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Musical pieces: Musician makes his own modular instruments

“I can make everything the way I want it,” he said. “I’m incredibly comfortable with my instruments.”

Story by Danielle Furfaro - Source:
Photo © Ken Yapelli

Putting it all together: Matthew Regula, a superstar in Brooklyn’s experimental music scene, is known for his homemade synthesizers. Photo © Ken Yapelli

Matthew Regula is a real live wire.

The Crown Heights-based experimental musician turns piles of wires, switches, and knobs into homemade musical instruments to spread epic, droning, and soul-crushing soundscapes in experimental spots all over Brooklyn.

The key to crafting his unique sound is to keep things modular, said the musician, who goes by the moniker Mister Matthew.

“There is so much nuance in the controls that re-creating things is almost impossible,” said Regula, who will appear at the Modular Synthesizer Spring Equinox, an evening of performances, presentations, workshops, and installations at Bushwick’s Silent Barn.

“I have a basic strategy in what sounds I want to make, and then I build on that and change it. Sometimes you’re in a mood to play something gnarly and sometimes you play something sweet and sugary.”

Regula started playing experimental music more than 20 years ago. Back then, he used typical store-bought keyboard synthesizers to create a sound he calls “ambient orchestra.”

But in 2006, Regula set his keyboards aside and started becoming more than a musician by building his own instruments — modular synthesizers — despite having no background in electronics.

“I can make everything the way I want it,” he said. “I’m incredibly comfortable with my instruments.”

Regula often plays in the bands Hexbreaker Quartet and Telecult Powers, but the show at the Modular Equinox will let fans get up close and personal with the artist.

“He’s an interesting, positive curmudgeon,” said G. Lucas Crane, one of Silent Barn’s main organizers. “It’s easy to get into something from a gearhead perspective, but it’s hard to make the leap from that to art. With Matthew, the art is front and center.”

Modular Synthesizer Spring Equinox at Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave. between Melrose and Jefferson streets in Bushwick,, March 23, 6 pm, $10.

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