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.02.2013 @ 12:49 PM
'Tis a noble dream, dear sir.

The Stretta-sized Euro modular sells it for me. I did enough tape stuff back in the day that despite the occasional nostalgia to get my Fripp & Eno on again .... let's just say I tried playing guitar while managing a tape loop running around the room a couple times back in the day, and therefore I love digital ... But if someone else was watching the tape loop, it could be fun!

But adding at least a decent sized modular cements a "best of the new, best of the old" collection of hardcore electronic music tools, and would appeal to both folks who haven't committed to their own modular, and also those like Devine or Cortini who could appreciate someone else's uniquely "curated" collection of modules.

Stick a DK Synergy in the corner, and it's starting to sound like electronic music Cooperstown ...

Jul.02.2013 @ 1:15 PM
I'm all in. If you get that set up, I might have to try to convince the wife that we need to move near you. That will be a tough sell, as Arizona is in my wife's No Go Zone and on my Don't Go Unless Absolutely Necessary list. But for the chance to mess about with what has been a dream of mine for a long time...

- William

Jul.02.2013 @ 1:17 PM
Wasn't the Audio Playground in Orlando something like this? Someone that reads this blog should remember. All I can recall is that it was a non-profit and you could use the gear if you went there. The guy that ran it was Joseph Rivers. I think he had a messy divorce that lead to the demise of the museum, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

Jul.02.2013 @ 1:40 PM
You forgot Cooper Timecube.

Jul.02.2013 @ 2:38 PM
I eschew the "blending the new tools with the old" philosophy. this is what every studio in the universe is marketing right now. inserting, or modeling/ sampling old kit for its "punch" or "warmth" to mitigate "sterile" DAW output and that kind crap is getting old. a new generation of hobbyists have driven the price of the older tools well out of reach while, ironically, music in general is sonically more homogenous than ever. people may love the way a vintage record sounds, but with a (very) few notable exceptions, should you actually start to make a record with the distortion, gain structures and eccentricities of the records we all reference in theory (or at least in interviews) people look at you like you're cracked. they quickly fire you and turn the L3 Ultramaximizer back on. They nervously click through the dither options to see if they can hear a difference, as you pack. that's partially why I left the recording business.

I'm way more into the idea of walking into a room that has the historical tools, but with modern listening and playing experience to shape the work.

there's no doubt that if we dropped r.d. james in there without a computer, an Aphex track would emerge, but how - and with what concessions to the technology?

I'm totally into artificial obstruction, just for its own sake. i love to make rules for myself as i get into a project, just to get myself thinking in new way - "no adjectives" - or, "master buss compression only" .. whatever.. sometimes i compose and mix or edit using the "i ching" -- to each their own, for sure, but it would be a waste to assemble something like this just to make a bunch of live racks or whatever...


also GET OFF OF MY FUCKING [email protected][email protected][email protected]#$

Jul.02.2013 @ 7:22 PM
I think you should set up shop in an Airstream trailer, with a tape loop going around the whole perimeter of the trailer.

My first project will be a cover of Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Sexy and 17."

Jul.02.2013 @ 7:59 PM
Chris Randall
Okay, you thought you were being funny, but having space to put an Airstream for use as a studio has actually been a consideration in our house shopping.


Jul.02.2013 @ 8:36 PM
I thought I was being funny with the Stray Cats reference. The Airstream trailer is something I would have suggested earlier, except you seemed down on mobile solutions.

From when I was looking at Airstreams, it seems like the shorter, more tow-able models (the "Bambi") tend to be the most expensive. Once you get into longer models, the price goes down. You could get one with a fairly trashed interior, since you will presumably be gutting it.

I'm not sure how the Airstreams hold up down there in Arrakis. My guess is that the desert would preserve the aluminum really well. The cost of air conditioning is definitely a consideration. Insulation could do double duty as sound insulation and reducing your cooling bill.

I was planning on building a shed office for our new house. Now you've got me looking at Airstreams on Craigslist for the same purpose. CURSE YOU CHRIS RANDALL!!!!

Jul.02.2013 @ 9:53 PM
I know it's not exactly what Chris is proposing but I love Sean's idea of an itinerant music concrete studio especially one housed in something equally as anachronistic as an airstream trailer. One that would incorporate the sounds (and hopefully grant money) of each of it's hosts' environments. But then Chris Marker's documentary about the Russian Cinema Train (an entire film studio in a train complete with editing benches and film processing on the roof that went from one commune to the next making a documentary at each stop and projecting it and the films made earlier for the workers like a 1930's communist youtube) is one of my favorite films.

Another functionally similar housing would be a built out shipping container which is just about the easiest thing to transport in this day and age. You'd have to bolt everything down when it moved but it could easily travel the world. Andrea Zittel's desert shipping container studio comes to mind...

link [zittel.wordpress.co...]

link [zittel.wordpress.co...]

(It's grown but I think it started out as just one container?)

Jul.02.2013 @ 10:00 PM
@soup: I wasn't presuming that the Airstream would be moveable. A mobile studio would add a lot to the cost, due to the need to design everything so that it stays in place during transport, and finding a road-worthy Airstream. Finding a "project" Airstream that will hold itself together for 50 miles of towing, and is then parked semi-permanently, would be a lot cheaper than getting an Airstream in decent shape, with working brakes, axle and such.

That being said, a mobile electronic music studio would be pretty cool, if we are talking nerd fantasy band camp. Rip the doors off the cabinets, and use them for rack mounts and Eurorack modules.

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