Big Ideas (Don’t get any) from 1030 on Vimeo.

In case you haven’t seen this, James Houston has produced a short film in which an assortment of old computer gear “plays” Radiohead’s “Nude.” We’ve seen various bicycle parts and such performing music around here, but not the actual components of computers in this way. James features:

Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead)
Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums
HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar
Hard Drive array – Act as a collection of bad speakers – Vocals & FX

He explains:

I grouped together a collection of old redundant hardware, and placed them in a situation where they’re trying their best to do something that they’re not exactly designed to do, and not quite getting there.

It doesn’t sound great, as it’s not supposed to.

Sorry, James. You’ve failed thoroughly. It sounds fantastic.

Not only that, but I think it’s quite a nice reminder that even in regards to technology, sometimes sounding bad or primitive is wonderful. Yorke’s songwriting prowess comes out even as the music is translated to an entirely different arrangement. It’s humbling to hear — it means that, technology or no, being able to write great ideas sure helps. And it strips away some of the justification for having the latest and greatest soft synths, erm, not that it’ll stop us any time soon.

By the way, I hadn’t heard that Thom Yorke thought it was impossible to do remixes in 6/8. Come on, really? Okay, maybe for people whose heart beats four on the floor…

Time to dig into my equipment closet and see what will make sound. Peace out.

  • bliss


  • bliss

    Gives new meaning to the term "OK Computer".

  • bliss

    That's art, I tell you! Well done, James!

  • dead_red_eyes

    It's nice to see this video on here. I've listened to it about 50 times or so since it went up on Gizmodo this morning. It's sooooooooo good. I wish there was a downloadable mp3 of it.

  • Pingback: Ogrim pÃ¥ veven » Blog Archive » Gamle maskinar, ny musikk()

  • Pingback: superhumanoids blog » James Houston: “Big Ideas (Don’t get any)” Video()

  • the raker

    this is ok,

    but clearly, the best part is the vocals, and i'm not convinced that it's anything more than a messed up sample of thom yorke's original.

    if anyone can convince me otherwise, i'll be very impressed.

    just another cover

  • Yes, i agree with the raker.

    Is there a capella of this radiohead song? How this misterious rack of HDs work?

  • Francisco

    this is f-ing fantastic!! and i love that the video looks like it was made in the 80's as well. Great great….GREAT job!

  • Yeah, the washed, 70s film stock effect absolutely adds to the atmosphere. However this was accomplished it is a thing of beauty. (Though I am curious about the programming/sequencing behind it.)

  • it even can't be jugged!!! really innovative way of producing stuff!

  • c64

    @raker: You can use a very old hard drive that will act as a speaker. That's why it sounds like a messed up sample. YouTube has some clips:

  • ponk

    fantastic video.

  • Unbelievable. Old school machines collaborating on a remix. I like it.

    We're big Radiohead fans here at <a>MixMatch. This video will definitely be well appreciated.

    Our Blog

  • mm

    so clever so original so beautiful.

  • Amazing/

  • Amazing/