Collaborative music-making app Endlesss is now available for iOS. The app’s been in beta for quite a long time, so newcomers will find that there’s already a community using Endlesss and sharing and discussing projects on the software’s dedicated Discord server.
Even though Endlesss is a music-making app, it’s not really meant for making complete songs. It’s a collaborative “virtual musical hangout with a live chat room” that lets multiple users build and change loops of music in real time. Just select a project and start tapping out drum patterns and melodies to change up someone’s loop. You can make stuff just for yourself, but the social aspect is encouraged.
Open loops where anyone can remix layers on the fly sounds like a recipe for sonic disaster, but Endlesss is constructed so that doesn’t happen. Each project’s key, scale, and tempo settings are applied to the virtual instruments used, there’s an optional metronome, and you can quantize your taps. Basically, there’s a lot of locked in guidance to ensure that things won’t sound awful.
It’s simple enough for beginners to use, but there are tons of options that make it appealing for more advanced musicians. The app’s virtual instruments have robust controls to adjust aspects of sounds like reverb, loudness, pitch, delay, and other parameters. It also works with Ableton Link, so you can connect external instruments and sync them up to the app.
If a loop gets to a point where you like how things are sounding, there’s the option to export the audio as separate .aiff layers, which you can then bring into your digital audio workstation (DAW). You can even open up the loop’s history and export any previous versions. There’s a lot of inherent trust about ownership of ideas here (like other short form platforms that encourage remixing content such as TikTok) so be mindful that anyone using the app could export loops and use them in projects elsewhere.
The core app is free, but there’s a paid version that costs about $5.50 a month if you want extra sounds and effects. There’s usually a seven day trial period, but the company has extended it to two months in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Later in April, Endlesss will launch a Kickstarter campaign to develop more robust options for Endlesss like lossless audio and “deep integration with pro equipment.”
Using the app hits a cross section of music and socialization I find deeply appealing. I spent 30 minutes collaborating with others on a minimal techno loop and the time passed by fast. I tapped in an accent melody, and then another person added a bright snare. A third person then repurposed the main synth to the chat room’s delight. “Mmm crunchy,” someone typed. Because it’s so informal and simple to use, it’s easy to get into a flow.
A lot of music apps tend to over promise and under deliver, but Endlesss is not one of them. I probably won’t make a chart-topping hit with it, but it’s a delightful time suck that makes me feel a little more present in our current self-isolation reality.