Recently I covered some Virtual Reality VST's and VR Digital Audio Workstations. While the potential is awesome, it may take some time before our favourite DAW's are fully immersive. So what is something pushing the boundaries of sound design, but also gets us producers out of our chairs and rocking out? I'm glad you asked. Ethno Tekh first came on the radar for me several years ago after seeing a video of Chris Vik demonstrating Kinectar. A plugin he made for Ableton that used the Xbox Kinect and turned your whole body into a midi controller.
Chris and I actually went way back, so I invited him around to give it a go myself. Now if you're like me, then modulating the LFO of the sawtooth bass you made from scratch using the retro encabulator synth is not easy! Especially when trying to provide inverse reactive current side-chained to your unilateral phase detractors. Achieving a nice 'wub wub' bassline is very challenging and ranks high on my list of first world problems. Being able to control the bass filter cutoff simply by raising my hand up and down was truly something else. Nothing felt more natural and I could appreciate all the work that would have gone into programming that same modulation. What was interesting though was the combination of moving my hand up and down corresponding with the sound of a heavy low-frequency bass sound, tricked my brain into thinking I was pushing down on something solid. As if under my hand, the air was much denser. Fast forward a few years and Chris has since teamed up with Brad Hammond and Stephen Burns to form the cutting edge audio-visual powerhouse that is Ethno Tekh.One of their more recent plugins that I'm yet to try but looks amazing is Tekh Tonic. It utilises the properties of real world physics, works with both DAW's and VJ applications and makes use of the Leap Motion controller which enables mid-air hand gestures popularised by the VR community.
In case my reference to Rockwell Automations Retro Encabulator joke went over your head, this video is often captioned with "what I sound like to friends when talking about music production"