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Half-hour Robert Henke MP3

It may be my imagination, but it seems that with each new “Free Track of the Month” that Robert Henke posts at his website, his descriptive abilities get stronger, more precise, and more illuminating. The latest download is an uncut version of the track “Plankton,” which originally appeared, in shorter form, on his Floating.Point collection in 1997. The Floating.Point version was just under 10 minutes in length, while this take is three times that. Over the course of its half hour, the piece, an effort in abstract and often beatless techno, gets muddier and thicker; there’s a kind of glistening scintillate overlay early on, though by the end a certain inherent insistence has been revelead, and what sounded like aural fairy dust has become a kind of treble grind.

Here’s a bit of what Henke says of the track himself:

The toy which made this track possible was our Boss RSD-10 sampling delay, a small digital delay unit that made it possible to feed back its output to the input. Unlike in modern delays, the feedback was realized analog, so each repetition of the signal went thru the (cheap) analog digital converter, into the memory and back to the digital to analog converters. As a result, the delays get more and more deconstructed and noisier with each repetition. This effect can be clearly heard in the last 10 minutes of the take. The unit also allows to change the delay time by continuosly changing the sample rate, which also alters the pitch.

The two altering chords in the background sounds like being created with a Prophet VS. I must just have gotten it at that time, maybe even at exactly that day… The other sounds including the flickering and the alien-like backgrounds come from the SY 77, manipulated by Gerhard Behles, while I operated the Boss delay, the other effects, and the mixing desk.

There’s additional information, including technical specifications, at Henke posts free MP3s monthly, but with a strict stipulation that no one link directly to the file, only to the webpage itself.

One interesting note about attribution. The Floating.Point album was released as a Robert Henke album, not a Monolake album — back then, Monolake was a collaboration between Henke and Behles, the latter of whom went on to found the audio software company Ableton, where Henke also works. Despite that distinction between “Henke” music and “Monolake” music, apparenlty Behles also worked on this “Henke” track.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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