Friday, February 3, 2012

Madgarden is a Madman

So you've got an iPad and you want to make some noise? No worries; the app store has you covered. There are roughly a bajillion FL Studio-ish apps out there (Including FL Studio Mobile), but who cares? If you're interested in making music with this platform, you should look for the least traditional methods of creation to really push that artistic envelope, yeah? Additionally, people will think you're cool.

Introductory paragraph aside, I have two insanely-awesome tools for you to consider. One is so simple to use, your cat will be making tracks in no time. The other... Well. Let's just say I hope you have a good grasp of Reverse Polish Notation.

Russian engineers tend to design things that just work. Sure, their rockets aren't impressive to look at. But some how they've managed to get people into orbit for over 50 years. When it comes to music machines, the Russian-made PixiTracker follows similar conventions.

Awww, the little sprites represent sounds. How cute!

PixiTracker won't get you into outer space, but it can produce charming tracks and its whimsical interface is astonishingly simple to use. I say charming because its lack of features is a feature in of itself. The limitations of this little machine put a smile on your face. Especially because you can create stuff that sounds like music within a matter of minutes.

But maybe you don't want something "cute" or "fun" like that. Perhaps you want something that in addition to creating music, causes cancer. Something so difficult to figure out, that the second you generate a pattern of noise that begins to resemble music, you call in sick at work to recover.

I'm talking about Madgarden's Glitchmachine. And ohhh, what a machine it is.

I'm pretty certain The Borg use a similar interface at each Regeneration Alcove

You know, I've worked with a lot of software over the years, and even the steepest learning curves were no match for my perseverance. But Glitchmachine isn't your normal tracker or DAW. It's surely designed with a special breed of musical-coder in mind. So when I found myself stumped after a couple of hours of research, I bought a copy for my father.

Before becoming a computer programmer, dad played music professionally. So naturally he'd figure this thing out in a jiffy, yeah? Well. Not yet. But I've got faith in you, pops!

Ok, yes it's stab-your-eyeballs-out difficult to figure out. No, it wasn't free either. But that's not the point. As with PixiTracker, the obstacles are part of the appeal.

Glitchmachine makes some crazy sounds when you know what you're doing (Search Soundcloud). And if you're concerned with the price, how many times have you dropped a couple bucks into a street performer's hat? Well my hat's off to Madgarden, because he made something totally nuts, but very special as well.

Before I go, I have an honorable mention for you: ReBirth.

Slightly more conventional music creation to be found here, but it's still plenty fun!

There's a lot you can do with two 303's, an 808 and 909. If you're unfamiliar with this hardware, all the knobs and buttons can look really intimidating. But after a little research you'll be producing tracks in no time! This one's worth the money too!