Part Human, Mostly Robot: Jazari Releases Debut EP

jazari

Free Music Friday: Patrick Flanagan, band leader of the mostly robot band Jazari, let us know that he’s released a new EP, The Human Element, that’s available as a free download. Flanagan leads and controls Jazari, but his ‘bandmates’ are electroacoustic music robots.

According to Flanagan, The Human Element “synthesizes three years of research into the possibilities of musical human-machine interaction.” The music on Jazari’s debut EP melds custom code, music robots, live performance and vocal effect processing via Flanagan’s iOS app, Vio.

Here’s a video preview of Jazari and its music:

“This band is an argument that there is a lot of new territory left to explore,” says Flanagan. “By building physical drum machines and writing my own software, I can recover the subtle variations of live drums while transforming their sounds into different dimensions.”

Here’s some background on Jazari and Flanagan’s instruments.

The custom-built “Meganome” controller Flanagan uses to play drums synths is inspired by the monome and classic drum machines. It consists of 84 square, illuminated arcade buttons, an XY joystick, two ebony pressure pads, a proximity sensor, and two endless encoders. The case is made from purpleheart and curly maple and the unit weighs in around 25 pounds.

Flanagan also developed the audio engine behind the voice morphing iOS app Vio. Flanagan uses Vio’s psychedelic vocal transformations extensively on The Human Element, morphing his voice to sound like a synthesizer on 8 Bit Mission and an ethereal alien tenor on Meteor Shower.

You can download The Human Element at the Jazari Bandcamp page.

8 thoughts on “Part Human, Mostly Robot: Jazari Releases Debut EP

  1. Wow, look, its an analog version of “Colossus: The Forbin Project!” To build that and then make lively music with it is impressive. He’s right, it could go to a lot of interesting places. If you’ve ever seen one of those giant antique cabinet music boxes that include drums, bells and whistles as well as the main player disk, you get the idea. This guy is crazy-inspired. I smell Kickstarter project….

  2. Patrick

    Awesome stuff!

    Can you explain a little more what you are doing with the controller? Are you triggering MIDI loops that the robots play? It looks like there’s more going on than that.

  3. Thanks, everybody! Hearing feedback like this is big motivator.

    I’ll try to briefly explain what’s going on here. All of the rhythms except the processed djembe is pre-sequenced and triggered with the APC40. I use my own software to handle sequencing instead of Ableton, but it shares Ableton’s clip grid paradigm. On the Meganome controller, each column corresponds to a hit on particular instrument (for example, a solenoid at the edge of the djembe) and each row corresponds to a rhythmic value. Holding a button down generates repeated strikes by a particular solenoid at the rhythmic duration represented by the row. This allow me to “play” 32nd notes without hitting the buttons at insane speeds. All of the drums get processed in MAX/MSP, and on this track I applied a lot of delay, downsampling, frequency shifting, pitch shifting, and chorusing to the improvised djembe solo. The bass sound is the bottom of the djembe, miked with a kick mic and frequency shifted with a pitch envelope on every hit. Thanks for listening and watching, and please share! — Patrick

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