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March 2000

Mp3s 31.03.2000 / 18. The changing world. And now, it’s time for this week’s Track-of-the-Week. Coming as it does during the knitting-place between two audio environments, microclimates of the ear’s inner life, the current track forswears youthful angst and exuberance in favor of a wistful and sweet-flavored pain. The piece itself has a juncture in the middle, mimicking in miniature its own function on the CD. The voice of a television spy explains more than books ever could about how the world works, and expresses its amazement at the idea. Experience all this and more by downloading this week’s track.

25.03.2000 / 17. Every man a king. The second part of the previous week’s segment is a seamless segue and but one example of the Tape-beatles’ markèd penchant for making the tracks ‘bleed’ (to borrow a printer’s term) one into the other. The whole thing — and by this I mean the CD — has to work as a unit, if for no other reason than that is precisely what it is; a shiny round holèd piece of acrylic with a certain length of audible music inscribed upon it by some mysterious process. But enough of this dry theory —


The Tape-beatles Bring ‘Expanded Cinema’ to Thaw 00

Thaw 00 Festival of Film, Video and Digital Media 21.03.2000 / A Homecoming, of Sorts. Reprising their 1996 presentation at the inaugural Thaw Festival of Film, Video and Digital Media, Iowa City’s own weather vane audio group The Tape-beatles will present their work after the screenings on Friday, April 14, 2000. The brothers-in-tape will present their Polyvision of Matter as well as a short segment of works-in-progress from an upcoming ‘expanded cinema’ piece for Good Times. The Thaw 00 festival screenings will begin at 7:00 PM in Shambaugh Auditorium in the Main Library on the University of Iowa campus, and will last for about three hours. The Tape-beatles’ work will go on after the screenings, beginning at around 10:15 PM. Admission is free.

Thaw 00 is an international festival of video, film and digital media that features new work by emerging media artists. The festival began in 1996 and was founded by Renée Sueppel and Lloyd Dunn, who are no longer involved in the festival. This year, Thaw 00 will take place on April 12-15 on the University of Iowa Campus in Iowa City. Thaw is open to all artists who challenge the conventional standards of video, film, or digital media.

For more information, visit the Thaw web site, or e-mail Thaw 00.

20.03.2000 / More Travel Pictures. In a more photo-expressive vein, the group temporarily known heretofore as the Itinerant-beatles want you to see their Travel Pictures from the Iberian Peninsula. The 22 snaps take you on a wild ride from Barcelona, across Spain and into Portugal, to Lisbon. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll see what we ate.

View the views.

Mp3s 18.03.2000 / Track-of-the-Week. You’ve heard the beginning. You’ve heard the ending. Here we begin to cement the two parts together. The glue consists of four pieces that form their own small dramatic arc within the larger sequence of the CD, of which this week’s track is the first: Success through vibration.

And last week, we put up nothing less than the closing track of the music suite that is Good Times is our new mp3 download for this week. It is a sweet and melancholic little number that we call All’s right with the world, and that completes the dramatic cycle of the CD track sequence.

10.03.2000 / More Reviews In. This time The Wire goes at Good Times, giving it some points for avoiding the obvious musical clichés which plague avant and pop production, and taking away some points for not making ‘the messages swing home.’

More laudatory is a review (originally in French, and roughly translated here) from the magazine Coda, which makes the claim that The Tape-beatles are ‘unequalled.’

And finally, there is a link to a review on the website Remote Induction, crediting our ‘whole mosaic effect revealing more detail with each listen.’

We reproduce the reviews here for your convenience and edification.


The Tape-beatles in Spain

9.03.2000 / Apologies All ’Round. Tape-beatle-maniacs who visit this site often have no doubt noted that it has been some two weeks — 17 days to be more precise — since we have updated the home page. Of course, those devoted phans will also be aware that we’ve been travelling in Iberia in stolid pursuit of Tape-beatle goals and projects. We hope you haven’t given up on us. Jet lag aside, we are now back in full form, ready again to pick up the thread where once we left off.

Zeppelin Festival a Qualified Success for the Tape-beatles

Lloyd Dunn at the CCCB Orquestra del Caos. Thanks to the skill and alacrity of the ‘Orquestra del Caos’ (Chaos Orchestra) at the CCCB (Contemporary Culture Center of Barcelona), our 86-minute show was greeted by a capacity audience and ended with sincere applause, a veritable clap-fest of love and good feelings. Pre-show press coverage was excellent, including a spread about the festival in the major Spanish daily El País (complete with our picture and those of the other performers). There were also pieces that ran in a half-dozen or so other local publications. An announcement the morning of the show was run on the local television BTV, and Lloyd was interviewed about the Tape-beatles’ work for a radio show originating in Madrid.

Having decided to fly with our equipment checked as baggage, we were briefly stopped at customs while the diligent but understanding customs agent there figured out what we were up to. She finally made the decision that we were harmless and no damage would be done to the Spanish economy by the importation of our 30-year-old projectors, though she did inform us that in future, we would probably want to have a bill of sale in our possession for just such circumstances.

We had three days in the city before our performance, which we put to good use (along with our shoe leather) walking the Ramblas and other streets in this energetic, warm and friendly metropolis. We took in part of the festival performances both evenings before our own show on Saturday, the 26th, and we socialized as much as we had time for with the people of the Orquestra del Caos, and had a grand time.

A number of unforeseen technical issues were ironed out during the afternoon of the show or, if not, at least dealt with to minimize their importance. We endured travelling with boxes of heavy equipment, power outages, people speaking languages we didn’t understand, television interviewers, uneven cobblestones, the temptation of doing even more sight-seeing, sleepless nights, Gaudí architecture, bad paella, and quizzical receptionists to bring our spectacles The Grand Delusion and Matter to the Iberian peninsula. But the biggest problem turned out to be a simple matter of power conversion. Our USA-made projectors are made to run 60Hz power at 110v. A power converter was made available to step down European-standard 220v to 110v, but its frequency remained at the European-standard 50Hz. The upshot is that the projectors were running 16.6% slower than normal, throwing the show off sync (in the wrong direction) with the music.

It Usually Works Like This. Normally the show and the sound run in loose sync anyway: the film runs at silent speed (18 fps) and then Lloyd speeds it up to sound speed (24 fps) at certain moments to bring it back in line with the audio when the two inevitably separate. In this case, the rates would be 15 fps and 20 fps, so Lloyd would need to do the opposite: play it at 20 then slow down to 15 as needed. Never let it be said that we are consummate professionals.

We worried that it might not be possible to do a satisfying show, reversing these speed relationships. But a run-through of the entire show in the afternoon eased our concerns. Lloyd could maintain the sync relationship satisfactorily if John would take on threading loops for both flanking projectors, rather than just his own. When the time came to go on, we were ready, and all was going well until halfway through the second half, when Lloyd happened to glance down into the projector’s chimney, where the projection bulb was housed, and noted that the bulb itself — not just the filament — was glowing red hot. He didn’t even get the chance to mentally register this unusual sight when the projector bulb simply exploded.

Lookin’ Bad. This, of course, brought the show to a halt. The film and the music were stopped. It looked pretty bad. There was glass all over the inside of the projection chamber and some in the film path. With a ‘show-must-go-on’ attitude, the Tape-beatles unplugged the projector and, with the audience turning around to see what was going on, turned it over and shook out most of the broken glass. With pliers, Lloyd was able to pull what was left of the bulb out of its socket and replace it with a fresh one. Then the lights dimmed and the Tape-beatles proceeded with the show, almost as if nothing had happened.

Such unforeseeable events are what makes live performance interesting. The audience senses the risk the performer is taking, and if the show is good, they will be charitable when these minor catastrophes happen. We are relieved to report that they were charitable in our case and gave us a warm round of applause on the final fade-out.

Special Warm Thanks. The Orquestra del Caos were just too wonderful as hosts not to recognize them all by name: our heartfelt thanks go out to José Manuel Berenguer, Clara Gari, Carlos Gómez, Oscar Abril Ascaso, Airí Masgrau and Martín Fuks. A separate but equally heartfelt thanks to Anton Ignorant, who lent us his apartment to use during our weeklong say. Together we enjoyed whiskey, tortillas, camaradery, putting on a show, and the great city of Barcelona.

As if that weren’t enough, here are some pictures.

Mp3s 8.03.2000 / Track-of-the-Week Stop-gap. Since we’ve been out of the country, we haven’t uploaded a Track-of-the-week for the last two weeks. It’s not that internet access in Spain or Portugal is non-existent, it’s just that we didn’t look very hard to find it, since we were so busy sight-seeing and figuring out restaurant menus written in Catalan (did I really order a bowl of squid tentacles?), that we didn’t have time to make any new pages or updates to put up in the first place! There was lots of seeing, hearing, and just plain living to do (Can anyone tell me, where is the entrance to the comedor?). So you will just have to content yourself with the following track, our new mp3 track for this week. It is called Body of his desire.

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