Last minute-y gifts under $50

For geeky girls with an edgy fashion sense:

Green Resistor Necklace and Earrings $39 are a subtle and sophisticated fashion accent that come packaged in an anti-static bag, and the Cat5 Choker and Bracelet set are an irreverent and bright accessory that elevates network cable as a beautiful statement. They also come in petri dishes–the choker in a large Kirby Bauer and the bracelet in a standard 90mm.

For music nerds and DJ types:

Electronic Music Emergency Adapters $30 gives every electronic musician and DJ a safety net for their performance by providing the common adapters needed for connecting computers and music gear into mixers and the house system.

Kids (and grown-up kids) who love science:

Yes, that’s a gigantic Cold Virus $8.50, a Brain Cell, $8.50 and a Robot $12.50 who looks surprised.

For gamers and retrologists (lovers of retro):

That’s a teeny Pac Man Arcade Game with candy inside $3.50, Mario Candy (well, just his grinning head) also $3.50, and one of our most popular guys, the Super Mario Bros. Mushrooms

Speedy J’s open source track creation

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Dutch techno pioneer Speedy J released last year Kreate, a huge collection of his original loops and samples that allowed DJs to build entire tracks in a live setting. Then he launched the “Open Collabs” project that encouraged producers worldwide to submit samples and loops to him, so that he could build an entire album from them. It’s like open-source track creation, open source is a term that, in the software world, allows one to have access to a software’s source code–the guts of a program–so that they can use it as they best see fit, and / or continue to develop the program on their own. It’s become totally hot as of late, with the internet providing access to many minds and distribution methods.

So how has SJ’s methodology affected his DJ performances? Check him out this Friday at Smartbar.

Speaking in Code: A documentary on the passion-fueled lives of contemporary techno creators

Watching this documentary on the contemporary techno movement gave me goosebumps. And I recognized every single track in this trailer (yay for those technerd points).

Speaking in Code is an intimate account of people who are completely lost in music. A heartbreaking and lighthearted documentary, it’s a vérité glimpse into the world of techno.Captivating and entertaining, the film takes you around the world, following the people who make electronic music … their lives.

Starring: Modeselektor, Wighnomy Brothers, Monolake, Philip Sherburne, David Day & Amy Grill

Also featuring: Ellen Allien, Tobias Thomas, Marc LeClair AKA Akufen, Wolfgang Voigt, Michael Mayer, Reinhard Voigt, Sascha Ring AKA Apparat, Sascha Funke, Mario Willms AKA Douglas Greed, Miss Kittin, Dan Paluska AKA Six Million Dollar Dan, Mike Uzzi AKA Smartypants

Featuring music by: Modeselektor, Wighnomy Brothers, Robag Wruhme, Ellen Allien & Apparat, The Field, Monolake, Michael Mayer, Gas, Jonas Bering, SCSI-9, Gui Boratto, Superpitcher, Steadycam, Dettinger, The Rice Twins, Reinhard Voigt, Oxia

Although the artists featured are mostly based in Germany, the internet has spread this particular sound throughout the world through niche-oriented internet media. Germans aren’t the only ones generating the energy of the new movement, but their scene is very visible. We do need educational vehicles like one this to explain to the world why we’re so passionate about something so abstract, yet moving and emotional. Can’t wait to see the final product.

ALSO: Here my more-academic rant on Gaper’s Block: “Speaking in Code: A Documentary on the Passion-fueled Lives of Contemporary Techno Creators”

Techno enthusiasts, I would propose, operate on a generally more abstract level than just “having a beat you can dance to” along with a sung allegory of lost love or pursued-yet-unrequited love. Much along the lines of Western Classical enthusiasts, they giddily freak out about an unexpected bass-modulated, gated atonality, and derive blissful pleasure from well-placed syncopation and juxtaposing the minimal alongside the maximal.

Moldover’s new CD / Theremin-toy

OK, I’ll admit CDs in general are pretty boring and kind of outdated now that broadband and MP3s are standard. However, Matt Moldover of Controllerism fame has definitely spiced up the concept of the CD with his latest release of original work that’s also a theremin-like toy (!) The track names are even embedded in the circuitboard. Mad hot. Get this thing! It’s available in 3 editions at $10, $25, and $50 in varying degrees of awesomeness.

The Granular Synthesis of Curtis Roads

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Watch Motherboard – The Granular Synthesis of Curtis Roads

This is a pretty amazing video. Granular Synthesis I can wrap my head around (imagine a more complex version of additive synthesis, but on a micro-scale), but what really amazes me is Curtis Roads was doing it in 1975 on a mainframe with punchcards. You heard me. How much more nerdcred does this guy need? Ok, lemme back up for a minute. I am, actually, old enough to know what punchcards are (but, keep in mind I was like 5 years old and hanging out at my mom’s company to learn about them). Back in the day (and my intro to computer science teacher in college was amazing because he explained this to us and made us basically write out our algorythms before we came to class to program them), a programmer would have to write out a program in its entirety and then wait for days sometimes, to get the program to execute. This is totally the opposite of people can work today, where they can see the results of a coding change realtime, or, on the web, with a simple page refresh. Pretty leet, I gotta say.

Check out this video–even an Autechre song makes a cameo (but, I would add to the video’s description that what made Autechre and similar IDM artists’ work so mindblowing wasn’t simply due to complex rhythms, it was that plus the unheard-of-before combination of electronically-generated revolutionary sounds while still maintaining a “more accessible” composition in terms of melody and so forth. At some point Roads says he considers his music “point, line, cloud” because a grain, or sound particle is a point, a series of points on either or both the x or y axis, and a cloud,–IMHO–is actually “a left-to-right series of chords”) BECAUSE CURTIS ROADS OPENED FOR THEM in the early 00s. Uh-huh.

He also recommends a book for sound-design inspiration. It’s called Education of a Gardener. Really. Just go watch this thing, ok?
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The robots are coming! Daft Punk movie to drop in July

31964daftpunksmall.jpgSo Daft Punk have a new movie set to make its American premiere in July: Electroma. However, don’t expect to hear a Daft Punk soundtrack or even appearances from the camera-shy boys themselves, as they’re on the other side of the camera directing (the protagonists are played by actors). The soundtrack also features the odd choices of Brian Eno, Todd Rundgren, Sébastien Tellier and Curtis Mayfield.

This apparently very “arty” movie follows two robots on their quest to become human, featuring long tracking shots and a “focus on imagery” opposed to plot and character development (one would assume). So far it’s gotten mixed reviews, with its initially brief run extended in Paris, but with a crowd at Cannes walking out on it.

It’s a somewhat odd turn for the duo who also produced the satisfying Daft Punk anime mega-music-video / movie, Interstella 5555, but hey, who doesn’t love robots?

Watch the trailer:

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