C. Spencer Yeh gets a machine that’s been dead for twenty years to talk to him on new album The RCA Mark II

C. Spencer Yeh gets a machine that's been dead for twenty years to talk to him on new album The RCA Mark II

If machines could talk, what would they say? Well…I guess some machines do talk: HAL 9000 apologizes to you when it cannot do something, the T-800 lets you know that it will be back, and my iPhone tells me, “Okay Jeremy, here is what I found for ‘Could Kristaps Porzingis block God’s shot?’” Even musical instruments can talk to you — in as much as the noise that results from plucking a string or pressing a key can be considered talking. But…what happens when you WANT a musical instrument to talk to you, only it’s been dead and non-operational for twenty years? This is what C. Spencer Yeh explores on his new album The RCA Mark II.

The album’s namesake, the first-ever programmable synthesizer, was built and installed at Columbia University in New York City in 1959. It enjoyed an illustrious career, before becoming non-operational in 1997. Upon discovering the synthesizer while visiting a friend at Columbia, Yeh began experimenting with the machine acoustically: flipping switches, turning knobs, plugging and unplugging cables, and rubbing its surfaces (you know: like you do). Several sessions of recording these operations became the basis on which this album is built. The result: 12 tracks of the defunct machine’s clanking parts that are jagged, sparse, and strangely rhythmic. Despite being stripped of all its original, intended functions, Yeh has still found a way to make the RCA Mark II speak.

Listen to “Track V” off of The RCA Mark II down below, and order the album itself here. The RCA Mark II is out right now on Primary Information.


The RCA Mark II tracklisting:

01. I
02. II
03. III
04. IV
05. V
06. VI
07. VII
08. VIII
09. IX
10. X
11. XI
12. XII

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