June 22, 2011
At Friday’s show at The Project Lodge in Madison, I’ll debut some of the new electronic elements that I’ve been working on this summer. These are mostly software synths built in MAX/MSP that I control with the horn claw–something I’m still learning how to do. The control scheme is fairly intuitive (I’ll do a post on it in the future) but it still requires some practice. So the show is going to have something of a workshop feel. Periods of face-melting semi-acoustic robo-techno will give way to paralyzing confusion that gives birth to happy accidents that mutate into alien breakbeats. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Live-looping mbira and agogo maestro Asumaya is also on the bill (doors at 7:30). I just listened to the new Asumaya EP on bandcamp and really enjoyed it. Check it out.
June 13, 2011
I wish Engadget Deutschland had contacted me for the post. If I remember my year abroad correctly, “balls-to-the-wall freebasing steamfunk” is one word auf Deutsch.
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June 7, 2011
Some people think that the fossil record offers solid proof that humans evolved from apes, and I’ll admit that with the right diet and some electrolysis, Lucy could look halfway decent. But if you really want to clinch the case, read the comment threads on a gadget blog. Any post that compares an egoDevice to a Botroid will spark chest-thumping tribal warfare that would make Jane Goodall blanch. One suspects that our tech media overlords know exactly what they’re doing when they throw side-by-side feature comparisons to the howling commenter troops, and while I want to avert my eyes, I think I could learn something from them. If my career ever needs a booster shot of maximal controversy, I’m going to publish a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad using a Motorola Xoom.
With that preamble out of the way (call me Jefferson), I’m going to make a few value judgments. When I first began toying with the idea of turning the algorithms I use in my music into apps, I started teaching myself iOS because the iPhone was and remains a more profitable platform for app developers than Android, although the gap is closing. I bought books, watched youtube tutorials, and experimented with example code that I ran on my own iThing. After a couple of months, I gave up. Part of the problem was unfamiliarity with objective C, the language used to code for iOS, but the other problem, which seemed less tractable and more discouraging, was a patronizing and somewhat authoritarian attitude embedded in the way the iOS development tools control the process of creating an app. These tools and the pedagogical materials that explain them almost mandate certain design patterns that structure how applications are put together. These patterns make sense for a lot of apps, I’m sure, but they didn’t make sense for my app. I knew how I wanted to structure my app, and trying to contort it into one of Apple’s design templates appeared unnatural and frustrating, so I began looking at Android as an alternative.
Getting started with Android was easy. There was some new terminology to learn, and there were rules to follow, but I felt that Android struck the right balance between preordained structure and flexibility. Equipped with a flexible development environment, I dove into teaching myself the basics of UI design and Android audio programming. In short order I had a test app that would simply take audio input from the microphone and play it back out the speaker or headphones in real time.
The disappointment began when I pressed Play and started speaking. “Test one, test” went into the phone, kicked off its shoes, had a bite to eat, checked the sports page, and ambled out of the speaker about 250 milliseconds after arriving. (more…)