Cassette composer and Xerox artist Jason Zeh from Bowling Green Ohio, has spent the better part of the last decade and a half forging a unique sonic vocabulary that seeks to uncover the inherent flaws in cassette tapes and to devise processes that bring those flaws into sharp focus. Much like the abstract expressionists, Zeh creates an non-objective work that accentuates surface, gesture, color, and texture without foregoing emotion as he forces the listener to focus on the hidden traits and materiality of cassette tape: scratches on the surface, the clicking of the machinery, the magnetic fields of the motors, layering of tape hiss, and the physical manipulation of magnetic granules on the surface of the tape all become key compositional elements instead of obstacles to be overcome in the interest of producing an unblemished recording.
Zeh’s work has been variously described as “noise plus,” by Frans de Waard, as “brutally precise non-music” by Khristopher Rienshagen, and as “somewhere in between minimalist composition and DIY drone/noise without fully inhabiting either space comfortably,” by Josh Eppert. These descriptions accurately address Zeh’s tireless search for an extended technique cassette music that is often difficult to pin down.
This piece represents the first stage in a new experiment focusing entirely on the inaudible electromagnetic fields produced by the motors of a variety of cassette players. It is a vastly different minimalism that is almost diametrically opposed to the subtlety of the limited Pieces cassette and that of the last 20 minutes of Heraclitus.