The Balding Engineers

engineer n 1: a person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.

Ambient, Drum and Bass, House, Industrial, Trance, techno and Chiptune are all sub-genres of the musical genre known as electronic. While all of these genres have fans, they continue to splinter into sub-sets such as Clownstep, Drone, Doomcore and Microhouse. Every day those sub-sets splinter even further until even the most interested fan becomes dizzy trying to make sense of it all, and therein lies the problem. How do we make sense of it all? Where is that one sound that unifies and blends all of these disparate sub-sets into one record that will trascend time? What electronic band will become a household name and define the genre in the same way that say Nirvana defined grunge or Pastor of Muppets childcore? Who understands the science of the groove that underlies this genre well enough to capture lightning in a bottle, the first real bona fide “electronic” hit record? Well, where’s there’s a problem there is always a solution. That solution is The Balding Engineers .

Diode to Joy Album Cover

It was less than a week ago when the band released their debut album “Diode to Joy” and sprang upon the collective consciousness. So quick was their meteoric rise that even the most jaded music critics (ixnay on the mentionay of the Christgau’ay) were unaware of this groundbreaking band’s existence, let alone the immediate effect they would have on the genre of “electronic” music as we know it.  But unlike some of those other so-called “music journalists” yours truly is so tapped in that within a 2 days of the Engineers record release I was sitting in their private studio chatting away with the band’s leader Jimmy “Clerks” Maxwell.  The problem is I had no idea who they were or what they sounded like – I mean c’mon none of us rock journalists actually listen to the music right? The following is a transcript of this short but historic interview:

Figment:  Who are the members of The Balding Engineers?

Jimmy “Clerks” Maxwell of The Balding Engineers:  Well let’s see we’ve got Johnny “Lisp” Von Neumann on vocals, I [Jimmy “Clerks” Maxwell] play strings, Ike “Figgy” Newton is on Bass Emitter and we’ve got the one and only Niels “Crashing” Bohr on drums.

Figment:  Are The Balding Engineers a band with a message or a manifesto of sorts?

Clerks:  Yes, I would say it’s “The Balding Engineers: Because someone has to design all the crap you kids are buying!”

Figment:  Before you sat down to record your debut album “Diode to Joy” did you whiteboard it out?

Clerks:  Naturally, we did a full P-Spice simulation down to the device level and did recursive optimizations long before we hit the bench to record.

Figment:  This next question is a bit hard to ask, but are we talking male pattern baldness or flat out chrome dome?

Clerks:  Dude, seriously, do you realize how toxic Chromium is?  Your question is basically non-operative.  If I had a “Chrome Dome,” would I be here talking to you?  Get real.

Figment:  How do you engineer a hit?

Clerks:  In school, I played calculator in a band called Ductape, which was a central part of the HVAC movement.  After the whole HVAC scene imploded, I quit music to finish getting my engineering degree.  Then, one day about a year ago, Ike and I were working late trying to debug a circuit board with a serious risetime attitude.  The pulsing rhythm of the arbitrary waveform function generator was really getting hypnotic. Ike started twisting virtual dials and shorting clip leads in time with the sound, and I’m filling in the back beat uing my Tek TDS2012 scope.  It was good science, but it rocked, too. Everything just came together, and by 3am our first single, “Object Oriented Obsession,” was in RAM.

Figment:  You are given 2 identical looking spheres. They have the same mass and have the same diameter. Physically, they look the same, and have the same surface texture. (ie you can’t visually pick them apart) They are both hard, thus they won’t bounce and they won’t have any ‘give’. They both have perfectly smooth surface.

One is made of less dense material and is soild and uniform through out. The other is made of higher density material, but since having the same mass and volume as the other, it is hollow at its centre (assume a spherical cavity with the centre of cavity and centre of the whole sphere at the same point).

With a minimum of instruments, how can you determine which one is hollow and which one is solid?

Clerks:  I’m pretty sure there’s software to do that now.  I’ll get back to you on it.

Figment:  What do you guys do for fun on the tour bus?

Clerks:  We’re all individuals, right?  Personally, I like to measure things accurately.   Johnny and Ike are into prime numbers.  Niels, being a drummer, he mostly plays Space Invaders.

Figment:  Does the pickup line “Let’s convert our potential energy to kinetic energy” really work with groupies?

Clerks:  Whoa, I need to try that!  The thing is though, we don’t call them groupies.  We call them, “sub-seties.”

Figment:  Do you think “Diode to Joy” will sell within allowable limits?

Clerks:  There is only a 0.027% chance of failure.  We did our homework.

So there you go.  The Balding Engineers. Problem solved.

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