Signal Culture Residency

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on October 3rd, 2015 by admin

Broken Rope [Benjolin Vector Graphics test 3] from macumbista on Vimeo.

From 5-15 OCT 2015, I will be Toolmaker in Residence at Signal Culture in Owego New York.

While there, I intend develop a PCB which can be used for producing vector graphics, viewable via Vectrex, Wobbulator/hacked TV, laser display or other analog systems, which takes one or two audio inputs as well as control voltage. This board should include function generators, quadrature oscillators, phase shifters and multipliers, and could produce either traditional Lissajous figures using the analog multipliers or raster-type effects using synced function generators. The ultimate aim of the board is not only the development of artistic works, but also it’s use as the core of a future analog vector graphics workshop where participants both build and experiment with the circuit.

The lo-res sketches included here were created in September 2015 in Berlin using a vector monitor [V INPUT, H INPUT, Z-AXIS INPUT, PULSE MARKER INPUT] + Dual “Butterfly” Benjolin.

Benjolin Vector Graphics [test 1] from macumbista on Vimeo.

Event Horizon [Benjolin Vector Graphics test 2] from macumbista on Vimeo.

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Tour Dates SEPT-OCT 2015

Posted in Announcement on August 14th, 2015 by admin


My autumn tour plans from the Low Lands to the Wild Wild West to the Great White North are 100% finalized! Hope to see some of y’alls in some of these here places….

02-04 SEPT:::SoundBoxes workshop + Macumbista live, (kuS) Kunstencentrum Signe, Heerlen, NL

22-26 SEPT:::SoundBoxes workshop + A.LIVE performance (w/ Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez), The Paseo, Taos NM, USA

01 OCT:::SoundBoxes Workshop, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA

02-03 OCT:::SoundBoxes workshop, Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, El Paso TX, USA

05-15 OCT:::ToolMaker Residency, Signal Culture, Owego NY, USA

19-23 OCT:::Experimental Sound Instruments workshop, MediaLab/Aalto University, Helsinki, FI

26-30 OCT:::SoundBoxes workshops, Hola folkhögskola, Prästmon Västernorrland, SE

I would also like to announce that Ruth Timmermans has taken up my booking activities as of AUG 2015. Please contact her at THECULTURALOPERATOR at_the_domain GMAIL dot COM for workshop, lecture and concert engagements.

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September Fundraiser

Posted in Announcement on September 24th, 2014 by admin

Dear friends.

Since last December my father has been battling cancer, and currently the prognosis is not good. You can read more on the issue here.

Now that I am here in southwest Texas with my father and our close family circle, there is a strange calm, as if we all know what must be done. There are small windows of consciousness, through which we can communicate with him. But the greater part of the time, he rests and prepares to let go of the meat-suit.

I am very thankful for the messages of support and kindness coming to me and my family here on various platforms. They do make a difference.

This very necessary last-minute trip takes some resources which are difficult for me to afford at the moment, however, and I am far more comfortable working for them than begging for them. Therefore — and I hope this does not strike anyone as crass commercialism, for that is not the intent — I am offering a 10% discount on any Benjolin, Butterfly Benjolin or FuzzTone SoundBox orders placed before 08 October, to be completed by the end of October with gratitude and love for the man and my mission to be with him here.

You can get an overview of these instruments here:

Thank you for your kind support.

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Marfa Public Radio interview

Posted in Announcement on January 8th, 2013 by admin

This morning I sat in the Marfa Public Radio studio with Rachel Lindley and talked about my Learning to Listen workshop. Rachel was fantastic, she really has The Voice and from the one-paragraph press release, she asked the most intelligent questions that just about any journalist has ever asked me. I really feel like this interview gives a comprehensive overview of how I present the concept of the soundscape in a workshop situation.

You can listen to the whole interview (approx 30 min) at:

The workshop itself at the Marfa Book Company went extremely well, with at least 25 folks both nights. In the usual style, I played several field recordings from various corners of the globe, and together we figured out what kind of of information–both subjective and objective–we can learn from a recorded or composed soundscape. Thanks especially to Tim Johnson for hosting this experience.

I will play a set for modular synthesizer, locally found objects and SoundBox, at the Michael Strogoff gallery, 124 E. El Paso St, Marfa, Texas at 8PM on Wednesday 09 Jan. Y’alls are welcome!

Now Playing

kevin drumm-relief[2012 emego]
mika vainio, kevin drumm, axel dorner, lucio capece-venexia[2012 pan]
tim hecker & daniel lopatin-instrumental tourist[2012 sstudios]

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LEARNING TO LISTEN – an Artist Talk and Workshop with Derek Holzer

Posted in Announcement on December 31st, 2012 by admin

LEARNING TO LISTEN: an Artist Talk and Workshop with Derek Holzer
Jan 06-07 2013, Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas 6PM-8:30PM
Jan 09 2013, Michael Strogoff, 124 E. El Paso St, Marfa, Texas 8PM

I do what I do because I never learned to play the guitar. Starting with an interest in field recording and environmental sound, I soon moved to teaching myself to build first digital and then analog non-traditional sound instruments as a way out of the problems of “virtuosity” in music. A great deal of my work involves simply listening, whether to natural or electronically generated soundscapes, searching for that beautiful chaos of birds, hailstorms or cicadas that produce the kinds of dense, arrhythmic textures that I enjoy the most.

As my work is so much about learning to listen, this two day artist-talk and workshop will focus on the art of listening. I’ll start by introducing my history, my practice and the instruments I create. We’ll continue by listening to several field recordings by myself (and possibly others), using these as a springboard to talk about listening from the perspectives of both science (physics, acoustics, psychoacoustics, psychology, etc) and culture (musicology, anthropology, architecture, urban planning, film studies, etc).

There will be opportunities on the second day for workshop participants to play and discuss their own soundscapes, and we will work towards a definition of what “soundscape” actually means. The workshop concludes with an introduction to some of the tools I use to both record natural soundscapes and create my own electronic soundscapes.

This workshop is open to the public and participation is by a donation of your choice. Please bring your own paper and a writing/drawing tool as these will be very important during the workshop!

I will also make an approx 40 minute live performance on Weds, 09 January at 8:00PM in the Michael Strogoff art space, 124 E. El Paso St. The performance is also free or by donation.

DAY ONE – Sunday 06 January 2013 18:00-20:30
Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas

–Introduction to Holzer’s work: field recordings, digital instruments, analog instruments
–Introduction to Soundscapes: R. Murray Schafer, Pauline Oliveros, Chris Watson, CRESSON, John Cage and others
–Listening Exercises I: field recordings from around the world by Holzer and others

DAY TWO – Monday 07 January 2013 18:00-20:30
Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas

–Continuing Soundscapes: working towards a definition of the soundscape, the difference between soundscape and “music”
–Listening Exercises II: soundscapes from around the world by Holzer, others and participants
–Tools of the Electronic Soundscape: field recorders, microphones, software, synthesizers, effects

DAY THREE – Wednesday 09 January 2013 20:00
Michael Strogoff, 124 E. El Paso St, Marfa, Texas

–Live sound performance for found objects, SoundBox and analog modular synthesizer


Derek Holzer (1972) is an American sound artist based in Berlin, Germany, whose current interests include DIY analog electronics, sound art, field recording and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music. He has played live experimental sound, as well as taught workshops in noise art technology, across Europe, North America, Brazil and New Zealand.

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In the mines–working, working, working… [+ upcoming]

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on April 20th, 2012 by admin

Been locked in the studio for days now, but the fruits of my labor will be heard soon…


25-29 April: TONEWHEELS @ Radio Sonores, Guimaraes PT
16-20 May: Machine Deva @ Marfa Film Festival, Marfa TX USA
26-28 July: Solo Performance + SoundBoxes Workshop @ Norberg Festival, Norberg SE

Starting next month, I will also be taking orders for customized tabletop noise makers, drone machines and sound boxes. Please contact me if interested.

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TONEWHEELS@AS220, Providence RI 30.04.2010 by Amy Hope Dermot

Posted in Documentation on September 12th, 2010 by admin

Photos by napkinshoe/Amy Hope Dermot @ Flickr. Thanks Amy!!!

Now Playing

stan brakhage-essential brakhage, selected witings on filmmaking book[2001]
meara o’reilly-chladni singing[2010]
william t. vollmann-rising up and rising down: some thoughts on violence, freedom and urgent means book[2003]
andrzej zulawski-diabel (aka the devil) film[1972]

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Posted in Documentation on May 4th, 2010 by admin

So the TONEWHEELS tour has come to end. Stokes of luck seem to have characterized it… lucky to get out of Europe right before mighty Eyjafjallajökull reminded everyone of what silent skies would sound like, and lucky to get out of NYC right before some nutjob got the idea to try toasting Times Square with a propane-fertilizer cocktail.

Another stroke of luck was that, when The Starlab venue got flooded, mi amiga Jessica Rylan stepped up to the plate and offered her artist-in-residence studio at MIT in Cambridge as a replacement! A small but dedicated audience turned up, and in particular I got to experience the amazing transcendental drones of Benjamin Nelson. Shawn Greenlee‘s set was also smokin’, as was the “final show” of Karlheinz, and I was rather intrigued by Animal Steel‘s collection of drugged-out Judy Garland tapes. His nonchalant delivery of said material came as quite a surprise for those accustomed to his orgies of destruction as one half of Two Dead Sluts One Good Fuck.

Photos by Shawn Greenlee

The Providence show at AS220 was also a complete mental blowout, in particular seeing Human Beast‘s combination of noisy, arty-farty tights, carny sideshow vibes and suspended-upside-down-from-the-ceiling organ playing. Brian Chippendale‘s solo Black Pus project also rocked out, sort of a messier, more freeform version of his Lightning Bolt sets, if you can imagine that…

Photo by Tatyana Yanishevsky

The Rhode Island/Massachusetts leg of the tour would have been impossible without the phenomenal energy and hospitality of Shawn Greenlee. Thanks a million, man!!!!! Thanks also go out to Jessica Rylan and Egan Budd for hosting and organizing the MIT gig, and to all the other acts that played on the two bills (and it was quite a few!).

And finally, one more photo from the TONEWHEELS set at the Bent Fest in NYC, this time by Eric Archer:

Now Playing

antonio russek, raul pavon, roberto morales, vincente rojo-musica electroacustica mexicana 1960-2003[creel pone reissue]
benjamin nelson-live at the piano factory/standing field cs[2009 semata productions]
david behrman-wave trains[1998]
david tudor-live electronic music[1970-1984, leonardo music journal]
gordon mumma-live-electronic music[2002 tzadik]
ivo malec-triola[1978 ina-gram, avante garde project 148)
va-chinese experimental music 1992-2008 4xcd(2009 sub rosa)

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Bent Fest Interview II + update(!!!)

Posted in Text on April 30th, 2010 by admin

1. Can you explain the process of putting together your live performance? How exactly are you making the different forms/colors of light affect the audio output?

The TONEWHEELS performance uses the same technology found in film projectors which use optical motion picture soundtracks. The amount of light which falls on a photodetector modulates an electrical current, which can then be connected to a speaker to make audio. The sounds are created by printing the waveforms I want to play on transparent spinning discs, and placing these discs on motors with a variable speed control. This process was also used for the famous Optigan organ made by Mattel in the 1970’s, as well as by a number of avante-garde composers, filmmakers and instrument inventors such as Daphne Oram, Jacques Dudon, Evgeny Murzin, Norman McLaren and Evgeny Scholpo.

2. What aspect(s) of circuitbending motivate you the most?

I’ve mentioned at other times that I don’t really consider myself a “circuit bender”, since I rarely take commercially available devices or toys and hack them. But the meme of circuit bending is interesting to me–the idea that people can re-purpose things which are normally considered “black boxes” in our electronic culture, that they can break them down into simpler things and reassemble them in new, fantastic ways. I find this idea very challenging to the consumer-industrial status quo of selling us new stupid gadgets every year, forcing us to discard the old ones without every considering how we could transform them into something else–or even build our own new things from scratch. I’d be much more interested in constructing some DIY caveman communications device myself instead of running out to buy the latest iPhone…

Tristan Perich of Loud Objects takes his self-made mobile phone everywhere. No camera, no games, no texting, no BS.

3. Some of the performances at Bent could be described as ‘music,’ while others are better described as noise/sound art. Your work seems to lean toward the latter, but which category do you feel you fall into, if any?

In every kind of music, the art form is in some way determined by the technology. But no where is this more apparent than in electronic music, which is full of gear and software which makes it easier and easier to make music–so long as it fits into a very highly predetermined genre or style. I don’t think of what I do as any less “musical” than europop, trance techno, dubstep or whatever other trend the kids are into these days. The difference is that my work is determined by very different technological choices and processes. As well as by a huge collection of heavy metal and hardcore records!

4. Do you feel like there is a division among circuitbenders who use these different approaches?

I can’t really answer that question except to say that I appreciate it much more when artists try to step outside the box and create something that is unique and personal to them instead of simply playing the kind of sounds they think other people will dance to.

5. What do you hope that someone new to circuitbending will take away from going to an event like Bent Fest?

I would hope that someone coming to Bent for the first time would recognize that there as many ways to do electronics and sound with electronics as there are artists who do those things, and that they might get some inspiration to move beyond being passive consumers of music/technology and become active creators on their own.

Bent Fest Highlights

Bodytronix‘s insane metropolis of self-made gear, :::vtol:::‘s lovely little boxes and warm personality, Peter Edwards/casperelectronics‘ beautifully abstract set (even after some douchebag ripped off one of his $300 creations from the merch table!!!!), KBD‘s weird post-everything space out session, Phillip Stearn‘s incredible neural network of lights as well as his festival photos, Daniel Fishkin of LÖWENZAHN’s magick-bent electronic folk, hearing a few minutes of Todd Bailey‘s Analog Video Synthesis and Bending lecture (although it sucked to have to miss most of it!) and finally figuring out WTF a Brass Monkey is late Saturday night (although I regretted it the next day)… Thanks again to Brendan and Suzanne and all the volunteers for pulling this thing off!


The Sommerville show at the Starlab next Saturday has been relocated due to flooding! The new location is in Cambridge, MA at MIT Building N52, 265 Massachusetts Ave. Get there before 9pm or you will have to phone a number posted on the door to come inside. The door will look like this:

Now Playing

frank popper-origins and development of kinetic art book[1968 new york graphic society]
guy brett-kinetic art: the language of movement book[1968 studio vista]
joe colley and jason lescalleet-annihilate this week[2006 korm plastics]
kevin drumm-second reissue[1999/2010 perdition plastics]
mudboy-impossible duets lp[2010 hundebiss](thx raphael!!!)

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TONEWHEELS @ Bent Fest 2010

Posted in Documentation on April 26th, 2010 by admin

Photos by mindphone_divided on Flickr.

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