Art Made From Guitar Effects Pedals: "Cypher"

Scott Matthews, whose family runs the guitar effects tech company Electro-Harmonix, featured in this previous Boing Boing Video episode, blogs:

Robin Rose is a long-established painter specializing in 'encaustic' works, but back in 1979 he played guitar and synth for new-wave/punk band Urban Verbs (Warner) and regularly performed at clubs like CBGB here in NYC.

For Robin's new exhibit, titled "Cypher" (April 7-May 17, American University Museum, Washington DC, info/pics), he changes gears and revisits those roots.

"Ascendant" captures the skyward joy that comes when you catch a good groove.

And Scott shares an extra footnote by email for fans of the band Joy Division:
Via email, Robin (the artist) shared this with me: "One of the inspirations for the foot pedal piece was Ian Curtis from the English 1980's band Joy Division. The Urban Verbs were supposed to play with Joy Division in Toronto, Ian killed himself and thus the show was canceled. I always thought that was a tipping point for my band. Ian Curtis wrote a song called 'Isolation'."


  1. i agree… what would this monster sound like?
    please…please do plug that uber-plug-madness into something!

  2. Ah, but you can control the oscillations using any pedal with a “level” knob. Try it with just one pedal first. Use a Y-cable, connect input to output, and the other connection to the amp. As you slowly turn up the volume, a very quiet high pitched whistle begins, progressing ever louder and lower pitched until you get a really phat bass sound. Depending on the pedal, it can sound like the most awesome analog synth. Add in the myriad possibilities for manipulating sound with the other knobs, and add in more pedals, and it’s an untapped goldmine of sonic experimentation. Making music using pedals alone is an art still in its early days, like turntablism was in the late ’70s.

  3. I want…
    BUT I’d want them facing inwards for easier reach. playing electric cello makes me rather immobile where pedals are concerned…
    Is there a poster?

  4. It reminds me fo the guy who was making music using only a mixer. Playing the mixer. WHo was that? Someone from Japan, IIRC.

    I may recreate a version of this on my bed tonight.

  5. What would it sound like?

    It -could- sound like everything, or nothing, depending on how you like your knobs.

  6. This dude is a genius. The rest of his show is equally provocative and beautiful. Definitely worth seeing if you’re local to DC.

  7. It wouldn’t sound like anything because it’s a closed loop. You have to pick a spot in the loop to branch off, and that would sound different depending on which pedal you pick. This reminds me of the tree falling in the forest.

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