Deep City Wanderings / Experimental Tape 1987-2022: a remarkable micro-universe of sound stored on a cassette for 35 years

Quartz Locked, Deep City Wanderings / Experimental Tape 1987-2022, Netherlands, Staalplaat, limited edition cassette (2022)

Recorded and kept on a C-90 cassette in 1987, this work has now been digitized and edited, and released by Staalplaat some 35 years later. The source instruments used were non-musical but specialised professional electronic devices: a roadside traffic signal data logger and a physician’s pager. Sounds were generated on these devices (both of them hacked, by being wired and connected to a tape recorder’s audio inputs, and then manipulated) separately and together, when they were plugged together.

The result is an astonishing set of very raw sounds from a secret world all their own, with no apparent connection to ours save for the wiring that linked them to the tape recorder. They whir and buzz and chirp and bubble merrily and sometimes frenziedly, as if in a great hurry to tell us mortals something. Amazingly some actual melodies appear though they are of the manic toy-circus kind. (Laurent Fairon, the man behind Quartz Locked, admits that the C-90 cassette used to record the sounds did already have music on it.) Divided into two long tracks, the first featuring the doctor’s pager and the second based on the traffic signal data logger, the sounds generated are amazingly varied in tone and texture, and are filled with zest and energy. They can sound quite cheeky and humorous, and are occasionally manic.

The original recordings were made by Fairon using the pseudonym G Viederland when he was still a teenager attending senior high school or its equivalent in France. Fairon’s career as a musician stretches back to 1990 though there was a period from 1993 to 2012 when he appears not to have released any solo albums or EPs. The bulk of his releases start in 2015 and since then he ‘s been unstoppable. I wonder if he might still have any old cassettes, CD-Rs or other media with music recorded on them stashed away in his shoeboxes. Shoeboxes are just so handy for storing things you later forget about!