K7S - Side 1/Side 2 - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - $4.00
- (90 minutes)
From: "H23" #3 (the minimal(ism) issue)
- December 1991 - us@
[introduction by the editor of "H23", Ron Rice]
Many years ago, tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE released two wonderful, minimal tapes. They were not met with much enthusiasm in the music/art world, for several reasons. However, they represent a unique and important approach to the "minimalist aesthetic", and they are still available. The concerns elucidated in these tapes are still of significance, especially in the context of this issue of H23. I urge you to buy copies from Tent. What follows is a letter Tent wrote to a dissatisfied customer, regarding the minimal tapes.
I've postponed responding to your letter expressing disappointment because I want to try to explain my two tapes that you don't like in a way that will make them more interesting to you. And considering how deliberately formally perverse they are in relation to the music context that I imagine you might be trying to place them in, my task won't be easy.
1. Actually, talking with you in person would obviously make things more fluid communicatively, but alas..anyway, I'm a bit curious about what your tastes are. I can understand most people downright hating "dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada" and "side 1/side 2", but your "tastes" seem just peculiar enough that I can imagine you might like them (but you don't). Your ordering of cris cheek's tape is possibly a first! So you must be at least coming from left field in hyperspace hollow earth or some such. But back to the matter. Both are blatantly minimal - as such they are very focused. So the gist of the matter is: What is the Gist of the Matter? i.e. what essence have they been reduced to? And what do they negate? I don't know how helpful or necessary it is for me to explain what it is that I mean by "minimal" in contrast to what is often meant by minimal, as far as the more well-known "minimalism" are concerned. These pieces of mine are closer to LaMonte Young, George Brecht, Yoko One and other such Fluxus types than they are to the more compromised/popularized/commercialized Glass/Reich/Adams variety. Closer too to Terry Fox; again, I don't know how much of these references are obscure to you.
These tapes have attempted to be experiments in a form of hyper-amplified lowest common denominator crudity - sort of like hind-brain noises - the inane hummings of a broken culture, magnified ad nauseum on a barely functioning prototype xerox machine meant to be played forever. I'm sure that makes it all perfectly clear now, eh?
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 low-fi. Indeed, the low-fi enhances the conceptual obstacle course. Such a comment applies perfectly to "side 1/side 2" - "side 1" is simply self-contained machine noise.. In late '79 (when it was made) the extent of my recording equipment was two broken reel-to-reels. One of them could record and play on both channels, but the motor didn't turn the spindles. The other worked at one speed and in one channel. They were both stereo, and they both produced a lot of noise. Any recording that I made with them was fairly dominated by their funkiness. This typified my life in many ways. I lived in substantial poverty with an extremely bleak financial future ahead. No 4-track likely; not even a boom box! So rather than despair at not being able to do what rich, famous people do (which I wasn't really interested in doing anyway), I decided to push the poverty of these 2 junkers to an extreme. I linked them together in a 7-second delay with the only sound source being the recorder's own hiss being fed back on itself to magnify its own intrinsic rhythm. I let the cruminess of it all take over completely. The two machines only worked when joined together symbiotically anyway, since the only working motor had to pull the tape across the heads of the only machine working in both channels.
Of course, you're quite possibly thinking, "that's all well and good for him, but what the fuck do I get out of it? I still feel ripped off!" Maybe you'll always feel that way. In a way, I deliberately published "side 1/side 2" because it's so "unpublishable", as an act of very formalized defiance of what most people consider to be worth listening to. Some might call it a "nihilistic" gesture - whatever. Unlike the "anti-music" of the SubGenius Doctor bands, this isn't just more of the same old thing party jammin' R 'n R smashing the guitar business [my apologies to those Doctor bands that such a description doesn't apply to!]. "side 2" is the "dramatic climax", the archetypal cymbal crash top-off extended by the same machine's tape delay set-up to the duration of a tape [47 minutes]. An inanity of typical musical practice pushed far beyond the limits of usual practice to make it so inane that it's no longer inane at all. Much of what I was concerned with was environmental effectiveness in a conceptual obstacle course without having to be loud, and without having to use language. These are tapes that few people can stand to have playing for their entirety, even at low volume (and some of my tapes that are even more extreme in this respect - one is 66 hours long!).
The tedium of both "dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada" and "side 1/side 2" is especially amusing to me in contrast to "industrial music". Many people who pride themselves on being able to listen to such loud noise might just find my quiet exercises unbearable. I too have made "industrial music" - I supported myself as a hardwood floor finisher for many years (and as a research volunteer - how much more industrial can you get?) applying lacquer with a brush stooping over a bucket in a room full of intoxicating fumes. My co-workers and I would get high and enter "lacquerland" where we would spew the mythology of brains swimming in a "dangerously polluted environment" - a sound quite different from what TG and SPK et al did, but for my purposes equally as important (if not more so). I'll publish a tape called "Hearing Double in Lacquerland" eventually [which I did. For review(s) of it, link to Review(s)-K7L.html].
"dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada" is a score, meant to be realizable by anybody. In fact, one of the performers is my floor-finishing boss, a guy who cares about little or nothing other than drinking, gambling, and prostitutes (he seems to be currently in hiding from the IRS). Of course it's questionable how much of this you can tell from the recordings. How much do you need to 'know' in order to be able to appreciate it? It is my contention that you don't need any of this explanation if you simply listen with the understanding that the inanity and the tedium of such an "unpromising" focal point as 2 letters repeated as many times as the margin settings that my typewriter happened to be set to at the time would permit, is an inanity meant to break the rules that would inhibit the latent creativity of the "untalented". To me, this stuff is much more creative than anything on top-40 radio - it's below the lowest common denominator!
tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
to V.C. home page - to S.P.C.S.M.E.F home page - to N.A.A.M.C.P. home page
to A Mere Outline for One Aspect of a Book on Mystery Catalysts, Guerrilla Playfare, booed usic, Mad Scientist Didactions, Acts of As-Beenism, So-Called Whatevers, Psychopathfinding, Uncerts, Air Dressing, Practicing Promotextuality, Imp Activism, etc..
to Widémouth Tapes home page - to Widémouth Tapes Catalog - to Usic Essays home page
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.