Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the machine that tore speech to pieces

I'm reading How to Wreck a Nice Beach by Dave Tompkins, who has obviously been invested in this project for a good long while - the history of the vocoder from its Bell Labs-national security roots to its significant presence in music.

I'm a latecomer to the Cult of Tompkins, but I'll scribble my name on as many cards to carry as I can. (Now I'm cursing myself for getting rid of all those old Wires, right?) His prose is lush, dense, playful and evocative (like Vollmann in places but without that annoying shadow of self-importance that hangs over a lot of WV's work) and the depth and breadth of his knowledge and research are remarkable. HTWANB is a pleasure to read at every level. It's also full of potential song titles/band names. Go get yourself a copy.

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