RRILL BELL – Vagabond Laws

Gertrude Tapes

Several decades ago, your host was still dreaming of the possibility of practicing sonic experimentation while keeping a daily job (ha!). One of his utensils for audio terrorism was a 4-track Fostex cassette recorder. It was the stuff of dreams for layering guitars, keyboards and drum machines to engender what ultimately was a worthless pile of youthful rubbish now putrefying in the house, definitely NOT destined to become the second coming of Disintegration Loops.

Well, good things come to those who wait. Jim Campbell (aka Rrill Bell), an American living in Berlin, has been brilliant in preserving both his old Fostex machine and innumerable ancient tapes to explicit what was above described as “the stuff of dreams”. Only, his fantasies belong to the organically lysergic variety, and could probably misshape a sizable chunk of the average intellectual’s psychological ephemerality.

What this gentleman does is, in a nutshell, the equivalent of vinyl scratching on cassette. The manipulation of an inordinate amount of signals of impossible-to-define descent, in conjunction with electronics and live processing, originates music whose level of investigational momentousness and automatic mental amelioration is inversely proportional to the relative cheapness of the utilized sources. Which, it must be told, are not limited to the pre-recorded materials but also comprise sounds ranging from “found somewhere by chance” to “easily procurable”, the whole kneaded to a point of unalloyed unrecognizability.

It’s a detachment from routine that I like, at once subtly biotic and transcendental, largely characterized by a lovely dynamic asymmetry. The sort of release (you guessed – it’s a C40 tape) that stimulates a grown man such as yours truly to go back and regain a grip on the most important issues of life. Namely discovering, listening to, and perhaps producing acoustic substances replete with essential codes from places where the unfortunates who “speak about music” to enhance their spiritually delusional hokum are simply laughed at with disdain.

Or, to put it in Campbell’s words, solving “the dilemma of being forced to adopt a perspective in a contingent universe”. In that sense, denatured oxyde is unquestionably better than crack – or someone else’s traumatized “awareness”.

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