Parlour Tapes+

a contemporary classical cassette label

*AND: Cracking Open the Cortázar

On the upcoming *AND project album, you’ll hear a track recorded collaboratively, but with great distance between each layer, by 6 people in 3 cities and 2 countries. First, Katherine Young, bassoon and pedals; Joann Cho, piano and mallets; and Jenna Lyle (me), voice; recorded a little something in Chicago. We made 4 tracks, chopped them up, inserted silences, and mixed them into one file. We sent that file to Mauricio Pauly in Manchester, UK, where he forced distortion by close-mic’ing a small orchestral bass drum and a floor tom, then layered that with, and I quote, “a beat up Rhodes [synth] amplified with contact microphones on its chassis and then put through a hot feedback loop through a guitar amp.” Mauricio mixed his work into the Cho/Young/Lyle track and sent it on to Ariana and Chris Warren in San Diego. Ariana threw some subtle, yet intense Eb and bass clarinet into the mix, and Chris worked his impulse response magic to make the piece’s ambience travel between about 30 different acoustic realms in the course of 6 minutes and 20 seconds. When you listen to Cracking Open the Cortázar, you’ll hear a piece that not only traveled to become what it is, but also embodies the idea of traversal.

We thought it might be nice to let you in on our ludicrously involved google-doc brainstorming session (color coded of course). Peek into our process and be enlightened . . . or . . . just . . . SO confused. You’ll most likely have a similar experience listening to our track. We like that about it.

Jenna rambles:

Create some kind of narrative of the piece traveling?

-I mean it’s going to travel anyway, 3 different recordings, over time, resulting in a single 5 minute simultaneity...

-Maybe the content could be about direction in some way or trespassing or traversing IS THAT CHEESY?-makes me think of the Partch Western Walking music...



Katie: travel influences: The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute by Julio Cortazar

I’ve been obsessed with and interested in this book for a long time because of the way they slow down time on the journey that is documented in this fanciful travelogue. They slow down time by carefully investigating minutia of the places they go. (They stop at every rest stop between Paris and Marseille, which is a pretty short distance, but a lot of rest stops.) Mauricio: love this book - definitely a nice image. There's something iterative in each stretch - like each new stop starts a new layer at an ever-fattening zero point. Kind of like what we are aiming to do here!

Jenna: or should the piece be about one thing, and then its process be another thing?

-like it could be a piece about plants that travels. Katie: I kinda think if we have a general enough idea, it can work for both...or maybe a few ideas that people can apply to their process/materials however they want.

jenna: Do we want to interact with or deeply consider the end result recorded media (cassette tape--intentionally low-fi)? How can our piece comment on its media? What does it’s embodiment on cassette tape mean for the way that we approach our artistic product?

Joann: I would personally rather get a high quality recording, just so the layering stays transparent on some level. Jenna: Truth, it’ll probably be mastered with something a little closer to pop-music compression after our final submission. But I think high-quality recording is best for the first layer. I was thinking more about the manner in which the material itself in some way comments on it’s final product. In some way, that’s already happening here. It’s a piece that can really only exist in recorded form. And I like Mauricio’s reference to splicing, which evokes ‘tape’ music specifically. I don’t suggest we do things to make our digital product sound like a tape, but it IS pretty interesting that a digital recording will end up in analog form. Could just be something we keep in our performative consciousness without explicitly making a statement. -jl

katie: Thought: tapes loop.

04Aug2013 Mauricio says:

One of the more interesting things for me in a project like this is the ability to recontextualize work already done through subtle (or bold! or whatever) addition of layers whether these are applied at the foreground or the background or by inserting memory markers which upset or redefine those already established.

A question:

Is the process unidirectional? Meaning - it passes through each of us and then is finished? Unidirectional works for me. If the final product leaves something to be desired, however, and we feel the need before Sept. 1 to make edits, I’d propose group- suggested and approved changes. Exquisite Corpse is beautiful, but if we wanna make changes, I say we do. Jenna. Exquite Corpse is interesting....but how would it work? Would Jenna, Joann and I “fold” our recording to allow for the next? Or would that be part of Mauricio’s job?-Katie

I ask not necessarily to suggest it being iterative but actually to suggest that at each stage we can retrieve previous states within its structure. For example, as Ariana receives mine she also has access to the original Katie/Joann/Jenna version and can build an edit that at some moments bypasess (erases!) my layer. That is, we all have not only additive but also subtractive powers at a layer by layer level. Or would this beat the purpose of the original idea? I’m great with that. Each time, we pass on raw original tracks as well as the newly-edited comprehensive track?-JL I really like the idea of erasure or forgetting being a part of the process....Here’s a thought: you know how when you go somewhere it takes so much longer than when you return? This concept might offer a structure... And it relates to Jenna’s idea of there being iteration somehow in the piece.-Katie

Pulling together these ideas, here’s a proposal:

Step 1: KAY-JL-JC record a 5 minute piece
Step 2: KAY-JL-JC “fold” their piece - ie. disguise it’s linear form somehow by chopping some bits out and leaving silence.
Step 3: MP receives this and records his piece - working around and with both the sounding and silent materials he’s received from JL-KAY-JC
Step 4: MP “folds” this composite piece, erasing either his layer or both his layer and JC-JL-KAY’s layers before passing it onto Arianna
Step 4: Arianna receives this and records her piece - working around and with both the sounding and silent materials she’s received
Step 5: ??? does Arianna make a “fold” before passing it off? Or is Chris’s reverb the final “fold” / “unfold”

Mauricio: My exquisite corpse analogy was an untidy one... there is indeed an inherent folding already in the sending of a mix...[I mean: when k/j/j send me their file it will be a bunch of things already mixed (folded!) into one which I won't be able to edit] ...but the content is not hidden from the subsequent composer.

Re the prep:

There are a great deal of decisions which even if made verbally (e.g. on this document) will not pierce the inherent exquisite corpse nature of the project. As I receive the recording, what will influence what I add onto it will be mostly the recording itself - perhaps very secondarily, the verbalized content. [Please disagree - let's add a big bold 'in my opinion' to all I'm writing here]

good questions! I agree and, just to be uber clear, I think that the hierarchy of priorities should be: (1) follow the simple rules we’re outlining below; (2) listen to the recording and respond to the sounds and structures you perceive; (3) use whatever sound sources you want to do so -- everyone involved should leave his/her stamp however they want and have been invited into this project trusting the aesthetic and future choices in the project!; (4) keep in mind discussion in this document - Katie

Maurcio: With this in mind, I think an important question would be: What decisions can we make collectively, verbally, in this document, before we start working?

1. duration
5-7 minutes
2. limitations of (perceivable) source (that is, if we want any constraints of the sort) I don’t think there should be any limitations on this, personally
3. rules of practice (e.g. "don't cut the flow, just add to the mix but don't splice"...or perhaps "everyone is allowed a maximum of 1 splice") Perhaps a limit to the number of erasures of previous material? Yes - I think a limit to the number / duration of erasures would be important. But I have a question: is a splice an erasure or a re-ordering of the linearity? I think a reordering is ok, but allowing for this would inform how we construct this first layer, I’d think
4. Do we have an overarching “MESSAGE”? i.e. “place,” “travel,” “reel,” “applesauce is delicious”....?-JL I like it being about travel and memory (forgetting) and distance....Physical distance, but also emotional distance /proximity (?)’s like we’re in a long-distance relationship...-Katie M: beautiful!

Jenna: final product to look something like the following?



. . . . or something

Recording at Joann's; Baby Elaeth supervises.

Recording at Joann's; Baby Elaeth supervises.

Things Katie, Joann & Jenna did & thought about today 08/07/2013:

We recorded preliminary materials in 4 takes, which we’ll edit this weekend into our layer--probably a series of blocks (provided that’s approved by all collaborators?).

-Take 1: proximity/closeness, molecular obstacles to absolute closeness, transients

-Take 2: journey to and from; processional & recessional

-Take 3: evocation of “place,” stagnation, 3 places far apart simultaneously, leaving open space, deconstructing sound production and individual parameters of a single material

-Take 4: Risk, the actual moment and act of risk taking, not the anxiety preceding or the fallout/reward following; the RISK; the cliff-jump--within the constructs of a “comfortable space

Mauricio's recording setup

Mauricio's recording setup



What I've done so far:

I've recorded a series of layers between 2'20'' and 4'40'' that, amongst other things exaggerate the gestural contour of the k/j/j original. At this point (this may change as I move fwd) I think this will be my busiest participation - the rest will be more contained within the original texture so as to allow this current bulge to stand out.