cut ups part 12


I like this discussion from 2007 about how to manipulate a tape recorder. Look at the difference in attitude. On one side, there’s the sound engineer who has very fixed ideas on how things should be done. And on the other, there’s someone who wants to experiment to see what’s possible.

I would like to be able to disconnect the eraser-head of my (now) old Sony WM-D6C cassette recorder. Anybody knows the process ? Thanks.

What exactly are you trying to do?.

…i would like to use this cassette recorder in a different way than usual : to re-record and re-record (…) without erasing the previous recording(s). It seems that the only way to do that is to disconnect the eraser-head ?

There are many problems with this – to record you need bias on the record head (to prevent huge distortion), this commonly comes from the erase oscillator – and the erase head is usually an integral part of the oscillator.

The bias on the record head will also tend to erase the existing audio on the tape anyway.

I’m presuming you’re wanting to multi-track?, this isn’t the way to do it!.

of course I know this isn’t the proper way to do multi-track – my idea is to do something really different, as mentioned in “Cities of the Red Night” By WsB, for example. link

He gets more advice. This time, from an electrical engineer,

If you try to record new audio over existing audio, the bias on the record head will partially erase the previous track. You will lose the high frequencies. If you still want to try this experiment, I suggest that you move the erase head out of the tape path. Do not disconnect the erase head as it is required to provide the proper load for the bias ocsillator.

He eventually gets the advice he needs, from someone who does not specify his qualifications in his profile,

put a piece of blue masking tape over the erase head gap

This goes to illustrate the enormous worth of questioning the assumptions you make based upon what you have learned. Or, as one of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards has it,


This track was recorded in much the same way as described above. It’s from 1988 and I think it is made up of four or five tracks recorded on top of each other.

Photo of the insides of a tape recorder taken from here.

cut ups part 11

iphone 5 does not compute the shanty town ground in dakarcornershop mad iphone 5 photo

I don’t know how theses photos happened. I was photographing bits and pieces in the nearby shanty town in the top one. I haven’t done any post-processing to it. The bottom one is the only other “mistake photo” I’ve found. It’s of the local cornershop. I did post-process this one into black and white.


dakar restaurant in almadies

Pretending to be the sole creator of any substantial creative endeavor is simply a lie. link

David Shenk writes about book acknowledgements in the New York Times. He cites some very good reasons for not including them.

I admire the writer for allowing the text to stand on its own, unburdened by metatext.

However, he highlights a lot more reasons for including them. The quote at the top of this page, which I entirely agree with, being the most important one. My first book was printed last Thursday. I should receive it this week. I based my own acknowledgements on the liner notes that you often found included with old LPs. It felt a little indulgent, but I’m glad I did it for these reasons:

  • Liner notes were brilliant. They should never have died out. I’m glad to read that the Japanese still produce them. I think books should have them too. Same goes for colophons.
  • It’s my first book. I’m allowed to indulge myself and those who helped me. I will write more books, but you only get one chance to write a first book.
  • It was only during the final editing stages that I realised there is a musical theme running through the book. I simply had not seen it before. The liner notes were produced before I saw that. They fit the book.
  • Like David Shenk, I like reading acknowledgements in other books.


(liner notes) enhance the record, adding another layer of meaning. An insight to the process and to the personal life of the artist. Or, if not the personal life, than the contrived life. The super-cool posed-to-look-candid shots, the pencil-scrawled lyrics, sometimes an artfully-scanned in coffee cup ring. link

Photo of a restaurant in Dakar by me. That sketch is by me too.


Burroughs style cut ups on the office desk

From an interview with Brian Eno in The Polymath Perspective,

“I am sick of albums that take two years,” insists Brian, “so we just decided on a deadline. I have a theory that deadlines are responsible for most good art. Deadlines are good because they stop you overcooking something. Albums that take years to make are like bad French food, where it has been so long in the preparation that everything is dead by the time it reaches you, whereas my dream of how to make music is like they make food in a busy Italian restaurant. They have fantastic ingredients and they do as little to them as possible. They just get them hot, put them together and give it to you.

“I once took a band that I was about to produce, after they had made a laboured and complicated album, for dinner in a very good Italian restaurant, and I arranged with the restaurant manager to take them into the kitchen. So I sat them down to dinner and said ‘Now I want to show you how we are going to make your next record’, and I took them all into the kitchen and it was just chaos with flames, and cooks and waiters doing things really quickly. It was exciting.” link

Photo by me.

cut ups part 10


The British artist Tom Phillips spent 40 or more years on a project using his variation on the cut up technique. After reading an interview with William Burroughs, Tom Phillips…

walked to a bookshop, and grabbed the first book he could find for 3 pence. He started blacking out the words, first with just a pen. It was beginning of a 40-year project now known as A Humument. link

The name, The Humument, is based upon the title of the book, The Human Document, that he found in the secondhand bookshop.

A Human Document. A Hum(an) (Doc)ument. A Humument. link


Here’s one page from that book.


And here’s the same page “treated”, or cut up.


Same page, treated again. Phillips has created multiple versions of The Humument. There’s an app for the book,

“Very soon after starting the book in the 1960s I dreamed of its use as an oracle, and it has taken 40 years for technology to make that possible.” He is so pleased with the outcome that: “I’ve become my own consumer. Each night after midnight I consult, somewhat furtively (even though alone), the Oracle I have made. I’m often surprised by pages made long ago and almost forgotten, as well as by the sometimes uncanny predictions they offer their maker.” link

shantytown destruction


The shantytown that I walked through every day. And sketched.

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Was destroyed at the beginning of the month.


The landowner wanted the land back.


Land is expensive in this part of Dakar.


Even though it might not look like it.


100 or more folk lived in this shantytown. They were from Guinea.


The last of the cardboard, metal and wood is still being salvaged.


“Dope alley”, as it was known, has been destroyed.


So has an area where women and children lived and grew beans and maize.


A few remain. They live under cardboard.


The Guineans carried their belongings.


And left some behind.


All sorts of fragments of life.


Before they moved off, on foot, to another part of Dakar to rebuild.

on the tracks


There’s life along the railway track that runs through the centre of Hà Nội. The trains are infrequent enough, and slow enough, and loud enough, that you can walk along the tracks in relative safety. There are restaurants right by the tracks. Many people live along them.

Photo by me



From “Seoul – 1964 – Winter” by Kim Seungok.

“Any one who spent the winter of 1964 in Seoul would probably remember those wine shops that appeared on the streets at nightfall – the shops that sold hotchpotch, roasted sparrows and three kinds of wine, where the curtain you lifted to step in was flapping in a bitter wind that swept the frozen streets, where the flame of a carbide lamp inside fluttered in the gusts, and where a middle-aged man in a dyed army jacket poured wine and roasted snacks for you.” link

Photo by J Alan

cut ups part 9


From a Library Foundation of Los Angeles discussion on William Burroughs and his writing techniques,

Barry Miles: I’m hoping that the cut-up stuff will influence people. Maybe people will return to it. As long as you regard it as prose poetry and just dip into it and take what you can from it, just as if you were reading a poem then it’s fine. Don’t look for narrative, you won’t find it.

David L. Ulin: It’s the dream logic I think in many ways. That’s how I’ve always sort of worked into it. I feel like I’m participating in someone’s dream. And I stay as long as I can. link

Photo by me