German band Joasihno strikes a chord in a unique way as it takes its show on the road.
Currently touring in Canada, the two-man band works in concert with a “robotic” element that can play several instruments at the same time.
“Actually we call it psychedelic robot orchestra,” said Cico Beck, one of the creators of the band. “It’s a combination of acoustic instruments but also very trashy robot instruments,” he added.
Once hooked up to wires and set up, instruments that include a xylophone, drum and cymbal play on their own. Another contraption, a horizontal, self-revolving wooden stick, stands atop a microphone stand. The stick contains long strings tied on each end with a wooden ping pong-sized-ball attached. As the stick rotates, the balls hit a block on the floor, creating a hollow knocking sound.
Beck said a computer is at the heart of the self-playing instruments.
“Most of this stuff is controlled by the computer. The computer can translate voltage signals, so the robots are controlled by the voltage, that is controlled by the computer,” Beck said.
Playing in an experimental band with a robot orchestra is not the same as playing in a traditional one, said Nico Siereg, the other Joasihno member.
WATCH: Robotic orchestra
”It’s a little bit different because you also have in mind that there are machines playing with you, so there’s no reaction from them.”
Siereg said in some ways, once the robots are programmed, he is free to focus on what he is playing and even improvise. The musician said he can envision future scenarios in which technology plays a greater role in creating different types of music; but, he voiced hope that “real music won’t die.”
Even if the robots are not taking over the music world, Beck said it is undeniable that in the 21st century, music and technology are intertwined.
“Technology is like a very important tool that even, very often, it’s also a very important part of inspiration,” he added.
Joasihno performed several shows at the now-concluded music festival and tech conference known as South by Southwest, held in Austin, Texas. The experimental band is hoping its high-tech use of instrumentals will be music to one’s ears.