I love working on various sound and music projects, but can’t find the time to lose myself in music production as often as I’d like. Then I started using the new Ninja Jamm app, developed by Ninja Tune & Seeper, and solved all that. Since downloading the free app, I’ve done remixes on the subway, waiting to get my hair cut, sitting in a café, a taxi, waiting for carrots to cook or laundry to finish the dryer cycle.
It has the thrill of an intense but simple arcade game (Pac-Mantronik?) and the temporal/tactile magic of MPC beat-making. Even as I compare it’s interface to a video game, do not mistake NJ for a toy. It’s running full 16bit 44khz sound, versatile and powerful. Each Tune Pack, (all songs by Ninja artists at the moment, with more possibilities expected soon) gives you many sounds to manipulate (41 sounds per tune pack) at a wide array of tempos (from sludge/drone slowness, to fast-forward chipmunk music) with an of different effects, and many different ways to completely remake the songs using the provided ingredients. And this is a live mixing process, there’s no editing or sequencing capability. Rather the focus is on live performance–the result of decisions made in the moment. This makes it a bit closer to djing than the more painstaking process of studio production work.
I’ve uploaded over 40 songs in the last month, and each one took less than 5 minutes to make (4:57 is the recording limit of the app, though you may jamm without recording as long as you like). You can then upload your live recording to a Soundcloud account. These files are uncompressed WAV files, and can get up to 50MB in size, so keep that in mind when uploading. Tune Packs also tend to be between 30 and 50MB. You’ll likely want access to either a fast data network or wi-fi when uploading your mixes or downloading the packs.
Here’s my latest, a slowed-down version of the Coldcut classic Beats & Pieces:
In addition to the free Tune Pack included from Coldcut, there are packs available for purchase ($0.99 each, with two EPS discounted) from Dj Food, Mr Scruff, Two Fingers, Bonobo, Emika, and many more, including a pack from Luke Vibert that is an exclusive song available in no other form.
I’ve used other iOS music apps in the past, including Propellerhead’s Rebirth and Figure, but nothing else has been so easy to actully make complete compositions with. Even if you have little or no background in music production, the app comes with an excellent interactive tutorial, and trial and error teaches an inquisitive user all kinds of cool techniques. For more info: updates are posted on the Ninja Jamm website, and the the Ninja Jamm Facebook page. Also I’ve compiled a bunch of links, videos, and reviews over at Stumbleupon. And yes the app is currently iOS only, but and Android version is in the works as are other exciting features. Hard to believe this is only version 1.