PAL198X Video, Featuring Neon Indian – Bleep Labs Synth, Probably Best Promo Ever

The Bleep Labs 198X, a mini analog synth co-designed with the band Neon Indian, is now here. It’s a pocketable three-oscillator synth – all triangle oscillators – that in addition to three knobs and light sensors lets you plug in control voltage or other devices and sensors in order to modulate its sound. That makes for some good, bleepy, party-clearingly noisy fun. And then there’s the Neon Indian-produced promo video, which is … insane. So there’s that. The synth itself you get as part of a $50 package that also includes vinyl, a CD, a t-shirt, and a poster. Hopefully …

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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. …

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Reed Ghazala and Circuit Sound Artists in Videos, as NYC’s Bent Festival Gets Underway

Circuit bending has a reputation as involving far-out, unstructured experimental noise, of real violence and distortion done to instruments. And there’s probably a place for that. But Reed Ghazala, circuit bending’s spiritual father and electronic practitioner, takes a more organic, evolutionary approach. Reed recently told me about his favorite application of his iPad, apart from exploring new experimental soundscapes with tools like the brilliant granular app Curtis. He brings it with him into the forest, using GPS for location, and tracking plants and animals, identifying the sounds of bird and beasts. In our electronic ecosystem, fowl and beast are finding …

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A DIY iPad Audio Dock, with Instructions, from Father of Circuit Bending Reed Ghazala

What are those alien, otherworldly sounds coming out of the iPad? That’s not GarageBand. It’s what happens when Reed Ghazala, the father of circuit bending some decades ago, meets the iPad. Not that it’s his first encounter with products from Apple – he’s been approaching that company’s hardware as he does everything else, prying unexpected life with modifications and experimentation. But just as “circuit bending” need not be seen as “breaking,” here, too, Ghazala’s modifications make the device more humane, more musical, and – for all the shouting about how the design is perfect – far, far more usable. A …

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With Inventions Mechanical and Whimsical, Artist Ranjit Again Tackles an Instrument a Day

Like a fresh ingredient in food, sometimes all you need is a good idea. And whether your work is digital or analog, acoustic or mechanical, compositional or improvisational, sound artist and musician Ranjit Bhatnagar can provide ample inspiration. His best idea: forcing himself to come up with one musical idea a day for a month. Of course, having mad chops in instrumental invention doesn’t hurt. Ranjit’s creations are remarkable partly in that people can pick them up and play them as instruments, as with the 8-bit violin – a pixelated concoction of the lasercutter – seen at top in action …

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Glitch ‘n Grind: DIY Video Grinder Hardware Does Wonderful Things

Juergen Koppmann, Vienna-based digital media artist, shares his latest creation – “a video shredder live VJ box” that applies horizontal oscillations to “grind” and distort video signals. Specs: 3 horizontal line oscillators, triggered by 3 arcade buttons all 3 can be combined for line and color grinding of any video input signal. additionally voltage reducer from 9Volt (intern battery) down to 4,8Volt for more [destructive] artefacts. It’s a sort of video circuit bend, and it produces some really beautiful results. (At least I know I want one.) More samples below. These are just first tests; the box remains in development, …

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Glitch 'n Grind: DIY Video Grinder Hardware Does Wonderful Things

Juergen Koppmann, Vienna-based digital media artist, shares his latest creation – “a video shredder live VJ box” that applies horizontal oscillations to “grind” and distort video signals. Specs: 3 horizontal line oscillators, triggered by 3 arcade buttons all 3 can be combined for line and color grinding of any video input signal. additionally voltage reducer from 9Volt (intern battery) down to 4,8Volt for more [destructive] artefacts. It’s a sort of video circuit bend, and it produces some really beautiful results. (At least I know I want one.) More samples below. These are just first tests; the box remains in development, …

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handmade101010

New Year, New Handmade Music: Call for NYC, Austin/SxSW, the World

Pete Edwards of casperelectronics making some noise at Manhattan’s Culturefix in October. Handmade Music is our party for people who make things that make music. If you create your own musical tools – whether acoustic instruments and soundmakers, hacks, circuit bends, custom Pd and Max patches, electronics, or code – we want to hear from you. We’re looking for contributors in NYC, Texas, and around the world: Live acts and projects in New York Street team volunteers in NYC and to help organize and promote events in other parts of the planet Live acts and projects for a special South …

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Free How-to on Circuit-Bending the Saw Vocal Recorder; Handmade Music Austin Sunday

“Your kids will love this Saw figure.” So, too, must have been the calculation of the person who decided to immortalize the film Saw with little toys and figures containing 30 seconds of voice recording, because this toy is now available in quantity for — wait for it — US$2. A $2, 30-second sampler? Now that’s a bend waiting to happen. Circuit bending blog GetLoFi in 2008 posted a detailed set of instructions for bending the SAW III sampler. Download the full PDF, and you can make one yourself, using the $2 part from All Electronics. In the spirit of …

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Listen: Personal Sounds of Circuits, from Micronaut, Phil Archer, Caribou

Summertime is bringing a host of great new music to my inbox and mailbox. Here are just a few selections for this Tuesday morning. What binds them all together is a desire for truly personal expression and satisfaction, which often manifests itself as an individualized sound. Chris Randall is best known as the voice behind cult favorite plug-in developer Audio Damage, and the opinionated, sometimes loud-mouthed pundit of his blog Analog Industries. But he’s a musician first. As better-known figures debate the merits of copyright and Creative Commons without ever having recorded a note, Chris has quietly released a lot …

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