Sunday, September 09, 2007

Minneapolis Summit

Minneapolis Summit

There’s no Q&A this week, but I wanted to write a little bit about one of the long tracks featured in episode 53. In 2001, I was approached by the founder, and then Managing Director, of the Sound Unseen Underground Film and Music Festival, Nate Johnson, and asked to put together a program of visiting artists, to explore the theme of Plunderphonics, for that year’s Festival. He was familiar with my radio program and enthusiastic about the energy apparent in this ever growing circle of underground artists. I was thrilled to be asked, of course, and proceeded to invite John Oswald, The Tape-beatles and Wet Gate to perform, with Wobbly and Steev Hise as opening acts. To my astonishment, they all agreed to join me in Minneapolis for the Festival. My own performance group, going by the name of Cast of Thousands with Escape Mechanism, were scheduled to open as well. I’ve written extensively about that year's Sound Unseen in previous posts – you can read all four of them (including one I'd forgotten writing, also about Minneapolis Summit - oops) HERE - just scroll down to the bottom of the page and start with the 11/4/05 entry...

I forget the details now, but I believe it was on an evening between shows (there were three evenings of performances in the Plunderphonic section of that year’s Sound Unseen, spread out over the course of the week) when the bulk of us decided to get together for a jam session of sorts. The Tape-beatle’s Lloyd Dunn and John Heck joined Steev Hise, Jon Leidecker (Wobbly) and myself (Escape Mechanism) in one of the recording studios at KUOM, where Some Assembly Required was produced, at the time. Wet Gate had not yet arrived in Minneapolis and although John Oswald had been invited to join us, I think he had only been interested in playing the Saxaphone, and while the five of us certainly would have enjoyed performing with him, the general consensus was that we should stick to samplers and playback equipment. So, we were a quartet (or quintet) of Escape Mechanism, Steev Hise, The Tape-beatles and Wobbly.

I was not very familiar with the studio we set up in, and I remember frantically trying to figure everything out in time to allow for us to have more than just a few minutes to improvise. Eventually, with a little help from all of the performers, and at least one of the station’s engineers, the gear all magically connected and the five of us sat down to our various instruments of choice: Jon Leidecker with his twin samplers, myself with two industrial strength mini disc players, and Dunn, Heck and Hise on their laptops. We recorded at least a couple of different sessions, one of which we tended to think was the best of the lot. A little under a year later, it had been passed around enough and edited down to a point where we all agreed it was worth releasing. The Tape-beatles took it to Staalplaat, who released it as “Minneapolis Summit” in 2002.

The Tape-beatles had also documented much of the recording session, and sometime soon after the release of “Minneapolis Summit,” they released a video CD which showed some of what went into the collaboration. There you can see our hasty attempts to assemble a functioning recording studio, and our various gear, being manipulated live. The soundtrack to the video consists of the unused tracks also recorded that day in the recording studio.

Check out the various Q&A’s I’ve done with each of the artists over the past couple of years:
The SAR Q&A with Steev Hise -- April 1, 2007The SAR Q&A with Lloyd Dunn of the Tape-beatles -- January 7, 2007
The SAR Q&A with Wobbly (Jon Leidecker) -- March 20, 2006

You can hear “Minneapolis Summit,” in its entirety, in episode #53, which is available HERE. Visit The Tape-beatles website for more information about the video CD, or check out the official Minneapolis Summit website, for all the details...

Thanks for listening!
Jon Nelson

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