Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space

Fahmi Mursyid from Indonesia has been creating oceans of wondrously sculpted sounds on netlabels for the past years. Be sure to watch these magical constructions on nothing but Walkman tape loops with effects pedals and VCV Rack patches – immense sonic drones from minimal materials.

Fahmi hails from Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia. While places like Yogyakarta have hogged the attention traditionally (back even to pre-colonial gamelan kingdom heydeys), it seems like Bandung has quietly become a haven for experimentalists.

He also makes gorgeous artworks and photography, which I’ve added here to visualize his work further. Via:

This dude and his friends are absurdly prolific. But you can be ambitious and snap up the whole discography for about twelve bucks on Bandcamp. It’s all quality stuff, so you could load it up on a USB key and have music when you’re away from the Internet ranging from glitchy edges to gorgeous ambient chill.

Watching the YouTube videos gives you a feeling for the materiality of what you’re hearing – a kind of visual kinetic pcture to go with the sound sculpture. Here are some favorites of mine:

Via Bandcamp, he’s just shared this modded Walkman looping away. DSP, plug-in makers: here’s some serious nonlinearity to inspire you. Trippy, whalesong-in-wormhole stuff:

The quote added to YouTube from Steve Reich fits:

“the process of composition but rather pieces of music that are, literally, processes. The distinctive thing about musical processes is that they determine all the note-to-note (sound-to-sound) details and the overall form simultaneously. (Think of a round or infinite canon.)”

He’s been gradually building a technique around tapes.

But there’s an analog to this kind of process, working physically, and working virtually with unexpected, partially unstable modular creations. Working with the free and open source software modular platform VCV Rack, he’s created some wild ambient constructions:

Or the two together:

Eno and Reich pepper the cultural references, but there are aesthetic cues from Indonesia, too, I think (and no reason not to tear down those colonial divisions between the two spheres). Here’s a reinterpretation of Balinese culture of the 1940s, which gives you some texture of that background and also his own aesthetic slant on the music of his native country:

Check out the releases, too. These can get angular and percussive:

— or become expansive soundscapes, as here in collaboration with Sofia Gozali:

— or become deep, physical journeys, as with Jazlyn Melody (really love this one):

Here’s a wonderful live performance:

I got hooked on Fahmi’s music before, and … honestly, far from playing favorites, I find I keep accidentally running over it through aliases and different links and enjoying it over and over again. (While I was just in Indonesia for Nusasonic, it wasn’t the trip that made me discover the music – it was the work of musicians like Fahmi that were the reason we all found ourselves on the other side of the world in the first place, to be more accurate. They discovered new sounds, and us.) So previously:

The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for

The post Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette

AMULETS is Randall Taylor, a one-man experimental looping ambient artist out of Austin, Texas who works with tape loops and guitar. And to start off the year, Randall wants to show you a key element of his technique – making tape loops from cassette tapes.

Tape loops, as associated with the likes of Steve Reich, began mainly on reel-to-reel decks. Using a cassette means some more precise surgery. There’s the cassette housing to contend with, mainly – which means disassembling and then (importantly) re-assembling a delicate plastic case. And the tape itself is smaller, too – 0.15 inches rather than 0.25 inches.

But there are some advantages to working this way. Apart from the ready availability of cassettes and the ease with which you can record on them, you win up with the loop on a self-contained cassette.

And whether or not you venture into the world of splicing cassette tape, you owe it to yourself to listen to AMULETS’ music. The sounds are fragile, rough-hewn, guitars melting into gaping chasms and caves, as if he’s sculpting with the tentative magnetic particles of the tapes.

It’s sure to earn some comparisons to other ambient varieties, but there’s some unique sensibility here. And he’s insanely prolific, carving out tape releases in a steady stream.

To layer the sounds, he uses dual four-track recorders, as in this video for National Public Radio in the USA. I bristle a little at how not using a computer has become a band of honor, but here, it’s necessary to understanding the physical reality of what you’re hearing and the directness with which he composes. That Tascam is his axe as much as the guitar, and so it’s fittingly memorialized in enamel pins and album artwork.

There’s a surprising treasure trove of tape music and tape loop how-to’s on YouTube, covering just about every conceivable technique and hardware. You’re liable to be able to plan around whatever used hardware you’ve rummaged, rather than the other way around.

One of the best comes from Chris Randall, aka both the mastermind behind Analog Industries / Audio Damage / blog plug-ins and modular hardware and a gifted musician himself. For the high-end loop, you get to do this one with a Nagra:

It’s funny, actually: this kind of tape imperfection is as I understand it genuinely one of the hardest things to model in the digital realm. I think it probably would be valuable to get better models, as you could imagine sound degradation that could never exist in the real world. But here, it might miss the point anyway: these pieces are kinetic sculptures and live magneto-mechanical instruments, not just particular sounds.

I love this ensemble ambient work:

AMULETS has you well covered on social media identities; find them all on his site:

The post AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Steve Reich On Tape Loops, Rhythm & Sampling In Minimalism

In this new interview, via Q on CBC, classical composer Steve Reich reflects with host Shadrach Kabango on his career in classical music.  He starts by discussing his early tape loop works, like It’s Going To Rain and goes on to discuss his … Continue reading