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Sanctuary is what its name promises, only with more synths and beauty

“Why are you treading on the grass, you dummy?”  I had that thought at least a dozen times while playing Sanctuary, Connor Sherlock’s synth-y, first-person walking simulator. There are dirt paths to walk on but much of the ground is covered by grass. Sometimes the shortest path to wherever you’re going, which is nowhere in particular, is to tread on the grass. The grass is sprouting out everything, even what appears to be snow, although it shimmers like something closer to crystal meth. As these crystalline formations crunch underfoot as if it were the crackling background noise of a vinyl…

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Some madcap designer made a roguelike that’s controlled by a synthesizer

The novelty of Crypt of the NecroDancer is that it spins the cruelty of the roguelike into a beat-matching formula. You have to hop across the grid-based dungeons and attack the beasts that get in your way to a rhythm. Looking at it now, Crypt of the NecroDancer is probably the friendliest way to introduce a musical foundation to the roguelike—it’s more action-oriented, less drawn out tactical decision-making. The Broom Institute’s Synthesizer, on the other hand, is an example of how you might make a systemically dense sub-genre (the roguelike) even more complicated with the addition of a music-based theme.  the…

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Electronic composer Keith Fullerton Whitman on the joys of piles of hardware

Keith Fullerton Whitman has spent decades exploring electronic utterances. He first began playing with them on his Commodore Vic20 when he was ten, but eventually moved on to study music at Berklee. By the early aughts, when software tools for creating electronic music were getting cheaper and easier to use, Whitman was nevertheless digging deeper into the intricacies of making music with modular synthesizers. Unlike softsynth programs that can run on any computer, a modular synthesizer is a free-standing piece of hardware whose only inputs and outputs are electric voltage; the equivalent of making music using C-3PO’s entrails. As he explained…

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Listen to John Carpenter’s Lost Themes now

The importance of John Carpenter’s first decade or so of filmmaking is hard to overstate, particularly to fans of genre films. With laser-like precision in editing and pacing, he created definitive action (Assault on Precinct 13), dystopian (Escape from New York), slasher (Halloween), horror (The Thing), satire (They Live) and adventure (Big Trouble in Little China) films, racing as confidently and breathlessly between genres as his various protagonists did from corridor to corridor. Also: the dude got Kurt Russell. Like, really, really got him. Kurt Russell was the best action star.  Anyway, if Kurt Russell was the main course of those movies,…