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.