Crank Sturgeon and Hal McGee – A Statistician’s Intramural Crush C60 (HalTapes)

by mrdpetri

ImageHal is one of my all time most admired and enjoyed figure/artists. He was one of the first distributors of cassettes in the early 80s and figured heavily in the underground cassette culture of that time through his many collaborations, Cause and Effect cassette label/distro, and Electronic Cottage cassette culture zine. I first became aware of Hal around 2002 through my friendship with Phil Klampe of Homogenized Terrestrials, who had worked with Hal on a few collaborations. This exposure opened me up to the world of Brian Noring’s F.D.R. tape label, Charles Rice Goff III’s Tapedrugs label, Hands To, Minoy, Zoviet France, Malok, Hal’s Homemade Alien Music podcasts, etc. Greatly inspiring and stimulating work and activities. To learn more about Hal’s eventful history, check out this great interview piece at Don Campau’s Living Archive of Underground Music, or Hal’s website, which is full of great information and a massive catalog of home recordings.

As for a rundown on the new-to-me Crank Sturgeon, I will give my seal of approval to what he does and strongly suggest you read the informative deposits at his website, then have a look around through his world. Great, weird multimedia/performance artist.

This tape is a collaborative tape created by improvised mixture of two microcassette collage tapes; one created by Hal McGee and the other by Crank Sturgeon. These frenetic sound and voice collageforms are spontaneously created with vigor, holding a wealth of imaginative, funny, odd, and fun sounds and ideas. Hal’s on-the-spot mix of the two tapes works excellently to hold interest, with perhaps a mere 3% of the tape inspiring twinges of impatience. Being a work created entirely on the fly this is really impressive.

Crank Sturgeon’s material is fantastic. Bizarre, humorous, inspired. He has a great talent with his voice, being able to assume many characters and conceive of many entertaining fictions and compositions of wording. Some Gysin-like cutting via sampler and/or microcassette recording pause button nuttiness. Freaky synth noises and odd feedbacks are juxtaposed with vignettes and atmospheres painted by inventive word flows. We are put into a number of different scenarios within the realms of a number of different pretended minds.

Hal’s material is a mix of odd neighborhood conversations, wordplaying, weird number listings, voiceplay, electronic noises, noises made by objects, street noises, and other non-identifiable sound. If you are at all familiar with Hal’s many handheld tape recorder collage recordings this contribution is right in there, but nonetheless entertaining, thoughtful, fun, and at times poignant. Check out The Man With The Tape Recorder.

This is a really fun tape that is a great pleasure to listen to. I will also comment on the pleasure I derive from Hal’s drive for community which is at least partially embodied in the way he is always sure to include the artists’ contact information prominently on the packaging of the release. Newer cassette releasers don’t often do this, opting consciously or unconsciously for the use of Google for this purpose. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but I like this. Hal’s relentless enthusiasm and activity is inspiring, and this is a strong document of how worthwhile the fruit of his energies can be.

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