Yes, this is a reel to reel recorder with a Black and Decker Firestorm drill. And a squashed dog. I did some r2r deck experiments last week and thought about how I could define more accurately the tape speed. My varispeed drill was able to do the job but surprisingly it wasn’t that flexible. Actually it didn’t work out that well with this drill but it did with another drill (a bigger one). It doesn’t work for live performances because the drill makes too much noise (although that could also be an added value 😉 ).

It DID yield some interesting results. For one, I noticed what a wonderful medium tape actually is. If you listen to the smooth relation it gives in the left-mid-right balance. That’s just beautiful! It’s so nice and soft and easy to the ears. The back side is of course that the sound quality itself is (well, at least on this baby) a bummer compared to what digital machines do.

The reason my r2r returned to the laboratory desk was that I found a small and very old tape. It was labeled “do not throw away” so I was of course immediately interested to hear what it contained. It appeared to be a tape cut up that I made somewhere in the mid 80s. At the time I worked quite frantically on pieces, always in a hasty mood so as not to loose the flow I was in. Consequently my operations were not very refined. Splicing and connecting tape parts was always done in a hurry, sometimes with too much overlap or tape parts that were not 100% in line. It was all just part of the process and the fact that the result was not technically 100% was not as relevant as that it captured the spirit of the said process.

As a result, though, I found that almost every splice had fallen apart. I had to reconstruct the entire tape (which lasted approx. 4.5 minutes). This too took place in the same spirit as in the olden days. Eager to find out what sounds had been stored on the tape I took simple tape and a simple cutter and connected the parts even without a splice bar (I had not used that in 20 years and it’s gone lost). Then I played the tape and immediately recorded it to digital. I noticed that some parts have been published, scattered over several tape releases but I don’t believe that this particular composition has ever been released. I will work on it and construct a new version of it.

(No real animals were hurt during this excercise)