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

The Overture-ness of Tape Splicing (MP3)

Whether or not one can judge a book or an album by its cover, we are, as listeners on the web, often left to categorize a recording of abstract sound by its tags. In the case of the rudimentary titled “Tape (Mix 3),” these tags would be “cassettes,” “tape,” “cut,” “paste,” collage,” “recorder,” “free,” “abstract,” “tapes,” “machine,” “voices,” “machines,” and, most curiously by far, “grandpa,” in addition to the last name of the musician responsible for it, Michael Banabila of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The tags were applied to the track when Banabila made it publicly accessible, and they make certain things clear: this is a tape-splice endeavor, with abstraction as its goal. Small bits of sound are cut and pasted like letters on a ransom note. The result is, indeed, a collage, one in which voices, among other things, are heard in layers. Despite a predilection for abstraction, simple repeated motives lend it a pop-like appeal. It may not have the rhythmic gusto of an early dorm-room Beastie Boys concoction, but it has something of a beat, and there’s a droning quality that lends a foundation to all the clipped aural material.

The drone, which at times has the quality of a string section (whether or not that’s where the sound came from), is less the glue that holds the work together than the workbench on which the constituent parts are placed. There are so many — spoken bits, choral “ahh,” what may be a squeeze toy, rattle, field recording of traffic, short circuit, plucked string, water — that the collected effect is that of an overture. The piece is so packed with material that it seems like it’s setting the scene for an extended work, in which these various elements will each have their time in the spotlight.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/michel-banabila. More on Banabila at banabila.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com 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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