2022 was undoubtedly a year of major upheaval — in a good way. In the realm of dance music, many masterminds out there came up with gizmos and gadgets that added to the already-eclectic reputation of our industry.
From student-made synthesizers prompted by a thesis project, biology lab-grown records to big brands releasing futuristic contraptions for breathing, we’ve listed our top choices of music-related innovations that left us both baffled and beguiled.
Dive into our recap of avant-garde creations this year that also include efforts from our industry to go even greener than before.
1 Cut your very own 5” vinyl records with the new PO-80 Record Factory
Ever wanted to produce your own 5” vinyl disc at home? Now thanks to Teenage Engineering and Yuri Suzuki’s fun-sized tool ‘PO-80 Record Factory’, you can. The USB-powered device, though kiddish-looking, allows you to capture three to four minutes of audio, depending on your RMP of choice.
More on the vinyl cutting gizmo here.
2 Biologist creates first “living record” made with microorganisms
Mikael Hwang aka Psients is a scientist-turned-electronic music artist we should all be looking out for in the near future. He’s conjured up an EP titled ‘Signal’, but what makes it stand out from the other releases this year is that the music is created by microorganisms — basically by bacteria. Using a hidden material in a custom hybridised petri dish, Hwang recorded vibrations of yeast cells and turned them into playable audio.
Read more about the biologically-composed release here.
3 Prototype from Yamaha's Design Lab turns your smartphone into a record player
Still haven’t saved up for that turntable you’ve always wanted? The ‘TurnT’ from Yamaha’s Design Lab invites you to turn your phone into a record player of some sorts by using a tone arm and “stylus”. Spin your records on your smartphone screen and relive the nostalgic feeling of controlling analogue audio with your digital device.
It’s like a record player, but it’s also not — see for yourself here.
4 Student builds abacus-inspired synth for thesis, the Abacusynth
A thesis project that gets As across the board in our book. The ‘Abacusynth’ is the creation of Elias Jarzombek, aimed at for those who are just being creative just for the fun of it, prioritising that feel-good feeling of music-making rather than the outcome. So how does it work? Just move the beads as you would a conventional abacus, which will create timbral shits in the synths sound thanks to the light sensors responding to movement. The ‘Abacusynth’ also comes with a free plug-in version for Ableton Live.
Certainly creative with a “Big C”. Read more about it here.
5 Music could be archived for “10,000” years on new hard drive made from glass
Great news for all digital music hoarders; Global Music Vault and Microsoft have come up with a possible solution to all our storage problems. ‘Project Silica’ is a 3x3 inch square silica glass platter that functions like a CD that can house up to 1000GB of data. The material is resistant to electromagnetic pulses — bake it, boil, it, tamper it… the data within remains undamaged. Bottom line: external data storage for an eternity.
Check out the powerful glass hard drive here.
6 Dyson announces plans for “air purifier” headphones
Believe us when we say we thought this was an early April fool’s joke. Turns out Dyson were dead serious when it came to facing the global problem of air pollution. "30 years of air filtration expertise pioneered into a wearable, high-end audio device. With a contact-free visor to supply a continuous stream of purified air to your nose and mouth. So, you can breathe cleaner air, anywhere." We get it; face masks were still a thing in early 2022 (and still are for some parts of the world), so it does make sense to create one that doubles-up as noise-cancelling headphones… Right?
Read more on the pollution-fighting mask-slash-headphones here.
7 Korean artists create device that generates music from plastic waste
Husband and wife duo Ujoo and Limheeyoung ask us to question “What sort of traces should humans be leaving behind?” Their device ‘Song From Plastic’ gives humanity another chance in leaving a more meaningful record of our existence rather than the tonnes of plastic already piling up in landfills and oceans. Making its debut at Seoul’s Amorepacific Museum, the device makes music from old clocks, cordless phones, egg cartons and more that have grooves inscribed on their surfaces, repurposing what was otherwise garbage into tune-producing objects.
Check out the contraption here.
8 Clarian says Web3 platform Tamago will “revolutionise streaming”
In efforts towards creating a “fairer” royalties model, Canadian DJ-slash-producer Clarian has come up with ‘Tamago’. Announced at this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event, he underlines how the free-for-all streaming service allows all interactions to be done in a decentralised manner thanks to the ways of Web3. You don't even need to create a traditional account to sell music and make a profile. How exactly did the idea of ‘Tamago’ come to be? Clarian has friends he met at a rave to thank for that.
To get a deeper understanding on ‘Tamago’, read our article here.
9 Bye Bye Plastic announces first-ever biodegradable vinyl made from bacteria
Unfortunately, the resurgence of vinyl comes with unwanted harm to the planet — a single record produces up to 2,2kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Enter Bye Bye Plastic, spearheaded by Canadian producer BLOND:ISH, who have partnered up with Evolution music to come up with alternative material towards PVC, which is dubbed by Greenpeace as “the most environmentally damaging plastic.” Named PHA, the alternative uses microorganisms made through bacterial fermentation and has already been used to release the ‘#PlasticFreeParty’ compilation. We told you the industry’s getting greener by the minute.
More on the revolutionary record material here.
The world’s first biodegradable water bottle is hitting shelves soon
While you may not automatically think of music when it comes to water bottles, you can’t deny their existence as essential at events. Cove is a company backed by big names in the music industry (Diplo, Kygo, Ellie Goulding) that has created bottles made from repurposed cooking oil, making it 100% biodegradable in a maximum of 5 years… and that’s in a least conducive environment. Live Nation has also fronted similar efforts with their high-tech, reusable cup system.
Read about Cove’s cooking oil-based bottles here.