Monday, 6 September 2021

Various Artists - All Bare Or Dead Forms Under Sunlight Cast Mysterious Shadows On The Snow -198X- (Cassette, Epitapes), US/International


Here's another nicely assembled international compilation cassette on American Epitapes that was established by Mike Tetrault from Belchertown, Massachusetts. Throughout the 80's dozens of these compilations were created. Each compilation was given a poetic title, sometimes even in the form of an entire sentence. Some tracks were taken from existing releases while others were sent specially for these tapes. You can read an interesting interview about these cassette series with Mike Tetrault over here. 

All Bare Or Dead Forms Under Sunlight Cast Mysterious Shadows On The Snow is a compilation that covers the theme of “surrealism”. Artists were free to interpret that as they pleased which resulted in a diverse range of sounds. The tape starts with a nice song by the new wave and dreampop group Area that consisted of Henry Frayne, Lynn Canfield and Steve Jones. Continuing the A-side there are a.o. tape-loops by Croiners aka James Levine, electronic home-taping sounds by No Unauthorized and minimal music by The Dead Goldfish Ensemble.

The B-Side starts with Dutch home-taper Odal and furthermore displays a broad variety of music with the avant-garde violin sounds of Adam Bohman, strange soundscapes by Nigel Jacklin (the guy who convinced his music teacher to book Throbbing Gristle in his school Auditorium in 1980 and created the Alien Brains project as well as Verdenskang), surreal sounds by Berlin manipulators Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, improvisation by Italian clarinetist Fabio Martini (part of The Zint Group and collaborator of the great RIO and impro band La 1919), some organ music by Los Paranos and many tracks in-between.

All in all quite a nice compilation with some known and lesser known protagonists of the international cassette culture network of the 80's and a classic of the Epitapes series.

Kindly donated by the Y Create Archive

Get it HERE

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Dust And The Minds - Mind Blow -198X- (Cassette, Egmondse Klank Opsessie E.K.O. 12), Netherlands


I guess it's time for another very special cassette by Dutch anarchist, free-form home-taping group Dust And The Minds. The band from the surroundings of the small village of Egmond-Binnen was created by the brothers Fred and John Valkering who were accompanied by a lot of different other musicians. The Valkering brothers established their cassette label Egmondse Klank Opsessie (Egmond sound obsession/on session) to release their different musical disguises like Dust And The Minds, Comrades Creating, Hafre as well as solo works. During the 80's they released dozens of cassettes of which many were beautifully created and released with DIY booklets, drawings, posters, unusual packages etc.

The music on the Egmondse Klank Opsessie label was truly authentic and true to itself, even within the Dutch home-taping and punk circuits of the time. Within the wider region there were many punk groups active in their own space but not all villages were naturally connected and not everyone was pushing punk into more abstract forms. The punk influence however seemed an important starting point from which further experimentation and free-music forms were explored by some of the groups. Dust And The Minds clearly combined all those different elements.

Mind Blow is quite an exceptional album that was released as a pack of tobacco, including a pre-rolled cigarette, dust-and-the-minds rolling papers, a DIY booklet and ofcourse the cassette. Having heard different albums by the band, Mind Blow is probably one of the most elaborate and complete ones they did. It combines dark post-punk songs, free impro no-wave tunes as well as dub sounds brought with an uncompromising energy to play music. It has a sound that might be a bit reminiscent of early Cabaret Voltaire, perhaps Bourbonese Qualk or even Bauhaus (you know the stuff from the time), yet there's this natural will to create present in the music that gives a real animated feel. I feel that everything they did is deserving some revaluation and appreciation. Who knows if we can make something happen eventually...

I intended to index the tape, but sometimes the tracks flow into each other, so I decided that it's better to hear it as an ongoing cassette without cuts. More Dust And The Minds in a previous blogpost and perhaps more to come in the future.

Graveyards are made for the living
to remember the lifes of the death
A rotting place of
poisened bodies
Dangerous as pesticide
where can I go
when I'm dead and gone
Throw me in the sea,
the fish you eat
will burn your guts
burn me, the smoke
will torture your skin
I'm a nuclear soul
Eternity at last.

From the Collection Allard Pierson/NPI

Get your mind blown HERE

Monday, 9 August 2021

Darren Copeland & Company - Living It Out In The Dead Air-Space -1988- (Cassette, John Doe Recordings), Canada

Living It Out In The Dead Air-Space was the magnum opus cassette album release by the Ontario based composer, sound-artist and electronic music producer Darren Copeland. The music was realized over the course of half a year during 1987 and 1988 together with a larger group of Canadian experimental musicians: Ron McFarlan (also to be found on the blog under his project Dust That Collects), David Edwards, John Marriott, Michel Flock and Lhuke Shier. 

The pieces create a conceptually hollistic space that consists of dark ambient electronic soundscapes, spoken word, field-recordings and ethno-tribal influences. It carries different properties that on the one hand seem to carefully invoke the void of space (a dead end space) with its dark and silent chaos of endless probabilities and on the other hand it displays human consciousness and rational forms of understanding that are defying the dead end space from an existential point of view. The sounds of the dark untamable and alienating universe have an eternal presence in the natural and urban environment on earth. Alienation and the presence of the unknown are of great influence on life existence.

Living It Out In The Dead Air-Space is another beautiful work of Canadian experimental music that is perfect for a deeper listening experience. Simultaneously it works well as an invocation for different existentialist questions on a scientific, natural or spiritual level.

Through the further development of technology in later decades sound explorations from scientific standpoints have obviously become endless and have elaborated into many realms. Yet on this recording we can experience the scientific exploration as a subject of the music rather than that scientific approaches are being used to create the music.

Considering the year of the release, ofcourse Mr. 'Star Wars-program' and buffoon-president Ronnie Raygun is depicted on the cassette cover, but I suppose we could all think of other people suitable for the cover in today's world.

Kindly donated by The Y Create Archive

Get it HERE

Monday, 12 July 2021

Ken Thomas - Beat The Light -1980- (LP, Fragment), UK

As some of you might know the important English record producer and recording engineer Ken Thomas has sadly passed away a couple of days ago. After some reflections on his legacy and talking with a blog friend we decided to give attention to an obscure solo album that he released in 1980. It wasn't really to be found somewhere and after a bit of searching somebody was kind enough to provide the album.

Ken Thomas had an important role working as a recording engineer for a wide range of influential bands from the 80's onwards. He was involved with bands like Psychic TV (Force The Hand Of Chance, Dreams Less Sweet - which he recorded Holophonically), 23 Skidoo, Clock DVA, The Cocteau Twins, The Sugarcubes, Sigur Ros and many many more. Some of the early music he worked on was released through the British Fetish Records. A music label that started out by re-releasing Throbbing Gristle's The Second Annual Report and later publishing iconic tribal industrial and post-punk bands from England. 

The fact that Thomas created an album of his own in 1980 is somewhat lesser known, specially in the light of all the music productions he was involved with. Beat The Light is a collection of minimalist electronic and experimental tracks that he recorded between 1973 and 1979. It's another example of the early industrial, electronic experimental sound from England. The music is reminsicent of a.o. primitive Cabaret Voltaire, the experiments of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental, early Clock DVA or even some of the cassette works by Colin Potter. A nice obscurity of British DIY music.

In commemoration of Ken Thomas.

Get it HERE

Thursday, 24 June 2021

R-27 - Activity 1987-1988 -1989- (Cassette, Anti-Musik Der Landsh), Poland

R-27 (initially Fragments of R-27) was an underground improvisational and experimental avant-garde music group from Kraków that was active during the second half of the 80's. They were comprised of Rafael Kozub (keyboards and percussion instruments, singing, compositions), Damian Kozub (drums, voice, piano, compositions), Rafał " Walek "Walczowski (bass), Piotr" Buzer "Łabuzek (trumpet, voice, synthesizer) and Pawel" Rudy "Ochel (guitar, voice). The band gave many concerts in their native Kraków (Klub Podwawelski, Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury, Klub Wola Zoo, Dworek Białoprądnicki etc..) as well as some concerts in other Polish cities.

The Polish underground from the 80's was generally influenced by two traditions. One side was the jazz tradition that was very developed in Poland after the Second World War during the communist period. There was a large output of Polish jazz and international jazz artists came to play many annual festivals. From there on jazz-rock and prog-rock cross-overs opened the doors for even more abstract and stranger forms of music that due to their nature were not banned and identified as clear political revolt. Towards the 80's the jazz and improvisation traditions kept evolving in the underground with bands like Reportaż, Kirkut Koncept or 13 -11

The other side of the spectrum consisted of new music influences that gradually had found their (secret) way into the Polish underground. The improvisational groups were now also accompanied by new wave bands, punks, industrial noise makers and everything in-between. Quite a strong grey and bleak accent was being put in the music, reflecting the last bleak decade of communist totalitarian repression. Obviously some small cracks in the totalitarian regime were already showing and there was a bit of a decrease of cultural repression to be felt, but nevertheless general society was still rough and gloomy during late 80's Poland. A series like Dekalog by director Krzysztof Kieślowski gives an interesting insight in the depressing existential crisis of Polish society at the time. A feeling that in a way was commonly felt in different countries behind the iron curtain. The musical underground can largely be regarded as non-existent compared to that dominant society, that's how marginal things were.

To return to R-27 we can hear some of this existential crisis in the music. The band was formed by amateur musicians that combined different elements of free-jazz, electronics and poetry based on their own subtleties, feelings and expressions. The mood, the state of mind and inspiration came from their own environment: the underground community of Kraków. R-27 released a couple of cassettes in very limited quantities. Most of the recordings are very primitive and lo-fi in quality reflecting their technical means at the time. 

Activity 1987-1988 was released on the legendary Polish underground cassette label Anti-Musik Der Landsh in the limited quantity of 30 copies and was dedicated to Charlie Mingus.

I'm living Still
At once time, I come
here, but I didn't know,
where I went
At once time I came
here, in order to take
a rest in the shadows
of the trees
And now we ask
What for I'm living
And that only I'm
living still,
although my soul
chose the shadow
And so, how can it be
so... - Buzer

Get it HERE

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Arthur Berkhoff - I Know Fiction At Space 13 -1983- (Cassette, APB5), Netherlands

Here is another cassette by Dutch home-taper, neoist and multimedia mail-artist Arthur Berkhoff. Neoism is an art movement that was based on playing with collective identities, the reproduction of artworks as well as the usage of fake art, plagiarism and mockery. Most of the neoist artists created and published under the commonly used moniker of Monty Cantsin. Neoism became strong within mail-art and cassette culture circuits throughout the 80's because of the relatively easy way of combining various media and the possibilty to create and publish artistic expressions anonymously.

Arthur Berkhoff created many cassettes during the 80's based on his self-envisioned futuristic "Pregroperativism" movement. It was a strange one-man mythology that consisted (from what I can tell) of a mix of space, technology, cybernetics and neoist and multimedia art concepts. All the music connected to it was recorded in his Orguna Laboratory in Amsterdam.

I Know Fiction At Space 13 is another lost piece of Berkhoff's alienating music. It consists of different longer pieces of analog experimental electronics containing processed casio keyboards in combination with dark and eerie synthesizer sounds. I tried to index the cassette but gave up eventually.

Korm Plastics D has recently released a nice reissue of the industrial cassette Katacombe Vol.3 (1984) which also features Arthur Berkhoff and many other Dutch cassette culture protagonists.

From the Collection Allard Pierson/NPI

Get it HERE

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

King's House - One -1987- (Cassette, The Subelecktrick Institute), US


King's House was a project by members of the home-taping and improvised free-music collective Big City Orchestra from the greater San Francisco bay area. The project consisted of Toby Hardman, Brook Hinton, Arne Ryason, Rob Wortman and Jim Young. The BCO started out already in the late 70's and kept being active throughout all decades to come. The output of their music, first on self-released cassettes, later CD's and vinyl and later MP3 albums on net labels, is so vast (literally hundreds of releases) that it would be hard to make your way though the entire discography. Let alone adding all the members' solo projects and different side projects like King's House. Moreover the music is never the same and morphs into all possible styles and everything in-between.

The cassette we have here is the first King's House release and displays a wonderful collage of absurdist improvisational music. We hear radio cut-ups, tape loops, minimal synth manoeuvres, damaged pop songs, noise, musique concrète madness and interesting inventive soundscapes. It's a carefully composed release with lots of attention for its variety and the succession of the tracks.

A very nice tape that has that distinctly American cassette culture sound. I think even though this is the King's House project, the music might be a great starting point in getting to know more sounds of Big City Orchestra as well. A burst of endless musical creativity.

Kindly donated by The Y Create Archive

Get it HERE