These circuit-bent instruments and sounds are simply gorgeous

Mention “circuit bending” and you may think of someone making unlistenable noise on a Speak & Spell they … broke. But in the grand tradition of Reed Ghazala, circuit bending can mean instruments that have exquisitely mutated from vintage devices, resplendent in new paint and making bizarre but wonderful new sounds. I guess you can think of it as the difference between a conservatory-trained woodwind quintet and … the sound of your first-grade music class playing those plastic recorders. Ivo Ivanov is squarely in the master builder category. We can drool over his visually beautiful creations, in this gallery here. …


Meet A Glitchy Nightmare Marshall Pedal, Then Play Rusty Bent MegaDrive DESTROYING EVERYTHING

The world of circuit bending continues to help electronics to mutate, finding new organic selves. There’s a steady stream of this stuff these days on social media (ah, I remember covering this before anyone had used The Facebook), but sometimes things will catch your eye. Take this brilliantly-evil rendition of a Marshall RG1 “regenerator.” This actually sounds as alien, glitchy, and weird as something with that name would make you expect. Details (and, um, I’m really sorry if you were bidding on this):

Those snap-tight blocks have a clear appeal for prototypers. Oh, and they're fun to play with. Photo (CC-BY) slackpics.

A Synth Finds a LEGO-Brick Home; Do You LEGO Your Projects?

Snap, snap… LEGO bricks are at some point irresistible for making a synth housing. Our friends at DE:BUG point to a LEGO-built, circuit-bending synth. And the imaginary toy world of LEGO find their way into this instrumental housing. Creator freeformdelusion writes: ClearTone Synth with LFO inside a nice lego project box with a house, dog, flowers, LEDs and a female figure drinking away to the synths excellent sound! Cheers to that, yes! But, with LEGO bricks here and there for the holidays (you know, for kids), I wondered: who out there is prototyping synths and the like with LEGO? Found …


Bent Imagery: Pictures from the NYC Bent Festival

In images by Benjamin Gaulon, Evan Meaney, NOSYNC, Galen Richmond, and Phillip Stearns, circuit bending – most associated with sound – becomes visual medium. “Glitch,” to me, is an incomplete word for this work, and one that can in some cases give the uninitiated the wrong idea. These are electronic visual textures, as raw and elemental as the pure oscillators on a subtractive synthesizer for music, but optical rather than auditory. And they’re beautiful: not some sort of “error,” but evolved to the point of being self-contained textures, an electronic equivalent (see my post earlier this week) of textile patterns. …


Handmade Music + Bent Fest + Chippy DIY Electrosonics: This Week in NYC, in Videos

Above: our friends at 2playerproductions shot this beautiful video that gets at the heart of what circuit bending and DIY electronics are about. It’s a look at some of the work of casperelectronics / Peter Edwards. And yes, Barbie is involved. Who are the people in your DIY music neighborhood? Well, quite a few of the DIYers here on Planet Earth are converging this week in New York. Lover of circuit bending, creative electronics, and DIY music hardware are gathering for the massive Bent Festival in Manhattan, complete with performances, workshops, and a book launch. And we’ve got a special …


Circuit-Bent Cellular Automata Video Synth Toy with Patch Bay

You may have seen the Video Critter video synth hardware kit generating visuals using cellular automata algorithms. (Think cell-based models a la the Game of Life.) But you haven’t seen it quite like this. Univac has combined the Critter kit with a VTECH LessonOne educational toy (boring toy, beautiful case), quite a lot of circuit bending, light snakes with optical sensors, a bending patch bay, plus a 7″ LCD screen for viewing it all. Result: self-contained, patchable, performable cellular automata video synth! CellularRecombomat: patch-bay circuit bent cellular automata video synth [Techdweeb.com, Univac’s site] It’s really quite lovely — and another …


April is For Music: Bent, Tank, and a Moog Announcement at Ethermusicfest

There’s a simply insane amount of electrified music happening here in the US this week: Bent Festival NY: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are concerts at the Bent Festival in NY, not only of circuit bending but other DIY sound, as well. Stop by Saturday during the day for a day full of workshops. (also on Facebook) Thursday, Bent NY sponsor The Tank will be hosting Warper Vs. Splice, a 2-floor audiovisual collision in downtown NYC; I’ll be on music + eyethings in the middle of the evening. (See Facebook) Saturday, The Tank hosts the 8-bit crowd, also concurrent with …


Bent Music Appears, Awkwardly, On Local TV – Film at 11

Something strange is happening on local affiliate news programs across the country: Circuit benders and other weirdo musicians are being asked to drop by and discuss their art for the American Public. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d be a little confused and freaked out if I woke up and saw this first thing in the morning (and I lived in Ohio): And it’s not just Dan Deacon. Dynamic duo Beatrix*Jar had a similarly awkward experience. There’s something strange about what’s going on here. The news people conducting the interviews are are genuinely enthusiastic, but there’s …


Free Faux Bent Instruments

Pristine digital technology — some people just can’t resist putting it in the service of recreating grungier, noisier sound-producing tech. Hot on the heels of Indirect-to-Digital – by-way-of-tape samples of the TR606 and 808, here are some digital recreations of circuit-bent noisemakers. Of course, I generally prefer to see circuit bending producing actual, DIY hardware — see our Circuit Bending Challenge — but it’s still an interesting exercise. (And it’s worth sampling some of this gear for live performance, especially when you can record sound before something, um, breaks. At least if it’s my project.) Rekkerd.org finds not one, but …