Colin Benders: Rewiring the 80s

Words Oisin Fogarty Graveson  


Tangled up in a sonic puzzle, Colin Benders a.k.a. Kyteman still has the focus of a man commanding an entire orchestra. In a way he is, because with his Eurorack (modular synthesiser), the universum of sound is literally endless. 

He moves like a mad scientist, erratically tweaking the sounds from his synthesizer. Benders has spent years screwing in and tearing out module after module, lusting for a set-up which is just right.

In a world where pretty much everything is digitally created, a sudden move back to something hands-on was inevitable. And although these synthesizers look like erratic, huge, government data storage units, they demand total improvisation. Players can’t hit save, they can’t write scores, and good luck memorising that tangled mess of cables.

Every sound that is created—once played—is lost forever. It is warped and evolved right before audiences’ eyes, and anything played will be the first and last time it can ever be played that way. Plug it in, and as the lights blink and flicker into life, it’s time to improvise. Eurorack is the moniker these machines go by.

Artists like him are getting back in touch with the origins: reconnecting with analogue and mastering an “instrument”

It’s an evolution in sound which, although it harks back to the synth-powered 80s, has learned from what we now know about the capabilities of electronic music. From distortion units made from powdered moon rock, to bottle-openers that work as synths, and a click-track generated by rubbing a wire against a rotating bottle cap; the modules have become more and more unusual. The huge arsenal of modules that are available on the market grows constantly, as entry-level modules are as simple as high school electronics classes.

Artists like Colin ‘Kyteman’ Benders are getting back in touch with the origins: reconnecting with analogue and mastering an “instrument.” The result is an original take on the classic synthesizer, with a modern experimental twist.