Ryan Masteller reviewed Ben Roberts’ Unit Audio in Cassette Gods
“Plunderphonics never sounded so cared for, so labored over, as it does on British expat Ben Roberts’s UNIT AUDIO. The now-Madrid-dwelling Roberts has amassed a collection of cassette tapes that he discovered over the years, and the archive serves as the inspiration and the source material for his cassette on Staaltape, the Berlin label run by Rinus van Alebeek and focusing on sound art. Let’s just say that UNIT AUDIO is freaking cornucopia of found sound, pieced together for maximum weirdness and instant likability. It starts strong and stays strong, continuing on its path toward greatness minute by warped-audio minute. Ever thought you’d hear somebody talk about musique concrète that way?”
“Hyperbole aside, what Roberts crafts is surprisingly musical, and although tones tend toward the ambient spectrum, there are some rhythmic elements that appear at points. The pieces are stitched together so that the sounds both flow with each other and collide against themselves, sometimes at the same point, depending on the mood Roberts is trying to create. The result is never less than thrilling, as each new passage reveals surprising new directions and interesting new sources, all of which are fairly mysterious, especially if you’re able to turn off your mind as it tries to process each new sample. (Although, Spice Girls? I knew THAT one at least.) (I don’t know what that says about me.) ”
“What does UNIT AUDIO say about Ben Roberts? It affords a peek into his imagination, surely, where the source material swirls until it coalesces into a sensible whole. Roberts invokes the idea of sehnsucht, meaning there’s a “yearning” or a “longing,” a sense that something is missing or imperfect and that something’s presence will restore the whole. UNIT AUDIO is restless, a time capsule, multiple snapshots of human life superimposed on one another in a confusing mass, the disorder, perhaps oxymoronically, satisfying in its turmoil. The whole is here. What’s missing is within us.”
At the moment Unit Audio is only available as a custom made special edition, made on demand.
Sent out today to reviewers these two packages. The (Polish) post office across the road still uses stamps, which makes for a beautiful finishing touch. Today’s choice was two big stamps showing a (Polish?) pope blessing the masses and a smaller stamp with a picture of orange flowers.
Any advice on who/where to send copies for review is most welcome.
Also, If you order your tape directly from me, you can expect this kind of packaging.
Of course the tapes are also available directly from Kris Limbach, Ben Roberts aka Eclectiktronik Live and from Guillaume Siffert at the Staalplaat shop in Berlin. Midøri Hiranø‘s personal copies have sold out.
address side of packet for The Sound Projector
Address side of Packet for Cassette Gods
Back side of packet for the Sound Projector
Back side of packet for Cassette Gods
it is here.
Midori’s personal copies have sold out at the moment of writing. Kris, the staalplaat shop and I have copies.
I had the idea years ago. The C60 The Last Day on Earth had to become the follow-up of The Four Corners of the Night. I asked four artists. Each artist got a different score. The score was either a short story or a kind of poem. I never got four satisfying contributions in return. Two pieces were in line with the concept. I thought that I could use those two compositions, some fragments from the others and create an audio-book. My ambition was obstructed by reality. I put the release on hold for a long time. Midori and Kris were incredibly patient. read more.
The first copies of Ben Roberts – Unit Audio and Midori Hirano/Kris Limbach split – The Last Day on Earth are already sold. I still need to do some time-consuming work to update all the pages and give you as much information as possible.
However, you can get in touch through Fb or by contacting me via staaltape at staalplaat com if you are interested in buying one of these or both releases.
Ben Roberts’ – Unit Audio is a C40 tape, recorded at original speed with a Marantz CP430 from a 4track master tape. The quality is chrome. Price is 7.00€.
Here’s the text that Ben and I wrote together.
Ben Roberts is a British expat living in Madrid. He has been fascinated by everything regarding magnetic tape since his youngest years. This resulted in building a huge archive of found tapes. As an artist Ben uses the tapes in installations and live shows. Sounds of different origins and ages are blended with (or hurled against) each other.
i. Found tapes recorded by strangers, and functioning or signifying in some bygone cultural context; surviving audio remnants of a time that doesn’t exist anymore.
ii. TV/Radio/music extracts: To introduce occasional fragments of externally-referenced meaning into the pieces.
iii. Mechanical or tape-sounds: Due to material ageing, breakdown or modification, the original functional identity of the sound is nearly or completely obscured.
The combinations produce meanings above and beyond anything the individual parts may have had. Narratives that put us in direct contact with historic events as they unfold in every day life.
In addition I say:
The precise use and choice of fragments, the delicacy and awareness in attitude towards the use of found material and most important of all, the artistic approach add a touch of ‘sehnsucht’, an almost mystic glow to the sound.
Unit Audio ignites your imagination. It makes you wander over paths that almost got covered by the forgetfulness of our times.
Review of Patrizia Oliva – Numen on Continuo’s Documents.
Copies of the second edition are still available at the staalplaat shop in Berlin, also for mailorders. Once those sell out, I will need to produce a third edition.
liner notes – main image
“Oliva takes you on quite a fascinating ride……Great tape in the usual handmade Staaltape fashion.” says FdW in Vital Weekly
“In questi casi il prezzo per copia dovrebbe lievitare al di sopra degli 80 €.” says cassettophobian in sands-zine
“Ganz grosses Kino,” Thomas Neumann in Hörerlebnis 097 (physical copy).