Metasonix All-Tube “Wretch Machine” Synth

MIDI Optional, Glowing Green Bars Standard I know what you were thinking during the silent news week as I was on vacation: “if only . . .” If only someone would release a synth based entirely on vacuum and gas-filled tubes. No pretty sine waves, mind you: only saw, square, and square with suboctave. And a filter sweep controlled by a photoresistor. And a joystick that tunes, triggers, and modulates. And glowing green bars that show voltage levels. And the name should involve vomiting, somehow. If that hasn’t made you afraid (yet strangely intrigued), all this madness comes from Metasonix, …

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Metasonix TX-2 Butt Probe Effects Box

Here’s your typical PR hype: “because guitarists deserve, and WANT, some anus-stretching.” (We know computer musicians, remix artists, drummers, keyboardists, etc. do, too.) The Metasonix Butt Probe — sorry, the “TX-2” — is a $549, hand-made, hand-painted tube-based distortion effect, complete with fist, ream, and scre parameters. Tube-based so that it has a lovely, warm, rich, high-quality sound, right? Wrong. Tube based so it can suck as hard as tech can. According to Eric from Metasonix, the unit uses “three type 4BN6 beam modulator devices. They were intended for use in crummy TV sets as FM detectors, and were NOT …

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Hunting the Drum Buddy and Miss Pussycat

We’re going to need a “Where are they now?” edition for bizarre instrument design projects. Case in point: the Drum Buddy. Reader “fer” writes, succinctly, “wassup with this?” The answer, fer, is wassup indeed. This strange light-powered instrument had its fifteen seconds of fame on the Music Thing blog last summer, but its whereabouts now are more mysterious. According to its creators, the Drum Buddy “represents the future of electronic instruments.” If so, we have a future of pulsing, noisy oscillators-gone-awry played by the likes of Miss Pussycat “and her puppets.” For its part, the Drum Buddy itself uses light …

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Plug-in “Unsafe at Any Speed”?: NDC’s Spherical “Harmonical”

Spherical harmonic modulation of a globe with vertices that produces unusual additive synthesis? I’m already sold — and then I read the kicker: the experimental plug-in Harmonical can also blow your speakers. Now this is a must-have. Okay, before you get too excited: yes, you can blow your speakers with any loud signal. And while Harmonical’s unpredictible results earned it a passionate post on KVR declaring “beware!”, really you should have a limiter on your master out for safety all the time — especially when test-piloting dodgy plug-ins. But back to my original point — when reader Adrian Anders sends …

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Circuit Bending in NYC

If you’re in NYC, you definitely won’t want to miss the Bent festival of circuit-bending music at The Tank on 42nd Street. Each day of the festival this week features workshops on how to warp common electronics from Walkmans to Game Boys into new musical instruments, and concerts of many of the leading musical practitioners of this art form. By the way, signs I’m getting bogged down by writing work and a book that’s months overdue? How about when the UK-based MusicThing is on top of the Bent Circuit Bending festival before the (cough, cough!) NYC-based CDM that’s had this …

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Wooden Log, Lathes as Musical Instruments

Straight from the files of "Looks-like-an-April-Fool's-but-it's-real": From owlProject: The Log1k and iLog are instruments built from logs. (via near near future) The Log1k is a log with a gearbox motor that spins wooden disks to produce rhythmic noises, complete with "touch-sensitive switches" — wait, as opposed to non touch-sensitive switches? Don't forget the flat panel display. (It's a blank opaque flat panel that lights up, in other words. But it is flat.) The iLog is a new portable version with the same wooden toggle switches. The iLog records samples, but much of the sounds have to do with "the bare …

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Hatebeak: Parrot Sings Death Metal

Tired of the lead vocalist in your hardcore thrash death metal band? Why not replace him or her with a parrot? Yes, it's Hatebeak, the band with a parrot (literally) singing — make that "savaging you with feathers of razored steel." (I've heard a few folk singer-songwriters who also fit that description, but I digress.) Where else could you find tunes like "Bird Bites, Dog Cries," "Beak of Putrefaction," or "Bird Seeds of Vengeance." The sound is best described as, um, just go listen to the MP3. Reptilian Records is also lucky enough to have signed Caninus, which features two …

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Sonic Devastator: Megaphone of Pain

Gizmodo scoops CDM today for latest riot-control technology with the Sonic Devastator (though, um, some spelling issues with the product?) This ain't just for your German punk band, kids: it's a real DIY weapon. Create an ultrasonic blast capable of "inducing intense pain and discomfort in humans and animals." Oh, and it even has adjustable filter sweeps. Buy it assembled for US$300 or, better yet, get digital plans for US$20.

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