This was Vol. 7 in Jan Bruun’s compilation series “Walkman Meltdown”. At the time Jan lived in Bergen, Norway. Although not a musician himself he released many fine tapes on his Hypertonia World Enterprises label. Jan is also a follower and social commentator on aberrant, criminal and outrageous behaviour.
In the early 90s the scene in The Ukraine was really exploding. There were numerous good bands such as Kazma Kazma, Tovarisch, Sacher Beloi Smertnu ( Sugar White Death), Rabbota Ho and others. Igor Trushkin was instrumental in getting this music heard elsewhere.
I believe Laura Valentino and Paul Lydon were Americans who moved to Iceland and started home recording and releasing their tapes in the early 90s. They were quirky little affairs and very charming works. I am only aware of two tapes ( the other, Ilmvatnajokull is nice too) they put out.
Ramunas Jaras was the lead member of the Lithuanian ensemble, Echidna Aukstyn. Freeform improv elements crashed up against echoey voices, field recordings and flutes for an unusual mix. He is still at it.
Three goofy guys from Sofia, Bulgaria ( Milo, Bobi and Ivo) got together for several tapes of outlandish pots ‘n pans type banging. They are likeable in a very odd way and seem to always have fun.
Ambient launch into deep space by Mikhail Atom from Moscow. This tape got circulated fairly well and had different covers issues.
Evidently fairly popular in Bulgaria, Violet General dragged out the drum machine, grumbled some vocals and pumped up the fuzz bass for some heaviness. Later they released some CDs.
Norwegian singer and guitarist, Anton Balsam was active ( and still is) with his distinctive neo folk moments as highlighted on this collection. He also released tapes on the Hypertonia World Enterprises label. He is active today as AudiThor.
A spilt tape featuring on side one, Grazdanskaya Oborona, an influential neo folk protest band fronted by the underground legend, Igor Letov. Punky hard strumming and in-your- face vocals were the key ingredients for this ensemble. Side two has the ska sounds of Wekeda, a danceable and funky group with horns from Bulgaria. If Madness was from Sofia this is what they might have sounded like.
A short and very bizarre, eclectic unleashing from Russia by Phillip TeaGum. Dump some toys, casios, sound effects into a blender and slice and dice until its done. This is unbridled expressionism.
Some instrumental ramblings from this Bulgarian featured a fairly lo fi sound and was released in 1994. It is unclear if this tape was actually released in another format like vinyl because I received it from another Bulgarian friend who may have simply taped it onto cassette.
A compilation on the Norwegian Shit label, featured such bands as Famlende Forsok, Ernie Chung’s Plutoion, Coalmine 5, The Headcleaners and others. Weirdo rock, textured madness from 1997.
Probably too small to read but this cassette compilation from Iceland had some interesting material from bands like Sogblettir, Sykurmolarnir, Guld Ad Innan and Mosi Frandi. From 1987.
Once again , probably too small to read properly but this trio from Russia ( I believe) investigated some RIO (Rock In Opposition) tendencies fused with some progressive elements and mixed up with that nutty Russian sense of confusion. From 1993. The artist is Wozzeck and Chugra, “Bergology”. The liner notes recommended that “you listen this album only in company of your own personality”.
Russian Vasily Shumov moved to Los Angeles and released some real nice bedroom rock as Center. Drum machine, guitar and bass and vocals in Russian.From 1995, “Brulic”.
I always found it strange that I received so very few tapes from Denmark. This tape to the right was by Martin Hall who I don’t believe I was ever in touch with personally but somehow ended up with the cassette. Its a nice blend of spoken word, balladry, sequencer eruptions and brooding experimentalism.
One of the absolute best underground labels at the time was Hypertonia World Enterprises run by Jan R. Bruun from his home at that time in Bergen, Norway.He put out many excellent compilations and occasional “theme” tapes such as “Watching Satan”, the songs of Charles Manson ( covered by home tapers). His “Walkman Meldown” tapes are a virtual international tour of underground music of the time.
On the tape above, Fire Engine 201, there is a slew of international artists that spews out hard, pop, and scum rock and also home taper delights from around the world. Jan was one of the most essential contacts I had during this period.
A bootleg tape of the crucial Russian band, Grazhdansakaya Oborona. Their hallmark quality was a punky, insistent, driving sound made even more evident by the drum machine on this rare cassette. Shouted and pleading vocals, distorted bass and guitars, over the top as well.
A three way split between Daniele Brusachetto ( Italy), Rench ( UK?) and Krankeit Der Jugend ( Germany) on Black Orchid Productions run by Emil Matko in Slovakia. This tape of deep brooding sound, electronica and washes of noise came out in 2000 providing more evidence that cassette culture continued well past the date of 1995 that some people give as the ending point for this movement.
A bizarre tape by Echidna Aukstyn (Ramunas Takas) from Lithuania with creepy whispers and dark instrumental passages released in about 1993. Takas is still active and doing his unique creations.
Evidently one of the earliest underground bands in Bulgaria, Kale was influential to groups such as New Generation, Review and others that came out of the Sofia area. This is a 1988 bootleg tape and collects their entire body of lo fi basement work.
Cliff Barnes was post punk project from Finland. This 2002 cassette proves that Cassette Culture didn’t exactly end cleanly in 1995 as many would insist. The access to CDR and mp3s wouldn’t come to many far away places as easily or as soon as the USA and continental Europe. This engaging and entertaining Finnish unit delivers a fine 5 song tape.
From Tampere, Finland came the compilation, “Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll”. This was powerful rock in the sprit of The Dictators, New York Dolls, The Stooges…you get the idea. The four bands featured, Shame ‘N Scandal, Cliff Barnes, The Furious Flamers and Fancy Dress all come to stick it in your face with lashing and slashing guitars and frenzied, high energy vocals all in English. I believe this also came out in the early 2000’s on the Shitsuck label. How about that for a name? Great tape.
From Poland was the band OVS. Originally called Omnivorous, this early 2000’s Black Orchid release re-issues their two tapes “Floe” and “Spin” on one cassette. They flail and pound power post punk admirably at times using dynamics effectively to avoid “tired ear”.Jakub Zdzieblo appears to have been the main guy.
Another goofy collage type outing from Phillip “Teagum” Wolotkin from Russia. Jump cuts, loopy interruptions, startling noise blasts imposed over carnival or otherwise innocuous music are his raison d’etre. The shortness of this tape actually makes it better for me like a dive into a cool pool after a warm bath. Released on his Monopolka label in 2004.
What made Jan Bruun’s Hypertonia label compilations, “Walkman Meltdown” so good was his impeccable taste and sequencing of his choices. Certainly eclectic and filled with quality tracks from all over the world, Jan enjoyed satanic and subcultural misfits and yet loved the infectious pop song. Of course this is not an oxymoron because many pop songs have been written by deviants and criminals. Hopefully, you can read the roster to the right. One of my favorite band names of all time, Anus Presley, makes an appearance. This tape came out in 1993.
Another beautiful, oversized cover for Jan Bruun’s Hypertonia label release, “Beneath The Valley Of The Magnetic Monster”, a compilation from 1991.A fine collection with Sack, Sosumi, Mata Rata, The Swamp Babies, John Bartles, Television Personalities, Lord Litter and more. Cover art by the late Sverre H. Kristensen.
Hard rocking Norwegian band, The Swamp Babies, delivered a very satisfying rock album of outtakes and rarities for the Hypertonia label in about 1991.
A very bizarre release from Monopolka ( Phillip Teagum aka Wolotkin) called Bad Pheng Shui that features thrown together noise, snippets of radio/records, screaming and probably the kitchen sink.
I believe this tape was from Norway and appears to be a quartet that hovers in a dark alley of goth, electronic drum machine propulsion, moody vocals, prominent bass and guitar. A good outing from 1982.
Referencing traditional and primitive early musics from the north, this eerie but excellent tape from Norway was really outside the box. Massed vocals dripping with reverb, primal percussion banging, I never really knew how to pronounce the title but was always drawn toward it. From the early 1990s I believe.