January-December 2010 (cover scans and information)
This fine and hypnotic tape from The Nightcrawlers features the duo keyboards of The Gulch Bros from NJ and another keyboardist, Dave Lunt.
Sorry for the blurry scan but this is a tape by Richard Franecki and his group, f/i, a raucous guitar based ensemble that really predates and predicts the rock oriented noise jam scene. From Milwaukee and I believe still going. Franecki also released solo tapes of synth based music, at least one on audiofile Tapes.
One of the many excellent tapes put out by Christopher Earl (Zajkowski) who is The Squires Of The Subterrain. Influenced by psych pop such as XTC, The Squires invest this music with sunshine and sing along goodness. It’s not all candy and happy times but usually leaves me feeling up. Still going and stronger than ever.
MJB is Michael J. Bowman from NY. He is already a legend in the home recording field with his singular vision of personal pop. He has worked as a drummer for several bands and is a true multi instrumentalist and a very distinctive singer. His songs glow with that specialness that comes from within and have me singing along even against my will. He also has dabbled in electronic and experimental sound and has a very large body of quality work. Mike and I have also done collaborating.
Malok was a mystery to me. I received several tapes from this Wisconsin sound collager but very little discernible personal information. He assembled tapes of oddness and confusion. Cut ups, jarring stops and starts remind me of finding torn up copies of yesterday’s paper laying around. On this tape, he teams up with avant gardist, Tom Sutter from the St Louis area for some eepy! weirdness.
A very skilled pianist and composer, Peter Stenshoel released several tapes in the 80s and 90s. His major work, “Strangely Colored Map” was followed by the tape to the right which was also quite ambitious and well thought out.
A true character and underground legend, John Bartles, from upstate New York released many outstanding cassettes of sardonic and bitter humor lampooning everything and everyone including himself. He would get a band to play behind him as he would go off with his grizzled wit and observations. If there is an underground Hall Of Fame John will be in it.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be some falling out between us and I have absolutely no idea why. In his “blow me off” letter he was very oblique and I did not understand his anger. I wrote him back to call him on it but got my letter returned, unopened.
John Hinds is a multi instrumentalist from Millbrae, California which is a few miles south of San Francisco. With his brother Peter, they have produced many fine tapes and CDs of progressive, high energy improv and fiery modern jazz sometimes laced with audio verite. John’s handles the guitar, bass, keyboards and sax with aplomb and is a tasteful, interesting composer as well. Peter plays the drums and does the graphic design. He also produces hand made collector cards of wrestlers, Michael Jackson, cult phenomena and of course their main interest, Sun Ra. John and Peter are two of the foremost experts in the world of Sun Ra’s music and legacy and their extensive collection is a veritable history museum of oddball genius. In addition, they produce the booklet called Sun Ra Research.
This split tape from San Francisco is comprised of two projects from Lesli Singer. She was ( I believe) the sole artist in Your Mom Too and on side two co-hosts the festivities of ultra lo fi squalor with Frank Kogan. This tape is a mess, a runny mouth, slobbering and uncomfortable listening. And that’s why I like it. I can find no current information about her.
Josh Mars was The Unknown Eyes. He would send me his tapes of ragged and informal reggae and dub influenced sounds during the 80s. After this group he evolved into more experimental sound and film making and moved from California to Tulsa, OK where he now heads up ( and does the drums for) the Mars Dark project ( among other things). I have had the pleasure of working with Josh on a couple of occasions.
Colorado experimental musician and film maker, Joel Haertling‘s project was called Architects Office. Media collage, improv and assorted bizarre sounds made up most of his work. He also did collaborations as indicated by this tape with English artist, Flow Motion. Some interesting info on Haretling here
Brooklyn’s Arnold Mathes was ( and is) a very prolific electronic musician with a bevy of gear and consistent style of synths, drum machines and sound collage drop ins. This 1992 tape was also released on audiofile tapes.
The Bill Jones Show was a part of the whole demented and devolved Ohio scene if I recall correctly which included Plastic Eye Miracle, The Evolution Control Committee and more. Funny stuff and truly underground.
360 Sound was one of the many projects of Brian Noring from Des Moines, Iowa. Brian was not afraid to try a lot of approaches from electronic keyboard wandering to acoustic, guttural grot. Noring also collaborated with many experimental musicians and ran his own FDR label.
Bob Zark (or Xark) was an interesting character from New York. A poet, art activist, musician and graphic designer, he issued several cassettes in different styles. From beat boxing pseudo rap to sampled rock, Bob later moved to San Francisco to pursue his art and music.
Fish Karma and The Headaches 1985 tape, “Disco Entropy” was to become an all time classic of underground music. His snarly, spoken-sung vocals, his hilarious lyrics, the grungy backings of his band ( with Al Perry, guitar and Julia Mueller, drums) produced songs that catapulted him into Hall Of fame status after only one tape. He later went on to produce at least one CD.
The Tone Poets tape was a very enjoyable experience for me. The variety that musician (and WFMU DJ) Dave Mandl mixed into this 1986 cassette was wonderful. Drum machines glided along, well played bass and synth played roles along with occasional voice. There was a bit of a jazz feel at times, some mild experimenting and a highly creative feel to it all. I don’t know if Dave did another tape although I do know he still has his WFMU show. An early favorite of home taping to me.
A beautiful loopy tape of improvised ambience and elegance by these Brooklyn musicians. Bob and Pete were A Hawk And A Handsaw although I think there was a commercial group later who also used that name. These guys were real good at creating atmosphere and letting it all breathe. This 1986 cassette still sounds great even today.
Phillip B Klingler ( PBK) was ( and still is) an amazingly prolific electronic musician with the highest standards of quality. He has collaborated with countless others and has released a vast amount of material on tape and CD. This 1990 cassette has him dangling noise, nighttime electronic shadows and hidden ephemeral shades that are close to imaginary.
Agog was the project of Damian Bisciglia from Southern California. This fascinating 1987 cassette has him leaping from one avant garde complex to the next. Sound collage, field recordings, imposing textures of sound laminates…a great tape of uncompromising aural delights.
LMNOP was the project of Steven Fievet who , at the time, lived in Decatur, GA. His tapes ( and later CDs) were filled with high energy, high quality pop music. Hs also published a wacky and irreverent comic journal called babysue, which was also the name of his label. In my opinion, he recorded some of the greatest home made pop music ever.
Farces Wanna Mo is the unusual name of Dave Woycechowsky‘s home recording band. During the day, he is an attorney and when he gets home he records his nutty, skewed and sometimes demented music. It occasionally veers towards rock but is really in a category by itself. At the time I met him he lived in the San Diego area but has since moved to Canada and now Detroit I believe.
Above, the 1995 cassette of Peter Tonks , aka Cowtown. Peter recorded many tapes of sung-spoken poetry and was usually backed by some music played by him or local mates from the Denver area. His lyrics were the central focus though commenting on social issues, personal relationships and pulled no punches with frank and sometimes caustic assessments of life’s absurdity.
From Washington State came Ken Hunt who called himself, Animanarcana. His very humble and lo if repertoire was funny, reflected his own experience and many times just involved him singing into a cheap mic with no instruments. Sometimes he would pluck on a bass and other sound making device. In a way, I usually slotted him in the same category as Dan Fioretti: outsider, naive but sneakily clever. I don’t know what Ken is doing now but am glad I have his tapes. The one above was from 1987.
Sometimes I would hear a home taper and go, “whoa, this person’s got a lot of talent”. That’s what I always thought about Greg Segal‘s work from the early 80s with his improvising ensemble, PaperBag ( with his brother Mark and others) in Los Angeles to his later solo work in Portland, OR. His main axe is guitar which he wails on expertly but he also handles drums, keyboards, flute, bass and vocals just to name a few. His tunes have ranged from punky rock to spacey jazz to out and out noise. His 1987 “Water From The Moon” was also later re-issued on his Phantom Airship label. Another one of the most outstanding musicians in the scene.
At the time operating out of Brooklyn, the duo of Dan and Detta Andreana called themselves Dada Frolic. And this was a good name because of their skittering, exploring sound they acheived by incorporating weird effects, fractured guitar, radio and more all thrown into a pot and cooked. At one point in the 90s they visited me at KKUP and were wonderful people and guests. The tape above, “K-9” was an early self release and they went on to put out tapes on Sound Of Pig and work with Al Margolis in some live projects.
Another Sound Of Pig alum was John Eberly who released this tape of dense, out of focus rumblings. Eberly had the project called The Mumbles from his home studio in Wichita and released quite a few tapes. He’s still going strong here. This must have come out in the mid 1980s.
Synthetic Products was the project of Malcolm and CJ Ryder from Cleveland. They were always a favorite of mine because of their wacked humor applied to the geeky home taping rock music they produced. I mean, “Carol Gets An Oboe” is a great title, isn’t it? This was their second tape I think and not long after they had to change their name because of legal concerns from a local manufacturing company. So, of course, they used their frivolous nature and changed their name to Sosumi. These guys went on to do a local public access TV show and last I heard were still active although I don’t know how much music they were still doing.
Mike Tetrault was a poet from Massachusetts who also produced several very fine compilation tapes with special, unusual themes. Much of his work was dark, brooding and veiled in a curtain of eeriness. On this tape from approximately 1988, he compiles the sounds of Croiners, James Hill, Vox Populi, J. Greinke, Illusion Of Safety, NoMuzic and others into beautiful, coherent collection. Mike also has worked extensively with Ken Clinger in addition to his many compilations. One of my favorites was the “ambient Sex Pistols” theme.
From Minneapolis came the project called ZXQ. The tape “Hypnagog” inhabits a radio theater space with all sorts of silliness that reminds me of The Musical Transportation Spree, the radio project of Chris Waterbury and Jerry Modjeski who were also involved (Chris and Greg Mathieson and others) in the group, Bat Lenny. Akin to Firesign Theater this 1988 release was the only tape by ZXQ I received.
Free form rock improvisations from the original Zendik Farm, then located in California. Headed up by Wulf who intones a tremulous, sort of Robbie Basho tone, with psychedelic backings of keys, drums and bass. Wulf was to pass away not long after this and was replaced by Arol, who I believe was his former partner. The Collective moved back east at some point and continue their activities and their music.
Goofy improvs was the calling card of Mashpot, a quartet from Florida . This 1990 tape features their trademark sound of garage riffing with silly lyrics chanted and sung on top. Fun stuff, in small doses.
Mitch Sanders released this cassette on Red Nail Tapes , run by Bunk Nesbit in West Virginia. This is some pretty cool lo fi garage rocking with weird things going on in the fix to make it even more perplexing. This one was a collection of tunes from 1982-8.
David LaDuke hailed from Louisville and played balls out guitar rock that often featured short songs with no vocals. I think this one came from the early 1990s. He released a few things then and would tout his guitar rocker image. Hints of Zep abound. Good stuff.
Known as a real king of sampling, Washington’s Steve Fisk was actually much more than that. His use of the early sampling technology just allowed him to create complex atmospheres and moods and it wasn’t used as a “see what I can do” showoff presentation. This split release on K Cassettes (Olympia, WA) and ARP Cassettes (Oakland, CA) is a good example of his early work. Droney patches are interrupted by scary voices and found sounds that equally comfort and disturb.
The Molecules were a very entertaining band from Oakland, CA and the tape to the left is from 1991. Ron Anderson, Chris Millner and Thomas Scandura were the members of this hard charging group. Influenced as much by free jazz as punk, their short songs hit hard and to the point. Some bunched them in with The Minutemen and I suppose this is a good signpost but The Molecules really ran with the ball in their own way.
Chris Mezzolesta was a fine home taper from Ohio and this tape was released on the GGE label ( run by Mike Crooker) in 1987. His sound quality is high and his songs are well crafted with sarcastic jabbing, pop knowingness and excellent chops to make it all work. He released several other tapes and CDs later as well.
Old fashioned rockin’ was the central theme of James Richard Oliver from Georgia. He would occasionally stray into acoustic introspection but generally locked into rockabilly guitars, twangy vocals and toe tapping good time fun. This tape was from 1997 and he later went on to produce CDs.
Dan Stearns from MA was an incredibly fine guitarist and musician with a real ear for producing mind blowing music in the progressive rock and experimental veins. He really stood out to me as being way above most home producers in ability and execution. This tape is actually just one 6 minute song with shifting moods, stop on a dime precision and tasteful but brilliant musicianship. He made several other great tapes and is still active today.
I received a couple of tapes in the late 1980s from one “Chief Justice” who in fact, was a very young Jim O’Rourke calling himself The Elvis Messiahs. Although Jim may want to distance himself from these early home recordings I don’t know why. His skill as an improviser, the space he is able to leave to let the music breathe, the various instruments he commands is still impressive.
Founding member of the legendary Bay Area avant garde cult band, The Roots Of Madness, Geoff Alexander‘s first solo cassette was a mix of varying styles incorporating the farfisa organ, vocals and his penchant for a style he called “anthro”. He would follow this up with “San Jose Confidential” a couple years later and an organ collection culled from these tapes later as well.I believe this came out in 1987.
Geoff also is the world’s expert on 16 mm “academic films” and has written the definitive book about the subject.
Please visit his extensive and informative sites on these and other matters including a page about The Roots Of Madness.
A wonderful 1995 tape from singer-songwriter Amy K from Connecticut. Rather minimal production and sung beautifully with a soulful, yearning quality.
An early tape by Cheer-Accident, an Illinois group that became an institution over the years. Headed up by Thymme Jones , their music was influenced by many styles especially progressive rock bands like Gentle Giant. Lots of fine musicianship abounded on this 1986 cassette.
K.R.O. was a hip hop project out of Philadelphia influenced and informed by comics on this 1995 release. Energetic and slightly derivative of Public Enemy with its socially conscious and inflammatory style.
Veteran improvisers Ernesto Diaz-Infante ( from San Francisco) and Rotcod Zzaj (aka Dick Metcalf from Washington at the time) got together through the mail for this 1999 fractured teamup of keyboards, prepared bass, synth and some poetry.
Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross were the main members of the northwest group, The Green Pajamas. This tape from 1984 is chock full of solid songs and group play. Released on Tom Dyer‘s Green Monkey label ( Tom also released his own music), this is a totally satisfying and wonderful album of pop tunes. Jeff Kelly has recently released some new Green Pajamas music as well.
A fascinating experimental vocal artist, Pamela Z, from the SF Bay Area, produced this tape that mixed far out explorations, drum machine rock patter and other assorted sounds. She continues to produce her work in the Bay Area. This cassette was from 1988 and is a real classic.
Some wonderful lo fi pop from The Laces, the project of Iowan, Doug Kabourek. Supplemented by real drums on some songs, this collection is sprightly, upbeat fair primarily with sing along type of choruses and solid songwriting. From 1997.
From Massachusettes at the time, Mike Tetrault produced some wonderfully dark compilation tapes. Many times his releases would feature a theme as on this one, “Gentle Metal Rain”. Artists would submit their audio interpretations of the theme and on this cassette from the late 1980s some of the artists were: Le Syndicat, Don Campau, No Unauthorized, Nick Costes, Randy Greif, Big City Orch, Dave Prescott and others. Ken Clinger was also a collaborator with Tetrault, who was a fine writer, and released many such tunes on his own Bovine label.
A very fine and fun eclectic cassette from the Massachusetts scene that I think was released in the early 1990s. From country to weirdo rock, to home taper geekisms, this tape was a wide ranging affair that entertains throughout. Some of the artists: Dicktation, Haberland, Tall Bald Grandfathers, debris, Jeff Freymann, Roadkill, Mente, Dougzig, Judas And Natasha Experiemnt, Wall Of Hair and others.