Weekly Beats comes but only every two years and since 2012 I’ve committed myself to it as a willing participant. In short, it’s a project that involves its participants to write and record an original piece of music each week for the rest of the year. I’ve never made the full 52 weeks, but since its inception in 2012 I’ve thrown myself into it in order to kickstart some new ideas or nudge along curiosities.
This month I decided to employ a piece of hardware that’s been a studio mainstay for as long as I’ve had anything resembling a studio: my beloved Tascam 424 Portastudio. I bought it in 1999 and made some of my first electro-acoustic experiments on it, way back when I was trying to emulate the weird and disjointed sound of records like Radiohead’s Kid A or Gastr De Sol’s Camofluer. The Portastudio’s tracking, fx sends and pitch settings made it possible to manipulate sounds and create interesting layers and textures. This was long before I could afford something like a laptop and the sofrtware that went with it.
And ultimately, when I eventually got my first laptop, the Portastudio was pushed aside in favour of the cool technological ease of digital audio interfaces.
So, its endeavours like Weekly Beats that can trigger a reinterest in dusting the old thing off once again and putting it to use once again. If anything, it’s great to have a piece of equipment on hand that provides a more tactile interface with sound – whether it be flipping a tape over, tweaking the EQs or creating an endless chain of auxilery effects.
This is where this month’s worth of material started; then, I got the idea of creating short tracks which evoked memories and impressions of places.
On this collection, the hiss, crackle and unpredictability of old 1970’s cassettes is inscribed with the woozy and gurgling tones of my Microkorg, or in the case of the latter track, an agogo played by a couple of prepared loudspeakers. Across the four tracks I’ve employed a digital delay and reverb FX send to add a bit of spaciousness, whilst the pitch features of Portastudio have been applied zealously.
Thanks for listening!
TLR, March 2018.