Sci-fi soundtrack composer, homemade instrument maker,
multi-instrumentalist, and biology geek since 2001.

12.21.12

The third installlment in the Synthetic Biology trilogy, Synthetic Biology III: Biopocalypse/Biogenesis, is out now on Fringe Biology Recordings! Press release:

The third installment in the Synthetic Biology album trilogy by Rubber Band Banjo is a sci-fi/horror soundtrack that features a sci-fi short story "The Human Flesh Is Creeping Back" written and narrated by Sean Sleight and James Slone. As with Synthetic Biology II: The Evolution Machine, this album features artwork by art/science high school students from Tory Peterson's class at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minnesota. Electronic and ambient soundtrack music travels through an imagined biopocalypse caused by a zombie virus, nature run amok in urban environments with dub/hip hop blasting from car stereos, police sirens, loud explosions, a street saxophone musician (offered by Craig Hoffman), and zombies terrorizing the landscape. Eventually some survivors escape Earth and the story follows an extra-solar botantist named Major V. Brannon who reports some strange happenings while managing the AgriTECH crops on Planetoid 0078. Some kind of viral DNA sequence transmitted from Earth to the DNA synthesizer on the planet starts to transform the crops, all while the Major's synthetic radiation-resistance function fails, and the human flesh starts to creep back. A green virus spaceship appears and at first it's unclear to the Major whether this is a threat, or some kind of technology used to transform and seed new worlds.

The artwork created for this album by Danny Dang was inspired by the question "How would you design nature?" The three pieces of artwork include a tree engineered to grow leaves in the shape of butterflies, a tree/street lamp engineered to glow using DNA from a bioluminescent animal (a "green" alternative to a traditional street lamp), and a dandelion flower that is genetically engineered to grow feathers instead of dandelion seeds. Additional album artwork from Elsie-Marie Ibes depicts characters from the story: a victim of the biopocalypse and an evolved plant man. The album artwork also includes a 9 X 9 Sudoku puzzle that is encoded in DNA. Three bonus tracks include The End of the World Dance Party, an imaginary beer commercial that aired on December 21, 2216.

12/12/12

Synthetic Biology II: The Evolution Machine is out now on Steambot Recordings! Press release:

The first release from Steambot Recordings on 12/12/12 is a collaboration between the sci-fi soundtrack composer Rubber Band Banjo and art/science high school students from Tory Peterson's class at Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minnesota. Synthetic Biology II: The Evolution Machine is the second album in a synthetic biology trilogy that aims to educate and entertain the public about the emerging field of synthetic biology through soundtrack music and spoken word recordings, using the STEAM (Science-Technology-Education-Arts-Mathematics) movement as inspiration. The musical approach used to create this album was abstractly analogous to the assembly of genetic circuits, where musical elements were assembled like biological parts, as described in the album artwork. Inspired by the concept of the evolution machine, a real-life machine that evolves organisms in the lab, all the tracks on this album were subjected to various random and non-random audio mutations as the music progresses. The result of this approach is a recombination of different musical styles that include sci-fi jazz, progressive rock, dub, spastic pop, and experimental electronic music, all filtered through scientific concepts. The front cover artwork created by Elsie-Marie Ibes depicts the evolution machine as a powerful machine for evolving futuristic green technology. At the same time, the title track illustrates the ability for this technology to go horribly wrong. In this sci-fi dialogue between a mad scientist and his lab assistant, the mad scientist wants to evolve humans in the evolution machine to become resistant to a virus, while the geeky assistant warns the professor that, "The evolution machine only allows for mutation accumulation and not natural selection, the very basis of evolution!" Of course he doesn't listen to the student who has implemented a "simulated natural selection function" on the machine and things go awry. The other tracks feature spoken word recordings from synthetic biology scientists and artists Adam Zaretsky, John Cumbers, Daisy Ginsberg, Evan Clark, Oron Catts, Andrew Hessel, and Mac Cowell. Craig Hoffman provides some killer sci-fi sax recordings on Genetic Pollution, How Would You Design Nature?, and The Ethics of Synthetic Biology. The topics discussed include synthetic biology, evolution, genetic pollution, space colonization, transmission of DNA into outer space, designing nature, gene weaving, bioart, ethics, lab automation robots, and transhumanism.

Synthetic Biology II: The Evolution Machine is out on the STEAM-inspired record label Steambot Recordings on 12/12/12. For more info, visit steambot.org.

08.18.10

Check out this awesome review of Synthetic Biology from Penny Black Music! Here's another review from Leicester Bangs.

06.21.10

iTunes review of Synthetic Biology: "RBB make music from sounds that might have been organic at one time but now have cybernetic enhancements bolted on to replace missing limbs. These hybrid sounds stride a landscape of shadowy and malicious intent, mixing, dancing, and fighting to unstoppable beats. There is almost no cowbell."

06.05.10

Synthetic Biology is now available for purchase at two great Seattle record stores: Dissonant Plane and Sonic Boom in Ballard.

04.19.10

The new Rubber Band Banjo album, Synthetic Biology, is out now on Fringe Biology Recordings!  Only the full album mp3 download is available at this time and pre-orders are being taken for the physical CDs, ready for shipping on May 1st.  The album will be out next month on CD Baby, iTunes, and other digital distribution sites.  Four mp3s are now available on the Rubber Band Banjo MySpace page.  Album description:

The fifth full-length Rubber Band Banjo album, Synthetic Biology, is a soundtrack to a synthetic biology film in outer space. This album travels through sci-fi jazz, avant rock, electronic soundscapes, ambient textures, and nightmare industrial collages. Synthetic Biology purposely juxtaposes natural sounds that travel through the air with more artificial sounds that are captured with contact mics that travel as vibrations through objects. Since the scientific field of synthetic biology involves the artificial introduction of DNA into a host organism to program cells for a particular function, this album illustrates the competition between these natural and artificial elements. The following musical instruments are used on this album: Kaossilator, Mandala percussion, 3-stringed zither, Buddha Machine, Kaoss Pad 2, MIDI instruments, sampler, electronic drums, and natural recordings. The artwork includes colorful stills from this imaginary synthetic biology film. Synthetic Biology will be released worldwide on Fringe Biology Recordings in May 2010.

The graphic novelist Warren Ellis recently plugged Synthetic Biology on his website!

 

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