Seattle, Washington, USA
my noise music project
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five12 numerology 2
waldorf microwave 2
Nord Micro Modular
Sony MU-L021 compressor
FMR RNLA compressor
Peavey TMP1 tube pre (for distortion)
lots of pedals
Novation remote Zero SL
MOTU ultralite mk2
M audio Profire 2626
Souncraft Spirit Folio 14 mixer
Tapco Link.midi 4x4
Furman M-8D Conditioner
Toshiba Tablet PC (old faithful)
Electronic Music discussion: Simple Pleasures: 4 track music
Written October 26 2009 , Tags: tape, cassette, analog, guitar, audio
I had this old 4 track tape recorder sitting in a bin up in my closet for the past couple years. In fact, Iíve even made multiple attempts to sell it, but nobody was interested in paying the exorbitant ($75?!) price. I never got around to using it too much because it was such a hassle compared to my normal recording equipment. Well, I think iíll hold onto it for a while.
I think thereís a special place in hell for people who are nostalgic for things they were never involved with or were too young to really experience. And I think thereís a lot of people going there. Seeing as how I was 7 years old when the 80ís ended, I canít say that I was really around for the heyday of cassette music and 4 track recordings. By the time I was really getting into producing music and working with sound, digital recording was already cheap and standardized. So, for me, tape has always just been a special medium that I can use to get a different sound.
Thereís something magical about tape, though. A special sound. Especially on this cheap old recording equipment made for home usage. The wandering pitch, the hissing. the tape saturation. Stuff recorded to tape gets old and crusty just like we do. It forgets little bits and pieces, but most of the signal is still there. In a way, itís kind of like human memory. In a way, itís kind of human!
I think that is where the big difference lies between older mediums and the new digital empire. When you listen to streaming mp3 radio, or whatever, it will be exactly the same every single time, down to the millisecond. Radio broadcasts are a tiny bit different, depending on the weather, which direction the antennae is pointing. How much dust is on that vinyl record. Old keyboards drifting pitch with the room temperature.
Digital technology only exacerbates our tendency to try and make everything perfect and repeatableĖa tendency that I think is completely alien to nature. Our very existence owes itself to random mutations in our genetic code. If our ancestors repeated themselves perfectly each generation, we would have never moved past the complexity of a single celled organism.
But, digital technology is stable and predictable. It makes my work a lot easier and faster. I find myself always looking for ways to make it feel more human, though. Sometimes, thatís recording something to tape. Or sending a sound through a gong. Or recording some sounds from an old record, or a street sign.
Anyway, enough pontificating. I made a few tracks with the magic-voodoo setup you see in the picture up there. These tracks were made with only guitar, my fostex x-15 4 track tape recorder, and, admittedly, a lot of effects .
This track was fun, two tracks of 'bass drone' from the guitar, and two tracks of wailing pitch sliding, one of my favorite sorts of sounds
This one is me playing with the editing facilities of the 4 track.. mostly just the pause button and the pitch wheel really
And a big murky drone
This blog is also posted up at my Golden Master blog.. just thought it would be fun to share this one here, too.
digital clips ... analog overdrives.
Inspiring work, thx. Really enjoying listening to Radons btw.
tape tape tape...ahh i love it.
a lot of home made digital music sounds like completed jig-saw puzzles to me.
everything perfect and set in its place and ultimately lifeless.
like musical sudoku. executive-toy music.
i think people create more idiosyncratic spacial ideas with tape.
weird mixes and balances. i love it.
Radons is v-cool.
yeah, digital clipping is the devil. It's really hard to avoid sometimes, too, when improvising with random stuff, I kind of hate my digital guitar pedals, I always clip them by mistake.
you remind me of myself: link
thanks for reminding me i have an old tape deck / recorder sitting around
i got my old 4 track back from a mate and it got broke. so i got another one , similar model - i listen back to the songs i did with it and they are better than what i do with DAWs, I think your kind of freed up from timelines, and limited in your editing and choces much more.
nice blog, delete.
Yeah quip, it's really a different feeling, editing/composing on tape. It can get a little tedious, that's why i've avoided it sometimes, but if you just get into it, it's awesome.
Inspiring! I think I'll dust off the old porta7 this weekend
Yep, tape is nice to work with, and sounds good. I dug out my Tascam 414 Portastudio the other day, and found some great sounding ideas for tracks from years ago. I'm going to combine it with digital production as well now.
"If our ancestors repeated themselves perfectly each generation, we would have never moved past the complexity of a single celled organism."
Good point, but slightly confuses the issue of bit-perfect duplication. Whether reproduction is exact or not, what makes it a good or bad thing depends on whether you're a consumer or a creator. From the consumer's point of view, consistency is generally desirable. But for a musician, there is value in the creative potential of media that naturally vary a bit. In this way, older equipment can foster creativity by introducing elements of originality into the making process.
So, the analogy of biological evolution really applies to the evolution of music between albums/artists (and not to copies of the same album). When artists don't produce anything new (churning out formulaic rubbish), that's when the musical gene pool stagnates.
Cassettes are cool.
yeah birkinstein, I agree my analogy wasn't spot on, good point ;). I do like to make broad, sweeping but not always accurate associations, it makes for entertaining reading (writing?).
This blog made me think of Christian Marclay's installation where he recorded sound of his footsteps onto some records, tiled the floor of a gallery with them, allowed people to walk on them for a week or a month or whatever, then distributed them as unique pieces of music.
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