Sunday, November 25, 2007

JAMES FELLA "D888" (JK Tapes)

Tempe, AZ based artist James Fella has been releasing a steady output on his own Gilgongo Records imprint for a while. This time, the offering emerges from the eternally paint-gooped Illinois leviathan JK Tapes. The whole of "D888" only runs to 10 minutes, which means more temptation for multiple plays just to try and solve the puzzle of "what is it?" After meticulous research and consultation with Fella's generous liner notes, it makes sense on paper but is still hairy on the ears. The sound sources- guitars, loops, microphones- have little to do with the outcome here. Tape music, in the traditional sense, seldom has much to do with an original performance as much as the sequence of events which transform it into an entirely new work. The content of "D888" lies in this tradition of taking live material and through tape manipulation, processing and remixing, conceiving an entirely different sound which cannot be performed live. Not a new idea by any means, but it still sounds damn fine. The mix comes through chunky and loud, stuttering and hissing like a dying amplifier (fittingly, one track is described "broken speaker sounds") but racing through ideas and textures at a steady pace. Live mixing on some segments blurs the distinction between mixtape and musique concrete. It's rude, inconsistent and perfect. The painstakingly constructed but amorphous sound on "D888" sums up what I love about cassette music. The effort put into its packaging (two-tone spraypainted tape, gunked-up jewel case, confounding neon symbolism) is why I love cassette releases. No doubt this has been sold out since before it was made, so you might find more success in clamoring for whatever *is* available from these sources:
http://www.gilgongorecords.com/
http://www.jktapes.com/