If you’ve been visiting here for a while you might remember this post from almost a year ago, which had me gabbling like a kid on christmas morning, when a big box of circuit bent toys arrived from the UK… I’d won them in a Veima Auction (theres another one coming up actually, so save your cash or start practicing your restraint!) and while I was totally happy with most of the gadgets, the one I was most intrigued by also sadly seemed to be completely dead. I put new batteries in it, searched online for info but I couldn’t get it to make any sound. I’d bought the collection ‘as is/where is’ so I had no regrets & put it away in a box & figured I’d wait until someone came along with the patience & perseverance to resuscitate it. And lucky for me that person turned out to be our dialogue assistant Emile; I gave it to him a week or so ago & after a few sessions it didnt look good, but late the other night got an email: “Woohoo! Your speak and spell just said “try again, can you find the nectar drinking creature?” – YESSSSSSSSSS! So on Friday I went & picked it up (and donated my spare Casio SK1 to him as a highly appropriate reward) and WOW! What a great gadget it is!
So what is it? Well it started life as a form of Speak & Spell toys made by Texas Instruments, and I think in fact the Babelbox was originally a Touch & Tell. I haven’t found much back story to the guy who creates them other than that he sells them on ebay…. and that the Touch & Tell/Babelbox has removeable modules for different games/lessons & mine seems to involve identifying creatures….. But having a digital voice synth in it means the circuit bends are quite wiggy! Heres what the controls do:
So whats it sound like? Well at times it sounds like a tiny, very confused R2D2 thats been sucking on helium… other times it like a lo-fi video game…. and other times it does beautiful little staccato glitches, sometimes looping almost like an 8bit Alva Noto…. But best you hear it yourself, I sampled about an hours worth last night & compiled a few minutes of the best glitchy madness & put it on SoundCloud:
After watching someone illustrate how to make fairly lame glitches in ableton LIVE on youtube, I figure that these might be a more interesting starting point so feel free to download the 16bit 44.1kHz .WAV file from soundcloud or directly here: BabelboxTP.zip (11.7MB) & bear in mind its provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. So if you make something cool with it (music/beats/kontakt bank etc) then please do as the license says: share alike and add a link in the comments….
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.