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  • The Best Places to Find New Music: Part 2
    Soundcloud

    Posted by Colin Docherty

    Last week we introduced /r/listentothis.

    In the second instalment of our showcase of the best places to find new music we’re taking a look at SoundCloud: a Pandora’s box of delights with some oddities thrown in for good measure. Whatever floats your boat will be in here somewhere.

    What will I find?

    135+ million tracks including music, podcasts and audio from across the globe. SoundCloud is a place to upload your own music creations, listen to virtually limitless tracks, (no way will you ever be able to hear it all) curate the bits you love the most into your own profile to access as and when you want and share it all with your followers.

    How does it work?

    With a basic free account you can save tracks to your profile, curate other members’ tracks into playlists, create albums, share tracks or even upload your own musical offerings. Upgrading to a paid account enables listening to content offline, downloading tracks, accessing more content and enjoying an ad-free experience.

    Other things you can get up to on sound cloud;

    - continuous playback from your playlist or the page you are listening from.

    - Keep up with what is happening on the sound scene you follow, the people and tracks that matter to you.

    - Build a profile with the tracks that you have clicked on to register a ‘like’.

    - Search for tracks by genre, name and ‘most popular’.

    - Follow charts based on plays per week, sorted by genre or ‘all tracks’, a top 50 option or a ‘new and hot’ search criteria. Always be on top of what’s out there.

    - Enjoy recommended tracks from a list generated from your searches and history- the more you dig in and explore, the more recommendations you get- it is so easy to just keep discovering new stuff.

    At the time of writing the SoundCloud charts looked like this:

    image of top songs on Soundcloud

    Which is the best song recommended here?

    Migos, with Bad and Boujee (feat Lil Uzi Vert) was the top track of all genres at time of writing with 4.53 million listens just in the last week. A great hip-hop and rap track taken from their new ‘Culture’ album. Due to the nature of the language in this track, it’s probably best not to feature it here though!

    One that is worth a feature is top of the ‘ambient’ chart this week - The Chainsmokers, Don’t let me down ft Daya. (Hipst3r Edit). Just perfect for the wind-down after a heavy day.

    Chainsmokers Don't Le Me Down

    What’s the best song we’ve found here?

    The Letter, a beautiful indie tune from Jacob Whitesides is well worth a listen.

    Jacob Whitesides soundcloud

    What else makes this community great?

    Basically the scope and availability of music; from trance to classical, from disco to techno, it’s all covered here with the added bonus of an interacting musically enthusiastic community.

    Get involved lad!

  • The Best Places to Find New Music: Part 1
    Reddit.com/r/ListenToThis

    Posted by Colin Docherty

    This is a new series showcasing the best places to find new music, and we’re pumped about it.

    Our first recommendation? The Listen To This community on Reddit.

    Logo of Reddit Listen to This

    These folks pride themselves on finding good music and they deliver with majestic regularity.

    What will I find?

    Songs that have been forgotten to history, live performances that people don’t know about, and anything else that’s slipped through the cracks.

    This is a real treasure trove, too. The longer you spend exploring, the more gems you’ll dig up.

    How does it work?

    Anyone with a Reddit account can submit a song, subject to a few rules. Submitted tracks cannot:

    - have over 500,000 plays across all media (YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc.)

    - be from an artist with 4 million plays ("scrobbles") on Last.FM

    - be from an artist with 250,000 listeners on Last.FM

    - be from an artist with Three or more tracks with over 500,000 plays across all media.

    - be from an artist with celebrity status

    - be a remix or cover of an artist or track over one of the above criteria

    This keeps it unknown and obscure, just the way real music fans like it.

    Once songs are submitted, users vote them up and down depending how good they are. This means the good stuff drifts to the top – below are the top 6 songs at time of writing this post:

    Top 6 songs

    If that day’s songs aren’t good enough for you, you can sort by most popular songs of the week, month, year, or all time.

    Which is the best song recommended here?

    The highest voted song by the community is Moving by I Eat Plants for A Living. A short burst of lofi hip-hop:

    What’s the best song we’ve found here?

    We often come back to Winter Wren by Passafire. A lovely slice of chilled out reggae rock:

    What else makes this community great?

    One of our favourite parts of /r/listentothis is their Best Of lists, where diligent users collate the best songs from each year and lovingly craft them into playlists for your enjoyment. 2013’s list is particularly good – that’s where we found this monstrously good live set from Haitus Kaiyote. Take special note of the piano solo starting at 9:44:

    And finally, the sidebar links are worth a look. They link through to other communities that offer more niche music selections. You can browse specific genres, or listen to playlists curated by other communities:

    Sidebar

    So grab a brew and get exploring: we guarantee you'll find something good.

  • Epic Music for Epic Products

    Posted by Colin Docherty

    You’ve opened the carefully crafted packaging of your Damson product and it’s sitting in your hands, waiting to be used.

    The anticipation is real.

    But which piece of music is suitably epic to be chosen as your first listen?

    This is a question we’ve thought long and hard about, and our best answer is…

    'Dies Irae', or 'Day of Wrath'. A piece of Gregorian Chant composed at some point between 1100 and 1290 AD.

    Why on earth would I want to listen to that, you ask?

    Just bear with us, because as you’ll see this bad boy is used in the most epic tunes of all time from the end of humanity to the destruction of the Death Star, some monks a thousand years ago knew the score.

    Why is this piece of music so epic?

    It is so old that no one knows exactly who composed it.

    It's nearly a thousand years old, maybe older, and it's still going strong.

    It has never faded away. Since its composition its melody has been used in hundreds of pieces of music, from classical pieces to opera to film scenes to video game scores.

    (More on the last two later.)

    It describes the day of judgement, when God returns to earth to judge all souls.



    Day of judgementThis is a picture of that event in progress.
    See the epicness?
    See the trumpet-playing angels flying around, summoning all living souls for judgement with their melodies?
    See the worthy souls ascending to heaven while the unworthy are cast into the pits of eternal damnation by Satan’s minions?
    See God surveying the carnage from his throne in the clouds, surrounded by the blessed and the saved?
    Imagine what that must sound like.

     

    Its melody pops up time and time again, everywhere. It is prevalent in classical music through the ages, and made its way into the modern era via tons of film and video game scores; including it in your score is something of a rite of passage for film and game composers.

    This is the part of the melody in question:

    Dies Irae melody

    When it is used it often signifies death, hardship, tribulation and other equally epic things.

    See a few of the places it’s been used for an indication into just how epic it really is:

    • In Holst's symphony for Saturn, the bringer of old age. There’s no arguing when a God-planet brings you old age: you may as well just climb into your coffin there and then.
    • In the Faust opera: the operatic rendition of the famous story of someone selling their soul to the devil (i.e. the myth that underpins all of blues and rock music)
    • In various other classical pieces with epic themes such as "divine punishment", "dances of death", and "obsession"
    • In Mozart’s Requiem Mass. Mozart knew all about epic: his life would have been comparable to members of the 27 club if he’d been alive more recently
    • In Sweeney Todd: the story of a maniacal barber who combines a flair for gentlemanly grooming with a penchant for murder
    • In the opening theme of The Shining: one of the most famous and harrowing horror films ever
    • In Final Fantasy IX: a title considered by many to be the best game from the best game series ever
    • In Lord of the Rings, many times: epic films telling the epic story of the battle of good over pure evil in Middle Earth
    • In The Matrix: the story of humanity’s oppression, struggle, and later victory of machinery that wants to enslave us in a virtual reality.
    • In STAR WARS: the most epic film series ever, which needs no introduction.

    Note: in all of these films, it's at an epic and emotionally wrenching scene.

    So in short, the Dies Irae riff has no time for anything that isn't epic.

    The words would not be out of place in the rowdiest death metal.

    Here are some of the verses of Dies Irae: read them and quake in your boots.

    These were originally sung in Latin, too – a language inextricably linked to epic things:

    "Day of wrath and doom impending.
    David's word with Sibyl's blending,
    Heaven and earth in ashes ending.
     
    Death is struck, and nature quaking,
    All creation is awaking,
    To its Judge an answer making.
     
    Righteous Judge, for sin's pollution
    Grant Thy gift of absolution,
    Ere the day of retribution."

    We wouldn’t be surprised if we read these in the lyrics booklet for the heaviest metal the metal scene has to offer.

    METAL!

    All of the people Dies Irae is attributed to led epic lives.

    As we mentioned, the piece is so old that scholars aren’t exactly sure who composed it.

    The strongest candidates for composing are Thomas of Celano and Latino Malabranca Orsini. Thomas was personal friends with and partial biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi - "one of the most venerated religious figures in history" – and Latino was the nephew of a Pope and was briefly kidnapped while the next pope was being decided.

    The less likely possibilities for composing the piece were Pope Gregory I, St Bernard of Clairvaux, and St Bonaventure. As well as the intrinsic epicness of being a pope, Gregory implemented a policy of Papal supremacy which gave him "full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered". Not someone to mess with, then.

    St Bernard of Clairvaux is still revered today and his symbol is a Devil on a chain, presumably to symbolise his power. St Bonaventure meanwhile holds the humble accolade of being regarded as “one of the greatest philosophers of the middle ages”.

    Dies Irae has been used in hundreds of other compositions throughout history.

    The answer to our original question, then –

    what is the most epic possible thing to listen to on your new Damson product?

    Dies Irae.

     

  • Innovation, not imitation.

    Posted by Colin Docherty

    Damson aren’t in the market to be another creator of generic technology.

    Our products are designed to push - and transcend - boundaries in style and design. Innovation is the very heart of what we do.

    In the run-up to the launch of our groundbreaking new S-Series, our founder James Talbot shares his thoughts on design and the Damson Audio development process.

    “Inspiration from unexpected places”

    Looking beyond the usual influences leads to powerful and compelling design.

    “I spend a lot of time in airports, and the details and considerations in their design provides a surprising amount of inspiration.

    Hong Kong airport, for example, creates a feeling of clean design and space without being overwhelming. And for me, a design’s ability to not feel dated after twenty years is the ultimate test.

    Hong Kong airport

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia

    A product’s DNA is vital, too. Look at the way car designs evolve: quite often there are only subtle upgrades to a design between iterations, but over a longer period you really notice the difference - the BMW 3 Series is a perfect example.

    These considerations all factor into the design of Damson products: timelessness, subtlety balanced with striking design, boldness without overwhelm”.

    BMW 3 series

    Images courtesy of Wikimedia and Wikimedia

    “Form or function? Both.”

    Compromising on either is restrictive.

    “This question risks confining design to boxes. Think of Baroque and Brutalist design: one focuses on form, the other on function; why not both?

    Baroque architectureBrutalist

    Images courtesy of Wikimedia and Wikimedia

    I believe both are important. Going back to Hong Kong airport: the elegant design is able to withstand the most powerful typhoons - a perfect example of how form and function are inextricable.

    Pursuing elegant form and high quality functionality ensures Damson products stand above others. I believe that you can build anything you want and it could be the greatest device ever, but if it’s fugly then consumers won’t buy it.

    Amstrad

    “The novel: the norm”

    Seeking different paths lets us carve out our own.

    “Bone conduction technology is seen by some as a novelty. Virtual reality has, over the past 20 years, moved from novelty to commonplace. Damson are carving out their own place in this process by choosing the right technology for the job, not the one that’s in fashion.

    Any new technology can be approached with suspicion or with excitement. In the early 90s at the Trocadero Centre in London I wasted too much time and money playing the VR game they had there - my attraction to this novel technology demonstrates how compelling it is, and explains why I pursued it.

    Trocadero

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia

    “Question assumptions; redefine what’s acceptable”

    Refusing to place other people’s restrictions on your design forces individuality.

    “Design breeds complacency. During the development of the S Series we were told that ‘sound bars are that size for a reason’ and that we would have to design our product within these arbitrary boundaries, which was not acceptable.

    Overcoming these hurdles - and redefining what is acceptable - is an integral part of our design process. There are many iterations in the process, starting with a rough sketch and gradually becoming more sophisticated, but each is an equally important on the path to a finished product”

    You can be involved with the next step in Damson’s innovative and inspired history: just click here for more information.

     S Series

  • The S-Series: From Dream to Reality

    Posted by Colin Docherty

    It's time for the arrival of another great product. It's time for the launch of our S-Series crowdfunding campaign.

    The S-Series consists of the S-Bar and S-Woofer Home Cinema Hub and the S-Cube, a portable speaker that can network into the Home Cinema system to create a surround sound system. The S-Cube can also work independently anywhere you need it, providing rich, powerful sound. All connected with out the fussiness of a phone app or an exterior amp.

    There's a huge sense of achievement when a great product moves from a dream to reality. For as long as we have existed we have shared our dreams with you. A successful crowdfunding campaign not only demonstrates that people believe in what you're doing, but also that they're happy to invest their money and confidence in your success. 

    In July 2014. 1170 people believed in our Headbones to the tune of $126,294.

    In November 2015, 808 people believed in our AuraVisor to the tune of $223,245.

    Both of these products now exist in the real word and both have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with current technologies. 1978 people who decided to believe in us are directly responsible for this.

    In September 2016 we will push boundaries with the S-Series too.

    Its design challenges the assumptions of what a sound system should be, and delivers a groundbreaking experience.

    S-Series below a TV

    The S-Series will:

    • Break the perceived link between sound quality and size by demonstrating that a small system can deliver high quality sound.
    • Shift the paradigm on sound system processing: housing the processor in the sub means contributes to the previous point of reducing size while retaining sound quality.
    • Set new benchmarks for sound system design: gone are the ugly rectangular black boxes that usually house sub-woofers.
    • Liberate the user by offering them multiple ways to use the product. Whether by programming it itno the TV remote, connecting via Bluetooth, or switching one portable speaker to Single Mode and removing it from the system for external use, there is more flexibility than you would expect from a sound system.

    How the S-Series came to be.

    The underlying fundamentals for the S-Series are sound, size and simplicity: we wanted to improve sound, reduce size and increase simplicity.

    The S-Series' dedicated team of industrial and mechanical engineers made the decisions that realised these fundamentals. They chose components and customised our drivers to enable them to deliver sound quality usually associated with bigger systems, and designed a product that leads the way in design rather than imitating others.

    We're proud of what we've created.

    We're confident you'll love how it fits into your life.

    And we'd love to invite you to get involved.

     

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