Gear Spotlight: JazzMutant Lemur

Lo and behold: French technology! Used by the likes of Justice, Daft Punk, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others, the Lemur is a multi-touch, modular controller. First brought onto the market by JazzMutant in 2005, the device paved the way for touch-based controllers as we know them today.  Unfortunately discontinued in 2010 following the rise of iPads and other consumer tablets, the Lemur is starting to become a rare piece of gear with features that most touch-based controllers still don’t have today.

Rather than two or three touch points, the Lemur supports up to 10 gestures at a time, allowing performers to make use of all of their fingers. The Lemur software allows users to fully customize their interface, bringing the freedom of modular to a modern digital unit. Communicating with its host computer (and other Lemurs) via Ethernet and an OSC protocol means lower latency, higher data storage, 32-bit precision: a data flow that’ll blow your MIDI interface out of the water.

One of the most unique features of the Lemur is the Multiball feature, a physics-based automation system. Unexplored by other multi-touch interfaces, the Multiball function uses virtual bouncy balls connected to parameters of your choosing. The behavior of these balls can be randomized or with some creative scripting, they can create circuits as shown here. The X/Y gestures work between interpolation and mass spring options, as can the faders. If you’re looking for a plug & play controller, all of these options might be a bit overwhelming. However, if you’re the type of performer who likes to geek out in Max/MSP or SuperCollider, setting up the JazzMutant Lemur will be a breeze.

One of the many strengths of the Lemur is its cross-platform compatibility. Software, modular synthesizers, lighting rigs and VSTs can all be controlled within this one piece of hardware, making it clear why it has spent years on the road with Thievery Corporation, M.I.A., and Justice, among others.

Check out the Lemur from the 8th floor monitor’s closet, and if you don’t have an Ethernet port, grab an Ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter from MTech’s IT department!

Or, if you’ve got an iPad, iPhone, or Android, download the Lemur app by Liine for $24.99.

Useful Links:

Four-part Lemur Tutorial

Basic Scripting Tutorial

The Lemur at MusikMesse 2010

Daft Punk & Kanye West 2008 Grammy Performance