Even with the public transportation odds stacked against them, fans of both electronic music and innovative design would do well to make their way to Phonica Records in Soho tonight for the official launch of Yahama's Tenori-On. Essentially a 16 x 16 grid of touch-sensitive LED buttons, the Tenori-On is a step sequencer that places an emphasis on the creation of sound through vision. As the performer touches the device's buttons to trigger sounds, feedback is received in the form of pulsating lights, often leading one to create interesting audio work based on how lovely it all looks. Tenori-On's intuitive feel ensures that absolute beginners can easily pick it up and run with it, though with the ability to load one's own sounds via SD memory card and sync with other instruments via MIDI, the possibilities for original sonic creation are happily endless.
Born of the same playful musical mind that brought Electroplankton to the Nintendo DS, the Tenori-On translates Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai's visions into a commercially available musical instrument. Whereas Electroplankton was brilliantly fun and a piece of software that every DS owner and music lover should try at least once, we eventually found ourselves wanting to take our experiments further into full-blown composition. Unfortunately the Tenori-On doesn't have cute little sea creatures that smile at you as you move them around the screen, but it indeed looks more stylish to play on stage than Nintendo's handheld.
Style and possibility do, however, come at a price: the simple exploration afforded by Electroplankton is experienced for the somewhat modest £30 cost of a DS game, whereas the Tenori-On will retail at £599. While you may want to start saving now or just find that's too much to ever dream about spending, you can come to tonight's event for free and drool over this elegant machine much as you'd like (just don't drool too much and short it out).
Since it's inception in 2001, Iwai's creation has received playtime with an impressive host of electronic music luminaries, including Kraftwerk, Tortoise and Taylor Deupree. Tonight's event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature performances from Robert Lippok, Secondo and Capracara as well as a DJ set from Duodecimo. Perhaps most exciting of all will be a talk from Toshio Iwai himself, who will also be on hand to answer your questions. For our non-London readers to the north or for those that miss tonight's festivities and enjoy travelling, there will be a similar event held in Manchester tomorrow night at Mint Lounge from 8 p.m. till midnight.
Tenori-On Launch Party at Vinyl Factory below Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NG (use main shop entrance). Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 18.00 - 23.00. Free.