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October 1999

New Mp3 Track Download

Mp3s by Public Works 30.10.1999 / 1. The man of to-morrow. Having recently visited The City by the Bay (with its pendulous bridges) and, coincidentally, fresh from a video screening of Vertigo, we — editorially — are moved to announce that, for us, anyway, ‘suspense is the name of the game.’ So, rather than revealing the whole graceful swoop of the banana, we will reveal our new recording Good Times in cereal-bowl-ready slices, one track per week. Each Monday, we will add another track from the album to the mp3 collection already available from this site. It will be the record that took six months to reveal (on the web anyway, since you can buy the CD at any time).

This week’s selection is track 12: The man of to-morrow. It, as they say, is a real teaser. It neither typifies the other tracks, nor does it summarize the theme of the work. What it does do, in our opinion, is give a scent of what is to come.

24.10.1999 / Travel pictures. I returned from my trip to San Francisco a week ago, but I found that our shipment of Good Times CDs had, at long last, arrived. So I immediately set out to doing our normal promotional mailing, fashioning a press release and a packet of accompanying information. That task done, I am now able to report that I have posted a number of photos from my visit with Ralph Johnson.

Look at my travel pictures from California

Plunderphonic 20.10.1999 / John Oswald announces: “a prerecorded message: some time soon there will be a release of a plunderphonic box set with over 60 tracks from 1969 to 1996. this will include previously unheard alternate or remastered versions of everything on the original plunderphonic CD plus an awful lot of other surprises plus an informative booklet with some pretty good photo collages. it’s not completely settled yet how this will come out but, unlike the last time around, i will not be giving any copies of this one away for free; it’s just costing too much to make, & there’s no time for me to go back into the free distribution business. meanwhile, keep an eye on the plunderphonic webite for info on how it will be available. :j.o.”

• The Plunderphonic web site


Tape-beatles Make Good with ‘Good Times’

Good Times, Synthety no. 5

16.10.1999 / The Tape-beatles are pleased to announce the release, and immediate availability, of a new Compact Disc Recording, their 5th major audio work, consisting of 23 tracks with a running time of 51 minutes, and entitled Good Times.

Here as in previous releases, the Tape-beatles make exclusive use of found sound which they bend, shape and otherwise change to suit their ends. These sonic manipulations, sometimes subtle — often drastic, create new works that can unambiguously be attributed to the Tape-beatles, but at the same time, the sources are evident, too. The result is a richly layered, sumptuously produced, carefully conceived and realized audio banquet that may sound familiar, yet is completely new.

The title ‘Good Times’ refers explicitly to the current state of the economy in the West, and the defining role economic realities play in determining human and cultural possibility. For example, the tracks ‘Education of the will’ and ‘Human machine’ take snippets of text from actual interviews with food service workers and combine them with spartan percussion figures, edited and timed to provide a rhythmic backdrop. The text of the piece questions human dignity and fairness in the workplace and how these are often at odds with modes of production in the service industry. The answer to questions raised in this sequence come in the next track, ‘Byways of Ghostland’ which is a richly detailed kinetic collage of Hollywood style disaster movie soundtrack, suggesting that the result is catastrophe, to the worker, as well as to society.

Further, all the tracks on the album form a tightly knit sequence that looks at the 90s Economic Boom from a number of perspectives. Some hopeful, some humorous, some disparaging, some almost mystical, wistful and yearning. This is how the Tape-beatles work; years of research (the current opus was 3 years in production), painstaking editing and sequencing, and critically observant of the world outside of music and art.

The tracks on Good Times make use of, for example, a speech by 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie, musical riffs from Aaron Copland, a Georgian folk song, physicist Edward Teller discussing the origin of the cosmos, happy ad-speak from a women’s products syndicate, aggressive drums from a stereo test recording by a microphone manufacturer, testimony of Oliver North before the U.S. Congress, a Coca-Cola television commercial, radio interviews with pop musicians, and much more.

Here’s how to get your copy of the new Tape-beatle CD “Good Times”

Site award site of the week 10.10.1999 / We are pleased to announce that this site has been selected as the Site of the Week. It may interest you to know that this is the first award of any kind we have received for this site since it was begun in January, 1997. We are pleased at the recognition, but it makes us think back to the early days. If you could compare the crappy PageMill-generated pages of those days to the sleek unctuous streamed lines of the current screens, you’d probably think less of us. But never mind! Those pages are lost to the mists of time.

BBEdit changed my life

7.10.1999 / Brainstorm warning. Lloyd Dunn will being paying a week-long visit to Ralph Johnson in San Leandro this weekend. There they will lock heads in figuring out what to do next. Expect them to meet up with some of the unusual suspects while there. Reports anon.

I know, already. Delivery of the Good Times CD has been unforeseeably delayed once again. What we have expected in the past has not panned out for various reasons outside our control, so I am loath to make a solid prediction. However, all signs are pointing to receipt of delivery on or before Oct. 18.

• In the meantime, let us know what you think of our site redesign

Site Overhaul, Course Correction

how we think, what we believe is important, the way we look at life 2.10.1999 / Having commented on nearly everything else, I will now comment on a lack of news from the Tape-beatle ‘theatre of operations’ as it were. We are at a crux, a nexus, a lynch-pin, and, as if that weren’t enough, a turning point. The CD Good Times has been released; it is available in Europe. We at the GLNA (Glassed-in Labs, North America) are still waiting for our shipment so that we can fill the advance orders we already have for it — our apologies to those who are waiting. We fully expected to receive them Friday but they never arrived. UPS failed to darken our door. We would hold our baited breath until we turned blue if we thought that would help, but tantrums have never been our style. As an alternative, we advise continued patience.

But back to this ‘turning-point.’ Ralph ‘Danger’ Johnson has let us know that ‘The Tape-beatles’ as a ‘concept’ is suffering from rigor mortis and needs immediate cremation. Is he right? Is he wrong? Probably, and probably! We’ve reached a point where ‘audio collage’ as a genre lacks the enervating freshness of green spring shoots and takes on rather the cast of a cawing flock of autumn crows. Skillful examples of the kind of work we set out to do can be heard in television advertising. Perhaps without the apocalyptic fury of our best work, but nonetheless, one might be forgiven for making the observation that the musical dialect of sampling seems a bit stale.

Guy Debord would be vindicated, but not pleased. It was he who always maintained that a new ‘style,’ no matter how ‘revolutionary,’ will in all cases eventually be used to sell carbonated beverages.

At the same time John ‘Sullen’ Heck must needs believe in the patented ‘Tape-beatle Process.’ There is yet truth to be wrung from these rags. For, if our future wanderings lie along a misty trail, we are forced to inspect the sights along the way more closely then, to see them clearly. And should the fog rise to reveal, what — a labyrinth? — it will also be so that there are dozens of dead ends, yes, but there are also dozens of soft, chewy centers to reach as rewards.

As usual, this writer comes down firmly on both sides of the fence. I will be here to report on and participate in each of the forked activity’s several tines. And this bodes well for our ‘fan’-atics, since the future will show them continuing projects under both names ‘Public Works’ and ‘The Tape-beatles.’ Let it here be understood clearly that our enthusiasm for our new release Good Times does not flag. We will put it out into the world for a life of its own.

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