Boomkat Product Review:
Some of the earliest recordings of Robert Turman compiled...
V-O-D rip right back to Robert Turman’s pivotal Solo Works 1976-1979, covering his years in San Diego, CA and the development of his stuttering, loop-based techniques which would wind up on NON’s seminal debut 7”, Mode of Infection / Knife Ladder in 1979. While a number of Turman reissues and retrospectives have been issued by Spectrum Spools, Baba Tonnere and Dais Records in recent years, only the Hanson Records reissue of Chapter Eleven drills so deeply down into Turman’s early work as this side, which ratchet the LP’s historical value for industrial diggers and tape-loop fetishists alike, at the very least.
The five pieces on Solo Works 1976-1979 range from a pair of spiralling, 16 minute cut-ups to three slightly shorter parts of burred, fuzzy psyche-rock explorations, all amply demonstrating the dichotomous nature of Turman’s work in a way where other reissues have tended to focus on his dry drum machine pieces or hypnotic droning repetitions.
Those three psych bits can be considered in a long, throbbing vein of Californian psychedelia, smudging raga-blues like repetitions into cyclical krautrock and new age structures, alternately headed for a fugged-up sunset horizon in Phase Three, or for less foregone conclusions with the saturated, distorted echoes of ES335A, while ES335B appears to plug the gap between the florid mid ‘70s styles of Franco Falsini and Alan Licht’s saltier, distorted improvisations.
However, the most innovative, intriguing and unique parts of this LP belong to the A-side’s 76A + 76B. Presumably titled after the year in which they were made, both parts display Turman developing an hypnotic looping style, reclaiming and reworking rough-cut chops of easy-listening, soundtrack and novelty records into non/linear psychotomimetic messages - one serene, one blast of parpy fanfare - in a way that will clearly ring bells for anyone who has undergone NON’s first, primal loopers.
Essentially this stuff is a missing link between the sort of Burroughsian cut-ups, academic minimalism and psychedelic sides which predated this record, and the reams of lo-fi, punkish and playfully experimental music in its wake from NWW, Carl Stone and Nicolas Collins’ Devil’s Music thru to Jan Jelinek’s loop finding jazz or the ethers of The Caretaker and Indignant Senility.
Brilliant, important material.