Review in Snare Rush Zine: Hannya White’s C30

review by Snare Rush Zine  (Andrew Fletcher)

I was excited to receive the tracks for Hannya White’s debut tape, soon to be released by Staaltape in Berlin. Hannya the artist has intrigued me since I discovered her work on Radio-ON Berlin in 2019, and I have been keen to follow her progress since.

If you listen closely there are often field recordings layered into the substance of these tracks.  The background (or indeed foreground) layer of noise often associated with living in a city like London is laid bare. Barely susceptible whispering, bird song… this is a very personal sound collage with common themes of love, destruction and daily occurrence. Emotions are often placed front and centre, such as in the track “No Preview”.

Percussion and rhythm are an important feature of the 8 songs / situations presented here, weaved together across a neatly defined sound palette. There is deep bass (or is it extremely pitched down vocals?), neon lasers, arpeggio synths, strings and manipulated noises.  A blend of raw acoustic instrumentation (reminiscent of free jazz in places, drums and guitar), chopped and blended with queasy electronic processing. Whilst that sounds like a lot, it is all presented in a very minimalist sense in just 29 minutes. Elements are placed uneasily side by side as if sound-tracking a day in the life of a character from Twin Peaks. And that is damn fine by my ears.

For a debut release, this is a well defined creative art piece where the worlds of sound and vision merge. If you are listening to the tape or the digital copy then I also urge you to seek out the accompanying videos online that take this work to a whole new level.  Thank you for the chaos, the whistling, the humming and telling your dog to wait.

 

Get the tape at the staaltape shop

Hanny cover

 

Dai – Horse, new copies

A few new copies were made of Dai Coelacanth’s A condemned debtor does not recognise the horse. As with the orignal larger edition snippets and fragments of (found) paperworks that were sent by Dai were used in the artwork. The tapes are re-used commercial cassettes, and the lay-out and make-up of those tapes has been integrated in the artwork.

Idwal Fisher listened and wrote:

“We have a thousand dodgy Dictaphone edits each one half a second long and culled from outdoor situations where the bleed through of buffeting wind sounds like a fireman’s hose directed straight in to your ear canal. Snatches of words appear and budgies and announcements in foreign tongues, radio broadcasts are destroyed, conversations between people with middle England accents come and go, whistles and oh the madness. On yet another piece of paper there comes a type written story in which Nancy at Wiggly Green gets a ray gun or something. My brain was fried by now. That Radio 4 New Weird Britain programme never called at Dai Coelacanth’s door. A missed opportunity for both parties. Maybe they just couldn’t find him. Her. Them.”

Get your copy at the shop or via Bc

Review of Dear Concerned Employees

Ed Pinsent listened and found out what Dear Concerned Employees was all about:

Muzak, new age relaxation tapes, talks about dolphins, corporate pep talk messages, inaudible spoken word – these are among the contents, everything segued so it’s hard to know where one thing starts and another ends. It’s both comforting and slightly disturbing; nothing is really explained. The music episodes would probably be bland and innocuous in any other context, but here they become quite surreal and almost transcendent. The muzak is oddly warm, not sterile; I often had the impression of being in a friendly hotel, where the TV is constantly beaming up-beat messages.

full review

staalplaat shop

staaltape shop

 

Review of Kylie 1 and June Crawford’s What that says about me

Ed Pinsent always writes a longer essay on staaltape releases.

Two quotes,

Kylie 1: “these tapes are great fun to listen to,”

June’s release: “This is a profoundly touching item and it stayed with me for some hours after hearing it.”

Read the complete review on Ed’s The Sound Projector.

Review of Dear Concerned Employees and Kantoor

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.”

kantoor

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

Sincere Words

A more thematic approach can be found on the compilation ‘Kantoor’, which is the Dutch word for office. I am not sure how that is related to the theme, but the four artists here all work with found tapes and it works out quite differently. When the cassette was first developed, in the early sixties, it was not to
record LPs and in that process kill the music industry, but more for audio letters or recording one’s doodles at the organ and other homely activities. The people of this cassette actively seek out where to get these old tapes (thrift stores, flea markets and on the street and use them for their musical work. Jeroen Diepenmaat, for instance, crafted a great radio-play like piece (all pieces are about twenty-two minutes) of spoken word, music, and conversations taped by accident along with some religious chanting. Some of it is in Dutch; so knowing the language works in one’s advantage. Wassily Bosch concentrates entirely on a bunch of tapes from Russia, so there is some language barrier there and it takes less the format of a collage, fading from one bit to the next, but more a documentary. The excellent booklet tells us the story (for Diepenmaat actually translations!) of all pieces. Ezio Piermanttei does the same with tapes found in Italy, but somehow it seems that most of them are played too fast, which gives it an occasional (yet unintentional?) effect. Ben Roberts is the last one and he has just one long tape, a recording of a conference by a Kreuzberg church from 1974 and we hear the voice of Mr Janani Luwum, the archbishop of Uganda’s Anglican church (under Idi Amin), speaking about immigration and displacement. He was critical of Amin and died in 1977 in a car crash (actually on February 17, the day I’m writing this in 2019 – odd little coincidence). His words about immigration still make sense. This you have to hear for yourself. Three more or less different approaches to the world of found tapes, and four times fascinating stuff to hear. (FdW)

You can order your copy here

True Love

DEAR CONCERNED EMPLOYEES (cassette compilation by Staaltape)

To be honest: I have a slightly odd relationship with Staalplaat from Berlin. Not just as a former employee, in a different country and different place, after having committed some words on my time spend there in book form, which didn’t go down well (if read at all), but also with the people running the current version of Staaltape, who wrote some story about Luigi Russolo on their “staalzine” (not a zine but some text on a blog) in which they satirized my way of writing reviews, which joke was somehow lost on me. I expressed my dislike and thought that would be the end of getting any more cassettes from Staaltape. Until this one, which I am hesitant to review. Why on earth would they want me to review something after writing this “Viva modern warfare. Or viva Frans de Waard. I can imagine him very well, writing a review in his vital weekly, in which he transcribes the information that came with the CD”,  followed by an imaginary review. Apparently, I transcribe information and call that a review. I thought of doing that here. I didn’t do that here. The information wasn’t that interesting.
All right, so here’s a tape with bits and bops by Taco Bong, Kylie Minogue, KK, St_St, Sean Jason, Mrs Mangle, El Tonto Bing Bang, The New Plastic People, Kim Wild 93, all rather lo-fi homebrew noise, taped on cassettes and shipped off to Staaltape. The original ideas were to send it to employers (sic) of the Duke Energy Building, who made news headlines when they found a strange package, which turned out to be a Journey cassette. The idea was to send them this as a one-off cassette, something to relax them, which may account for some of the lo-fi bits and bops, a sort of muzak I guess. But Staaltape did some more copies in a hand made package. It was enjoyable most of the times, though not great or exciting. Not sure if I thought was enough. (FdW)