Craig Schuftan (tapes, radio, records, keyboards, bass, some singing), Michael Rosenthal (guitar, backwards guitar, forwards guitar)
Michael Rosenthal and I started Pioneer Disposals in 2002, after we improvised a piece of night-time music for my cat (who was asleep). We worked pretty steadily over the next few years on an album of tape-loop rock called ‘Magnet’. I’ve included a few songs it here, as well as a cover of Severed Heads’ ‘Goodbye Tonsils’.
In Pioneer Disposals, my job was mostly to play tapes. I had hundreds of cassettes of noises and drones, and at gigs I’d drag along five or six cheap stereo cassette players to play them on. I had everything very carefully rehearsed, so that when the song demanded it, I would play exactly the right sound at the right time, and then quickly swap it over for the next cue. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This was 2002, right? People didn’t really have to do that stuff anymore because there was this thing called sampling. For some reason, this didn’t stop me from inventing the mellotron all over again. To streamline our performances, I built a box with morse code keys mounted on it, so I could ‘tap’ the sounds in and out at the right moments. Gradually, I refined this machine, and gave it more keys and more inputs and outputs. By the following year, it was a kind of tape-piano, with 12 keys, all housed in a little wooden briefcase.
"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."
"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."
'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'
Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966
pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room
'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'
Susan McClary, 1999
stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition
"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."
walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd
"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."
Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.
enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001