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splogman's grand tour

july 22, 2004.

In the summer of 1987 Jan Turkenburg (aka Splogman) got himself an 'interrail' ticket, checked (mentally) that he had turned off his toaster and the gaz, and that there weren't any burning cigerette stumps left on his table ... He then locked the door to his room and boarded a train... thus began Splogman's grand tour... which then, curiously, continues with a recording of him buying a single ticket - at a counter of the railway station of the Dutch city of Haarlem, where Jan was living at the time - to the village of Veenendaal.

Grand Tour cassettes

All along the way he recorded, using a small recorder/walkman (sony tcs-470). "I taped my descriptions of what I saw, the voices of people I met and especially the music they made. Sometimes I edited the sounds on the spot, when I could borrow a second walkman from a fellow traveller... " This was seventeen years ago, and - story of our lives - "[a]lmost half of the tapes where lost or erased over the years..." The 30th installment of Splogman's 52 Weeks project consists in a selection of what's left of this sonic Journal de Voyage, organized into 5 tracks, with a total playing time of almost 45 minutes.

Along with these tracks we follow Jan on his ramblings through Holland (Maastricht), through France (Annecy, Besançon), we hop with him across the Channel to the United Kingdom, visit Chester (track 3), take a 'Beatles tour' in Liverpool (track 4), and then end the journey singing in Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland (track 5).

The second track (july 8-18) is my favorite. We hear Splogman travelling through France in a TGV (the French high speed train), where he gets to know an American radio maker specialising in early music and with a keen interest in the pronunciation and spelling of Dutch names ...

The sounds of Splogman's Grand Tour are permanently available as part of the 'open source collections' of the internet archive!

[ Earlier related SB entries: 52 splogweeks :: voici mon journal de voyage ]

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instructions in arabic

july 20, 2004.

Keeping my collection of Found Tapes up to date is, as you may imagine, a very time consuming thing to do. On the average, each 'Found Tapes Exhibition' montage takes me nothing short of a full working day to produce. The rewinding of the messed up bits and pieces of tape obviously takes up most of that. I really could do with some assistance here... [ Any one in or near Paris, France, on the look-out for an interesting part-time - but unpaid, I'm sorry ... - stage? You'll learn how to untangle dirty old thrown away cassette tapes, find out which is the 'right side' of the tape, how to mount the stuff back onto cassette... Extra's: I'll teach you sound editing in ProTools, even how to use Dreamweaver and Flash (but only if you insist), and you're sure to pick up some neat web designer tricks alongside a bunch of musical and philosophical oddities... hell! we could even throw in English conversation! ... so ... what d'ya say? ... I could be serious about this, actually, so do write me (there's a mailto link somewhere in the menu on the left) if this is the sort of thing that would help you out, or if you know womeone that, et cetera ... it definitely would help me ... ]

Production Aatiphone

There actually were some pretty intriguing bits amongst the ten found tapes that I recently recycled. Top on my mystery-list is the bit of tape that I found inside this broken cassette. It is one of the four items I found on march 3th, in Les Mureaux. The tape contains instructions of some sort, in Arabic. Not a professional recording (buzz, mike noise), but clear enough. As, unfortunately, I don't understand any Arabic, I'm afraid I can't say for sure what the speakers are going on about, but they use a number of French words that suggest that the text spoken is about traffic, metro, cars ... Well, I guess it'll be something far more prosaic than, say, instructions for terrorist attacks or urban guerilla. But of course I'm still curious. I included two fragments of the recording in the fifteenth 'Found Tapes' track [ listen: sound ] ... If anyone understands what is being said there, please drop me a line!
[ nore added jan. 2005: Miryam Aroua, who is a native arabic speaker, was able to confirm that theses "instructions in arabic" indeed are about driving, cars, traffic ... and probably were part of an instruction tape for (professional?) drivers, set up in a 'questions' and 'answers' way. She also identified the particular accent of the speakers as 'probably being moroccan'... ]

Also the sixteenth 'Found Tapes' track contains two 'spoken words' fragments. One of these is from of a tape with French language lessons that I found near the local supermarket - to be included in an upcoming project [Dutch working title: De toren van Babbel (sic)] using exclusively found 'learn a language' tapes. The second one, found on march 31th in La Courneuve, apparently is a dictaphone recording. The level is pretty low, and it was recorded on very low speed, hence needed some digital juggling to become understandable. One hears a man dictating what seems to be an angry letter to some company(?), complaining about what must be a botch-up of sorts on their part [ listen: sound ]...

Yep. All part of Your Magnetic Lifetime, which is the title of a project by Ben Roberts (Eclectiktronik - based in Madrid, Spain), in which he uses a "magnetic tape head mounted in a hand set, [which] can be passed over [..] various [found] materials (tape, card strips, tickets etc.) in order to make the 'Magnetic Lifetime Symphony!'.
Fascinating.
Reminds me of Laurie Anderson's tape bow violin... But I do think the construction of these sorts of 'home brewn tape readers' is very appropriate in combination with thriftstore and dustbin magnetics. Even more so when one manages to put them together using tape heads taken from thrifstore and dustbin machines :) ...

For the moment there are no sounding samples from Robert's 'Magnetic Lifetime Symphony' available at his web site. Please do put some up there soon, Ben!

[ Other "news": (i) I put up a selection of 'found tape pictures' as a Found Tape Pictures Exhibition - cashing in on my mac.com membership as you may notice ... don't have the time right now to handcode something more 'standards compliant' ... later maybe ... A second picture page is dedicated to the Montreuil Tapes, most of which in fact are still waiting to be listened to and properly 'catalogued'... (ii) And as of now the SoundBlog can also be reached through the URI soundblog.net ... Sometime in the future I might move all contents to that domain, but for the time being it simply will redirect you to where you are now. ]

[ Nex related SB entry: à la tranquilité. Earlier related SB entry: phound stufphs ]

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