10 June 2007

Birotronics, Or: The Lesser-known Mellotron

Sacha sent me this link to an article in The Believer, a magazine to which I should have a subscription anyway. It’s about Dave Biro and the homebrew 8-track-based analog sampling keyboards he built for Rick Wakeman of Yes.

[The magical sound] was coming from Rick Wakeman, prog rock’s wizard — the guy even wore a glittering silver cape onstage — and the keyboard Wakeman was playing cost thirty-five hundred dollars new. Biro didn’t have anything near that, and his unemployment checks weren’t going to last forever.

But he could get nineteen automotive 8-track decks from the junkyard for twenty dollars each — and an old piano from a friend, pulling the keys out one by one — and he could stay up thirty-six hours at a time in his father’s garage, working and working — recording, splicing, wiring, cross-fading, figuring out the action of the board, grinding the ivory off the keys to glue in electrical contacts...

Also, don’t miss the sound samples of the Birotron and other wacky devices.

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