Wonders of the cassette tape loop, part 2

I was originally planning on going through my tape adventure chronologically, but since I forgot some of my notes at work, I’m going to move ahead in the storyline.

The Cassette Tape Echo

In my quest for a cheap tape echo, i tried innumerable techniques. I added extra playheads to the tape players, I added a playhead inside the tape cassette, Built arms to hold tapeheads and ran tape around them. No matter what, nothing eventful ever really happened.

At some point, I realized that if I had the leads from the additional playheads running back into the tape player, I was esentially recording with 2 heads, instead of recording with one, playing with the other. Then the idea of Frippertronics came to me. I could use 2 tape players. One to play, one to record!

Frippertonics, broke with my original plan, in that it did not appoximate the WEM Copicat. Instead of it making a nice controllable echo, it generated more of a return system. Even though it was not my original idea, I was intrigued by the possibilities, so I started trying to figure out how i could go about assembling a Frippertronics cassette unit.

After some searching I came upon 2 tape recorders that had plastic sides I could cut through so that the tape could run from one player to the other. I then built a loop using 2 cassettes that I also cut open and then joined.

Cassette Frippertronics diagram: (clicky clicky)
Cassette Tape Loop Frippertronics

Robert Fripp and the Frippertronics system:
Frippertronics

As you can imagine this doesn’t exactly work like a charm. However, it was quite charming. The main issue with this settup is the really poor tape tracking. The tape warbles along, jittering and dragging all the time. This is in part due to the fact that only one of the tape reels is moving the tape along.

The ideosyncracies of this setup actually turned out to be quite pleasing. I really liked how whatever you played into it, got re-interpreted by the system on the way out. As I was playing with it, I had the rare forsight to record it. So of course I present it to you here. What you are hearing is an old Yamaha, single oscillator synth played through the cassette loop Frippertronics system. I basically am just improvising mindlessly and listening to the playback. I later added some slap delay and reverb to soften the very square wave sound of the synth, and it actually dresses up quite nicely.

Enjoy!

Cassette Tape Frippertronics

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