Mirror’s Edge is a new game coming out soon for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC which features both a unique gameplay mechanic (free running) as well as an amazing visual style. There have been a number of trailers for the game, all of them featuring a fantastic soundtrack which the makers, Dice, have refused to reveal the origins of. It always sounded too good to be in-house (with appropriate respect to the few very good in-house musicians!) but all they would say was that it was a commissioned composition from a “well known producer”. There’s been a lot of rumors on the forums, including various people falsely claiming to be the producer, but finally the most recent trailer reveals all – the music is produced by Swedish artist Solar Fields. A number of his albums are currently available on Amazon and Beatport.
A few weeks ago Slim Devices (now part of Logitech) released their latest network audio player, the Squeezebox Boom. In a departure from previous designs this model includes a built in amplifier and speakers, making it a great portable music source. Anyone who knows me probably knows of my Squeezebox obsession, and I’ve been testing this new one for a few months now.
The design is clearly aimed for three situations – the kitchen, the bedroom and outdoor use. The Squeezebox functionality works very much like the previous models (excellently) and as usual there are lots of neat design details such as a magnet in the remote so it will stick to the fridge door.
Sound quality is, for a device this size, amazing. Forget the Bose Waveradio, the custom DSP processing in Boom manages to squeeze exceptionally flat response over the full frequency range – and for times when you want a little more boom, there’s a connector to add a subwoofer.
From a portable point of view I’ve taken to running it outside during cookouts, synced to the indoor system so the music sounds great everywhere. Being able to plug in one power cord and having access to all your ripped CDs, radio and online services such as Pandora and Rhapsody is great – even in a house with as many Squeezeboxes as mine!
So this is an interesting one. Group buys are an increasingly common event these days – where a company offers a discounted price for their product if a certain number of people sign up to buy at once. Wusikstation is a pretty cool softsynth made by a small indy company, which usually retails for the very reasonable price of $99. However, in an effort to spread the word they’ve decided to offer a group buy deal with an astonishing 98% discount. That’s right – sign up and you can have the full version of the software for just $1.95. The catch? You’ll only get the deal if 149,999 other people also sign up – and there are no refunds.
Gary’s Mod (aka GMOD) is a piece of software which lets you take the Half Life 2 game engine and do your own thing with it. Of course most people stick with sensible stuff, like making new levels or changing characters’ appearances. Others, however, do things like this. Nuts.
Pandora is a neat service which creates a custom internet radio station which plays only music it thinks you will like – based on you naming a few artists or songs which appeal to you. They have a very large database of tracks (although many dance artists I tried on it were unknown which was a disappointment) and the matching is excellent. Once I found a few artists it knew (Armin, Sasha, Hybrid & BT) it did a good job of pulling up similar artists (Motorcycle, DJ Ice and Tiesto amongst others). The downside of all this is that the service is only available via an in-browser Flash interface – booooo! How to listen in comfort? Well – from your Squeezebox of course! (You do have a Squeezebox, right?). Today Slimdevices and Pandora announced a partnership that will allow the best network music hardware on the market to integrate with the best “intelligent” streaming service. Come March 1st (the launch date) the Squeezebox will truly become Pandora’s Box.
Dean Gray presents American Edit is a mashup (Grey Album style) of the Green Day album American Idiot. Now I’m not normally a rock fan, but I do like Green Day, and their track Holiday is one of my personal guilty pleasures. Imagine my glee at hearing it remixed with the Doctor Who theme! Awesomeness.
So Drupa is some kind of trade fair for the print & media industry. Fair enough, I’m sure their flyers and posters are very nicely printed. But why oh why do they feel the need to have a theme song? Not just one, but a different one for each year? Truly, ear bendingly, awful. Have fun!
This evening I attended a DJ Workshop at New York’s Scratch Academy – the only full time DJ school that I’m aware of anywhere (well, apart from their new LA offshoot). Our tutor for the evening was DJ Whatt, a New York based breaks and house DJ.
My main reason for attending was to brush up on my somewhat rusty skills, get some feedback and hopefully learn a few new tricks. We started off with some basic introductions to the structure of a record, how to recognise hooks, breaks, drops etc and then went on to practise some long transitions with both breaks and house. My beatmatching has always been flaky with breaks, so this was some good experience. All in all I had a great time and will be going back for some more advanced stuff. A highly recommended evening for just $50 including 4 excellent records from Whatt’s label Emuor.
So last weekend I picked up tickets for the elder statesman of Trance – Paul Van Dyk – performing in Central Park, New York. Having been to larger outdoor events such as Homelands and Creamfields in the past, but knowing that was unlikely to happen here, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
Max Graham is a house DJ (based in Canada) who, although claiming not to play trance, appeals to a large number of trance fans. I first came across him on the 4th installment of the excellent Transport/Tranceport series which he mixed in 2001. His latest release Shine, is an uplifting mix with enough melody for the house set and a high enough bpm for the trance crowd. Not to mention the always welcome presence of prog fave Sander Kleinenberg. I’m looking forward to his next mix, for the Mixmag Live series, due out in August.