Last year I had the pleasure of recording the Quiet Music Festival to 2-track (of course) tape. For those who may be unfamiliar, the QMF is an annual event featuring music played at decidedly undeafening volume.
Created and curated by Chris Johanson, it’s a truly unique and pleasurable event: Held in Disjecta’s large and vaulted hall space, there are typically lamps and throw pillows rather than festival seats and barricades.
I recorded last year’s event on my trusty Otari MX-5050, a very early unit given me by my oldest friend, Tim Green (an unbelievably talented musician and recording engineer in his own right). Though the deck is clunky and primitive to the extreme, it’s also fairly reliable, though not always.
In the first set of the 2013 festival–an eerily gorgeous percussion piece by Michael Henrickson–I was discomfited by a rhythmic “whump” that grew louder as the minutes ticked by. Given the hush in the room, the noise seemed to grow to deafening proportions. In the relative darkness, thinking it was an unbalanced tape reel that would settle in once the pack was better distributed, I was horrified to find that it was in fact the rubber pinch roller slowly melting into a viscous pile of glue, sticking to the tape and threatening to jam the capstan!
If you click on the image above, you’ll see a short film loop (courtesy of Michael Palmieri) that depicts said performance, with the sound of the melted pinch roller clearly audible….
My heart pounding out of my chest, I raced home, grabbed the pinch roller off my MX-5050 8-track, and installed it in time for the next set. And even better, Michael was the only artist slated to play twice, so I was able to capture his set in its entirety the following night.
I’ve created a BandCamp page with many of the recordings from last year’s festival; I’d love it if you’d check them out. At the time of this posting the entire financial arrangement isn’t set in stone, but +/- 90% of proceeds will go directly to the appropriate artist.
On a technical note, the recording was made with a pair of modded AKG 460b’s with cardioid capsules fitted. If memory serves me, I used ORTF orientatation. From there through a Mackie 1202 (chosen for ease of use, rather than sonic character) into the 5050 onto SM911 at +6 (those early 5050’s won’t do +9!).