mechanical compost nr. 1

by michael northam



"mechanical compost nr.1" - was a work requested specifically by Ignaz Schick for his 'Zareck' 10" series.

The work is entirely based on sounds from the original DICTABELT machine, which was the first model of a Dictaphone. And was intended specifically for vinyl for the use of remixing later by DJs.

I discovered the machine in a junk pile in Seattle in very poor condition. After extensive work cleaning the device I got it to work again.

Basically it functions like this: The sounds are first recorded on one machine that etches sound onto a plastic belt, there is then another device that plays the belt back. I had to call the Dictaphone company to see if it was possible to find fresh un-used belts. They kindly looked in their warehouse and sent me last remaining packet.

My first work made with this machine appeared on the compilation END ID by Digital Narcisis Ltd. about 20th century media (published in 1999). Some years years later Ignaz requested return to this device to make a work for his label.

After completing this work and making the design for the 10", the record was never published and the project was abandoned. This work has since remained dormant.

This is among a string of aborted documents due to over-excited producers that have canceled publications without any compensation and often with little to no communication. Certainly an annoying waste of time. Therefore I will be putting more of these 'missing' projects on Bandcamp to bring them back from the land of the lost...


released January 1, 2004

recording, mix and mastering - Michael Northam



all rights reserved


michael northam Talent, Oregon

Active & published internationally, for the past two decades Michael Northam has been cultivating a personal style exploring experience through the sound. His compositions are based on alternative techniques for sound recording & mixing where improvisations on unusual electro-acoustic instruments, including self-designed ones, are interwoven with recordings from various locations around the world. ... more

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