Extreme Kaving in the 1980s

Herewith two newish tapes received as part of the 7th March 2022 package from Rinus Van Alebeek. These two are nothing to do with him and appear on the Korm Plastics D label run by a friend of his (“I just offered him the space in this packet. The tapes are passengers,” is how he describes it).

The one by Autopsia is In Vivo (KPD988), a reissue of an earlier tape from 1988, now remastered and with bonus tracks. We have heard from this mysterious project around 2008-2009 when we received some odd records such as The Berlin Requiem and Radical Machines Night Landscapes, but today’s offering is rather different to these, and is situated more in the unpleasant zones of grim industrial blastery and power electronics, making much use of repetition, tape loops, found sounds, and treated voices making endless chants. The track titles aren’t exactly full of sweetness and light either, and the whole release is split under two headings proposing to deal with “God” and “Satan”. I suspect the creators don’t have a subtle theological debate on their agenda, and instead the plan is to confront the listener with extremes. Thankfully, the “Satan” side doesn’t appear to be an endorsement of all aspects of ritual magick, although the reference to the 11th Enochian Key does give pause.

The cover art, continuing to use the red and black colour scheme which was in use 14 years ago, is an update on the original cover which, on the Sound Of Pig cassette version from America, just stopped short of the kind of imagery that Mussolini would have recognised, that of a Teutonic knight or crusader making a power salute in front of a warhorse. I’m far from my usual comfort zone with all of these elements, and while some of this strange and remorseless audio krankery can be endured, I’m sensing a whiff of sulphur in the nostrils which is unwelcome. As to the creators behind Autopsia, nobody really knows for sure; they’ve gone out of their way to present an anonymous front, and intimate that the actual personnel involved may change at any time depending on the project.

Katacombe Vol. 3 (KPD3) is another reissue, this time from 1984, and it rescues a cassette tape jointly released at that time by Korm Plastics and the German label Schrei Records. The original item seems to have become quite collectible among the cognoscenti, and was even reissued as a CDR in the 1990s. Matter of fact, this is the fourth edition.

Once again we’re in the area of industrial and extreme experimental music, and all the Dutch groups here were active in the Netherlands – Het Zweet, Throw Me Your Finger, MTVS, Arthur Berkhoff, Zombies Under Stress, Disturbed Life, Friends in Low Places, Y Create, and two names I’ve actually heard of – Kapotte Muziek and De Fabriek. Frans de Waard, famed prolific creator of the low countries and now curator of the Vital Weekly review site, curated the tape and described it originally as “hard electronic and mutant muziek”; interestingly, none of the tracks had titles in the original incarnation, although they’ve been added since, and the photocopy insert came with a bunch of mailing addresses in Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and such locations for the mutoid weirdsters who made the music, reminding us of how experimental music once throve in the 1980s using the international postal system.

Like the Autopsia item above, plenty of tape loops and merciless electronic howling to be found here in the oxide, but somehow I’m finding it a lot more approachable, happy to accept its generally gloomy and angry caste as an indicator of a deeply-felt critique of society or a sign of personal depression. There’s also something endearingly odd about the sounds, as if many of the creators here were not interested in producing a polished, finished effect, and rather felt their passions so urgently that they had to blast out their emotional laundry using the most obnoxious and distorted settings they could find, along with clunky sounding echo and primitive beatboxes. All of this is welcome to a listener like myself who often finds themselves wearying of the smooth, inoffensive and bloodless concoctions that pass for “ambient” music these days, but this may also reflect a yearning for an imagined golden age of tape music in the mid-1980s. The variety on offer on this tape indicates that might not have been a complete fantasy; there’s a genuine sense here of rules being broken, of a very pro-active search for artistic freedom and self-expression regardless of how abrasive or obnoxious the results may be. 100 copies were made.

Both the above from 7th March 2022.