The Top Music & Tech Innovations of 2011 According To: Pictureplane, Grimes, Bear In Heaven & More

Posted December 29

As during a particular brutal zombie apocalypse, office buildings around the country (and presumably world) are barren — the only survivors hunched in their cubicles, tapping out futile missives into the abyss. Such desertion can only mean one thing: New Year’s is just around the corner. Which can, to further this theme, only mean one more thing: Time for another “Best of 2011″ list.

So far, we’ve gifted you with three jam-packed “Top Music & Tech Innovations of 2011″ lists, composed by the likes of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Antlers, The Drums and more. Now, we’re back with a fourth installment, featuring six — count ‘em — six bands weighing in to create our most eclectic mix yet. Claire Boucher of Grimes, for one, may have missed the point by a little, but we’re including her pick, anyway, because it’s pretty freaking cool.

1). DOLDRUMS ENVY BJORK

Airick Woodhead: The REACTABLE that I saw Bjork use live is years ahead of any musical devices out there — it’s closest thing we have to a trans-human interface to translate directly from the user’s subconscious into musical form. And it looks like an iPad big enough to play pool on. Good luck getting your hands on one — only around 20 were ever made for commercial sale. And did I mention that all they all talk to and learn from each other? Terminator 6.

Image courtesy of Kate Ray Struthers

2). GRIMES IS INTO… SERIOUS THINGS

Claire Boucher: TMMC’s (Therapeutic Magnetic Microcarriers). TMMC’s are ‘drug-delivery agents’ developed in Montreal — and they’re really great because they basically carry a drug (for example, an anti-cancer drug such as doxorubicin) to the desired location to avoid negative effect of said drug on healthy cells. Because of this — drugs can specifically target harmful cells such as tumors. Cancer in particular is a condition wherein the treatment can often be as deadly as the disease, so I think this is a big step for cancer research, and a really notable development in 2011.

Image courtesy of Tommy Chase Lucas

3). PICTUREPLANE LIKES VOYEURISM

Travis Egedy: Technology is constantly evolving, faster literally every minute. So there are more and more developing technologies that will help push music forward all the time, especially within electronic music. But among those technologies, one stood out for me, and that is artists using Ustream to broadcast themselves live to the world on the Internet. It was really cool to see DJs spinning music in their homes for fun, and streaming it live so other people could watch, chat and listen together, all from their homes. This year we Ustreamed our futuristic cyber party, ‘snack the planet,’ I did a performance art piece live on the Internet through Ustream, and I was one of tens of thousands of people who watched riot police brutalizing Occupy protests late in the night because of Ustream. It was a simple yet effective way to become your own media.

Image courtesy of Facebook, Pictureplane

4). THE YELLOW DOGS DON’T LIKE BEING CENSORED

Looloosh: The best innovation in 2011 for The Yellow Dogs was [access] to high-speed and uncensored Internet. In Tehran, getting to the majority of websites and downloading music was a full day’s work for us.

Image courtesy of Sylvester Zawadzki

5). OBERHOFER SEES KEYS AS KEY

Brad Oberhofer: Stuart & Sons released the 102-key piano this year. Though there have been some pianos that can play as low as the Stuart & Sons piano, none can play as high. Can you imagine a world with 102 keys instead of 88? That is 14 more. You can play more stuff now. More keys = More possibilities. An 88-key piano has 2^88 possible combinations of keys and a 102-key piano has 2^102 combinations of keys, that is not to mention variations in dynamics.

Image courtesy of Tommy Chase Lucas

6). BEAR IN HEAVEN SYNTHED OUT

Jon Philpot: Critter and Guitari has become our ‘go to’ synth. It might be on every track of our new record. The first version was a metal box, one octave of wooden keys, four knobs that do different things based on the patch, a volume knob, AC/DC power and a quarter inch output. In 2011 they added a midi port. You can always find a new sound and it’s not impossible to recreate old sound… There’s only so many knobs to turn! The Bear in Heaven recipe for success — plug one of these lil dudes in a delay and a harmonizer pedal, then spend a few hours finding your inner astronaut.

Image courtesy of Shawn Brackbill

Header image courtesy of Flickr, superUbO

By Brenna Ehrlich