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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Helsinki and Tallinn gig photos

Posted in Documentation on February 12th, 2013 by admin

Live set for analog synthesizer, speaker box, found objects and room, 09 Feb 2013, Kodu Bar, Tallinn Estonia. Photos by Terje Toomistu.

Live set for analog synthesizer, speaker box, found objects and room, 07 Feb 2013, Vapaan Taiteen Tila, Helsinki Finland. Photos by Antti Ahonen.

In the rush of CTM Fest and my annual Mechanical Sound Orchestra Workshop at TAIK (04-08 Feb 2013), I realized I completely forgot to post announcements of these two rather informal gigs here. Let’s hear it for my Facebook page, at least…

Thanks to Jukka Hautamäki, Ilpo Heikkinen, Lauri Hyvärinen, Taneli Viitahuhta, Ilia Belorukov, Antti Ahonen, John W. Fail, Marika Agu, Timo Toots and Terje Toomistu for their support in the various aspects of playing and documenting these two performances.

Now Playing

lawrence weschlerseeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees: over thirty years of conversations with robert irwin[2008]
mika taanilathe future is not what it used to be[2002]
mika vainiomagnetite[2012]
nick cave and the bad seedspush the sky away[2013]

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Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova

Posted in Documentation on November 18th, 2012 by admin

I recorded these pieces with Jelena Glazova already last Dec/Jan 2011-12, but they sat around for a while as two people with very busy lives tried to decide what to do with them. Thankfully, Jelena took the initiative in selecting and mastering some of the better moments and put them up in her Bandcamp page. Expect heavy slabs of drone with some nonlinear distortion skittering around the edges. I think Track 4 (“15th Session”) shows the best balance of our two different sound worlds. Thanks Jelena!

Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova by Derek Holzer and Jelena Glazova (2012)


1. 19th session 07:30
2. 13th session 07:46
3. 18th session 07:52
4. 15th session 06:40
5. 27th session 07:32
6. 11th session 06:48
7. 24th session 08:28
8. 26th session 06:09
9. 29th session 07:47

Improvisation sessions recorded during residency at MoKs Arts Center, Mooste, Estonia, winter 2011/2012, selected/mastered March – October 2012

Direct link:

Jelena Glazova is an artist and a poet based in Riga, Latvia. She is working in the interdisciplinary areas of contemporary art, combining in her works image, poetic text, experimental sound and installation. Experimental music activity field – noise/drone, usually constructed from processed vocals.

Derek Holzer is an American sound artist based in Berlin DE, 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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Souvenirs from Abroad

Posted in Documentation on March 24th, 2012 by admin


Sometimes when I think back, all my workshops seem to go by this fast…

The participants in Zagreb were great, super-motivated and highly imaginative. Each and every one of them made some incredibly special and unique SoundBox during the two days we had together, and even played them too… We also squeezed in an early morning trip to the local flea market to put the shop back into workshop. Big thanks to Deborah Hustic for organization and hospitality! Was also great to see some old friends around town, such as Ivan “Kliff” Marusic and Borut Savski.

I think my favorite SoundBox from this workshop was this one, crafted from the end of a trashed accordion:


Between 5-9 March, students of the EKA (Taavi Suisalu, Evi Pärn, Lilli Tölp, Aleksander Sprohgis) learned to make their own primitive noise synthesizers with me. Lilli made this short video capturing the essence of the final presentation plus a tiny bit of my solo set.

Evi also posted two videos, here and here.

Like the previous Neanderthal Electronics presentation, back when Ptarmigan was still located in Helsinki, this one was a complete success. Thanks to Raivo Kelomees and John Fail for organizing the workshop and presentation, respectively. Any account of my Estonian trip would be woefully incomplete without mentioning Timo Toots and Marika Agu and their Sunday-afternoon tour of the Architectural Wonders of Tartu. Aitäh!


Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova live @Taka 16.03.12 pt3 by macumbista

Live set @ Taka, Riga, March 16th, 2012. Derek Holzer: analog synthesizer, soundbox, found objects. Jelena Glazova: voice, laptop.

Parts 1 and 2 plus some studio sessions can be found at Holzer vs Glazova.

Thanks to Sandis Baumanis [ULVE Agency] for organization and photos, Jēkabs Nīmanis for recording, Edgars Rubenis for the mixer and Olesja for the lovely smile.

Unfortunately, the only souvenir that RISEBA, the school I was teaching at, left me was a headache. Typical Latvian new-capitalist neoliberals, they seemed to delight in playing ridiculous games over even the smallest amount of money, making them little better than con-artists. The result: I worked twice as many hours this workshop as last year, for the same amount of pay. Count your fingers after you shake hands with people like these…

On that note…

People like these business-school asswipes make me sicker than ever of this constant freelancing life. I have been actively searching for more constant employment teaching at an art, music or design school lately. If any of my dear readers have tips, I would gladly hear them. In some ways, I am beyond caring where such a job might be at this point…

On the other hand, spring has arrived in Berlin and I have very little travel coming up. While that may make the coming months a bit lean and hungry, I hope to use the time to catch up on projects I have promised people, including two cassette releases and a film soundtrack, as well as building some new soundbox-type instruments for sale. Wish me luck!

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Holzer vs Glazova

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on March 10th, 2012 by admin

Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova 19th session by Holzer vs Glazova

Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova 13th session by Holzer vs Glazova

Playing next Friday with Jelena Glazova in Riga. Had two really great sets, one in Zagreb last week and one last night in Tallinn, with the “new” setup: soundbox, found objects and analog mini-synth, discovering the possibilities of how they work together. Looking forward to mixing with Jelena’s amazing processed vocals.

At the Estonian gig, something in the PA starting smelling quite smokey, despite the fact that everything sounded fine, and afterward many people told me what kind of emotions that smell triggered for them. Interesting… but I don’t want to make a career out of smoking PAs!

In case anyone is curious, Holzer Sr.’s film project Kickstarter has 18 hours to go and has been a success. He flies to Marietta, Georgia on the 14th to have the film transferred to digital and after that I can get to work on the soundtrack. Should be an curious collaboration.

I have absolutely no work lined up for next month, which should make me a bit nervous. But I’ve decided to spend less time online, build some new soundbox-type instruments and get busy pushing them. Please get in contact if you would like something custom.

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Kickstarter + HR-EE-LV Travel

Posted in Announcement on February 28th, 2012 by admin

Machine Deva: An Experimental Art Film

“Machine Deva’s gonna be an unusual experience, it’s someplace between looking at cave paintings in a hand-held home movie that I’ve brought into my dreams.” –Steve Holzer

A distinguished gentleman who I happen to have known my entire life is busy creating his latest camera-less film, and has invited me to help create the soundtrack. He has a Kickstarter page for the project, with a very reasonable goal of $3000 set. He’s halfway there and has only 11 more days to do it. So if you are one of those aspiring patron-of-the-arts-types, you could do worse than to get on board this project. Please drop by and have a look!

Travel & Upcoming Engagements

03-04 March: SoundBoxes workshop + Concert @ Student Center Zagreb HR. Practice your Hrvatski here.

06-09 March: Neanderthal Electronics workshop @ Estonian Academy of Art New Media Dept, Tallinn EE

09 March: Neanderthal Electronics workshop presentation + Concert @ Ptarmigan, Tallinn EE. Read it and weep.

12-16 March: Sound+Space/The Art of Field Recording workshop at RISEBA, Riga LV.

16 March ???: Derek Holzer & Jelena Glazova live set… date and venue to be confirmed, watch this space!

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back to civilization…

Posted in Announcement, Text on January 12th, 2012 by admin

Near village of Mooste EE, 3 Jan 2012

Currently teaching a workshop for the TAIK Media Lab in rainy Helsinki after an amazing New Years trip to MOKS in southeast Estonia, where I walked, cooked, sauna’ed, ate and drank with friends and worked on some sound with Jelena Glazova from Riga. Her processed vocals vs my feedbacking soundboxes… Perhaps some glimpses of this project will make it online later on when I’m back in Berlin and have time to edit them.

I just confirmed two gigs, one Macumbista live set for Electric Spring in Huddersfield UK on 15 February (along with a two day workshop preceding this) and one TONEWHEELS performance and lecture for Sonores in Guimaraes PT on 27 April. I’d be very interested to hear from London people about activities around 16-19 February… pls get in touch!

Now Playing

hive mindelemental disgrace[2011 spectrum spools]

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Video: nonlinearity III

Posted in Documentation on January 3rd, 2012 by admin

nonlinearity III from macumbista on Vimeo.

Q: So what do you do?

A: I make sound instruments that no one’s ever seen before, and then I teach myself how to play them.

Q: Do you play them well?

A: Well, if no one’s ever seen one before, how can they tell if I’m playing it badly or not?

Triple soundbox-drone nonlinearity study, constructed and recorded during my 2011 residency at the Danish Institute for Electro/Acoustic Music, Aarhus and edited during a shorter residency at MOKS, Mooste. Glam-rock, audio-responsive soundbox built for KT.

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Three Instruments Dec 2011

Posted in Documentation on December 29th, 2011 by admin

When people ask me “so what do you do?” these days, I usually reply that I build musical instruments that no-one has ever seen before. And then I teach myself how to play them. The benefit of this is that, if nobody has ever seen the instrument played before, they have no way to tell you you are playing it badly!

During my last couple weeks in Aarhus, I worked on three small instruments with various degrees of success.


I have always loved Ranjit Bhatnagar’s Instrument-a-Day project, so when time came to bring a small, throw-away gift for the traditional Danish Julefrokost at DIEM, I took an hour to whip up this lakrits-box kalimba. The keys are made from streetsweeper bristles found in the gutter. I have no idea who ended up with it.


Quite a few of these SoundBoxes have been rolling out of my studio lately. This one in particular was made for my friend KT, and was played at the 09.12 gig with Krishve. It has a sound-responsive silver-lining, so to speak. Some really incredible drones happen when using the spring-reverb-contact-mic, and I’ll be posting a sound-video soon of what that is like.


Slightly more complicated than the previous two, this is my attempt to clone a Serge Gator synthesizer module, mainly using circuit boards provided by Ken Stone. The Boolean Logic and Pulse Divider sections work perfectly fine, the Divide-by-N Comparator section works about half-way, and the VC TimeGen Clock section doesn’t really function at all yet. However, I ran out of time so the next free moment to look at this will be in mid-January when I return to Berlin from Helsinki. Expect updates and sounds then…

Current Location:

Happy New Year from south-east Estonia!!!

Now Playing

ättestupabegraven mot norr[2010]
barn owllost in the glare[2011]
barn owlshadowland[2011]
sunn o)) + nurse with woundthe iron soul of nothing[2008]

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Posted in Announcement on June 18th, 2011 by admin





Tuned City in Tallinn started already with a series of workshops earlier in spring. In close collaboration with our partner Ptarmigan (, we are offering a series of workshops short before and during the event in July. Invited artists will each share their individual tools for listening to the city, and offer both a deeper insight into their artistic practice and a chance for the participants to become actively involved in the program of the event. And whether those tools be telephones, acoustic tubes, electronic transducers, radio waves or physical movement, the participants in these workshops will never hear the city the same way again.

These workshops are open for registration right now:

Methaphones workshop / July 4 + 5 2011
with Unsworn Telecom (Stockholm, SE)

12-tone filter / July 4 – 10 2011 (during the event)
with eyland 07, René Rissland, Jürgen Lehmeier (Nürnberg, D)

Tuning the City / July 5 – 10 2011 (during the event)
with Mads Bech Paluszewski (Copenhagen, DK)

framework radio – documentation and production / July 7 – 10 2011 (during the event)
with Felicity Ford (UK) and Valeria Merlini (IT / D)
on behalf of Patrick McGinley, framework radio (US / EE)

City sounds concerts / June 28 – July 3 2011
with Ici-Même (Grenoble, F)

An overview can be found here:



07.07.2011 20:00
Charles Curtis (US) – Naldjorlak (by Eliane Radigue)

08.07.2011 21:00
Charlemagne Palestine (BE) – Schlingen Blängen (organ performance)

09.07.2011 21:00
Thomas Ankersmit (NL/D) – Saxophone and Synthesizer Improvisation

10.07.2011 21:00
Maja S.K. Ratkje (NO) – Electro-acoustic Vocals

Traditional and classical music often treat the performance hall as a tabula rasa to be inscribed with sound, and even improvised music can overlook the site it is performed within as an important factor. So what happens when a musician decides to play a duo with space as the partner?

Tuned City has invited four vibrant, innovative and influential contemporary performers to address the topic of sound and space through four individual music performances. Each artist has developed a special relationship over their career with their chosen instrument–the cello, the organ, the saxophone and the voice–which becomes like a spoken idiom to them. Using this unique language, the performers will engage in dialog with a variety of spaces, from the warm, wooden intimacy of a 14th Century horse mill to the cold, concrete depth of Soviet-era industrial structures.

Read more:

Buy Tickets:



This series aims at drawing correspondences between ‚architecture‘ and ‚sound‘ to a more primary relation between notions of ‚place‘ and ‚practices of listening‘. In other words to underscore an interplay between the sense of being ‚situated‘ and the intentionality of what is being ‚heard‘. It is from within this primary level of interactions that a sense of ‚sound‘ as well as a notion of ‚site‘, and by extension ‚architecture‘, are derived in the first place. For the current constellation of talks and presentations a particular emphasis is placed on an understanding of listening, not a biological constant, but rather a ‚practice‘ that both shapes and is shaped by various contexts. In this sense every mode of hearing is understood to be distributed across a diversity of practices and disciplines.

Talks and presentations as well as pertinent artist projects and presentations included in this Tuned City event draw upon recent developments in such diverse fields as urbanism, art and architecture history and theory, philosophy, sensory history, sensory ethnography, archaeoacoustics and musicology, getting closer to what may be at stake in auditory models of ‚situated-ness‘. One common approach, shared by the various practitioners, understands the ‚sonic imagination‘ to be an operative mode of thinking. It is this mode of thinking that potentially engages the social, aesthetic and even ethical, political implications of an attentiveness to the sonority of place. Please have a closer look:



To properly explore the sonic effects possible within the cityscape, it is often necessary to move beyond the traditional model of the seated conference- or performance-audience. For Tallinn 2011, we aspire to present a selection of innovative and fresh sound experiences across several specially-selected locations in the city.

Taking place each afternoon, the Site Specific Projects are a modular series of parallel programs featuring soundwalks, performances, installations and interventions. These projects involve the audience in a new way of experiencing sound and space through the use of sculptural, graphical, musical and sonic means. Some of the projects are designed for a small group of people, keeping the experience of the project both participatory and intimate. Such projects may be offered several times during the Tuned City event. Other projects may only be offered once within the context of the conference program, and some may require registration to keep the audience within a certain size. Please check the project descriptions at our website for more information:

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