Mechanical Techno: Ghost in the Machine Music

The whole set up is enormously precarious and part of the drama comes from the fact that it might all teeter out of sync or collapse at any moment. If the trend in recent dance music has been to artfully engineer a certain wonkiness into an otherwise strict digital framework, Dunning has found the appeal of the precise reverse: struggling to maintain grid-like rigidity in a system inherently antagonistic to it. – Wire Magazine, August 2015 [link]

Originally a studio project for making recordings, I now also perform live using the Mechanical Techno method. Several looping records spin on the same axle, ensuring they stay approximately in time with each other. I layer up locked groove records, audio triggers to analogue sytnhs, mechanically played percussion such as a cowbell or a cymbal, and mechanically triggered drum machines. I take all these inputs and perform a live dub, mixing down to two channels live in one take.

Lee Scratch Perry described Dub as “the ghost in me coming out” – Using Mechanical Techno set-ups I aim to release the Ghost in the Machine. Each set-up is unique. The technique is inherently clumsy and delicate, leading to frequent and multiple mistakes and accidents. The chance elements and unpredictable aspects lead to compositions I would never think to deliberately make.

The video above is of a live session using Mechanical Techno, the one below is a studio session. Read more on the technique in this article from Create Digital Music.