This is the latest entry into my ongoing Tandberg Loops series. What started out as a simple experiment with a short loop from the Berberian Sound Studio soundtrack slowly grew into an elegy for Broadcast’s Trish Keenan (1968-2011). I hope the artist Matthew Bamber doesn’t mind my, um, “borrowing” of his piece Trish Keenan (2011) for the artwork…
Inspired by the digital copy of The Wire that has just appeared on my tablet, I thought it would be fun (if slightly narcissistic) to compile my own ‘review of the last 12 months in underground music and audio culture,’ minus most of the underground and culture!
Releases of the Year
Adore Delano Till Death Do Us Party
Against Me Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Faith No More Motherfucker
Fugazi First Demo
Godflesh Decline & Fall
Godflesh A World Lit Only By Fire
Holly Herndon Chorus
John Mark McMillan Borderland
John Mark McMillan The Borderland Sessions
Lost Trail Live @ Glenwood Coffee & Books, Greensboro, North Carolina, 04/11/2014
Napalm Death To Go Off And Things (Cardiacs Cover)
Oren Ambarchi Stacte Karaoke
Perc The Power And The Glory
Richard Dawson Nothing Important
Ryan Adams Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams 1984
Stian Westerhus & Pale Horses Maelstrom
William Basinski A Red Score In Tile
Sensory memory basically consists of two main categories: iconic (visual) memory and echoic (auditory) memory. The second one acts when information is processed through an in/voluntary act of listening. Auditory sensory memory is a form of short-term memory and refers to the way the brain can make an exact copy of what we hear, fixing it in the mind for a brief period (usually about 2-4 seconds). Stephen Christopher Stamper, the author of Echoic, says: “The genesis of this album came from a shoebox full of old cassette tapes I had been dragging around for well over 20 years. Containing recordings made by my friends and I, these cassettes had slowly morphed from a type of hastily scribbled musical sketchpad into a tangible form of long-term memory: fragments of thoughts and ideas encoded deep within the tape’s magnetic subconscious”. Fearful of losing these precious memories, or at the very least the means to retrieve them, he pulled his barely functioning Walkman out of storage and began the long and arduous task of digitising this irreplaceable archive. To remember verbal information in the long term it is necessary to process them relative to a precise meaning. The sound-artist has extracted and manipulated these remote pieces, scrutinizing them using his current live performance set-up, subjecting old recordings to delay and various other digital filters.The audio fragments are no longer than four seconds: this is the “echoic” memory, which overlaps with the present, forcing an investigator to re-hear familiar sounds in a whole new way. Not too theory-heavy, the work offers some lovely ambient sequences, drones and feedback loops, developed inside well-defined melodic structures. These methods are nothing new, but they are certainly not lacking in quality and technique.
Sound Work Volume 1 features compositions by artists who have contributed to Gwaith Sŵn (from the Welsh for ‘sound work’ and pronounced ‘g-why-th soon’), a London-based collective whose activities include exhibitions, installations and live performances.
My contribution, S.O.B (Cassette), deals with the phenomenon of tape trading: an unofficial method of distributing punk, hardcore and extreme metal demo tapes popular during the 1980s and 1990s. Using techniques inspired by the early tape works of Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Alvin Lucier, S.O.B (Cassette) explores how the very nature of the system used in tape trading ensured that recordings would decrease in sound quality with each trade and would in extreme cases become impossible to listen to.
A rough ‘n’ ready recording (with mild editing and EQ) of my opening set at Relics: a night of sound performances exploring decline and decay promoted in conjunction with the sound art collective Gwaith Sŵn and London’s arts radio station Resonance104.4fm.
All sounds were sourced from shortwave radio, tape bought at a Finnish car-boot sale and tape loops made from second-hand vinyl records for an old Tandberg Series 15 reel to reel tape recorder, which were then triggered live from a Boss Dr. Sample SP-303 phrase sampler.
Reviewed by Captain Fidanza on Oct 4, 2014
Run for your lives it’s the return of Runningonair Music, those insane musical scientists who do some science and then make sounds that the science inspires.
The previous release from this artist featured “algorithmic compositions” in place of what a dullard such as myself would probably call “songs” or “tracks.” It’s okay though, because these fellows are working for the greater good, they’re not building a new kind of atomic bomb in their garages, they’re making these extraordinary albums so it doesn’t really matter what they call the contents.
As before and as with anything made available to the public by this extraordinary label, this is music unlike anything you’re likely to hear elsewhere, made by people who have somehow managed to meld the two, seemingly opposite worlds of science and art and create something beautiful, hypnotic and truly beguiling.