Following up on my last post about electronic music gifts, I thought I'd do a roundup of some nice Christmas presents that came through this year. To start things off, here's my friend Madeleine Bloom (who has some beautiful music that you should all check out), with a short Christmas greeting uploaded via SoundCloud mobile:
Merry Christmas by Madeleine Bloom
Now, here are some fun and free gifts:
Madrona Labs Aaltoverb
Format: AU plug-in (Max OSX only)
I covered Aalto and my flowery praise for it in the last post. On Christmas Eve, we got a free gift from Madrona Labs, in the form of Aaltoverb. It's a standalone version of the Reverb that's built in to Aalto (which has a fantastic, spacey-plate sound to it), with new dry/wet and brightness controls. A nice way for Madrona Labs to say thanks for 2010, and a fantastic effect to try out.
Format: VST/AU/RTAS plug-in (Windows and Mac OSX)
Technically, this one isn't new for Christmas, but it's a good way for me to say "my bad" for failing to include the brilliant Valhalla Shimmer in my gift guide. Shimmer is a gorgeous, affordable ($50) pitch-shifting reverb, inspired primarily by the "shimmer" sounds of Brian Eno/Harold Budd productions. FreqEcho is a free pitch-shifting delay plug-in, with a similarly well-thought out sound and pristinely minimal GUI. Fun for dubby pitch freakouts and alien sounds, among other more practical pitched-delay applications.
Native Instruments Reaktor Mikro Prism
Format: Reaktor instrument (requires Reaktor of the free Reaktor Player, which can both be used as VST/AU plug-ins for Windows and Mac OSX)
NI presents a lite version of the Reaktor Prism, a unique synthesizer/effects unit that uses impulses and resonant filters to make a range of sounds. Well worth checking out for some unusual sounds - especially the plinky ones.
Ableton Holiday Live Packs
Format: Ableton Live Sets (requires a version of Live to run; free trial version can be grabbed here)
Ableton Live Packs provide users with an opportunity to see how a number of different artists use the program for their music. The two new holiday packs, from funk musician Everett Bradley and experimental hip-hop violinist Christopher Tignor, provide very different insights into ways of using the program. These packs come as an extra gift to supplement a previous series of five other Live Packs for the season.
TeaTracks Xmas Spin
Format: iOS app (iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad)
TeaTracks' Gliss app is one of those special sound toys that makes it a joy to make music on a touch screen. For Christmas, they've offered a free, interactive set of visuals and sounds inspired by the season, in the familiar advent calendar format. While you're at, think about giving Gliss a try - it's on sale for only $1, and it's good enough for Gorillaz.