Obsolete technology band

Radiohead held a contest for fans to remix the single Nude from their album In Rainbows. Frontman Thom Yorke mentioned on NPR that the contest was essentially a joke, since the Nude track is recorded at 6/8 timing and 63bpm, much slower than traditionally mixed music. The above video from [James Houston] is one of the most creative entries. Using old computer hardware he has recreated the track in a very unique way. He uses a Sinclair ZX Spectrum for the guitar track, a dot matrix printer for the drums, a scanner for bass, and a hard drive array for vocals.

Want to make your own band with obsolete technology? Click through for a few pointers to get you started.

Scanners used to be the hot peripherals of their day; now many are reduced to collecting dust. Revive these relics and put them to good use as instruments.In the Radiohead video we saw an array of hard drives used as speakers. Afrotechmod created the video above featuring the Star Wars theme. He wired the audio input directly to the coils used to control head and platter motion. Since all hard drives are different it may take a little poking around to get the desired effect.

Dot matrix printers are well known for their iconic sounds. In the above video, [Sue Harding] tells us about her experiences with them and how she plays around with color and character density to create new sounds.

Lastly, we have the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. While it’s not entirely clear what program is being used, there are quite a few audio trackers available for the platform. The video above is a ZX Spectrum demo made by Digital Reality.

[via Waxy]


  1. Karu says:

    This is sincerely badass.

  2. Jack says:

    That was actually beautiful.

    Something that awesome belongs in a museum.

  3. mindbleach says:

    It brought a tear to my eye. The slow start with the program loading and the printer clunking away left me completely unprepared for how wondrous the scratchy hard drive recreation of Thom Yorke’s voice is, and that scanner is perfect for the song.

    I agree with jack. This piece belongs in a museum, where it can chime out the hour.

  4. Glad you liked it guys! :)

  5. dirk says:

    i wish the video about the printers had been less ‘ooh look video effects’ and more useful.

  6. Dok says:

    I played that video and had my own harddrive speaker handle the sound.. now that was interesting.

  7. Jax184 says:

    I’ve been slowly working up to something like this myself. I have access to a metric buttload of old gear from my personal collction and the computer recycling center (Free Geek Vancouver) I volunteer at. I’ll be sure to let everyone know if I ever finish it.

  8. james,

    thanks for coming by, really amazing work here

  9. Rubicon says:

    I’m not at all familiar with the sinclair as it’s a bit before my time but does has anyone ever seen anyone turn one into a circuit bending rig? I mean I know it’s a more of a computer than the typical toys and keyboards used for bending, but is it possible mess with the sound outputs on one of these cause that would be friggin’ sweet.

  10. ■ says:

    wow this stuff is golden! Great hack

  11. califrag says:

    this is absolutely amazing and sounds so beautiful. i love it. please make more songs and music.

  12. sj says:

    This is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.

  13. tjhow says:

    instructions, NOW!

  14. Tom says:

    Full of good and win.

    But really, that was incredible!

  15. Justin says:

    Just have to say, that has got to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. You should put that in a gallery some place, truly a work of art!

  16. Dev Joshi says:

    beautiful – never before has so much colour come from such gray objects

  17. Adam Ziegler says:
  18. Pragma says:

    Gotta give credit where it’s due: that was incredible. And I don’t even listen to Radiohead.

    Also, microphone placement has everything to do with using that scanner as a bass. We all know how noisy the steppers in those things are, but I had no clue that they resonated on the low end so much: maybe it’s the scanner enclosure itself that helps, kind of like a guitar?

  19. andrew says:

    wow this is really amazing, i especially like how he filmed it and didn’t just whip out a dv camera — it makes it look like it was actually from the 80s.

  20. Peter says:

    treewave also does music with old hardware — http://www.treewave.com/gear.html

  21. fartface says:

    Ok THAT is a real hack.

    Awesome and major cool.

  22. Decepticon says:

    The hard drive speakers give a really spooky/ghostly eerie tone to the vocals. Very nicely done! and yes, this does belong in a museum. One question, why so many HD’s as speakers? Does each platter produce a different frequency of the sound or is it for amplitude?

  23. Doomstalk says:

    Hey James, out of curiosity did you get the idea for the HDD speakers from Afrotechmods.com? A good friend of mine runs that site.

  24. Tom says:

    I can’t stop listening to this, it’s truly beautiful.

    hack-a-day is lots of things but it has never done this to me. awesome.

    Thank you.

  25. Keatwon says:

    It’s pretty amazing how accurate the vocals sound.

  26. F00 f00 says:

    Theres got to be more info on this. This video really needs a follow up. Outstanding stuff, more like this everyone.

  27. florin_gtrst says:

    this so beautiful :D great work man. all of it… the music, the video… really great.

  28. Chuck says:

    OH HELL YEAH! Now this is what it’s all about.

  29. tki says:

    Perfect, you never need better setup for the thing that’s called music widely by the masses.

  30. keneida says:

    the bestest for me is:

  31. Steffen says:

    great article, it really made me want to post.

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