Experimental Sonic Machines

Mask-wearing noise machine primitivist

photo: ashley franklin

Who they?

A DIY DVD arrives in the ES office called ‘Snow Gigs’. The cover features a man in a papier-mâché mask/helmet and a homemade cape of some sort. He holds aloft what might be a battle axe made of cardboard, or possibly an instrument loosely modelled on the an alien’s idea of a guitar. Next to him is a tin foil-covered robot in similar headwear. Press play.

Why Experimental Sonic Machines?

The first couple of tracks are just grainy and noisy VHS footage of the man in the mask striding around a snowy park, his helmet revolving. Then he starts playing his broadsword/guitar. It has a single string. The big silver robot (it’s called Ernie) is whacking two drums mechanically. There’s also a solar powered paper disc player that cranks around wonkily providing rudimentary sequencing. The sound quality is diabolical. The effect is mesmerising.

Tell us more…

“The masks don’t have meanings,” Peter Rollings of Lincoln (for it is he) tells us. “They are made from found things and I improvise, so the masks are developed by chance rather than design. I saw an Open University programme long ago about mystery plays and I liked the enigmatic masks and wanted that sort of thing in my performances.” If you saw The Residents’ film for ‘The Third Reich ’N Roll’ before you knew what to expect, you may have some coping mechanism in place for Experimental Sonic Machines. “I don’t have a manifesto’” he says when quizzed, “except the policy of making things as cheaply as possible using materials which people usually think aren’t valuable and using natural forces such as solar power and gravity”.

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Giddy electronics from Harlem via Oslo and the Ivory Coast