Rich Decibels Sinister Tone Generator

Here’s something I made for the Concerned Citizens exhibition opening this weekend in Wellington. It’s a bass drone synth with two pairs of heterodyning oscillators.

The Sinister Tone Generator was created for a charity auction that raised funds for the Urewera 18. It’s a long story, but in a nutshell: after 9/11 the NZ Police got a bunch of money to set up an anti-terror squad. Problem is that there actually are no terrorists in New Zealand: everyone in this country is too busy having barbecues, smoking dope, going on nature walks, and generally being relaxed to worry about violent overthrow of the status quo. So in order for the anti-terror squad to keep their funding, and to keep the US diplomats happy, the Police contrived to arrest 18 “terror suspects”, most of whom are eco-, animal rights, and indigenous-rights activists: some of whom I know personally to be among the most peaceful and conscientious people on the planet.

In order to make the terror suspects more terrifying the Police then proceeded to leak soundbites to the media: ‘terrorist training camps’, ‘napalm’, ‘assassination plot’, and so on. As the court case has dragged on (five years and counting), all but 2 of the suspects have been acquitted, and more and more facts of the case are coming to light. For instance: the ‘assassination plot’ that the Police were so worried about was purely based on, and I’m not kidding here, a clandestine recording (illegal under NZ law by the way) of 2 drunks saying how they would like to kill George Bush by catapulting a bus onto his head. Terrifying, right?

So the Sinister Tone Generator was my comment on how easy it is for the powers-that-be to make people out to be terrorists: all you need is a creepy soundtrack and some vague accusations.

Here’s what it sounds like with some reverb and filtering added:

If you want to build your own here’s a schematic (updated) and layout (with and without off-board components) that should help you along. I got Ponoko to lasercut the case, I’ll be putting a story up about that soon.

Here’s a gut shot:
Rich Decibels Sinister Tone Generator gut shot

And this one gives a better idea of the engraving on the top.
Rich Decibels Sinister Tone Generator engraving detail

As always, hit me up with any questions.