Optical Audio

Fab burst of process art-noise on Film Walk (CRUSTACÉS TAPES #9)…this is I think captured from a live event in Montreal as part of Double Negative Collective in 2016, and was performed by Hangjun Lee and Martin Tétreault. They did it using mostly non-musical equipment, Lee working with 16mm film projectors and exploiting their sound apparatus in unorthodox ways, Tétreault abusing the motors of a turntable and adding feedback. I’d like to think the turntable was not being used to play records, in style of Otomo or Jeck or Marclay, and all that Martin T. wanted was to grind those gears to produce luscious non-musical noise. Certainly what emerges is a delirious breakfast of all-analogue mechanical sound, the Newtonian metal parts being put through ritual abuse and manglage in ways that are nothing to do with spinning 45s and 33s. Plus there’s the hum of transistor feedback, those magnetised coils creating forceful drone episodes that no laptop could ever hope to replicate. There are even (on side one of the cassette) the sounds of speaking voices as printed on magnetic tape and run over the optical of the projectors at non-normal speeds, probably manipulated by hand. All of these actions amount to a concerted non-digital effort which is to be applauded most mightily, both artistes eschewing the laptop and the portable mobile in favour of good old-school pre-internet 20th century mechanical devices.

Korean genius Hangjun Lee is more of an experimental film-maker than a sound artist, as far as I can make out, and has staged many events using multiple projectors and subverting the optical sound of projectors; he curates the Experimental Film and Video Festival in Seoul and has often performed with other noise/sound creators, most notably Hong Chulki. Now I wish I’d seen his Nebula Rising piece at the ICA in 2014. His bold experiments with the audio components of film projectors align him with a previous generation of experimental film makers who have played with opticals, such as Guy Sherwin and Lis Rhodes (those are the ones I know of in the UK; there are probably international figures who have done it too).

Canadian creator Martin Tétreault is no stranger to the arts of tape collage and turntable manipulation, often creating a powerful, painterly noise – by which I mean his sound is rich, juicy, and thick. We have noted him previously on the Montréal Tape Run release from 2014 and his 2015 Sofa recording 1. Today’s release is the latest item received from the wonderful Crustacés Tapes label in Montreal, whose tangible products are only available by sending gifts or postcards in the mail; none of that web-shopping or digital download stuff. From 27th February 2017.

  1. My zany review did not go down well with the creator, who sent me a rather frosty email on the subject.

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