collage barrage

Been a busy cut-n-paste beaver lately…in addition to my “Revolution 9” homage collage (see what I did there?), I made my second contribution to my friend Rex’s faboo 39-40 project (third, if you count that he covered one of my songs earlier), this time a structural cover of Saint Etienne’s “This Is Radio Saint Etienne.” (What do I mean by a “structural cover”? Read on…)

Rex is covering the entire Foxbase Alpha album—or rather, he and friends are covering the entire album—and he asked me to contribute. At first I was reluctant for reasons of time, but he pointed out that the album has a couple of short little instrumental interludes which would make for fairly quick work…so I committed to the shortest one, the opening track of the album.

My reaction to that track is that I don’t think its specific musical materials are really to the point; the track’s purpose is primarily to establish an effect, set up an atmosphere, introducing the rest of the album. So instead of covering its actual music, I merely sought to trace over its general outlines with something sonically similar even if musically dissimilar. (If you follow the link to Rex’s site above, you can hear the original.)

So, we have an opening with some chatter and some environmental noise, followed by music that sounds taglike: music to identify a product, program, etc. That’s interrupted midway through by more voices, the music resumes, and it ends.

Among the loose bits and pieces hanging around my hard drive in the wake of the “Grasses” project was a fragment (from the invaluable ubuweb site) from a 1921 piece by Italian noise pioneer Antonio Russolo, Corale and Serenata. (Ubuweb’s 1924 recording is also the sole surviving recording to feature the intonarumori.) I didn’t use it in “Grasses Are Longer Than Hair,” but I thought that bit fit the bill of being a sort of epigrammatic fragment, the sort of thing a political program in the 1920s might use. I ran the fragment in reverse (for no better reason than to sound different from the original), and then added some new parts for a cheesy organ and a fake cello section.

At this point, the piece became a little scene from a sound-movie: there’s some sort of large outdoor gathering, a political meeting perhaps, and the whole thing’s being broadcast by radio controlled by that political party. Italian futurist politics being not all that terribly pleasant and humane, a somewhat foreboding air was in order. I babbled in a made-up, vaguely Slavic “language” at the opening, announced the radio station’s name in the break in the middle (it’s actually intended to say “This is Radio 39-40” in homage to Rex’s project), and a brief few words at the end.

I treated the two new musical parts first by filtering them as if on an old radio and then added an “old 78 record” effect (which I should have done only once…wasn’t thinking and did it for both parts…so it’s a very scratchy 78).

But it wasn’t quite complete in my mind…So I put a blunt cut at the beginning and the end (conveniently obscuring my iffy ability to keep close time with the entrance of the sound file’s orchestra…which seems to have a rather unsteady tempo to begin with), and added the initial “click” sound (it’s actually from a sound effect of a Xerox machine…) and the closing brief fanfare fragment – which was also cut off dead, since I intended it to jumpcut directly to the next track on the album.

Monkey Typing Pool “This Is Radio Etienne” (Saint Etienne “cover” – for Rex Broome’s 39-40 project)



Filed under indulgence, noise, webbities

2 responses to “collage barrage

  1. Rex

    And thank you as alway. I’ve actually just remixed my cover of “Here’s One” to tame the wild kick drum… I heard it in the car yesterday and it really pissed me off that I had really over-bassed a pretty good cover of a pretty good song, so I’m hoping to fix ‘er up for you.

    A few quick notes on the original: I can actually tell you what’s going on in it, speaking a bit of French. It’s the intro to a football broadcast. The female voice is basically saying “A day in football– French football!” Bit of music. “This is a sports broadcast brought to you by Jacques Bordeaux (approximate)!”, with comical reverb added to aggrandize the producer’s name. Then the actual sportscaster dude comes on and starts setting up the game, culminating with the phrase “bon Saint Etienne”… not sure if that’s a holiday or a reference to a team, but there you go.

    Of interest is the fact that last year remixer Richard X did a recreation of the entire Foxbase Alpha record called (wait for it) Foxbase Beta. His version of “This Is Radio Etienne” had the original track sort of playing in the background as an English guy waits for a cab, which shows up and whisks him away, or something like that. The funniest part is that the reverb on “JACQUES BORDEAUX!” seems to have been ramped up to even more absurd levels.

    I spent a lot of time with Foxbase Alpha back in its day, so to me, hearing rejiggered versions of even the interstitial stuff is sort of like hearing academic reinterpretations of the between-song chatter on Surfer Rosa or some such… which is to say, quite fun and perhaps more emotionally rewarding than it really ought to be.

  2. I remember now that I had figured out it was actually a soccer doohickey…but hadn’t bothered to listen any more closely. My French is about like my ability to play drums: I more or less know what to do, but the execution leaves much to be desired…

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