Some of my favorite collections of sounds are not really even albums in the conventional sense. Album = a collection of musical pieces meant to signify a whole. Machine Pattern # 01 = a catalogue of aural occurrences, collected more as a reference than as a source of pleasure. Who says references can’t be entertaining though? The best field recordings act as a well-written encyclopedia article or an interesting anecdote in a travelogue; there is clear contextual support to add depth to the recording, and therefore the act of listening becomes something of a learning experience, rather than an emotional one. Field recordings can elicit emotions too. Aki Onda has succeeded to do this with his Cassette Memories series, where field recordings are presented as passages from a tape recorder memoir. Nite Lite has also achieved great results using similar field recording manipulations.
So what is this right here? A caution-yellow tape packaged in styrofoam? Mikel R. Nieto, the music behind the project, wastes no time in pointing out the irony of such a field recording collection: this is literally a tape about tapes. Tapes about tapes have been done before. Tapes as dedications to tapes. Tapes of tape loops of tapes. Tapes as collages of tapes. But this, this beautifully-packaged cassette was made to “re-create the mechanical manufacturing processes that are experienced specifically in AE Harris & Co.” AE Harris & Co. as in 3M. As in the tape company.
Accompanying the cassette, which is limited to 100 copies, is a transcription of the music found within, interpreted by graphic artist Frederico Sancho as typographic symbols. A thoroughly beautiful package and some nice soothing, mechanical rattling of metal pressing and tube-bending machines, this tape has succeeded in its goal of being a viable historical document, an artistic dedication to the AE Harris & Co. workers facilities.