Never one for organised archival, going through old hard drives, I quite often find arbitrarily named audio files full of strange noises. I’ve never had a good memory, and so these files appear as ghosts, unconnected links to the past.
I’ve organised and played at a lot of events, and these audio files will be recordings I’ve hastily gathered, a final thought after setting up an event, scrabbling for the right cable while the audience arrives.
The Placard Headphone festival is a wonderful thing, originating in Paris, where my thoughts lie at the moment. We organised a few of them in London, our own flavour being an intensive day and night of performances, three an hour, each exactly 20 minutes. We maxed out at 100 listeners, lying down amongst the broken furniture in the factory basement of state51 at the top of Brick Lane. It was a great collaborative effort, organisers of strange music events coming together (highpoint lowlife records, coombe records, idoia, murmer, [no.signal], slub, midRange, state51 and the slow sound system) to plug people in to each other.http://yaxu.org/wp-admin/post-new.php
Searching for images, I just found that Steven Levy wrote about our 2004 event in his book The Perfect Thing:
If some in the medical community are alarmed by headphone use, others cultishly embrace the experience. In the past few years a nebulous organization has generated a mysterious series of events called the Placard Headphone Festivals. A description of a typical event, held in London, explained, “Listening is via headphones only; upwards of 100 plug-in points are provided throughout the space for listeners who have brought their own headphones.” The London performance was slated to last fourteen hours; a Paris-based headphone festival went on for ninety-five days. One participant in a London event extolled the direct connection she had felt during the intimate concert: “In my lifelong experience of witnessing live music, I had never felt so relaxed, comfortable in my surroundings and skin, and reassured by the presence of the musician who, with equal intent, directly plays to your ear canal with no interference from that annoying guy who’s trying really hard to get laid.
Seamless switchovers between acts was hard to manage, and so for the 2004 event I soldered up a circuit of relays that would switch between four different audio mixers at exactly the right time (a projection told performers which mixer they should set up on, and when to start playing). I also hacked up some code to try to capture each performance into a different audio file, which according to the folder of audio fragments from the event that I just found on an old hard drive, didn’t work very well..
If you can identify any of the performers in the above, please let me know.. You might find: Janek Schaefer and Leafcutter John, Main, David Toop & Max Eastley, dDamage, Hot Chip, Holkham, Antenna Farm, Noun, John Chantler, Adem Ilhan/8 Hours, Paul Hood, Cylens, Discom, The Sound Of Squaljax & Farbulous, Jonathan Coleclough, sAnso-xtro, eg0 + e/n, Heller, Dallas Simpson vs Viv Corringham, Michael Rodgers vs Romuald Wadych, Nada, Nebogeo, Table, Claire Hope, 87 Central, CK Dexter Haven, Fisk Industries, Dual vs Murmer, A.M.P. Studio, Duncan Whitley, Smack Miranda, Karina ESP, Ed Bennett vs Cormac Heron, Yellow6, Rashamon, Same Actor, Pez Orchestra, Recon vs Thorsten Sideb0ard, Emanuela De Angelis, and Cedric Pin.
Anyway, nice to think about this day.