Now available in conveniently sized travel packets, Technological Retreat is online through the help and assistance of KFAI . Now you can take a Technological Retreat with you when ever and where ever you go. It’s the kind of thing you might have heard before, but not really. Be sure to try some today.
If you use Spotify, these shows are there as well.
Episode one begins with a station ID and two mixes from January 13, 1986. The station ID and intro are done by Larry Englund, recently departed and much-loved person within the KFAI world. This recording was made when KFAI used a boombox to record air checks with. It sounds like it wasn’t tuned in very well that night. This first mix began around 2:20 AM, the second mix featured began around 4:40 AM.
Welcome to the second episode of the Technological Retreat podcasts, presenting the live radio mixes that I referred to as Sound Collages. That’s what I called these mixes, but I don’t think I necessarily invented the term. I had done late night radio in college before moving to Minneapolis in 1985, and enjoyed having a lot of time to play a lot of different music. Having an overnight show on KFAI let me stumble through and experiment with this style of sound design, and to be able to really stretch the mixes out. What was essential was the feeling of being artistically free to create. The first two mixes were broadcast on January 21st, 1986. The first one started around 2:20 AM and is about ten minutes long. The second began before 3 AM and is under 20 minutes.
In 2005, INNOVA records, the record label for the American Composers Forum contacted me about the potential of releasing a CD of these radio mixes. I’ll never forget the phone call. The person at their office asked if I was this guy who had done this show back in the 1980’s on KFAI. At this point it was over 15 years after the show went off the air, so to say that I was surprised is a serious understatement. So I said that yes, I was that guy, and then he said:
“You’re kind of famous but no one knows who you are.”
I took this as a great compliment for a radio DJ, and said I wanted to put that on my tombstone. Something I’ve always liked about radio is the anonymity involved. People know you through listening to you. They like you or don’t like you because of what you are doing. What you look like or what you are wearing is not important. What you are doing and what you are saying and sound like are important. Anyway, I bring this up because the first ten minutes of the following mix appeared on that CD. This mix was originally broadcast in February of 1986 and started around 2:30 AM.
Welcome to the third episode of the Technological Retreat podcasts. One of the things I enjoyed most about late-night radio was the creative freedom. More often than not, the radio stations were just thankful to have people up there let alone caring what they did. As long as it followed FCC guidelines and decorum of course. This was before the age of robot DJ’s and audio software. The three mixes in this episode are from the same night, February 3, 1986. The first mix is from 2:00 AM, and begins with a live recording of Charles Bukowski reading his own work mixed with South Indian vocal music. The second mix started around 2:45 AM and the third around 3:15 AM.
Is it a cacophony or a symphony? Is it noise or nuance? Sure it is. Welcome to the fourth episode of the Technological Retreat podcasts. In one of the featured mixes I talk about sensory overload and having to pay attention to too many things at once, which is a feeling I was trying to create or recreate with the sound collages.
The first mix from February 17th 1986 features a long example of Sound Mobile recordings in the background. The Sound Mobile was in my basement at the time and was like a giant wind chime that you could walk through. Bicycle frames, tanks and resonant metal things hanging from the ceiling by guitar and piano strings. Cheap contact microphones in the ceiling joists. You could bang and clang & plunk and plink. It was a lot of fun and no one ever got hurt when things fell. I would often have TV’s and radio’s playing in the background while knocking around in there. The second mix is from March 10th 1986 and starts with an excerpt from the Technological Retreat theme, which I will be including by itself in an eventual podcast.
I’m presenting these radio mixes in chronological order with exceptions, like the first mix in this program. Welcome to the fifth episode of the Technological Retreat podcasts. This radio tape was undated but begins with an early Reel to Reel tape loop experiment from 1985. Using Ravi Shankar’s voice and repeating it into itself while manipulating speed. The other three mixes are from March 17th, March 23rd, and April 21st, 1986, and contain strangely meditative sounds, some nice classical salad, and live uncensored sax in the studio.
Number 6 is a number in a sequence, not a man in this case. This is the sixth trip into what the world sounded like to me, a melodic noise. This episode features mixes from two nights in May of 1986, the 5th and the 12th. What many people don’t realize is that May 5th is Shoe Day, and we are fortunate enough, perhaps, to have this aural documentation of what a typical, late 20th century shoe day celebration sounded like.
Proceed with Caution! Episode 7 contains volatile and unstable recordings from a significant part of KFAI’s history, covering the time that we first went Station 2 Station. The first recording is from May 26th of 1986, and was my last broadcast from KFAI’s first physical home, which was in the tower of the Walker Church. The next two recordings are from June 1st, and are from my first show in our then new home on Lake Street, which was known at the time as the Butler Drug Building. The last two recordings are from November 30th. I have no tapes from June through November except for this one. I’m surprised to still have as many of these tapes as I do, but don’t worry kids – there’s still 1987, 8 and 9 to listen through.
Within the 100 or so cassettes I have from this show, there are only 6 tapes from 1987 and mixes from three of those tapes are here, in Episode 8, with a special bonus prize included. Mixes two through six in this podcast are all from one night, March 28th, giving a nice example of different places I could go in one evening. Mix seven, the last in this episode is an unknown date and was featured on my first home made CD of this material, called “Music to Vacuum By”. Named for all those old, schmoozy orchestrated records, like “Music for Dining” or “Music to Sleep To”, well, mine was Music to Vacuum By.
Podcast number 9 contains the final recordings from 1987. The first two mixes are from April 13th and were made for and given to my Mom for her birthday that year. Using a lot of the music she enjoyed from light jazz to classical to Broadway show tunes with a lot of messing around in between. I can’t imagine what her reaction could have been? “That’s really nice Greg, how about next time getting me another cat or a video tape recorder, hmm?” The other three mixes are from June 21st, and almost sound like what a bunch of drunk robots on laughing gas in the studio might have sounded like. Almost.
This is the tenth podcast in the series. Technological Retreat was 5 hours long and I spent a lot of time playing great music by itself which isn’t the focus of these podcasts, I’m focusing on the sound collage mixes that I think are worth listening to. The two included here are from January 11th, 1988, and are each about half an hour long. I was having fun that night and the mixes go all over the place. Thanks for coming back and stay tuned. We’re just scratching the surface.
Here is episode number 11, and like the number 11, these ones are fun. These recordings are from January 11th, 23rd, and February 22nd, 1988. The set of voices beginning the second mix belong to Graham and Steve, the hosts from Baghead Dreams. Later on, in this episode I’m joined by my very good friend Alice Phoenix. Alice hosted and DJ’d KFAI’s first radio show focused on local, Minneapolis punk rock and all the variations thereof. It was called New Day Rising, after the Husker Du song and it is such a treat to be able to hear her voice coming out of speakers again. Here is a picture from the City Pages of me and Alice at 1st Ave at a Husker Du show. She’s in the center, I’m on the right. RIP Alice.