Perfect Sound Forever

The Macabre Museum of the
Experimental Disc Spinner


by Spaceling of the Cosmographic Design Initiates (Sept 1997)

Academics of the "Post-Whatever" ilk would also be interested to contemplate the deconstructed assemblage which is experimental spinning. The potential of the technology had long been recognized as is evident in the early career of "Alvin and the Chipmunks", those temporadicals, and backward spinning post-beatnik Beatle listening satanic soundspotters. The Revolution 9 was arguably Breakdance, now Hip-Hop culture, itself evolved mythically from the DJ Archetype: alone on '70s Brooklyn asphalt scratching Prog-Rock beats into submission on dilapidated low-end turntables plugged via index/forefinger into the socket of their masters concentration. If you will, this was anti-music, insofar as the "Music Industry" had already legislated the sanctity of recorded and copywrit compositions. Because, unlike text, which could be quoted with citation to the original author in publishing law, sound remained steadfast to its original recording under penalty of theft. In fact, there is no greater example than "the sample", where music, as text, could be reassembled within another musical schema.

The experimental disc spinner is a collagist, a music anarchist. The spinner cannot play an instrument but he can master a medium, both its sound and its technological infrastructure. A scavenger, a quilting-bee, a gene-splicer, a plagiarizer, a thief of context, a mad scientist; the experimental disc spinner creates as he deconstructs and like the Surrealists of Yor finds solace in the bizarre. Thank God then that the music makers provided such rich source-fodder for the spinner's hungry ears as well as inspiration to do what they could to evolve the genre.

Atmospheric sound sculptures, according to John Cage, have always been with us: as music is sound, so sound is music. The sounds and rhythms of the everyday was a music for the everyman according to Jack Kerouac. Folkways Records followed with LP's containing random sounds from Manhattan strolls. Brian Eno, god-father of ambient and new-wave, was inspired by Erik Satie and his Furniture Music of the '20s. Here were sounds to live by, to be immersed as in a womb, cognizant or just drifting. Mickey Hart once exclaimed that the entrancing quality of the drum was our primal memory of our mothers heartbeat in her womb. Same can be said for the "Echo Effect", the transcendent potentials of chant, and other sound distortions made possible by Space or electrical feedback. Walter Carlos was the first I know to create multilayered soundscapes of environmental sounds and flute and Moog distortions, all sounds sampled and mixed via studio into his album "Sonic Seasonings."

What we are approaching here is true psychedelia. Tripped (or tricked) via one's own senses into an altered headspace where sound can be heard as it would where one's presence in spacial coordinates is not as prescient as it is in "normal" life. Consider, after all that the drone of radio frequencies emanating from our small speck of a planet may sound pretty strange when considered all at once. To establish the signal from the noise via the condition of pattern recognition may be a disorienting, blissful and/or frightening experience like reading tea leaves. On the other hand, according to this sample from Space:1999 'It Played So Softly on the Ear', "sometimes when you're listening to Communications hour after hour Up here in Space (Sandra) you begin to imagine your back on earth...".

The possibility for said exploration as many of you know was regenerated in the new schools of ambient first in UK chill rooms where party goers could relax from whatever genre of dance music their weary muscles had been absorbing. While the dance genres emphasized beat matching talents for the DJ, ambient, and its Brooklyn DJ name illbient, required a patient ear and the courage necessary for experimenting with unknown possibilities: an acceptance that increased layering of sources beyond the two turntable establishment may lead to dissonance, beats-out-of-phase and the happy organic sensation of being led by chaos to beauty and from chaos to tears.