Exposed Circuits and the Human Hand

A live performance video from Hainbach

The human hand is often of secondary importance in the videos I re-post to my ongoing playlist of fine live ambient music performances. Semi-automated machines, so often the foundation of electronic music, are more coaxed than played in many of these performances. The human sets the device or devices in motion, and then the human adjusts things as the device does what was intended, and occasionally stumbles on things that weren’t intended. At times the situation is akin to parental nudges keeping a toddler from wandering into the street; at others it’s like the mostly hands-off administer of a prototype self-driving car keeping the vehicle from hitting said toddler. In some of the most rewarding work, the self-correction surfaces as human-machine simpatico.

In this video, “Love Passes” by the prolific Hainbach, the main instrument is a Plumbutter, the wood-encased synthesizer from Ciat-Lonbarde, developed by Peter Blasser. Here it is processing sounds originating on that little keyboard below it, the OP-1 from Teenage Engineering. At the right of the Plumbutter is a module called the Deerhorn, a theremin-like spatial interface. It’s the gadget that shows exposed circuits on its generic green PCB board, a stark contrast to the rustic quality of the rest of the instrument (or more to the point, a different sort of rustic). Hainbach’s right hand influences the sound based on its relative proximity. It shapes the sounds, lending swells and glitches to the stately note sequence. There is also some irony to the fact that a performance in which the human hand plays an especially prominent role also happens to be a video in which that hand makes no physical contact with the instrument.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at Hainbach’s YouTube channel. More from Hainbach, aka Stefan Paul Goetsch, who is based in Berlin, at and

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