Wild ideas for new instruments

March 18th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

For those still in love with the blips and beeps of their favorite retro games, Bandai’s new Bousou (wild idea) Controller key chain, which goes on sale March 20, is a dream come true. Available for three games – Street Fighter II, Xevious and Family Stratagem – the controller is shaped like an old-school game pad and has a number of buttons that re-create the sounds of the dawn of the digital era.

Bandai's Bousou Controller out March 20

Bandai’s Bousou Controller out March 20

While many might deem these noises highly irritating, instrument designer extraordinaire Yoshi Akai has recently crafted a similar controller in order to demonstrate the musical possibilities of gaming noises. A video of a recent online performance broadcast on Akai’s YouTube channel can be seen here.

Akai’s oeuvre ,which experiments with interfacing digital with analog sound, is fast garnering attention with both digital and print media. Not only are his concepts innovative, but they are also gorgeously crafted with a lovely steampunk aesthetic. Take, for example his Wireless Catcher which translates Wireless Signals into analog sound (as seen the  video at the top). The catcher is a slender metal-plated device with an antenna attached to the top which picks up the wireless frequencies in its immediate range. The metal plating is beautifully engraved with the kind of design you might find one of Jules Verne’s futuristic machines. The device converts the waves picked up to an analog synthesizer which then plays a sound.

Akai's 3-channel lego sequencer

Akai’s 3-channel lego sequencer

Another of Akai’s designs that caught our eye is his 3-channel lego sequencer which allows you to build up sound by placing colored lego bricks on to a board, each different color makes a corresponding sound and the higher the bricks go, the louder the noise created.

Akai’s background is in textile design, which accounts for the exquisite craftsmanship of his machines. The loony genius of his design reminds us of Maywa Denki who, like Akai, not only create their own instruments but also perform internationally. If you’d like to know more about Maywa Denki and see one of their performances, see our previous post.

We’re going to be looking our for Akai’s live performances in the future, but in the meantime, we’ll have to be satisfied with making our own sweet video game music with the Bousou Controller.

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