Richard Kamerman – I’m sick of coming up with titles

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Cassette
Copy for your Records

Home late tonight. I was up very early, but then went over to see in Julie’s birthday tonight.  So tonight’s review is going to be a brief one, about a relatively brief piece of music. The release in question is another cassette, two sides of music lasting probably six or seven minutes each by the New York musician Richard Kamerman. Out on the increasingly interesting Pilgrim Talk label from Chicago, the tape is titled I’m sick of coming up with titles, which given the current vogue amongst younger American improvisers for long, or oblique titles amused me somewhat. Each side of the tape appear to be separate from one another. The first of the two sides is the most interesting to me, albeit for slightly novelty reasons, with the second side offering me little.

Side A then includes a single five minute track named When I hear that song “There is a light that never goes out” I cry like a little bitch, Man. The piece consists of some relatively extreme, raw electronics, or perhaps an analogue synth, that remain quietly present throughout but then also forcefully come and go in little bursts of piercing tones and shrill blasts of distortion. Alongside these, we hear a slightly treated acapella rendition of the (rather great in my opinion) song by The Smiths, partly spoken, partly sung (badly) by an unidentifiable, oddly phased male voice with may be Kamerman, though I suspect not. This is an odd little curio then. Whether we are meant to take anything from the piece beyond its novelty/humour value I am not certain, but certainly there is something nice about the juxtaposition of the raw electronics and this strangely disembodied voice singing one of the great geeky laments, and if that is all is intended here then it works well for me.

The second side of the tape includes a  track of similar length named This Wooden Ridge, which is a little vignette of noisy distortion and static fuzz. The track opens with a short section of low volume white noise  sounding over some little sounds that might as well be bits of light wood tapped together, but on closer listening could be digitally generated. The entire piece, which soon blossoms out into a brittle, quite aggressive stream of noisy abrasion, sudden cuts and wild knob-twiddling synthesis could well be created digitally on a laptop, or might be the result of abused simple electronics. I’m not enough of an expert in this area to be able to tell. This Wooden Ridge feels a bit like something found underneath a table on the cutting room floor to me. Obviously the track’s brevity is an integral part of the piece, but for me it is the feature that lets it down, as what we hear feels a bit throwaway. If the track has momentum and purpose, which for a while it does, then this burns out too quickly, leaving me to have to get up and turn the tape over with a slight feeling of “is that it?”.

Maybe just one for the completists then (and I am sure there are a few of us). I did enjoy the first side of the tape, but perhaps more for its quirky values than anything, and so I await the next, undoutably more meaty Kamerman release, which to his credit will probably sound nothing like this one.

Happy Birthday Julie.

2 Comments

  • RFKorp December 7, 2011 - 1:32 am

    Glad you got some enjoyment out of this little curio. Just figure I should point out for the official blog record, that you seem to have listened in reverse! my Smiths cover is actually the B-side (I realize the titles may confuse that…) so when the pure noise track ends with its feeling of “is that it?”, the song (and yeah, it is me singing) is supposed to answer that question. :)

  • Richard Pinnell December 7, 2011 - 10:49 am

    Oh! well my apologies for that Richard. You know, when I listened, I think I got the sides of the tape the right way around, but when your singing kicked in I just assumed I must have had them flipped over in error. From there I just kept playing the tape back and forth without checking.

    This all makes a bit more sense now, sorry for getting it wrong!

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