Hard Drive Turntablism (MP3)

One’s data loss can be another’s sonic gain. Paris-born and -educated artist Gregory Chatonsky fiddled with a drive that had gone bad. Its innards, truly little more than an update on the LP player once one looks past the marvels of data compression, were banging away rather than smoothly transmitting numbers to and from the disc. Chatonsky took this raw material — “raw” no doubt being the appropriate term to apply to the nerves of those whose drives have taken this turn unexpectedly, and perhaps also to those listeners who might find the resulting music abrasive — and extended its unique properties with software effects (no doubt implemented on a machine with fewer technical troubles).

The result is a half hour experiment in the softening of edges, the sharp sound of metal-on-metal yielding sonic sparks that then glisten and decay like pollen caught in a consistent breeze. The banging can take on the feel of North African percussion, while the echoed variations sound at times like a country fiddle, at others like a slowly intoned harmonica.

It is commonplace to talk of digital sampling’s roots in turntablism. This is a rare — not unprecedented, but still out of the ordinary — effort in which the tactile aspects of turntablism surface in a digital practice.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/radius-7. The art collective incident.net was founded by Chatonksy in 1994. More on Chatonsky at theradius.tumblr.com/episode16.

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