The modern drum set is a relatively young creation in the grand scheme of instrument history. The drum set as we know it today didn’t take form until the 1920s and the jazz era. Not much has changed since then. Naturally, someone had to get creative and apply the use of electronics to acoustic drums. Zach Danziger is that someone.
Zach Danziger, an innovative and virtuosic drummer, is pushing the limits of contemporary drumming and electronic music. By triggering samples from pickups on his drums and cymbals, he is able to perform and even improvise intricate electronic music while holding down a groove. Although drum triggers have been used before in a jazz fusion context (and death metal, of course), most notably by Akira Jimbo, Danziger uses the technology to compose and perform mind-blowing jungle and drum ‘n’ bass grooves. A few of his compositions sound like some of the crazier Aphex Twin or Squarepusher songs have come to life. He’s almost more of an insane scientist than a musician.
One of his projects, Mister Barrington, encompasses live manipulation of sound AND video. They take playing instruments, electronic music production, and VJing and smash it all together into a completely unique performance. By using software from Ableton, iZoptope, and Native Instruments, they even control parameters of the other instruments in the band. They explain their rigs in this article.
I had the immense pleasure of seeing Zach and Owen Biddle, the bass player, perform last month. Owen tweaked sound and video parameters using his bass and a Keith McMillen SoftStep foot switch while Zach controlled sounds and the video by hitting different parts of his drums and operating a separate sampler pad and interface. Their set was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Check out this TEDx presentation they did at UMass Amherst to get an idea of what goes into one of their shows.
Zach Danziger is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to combining live instrumentation with electronic music performance. He will only continue to push the boundaries as more advanced technology makes itself available.