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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Super-Subtle Guitar Quintet MP3s

The guitar quintet Family Tapes aims to make what it calls “anti-wanking” music — music, the terminology suggests, that takes the guitar as something other than a tool for showmanship, for heavy riffing, for complex leads, for vocalizing-like melodies, for all the things that make the guitar synonymous with ego and strong-willed self-expression, rather than with subtlety and atmosphere.

The result is something that’s both less and more than the sum of its parts.

Less, because to hear “The Happy Days (4/13)” (MP3) and “Blown” (MP3), two recent pieces, is to hear music that seemingly doesn’t require five people to realize it.

More, because the more you listen, the more you hear just how much is taking place.

“Happy Days” is pizzicato-meets-pixelated: little scrapes of tingling sound that mix together like some heady, multi-faceted mobile, ever on the move. “Blown” is all the more subtle. According to a brief description, it is simply the band improvising by “blowing on the [guitar] strings with amps turned up very loud.” The result is spectacular, just a billowing mass of resonance. A common term in writing about chamber music is “ensemble,” which is shorthand for the measure of a given group’s internal sympathy and cohesion. “Blown” is, in that sense, the very aura of the group’s ensemble.

[audio:|titles=”The Happy Days (4/13)”|artists=Family Tapes] [audio:|titles=”Blown”|artists=Family Tapes]

The files were first posted earlier this month on the blog of Family Tapes member Mark Morse: The other members of Family Tapes are Alfredo Genovesi, Jeroen Kimman, Jasper Stadhouders, and Raphael Vanoli. More info at

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 4 ]


  1. Mark
    [ Posted July 16, 2009, at 7:38 am ]

    Hey Mark….I totally missed this when it was posted, as always thanks for listening (and writing!)…

  2. Mark
    [ Posted July 16, 2009, at 7:39 am ]

    Maybe someday I’ll remember that our names aren’t spelled the same…sorry!

  3. Marc Weidenbaum
    [ Posted July 16, 2009, at 9:12 am ]

    No sweat on the name, Mark.

    Thanks for continuing to make your music so readily available. I look forward to more from your guitar quintet — I’ve come to think of it as a tantalizing counterpoint to Glenn Branca.

  4. Mark
    [ Posted July 16, 2009, at 1:54 pm ]

    Thanks for the support….It’s still hard to say what we’re really after at this point other than working around a list of things we want to avoid and trying to find some common ground in the negative space that’s left. I think this next year will really determine whether or not we have a positive space of our own to work within…stay tuned.

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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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