- Native Instruments' Massive synthesizer
Miles Raymer, Reader music writer, is obsessed with . . .
Native Instruments' Massive synthesizer and Korg's NanoKEY2 keyboard Massive is a polyphonic software synthesizer with enough oscillators and filters (and options for routing them into one another) that you have the potential for thousands of sounds before you even touch the virtual knobs or built-in step sequencer. It retails for $199, but if you already own certain Native Instruments gear you can download it free. I control this great-sounding synth with a $50 keyboard that weighs less than many paperbacks. If you could take this setup to the 70s and show it to Brian Eno, he'd shit his kimono.
Scott Walker, Bish Bosch The most challenging avant-garde pop album of the year is full of dizzyingly dissonant tones of unknown origin, painfully pregnant pauses, and the gravitational pull of Scott Walker's disconcertingly intense personality. But it's also packed with fart jokes, bitchy insults directed at unnamed targets, and unexpected references to heavy metal and dubstep—it's as entertaining as it is unsettling.
Action Bronson & Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers With the spring release of his shambolic mixtape Blue Chips and a summer spent solidifying its impressive buzz into the foundation for a move beyond Internet fame, Queens MC Action Bronson has had an eventful 2012. He could've finished it by releasing a handful of half-assed tracks and his fan base would've been fine, but instead he teamed up with Alchemist to record a full-length that improves upon nearly every great thing about Blue Chips. Bronson's lyrical obsessions with women, weed, and fine dining result in some of the most hilarious lines from a rap record this year, while Alchemist's fuzzbox-funk production provides some of its best guitar licks.