appeared in WIRED 1.5 nov 1993 downloaded from the web on june 7 1995 excerpt (c) 1995 306w


By Robert Neuwirth

Other musicians shy away from computer-generated music and tend to use the computer as an accomplice - albeit quite an adept one - to help achieve musical goals. Matt Heckert and Trimpin both have no interest in creating artificial sounds. "I will only deal with sound that I can produce physically, on site," says Heckert, one of the minds behind the techno- violence noise spectacles of Survival Research Laboratory ... "The computer is purely a means of control. There's no hidden sound coming from tapes or digitally processed samples."

Drawing on his skills as a Mr. Fixit (he started working on cars years before he could legally drive one, and still makes extra money as a mechanic and welder), Heckert has fabricated a symphony of industrial equipment that he calls the "Mechanical Sound Orchestra." Like a mad scientist, he sits calmly at his Macintosh in the middle of all his intimidating instruments and makes them play. He flicks one key and a gargantuan steel cable starts slinging around a four-foot washer. Another small keystroke and the rotolin, an industrial-looking giant cylindrical stringed instrument, starts turning and scraping.

Heckert's music is dense and primal. His machine instruments rumble and screech. Though his formal musical training involved little more than learning to play Puff the Magic Dragon on the guitar, Heckert has used his mechanical orchestra in concert with an opera singer. "I built these instruments to play in performances," he says. "I like to play them with my long electrical fingers.... Machines can be emotionally evocative things. They're not stone cold."

Copyright _ 1995 Wired Ventures Ltd. Compilation copyright _ 1995 HotWired Ventures LLC All rights reserved.