Some months ago hanging around the Contact Group on Facebook I realized I’d seen the phrase “no-input mixer” a few times but had no idea what it meant. So I decided to do some research and a’googling I did go. What I found out is that it is a technique that uses a mixing board as a musical instrument by connecting outputs back into inputs, creating a feedback loop, and manipulating the feedback tones either with the mixer’s own controls or through effects within the loop. Among its pioneers are Toshimaru Nakamura and Merzbow, and it’s become a popular technique in experimental music. I realized I had a mixing board just sitting around in a closet that I wasn’t doing anything with, a beat-up Equinox ACM-1262 that somehow fell into my possession in the waning days of No Consensus. So I had to give this a try.
I posted on the Contact Group about it and soon Eric Crowe (he of Marax and Muchausen Sound) was proposing a no-input compilation, then taking submissions. And so it is that today (a little late perhaps) I am pleased to introduce the latest compilation for Distant Trains to end up on, To Gain Is To FX Send. Approaches to and interpretations of the no-input concept vary on it. Check it out:
I also did a live performance on no-input mixer recently at Vaudeville Mews, opening for Ben Bennett, on a Sunday night when Reverend Horton Heat was playing elsewhere in town. Chances are, you weren’t at the Mews for that show; almost nobody was. But I did record it:
I also managed to get Office Park to come down for the show, and recorded them as well, you’ll find that on my Soundcloud page also.
Getting a board recording of Ben Bennett was pretty hopeless, since his thing is pretty much acoustic percussion and he moves around the room too much while he plays to keep microphones on him. Didn’t matter; working with the acoustics of the environment, letting the waves mesh and interplay, is a big part of his sound and thankfully the Mews is a live enough room to do it in, especially once he had completed relocating his assemblage of frame drums, homemade wind instruments, odd bits of metal, a snare drum and an old bugle, from the stage to the audience area, while simultaneously playing on them. I did get a microcassette recording but I intend to get his blessing before doing anything with it.
Also here’s a recent collaborative album by Andrew Chadwick a.k.a. Ironing and Roger H. Smith a.k.a. Chefkirk, who someone on the Contact Group called “the Hendrix of the no-input mixer.” You can see that Chefkirk favors jagged ultra-high tones whereas I (currently at least) tend to go for long, slow, low sounds and use more effects.
And here’s a Chefkirk album available from Public Eyesore, the label run by Bryan Day, the instrument-inventor who is in Office Park and Seeded Plain and this and that.
EDIT 3/15: Here’s that microcassette recording of Ben:
And just because I might as well, here’s Office Park’s set from that night:
These won’t be up forever, I’ll probably take them down when I need more space on my Soundcloud account and am sure that they have downloaded copies for themselves if they want them.