The Quietus | Reviews | 80s Underground Cassette Culture Vol.2

Dubstep was deconstructed before it was built. It happened in 1985 in Sydney, Australia, The horse that he is sick, aka Ian Andrews’, ‘Projectile Fascination’. The song’s clattering percussion is carried by bursts of bass and a groove so erratic it mimics the peaks and valleys of a heart monitor. Another artist from the 80s, mismark, were on a similar path. Not so internet friendly, Google relentlessly corrects their name to Mis-Teeq and fires back “All I Want.” Mistik’s ‘Bump Beat’ is mangled siren synths over an incessant kick. Halfway through a clump of low-frequency drops of such density, it starts to wiggle your ears. It originally appeared on a compilation called We know the time, released by a label called Jim Tapes (in “198?” according to YouTube). Searching for it leads to US Office content and a single Discogs item.

‘Projectile Fascination’ and ‘Bump Beat’ appear on the twist yourself label’s new compilation 80s Underground Cassette Culture Vol.2. I’m not really suggesting that the music of The Horse He’s Sick and Miprik was doing the rounds on pirate radio in South London in the early 00s. But hearing them now disrupts time, story and linearity in the history of electronic music.

The compilation focuses on razor-sharp techno pop, bleepy drum machine minimalism and homemade synth experiments. the axis‘Under the Church’ is a howling lament, something like the Velvet Underground playing through the effects installation of Echo and The Bunnymen. M Rendell’s CV’s fragmenting beats in are a handcrafted preview of AI composition. stealth and Years on EarthThe tracks are machine-driven diatribes, a pair of Schopenhauer’s bedrooms confronted by the sheer weight of being.

While it sounds like every song here in the same bedroom could have been recorded on the same eighth track, it’s saturated with a vibrant layer of multicolored DIY ambition. excel UPM‘s ‘Ansalt’ sees a resounding sound design and eerie oohs evoking a minimal-wave Edgar Allen Poe, while ‘Tekno Pop’ from Solanaceae Tau is an endlessly deflating clown car of percussion and bizarre samples.

Some of the recorded artists had long careers, if sir and Andrews, for example, both of which are still active today. Others seem to disappear after one track. But this compilation is more than a nostalgia-fueled extension of the archive. It twists chronologies, suggesting that AB didn’t necessarily follow the way it’s commonly believed, and minor elements of C and D may predate both.

Robin James’ book from 1992 Cassette Mythos is a document of the band scene by a musician who is actively involved in it. He writes, “We were connected with people in all corners of the earth because we shared a set of common ideals and goals … We believed in the idea that art and the creative mind belong not only to an elite few, but to everyone .”

That’s the energy twist yourself record here. A utopian intention that propelled the worldwide underground from then and now. A snapshot full of surprising precursors, heroic outliers and possibilities yet to be realised.

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