Norman Fairbanks has released his latest album "7 Days Microsleep". Eight tracks are available for free download from his web site. Its pure electronica - calming, mellow, yet full of motion and melody. For some reason I'm reminded of gamelan.
What's unusual about these compositions is that they are produced entirely on Yamaha's new gesture-based synth, the Tenori-On. Designed by Toshio Iwai, the Tenori-On is a hand-held device boasting a 256 pixel (16x16) LED display. By touching the display in different ways, the performer can build sequences of sounds that can be layered into complex soundscapes. The novelty of the interface is that it allows relatively complex sequences to be controlled through intuitive gestures. Unlike a traditional multitrack sequencer, the Tenori-On is a live performance instrument. This stuff is all real-time.
This video shows some of the different gestures that can be used to generate tone sequences : Score Mode, Push Mode, Changing Loop Points, Bounce Mode, and Solo Mode. Yamaha have some neat videos explaining these and other interactions here. Some technical details are available in this NIME06 paper.
I was quite intrigued by this gadget when it was released earlier this year, but I admit to being underwhelmed by some of the demo music I heard. Having listened to Norman's album a couple of times now its definitely growing on me. The standout tracks for me are "The Glam Machines Arrive" and "The Freedom Loop", but all the tracks have something to offer, sharing a unique tranquil hypnotic style. If you like this sort of thing, or are simply intrigued by the possibilities of this instrument, give "7 Days Microsleep" a try. A brief interview with Norman Fairbanks is available at Create Digital Music.