Hong Chulki – “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge”

Fantastic turntable work from the Balloon & Needle label boss Hong Chulki, who has lately joined my personal pantheon of favorite turntable improvisors. One of these days; he can join Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, and Martin Tétreault for a box set and I can die happy.

Until that day, there’s “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge,” which surely goes about as far as one can with a turntable. Packaged uniquely on either side of a cardboard disc, this double 3″ CDR keeps the “haves” and “have-nots” separated– very nice for those of us who like to contrast the two.

Starting “Without Cartridge,” Hong still manages to generate a surprising variety of sound. As Hong’s full approach for both discs is to play without records, I’m assuming these are all produced from dragging the tonearm remains across the turntable itself in some fashion… though in the end, I’m unable to fully understand how many of these sounds arise. Regardless, it is a much more full sound than I would have guessed– in some ways, even more interesting than the “With Cartridge” half!

Track two goes a long way toward explaining why– these electronic shrieking noises are incredible! Filled out with ringing tones, like bowed glass at high volume, this is a torturous ride. The third track is equally absurd; at some point, listeners just have to sit back and let Hong skullfuck both earholes.

For the “With Cartridge” disc, a more usual gamut of possible sounds are explored– needle drops, slipmat scrapes, fingers against the needle, even electrical problems become “opportunities!” There’s also a good range of more unexpected noises– the intense blasts of screeching metal-on-metal sounds near the end of the second track, for instance. At times, I wonder if Hong is employing anything but the tonearm itself, as the circular looping nature of the turntable seems to vanish. Perhaps Hong has liberated it for play on other surfaces?

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is a surprisingly vital set, not only due to Hong’s instrumental prowess, but for the quality of the improvisation itself. What could have been a cold documentation of the technical limits of the turntable-as-sound-source is instead a well-structured work in its own right, and worthy of more than listeners’ simple curiosity.

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is available from Balloon & Needle as release bnn18.

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2 Responses to “Hong Chulki – “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge””

  1. Justin Snow Says:

    Wonderful review! This sounds like a really interesting idea for a record and it’s nice to hear that it isn’t merely a sound experiment (not that that’s a bad thing) and that it’s able to stand on it’s own as more than that.

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching the new Ophibre / Sonderberg split cassette (which your review of is great). Your blog is fantastic, and even though I haven’t heard of almost all of the artists you talk about, I’m always looking for new music. I like your writing style and how you aren’t afraid of reviewing things you don’t especially like (GRZKGL’ s new one comes to mind). I think that’s pretty cool, as I know it’s hard for me to write about records like that because I feel like my writing sucks when I lack enthusiasm.

    Anyway, I put a link to your blog from mine (my music one antigravitybunny.blogspot.com, not my movie one) so I’ll be checking back frequently. I look forward to discovering new noise via your blog.

  2. ET Says:

    nice review! glad you are paying some attention to these guys, what they are doing is pretty exciting. i have been enjoying their exploits over at http://www.dotolim.com emensely.

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