the|squarewave|parade: safeplace – minm

September 5, 2008

safeplace - minm

safeplace - minm

Steven of the|squarewave|parade builds some pretty fantastic music making devices; things that not many other companies are making. Things that get me excited. Being that Steven designs and builds all of the TSP products himself, it can be difficult to get a hold of his stuff at times. I was finally in the right place at the right time (with money!) and picked up his newest electric shaker, the safeplace – minm. I think the minm is the third or fourth safeplace design so far and it’s a simple but extremely creative little instrument. As you can see in the picture, it’s pretty small (that is a normal sized coffee mug) and comes with a pretty cool hand painted design. I have scuffed it up already…that’s no fault of the safeplace’s though. TSP products always look great, I just hit it with some metal objects and something had to give.

The basic idea is that of a shaker, much like any other shaker; it’s a metal box with some BBs and marbles inside, that produces a percussive sound when you, that’s right, shake it. What sets it apart from other shakers is that inside the metal case with the BBs and marbles is a piezo element that picks up the vibrations from the BBs and marbles striking the case. Piezo elements work much like microphones except that they pick up actual physical vibrations vs. displaced air caused by sound waves as microphones do (very basic and possible incomplete understanding alert!). The piezo element is connected to a 1/4 in. jack so that the sounds can be run through any number of devices. The sound of the minm is a bit more abrasive than a conventional acoustic shaker. Steven mentions on his website that they were not meant to take the place of an acoustic shaker and that they are more for the noise enthusiast. Which is where things really get fun. I have run the safeplace – minm through a number of effects pedals and did a little bit of tweaking in Logic and produced some really nice, interesting textures. The piezo element is mounted near the top of the case and will also pick up vibrations from outside of the case. Rubbing, scratching, striking, etc. all get picked up in different ways. Scratching right over the piezo element and further away produce different results! I’ve found the safeplace – minm to be an even more versatile instrument than I expected and great for creating some nice lo-fi textures.

You can listen to some of the textural experiments below. I recorded a couple tracks of the safeplace for use in a piece that I’m currently taking way to long to finish. Keep in mind the audio isn’t straight safeplace…I ran it through some effects and did some tweaking. I just wanted to give you an idea of what kind of results this thing can produce with some experimentation…everybody already knows what a shaker sounds like anyway, right?

safeplace – minm demo


2 Responses to “the|squarewave|parade: safeplace – minm”

  1. Steve said

    That demo is excellent, really cool low-key noise. I’m a fan of Steven’s stuff, too, there’s something very satisfying and fun in everything he comes out with.

  2. paperandtape said

    Thanks for the compliment. The safeplace was the first thing I purchased from him, but I should be getting his new Pollen noise generator sometime soon. I will probably post some samples and a review for that one too. I’m looking forward to the Pollen, it isn’t like anything that I have ever used before. He does consistently produce great stuff. Knowing that guys like him are out there really make the big companies’ stuff seem much less exciting.

    – Micah

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