ROLI founder Roland Lamb - pic Kitmonsters
ROLI BLOCKS launch
Launching the new system to an excited crowd in London, while being streamed across the world, ROLI founder Roland Lamb set out the aim to revolutionise music-making by enabling anyone to create.
He showed how easy BLOCKS are to use, and how they fit together without the need for any cables. The connection system uses magnets, and the blocks are certainly beautiful pieces of design.
The core element is the Lightpad Block which features a tactile, glowing surface that lets people make music through presses, glides, and other gestures. It’s designed to be used with the ROLI NOISE app, that connects to BLOCKS wirelessly over Bluetooth, becoming the system’s sound engine as well as a standalone app.
ROLI has also enlisted some big names to help people get started. There are sound packs from music stars Grimes and RZA, and Grimes has been using it on the road.
As well as calling it an “insane new music production invention”, she said, “ROLI BLOCKS will democratize music production. It’s so intuitive and versatile. I’m always on the go, and BLOCKS is the most powerful mobile production tool I’ve ever used.”
While composer and producer Emika’s take is, “mind blown”.
ROLI Lightpad BLOCK - pic Kitmonsters
Easy and intuitive to use
On launch night we got to play some of the first models, and were amazed at how easy and intuitive the blocks are to use - you can quickly put a tune together. The surface responds beautifully to your pressure, and the blocks are pleasingly compact and light. They even light up in a kind of glowing greeting when you connect two together.
Roland Lamb, founder and CEO of ROLI, and inventor of BLOCKS, said, “Many areas of life have been transformed by the digital. Music, though, remains a universal language that everyone understands, but only a few can speak. BLOCKS will change that, and enable people around the world to experience the joy of music-making for the first time.”
Connections for pro musicians
Although they are aimed at everyone, to enable people to make music easily, more advanced musicians can go deeper under the hood.
BLOCKS transmit multidimensional polyphonic expression (MPE) data like the ROLI Seaboard, so people can use them with Logic, Max/MSP and other apps, and ROLI promises more exciting features to come.
There is info on connecting BLOCKS to other apps here.
ROLI BLOCKS played by Parisi - pic Kitmonsters
Starter blocks and NOISE.fm
ROLI has started by launching three BLOCKS, and there are more to come. In addition to the Lightpad Block, you can get the Live Block and the Loop Block which have controls that make it easier to perform and produce in real time.
The company also announced the launch of NOISE.fm - a modular music network where you can find projects and creators from all over the world, discover, remix, collaborate with creators and create your own music. There is already music up there by the likes of Jordan Rudess.
A Lightpad Block retails at $179 (£169.95) and the Live Block and Loop Block at $79 (£69.95). They are on sale at Apple stores worldwide and Apple online, as well as from ROLI direct.
ROLI Lightpad BLOCK and iPad - pic ROLI