Chessie & the Kittens

present

an audiovisual experience

Styrofoam Uniform

(NSFW)

Styrofoam Uniform

ABOUT STYROFOAM UNIFORM

Styrofoam Uniform

My bandmates and I got the notion one afternoon to lock ourselves into this small, dark room in the basement with all our lights and gear. What followed could only have happened then and there. Everything on the audio track was played live and recorded directly onto a cassette tape through a mixer. Even the vocal samples were just more tapes on more cassette players being manipulated in real time. We emerged many hours later with smoke and the light of soft blue Christmas bulbs rolling out behind us; holding in our hands a few tapes with several hours worth of improvised music on them.
 

We then set about determining, isolating, drafting, and rewinding. Using the counter on the side of the tape player and some quick math, we isolated pieces of this long master tape on to many individual smaller ones. Samples we liked, phrases, melodies, ominous swells and soforth. Once all the chunks had been counted and arranged we plugged two tape players into our trusty old mixer. One tape would play a sample while we queued another tape up, then crossfaded between the two live on the mixer. Swap out the third chunk for the first while the second one plays, and repeat until it’s all finished. The audio that you’re hearing here is just a rip of that unaltered master tape. No postprocessing was done on the audio.

Styrofoam Uniform

The accompanying video was then created via a similar method using VCRs and VHS tapes. We collected whatever we could from thrift stores and donations from friends. During this phase several VHS tapes and players were permanently destroyed for a variety of reasons. The resulting footage was mixed using a signal switch box while images played on 3 TVs at once. This was again mixed onto a master tape. Early versions of the film had to be scrapped and redone after making test audiences and ourselves feel physically sick. We found that one could overlay two images playing at once by holding down both buttons of the switchbox halfway, or by just physically manipulating the video plugs going into the VCR. This created some amazing overlays but also a lot of nauseating garbage onscreen which, while enjoyable in its own right, distracted a bit from our overall message of watching the film.

It was our original intent that the album be experienced by playing the cassette through a stereo while simultaneously playing the VHS tape on a screen. While we did make a run of several copies this way; for the sake of being able to share our work with a wider audience I have pre-mashed both together for your viewing pleasure. As for what it all means or how you should think about it, that’s for you to determine. Enjoy!