Posts Tagged ‘tape’

Recording in progress!

November 19, 2015

Last year, I purchased an old Tascam Portastudio 414 on a whim. One of the DJs at the station had got it from a pawn shop, intending to record their shows– enthusiastic, but probably not the best tool for the job. Seeing it, I was filled with fun ideas– I generally enjoy working with physical media, but tape will always be special to me. With a vacation from work in mid-swing, I decided it was finally time to get some tape rolling.

So far, a lot of my ideas are working out. I’m remembering some of the ins and outs of working with tape, and having fun with the various eccentricities of the medium. I’m also taking my good sweet time, so don’t get too excited at these little snippets– there’s a fair chance that none of this will make the cut. This is also recorded directly to my phone, via a set of headphones off the Portastudio, so forgive the fidelity. Enjoy!

Ophibre/Adam Sonderberg – split cassette [oph10]

August 8, 2008

This is the sort of cassette that wins you over through brute force. With roughly 30 minutes allotted each, Ophibre and Adam Sonderberg choose to split this release with a pair of challengingly minimalist works.

This photo shows both sides of the cassette release using two copies, it is NOT a dual-cassette.

This photo shows both sides of the cassette release using two copies, it is NOT a dual-cassette.

For his contribution, “Untitled Music for .aiff & Magnetic Tape,” Ophibre joins a repeating loop of ringing sound with highlighted format constraints of cassette recording. In order to bring the latter elements into focus, Ophibre slowly allows differently-pitched notes into the overall mix. At times, the effect is similar to an out-of-tune miniature cacophony of bowed glass; in other moments, like a rippling organ. Eventually, a continuous stream of treated piano bubbles up, cascading through the tape hiss. Ophibre has a true talent for making a lot out of a little, and even those listeners unwilling to indulge in some of his more noisy experiments should be able to enjoy this side– think of a more ragged, young Terry Riley, and you’d be in the ballpark.

And hey, if you’re digging a piece where magnetic tape is a featured player, don’t make the mistake of fast-forwarding through the final five minutes or so– yes, it’s “just” hiss– but haven’t we gotten past the whole noise/music thing?

Sonderberg’s piece, “Untitled Music for Bell & Sine Tone,” is where the “brute force” bit really comes into play. Sonderberg, a Con-V and Crouton label ‘graduate’, goes the LaMonte Young route; putting a sine wave and a bell into a room where they can duke it out. And why shouldn’t he? With Young having effectively taken his work out of the public sphere, Sonderberg rightly takes up what are some seriously interesting threads. For intrepid listeners willing to deal with a single bell and a plain-jane waveform for a half-hour, this is a very rewarding listen.

With the bell pealing at the human version of regular intervals, against a continuous sine of all things, a mother-lode of standing waves and beating rhythms begin to appear. Headphone listeners might find their sinuses draining– I’m recommending this one for your big stereo speakers. Lovely stuff, but only for those willing to go the distance.

The Ophibre/Adam Sonderberg split cassette is available on the Ophibre label as release oph10.