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February 1989

Rare action shot!

The Tape-beatles in a rare live action shot, filmed before a live audience

Tape-beatle news is scarce this issue, as all three of the Tape-beatles have been busy with outside projects and other, more prosaic interests (holding down a job, for instance). Probably the biggest news is their work on a self-produced new release, tentatively entitled Music with Sound.

The Tape-beatles’ now classic first release, A subtle buoyancy of pulse; continues to sell well by mail order and in local stores. The Tape-beatles may soon be distributed by Missing Link, and hope to be distributed soon by other cassette distributors.

On the ‘live’ front, the Tape-beatles have been phenomenally active, giving a lecture / performance / Q-A session for the Colloquium class at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History last October 1st. The show, attended by an estimated 150 students, generated mixed but generally favorable reviews, such as: ‘One of the strangest presentations yet … I’ve never heard of such art.’ and, ‘Ralph talks way too much. I start to lose interest.’ or how about, ‘It would build up and I would feel like my head was spinning with confusion then it would wind down — making your thoughts settle down and collect your thoughts then it would go back and put your mind back in the spinning motion. This is a different kind of work.’ or possibly, ‘I don’t like the idea of copying or using other people’s material. I don’t think there is much musicianal quality to it.’ or ‘Your expressionism has reached new levels and its implications are endless.’ ‘We need this in society — people who are concerned.’ ‘Definitely a confusing display of contradictory ideas … Where is the constructive purpose in their work?’ ‘Different — way to go. I hope copyright laws don’t get them into trouble.’ ‘It has no form or structure and the messages are very depressing.’ ‘The guy in the mustash seems to twist reality to justify his distorted view.’ And so it goes.

The Tape-beatles followed up this outré feat with a mind-blowing set at local watering hole Gabe’s Oasis on October 24, as part of a benefit for AIDS education. Interspersing their pieces with excerpted reading from Popular Culture is the Walrus of the Avant-Garde, the Tape-beatles pulled off a brain-shattering set, even earning plaudits (and recommendations for improvement) from local famous performance artist Mel Andringa.

The Tape-beatles capped their week-long jag on November 1st with a radio broadcast on the Curious Music program, hosted by Russ Curry, on KRUI 89.7 fm. They improvised with live mixes and played ‘canned’ work as well. Look for some of the material they came up with that night on compilations originating at various point in the networking cassette scene.

Currently on the Tape-beatles’ agenda is a lecture / performance / discussion for the Art Department of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, organized by Leslie Bell. The event occurs in conjunction with an exhibition of networking art from the PhotoStatic collection hanging through February 25. The Tape-beatles’ presentation will include sound, film, and discussion. It will take place at 8:00 p.m. on February 16 in the Art Building at St. Ambrose.

Look forward to sometime around March to another Curious Music RadioStatic special in which Tape-beatle Lloyd Dunn will fill 3 hours of air time with networking audio cassette work from his growing collection. Rumor has it all three Iowa City Tape-beatles may show up that evening and help out. You may want to tune in every Tuesday evening at 11:00 for Curious Music anyway, which can be heard on KRUI 89.7 fm originating in Iowa City.

Paul Neff

This item first appeared in PhotoStatic Magazine no. 34.

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