Here at Rummage we love cheesy analog electronica and musical scenes with silly names, so we feel a natural affinity for skweee - a form of cheap and cheerful 8-bit-level instrumental electro that's apparently all the rage in Scandanavia. The pre-eminent purveyor of this new species of bleep is Swedish label, Flogsta Danshall, who have just released a new compilation of it called Museum of Future Sound 2. Here's a track from said compilation:
The second most exciting piece of reissue news this week is that Group Doueh: Guitar Music From The Western Sahara has finally made it on to CD. Originally released on Sublime Frequencies last year as a strictly limited LP, it is one of the few releases on that label devoted to a single act. (As regular readers will know, their usual stock in trade is hallucinogenic radio collages.)
And its easy to see why the nabobs at Sublime Frequencies devoted a whole album to this stuff. This is some truly weird and wild fare - like a raucous, lo-fi B-side to the more refined Saharan guitar acts like Tinariwen. The song forms are quintessentially local but the rough electrification and effects were inspired by tapes of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown that the band leader, Baamar Salmou aka Doueh, picked up in the early eighties.
The album can be purchased from Sublime Frequencies.
(FOOTNOTE: Most exciting reissue news of the week? Superfuzz Bigmuff, natch)
Formed in 1975 by a local branch of the Free Masons, Detroit's WGPR-TV (an acronym of "Where God's Presence Radiates") was the first wholly African-American-owned TV station in the US. Although it never acquired any more than a niche audience and could afford little more than low-priced movie packages like the Carry On series, it was home to some truly interesting and exciting programming; such as a Middle-Eastern variety show called Arab Voice of Detroit and The Scene, a "no videos" all-dancing local version of Soul Train which ran until 1987. In the course of its decade plus run, The Scene featured funk, hip-hop, electro, and the beginnings of one of that city's most significant contributions to contemporary music, Detroit techno.
The video at the top of this post comes from a year slap bang in the middle of that run (ie 1982) when local artists were just starting to toy with Teutonic electronics, and skinny ties, rubber limbs, robot dancing and roller-skating throwbacks were all rage. The track being played is Sharevari by A Number of Names. (via WFMU)
Artist Paul Rubenstein has recently been teaching kids at two Brooklyn high schools to build their own guitars from scratch; with lessons on winding home-brew pickups, microtonal fretting and DIY amp constructions. When the lessons are over, he lets them rip and the results sounds like some long lost New York no-wave artifact.
I don't know about the rest of you, but my school music class experiences were decidedly uninspiring... We either spent our half hour a week listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (an activity that only became interesting when we got to hear the "rude words" in Dangerous Jade) or tooling around with those butt-ends of the percussion section - the triangle and the castanets.
Nothing so banal though for the kids who attended Gloucester Public School in the 70's. Those little brats had access to their own electronic music lab. And they were given carte blanche to churn out any squealing random noise they liked!
Spoilt buggers... Here's Randy Kaplan with something I wish I could've done in a music class at age twelve.
This track comes from a CD put together by Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto, which was featured on the WFMU blog
The world recently said farewell to one of the giants of 20th century electronic music, Bebe Barron. Along with her husband, Louis Barron, she will always be remembered for the soundtrack to the 1956 sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet; a score that was so far ahead of its time that their peers refused to recognise it as "music".
The Barrons' career as musical pioneers began in 1947 with a wedding gift of an early tape recorder, given to them by Louis' cousin who worked as an executive at 3M. The gift inspired them to delve into the radical new field of musique concrete (they subsequently produce the first piece of musique concrete composed in the US) and to set up one of the first recording studios in the States.
Initially, the clients at their studio were avant-garde musicians and writers like Henry Miller, Tennessee Williams and Aldous Huxley, who recorded early versions of audio books. In the early 1950's, they moved into films, producing soundtracks for notable figures like Maya Deren. Eventually, this brought them to the attention of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, who had initially chosen Harry Partch to score Forbidden Planet but, after hearing a sample reel, decided to hand the whole score over to them.
As there were no commercially available electronic "instruments" at the the time, all the sounds on the score came from circuits constructed by Louis; circuits which were often designed to feedback and literally burn out in a single session, and which Bebe diligently recorded to tape, treated with delay and ring modulation effects, then assembled into compositions.
The final product was a hit with fans, but not the musicians' union who refused to recognise the Barrons as "composers", thus denying them the chance of being nominated for an Oscar. After this experience, they continued working with avant-garde luminaries like John Cage, but they never scored another Hollywood film.