In a white background stands a machine, surrounded by black microphones and wires. I can’t figure out whether it will make me a coffee, print a newspaper, or make music. A skinny dude walks into the frame, and starts cranking one of the countless wheels. The entire apparatus comes to life; wheels start churning, marbles start rolling. Yup, marbles. Then, the marbles start making music. A song so damn good that while I was trying to figure out how the hell a concoction such as this could produce music, my head was bobbing to the sounds. Our beheadphoned Swede (Martin Molin, the only visible Wintergatan band member in this video but make no mistake; there’s four members in total), who at first seemed to have to do nothing more than spin the wheel, gets busier and busier. He forgets his awkwardness, he plays his music. Flipping handles. And somehow the marbles obey and produce the sounds.
What follows over the next four minutes blew my mind when I saw it the first time. And the second, and the third.
All this though, you can see for yourself.
What gets me, besides the obvious musical genius, patience and skills, is the giving it away. To spend so much time and effort, making this machine, making the music, making the video and just…putting it on youtube. Sure, I get it: it can make them more famous; people will see them, maybe become a fan. But, on the other hand, there are no guarantees for this at all. Wintergatan just posts this because it’s damn cool.
One of my brothers sent me the video, and it made my day. Then, my day peaked even further, because I found the next video. The guys from Wintergatan dropped their work online, not expecting anything back. Then, online gave back. Martin explains:
The diversity of the covers pushes the limits of imagination. Piano’s, 8-bit video games, orchestra’s, guitars, drums, weird tesla-coil-ish machines, saxophones, and so much more was used by others to make their version of the song that got them.
(And the thing is: the song sounds awesome, every single time. In every way. I remember hearing that that’s the sign of a truly brilliant song: doesn’t matter how you play it, it sounds good.)
Call it a hype. Call it music business in 2017. I’m gonna stay romantic on this one: they gave something to the world. Then, the world gave something back. Wintergatan liked the gifts so much that they wrapped ‘em all together and gave it to us again.
Sometimes, I, like undoubtedly so many others, wonder what the true impact of being online is and will be on us. And I truly believe that this is an important and interesting issue to talk about, think about, act on if need be. But there are other moments, such as this one that just make me think: that’s what it was meant for. To shorten the lines from idea-haver to idea-enjoyer. No man in suit needed to approve of it, no financial considerations to make. Just, from the artists to whoever is willing to listen.
Long live the internet.