Previewed online in November 2009, this slender panel of rubberized knobs and LED-backlit buttons revealed Native Instruments' New Year's resolutions in more ways than one. The Traktor Kontrol X1 (MSRP: $199) shows its German parent company finally resolute in offering, well, native hardware support for its premier digital-DJ software. Plus, the USB-tethered unit operates on proprietary NHL high-resolution protocols to rival MIDI in precision of bi-directional response with visual feedback. Read more »
If the art of recording sits just outside your range of concern or abilities (but doesn’t weaken your desire for good quality), the Yeti (MSRP: $149.99) could be your new best friend. Wires are minimal, as it connects to your computer and is powered via USB. It looks and feels like something off The Tonight Show podium, and is capable of bludgeoning a man much larger than yourself. Read more »
Jamie Stewart, the mastermind behind veteran indie band Xiu Xiu, has been using wonky electronics to create his sinisterly playful and completely abrasive sounds since his first album, 2002's Knife Play. Moving deeper into the 21st century, Stewart continues to employ new approaches in creating the electronic elements that color his fractured pop tunes, including the Korg DS-10 software for the Nintendo DS, modeled after Korg's classic MS-10 synth. Read more »
Gear: In The Studio: Luciano—With a newly minted studio in Switzerland, Lucien Nicolet expands on his global sound.
Since the beginning of the decade, Lucien Nicolet (a.k.a. Luciano) has risen in the ranks to become one of the premier DJs and producers in the world, releasing countless records and highly regarded remixes, many of which found release on his acclaimed label, Cadenza. Read more »
Gear: In the Studio: Health—The LA noise rockers ponder predatory beats and subvert their engineer's advice.
Chicago-area producer Stephen Hitchell (a.k.a. Intrusion) crafts dub-techno that sounds like it's underwater, or floating through the air from a basement club 10 blocks away. Under his many monikers, including the collaborative Echospace project with Rod Modell, Hitchell has helped bring about a renaissance of the genre, which many had assumed would falter after the dissolution of Basic Channel. Read more »
Since moving to the Bay Area from France in 1999, one-man-band General Elektriks (a.k.a. Hervé “RV” Salters) has blessed this side of the pond with a particularly quirky style of vintage soul. On his sophomore LP, Good City for Dreamers (Quannum), this keyboardist/producer reaches for a more pop-friendly sound, but doesn’t neglect his favored analog grit. Instead of relying on popular plug-ins, RV often captures the textured grain on his songs with a selection of effects pedals. Read more »
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