Mute Unveil Handheld Synth, Compilation Featuring Members of Factory Floor and Throbbing Gristle

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 10.30.14 in News

Mute and Dirty Electronics have revealed the details behind Mute Synth II, a handheld synthesizer/sequencer created in collaboration with graphic designer/writer Adrian Shaughnessy. According to a press release, the “pick-up-and-play approach” was first introduced at the two-day Short Circuit event Mute hosted at the Roundhouse in 2011. Keeping with that theme, a few of the performers from it — including members of Factory Floor (Dominic Butler) and Throbbing Gristle (Chris Carter) — have contributed exclusive Mute Synth II tracks to a compilation released in tandem with the equipment itself.

Here’s how the two companies describe the Mute Synth II mission:

Mute Synth II is a statement against MPEG culture and places emphasis on an active participant rather than passive consumer. It is born out of Dirty Electronics’ ongoing commitment to DIY approaches and noise aesthetics, and serves as a catalyst for experimenting with electronic sound.

One of the main ideas behind the Mute Synth II was to consider the dissemination of a musical idea other than through recorded fixed media, and to explore the intersection between sound object and artwork etching. The synth also presents the notion of writing music through electronics and code. Additional modules and hacks allow for the instrument to be customised.

At the core of the instrument is a versatile mini patchbay that provides expansion and modification permutations and a grid-like visual representation of patched parameters using coloured jumpers. The patchbay encourages a particular interaction with the instrument and playfulness. The printed circuit board artwork, black and silver finish, has multiple touch electrodes in the form of small squares that provide a labyrinth of possible connections and resulting behaviors. Different rhythmic sequences are created through hybrid 4-bit binary coding, feedback loops and bit bashing.

Sounds fun right? Check out a trailer below, along with an audio sampler and a preview of a possible add-on to the basic Mute Synth II package.