Tagged: cassettes

Curriculum Vitae

The last tape in the envelope, which is a shame as I’ve enjoyed hearing these oddities – every one giving new and unexpected surprises, which is more than many labels can say these days. I Placca are the duo of Iritur’aràrcamu and Ben Presto, and their La La Vitea (TUTORE BURLATO #11) is a wonderful tape-jumble collage using everyday sound effects, field recordings, music, noise and what have you, creating a kaleidoscopic vision of modern life across six separate tracks. As ever with this label, the emphasis is on energy and humour combined with a decidedly skewed view of everything. Where some of the performers on this imprint shade that skewed view in darkness and grotesquerie, I Placca are more life-affirming and upbeat, and what is conveyed is that while life may be a little chaotic and hard to understand, it is not completely absurd and futile. Only once do our witty duo permit themselves to editorialise, and that’s on the final track ‘ochiesi’ which takes the sounds of the interior of a church (murmuring, whispering voices), and a choir singing a holy tune, then juxtaposes them with the bleats of a flock of sheep. A fairly obvious bit of collaging, in some ways, almost making a visual pun in sound. The chap who calls himself Iritur’aràrcamu is in fact Francesco Calandrino, whom we have heard in these pages on the Idi Di Marzo record he made with the French guitarist Jean-Marc Montera. Ben Presto is another luminary known to the world in the groups Cement Teddies, Larsen Lombriki, and Tofubibles; the duo’s common ground is that both have had works released by the Italian avant-garde label Setola Di Maiale. Matter of fact, I see they released Decidere A Te… for that label working under this same project name. It’d be nice to know who does what on this tape, given that both are clearly all-rounders when it comes to instrument performances, use of tapes, samplers, field recordings and live electronics, but on the other hand it’s also nice not to know. This is another highly enjoyable collaged vision of life that takes a lot of simple delight in finding, hearing, playing and editing sounds, without the need for processing or filtering or any of the other over-familiar digital tricks. Nice cover sketch of a strong man in red trunks and boots, too. Great!

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Flocci Non Facio

About a jillion points shall be awarded to the cassette Gara Delle Facce (TUTORE BURLATO #09) performed by the trio Flocculi. Its members Devid Ciampalini, David Lucchesi and Ezio Piermattei turn in a two-part performance across both sides of this short tape and in the process they defy human reason with some of the uncanny zany sounds that emanate from their agitated bodies. Percussion, oscillators, guitar, voice, tape and objects are all used in imaginative ways to maximise a sense of the bizarre and a sense of fun in equal proportions, and the spirited nature of their antics doesn’t let up for a moment. I suppose there could conceivably be a danger that this form of free and open playing could easily become self-indulgent and even “wacky” in a meant-to-be-funny sense that doesn’t translate; or it could become an exercise in forced “energy” music which degenerates into the usual skittery-improv chaos and clatter. Amazingly, neither scenario comes to pass and the music remains light and fleet-footed. This may be because none of the musicians are trying to prove anything about such unhelpful notions as “extended technique” or the “value” of free improvisation, and are simply playing together in ways they enjoy. But I speculate. Ciampalini is unknown to me, and Lucchesi the guitarist has surfaced on an obscure CDR as part of DeA in 2014; but Piermattei is of course more familiar to us, not only as the owner of this tape label but as Hum Of Gnats, poisucevamachenille and Autopugno, aliases under which he has made unique and funny records which to one degree or another exhibit his obvious facility for making uncanny sounds and music with his voice, and his tape overlays. Flocculi is yet another project he can be proud of. They may never surface again as a trio, but for 30 delicious minutes here they have unleashed several exciting and tasty events in sound upon the earth, with an obvious passion and enthusiasm for their work, and everything is played with a simple transparency which is highly refreshing. Things may get noisy, but never distorted; the spirit is liberating, never chaotic. The title translates into English as “Race Of Faces”, and that’s putting it mildly. Highly recommended!

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Muscle Tones

Next we have Sindre Bjerga’s Attractive Amplification (TUTORE BURLATO #06). One recurring feature across many of these Tutore Burlato tapes is the strong interest in tape manipulation, and Norwegian Bjerga who has been doing live on-stage cassette tape mangling for some years is clearly a natural choice for the label. This release contains two suites, ‘Flicker and Burst’ and ‘Reverse Energy’, taken from live recordings in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We find Bjerga on fine form in both escapades, and this is an improvement on the last thing we heard, For The Automatic People on LF Records, which misfired in places. You can expect a riotous and confusing explosion of colours, sparks, and chaos; much like a firework display, except the Roman candles are laced with mild hallucinogens. Sindre Bjerga knows how to have fun and entertain an audience (in an extremely offbeat way, of course), but he also carries himself and us down uncertain and darkened pathways, where the outcome of the journey is not clear and perils may lay in store at any turn. It’s achieved through a combination of voice elements, noises, and very extreme interventions in the natural running of a tape machine; the retardation effect, caused by slowing the capstans, is something he is determined to make into his own signature sound. Like Lovely Honkey, he also shares a similar interest in changing old pop music cassettes for fun and profit, creating his own warpoid brand of off-the-cuff karaoke singing right there in the room. The total effect of all these strategies is almost certain to affect your brain in strange ways, and derail logical thought processes.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

The Non-Existent Knight

The cassette Sharp Intake Of Breadth (TUTORE BURLATO #07) by Lovely Honkey is the next item I’ve pulled from the big July bag sent here by Tutore Burlato. This surreal and queasy mess is another recording which seems very much like something Ezio Piermattei would favour, and seems to occupy similar areas of strange humour and indigestible noise, arrived at by means of tape manipulation, layering, and juxtaposition of unrelated elements. Plus there’s the grotesque voice, which on more than one occasion resembles someone being seriously ill – groaning, howling, and clearly on the point of vomiting out their intestines. Lo-fi noise, broken electronics, damaged cassette tapes, and heaven knows what else – the detritus of modern consumerism is meat and drink to Lovely Honkey in his quest to reduce all around him to absurdity. What always impresses me about this sort of thing is the deliberation and poise with which the lunatic in question goes about their task, proceeding slowly and carefully through the rituals of their inexplicable antics. Thick, acoustic porridge noise-spew results, a potage which lays heavily on the belly of the listener. One other aspect of the Lovely Honkey plan is to ridicule pop music history to an extreme degree, and the singer’s nightmarish deconstruction of Black Lace’s ‘Superman’ (an easy target if ever there was) on side A here is not something you will forget in a hurry. The cover artworks also contain insights into the warped, visceral humour of this creator – look closely at the front cover to examine the background to this knight in armour, and you may do a small double take. Can’t find out much factual information about Lovely Honkey, although he has performed and recorded with Neil Campbell and may in fact be half of Acrid Lactations; other releases have surfaced since 2008 on Poot Records, Total Vermin, and Chocolate Monk.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Pain Smears

I found Posset’s YHWH cassette (TUTORE BURLATO #03) heavy going for my ears and brain…lo-fi low grade bedroom noise-doodling crawls unbidden out of the darkest corners and moves strangely before us, with no apparent end in view. The noises are mostly twisted and deliberately ugly, every track seems to propose an interminable session of pain, and there’s a random, unfinished vibe to his overall approach which feels as though he isn’t really exerting himself. However, he keeps going nonetheless, and once he’s into the zone of protracted, uncomfortable vocal groans accompanied by broken and ill-sorted electronic noisy burrs, then there’s apparently no stopping the man. In spite of myself, I found myself coming round to his grotesque world view, and growing accustomed to the dank, unlit chambers in which his music dwells, troll-like and surrounded by mushrooms growing from the walls and where thick green slime is smeared over the windows. Posset is Joe Murray, may come from Newcastle, and clearly has penchant for absurd fractured word-art in his titles, which suggests a depth and richness which his flat and static aural utterances don’t always possess.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Put Me On The Pan

On Human Of Stow (TUTORE BURLATO #05), the irrepressible eccentric Dan Melchior turns in a perplexing two-parter of far-out proportions, using electronic music and voice elements. A lost Creel Pone masterpiece emerges from his gifted hands, and mouth. And the additional contributions of Emily Bobb and Glen-Rodman-Melchoir play a part too. These unsettling analogue synth puffs, combined with wayward drones and errant popping squeals of noise, create a miasma of swamp-like dimensions in short order, causing the innocent wayfarer to lose their way in among the swirls of green fog and seemingly endless roadway, unwinding against an uncertain tilted horizon. We’ve enjoyed this English performer’s highly quirky approach to songwriting, on such albums as Catbirds and Cardinals, but Human Of Stow reveals his talent for abstract art music of a highly labyrinthine nature. I’d almost forgotten he teamed up with Ezio Piermattei, who sent me all these cassettes and probably runs the label too. The results of their collaboration were released as My Dance The Skull MDTS10, noted here in 2015. Great cover painting to this cassette is also by Dan; kind of Paul Klee meets The Beano.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Cracked Barrell

Occupying a not-dissimilar zone of turf to the previous item is the Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis split cassette (TUTORE BURLATO #08). On the A side by Final Seed, there may be electronic music, keyboard drones, samples and tape manipulation going on in this slow-moving procession of surrealism, and it’s doubtful whether even the creator himself knows for sure. This was recorded in 2015 at Mankato in Minnesota. Strangely beautiful music leaks out, surfacing to the top of confusing swirl of strange, alienating noises and absurdist treatments. I like the way the mood veers from feeling humourous and slightly silly to something verging on the edge of an industrial nightmare, often doing so in the space of seconds. The episodic, drifting nature of this dual-layered suite is really something to savour; a compelling dreamy fugue of stitched-together notions and jottings. Final Seed may be Jameson Sweiger and has released a few obscure cassettes for Fag Tapes, Alien Passengers and Chocolate Monk since 2009.

The side by Dylan Nyoukis has been derived from earlier works, a trilogy of cassette-with-poster limited edition releases from 2014 and 2015 called Encephalon Cracks Volumes 1 to 3, which appeared on his own Chocolate Monk label. For this tape, presumably some form of distillation, cutting-up, reworking or radical reprocessing of the sources has been executed, but I never heard the originals of those highly obscure items, so who knows? While there’s some characteristically unsettling vocal chatter at the start of this tape, for the most part it comprises minimal variations on an electronic drone pattern, to create a mesmerising force-field of blocky anti-energy that draws its listeners into a trance by dint of its fascinating monotony. It’s almost brutally single-minded and machine-like, apparently executed with a blithe indifference to its audience.

The above notes about TUTORE BURLATO #08 are provisional, since my raves may be applying to the wrong sides. In my defence, it’s impossible to tell. The pink cassette is issued with no labels, or any distinguishing marks allowing us to tell Side A from Side B; this is probably the way they like it, since it adds to the general air of disorientation and confusion.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Andy’s Chest

The Chest cassette (TUTORE BURLATO #10) is a lumpy oddity of rough sound poetry and acoustic noise, slammed down onto the grooves in the “primitive” style. The players here are the Glaswegian duo Acrid Lactations (Susan Fitzpatrick and Stuart Arnot) who have miraculously teamed up with Joincey, the notorious loon from Stoke on Trent who used to be part of Inca Eyeball and Green Monkey with Phil Todd, here trading under the name Jointhee. Together, they produce an ungainly mix of absurdist, naïve rhymes and raps spoken, groaned and chanted as though the players were breathless, grey-eyed zombies chained up in a vat of hardening concrete; their very lungs breathe dust and grime. Accompanying these impenetrable texts are raw and primitive improvised noise eruptions, including many random toy keyboard stabs, detuned guitar strums, and tentative saxophone slurps – the whole party resembling children or teenagers playing at Company Week, yet stumbling upon profound sonic discoveries as they do so. Chest billows with quiet spooked-out vibes, amounting to a highly compelling session of strangeness that will keep you listening in a perpetual state of stunned amazement, awaiting the next peculiar development. I see the Acrid ones had a cassette from Singing Knives in 2013, Aura Mirror Come Fickle, Anachronous Law and Manner, which we’ve now missed sadly. Recommended, for those who like it messy and visceral…

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Porta Guitarre

Eugenio Sanna is a great new discovery to make for me. Evidently he’s an avant-garde improvising guitarist, although you’d never guess from the scant printed information provided on La Porta Stretta (TUTORE BURLATO #04), a C29 cassette containing seven examples of his very extreme instrumental craft. Scrapes, jangles, metallic howls and whines, non-musical and semi-musical sounds combining in a delirious but very brittle melange of playing. I’m particularly keen on the false harmonics he sends up in the air from his precise strums and attacks, much in the manner of a 1970s Derek Bailey. While the natural sounds of an electric guitar are heavily disguised for the most part, he doesn’t do it through the lazy use of pedals, but through his own innovative technique; and he’s advancing the possibilities of the instrument in many ways, rather than trying to actively destroy or subvert one of the linchpins of Western musical culture. I’m delighted by the physical, hands-on, nature of his playing; he seems to be physically wrestling with a problem in real time, and solving it, rather than contemplating insubstantial abstract notions in an airy-fairy manner. I see he’s played with Mike Cooper on record at least twice, which is encouraging, and also with Edoardo Ricci since the 1990s. There’s also an odd record he made with Jealousy Party, whose bizarre antics on another record we noted recently here. Sanna walks a lonely furrow and ploughs a tempestuous wind, but his armour is bright.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Dreamskills in the Star Clinic

Another splendid package of unusual and sumptuously-decorated releases from Eric Kinny and his Santé Loisirs label in Belgium…first is a blue seven-inch flexi disc from CE Schneider Topical & The Lentils. CE Schneider Topical is another New England weird-folk duo (we’re anticipating writing about a full-length album of theirs quite soon) comprising Christine Schneider and Zach Phillips, the latter being the head of OSR Tapes and a troubadour who has come our way before as one half of Blanche Blanche Blanche. On Four Different Hells (SL05) they turn in four immaculate acoustic pop songs with odd melodies and minimal instrumental arrangements, occasionally dropping in sweet vocal harmonies that are like an East Coast take on Brian Wilson at his most spaced-out and psychotropically damaged. We still see the lingering after-effects of those Smile bootlegs leaking into the culture…these miniaturist enigmas in song form last barely a minute or two before they disappear into the air, like the sighting of an odd dragonfly in the middle of an enchanted glade, and leave the impression of a Red Krayola fragment or even Young Marble Giants sung in American accents. Not entirely sure what The Lentils contribute here, but they seem to be the vision of songwriter Luke Csehak, come from Los Angeles and are also well represented on Feeding Tube vinyl editions. A charming little gem that sparkles for less than ten minutes… “you may spot Zach Phillips’ abusive use of musical informations.” writes Eric in an enclosed note, “but this time he only has the length of a 7” to express himself.” Christine Schneider did the cover design, executed here by the gift of woodblock printing.

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The other item is a cassette tape featuring the solo clarinet of Joachim Badenhorst. His Kitakata (SL04) includes 15 peculiar instrumentals that are both forlorn and mysterious, ringing out across the place in Japan – I think it’s the “Star Clinic” – where they were recorded. “The atmosphere was so special, it made me play like I hadn’t before”, is all the creator can tell us about an evidently highly personal experience. But his music communicates it in a very deep fashion. To add to the atmosphere, the tape includes certain interludes and field recordings, documenting simple and gentle sounds such as a water fountain, bird song, and people talking quietly. Hard to say why but it increases the overall beauty of this release 100-fold. The artwork is printed on very thin newsprint, again a woodblock creation, a very bold combination of hand-written text with a grungy half-tone photograph, which further emphasises the very human nature of this statement. Badenhorst is an important latter-day Belgian improviser and jazz musician, and we’ve encountered his work twice this year – once with Dan Peck on The Salt Of Deformation (co-released on his own Klein label), and again with Pascal Niggenkemper on the exceptional record Talking Trash. Beyond that, I can only urge you to try and seek out this touchingly beautiful and intimate personal musical statement.

Both the above from 9th June 2016. We last received items from Eric’s micro-label in 2015, see this page. I see now I’ve missed SL03, which was the cassette release by Les Dauphins Et La Science…boo hoo!