Candles, Cassettes & Champagne

december 31, 2013.

This winter solstice (in the early evening of December 21st), four cassetteurs gathered in a desolate, cold and old industrial building on the East side of Paris. As Rébus observed: the place looked as if it had not been touched since 1963. That is, what we could make out in the dark. We had to find our way using our cellphones as torch-lights and candles.

It was a marvelous setting for the final, unpublic, 2013 = C50 event that we had in mind, the main part of which was designed as a 'cassette ritual', to which each cassetteur contributed one side of a C60 cassette tape of his choice.


Blenno Wurstbrücke brought a found cassette on which was written 'doors LY-Y'. He had re-recorded over most of the tape's original audio content, in a somewhat random back-and-forth, manner, documenting his & the tape's three day voyage from Ibiza up to its play-back in Paris on December 21st.

Anton Mobin picked side B of the first of three 'Warszawa' tapes, being a cassette audio journal of a trip to the Polish capital that he undertook in August of this year.

E_Rébus contributed a side of a cassette that he found in Bures-sur-Yvette some years ago. The audio content is succinctly described, manuscript, on the cassette's label: "Mise en état hypnoïde. Son altesse Anne-Sophie."

I had brought one of the tapes of my long-running cassette sound diary ( cf. Sound Chronicles). The side I played back contains recordings made in May 1990 - in Edinburgh, on the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, in a train from York to Hull, somewhere on a platform of Brussels Central Station, at home in Amsterdam, in Maastricht and in Leuven (Belgium).

cB cA
cR cH

Along with the tapes, each of us brought a dictaphone with built-in loudspeaker. In one of the rooms we found something that looked like a metal cover for a heater. This contraption we used as a small rectangular platform.

We put a dictaphone + cassette in each of the rectangle's corners.

In the picture, in clock-wise direction starting from the top-left corner, there's Blenno's player, Anton's player, my player and that of Rebus.


The recipe for the sonic 'ritual' that followed was as simple and straightforward as it was effective: the four dictaphones were put into playback mode simultaneously. And we then just let the four cassettes play, simultaneously.

Each cassette continued playing for the thirty and something minutes that the chosen side lasted, until the tape reached its end, and the dictaphone shut down; with a click.


I recorded the resulting 'solstice tape mix' in double stereo (front and rear) with a digital Zoom recorder, placed at the rectangle's center.

You can listen to a stereo projection of that four channel recording on the fourth edition of our unPublic series, available as a 'name your price' download at Bandcamp's. (see the embedded player below)

While the dictaphones were playing, we went up some more stairs, out onto the building's roof, where we raised our glasses full of champagne, and brought a final toast to (Lang leve!) Lou Ottens.


One can, of course, imagine all sorts of interesting variations on this 'cassette ritual'. Without changing what I consider to be its essence: a number of cassette tapes are being played back 'acoustically' (i.e. using a cassette player's built-in speaker, without additional amplification), without any supplementary manipulation.

One might, for example, modify the number of cassettes being played back; and/or the disposition of the dictaphones.

But one can also imagine actually composing the audio content of the cassettes that are being used, in some way or another. In the ritual as we performed it on December 21st, none of us knew beforehand what would be on the tapes that the others would bring. The only (more or less common sense) indication given, was not to bring a tape that sonically is very dense (i.e. no 'walls of noise').

The resulting mix that evening therefore was largely the result of 'random' clashes of the respective recordings.

It would be interesting to do a set of these 'ritual' pieces, for which each of the cassetteurs will be given more precise instructions as to the character, timbre and the duration of the sounds on the cassette that he or she is asked to bring along. Also of course the duration could vary; for this it will suffice to use cassettes containing stretches of tape of the appropriate length.


[ Here is a short uTube impression of our unpublic solstice tape ritual, made by Rébus, followed by the Bandcamp player with the digital unPublic album of the recordings that we made that December 21st in Paris. ]


(Added February 26th, 2014) Ian-John Hutchinson, Tyler Brown and Russell Moore nicely underlined that the 'unPublic 2013=C50 cassette ritual' at heart is a recipe, an event score, a choreography almost, that can be performed and re-interpreted again and again. They performed their own version, on Sunday February 23rd 2014 at the Yogiga Gallery in Seoul. Each of them brought one dictaphone, and one cassette with field recordings made in the months preceding the event. Ramoo Hong added movement...

[ added August 10, 2018 : - a short video clip of the Seoul ritual on Vimeo unfortunately currently is no longer available ]

" 일요일의 테이프 콜라주공연에요.삼명함께하고세개테이프에요. Reply to unPublic...Sunday's tape collage performance at Yogiga...three people, three tapes 日曜日のテープ作品です。。。三人と三つテープ "

Read about unPublic on the SoundBlog:

(2023, november 3-..) - Ethereal Reverberations. A Decade of unPublic (« Dix ans qu'on fait la musique sans public ») (uP#100)
(2023, august 20) - Three days of residency at Les Ateliers Claus, Brussels (uP#65, uP#93, up #94)
(2022, september 2) - Three Musketeers Musicking Maastricht & La Générale (uP#86, up #87)
(2022, august 4) - Berlin: Zero Cohesion (3) (uP#84)
(2022, july 24) - Berlin: Zero Cohesion (2) (uP#83)
(2022, july 11) - Berlin: Zero Cohesion (1) (uP#82)
(2022, july 2) - X-unPub (uP#81)
(2022, march 13) - "Manifeste" (uP#80)
(2021, june 13) - Die Stillgestandenen (The Stillstands / Standstills / Stillstanders) (uP#67)
(2021, may 02) - Playing Apart Together: Chuncheon↯Paris (uP#73)
(2018, november 02) - "Five years stuck on my eyes" (Lustrum Non Publicum) (uP#56)
(2018, september 01) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete ... [iv] (uP#54)
(2018, august 13) - Rage, rafts & refugees (uP#49, uP#50)
(2018, august 10) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete ... [iii] (uP#45)
(2017, june 11) - Moving out, of, on ... [ii] (uP#42)
(2016, june 10) - unPublic #18 - 대부도 (Daebu-Do), 14 June 2015 (uP#18)
(2016, may 07) - In Praise of Slowness (uP#21)
(2015, july 15) - Bridges, troubles, water (uP#19)
(2015, april 14) - Mal-là--colisé dans l'espace et dans le temps (uP#16)
(2014, august 02) - Appearance and Reality (uP#8)
(2014, march 08) - "12 - 11 - 9 - 10 - 3 - 6 - 7 - 1 - 2 - 8 - 4 - 5" (uP#5)
(2013, december 31) - Candles, Cassettes & Champagne (uP#4)
(2013, november 23) - unPublic 1, 2 (sauf riverains) (uP#1, uP#2)

Read about unPublic on Medium:

April 16, 2022 - Playing Apart Together (uP#66-#69)
March 17, 2022 - All delusion is expansive (uP#80)
November 10, 2021 - The Future always was Yesterday

Read about unPublic in Gonzo (Circus) [Dutch]:

Gonzo #143, januari/februari 2018 - Met kop noch staart: muzhakdag! (uP#48)
Gonzo #139, mei/juni 2017 - De waan, de wil, de weg

Read about unPublic elsewhere:

Plus-X-Creative, january 2022 - Playing Apart Together
Electronic Cottage, november 2018 - unPublic - 'Five Years stuck on my eyes' -sketch as a memoire

To listen, download & support, visit unPublic @ Bandcamp.

tags: unpublic, 2013 = C50, cassette, Lou Ottens

# .447.

comments for Cassettes, Candles & Champagne ::

Comments are disabled

SoundBlog entries around and about La Générale Nord-Est:

(2024, march 9) - Orlando & Artaud wed bound at La Générale, even
(2022, september 2) - Three Musketeers Musicking Maastricht & La Générale
(2022, july 2) - X-unPub
(2021, june 13) - Die Stillgestandenen (The Stillstands / Standstills / Stillstanders)
(2021, february 21) - Lento (slowly)
(2018, september 01) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete ... [part iv]
(2018, august 13) - Rage, rafts & refugees
(2018, august 10) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete ... [part iii]
(2018, july 21) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete... [part ii]
(2018, april 10) - La Générale Nord-Est (PAMP18-1)
(2017, august 19) - t'Obsolete or not t'Obsolete ... [part i]
(2016, august 04) - Nicolas Collins - 2 April 2016, La Générale
(2015, july 15) - Bridges, troubles, water - unPublic #19
(2014, april 08) - La physicalité du son. Tome 1.
(2013, december 13) - Candles, Cassettes & Champagne - unPublic #4
(2010, december 29) - Obsolescence
(2010, august 14) - "And what about Yi Sang?" (이상 à Paris [iv])
(2010, june 29) - Ceremonies (Yi Sang 이상 à Paris [iii])
(2010, june 25) - Read me a poem, Yi Sang! (Yi Sang 이상 à Paris [ii])
(2010, june 13) - Yi Sang 이상 à Paris [i]
(2010, january 13) - Art fleas (puces de l'art)
(2009, july 20) - General Acoustics
(2006, august 14) - placard : la générale (Belleville)

« | »