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Mercredi, 07 Décembre 2011 12:30

Machine Head: Engineer Builds Instruments for One-Man Metal Band

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  • 12:30 pm  | 
  • Wired December 2011

Tristan Shone using his Headgear mic array
Photo: Jeremy and Claire Weiss

By day, Tristan Shone is a mild-mannered geek who builds custom add-ons for electron microscopes at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research. By night, the 34-year-old performs bone-chilling doom metal in a band called Author & Punisher. It may sound like he’s leading a double life, but the two gigs are more similar than you might think: Shone is the only member of Author & Punisher, and he personally designed, prototyped, and machined each of his instruments. The centerpiece of his live act is a set of four gizmos he calls dub machines—Arduino-powered gear he can manipulate to produce sounds, loops, and rhythms. There’s Rack & Pinion, which looks like a keyboard. It allows him to bend and warp samples by sliding six velocity-sensitive keys back and forth on Teflon-coated pipes. As he plays Rack & Pinion with his left hand, his right hand pumps an instrument called Rails back and forth like a slide trombone, or spins the aptly named Big Knobs. All the while, he’s singing and beatboxing into an array of eight microphones called Headgear.

Juggling all that machinery is tricky, but the real challenge is making sure the wires don’t pop out of the microcontrollers. “Whether it’s the things I make at my day job or for my music, 99 percent of the time, the problem is wiring.” Perhaps that’s what fuels his rage in songs like “Terrorbird” and “Sand, Wind, and Carcass.”


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