Maybe it’s just guitar burnout, or perhaps regardless of your undying love for vibrating strings and humbuckers one maxim remains true: gear nerds should be stoked on diy electronics rigs.
Oh, and speaking of maxims, Hiram Maxim have one of those. I like to think of this as the unofficial companion piece to last week’s Hot Nerds Rigged feature, except Hiram Maxim’s is held together by far more solder, cable spaghetti, and gusto. I mean, Jesus Christ none of that shit looks secured to a surface, none of the wires are fastened together, there are clamps carrying, I don’t know current or something. The whole thing is dangerous and exciting, like fucking a martial artist atop of a charging hippo.
I’m just going to stand back lest I touch the wrong mysterious black box and something explodes. But just one question: do I cut the red wire or the yellow one? Think, think… don’t freak out here. The timer still has 2 minutes left.
Hiram-Maxim’s debut is out March 3rd on Aqualamb Recs. You can preorder it here.
I am Lisa Miralia, and I perform with electronics and backing vocals in the band Hiram-Maxim. Folks have expressed curiosity about my gear, so here’s a rundown of the rig I use specifically for Hiram-Maxim.
I perform and compose electronics/vox relying on intuition and active listening to what my bandmates are doing. I employ a mostly improvisational approach to creating my parts for our sets, with skeletons of composed scores used for certain parts of our pieces. Half my gear involves seemingly random circuitry interaction and variables, patches of which are nearly impossible to recreate exactly due to the nature of my gear. While this can be a challenge, this approach lends itself well to using intuition and befriending the ghosts in the machines. They can be moody as hell, but when all the stars align and the machines are happy, sublime and transcendent things can occur. Formulas don’t interest me. It’s sublime transcendence in the moment that really flips my switch.
I use two Shure SM 58 vocal mics. One is run clean into my mixer. The other is run through Earthquaker Devices’ Disaster Transport SR dual delay pedal with reverb and modulation. This pedal works by taking sound input and routing it directly into a new dimension of space and time deep within that secret cave in Tibet where the monks meditate and where unknown forces and energies modulate the sound waves before returning them to the here and now via this pedal. It’s quite remarkable, this processing. Proud to have Earthquaker Devices headquartered here in NE Ohio and staffed by a bunch of musician friends – they invent and build unique effects pedals.
The Mysterious White Box: This is a one-of-a-kind homemade experimental electronic sound generator based on a Peter Blasser schematic. Activated by touch-control, this box allows me to intuitively connect circuits with my fingers via skin touch and compose in the moment with a full range of dynamic and sound frequency capabilities. Runs on a 9Volt battery. This was my first piece of real noise gear, and I used to take it around with me for random guerilla noise jams because of the built-in speaker and battery power.
The Mysterious Black Boxes: These are two unique homebuilt experimental electronic boxes used together to generate weird sounds – one box has 6 separate oscillator circuits that can be connected and combined in multiple ways using alligator clips to create infinite possibilities for sound generation. The other box contains a mixer, clock divider, photo-cell oscillator, and is rumoured to contain a chip infused with Roswell alien dna that was reverse-engineered at Area 51. Both boxes are powered by 9Volt batteries and Hollow Earth energy sources of which information is classified, but which when intuitively tapped into, dramatically affect their sound and playability. These took a long time and a lot of practice to figure out. I run them through a Boss GE-7 EQ pedal in order to not rupture the eardrums of innocent and unsuspecting passersby.
Thingamagoop 2: This is an analog + digital synthesizer handmade by Bleep Labs that can be controlled with light. It has built-in analog/digital modes, an analog VCO controlled by a photocell, a controllable LEDacle, wave modulators, a built-in speaker and other features, and runs on a 9Volt battery. It looks like a robot to me, so I named it George in honor of former local noiser George Viebranz aka Steve Dracula in whom I found great inspiration last decade before he gave it all up.
Yamaha CS1x keyboard synth: This model is Yamaha’s first analog emulation performance keyboard synth. It’s a digital synthesizer that emulates analog style, sounds, and controls. Mine is a hand-me-down and pretty beat up, but it works well for my purposes. I use it mostly for creating and modulating bass drones and atmospherics.
Mixer: My mixer is the scumnoise standard Behringer Xenyx 1202FX, commonly used due to its affordability, durability, and versatility. I pretty much just run things through it clean, with a bit of eq-ing and on occasion a slight touch of effects. Haven’t messed with the advanced functions on this unit. There are enough people already out there working with feedback loops and the like – I try to do my own thing without venturing into that territory.