For a certain sub-section of us, watching this clip is going to be a deeply nostalgic experience. This is Radiohead on SNL, shortly after Kid A came out, performing ‘Idioteque.’

There are a host of reasons that seeing this on TV in October 2000 blew our little minds (Thom’s freakout performance that borders on a religious experience, for one) but, for sure, a question on everyone’s mind at the time — what the hell is Jonny Greenwood plugging and unplugging on that thing, first of all, and is it, like, controlling our phone lines right now or what exactly, and could he please stop because, frankly, it’s making us a little nervous mainly predicated on the fact that, for real, we have never in our lives seen anything like that before?
Wonder no more. The thing inside that big, mysterious, walnut-cabinet thing is an analog sequencer — according to the website of the company who makes it, it’s a “system 8000 and rs200 sequencer” to be exact. In fact, this is the same company that Greenwood sought out to build him knock-off versions of one of his electronic instruments to use on tour. The instrument in question? An Ondes-Martenot, which was designed by a man named Maurice Martenot after he met Leon Termin, the creator of the theremin, closing the loop on one, big, extended electronic instrument family.

Does this help me at all in the realm of knowing how to use any of this stuff? Not really. For now, I’ll stick to what I know. Pocket stylophone, anyone? Mini theremin?

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