Guitar Monkeys

Performers with audio vests, amplified guitars and microphones.
1986. Berlin Atonal Festival. A avant-garde noise band. Performers with guitars, microphones, and “audio vests”. They “feed back” with their environment: moving around the space and integrating the various architectural elements (tables, bars, toilets, stairwells) into their choreography.

In some cases , for extra volume, we did away with the leather vests and simply strapped large loudspeaker boxes onto our backs like backpacks . Each member of this “rock band” could individually amplify his or her instrument without having to be on stage. Most of the time we played in the middle of the audience or in stairwells, hallways, or other niches particular to the space. (Men and Ladies‘ rooms have unique acoustic qualities.) The Guitar Monkeys were basically a noise and feedback band — and an intense one at that — imagine not just one loudspeaker giving off feedback, but ten at once (from below, above, and around you). We purchased our guitars at the local Berlin flea market with a budget limit of 10 $ per instrument. Instead of standard contact microphones, we used cheap Piezo ceramic loudspeakers as pick-ups. Even after the Atonal Festival, the Guitar Monkeys stayed busy in local underground clubs and went on tour (one critic dubbed us the “grandchildren of Jimi Hendrix” and described the music as “post-industrial punk”).
In more recent years the Guitar Monkey project has been adapted as a “noise” workshop for adolescents and handicapped children. In this case Maubrey shows up as “Dr Noise” (“Professor von der Laerm”) and instructs them on how to create a multi-acoustic concert with “found” guitars for their given space.

The Guitar Monkeys marks an important step in the development of Audio Uniforms because it made the performers personally responsible for their sounds, while previous Uniforms only permitted them to play prerecorded cassettes. It was during the Guitar Monkeys European tour of 1989 that I happened to meet the director of l‘Aeronef in Lille who asked me to design a new Uniform for the festival Les Arts au Soleil (“Arts in the Sun”) which was going to take place on the beaches of northern France. This is how the Audio Ballerinas came into existence.
PDF: Guitar Monkeys
Video:

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Workshop w-kids (Beelitz):

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Workshop w-kids (Vienna):

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Austrian radio interview (MP3)