Richard Upchurch began his Brooklyn-based sound recorder business by making a handcrafted audio device for his nephew. A few more were requested by his teachers and then he started selling them online. Now he offers a small collection for sale that includes thumb piano, xylophone and voice recorders. The latest addition to the BrandNewNoise catalog is the Krankie, an old school music box that allows the user to create custom tunes and record the results.
The Krankie's crank mechanism is similar to the one used by Swedish musician and maker Martin Molin for his mechanical music box, and sits atop a small box made of sustainable wood. A user feeds a paper roll through the mechanism, winds the crank at whatever tempo suits and a merry tune tinkles away until the cranking stops.
The 3 x 3.5 x 2 inch (76.2 x 88.9 x 50.8 mm) device comes with a Happy Birthday piano roll ready to play, but a hole punch is also included so users can create their own tunes by making holes in one of six supplied paper rolls and feeding that through. But Krankie is no one trick pony – it has recording capabilities, too.
Pressing the big red button on the front of the housing starts recording the tune and anything muttered through a microphone to the top for 30 seconds. A toggle switch on the front of the box clicks right to repeat the recording once or left for continuous looping. Either way, recorded playback is started/stopped using the black button.
There's a pitch shift knob around back for having some experimental sonic fun, and an audio output jack for connection to headphones or powered speakers.
Sadly, there's no video of Krankie in action as of writing, but it is available now for US$120.