Scott Barton’s Expressive Machines is when guitars meet robots

I just did some sessions with a very interesting VA-based NY-native new music composer by the name of Scott Barton. Besides being a guitar player who loves to bit-crush, loop and edit the shit out of his performances, this nice guy also studies applied robotics down in Virginia where together with other students he builds robots which (who?) can actually play instruments (or which are instruments themselves). The three prototypes they built are: MADI which plays the snare with two dozen different beaters; CADI which is a beater that can be applied to any percussive instrument; and PAM, which is a two-string instrument with a pick and some “fingers” that clamp down the strings to create different pitches and sounds like a mixture of a sitar and some middle eastern instrument or a zither. As you can imagine the record I am mixing is actually played by Scott himself on guitar and these robots (along with a bunch of other human guests). I think that definitely qualifies as one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on lately (besides the always exciting ones I do with Zorn) and aside from the concept the music is very cool too. Definitely hard to label or even describe, I’d say it’s sort of a mixture of glitch-electronica, experimental noise and digital hardcore (treated, finely minced and bit crushed distorted electric guitars).
Not sure when this album will be finished or released but keep an eye out for the creations by Scott Barton and check out his websites and (it’s also a nice coincidence for me that this project’s name has two sixths of the words that make up my old electro-industrial band’s name, which was The M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab – which stands for Modern Expressive Machines Of Revolutionary Youth).

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