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7 June 2011

Cassis Cornuta - '25 jaar de gebraden zwaan zingt' (Ultra Eczema)

The low countries are full of weird obscure electronic musicians whose early experiments have been seeing the light of day in recent times - for more, see the Edmund de Deyster record, when we get there, also on Ultra Eczema. Cassis Cornuta is a synth/electronics goofball who is still active in the Antwerp underground, though these recordings were made in 1985 for a radio show which is still running. Cornuta, whose real name is Daniel de Wereldvermaarde, mines some Anton Bruhin territory though with a significantly less refined approach. There's rhythms made from the difference between turntable needle and dictaphone static, with bursts of space between them to provide a curious momentum. The tracks are all untitled and flow together well - the middle of side one is probably the most feisty bit, where there's various objects bashing together to be heard, and they all are given their own voice. It's a no-style style, a celebration of cheap mass-produced consumer electronics and the pure, childlike experimental approach of shoving fingers and toys between the gears. There's nothing digital about this type of electronic music - it's a pure product of the early 80s, the Pride of the 80s Radio Hut magic. Some of the murky bumps on side two start to resemble a steel drum, though the resemblance to anything human is superficial. It's a good listen - difficult and harsh but not annoyingly so, and Cornuta resists the temptation to mix everything into a thick soup. If anything, this music is very democratising, in that it welcomes the listener to experiment, maybe even generating sounds from the very equipment on which the record is being listened to. This isn't to say Cornuta is an idiot savant or naive; there's a real beauty in what's here - a strong sense of curation, of not just selecting sounds but expressing himself through the tension. I've seen Cornuta live and he was more invested in analogue synths and complicated electronics, but this pause-button madness is much more charming of a clamor.

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