Tag Archives: anton mobin

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Then, in Paris

The next issue of the magazine Gonzo Circus will include an interview with me by Theo Ploeg. Such an article comes with pictures. I was asked to send some. Digital memories lead an orphaned existence in my life. That’s why I came across this set just a day too late. Here is the story that comes with it.

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The hand in the picture is mine. You can see blood. You can also see a small part of a walkman that I bought from former topmodel Magnus Schaefer, just before his move to New York. The first appearance of the walkman as My Walkman was in the 4 minute road movie about the Berlin Tape Run which was shown on German, Austrian and Swiss TV.

I looked at the walkman again. It is a different one. The walkman that served as a red thread in the road movie is not in the picture. What to do? Now you know that both my -MY!- walkman and I were on TV I can take advantage of this fact and promote Berlin Tape Run2. I sold two copies of it thanks to its appearance on German, Austrian and Swiss TV. Grab your copy before they sell out. Get it here: staaltape.

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Sometimes after a concert I find myself a salesman. Visitors are mostly more driven by curiosity then by a strong desire to buy a tape. They pick up the cassette. I start my promotional talk, but encounter a look that tries to find a polite balance between contempt and ‘man, I have one hundred thousand free downloads on my hard drive.’ Then the visitor walks up to the bar and buys a beer, or rather exchanges a few coins for a bottle of beer. Those coins must have lost every connection to monetary or existential value… Existential!

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Paris is clearly divided by its surface. There is life going on under it, and on top of it. Zillions of people use or have used the metro. I like it. I like the smell, the sounds, the sudden change of pace. The metro system follows its own logic. Travelling to a destination is not a simple matter of going from A to B. There is detours in the dark, mysterious squeeks and threatening rumbles, there is eroticism, thought, misery, work hidden under the looks and appearances of the travellers, there is seemingly endless and labyrintic movements whenever you have to change trains, there is determination. There is epiphany whenever you get to see the sky and the apartments once you walk the stairs. I am sure Parisian philosophers were inspired by their metro system.

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I am on my way to Anton Mobin for my fourth appearance at his A Maïzing Session. He lives on walking distance from Père-Lachaise. In my agenda is written the metroline, where to get of (Alexandre Dumas), the address, and the secret codes of the front and second door. I have just a backpack with gear, no suitcase (weight 20 kilo), because he lives on the 6th floor and there is no elevator. I always enjoy the short walk up to his apartment. The street I follow is a bit run down, houses and shops lean against each other, seek comfort, some of them moan softly, a bit sentimental, remembering better times. I look inside bars and imagine to have a beer and watch how everything slows down.

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Anton’s series of home produced (web-) radio now run in their fifth season. To me it is an essential part of what netculture is about (it is, actually meet and play together with the person you met through a website or an email). The A Maïzing Sessions offer a welcome and welcoming appointment with homebrewn- and visiting artists. Moreover, when you are back on the streets again after the radio show, you’ll notice that the neighborhood looks just that bit more familiar. It makes you feel, well.. just good:

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The 11th of September was a pleasant late Summer day, a day that makes domestic silence enjoyable, Anton had just come back from a holiday in Barcelona and enthused about the San Miguel beer he had found in his street. He showed the new tap of the bottle, which made opening it far more easy. So we opened our bottles at the same time and cut our fingers at the same point.

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Chapters from the Book of Shadows, Story of a Tape

The tape is solo by Rinus van Alebeek, and you can only get a copy by sending mister Van Alebeek a tape in return. The very foundation of the world of cassettes. You will also receive a small plastic bag with rubbish, which you can throw away and save Van Alebeek in doing so. Maybe the nature of recycling is what this is about. Snippets of field recordings are used, along with a collage of disco records, dictaphone stuff and such like. The sort of sounds we use or throw away, but Van Alebeek decided to keep them, stick them together in a rather random order and call it music. The music is copied on a recycled cassette – Irena Seda in my case – and looks strikingly familiar to the ones released by RRR as part of the ‘Recycled’ series. Not entirely my cup of tea, this whole ethos of ‘I can do it, you can do it’ which doesn’t necessarily give cassettes a fine name for great music. (FdW)

Blindfold

It was curious to read how Frans de Waard, the reviewer, pondered about the nature of my tape. I realised I had send him too little information. He writes as if he walks around in a room blindfolded, picks up things and wonders what it is. The outcome is an honest report of his listening experience. But I remained in my seat long after, with the image of a blindfolded man taking care not to bump against or fall over obstacles.

Cassette

In the early seventees my father gave me a cassette player he had found on one of his daily walks. It was a Philips portable mono machine, my first possibility to listen to my own choice of music. Up to then the portable radio had been my only gateway to the scarcely transmitted music from the beatlesandstones age. As an experiment I bought a compilation cassette of Jimi Hendrix. It was way too expensive. My collection of cassettes was a result of visits to friends. I cannot recall when that collection of tapes disappeared. At the end of the eighties I started to visit Italy over longer periods and eventually ended up living there. Here I encountered the cassette again Friends made mix-tapes, choose a picture for the cover or designed one themselves and gave them as a little present. I liked that and I liked to make those tapes as diverse as possible, so that every new track would come as a surprise.

Long story short

The tapes and cassette players on my table have joined me at some point in my life during the last ten years. I still make mix tapes, but of a somehow dfferent nature. One is with recorded sounds, the other is re-arranged with the use of a four track. Every now and then I perform.

Tapes from the Crypt

In the month May of the year 2012 I performed at Ateliers Claus in Brussels. This happened upon invitation by Jean Jacques Duerinckx. The theme was ‘scary but funny’ and I had to play in a duo with Flavien Gillié. When I received the invitation I thought about what sounds to use. I asked Adrian Shephard with whom I present Radio On if he had some scary sounds. Adrian is a great connaisseur of the occult. He gave me a tape with a recording of ‘chapters from the book of shadows.’ and made me promise not to loose it and to give it back. That was scary. The tape itself was not as scary as I wanted; soap bubble voices spoke against a background of soap bubbled music: “O thou hor-ned one.” I decided not to use it and returned the tape.

A recycled cassette

A few years ago I saw a box with Turkish music cassettes outside of a thrift store. I went inside. The shopkeeper showed me piles of boxes that reached up to the ceiling. They would cost 5€ per box if I bought all of them. I bought one for 8€. At home I counted two hundred commercial music cassettes, all of them in a plastic wrapper. When I considered to copy the scary cassette I chose one of them rather then a new one. New ones cost money. The one I had picked, had the portrait of a lady on it. I wrote the title over her face in my typical left-handed (I am right-handed) calligraphy: ‘Chapters from the Book of Shadows.’

A strikingly familiar look

With RRRecords recycle series,” Frans writes. What strikes me when I watch the cover of one of their cassettes is the manifesto character of it. Recycling might have been a worthy revolutionary message back then, now in an age of food container divers it is common behaviour.

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The cover of my cassette is a bit similar to these of the special ‘Tales for Tapes #7’ edition that I made for Anton Mobin.

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I will not publish the picture of the tape I discuss here. Let it be your surprise, in case you decide to trade.

Sounds we use or throw away

There were new cassettes in my collection. Probably they’d jumped in the box to shmousz with my regulars when I was away on tour. I listened to them and heard what scholars call ‘music.’ Together with my other cassettes ( and pencils and ink and paper and cassette players and notes and cables and keys and coins and glue and oddities of all kinds ) they lay scattered around on my table. “Hmm,” I thought when I listened to the supposed scary sounds. And then it hit me. I was curious to find out if the first five frightening minutes would go along with the sounds I had in mind. It did. I continued and filled the tape using my own and the cuckoo cassettes.

In a rather random order

Ever since Kris Limbach contributed a few sound snippets to the ‘Four Corners of the Night’ cassette album, I knew of chance. Chance was when you did something randomly with a precise idea behind it.

[chance|RvA]

Once upon a time it was a very conscious act, to choose the recordings I would use in a performance.
Then I found out: 1. whatever I choose, it will always be me. That made picking a cassette much easier and less time consuming. Consuming time gives me a head-ache. Other discovery I came across was that 2. there is always some sound you can use in composition, no matter what kind of recording or piece of music you want to choose from. Together with 3. Every listener will try to hear harmony and 4. I can do what I f*** want to, because of 1. plus a handful of 5. Don’t bore yourself you are equipped enough to get yourself accustomed to 6. Your Intuition is always ahead of you, which makes endlessly working on a composition senseless, also because of 1-5.

What this is about

I don’t play drones. Playing drones is like playing acoustic guitar next to a campfire, with people slumbering away in their sleeping bags. I want rapid ear movements. When I compiled ‘Chapters etc” I thought of people at night searching the radio frequency’s. My sounds would work like an ambush. Before you realise what it is, you would be in the middle of the next soundquake. On the scale of Richter “Chapters etc” is more like this

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and this.

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Rubbish, which you can throw away

Anne F. Jacques sent me a postcard from Montreal, a real one, that I found in my letter box. Anne has a tape label called “Crustaces.” The only way to receive a copy is to send her a postcard or a little present. Her postcard was in need of an answer. I wrote a letter, and I thought that I could send her a copy of ‘Chapters’ as well. But German post doesn’t distinguish between one or four tapes in the packet. It will still cost €3.45. I decided to put some small things in a transparent plastic bag, well chosen, not to many, a good variation of sizes and material. All these things were lying in my house since ages. I never found the courage to throw them away. To every item there was a memory attached. By sending them to someone I would not get rid of the memories but put them in the trust of the other person. This was not the only reason. I also thought of modern archeology and my own interest in seeing/touching things that come from a daily life thousands of miles away from mine. And, it did look like a cover.

I can do it, you can do it

Frans writes it is an ethos, this do-do thing. I figured that I had missed something, thought of the teachings of Gurdjieff (becoming a master through mowing a lawn endlessly) or a master-pupil relation in general, that had replaced the more egalitarian ‘every-one can do it.’
I looked it up and found out that ‘I can do it, you can do it’ is a yell used by weight control support groups in the US.

Return

Though I had images of a portual town as Graham Greene visited on his travels, I doubted very much if ‘Port Saïd’ would have been the right title.

I also thought of ‘Cargo.’ I am surprised by the calmness of the piece, and a feeling of warm summer days. At some points it feels like walking through narrow winding streets.

Some of the tapes I used in this radio performance contained snippets of conversations, meetings, evenings with friends, all bringing back memories that lay dormant on one of the shelves of my subconsciousness. It was a pleasure to go there again.

‘Return’ was first played 18. january 2012 on the radio show ‘A Maïzing Session With…’ hosted by Anton Mobin in his apartment in Paris.

I used various cassette players and dictaphones, an effect pedal and a small box full of tapes.

Return is released on zeromoon

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