Monday, 24 August 2015

Do Easy - The Metal Tape (1982) C60

If you coped with The Nightmare Begins... posted a coupled of weeks ago, then you can probably handle this. Do Easy was what I did next, having concluded that Post-War Busconductors seemed a little cumbersome as a name; and also I fancied a fresh start, an artistic break from the imaginary band responsible for Jimmy Savile on 45 and endless songs about different kinds of poo. Old man Burton had splashed out on a fancy Sharp music center at Christmas, one with a double cassette deck by which I could bounce tracks from one tape to another and back again, and I was thus suddenly able to achieve something resembling sound quality, at least in comparison to the coal fired mono portables I'd been using up to that point. Of course, there was still the problem that I lacked instrumentation, equipment, and any coherent idea of what I actually wanted to do. I was keen to produce my own version of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, and yet at least knew to avoid being too screamingly obvious about it - so Manson references are fairly thin on the ground. Ultimately I opted for free experimentation and avoiding anything which would too obviously expose my weaknesses, which is why there isn't much singing on this cassette, and what there is was recorded fairly quietly.

This cassette was recorded from February to April 1982 using what instruments I had to hand, home made tape loops, found sounds, the piano at school and so on. I have a vague memory of starting it earlier in the year then wiping the first four tracks I had produced having concluded they were too shit even for me, which may possibly have been the first flowering of my critical faculties, for whatever that may be worth. Listening back to this thing, I'm surprised at how much I like it. It's nothing startling for sure, and much of it could have been done better, or even raises the occasional question as to why I bothered, but fuck it - I've heard worse. Of course at the time I felt I had produced either a work of genius or something which would one day be revisited and pored over as the first fascinating steps of a musical and artistic tour de force; and so I wrote to Fetish Records because they had just put out a Throbbing Gristle boxed set and Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo, and I felt fairly sure they would want to sign me, or however it worked. Because I was still a school kid living on pocket money and what I brought home from a paper round, I wrote explaining to the nice man at Fetish Records that he would need to send me some money for a blank tape if he wished to hear my masterpiece. Amazingly I got this reply dated Thursday 13th May 1982 from Rod Pearce:

Lawrence - great letter! Here's a ₤1.00 - you deserve it. We're not signing anything new until autumn but send the tape. Perhaps it's the undiscovered secret we need. Hope you catch Skidoo if they're anywhere near you on their tour. They're the first band we've ever had on tour. We're so professional...

Don't tell anyone I sent you a free record (i.e. hopeful musicians etc.). They might get the idea it's a liggers' paradise here.

The free record was a copy of Z'ev's Wipe Out 7". What a nice man, I thought. I sent him a copy of my tape, but never heard back, which probably isn't that surprising, not least when I recall the gushing overenthused most-likely ten page letter I sent with it and which almost certainly revealed me to be way out of my depth. Still, the interest, fleeting though it was, gave me a massive ego-boost and convinced me that I had at least some potential beyond shoving crap through letter boxes in the pissing rain for a living.

So here it is - The Metal Tape because the master copy was recorded on a Sony metal tape in pursuit of finest possible quality, and I was generally sticking to blandly utilitarian titles for fear of saddling myself with anything which sounded too obviously like I was trying to be Throbbing Gristle, even though I sort of was, or at least Nurse With Wound. Do Easy - both the name under which I was recording and the DIY tape label came from The Discipline of DE, the original name under which I recorded this material, itself taken from William Burroughs' Exterminator!

1 - The Metal Tape
2 - On Higher Ground

3 - More Than...
4 - 592
5 - Clouds Over Mountains
6 - Aluminium
7 - Actors I
8 - Really Dried Out
9 - Tape Strangled
10 - Auditory
11 - Random
12 - Actors II
13 - Repeat Another?
14 - Are You Still Going to Paint the Library Wall?
15 - Brass Section

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