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Electronic musician produces first-ever “living record” with live yeast cells

The Korea-based Psients has unveiled his groundbreaking Signal EP

By Joe Goggins

A vinyl record on a player
(Photo: Pexels).

An electronic artist has created what he claims is the world’s first “living record” – you can listen to it below.

Mikael Hwang, who makes music under the name Psients and is a working scientist, has unveiled his Signal EP, apparently the first ever record to be filled with live yeast cells. The cells have a direct impact on the sound of the piece, with a customised, hybridised Petri dish helping Hwang to capture their vibrations and translate them into audio form.

The release of the EP has been marked in Hwang’s native South Korea with an art installation at the Paradise Art Lab Festival in Incheon. “The installation transports viewers into the world of yeast cells, inviting them to imagine what such a place might sound like and how biology might be used in music in the future,” he explained in an Instagram post. “An obelisk in the centre of the installation houses an object that resembles both a Petri dish and a vinyl record. Off-white yeast colonies can be found inside the object, and above them – on the object’s top surface – are a series of lathed grooves that relay audio signals.”

The record has been produced using a method entirely different to conventional modern vinyl production, with the tracks being physically etched on to the release. You can see the full four-song track listing below.

Hwang, who previously told Mixmag that he sees electronic music as having a biological future that includes discovering sonic expression from non-human lifeforms, elucidated his philosophy in a talk with Art Style. “Clubs and dance floors are essential spaces for people to dance and enjoy music – that’s where my love of dance music blossomed,” he said.

“I want to evolve from these places to exhibitions or galleries where music and sound can take on a different role; where people can listen, think, and reflect on their environments, rather than react to the immediacy of spaces, such as a club.”

Psients – Signal

1. ‘Signal’
2. ‘Metabolism’
3. ‘Mutation’
4. ‘Colony Collapse’