Tim Exile FLOWs with labels  ·  Source: screen shot

Tim Exile FLOWs  ·  Source: screen shot

Tim Exile’s creativity in Reaktor seems to know no bounds. I recently talked about the SLOW, Tim’s extraordinary spacey reverb, but this time he’s turned his attention to evolutionary loop sequencing with FLOWs.

FLOWs

Tim has this setup he calls the Flow Machine. He’s built it as an extended DJ and performance rig which incorporates all sorts of hardware controllers and software. It enables him to improvise and perform with sound. FLOWs takes Tim’s last five years of improvised loops and slaps them into an evolving, interactive and improvisational instrument.

Here’s how he describes it:

Explore, mutate and create sonic structures with audio-reactive sculpting and stochastic modulation.

The FLOWs interface explores those 5 years deliberately. Set the year and month and then you can dial in different loops by days. Presumably, these are all truthfully chronological, but who cares? You dial in 4 loops and use the visual glowy thing in the middle to mix and morph between them. Each loop has controls over mix, dynamics and filter. There’s a reverb built in that sounds a lot like SLOW.

You can mess with everything as much as you like, or you can hit the play button and watch it unfold.

What you can’t do is introduce your own content. What it becomes is actually an incredibly interesting way to release new material. It’s a sonic installation of Tim’s work that’s interactive and lets you create your own mix. So, as I’ve been writing this article I’ve essentially been listening to Tim’s music evolve through the clever use of algorithms. And it sounds flipping awesome – it’s just bubbling away in the background. It’s a genius way to get your music talked about on technology news sites. I would love this to become an engine into which you could place your own samples but as of now it’s more art than it is instrument.

It’s completely free because Tim loves everybody on the planet. But he’d also appreciate donations if you feel moved by his work. You will need Reaktor 6 or Reaktor Player to make it all work. More information on the website.

 

  • Tim Exile

    Robin, thanks for writing such a nice and switched-on article. Some great questions in there – and here are some answers!

    The original intention was to have the jam selector be truthfully chronological. In the end I was so pushed to get this finished that it ended up being slightly more metaphorically than truthfully chronological ;).

    YES you’re right that is SLOW in there. Good spot!

    On the introducing your own content thing – let’s just say wouldn’t that be cool ;)… It’s not possible right now for two reasons – the UI programming to make something like that work to a standard I’m happy with involves some serious heavy lifting – and also I wanted this to be something which would provide a satisfying experience for people who don’t have a full licence of Reaktor. If you spent 15 mins dropping in a bunch of your own samples to reach the demo time out 15 mins later and lose all your work you’d be mightily unsatisfied!

    And yes very very good point about Art rather than Instrument. I’m big on questioning the boundaries between creation and listening. The loops are royalty free and you can do a decent amount to twist them so I’d hope there’s some possibility for people using them in their own original compositions – but it’s also fun to just let FLOWs do its thing.

    A few years ago there was a lot of hype about interactive music – I was firmly on that bandwagon. With the benefit of hindsight I think it misses some kind of point – something to do with the sense of authorship and agency that people want to have if they get their hands on. I feel like everything I’m doing now – composing (which gets so little of my time these days), performing, technology R&D, article writing & entrepreneurial adventures – is centred around the question of what actually motivates us to listen or create music or do something in between. Why do we do it? what do we get out of it? Why do all these different scenes of creators, developers, listeners and commentators divide up the way they do?

    Thanks again!

    TIm

    • Robin Vincent

      Hey Tim, thanks for taking the time to comment! I think we’ll forgive you the chronology – I was wondering whether you were on a create-four-loops-a-day-for-five-years challenge or something. Good point on the Reaktor Player thing. I don’t have any loops of my own anyway to drop into the engine – although this sort of thing might encourage me to do something about that. Ultimately I like anything that pushes me into creativity, and that’s a bit of a theme with your stuff i think. I also think you’ve redefined the idea that free things are crap things – this is great stuff mate.