June 10, 2011


“When I made my first tape loops, man was it a buzz!” McCartney said. “Bringing tape loops into the studio as I did, finding out that John has got a really funky tune called ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ that needed a solo…. Well, what was better than the crazy stuff I was doing? (Wired)." Paul McCartney has dusted off his original tape machines and is planning a new experimental project!

At the heart of "1960s Style in Action" remains the magic cocktail that blended space-age experimentation and artistic flair. It's what I love about the combination of Ken Adam set designs with the larger-than-life adventures of 007. It was an era of invention, like Rabanne molding industrial and sculptural materials into new fashion. For songwriter Paul McCartney, who was a fan of musique concrete, Stockhausen and avant-garde expression, the cultural soil was ripe for the planting of a new hybrid of pop music- one might say that hybrid has blossomed as the mainstay of contemporary, loop-based production.

During the mid-1960s, Paul McCartney became fascinated with tape loops and experimental film. As he described in a recent interview for
Wired, Lennon's song Tomorrow Never Knows provided a perfect opportunity to bring his experimental work into a Beatles production. Lennon himself would catch the loop-buzz and added his Revolution 9 to the 'White Album' and in three experimental records with Yoko Ono. McCartney revisited the approach again electronically in McCartney II (remastered release out this Tuesday), in his three Firemen projects with Youth, and in his collaborations with Sgt. Pepper cover artist Peter Blake on Liverpool Sound Collage (a fave of mine!).

Maybe it is because I have been working more on experimental projects myself lately and my ears are fascinated to hear and to create in that sandbox of 'chance' and playfulness, but I am excited to learn that McCartney has literally dusted off his original tape machines from the
Tomorrow Never Knows sessions and is planning a tape loop project. Read the complete article by Scott Thill at Wired here. You can learn more about McCartney's travels off the pop-path in the books, Many Years From Now and The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-Garde. Listen to Tomorrow Never Knows on SoundCloud here. Check out Spy Vibe Jason Whiton's music and remix for Yoko Ono on SoundCloud here. Below is one of my fave documentary clips about how to make analogue tape loops.

Check out 60s experimental: BBC Doctor Who here. Learn about avant-garde composers the Avant-Garde Project here. Readers might also like to check out the series Obscure Tape Music of Japan, which includes Yoko Ono's first husband, composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. Nice overview of the series here, and Julian Copes introduction to Ichiyanagi here. Being a fan of Noh music, I particularly like Vol #1 in the series, which featured Joji Yuasa's Aoi no Ue ("blue above"), and Ichiyanagi's Opera From the Works of Tadanori Yokoo.

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