Photos: Neanderthal Electronics at NK Berlin 02.11

Posted in Documentation on March 15th, 2011 by admin

Photos by Stéphane Bombard. Locations: NK Project Berlin, my home studio RSS82 (last minute repairs), Madame Claude (final presentation). Workshop participants Stéphane Bombard, Julian Ringel, Antonio Cardenas. Thanks guys!!!!!!

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Hotels of Northern Europe

Posted in Documentation on March 11th, 2011 by admin

Yes indeed I have been traveling and working almost nonstop since the start of the Year. A quick rundown of my activities:

09-15 Jan 2011 – Mechanical Sound Instruments workshop, TAIK University of Art and Design, Helsinki FI

Workshop = awesome! Design students built Arduino-powered electro-acoustic instruments like this one below. I’ll be editing video docs I made in Helsinki soon.

Electro-Acoustic Musical Instrument from Palash on Vimeo.

Hotel room = passable. Töölö Towers is the University’s home for wandering academics, with a very institutional vibe, spotty wifi coverage and full length mirrors for me to shoot very serious-looking self portraits in…

18-21 Jan 2011 – Tuned City: sound+space workshop, Estonian Academy of Arts Media Dept, Tallinn EE

Workshop = 5.5 out of 10. I’m still figuring out what kind of tools are necessary to crack the shells of the Estonian oysters. After some prodding, most of the students really gave their best in making and discussing the recordings. One girl Facebooked and texted the entire workshop until I pointed out that her computer was “broken” and she’d be better off at home.

Hotel = decent. Maneezi house, guestrooms of the Estonian Arts Academy, has everything you would ever want in a post-Soviet flat…a long flight of stairs, some heavy metal doors, a warm radiator and even running water.

01-05 Feb 2011 — Regenwald2011 workshop+installation, West Germany/Club Transmediale, Berlin DE

Workshop = mostly good. Trying to wrangle seven very different artistic personalities into one piece in only five days is never easy. I have decided that giving them less freedom rather than more is the only solution. The audience response to the piece, on the other hand, was quite positive and enthusiastic.

Hotel = not applicable. One of the longest stretches I’ve been able to sleep in my own bed in ages!!!

07-11 Feb 2011 – Field Recording workshop, Royal Music Conservatory, Aarhus DK

Workshop = one of the best! Very high level of capabilities by these composition students at the Electronic Music department there. I gave them one hour to take three random one-minute field recordings from their neighbor and make a short piece out of them, and they all pulled it off! And that was only one of the exercises. If only every group I taught had their shit so together.

Hotel = comical. The Cabinn is a concept hotel, they told me. As near as I can figure, the concept was to make the hotel room itself as much like the sleeping couchette on an overnight train as possible.

A few weeks later I saw an exhibition of living/working spaces by French-Israeli artist Absalon at the KW Berlin. Made to the measure of his own body, and likely inspired by the fact that most of the artist’s short life was spent in the Israeli military, the constructions impressed me as the ideal prototype of future dehumanizing architecture for the 21st Century.

12-14 Feb 2011 – Tuned City:sound+space, Estonian Academy of Arts Architecture Dept, Tallinn EE

Workshop: another five and a half. The concept here was to teach architects to experience urban space through sound, and this worked pretty well. The students brought in recordings of various spaces around Tallinn for us to listen to and analyze. My mistake was in giving them “homework” for the last day. Despite assurances from everyone that they had time and energy to do it, only two came back the next day.

Also during this week I braved the -25C weather to investigate some locations for next summer’s Tuned City event, such as the lobby of the Linnahall, a disused auditorium/ice rink constructed for the 1980 Olympic games.

Hotel: deceptively posh. Somehow I was taken in by the spacious rooms, tall windows, tacky wallpaper and inoffensive framed prints of the Old Town Maestro. Until I realized that the strip-club-disco downstairs wouldn’t stop the party until 7am.

23-27 Feb 2011 – Neanderthal Electronics, NK Project, Berlin DE

Workshop = can I call this an 8? What should have been a warm homecoming was dampened by some kind of breakdown in publicity. The three guys that did show up for the workshop kicked some serious ass though, and made really nice boxes which they played the following Monday for the Experimontag at Madame Claude. Photos and such soon.

Hotel = forget it! I locked the door to my flat and stayed in bed for three whole days when all this was over.

Now Playing

ben frostlive at berghain, berlin 24.02.11
earthangels of darkness, demons of light I[2011 southern lord]
elehradiant intervals[2011 important]
flower travellin’ bandanywhere[1970 philips]
tim heckerravedeath 1972[2011 kranky]

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Neanderthal Electronics 2011 @ NK Berlin

Posted in Announcement on January 4th, 2011 by admin

Neanderthal Electronics 2011 @ NK Berlin

Wednesday 23 February 2011 – Sunday 27 February 2011, 12:00-19:00 daily.

This 5 day workshop is designed for up to 12 people, possibly with a background in sound, but with no previous electronics experience. They are shown how to use simple objects from our modern environment (resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, integrated circuit chips…) to design and build their own personal, customized primitive noise synthesizers. Each is a tiny world of its own, using primitive analog computers in combination with feedback, sensors and audio inputs to create a unique sound. Even from the same plan, no two are alike!

Participants are encouraged to use found materials for the construction of their personal instrument, with an emphasis on discovering creative and physical methods of controlling them.

The workshop will conclude with a group performance at Experimontag @ Madame Claude on Monday 28 February and an invitation to the audience to experiment with each of the instruments which have been created. Previous Neanderthal Electronics workshop participants are welcome to join this performance with their own instruments, please contact “MACUMBISTA at_the_domain GMAIL.COM” directly to arrange.

More info and videos from previous workshops can be found here:

Participation is limited to 12 participants.
Registration: Pre-registration is required and can be done by sending an email to

DATES: 23-27 February 12:00-19:00 / Presentation 28 February 21:00 (Madame Claude)

FEE: EUR 120 including materials, with a deposit of EUR 27 to be paid beforehand.

LOCATION: NK, Elsenstr. 52/2.Hinterhaus Etage 2, 12059 Berlin Neukölln/MADAME CLAUDE, Lübbener Str.19, 10997 Berlin Kreuzberg

About the Instructor

Derek Holzer (1972) is an American sound artist living in Berlin, 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.



I will provide most of the tools and materials necessary for constructing your Neanderthal synthesizers, however there are a few things you should bring yourself:

1) A Box (REQUIRED): This should be made of thin wood or cardboard. Plastic can also be used, but it doesn’t sound very good, and metal is too difficult to cut and drill with the tools we will have. This box should be a minimum of 10x10x3cm, or bigger if you want to use a larger speaker or have more room to decorate and add objects. Cigar boxes, small suitcases, instrument cases or jewelry/silverware boxes are all good things to look for. At least one side of the box should be no more than 4mm thick, to allow the potentiometers, switches, knobs and jacks to be mounted.

2) A speaker (OPTIONAL): I will provide a selection of speakers ranging from approximately 6-12cm diameter. If you want to use a larger one, you’ll have to provide it yourself. Besides buying one, you can salvage one from old hi-fi systems or portable stereos.

3) Decorative materials/sonic objects (REQUIRED): Please bring as many found objects as you can to decorate your soundbox or use as a sound source via the contact microphone. Photographs, cloth, leather, paper or any other kind of material can be useful for covering the box and making collages. Bones, shells, small sticks, bells, springs, strings, wires or anything else made out of solid yet resonant material make great sound sources. Paint, markers and pens may also be useful.


–Weekend flea markets at Mauerpark, Arkonaplatz, Schlesisches strasse, Boxhagenerplatz, the canal in Kreuzberg and the Obi parking lot near Templehof
–Your local Humana or other second hand shops
– at Hermannplatz (expensive!)
– near Südstern (architect/designer supply shop)


Please check the videos from previous workshops here:

Some graphical inspiration from participants of Tore “Origami” Boe’s 2009 Acoustic Laptop workshop:

More advanced inspiration can be found by browsing the incredible selection of instruments on the Folktek website:

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Neanderthal SoundBoxes @ NK Project Berlin (27-28.11.10)

Posted in Documentation on December 5th, 2010 by admin

From all those sweaters, you should get a pretty good idea just how cold it is here in Berlin right now! Photos by Julien Percy (NK) and Kyd Campbell (TinyNoise), video by Cy Lixe. Thanks to all the participants, it was awesome!

Now Playing

daniel higgslive in berlin[29.11.10 madame claude/experimontag]
deathspell omegaparacletus[2010 season of mist]
kiss the anus of a black cathewers of wood and drawers of water[2010 zeal]
wolves in the throne roomlive in berlin[24.11.10 cassiopeia]
woven handthe threshingfloor[2010 glitterhouse]

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moddr_opening, iMAL Brussels

Posted in Documentation on November 30th, 2010 by admin

Photos of my SoundBoxes from the moddr opening at iMAL, Brussels, plus Matt Kemp’s Nizo Super 8 Analogue Noise Machine which he made during one of my Neanderthal Electronics workshops in Rotterdam a while back. Photos by Yves Bernard, iMAL.

Now Playing

jack londonthe call of the wild & white fang[1903/1906]
neil younglive rust[1979]
t.e. lawrenceseven pillars of wisdom[1926]

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SoundBox Tech

Posted in Documentation on November 27th, 2010 by admin

Just finished this schematic and stripboard layout for tomorrow’s Neanderthal Electronics workshop at NK Project Berlin. This is a new approach to the NE concept, called simply SoundBoxes which you can read about here. Hoping to do more in the future, as well as making my own unique ones.

The circuit itself is quite simple. Take the reverse-engineered design of one very expensive boutique guitar pedal, slim it down a bit and run it through a half-watt amplifier into a speaker. It’s an unpredictable little monster, which I like best while feeding it’s own signal back to itself via a contact mic and any loose junk that happens to be within reach. Chaotic magic in the works, microcosms in the making…

ACHTUNG! Double check the pin orientation of the Germanium PNP transistors! I can sure for sure that at least the 2N404 is wrong, which may account for several failed builds during workshops. I will update the artwork eventually. Until then… Google is your friend.

All artwork draw by myself with help from these sources:
La Revolution Deux

Now Playing

crippled black phoenixi, vigilante[2010 invada]
kevin drumm & tom smithreconquer sleep or disappear[2010 savage land]
tindersticksfalling down a mountain[2010 4ad]

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“nonlinearity I” video + SoundBoxes in Brussels

Posted in Announcement on November 7th, 2010 by admin

nonlinearity I

nonlinearity I from macumbista on Vimeo.

After touring 3 weeks with 25 Kg of heavy metal synthesizer in a suitcase, I came home wanting something a bit lighter and simpler. My back-to-basics approach uses one SoundBox built for workshops with gypsy children and Afghan refugees in Hungary a few months ago, one contact mic, a Germanium transistor distortion pedal and 10 years worth of found objects collected on trips around the world.

At the heart of this video lies the concept of nonlinearity, that most basic building block of chaos theory and the wonderful complexities of our natural world. The microphone/speaker loop forms a system into which the nonlinear irregularities of 9V electronics, beads, springs, moss, shells and bits of bone produce unique bifurcations and attractors. Shaking things up a bit resets the system and new chaotic patterns begin to emerge…

SoundBoxes in Brussels

Three Neanderthal Electronics works of mine will be shown as part of the moddr_* showcase at iMAL in Brussels this month:

* BlueLightSpecial (2009)
* SoundBoxOne(“handmade”) (2010)
* SoundBoxTwo(“indianblanket”) (2010)

The show runs 13 November – 12 December 2010 and also features far more computer-oriented works by Gordan Savicic, Danja Vasiliev, Walter Langelaar, Julian Oliver, Martin Howse, Jonathan Kemp, Matt Kemp, Philip Lammer and Florian Cramer.

asbl iMAL vzw – 30 Quai des Charbonnages/Koolmijnenkaai 30 – 1080 Bruxelles/Brussel 1080
Opening on Saturday 13th of November, 15:00 – 23:30
with moddr_ workshop and performances, check the complete program! Finissage on Sunday 12th of December.
Opening hours:
Wed > Sat, 12:30 – 18:30. Free admission

BlueLightSpecial + SoundBoxOne("handmade")


Thanks to Walter Langelaar for the invitation!!!!

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Apparat review by Kunsten.Nu

Posted in Documentation on October 26th, 2010 by admin

The first workshop we visited, took place at the Utzon Center and was led by the American sound artist Derek Holzer. Under the title Neanderthal Electronics went about building his own synthesizer of simple electronic components and colorful spots such as old toys. Holzer with no technical training built his own large appliances, reminiscent of an old Moog from the 1960s, and the workshop will inspire you to start from scratch and acquire the technology in a punk-esque “Do-it-yourself’ style .

Thus, he will also bring artists and engineers closer together. As he says, it is often the case that when artists need anything from technicians, they say something like “Make me something sad” while the technician will answer “How many units is it?”. It must be possible to find a common language, and you can do at the workshop over the soldering iron.

Text & photos by Kristian Handberg, translation by Google. Read the original here.

Bonus track: live set and workshop photo by Søren Skjødt:

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Neanderthal Electronics Aalborg

Posted in Documentation on October 25th, 2010 by admin

The Neanderthal Electronics workshop in Aalborg was a success. A small but dedicated group from Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Lithuania created a selection of incredible little instruments, with an emphasis on found toys, contact mics, feedback and chaos! Thanks to Edit, Christian, Mads, Gabi and Isa for a colorful time at the Apparat/Platform4 event!

More photos from Apparat by Sami Sänpäkkilä of Fonal Records here!

Now Playing

jazkamerwe want epic drama[2010 pica disk]
jazkamermatthew 28:17[2010 pica disk][Tusen takk John!!!!]

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Videos x 2

Posted in Documentation on October 11th, 2010 by admin

One video from my Neaderthal Electronics workshop in Malmo last week, and a roundup of the UH Festival night where I played last Saturday. Enjoy!

Neanderthal Electronics: Kajonimba (Electric Cajon Kalimba) by wihle

Here’s a small presentation of my newly built electric rhythm instrument I made in a workshop by Berlin-based sound artist, Derek Holzer. The result sounds something like Tom Waits with semi-constant feedback.

The box includes a primitive spring reverb, two piezo-mics, a broken baby monitor set (a send and a receive unit), two super simple amplifiers and a built-in speaker for acoustic performance. I’ll add an output later to be able to play my kajonimba through external speakers.

Featuring Bartha Mark & Takacs Borza Akos, Valerio Tricoli w/ Robert Piotrowicz, Piotr Kurek, Derek Holzer, Kria Brekkan, Lasse Marhaug and Thomas Fehlmann, but sadly no Lau Nau

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