MINOY – Monkey Blood Injections / The Zone

Stanley Keith Bowsza aka Minoy (October 30, 1951 – March 19, 2010)

Though he is no longer with us, Minoy’s work continues to be honored and brought to light through efforts put forth by fellow 80s home-taper / noise luminary PBK. I ordered The Zone several years back directly from Minoy Cassetteworks and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am fortunate to have acquired the recent release of Monkey Blood Injections via Dumpsterscore Home Recordings

Minoy’s releases were exclusively on cassette, and tended to consist of long-form pieces often filling the entire side of a tape. The Zone is a C90 consisting of two 45 minute pieces, and Monkey Blood Injections consists of two 30 minute pieces. This is an approach I’ve not often seen, as artists more often mix things up with duration. This side-long approach has been dabbled in by many, but being Minoy’s primary mode of composition, it seems there is a unique mindset here which is uncompromisingly meditative, entrancing and nihilistically gnostic. I recommend looking at this extensively informative writeup about Minoy or this thoughtful posthumous writeup about him at Don Campau’s Living Archive of Underground Music for a thorough examination of the artist’s life / work.

Minoy – Monkey Blood Injections C60 by DumpsterScore Home Recordings

Monkey Blood Injections C60 (Sourced from unreleased tapes spanning 1991-1992):

Side A (Monkey Blood Injections (04-92)) of this recording is a wall of unhinged echo-drenched feedback and tape overload, slowly shifting in tone and intensity. It seems to have been recorded direct to tape, perhaps with a microphone run through a simple chain of effects. 

Side B (That which momentously declares itself not to be I and yet must be. It could be nothing else. (09-91)) is more dynamic and chaotic, beginning with colliding swells of discordant feedback (using guitar at times?) which build into a writhing cacophony before suddenly splicing to a very striking twist in approach. The sound is an ominous and dark blending of textures underpinned by some high-pitched squelching sounds, like a frightening hospital machine attached to a person undergoing a surgical procedure. 

Lots of variety in the sound exclamations throughout this side, and highly stereo-active. Frightful and anxious overall. Feelings of impatient foreboding, writhing in fear or terror. Metaphysically anxious and unsettling. What sounds to me like guitars really bring this piece to a height of disturbing tension, with ongoing abrupt swells of low, mid and high tones overlapping and colliding. It has the energy of a large chamber full of vicious machines all operating relentlessly. It seems these sounds were brought about by ingenious primitive means rather than extensive effect collections and fancy equipment, which I love. I suspect these unique sounds were arrived at through use of field recordings manipulated with simple effects boxes (flange, distortion, echo), tape reversal, clever use of primitive microphones and tape overload. The results are distinctive, and refreshingly intimate. Increased evidence of the tape medium brings this work to a different textural territory. 

Minoy – The Zone by Minoy Cassetteworks

The Zone C90 (recorded June 1987):

Side A (The Zone) starts slowly with sounds of a faucet dripping. Eerie echoing feedback creeps up slowly and maintains itself gently, with some gradual swells here and there. A strange mood is maintained by the subtle filth of the tape format in conjunction with the quietly unhinged psychedelic electronic echoes happening in the next room, in the basement, the attic, or nextdoor. It’s meditative yet unsettling. I suppose this could be said of a substantial amount of Minoy’s work.

About 41 minutes in, there is an injection of classical music (I wish I could identify it…) on top of the eerieness, which is briefly punctuated by an abruptly harsh blast of crunchy crashing noise, which gives way again to the classical music, which is then subtly manipulated via mild distortion, reverb and echo modulations. This symphony sample serves as an ironic-feeling anti-finale, as it gives way again to the echo-drenched dripping faucet which keeps us company for another couple of minutes until the side / piece comes to an end.

Unique The Zone tape case front cover hand painted by Minoy

With other titles in his catalog including Nostalghia and In Search of Tarkovsky, I have a bit more than a hunch that this work is referencing The Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker. If so, or if not, its soggy, organic, mysterious feelings fit perfectly with Tarkovsky’s vision. There is an amazing scene where the main characters are traveling by train cart into the zone, and the sound design in this portion is wonderfully aligned with what Minoy is doing here in this release. The feeling is otherworldly, yet uncannily organic and familiar. Tarkovsky’s fixation with water and decay comes across strongly here as well. I recall having a conversation with someone 15+ years ago about Stalker, where I was a being critical / skeptical about what I perceived to be a pretentiousness in the dialogue and overall makeup of the film. The person I was speaking with responded to this criticism with something like, “I understand what you mean, but something else is happening in this film…if you just hang on and keep focusing as you watch, it turns into something completely other…” I think the same thing happens with Minoy’s sound works. Within what seems like a broad wash of homogeneous texture you can find worlds of transportive, other-worldly activity.

Side B (The Artist & The Witch Levitate During Intercourse) another slow beginning which creeps in, sounding like the hushed but furious whistling of a windstorm, but psychedelically blurred and punctuated with radio interference. It seems we’re hearing radio noise through effects, which is a subtle, intimate, yet transporting aural scene. An electrical hum radiates throughout, building slightly as time moves on. The higher hiss-level frequencies are subtly modulated, again sounding almost like we’re hearing something happening in the next room, or underneath us, or on all sides–but from a great distance. This continues on, meditatively swirling, shifting & flitting about for the full side of the tape until near the end a recording of a woman’s operatic voice joins the swirl until it all suddenly but softly ends. The effect overall is somewhat of a din – a solid background which stays at a pretty consistent volume level and textural basis – however, within the din is a universe of subtle manipulations and micro-events taking place over varied lengths of time. The volume level is interesting in these works, too, as it stays at an odd level which never quite overwhelms / takes full foreground, but yet doesn’t seem totally remote. The effect is an anxious feeling that the sound / frightful stimuli may be moving closer as time goes on, but it’s difficult to tell.

As has been said many times about Minoy’s work, it tends to be–above all–immersive. The thing to do with these sound worlds is to drench yourself in them, allowing yourself to sink deeper and deeper into their hypnotic waves.

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