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.
“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.
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:
Reverse Landfill, aka Martijn Verhallen, provided a glimpse of a Eurorack modular world that was more DIY, from workshops to this big rig:
The Netherlands’ Error Instruments are one of the best weirdo electronic music shops anywhere, and were on-hand with this noisebox, among other contributions:
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.
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.)
“Quiet Sound” by Vito Boeckx was a crowd favorite, a magnetized landscape activated by touch, producing textural sounds.
“We Love Trash” constructs instruments from discarded objects explores unusual material possibilities.
Unit Unlikely (who also exhibited elsewhere in Eindhoven during design week) were on-hand with their clever, simple kit instruments:
The legendary Cracklebox of Michel Waisvisz was part of the program, an essential part of electronic music history (and Dutch electronic music history):
Yuri Landman had a beautiful instrument, combining acoustic and electrical elements:
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.
More of the visitors and workshops:
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.