tape juju basho mixingdesk with repeaters
 

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.
The technique is very similar to a record LP DJ set up, with an analogue sound source rhythmically skipped between several points, moments faded between using a mixer developed specifically for speed and ease of switching.  Because of the re-recordable nature and blocky analogue characteristics of the cassette, the result is a warmer more personal tone to the resulting musical piece.
The system is set up so that there exists only a physical relationship to the each sample, situated on its own specifically labeled tape.
The tapes are skipped back and forth using the crossfader to seamlessly integrate the repeated chunks.

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 processed.
This software has created new styles and genres of music, such as ‘the mash-up’, and exploded possibilities for the remix as an art form.
My system could never approach the versatility of these programs.
But I aspire to a form of sample based expression that is “closer to the bone”. The contemporary remix systems do not approach the poetry and deftness of passion displayed by a physical system.

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.
I consider Sample based music to be a grand metaphor for our time now, choked in conflicting messages and cancerously perpetrated content. The juxtapositions and mindset that arises from encountering the vortex of the mix perfectly illustrates how we are asked to live now, with every message a link to another. 
The samples and the technique I want to work with need to be more basic, more primordial and transcendent than what flexes out of the latest software.
I need just slightly less mediation.
This is a DJ system for the breakdown of the world.
Coupled with a few basic effects (delay and reverb) and the new violin of the post-digital era, the loop pedal, a variety of properly phantasmagoric sonic effects and environemts can be achieved.
The literal definition of psychedelic is “mind opening”. And through the re-experiance of repeated layered instants of sound I feel like this can be achieved.

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.)
Tape designs attempt to turn them, and the sounds contained therein, into sweet objects of affection, thus playing with my emotions as I choose sounds for remixing (I hate the green tapes).  The "amount of chaos" can attempted to be oxymoronically controlled by cueing or un-cueing the tapes before mixing, thus increasing the unknown nature of each tape. By increasing amount known about each tape, you increases the deftness and assuredly of the subsequent performance/composition, thus decreasing surprise and spontaneity. By un-cueing (that is, never cueing) and by establishing this overly complex, confusing, and personal labeling system you decrease the deftness and musicality of the composition/performance but stand to increase amount of magical surprise.

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.