Live music is all about the performance — you don’t go to watch your favorite band in concert for the acoustics. If sound quality was your motivation, you’d be better off spending the money on a decent pair of headphones and staying home. You go to see an exciting show, but fans of electronic music are often left dissatisfied if the performer just looks like they’re pushing buttons on a laptop. That’s why Moritz Simon Geist created his unique robot band, which is a kind of kinetic art piece in its own right.
If you’re just listening to one of Geist’s recordings, you’d probably categorize it as electronic music in the vein of deadmau5 and Daft Punk, created with synthesizers. But, if you watch Geist perform, you’ll see that the reality is quite different. While he does use synthesizers for some of his work, the real magic behind the music is the army of strange robots that make up Geist’s “band.” These aren’t just off-the-shelf robot arms playing drums, they’re completely custom creations designed for the sole purpose of making music.
Each robot is built to generate a specific sound, and Geist coordinates them like a conductor of an orchestra. One robot’s purpose may be to simply click a relay open and closed, while another just moves a hard drive arm back and forth. One of Geist’s more complex robots is a mechanical relay synth, which produces square waves by using a guitar pickup and microphone placed near metal tongues. Each robot is its own work of art, and as a group they turn Geist’s show into an art installation, theatrical performance, and concert all rolled into one.