zip.disk [musik]

Posted on | July 3, 2010

Today I was experimenting with some old zip drives I discovered inside a box in my studio. Rather than getting rid of them I wanted to see if I could use the drive as a  industrial/data instrument.

The resulting experiment was beyond anything I was expecting. By simply soldering two piezo elements to the head of the drive and boosting the signal with a four channel preamp [which also allows for multiple line outs] the drive, when engaged, sounded rather amazing. I connected it to the computer, inserted a disc then waited for it to mount. I soon noticed that opening various file types directly from the discs would result in a variety of sonic output. Video files for example would create a slightly different texture than a static .jpg file. Media files also allowed the drive to be engaged for a longer period of time as the information was being transcribed.

I sent the audio output from the zip drive to a loop pedal to allow layering and then recorded the experiment/performance. What resulted was a slowly building, dark ambient/industrial soundscape  composed entirely in the moment from three different zip discs and a loop pedal.

Raw recording 7m.36s

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Over the next few weeks I’m excited to begin experimenting with both 5¼-inch and 3½-inch floppy drives. Who knows, there may even be a release in the future of just “disc.MUSIC.” Maybe I could call it “Funeral Hymns for Dead Technology.” Okay… maybe not.


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Jason Sloan is an electronic media and sound artist, musician, composer and professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.

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