Tone 11 – John Duncan “Tap Internal”

CD – 1 track – 46:47

Track listing:

1. Tap Internal

Painter/experimental musician John Duncan is renowned for his use of shortwave radio. Getting his start hosting radio programs (including one such show titled Close Radio), Duncan began his musical journey in 1980, as he likened the sounds of a shortwave radio to what one may hear while dreaming, and began to merge this uncharted sound with music (another popular technique of Duncan’s is recording his voice on tape reading text backwards, then inverting the tape to achieve peculiar effects on his voice).One of his earliest recordings, the 1984 cassette Pleasure Escape, includes a piece titled “Blind Date,” which features Duncan talking about a dead body and a vasectomy operation. Further releases followed, such as music for a series of Japanese porno films, titled The John See Soundtracks, plus Riot, Incoming, The Crackling, Tap Internal, Palace of Mind, and NAV, among others. [Greg Prato, All Music Guide]


Other Music (USA):

A revealing and occasionally brutal glimpse into the soul of industrial power-electronics after the style of Merzbow. “Have you ever asked yourself ‘What is the sound of energy?’ John Duncan has been trying for years to explain the composition of matter through sound, and not everyone can understand this — but once the door is opened everything suddenly becomes easy. ‘Tap Internal’ is beautiful and, in classic Duncan style, cruel — in that it puts you in contact with our deepest psyche and lays it bare, turning the auricular membrane inside out, leaving an indelible mark of new frequencies that are beautiful to abandon yourself to. But watch out: just at the moment of hypnosis the scenario is completely convoluted and the sound becomes coarse and varied, cuts the air and tries to attack. The nightmare begins again, and once more the listener is forced to change his attitude, define a new reaction to the input. The beauty and uniqueness of Duncan’s music is fully captured in this continuous change of situations, dynamics, sounds and emotions which is the microscopic photography of life itself.” –Jon Wozencroft, Touch. One harrowing 47-minute track. The squeamish need not apply. [JG]


Tap Internal maps the topography of listening where buzzsaw horizons give way to a vista of meditative bliss. Despite the aura of magnetic dread, I can’t help but feel strangely comforted by the yearning, bowing buzz, which recalls nothing for me so much as the resonant passage of airplanes above pinetopped mountains. And maybe that’s the point: Tap Internal points to those places outside “civilization” (nature, energy, the body) suddenly brought into close contact with the shavings of technology. The result is like a metal form humming with life and bristling with the detritus it’s attracted. Intensely objective music, not quite documentary but created from its snapshots – almost like forms of measurement (the hertz, the bit) treated like artworks: framed, hung, regarded. And painfully pure.

Nasmkeio (Switzerland):

Great new release by genius John Duncan who should need no introduction, after releases on labels like Trente oiseaux, Touch, die Stadt, RRRecords,… many performances,… One 46:47 minute piece which is a work on a rather digital sound texture, but we are not talking here of a new glitch work… Layers of sounds made with enigmatic digital sounds, rather low, floating between your two ears (a stereo effect makes it even more crazy), with only subtle variations, it creates kind of movements, some parts are rather agressive and high, some are made with low deep drones evolving slowly, some are more in the field of digital noise,… It’s really dynamic, emotional, beautiful and elegant. Excellent. X-ray image on the sleeve. “Tap internal is beautiful and — in classical “Duncan style” — cruel.” [Massimo Ricci]

Outburn (USA):

Duncan’s second release on Touch ranges fom minimal to drone to harsh. You’re drawn into his metallic rhythms, only to be jolted from your complacency by the hissing sounds of escaping tension. Low rumblings build up to a harsh u-turn into static, then lull you back into a false sense of easy listening. Duncan has also put all these twists and turns into one single track to be sure and keep you strapped into your seat for his compelling aural journey.

remote induction (UK):
John Duncan’s Tap Internal is one long track, about 40 odd minutes of sound. A piece which uses and explores electricity as sound source and inspiration. This sees the sound go through a range of associated sound in this period, going though clear and distinct phases. Listening to the release the differences in these phases is clear, but perhaps challenge easy differentiation in terms of vocabulary. I fear an attempt to make such a description would less than a thrilling read and in the end would not provide fair impression of the release. As a piece it is about sound structure and exploration rather than attempting to fit in with any clear musical style. The cover to the release is complimentary to the feel of the album, the flash of an x-ray offering a snap-shot of revelation.

Your Flesh (USA):

So why doesn’t John Duncan get more credit as a world class sonic architect? The guy has made amazing music for years and often crafts incredible walls of sound out of what seems to be raw magnetic waves or slivers of tape. By today’s point-and-click standards, Duncan may be primitive but I think I’ll at least be coming back to Tap Internal or past classics like Klaar long after most glitchsters are programming the Bundeswher recruiting Web site. Duncan’s secret seems to be an instinct for balancing, pacing, and the willingness to push the meters up into the red. Thick tides of noise can flow out at any point in one of his recordings and his placement always seems perfect. There’s a sense of tension building, as well as the raw surprise evident when a swathe of noise lashes out. John Duncan can work with what seems to be magnetic force. [Bruce Adams]