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tom moody

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Paul Slocum is doing some interesting work in the emerging "circuit bent" field, where old games, toys, and keyboards get broken open and rewired to make new sounds. Check out his repurposed Epson dot matrix printer that makes music and still prints out images. This is fascinating on the level of Mad Maxian, Professor-making-a-nuclear-reactor-out-of-the-ship's-radio-and-coconuts bricolage (or as an illustration of the Gibsonian axiom "the street finds its own uses for things"), but the printer is only part of a larger gesamtkunstwerk, including Slocum's band Tree Wave (a duo with Lauren Gray), which is making some of the coolest music around. While the band uses the printer and other low-tech gear (1977 Atari 2600 game console, 1986 portable 286 PC, 1983 Commodore 64 computer) to make its music, it's not the annoying, tuneless gameboy stuff we've been hearing in the galleries lately but rather has been compared to guitar bands such as My Bloody Valentine and early Stereolab. This is because the computers use fuzz tones and other psychedelic guitar-like sounds as opposed to pure video game bleeps. "Sleep" is a simply amazing 3 minutes of music that updates the Krautrock formula of drones-over-insistent-beats with rich, jangly, unmistakably consumer-electronic textures that just seem to keep surfacing in the mix. Catchy, crunchy rhythms kick away underneath while spare but sublime femme vocals float in over the top. The equipment runs with custom music software written by Slocum for the band, obviously with a very analog-sounding end product in mind. According to the website there is also a video element used in live performance. Hopefully we'll get to see and hear all this here in NY soon.

UPDATE: Slocum's thoughts on whether his work is really circuit bending here.

- tom moody 11-27-2004 6:35 am [link]