Friday, 7 December 2018

Chris Duncan - The Broken Crucifix II (1981) C60

While it's generally true that I've hung onto more or less everything over the years - tapes, letters, whatever - there have been occasional clear outs, possibly just for the sake of proving to myself that I could do it, and thus I no longer have cassettes by Two Daughters, Storm Bugs, or La Otra Cara De Un Jardín. I gave them a listen and apparently found them underwhelming, so I gave them away (probably to Jim MacDougall) which I would now regret were there any point in regretting that sort of thing. Amazingly though, I somehow kept hold of two tapes by Chris Duncan, both passed onto me by Glenn Wallis, so I was briefly the Jim MacDougall of Glenn Wallis. I think I kept hold of them for sarcastic reasons, because they seemed rudimentary beyond belief, and maybe there was a little bit of guilt in knowing that someone had put some effort into this work, by some definition, and yet here I was regarding it as crap. I think this general sense of disdain may have developed following a conversation in the pub with Andrew Cox, talking about the good old days of ten years earlier and the DIY tape scene. We realised that we both had tapes by Chris Duncan, and I vaguely recall Andrew suggesting that Duncan had been sending his stuff out to a lot of zines or weirdy DIY artists at one point, and it was all a bit too basic for its own good. Andrew even had some vague memory of Duncan coming up with some amusing sounding name - Duncophonics or similar - for some recording technique he had "invented" which involved something at the technological level of selotaping a toilet roll tube to the microphone. Oh how we laughed.

Nearly thirty years have passed since Andrew and I got pissed and spent an evening laughing at silly simple Chris and his crap tapes, and approaching forty since those same tapes were produced; and amazingly they still play okay, or this one does, despite the unimpressive condition of the Boots CRXII cassette on which my copy was recorded.

To briefly digress, last week I checked my Twitter feed for the first time in ages and there found a response to my sharing the link to a previous tape posted on this blog. It came from a contributor to said tape and the thrust of his argument was what the fuck have you done to our track? - it sounds shit, or words to that effect. What I'd done to his track was digitised it and shared it on this blog, pausing only to clean the cunt up a bit so as to reduce the hiss. Otherwise it sounded more or less as it had done on the tape, the tape from thirty long fucking years ago, or slightly less shit if anything. I got in touch with our man to point this out. I don't recall whether I actually suggested he travel back in time and take the issue of quality up with the person who put out the offending tape in the first place, but I feel I would have been justified in doing so. He rephrased his objection saying that there was no point giving the thing away for free because it was such terrible quality. I still don't know who I was supposedly hurting (apart from His Royal Highness, apparently), and actually, but for some wow and flutter, the track sounds fine to me; and objecting to something from an ancient tape on the grounds of it not sounding like it was taken from a CD recorded at Abbey Road and produced by Trevor fucking Horn seems overly precious to a degree suggesting that our search for the industrial Elton John is finally over, given that I'm retroactively promoting the existence of his generic hasn't been Joy Division tribute act out of the goodness of my own fucking heart and at no actual charge.

Anyway, this unpleasantness has inspired me to a greater degree of sympathy for the under-represented likes of Mr. Duncan, those of us who did what we could without a massive budget, expensive technology, or the patronage of some more famous weirdy music superstar of the day. I say us because this time around I've noticed that there's not a whole lot of difference between Chris Duncan's work and my first few dozen Do Easy tapes; and given the titles and content, I sort of suspect he and I had roughly the same influences - Throbbing Gristle and a bit of Whitehouse, but based on reading about them without actually having heard the records. Chris falls on his arse a few times on this tape, but at least he was trying, and with not a generic Joy Division bass line to be heard; and with hindsight, providing all techno-snobbery is checked at the door, I've heard much worse than The Broken Crucifix, and worse on a better budget. I still don't know anything about Chris Duncan, what happened to the first Broken Crucifix, who he is or was - not beyond this tape and The Vanishing Mother. This tape was seemingly issued as being by Congress of Paris, and by the time he recorded The Vanishing Mother he was Kris Duncan with an industrial K, and that really is all I've got.

In light of previous accusations, I'd like to point out that the wow and flutter on Sputnik seems to be a deliberate effect on Chris Duncan's part, given that the track on the other side of the tape in the same place is unaffected, and the effect is itself entirely limited to Sputnik. Aside from that, I've done nothing to this except clean it up because there was, unsurprisingly, a ton of hiss; and I did that because it's the sort of thing I do, because I give a shit. You're most welcome.

1 - Introduction
2 - Hungarian Wedding
3 - Working Brain
4 - Locked Up I
5 - Locked Up II
6 - Military Tattoo
7 - Sputnik
8 - Child Sex I
9 - Child Sex II
10 - The Broken Crucifix
11 - Pedestrian
12 - Final Program
13 - Dark Blues
14 - Lonely
15 - Hello Hello (Is There Anybody There?)

Return to Index

No comments:

Post a Comment