Listen: A Lifetime-in-the-Making Vocoder Mix

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Melville House Publishing

Deviating from Thursday protocol to bring you a new, lifetime-in-the-making vocoder mix by Monk One (mix) and Dave Tompkins (ideas). "Bonus Beach" is the audio companion to Dave's brilliant, million-dots-connecting history of the vocoder, How to Wreck a Nice Beach. Dave's annotated tracklisting will give a taste of the wild prose and deep histories that comprise the book. Like this Doug E. Fresh-related dream:

(55:00) Nothing—Doug E. Fresh (1986)
I once dreamt that a fireplace chanted the "Nothing" vocoder to me in a cabin with antler chandeliers in Brevard, NC (where, when awake at age 8, I played my first game of Telephone.) The fireplace was a dragon's mouth. Such nostrils! Every time the dragon said nothing, there was a belch of blue smoke. I included the dream in a letter I wrote to a Bavarian mental institution that played vocoder recordings of talking water drops for patients while they slept. Never mailed it.

Or this explanation of Cybotron's electro classic "Clear" by one of its creators:

(17:46) Clear--Cybotron (from Jeff Mills, "The Wizard," WJLB, Detroit, 1986)
"When you go to those places where those people were stars and where black music was rooted in those clubs, there's nothing there. It's an empty lot. When I go to see where the Temptations played, where Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops were playing, and where the music was seeded, there's nothing there. Desolation. That's clear."
—Rik Davis on Detroit

Just listen. Though, not to pull Dave's card or anything, but all of the tracks therein do not contain vocoder.

Presented by

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. More

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Bookforum, Slate, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe Ideas section and The Wire (for whom he writes a bi-monthly column). He is on the editorial board for the New Literary History of America.

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