MATRIXSYNTH: 4 Track Tapes 85​-​86 by Runningonair

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

4 Track Tapes 85​-​86 by Runningonair

A new collection from supporting member Runningonair. Check out the 4 Track Tape Restoration videos below!

"The title, “4 track tapes 85-86”, might suggest a direct lift, clean up and remaster, but this is far from the truth. Comprising of a selection of musical sketches and demos, the material on the tapes was never intended for release.

Instead, the tapes have been languishing in storage for around 30 years. However in 2017, concerns about the
longevity of the originals lead to transferring to digital. This was the first time I had heard the material for many years; I was surprised by how many of the tracks I remembered and by how much I liked them. It really felt like discovering a treasure trove. Yes, it’s all early stuff, poorly performed and lo-fi sound but without pretention. Naïve really. At the time I wasn’t really listening to much pop music and so there was minimal influences from that area. Although the
tapes were littered with performance mistakes the sound has an almost clinical quality at times, typical of early digital synths.

When I considered turning the material into a functioning album, I wanted to find a balance between the authenticity of the original and potential gains of current music technology. I did this by setting certain boundaries, the most important being only material from the original tapes could be used.

While performance mistakes could be fixed relatively easily, the lack of drum tracks was a bigger problem. At the time I didn’t have a drum machine and would instead resort to banging a few tin cans to try to get some form of percussion part. This rarely worked. Of course, true authenticity would demand I didn’t add anything new, but I felt it really needed the lift drums could bring. Fortunately, I did occasionally get brief drum machine loans from various sources and recordings of these were on the same tapes in the form of unfinished tracks. From these sound sources I constructed sympathetic drum parts, attempting to create something that I could have done at the time.

Additionally, I allowed myself the luxury of enhancing the sound quality within certain limits, essentially sticking to basic EQ, reverb and stereo widening.

Although the enhancements have changed the character of the tracks greatly, certain key ingredients remain; the
wonky ever-changing tempos and improvisational playing remain intact, and they still feel like the original tracks, although they do sound richer. I’m sure the younger me would have wanted to go much further."

4 Track Tape Restoration

"In this series I look at some of the issues I had while I was working on the album "4 track tapes 85 - 86". More information about the album itself can be found here:"

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