Henry Jacobs

Radio Programme, No. 1: Henry Jacobs' Music and Folklore

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A loop of a voice saying "audio collage" introduces this album-length experiment in tape manipulation and audio vérité from Henry Jacobs, which appeared on the Folkways label in 1955. Jacobs assembled the album, Radio Programme, No. 1, with excerpts from his radio show, Music and Folklore. The result is a miscellany of people talking, bits of jazz and world music, and rhythmic loops spliced together into a befuddling array of sounds. The loops are novel, but most of the album consists of interviews with offbeat characters who are only sporadically engaging. The funniest one is "Interview with Shorty Petterstein," in which a square interviewer questions a hipster, resulting in some comedic moments that resemble a Stan Freberg skit. Jacobs' use of tape technology to manipulate and rearrange the white noise of environmental sounds and pop cultural emanations may not be as intrinsically beguiling today as it was in the early days of tape experimentation, but it is remarkable how similar Radio Programme, No. 1 is to the works of modern audio manipulators like Negativland. The spliced and looped musical creations, like the rhythmic "Sonata for Loudspeaker," will be of more interest to historically-minded listeners than the interviews.

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