video’s by tzii
more info on this release can be found at the shop
Geert Jan Hobijn, founder of staalplaat, illuminates the room with his copy of kantoor2.
I met Geert Jan during a Sunday coffee break after a visit to little Balkans, the wonderful flea market in the east of Berlin.
Geert Jan Hobijn, sound artist.
Staalplaat, the label. GJ curates, designs and produces the artwork of the staalplaat (vinyl) releases.
Four copies of ‘Dear Concerned Employees, ‘two copies of ‘Let me help you get rid of this,‘ one copy of ‘kantoor‘, one copy of ‘Paris Tape Run -home version‘ and one copy of ‘Audiozine#3 – Valerie Kuehne‘ have been shipped to Kraków, Rockville, London and New York City.
This is how they were packed.
Published on No-Wave, written by Andrew O’Keefe
Staaltape’s releases deliberately engineer a personal experience. Handmade packaging, which must be destroyed to be opened, and messages both personal and cryptic, adorn their tapes. Before even putting the tape into the deck, there is a suggestion to savour the moment; be attentive, and be present. In an age of streaming, Staaltape’s presentation attempts to re-teach the value of pricked ears.
The tapes themselves are unique enough to fit the bill. Dear Concerned Employees rises from a murky bog of lo-fi noise, shifting into warped, muzak-style sketches; mutated and muggy pop hits, and some spoken word passages whose words are indefinable.
The tape never takes form, but never feels insubstantial. Instead, it offers a feeling of something bubbling under the surface, a sort of paranoid energy which carries its quieter moments through effortlessly.
The tape’s aim: to calm the nerves of employees of the Duke Energy Building, who found a strange package in late 2018. The package later turned out to be a Journey cassette. While sending a tape to these people might seem arch, the letter accompanying ‘Dear Concerned Employees’ clarifies its intent.
“Not so long ago a tape brought a message of fear…this tape should transmit a message of hope and care.”
Also released on Staaltape is Kantoor, a tape and accompanying zine. The zine, which draws on an array of contributors is by turns informative, allusory, poetic and humorous. Each contributor to the tape attempts either to explain or complement their section of audio. Some attractive context is added to content which otherwise may require knowledge of a fair few languages.
There is enough content here to carry through even the most staunch single-language listeners, though. We open on a cockerel, and some mysterious bowls and chimes, and this mystery is a throughrun of the tape. Even the speech itself is fascinating to listen to, shrouded in format-fog. And it never seems to run on very long before music interrupts.
The sounds are drawn from a wide pool of sources — some immediately recognisable, some mystical, vague and puzzling. Their incorporation feels invariably natural. We are treated to choirs, solo vocalists, the sounds of vehicles, animals, instruments. All combined to suggest a vast world in constant motion.
Kantoor has that unsettling, ghostly quality that appealed to, and was repurposed by, the likes of Boards of Canada. It even features some eerie analogue synthesiser work. Its sounds have more clarity than those on Dear Concerned Employees, but no less intrigue.
These packages feel delightful, unique and homegrown. The urge to track down all their samples and sources is irresistible. But they stand alone, too, woven lovingly together into coherent, fascinating wholes.
Dear Concerned Employees and Kantoor are available at the staaltape shop
Sent out today to reviewers these two packages. The (Polish) post office across the road still uses stamps, which makes for a beautiful finishing touch. Today’s choice was two big stamps showing a (Polish?) pope blessing the masses and a smaller stamp with a picture of orange flowers.
Any advice on who/where to send copies for review is most welcome.
Also, If you order your tape directly from me, you can expect this kind of packaging.
“On Staaltape something is somewhat bigger,”
says FdW in Vital Weekly
He writes about the Slow Slow Loris release.
“There is a fine element of repetition in this music; a cold and clinical bang, reminding this listener of the cassettes he heard in the 80s. Slow Slow Loris is an ancestor to that old school industrial sound.”
“I quite enjoyed this dark synth-heavy industrial pop noir. It is along the lines of many current darkwave acts, except that Slow Slow Loris still sounds old-fashioned, with their analogue synthesizers in what sounds like a basement studio.”
Ed Pinsent writes:
“The first one I played is The Truth About Cassius Clay, recorded and realised by a Parisian musician called :such:. The cassette has a hand-made collage cover, layers from glossy magazines pasted together almost like papier-mache. I suppose the first observation would be that it’s simply gorgeous, beautiful music. It’s so approachable and accessible that I can recommend this without hesitation..”
and he writes:
“This fascinating document may not persuade you to follow the music of Diktat, but it will pass on a vivid picture of travel, city life, meetings, people, and the richness of all these things rubbing shoulders in the same melting pot. Without explicitly setting out to capture the “truth” about Washington DC or NYC, this fragmentary-collaged approach (sourced from the tape recorders of all three dictaphone performers) in fact reveals more about direct experiences of places than would be possible with a more considered or formal field-recording / phonography approach.”
You can find the complete review here.
Why the review/half essay is called Eat the Document, you can find out here.
The tapes by :such: and Diktat are available here.
Thanks Ed for Cabinessence, and thus for the great documentary Beautiful Dreamer, Brian Wilson and the story of ‘Smile,’ and now for the BobDoc.
I will start working on a new edition, probably with slightly different artwork. Pictures of that ongoing process will be published on staaltape’s twitter account, appear also in the sidebar at your right.
FdW wrote a review in Vital Weekly:
“Midori uses here field recordings from Europe and Japan, which she uses as a backdrop to her piano playing, and that piano is a found object itself, so it detuned a lot over the years. It makes it all wonderfully poetic and intimate music. You hear some birds twitter outside and down the hall someone is playing this detuned piano.”
“It’s a bit like one of those releases on the Japanese Flau label, but with an even more lo-fi approach when it comes to recording. Nothing about this is perfect but that’s the beauty of it. Like someone recorded this on a cassette over some time, sticking random events together. Excellent release, so let’s hope there will be a second, bigger edition.”
The new audiozine, #2 is a vivid account of Diktat’s visit to the United States. Conversations, snippets of performances, travelogues, americana and guest appearances by Glenn Branca and David Thomas can be found on this C60 tape. Read more …