Hank the Mason: Memory Buffer

Memory Buffer is an idea that’s grown out of my 15-year obsession with a drum machine, the Korg Electribe ER-1, which I’ve had since ~2005. These recordings represent a series of snapshots taken mostly in the first half of 2020. Each piece poses a different ‘question’ to the machine, and these recordings document its answers. In this way, ‘Memory Buffer’ works like a set of études, putting forth different challenges and problems to an instrumentalist and their instrument.

Though this project started from a technical line of thinking and questioning, the process itself made me come to think of the machine in a more personal way - as a repository of my memories and experiments over the years, and especially throughout 2020 and its unraveling. Much as some of these pieces explore the storing and releasing of ‘memory’ in a computational sense, I see the drum machine as performing similar functions in a more abstract, intimate way.

Each of these recordings was made in one take recorded live from the ER-1 drum machine, with no overdubs or editing (except for a fade-in/fade-out). I used Max/MSP to communicate with and control the drum machine.


Beacon makes use of the ER-1’s audio-in jacks to create a flanging effect by feeding its own audio back into itself at variable rates, creating an expanding and contracting feedback chorus that skitters underneath the intermittent digital foghorn blasts.

Storm Coming eschews percussion entirely as it navigates a slowly morphing harmonic framework, loosely reminiscent of Terry Riley.

CRZN and CRZN2 explore microscopic feedback loops and random yet tightly-controlled automation to summon the sound of neon-colored slinkies ricocheting at lightspeed off the walls of a spaceship in a Samuel Delany novel.

If U Were A Radio asks what ambient music on a drum machine with very little sustain and release sounds like.

Quarantined, recorded in the early days of NYC’s COVID-19 outbreak, allows the ER-1’s four oscillators to stretch their respective pitches until they reach a breaking point, then slowly return to where they started.

Are You a Choir? renders polyphony on the ER-1 against a backdrop of processed loops of itself - a choir made of choirs.

It Keeps Going is comprised of 4 euclidean rhythms overlaid on top of each other, forming concentric circles of interlocking parts.