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Friday, August 10, 2007

CASSETTE CULTURE #12: GREMLINS

PANDA TAPERS!

Nice blue cassette; hand-folded cover w/ a Gremlins picture. Yay: It must be the "Gremlins" css:



"Vraagt aan uw verkoper het album voor uw verzameling van deze prentjes."

Comes complete w/ a 1984 Gremlins Panini trading card (mine's 102 and quite spooky - tho no title, unfortunately - remember when bubblegum/trading cards came with a number and a title?):



"Gremlins'" by PANDA TAPERS is (and I quote): "30 minutes of weird sounds. A lovely book on tape that tells the story of the GREMLINS. Stereo recordings and editing by PANDA TAPERS. GREMLINS2 will be available within a few months. Including the weirdest cameo ever: congratulations HULK HOGAN!!"

"A lovely book on tape" - LOL! Actually, I think this css is an act of wilfully savage cultural sabotage; a micro no-fi psychik rebellion, that, like Damon Packard's latest film "Spacedisco One" (see posting below) turns The Spectacle's own info/edu/tainment suburban meme-reinforcement programming-weaponry back in on itself. This feels like a weirdly coincidental bookend or a codex to Packard's film (I freaked when I saw the original copyright was 1984)...PANDA TAPERS have used Pause-Button Editing tm to create a wonderfully spazzed-out piece of Neo-Brut-Concrete, using random (or, actually, maybe not so random!) snippets and slices of the "Gremlins" soundtrack: the Gremlin's annoyingly 'cute' voices form the inital thrust of the attack, interspersed with creaks, crashes, thuds and assorted sound-fx, along with out-of-context slices thru Jerry Goldsmith's orig. score (Jeez, Goldsmith - another of Packard's touchstones!) wh/ transforms them into something resembling, in places, a lost Varese or Berio piece populated by disembodied voices and hammy 'voice artists' - in fact, since this has now been, erm, detached from the unthreatening, family-friendly visuals and the frantic puppetry, the artifice now lays exposed and vulnerable, so you can hear just how deliriously cheesy some of the (now obvious) Gremlin voice-overs sound.

Yeah, so mainly Gremlin chirrups, squeaks and gurgles at the start (with the 'human' actors sounding oddly (tho prob. deliberately) threatening and sinister); tho, later, as this "movie for the ears" progresses, the Gremlins themselves sound increasingly disturbing (but not in a way that reflects the Gremlins own descent into badass darkside frolics in the original film - this is revelatory in some other way that I can't quite yet grok). There's also a bunch of Zappa-ish 'snorks' in the mix that recall "Lumpy Gravy" or FZ's other assorted high-brow/meets/low-brow attempts at 60s-Concrete. PANDA TAPERS up the pace of the dislocation as the piece progresses, chopping up bits of the non-orchestral and the verrrrry 80s-sounding Pop and incidental music until they mulch it into some sort of Post-Residents freak-out - imagine if "Third Reich and Roll" had been based around Col. Abrahams, Five Star and Huey Lewis, instead of 60s Rock Radio! It really is fucking demented.

Their version of "Gremlins" tells a very different tale to the one originally shown on the screen, tho I've yet to substantially decode it beyond an initial parse-thru - it hints at, uh, possible consumerist neurosis and potential suburban collapse; at barely concealed hysteria...flashing-forward to some sort of growing ontological sickness at the heart of the western world w/ the Gremlins recast, not as naughty, 'playful' quasi-anarchic children, but as darkly neutotic adults on the verge of psychik implosion...it's also incredibly mind-fuckingly funny.

"An interesting choice of words" says one of the characters as I typed the previous sentence: "Teach him to watch television!" (Burroughs and Gysin's cut-ups still continue to spew unwelcome truths at those ready to hear them.) And then, even as I type these words, another character says "He has something to say to you." A second one says: "You mean you understand what he says when he speaks to you?" And the first voice replies: "One has only to listen." LOL!

During this piece, you can hear the tape-transports stopping and starting - please tell me they just taped "Gremlins" off the telly and edited it on old cassette- or video-machines! (In a couple places the voices slow dn and speed up, reminding me of the stuff I did with my old Hitachi cassette-recorder when I was a kid, so desperately wanting to be in Throbbing Gristle or the Cabs, jamming screwdrivers into the tape-spools, etc to create effects. It would be another 3 or 4 years before the first affordable samplers became available.)

What's so thrilling about stuff like this is that it reiterates the fact that, fuck it, anything can be used to create 'music'. Nothing is needed except your own imagination and the physical world around you. No training, no instruments, no money.

So what's stopping you?

But to take The Man's own entertainment-enslavement techniques and twist them into new shapes that challenge, expose and auto-critique themselves, using so little equipment to do it, and to have a bloody good laugh at the same time...well that's inspirational and is to be fucking applauded.

Available from Bread and Animals. Tell Lieven I sent ya.

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