Friday, September 21, 2007

Alex V. Cook - Stills (1991)

Here is the first of the long lost tapes.

The process of 16 year-old second-generation cassette recorded on the sketchiest of equipment -> Cubase (via 4-track) -> low grade mp3 to shrink the file size -> myspace didn't help the fidelity much, but it was still fun to hear after all these years.

I remember at the time I was seriously working a Nurse With Wound and Brian Eno habit and decided that surely I too could make spooky ambient process music. This was the first music I did that I considered serious enough to put out under my name.

Each piece runs about 14 minutes, as to get the most mileage off a C-60.

Here's the track-by-track breakdown:

1) The Critter Within - Terrible title. This was likely done for my friend/pen pall/cassette-colleague Minoy, since he favored a lot of shrieks and what not over a thick bed of ambient noise. The vocals and turntable bits were recorded in the KLSU productions room using the reel-to-reel tape for delay, and then was (somewhat inadvisably, in hindsight) augmented with keyboards later at home. The spooky monster/Exorcist vocals - not sure what I was channeling then. I was in my first year working for the state as a COBOL programmer, so I imagine that factored into it.

2) Funeral March of the Dull Cow - I still like this piece. It was an attempt to see how reductive I could get with my source material, in this case a stewpot lid tapped with a rubber ball mallet. Then, as it played back, I sampled it on the SK-1 and added accompaniment, and then again on another pass. This was all before I had a four track; overdubs involved a couple generic Walkmen fed into a $20 Radio Shack microphone mixer to the input jacks on my stereo.

3) Compounded Recursion of Bad Days - This was frustration in action. The TV, featuring a young talk-show era Geraldo Rivera and a stopwatch form the basis and then 30-second answering machine tapes were used to record and playback voice, flute and keyboards, getting deeper and deeper until it reaches cacophony, though arguably, it didn't really have that far to go.

4) Something from the Swamp - This was a a keyboard and percussion (stewpot lid again) thing recorded to fill up the tape, but I think there are some decent moments in there. Brian Eno's At Land was a crucial album in my listening back then, and this was definitely inspired by it.

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