Friday, November 19, 2010
Jackpot! There was a British tape label in the mid-80's called Touch that was doing some incredible stuff, putting out limited edition cassette-only releases (back when putting out something on cassette only was proletarian necessity, as opposed to hipster ironic cool) that were all mind expanding events. I only managed to get my hands on three of them . . . but, lo and behold, there's a whole passel of them for everybody to grab right here on the intertubes!
The ones I'm familiar with are Ritual - Magnetic North, Feature Mist, and Islands In-Between. Islands In-Between is an exploration of music from Java and Bali, done way back when this kind of music was only of interest to ethnomusicologists and sociologists. Feature Mist is an atmosphere, all spoken word and synths, featuring big names expected (New Order) and unexpected (Simple Minds). Magnetic North is much like Feature Mist, though by now the projects were attracting 80's New Wave/Avant names like Einsteurzende Neubauten, The Residents, S/Z, Renaldo and the Loaf, Cabaret Voltaire, and more. All three cassettes were well programmed (like a very good radio show instead of a simple compilation of music), and wonderfully designed.
I'll occasionally run across the "Touch" name when I'm scanning the Forced Exposure online mail order catalogue, but I've never checked it out to see if it's the same thing, or even a descendant. I had pretty much forgotten about these cassettes until the CD player on the boombox in the kitchen broke, and I had to haul out the old-school tech to have a soundtrack for cooking dinner. All three tapes stand the test of time well, and I can't wait to listen to the ones I haven't heard yet. Highly recommended; you should check this out, even if it doesn't sound exactly like your cup of tea.