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GONZO WEEKLY #349/50: Experimental Sonic Machines

And oh, my life gets stranger and stranger. Some weeks ago I received, totally unsolicited, a DVD in the post. It was from somebody called Experimental Sonic Machines, and it was packaged in some delightfully lo-fi artwork.

It stayed on my desk for several weeks, but yesterday I felt moved to put it on the DVD player.

A bit of context: Corinna, mother and I had just been checking over the final edit of the latest episode of our WebTV show, On The Track, and felt like some light relief. And nothing gives light relief more than an unfathomable piece of avant guard film making, which is what I was sure this was. And so we sat down to watch it. It turns out that Experimental Sonic Machines is actually a bloke called Peter K. Rollings, who apparently even appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.

He’s quoted in the Belper Independent News:

“I was really into bands like Joy Division when I was at school. Primitive, simple music, powerful music so you don’t have to be a great musician to play that style. And that set me off coming up with my own basslines thirty years ago, but I found my other friends didn’t like my style so I couldn’t do my music as part of the band. So I got thinking I might have to make machines that would do the role of the bass player and drummer. I came up with things like the cardboard disc player which was just a cardboard disc with holes in it. When 2010 came I thought I was getting a bit old, I was getting into my forties, so I ought to make a start with my music. I launched on the open mic scene and now I really am doing the music I wanted to do.”

And yes, the music sounds like a strange mix of Joy Division and The Residents. Despite being often atonal and jagged, it has a beautifully organic insistence about it. And there is something oddly endearing about the fact that his robotic music makers – like his outlandish costume – are obviously homemade.

This man is a true original. And, once again, I have appointed myself as his agent, here on earth, and I will do my best to bring you more information about him as and when I can. I wrote to him asking for an interview, and received an answer just as I was finishing dictating this.

If there is anything as a typical Gonzo Weekly artist, it is this wonderfully eccentric, and oddly beautiful, little ensemble.

Watch this space. And listen to our telephone conversation...

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