Posted in Documentation on January 28th, 2015 by admin

Together with Jeroen Vandesande, I gave my Neanderthal Electronics instrument-building workshop to a group of students of the RITS Winterschool (Erasmushogeschool RITS, Brussels) from 12-23 JAN 2015. Over these ten days, the participants with backgrounds in acting, writing, theater tech and radio production designed, constructed, learned to play and created a composition using their own self-built DIY electronic instruments. A variety of circuits–including CMOS logic chips, amplifiers, portable loudspeakers, contact microphones and opto-electronics–ensured that each instrument gave a unique voice to each player in the piece.

The resulting 16 minute composition (inspired by the works of Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, John Grzinich, David Tudor and others) was an immersive, surround-sound experience, performed in a darkened room for an eyes-closed audience of 25 people at a time. In the piece, a swarm of individual, simple sound sources such as tones and textures are modulated and moved through the space physically by the performers to create a complex sonic environment. Delicate and intimate sounds pass closely near the bodies and ears of the audience, while stronger, more extreme sounds occur at the edges of the space to give a sense of the architecture of the room and the objects in it.

Composed and performed by Bram Verrecas, Amber Meulenijzer, Jana Rymen, Kimberly Struyf, Francesca Van Daele, Anna Van Hoof, Max Adams, Zoë Bossuyt, Iben Stalpaert, Milan Van Doren, Nils Melckenbeeck, Emma Schiettecatte, and Michèle Even at Kunstencentrum NONA, Mechelen, Belgium on 23 JAN 2015.

Much gratitude to Dieter van Dam for the invitation!

Workshop info here:


Tags: , , , , ,

Last Benjolin of 2014

Posted in Announcement on December 10th, 2014 by admin

Meine Damen und Herren… may I present the last Benjolin I will build in the year 2014.

The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one LFO and one VCO), a voltage controlled filter and a circuit called a “Rungler”, which allows chaotic cross-modulation possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. Hordijk refers to the Benjolin as a circuit which has been “bent by design.”

These hand-made Macumbista Benjolins (produced under licensed agreement with Rob Hordijk) have been further customized with a patchbay, which can be used to interface with other modular synthesizers or to setup further control voltage feedback systems within the Benjolin itself, attenuators on the three control voltage input and LEDs displaying the internal state of the Rungler.

You can see more photos and videos here:

This Benjolin is completed and ready to move, and just to get it out into the world a little bit quicker, I am offering FREE SHIPPING anywhere on the planet, this week only (payment must be in by 13 DEC).

Price is EUR 495 (incl 19% EU VAT) / EUR 416 (shipped outside the EU). Contact using the CONTACT page here or email MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM.

I am looking forward to newer, bigger and better things in the coming year.

I thank you kindly for your attention.

Tags: , ,

Apokalypsegerät 2013

Posted in Documentation on October 16th, 2014 by admin

I just realized that, although it was built more than one year ago, I still have not documented the Apokalypsegerät machine I created for Andreas Catjar and Markus Öhrn‘s theater productions, and which I play in Bis Zum Tod. I was probably waiting to edit some videos for it, but my video backlog is twenty miles long at this point. So here we go….. Please note there are some slight differences in panel layouts (and a couple extra functions added) between the proposal images and the finished system.


* Analog Modular Synthesizer with four Voltage Controlled Oscillators, four switchable Voltage Controlled Filters/Amplifiers, four Output channels and onstage lighting
* Optimized for the creation of apocalyptic doom drones


* Rough and Fine manual Tuning Controls
* Manual- and Voltage-Controlled Skew adjusts shape of the waveform
* Linear, Exponential and 1 Volt/Octave Frequency Modulation
* Sync input resets waveform
* Square Wave output
* Switchable Sine or Triangle Wave output
* Low Frequency or High Frequency Oscillator modes
* Circuit design by Thomas Henry, circuit layout by Bugbrand
* Two Dual XR-2206 VCO modules present in system


* Each of the four independent gates is switchable between Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter, Voltage Controlled Amplifier or “Both” mode
* Used for Manual- or Voltage-Control over both amplitude and spectrum of audio signal
* High resonance allows generation of percussive sounds as well
* Circuit design by Don Buchla, circuit layout by Thomas White
* One Quad Resonant Low Pass Gate 292 module present in system


* Each of the four outputs converts unshielded banana-jack to shielded 6,3mm audio jack
* Attenuators used to reduce modular synthesizer voltage level (10 Volts peak-to-peak) to line-level audio (3,5 Volts peak-to-peak)
* Female XLR connection provided for gooseneck LED lamp
* One Quad Output module present in system

I would love to do more custom systems like this, please contact me via the CONTACT link or at the email address MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM for more information.

Tags: ,

Bis Zum Tod, Volksbuhne Berlin 20-21 Sept 2014

Posted in Announcement on September 13th, 2014 by admin

I am proud to announce my participation as musician in the Markus Öhrn/Nya Rampen/Institutet production “Bis Zum Tod”, premiering at the Volksbuhne in Berlin 20/21 September 2014.

We will tour this production to Poznan (3/4 October), Malmö (7/8 November) and Helsinki (14/15 November).

Pictured: Linus Öhrn and Anders Carlsson

Photo: Christian Kleiner

Tags: , , , , ,

Macumbista FuzzTone SoundBox

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on May 6th, 2014 by admin

A new generation of the SoundBoxes is born, combining the touchable body contacts and high-gain portable amplifier from the original design with a nasty distortion with enough controls to keep your fingers busy wiggling for a long while.


* Large, high-efficiency (read: LOUD!) 12cm speaker
* High-gain input, suitable for contact microphone, electric guitar, etc. (Line level signals can be attenuated if clipping is not intended.)
* Line output
* Neutrik 6.3mm (1/4 inch) jacks on both input and output
* Four-control, switchable, extreme[!], vintage hand-selected Germanium transistor distortion
* Six “circuit-bending” touchpoints
* 9V battery operation
* Includes a resonant spring contact microphone.

This SoundBox could easily be used as a portable guitar amplifier with built-in distortion, for example, or can be used as an instrument in it’s own right to create a wide range of electronic sounds and textures.

The sound of this instrument is quite similar to what can be heard in the following video (however the video was done with the SoundBox and FuzzTone distortion pedal as separate units). Through the creative use of feedback, as well as the CHP and SQZ settings on the pedal, generative tones and chaotic patterns can emerge:

nonlinearity I from macumbista on Vimeo.

The price is EUR 225 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 190 (shipped outside the EU) plus shipping. Each instrument is made to order with an approximately one month waiting time. A 50% deposit on the price is required to begin work.

Please contact me using the CONTACT page here, or through MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM. Thank you for your kind attention.

Tags: , , ,

SoundBoxes Workshops in BE, NL

Posted in Announcement on March 28th, 2014 by admin

I will be giving a series of SoundBoxes workshops in Belgium and the Netherlands next month. This hands-on workshop combines the arts of electronics, noise, sculpture and collage to produce unique, “circuit bent” electroacoustic instruments.

Details here:




Hope to see some of you there!

Tags: , , , ,

Macumbista Benjolin V3 2014

Posted in Announcement on February 27th, 2014 by admin

I am currently taking orders for the next run of the Macumbista Benjolin V3 2014.

The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one LFO and one VCO), a voltage controlled filter and a circuit called a “Rungler”, which allows chaotic cross-modulation possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. Hordijk refers to the Benjolin as a circuit which has been “bent by design.”

These hand-made Macumbista Benjolins have been further customized with a patchbay, which can be used to interface with other modular synthesizers or to setup further control voltage feedback systems within the Benjolin itself, attenuators on the three control voltage input and LEDs displaying the internal state of the Rungler.

You can watch a short demo of two of these Benjolins in action here:

Price is EUR 495 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 416 (shipped outside the EU) plus shipping.
To be included in this run, please send a prepayment of 50% by 15 March. I anticipate finishing this run in the first week of April.

A double version, the Butterfly Benjolin, allowing incredible amounts of chaotic cross-modulation between the two halves, is also possible. Price is EUR 895 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 752 (shipped outside the EU) plus shipping.

The patchbay of these Benjolins has banana jack connections for the square and triangle waveforms of each of the two oscillators, the Pulse Width Modulation output of the two oscillators, the Rungler output, the XOR (exclusive/or) logic operation of the two oscillators and the output of the filter.

There are also banana jack control voltage inputs with attenuators for the frequency of each of the two oscillators and the filter cutoff frequency. The layout of the panel is designed to be both intuitive and playable (unlike many EuroRack modules, for example…). And finally, the three output bits of the Rungler have been visualized with red, green and blue LEDs.

All Benjolins use a Neutrik 6.3mm (1/4″) output jack (two in the case of the Butterfly Benjolin), an additional GROUND banana jack to interface with other modular systems and a 12 VAC “wall wart” power supply (mainland European and North American versions available).

These Benjolins are produced under licensed agreement with Rob Hordijk.

Please contact me using the CONTACT page here, or through MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM. Thank you for your kind attention.

Tags: , ,

Two Talks During CTM Berlin Next Week

Posted in Announcement on January 22nd, 2014 by admin

I have two presentations in the CTM Festival in Berlin next week, one during the MusicMakers HackLab Conversations alongside such luminaries as Marije Baalman and Robert Henke, and the other during the Education Networking Day. Details below. Hope to see y’all there!

Weds 29 Jan at Kunstquartier Projektraum
15h // Probing the Past: A Media Archaeology of Handmade Electronic Sound
Derek Holzer/

The utopias of electronic sound have hardly changed in its hundred-year history. We still want to imitate existing instruments, create sounds which have never been heard before and realize complex compositions without the need of an orchestra. It is only the tools which have become more complex. But there are dystopias as well, which come especially from using tools designed around other people’s way of creating sound, rather than your own. Instrument builder, teacher and performer Derek Holzer of will discuss the inspiration of some of the pioneers of 20th Century electronic sound (including those found in the “Generation Z: ReNoise” exhibition) as springboards to some of his own creations, which the audience will have a chance to explore following the talk.


Sat 01 Feb at HAU 3
13:10 Neanderthal Electronics: Teaching Arts and Technology
Derek Holzer [USA/DE,]

Over the last six years I have developed a workshop program designed to teach art students without in-depth technical backgrounds about basic electronics and instrument building, which has been hosted by several, mainly Nordic schools of art, music and design. During this talk, I will share some observations about the relationship of arts and technology in education resulting from these workshops.

Tags: , , ,

Shapes of 2014

Posted in Announcement on January 1st, 2014 by admin

2013 took me from the high desert plains of Marfa, Texas to the northern countryside of Västernorrland, Sweden and the end of the world in Patagonia, Chile. It also saw the start of what is becoming quite a nice little occupation building handmade electronic sound instruments! And it went by so fast that I’m still making sense of it all…

I would like to thank the following folks for helping me on my way this last year: Tim Johnson, Nicolas Miller, Peter Kirn, Jan Rolf, Antti Ikonen, Carsten Stabenow, Mindaugas Gapsevicius, James Brewster, Markus Öhrn, Andreas Catjar, Timo Toots, John Fail, Katrine Møllebæk and the rest of the LAK crew, Andrew Dorman, Rasmus Lunding, Johannes Ahlberg, Johan Markwall, Björn Eriksson, Jake Harries, Derek Hales, Montse Torreda, Nataniel Alvarez and LiquenLab, Pablo Guerra, Claudia Gonzalez + Macarena Pola and the MakerSpace Santiago, Oscar Santis, Fernando Godoy + Rodrigo Ríos Zunino and the Tsonami Festival, Kathy Hardin, Steve & Daeryl Holzer, Tarin Lewis, as well as all the fantastic people I’ve met on the road!

I’ll be bunkering down in Berlin for a little while now, building more noise machines and planning my further travels.

One other thing I must mention, is that my father (whom I made the Machine Deva soundtrack for) has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing serious medical treatments. Like many Americans, and certainly like many American artists, he currently has no health insurance and the costs of his treatment have been quite high. I have been amazed at the support of his friends and family in Marfa Texas, as well as around the world, who have come together to help him. And one of my biggest wishes for 2014 is to see him well again. If you would like to know more about this, please click here.

May all your dreams take shape in 2014!

My best wishes from Berlin,


2013 Through My Eyes

Posted in Documentation on December 19th, 2013 by admin

This interview was featured in Sante Sangre magazine this week…

How would you summarize this past year on artistic and personal level?

This last year held huge changes for me in terms of direction and outlook. I still get a lot out of performing on a personal level, but I have always struggled with the avant-garde elitism I find throughout the entire experimental and new music scenes. My disgust with this elitism–coupled with the very realistic awareness that I will likely never make a living playing noise concerts–led me at first towards teaching people to build their own instruments in a variety of workshops over the years. But in 2013, I began producing and selling my own hand made electronic sound instruments in earnest, and the response has been fantastic!

I see most modern music technology (software or hardware) as being only partly “instruments” in the classical sense, and more like interactive compositions, where the designer has purposefully included or left out elements which shape the sound in very predetermined ways. By sharing some of the tools I use to make my own performances, I invite other artists (professional, amateur or otherwise) to collaborate with me in new ways and break down this tired, Romantic idea of the genius artist inventing themselves in complete isolation…

What album you listened to most often this year (not necessarily released in 2013)?

Swans – We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun In Our Head [2012 Young God]

What was the best cultural experience not related to music?

My cultural life seems inextricably tied to music somehow, so here I will mention living like a reptile on the high plains of Southwest Texas, experiencing a smoke sauna in the Estonian countryside, watching the leaves turn color in the north of Sweden and reading some of the biographies and journals of the great explorers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

And best trip? Most beautiful or magic place you visited this year?

I was lucky enough to get an invitation to play at the Tsonami Festival in Valparaiso, Chile this year. The invitation came early enough that I could book a whole month of workshops, concerts and residencies in Chile, and spent time in Punta Arenas (Patagonia), Santiago, Valparaiso and the experimental architecture community of Ciudad Abierta, in Ritoque just north of Concón. Patagonia and Ritoque in particular struck me. In both places, the nature was both incredibly beautiful and unforgiving.

What was your greatest disappointment of 2013?

Near the end of my trip to Chile, I was informed that my father was in the hospital with cancer. We have always been very close, and I am certain this wandering, mongrel-dog artist lifestyle I lead is due to his example. Realizing that someone I have respected so much my entire life is still a mere mortal came as a deep shock.

Did you learn anything particular this year?

After turning 40 in 2012, I have been thinking a lot about how one can remain an independent artist in the long term, and in a sustainable way. When you are 27, all you care about is enough money to pay the rent, buy a few new toys and keep yourself in beers. But working outside institutional structures becomes more and more challenging after a while, when you aren’t willing to sacrifice your time, your personal relationships, your health or your future to play a few more door-money gigs in some stinking basement in Neukölln.

A sustainable way of working gives you a stable platform in the long term, rather than twenty bucks, a beer and a kebab in the short term. It’s there for those times when you are sick and have no inspiration, or when you have a huge idea that just won’t wait, or when you fall in love and want to build a cabin in the mountains together, or any other damned thing that isn’t the unrelenting grind of produce-produce-produce, book-book-book and tour-tour-tour to keep the bill collectors off your back.

Plans, hopes, expectations for 2014?

I will fly in some planes, see some new cities, play some gigs, build some new instruments and meet scores of new people. Like most years. And for this I remain thankful. Besides that, I hope to expand this instrument-building business into something which can better support me, without turning into one of the caricature trust-fund hipster start-up types who have overrun Berlin in the last 6 years. But more than anything, I hope to be able to wander the desert like a mad fool with my father again when he is well.

Photo by Terje Toomistu

Tags: ,