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”A musician at heart, inventor born of curiosity, and innovator by necessity, I believe the world calls him the 'Godfather of Controllerism' for damned good reasons." - John Tackett, Crowd Wire
History notes only a handful of artists who successfully pushed the limits - both with their music and with the design of their musical instruments. What Bach was to the keyboard and Hendrix was to the guitar, Moldover is to the controller. Disillusioned with “press play DJs”, Moldover fans eagerly welcome electronic music’s return to virtuosity, improvisation, and emotional authenticity. Dig deeper into Moldover’s world and you’ll uncover a subversive cultural icon who is jolting new life into physical media with “Playable Packaging”, sparking beautiful collaborations with his custom “Jamboxes”, and drawing wave after wave of followers with an open-source approach to sharing his methods and madness.
Four Track is Moldover’s newest album, which follows the success of his eponymous debut record and the live mashup mixes that first brought him to prominence. Inspired by the honest simplicity of the songs he wrote as a teenager, as well as recent experiences of lost love and family tragedy, Moldover has painstakingly alchemized a dozen new songs, equally heartfelt and magnetic. Merging rich vocal harmonies, organically twisted guitar textures, and meticulously sculpted beats, Four Track is a compelling bridge from the digital sounds of glitch-hop, complextro, and neuro-funk to the familiar sounds of roots blues, metal, and grunge rock. Whether near Moldover’s home base of San Francisco, or his oft-travelled paths across North America and Europe, the artist is equally comfortable sharing his craft at underground parties and major international festivals including Sonar, Mutek, and Coachella.
While writing Four Track and conceiving its live performance, Moldover designed a trio of new hardware instruments: The Mojo, The Robocaster, and The MC1. Each has been diligently developed through cycles of workshop-prototyping, live use on stage, and consultation with design mentors. These radical devices are the primary conduit for Moldover’s musical ideas, enabling exceptionally fluid performances that make the veil of technology transparent, even to fierce technophobes. Respected as much for forging new instruments as he is for creating new music, Moldover has worked with renowned artists including Bassnectar, DJ Shadow, and Will-i-am, as well as leading music tech companies Native Instruments, Ableton, and Livid Instruments, to realize new designs. Moldover is a frequent guest speaker at elite tech-industry events and top tier design schools including Stanford, NYU, and MIT.
Melding his instrument design skills with his original music in another groundbreaking way, Moldover has re-conceptualized what it means to “play” an album with the invention of Playable Packaging. Each physical copy of a Moldover album combines a form of established media (CDs, USB thumb-drives, etc.) with a miniature electronic instrument. The Light-Theremin CD case that accompanies his eponymous 2009 album is the first realization of this concept. This technological twist on traditional media garnered widespread attention and grossed Moldover over $100,000 in physical sales. Presenting an answer to declining record sales, industry icon Bob Lefsetz suggests "How about that guy Moldover, with the theremin built into his CD case?” Sonic State's Mark Tinley calls it "utterly brilliant" and Engadget senior editor Thomas Ricker simply says, "you will believe.”
THE VOICE CRUSHER
With the Playable Packaging for Moldover’s new album Four Track, he goes future-retro, building a USB thumb-drive onto a custom circuit board with the exact size and shape of an old-school cassette tape. While one side of the device looks deceptively similar to a real cassette, the back is packed with buttons, lights, and electronic components that form an instrument called The Voice Crusher. Speak into the microphone, tweak the controls, and hear a circuit-bent, pitch-shifted version of your own voice echoing back at you. Attach the USB thumb-drive to a computer and enjoy the music, video, and other multimedia content of Four Track.
Alongside the constellation of performance instruments and Playable Packaging that empower Moldover’s solo artistry, he has also developed a separate lineage of multiplayer instrumentscalled Jamboxes. Dedicated to empowering the creativity of others and sharing the joy of spontaneous musical collaboration, Moldover’s Jamboxes bundle current music technology into easily understandable and casually enjoyable devices. Building on the uncanny popularity of his first design called The Octamasher, Moldover and a growing community of collaborators have constructed dozens of bespoke Jamboxes showcased at jamboxes.net and appearing frequently at clubs, museums, and festivals around the world.
Before coming into his own as a self-producing artist and instrument designer, Moldover was best known as the catalyst for a sea change in electronic music performance. Noting early signs that software and computer-controllers would soon eclipse the use of traditional tools in DJ culture, he made a calculated maneuver:
1. Publish an elaborate video revealing all the details of his performance techniques.
2. Give away the custom software tools and meticulously organized music files used in his performance.
3. Coin the new term “controllerism” to encompass the work, not declaring himself as its inventor, but as an active participant in the inevitable revolution.
Moldover’s video quickly became one of the most virally influential music-creation guides of all time. European press dubbed him "The Godfather of Controllerism" and he quickly rose to prominence as a guru in the flourishing amateur-DJ and hacker/maker scenes around the world. As a life-long lover of education and cultural evangelism, Moldover went on to make a series of additional how-to videos, host workshops, and develop the community website controllerism.com, all with a fierce passion to spread his love of controllerism.
Moldover grew up in Rockville Maryland, patterning his earliest music after the rock, pop, and metal that spoke to him through radio, television, and his elder brother’s record collection. He wrote songs, played in bands, and taught himself the recording arts with a basement full of second hand instruments and a four track tape machine. In 1998 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music where he abandoned pop songwriting and shifted his focus to classical composition, jazz arranging, and electronic music production. Moldover graduated suma cum laude from Berklee and moved to New York City to work as a freelance musician. Intent on merging his love of playing in ensembles with his electronic compositions, he wove his way through a series of live-electronic bands, eventually becoming disillusioned with New York’s exclusive and socially complex live music scene. At the same time he began seeing his favorite electronic music artists play live, but found that their stage performances lacked the creative fire of their recorded works. Seeing an opportunity, he ventured out as a solo artist, relocated to San Francisco, and set about creating performances that would bridge the gap between traditional musicianship and modern electronic music culture.
More at Moldover.com
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