Earlier this summer, the folks at Red Bull hosted their annual Creation Competition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And the theme of this year’s competition was “Signal to Noise: Create a Musical Instrument.” Six teams were flown in to the greatest city on earth – and yes, I’m absolutely biased; so what? – and were given 72 hours to create and build something that would change how music can be made.
Then the folks at Red Bull contacted the folks at Relix to see if they knew an act who would be interested in writing a song using something that one of the teams created. Naturally, that band would have to learn how to actually use this new thing to create music before they set to actually writing anything. Interestingly, the first band that they thought of was Superhuman Happiness – a band that has developed a reputation for playful experimentation.
The Virginia-based North Street Labs was one of the teams selected in th competition and the device they created was the “Treequencer” – yes, they even created a new word. The device is essentially a gigantic metal tree with sound sensors connected throughout – and it manages to convert human movement into sound. If you’ve ever been on the N,Q and R train platforms at 34th Street/Herald Square, they have a similar device that’s installed above your head. By waving your hands about, you can create all kinds of sounds with it…
So with that in mind, the boys of Superhuman Happiness wrote a new song using the “Treequencer” called “Walk the Line” and sonically it’s a bit of a sonic departure while retaining many of the same elements that have won hearts across the nation. Horns have been replaced by swirling, hazy electronics and industrial beeps, bleeps and squeals – it sounds much like a computer powering up very slowly. But it has one of the funkiest bass lines i’ve heard in a few months.
The video shows the boys of being their naturally goofy selves, and every time I’ve played it, it makes me happy. If you dig the track – and I think you will, you can download for free here: