British electronic/experimental musician Matthew Herbert is always up to something. Scoring films, founding “microlabels,” writing manifestoes. And since his music forbids the use of drum machines or pre-existing samples, he’s got to work damn hard to finesse the sound he wants out of the living, breathing world. Now, with the PENTAPUZZLE app, you can help him.
Like much of Herbert’s output, PENTAPUZZLE is at once cleverly simple and secretly complex. One is given the task of completing a Tetris-like puzzle with the pieces available. But you’re not just putting together an arbitrary shape—you’re also composing. Each puzzle piece, when added or removed from the whole, contributes or subtracts an electronic element of the song that’s playing. Solve the puzzle, finish the song. Or do it wrong and hear some dissonance!
And there are plenty of puzzle-songs (“mandalas” in the game’s term) to toy with. Looks like an appealingly cerebral upgrade from most idle entertainment apps, and it promises to hone your spatial reasoning, too. Only catch is, you may have to delete all those Matthew Herbert albums to make room on your iPhone.