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
still
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

Monday, 10 May 2021

Earth's Epitaph - Release -1985- (Cassette, Bedroom Recordings), Wales

 
        

    

    

Earth's Epitaph were an anarcho new wave and post-punk group from the surroundings of the city of Cwmbran in the South of Wales created by Chris, Ray and Jayne. Earth's Epitaph recorded two 'official' demo's of which "Release" is their first one. They also contributed some songs to a couple of compilations during the mid-eighties. You can find their second release in a previous blogpost.

The music of Earth's Epitaph seems to have a rather conventional new-wave sound at first, but is definitely rooted in the same political UK anarcho punk spirit of bands like Crass, The Apostles or Omega Tribe. The songs are dealing with environmentalism, animal rights, anti-fascism and anti-militarism. The music sounds a bit like the Young Marble Giants if they would have incorporated the political spirit of an anarcho-punk band like Poison Girls

Since the music of Earth's Epitaph was released as a demo cassette it has quite some strong white noise on the surface of the recording. Nevertheless the combination of inventive minimalist rhythm box driven song-writing, simple casio keyboard melodies and socially engaged lyrics created a little pearl of Welsh post-punk music from the 80's that has its lo-fi charm. Innocent anarcho-wave music with a serious combatant message. The sweet sound of resistance.

A nice band, I wish they recorded more material.

Get it HERE

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Various Artists - A Clicking Sound -198X- (Cassette, Epitapes), US/International

 

The Epitapes were a series of international home-taping compilations created by Mike Tetrault from Belchertown, Massachusetts. 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.

A Clicking Sound begins with a track by the Dutch improvisation band Gorgonzola Legs which is introduced by Dutch Home-Taper and sound composer Hessel Veldman (aka Y Create). Gorgonzola Legs was a group that consisted of Hessel Veldman, Gert-Jan Prins, Herman te Loo and Jos van Duijne with occassional other musicians like Masaki Oishi. The band played hours and hours of material that was mainly recorded (or not recorded) at an industrial fish warehouse in the Dutch seatown of IJmuiden. Aside from that a lot of concerts took place at various locations throughout the 80's. From appearances at street festivals to concerts at contemporary art museums. By the start of the 90's the project was laid to rest and the members went on in their individual music directions.

Gorgonzola Legs

The compilation continues with the noise-rock band Blowhole that was founded in 1987 in Colorado Springs by percussionist Jeph Jerman and the Barber brothers, with Scott Hiller, Fil Rodriguez and Dr. Soule. Then a couple of anti-musical funny-not-so-funny tracks follow by Norwegian home-tapers Åreknuteknyterne. Later on there are some live registrations in America and Italy by free-impro saxophonist Jack Wright from Pittsburgh. The tape finishes with some great electronic pieces by Regicide Bureau, a home-taping project by Thomas Sutter from Overland, Saint Louis, Missouri. 

Ofcourse there are some other improvised and noisy pieces by other bands and people in-between, but I know nothing about them. All in all a nice selection of totally different tracks. More Epitapes compilations will slowly come to the blog but I have to figure out what is already available and what isn't and see which tapes I should prioritize. Or maybe you people out there have some requests?

Kindly donated by the Y Create Archive

Get it HERE

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

Get it HERE

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