That is, indeed, a cassette player in the foreground. It’s been modded in a couple ways, the key one here being that the speed of the playback can be manipulated electronically. Specifically, the sort of control voltage that works between synthesizer modules can be applied externally to the speed of the cassette. In this case, a slow waveform is increasing and reducing (back and forth, pendulum-like) the pace of the cassette playback, lending it that slurry, warbling quality. (Note the long, pink cable that plugs into cassette player.)
The recorded sequence itself is a Buddha Machine as sampled, sequenced, and played by Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator (PO-33 K.O.). I recorded that PO-33 K.O. sequence onto the tape, and then rewound the tape and played it back as controlled by the control voltage (CV) output of the synthesizer (seen in the background). This is the first patch I’ve tried out with the CV cassette player, which I received on Friday in the mail and have been eager to give a test run.
The slow wave form, an LFO (low-frequency oscillation), is from a Batumi (by Xaoc), its highs and lows compacted by the SPO (by WMD / SSF). SPO stands for Scaler / Polarizer / Offset Generator. The cassette player mod is by the awesome Chester Winowiecki, of Whitehall, Michigan. (The other mod is it can take an audio line in. The standard device only used its own microphone.) I shared some photos of the tape cassette player a few days ago: “Cassette Bent.”
About five minutes passed between me thinking, “I’m gonna take a break from picking up new music gadgets for a while” and someone online offering up hand-modded, circuit-bent cassette recorders that can change speed with CV input. This just arrived. (Not DIY. SEDIT: someone else did it themselves.)
And new inputs (one for CV, the other to add audio-in, versus the preexisting microphone) require new labels:
Pandemic nights often mean some time with simple tools. The synthesizer remains turned off, and the laptop, too. This track, recorded last night, is just electric guitar loops: two Ditto Loopers running asynchronously (different lengths), each taking a signal from a Stratocaster going through a reverb pedal (HardWire RV-7), with an EBow used on occasion. Recorded into Adobe Audition via a mixer and an audio interface. Some reverb and EQ work done in Audition.
If recording you want to listen to is something to aspire to (and it is), this is something else: music that I’ve found myself happy to have on loop in the background while working the next day. Music to not listen to.
The title, “Arrow Up,” relates to the symbol for Mars, patron saint of Tuesdays.
Sunday night guitar loops. Unlike other recent guitar loop experiments I’ve tried out, this one has a live component. After the first minute or so (which I’d already layered in advance of hitting record), new material is added and then later deleted. This setup consists of electric guitar, reverb pedal, overdrive, and looper, plus an eBow on occasion for those extended notes. After recording (amp to phone, live in the room), I used Adobe Audition to implement a fade in and a fade out, and for a little additional reverb.
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
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0485 / Strange Weather / The Assignment: Remix the pure sounds of Chris Kallmyer's traveling wind chimes to your own musical purposes.
• 0484 / A Movable Heart / The Assignment: Transplant the sounds of Chris Kallmyer's wind chimes to a new location.
• 0483 / Type Set / The Assignment: Use a recording of yourself typing something as the underlying rhythmic track for a piece of music.
• 0482 / Exactly That Gap / The Assignment: Make a musical haiku following instructions from Marcus Fischer.
• 0481 / Capsule Time / The Assignment: Record a time capsule for yourself in the future.