nickname: Rebel - noise installation December 3, 2016
After closing up my bookshop on Saturday night I got together with long-time collaborator Mike Keegan and we started piling up equipment in the store.
We wanted to stay pretty close to the basic idea of just recording the noise. We wanted a signal to start with and we wanted to put many obstacles between it and the final sounds recorded. Thinking about it a day later we should have done it as a chain instead of making everything happen more-or-less at once.
The plan for the setup constantly changed until we hit record. Many ideas were rejected before we even started.
We start out with the JVC RX-305 tuner/receiver shown here. I have two of these and they both have a curious issue with the radio tuner. With a station tuned in or not they make a ton of unwanted noise on both AM and FM. Doesn't seem to be anything to do with grounding but it seems like it should. They tones are slightly different and various ways of poking around at it affect the sound. We went most of the time without an antenna and then added one about three quarters in.
Phase one: Record the output of the radio on one side of a cassette. We used this very dodgy voice activated model that also passes through sound from the mic whenever the motor is running. Occasionally it will play a little tune for you. No idea what causes that.
JVC plays tuner noise through two cheap boombox woofers placed near the ground. These are used in the store to keep things comfortable musical with little higher tones to allow comfortable conversation
Recently acquired FREE! on the curb receiver and speaker are connected using the cheapest thinnest wire at hand. Only one output works, so we use one speaker until we blow it and then switch to the other one. We also blow out the tiny speaker shown. It smelled really bad. Initial sound source was an iphone that was taking a call from another one leaned agains the speakers from stereo 1. volume an EQ are altered occasionally throughout the recording. When we started really abusing it we discovered that it was designed to clip the sound when you pushed it too hard. Knowing that the equipment was basically doomed to the electronics recycling pile we started abusing it more. If it were easier to get to we would have started poking holes in the cones and attaching things to them. Maybe next time.
The cassette recorder has it's output connected to two powered speakers placed on the floor. A staticky walkie talkie is leaned agains the built in mic. Originally the walkie talkies were to be used instead of the iphones.
Everything seems to work.
Switch everything off and hit record. Start them up again one by one.
Apogee MetaRecorder running on an ipad with a stereo mic placed on a footstool was used to document the piece.
Three separate performances with minor changes in placement and setup are made and recorded as their own file.
We discovered very quickly that we had left a lot of opportunity for feedback. Over time we learned how to trigger and manipulate it by moving and adjusting equipment and by moving around the room. A little wind can go a long way. This activity introduced much more incidental sound than we had originally wanted. There is also much more digital clipping than we would have liked. We tried.
Cassette player is moved to dodgy receiver and speaker as the sole sound source. This was our favorite. It sounded like something that would lead into a rock song. We record this.
By chance three of the recordings had times that were very nearly the same. One was shorter. Instead of doing something sensible like picking a nice short section of one recording or making a smooth edit using the best bits I just sandwiched them all together. Subconsciously I think this was partly because the material came out interesting enough that we might use it on the EP we've been recording since the start of summer and this is the last session for. The name of our band is nickname: Rebel. We started out as a party band in Troy, New York in the late 90s. We last played in the greater bay area with Pete Von Petrin/Fognozzle in Sacramento about five years ago.
The fire at Ghost Ship in Oakland was a bit in our thoughts that night. I don't think either of us knew anyone who was there who didn't make it out but we know a few people that do. Much love.