wired for sound part 17: new luddism’s luddite deficit tapes – high speeddddd tapists!

September 11, 2011 at 11:15 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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I have written at length, and on several occasions, about my love for the fanzine DDDD and its founders Simon and Pippa.  Click on the ‘dddd’ tag above for evidence.  Years ago I mourned its death in hard copy.  As a papery entity it appeared through the letterbox rolled and taped into a tube, ready to be used to swat away the irrelevancies of everyday existence.  When I started this blog I was overjoyed to find its unlikely web presence: vast scans of resolutely unsearchable cut-and-paste collage, the most unwieldy blog on the internet.  Simon’s writing is/was a constant source of thought-provoking inspiration for me and has, on occasion, been genuinely life changing.  For example, my current stance on downloading, music appreciation and the ill effects of the former on the latter was worked out in a series of blog posts ‘in conversation’ with him.

Recently, however, DDDD imploded again.  In a breathtaking act of self-immolation, the entire online archive was pulled overnight.  All of it – gone, apparently forever.  Not one for half measures, our Simon.  This time though I was prepared.  I didn’t start wailing and gnashing my teeth, I just stood in front of the cave with my arms folded, a wry smile on my face, and waited for the boulder to roll back.

In due course it did, but I have to say the form of the resurrection caught me somewhat by surprise.  I returned home one day after a gruelling session of hardcore clerking to the welcome sight of a hand-addressed jiffy bag on the right side of the letterbox (avoid giving me the hump by checking its dimensions before sending me anything – see ‘about me and this blog’ page).  In it were the first two luddite surfeit tapes and a letter informing me that Simon had forsaken writing in order to produce music instead.

The working method remains consistent from tape to tape: a) clip section(s) from piece(s) of music, b) loop and layer, c) repeat until enough generated to fill one side of a C90, d) subject to a little light editing/mashing using Audacity.  And that is it: the basic compositional tool is repetition.

Simon’s choice of source material is eclectic.  Pick three tapes at random and a crystalline shard of Wolfgang Voigt could follow some austere chamber music which in turn jars with some digital splatterpunk from Bomb 20.  This makes for an interestingly varied listening experience.  Depending on your mood you could be in for 45 minutes of blissful reverie, or nostrils-flaring catharsis, or you could be scrabbling to ‘review’ the tape in question with a claw hammer after 90 seconds…

Still, no matter, as another one will be along in a minute.  I have received, I think, 19 releases in this series in a period of less than two months.  I note half of them are deleted already.  “High speeddddd tapists!!” indeed.  In a letter accompanying the latest package Simon claims:

As you might be starting to twig, the N.L. ambition is to make music faster than it is humanly possible for one person to hear it – 30 hours of music per day is the target.”

Mad lolz, of course, but the work rate reveals this is only a half-joke.  Simon’s approach to his creative endeavours is always all or nothing.  He also isn’t afraid of showing his working out as I get the impression that the process of creating is probably more important for him than actually presenting the finished product.  After receiving about 8 or 9 tapes, I asked him how many of each he was sending out.  Simon replied sheepishly that I was the only recipient. This might sound insane – I briefly felt like I was in the no-audience underground equivalent of a Charlie Kaufman film – but on reflection it makes perfect sense according to the logic of the project.  What do you do after you’ve made some music?  Package it up.  What do you do after you’ve packaged it up?  Release it.  What does it mean to release it?  Give it to someone who isn’t you.  Boxes ticked with the minimal amount of fuss, now on to the next one…

I now know that at least one other person (hi Lee!) is getting this stuff, and I have permission from Simon to mention it here on RFM, so I am free to recommend you give NLT a try.  Amusingly, some of these ‘tapes’ have been made available as downloads via the New Luddism website so there is no excuse not to go visit and dip your toe into the torrent.  Should you desire the physical objects – tapes packaged in magazine illustrations and eerie old photos with hand-typed inlay info or scribbled-on CD-rs – then you will need to contact Simon at newludditetapes@gmail.com with an address, a note and the dimensions of your letterbox.  No money changes hands, no trades accepted, no promises made – you just have to wait and see.

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