Sunday, February 6, 2022

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Dave Rempis, Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • J.S. Bach, Great Organ Works (Peter Hurford, organ) (disc 2)
  • Brian Eno, Ambient 4: On Land
  • Robert Turman, Flux
  • Ab Baars & Mariëtte van der Voort, Veer and Haul
  • Dave Rempis & Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • Merzbow, Pulse Demon
  • Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • Chrome, Alien Soundtracks
  • Killing Joke, The Peel Sessions 1979–1981
  • Shellac, The End of Radio
  • MX-80, Existential Lover
  • Moreno Veloso, Every Single Night

Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel

From the 2020 Tone Glow interview with Jim O’Rourke:

At that time, for people into a certain kind of weird music, it was — of course — Nurse With Wound, Organum, and Hafler Trio. That was like the Holy Trinity [...] That particular time, you know, early Touch, Strafe Für Rebellion — one of my absolute favorites. There’s an early compilation on Touch called Vögel that’s a masterpiece. [...] I love Strafe für Rebellion. They’re geniuses. Vögel is gonna blow your mind.

Circa 1992, I was very much one of those people, into exactly that certain kind of weird music. We talked to each other on early-Internet discussion groups like and the nm-list. I don’t think the nm-list archives survive, but if you want, you could embarrass me by digging up some of my old posts. Most folks were there for the Ministry and the Front Line Assembly, but some of us were there for... this stuff. The other stuff that Throbbing Gristle led to.

And yes, that was the Holy Trinity, except usually Zoviet France instead of Organum. Not because of quality. Organum’s music was much more interesting, but most of us simply hadn’t heard it. You could go to the imports section at Tower Records and buy the Hafler Trio’s Kill the King or Zoviet France’s Shouting at the Ground. I bought my copy of Nurse with Wound’s A Sucked Orange at a little college-town record store in South Carolina. But I don’t recall ever seeing a single Organum recording for sale back then.

Tastes were heavily shaped by what it was reasonably possible to obtain and hear, especially on a college-student budget. I did swap cassette dubs with the people I was talking to online. That’s how I first heard Jim’s own Tamper and Remove the Need, Pierre Henry’s Les années cinquante, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, and other landmark recordings. But we couldn’t just email digital music files to each other — that came later.

Where was I? Oh, Organum. WHPK (the University of Chicago radio station) did have a copy of Organum’s magnificent Tower of Silence. I was never sure whether to play it at 33 or 45 rpm. It was later collected on the Volume One CD, which is as good a single-disc introduction to Organum as you’ll find, but that didn’t come out until 1998.

Where was I? Oh, Strafe für Rebellion. Who the hell were they? I don’t recall hearing the name back in the day.

So I have now dutifully checked out Vögel; it’s on Bandcamp. And... well, my mind isn’t blown, to be honest, but I am intrigued and puzzled by this music, in a good way. It doesn’t actually remind me of the artists Jim names. It does remind me of the more serious side of the Residents, or a more abstract Tuxedomoon, and even more, it reminds me of Dome. Sonically and formally, the songs on Vögel stretch the word “song” right to the breaking point, but not beyond. Song form and song feel are always lurking, even if distantly. (The singer might even surprise you by busting out some Patsy Cline, or is it Peggy Lee?)

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