Miasmachine for Erik Skodvin

Posted in Documentation on April 25th, 2015 by admin


The “Miasmachine” is a custom re-design of the Benjolin as a guitar-processing synthesizer for Norwegian musician Erik Skodvin (aka Svarte Greiner, half of Deaf Center and owner of the Miasmah record label). In this adaptation, the input signal is first run through a ring modulation circuit (with one selected raw oscillator waveform–TRI, PULSE or PWM–of the Benjolin being the modulator signal), then the ring-modulated signal is inserted in the Benjolin’s Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter to control the higher harmonics.

This instrument was a custom commission, however if you are interested in a similar instrument, please contact me at macumbista AT THE DOMAIN gmail DOT com, or via the CONTACT page of this website.

I am still in the process of editing video for this machine, so this will be posted at a later date.







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Interview for Makery Magazine

Posted in Text on March 19th, 2015 by admin

My good friend Ewen Chardronnet asked me to answer a few questions about the DELILAH TOO installation, my instrument-building practice and the workshop process. You can read my replies here.

One of my first formal trainings was as a silversmith, so the idea of making real things with my hands has always held far more appeal than the symbolic substitutions and semiotic shell games so beloved by the more conceptual and theoretical wings of the contemporary art world. But I think my instrument-building also reflects an economic reality one faces as a non-academic, non-institutional artist these days. There is so much digital music out there right now, and no one pays you for making any of it. But since we are working in the era of the “pro-sumer”, there are plenty of people who are constantly spending money on the tools to make their own music.

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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: http://macumbista.net/?page_id=497


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DELILAH TOO at CTM Festival Berlin

Posted in Announcement on January 13th, 2015 by admin

My vocoder-based sound installation DELILAH TOO will open at the CTM Festival, in the Kunstraum Bethanien on 23 JAN 2015, and run until 22 FEB.

I am looking for a number of volunteers to speak, read or sing texts in any language you choose, as well as attempt to communicate with installation visitors (hopefully in a language they do understand) during the entire month of the festival. In the spirit of Alvin Lucier’s “North American Time Capsule”, you could consider these texts as transmissions to other beings in space about what life on Earth is like for you…

I hope that a number of people can take one or two one-hour long slots, and I will try to make a small gathering with snacks/drinks sometime during the festival for people who help out.

You can find a short overview of the project here: http://tinyurl.com/delilah-too-ctm-info

Please contact me by email at MACUMBISTA at the domain GMAIL dot COM with the subject line “volunteer” and I will send more information and a link to the sign-up sheet.

Many thanks!!!! D.

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Atelier Macumba Demo Night

Posted in Announcement on October 30th, 2014 by admin

As part of the Lange Nacht der Bilder Lichtenberg 2014, Juan Carlos Duarte, Darsha Hewitt, and I will host an open studio from 20-00h on Friday 07 NOV 2014 at the Atelier Macumba.

Drop by to try out several of the SoundBoxes, Benjolins and custom modular synthesizer systems I have built, and sip a little fine bourbon while you are at it!

The instruments:


Live sets by Seth Zahn + Matthew Burnett, Juan Duarte and Derek Holzer, a demo of the Wurlitzer Sideman tube drum machine by Darsha Hewitt, a live Benjolin+snaredrum set by Andi Stecher, and a very reasonably-priced selection of 10 American whiskeys for your tasting pleasure by Pure of Taste the Doom/Slowlands fame.

There will be many other exhibitions, events and open studios going on that night as well here, see full program here:


Atelier Macumba, Room 2.31, Eingang B, HB55 Kunstfabrik Herzbergstrasse 55 Berlin-Lichtenberg.

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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.

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Derek Holzer and Seth Zahn play “Animals (for two analog modular systems)”

Posted in Announcement on September 14th, 2013 by admin

Derek Holzer and Seth Zahn play “Animals (for two analog modular systems)”

“Time Lapse” event, Berlin Art Week, Altes Finanzamt
Schönstedtstraße 7 – EG Neukölln 12043 Berlin
U7 Rathaus Neukölln (Exit Schönstedtstraße)
Sat 21 September 2013 20:00

Think less Pink Floyd’s pigs on the wing, and more what you might hear if you could amplify the kind of animals seen under a microscope. A live improvisation, built up from scratch on Serge and DIY analog modular synthesizers and played at high volume by two performers with nothing to lose. Derek Holzer is an American sound artist and instrument builder who has made Berlin his home for several years, while Seth Zahn is a more recent transplant to this city’s experimental scene from Brazil.


Also playing:

Oscar Palou
Robert Rosshoff

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MAAJAAM Weird Sound Workshop Estonia

Posted in Documentation on July 30th, 2013 by admin

From 13-16 July 2013, I led a small group of workshop participants to build their own electronic sound instruments–either the Weird Sound Generator (from the Music From Outer Space website), or one of my own SoundBoxes. The location was MAAJAAM, an experimental residency/workshop space initiated by Timo Toots in an old farmhouse in the Estonian countryside near Otepää.The workshop ended with a group presentation and invitation to the audience to play the instruments in the outdoor garden of the Genialistide Klubi, Tartu.

I would like to extend my admiration and gratitude to the hard work of the participants: Aivar Tõnso, Annabel Põder, Bianca Triinu-Toots, Kaarel Narro, Kalev Toots, Mihkel Tomberg, Taavi Suisalu and Timo Toots.

MAAJAAM workshop “Music from outer space” from Timo Toots on Vimeo.

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Posted in Announcement on July 30th, 2013 by admin

Live internet radio from NK Projekt Berlin, starts 20:00 CEST, Weds 31 July. The show will also be archived on the radi0n website.

“Several years ago, I abandoned the digital sound world to spend (quite a bit of) time building a modular analog synthesizer based on the forms and functions of the legendary Serge and Buchla systems from the 1960s and 70s. In performance, I summon the chaotic, generative powers of this machine to explore the physical affects of volume, frequency and complexity within a given space. For fans of Maryanne Amacher, Bernard Parmegiani, Eliane Radigue and Slayer.”
–Derek Holzer


My apologies for those that couldn’t connect to the stream… no one told me it was limited to 10 people until too late! I have uploaded the two live sets and interviews as an edited MP3, total 59 minutes: http://tinyurl.com/mqlm3uc

This will be up until 08 August. Enjoy!

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Benjolin 2013v1 For Sale

Posted in Announcement on April 16th, 2013 by admin

The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one LFO and one VCO), a pair of band-pass filters and a circuit Hordijk calls a “Rungler”, which allows chaotic cross-modulation possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. This hand-made Benjolin has been further customized with a patchbay, which can be used to interface with other modular synthesizers, or to setup further feedback systems within the Benjolin itself, as well as LEDs displaying the internal state of the Rungler. It includes a European power supply (other power supplies available on request). This Benjolin is for sale for EUR 400 (EU)/ EUR 336,13 (non-EU), plus shipping, and is produced under license from Rob Hordijk. Contact “macumbista” AT THE DOMAIN “gmail.com”.

This Benjolin is SOLD! Will be working on a few more in the coming weeks. Get in touch if interested.

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