Monday, May 17, 2010

The Machine Orchestra of CalArts

While Muse was enjoying LOST LIVE, I too was at an awesome, albeit less popular, concert at CalArts. Thanks to one of my best friends (a CalArts student who contributed to the show) I had an all access pass to the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra. Under the direction of Ajay Kapur and Michael Darling and inspired by the works of inventor/musician/genius/wizard Trimpin, the Machine Orchestra put on a very unique concert full of robots and good music. Yeah, I said robots.

More info, including photos & video, after the jump!

The Music Technology and Technical Direction programs at CalArts joined forces to create the Machine Orchestra. They had a class together where they basically built robotic instruments that rocked (makes most of my college classes look lame). As the official Karmetik website states (more articulately than I ever could): “The Machine Orchestra brings together custom-built robotic musical instruments and human performers with modified instruments, unique musical interfaces, and hemispherical speaker-pods.” In January, the Orchestra premiered their work at Walt Disney Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. Here’s a kind of “making of the band” video filmed before their premiere:

This past Thursday, I saw the Machine Orchestra perform live at the Walt Disney Modular Theater at CalArts. The robotic instruments made it a very visually stimulating concert and the music itself was great too. The concert combined Far East/South Asian music with electronic music. The ethereal Far East music mixed with the harder, beat-driven electronic music created a surprisingly complimentary sound. The sound paralleled the overall concept of the show--a symbiotic performance of live musicians and robotic instruments. Here's a sample of that sound and footage from their January premiere:

My photos from Thursday's performance:

One group of musicians, that performed twice, included a sitar player, cellist, dancers, and one crazy awesome robotic drum:

Here are some of the robots that helped with the electronic, rock, and even hip-hop sounds that were a part of the show:

One of the interfaces was a trampoline! The robot and this performance were both called “B.O.I.N.G.”:

Trimpin, the mentor for this entire event, also gave a special performance with his laptops and a piano he modified just a couple of days before the show:

I had a blast watching Trimpin and the Machine Orchestra and I would like to thank and applaud all the CalArts facility and students that made it happen!