8625 - Accumulation/Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports

- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - $6.00 - (90 minutes)


From: "OP" "U" issue - January-February '84 - us@

[the section relevant to Accumulation/Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports is accentuated with a larger font size]

WIDEMOUTH TAPES (Box 382, Baltimore, MD, 21203, $6.50 apiece) A series of cassettes that attempt to place themselves on the cutting edge of the avant garde but more often than not fail. Of the seven tapes received, perhaps half might be of interest to some, but several were absolute trash. By far the most interesting is Swevingen/Floatings (& Other Works) by Dutch poet Great Monach. Four pieces are called Swevingen (lit. floatings) and were originally concrete or visual poems based on letters or syllables that are overlapped or connected. Not unlike Cage's readings which are reduced to chance selections of syllables and letters, they also include more unusual vocalizations fromed as the nexus between letters, such a rolled r's, "tz" or "ts" sounds, buzzing of the lips, etc. The other three works are also based on similar sounds but were intended to be heard as works from the outset. Scribble Music Sampler by Fanz Kamin comes with individually designed tape boxes that are a little like Rauschenberg or Schwitters assemblages. Several pieces are what Kamin refers to as performance poems with several readers in each. They have a contrapuntal texture that can be quite interesting. Some of these combine music which sounds like free form improvisations. Finally, there is a purely instrumental piece. A performance by the Theater Education Center at the 1979 Festival of Disappearing Art(s) is preserved on the tape Pablo and the New Mexicans. This is a stage work and the translation onto tape has its obvious weaknesses. Xa consists of the works of poets Doug Lang and Tina Darragh. Not being a critic of poetry, I will withhold judgment. The remaining tapes, including Tape Sent to VD Radio, masquerade under the guise of phone-art. If this junk is art or music, then Maynard G. Krebs was a real beat poet. Widemouth's catalog does contain some things that I wish they would have sent me instead, such as a tape of sound poetry by Beth Anderson and works by Alec Bernstein. It is curious that one small outfit would release some very interesting works side by side with dreadful garbage. Buyer beware, most of these tapes were lo-fi.--Dean Suzuki


[again, the relevant section is accentuated by a larger font size]


From: "OP" "V" issue - March-April '84 - us@


Having sent 10 Widemouth tapes to you sometime around the release of the Q issue, I wonder why as of the U issue nothing satisfactorily resembling a review of them has yet to appear.

After the first three were sent - DuoOaccident, Svexner Labs at M Harry Reese's, DRZ 4 "Bob"/DRZ 4 Wotan - there was a very slight mention of them in Castanets which was so superficial as to be more like a last minute paraphrase of the simplest information from Widemouth's most stripped down ad blurb than a review.

In the T issue, Castenets promised a review of more of them in the U issue - adding that they are bizarrely packed.

Finally, the U issue has reached me w/ Dean Suzuki's "reviews" in which the tapes are dealt w/ mainly as a unit rather than separately by individual titles and reviewers - this doesn't seem to me to be typical or fair OP practice. Only 6 of the tapes are mentioned by name - one name being applied to two tapes w/ no distinction made - and only two of the tapes are actually reviewed. One of the bizarre packaging tapes sent in has never been mentioned by name in either Castanets or Suzuki's "reviews". Suzuki expresses his regreats that works by Alec Bernstein haven't been sent to him instead of what was sent and yet #8605, a Bernstein piece which I sent, has yet to be reviewed.

Predictably, Suzuki likes the work in an already established genre, sound poetry, the most: Zwevingen/Floatings/and Other Works. Too bad the phone experiments aren't just watered down imitations of Eno - maybe then he'd think they're worth listening to.

The points that are most important for me to touch on at the moment, however, are his final comments. To quote: "The remaining tapes, including Tapes Sent to VD Radio, masquerade under the guise of phone-art. If this junk is art or music, then Maynard G. Krebs was a real beat poet." What I wonder is why he thinks that the tapes are masquerading as anything. In the case of the VD Radio Tapes comparison to folkways or postal interaction networking strikes me as appropriate insofar as the material presented is simply all of the material solicited and collected through and by an "underground" phone station - unjuried and unedited. The point, as is explicitly stated in the insert notes, is more sociological than musical - and the judgment of the aesthetic quality of the material is irrelevant. The first of the two VD Radio Tapes is culled mainly from teenagers who were encouraged via the phone, by people they'd never met, to make a recording of any kind - something most or all of them had never done before - and send it to VD Radio for broadcast. If it turned out to be mainly "bad" music, who am I to judge or reject it? To paraphrase someone at the beginning of Crass Records' Bullshit Detector, it doesn't matter if you have something to say, it doesn't matter if someone tells you that you're doing it wrong, just do it! It's the experience of doing it and the information derived from observing others doing it that matters.

The main tape neither mentioned by Castenets or Suzuki by name that I want to discuss now is my own: Accumulations/Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports. This was made mainly w/ the use of phones but not exclusively. It has no pretenses at being either art or music. In fact, as the entity who compiled it, I can accurately state that it was conceived of as usical residue from acts of mad scientism, d composing, sound thinking, t ho ugh t collecting, and as beenism - w/ none of the spacings being mistakes. I abhor the contextualizing of them as music and/or art! Nowhere on the insert notes is their any description beyond specifics about the making of and referent for each part - i.e.: nowhere is music or art mentioned. The recordings are mainly of experimental, sociological, historical, or informational importance. E.g.: there is an actual recording of a man describing seeing a co-worker's legs blown off, an actual tapping of a phone line repairman - of possibly remote use to "phone freaks", a mythical simulation of the beginning of the Neoist cultural conspiracy - listen to the Neoist anthem, Catastronics, on Yul Records from Montreal, for more information on Neoism, and residue relevant to the manifestation of desiring machine theory. Accumulation was made w/ the semi-unwitting participation of hundreds or thousands of people over a large area, again via the phone, - somewhat like a spatial/social extrapolation of Cage & Tudor's Variations IV - as quasi-documented on Everest Records - or of Cage & Hiller's HPSCHD. A main difference being that it was made w/out musical intent. Throughout its 45 minutes, its most obviously dominant sound is that which the phone company uses to tell one that one's phone is "off the hook" - a sound psychologically designed to be abrasively attention grabbing. Like the mundane conversation variations which interrupt it, it's used to increase the aural/conceptual endurance test aspect by challenging behavior modification conditioning.

These tapes were sent to OP not because Widemouth is trying to reinforce an image that they are music or art, but because OP seemed like one of the only forums open enough to even pay attention to thinks which try to exist in their own context. These tapes certainly don't "attempt to place themselves on the cutting edge of the avant garde" as Suzuki claims - only ignorant, unimaginative, idiotic, lazy, "intellectual", fast food historians still use such hack need [sic]* labels! At least he didn't call us Dadaists! - haha! It seems that the time elapsed between when the tapes were sent and when they were reviewed was spent trying to find someone into whose specialty they fit - but since they don't fit into anyone's specialty, the pedantic Dean Suzuki was settled for. Apparently, OP isn't the magazine to send anything truly unusual to.

Some of the Widemouth tapes are for those of you who have been searching for something different from aleatoric, art, rock, jazz, voodoo, funk, Tibetan Buddhist, snake charming, art muzak ambient, classical, country, pop, blues, sound effects, soundtracks, folk, animal recordings, sound poetry, electronic, musique concrete, and so forth and so on and on - as I am. If that is the case w/ you, dear reader, please send us your recordings - maybe we'll produce them.

Regarding the recording quality, comparison w/ folkways, postal interaction networking, and the Bullshit Detector again seems relevant. Should poor people without access to hi-fi equipment be discouraged from recording and disseminating? It seems to me that some things need to be distributed independent of fidelity criteria and that there is information intrinsic to lo-fi. Indeed, the lo-fi enahnces the conceptual obstacle course of the phone recordings - which have carefully avoided artiness and musicality in order to make them more difficult to accept for people who assume that sound is only worth listening to if it has pseudo-professional gloss.

Wdiemouth tapes are fairly diverse. Approximately 1/3 of them are phone-related; 1/3 are language centered [as in connected to the writer's movement of that name], sound poetry, and/or generally language related; and the remaining 1/3 include such things as music involving specially made instruments and religious anti-muzak (?) from the Church of the SubGenius. As far as I "know", much of this stuff is reasonably unique to Widemouth or other such very obscure labels. They're for jaded or naive outsiders, anarchists, nihilists, subgenii, neoists, and solipsists - not for academic normals and poseurs like most "alternative" radio station hosts looking for a new trend to leech their "hipness" from by association.

By way or further correction: Scribble Music Sampler is by Franz Kamin - not Fanz Kamin - a skilled aleatoric composer whose quirky performances have made him too difficult for the classification that leads to fame.

It's time for Widemouth to change again soon. Maybe its future lies in the frustration of expectations through one second recordings of the insertion of nose plugs. After all, I like novelty items. Maybe I'll try to induce a feeling of sensory deprivation that only I'll like.

- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE for Widemouth Tapes

[* this bracketed insertion was by OP's editor - he apparently didn't realize that I was making a pun & thought I was too stupid to spell "hackneyed". No, John, I'm considerably more intelligent than that]


John Foster (the editor of OP) responds

to the above letter

From: "OP" "V" issue - March - April '84 - us@

Methinks you protesteth too much. You're pretty much right about the process though - Graham & other locals didn't know what to say, I didn't even have a working tape recorder (I bet I'd really have been "hack need" *), so I sent off a batch to dean, who I thought would appreicate them, with instructions to treat them as a series, spending the most time with those he enjoyed.-JF

[*By "hack need" I meant the hackneyed needs of a hack - in other words the cliché language defaults used by shallow critics - such as "avant-garde". I was specifically referring to Suzuki's falling back on irrelevant critical language rather than trying to sincerely THINK about what he was writing about. Apparantly, John Foster didn't understand this pun at all. Whu he thought it would be of some relevance to his not having a working tape recorder I don't 'know' - maybe I'm missing his pun, eh?]



["OP" solicited an article re Widemouth from me. As a result, the following 2 articles were written at my request by Pam Purdy & David Yaffe (2 Baltimore writers) as an overview of a selection of Widemouth tapes. Each of them was given about half of the tapes published as of that time to write something about. David's article was too long to print so I edited it by extracting all of the similies. The allusions to Accumulations?Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports are accentuated with a larger font size]

From: "OP" "W" issue - May-June '84 - us@

Widemouth Tapes

by Pamela Purdy

"Hi! I'd like to read you this poem," Chris Mason says on the phone. "Well I don't think I want to hear it if it needs a reaction," says his first callee, hanging up. But some of his subjects are willing to give it a shot. They'll play the critic: to listen, to understand, to interpret. Says one, "And you can be locked up underground without being locked up. You know?"

Along with Patti Karl and "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE," Chris Mason is one of the publishers of Widemouth Tapes: notes from underground, talking messages in acetate bottles.

Alec Bernstein makes "the music of dead trees" with driftwood and marimba in an abandoned quarry near Penobscot Bay. This is the sound of the tree that falls in the forest.

"Is anybody out there?" asks one of the callers on It's not 9 o'clock!, a collection of items related to the lifetime of a particular number on the BUTN (Baltimore Underground Telephone Network). "Why is it always busy, but nobody ever talks?" another caller complains. And also the voice of a network critic: "That tape really sucked...Any asshole could put something like that together."

Voices in the air, Mr. Christian sparring with callers about teenage sex. VD Radio solicited tapes on their telephone network and got "urban folk music" from kids who grew up around a stereophonic campfire: disco, Top 40, and jazz-rock fusion, plus an elaborate collage of movie soundtracks, musical comedy, pop songs, newscasts, and other fairy tales. Also philosophy: "We are all aliens, and we will always be aliens to ourselves and to others as long as we shut our minds to the inevitable death of culture in a plastic society...."

Doctors for "Bob," from the Dallas-based Church of the SubGenius, celebrate the golf tips of Arnold Palmer and dream of a golfer head laundry [launching], "a fabulous, fun-drenched heaven on earth." DC's Doug Lang is stuck on Kim Novak, and New York's Charles Bernstein makes poetry from dialogue in On the Waterfront, Lang recites a litany of jazz musicians, and Bernstein, ever more hysterical, counts to 100.

Why these particular obsessions? It's not hard to understand Gayle Hanson's preoccupation with the rootlessness of an adopted child ("{for Mom} whoever you are?") or Beth Anderson's "Ode" to her father, an auctioneer, Anderson composes poetic music from a tobacco auctioneer's chant.

Great Monach is inspired by the love songs of the rhinoceros ("Foneron 79-5") and constructs her Zwevingen from "concatenations of letters which overlap." Her infatuation with the rhinoceros was shared by Ionesco, who concocted his first play from the (to him) meaningless sentences in an English phrasebook: "I think you are in league with the butcher."

Words mean what we say they do. Say otherwise, and reality becomes a banana peel. Tina Darragh is fascinated with chants that depend on the "call words" at the top of dictionary pages. Sometimes she reads backwards, sounding like a stroke victim. Can we say what a stroke victim means? No more than an auctioneer, but we don't doubt that they mean something. It's just that we lack the Cliff's Notes, the skeleton key.

"I too say text is about itself, and world is text," writes Charles Stein in theforestforthetrees, the April 1982 version of a poem 45 minutes long. "Reality is conventional. People sort of 'hang out,' trying to get together about how things are." He describes his work, an enormous undertaking, as "little bits of writing chipped from the cave. Obsessed."

To own a Widemouth Tape is to share another's obsession. Kirby Malone and Marshall Reese recite work that sounds from a distance like the barking of dogs. Ups close it resolves into fragments of their lives, their obsessions.

You can stand back and judge or jump in and drown. Or you can hang up without listening.


What are Widemouth Tapes Like?

8602-With ruth in Mind-Anselm Hollo

8606-At the Festival of Disappearing Art(s)-Mitchell Pressman & Alec Bernstein

like a trash can; like an oriental gong; like a pianissimo NY subway; piano-like; tone-like; like other instruments; like a melody; like ducks and other birds; electronically grating squawks; wood-like; like a surprised voice; like double-takes; like "Do tell!"; like way in background some soul record vocals; like acceleration or lift-off of something; like a railroad; like Stravinsky Rite of Spring or the like; like hits on wood: as in the woods.

8608-On His Own/The Other Side of Steve Benson-Steve Benson/Cris Cheek

Songlike; like after-the-fact expressive gestures; like tones of voice of a second order; like an architect's rough preliminary sketch of an ontology; like that of a cash register; like Benson in studying language; like Benson; like Benson.

8609-12-Testes-3 Broadcast Tapes-Testes-3

like Dial-a-Prayer; like Dial-an-Anomoly; like an auditory Allen Funt "Candid Mouthpiece"; like NY subway; like a racquetball hit hard; like being able to hear capitalism; like a voice imitating a jewsharp; elctro-bassoon-like; like explosions; like from notes of touch-tone phone.

8614-Pablo & the New Mexicans-TEC in FDA at WPA

like a hysteric's torment or a Good Humor truck; like those on 2-way radio; like Widemouth's; like a power drill or a vacuum cleaner.


like two bows; like several actors chiming in viewing it differently; like bell tone between that of wood & metal; like approaching traffic; like basso radio static; like grinding wheels; gunshot-like; machine-like; like outer space conceits; like wobble warble: what this creature does for a trill; train whistle-like; like drumstick dancing, ricocheting across a washboard of tuned glasses; like baby mermaids alarmed; like a bubble machine reving up mysteriously wavered as if from a distance; like petty elephant trumpeting at length with variety - with a complex burden of what to say; like protests; like creaky start-stop bird calls; like animated dialog; like the talk of a high soprano with tapes mouth but she wants to make her point; like epic film; like bowed bass string notes; somewhat "Happening"-like; group talk-like; like the radio; like a legal document; like a slightly slowed recording; like dogs baying; march-like; like people cheerily singing together something they know in the background as at a party; like distant hammer blows & dog barks; like the expectant tension & clarity of the urban outdoors; pile-drive-like; conch-shell-like; like machines.

8616-Public Language-Andrews & Bernstein & DiPalma & Gottlieb & Seaton & Sherry & Weiner

like being what it claims; like maybe edited of phrases which were excerpted from longer conventionally meaningful texts; largely dream-like; like unexpected (from a waking "rational" viewpoint) images in dreams; "like Magellan waiting for the first European woman to take off her clothes"; like a somewhat impassioned academic philosopher or a preacher in one of the more intellectual congregations; like AC betweenamong the suggestions of all its statements; like pig(eon)-Latin; like an image almost out of focus rather than marginally out or drifitng in & out.

8622-Scribble Music Sampler-Franz Kamin

Color & design sense are partly reminiscent of Russian futurism. That's what my example's like; like series of unrelated words, perhaps selected from newspaper headlines, read as phrases; like a yawn; like certain Turkish oboes.

8625-Accumulation/Great Moments in Odd-ball Sports-tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

like spice; like Grand Central Station; like harsh noises in machine persona rock & roll; like ocean breakers' surges; like my own intracranial/emotional overlay tape; melodic-like; like this; like high soprano humpback whale, a sort of Pekinese breed humpback whale; like a voluntary or optional reveille-if-you-want-to.


-David Yaffe (as edited by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE)



[the relevant portion is accentuated with a larger font size]

From: "The Stark Fist or Removal" No. 41, Vol. 17 - us@



Wide range of el bizzarro noise/music cassettes by various artists. #8620 is DRS. 4 "BOB" on one side and DRS. 4 WOTAN on the other. Another, ACCUMULATION, contains a weird blend of mostly-indefinable electronic aetheric screams, gathered by non-standard methods, compared to which THROBBING GRISTLE sounds like shopping center music. I just wish these were stereo [they are stereo!]. Great for demented background noise for unfettered radio stations.


From: "Sound Choice" #14 - Spring '90 - us@

WIDEMOUTH: #8625 Accumulation K7

Highest marks for the most interesting use of recording arts and telephones, interactive and uncontrolled. Widemouth is a very prolific source of multi-media art experiments including paper publications, grafitti, tatoo art, audio tape, sound performance. visual performance, you get the idea. A bonafied SubGenius Saint, Said tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE: "john elssberry taught me that if an obstacle (in this case a taped piece of paper) was placed between the record head and the tape: sound on sound can result." So that tape was made using that technique. Most of the sounds were accumulated thru (301)962-0210 (see and hear widemouth #8623) which was the name and telephone number of a thing that will be called "4 various interactive possibilities". It was a continuation of and an extrapolation beyond it's predicessor vd radio (widemouth #s 8617-18) ..this accumulation functioned both as a tape which received input and the tape from which answering machine output (i.e. the "message" was culled - it served this function for several months with almost no interruption." This is poetic construction at a very fine development, it will bore the heck out of the most wimpy "listeners" no doubt, it could really mean getting something going to active persons though. --Robin James


[The following is only partially relevant to the tape that this section is for review(s) of. It's included here because it involves relevant theoretizing]

From: "MUSICWORKS" #63 - fall 1995 - Canada

& the DeadBeat Goes On & On & On..


From 1979 to 1981, some friends of mine & I collaborated on 4 manifestations of what we called "BUTN" (pronounced like "button", this is an acronym for Baltimore Underground Telephone (or "Telectropheremone") Network): "TESTES-3", "VD-RADIO", "(301)962-0210", & "AGENT-11". These were phone #s that could be called for a wide variety of interactive possibilities which were mainly intended to function as "mystery catalysts" or as stimuli encouraging the caller to have a less passive relationship to media.

Not wanting to tell the callers what to do, I usually just presented them with situations & observed their reactions - hoping for reactions that would break away from the norm in ways that would show astute understanding of the interaction - but I was almost always disappointed. One experiment, which I call "Accumulation", strikes me as being of particular relevance to the Pavlovian predictability of most people's behavioral conditioning.

In some places, when the phone is left off the hook without there being a connection to another phone, the phone company sends a slightly louder than usual repeating tone to the receiver. This, obviously, serves the purpose of attracting attention to the phone's status so that if the status is accidental it'll be corrected.

The chain is simple: The phone is left off the hook, usually unintentionally, &, after a certain period of time has lapsed, the "insistent" tones appear. Someone near the phone hears it, recognizes it as the signal that the phone is off, & responds by going to the phone & hanging it up. "Accumulation" was partially a test of whether people would recognize & rebel against this conditioned response when removed from its functional context.

The point of this wasn't to object to the practicality of the signal. What concerned me was simply recognizing that it represented a common form of behavioral conditioning that seems to go relatively unnoticed & that the implications of unnoticed conditioning are vast.

When the caller called the "phone station" (in this case (301)962-0210) they'd usually be connected to an answering machine. This machine's recording time was not voice-activated (i.e.: sound-activated) - its durational range was determined by a limited # of settings - perhaps with parameters between 30 seconds & 3 minutes. If the caller hung up sufficiently in advance of the machine's full cycle completion, the answering machine would, in effect, keep the 962-0210 phone off the hook until the cycle finished & the off-the-hook signal would be received & recorded.

"Accumulation" was originally started as my response to being completely sick of hearing so much of this same sound on our incoming messages tape. I'd hoped that people would, at least, be imaginative & active enough to fill up the available response time rather than just passively absorb our "entertainment" (which was usually not meant to be "entertaining") & then hang up. This type of passive response was the type of conditioned reaction to mass media that our service was meant to provide an alternative to.

Putting a piece of cardboard over the erase head of the answering machine's incoming side, I set up a crude sound-on-sound recording situation so that all messages received could be added both consecutive to & overtop of each other. The resultant "Accumulation" would have a gestalt created by the pattern of the dominating sound(s). This tape was then excerpted from to make the outgoing message.

As long as the callers' response was to hang up, the dominant sound would be the off-the-hook "irritainment". If callers were to realize that the degree of their negative response to this sound was largely the result of conditioning of functional irrelevance to this situation (i.e.: not indicating that the phone "should" be hung up) & were to rebel against the reflexiveness of their response to the stimulus by maintaining the connection they would be rewarded by future outgoing tapes having less of the sound that annoyed them. If callers were simply to maintain the connection long enough to get past the stimulus & record a message as response to it &/or ignoring it they would also be rewarded in the same way.

I was satisfied that I'd created a "poetically just" way of responding to the many, many hours of "irritainment" that the callers had provided me. Now it was their turn to reply. I decided to mirror back their replies by playing excerpts from the "Accumulation" tape for an unrelentingly long enough time to, hopefully, get the point across.

Five months later, when I finally quit with the project, the "Accumulation" tape was extremely dense with the off-the-hook signal. I had many enemies by then but, as far as I could tell, no-one had figured out any more creative "solution" to the "problem" of the sounds that I fed back to them beyond trying to intimidate me into changing my ways thru insulting & threatening me. Maybe I was hoping for too much - after all, the whole thing was ridiculously oblique, & they were just people who phoned sporadically to find out what was "happening" (which most, if not all of them, never did). At any rate, the experiment did reinforce my opinion that very few people would be likely to deviate from conditioned response unless one were to explain that the response was indeed conditioned & to elucidate why the conditioning would be worth breaking.

This interest of mine with behavior modification & its social/political presence in organized sound & elsewhere has shaped much of my activity. Partially in an attempt to call attention to the importance of such concerns in my audio activities, I usually use the following vocabulary:

"usic": an obvious take-off from "music" in which the "m" is dropped to imply the root "to use" in order to emphasize "non-esthetic" aspects of sound.

"usic - 1": another (more or less) obvious take-off - this time from "Music Minus One" recordings which are made to give practicing musicians a chance to fill in with players that they don't otherwise have access to. "usic - 1" implies that the listener is the missing element which makes the "usic" more complete.

"usic - -1 ": the square root of negative 1 being an archetype of an imaginary #, this implies heightened expectations of the listener.

"booed usic": yet another obvious take-off - "mood music" gets referred to here - the mood in question being the audience's mood to boo.

Alas, acceptance & understanding of new contexts comes slowly (if at all). Since most people tend to perceive me as an "artist" &/or a "criminal" (etc..), they tend to criticize my audio output as being "failed music". What most people fail to understand is that most of my audio (if not all) isn't intended to be "music" at all &, therefore, doesn't "fail" to be something it's not trying to be. One of my unpublished tapes is even named "Too Much Like Music" because it's a sampler of recordings that I've made that are too easily pigeon-holed as such.

The above criticism could, perhaps, be avoided if I wore a suit &/or a lab coat & presented myself as a "scientist" thru the accepted "science" outlets of schools & tv etc.. Instead, I present myself as a mad scientist at any place that might be willing to support my presentation without my having to have any degree more expensive than my Nuclear Brain Physics Surgery School one.

Much of my purpose has been to undermine what I perceive to be conditioning that interferes with a variety of ways that I think are interesting ways of using sound. Attacking the L(owest) C(ommon) D(enominator) as the "glue" of the greatest conformity is a possible starting point for forming a praxis of individualist anarchist audio use.

The "beat", especially the "steady beat", is the LCD & great dictator of pop music. The more regular & the louder the beat, the more the music serves the purpose of homogenizing & subjugating its audience. This beat is the mainstay of behavioral conditioning thru music.

"If it has a beat, you can dance to it" as the saying commonly has it - but why "can't" most people dance to "it" if it doesn't have a beat? - & why does a beat have to be contextualized in music in order for them to dance to it? Try going to a dance party sometime & making loud sounds disruptive of the steadiness of the "dance" beat. Depending on how "normal" the people are there, you might be thrown out or censured by the other partiers for being "obnoxious" & "trying to ruin their good time".

Maybe somebody'll feel compelled to raise the volume of the music to make you inaudible so you don't "fuck up their groove". Some people might even stop dancing because they can't adapt to a complicating signal. Try going to a non-dance party & dancing to the "beat of the refrigerator" or some other repetitive household noise & find out whether people think you're "weird".

At one party in the late 1970s, I danced near a "professional" dancer while a Stevie Wonder record played. Highly conscious of the beat, & not enjoying its simplicity, I danced in deliberate counter-rhythm to it. My "dancing partner" became furious, saying something like: "I don't know what you're dancing to, but I'm dancing to Stevie Wonder?!!" I found her inability to recognize that I was dancing precisely in relation to the music without subjugating my own preferred rhythm to it to be depressing.

On a May 1st in the mid-1970s, I threw my "1st" party at my rented house in the main bar district of Baltimore. The date was chosen as an anarchist holiday. Since I didn't drink much alcohol at the time & didn't even think about it much, no booze was provided. The purpose of the party was just to bring people together to socialize. Since I knew very few people at the time, most of the "guests" who came were strangers from the neighborhood.

Novice that I was to "partying", I was soon initiated into learning what most people wanted from the situation. Since whatever sound I was playing was not what most of the "guests" apparently considered to be "party music", I was beleaguered by their informal spokesperson (who, I've been told, was to die a few years later by either being pushed into or rather unobservantly stepping into an elevator shaft at a party in NYC). He kept saying something like: "Oh, C'mon man, we wanna party! Play some party music like the Stones or something!" There was a period of perhaps as much as 4 or 5 years in Baltimore when almost every party of "hip" young people had to play the Rolling Stones' "Let it Bleed" at least once.

I seemed to comply with the request by playing the above-mentioned, but I'd intermittently turn the amp knob from the phono setting to the tape one & let a little bit of a 6 hour collection of versions of my "dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada" play. The title of this piece being also the full score for it, the variety in this came mainly from whatever (mainly deliberately inane) inflections my friends & I managed to bring into the realizations. I've referred to this as being so easy to perform that it's "below the Lowest Common Denominator".

My main purpose in doing this was to resist what I perceived to be the banality of only being able to "dance" (i.e.: move creatively &/or self-consciously) & "party" (i.e.: socialize with friendly &/or relaxing intent) as response to an extremely narrow set of stimuli. My reasoning was something like: "If you want to dance, why not just dance? If you want to party, why not just party?" It was simple to me, "needing" the Stones to dance & party was like needing a reflex hammer banging you below the knee to move your lower leg.

Nonetheless, my philosophical orientation was definitely not shared (I guess I should've put a beat to it). Every time I switched from the Stones to my tape, the dancing stopped & the "partiers" looked disoriented. I certainly didn't make many new friends that night.

It's not so much that I dislike the beat as much as it is that I dislike the BEAT as the thing that most people demand in order to enjoy music or even recognize it as such. For me, the BEAT (or the D(ead) B(eat) as it shall henceforth be called) functions as the thing which unifies people enough to move together not only because it unites them around a commonality but also because in societies where it's dangerous to be an individual/non-conformist (perhaps all societies), it helps to hide their individuality in the camouflage of homogeneity. Have you ever heard military music without a (Dead)Beat?

I find this to be disturbing. In the early 1990s, around the time of the post-cops-beating-Rodney-King riots, I was living on the 5th floor of a warehouse in downtown Baltimore with side windows that overlooked a parkinglot. This lot was one of the main late night city party spots for young blacks. Across the parkinglot is a very popular open-24-hours video games arcade / sub shop. On the other side of the warehouse is a black strip club where people are patted down for weapons before being admitted. Gun fights, presumably between rival drug gangs (although I don't know really), are extremely common. As much as perhaps 200 rounds have been exchanged there in as little as 10 minutes.

Common status symbols amongst this crowd are new cars. Even more popular are cars with extremely expensive & extremely loud stereo systems. The loudest have speakers pointing upwards filling the entire trunks of cars with open hatchbacks. At their loudest, these stereos might be heard from a quarter mile, or more, away. The bass frequencies being very strong, the sound can vibrate windows enough to set off burglar alarms. These stereos never play anything but black music. I interpret this as racist.

The music played always has a DeadBeat, but during the King beating backlash the DB became even more simple, loud, & driving. This served as the body beat of angry rap. The message was simple: we're sick of this racist cop bullshit & we're ready to retaliate. Without this solidarity, it's doubtful that the cops would've even gotten their 2nd token conviction. The likelihood of a prosecutor or a judge risking their cushy careers by "betraying" their flunkies would've been too small in most circumstances other than riot-induced desperation.

The DeadBeat, with its overwhelming loudness, could effectively manipulate people's heartbeats & give them adrenalin rushes. Everyone not resistant to the propaganda would be more likely to act in unison since their bodies would already be on the same wavelength. Unfortunately, the resultant mob "mentality" is reduced to an intellectual level similar to the simple-mindedness of the beat. The communal concept of the struggle gets reduced to purely "black & white" terms. In the King situation, it was all too easy for blacks to be unified around hate of all whites - rather than just white racists & their ilk.

The more simple-minded the target becomes, the larger the mob that can be formed against it. Besides, it's much easier to attack whatever blacks, or whites, or asians, or jews, or men, or women are handy than it is to really take on the well-funded, well-armed, & well-organized cops.

Power-hungry & greedy crowd manipulators are all too familiar with such obvious crowd psychology to not exploit it. White supremacists have rock & black nationalists have rap - both have the ever-present DeadBeat & maximum volume. Whoever can outshout (or outbrutalize) the other "wins". Even the cops have this in common with their enemies - the propaganda's different but the way of injecting it into the subconscious is the same. According to an article in Details magazine (May 1994 - p159) entitled "The Sounds of Violence - Music as a military assault weapon" credited to Georges Pelletier, the feds played Mitch Miller's "Jingle-Bell Rock", Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", Andy Williams, Tibetan chants, & Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" to demoralize (or re-moralize) the Lamb(s) of God (I guess it was all just a battle of the bands) before the feds just went ahead & blew them up (shades of the massacre of Move, eh?) - all to save the children of course.

Imagine musical propaganda aimed at the masses without the DeadBeat. Would it work? I don't think so. Music aimed at stimulating subtle cerebral processes instead of just giving an adrenalin rush to backbrain survival reflexes only appeals to intellectuals.

Unify the herd, give them an adrenalin rush, & push them in the direction you want them to go (& hope it doesn't backfire). An almost perfect way for capitalism to suck its suckers dry 'til they're recharged again & ready to come back for more (at least once a week - unless they have credit cards).

In May of 1994, I was in the English beach resort town Brighton with a group called Klauhütte Bangzeit 2000 to give a performance. This group, the brainchild of Gordon Monahan, Laura Kikauka, & Gordon W. Zealot, limits its repertoire to 3 "classics" of "exotica": "Caravan", "Taboo", & "Quiet Village". These songs are played repeatedly in 12 to 14 hour marathon concerts - partially inspired by Erik Satie's "Vexations" (a short piano piece with instructions to perform it 840 times back-to-back).

Our show was scheduled to be at a seaside club called the "Zap" as part of an arts festival. When we arrived, we discovered that there was no publicity other than a plug in a festival brochure. Nowhere near the club were there any announcements - no posters, nothing. When we asked one of the owners of the club about this he said something like: "How can I promote a band that only plays 3 songs for 12 hours & calls it Irritainment?" Good question.

During "dinner theatre" hours the club justifies its grant money by sometimes having performance art & related cultural events. At night, it rakes in the money by being a dance club. Around this time, the draw was "techno" music. Some of the KBZ crowd decided to go to the club at night to advertise our event with short spectacles. The 1st night, the dj wouldn't stop the music even for 2 minutes for us to use the stage sound system because he didn't want to lose any momentum. We contented ourselves with walking around & talking with people while we attracted attention by setting our hands, relatively flame-proof clothes, & bread hats on fire.

Remarking to club personnel that the music was astonishingly tedious, we were assured that each night at the club was very different. Predictably enough, upon returning the next 2 nights we found each night to be "undifferentiable". The crowds were drab & uninspired dancers. In fact, each night seemed to only feature one long song - potentially interesting but deathly dull to me in this instance. A part of the "Bangzeit Challenge" is to put as much variety as the players can imagine into the many versions of the 3 songs. It seems that the "Techno Challenge" is to take variety out. We decided that KBZ 2000 wouldn't appeal to this crowd not because it was too limited but because we play 2 songs too many!

Organized Sound will organize its receptive &/or unsuspecting listeners into an analogy of its own form. An individualist anarchist might prefer a form of consensually coexisting diversity. A dictator, like christianity or islam, will only want one way, all the time.

& the DeadBeat Goes On & On & On..

[but, then again, maybe I'm just complaining about how unpopular I am, eh?]

tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE is a 'patanationalist taking a long time to pass through the bowels of the Funny Farm in rural Ontario. A sample of his work is included on the MW 63 recording; his review of a fridge cassette appears on page 456.

Resumé Français

Le beat est le PPDC et le grand dictateur de la musique pop. Plus le beat est régulier, plus il subjuge l'auditoire.

De 1979 à 1981, j'ai utilisé les numéros de téléphones comme stimuli; les sons familiers du téléphone représentent une forme de conditionnement qui semble passer inaperçcue et cela a de profondes implications. Considérer le P (plus) P (petit) D (dénominateur) C (commun) comme élément coagulateur de la conformité était le point de départ d'une praxis de l'utilisation anarchiste de l'audio...

En 1994, je faisais partie de Klauhütte Bangzeit 2000. Le répertoire du groupe consistait en trois classiques "exotiques": Caravan, Taboo, & Quiet Village. Ces chansons ont été jouées à plusiers reprises lors de concerts marathons d'une dureé de 12 à 14 heures - partiellement inspirés de la pièces Vexations d'Erik Satie Le défi était de varier autant que possible les versions de ces pièces...


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The reviews are not necessarily copied verbatim from the original. Usually, small apparent typos are corrected & obsolete addresses are removed. In some cases, I may choose to leave misspellings, misinformation, etc intact to demonstrate how sloppy the reviewer is. Of course, there may be times when the original packaging was confusing (deliberately or otherwise) which may effect the reviewer's comprehension. The more recent the tapes are, the less likely this is to be the case. Most of the recent tapes provide fairly extensive liner notes. In some cases, reviewers whose native language isn't English may be writing in English anyway for the sake of 'internationalizing' their reviews. Obviously, this may lead to what strikes native English speakers as 'bad' English. Hopefully, equally obviously, this should not be interpreted as a lack of intelligence in the writing. Editorial notes may be inserted into the reviews in [brackets]. In many instances, I (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE) replied to reviews that I disagreed with strongly. These replies are included here. In some cases, I may add additional retrospective comments.