Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023

The weather feels inherently musical. The light percussion of rain helps many to fall asleep; the deep bass of the thunder calls for attention.

“The weather in itself is a kind of acoustic experience every day,” says Mr. Quintron, New Orleans’ new age musical Wonka. During his career, Quintron has built a reputation as a maker of DIY synthesizers. Some of his instruments, such as the Drum Buddy beat machine, have been picked up by musicians as great as Wilco and Fred Armisen. But his latest creation is squarely in “one of a kind” even though the basic concept was around forever.

Quintron performs with the Weather Warlock at St. Maurice Church in New Orleans

Meet the Weather Warlock, now on tour. The sound combines the trance-likeness of monastic chants, the pulsating of electronics and bizarre voices reminiscent of The Flaming Lips. Quintron says he had the idea all along, having wanted to make a weather-controlled drone synthesizer for a long time. But the musician didn’t fully commit to it until illness (later revealed to be lymphoma) forced him to cancel tours in favor of rest and treatment in 2013. The experience strongly influenced what the Weather Warlock grew into. Hosted via, the synthesizer streams constantly so that anyone who could benefit from drone musical healing can access it anywhere in the world. (The name of the site refers to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that many visually impaired people suffer from.)

“Our hope is that this instrument may be of some help to people who have some form of sleep disorder or anyone suffering from stress or health issues who could benefit from a direct musical connection with nature,” the project’s description reads. .

“[That experience] brought me into the science of healing drone and healing powers of music,” Quintron told Ars. “Today I’ve been getting emails from people all over the country saying it helps them with this or that: stress, sleep disorders, mental issues. So if it helps in a small way, for anyone, great. And if it’s annoying, you can always turn it off.”

In total, the development of the Weather Warlock took three years. “I listened. I would prototype, listen and rebuild,” he said. The instrument maker eventually went into residency with the art-oriented Rauschenberg Foundation in Florida to finish his device. And according to, Quintron even explored the idea of ​​teaming up with Jack White’s Third Man Records to create a modular version that could go into mass production like some of his previous creations (“Something Your Grandma Could Buy in the hardware store,” he told the paper).

But Quintron ultimately opted for a more advanced Warlock. It has a traditional synthesizer-like base station (albeit with buttons that indicate “Rain” and “Sun”) that connects to six-foot weather stations. And Quintron has the ambition to find interested parties — artists, museums, libraries, etc. — to build more base stations around the world “so that listeners can experience musical interpretations of different climates and time zones,” the project site notes.

New Orleans journalist Michael Patrick Welch profiled Quintron for The protector recently, and the musician gave the best public description of the weather sensor setup yet.

A global temperature sensor controls an abrasive bass note that continuously moves through a phase that moves faster in the heat, slower in the cold. The anemometer measures wind speed via spinning heads that emit a digital pulse like you hear in submarine movies. A periscope pointed at the sky contains a UV sensor: ‘It is specially calibrated to remain still and only emit sound in the flux between light and dark – only at dawn and dusk, except during that rare storm’ Quintron told Welch.

Precipitation and rain are represented by a set of copper probes spaced just a millimeter apart. “When a raindrop falls between the two probes, it connects them together and makes a sound determined by the chemical composition of the rain; some days the rain is more metallic and more conductive.’

mr.  Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform in Memphis.
Enlarge / mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform in Memphis.

This month, Quintron finally took the Warlock on his first official tour of the US (tonight’s Oakland gig takes place in an old church; more dates here). While any show featuring Quintron and Miss Pussycat – his wife, fellow musician and puppeteer – qualifies as a true spectacle, Weather Warlock’s performances stand out as unique.

“It doesn’t really play a song,” Quintron said of the autonomous synth. “So Weather Warlock is an improv band that performs with this machine at sunset and only at sunset. We just let the Warlock do its thing, all in E major. The unusual timing allows Quintron to maximize changes in the weather, and he recruits a rotating cast of local musicians from a variety of genres to ensure the impromptu experience remains different night after night.

“This isn’t the kind of band that will say, ‘Hey la li la, doo wah – here’s our next weather song. Doo wah,” he said. “It is a sunset only event with different players in each city. It’s different every time. It’s not that kind of band… it’s improvised music with… god.”

Despite currently limited spring dates, Quintron says a full Weather Warlock tour will take place this fall. And even if interested music fans can’t make it to see it all live, the Warlock continues to stream and Quintron is now offering a special Warlock 12” alongside his regular recordings. On the A side, his local band plays with the machine in a field in the New Orleans area, while the B side consists solely of the Warlock doing his thing.

“My band in NOLA composed a piece around that idea,” Quintron said. “I guess you could call it a song, but it’s really a 25 minute jam.” As with any project involving the musician, descriptions can only do so much justice. The best option remains to experience it firsthand.

List image by Flickr user: Danny Norton

By akfire1

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