Golden Cassette – out now

 
“This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.” Jimmy Carter, président des États-Unis, 1977.

Released by French label, TRUC, ‘The Golden Cassette’ is a compilation album in a limited boxset including a golden tape with printed liner notes and illustrated map.

It is based upon the idea of revisioning or remixing the Golden Voyager record sent out into space as a greeting message from planet earth to extraterrestrial life forms.

The album features work by: Mark Vernon, Jay Mitta, Felix Kubin, Prins Zonder Carnaval, Insólito UniVerso, Boubacar Cissokho, Alastair Galbraith, Los Siquicos Litoraleños, Charbel Haber, Tarawangsawelas, Shuta Hasunuma, Cara Stacey, Li Daiguo, Pierre Bastien, Chyskyyrai, Tim Hodgkinson & Ken Hyder and JTM.

Available to purchase here.

Mal de Débarquement – Cassette & download out now

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new collaborative album with Paris based DJ, sound artist and producer, Elen Huynh.

‘Mal de Débarquement’ features 10 tracks created for a collaborative broadcast made in 2020 on LYL Radio for the show Choses Contraires. With the intention of creating a form of a radio essay, the pieces were constructed from raw recordings, pre-composed elements, patterns, sung, spoken, whispered and hidden voices.

Available as a tape or download. The cassette is a limited edition of 100 copies with Riso printed inlay card by anais____98 featuring artwork by Bloeme van Bon.

You can order a copy of the tape or the download here.

Tomorrow Is a Big Distance

I have the honour of being the opening track on a new compilation album by Kyiv, Ukraine based Sentimental Productions. The album also features noise and experimental music luminaries Lasse Marhaug, Norbert Moslang, Joachim Nordwall, alter of flies, Howard Stelzer, Francisco Meirino, Modelbau and Edward Sol.

‘Tomorrow Is a Big Distance’ is available as a CD or as a download here.

Sloppily Depicting – The Waverley, Edinburgh

Short notice, but tonight I will be performing in Edinburgh on the same bill as Alexandra Spence and MP Hopkins under their Banana duo guise.

The Waverley, Edinburgh from 7.30pm. More details here.

SONICALLY DEPICTING (temporarily renamed SLOPPILY DEPICTING) and TFEH co-present an evening when it’s finally safe to leave your home after the last dregs of The Festival trickle away down the drain…

With BANANA (Alexandra Spence & MP Hopkins), Mark Vernon, Marlo de Lara and Off Brand Asthmatic.

Magneto Mori: Brussels

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Magneto Mori: Brussels is a process-based sound work that investigates the collective memory of Brussels residents, intertwining them with the environmental sounds of the city to weave new and unexpected narratives. It is an exploration of tape recording as a form of memory storage – and the deliberate distressing, eroding and deterioration of present day sounds to disrupt their chronology; historicising the present and fast-forwarding the effects of time. Contrasting and combining these sounds with higher fidelity recordings draws attention to the different substrata of time that are an intrinsic (though largely unacknowledged) part of any non-realtime sound production.

The intention here was to create a ‘memory tape’ that acts as an audio portrait of the city and its inhabitants. This involved asking people to recall their earliest or most vivid memories and recording them direct to open reel tape. On the other side of the tape everyday sounds of the city were captured.

Through a series of processes that mirror the complexity and frailty of human memory this ‘memory tape’ was then fragmented, muddled, corroded, partially erased with magnets, buried in the ground for 10 days and finally excavated and reconstituted. During this process sounds and memories are literally erased and the remains are spliced back together in a random sequence. The end result is a cut-up collage of fragmented voices and distorted field recordings. In some instances I chose to ‘re-construct’ parts of the missing memories using copies made of the original recordings.

In counterpoint, a semi-autobiographical text by Elodie A. Roy reflecting on her parents memories of Brussels is interspersed throughout the piece appearing as a series of answerphone messages.

Produced during a one-month residency at Q-O2, Brussels in August, 2022.

Commissioned by Kunstradio for Ö1 ORF, Austria. First broadcast at 22.05 CET, 21st May, 2023.

Narration written, performed and recorded by Elodie A. Roy.

All other recordings by Mark Vernon.

Composed by Mark Vernon.

Featuring the voices of Henry Andersen, Diana Duta, Julia Eckhardt, Nika Breithaupt, Stuart McGregor, Amber Meulenijzer, Pauline Mikó, Caroline Profanter and Mark Vernon.

Thank you to the participants, everyone at Q-O2, Elisabeth Zimmerman, Elodie A. Roy, Barry Burns and Manja Ristić.

Call Back Carousel – new album out now

 

My latest album is out now on Discrepant as a limited edition LP or download. You can purchase copies direct from the label here.

“This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

(Don Draper, Mad Men)

Call Back Carousel is an audio time-travelogue, a slideshow of the mind’s eye – projecting Kodachrome memories directly into the listeners’ mind by means of sound alone. It is a way of travelling without ever having to leave the home. A vicarious vacation for the imagination. Pure audio escapism.

Each episode is based on a found tape of a pre-recorded slideshow commentary. Most of these tapes were made by amateur tape recording enthusiasts and hobbyist photographers of the 60s and 70s. Their recorded commentaries would at one time have been used in conjunction with a sequence of 35mm slides but only the taped voices now remain. The recordings themselves come from my own archive of found reel-to-reel tapes that I have collected over the past twenty years.

Using these found slideshow commentaries as a framework, a series of musical soundscapes have been created to bring the absent images to life, activating the listeners’ imagination in the classic tradition of ‘cinema for the ears’. It’s a little like looking through a family photo album where only the hand written captions and mounting corners remain; the photographs themselves have all been removed. The evocative rattle and clack of the projector shuffles through different slides as the fragile voices of our tour guides accompany us on a sonic journey that fractures time – and through the cracks, the past bleeds through into our present.

With special thanks to Manja Ristić, Barry Burns, Gonçalo F Cardoso and Bill and Marjory Howard.

Produced with the support of the Creative Scotland and the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund.

 

Call Back Carousel

Discrepant / CREP 102 LP / DL

“This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

(Don Draper, Mad Men)

Call Back Carousel is an audio time-travelogue, a slideshow of the mind’s eye – projecting Kodachrome memories directly into the listeners’ mind by means of sound alone. It is a way of travelling without ever having to leave the home. A vicarious vacation for the imagination. Pure audio escapism.

Each episode is based on a found tape of a pre-recorded slideshow commentary. Most of these tapes were made by amateur tape recording enthusiasts and hobbyist photographers of the 60s and 70s. Their recorded commentaries would at one time have been used in conjunction with a sequence of 35mm slides but only the taped voices now remain. The recordings themselves come from my own archive of found reel-to-reel tapes that I have collected over the past twenty years.

Using these found slideshow commentaries as a framework, a series of musical soundscapes have been created to bring the absent images to life, activating the listeners’ imagination in the classic tradition of ‘cinema for the ears’. It’s a little like looking through a family photo album where only the hand written captions and mounting corners remain; the photographs themselves have all been removed. The evocative rattle and clack of the projector shuffles through different slides as the fragile voices of our tour guides accompany us on a sonic journey that fractures time – and through the cracks, the past bleeds through into our present.

 
With special thanks to Manja Ristić, Barry Burns, Gonçalo F Cardoso and Bill and Marjory Howard.

Produced with the support of the Creative Scotland and the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund.

 

Reviews:

“Call Back Carousel helps us to recall the charm of an antiquated mode of presentation. By restoring dignity to the slide show, Vernon makes the practice worthy of re-evaluation …a disorienting, time travelling montage.”
Richard Allen, A Closer Listen (June 2023)

“It’s somewhere in that space, between the imagined sounds of those lost photos of an experience no one will ever quite know, that Vernon captures a flickering piece of humanity.”
Bandcamp, Acid Test’s Best Albums of 2023, Miles Bowe, December 11, 2023

“…rich soundscapes that tell of a quaint, eccentric Britain that’s almost faded completely from view …realised in stereo, with all the humour and quiet familiarity you’d hope for.”
Boomkat (June 2023)

“Vernon treats the audio with the kind of care and respect reserved for ancient fossils as he restores them through wonderfully descriptive soundscapes and vivid foley design. And gradually, through sound, a picture begins to develop.”
Bandcamp Daily, Acid Test, Miles Bowe (August 2023)

Call Back Carousel is a nostalgic, whimsical, demented and quite melancholic sound journey through historical sites, famous landmarks, tourists spots and must-see places around the globe during a bygone era… It’s strange and intriguing, creepy and alluring, bittersweet and playful, haunting and amusing… and also creatively adventurous, which makes for a delightful and fulfilling listening experience.”
Audio Crackle (August 2023)

 


Reviews in Full

“How long does it take for something to peak, become outdated, and return in a nostalgic rush, a pleasantly retro experience? Some might say this occurred with vinyl (although it was never really gone), Polaroids and bell bottoms. This week Mark Vernon turns his attention to slide shows, whose origin can be traced back centuries to “magic lantern slides”, but whose 35mm glamour peaked in the mid-twentieth century. During that time, some even paid to see slide shows, although a more derided version was the home slide show, a horror to which neighbours subjected each other upon return from their vacations. On Call Back Carousel, Vernon resurrects the audio portion of the slide show in all its glory, adding music to found tapes of slideshow commentary to create a disorienting, time travelling montage.

Readers of a certain age will instantly recognize the sound of the slide projector, which narrowly escaped being made fun of in a Suicide Squad movie; its younger sibling, the overhead projector, took the bullet instead. Classroom and boardroom staples for decades, both were made obsolete by Powerpoint in 1987. But everyone will recognize the voices of older people over-explaining things to anyone who will listen.

The album begins with the a click, waves, birds, a distant opera. The travelogue launches at the Paignton Zoo in 1968, “a very nice beach” according to the narrator. “I don’t know what this bird is,” he continues, explaining his technique. A jaunty song plays in the background, with a happy whistle. “Flamingos – they make a kind of honking noise,” he mansplains. Vernon adds amusing aural cues over the wobbling reel-to-reel; but the track gets really interesting when the narration begins to loop and fall apart, imitating the abrasion of time. Might this man still be outside the exhibit, caught in a time loop, attempting to get Polly to speak?

The Austrian Tyrol is the next stop, with an introduction that sounds like it comes from the tourist board. Slides flutter by in a rush. One thinks of the dullest documentary one has ever endured, spiced up by sound, Vernon acting like a precocious yet brilliant child, adding cuckoo clocks, rail sirens, rushing wind, flowing streams, cowbells and orchestral snippets. A stuttering grown-up calls one spot “the bla-bla-bla and the bla-bla-bla,” making clear what we feared as children; the adults were often bored too. Thank God for that kid in the room that distracted us during such presentations by drawing pictures or making sounds, even if they were sent to the office later.

By “Scotland 1971,” we’re immersed in the spirit of the project. These little aural plays are likely much better than the original products. For long stretches, narration disappears; each sentence sparks a new sonic arrangement. A pause at a bridge leads to traffic; a description of pastures is the beginning of a biophany. To be fair, the original intentions of these slide shows may have been similar: that words and images might spark the imagination. Bagpipes are sampled and applied like aural paint. The machine falters at the end, firing rapidly before dying in a groan.

“Torquay 1969” is the “summer track,” covering a trip to the beach, water skiing, fishing, ice cream, and other summer sounds. The Hawai’an music prompts a question for the listener: which aspect of the recording is the most evocative? Is it the description of summer reverie, the field recordings of summer fun, the song? Travelling back in time, what might an original viewer have felt: jealousy or empathic joy?
While slide shows are no longer a thing, they have mutated into something else: let me show you pictures of my vacation on my phone. Our attention spans have grown even shorter, making these shows much shorter than the presenters might desire. The narrative arc disappears, replaced by the sharing of only the best shots. But in this, something has been lost.

While seldom enthralling and often dull, the classic slide show produced a short story in the form of a travelogue, an art in its own right, whose spirit Vernon captures through a neighbouring discipline. Twelve minutes of vicarious travel (the average length of each track) is not too much to ask of one’s friends, and Call Back Carousel helps us to recall the charm of an antiquated mode of presentation. By restoring dignity to the slide show, Vernon makes the practice worthy of re-evaluation.”

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen, June 2023

Glaswegian sound artist and radio producer Mark Vernon collages an “audio time-travelogue” on ‘Call Back Carousel’, using found tapes from hobbyists and amateur recordists that were originally intended to accompany slideshows.

Back in the 1960s and ’70s, hobbyist photographers would put together slideshows of 35mm photographs, documenting trips to the beach or to the zoo. Sometimes, these events were accompanied by pre-recorded commentaries, spliced with music and environmental recordings to create a cinematic narrative. And for the last two decades, Vernon has been collecting reel-to-reel tapes from the era, cleaving the commentaries from their visuals and working them into rich soundscapes that tell of a quaint, eccentric Britain that’s almost faded completely from view.

The first piece is made up of 1968 recordings from Devon’s Paignton Zoo, opened with a slide machine click and some scene-setting environmental sounds. Music hall memories underpin an old man’s voice, who describes the day out: “I don’t know what this bird is,” he moans. As the piece develops, Vernon’s collage techniques get more distinct, with microphone noise and musical snippets creating the mood while voices connect us with the lived history. The rest of the album plays similarly: a visit to the Austrian Tyrol, a trip to Scotland, a day out in Torquay and a beach vacation at Brighton are realized in stereo, with all the humour and quiet familiarity you’d hope for.”

Boomkat, June 2023

“The first noise you hear on Call Back Carousel sounds almost like a cassette being popped into a tape player, but on closer inspection, could also be the sound of slides clicking through a projector carousel. You hear that click a lot on Call Back Carousel, a remarkable album by Mark Vernon that beautifully builds from a unique source of found footage: reel-to-reel audio commentaries from lost collections of vacation slides dating to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. What we’re left with on each track is a recording of a description of a picture of an experience had by a stranger. The images are long gone, and the people probably are too. There’s only the impression of an experience, heard in descriptions of weather, pointing out people we’ll never find in backgrounds we’ll never see. Vernon treats the audio with the kind of care and respect reserved for ancient fossils as he restores them through wonderfully descriptive soundscapes and vivid foley design. And gradually, through sound, a picture begins to develop.

These fused audio treatments create a ghostly sensation that brings to mind The Caretaker or even Nurse With Wound—it’s a haunting experience, but Vernon crucially makes it a moving one, too. Call Back Carousel is so seamless, it can be easy to forget the immense labor in applying these sounds or the time spent with these lost voices, trying to hear and see what they saw. At one point in the recording “Torquay, 1969,” a man describes stumbling onto a cave before admitting with audible regret that it was too dark to really photograph, even with the flash. He didn’t even have the right type of film for that with him. Who can plan for that? But Vernon chooses to fill the moment with the sound of dripping water, echoing footsteps, and an atmospheric coldness that must have been deeply inviting in the heat of that summer. It’s like you can see it just as the speaker did 50 years ago. And it doesn’t matter anymore that he forgot the right kind of film, because for a moment, you’re right there with him, and the cave is full of light.”

Bandcamp Daily, Acid Test, Miles Bowe, August 10, 2023

Call Back Carousel is an audio time-travelogue based on found tapes of pre-recorded commentaries from the 60s and 70s. These commentaries were originally recorded to accompany slideshows for amateur recordists and photographers, which Vernon has used to create his own audio collages and soundscapes.

The five collages that comprise this album are titled and dated according to (presumably) where and when they were originally recorded, and begin with the sound of a slide projector clicking to life.

Our journey starts at Paignton Zoo in England, 1968, where we’re aurally guided through aviaries and monkey cages, and introduced to toucans, parrots and other exotic creatures with varied snippets of fractured old-timey music to accompany us along the way.

Then we’re off to The Austrian Tyrol in 1972, where we’re informed about the three mountain ranges, and the recommended methods of transport and suggested practicalities of getting around this provence. This is against a pretty eerie backdrop of ominous thuds, traffic noises, birdsong and brooding ambience.

After that we find ourselves in Northern Scotland in 1971, combing the long empty beaches and visiting famous castles. With all this we can hear fragments of traditional Scottish bagpipe music, public transport noises, dark drones, tranquil waters and an array of shuffling sounds, among other things.

Then we move onto the seaside port town of Torquay, England in 1969 where the narrator is commenting on what he sees from a parked caravan – the harbour, promenades, gardens, boats etc… while Vernon provides more warped old-timey music and we hear flocks of seagulls and a gathering of people having a good time, being interviewed about their jetskiing/diving experiences and their observations of the sea. Then the narrator goes off mackerel fishing…
The piece ends with some abstract sound experimentation and weird atmospherics, along with more amusing adventure anecdotes and nostalgic music.

We end our journey in Brighton, England in 1971. This composition starts in an ol’ pub (we hear the familiar sounds of people drinking and talking) before quickly moving onto the seafront. The narrator comments on the picture galleries he sees by the pebbly seafront, while in the background we hear people playing on the beaches and waves gently crashing. These recordings are broken up by bursts of old carousel music and various stuttering sounds. Then the narrator takes us to the shops, and talks about some photographs he took along the way. Towards the end of the compositon, the soundscape becomes all woozy and the recordings become more distant, until the whole things fades and disentagrates into nothingness, and we’re left with the lonesome sound of the slide projector idling away before finally being turned off.

‘Call Back Carousel’ is a nostalgic, whimsical, demented and quite melancholic sound journey through historical sites, famous landmarks, tourists spots and must-see places around the globe during a bygone era… accompanied by fragmented musical samples, audio manipulation noises and conceptual sound art experimentation. It’s strange and intriguing, creepy and alluring, bittersweet and playful, haunting and amusing… a mixed bag of emotions, and also creatively adventurous, which makes for a delightful and fulfilling listening experience.”

Audio Crackle, Fletina, August, 2023

“Mark Vernon’s ghostly, immensely moving Call Back Carousel invites us to try and grasp something impossible. Starting with found audio tapes offering narration of someone’s vacation slideshow, Vernon uses foley effects and sound treatments to bring these forgotten experiences to life. The occasional rhythmic click of the carousel flings us somewhere new and unpredictable in time and space, but in these voices we always find the familiar—warmth, humor and a faint sadness at the passage of time. It’s somewhere in that space, between the imagined sounds of those lost photos of an experience no one will ever quite know, that Vernon captures a flickering piece of humanity.”

Bandcamp, Acid Test’s Best Albums of 2023, Miles Bowe, December 11, 2023

 

 

Oscillation ::: o tempo

Oscillation festival, 27th – 29th April, 2023.

MILL (Needcompany)/HISK: Rue Gabrielle Petit 4, 1080 Molenbeek, Brussels.

For the Oscillation festival I will be performing a new piece, ‘Time Deterred’, on Saturday the 29th April at 10.45pm.

Tickets available here.

Time Deterred

Delving deep into his tape archives, audio archae­olo­gist Mark Vernon presents a spe­cially-devised quad­ra­phon­ic per­form­ance fea­tur­ing lost voices, found sounds, tape trash, small objects, tape loops, and field record­ings. By inter­ming­ling found tapes and voices of the past with memor­ies and record­ings of his own, a multi-layered tapestry of sounds is woven, blur­ring and over­lay­ing dif­fer­ent time peri­ods in what could be described as a form of son­ic time travel. Within this hiss of his­tory, fal­ter­ing mag­net­ic memor­ies fade and resur­face, bob­bing like audio flot­sam and jet­sam on a sea of white noise.

More details here.

VICE DE FORME #11 – Instants Chavirés

VICE DE FORME #11
CARBON SINK
LORENZO ABATTOIR
MARK VERNON

Wednesday, 3rd May, 2023, Les Instants Chavirés 7, rue Richard-Lenoir 93100 Montreuil – France

Tarifs:
13€ plein tarif
11€ prévente et Montreuillois | acheter en ligne
10€ abonnés Instants Chavirés | s’abonner

Horaires:
ouverture des portes 20h00 | concert à 20h30

More details here.

Formosa Launch at the Old Hairdressers

ADAM MATSCHULAT – FORMOSA ALBUM LAUNCH + MARK VERNON + OLIVER PITT (DJ SET)

On Friday night I’ll be performing a live quadraphonic set as part of a Calling Cards Publishing night to mark the launch of Adam Matschulat’s new LP Formosa.

Adam will also be performing a quad set on the night and Akashic records’ Oliver Pitt will be DJing.

The Old Hairdressers, Renfield Lane, Glasgow
Friday, 31st March from 8pm
 
Tickets in advance £8 – £10

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