Hacked IBM Dictaphone Used as Sampler on Vinatge Album #MusicMonday

Peter Jackson’s Get Back isn’t so much a documentary as a way to hang out with a group of skilled artists working through their process. The experience of watching Get Back is in turns, boring, exhilarating, hilarious, depressing, illuminating, and useful. That’s a window into process we very rarely get, in any medium or genre.

But if the Beatles aren’t your cup of tea, check out this footage from the recording sessions for David Sylvian’s Brilliant Trees, an innovative album that used IBM dictaphones as a samplers. Here’s more from CDM:

The delicate tape echo work, which starts around 11 minutes, is worth the price of admission. It’s wonderfully delicate and painstaking; you really do get a sense of a slower and more deliberate process hacking these machines than you might from today’s technology….

You’ll eventually see two of these boxes, and they’re both IBM dictaphone models Sylvain found in a dumpster. They told The Quietus‘ Wyndham Wallace the story in 2012:

“I just said, ‘Come along and we’ll see what happens’, and we got on famously and he became a very close friend of mine, and what he contributed to the album was kind of what I was looking for, which was mainly supplied by the IBM Dictaphone that he used to play back samples. Samplers in those days were completely inflexible. But he’d found this IBM machine – two of them – in a dumpster outside an office building in Cologne, and he could move the playback head of the Dictaphone across the tape at random speeds, and so it really made it a marvellously flexible instrument.'”

Hear and learn more!


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