Most people find inspiration in control – probably the single most powerful force driving humanity.
However, since the 20th century, some artists realized that lack of control can be equally inspiring – at least for artistic purposes – and started integrating elements of randomness in their visual and musical production.
There’s actually no need to get into the cacophonic intricacies of aleatoric music to find examples of randomness at work… you may have experienced it yourself while recording or rehearsing, with one of those so-called “happy accidents”! The more brainy among you might have also found traces of it in Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards conceived with the goal of breaking musicians’ creative blocks. (Which means that also Brian Eno agrees that randomness can be inspiring!)
Some pedals (and synths) seem specifically designed to facilitate the generation of these unexpected, sublime moments of happenstance. Such devices normally feature an above the average number of knobs/switches that are, in most cases, unlabeled, which makes them difficult to control. This lack of clear directions aims at unleashing upon the players the power of randomness and intuition, forcing them to learn the pedal after a certain amount of direct experimentation – which leads us to another interesting topic: isn’t learning new things what really inspires us… at least as much as beautifully bright colors?
The colorful stompboxes by Rochester, NY’s DigDugDIY squarely belong to this category. Originally born as an “art music label” with a strong DIY ethos (check out their Soundcloud profile for a compilation of the artists on their roster, mostly comprised of bedroom experimentalists), DigDugDIY in 2015 started manufacturing pedals that are bound to intrigue the sonically audacious.
Knobs in 2016 shot this wonderful video mostly focused on the Lo-Fi Dreams.
Check them all out in this gallery (videos are available for just 3 of them), they are as much fun as they look!