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Friday, October 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 50.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Go on a circuit bender at the Madison Pop Fest
DIY music for the masses
"This is history in the making," says Rodney Clark of Tiger Claw Records.

Fans attending the Madison Pop Fest can be artists themselves on Saturday, when the hands-on Circuit-Bending Madness takes over Memorial Union.

Presented by Kyle Pfister of the music blog and local label Tiger Claw Records, this extravaganza includes both a basic and an advanced workshop for the curious music maker, complete with free circuits and an electronic toy buffet.

Not sure what circuit bending is?

Essentially it is DIY art -- short-circuiting low voltage, battery-powered electronic audio devices in order to create new music instruments. There is no correct way to do it, and no specific sound to expect. Pfister (a contributor to The Daily Page) appreciates this freedom.

"I'm into that whole DIY concept of inventing your whole world in general," he says. "Creativity is so important, especially since the ability to express yourself is limited these days."

It wasn't until Pfister heard nationally-recognized bent artist Beatrix*JAR in Minneapolis (who is set to perform after the workshops) that he took an interest in this unique art form. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that a bent-only label, Tiger Claw Records, was actually based in Madison.

Label head Rodney Clark considers circuit bending "a start to finish an experimental movement." Launched in 2005 in order to promote the art, Tiger Claw has three current releases and two more on the way.

Artists such as Igloo Martian, Igor Amokian and Crème DeMentia have laid tracks with Clark, and he is looking forward to getting circuit bending out in the mainstream. "This is history in the making," Clark says. "It's like punk rock in the 1970s."

Pfister, too, is eager to get the word out. "It's more about play than anything else," he says. "You can learn your instrument in an hour. What's better than that?"

So unplug your Casio, put down your score sheets, and hit up the Rathskeller on Saturday, if for no other reason but to remind yourself that art can be fun.

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