Music » Music Stories

Come On, Feel the Noise

For all your circuitry needs, the Web's the place

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Circuit-bent instrumentation in popular music acts is hard to find. Add N to X, Nine Inch Nails and Tom Waits are all reputed to use bent toys, but the only act in our memory to grace St. Louis with a live demonstration is Sonic Boom. Short of building your own little monsters (which, you know, is what you're supposed to do), how can you get a taste of this beautiful noise?

· You can download a simulated circuit-bent Speak & Spell -- compressed in a .zip file -- from the Web at people.msoe.edu/~schierld/noise.html. Suitable for Macintosh and Windows, the simulator is constructed as an HTML page that plays in a window of your browser directly from your hard drive. It has few features that give the user much control -- most notably it lacks a loop switch, and of course body contacts are impossible here -- but you can definitely freak out all your co-workers to the outside limits of your satisfaction.

· MP3 files are available on many Web sites. See www.circuitbent.com and www.spiteyourface.com/cementimental/links.html for dozens of connections. Be advised that few of these sound files are actual songs. Their primary purpose is to share examples of quality glitches.

· The album/book combo Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones (1998, Ellipsis Arts) is an excellent introduction to the galaxy of experimental musical instruments and includes a five-minute excerpt from Qubais Reed Ghazala's circuit-bent symphony Silence the Tongues of Prophecy.

· Ghazala's Web site, www.anti-theory.com, is ground zero for circuit-bending philosophy and practice.

· To pick up tips or share information about your own experiments, groups.yahoo.com/group/benders will be your virtual campus lounge.

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