pair of NI’s Kontrol X1s, a lovely Allen & Heath Xone42 mixer and NI Maschine hooked up somewhere.

I saw Hawtin live last week for free in Trafalgar Square (for Canada Day, randomly) and after his 45 minutes, was left wanting more.

EDIT: And here’s another not so good one from Awakenings 2010.

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