Groove du Jour: Tape Music Today

By counts of duration and gravity, tape has been the most important instrument in electronic music. It was literally the first technology that was used to make a electronic music, and its experimental potential explored in the early musique concrète and BBC Radiophonic Workshop compositions has helped it sustain as an actively used medium into the 21st century.

Surely as the number of methods of creating electronic music has multiplied, especially in this millenium as the computer has supplanted the main use of tape a recording apparatus, tape appears less and less.

But there are still artists doing inspiring and innovative work with tape, and this post focuses on a few that show new possibilities yet with the oldest electronic music tool. Last decade’s wave of tape noise is more or less avoided here since a lot of that has been properly lionized.


Whitney Johnson

Groove Cafe has covered Whitney Johnson before and probably will again. In her solo work as Matchess, WJ was using tape as a long time as a method of playing back samples, but recently she’s been employing it for long, overlapping tones in an Eliane Radigue type style:

With Laura Callier in Simulation, WJ would record the first half of their set in real time, and then play it back for the second half of their set, creating, yes you guessed it, a live simulation. Erica Gamble has provided both of these videos.

Continue reading Groove du Jour: Tape Music Today

Surfactant @ Club Rectum, 3/4/2017

This one was shot at a benefit for Planned Parenthood earlier this year. On top of it being a night when several of Chicago’s top femmes of the DIY scene threw the fuck down in front of a pulsing hoard partying for a righteous cause — it was sweaty even by Rectum standards — it marked the special occasion when Whitney Allen and Whitney Johnson finally got together for a collaboration they were talking about for years. The long-running idea was to find a third Whitney and call the project Whitney, but the name was snatched by, well, some dudes. Classic.

Whitney Allen is the seething freak fronting noise rock faves Toupée (as well as related projects Columba Fasciata, Blood Licker) who has been performing solo recently as Couteau Sang with a series of terrifying masks and wind instruments. Whitney Johnson’s solo project Matchess has long been one of the best ambient acts in town, and she’s recently staking out territory as a contemporary master of tape manipulation. WJ also plays viola in Circuits Des Yeux. Anyway, this is one of those collaborations that doesn’t totally make sense until you hear it, then it makes total sense.

This video was shot by Erica Mei Gamble at a Planned Parenthood Benefit organized by Jenny Polus and Karina Natis.

— Host