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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Get hip to the latest and greatest music genre: Popcorn-maker jazz

Popping but not locking
Popping but not locking
Photo: Ingo Wagner (Getty Images)

The long road to humanity’s eventual fate as the prisoners of cruel robotic masters—locked within nutrient-harvesting apocalypse pods for our entire lives—is a strange and unpredictable one. Just as we were starting to get comfortable with the idea that the machines are ready to replace us as astronauts, theme park employees, factory workers, Halloween decorators, cheerleaders, and (admittedly terrible) dancers, we now have to face up to the fact that these cold, unfeeling affronts to nature are getting good at creating avant-garde music, too.


Thanks to musician and robotics engineer Moritz Simon Geist, a popcorn maker hooked up to a drum kit has emerged as the jazz world’s unlikeliest new star. As demonstrated in a video showing off its chops, the contraption consists of a bunch of sensors hovering above a frying pan filled with oil and popcorn kernels. When one of the kernels pops, it triggers a connection to a drum kit, setting off unpredictably timed hits on the bass drum, snare, and cymbals.

The music this set-up creates is as chaotic as you might expect. It’s also pretty cool. Say what you will about the robots (and say nice things; they’ll be our overlords soon and their hard drives never forget), their unfeeling appendages can translate hot oil and popcorn into free-form jazz when our frail human fingers would melt down to the bone in the attempt.

And if this machine’s foray into music leaves you unsettled, take heart in the knowledge that there are some things—like having skin—that they can never best us at. Or, shit ... wait, maybe don’t say anything about that out loud. The robots might start getting ideas.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.