Boomkat Product Review:
"Two Commissions for Cassette Tape is Ex-Easter Island Head's first release for the Manchester-based Tombed Visions label and their first release ever on the format. Encompassing two fifteen minute pieces, Two Commissions explores new territory for the group, following on from their recent works for trio and massed electric guitars and drums (Mallet Guitars Three, Large Electric Ensemble) to present a pair of intimate, personal works using the sonic and mechanical qualities of the cassette medium as a compositional element alongside the groups' ever expanding vocabulary of prepared guitar techniques. ‘A Curfew Tower for Bill Morrison’ was commissioned by Static Gallery, Liverpool and was written and recorded across five days in The Curfew Tower, Cushendall; an 18th century tower functioning as an artists' residency in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Using a pair of microphones, two prepared guitars, cassette four track, percussion and the resonant properties of the stone walls, wooden floors and narrow passageways within the four-story structure’s architecture, the piece sees the duo of Benjamin D. Duvall and Patrick Morrison reflecting on the life of playwright, director, actor and mentor Bill Morrison (1940-¬2011). Part celebration, mourning and wake, the piece sees Bill's typewriter returned to Antrim ¬ the county of his birth and resting place of his ashes – and incorporated into a deeply personal ritual of sound and remembrance. ‘Mercy Commission’ was an evening ¬length installation piece for three cassette tape loops and multiple speakers, commissioned by Mercy Arts/Literature agency as part of the Spectres of Spectacle event held at Static Gallery, Liverpool, 29 September 2011. The brief was to create “Half¬-erased, deliberately fogged works across lo¬fi, spoken word, and the analogue/digital crossover”. The three loops each represent a fragment of a personal history: a lost mangled loop of voice and synthesiser unearthed, a prepared bass guitar inherited from a friend no longer with us, a hundred year-old harmonium ¬ threads of narrative cycling permanently in slow phase, combining and separating to produce a meaning just out of reach. The piece ran continuously for six hours with no processing, save for volume adjustments performed from a simple timeline based score and the changing timbral and dynamic effects caused by the movement of people through the gallery. Presented on this release in a significantly condensed form foregrounding the melodic, tonal qualities of the piece over its durational ones, Mercy Commission is Ex¬-Easter Island Head's first 'performerless' piece, with the mechanical certainty of the endlessly repeating loops taking the group's use of repetitive processes to their logical extreme."