Yesterday’s entry at Smooth Assailing on Anla Courtis did a great job of laying out some of the sides of this multi-faceted Argentinian artist– acid rocker, drone channeler, lightning rod of Reynols. Now I get to pull out the “but wait there’s more!” quote, with the Pogus Productions release of Courtis’s “Tape Works.”
Featuring selected electroacoustic tape works from 1991 to 1998, “Tape Works” is a priviliged opportunity for Courtis fans to hear him exploring sound, often with highly inventive “work-arounds” employed to circumvent a technological need. Take the track “Studio for Wire Plugs,” for example. Not only does Courtis utilise the clack and buzz of instrument cables; but he amplifies it using a walkie-talkie transmitter. Although you won’t find this sort of low-fi acceptance on many electroacoustic albums, I have to say that I enjoy it. For me, part of the enjoyment of these tracks is in considering the method by which they were constructed; not unlike the appreciation some have for the joint-work on furniture, I suppose.
Other tracks are equally impressive. “Jarabe de Llanura” overdrives water-sourced sounds to create a liquid rush of noise; “Respire un Cordero” makes use of discarded reel-to-reel radio commercials, creating an absurdist pattern of breath noises and excited statements about pajamas.
Regarding the recording quality, I find no flaws with this collection. Obviously, there are all the sounds associated with Portastudio and reel-to-reel recording– but then again, this is the artist possibly best known for “Blank Tapes,” so what do you expect?! As always, this Pogus Productions release has impeccable liner notes, with technical and biographical information abounding.
As a side note, listeners who want to get even deeper into Argentinian electroacoustic works will want to pick up a copy of another Pogus Productions release, “Travels of the Spider: Electroacoustic Music From Argentina.”
With seven top-shelf pieces from 1988 to 1996, this could easily be the high-brow companion to Courtis’s “Tape Works.” You can hear my appreciation in an excerpt from one of my older reviews: “This is like getting a professional text on a topic of interest to you– you may not understand it all right away, but with time and more research, you can. Until then, it’s more of something just to be excited about, and that’s really worth practically any amount of money.”