[sic] Magazine

Brian Records – Cassette Store Day 2013 Release

I’ve been a fan of Brian Records pretty much since their conception around four years ago when I heard about a highly limited 5” lathe-cut vinyl of the then little-known Nils Frahm which they were releasing. I subsequently discovered that Brian Records is run by just one guy, James Norman .

Brian Records have issued around 15 highly collectable limited-edition releases to date, most of them in quantities of between 50 and 100. I’m sure that James won’t mind me saying that formats vary from the sublime to the ridiculous – there have been 5” lathe-cut (similar to vinyl but hand-cut on a lathe), 8” lathe-cut, cassette tape, 3” CD, mp3 and 5¼” floppy (!!). This latest set of four cassettes (plus a box of nice little extras and a head-cleaner) is their latest – and possibly most ambitious – project to date. Like the vast majority of their releases, it’s now sold-out but if you like the idea of Brian Records, then hop onto their website and sign up for pre-order emails from James for future releases.

Cassette #1 – Back To The SeaErin

Back To The Sea is a new project from modern classical artist Clem Leek . Okay… the first thing to say is that nothing has prepared me for Clem’s new direction! I love the ‘Back To The Sea’ cassette, it’s totally different than anything he’s done before, but based on what I’ve heard, it’s absolutely fab. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff from the likes of0 Jon Hopkins and Tim Hecker recently – I wonder whether Clem has too?? There are easily elements of Hopkins across the tracks, and if handled sensitively, ‘Edgar’s Flying Lessons’ could easily be remixed into a floor-filling club tune!! There are six tracks here and they’re unrecognisable from any of Clem’s back catalogue.

Cassette #2 – Wouter Van VeldhovenSlow Lullabies For Babies

Wouter’s cassette is probably more typical Brian Records fare (if such a thing were possible!). ‘First Lullaby’ sounds like a collage of sounds, almost played on repeat. It reminds me of the technique used on The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski (an amazing work if you’ve never heard it!). I like the little noises which sound like static on a vinyl LP and also how each track develops. There’s a point during ‘Second Lullaby’ which I really enjoyed where you hear him take a breath and there’s an expectation that he’s about to sing, but instead this becomes a harmonised hum backed by a guitar, the whole effect sounding like the tape is about to mangle in the machine, as if it’s been recorded over and over again in the cassette recorder. There are blips, noise, all sorts of imperfections which have been weaved into the overall presentation. Nice.

Cassette #3 – Peter BroderickSketches & Oddities

And onto Peter’s tape… It’s getting pretty difficult these days to know what to expect next from Peter, as his sound continues to evolve. It could be folk one day, electronica the next, neo-classical the next. I happen to love his modern classical work, and ‘Atlantic’ is absolutely lovely in this respect. ‘Let Go’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Paul Simon album, and the strings are simply gorgeous. ‘To Rid The Stomach Of Any Pains’ is up there with the very best pieces of work I’ve heard from Peter, it sounds absolutely beautiful. It’s easy to see why Peter & Nils Frahm get on so well when music is this good. It’s not just the piano and strings either – but I love the dampened production, the muffled conversation and the delay effects at the end. I’m unsure who Ralph Etter is, but the sketch written for him is beautiful – as is ‘Untitled For Piano #2’ (though rather than being simply ‘untitled’, I’d really like to call this ‘Ripples In The Water’, because it conjures up images of being stood on a remote beach).

Cassette #4 – MachinefabriekMeasure Tape

Finally, the Machinefabriek ( Rutger Zuydervelt ) cassette commences with what sounds like a man dragging a dead body across a long, wooden floor. It’s possibly the most introspective of the four cassettes and the least ‘immediate’, but I have to say that I’m very much drawn under its spell. Rutger’s a master of creating an aural palette and weaving together disparate noises and ‘Measure Tape’ is very much a result of this dynamic. There are points during the recording, such as around 7 minutes in, where everything changes – but you’re not quite sure how. It’s somehow part of his magic. Where ‘Measure Tape’ ends is very much a different place from where it begins – and the ending is my favourite section. There’s an almost gothic feel in some of the instrumentation.

As for the freebies… absolutely lovely. I love them all – the badges, the CD (with comedy cassette illustration no less!!) and the comic. I’m only slightly saddened by the lack of inclusion of the lock of hair and large magnet with my package mentioned on the cassette inlay (only kidding!). And a head-cleaner too!! I haven’t seen one of those for years. I still have a posh one somewhere (though my tape player isn’t used nearly as much these days as it once was, sadly).

All in all, a superb & diverse package.


Back To The Sea – “Fresh Air”

Wouter Van Veldhoven

Peter Broderick

Machinefabriek – Measure Tape