BBJR “Tragedy ± Time” C86 (Personal Archives)

In a brilliant subversion of the C86 genre, Bob Bucko Jr., resident purveyor of Personal Archives, drops Tragedy ± Time, a collection of his own home-recorded work from throughout the year. Wait, did I say subversion of the C86 genre? I mean he doesn’t even come close to it! The times just add up that way. Nothing more to see here.

Instead, there’s a manifesto, and we’d be wise to heed it: “Home taping won’t save music … but it can keep it fun.” Despite the pessimistic attitude of the first part of that declaration (home taping won’t save music? Says YOU, Bucko!), the second part is where you can pony up and really put your money where your mouth is – or where independent tape labels keep their cash (many use massive wall safes the size of bank vaults). BBJR knows about that second part. He keeps it fun.

Comprising a variety of experiments recorded September 2019, Tragedy ± Time is a clearinghouse of solo Bucko improvisations. I thought it was all going to be guitar work at first, but there’s some noise and other guitar work in there. What makes it fun (hence the manifesto) is Bucko’s distinct refusal to cater to genre or style, or even to transition from one thing to the next in a coherent way … which of course makes the whole thing ultra-coherent because of its disparity. Gosh, I love contradicting myself.

This tour tape was lovingly put together by Bucko himself – it comes in an edition of fifteen, and the whole thing was home dubbed and put together with scissors, tape, and construction paper, “just like in the GOOD OLD DAYS amirite!” (Yes.) And like any self-respecting underground label head, BBJR has packaged this lovely tape with a bunch of random stuff. I got a postcard and some stickers and a keychain. It was like Christmas. Plus, my copy, like the others, was dubbed onto recycled tape – this one Comedy from the Golden Age of Radio from the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show. Brilliant!

Life is cruel, though; Tragedy ± Time is now sold out. We fade into nothingness.