The College of DuPage’s student newspaper, the Courier, recently published an interview with Tommy and Patrick in their Arts section.
It’s a nice write up, focusing on our approach to music, our re-purposing of discarded technology, and our focus on community building & academics.
If you have a moment give it a read and tell us what you think (you can leave comments on www.RothMobot.com).
Minneapolis, MN is a very accommodating city for electronic musicians and DIY enthusiasts. Not only is there a sprawling Experimental Electronic Music scene here, but it is also a home to the shopping mecca known as Ax-Man Surplus.
The eclectic main store of this Twin City chain is located on the University Ave in St. Paul and always has something for everyone. Creepy stage props, neon bright duct tape, military surplus, heavy duty switches, arcade buttons, jacks, cables, capacitors, resistors, screws, rotary telephones, speakers, zip ties, tools, shipping supplies, and even an Iron Lung are some of the items. All at reasonably low prices and in great selection.
However the main point I would like to make is this recent Vita.MN article on the Ax-Man stores. A very interesting piece that goes into the details of the store’s history and philosophy. It also explains the funny signs and who the creepy axed man really is. Good Read.
Ax-Man on Facebook.
The National Public Radio produces many excellent stories and occasionally they will do a piece on Experimental Music. This time it was a Brief History of the Vocoder, how it was invented and some of the artists who used it early on. Inevitably Auto-Tune was thrown in the mix and the author pointed out some basic sound quality differences. Having seen the powers of the Antares, personally it is hard to imagine any modern Pop Musician or Actor on TV without a piece of equipment correcting their singing. We rely on computers for doing most of our grunt work, so why not make them sing in perfect pitch for us too. After all the general audience can’t tell the difference anyway.
Story Download link.
So I created a Google Alert whenever there is a news article with the term “circuit bending” in it. The majority of articles seem pretty flat and only mention circuit bending in passing. More interesting articles were on the footsteps of the Bent Festival. Here are some of the ones I found decent.
Love and Circuits Compilation on Cardboard Records featuring 57 artists attempting to capture America’s current musical underground sound, which includes circuit bending. Here is a link to Love and Circuits on Amazon.
Getting Bent – an unfortunate article title from NYC Press Blog. This was published after Day 1 of the NYC Bent Festival and includes some interesting anecdotes, my favorite is about wanting to buy a Thingamagoop and not wanting to pay $100 for it.
Brooklyn’s own Marco Benevento, sits down with David Dye on the NPR’s World Cafe (audio recording) to play some music and talk about circuit bending techniques.
Wired Magazine’s mention of the Circuit Bending Festival in Minneapolis and introduction to lots and lots of pictures taken by Jeremy Pavleck.
Twin Cities Daily Planet published a very good article about the Bent Festival in Minneapolis, actually had someone go enjoy the event and the workshops, instead of gripping about prices.
Scientific American did a short bleep, nothing spectacular.
Jeremy Hanson of the Minneapolis band Tapes’n Tapes admits to dabbling in Circuit Bending to Birmingham Post.
John from HighlyLiquid linked me to this interesting article about ‘Chip Tunes’ featured in the entertainment section of CNN.com. In one sentence circuit bending is mentioned by name:
“Chip Tune musicians often use a technique called ‘circuit bending’ which involves short-circuiting electrical devices causing the machine to create a sound which is then controlled by the musician.”
Thats nice, don’t get me wrong its cool that circuit bending is getting plugged by the mainstream media, which I am sure will drive the google hits. The entire article also seems to be very British in terms of only mentioning: BBC, Imogen Heap, Pixelh8, Sega Mega Drives, and Car Boot Sales. No mention of US artists or festivals like Blip. To their defense circuit bending and chip tunes are probably too broad of topics for dive into and may require extensive research to present in a just manner.
Another interesting quote:
“All these left for dead old dusty friends (computer consoles), wanted, needed and loved again. Chip Tunes has revived them all. “It’s very eco-friendly too in recycling, they are indeed doing they’re bit for the planet”.
Sure had to stick the buzzword “eco-friendly” in somewhere. I think its more like reusing, which much better for the environment and economically friendlier. The cheapness factor certainly cannot be ignored because it opens up the doors for many aspiring musicians who don’t have the money to spend on synth gear, however they do own a console or have access to one. Same thing with circuit bending, high-end gear does not appeal to benders because of the highly probable change that it will get damaged in the process.
Another good one:
“Despite the scene being in its infancy Pixelh8 is predicting big things and claims commercial success is not far away.”
Chiptunes have been around for ages, ever since computers could make noises people wrote music for them, once example is the Demo Scene. There have also been music programs for just about every console out there released by the manufacturer. Granted they didn’t boast MIDI capability in all the cases, but still you could make noises. Why does everything have to be commercially viable to be a success? Never mind its already too late thanks to Timbaland jacking your beats!
Some good reads on the subject include Chiptune Wiki and Circuit Bending Wiki. Thanks John.