Shackle is Anne La Berge on flute and electronics and Robert van Heumen on laptop-instrument. Their aim is to explicitly and subtly exploit shackling in both concept and material.

The Shackle Stick

Shackle has released The Shacke Stick: a designer memory stick with audio and video from Shackle’s concerts.

KOOP NU JE EIGEN SHACKLE STICK (within the Netherlands)

BUY YOUR OWN SHACKLE STICK NOW (outside the Netherlands)

From a review by Gonzo (circus) magazine:

‘Shackle’ is a game for anyone who makes music including professionals and those who occasionally just like to play around with friends or on their own. The game is highly recommended for musicians who seek new territory. It can lead to a range of moments from brilliant inspiration to hilarious chaos. The music of Shackle is truely strong and varied. There are fast, raw passages and also very subdued parts where something new can be heard every time you listen. The power of the duo is that they evoke curiosity without becoming overly abstract.

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The stick is accompanied by the Shackle Multiplayer Music Game. This is a card game based on the digital interactive improvisation system that Shackle uses in their performances.





1. Redpoint (20:48)
Recorded on May 1 2012 at the Jazzcafé in Zaal 100 Amsterdam.
Technology: Brannen-Kingma flutes, Kyma, Max, Arduino, SuperCollider, Faderfox MIDI controllers, Logitech joystick.

2. Zipper (8:30)
Recorded on January 17 2012 at the Splendor concert series at KHL Amsterdam.
Technology: Brannen-Kingma flutes, Kyma, Max, Arduino, LiSa, junXion, SuperCollider, Faderfox MIDI controllers, Logitech joystick.

3. Graunch (33:15)
Recorded on January 20 2010 at the Trytone concert series in Zaal 100 Amsterdam.
Technology: Brannen-Kingma flutes, Nord Modular G2, Max, junXionbox, LiSa, junXion, SuperCollider, Faderfox MIDI controllers, Logitech joystick.

4. Chuck (5:16) video
Recorded on May 8 2012 at the Jazzcafé in Zaal 100 Amsterdam.
Technology: Brannen-Kingma flutes, Kyma, Max, Arduino, SuperCollider, Faderfox MIDI controllers, Logitech joystick.
Video by Maarten van Rossem.





All music performed live by Shackle, mixed by Anne La Berge and Robert Van Heumen, mastered by Zlaya Hadzic at LOUD/Studio 150 Amsterdam. Track 3 recorded by Ron Ruiten.

Design by Isabelle Vigier.

The Shackle Stick is partly funded by a crowdfunding endeavour via Kickstarter. You can see the original project here.

A big thank you to: Frits & Ron at Zaal 100, STEIM, David Dramm, Mirjam ter Linden, Barbara Suters, Performing Arts Fund NL, Isabelle Vigier for making the beautiful design and Maarten van Rossem for making the Shackle videoclip.

Special thanks to our $50+ Kickstarter backers: Ned McGowan, Juraj Kojs, Jaap ter Linden, Jorrit Dijkstra, Ulrike, David LaBerge, Reid Robins, Martin Parker, Marnix, Tijn & Francien and Mirjam ter Linden.

All music © 2012 Shackle



Liner Notes

To be shackled is to be tethered, restricted, to have limited freedom of movement. To be shackled to another performer as La Berge and Van Heumen are in this live electronic music means that forwards, backwards or sideways progress cannot be made without playful negotiation, some tussle and perhaps an uncomfortable consensus. Shackle are bound via messages that are sent to each other’s electronics and tell them what to do next: they are obliged to recognise these commands, and this provides a trajectory for the music that, whilst made in the moment, is coerced into being through the friction that their bonds create.

What are the sonic consequences of this approach to improvising and performing? The openings of many of the tracks on this memory stick explode with an energy that implies individuality, freedom and autonomy. However, as the pieces and live sets here progress, what at first seems like exuberance is actually work, a struggle to spit the music out, or to find it, or a race to get there. You’ll hear this clearly in the opening of the Edinburgh set from 2010. This live performance lasts nearly 37 minutes without a break and has La Berge literally gasping for air within 4 minutes. From this point on, the duo negotiate the double-edged benefits and constraints of being musically tied together.

Other shackles however have been deliberately cast off. The legacy of the classical flute for example has been abandoned; listen to “Twist” – flutes just aren’t supposed to sound like this are they? La Berge’s rigorously tested electronics are discrete and used so organically that they behave like extensions of her musical intentions rather than bolted-on 21st century extras. As La Berge leaves the flute’s polite character at the door, Van Heumen has liberated himself from the magnetic pull of his computer screen. On the videos here, you’ll notice his laptop lid down just far enough that the computer doesn’t go to sleep, but there is no chance he can glance across to check the status of his software. Instead, he interfaces with his instrument by listening and by touch.

Van Heumen has developed a sophisticated relationship between game controller and instrumental agency. His joystick sounds incredibly well armed and he continually plays a game with the flute, grabbing tiny samples of live sound and firing them back into the room. Here, we see Shackle bound to some well-tested rules of acoustic sound production: if the interface isn’t being used, Van Heumen doesn’t make a sound.

Aside from the musical risks this duo take when performing live, releasing music on memory stick may seem especially dangerous as you can erase and repurpose the data-space for other things. Copying to your media collection is very simple and with no DRM, you could pass this stick around to your friends, even remix some of the music and add that to the stick before you hand it over and pretend that your remix is one of Shackle’s pieces. Are Shackle being flagrantly irresponsible with a fast and loose attitude to their copyrights and authorship? No, this is a healthy and pragmatic response to the way things are now in music publishing and in a consumer society such as ours. Releasing on memory stick saves landfill, and you get something useful once you’ve imported the music to your media collection.

This duo of flute with electronics and joystick-controlled laptop make unusual and highly driven music that fits their name. Wriggle, squirm, rub, coerce, jam, rupture, giggle, slip, roll, flap are other words that go some way to conjure a sense of what this music must be like to make and certainly what it is like to listen to.

Martin Parker, Edinburgh
March 2012