The art of mechanical techno


Are you tired of sitting in front of your desktop DAW or perhaps feel that your hardware line up isn’t really cutting it? Well perhaps it is time to try something different. How about indulging yourself in mechanical techno?

A guy who knows this trade is Graham Dunning. Graham is literally doing just this with his technique of stacking vinyl records on top of each other and recording the collective sound (noise) they make. According to various sources Graham is obsessed with dust, scratches, the detritus of cultural artifacts and dismantling techno. Using a variety of media including found tape, dubplates, field recordings and hacked electronic devices, he makes music in a variety of styles but he is most known for mechanical techno.

His approach to music production includes tracks built from loops created by stacking doctored vinyl and dubplates on a single turntable and using electrical contacts to trigger instruments from synths and cowbells to woofers removed from speaker systems. The loops and sounds will continue as long as the vinyls are in motion and the resulting cacophony of sound can be quite intriguing to listen to. Below is a sample from his latest endeavor:

The track on SoundCloud is described as a pure live mixdown of a mechanical techno machine setup. And being true to his mechanical approach to music naturally the album cover is a collage made of cut-up record sleeves. The album can be purchased here:

From the 12″, four track EP released by ADAADAT on 27th April 2018.
www.adaadat.co.uk/grahamdunning/

In a recent interview Graham talks on his new album: “I wanted to make some weirder dancefloor stuff. I’m trying to explore my set-up and find the sounds that you couldn’t easily make with a computer. So I made some records that use prime numbers (1, 2, 3, 5 and 7) per cycle. Like for this track ‘Escaped Clank Replicator’, which is 5 against 7 against 3 time. It’s super wonky. There’s also a track on there called ‘Protest Dub’ that is a bit more spacey and dubby but in 3 against 4 time. An artist called Tom Richards also made me this optical trigger so I can make records with white squares on and the reader uses the visual cue to create rhythmical patterns. The title comes from a comment on the mechanical techno video that went viral, classic ‘this guy’s got way too much time on his hands’ remark.”

Living and working in London, UK he is fully self-taught as an artist and a musician and over the past several years he has been extremely prolific in his collaborations, releases and performances. He teaches Experimental Sound Art at the Mary Ward Centre in London, gives various workshops, and performs his unique act both solo and in ensembles across Europe. He has also exhibited several of his kinetic A/V installations as far as New Zealand and USA. He is currently in residency at London’s prestigious Somerset House which has so far included the curating of Dismantle Yourself, an event in which several artists held a performance inspired by rave culture making heavy use of homemade devices, hacked circuitry and instrument triggers to deliver a performance that dissected the rhythms and motivations of house and techno.

In an interview Graham stated: “I made this one turntable which plays either really fast or really slow with variable speed so you can get different sounds out of that,” he tells me in the midst of applying a sweep of echo from an old reel-to-reel to the thunk of beater on speaker cone. “You start experimenting with different things, trying to see what sounds you can make with turntables.”

Graham continues explaining why standard tools are not an option. “Even painstakingly sampled every drum sound from old disco records to avoid the cliché of presets and cheesy VST sounds, but you get sick of hearing the same disco sample over and over again, and it always sounds exactly the same. It’s always exactly on point in the bar. This system introduces quite a lot of unknown elements. The needle on the partially-acetate-covered record may skip unpredictably to another groove; the thunk upon the speaker cone contains myriad tiny irregularities; there’s buzz and accumulating fur and an uneven spread of background noise; even the weight of piling so much stuff onto such a cheap deck tends to slow the thing down a bit more with each additional layer.”

ABOUT

Graham Dunning [b. 1981] is self-taught as an artist and musician having studied neither discipline academically. His live work explores sound as texture, timbre and something tactile, drawing on bedroom production, tinkering and recycling found objects. He also creates visual work, video and installations drawing on these themes.

Much of the work evolves through experimentation with different processes: considering the methods by which sounds become music; process as a continuum encompassing both improvisational and procedural methods; and testing analogous processes across different media.

Graham has performed solo and in ensembles across the UK, Europe and Canada, and exhibited in the UK, Europe, New Zealand and USA. He teaches Experimental Sound Art at the Mary Ward Centre in London and also gives various independent workshops. He has released through Entr’acte, Seagrave, Tombed Visions and more.

More info can be found here: https://grahamdunning.com/