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Baker's Dozen

Soundhead: Robert Hampson Of Loop’s Favourite Albums
John Doran , November 13th, 2013 07:37

Ahead of the first Loop gigs in 22 years, Robert Hampson tells John Doran about the LPs that he feels were neglected at the time but are now finding their audience


Luc Ferrari - Presque Rien
Basically Luc Ferrari started with the original pieces for Presque Rien, which translates into English as “almost nothing”. The first piece he produced he was on holiday in Yugoslavia and his hotel was very close to the beach. As a concept of music he was very much into making soundscapes from environmental sound. John Cage had already talked about the fact that everything can be musical. The traffic outside your window on a very busy street can have a musical tonality to it if you think about it in a different way. I think Ferrari, by this time, had very much distanced himself from the GRM [Groupe de Recherches Musicales] and making more concrète or electro-acoustic music with instrumentation. It must have struck him that with portable reel-to-reel tape machines and microphones he could record a lot more things that weren’t necessarily musical. This was obviously an idea that Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry had conceived with the GRM. Ferrari was heavily involved with them for some time but he discovered quite quickly that he was on to something else that stretched the academic ideas that had already been formulated. He wanted to push boundaries. Preque Rien was originally recorded over many years as a number of different recordings. These are very much aesthetic works. He takes the concept of the space and then records it over a certain period and then edits the tape, manipulating it slightly with little bits of electronics here and there. As a soundscape piece, it’s a trick because he actually used to multitrack many of the sounds. He used to layer the sound together to create a different space altogether. So he was not only trying to capture a certain space and time but he’s also played with it and he was very much into creating jokes. He had a very keen sense of humour. He was always trying to play jokes on the listener. But there’s a sense of musicality to what he did. He composed in a very traditional way but using very untraditional sources. You can’t say it’s the first ever ambient record even though this does lend itself to that idea a little bit. Even at his most minimalist there is a very strong sense of musicality to what he does.