Eric Muhs "Swooploop" ( Invisible Music 1987)
It was Dino DiMuro who first introduced me to Eric’s music when he appeared on my radio show and brought various tapes to play. I had also read about Eric Muhs in Option magazine in the mid 1980’s. His music sounded fascinating to me so I wrote him and we started trading tapes, communicating and became friends early on.
He appeared live on my radio show utilizing his extensive tape loop system plus all sorts of other gadgets. Eric was famous then for bringing tons, and I mean tons, of stuff to a gig. In fact, he jokingly referred to it as “Muhs Units” although his aching back was no joke.
He had a band with other home tapers Charles Laurel, R. Michael Torrey and David Townley called Mata Rata. They made several albums on tape and even played some live gigs I believe. They also played live on my radio show.
It wasn’t too long before Eric and I started recording music together, and with Charles Laurel. Eric is a very intelligent and funny guy so it was a lot of fun making music with him. We did some albums and we each appeared on releases by the other. At that time Eric was living in Santa Cruz and me in San Jose. It was fairly easy to visit each other and we did as much as possible. We got to know each others families and see them grow over the years.
On “Swooploop”, Eric’s tape from 1987 he really hit his stride with his loop making possibilities. His previous release, “Ring Of Tape” was interesting but it didn’t quite pack the punch or scale the heights that “Swooploop” did, at least for me. Eric system was a 4 track tape deck with extra long loops that could extend well beyond the frame of the tape recorder. He hooked in all kinds of effects and built his loops from much practice into massive walls of sound that collided, blended and changed dynamically over time. On “Swooploop” he brought what he had learned so far ( and that was a lot) to two side long extended improvisations that were essentially live. That’s one of the beautiful things about what he did. He could do it all live and the sound was an awesome, cinematic expression that could rock, drone, fly and yes, swoop.
Above, a picture of Eric playing his loop system in a store front window. I’m not sure but this may have been from his 24 hour performance in Seattle.
Eric and I performed live a couple of times in 1990 I believe and I was blown away by what he could do. He really made it easy to jam with him, everything could float on top of what he was doing and he had a good ear for the complete sound.
Later, Eric moved back to Seattle and now works on music and his other interests there. I sure do miss his musical and friendly camaraderie.
Here’s how Eric Muhs described this tape in the liner notes of this cassette in 1987:
This music is a continuation of my struggle with tape loop systems. An earlier intermediate stage I documented in my 1986 release, RING OF TAPE. The heart of this system is a Tascam 4 track reel to reel tape machine. Other essential elements include a Korg digital delay, a stereo chorus, and an Ibanez analog delay. The music you hear is improvised. It describes some personal connections to the mechanical substructure of the spirit universe. Sometimes when the sounds really get going, they wrap themselves around me and lift me off the ground. I suggest you imagine a slowly shifting floating ball while listening intently.