The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.
The machine has to be seen to be appreciated: with dozens of beautifully carved wooden parts, tracks, pulleys and funnels for collecting and rerouting spent marbles, it's a true work of art. And though marble machines as an art form of their own have a long and complex history, this might be one of the best.
A full making-of can be seen on the Wintergartan YouTube page, having apparently begun in Autumn 2014. Recently, commenting on its progress, Molin and his team wrote that "the closer the machine gets to be finished the harder it gets to finish it".
"It is strange how that happens, when the finish line is in sight, everything slows down automatically except the avalanche of new unforeseen problems. We need to start making music now and spend less time picking up marbles from the floor soon soon soon. But it is happening. When it is finished, music will follow."
Now more than a year since the project began, the completed instrument is sure to have its moment of viral fame online.
Molin tells WIRED the project was directly inspired by the existing marble machine subculture ("I stumbled over the marble machine culture -- it's a whole subculture -- and was always interested in gears, and the future of gears...") but with the aim of building more than a single-use demo box.
"Marble machines always make music, but I was thinking maybe I can make a programmable marble machine, that doesn't make chaos but is actually controllable in the sounds it makes," Molin said.