Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum Is Selling His Rare Chamberlin Rhythmate on Reverb

Phil Elverum—singer-songwriter, producer, and creative force behind Mount Eerie and The Microphones—is selling a vintage drum machine on Reverb that he and other bands from the K Records orbit have used on records and on tours.

Chamberlin Rhythmate Model 40
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As his listing explains, the Chamberlin Rhythmate 40 is a piece of drum machine history.

Created by Harry Chamberlin at the tail end of the 1940s, the original Rhythmate was the world’s first sample-based drum machine. By recording drum patterns to individual magnetic tape loops, the Rhythmate allowed its user to select between the loops (or stack two together) via a slider. Chamberlin would use the same technology when he pioneered the Chamberlin/Mellotron keyboards.

While fewer than ten of his original units are thought to have been made, Chamberlin returned to the Rhythmate after the success of the Mellotron. In 1975, he began making the Rhythmate 40, a model close to the original with slightly different tape configurations. There were reportedly only ten Rhythmate 40s created as well, between the years of 1975 and 1980, though Chamberlin produced a hundred or more of other models.

Elverum shows off his Rhythmate 40 in his listings video.

Elverum received the drum machine as a gift from his great uncle Bill Lowman, a collector of "peculiar things" and a total "character," according to Elverum. 21 years old at the time, Elverum used the Rhythmate on Microphones albums like It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water and The Glow, Pt. 2, where the machine was credited as "Karl Blau" after a musician-friend of that name who had missed a show and was replaced by the Rhythmate.

Elverum says the drum machine was also used on albums by Mirah and The Blow, and accompanied him on a solo tour as the Microphones, during which a repair shop owner tried to get him to sell the unit through him to Neil Young. In his listing, Elverum asks, "Maybe he still wants it?"

Click here to check the listing and to learn more about this piece of drum machine and indie-music history.

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