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Ambient Amateur Hour

From a delightful Lullatone device

The ever-inventive Lullatone share a gizmo that’s part turntable, part children’s toy, and all manner of delight — or what Lullatone call “ambient amateur hour” in the best possible way. The device, what the Lullatone duo have named their Perpetual Melody Machine, has four bells rotating, evenly spaced, with a suspended ball bouncing between them. It’s like a wind chime benefiting from the equivalent of a most consistent wind, yet nonetheless retaining the sense of chance that gives chimes their nature-like quality.

Using simple editing techniques, the initial video is doubled, then doubled again, slowed and and reversed, resulting in variations of combinations of layers. It’s to Lullatone’s credit that not only are the individual variations entirely enjoyable, but the whole thing, almost seven minutes long, is edited together into one seamless stretch of musical economy, right up to the very end, when Shawn James Seymour, half of Lullatone (the other half being Yoshimi Tomida), reaches a hand in from off-screen, hits the off button on the turntable, and brings the spinning to a close.

Writes Seymour of the Perpetual Melody Machine’s development two decades back:

The pendulum-like swing of the mallet was kind of a nod to the minimalist music of Steve Reich and Kousugi Takehisa, with the way ideas are sometimes better than finished products like John Cage, and the somnolent spinning of Alexander Calder (I had to use a thesaurus to find a good word that started with s), mixed with the playful experimentation in the “Useless Machines” of Bruno Munari.

Video originally posted at YouTube. More from Lullatone at lullatone.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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