by Jeff Rynott
So you thought the Beatles’ eight-minute-plus “Revolution No. 9” was long? On Saturday night at 11 p.m. on KRUI, the Tape-beatles will check in with a piece nearly three times as long. Titled “The Big Broadcast,” the 23-minute excursion is a collage of found, edited, re-edited and home produced sounds. “The Big Broadcast” moves from an interview with the Beatles (edited to become the Tape-beatles) through sound montages of social topics and television commercials, even pausing to offer the sound of a microphone on fire.
The project is the work of UI students Lloyd Dunn, John Heck and Ralph Johnson (the latter was a member of the now-defunct Iowa City band Stiff Legged Sheep). The band began serious work a year ago on what Dunn describes as a “bizarre hybrid of audio art.”
“Basically we wanted to get out the idea that radio doesn’t have to be pop music,” Dunn said. “The person at home can come up with interesting things, too.”
The aim of the group is to be entertaining without being commercial, according to Dunn.
“Actually, I hardly ever listen to pop music anymore,” he said. Instead, he was influenced by a Canadian artist who has been releasing sound collages titled “Mystery Tapes.”
Most of the audio work done on “The Big Broadcast” was recorded on home stereo and Sony Walkman, Dunn said, and mixed on an old Sony reel-to-reel recorder. Given the amateur equipment used, it is understandable that “The Big Broadcast” is mostly a rough effort, lacking the editing finesse of related artists like Art of Noise or Paul Hardcastle.
“We’re sort of careless in what we do, but everything there is there for a reason,” Dunn explained about the compilation process.
As far as the future, the Tape-beatles would prefer Saturday night to be only the first of many radio broadcasts.
“We want to do more ‘Big Broadcasts,’” Dunn said. “If there’s a receptive audience we want to publish a couple hundred copies, and maybe circulate them in other cities.”
And how did the group choose the name?
“We wanted something a little bit ridiculous; it’s a bit pretentious,” Dunn explained. “We want to spoof stuff that’s pretentious, and we want to be a bit pretentious, too.”