A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way.

Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces.

Let’s take a look.

Bizarre Sound Creatures teaser from Arvid Jense on Vimeo.

“A GREAT MUTATION OF SOUND PRODUCING OBJECTS HAS STARTED. IN THIS NEW DIGITAL ERA, MATTER IS NOT A LIMIT ANYMORE. INSTRUMENTS ARE EVOLVING INTO CREATURES OF SYMBIOTIC INTERFACES, ALIEN SOUNDS AND MERGED VISUALS… IT IS TIME TO MAKE A JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOST BIZARRE SOUND CREATURES OF THE FUTURE AND EXPERIENCE A NEW MUSICAL UNIVERSE FOR YOURSELF.”

Bizarre Sound Creatures had a packed program of artists and inventors, centered at Eindhoven’s post-industrial Strijp-S. Eindhoven may be less a household name than Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but the home of Philips has emerged as a hub of creative Dutch energy, and the exhibition was neatly timed as Dutch Design Week attracted international crowds. Tens of thousands surged through the pavilion, accordingly, a tide of Europeans interested in what’s new – locals and visitors alike.

There was so much, in fact, that’s easier to show you than tell you.

A crazy crowd

A random overview of projects and visitors

A view of 'Gerard' and 'Anton'

A view to the outside(3)

Exhibitions by day were paired with workshops and performances by night. The space, constructed from containers, was Het Glaspaviljoen, part of the ex-Philips Strijp-S complex. Local electronic music collective Geluidsdrug put on the week’s events, spurred on by the group’s regular electronic jam sessions.

Arist Roel van de Laar taught workshops on Cracklebox and Drawdio, but also contributed this musical cupboard: open drawers to hear sounds:

Musical cupboard by Roel ... where you can open drawers to hear sounds

Arvid Jense, a veteran of our own MeeBlip project and one of the minds behind the event, contributed this poetic study of the potentials of the knob, accompanying his own just-finished research.

One prototype of Arvid Jense's 'knob study', a research project towards finding new possibilities for knobs on synthesizers

Reverse Landfill, aka Martijn Verhallen, provided a glimpse of a Eurorack modular world that was more DIY, from workshops to this big rig:

Reverse Landfill's (Martijn Verhallen) mostly DIY modular, with crazy waveshaping and FM, he had been giving modular workshops and noisebox workshops earlier in the week(2)

The Netherlands’ Error Instruments are one of the best weirdo electronic music shops anywhere, and were on-hand with this noisebox, among other contributions:

An Error Instruments noise box

Error Instruments noisebox(3)

An Error Instruments noisebox

Cas Zeegers‘ ‘noids’ are boxes with physical synthesizers – kinetic mechanisms that make sound. They’re lovely objects even as sound sculptures, and great fun to make noises.

Cas Zeegers' 'noids', boxes with physical synthesizers

Cas Zeegers' 'noids', boxes with physical synthesizers(2)

Cas Zeegers' 'noids', boxes with physical synthesizers(3)

No mention of DIY electronics in the Netherlands would be complete without Gijs Gieskes, the mad scientist of circuit bending and other arts. Gijs had both a beautiful circuit-bend modded Casio with magnet-equipped wires for control, and an analog synthesizer. (The latter didn’t quite sync up with my camera sensor.)

A crazy Gijs Gieskes Circuit bend Casio, controlled by magnet-equipped wires, rather than patch cables

A video synth by Gijs Gieskes, modified by Reverse Landfill

Kids reacting to one of Gijs Gieskes' crazy circuit bend mods

Guillaume ...'s 'Dynamic'

“Quiet Sound” by Vito Boeckx was a crowd favorite, a magnetized landscape activated by touch, producing textural sounds.

Quiet Sound by Vito Boeckx, touch this alien magnetized landscape and hear the sound of the textures

You might want to eat a burrito before this one: ‘Bellybar’ by Leif Czakai and Merle Bergers is both a wearable model of the stomach and an instrument for amplifying the sounds of your innards.

the 'Bellybar', amplifying the sound from the belly, by Leif... and Merle ...

We Love Trash” constructs instruments from discarded objects explores unusual material possibilities.

We Love Trash - Instruments made from trash, exploring the possibilities of unusual materials

We Love Trash in front of ReverseLandfill and ErrorInstruments

We Love Trash(2)

We Love Trash(3)

Visitors(3)

Unit Unlikely (who also exhibited elsewhere in Eindhoven during design week) were on-hand with their clever, simple kit instruments:

The Lunchbox by Unit Unlikely

The Lunchbox by Unit Unlikely(2)

The legendary Cracklebox of Michel Waisvisz was part of the program, an essential part of electronic music history (and Dutch electronic music history):

Visitors playing with a cracklebox

Visitors playing with a cracklebox(2)

Wavecircuit by Arvid Jense and Marie Caye lets you mold soundscapes in physical form.

Wavecircuit by Arvid Jense and Marie Caye - a shape changing instrument, where you can mould a soundscape(2)

Yuri Landman had a beautiful instrument, combining acoustic and electrical elements:

Yuri Landman Instrument

Yuri Landman's instrument being played by a kid

Performances included Amniotic Gap and an analog/digital/acoustic ensemble, plus Tijs Ham playing a zero-input mixer set that I found uniquely engaging (and rather musical and rhythmic, in ways you might not expect). I also came onboard for a live techno set to close out the evening.

mniotic Gap and their, analog-digital-acoustic mashup

mniotic Gap and their, analog-digital-acoustic mashup(3)

Tijs Ham with his 'Three Mixers' performance

More of the visitors and workshops:

A closeup from We Love Trash

A kid playing _MOOD_ by Cas van Son, and instrument to do research on emotions and musicality

A view to the outside(2)

Crowd

Sylvester with his Oscilloscopes(2)

Sylvester with his Oscilloscopes(3)

Visitors(6)

Visitors(8)

We Love Trash in front of ReverseLandfill and ErrorInstruments

Workshop(3)

Workshop(4)

Workshop(5)

Workshopping

Yuri Landman's instrument being played by a kid

Lots of supporters were behind the project: Industrial Design TU/e (the local technical university), De Bakgigant, Geluidsdrug, Zinloos Geluid, Artspace Flipside, and Axesjazzpower Eindhoven.

More:

http://www.bizarresoundcreatures.com/

  • Chris Stack

    “When the going get’s weird, the weird turn pro” – Hunter S. Thompson

  • Chris Stack

    “When the going get’s weird, the weird turn pro” – Hunter S. Thompson

  • Bernard Perbal

    Peter, very bad topic illustration picture… More an more parents are giving headphones to their very young children and even to their babies. This problem is becoming a very serious social and medical topic in our modern society. Medical specialists strongly recommend to avoid wearing headphones, even at low sound levels, before the age of 11 or 12. Very young children are just not able to react and defend themselves against excessive audio levels.

    • Polite Society

      Did you see that picture then rush in here to comment on your steed made of social ethics?

    • holoverse

      Been wearing headphones since I was like 5 or 6. 35 now and I’m doing just fine thanks. Lifes too short to worry about stupid shit like this, and even if i do go a bit deaf later on, I’ll just turn up the headphones…lol

  • Bernard Perbal

    Peter, very bad topic illustration picture… More an more parents are giving headphones to their very young children and even to their babies. This problem is becoming a very serious social and medical topic in our modern society. Medical specialists strongly recommend to avoid wearing headphones, even at low sound levels, before the age of 11 or 12. Very young children are just not able to react and defend themselves against excessive audio levels.

    • Polite Society

      Did you see that picture then rush in here to comment on your steed made of social ethics?

    • holoverse

      Been wearing headphones since I was like 5 or 6. 35 now and I’m doing just fine thanks. Lifes too short to worry about stupid shit like this, and even if i do go a bit deaf later on, I’ll just turn up the headphones…lol

  • Using ammunition boxes as enclosures for noise making instruments is an awesome statement. Wonder if they did that on purpose?

  • Using ammunition boxes as enclosures for noise making instruments is an awesome statement. Wonder if they did that on purpose?

  • Cool. Totally missed it. Although I am 100% Dutch.

  • Cool. Totally missed it. Although I am 100% Dutch.

  • anerandros

    It would have been awesome to be there, if only I knew. Can CDM have a sections called “Happenings” for short post-it like news about juicy things like this? Please?

  • anerandros

    It would have been awesome to be there, if only I knew. Can CDM have a sections called “Happenings” for short post-it like news about juicy things like this? Please?