TTW#13 - Autodigest - A Compressed History of Every Bootleg Ever Recorded
Cassette only - limited edition of 100 copies
A: Part One - 14m37s
B: Part Two - 17m15s
“The 4th installment in the Autodigest series of compressed everything: this time around, we are promised all the bootlegs ever.
At a time when the debate on music piracy rages on, it is a good thing to be reminded that the luxurious universe of unofficial recordings is now in its fourth decade and flourishing like never before. If anything, the pressing issue of containing the P2P sharing rampage of official recordings has benefited the underworld: record labels simply cannot be bothered with unofficial recordings when Britney Whatever’s latest opus leaks weeks before release and costs them billions in lost revenue. The irony, of course, is that these free, unofficial recordings are infinitely more exciting than anything Britney Whatever could ever aspire to spit out.
The music on this cassette spans over 40 years and was originally recorded on analogue and digital equipment. We have attempted to distance ourselves as much as possible from the sound of the original recordings. Autodigest Volume 4 is an attempt to reveal all limitations of the source tapes – hiss to the fore, baby!” – Autodigest, 17 Nov 2009.
Aquarius Records (US):
Autodigest might be best known around these parts for their confusing, and amusing, and to many wholly irritating record A Compressed History of Everything Ever Recorded, Vol. 2: Ubiquitous Eternal Live, which was essentially an entire record of applause, the cheering and clapping and whooping and hollering, from before and after various performances, all woven into an hour long “piece”. In some weird way, the concept did actually become something almost listenable, a sort of strangely textured and dynamic bit of weirdo dronemusic. So we were pretty excited to hear this latest in Autodigest's Compressed History series, this one purporting to contain “Every Bootleg Ever Recorded”! The liner notes on the tape elaborates: “The Music on this cassette spans over 40 years and was originally recorded on analogue and digital equipment. We have attempted to distance ourselves as much as possible from the sound of the original recordings. Autodigest Volume 4 is an attempt to reveal all limitations of the source tapes.”
And so what we initially imagined as some insane plunderphonic cacophony of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Bob Seger and the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates reveals itself as something more akin to their applause record, or even more appropriately, Reynols' Blank Tapes record. As Autodigest have collected what sounds like the leaders, and the almost blank spaces between songs, the left over tape at the end of recordings, and woven them into a swirling abstract wash of hiss and whir, laced with little fragments of actual music, buried voices, muffled melodies, layered barely there rhythms, everything seems to be way off in the distance, and while there does seem to be full on rocking going on here and there, it's rendered nearly unrecognizable, buried beneath a haze of crackle and buzz, layer after layer after layer of tape hiss.
The “music” in this Compressed History definitely benefits from headphones. In the store or on the stereo, these sounds might tend to bleed and dissipate, blend into the sounds of daily life, but with headphones, it's a total minimal psychedelic abstract spectral sound headtrip, until the very end of side one, when the murky sonic clouds clear and a voice calls out from the stage “Awwww, for fuck's sake, stop letting off fireworks and shouting and screaming, I'm trying to sing a song…”
The flip side begins with a flurry of shouting, and caterwauling from the stage, which begins crystal clear but quickly dissolves into another hissy buzzy swirl of abstraction and absence, a gorgeously textured sprawl consisting of the sounds that lurk between the sounds, not just tape hiss this time, recordings of muted muffled rocking, recorded from what sounds like the dressing room beneath the stage, the B-side much more dense and dark and noisy, like some fucked up field recording (which it pretty much is), but still shot through with random voices, shards of music, bits of sirens, distant shouts, and all the other mostly non musical detritus of a surreptitiously captured live recording. Quite cool, if not entirely musical enough for most folks, but most aQuarians into far out found sounds will definitely dig this.
For some reason this one is limited to ONLY 100 COPIES!!! So grab one while you can...
The Wire (UK):
It takes a certain wayward determination to run a cassette-only label in the 21st century, eschewing the ubiquitous ease of CD-Rs in favour of the clunky plastic artefact. Since 2008 [2009 - ed.], The Tapeworm has been justifying that effort with a series of releases that make explicit use of the benefits and limitations of the format, and each of the disparate works that make up this latest batch highlights, in its own way, the enduring peculiarities of magnetic tape.
For the fourth instalment in its “compressed everything” series. the UK's [Portuguese -ed.] Autodigest collective turns its attention to both the physical properties and the social functions of tape, purporting to boil 40 years of pirate recordings down to half an hour of layered tape hiss, murky loops and muffled melodic ghosts, like a painter mixing all his pigments into a featureless brown gloop. As with all Autodigest's work, there's a satirical intent - commenting on the alienating degradation of modern popular culture - but it also achieves a dreamlike drift that echoes the work of American post-Noise artists such as James Ferraro.
Autodigest’s A Compressed History Of Every Bootleg Ever Recorded gives exactly what it promises, but does so in a mesmerizing, ghostly way. Tape hiss, crowd noise, screams, and distant badly recorded music are all smashed together into a roiling cascade of complex noise. The second side of the tape initially loses some of that momentum, but soon evolves into a similarly twisted (though less aggressive) soundquake. The anonymous members provide a very erudite theory behind their releases (this is actually their fourth instalment) that references Baudrilliard’s theory of hyperconformism and explains that their music is created to provide “a space for the analysis and allegory of the catastrophic state of contemporary social and cultural structures.” Usually such a mission statement is a harbinger of very, very bad music to come, but not this time- Autodigest manage to expertly balance their high-concept philosophical roots with an unexpected amount of humor and raw, visceral power. That doesn’t happen very often, but it is a convergence that has found the perfect home.