German Band Works in Concert With "Robotic" Instruments to Create Music Mix

German band Joasihno strikes a chord in a unique way as it takes its show on the road.

Currently touring in Canada, the two-man band works in concert with a “robotic” element that can play several instruments at the same time.

“Actually we call it psychedelic robot orchestra,” said Cico Beck, one of the creators of the band. “It’s a combination of acoustic instruments but also very trashy robot instruments,” he added.

Once hooked up to wires and set up, instruments that include a xylophone, drum and cymbal play on their own. Another contraption, a horizontal, self-revolving wooden stick, stands atop a microphone stand. The stick contains long strings tied on each end with a wooden ping pong-sized-ball attached. As the stick rotates, the balls hit a block on the floor, creating a hollow knocking sound. 

Beck said a computer is at the heart of the self-playing instruments.

“Most of this stuff is controlled by the computer. The computer can translate voltage signals, so the robots are controlled by the voltage, that is controlled by the computer,” Beck said. 

Playing in an experimental band with a robot orchestra is not the same as playing in a traditional one, said Nico Siereg, the other Joasihno member.

WATCH: Robotic orchestra

​”It’s a little bit different because you also have in mind that there are machines playing with you, so there’s no reaction from them.” 

Siereg said in some ways, once the robots are programmed, he is free to focus on what he is playing and even improvise. The musician said he can envision future scenarios in which technology plays a greater role in creating different types of music; but, he voiced hope that “real music won’t die.”

Even if the robots are not taking over the music world, Beck said it is undeniable that in the 21st century, music and technology are intertwined.

“Technology is like a very important tool that even, very often, it’s also a very important part of inspiration,” he added.

Joasihno performed several shows at the now-concluded music festival and tech conference known as South by Southwest, held in Austin, Texas. The experimental band is hoping its high-tech use of instrumentals will be music to one’s ears.

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Bundesbank’s Buch Adds to Calls for Cryptocurrency Regulation

Regulation of cryptocurrencies must be considered, Bundesbank vice president Claudia Buch told Reuters, even though she does not believe they pose a threat to financial stability.

Buch said that speculation on volatile virtual tokens does not pose a systemic threat because it is not financed through credit, but she said that regulators should look at introducing rules to protect consumers, given that such speculation could prove costly for investors.

“The role of crypto tokens in money laundering and criminal activity must also be closely examined,” Buch said.

“I don’t see a threat for financial stability at the moment as the speculations are generally not financed with loans and the relevant markets are rather small.”

The issue of how to regulate cryptocurrencies is likely to be high on the agenda at a March 19-20 meeting of Group of 20 finance leaders in Argentina.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christi ne Lagarde has urged governments and central banks to develop regulations for such assets to prevent them from becoming a newvehicle for money laundering and terrorist financing.

Japan has also urged its G20 partners to act on preventing cryptocurrencies from becoming a vehicle to finance criminal activities.

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Paralympic Chief Closes Pyeongchang Winter Games

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons on Sunday declared the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics closed, and paid tribute to late British physicist Stephen Hawking as an “inspiration.”

At a spectacular ceremony that featured dancing, music and light shows, the curtain was officially brought down on nine days of sporting action.

“The time has come for me to declare the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games closed,” Parsons said.

Hawking, who died last week aged 76, is fondly remembered by Paralympians as he opened the 2012 London Paralympics.

Parsons paid tribute to the scientist as “a genius of a man, a pioneer and inspiration to us all.”

“While Hawking tested the limits of his imagination, Paralympians, you have once again pushed the boundaries of human endeavor,” he told the audience.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the Paralympic flag was handed over to the mayor of Beijing — which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

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From Paris with Love: Depardieu votes in Russian Election

One of Russia’s most famous citizens, French film star Gerard Depardieu, joined the millions who cast ballots in Sunday’s presidential election.

Depardieu, a friend of President Vladimir Putin who presented him with a Russian passport in 2013 during a tax row between the actor and French authorities, voted at the Russian Embassy in Paris.

The embassy tweeted a picture of the 69-year-old, wearing a coat with fur trim and sunglasses perched on his head, popping his ballot in the box.

“Gerard Depardieu voted in the Russian presidential election at a polling station at the Russian embassy in France. Come!,” it tweeted, urging other Russians in France to follow suit.

A video of the moment, tweeted by a reporter from Russian broadcaster RT, was widely circulated on French news sites, where it triggered a tide of mostly contemptuous responses.

“I don’t like insults but for me this man is a sellout,” one person tweeted in French. Another posted a GIF of a man vomiting.

Depardieu caused an uproar in 2012 when he declared he would hand back his French passport and move to Belgium to avoid a tax hike by the then Socialist government.

His popularity slumped further after he accepted a Russian passport — and a bear hug — from Putin.

The larger-than-life star of “Cyrano de Bergerac” and the Asterix & Obelix franchise, who is still a French citizen, has since become a staunch defender of the Kremlin’s policies, including its annexation of Crimea.

“I’m a citizen of the world,” he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in 2016. “France is likely to become a Disneyland for foreigners, populated by imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese for tourists.”

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Біатлон: Юлія Джима завершила сезон п’ятим місцем у гонці переслідування

Лідер збірної України з біатлону Юлія Джима фінішувала п’ятою в гонці переслідування, яка завершила жіночу змагальну програму на восьмому етапі Кубка світу в норвезькому Голменколлені. Джима припустилася двох промахів на вогневих рубежах.

Перемогла в гонці білоруска Дарія Домрачева, яка випередила на останньому колі іншу сильну екс-росіянку, Анастасію Кузьміну зі Словаччини. Третьою стала американка С’юзан Данклі.

Для Джими етап у Голменколлені став дуже успішним – вона фінішувала серед найсильніших в обох особистих гонках, у спринті в четвер Юлія стала бронзовою призеркою.

На відміну від неї, українська естафета, в якій також змагалися Анастасія Меркушина та сестри Валя й Віта Семеренки, зробила крок назад, фінішувавши 17 березня восьмою.

У програмі змагань у Голменколлені 18 березня залишилася одна гонка – чоловіча естафета. У ній Україну представлять Артем Прима, Руслан Ткаленко, Дмитро Підручний та Володимир Сємаков. Початок змагання – о 15:45 за Києвом.

Для збірної України змагання в Голменколлені є останніми в сезоні. До російської Тюмені на фінал сезону команда не їде.

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Lawmakers Say UK Should Consider Postponing Brexit

Britain should consider postponing Brexit because there may not be enough time to strike a deal with the European Union before the U.K. leaves the bloc a year from now, a key committee of British lawmakers said Sunday.


The House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee said if major aspects of the future relationship with the EU remain unsettled by October, Britain should seek a “limited extension” of its EU membership.


Britain and the EU want a deal on future relations settled by the fall so national parliaments can approve it before Britain officially leaves the 28-nation bloc on March 29, 2019.


In a report published Sunday, the lawmakers said a proposed transition period of about two years should be able to be extended if needed. The two sides have agreed in principle that Britain will continue to remain part of the bloc’s structures and rules until the end of 2020.


Seven pro-Brexit members of the 21-member, all-party committee refused to back the report, preparing an alternative version that took a more uncompromising tone toward the EU.


The majority-backed report said it is worrying that there has been “little progress” in solving the key issue of how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.


Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other infrastructure along the all-but-invisible border, but the committee said Britain has yet to put forward credible proposals for how this could work.


“We know of no international border, other than the internal borders of the EU, that operates without checks and physical infrastructure,” said the committee’s chairman, Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn.


The pro-Brexit dissenters’ alternative document accused the EU of taking an unhelpful approach to the border issue. They suggested that new technology and “streamlined” customs arrangements can deliver a frictionless border.


Rather than having Britain seek to extend its EU membership, the minority group said the U.K should walk away without a deal if talks bog down.

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