i think its about experimental music. .. ... .... ..... ...... ....... ........ ......... .......... ...........

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bullet Proof Shoes by Bright Dog Red

Friday, April 27, 2018

Jura by Marco Malasomma

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Beneficial textual simulation of dialogue with Strategic Tape Reserve director, Eamon Hamill.

Of the regular submitters to the blog, one of the most curious and amusing is the small tape label out of West Germany, Strategic Tape Reserve. STR albums always seem to have some unexpected, dryly humorous story or process behind them that give the sounds a context one would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. These concepts are usually pitched in STR’s characteristically dispassionate, professional tone. 2017’s Systems for Stimulating Professional Music, for instance, is described as “a project wherein best-practice and lessons-learned from the petrochemical industry are repurposed and applied to the production of non-organic, leisure music.” Sounds pedantic, but you want to hear what that sounds like now, don’t you? Intriguing concepts such as this, or The End of Music (VLK’s album made entirely of samples of the endings of songs) have made STR releases a favorite of Caliper. It seemed fitting to give them a little more time in the spotlight in the form of an interview with the tape reserver himself, Eamon Hamill.


Caliper (C): You have an interesting sort of ethos there at STR. What compelled you to create this sort of bureaucratic character that the label seems to have?

Eamon (E): I don't remember it being a deliberate decision for the label to take on this kind of image. I guess around the time that I first started the label, I was spending a lot of time in Cologne's municipal offices to get a residency permit. I don't want to just perpetuate stereotypes, but there is a certain amount of bureaucracy in Germany. That said, in Cologne I've found it all to be very friendly, helpful and it basically works pretty easily. Anyway, it's likely that some of those experiences planted a seed for what STR would become. Before there was any kind of an "ethos" (which I think became clearer during the making of the promotional "What is the Strategic Tape Reserve?" video), I was just writing all of the text on the website and press releases in an overly formal style. I've always found stodgy, officious language really funny – especially in the context of music where things have often been presented in a more breezy live-fast-die-young kind of way. Lots of labels can provide you with open-road freedom and fuck-the-man rebellion, so perhaps for the sake of finding some space in a very saturated market, STR slowly evolved into something more like a menacing, patronizing nanny state.

Publicly funded art is obviously important and often under attack, but I can't help finding it amusing the way things are depicted in the conservative press where there are these shadowy, dour bureaucrats constantly squandering a nation's wealth and forcing good, honest, hardworking taxpayers to fund inscrutable, fraudulent avant-garde art, presumably at the behest of The Elites. It sounds wonderful! So in some ways I guess STR is my own just-slightly tongue-in-cheek paradise fantasy, which happens to also be a right-wing fever-dream vision of hell. It's also possible that the institutional image and authoritative tone lend a thin (ok, totally transparent) veneer of professionalism to what is essentially just a guy who has very little clue of what the practical operation of a music label should involve.

C: How big is your operation there?

E: One day soon I hope to have a 1960s concrete tower full of morally compromised functionaries, but at the moment STR is housed in a single-unit IKEA PAX wardrobe. I've also colonized the tops of several bookcases. I've occasionally been encroaching onto my 4-year-old's art table, but he's pretty fierce, so I think I'm going to have to back off. Our head count is in the extreme-low single digits.

C: How much music do you personally make for the label?

E: My two regular projects on STR are Emerging Industries of Wuppertal and VLK. The VLK releases are always sample based, usually with some self-imposed constraints that form the basis of the concept. The VLK release “The End of Music” was an especially strict example. All of music was made from the last couple of seconds of tracks that were in the Billboard Top 20 in the last week of 1999. There were no fx, processing, time stretching, pitching, etc. - just arranging and layering. Other VLK releases have been a bit more lenient, but the basic idea of working from a limited pool of themed samples is always there. Emerging Industries of Wuppertal is much more synth-based and, among other things, tries to draw on points where industrialization and mysticism meet.

C: I like that some of your releases include textual material that put the sounds in context. A lot of the albums seem to have a story behind them. How important is this conceptual foundation for STR releases?

E: One role of a label is to help place the music in a context by, for example, providing album art, the release medium, press releases, promotional photos, billboards, associations with other releases on the label, etc. This context can have a considerable effect on how people listen to music or experience it, and, in my view, the context can even be thought of as a parameter of the music itself. The amount of reverb on a track probably has more direct influence on the listener than the amount of blur on the cover photo, but the effect is still there and it can alter the way that the music is heard. For some of the STR releases, especially Efficient Processes for Synthetic Funk or Music for Euronews, I think the liner notes are really essential to the music. I realize that perhaps not everyone wants to read a big block of text, which is fair enough, I guess, but it is meant be a real part of the release, rather than something supplemental like a behind-the-scenes DVD extra.

It's possible that the textual component got a bit out of hand with the Mr & Mrs Chip Perkins release where there are 8 pages of very tangential liner notes. I was thinking for a while that it would be fun to try to get to the point where the liner notes were the main focus of a release and the music would just sort of be the vehicle for putting out the text. Obviously, it's not a great idea – might still do it. But, to answer the question, yes most releases on STR have some kind of conceptual foundation. Jack Wolfskin Made Me Hardcore is a re-imagining of Mark Leckey's influential video art from the perspective of a nostalgic Schlager fan. The Modern Door's Augmented Folk Music of the Leine Plain was conceived as a Lomaxian ethnographic study of sounds indigenous to an industrialized flatland three hours north-east of Cologne. Not every single tape has to be presented with an explanation of the background, but in general, it's something that I enjoy doing and plan to continue.

C: Some of the literature suggests some specific utility for the music. Music is not often talked about this way, but what purpose do you think music serves in society?

E: I definitely think there are many utilitarian purposes to music. Because music is fluid and ubiquitous, for me it's often hard to make a distinction between utilitarian music and aesthetic music, as I might be able to do with other forms of art or design. I guess for me the default way of thinking about most music is that it's a form of self-expression, and that as the listener, by receiving and then processing or relating to the artist's self-expression, you can attain some fulfillment or, at least, be temporarily entertained. Of course, music can exist as pure sound, but seems to me that most music is declared, presented or marketed as self-expression. Some possible exceptions might be techno, where the stated purpose might be to compel listeners to dance, new-age music, whose main function might be to promote healing or whatever self-actualization means, or mass-market pop, where it's not hidden that the point of the music is to maximize value for the artist or shareholders. Even in these cases where more utilitarian purpose is evident, self-expression is probably still a big part of the utility.

Whether intended by the artist or not, most music has more than one function: music can be a tool for widening one's understanding of the world; it can unify people as a community, tribe or nation; it can promote a religion, ideology or brand; or many of those things simultaneously. A lot of playlists on Spotify have a suggested practical application, often something related to relaxation or motivation. I don't have scientific data about it, but my own experience is that every supermarket in the world plays Chris Issac's “Wicked Game” over the PA. I suspect that grocery cartels have uncovered something in the music (probably his syrupy vocal delivery) that suppresses thriftiness or dissuades shoplifting. As you said, some STR releases are presented as serving a specific function. For me, it's another parameter of the presentation, or maybe even of the music itself, to play with. Beauty Product's Wild Parvenu was released as a corporate management fad. Efficient Processes for Synthetic Funk was designed to cause “destabilization in closely-controlled societies”. I don't think there should be any hierarchy of utility though, and if any listeners wanted to use EPfSF to prepare themselves to compete in a sporting event or possibly even for simple entertainment, I suppose that would also be fine.

C: Is humor one of those purposes for you? Because some of your concepts crack me up. I mean that in a good way. They are funny and brilliant.

E: I think humor is very important in music and almost everything else. Sure, making people laugh can be a function of music (pastiche, novelty songs), but I definitely prefer when humor is a component of the music, rather than the purpose of it. That said, now that I think about it, I wouldn't rule out a release of novelty songs.

C: Sometimes the literature also describes interesting, vaguely experimental processes that made the music, like Efficient Processes for Synthetic Funk, or Systems for Stimulating Professional Music. Do you think process is just as important as the end result in music?

E: Not always of course, but it can be. It depends on the listener and the situation. I think a person can hear prepared piano music not knowing that a piano has been purposefully tampered with and just enjoy the sounds. But if they know about the process, I think that might change how they experience the music, and the process becomes a part of the end result.

Personally, I find music production methods interesting to read/think about. There's often a lot of information about the gear that people use and I'm definitely interested in this. For STR releases, I usually try to take a wider and less literal view of the process. This part of Germany is still industrialized and I think I find some inspiration in the landscape. There are a lot of sinister-looking chemical companies around. I don't have any background in science. In fact, I failed chemistry in high school, at least partially due to the teacher who played us cassettes of her boyfriend's chemistry-themed folk songs, which put me off both science and folk music for about 15 years. But since being here, it's become kind of fascinating for me, and concepts from the industry like process engineering, catalyst additives or automated control systems seem comparable to certain ideas in music production, so I've tried to incorporate these themes into some of the releases.

And I honestly do try to use processes or workflows that allow me to get stuff done. I have two young kids, a day job and a certain amount of inherent laziness, so I need to find ways to make up for the lack of time. Both of the releases you mentioned above basically grew out of a process where a laptop was set up to control a few synths/samplers to make evolving, generative rhythmic patters and noises. It would be left unattended, recording for 30 minutes or more while I could go do other things. Then I'd listen back and snip out and arrange the parts on the train to work the next day.

C: What kinds of artists are you on the look out for?

E: I'm usually most interested in stuff that falls between genres that, to me, sounds unique, or in the best cases sort of expands what I'd previously thought of as music. I like it when I have the impression that someone has followed their own idiosyncratic style down a hole and ended up in some strange place. Also, as you said, a lot of Strategic Tape Reserve releases have some kind of concept, and I'd like to continue in that direction. I try to be pretty open and patient when listening to music. Some music that I really like took me a while to connect with, and I try to keep that in mind. Of course limited time and the vast amount of music out there make that a pretty unrealistic goal.

Also, in terms of what I'd like to put out on STR, an overall wide variety is pretty important. I'm very impressed by labels that can pinpoint a certain specific idea for the music they want to release, and then create a world of sound within those limits. I guess a label like Jahtari's unique low-bit take on dub comes to mind as one example. I don't really have the temperament or focus to do that though. I'd prefer to do a little bit of everything, as long as each piece of everything is somewhat weird. I would be very happy if at some point STR resembled something like a scaled-down, distorted, slightly dystopian reflection of normal music culture.

C: What can consumers expect from Strategic in the coming months?

E: A lot, really. There's an album of really nice lo-fi, textured pop from a Belgian band called The Blank Holidays. There'll be a very crunchy, digital-sounding electronic release by The Tuesday Night Machines which is about being in the mountains (and was recorded in the mountains!). STR is releasing the synth-heavy soundtrack to a bootleg Welsh version of a very popular audiobook. We're also putting together our first compilation release that will be “sports music” like the Jock Jams series, but specifically for Nordic Walking. So far there have been some great pieces sent in for that. I'm still looking for a few more if anyone wants to contribute a walking anthem. There's also another Emerging Industries of Wuppertal album that is basically finished. Maybe some moduS ponY?

C: Will there ever be a Strategic CD reserve or Vinyl reserve?

E: Could be, but I have no plans to expand into other formats at the moment. Vinyl is nice, but not particularly DIY-friendly and, therefore, too expensive. I might consider doing some CDs in the future. Yeah, the fact that the word “tape” is in the name lays down one of the few firm constraints for the label. In the past I released a few mp3-only releases and it felt a bit like cheating.


For more information regarding the Strategic Tape Reserve or to acquire tapes, kindly visit their homepage or bandcamp.

Matt Ackerman, Eamon Hamill

Sunday, April 22, 2018

One More Final I Need You

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sleep Transmission by Empathy Family

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Osseous Labyrinth Vestibule by Luxury Mollusc

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

cabines by Joël Lavoie

Monday, April 16, 2018

Uivo Zebra

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Utility Fugue by G. Castro/E. Castro

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

033186 by ALECSI

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Pompeiian Red by Richard Haswell

Friday, April 6, 2018

Mother by *JOY*

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush 8: Ge Bamyasi by The Big Drum In The Sky Religion

Monday, April 2, 2018

Indigena Inspiracional by Kütral