Allen Christian
Mark Gunderson


The Tape-beatles

The Tape-beatles put out their first major work, « A subtle buoyancy of pulse » in 1988. In keeping with the tape esthetic, the work was available only on cassette (until being reissued 10 years later on
CD by Staalplaat). Public response was sufficiently favorable that the group began immediate work on a new album, adding two new members along the way: Paul Neff and Linda Morgan Brown.

A grant from Intermedia Arts Minnesota enabled The Tape-beatles to finish their second work in 1991, a CD for the Canadian label DOVentertainment, entitled « Music with Sound ». This was the record that put the Tape-beatles on the map to some extent, garnering favorable reviews in 'Keyboard' (written by Mark Dery) as well as putting them on the 'Top 10 Imports of the Year' list in 'Pulse', the in-store magazine for Tower Records.

« Music with Sound » not only established the group's signature
style and technique, it also provided the Tape-beatles with a
coherent soundtrack upon which to base a live public performance.
Using multiple image projection devices (16 and 8mm film on reels
and loops, film strips and slide projectors), as well as an array of
strange and obsolete recording equipment culled from audiovisual
surplus outlets (the 'language master', the 'calophone', the
'wollensak', etc.). The presentation was a barrage of discarded
educational and motivational material put to a musical score that
varied from the bombastic to the delicate and subtly constructed.
The climax of the piece found the audience being surrounded by a
single room-sized tape loop.

The year 1993 saw the release of « The Grand Delusion »
(Staalplaat), a bitter mediation on the U.S. Persian Gulf war and
the questionable ideology that created it. In addition, the group
refined their presentation approach, distilling it down to just
three 16mm projectors, used in a configuration the group named
'Polyvision', in honor of Abel Gance's pioneering movie techniques
of the 1920s. (Later this technique was renamed 'expanded cinema' by the group.)

In the meantime, Ralph moved to Oakland, Calif., to study
composition at Mills College. Lloyd suspended all zine production
and went on a yearlong trip abroad, spending most of the time in
France, but dropping in on John Heck in Prague, where he then

Upon Lloyd's return to the United States, he and Ralph regrouped to
form the duo Public Works. Using similar principles to the
Tape-beatles, Public Works laid the focus on digital audio production, and tightened the emphasis on the production of music, with less emphasis on pure sound collage or 'audio art'. 1997's « Matter » (Staalplaat) was the group's début recording. An 'expanded cinema' performance of that name was also created, and the group performed that and « The Grand Delusion » in a dozen cities from San Francisco to Berlin, Germany.

John Heck rejoined the group to work on a new proposed work for the
Tape-beatles that would be called « Good Times ». A long-term
project, it was envisioned from the start that the composition would
take its full form as an audio visual presentation. The work was
competed September, 2001. It premiered at the Sound Unseen Film
Festival in Minneapolis, USA in October 2001, which inaugurated as
well a Tape-beatle tour of the US Midwest. Currently in production
is a video adaptation of the « Good Times » 'expanded cinema' for
release on videotape and DVD.

More about the Tape-beatles and Public Works can be found at their web site:

© 2002 Festival of Appropriation