Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Angst - De Kreet -1982- (Cassette, Geef Appel Neem Chocolade/Kubus Kassettes), Belgium

 

Last year I wrote about Angst and Erik Vloeberghs in a way I can't perfect so I will let the blog-history repeat itself:

Angst was a project by Flemish writer, poet and musician Erik Vloeberghs. He also did projects such as The Firing-Squad, Kwajongens In Bloei and The Parts. Vloeberghs was closely related to the Antwerp based industrial and interdisciplinary art group Club Moral. Frequently he contributed to their art-zine/fanzine called Force Mental. His musical subjects mostly dealt with excess in all kind of forms adapted into musical concepts. The whole Club Moral sphere is known to have explored the extremes of human nature and deviant human behaviour within society, both in cathartic experience and conceptualization, a bit in a similar way to what industrial and power electronics groups like Whitehouse, Ramleh or Consumer Electronics did in England. Just somewhat less uniformic in sound (noise) with more influences from literary poetry and visual arts including performative aspects and multimedia elements. 

De Kreet (The Cry) is a cassette that was named after the famous Edvard Munch painting, also depicted on the cassette cover and was published both in Belgium and Holland in 1982. The recordings are a combination of dialogues, field-recordings, eerie noises and manipulated electronics. Vloeberghs manages to create sounds with certain tensions that invoke a feeling of possession. Gradually the music progresses and passes by the listener as if one was eavesdropping or perhaps only intercepting the sound. A feeling of discomfort, but at the same time causing high-demanding attention as if one needs to listen to catch something of importance. He realized these haunted worlds through music, but it rather feels like some sort of narrative or written text (a story) that comes alive through sound. A soundscape in its truest form.

Vloeberghs remains an obscure figure from the Flemish industrial home-taping era who deserves more attention for his works.

From the Y Create Archive

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Friday, 26 March 2021

Various Artists - The C.I.A. Tape - Conspiracy Of International Anarchists -1987- (Cassette, Bluurg Tapes), UK/Canada

 

The following information has been extracted from the Alternative Toronto website and the BlackDotMuseum blog and partially recombined:

The C.I.A. Tape was recorded live at the Fallout Shelter and Ildiko's, and features poetry and musical performances by Dick Lucas (of Subhumans), Mecca Normal, Nick Toczek, Rhythm Activism and Mourning Sickness.

The Fallout Shelter recordings are the Toronto postscript to the Black Wedge tour on September 5, 1987.

The Fallout Shelter was a "nuclear free" performance space and coffee house run by the peace organization A.C.T. for Disarmament on Harbord Street.

The Black Wedge was a tour of activist resistance culture organized by Jean Smith of the band Mecca Normal, which set out to "spread the word of how to combine poetry, music and politics and have a fun time doing it.” As Smith comments about the Black Wedge tour in his essay "Take Something You Care About and Make It Your Life": 

One step easier than punk! The Black Wedge is out to spread the word of how to combine poetry, music and politics and have a fun time doing it. Hardcore poems and shredding guitars, radical voices crushing sexism, militarism, poverty and conformity. The Black Wedge wants to set wild hearts and imaginations free, to release a riot of emotion–opening up a new arena for activist resistance culture.

At the beginning of 1986, Mecca Normal released their first LP on their own label, Smarten Up! Records. Soon thereafter, they flew to Montreal and hooked up with Rhythm Activism; another music duo dealing with social issues with a strong anti-authoritarian perspective. While the four stood around in the basement of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building waiting to go live on air from coast to coast, they listened in on the segment prior to their timeslot–England’s Red Wedge was being featured. The Red Wedge was formed in the late 80's to support the Labour Party, they presented political ideas within a musical context and showcased musicians that encouraged people to vote Labour. The Black Wedge however, that came into existence that same night, would encourage people to reclaim their voices, to speak out against oppression rather than rely on electoral politics as a means to solve social problems. Answers were looked for elsewhere than e
xisting politics and against the establishment.

During the Black Wedge tour, through their lyrics or in between songs, the bands covered topics like sexism, disenfranchised citizens, poverty as well as other social issues which can be heard throughout the various songs of The C.I.A. Tape. A song like “Are you hungry Joe?” for example, includes a dialogue between Joe and someone that stands between him and the bag of groceries at a food bank, forcing Joe to argue why he needs food...

All tracks on The C.I.A. Tape were recorded live in Toronto. The tape was eventually published by Bluurg Tapes with the editing done in June '88 at T.A.S.C. Master Studios, Trinity & All Saint's College, in Leeds England.


"This tape is dedicated to all exceptionally oppressed people, but particularly to those whose entire lifestyle is being destroyed... Romany, Amerindian, Aborigine, and all other proud tribal people whose culture won't readily bow down before the all-consuming gods of western 'civilization,' social 'progress' and cash-culture.”

The original information for both Jean Smith’s essay and The C.I.A. Tape information can be retrieved from:
https://www.alternativetoronto.ca/archive/items/show/500
https://blackdotmuseum.wordpress.com/the-black-wedge-1986/

- Juan Vacas

This blogpost is a collaborative effort. Many thanks to: Juan Vacas (curation and assembling of text), Jon "Dietsociety" Kruithof and acab_in_1985 (SLSK) (providing rips and doing archival work). Editor: Bence.

Get it HERE

Sunday, 7 March 2021

The Lost Attic WegWerpTapes (aka TLAWWT) - Self-Titled -1985- (LP, Self-Released), Netherlands

The Lost Attic was a Dutch experimental music and home-taping project by Berry Rikkerink (who sadly passed away around 2008) and in this case someone named Lupie from Groningen. Rikkerink also had the project Technological Aquiver and released different weird cassettes on his Wegwerptapes (throw-away tapes) label like Interprovinsjale Sweinen. He also had close ties to the Dutch home-taping group De Fabriek as well as some collaborations with Kapotte Muziek

The Groningen home-tapers were specially deranged in their approach when you hear their material and were also strongly embedded in the squatting scene of Groningen at the time. During the 80's the Dutch squatting scene played a hugely important role for the youth that lacked future perspectives in an ideologically divided grey and dark Europe. The Netherlands is a small country with too many people, meaning there is not enough space. It has a messed up social housing system and non-affordable rents, specially for young people. The squatting scene was built from the necessity to live. Ofcourse, as a result, it was always very politically engaged and even militant at times, and by doing so also succeeded in providing space for creative experimentation, art and lots of madness between the margins. For some people squatting saved their life, some people just sympathized with squatting while others only profited from it. Something that comes with any form of free space and inclusive and open projects in general. Many important modern cultural institutions and concert halls in The Netherlands once started as squats or have some ties with squatting starting already since the 60's, but this narrative has largely been wasted with time.

The Lost Attic WegWerpTapes is another important album of the Dutch home-taping network of the 80's. It was mastered by Nico Seelen aka O.R.D.U.C. and shows that tape music can also be pressed on vinyl, why not? It's a great example of experimental anti-music with electronic noises, casio keyboards, rastaman vibrations(!), improvised jam sessions, humor as well as a punk attitude not too happy about the Dutch monarchy (Trix Ga Naar Huis). A little bit of everything. Just some recordings on tapes, thrown away somewhere in a lost attic... A great record! It was re-released by De Fabriek during the 90's.

More info on Wegwerptapes and such is to be found in the vast archive of No Longer Forgotten Music.

Get it HERE

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Joel Graham - Urban Animism -1984- & Under Terra Cotta -1985-, (Cassettes, Lions Main Music Production), US

*Archaic Inventions 8 Year Anniversary Post!*

After the surfacing of two tracks by Joel Graham in the past years, many of us were curious about the existence of more music by this American artist. Finally we are graced with some of his mythical full-length cassettes.

Joel Graham is an electronic synthesist composer based in San Francisco who released a couple of cassettes during the 80's in limited quantities. His music consists of live synthesizer sounds, ambient electronics, hypnotic rhythm driven compositions and conceptual elements like field-recordings. Without too much information about Joel Graham and his musical development it's clear that he was very talented and that he created music that proved to be ahead of its time. In San Francisco he was part of a larger community of electronic musicians who were also involved in multimedia art projects and theatre. One of his frequent collaborators was percussionist and electro-acoustic musician John di Stefano who was also director of the experimental art space The Lab. Before we return to the bigger picture let's have a look at the two cassettes:

Urban Animism (1984) is the first album by Joel Graham. It starts with a long piece of increasingly intensifying electronics called Invocation containing a speech by Jesse Jackson, a political activist and confident of Martin Luther King. The composition reveals that Graham is not only interested in sound as an esthetic or sonic possibility, but he also incorporates emancipatory politics and the theme of social justice in his artistic expressions. In other tracks like Machines and Night we hear futuristic sounds that perhaps connect more to the realm of technology, but nevertheless feel warm and emotional. Even with a menlancholic undertone. A track like S.F. Nocturne incorporates field-recorded sounds of the city and seems to sketch a map of San Francisco by night bringing back the urban element into the ethereal electronic soundscape. Animism - the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena - placed in an urban context reveals the underlying sound of a city that is defined by urban development (city-planning, industry etc.) and its social structures (inhabitants, movement, classes). A concept that is also to be heard in certain tracks by Venezuelan electronic composer Angel Rada for example. An esoteric sonic interplay between what is visible and invisible in the urban environment.

Under Terra Cotta (1985), the second cassette presented here, opens with the mesmerizing Geomancy that is an undeniable little masterpiece of electronic composition that was lightyears ahead of its time. Geomancy, or "earth divination" is an ancient practice that looks at markings on the ground of tossed handfuls of soils, rock or sand and interprates its different meanings. Earth and its layers are a recurring subject on this album with tracks like Nazca Lines (of Peru), the Grand Canyon as well as Time By Strata (layer of earth). The city of San Francisco seems to also make its return in this album. A track like The Laughing Dog could be a reference to the mascot of small fast food restaurant chain Doggie Diner that was an iconic city symbol. The track Water relates to the earth theme, but also relates to the San Francisco fog that frequently covers the city after its departure from the Pacific Ocean. 

If we look at the properties of Terracotta we learn that, just like skin, it has a semi permeable surface, and that it lets through water. Also that aspect could relate to the Water track. Under Terra Cotta seems to introduce the idea of a simple human instrument, a pot, a brick, that results in the creation of technology. Because ultimately, civilization is created through the very combination of art and technology, often not distinguishable from each other. The human being exists in the same nature from which it derives technology. An ancient notion explained over synthetic sounds of modern technological development.

Thus both albums by Joel Graham can be seen as complete conceptual compositions. They are audio essays on a constellation of interrelated subjects. Urban Animism describes San Francisco or a city at night, a ghost that haunts, that wanders around. Under Terra Cotta describes certain skin, layers of earth full of archeological treasures. 

When we return to the general history of San Francisco of the last century we see (at least from a European point of view) a city that acclaimed fame for its psychedelic freedom, its fight against social injustice, its hippies and its LSD, its liberal LGBTQ community but also a city that became famous for different technological developments through big tech companies in the area. Companies that often precisely used that creative past within the post-fordist paradigm to create a ruling form of creative capitalist entrepreneurship gradually quantifying notions of freedom and creativity into forms of instrumentalism, control and algorithmic efficiency.

Today Joel Graham is creating open source sounds and someone who is sympathic to the common use of sounds and their usage through Pure Data. Just like some people felt the urgency to stay autonomous by choosing Linux in favor of Windows, it seems that also sounds and their usages were taken away through copyright systems and corporate grids. The instrument should remain/be in the hands of the people for it contains the elementary building blocks for the art and technology that can shape society, instead of following pre-created grids. As a synthesist composer Joel Graham stands in a larger tradition of American electronic music relating to pioneering composers like Morton Subotnick, but also to home-tapers like The Nightcrawlers.

Last but not least, the title of Joel Graham's label "Lions Main Music Production" could relate to the Lion's Mane mushroom that in homeopathic medicine helps a.o. against depression!

Many many thanks to Orpheu The Wizard for the kind donation of these cassettes (!) and to Kim-David Bots for his insights and tying together the loose ends.

Get it HERE

Friday, 12 February 2021

Hi-Fi - Zauberklang -1985- (Cassette, Cruel Grannies), Netherlands

 

Here is another mysterious project from the Dutch home-taping culture. Hi-Fi was from Amsterdam and apparently related to a small circle of other obscure musicians from the city. Despite its hi-fidelity name, the Zauberklang (magic sound) of the band consists mostly of lo-fi damaged rock and roll and electrified experiments. A Velvet Underground starting point is deconstructed into dark and almost mechanical soundscapes fusing the lines between post-punk and psychedelia. As if The Index, 39 Clocks and the early incarnation of Skullflower would play together in some small basement. Distorted home-taping music with a strong druggy beatnik culture influence for people wearing their sunglasses in the dark. Hold your horse...

Within the Dutch home-taping culture of the 80's there's not a whole lot that sounds like this. A band I can think of is Roy G. Biv that was also Amsterdam based and looked for similar synergies of psychedelic rock with analog drums, synthesizer sounds and trancelike repetitions in their music. Then there was the band Vovokai from the city of Eindhoven that had a similar approach. Last but not least the mysterious Alien project qualifies for the sound as well. It remains surprising that these type of bands existed in the Dutch underground, probably even seperate from each others' influences. 

I'd like to dedicate this post to FM Shades.

From the Collection Allard Pierson/NPI

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Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Doppelwirkung - Self-Titled -1990- (Cassette, Bestattungsinstitut), Germany

 

Doppelwirkung was one out of many projects that spawned from the home-taping laboratory of electronic musician Siegmar Fricke from Wilhelmshaven: in this case in collaboration with Michael Wurzer, a member of the international amalgamic experimental cult-band Doc Wör Mirran. During the 80's and 90's Siegmar Fricke had a large output of solo cassettes and many releases with collaborative acts like Delta-Sleep-Inducing Peptide, Ambulatorio Segreto and Doppelwirkung. 

It seems that a large amount of the musical output fits the transitional period when the home-taping culture of the 80's (often rooted in industrial culture) evolved into new dance music styles and the rave culture of the early 90's. Siegmar Fricke's work, but also that of DSIP, represents a non-commercial approach to electronic music that is not looking for imitation or to fit a certain scene or sound. The music represents the discovery of sounds through the home-taping practice transferred to the nervous system of the 90's. Deep hypnotic elements, psychedelia, eerie experimental sounds and synthetic dance grooves can all be stardust of the sonic dreamscape.

On this Doppelwirkung cassette on Fricke's own Bestattungsinstitut label there are 21 different untitled electronic minimalist tracks. Most of them are experimental loops of synthesized sounds with occasional samples. On the outer edges of these experiments we hear tracks in a cosmic Krautrock fashion (track 1) reminiscent of Cluster or Conrad Schnitzler, but there is also an ambient electronic sound of the early 90's vaguely reminiscent of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works for example (check track 10). In any case, no matter how the listener's subjective and associative music brain works, it's clear that there are many different textures and moods to be experienced through the vast music catalog around Siegmar Fricke. Doppelwirkung is definitely another interesting project, I wonder if some other Doppelwirkung tapes are out there too...

Kindly donated by The Y Create Archive

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Sunday, 10 January 2021

José Iges & Concha Jerez - El Diario De Jonás -1997- (CD, Unió Musics), Spain

 

To bring in some music from other realms I think it's nice to start this blog-year off with a longer piece of music that creates a different listening experience than let's say a cassette compilation.  

El Diario De Jonás was a multi-disciplinary soundwork from 90's Spain that was written and imagined by the artists, scholars and music composers José Iges and Concha Jerez. At the end of the 80's they started collaborating on a series of projects called "Media Interference" that were combinations of audiovisual pieces, crossmedia concerts and performances. 

In line with these artworks the piece El Diario De Jonás was created in the 90's with contemporary experimental musicians Belma Martín (voice), Pilar Subirá (percussion) and Pedro López (live electronics). Martín and López were founders of the Madrilenian CEDI Institute for improvisation and sound-research and published a magazine on music called Hurly Burly during the 90's. The musicians also released music on the Spanish Modisti label that tried to operate on the intersection of music theory, politics and free music expression.

El Diario De Jonás was recorded live on 27-9-97 at Las Cuevas de Canelobre (caves of Canelobre) in Busot, Alicante as part of the 13th International Festival of Contemporary Music of Alicante. The release was supported by the Counsel of Mallorca. Partially performance, partially soundscape and partially sound-poetry (in Spanish and French) El Diario De Jonás is an interesting piece of Spanish music from the 90's. It reminds me a bit of the Galvana album by Victor Nubla and Pelayo Fernandez Arrizabalaga from 1992. 

From the liner notes:

"This work is shaped as a personal diary developed on internalized fragments. For that it's integrated by different episodes, linked from a certain subjectivity than the "diary" gender always suggests. Likewise, the understanding, the inverted commas or underlined, the monologue truncated on a word or the design or the linguistic gesture takes part of the expressive strategies of the piece. Making it we have gone to the bottom of our memories, on a time of speed and forgetfulness. As a Diary, its structure is given rather from the physical support -the diary- and from the graphy of the person that writes it. {..} The work is developed with three musicians performing live - a singer, an acoustic percussionist and an electronic percussionist, plus organized sound taped on 4 sources. All the material for the interpreters arised from 40 sentences, memories expressed orally, 20 coming from each one of the two authors. Different types of visual, phonetical and even semiotical interpretations of the sentences generated the ways in which the piece was performed. The modular apect assured that it would sound mainly the same during each performance yet always differ and show unprevisible elements." 

Due to the nature of this release no download link yet.