I MIX TAPES
For a number of years now I have been developing a tape mixing system
and a concurrent audio collage technique. The system is intended to function
as both a musical instrument and conceptual piece concerning obsolete
technology, recorded memory, and performance. A piece with which other
pieces are made. The system itself and the techniques used to play it
are my solution to what I see as “the physicality” or “liveness” problem
in sample based music and sound art.
Digital technology has of course commercially developed this concept
into the suite of contemporary DJ software out there, where any sound
converted to MP3 format can be mixed together, looped, beatmatched and
Artists such as Kid Koala, DJ Qbert, and the The X-Ecutioners brought the application of physical skill and inspired human reaction to sample based music and art. Christian Marclay pioneered the idea that each sample source could be its own art object. The sample itself is a unique building block, and the method of cataloguing and organizing them starkly effects the outcome.
Even a sampler where the samples are loaded into numbered banks and
the parameters are on a digital read-out are too front-brain for me to
unlock the inner kingdom while playing.
WORK TAPES: The Music of Potentials
The tapes presented here are an example of the source material in a compositional/performance system intent on unearthing sudden mental and sonic interactions. The interest here is in the potential composition presented by a group of sounds that relate alchemically through me, rather than through the course of a desire or a concept mandated composition. These tapes are usually jammed into a two-deck tape crossfader mixing system and cut between rhythmically with a lot of "clicking and stopping". With each tape physically embodying a thought or moment in my past, I can create a manifestation of my mind in sound. Tapes work well for this, due to many factors inherent in their design and history such as awesome shittyness, durability against hitting and throwing, physical love, likelihood of malfunction, instantaneousness expression , etc.
Each tape usually contains roughly three minutes of sound,
which provides a set beginning, middle, and ending minute. The sounds
are usually a collected improvisation, or bit of found sound or a field
recording or composed sequence or a personal moment, covert surveillance
or daily obscurity. Sounds are organized "in series" of 2 to
6 tapes, and identified by increasingly outlandish design elements, pictures,
colors, bits of hair, etc. Sonic differences within the series are evident
in the subtle differences in design ("this tape with the yellow
worms on it has harsher and pervy-er screaming on it than the tape with
the blue worms").
Also the color of the plastic relates to the year the tape was recorded
(any red tape is from 2001, any purple tape is from 2002-2003, etc.)
I believe this is the constant war in performance and composition, the boundary between total aesthetic control (which can lead to fabulous success or utter boredom and self indulgence) and spontaneity (which can be a transcendent example of life or a muddled, insulting shitpile) the boundary is between deft virtuoso experts who play technically perfect crap and childlike, artbrut, savant know-nothings who achieve sublime transcendence for the "wrong" reasons. Tapes are a physical representation of sound and that physicality of recorded media is why analogue is loved, why it is described as 'warm', as opposed to digital, which is 'efficient'. Tapes are "bad". They don't necessarily do what you want, but they may do what is necessary. Also I realize I am unconsciously training myself so that I will still be able to make art after the apocalypse comes "and the world is covered in fire and blood and all the pretty computers have died."
I need the noise to control my reactions. To temper any tendency toward paranoia and insanity.