Thursday, March 27, 2008

reel-to-real: confessions

1) i’m such a slacker. i still haven’t opened the new boxes of reels.

i dunno how many of you have seen the huge bookcase full of reels at hollow earth, but i know i’ve tried to describe its dimensions before. that’s the volume i’ve been working with. now imagine the size of an apple box. you know, the ones they ship all those wonderful washington state apples in, that can safely stow a bushel nestled in those purple paperboard trays. now, think of eight of those boxes, stacked 4 high, standing in my bedroom between my desk and my drumkit. guess what they are full of? yep. we have now doubled the volume of reels owned by hollow earth radio. mike, our benefactor, found that he still had quite a few more reels lying around his garage after the first shipment he made, and called up a couple weeks ago, asking us to take them off his hands. “better to you than a landfill.” i think he has spent a good amount of time and energy in his life trying to accumulate a library of these things, mostly for the found sound aspect. he seems like a nice guy, brusque, but nice. he drove by my house during one of our sunday crafternoons and dropped the boxes off. only stayed long enough to unload and tell me that he might find more as he keeps cleaning out his garage, so to not be surprised if we get another phone call from him. i must have looked a bit shell shocked at the prospect of more, cuz he said it prolly wouldn’t be this much again…

thats a shit-ton of reels sitting there, staring at me. i keep giving the stack sidelong glances as i type, trying to decide the best way to go about tackling this new challenge. i had just finished categorizing all of the tapes at hollow earth. there, they are all in piles and/or on shelves separated by subject matter and importance. and there was space for them. mostly. here, i had to move my guitar stands to make room and i may have to pack up the drums cuz our basement is already full of our former housemates’ furniture and there isnt enough floorspace to organize these f*ckers. and i don’t wanna put them on my bed, which is my usual substrate for whatever project im working on, cuz they are kinda moldy smelling–they sat in a garage in the PNW for years on end, who wouldnt be?

second shipment
second shipment

2) i’m losing steam. this project is too freaking big for one person.

i’m happy to put in the time organizing the tapes and learning about reel-to-reel machines and recording processes and listening to some of the amazing found sound i’ve run across, i’m not saying i’m not. i’m saying that if each tape is up to 90 minutes long, and we are wanting to archive them fully, even if only one fourth of all the hundreds of reels we have are worth saving, thats still hours and hours of transfer time. and i love amber and garrett, but they live an hour away from me (by bus and foot) and even if i give an entire afternoon to them a week i still have only transfered maybe two reels if it all goes smoothly, which it never does. and i know they think i’m cool and all, but i doubt they want me to move in and haunt the studio day and night trying to clock the hours it’ll take to transfer all these crazy little jewels we have. these random moments of other people’s pasts, these aural windows into living rooms and concert halls and churches forty years ago.

this is not me complaining, or making excuses, i promise. this is me asking anyone who thinks this project sounds at all interesting to let me show them how it works so they can come by the studio and hang out while transferring tape. especially you djs who have 3 hour shifts. if you could set up a reel when you first got there, and could keep an eye out for when the tape runs out, you could get at least one reel done a shift and even that would be sooooo awesome.

so, for reals, yo. if you are a listener who wants to become a volunteer on this project, or you are a dj who wants a crash course in r2r to digital transfer, email and put ‘for reel’ in the subject heading. amber and garrett will make sure i get your info so we can set up a time to teach you in the ways of quarter-inch tape.
come have a listen. there is a ton of interesting stuff to hear. then transfer the random thing you find and be proud when you hear it later on garrett’s show.

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