Number 18

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Number 18 comes from a triptych of sorts, or rather three identical circuits housed in different-colored enclosures, intended to be played in tandem, and partially inspired by, well, Voltron. Yes, Voltron, as in the giant, cartoon robot with the body comprised of mechanical lions. Or something to that extent. Maybe a more apt description would be modular instruments – a stand-alone device that is capable of producing sounds on it’s own, but when paired with its similar brethren, is capable of an expanded palate like a voltage-controlled orchestra or something. Though at the same time, I suppose this particular box can be paired with just about anything that’s come off my bench so I wonder if the Voltron analogy is correct. There has to be a better description – and I’m sure there’s undoubtedly some other Japanese Robot show with modular ‘bots that can combine in numerous ways depending on the weaponry, etc. needed for the task of eliminating whatever irradiated monster happens to be threatening Tokyo that week, but, not being an anime-junkie, I really wouldn’t know where to begin ala the referentialism of it all. Either way, here’s another one for the archives. Enjoy the sonics, y’all.

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Upgrade (2016)

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So this is what happened since I built this thing. Sometime in 2011 I shipped it from Oakland to NYC where it was squire to a friend who was working as a booking agent for one of the larger music companies at the time. The thought was that it would provide some interesting chirps and blips for her otherwise folksy artists, as well as give her something to spice up her blooming career as a open-mic ukelele player/singer-singwriter. I got it back a year later with a sincere apology for it just not working out for what they were after. So it goes.

After that, it lived at my parents place iN NY as a relic of the old times for a second, though in 2012 made it out to San Francisco for that year’s Soundwave festival, which, coincidentally is where I recorded the previous example of this box. It stayed in NY when I returned to Costa Rica later that fall, and eventually made its way to Baltimore, though maybe not until the third or fourth supply run. To be honest, for whatever reason I just wasn’t into this guy for a second – namely since the polarity of the power supply was reversed from most of my modern builds, I seem to recall playing a lot of guitar at the time and later, due to the interface being machine screws, and therefore probably not the best thing to have floating around when newborns are doing their baby thing. It also went off to live with Liz Meredith for a year or so after I attempted to upgrade one of my early builds for her and managed to kill the circuit due to the inherent fragility of a lot of my early builds. What can I say, it’s always nice to have a loaner.

Then 2016 happened. Baltimore was exploring a new light-based festival in early spring and, unrelated to that, our landlord was sealing the bathtub in the apartment downstairs from us with some nasty toxic goo. Taking developing brains and feline com anions into account, we decided it would be best to take off for the weekend and ended up as refugees at Liz’s house for the night. We returned home with the box and an idea or two about its new direction. Namely, I’d been experimenting with modular synths at the time and decided to replace the screw-based interface with phone jacks – effectively making this guy a little more contemporary, as well as safer to have around kids. Not to mention It would eliminate having to have alligator clips for one interface and 1/8″ cables for another – potentially a bonus for those living in smaller habitats, craving efficiency.

About a month later, the conversion was complete and tested. The rest – brilliant suggests. I mean, yeah, you loos some tactile elements from the interface, but you also gain the ability to leave it out and not have to worry about it sending your kid to the hospital – bonus! This of course opened the door top further upgrades of old builds, cumulating in an autonomous performance environment based entirely on home-built electronics. Actually, I think I might’ve upgraded Number 27 first, but being typically sleep deprived and potentially an unintentional unreliable narrator, I honestly can’t remember which one came first. Not that it matters. It was all around the same time and served the same result. Anyways, here’s a video of an early sound system performance, for anyone interested in what I was up to around then.

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