Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Roger Miller : "POP" Record/Evolving

A 1998 release on RRRecords (RRR-104), though the label says "Fleetwood" (of Revere, Mass.) and "Fun World Product 003". RRRecords is the label notorious for bringing us the two classic locked groove compilations RRR 100 and RRR 500.
In contrast to the Son Of Pete Silent Night 7", this is a record consisting of lots of surface noise, the sound of assorted run-in and inter-track grooves in all their scratch, crackle and pop glory. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp and John Cage (the latter complained about the fixed nature of recorded performances), Miller had the idea for this back in February 1984, assembling the tape on 25th July '85. The New World Product issue of December of that year was an edition of just one, an acetate.
Miller : "I made a recording of record surface noise... and had this cut to acetate, which is notorious for wearing away quickly. (Although vinyl does not degenerate as rapidly as acetate, the process is essentially the same.) The result is a record which constantly evolves and never gets any "worse." The degeneration - old pops wearing away and new ones appearing as the acetate/vinyl breaks up - becomes regeneration, solving Cage's problem with "static" recordings as well."
Pleasingly, Miller lists his sources : James Brown (who also turns up on Leroy Stevens' Favorite Recorded Screams), Sinatra and The Ink Spots rub shoulders with Xenakis, Black Sabbath, Billie Holiday, The Lone Ranger (not the reggae star), Doris Day, Miller's own band Mission Of Burma, and - inevitably - The Fab Four. Plus surface noise is taken from, "Assorted records found on the street in China-town, Boston" as well as a Japanese sci-fi disc, their titles unreadable by Miller.
I guess the idea is that the more one listens to this record, and mishandles it, then one's own history of use will be superimposed on top of the recorded surface noise - an extra, personal layer. My copy has a v-e-r-y slight hairline scratch, but whether it's something audible or just a surface mark, I can't tell as I can't pick it out from the surrounding noise.
Miller doesn't mention how much he played the single acetate copy made using his taped surface noise, so I've no idea how much of the noise on the RRRecords issue is from the source material and how much from his own use of his one-off copy.
It'd be rather nice to keep a played-once, near-pristine copy and have a second copy to play every day for a year or more, and compare the two.
The B side has a lovely etching of hand-scrawled bars of music - J. S. Bach's Fugue XIV.

Photographs :
http://bp3.blogger.com/_SKxpV2g1luE/SAwJqygW0OI/AAAAAAAAAEE/oHezCC0831c/s1600-h/miller+1.jpg; and
http://bp0.blogger.com/_SKxpV2g1luE/SAwJrCgW0PI/AAAAAAAAAEM/Dl_4ImYJNfM/s1600-h/miller+2.jpg. Source : Locales For Ecstacy's Blogspot.

Footnote : After writing this entry I discovered that there's a third RRRecords locked groove compilation, RRR 1000 (twenty-five different artists with fifty locks apiece).

No comments:

Post a Comment