From the Edison rupture to acid house

79: “Until the rise of recording, sound was essentially fleeting and intangible, floating above the site of its making, before fading inevitably away. Every performance of a song or scored composition would be different, varying according to circumstance, musicians, instruments and acoustics /…/ In contrast, recording changed this by capturing a singular snapshot, replacing the aura of the artwork with the permanance of the ‘audio document'”

80: “Listen to one of Edison’s early recordings and what strikes you is not so much the words transported from another age, as the surface of noise that obscures them, a surface of static over which recognisable shapes – a human voice, the words to a poem – flicker like shadows. Edison intended his phonograph to offer a transparent window onto past events, to revord for posterity business transactions or the last words of a dying relative. But within the inconvenient cloud of interference can be heard the first hints of the subsequent century of sound waiting to unfold, for this inherent imperfection contained within itself a musical potential that would come to be explored during the course of the twentieth century within electronic music, in a counter-history marked by accident, manipulation and reuse that detached itself from the telos of representational technologies.
Moreover, in preserving sound as a material trace, recording created an artefact that is available to be reworked, and so a second order domain of sonic transformations. /…/ This opened the door to a new kind of music making, one based in a foregrounding of interference, citation and secondary processes, a plastic art working within and through the grain of the machine.”

82: “What we might term a ‘studio art’ came of age when producers surrendered the transparent reproduction of live performance and instead explored the potential of the recording medium in its own right. The key shift sway from documentary realism and towards the productivity of the simulacra came with developments in electrical recording. Once sound was converted to a set of electrical signals, studio technicians were able endlessy to manipulate variable parameters.”

83: “the sence of music being transformed from the transport of song and voice into the production of a surface affect is most clearly captured in the ‘wall of sound’ developed by the Los Angeles based producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s /…/
A decisive break came with the echo chambers of 1970s Jamaican dub.”

84: “Another well documented case, one which highlights how the sonic machinic broke from the telos of representational technologies, is the assemblage of acid house and the Roland TB-303. Indeterminacy in music had been extensively explored by Cage and Fluxus, but with the Roland TB-303 it arose in an implicit way within a culture of misuse. This piece of studio equipment was designed to produce an accurate reproduction of bass-guitar lines to be used in studio sessions, but notoriously bad at what it was intended for, it was very good at making mistakes. /…/ Soon the misuse became the norm, as the unique squelching sounds produced by its filters came to define a whole genre of music – acid house – mapping out a template first sketched in 1985 by DJ Pierre, Spanky and Herbert J with Phuture’s ‘Acid Trax’. In the place of the despotic studios of dub there emerged the ‘bedroom producer’, deterritorialising yet further studio production.”

Drew Hemment: Affect and Individuation on Popular Electronic Music.
In Ian Buchanan & Marcel Swiboda (ed.): Deleuze and Music. Edinburgh University Press, 2004, p. 76-94


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