better more trains

november 12, 2002.

Morrei's Better More Trains station is was a collection of tracks available at, in which custom recorded sounds of trains and railway stations are a major ingredient.

The station can could be seen as sort of a hat-tip to Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1995) who, in the late 1940's coined the term musique concrète. Indeed, it was Schaeffer himself who in one of his very first pieces, 'Etude de chemin de fer' ('Train Study'), part of his 'Cinq Etudes de bruits' ('5 Noise Studies') from 1948, used (exclusively) the pre-recorded sounds of trains as material.

Of course's database is was not, say, 'crammed' with 'train-tracks', but still, we managed to dig up a good dozen of them. Some - like the tracks from Steve Baldwin's 'Diesel Action' page - are unedited field recordings ... Others incorporate the train sounds in a predominantly instrumental setting, like Jason Dumars's 'Fright Train', featuring in its second half a duet between Chris Cutler and a freight train ... In Matt Davignon's contributions samples of train recordings are manipulated and layered ...

It is was a fine, an intriguing collection.
A shame that Schaeffer's 'Etude' cannot be could not 'physically' be part of it.
Though virtually, of course, it is was ...

[ next related SB-entry: better more new trains ]


november 11, 2002.

I did a write up on Frippertronics to accompany the next addition to the Amphibious Records Archives site, which will be that of 'Signs & Symptoms', a duo project of Peter Mertens and me, from the summer of 1980. The original 1980's release will be available at, for streaming and, shortly, also as an CD.
[ note dec. 2003: following's fall, the streaming as well as the SS CD are no longer available. You can still listen to Signs & Symptoms as a continuous random mp3 stream from the Amsterdam Park digi-server, though ! ]

'Frippertronics' is a delay/feedback system by means of two connected reel-to-reel audio tape machines. Its application in music goes back to the 1960's (Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros), but 'Frippertronics' became more widely known through the use made of it by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp as of the early 1970's.


'Frippertronics' often is associated with 'ambient music', as it does enable one to set in motion a quasi-automatic process for creating slowly evolving timbres with minimal shifts of accents within a steady stream of 'waves of sound' that, as Brian Eno writes in the liner notes to his Discreet Music, can be listened to "as part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of the rain [are] parts of this environment".

But of course it doesn't need to be put to use in just that way.

Listening to 'Signs & Symptoms' you'll soon enough realize that most of what you are hearing is far from being 'ambient'. Indeed, it was not intended to be. At the time of recording we were hardly interested in 'ambient' types of music, even less keen on producing them.
We wanted to be heard. A lot.
And whereas an 'ambient' use of 'Frippertronics' aims at less, by minimizing the performer's interference with 'the system', we rather turned to the machines in order to get more, using the feedback mechanism to, say, 'maximize' our output, and approach that of a 'full blown instant band' ...

[ Buy Signs & Symptoms! ; next related SB-entry: survivals in the city wear clean underwear ]

« | »