Friday, 2 December 2016

Robert Barry - Otherwise -1981- (LP, Van Abbemuseum), US/Netherlands

This record came out for the occassion of an exhibition in the Dutch Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Van Abbemuseum is a museum for modern and contemporary art with quite a special modern art collection for Dutch standards. Robert Barry's conceptual LP came with a booklet written by two former directors of the museum: Rudi Fuchs and Jan Debbaut. From the liner notes:

Robert Barry (1936, New York) belongs to the first generation of 'conceptual' artists, together with a.o. Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth and Douglas Huebler; starting from a fundamental new art-concept, they changed with their activities around gallery-onwer Seth Siegelaub the international art-world at the end of the sixties drastically. [...] Amongst the conceptual artists who worked more in particular with language, Robert Barry occupies an important position on the borderline of visual art, poetry and philosophy. Conceptual art is - more than formal revolutions in modern art - a fundamental re-thinking of the function of art and the artist in a changing cultural context; it is in the defining of this new attitude towards art that the ideas and works of Barry make an essential contribution. 

Otherwise is a minimalist conceptual art project in which associative words are being recited. The record was also included in the famous book Broken Music (after the Milan Knížák record) gathering artist records in a catalogue overview. I suppose that you can also just use this record if you have trouble falling asleep. Just put it on, listen and drift away. Scans of the booklet are included (Dutch and English).

Get it HERE

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Frits Maats & Nico van der Sman - Beweging -1982- (Tape), Netherlands

Quite some noise this post: Dutch artists Frits Maats & Nico van der Sman made this cassette called Movement (Beweging) which was actually an art project created in the Dutch village of Roden. The sounds you hear were recorded in a milk factory which was later dismantled. Then the sounds were played again in the empty factory and recorded which resulted in this tape. You can hear quite obviously that something conceptual is going on.

Frits Maats is an artist that explores the relation between fine arts and media, but also sculpture and music. He made a lot of video art during the eighties and also collaborated with Brian Eno. He is co-founder of the Amsterdam based interdisciplinary art and research centre Mediamatic. Mediamatic is a cultural institution dedicated to new developments in the arts since 1983. They organize lectures, workshops and art projects, focusing on nature, biotechnology and BioArt in a strong international network.

Get it HERE

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Pierre Courbois, Edgar M. Böhlke, Oskar Gottlieb Blarr - Free Music & Orgel -1969- (LP, Schwann AMS Studio), Germany/Holland

This record is linked to many other posts on the blog. Free Music & Orgel was a freeform endeavour to combine Christian church music with avant-garde, free-jazz and 'beat' music. The main composer behind it was the Dutch Pierre Courbois (to be found on the blog). Together with German organist Oskar Gottlieb Blarr, German narrator Edgar M. Böhlke, Dutch trumpetist Boy Raaymakers, Dutch sax player Peter van de Locht and Ferdi Rikkers on double bass a spontaneous project was recorded on October 13th and 14th, 1968 at Melanchthon-Kirche Düsseldorf and at Grote Kerk Arnhem.

This album showcases how the church tried to find new ways of connecting to the youth that was more and more being submerged in hippieness in the late sixties. An important figure in this German wave of the Christian krautrock-beat-mass genre was Nicaraguan priest-poet Ernesto Cardenal. His poems were also used on this album. Cardenal related things like the cosmic unity of the universe to Christ to use the hippie discourse for a Christian message, although politics are also important in this case.

The Christian Schwann label was quite adventurous with its releases. It also published the first two legendary Kluster albums. Somehow redemption was thought to be found in the experience of the free and abstract. But also in the popular culture, like Cardenals poem tells on this album: praise the lord of the milky ways and space between the milky ways with violins, with flutes and saxophone, praise him with blues and jazz, praise him with record players etc.

Musically I find this an amazing album where a sound reminiscent of Italian library music in the vein of Il Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza meets jazz, poetry and dark psychedelic sounds. It also comes close to the Risonanze series which I published before. It is almost a Christian take on the Dutch hyperrare cult psychedelic beat poetry album Woorden. I actually find the balance between the church organ and the church bells with the other instruments really impressive. Much more could be said about this album because it has so many implications and so many different musicians, but I'll keep the rest to you.

Highly Recommended!

Get it HERE

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Software - Men Without Clothes -1981- (Tape, Bugle Records), UK

So apparently some really rare cassettes are being handled with museum prices. Sometimes it makes you think that they must be the most interesting ever or contain that secret gem which would wipe out anyone's music collection. I know maybe ten copies of them exist... but we stick to the DIY ethics through which it was created and no, we don't drive these prices through the roof.

Software were an excellent UK experimental minimal synth group belonging to the UK DIY cassette culture. They released this one album on the Bugle Records label which a.o. published the music of The Astronauts. It was one of the many iconic labels pushing the authentic post-punk sound from early eighties Britain. I could name numerous UK post-punk or minimal synth labels from the time, but we all know where to place this music. This is some great stuff.

Men Without Clothes showcases great inventiveness of synthesizer manoeuvres sometimes reminding me of Vice Versa or more primitive Legendary Pink Dots. The typical cynical empty yet humoristic post-punk is combined with more synthetic dance tracks and primitive DIY guitar usage. A truly authentic example of the English synth underground in its prime in 1981. Does this need a reissue? Yes. 

Finally some more very rare Minimal Synth music from oblivion!

Get it HERE

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Guus Janssen - Tast Toe -1981- (LP, Claxon), Netherlands

A year ago I posted an album by Dutch improvisation pianist Guus Janssen on the blog and here is a second one: Janssen is a frequent member of the Instant Composers Pool and the key figure in Dutch piano improvisation. He always breaks down different genres into an unclassifiable mixture. He plays jazz, classical music, circus-melodies, pop, but never really ends up in either one of these genres.

Tast Toe, meaning something like help yourself (it also refers to hitting the keys of a piano in a weird linguistic way) is another album in which Janssen rapidly creates his accessible impro tunes while dissecting free-jazz into carnival melodies while entering chamber music realms while simultaneously staying on all borders. I guess it's only to be noticed when giving this a more proper listen, because at first glance it's a bit of conventional piano play. Nevertheless this is another interesting piece of the Amsterdam based Claxon records puzzle. Claxon was one of the best Dutch labels for improvisation music active at the end of the seventies and the eighties. All these pieces were recorded live in Amsterdam in 1981.

Get it HERE

Friday, 19 August 2016

Vinterhjärta - Same -1987- (Cassette, Multimood), Sweden

Vinterhjärta, meaning Winter Heart, was an obscure impressionist prog outfit from Sweden that consisted of Peter Bryngelsson, Dan Jonsson and Lars Liljegren. Although summer is still here, maybe we can engage in these winter soundscapes in a less frustrated way than when winter is actually in full effect later on (at least here in Europe). I guess the Swedes aren't bad in translating these particular environmental circumstances into musical moods. I'm sure the outfit was actually inspired by the season of winter.

Vinterhjärta plays moodish pieces in which progressive rock elements, ambient sounds and gentle piano play is intertwined. The A-side is a 38 minute long track in which synthesizers and guitar create a dreamy world reminiscent of the more mellow releases of the French Pôle label in the seventies or of cosmic Heldon guitarist Alain Renaud. It is maybe improvised in a bit too conventional cheesy manner, but it still takes you into a certain world, because it doesn't change drastically or builds up towards more energetic heights or anything. It's an impressionist prog piece that's gets specially interesting when the synthesizers are more apparent.

The B-side has eight different shorter pieces, usually created with piano and synths shaping different moods and atmospheres. The pieces are gentle, spooky and dreamy at same time. It reminds me a bit the Dutch soundtrack made by Louis Andriessen named Golven (connected to the Dutch Noordzee) or Scandinavian ECM releases if they contained a bit more of the darkness from the eighties with electric guitar disturbance. All in all it's a beautiful and peaceful album from Sweden's eighties and fits in the current interest in more ambient musical works from the eighties.

Get it HERE

The blog had a bit of a hiatus lately because I was out of town and I was pretty busy. Sometimes there will be periods in which it's harder to keep up the consistency. Nevertheless some of the best posts are still to come. I've got quite some insane material for the near future!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Insecticide - Insect Human -1983- (Cassette, Insecticettes), Netherlands

Insecticide was a solo-project by René Paes who was also a member of Dutch underground group Solenoid (which was posted before on the blog). Another Insecticide tape was uploaded here. I'm very grateful that René shared some of his memories about this project with me:

Insect Human was created during a period when René was living in the Dutch city of Eindhoven where he locked himself in the house for a year, only leaving for groceries and an occasional visit to the pub. It was the last of six cassettes and issued in less than 10 copies.

During its existence Insecticide performed a.o. at art centre Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven, theatre Bellevue in Amsterdam and as part of the Holland Festival in Amsterdam where toy-instruments were used. Also there was exposure during the Holland Festival on the radio by Dutch cult-figure Willem de Ridder. The radio show was called Radiola Salon: a show very much dedicated to the Dutch hometapers movement. At Holland Festival 1983 a Radiola Salon happening took place where René played with manipulated sounds, trumpets and toy bird-sound-flutes. At the same time an experimental ballet by Annie Sprinkle took place: naked breast movements on hometaper sounds, amongst many other curious sound performances.

Sketches and notes for Insect Human: "A taperecorder is recording sounds. Rhythm box and bass guitar create the fundament. A cassette player plays trumpet bursts backwards with echo. The sounds gently disappear and come back invertedly, then die like a machette severing a head. A radio transmits noise into the room. A toy windorgan with tape holding down the basskeys creates a continuous harmonium effect. Insecticide fills the room."

Get this looped piece of Dutch home-taping history HERE