Motor City Cribs 

Nomo’s Elliot Bergman has gone mad. Percussion mad that is. The lanky sax and keyboardist has been obsessed with percussion for five years. In fact, drums, roto-toms, woodblocks and myriad other “musical” pieces have overtaken his basement — a fire extinguisher, a wrench set, bells of all shapes and sizes, buckets, metal plates and vases are strewn everywhere. It’s found percussion that Bergman mostly stumbled across in thrift stores this last year.

There are homemade instruments and electric thumb pianos of all sizes and timbres too. Bergman built these with Warren Defever and his wife Hitoko Satai. Calling themselves Red Star Industries, they assemble the mbiras simply using wood, metal and piezo pickups from Radio Shack (Nomo sells the thumb pianos on tour). Using this palette of essentially found sound Elliot creates otherworldly loops on his laptop. Bergman promises that the next Nomo record will be a lot weirder. (Tentatively slated for fall release on Ubiquity, the new album sees Defever in the producer’s chair.)

“When you make a new instrument there’s kind of a built-in song,” Bergman says. “Once you get it tuned there’s something you can play which just feels natural.”

More by Doug Coombe

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