Notes From The Underground [October 2014]

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This iPad ready controller could be a great addition to your home equipment set-up.

Simply by looking at the specs, you can easily see that this could be the best HKD$800 or so you could spend on some equipment. The CV/GATE and legacy 5pin MIDI connectivity plus the onboard sequencer and iPad connectivity makes this almost too good to be true. But is it without its shortcomings?

I guess it really depends on how you going to use it. First of all, I need to clarify that the knobs are in fact rotary encoders, although it provides accuracy for adjustments for pitch etc (in sequencer mode). It’s really not for filtering and effects.  In addition, since there’s no visual feedback from the unit apart from the lit-up pads,  you’ll need to think in advance on how your scale will go if you’re on an iPad. But as an effective unit that talks fast to vintage gear, the BEATSTEP is really a nice choice, and the 16 steps sequencer does come in handy for drafting out ideas. (note that they’ve recently come up with a firmware update that means it’s even more powerful).



Bass legend nerve opens up to BOOM about his new project, a multimedia opera based on 1984.

People have probably heard about Nerve mostly because of his deep involvement in the local bass scene, be it working out his low-end magic in parties or producing and remixing different local acts. But the more artistically minded might also know him from as Steve Hui, the composer. Hui’s long time collaboration with Zuni Icosahedron and various art and theatre groups have earned him the reputation of being a synth-tweaking avant-garde composer. After experimenting with different media in both The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci and Home, Spring, Autumn, Nerve finally decided to take on the role of directing his own version of the Orwell classic, 1984. (S: Sync Sing Sin / N: Nerve)

S: Why did you decide to pick this Orwell novel?

N: I read the book at a very young age back in the day. And I got totally amazed by its style and presentation. However it wasn’t until I re-read it a few years ago that it really triggered something in me, as it speaks to a lot of social issues that I’ve been becoming more aware of in recent years. So I decided to use it as the starting point for my opera.

S: You’ve done multimedia performance before with The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci and Home, Spring, Autumn, how did that experience help you with this project?

N: I was just the composer on those projects, and even then I spent a year on the compositional process.  This time it’s totally different. I needed to write the script and do all the organization, as well as seriously taking on the role of director. In the end, it took me two years to bring it to stage.  I started on the project right after Home, Spring, Autumn, in which I experimented with video editing and narration. I guess both experiences informed 1984. I’ve expanded the female character from the original and made her a lead on stage, interacting with the on-screen male character. Plus I’ve got Rebreath playing himself. He’s a local MC who doesn’t read Chinese and he sees everything from a slightly different point of view.

S: What should we expect from the music in 1984?

N: It might be from my DJing background that I’m very much interested in collage/mixing. Hence I’ve injected a lot of different elements, from MC Rebreath to classical piano to traditional Chinese instruments to experimental bass. Plus we use a bunch of different dialects within the play. Ultimately, I think we should be more adventurous, participate and involve ourselves in different kinds of dialogue, whether artistically or in our daily lives.