Now they’re even trying to make microphone isolators sexy! Kaotica Eyeball is meant to keep your vocal recordings clean – but do they REALLY need to do a Nervous to plug it?

The extent which some people will go to in order to advertise their products never ceases to astonish me. Things have certainly changed since the first advert on British TV back in 1955 – for Gibbs SR toothpaste. But at least you knew what the product was.

Which is more than I did when Facebook’s algorithm decided to stick this advert in front of me this morning. When I saw this photo, I honestly had no idea what on earth was being promoted. Only with a quick Google search did I discover they were actually microphone isolators…

Even the captain of “Rec session” – it’s safe to write “recording”, by the way as Facebook doesn’t charge for ads per letter – doesn’t really tell you much. The lady in question is literally just standing there in a crop top and denim shorts. She’s not even singing into the microphone, for crying out loud.

Yet look at the number of shares and comments – over 100 of each. Whether Kaotica Eyeball are actually selling anything from this campaign is another question, but it’s certainly catching people’s attention. But I can’t help but think it’s rather depressing that in 2021, this is still how they advertise these kinds of products…

They’ve totally lost the plot! Dreadbox’s pathetic response to their claims their Nymphes polysynth “soothes the pain” of abused women away is… it’s only white men whinging about it!

Time for a quick follow-up to a story which I published yesterday morning – ahead of several of the dance music press, including Resident Advisor. As you might have noticed, I wasn’t terribly nice about the way the Dreadbox Nymphes was being marketed, saying its claim to soothe the pain of abused women with each note played was “moronic”.

As with many other posts on this blog, I approached Dreadbox with a request for comment. I happen to believe if someone is going to write about you, especially in unflattering terms, you have a right to respond. There has still been no response at the time of publishing this morning – but I did notice Resident Advisor got a reply…

Dimitra Manthou, cofounder at Dreadbox, told them only cis white men were annoyed – my inbox on this tells me otherwise – and also said “We did not want to use the abused women to boost sales. That’s why we did not say that a percentage of the proceeds will go to charity. We will make a donation, as we always do. And we do not want to advertise this.” – having literally just advertised it five seconds earlier.

They don’t get it, do they? This is a PR disaster they’ve stumbled into. It seems to be a bit of a theme this week – Mark Knight failed to acknowledge the elephant in the room after a sickening post in which he called Erick Morillo “my friend”.

Instead of accepting they’ve communicated appallingly badly and explaining how they support abused women, Manthou has simply whinged it’s only white men giving them a hard time about this. Dreadbox can’t see the wood from the trees on this one…

Is April Fools Day coming around quicker these days? Dreadbox release Nymphes polysynth on which they say “each time you play a note, imagine that you soothe the pain of abused women away”…

When this arrived in my inbox yesterday, I was surprised – not something which happens frequently when checking my emails. Infact, on reading the email, I strongly suspected it to be some kind of joke. Surely no one would actually be stupid enough to try and dedicate a polysynth to “all abused and oppressed women”, right?

Er, I’m afraid you’d be wrong. Dreadbox have decided to do precisely that – but it’s very much a case of blink and you’ll miss it! Looking at their website, you’ll either be reminded of that weird pink custard they used to serve in schools years ago, or you’ll be reaching for the paracetamol to get rid of a headache.

There’s a fair bit of technical info here about the polysynth, called the Nymphes after a goddess. And to be fair, the YouTube demo provided does sound pretty good – although it’s rare for the demo to sound crap. But once again, I keep coming back to this thing about abused women.

If you scroll all the way down to the end of the page, you’ll notice a graphic which states “each time you play a note on this synthesiser, imagine that you soothe their pain away”. Feel free to read that bit again. Your eyes really aren’t deceiving you.

Of all the things I’ve read over the years about synthesisers, the idea that women which have suffered abuse in their lives will feel better each time you play a chord on this thing is easily the most moronic and stupid by a country mile. And the notion anyone will be imagining anything of the kind when playing with this thing is beyond laughable.

And as for their claim of “support charities for abused women, we always do” – I cannot find one mention on their website or anywhere else about a previous donation to any charity helping female victims of abuse of any kind. Dreadbox have been contacted to elaborate on this statement, but have not responded at the time of publishing.

This synthesiser might well be absolutely brilliant. We don’t know because no one’s had a chance to review it yet. The trouble is you only get one chance at a first impression – and this polysynth’s first impression is one of utter contempt for women whom have suffered abuse in their lifetimes and the opinion they think their audience are totally stupid…

Digital drum kits are two a penny these days with new and old available freely online – but back in 2000, a surprising name in telecoms was offering its own drum machine…

The software vs hardware debate has raged for years in dance music, and will probably go on forever. For every person who swears that the only way to make music is to get a Roland Juno-106, a couple of other synths and a Roland TR-909 drum machine, you’ll have another who confidently believes digital offerings are infinitely superior to anything from the past.

A lot of us already know about the earliest drum machines, for example. The Linn LM-1 Drum Computer, as it was called, was the first drum machine to experience a level of commercial success. It was used in numerous 1980s records, not least by artists including the Human League and Michael Jackson. But when did the first digital drum machines come out?

These days, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice in this area. Drum machine kits, new and old, are all available at reasonable prices online – and often for nothing. And if you don’t like what’s on offer, you can grab a sampler, load a bunch of your own sounds in and you’ve basically got your own personalised drum machine.

But if you go back 20 years ago, your digital options were much, much more limited. Such as this machine available on British telecoms company BT’s website, of all places…

The photo you see here is an advert taken from the April 2000 issue of Muzik Magazine. The advertisement suggests you cut that page out of the magazine, as the ad effectively doubles up as an instruction manual.

Handy way of keeping it in people’s minds, isn’t it? The advertising agency earned their enormous fee that week…

Poor metadata’s STILL a problem, is it? I was warned about this very issue by one of my earliest supporters – and he died nearly four years ago…

Back when I was making music rather than writing about it, one of my earliest supporters was a DJ called Eddie Eaze Coleman. He was also a producer, a songwriter and a man who knew a vast amount on the business side of music – and I’m very much a fan of listening to people who know what they’re talking about.

One of his frequent complaints was about metadata. He was the songwriter on hundreds of records during his career, including one of my own. And anytime a record label failed to list him on the digital stores, it drove him into something of a rage. It made him absolutely crazy.

Frankly, I didn’t blame him. In my case, he was crucial to the song “Standing On The Precipice” coming together. He signed it after listening to a short instrumental demo I posted on Facebook. He wrote the song. He got Chanelle to sing on it. He even got it released on a label he was very closely associated with.

In other words, he was central to the release. Yet far too many times, I saw him being crucial in the building of a song – yet his name wouldn’t appear anywhere in the metadata or anywhere else.

To give you some context, he died back in 2018. It’s still a problem today. And Eddie’s suspicion at the time was it suited the industry not to fix this problem – that too many people benefited from it. I’m beginning to understand what he meant…

Selling your music won’t make you money, but you buy more stuff to make music – inside the weird world of music producers!

I read an extremely interesting article on the 5 Magazine site earlier this week. They’re one of very few dance music outlets that I have any time for. The article goes into detail about how 2020 was the best year in decades for selling hardware and other gear to musicians.

It reminded me of a post that I wrote a few weeks back, but decided not to publish. Yes, believe it or not, but that does occasionally happen. This one was pushed out of the schedule by other stories on a particularly busy Friday.

It was about the launch of the Akai MPC One Retro. Now, those people who were around in the early years of dance music will often tell you that the technology they had to work with for their formative records was, in no unceremoniuous terms, crap.

Many a producer from that era will have plenty of stories about spending hours trying to work out which MIDI cable went where, all the way to hunting around for an obscure floppy disk with that little sample you liked.

They made good tracks with what they had, but frankly, it was because they had no choice. Technology has advanced and opened the horizons – and yet, there’s no end of clamour for things that sound like the past. What better example of that than my post about Traxsource earlier today?

What else explains Akai’s decision to release the MPC One Retro? It looks like several of their old samplers from the 90s, but is essentially a new product.

I just don’t understand this at all. The people who first made house music in the 1980s wanted to make tunes that sounded like they were from the future. Now, everyone wants to make tunes that sound like they were made in the 80s and 90s.

File this one under “more money than sense”. With a price tag of £640, I daren’t think how much you’d need to sell on Traxsource to break even.

Thank god it’s a Bank Holiday weekend…

If cartoon breasts were the answer, what the hell was the question? Eyebrows raised at the latest plugin from WX Audio…

Things really should have advanced further in the plugin world than the likes of Perky Percussion Percolator by now. Released in 2005, this was a VST that showed a picture of cartoon breasts – and the further you dragged the hearts away from the nipples, the more delay you could add to your production.

I assure you that I am not making this up. And it gets worse. You’d imagine that in this more enlightened era, things would have changed now, right?

You’d be wrong. Meet the Nani Distortion Plugin by WX Audio. The purpose of the plugin is simple – to add distortion to instruments or entire songs. And from what I understood, it actually does this job extremely well.

Which makes the following gimmick all the more baffling. I don’t know whether lockdown is getting to the manufacturer’s heads, but the plugin includes an anime model on the right hand side of the window. As you might have guessed – in typical anime style, she has a rather generously proportioned chest.

As you turn up the drive knob on the drive and the distortion increases, the jumper of the anime model is torn off and her breasts start jiggling along to the music. Yes, it’s a little bit Eurotrash*, isn’t it?

And they wonder why barely five percent of all audio engineers are female…

* Old show that used to be on Channel 4 in the 1990s. It was crap.

NFTs? My phone’s auto translate changes that into “nuts” – and it turns out for good reason…

I’m going to do something unusual here. I’m going to send you all somewhere else to read something. Unusual, perhaps. But I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that it’s sometimes best to defer to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

When I first came across NFTs, the dance music press was writing about them in the most glowing terms – just like they do with almost everything. That’s when I knew straight away that something just wasn’t right. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

And now I’ve come across this, which explains clearly why they’re no good. Do go and read the whole thing