Brad Tucker’s Drum Solos show at Inman Gallery is part kindergarten playroom, part bandstand.
Customized, fabric covered record player stations in bright colors and simple geometric shapes spin gloppy plastic records. The entire show is set up with the ad-hoc aesthetic of touring musicians. Denim Turntable and its three speakers are connected with artistic loops of thick phono cord (the kind used to connect amps to instruments), via an ugly, indestructible little beige box which would be perfectly at home on stage. Drum Speaker, a cylinder of yellow plywood, leans on a single chrome leg like a bass drum.
Tucker’s boyish rock-n-roll nostalgia is saved from ultra-hipness by the sincerity of his representation of the paraphernalia of music making. A veteran of many touring bands, Tucker captures the vibrant unfussy energy of the underside of the music industry with a freshness born of genuine experience. This spring has been music tie-in season at Inman. If Dario Robleto‘s recent show was about listening to music, Brad Tucker’s current show is about making it.
Brad Tucker is a protean tinkerer, remaking bits of the world via any convenient means, with a fine disregard for the niceties of convention. All of his records are handmade casts in a hobby store plastic compound. Tucker doesn’t limit his making to the conventional art items, although the show includes some of those, too. Along with one painting on canvas and some folky wooden reliefs, the record players, speakers, the records themselves, and their covers are all handmade. I’m surprised he didn’t make the cables.
In addition to the visual, Tucker’s show includes original audio recordings. Each of Tucker’s three recordings has a different stance in relation to “real” music. In Stareo, music and distortion are superimposed; a professional mainstream recording is garbled and distorted by its warped blue and white disc. Staccato cries from a 70’s vocalist blurt from the piece in a spastic wail. White Clouds (The Album) is traditional conceptual sound art; distortion and music are one. A lumpy white disc recording seven minutes of silence spews pops, skips, and static unleavened by musical sound. Tucker’s magnum opus, Drum Solos (Pink Album with Cover) achieves the perfect balance of these two extremes, recording amateur musical performances so uneven that they merge with the record’s mechanical distortions to synthesize a quasi-intentional avant-garde sound.
There are five copies of Drum Solos (Pink Album), each a unique handmade casting of the master disc, each with its own individual flaws. No two sound alike. Tucker plays with the contrast between audio recordings, where consistent fidelity is paramount, and gallery art, in which uniqueness is prized. Ironically, as the most successful recording from a strictly audio standpoint, Drum Solos has less use for the custom turntable that plays it than Tucker’s other two record pieces. Recognizing this, Drum Solos is the only record of the three that can be purchased separately. For better or worse, it would make an interesting CD.
All images courtesy the artist and Inman Gallery.
Bill Davenport is an artist and writer and was one of the first contributors to Glasstire.