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Author Topic: Physical tape damage  (Read 4296 times)
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« on: December 14, 2016, 05:40:56 PM »

I was inspired by my own mostly-failed efforts at fucking up magnetic tape with physical damage - I'd heard on a Simpsons DVD commentary that to damage the fake news reels during the making of Citizen Kane, they dragged the film against a concrete floor to scratch it and give it that damaged look. Around the same time, I read an interview with some of the Posh Isolation guys in Special Interests #7 where Mikko asks Klaus Hansen about physically damaging tape. I think he answered in the negative.

Well, I've tried this - everything from dragging the tape on rocks (worked slightly), warping and stretching the tape with my hands (worked one time), and actually marking it up with a permanent marker or spray paint (didn't affect sound quality at all). Has anyone else experimented with this? Any comments, personal anecdotes, or advice?
david lloyd jones
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 05:58:22 PM »

historically I would look to wsburroughs for tape abuse.
if film and audio tape are analogous then see stan brackhage
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 06:32:52 PM »

Never personally tried this but had been looking at this site before:


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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 07:12:49 PM »

Pretty sure I remember someone either on here or the Troniks forum suggesting burning tape with a match or lighter to warp it - not for too long though.
you gotta be very careful with thise one though. You easily burn through the tape and thats no fun. Im quite sure that manual stretching will work too, to some extent, although that would be really laborous.

That paperclip trick is something ill try for sure though!
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 09:57:33 AM »

In latest UMPIO gig I saw 2 weeks ago in Turku/Finland, there was this amusing moment, where he noticed that one of the source sound tapes didn't work. So he just took the tape from deck, pulled out loooong piece of tape, and started rewind in back into tape with his finger. Many though this was some sort of performance act, but all it was, was to get tape working again. And it did. Still very nice moment, despite it of course had no instant impact on sound. Visually nice, to see tape treated boldly in very physical manner. Not exactly damaging it, but also perhaps not being too cautious what if it gets damaged.

Set all in all, was great mix of contact mics and junk, electronics, kaoz pad (!!!), pre-recorded tapes... resulting less of noise, more electro-acoustic type of sound.

One has to remember that tape, is most of all magnetic information. I don't think all the same things (sandpaper, melting etc) as works for turntable noise. Still, there is plenty of possibilities. My favorite is simply to see what comes from using something which is not new. Most of walkmen are somehow slightly defect. From combination of somehow slightly worn or used tape & slightly malfunctioning playback devise, results the details in sound what one couldn't perhaps "compose" or plan. Only to find.

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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 04:24:47 AM »

I think Jason Zeh does quite a bit of this, and other "extended techniques", I also could imagine Witcyst from New Zealand doing this.

I almost always pick up weathered and disgarded tape I find on the street and turn it into crude loops to listen to (generally without the shell. Just hold my finger over the play head)...weathered tape has interesting anomalies but I think it can be degraded to total non sound, it also gets extremely brittle and breaks easily.

I've never heard of burning tape, though it might produce something interesting. I kind of wonder if it would erase the content. I remember reading about Tod Dockster using wire spools early on (evidently a precursor to magnetic tape) and to do the edits he'd simply place the tip of a lit cigarette to the wire.
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2016, 02:51:40 PM »

In latest UMPIO gig I saw 2 weeks ago in Turku/Finland, there was this amusing moment, where he noticed that one of the source sound tapes didn't work. So he just took the tape from deck, pulled out loooong piece of tape, and started rewind in back into tape with his finger.

I do a fair amount of cassette abuse with four tracks,  and anytime I'm recording or jamming and the tape fucks up and starts getting eaten etc. I make a point of continuing recording while manually fixing the tape as practice so when it happens live  it not gonna phase me or have the noise eat shit.

Re the OP, I've experimented with magnets for tape degradation and the results have been underwhelming, that's all I got.
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 06:04:22 PM »

Haha, it's definitely part of the charm.

I always have the lid open and will push on the tapes and shake or jiggle.them while playing so them getting eaten is a pretty common occurrence.
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