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Archival Bob Downes Time-shifting MP3

Time changes everything — especially when time is slowed down. And that is the modus operandi on Bob Downes‘s album Episodes at 4 am, recently released by the Paradigm label (stalk.net/paradigm). The experiments heard on Episodes date from a period in recording-technology history when sound was measured not in kbps (kilobytes per second) but ips (inches per second) — that is, the era of tape recording. Writes Downes in the liner note: “Around 1970 I bought a 2 track Revox A77 tape recorder and 2 Calrec microphones (as the latter were known at that time). I soon discovered there were many ways to use this tape recorder. For example: Sound on sound and the use of echo in various ways or recording at 15 ips and then play back at half speed.”

The resulting audio tracks are dreamy, trippy extensions of the familiar, recorded moments stretched to emphasize stereoscopic activity and the waveforms inherent in the sounds themselves. He’s made one track, “Marimba Electronic” (MP3), available for free download as a sample of the full album. Other instruments that serve as source material on Episodes include gong, zither, dulcimer and the instrument with which Downes is most closely associated, the flute — as a veteran of the John Barry Seven, and leader of the group Open Music, whose membership has included Barre Philips (Yoko Ono, Eric Dolphy), Chris Spedding (John Cale, Jerry Harrison) and Kenny Wheeler (Anthony Braxton, Derek Bailey), among others. He also composed music for the mime troupe Mummenschanz. More info on Downes at bobdownesmusic.de.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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