John Erik King, the sole instrumentalist of Disappearing Cowboy, has created the “Minimalist Organic Tech” stage rig, an integrated system that includes guitar effects and amplification, bass, synthesis, vocal processing, and robot drums. Scripted MIDI messaging provides “scene” control, freeing King to simultaneously perform live guitar, bass, and synth.
M.O.T. Minimalist Organic Tech from Disappearing Cowboy on Vimeo.
King’s description of the system:
- kick, one actuator.
- snare, one actuator.
- ride cymbal, two actuators to account for the high volume of repetitive patterns typically played on cymbals.
- toms, two actuators, again to account for quarter/sixteenth note repetition.
- crash, one actuator with a very long throw to really smack the crash cymbal so it stands out.
- bass, mute, and distortion control. (big muff)
- guitar, Moog LP ladder filter into an eventide stereo digital delay. The stereo output then goes to two different amps with independent mutes.
- synth, only one string goes to a Roland GR-30, which has its own mute as well.
- has three outputs. Bass, guitar, and synth.
- tuning E (bass string), E,B,E,B,E. (five other strings)
- top three strings are attached to a modified Bigsby tremolo which creates a relative detune effect.
Because everything is controlled by MIDI, we can shift scenes and tempos for each song, or even in between songs. The vocal delays and guitar delays are in perfect sync with the tempo which the drums precisely adhere to. If the tempo is at 135, everything is locked at 135.
I originally controlled everything with a laptop, but found a karaoke device that plays back MIDI files to use instead.
All the different scenes and transitions are triggered automatically. And the entire set is set up like a playlist. We hit one button and the entire show plays without any foot controllers or input like that of any kind. It’s all automated, with the exception of playing the instrument, of course.
The rig employs two Highly Liquid MSA-P MIDI decoders to trigger drums, route audio signals, switch amplification channels and control effects. An MPA MIDI decoder is used to automate control of the Moog ladder filter.
The new Disappearing Cowboy album, Revolute, is available from every major online music distribution platform including Amazon, iTunes, Soundcloud, and several others.