The Future is Now!
April 8, 2008 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The One Man Band has evolved. No longer will the one man band be burdened by the weight and bulk of backpack drum kits, guitars, or accordions - or knowing what notes to play. Behold! Beamz by The Sharper Image. Give your nearest buddy a high-five and catch a glimpse into the future of music performance and one of the most hilarious promotional videos you might ever see.
posted by hellslinger (60 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
haha great : )
posted by flyinghamster at 12:47 PM on April 8, 2008

This would be fun on LSD.
posted by found missing at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2008

"More cowbell"? This video is already making fun of itself! No fair!
posted by echo target at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

He's wearin' sunglasses!
- Tracy Morgan
posted by davebush at 12:54 PM on April 8, 2008

posted by Dizzy at 12:56 PM on April 8, 2008

It's theremin times ten - for people that don't want to try hard!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:58 PM on April 8, 2008

Hey buddy get your hands out of my beamz, this is a jam session not a group grope.
posted by nola at 12:58 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does everything at the Sharper Image have to come in that cheap silver-tone plastic? And why does that one guy have sunglasses on? Do sunglasses automatically make you look cool? Are you rockin' out in your shades? Do you wear your sunglasses at night, asshole? I wish it was possible to get laser poisoning, and I wish everyone in the video would die from it. That's right. The punishment for promoting your upscale plastic crap is death.

"Sharper Image: We Hope To God You Don't Discover ThinkGeek."
posted by Pastabagel at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

that's what I thought I could do with a power glove.
posted by ddaavviidd at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, might as well set my theremin on fire now.
posted by the dief at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2008

The dude in the "reverie" vignette is hi-frickin'-larious. He's rockin' out with his easy jazz and his cheap-ass headphones.

Ahh Sharper Image... how I loath and pity thee.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is upscale plastic the same as cheap plastic? I'm so confused.
posted by found missing at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2008

I think you win this round of Shaper Image hate, Pastabagel.
posted by Hicksu at 1:06 PM on April 8, 2008

laser poisoning

posted by cortex at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2008

createdigitalmusic has milked the laser harp for about a week and a half's-worth of snarky content. It's been fun watching the wave of amused disgust roll on and on...
posted by lekvar at 1:08 PM on April 8, 2008

I was gonna give one of these to my friend Bob, but then I remembered
he has no arms.
posted by Dizzy at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I initially thought this was going to be about a different one guy band.

I think the Beamz looks and sounds incredibly cheezy and yet I want very badly to play with one.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:17 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Amazing laser-based invention lets music-lovers be musicians — regardless of talent or training!"

If you have $600 to drop on this piece of junk, who needs talent?
posted by googly at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2008

lekvar - excellent use of Boredoms in the first video on that link.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2008

since the lasers are either on or off, then is this triggering samples where off = play until on? these look like really canned demos. all that finger stuff looks like it doesn't do anything. not a theremin, just a light switch...
posted by njohnson23 at 1:23 PM on April 8, 2008

Don't they get credit for the "More Cowbell!!" bit?
posted by LoopyG at 1:27 PM on April 8, 2008

incredibly cheezy and yet I want very badly to play with one

AKA the Segway Effect.
posted by everichon at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2008

Everyone sounds great!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2008

ZOMG this is hilarious. It looks like something off of Tim and Eric's Awesome Show.
posted by hlkneedler at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

njohnson23: You are exactly right, simple cheap photodetectors used as switches. The hardest part of making this device work has to be not playing certain notes at the wrong time. This could just as easily be 6 of your keyboard keys mapped in software to each different "instrument".

Typical Sharper Image flashy, but actually cheap and useless crap sold at a premium to suckers.
posted by hellslinger at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2008

Really? They high-fived?

Satan truly does stride the Earth...and he shits Beamz from his ass.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:33 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

AKA the Segway Effect.

This is how I ended up owning a Furby for a year in college, essentially.

all that finger stuff looks like it doesn't do anything.

Maybe we need a new way to classify how wanky an instrument is. We'll call it the Guitar Face Quotient, where the GFQ is a real number from 0 to 1 representing percentage of an instrument's essential performative function is making the equivilant of glam rock guitar faces.
posted by cortex at 1:37 PM on April 8, 2008

Brings to mind Tod Machover's work at MIT's Media Lab regarding Hyperinstruments and other electronic interfaces for producing music, as in his Music Toys initiative.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2008

Sid Laverents destroys Beamz by power of thought alone.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:49 PM on April 8, 2008

My FIRST problem with it is it looks like the legs of a plastic lawn chair sticking up upside down, not the kind of thing that inspires me musically. And if "everybody sounds good", then the presets are doing 95% (or more) of the work. The Theremin deserves better than to be 'dumbed down'. Air Guitar Hero? Moron Cowbell.
posted by wendell at 1:49 PM on April 8, 2008

The Future is Now Not!

fixed that for you.
posted by SPUTNIK at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2008

The people in this video represent everything I don't want my chlidren to grow up to beamz.
posted by davejay at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

ZOMG this is hilarious. It looks like something off of Tim and Eric's Awesome Show.

You just made Smooth Jazz. Great Job!
posted by hellslinger at 1:52 PM on April 8, 2008

Laser harps.

Build your own Laser Harp.

Jean Michel Jarre playing his Laser Harp in concert - 1, 2.
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2008

50 years from now there will be Beamz Hero, a virtual reality video game that simplifies the Beamz dynamic for those who don't know how to do the doggy paddle, and Beamz Idol, a 3d holoshow for those talented dreamers with promising air swimming techniques. It will be kind of like the future in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure; everyone wears silver, and slow, solemn air guitar motions replace the handshake. They clone Beethoven and he's all about the Beamz, denouncing all his previous work. Some critics for the New New York Times warn of the Death of Music, but they've been saying that since the Second Timberlake Dynasty, so no one really pays attention, and their words are soon overwritten by Googlepedia, which also erases all human memories of acoustic instruments to clear more space for their BrainServers. Violins are thought to be artifacts once used in religious ritual, though some bold scholars posit that they were actually primitive, analog teledildonics. This leads to some embarrassing situations for a few people, but for the most part it is a golden age of worldwide peace and smooth grooves.
posted by speicus at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

AKA the Segway Effect.

Hey fuck you, guy! The Segway is amazing technology with shitty marketing. Beamz is shitty technology with hilarious marketing.
posted by hellphish at 2:11 PM on April 8, 2008

Yeah, it's all "ha ha" funny until someone buys one, forgets about it, leaves it running, and comes home to a symphonic masterpiece entitled "kitty-is-bored-and-rubbing-up-against-the-funny-red-dot-pole"

Your cat is going to win a Grammy for that shit. Just you watch.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2008

Easy there, hellphish. We just had a Dean Kamen thread a week or two ago.
posted by cortex at 2:18 PM on April 8, 2008

So how long until we see someone "playing" this with their genitals? Ladies--beware the Beamz mix tape.
posted by maxwelton at 2:26 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

OK, but this video of a prototype at a children's hospital is pretty cool.
posted by desjardins at 2:28 PM on April 8, 2008

HumanBeams -- the company that makes the Beamz instrument. It was created by Jerry Riopelle (rock/blues musician, producer & composer).

Riopelle playing Beamz in concert.
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on April 8, 2008

So, wait, I'm pretty sure that "Quiet Reverie" guy is hiding somewhere in my favorite Chinese Restaurant.
posted by JBennett at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2008

It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:45 PM on April 8, 2008

Riopelle playing Beamz in concert.

It actually appears to be someone else playing it at one of his concerts. The musician is much younger than the person portrayed at the Riopelle website (whose music took off in the 70's on Capitol Records; whose songs have been "covered by Herb Alpert, Leon Russell, and later, Kenny Loggins, Rita Coolidge, Meat Loaf and many others.").
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2008

The Digital Harp - Going Back to the Future
"Odd electronic instruments like the Laser Harp have a rich history, and they are also back in fashion. Blame Alison Goldfrapp, who gave new life to the instrument first made by Leon Theremin in 1919, by making the metal antennae squeal with the motions of her crotch. Then shout at Jonny Greenwood for his love of the spooky ondes Martenot, a French instrument made of a keyboard and sliding control. Invented in 1928 and used by Greenwood on Radiohead's last four albums, it has also been fiddled with whooshily by Jarvis Cocker and Gorillaz.

Robert Moog's crazy synthesisers have been brought back to the mainstream by Muse, and even the stylophone itself got a revival last October. Toy companies Re:creation and Dubreq relaunched it with an MP3 input for the Christmas market. I blame that spooky-sound-loving Dr Who demographic, the weird musical treasure trove that is eBay, and bands such as Hot Chip who love all things retrofuturistic. Because for them, heaven isn't full of angels plucking golden strings. They're all dancing in the laser lights, aren't they?"
posted by ericb at 2:53 PM on April 8, 2008

Reverie and Jam Session were my favorites.
posted by cell divide at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2008

Corey Haim would love this.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2008

Lame, of course.

Now, I saw a great one-man band on the Boulder Mall once. Left and right hands on accordion (bass and chords). Left-foot on the high-hat (rhythm). Right foot connected by a couple of pulleys to the slide on his trombone, welded (more or less) to his shoulder (melody).

The King, I thought.
posted by kozad at 3:31 PM on April 8, 2008

All discordant chords and sour notes have been programmed out so everyone plays great.

If I can't play a C bass on a C#7 I don't want to be right.
posted by Wolof at 3:39 PM on April 8, 2008

posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 PM on April 8, 2008

Wow, talk about garbage in, garbage out. The 'hard rock' guy is my favorite. "Hey look! I'm a total douche playing a crappy kids toy, but the act of putting on sunglasses indicates that I am a rock god! Someone fetch me a brick wall!"
posted by lumpenprole at 5:25 PM on April 8, 2008

Is this why The Sharper Image went bankrupt? I'd recommend using up those gift cards if you've got 'em.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:30 PM on April 8, 2008

The only thing the "Quiet Reverie" section was missing was the beautiful blonde, staring dreamily at the performer with puppy dog eyes. Oh yes, gentlemen: Beamz will get you laid.

I'm guessing they couldn't get the actress to show up.
posted by LordSludge at 6:04 PM on April 8, 2008

That is some serious diddling that rock guy is doing.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 7:00 PM on April 8, 2008

My favorite one man band.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:33 PM on April 8, 2008

This video is all fine and dandy, but I'm pining for the incredibly awful second-person catalog prose that The Sharper Image used to use.

You step up to the machine and wave one finger through one of the carefully-calibrated, state-of-the-art laser beams in front of you. Suddenly, compact disc-quality music begins to play. You move your hands up and down the beams; the tune swells and changes with your movements. Before you know it, you're making music. And everybody will want to. Beamz comes equipped with a wide variety of musical styles, from cool jazz for those moments with that special someone to hard rockin' sounds (Jimi Hendrix, watch out.) The durable hardbody construction is available in futuristic silver or sleek black.
posted by Spatch at 5:37 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

...64 "D" batteries not included.
posted by Dizzy at 6:50 AM on April 9, 2008

So, it's basically a 6-key midi trigger with a laser interface? Ok.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:03 AM on April 9, 2008

The guy playing the first solo looks like a bald, younger John McCain to me.
posted by stannate at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2008

Ok, I missed posting this by about a week, but I can still post this here.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

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