Les Frères Du Charmes
These are a few recordings my brother Bob converted from cassette tapes made in the early '80's. He was living in New York City at the time and when he'd come home to visit we'd screw around in my DIY 'recording studio'.
The 'studio' itself were things that I either found at flea markets, bought at the Salvation Army or collected from the neighbors trash piles during the neighborhood Spring Trash Pickup. Not owning the very new and expensive TASCAM Porta 05 fourtrack, I would use two boom boxes. Record a pass on one tape deck and then perform along to it's playback, capturing this performance on the second deck. As I would repeat this cycle the original tape would become more low fi because it was turning into a dub of a dub of a ...... Often it was a drum machine for the sake of having something constant to play to. The saturation of the kick drum would become a very cool sounding compressed thump.
Stop the Crazy Thing (1983)
This idea started with my brother realizing what a cool 'modernist critique' it was with George Jetson trapped on a treadmill & screaming for his wife. He recorded it from the TV on a small handheld tape deck and then at the right moments would simply hit rewind to drag back the recording. This is the suburban answer to what was going on with turntables and the new art form of scratching in NYC. In fact the whole thing reflects that as well as No Waves groups doing more with drum machines and cheap electric basses.
Pasta Vibrations (1983)
I think this was nothing more than a pun. Bob made a parody art video while home for a visit and this might have been the sound track. It was excellent with inverted colors, super 8 being thrown across basement walls as well as the old standby of video taping the TV screen.
- 1 - Commodre VIC-20 - I received it for Christmas one year and I think new they cost $80. Using the arcane programing language BASIC I would write programs that would loop through arrays of numbers and use the command POKE to create some kind of sound. It's hard to remember but I think it enable me 3 oscillators and one white noise generator. The memory as a data cassette.
- 2 - Realistic Cassette Deck - I opened this up and set variable resistor to the motor so I could slow down the speed. Great when using a cassette loop. Note the Raybeats poster on the board right above it.
- 3 - Blow Organ - This came from a trash pile in front of our neighbor's house. You'd turn it on and the blower would make a horrible sound. Pressing the keys opened up the valves and the air would blow across the tines. But it would do it very slowly so the attack was really creepy. Great through a spring reverb.
- 4 - Wollensak Open Reel - I do not remember where I found this but it's two big standouts were it had a great tube pre-amp and horrible grounding. Sounded great but would sometimes hurt. This was all kept in a sometimes damp basement.
- 5 - PAiA Modular Synthesizer - It was Easter weekend when I 'borrowed' this from my high school. It was in a box in a closet so I took it home. I had no idea how a modular synthesizer worked but spent the weekend patching cables in and out of it. After a while I realized the modular synth is a lot like a process flow chart. You start in one box and create a path through other boxes until you end up with a result. Eventually I understood oscillator to amplifier. But that was too loud. This led to oscillator to mixer to amplifier. But it was constantly making a sound. So oscillator to VCA to mixer and so on and on.Because it was modular I could patch tape machines and guitars into the signal path. Using the Wollensak as a tape delay in the path made even cooler sounds.
- 6 - Realistic Cassette Deck - A friend of mine and I use to snicker that it's brand was 'Realistic'.
- 7 - KORG MS-10 Synthesizer - I found this used for sale at $380 in the New Haven Advocate classifieds. It was a monophonic self contained Korg. I still have it and love it. Using it with PAiA allowed for even more possibilities.
- 8 - Sony speakers.
- 9 - Open Reel Deck - I don't remember the name of this deck but it had this amazingly strong capstan that controlled the flow of the tape. So if you put it in or take it out of pause it could be highly precise. For this reason I started creating 'beats' by dividing the reel into 1/8 pie wedges. I would take a sound on a cassette and dub it to the correct physical spot on the reel to reel by using the cue wedges as a measure. So on a cassette tape I would record myself counting off "1, 2, 3" and on 4 I would throw a basketball on the floor in my school's gym. I then had a big sound with a count off. I'd then figure out the different spots on the pie wedge to dub this to make the rhythm I had in my head. Each wedge represented an 1/8 note. One Cycle was a measure and so on. My finished tape segment could then be used as a drum loop.