Stephen Cornford ‎– Six Tape Machines

Accidie Records ‎– A/R06
Vinyl, LP, Album


Companies, etc.


  • Electronics [Four Open Reel Tape Machines, Two Walkmans, Contact And Condenser Microphones, Geophones, The Machines' Own Built-In Amplifiers], Recorded By, Edited By [Assembled By]Stephen Cornford


These pieces were composed from analogue and digital recordings of four open reel tape machines and two walkmans made with contact and condenser microphones, geophones and the machines' own built-in amplifiers. No digital processing was used, although some sounds were acoustically manipulated by playing them back through other parts of the machine.

Recorded & assembled in Bristol and Oxford, 2010-2011.

In three tone silkscreened cardstock sleeve.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Side A): 20918.1(1)- CAPSULELABS.COM A/R06-A
  • Matrix / Runout (Side B): 20918.2(1) A/R06-B



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November 2, 2013
Review posted on Bang the Bore:
"This was the first release of what’s turned out to be a very busy year for Mr. Cornford, with another release on 3 Leaves forthcomng and a release on Consumer Waste recently out, not to mention installation work, work for projectors, etc. etc. Being based on recordings of tape machines, this piece naturally recalls his earlier, and probably best known piece Binatone Galaxy – an installation for self-amplifying tape machines that also spawned a cd on Senufo Editions, both of which have received much well deserved attention. For all the thematic similarity, the results here are very different but no less marvellous.

Binatone Galaxy, in its time structure, was quite a flat work. Made up of excerpted recordings of an installation, the work of construction was located in the objects rather than the recordings, and on record no development or compositional decision was either in evidence or felt lacking. What we heard was just the moment to moment, point by point presence of sound – a brittle constellation recalling the similarly cosmic aspirations of Xenakis’ Concret PH – both in its pointillist detail and in its potential endlessness. Where Xenakis located his cosmos in burning charcoal though – carrying its heavy material metaphysic of energy, chemical change and earth-process – Cornford’s Galaxy was the model name of a commercially popular cassette machine, the rattling plastic cogs of which generated their own teeming infinity.

The source material for Six Tape Machines has similarly earthbound, though slightly less everyday associations – focusing on the reel to reel tape machines once beloved of audio professionals and home-recordist; older, sturdier objects, fundamental to the development of electronic music. As with much of Cornford’s work, that cultural association is important but neither comprehensive nor one-dimensional, informing process rather than defining the results. Accordingly, processing of the recorded machine sounds is limited to re-recording and manipulation via the same tape machines – a familiarly hermetic approach in Cornford’s work, and one that allows a certain blurring and integration of the tactile and conceptual.

Another contrast to Binatone, is that Six Tape Machines allows a little more in the way of composition and drama to creep in. At times the forms that result recall the electroacoustic tradition to which the piece’s subjects are fundamental. Compared to that primarily transformative tradition, however, here composition and manipulation proceeds in the most restrained of manners, limited to the setting up of certain longform symmetries, the entry and exit of beautifully captured, self-sufficient stretches of sound. At every point the machine’s chance harmonies and surprisingly diverse machine rhythms are retained. The source materials, the sounds of the machines, are the focus here. The feeling is that what manipulations and arrangements are made are made to frame and articulate the source material and recording process, and because of this Six Tape Machines, insofar as it references that world, counterpoints and corrects rather than retreads a tradition too often caught up in the rhetoric of “spirit” and the image of the “maestro” and as a result all too eager to efface its material conditions.The sounds themselves are enveloping. Warmer and more organically suggestive of the “internal” than Binatone’s brittle signature, carrying a surprising emotionality without a trace of nostalgia, and without losing anything of the earlier piece’s detail or objectivity. Fantastic stuff."