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It's hard to remember that the 1980's—usually thought of as the decade of new wave, college rock and hair metal excess—was also the decade of a vitally important generation of underground experimental musicians. Post-industrial, noise and audio surrealism flourished during the 80's, and labels like United Dairies and DOM were the primary outlet for this unique crop of artists. A lot of this music has remained hopelessly rare and unavailable on the digital format. Luckily, last year saw some re-releases of HNAS' classic back catalogue, but there is a lot still left untouched. Where are the CD reissues of the Nihilist Spasm Band, Asmus Tietchens, Robert Haigh, Uli Trepte, Masstishaddhu and Two Daughters? How about Limpe Fuchs, Smegma and Algebra Suicide? Come on people, this is a goldmine of great musical esoterica! Now that I'm through ranting, I can revel in the fact that Roger Doyle's Silverdoor label has now re-released his United Dairies masterpiece. Rapid Eye Movements was originally released under the artist name Operating Theatre in 1981, and for me it is an unmatched classic of tape collage. No kidding, I like to refer to this album as the "Citizen Kane" of musique concrete. I first heard the United Dairies cassette nearly ten years ago when a friend played it to me while I was in an altered state, and I was baffled and awed by this strange construction of disparate elements and bizarre sound effects. Later, I listened to it again and again in an effort to decipher the seemingly narrative progression of the tape edits. The United Dairies release contained only two sidelong pieces: "Fin-Estra" and "Rapid Eye Movements." For this reissue, however, Roger Doyle has added two earlier pieces as a bonus: "The Piano Suite" and "Why is Killkenny So Good?" The former is a three-part, impressionistic solo piano performance by Roger Doyle. While the music is nice enough, it really sticks out like a sore thumb sandwiched between two lengthy, atmospheric tape collage pieces. No offense to Mr. Doyle, but I don't think that the inclusion of this piece was a very good idea. In contrast, "Killkenny" fits perfectly on the disc, an eerie cut-up of a 13-year old drug addict describing his addiction as dimensional sounds swoop and mutate in the foreground. "Fin-Estra" is a dark, mental voyage filled with unexpected drama. and Doyle utilizes sped up and slowed-down tape queuing in an ingenius way. The sounds of an orchestra, children at play, and strange alien tones are juxtaposed. The 25 minutes of "Rapid Eye Movements" is my favorite moment in avant-garde music. A man trudges through the snow screaming "Madeleine!", a room full of foreign shoolchildren recite words, someone plays scales on a lonely piano in an empty room. It's the aural equivalent of a disjointed, ephemoral dream, full of deja vu moments that seem even creepier and more evocative with each listen. I'm on at least my 100th listen of Rapid Eye Movements, and it still hasn't become boring or predictable. 


Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2005 11:49  


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