Adrian Rew — Slot Machine Music Vol. 2

Vol. 2

Slot Machine Music Vol. 2, Ergot Records

I’ve never been one to listen to much in the way of field recording. I find most field recordings to be dry and academic in purpose or even worse, simply boring. But recently I came across a fascinating and enjoyable work of field recording by Ergot Records head Adrian Rew. So far, the work consists of two CD-Rs Slot Machine Music, and Slot Machine Music Vol. 2. As the name suggests these are recordings of the sonic environment created by modern slot machines in casinos. They have been recorded in a number of casinos in the Midwest. The CD-Rs come with a rigorous artists statement that points to the precisely controlled environments of casinos as the object of study. Architecture, sights, smells and, yes, sounds, are all engineered in the casino environment to make gamblers lose a sense of time and place and to be wholly engaged in playing for just a little bit longer. This state of suspended animation is called “The Zone,” and Slot Machine Music is an attempt to document the sonic qualities of the Zone. Casinos not taking kindly to any kind of recording, Rew had to make clandestine recording from within his jacket, and the songs across these two CD-Rs represent the most sonically interesting moments of the raw recordings. Okay, all this is intellectually interesting, and it opens up questions about the ethics of modern gambling, but what does it sound like? Well, it’s actually quite psychedelic, with a strong dose of hypnogogia a la James Ferraro circa 2008. The machines are mostly tuned to the key of C giving the cacophony of buzzes, dings, jingles, and fanfares an uncanny homogeny. The recordings have highs and lows, relatively empty spaces of ambience and spaces where machines go off all around creating a maximal, heady wave of sound. Bits and pieces of conversation are picked up and gamblers commiserate with and congratulate each other. The recording of the sound, as proposed by some theories of field recording, does not give the environment a new life. Rather, this recording captures the life that already exists, and what a very, very strange life it is. Most importantly, the recordings are quite enjoyable to listen to; the sounds have been precisely engineered to be as such. These CD-Rs have not sold me on field recording as a whole, but I can’t deny that they are both fun and challenging in the best ways.


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