Open Reel Ensemble, rethinking reel to reel

Open Reel Ensemble

Reel to reel tape machines are dinosaurs compared to the digital audio workstations we use today and old timers are usually grateful not to have to resort to scissors when an edit is required in the modern sound studio. For people like Wada Ei who were born after the personal computer however old tape machines still carry a mysterious fascination. His Open Reel Ensemble has retrò-engineered a set of two track Pioneer RT-1050s and given them special features. The tape decks are interfaced with computers and can be individually controlled through an iphone application. But what is perhaps more interesting is that the play heads have been made mobile by mounting them on solenoids. Activating the solenoids moves the play heads back and forth at variable speeds, introducing novel jitter effects. The Open Reel Ensemble performs live combining their modded gear with conventional instruments. These are sampled in real time and then warped, warbled, looped and scratched by the nimble fingers of Wada Ei. It might seem like a lot of work for something that could be achieved far more easily by other means, but old school analog devices beat computers when it comes to stage presence and sheer physical response.

Matteo Marangoni