november 2002
S&S-->part 1 | 3

Signs & Symptoms     sound

2. how did it work?

( Get the album at bandcamp )

Also Signs & Symptoms were recorded with two Akai reel-to-reels, of the same - or similar - type as the ones shown in Colin's picture. They were relatively cheap, and - except for the lesser maximum reel size (18cm/7inch instead of 27cm/10.5inch), half the track width (4 tracks, 2 stereo tracks, one for each 'direction' of the tape, against 2 tracks, one stereo track, the tape had only one 'direction') and lower maximum tape speed (19cms/7.5ips instead of 38cms/15ips) - the Akai's had all the recording options of a Revox A77.

Of these the possibility to record 'Sound-on-Sound' surely is the most memorable one: using SOS one recorded onto one channel of a stereo-track whilst bouncing the other channnel across, and hence, by repeating that procedure, step by step could build up 'multi-layered' (monophonic) recordings.
(Listen to our Dokterromannetjes-track "Too much presence" for an example of such an Akai 'Sound-On-Sound'-recording.)

What made it possible to 'Frippertronic' however was the fact that while recording one was able to mix, for each of the stereo channels, the signal coming from the line-input (at the back) with the signal coming from the jack (microphone)-input (on the front), by means of two pairs of concentric input dials, one for each channel.

Here's a picture showing the set up used in recording Signs & Symptoms.

How does it work?

We used a Korg MS20 analog synthesizer and an electric guitar (passing through a couple of effect units), each plugged into one of the two front input jacks of the first Akai.
The tape is mounted on the first recorder's left reel holder, led along the heads, and then passes on to the second recorder which is placed at a certain distance, led along the second recorder's heads, and wound on this machine's right reel holder.
The second recorder's left and right line output are connected to the first recorder's left and right line input.
Now both machines are put in 'pause'-mode, and the first one is switched to 'record', the second one to 'play'. It then was a matter of simultaneously releasing the two 'pause' handles in order to get both recorders running at the same moment, and begin playing the instruments.
The sounds produced are recorded on the first machine, then played back by the second one, with a delay determined by the distance between Akai 1 and 2, and recorded again by the first one together with the ongoing instrument playing of the moment. All of this then is played back again by Akai 2, fed back to machine number one, et cetera.
It was possible to monitor what was going on and synchronize the actual playing with the fed back signal, through the first machine's line output, or it's headphone output. Each player was able to determine the relative level of the feedback to that of his actual playing by fiddling around with the input dials of his channel.

This went on and on until, well, yes, of course until all of the tape had been wound onto recorder number two, containing the registration of it all.


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