Joseph Clayton Mills – The Letter [CS]

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Joseph Clayton Mills – The Letter [CS]

5.00

Label: Suppedaneum

Format: Cassette

Year: 2015

Joseph Clayton Mills presents a vanishing act in progress with The Letter, a single-sided cassette edition wherein each copy is hand-dubbed from its nearest antecedent, incurring significant generation loss which then becomes increasingly dominant in the audio. The copies offered here go up to #85, so quite a bit has been rubbed out—but don’t let that dissuade you. Despite, and also because of the minimal surviving content, playing the The Letter is a very active listening pursuit; it summons one’s efforts to decipher it and speculate what one was. Each listener is offered an individual experience, and is themselves integral to the existence of the work. Among the half-hidden artifacts of sound are some voice recordings that seem worthy of comparison to a recovered surveillance tape. Elsewhere behind the thick veil of soft noise are fragile piano tones and wobbly electronics, likely made more intriguing in their obscured state than their original form. This is a good one for all of us who have ever opted to tune in to deep AM radio static in the car as opposed to actual music. At one point, I accidentally started playing this at the same time as the d’incise disc from Suppedaneum—which I found myself enjoying quite a bit—so although it might not be the recommended serving suggestion, The Letter could incidentally be a nice spice to add to other recordings, if you’re feeling adventurous.

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«The Letter» is a piece of music designed to approach disappearance. To create it, a single 22-minute recording, incorporating piano, field recordings, electronics, and voice, was transferred to one side of a Maxell Communicator Series C45 cassette. This initial cassette was then duplicated onto another cassette, which was in turn duplicated onto still another cassette, and so on. With each generation of this iterative process, a certain amount of deterioration was introduced in the audio fidelity of the recording. This procedure was repeated until 100 unique artifacts had been produced.
This limited-edition release comprises 100 unlabeled, hand-duplicated cassettes, each accompanied by a copy of the score that inspired the piece (“Abscission” 2015), a photograph, and a brief explanatory text. Copies of the release will be issued strictly in sequence.