Ever since childhood I have viewed compact discs as the embodiment of futurism: ideal shape, mirrored surface, and a crystal-clear sound. And I also loved how they would malfunction. Scratches, scuffs, read errors – at a time when I still knew nothing about IDM and glitch music, I tried to engineer a repeat of these sounds, but felt like I was chasing ghosts. And then all of a sudden discs went out of fashion and were forgotten.
As a rule players would only reproduce the sound in play mode. In all other modes, even though the laser continues to read the information on the surface, the sound would zone out. This was done to ensure that the player did not play the errors and did not emit any sound on a pause, the scratch marks, etc.
Recently I stumbled upon a description of one the processors of old Sony CD players, including instructions on how to modify the player so that it continues to emit sounds in any operating mode. Experimentation was not long in coming: I ordered several old Sony D2 and D20 and started my preparations. As the thirty-year old electronics would literally fall apart in my hands, I assembled one operable device from three players. After replacing all the capacitors, I was struck by the sound quality of this player – state of the art MP3 players don’t even come close. The new device is capable of playing any compact discs with profound scratch marks, makes a sound during rewind, on pause and also during the stoppage/start-up of a disc. Furthermore, I added an intercept function for the motors responsible for the movement of the laser head and the rotation of the disc. I also added to the device a digital processor with joystick for evocative manipulations of the sounds obtained from the player. Another option was an additional revolving optical disc. As well as the visual impact, owing to the emergent induction it is capable of influencing at high speed the motor of the CD, which results in fascinating data read errors.
Taken altogether, this made it possible to create a robust instrument for the deconstruction of existing music and also manipulations with discs specially recorded for the experiments. And that is how compact discs suddenly became an extremely topical format for me once more.
Inspired by Nicolas Colins projects.