In a shopfront gallery on Brunswick Street experimental composer and performer Ernie Althoff sets up his homemade music machines on a table. The machines are simple structures that are designed to simultaneously be played, play by themselves, and respond to the vagaries of a spinning pendulum, the wind, or any number of other external elements. It is mid-winter and some of the audience have gone out in the freezing wind to smoke, others are poring over stands of CDs and records for sale. Leads are plugged in; tiny motors begin to rotate, sending the fragile self-playing instruments into motion. The crowd are still conversing, but slowly, attention turns to the machines. Vertical strips of sheet metal twist like leaves in the wind, catch on suspended nails, or touch the inside of an empty tin can. The turning and spinning create a pleasantly arrhythmic series of chiming tones. He places a golf ball in a large flattened bowl, moving it around, producing a kind of rolling bass. He adds a shaker to the mix, waggles metallic clapping sticks, taps a toy drum. Irregular yet synchronized. He is constantly adjusting, shifting, and varying his devices. The effect is an intimate sound experience.
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