Friday, June 3, 2011

Mood Organ "Calcinatio" cassettes

So I really wanted to review some of Timm Mason's (Mood Organ) "Calcinatio" series of cassettes but the scale of his project is too hard to categorize. Kraut rock, Noise, Drone... There is too much going on here to be able to sum up in a few words so I decided a short interview with the man himself might help you to all understand. Enjoy.

1. So what exactly are you doing with these cassettes?

"Visiting A Burning Museum" (cd on Debacle Records) took something like 8 years from start to
completion. After it came out, I was working on a follow-up - "The
Lost Levels", which I hope to release this year - and I started
getting really bogged down mixing these extended compositions with
dozens of layers of audio. I was also conscious that there was new
sonic territory I wanted to annex, and that required me to build up
some new skills. Around this time I was listening to a lot of Raymond
Scott & Delia Derbyshire and also some 7"s that I really liked
(Organum, HNAS, John Wiese). It got me thinking about shorter

One morning I woke up with the observation that there are 52 weeks in
a year and 52 cards in a deck. I am interested in this idea of
treating the studio as an alchemical laboratory & this series seemed
like a reasonable analog for the Calcinatio process - a slow, steady
heating to remove impurities. Each tape is a drop of my sweat.

2. I was under the impression that you were originally doing a
cassette a week, is that still the plan?

After a few months, it became painfully clear that one cassette a week
was not going to be possible given my other commitments. I did
complete one cassette every 2 weeks during Year One, to the day
(2/26). I took a couple of months off to pull my life together a bit
& digitize all the tapes from Year One. This week I have resumed the
project. If all goes according to plan, it will be complete

3. Is the music on these cassettes all original?

Yes. Most of it is conceived and recorded as fast as I possibly can.
A few of the tapes use older, unreleased material, but they have new
edits / mixes / whatever. 5 Clubs is one of the first recordings I
ever made (2001) and it is a sort of remix of "Let's Stay Together" by
Al Green… in the sense that Lucier's "I Am Sitting In A Room" is a
remix… is that original?

4. The packaging for each tape consists of a Mood Organ playing card
and a case. Do the tracks correlate to the card for any specific
reason? Did you finish a track and think, "yeah, that's the 3 of clubs
right there?"

When I'm about to start a new tape, I draw a card from the deck. The
card may suggest an approach; it may not. 4 Hearts, Q Diamonds, 2
Clubs - these are examples where I feel that there's a link that's
fairly literal, if only to me. Others might use the card in a subtle
way - maybe 7 Spades has a 7-based rhythm in there somewhere, say.
Many have no connection that I'm aware of.

To answer your question in a different way, the tracks correlate to
the cards for the same reason that today's lottery number correlates
to today. What's important is that a correspondence is created, which
will allow for a chance-based live megamix when the deck is complete.
Cassette solitaire.

5. Is there any plan to reissue the tracks in another format (vinyl, cd)?

I'm talking to a label about doing a CD compilation of some tracks
from Year One. It's possible I might do the complete collection on a
thumb drive once it's all over. Also, I'm hoping K Hearts side B will
be a split single with Tom Tom Club some day. I'm open to ideas.

6. If someone was interested in contacting you to purchase a cassette
where can they find you?


I really encourage buying a few as they're relatively short (~13
minutes) and differ quite a bit. I will cut you a deal.

7. Being so fucking busy all the time with at least three projects
that i can think of right now, how do you find the time to record

It's tough. I've had to sacrifice a lot of things I'd like to do. I
wouldn't say I lead a balanced life. A lot of the Calcinatio material
was recorded late at night.

8. Where did you get the playing cards?

They were printed by and they did a fine job.

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