From augmented reality covers to custom-made synths, bands have been getting creative lately when it comes to packaging their music. The latest addition to this canon of unconventional merch? LA collective Fol Chen‘s Tetrafol, a pyramidal sound manipulation device.
Monome describes the gizmo as: “a hand-held tangible electronic sound toy. Circuits enclosed by a wooden tetrahedron detect orientation and motion-gestures to modify the playback of a collection of Fol Chen’s micro-compositions, allowing the user to explore sound through physical manipulation. The battery-powered device has its own internal speaker but can additionally be hooked up to a headphone or amplifier. The circuit and firmware are based on open-source hardware and is itself published as open-source, allowing anyone interested to learn about its deepest inner-workings.”
The Tetrafol includes sounds from the band’s single, “So Good” (listen here), allowing users to remix the song. Users can also upload their own music and mix it with Fol Chen’s.
The company is only making 100 of the thingies (and we’ve already snapped up one of those 100), so the devices are extremely limited.
In many ways, this product reminds us of the limited edition swag that The Flaming Lips have been releasing as part of their year-long album project: the gummi skulls carrying USBs packed with music, the human skulls containing 24 hours of music, and, perhaps most closely related, the Strobo Trip Light Phase Illusion Toy (which one is meant to play with while listening to the band’s 6-hour song, “Star On The Ground”).
Neon Indian also got into the fancy merch game this year when the band offered up the PAL198X mini synth with their latest album, Era Extraña, and who could forget Ritornell’s music box business cards? Yup, non-record merch has expanded past the point of band-themed thermos and T-shirts to truly innovative realms.
Obviously, hawking such goods is a way to make money in a world where music itself is no longer the breadwinner — the Tetrafol ain’t cheap — but if these products make sense when it comes to the band and their style, we say: Bring on the pyramidal sound manipulation devices!
By Brenna Ehrlich