Portable Electronics 2015 – Bye Bye Mr Bassman

After 18 years, Portable Electronics  strikes back!

Started in 1998, the Portable Electronics project aimed at creating a method for producing music using the smallest synthesizers available, thus simplifying the physical transport of music devices across venues without limiting the spectrum of possibilities.

The original setup was planned in a way so that all the required elements to generate and diffuse the music would fit in a conventional, mid-sized vehicle (including a powered mixer and a couple of loudspeakers) and could be deployed on a small surface in minutes. As the computing power back in the days was too expensive to obtain the desired results, all the music has always been generated on the fly, without prior planning and based on the experience (or lack thereof) of the performer(s).

A typical Portable Electronics setup would have been a drum machine (TR-808 or TR-909), a bass synthesizer (TB-303), a semi modular analogue synthesizer (MS-20), a vocoder (VC-10) and some guitar pedal effects.

This setup has been used in countless events and situations, mostly in conjunction with DJ sets as the space required for the instrument would fit a regular sized DJ booth of most venues.

Fast forward to 2015, the technology has changed radically and now laptops are ubiquitous in every live set, as the comfort of having everything in your backpack and ready to go with a flick of the power button is unbeatable.

But what about the quality of the live set experience? What about the performance element? Can a performer behind a small computer screen hitting buttons be considered as such?

According to Portable Electronics, that is a big “NO”. We want to see action, we want to see hands intertwining with cables of a modular synthesizer and see that TB-303 frequency knob abused as it should be, we want to hit those TR-808 coloured keys as hard as we can, doing it by feeling the beats, jumping from one side of the table to the other, see radial potentiometers turn and sliders slide, we want to hit that “soft spot” on the VCO of an analogue synthesizer that gives us the thrill of that perfect sound, that perfect frequency, that perfect waveform in that perfect moment, in front of an ecstatic audience that can see the performer do what he does best.. Perform.

So it is with great pleasure that Horizon Effect presents you the latest work of Portable Electronics, “Bye Bye Mr Bassman”, a limited edition CDr made in only 100 copies with 70 minutes of old school acid, electro and techno improvised on a setup that fits in the trunk of a mid-sized car like in 1998.

Composed and pressed in only one week, this CDr represent the Portable Electronics concept at its best, as it has been proved as well the 9th of September 2015 when Portable Electronics performed in front of a very selected audience at the Bluewin Tower in Zürich, Switzerland.


Catalogue number: HE002

Released: 4 September 2015

Format: CDr, limited edition of 100 copies


1. Once upon a time
2. Panem
3. Acid Pig
4. N2O (Sweet Air)
5. Transistor Phase
6. Circenses
7. Pommes Frites
8. Lorem Ipsum

The CDr can be ordered directly from Horizon Effect, at a price of 10.- CHF plus shipping (Switzerland: 5.- CHF, Europe and rest of the world: 10.- CHF).

Alex D. Steak – Arizona EP

Recorded between 2001 and 2005 in Italy and Switzerland.
Final mixdown by ADS@Werkstatt, Switzerland.
Mastered on a tape machine in the Netherlands by Rude66.
All the sounds in this recording have been processed through analogue devices.
The Devil is in the detail: The Granularized Rainstick (Arizona), The Mellow Monolead (Test 5),
The Growling LFO (Under The Bridge), The Taurine FET-driven Basspedal (Taurus).

Welcome to Horizon Effect

The horizon effect is a problem in artificial intelligence where, in many games, the number of possible states or positions is immense and computers can only feasibly search a small portion of it, typically a few plies down the game tree. Thus, for a computer searching only five plies, there is a possibility that it will make a move which is detrimental, but the detrimental effect is not visible because it does not search to the depth of the error (i.e. beyond its horizon).

When evaluating a large game tree using techniques such as minimax or alpha-beta pruning, search depth is limited for feasibility reasons. However, evaluating a partial tree may give a misleading result. When a significant change exists just over the ‘horizon’ of the search depth, the computational device falls victim to the horizon effect.

The horizon effect can be mitigated by extending the search algorithm with a quiescence search. This gives the search algorithm ability to look beyond its horizon for a certain class of moves of major importance to the game state, such as captures.

Rewriting the evaluation function for leaf nodes and/or analyzing sufficiently more nodes will solve many horizon effect problems.


How does this apply to us?

We are a collective of audiovisual artists searching through all the ramifications of art diving deep down in the details (the plies) until we get stuck (at the Horizon Effect).

Multiple iterations in our productions continually improve our quality and capacity of evaluating what is possible to achieve through artistic means, using old and new technology and methodologies,

letting our internal building mind create whatever we deem appropriate to represent our ideas.

Better Music. Better Art.