MATRIXSYNTH: Making Techno with Music Robots

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Making Techno with Music Robots

Published on Sep 10, 2018 Moritz Simon Geist


"After playing Mutek, CTM and Moogfest, and years of fabrications, tweaks, tests – winning also Visual Music Award 2017 and Initiative Music 2017/18 – robotics engineer and media artist Moritz Simon Geist releases world’s first techno album entirely played by real robots!

Produced by Mouse On Mars' Andi Thoma and due out in November, 'Robotic Electronic Music' is Moritz' debut album, to explore and pioneer the sounds of the more than ever robotized society of nowadays.

'Robotic Electronic Music' is pure mechanical music: precise, pneumatic patterns repeat themselves exploring the sound of mechanics, but none of its beats is like the other.

The album is being preceded by an EP due out in October, inaugurating Sonic Robots Records
(distributed by Kompakt), a label all about automations, mechanics and... techno."

Making Techno with Robots - Behind the Scenes!

Published on Sep 10, 2018 Moritz Simon Geist

"New sounds from the future! Here I explain, which robots I used for the Techno robots video. Everything you hear and see comes from robots. No syntheziser, samplers or CGI added! We want to show a futuristic way of creating music - without synthezisers, but with robots in the real world!

All Robots were built by Moritz Simon Geist and the team of SONIC ROBOTS. This production was funded by the Initiative Musik and the Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen.

Camera and Cut: Robert Arnold / Cuthead"

And the press release:

Moritz Simon Geist, media artist and robotic musician, publishes his first record. It is the world's first techno record played entirely by self-made futuristic robots.

All of the sounds on his records are played by robots: small motors that beat on metal, futuristic 3D-printed robo-kalimbas, salvaged parts from old hard drives that click and cut. It took Geist several years to build, tweak, test and play all his DIY robotic instruments.

His 'Sonic Robots' try to push the boundaries of the imaginable. He did so already in 2012 with his well-known oversized 808 robot – an iconic drum machine gotten real, 4 by 2 meter, filled with robotic parts which play the instruments live and in front of the audience.

Now, Moritz Simon Geist goes even further to discover the unknown and futuristic world of techno robotics. For this quest, he teamed up with the Berliner sound wizards from Mouse On Mars and dug deep in the history of mechanical music and experiments of early electronic music.

On the Album “Robotic Electronic Music” Moritz Simon Geist extends the futuristic approach to music making he introduced in his first EP.

The opener “Entropy” could already be found on his EP, a bassy club-track, played by robotic kalimbas, a psychedelic pattern of tonal glasses and pneumatic hi-hat patterns. It is also featured in the main video, but even without a visual part, listening to his music, a sound world opens up which is unheard of before: in definition, reference and organic nature. Geist: “When you listen to robots playing, you realize, that they sound precise, but in contrast to digital sounds they transport an immense organic feeling. No beat is like the other, everything is played with actual acoustic physicality and thus the actual error. At the same time, the repetitive nature of the robots makes it perfect for playing electronic music. It's industrial and organic at the same time.”

The track ”The DNA of Drumming” explores the combination of ritual drumming and robots. Moritz Simon Geist took several tuned drums and let robotic actuators play rhythms, combining everything to a reduced slow stomper that slowly moves in a hypnotic manner.

“In G# (Katze läuft über Klavier)” is a direct reference to Terry Riley’s “In C”. The song starts with a robot hammering on prepared piano strings, being slowly filled with robotic marimbas, glasses, robotic shaker robots and Moritz’ own invention, and mechanic relay synthesizer, which plays notes and melodies with mechanic tongues. It’s the warmest song on the album and the only one featuring stronger melodic movements.

What Moritz Simon Geist came up with is a stunning record of what is possible today – to explore the sound of mechanics that keeps on filling our world. Geist creates a smashing soundtrack for both the precise automation and physical fragility that shapes today's society.

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