June 29, 2013

Man Of La Mancha...

by Chris Randall

Okay, here's the deal: I'm not a millionaire. Or even a ten-thousandaire. But I was always told "dream big!" And I do have a big dream. I've had this dream for a while, but I've only told two people about it, because I thought it sounded kind of stupid. They didn't laugh in my face when I told them, so maybe it's not a stupid dream after all.

Here's the thing: I would like to (re)create a late-50s / early-60s tape-based electronic music studio (of the sort used by Stockhausen, Varese, Schaeffer, Dissevelt, Dockstader, et al) that was completely free for interested parties to use. My thinking here is that a facility like that is not a whole lot of use to a single person, but wouldn't it be interesting if, say, Richard Devine or Alessandro Cortini or other current experimental electronic musicians had access to a vintage electronic music studio? What would they make, bringing today's musical vernacular to that context? I think that's music worth hearing, honestly.

I have a firm idea of what equipment such a studio would have, and I have a good working knowledge of how that equipment is used. But I have no idea how to bring it about other than throwing a shit ton of money at it. My dream precludes financial renumeration (it would be fiscally impossible to make such a facility actually turn a profit, of course) so I would operate it on the following basis: if you have musical credibility in our peer group (and since it's not a terribly large group, that isn't even really a judgement call) and you can get yourself here and put yourself up and pay the expenses (tape ain't cheap), schedule permitting, it's yours to use as you see fit.

Okay, maybe it isn't silly. It would be tough to pull off, though. Go ahead. Have at it. Laugh and laugh. In the meantime, here's some vintage e-music studio porn:



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Jul.01.2013 @ 9:11 PM
I would totally use it and wouldn't even really know what the fuck I was doing in a tape studio. But that would be part of its appeal. Some of my best work has just happened by chance, naiveté, and dumb luck. I don't see how this would be any different. Get out of your heads and just go with it and let's make and hear some future music. I wouldn't donate to a Kickstarter for something like this, but I'd certainly be generous providing I used it.

Jul.02.2013 @ 9:57 AM
I like this idea. Should come to fruition, I have a few pieces that I would happily donate; a very neatly modified webcor deck with multiple head stacks on rails with bearings which can be moved as tape rolls. can be really subtle, all the way up to 'tape scratching' - which is surprisingly musical. individual 1/4" outputs per (playback) head are very convenient. I also added telescoping tape guides for long loops, or very long loops. Recapped it, new hi-fi tube; resolved some tensor issues...it's a bad motherfucker. I made/remade it ten years ago, and did much with it at the time. I live in new york now and my 'studio' is a matchbox. It is in storage.

I'm very interested in knowing what your gear list looks like. Before I even see it, my only criticism is NEEDS MOAR DECKS!!11!

Let people do whatever they want with the space, but I will know that the people that go in with a laptop are weaklings, cowards, not doing it right &c.

Jul.02.2013 @ 10:03 AM
isn't there an app for this? #snark

srsly though.. i think it'd be interesting and make a nice addition to the "synth meet" things that happen every year.

re: what would someone like richard devine etc make in such a studio?

(relevant) have you heard the makenoise records "shared system" releases? cortini and devine have releases on it and i think kieth fullerton whitman, surachai and one other??? have releases upcoming.

for a 501c3 you just need some time and $$ to pay the tax lawyer to set it up. i'm sure there's all kinds of hoops and bullshit to jump through and perhaps a catch 22 here or there but i'm sure you can crack that nut. perhaps a crowd funding campaign to get it started? ;)

space: well, that's a tough one. perhaps there is some organization that will donate space.. a university, a music school, a museum etc.. and you can make some kind of mutual back scratching arrangement through smooth as butter diplomacy.

obviously it'll all be a pile of work and shmoozing.

my popcorn is popping.

Jul.02.2013 @ 10:27 AM
Hey Chris R., is the Edgard Varese T shirt still available? How do I order?

Jul.02.2013 @ 10:39 AM
Chris Randall
@jwcase: Again, this is just back-of-the-napkin scribbling at this point, but there are things it _must_ have, obviously. These include:

Qty 3 Otari MTR-10 1/4" decks. I could be talked in to different decks, but I know these ones well, know how to bias them and maintain them, and know that they have all the features necessary for this sort of adventure.

Qty 1 Otari MX70 1" machine set up for 8-track. Again, not married to this particular deck, but I know how to deal with this one for the most part. Was tempted to go to a 16-track headstack on this, but 16-track 1" is kind of weaksauce.

As far as the console and patching methodology goes, that'd take a lot of thought and research. We'll set that discussion aside for a later date.

Qty 1 EMT 140 plate. Because plate.

Qty 1 AKG BX20. Because springs.

As far as echo goes, we run the risk of starting a nerdFight by having that discussion now, so I'll just say "yes."

Regarding sources, I'll take all comers, but it is absolutely necessary to have at least 5 (and maybe 8) HP 202c tone generators, at least one 202a function generator, etc. etc. The usual post-war suspects, basically. This picture is what's in my head:

link [www.kennethkuhn.co...]

I also picture a Stretta-sized Euro modular in my mind's eye, but I'm not married to that concept.

Front end and back end are open to discussion.


Jul.02.2013 @ 10:49 AM
Chris Randall
@silveraire: I'm not currently shipping shirts, sorry.


Jul.02.2013 @ 12:01 PM
That will make some contemporary musicians ashame.
I mean, OK, I'm all about late 50's - early 60's Rock 'n' Roll and I might be biased, but I guess we all agree that was a a fab time for music. And not only music. Now, those great tunes were often recorded on cheap gear, even for that times standards. The 50s - 60's music sound so good... because of the music itself ! Inspirational, catchy lines, all songs were under 3 mins, honest and straight.
Right on the opposite side, most of today's recordings are... just recordings. Some of those sounds good and became hits. But that only because these tracks sounds technically great. Recording, processing, mixing, top notch equipment and technicians. But the music, itself, the art... sorry, it can't match even the shadow of the rockabilly 50s. Of course, as always there are exceptional good records, both technically and artistically, but those are rarities and sometimes under the radar.
So, today's artists on 50's vintage gear? Justin Bieber trying to rock a 6120 Gretsch ? haha
So yea, that's a great idea Chris, although some kind of an impiety :)

Jul.02.2013 @ 12:06 PM
Ah, vintage equipment for a good cause :D
link [www.youtube.com]

Jul.02.2013 @ 12:18 PM
Chris Randall
@exxocet: Boy, did you read that wrong. Suffice it to say that there's no fucking way I'm recording rockabilly bands in this facility. Or any bands. I would sooner dig out my own eyes with a rusty garden trowel than deal with bands. Bands fucking suck.

That said, isn't that bass player from the Moondogs?


Jul.02.2013 @ 12:48 PM
Yea, Jimmy Sutton.

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