Posts Tagged ‘turntable’

Hong Chulki – “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge”

August 10, 2008

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 T├ętreault 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.

Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong – “Hum and Rattle”

August 4, 2008

From the Seoul-based Balloon & Needle label, “Hum and Rattle” features some of label head Hong Chulki and Choi Joonyong’s phenomenal turntable and opened CD player compositions. Advantageous use of noise bursts that could make Merzbow flinch, contrasted with periods of near (or total) silence make this an ideal album for headphone listening– especially in regards to the delicacy of Choi’s contributions, which comprise everything from the the faintest digital seek-sound, to full-blown read error exploding into unlikely patterns of bitrate-lacework.

For his end; Hong’s turntable tends toward the lower frequency (and possibly sans vinyl) approach to noisemaking. It’s DJ Q-Bert’s nightmare– needle drops, empty platters spinning against the tonearm, skipping one groove and proceeding to practically lathe-cut the next.

Fortunately, both Hong and Choi evidence a strong ability to not only play off one another’s sounds, but an enthusiasm for allowing both sounds and each other room to breathe. Openness is what sets “Hum and Rattle” apart from many other discs splashing about in similar waters. This approach is most easily heard on the second track, “u a”, something like an 11-minute act of digital call-and-response where one player is a void.

The album closes with a live recording made during a Relay free improvisation meeting. Although it naturally lacks the stereo dynamic that helps make the previous tracks as compelling, it’s nice to hear evidence that Hong and Choi do not rely on studio tricks for the generation of their sound. Rather, the turntables and CD players are treated as instruments in their own right, a much-mouthed but rarely-heard acclamation.

“Hum and Rattle” is attractively packaged in a simple folded-card sleeve, and is available from Balloon & Needle.