Golpea Tu Cerebro
- Spanish Underground Cassette Culture, 1980 - 1988
*2LP BOXSET INCLUDING 52 PAGE LP-SIZED INSERT
WITH ENGLISH / SPANISH LINER NOTES AND PHOTOS.
Special Agent Rafael González reporting for Electronic Cottage
Electronic Cottage (EC)
In February 2018 Golpea Tu Cerebro was released,
a compilation of some of the darkest, noisiest, experimental or lo-fi projects of the the Spanish cassette culture scene of the 80's.
The edition, a luxurious box containing two 12-inch vinyl records and a booklet, was issued by the Insane Muzak label, which was created by Alex Carretero for the occasion.
Alex has had a long and distinguished career with the label Guerssen Records, which specializes in reissues of classic records of psychedelic music, progressive rock, krautrock, etc.
How did you get in touch with the industrial, experimental music scene of the 80's? Why did you decide to make a compilation on the Spanish scene of this type of music?
Yes, I have the immense luck of being able to devote myself 100% to my passion, which is the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. I work for a well known label at international underground level (Guerssen Records), famous for reissuing rare material of those decades, especially psychedelia, garage, hard-rock, progressive, funk, experimental, etc. Although in my work I do a bit of everything, basically my job is to find discs to reissue, locate musicians, owners of rights, negotiate contracts, coordinate editions, etc.
I have always been very interested in thematic collections, dedicated to recovering "forgotten" scenes and groups. For many years I dedicated myself to investigate the Spanish scene of the 60s / 70s and after several projects dedicated to more psychedelic sounds, I suppose that the natural evolution and the desire to discover new things took me to the 80s. The trigger was some years ago, when at a record fair in Zaragoza, I stumbled upon a box of second-hand records that were on the floor. When I looked through the box I started seeing original albums by Esplendor Geométrico, Nurse With Wound, Current 93, etc. When I looked up, I found the owner of the box, an old acquaintance of mine from the time I lived in Zaragoza, Javier Cinca, alias Viriato. The discs were part of his collection, material that he sold in the 80s in his store Pirata's, and in the legendary catalog of S.T.I. (Syndicate of Imaginary Works).
It's funny because I already knew Javier and we had common friends but he had never told me about his activities in the 80's. We started talking and that's when I started to know the history of the S.T.I. as distributor and label, the fanzine Particular Motors, its group Bulbo Raquídeo, etc. Out of curiosity, I started looking for information about some of the cassettes issued by the S.T.I. and I discovered blogs like Spain Pain / Hand Beanies (created by Jordi Soler, pioneer in rescuing and digitizing tapes of the Spanish industrial scene of cassettes from the 80s) and Wet Dreams / Stahlfabrik (by Josep Soler, another pioneer). I began to listen to material and a new world opened before me. I remember that the first cassette that struck me was the compilation Dejad que los niños... of the Asturian label 3EM, which you know well (laughs). I discovered people like El Enterrador Enterrado and Ética Makinal and I felt a great curiosity ... How was it possible that from a small town like Mieres there were those people making that infernal industrial noise? Who were they? Where will they be now?
I kept discovering hallucinated people like Línea Táctica, La Otra Cara De Un Jardín, Septiembre Negro ... and there was no turning back. I spent the weekends locked up listening to all those tapes. Maybe it was like a detoxification cure ... What to hear after being exposed every day in your worklife to music made with guitars and drums? Well, RAW SOUND: abstract noise, buzzing and tape manipulations.
That's when the idea of making a compilation arose, because I found it curious that there had not yet been a compilation dedicated to that scene, which was undoubtedly the authentic independent scene that took place in Spain. I was amazed when I investigated further and discovered fanzines such as Cloruro Sónico, Syntorama, Particular Motors, Necronomicon; labels like 3EM, Obreros del Sonido, ä.d.n. In many cases the people behind these projects were teenagers fascinated by industrial music and new electronic music (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, etc), futurism, dada, mail-art ... I was also surprised by how little information was available. So, taking advantage of the experience I already had as an editor of albums, what was better than to do a compilation and tell the story of all those people?
I made a selection with some of the topics that I liked most about the material I had been listening to. Without any complete or encyclopedic eagerness, I chose the tracklist according to my personal taste and decided that it had to be on vinyl because it is the format that I like the most. What at the beginning was going to be one LP, ended up being a double LP ... and faced with the amount of information that I was compiling, the final text turned out to be so extensive that it did not fit in a normal cover, so it was necessary to make a box!
I understand that you chose those bands or projects because it was what you had been listening to at that moment, or did you want to make a compilation of the darker groups of that scene deliberately? I explain. With a few exceptions, most of the artists included represent the noisiest, most unknown and lo-fi side of the industrial-experimental music scene of that era. Many of them do not even use synthesizers and use the most diverse tools to create noise .. Was this orientation of the compilation Golpea Tu Cerebro?
It was emerging a little on the fly, as I was listening to material. It is also true that I have always been interested in "homemade" music and lo-fi, because I think that many times the lack of resources sharpens the genius and achieves a sound and an atmosphere that can not be achieved in a professional studio. ..is more "real". And of course, I began to discover that Spanish material so extreme and homemade and it seemed to me all very delirious and amazing: young people who dreamed of being Throbbing Gristle, Esplendor Geométrico or Aviador Dro but faced with the impossibility of buying synths had to resort to homemade gadgets and the manipulation of tapes, radios and tape recorders ...
At first, the idea with Golpea Tu Cerebro was to include even "established" groups like Esplendor Geométrico, and in fact I had already thought about the track I wanted to include from them: one from their first era that was only available as a bonus on a CD and it had never been pressed on vinyl. It was also a track very different from their usual sound. But the group politely declined the offer. And partly I understand, because, in reality, except for a few ones, the artists included in Golpea Tu Cerebro are like the "children" of Esplendor.
And well, yes it is true that as you say, I decided not to include too many electronic sounds and I focused on more abstract things, without many synths and without "rhythm". I believe that in reality it's a very psychedelic compilation, if we understand by psychedelia the alteration of the perception and the senses. I recommend listening to it in the dark (laughs).
Did you find it very complicated and laborious to contact the people behind the projects included in the compilation? I imagine that a good part of these people will have left the sonic or artistic creation in general a long time ago, which could have caused you more difficulty when it comes to contacting them.
Yes, most of those involved left the musical / artistic scene. Fortunately, Jordi Soler aka Autodolor retained many contacts from the time when he started to investigate about that scene in his blogs Spain Pain and Hand Beanies. Jordi in those years did a great job of research and located many people and there were also artists who contacted him through his blogs. So he provided me with a lot of phone numbers and emails.
I also have a lot of experience locating musicians (it's part of my work at Guerssen) so I got down to work with the ones I lacked and it was more or less easy. I remember that the first person I located on my own was José Manuel Vázquez (Físodo 13.4, Polídrico, Obreros del Sonido). It was curious because I found his website but when he saw his biography, it did not make sense to me that he was the same person I was looking for, since he was too young in the 80s to record experimental music and now he was doing yoga ... but soon after I wrote to him he responded excitedly ... it was the person I was looking for! He was a boy of just 15 years old when he started with Obreros del Sonido. I met him personally in Madrid and we had a long talk about his musical activities. He is a very special person.
I also located Ángel Álvarez from Septiembre Negro, a project of which almost nothing was known. Ángel is a sound engineer and I visited him in his studio in Madrid. He keeps an incredible collection of cassettes from that time that he put at my disposal. He was also the one in charge of remastering Golpea Tu Cerebro.
The group that caused me the most difficulty in finding was El Punto de Vista Operativo. They were one of the first Spanish industrial projects, and emerged from the same group of friends from which Esplendor Geométrico was born. There was no information about them I had almost lost hope until Andrés Noarbe of Rotor did a memory exercise and got the contact of one of the members, Yampo. It's funny because being a group with such a violent and dark sound, I thought that they had to be very weird people but from the first moment I spoke with Yampo I found him to be a lovely person with whom I enjoyed talking about their old group, and he encouraged me a lot with the project.
There was only one person that I could not contact and that I could not include in the compilation: Luis Mesa (Merz). I sent him a couple of messages but I do not know if he received them. There are people who say that Luis does not want to know anything about his past as an experimental / industrial musician. If so, you have to respect it. A pity because for me he is undoubtedly one of the most interesting figures of that scene and I am a great admirer of everything he did. I would have loved to get to know him and have access to his files.
There were also very elusive people, like Francisco Felipe from La Otra Cara de un Jardín. I remember that I had to register in a gardening forum in which he was active so I could contact him (laughs).
And the most bizarre situation that I found was with Iéximal Jélimite, because although we wrote by email, its members wanted to remain anonymous, so I never got to know their real names or who they really are.
I get the impression that the youth of those people should be something quite generalized and that now, after more than 30 years, consider that all that was, as you said, a game. After contacting the people who were behind the projects included in the compilation, what kind of reactions were there to your proposal to re-issue those homemade noises in vinyl format?
Yes, most of the artists included had been practically teenagers when they released their cassettes. And then there were others who were a little older (but not much) and who already had experience even before or at the same time that Esplendor Geométrico was born: Francisco Felipe (LOCDUJ), Luix Terán, Rafael Flores, Javier Cinca "Viriato", etc. ...
Many reacted with disbelief ... they asked me if I was sure and they told me that they could not avoid blushing when they listened to some of their recordings from that time. But once the "shock" had been overcome, I can tell you that the general reaction was of great joy and that everyone happily supported the initiative. Some were more critical of their work than others but I believe that even those who showed more disenchantment and coldness, deep down felt a little emotion inside seeing that, after so many years, there were people who were interested in their recordings.
It is also true that there were people who were more involved than others when it came to answering my questions, giving me information, looking for photos, audio, etc. But partly I understand it: imagine that you have your work, family, etc, and a stranger comes asking you for things you did more than 30 years ago.
The best thing was that, thanks to my interest, some of them dived in their archives and new material appeared.
Do I understand that this unpublished material was included in the compilation or did you only include material that had previously been distributed on cassettes?
From the beginning the idea was to include material that came out in the cassette era. But when unpublished material of some artists appeared, I decided to include three tracks that had never been published before. For example, from Línea Táctica the idea at the beginning was to include "Ambient music for empty rooms", which originally came out in a German compilation, "Thee Book". But then, when we already had the track digitized, Luix Terán (ä.d.n, LT) sent me a cassette with several unpublished pieces of LT that he had found and among them was "Ambient music for empty congress", of a similar title and sound but recorded a few years before: a barbarity that blew my mind.
Another of the unpublished tracks is "The inspiration of the writings" of Septiembre Negro. My initial idea was to include a more noisy track from one of their cassettes, which is what Septiembre Negro is known for, but Ángel Álvarez, who keeps practically everything he recorded, suggested to me to include that track and I loved it, because it sounds like a little more ambient.
The third unreleased track was handed to me by Manuel González, a character (from here I'm calling for someone to interview him in depth) who, before forming Flash Zero, was the singer of the insane proto-hardcore group Panadería Bollería Nuestra Señora del Karmen, at the same time that he had his dabbling with industrial music, either attending and recording concerts, selling cassettes and import discs at his flea market stall or experimenting with recorders. Recorded by Manuel under the name of 1985, it is perhaps the most rhythmic track of the compilation.
Apart from the aforementioned issues, there is more unpublished material such as cassettes that were not distributed or if they were it was on a small scale, which were facilitated by some of the artists and which will probably be made public for the first time.
What reactions have people had who have acquired the compilation or have had the opportunity to listen to it?
The reactions have been very good. Except for an American journalist who wrote a devastating review, I think the man must have spent the worst time of his life listening to the compilation: "Practically unlistenable" I remember he said (laughs). But at the same time it has received very good reviews and people from the underground scene of international cassettes of the 80s like Vittore Baroni or Frans de Waard have praised it. And I remember receiving a message from Jimmy Johnson (from distributor Forced Exposure) congratulating me on the release and I was very excited, because in the 90s the Forced Exposure fanzine was essential for my music education.
I also received very good feedback from buyers, some sent me messages when they received the box and when I read them, I understood that all the effort had been worth it.
Recently someone left a comment on one of the promo videos and said that this was the best compilation you can buy for that price and that any other pales compared to this "mammoth".
I also know of people who bought the box but went directly to read the text and have not put on the records (laughs).
I imagine that you have obtained much more personal satisfaction than economic benefits (if you have obtained any). If you could go back in time, you would realize Golpea Tu Cerebro in the same way as it has turned out or make a change?
From the beginning it was clear to me that this was done for the love of art more than anything ... I already knew that with luck I would only recover what I invested. Let's say it's been an act of deranged and ultra-punk philanthropy (laughs). If I went back in time, of course I would do it again but yes it is possible that I would make some changes. I would have done a triple record set, not just double (total madness!). And have included a piece of 32 Guájar's Fáragüit, among others that could not appear.
Special Exclusive Mix for Electronic Cottage
by Alex Carretero
of rare and un-released tracks not on Golpea Tu Cerebro
50 minutes, 320 kbps MP3 streaming audio player below
POLÍDRICO - SIN FRONTERAS
("Registros", Obreros del Sonido, 1985)
LOCDUJ - INSANE MUZAK
("Brikollage", Zeal SS, 1986)
FUNDIDOR 0.10 - K-00
("Fundidor 0.I0 / Polidrico", Obreros del Sonido, 1985)
COMANDO BRUNO - REMIX REDENTOR III (EXTRACTO)
("Remix Redentor III", ä.d.n / ECDM, 198?)
32 GUÁJAR'S FÁRAGÜIT - CÁCERES ZOOFÍLICA
("AntilogiaV0cevérsica", Sorollsec, 1983)
L'AKSTREMAUNÇIÓ - APOSTASYA
("Testament En Sanskrit" - " Internationalism", Saltinawound, 1986)
MERZ - INFECTION
("Infection", Korm Plastics, 1988)
ÉTICA MAKINAL - MEKANIKOLETIK
("Mieres 1934", Obreros del Sonido, 1986)
MELODINAMIKA SENSOR -
FILTRACIONES DE SONIDO ELÉCTRICO OCCIDENTAL
("Melodinamika Sensor", Ortega y Cassette, 1983)
EL COLECCIONISTA DE POLIEDROS - EL DÉCIMO FUTURISTA
("Máquinas y Sonidos", No Label, 1987)
LÍNEA TÁCTICA - AMBIENT MUSIC FOR EMPTY ROOMS
("Thee Book", Graf Haufen Tapes, 1984)
SEPTIEMBRE NEGRO - SIN TÍTULO
("Vol. 1 - HTLV-III, "A", 1985)
ZUSSAMENWACHSEN - DOLOR VASCO
("¿Música Enferma?", IEP, 1986)
RAFAEL FLORES - OH LAURIE!
("Registro de Voces", IEP, 1987)
EL PUNTO DE VISTA OPERATIVO - GANGRENA GELATINOSA
("El Punto de Vista Operativo es Malo", No Label, 1981)
EL ENTERRADOR ENTERRADO - POTENCIA 3
("Dejad que los Niños...", 3EM, 1986)
SOCIEDADES EN TETRA BRIK - EL DETERIORO DEL HULE
("13 Briks De Una Sociedad De Litro", Tetra Brik Records, 1987)
BULBO RAQUÍDEO - SE CORTÓ LA TRANSMISIÓN
("Zaragoza, Capital del Desierto, Vol. 1", Pirata's, 1982)
— Polídrico, from Galicia, was a precocious José Manuel Vázquez. "Sin Fronteras" is a melancholic environmental piece taken from a rare cassette called "Registros".
— "Insane Muzak" is a track by Francisco Felipe and his project La Otra Cara de un Jardín, which inspired me for the name for the label.
— Fundidor 0.10, with its brutal industrial sound very influenced by Esplendor Geométrico, was the project of Raúl A, José Manuel Vázquez's partner in Obreros del Sonido. Data that I did not know until after editing Golpea Tu Cerebro, when Raul himself, who was totally missing, contacted me and gave me a lot of information about his activities.
— "Remix Redentor III" of Comando Bruno is a cassette that was going to be issued / distributed in ä.d.n, Luix Terán's label (LT) but in the end it was not distributed and that Luix kept in his files and made available to me.
— 32 Guájar's Fáragüit was the project of Mario Ruiz, undoubtedly one of the most interesting of that time. Unfortunately, Mario died years ago.
— L'Akstremaunçió were pioneers of industrial noise and one of the groups that I would publish an anthology of without thinking for a second.
— Merz was Luis Mesa, another of the pioneers from Madrid. I would have loved to include this track in Golpea Tu Cerebro but since I could not contact Luis to ask permission, it could not be.
— "Mekanikoletik" is one of the many tracks by Ética Makinal that could have been included.
— Javier Hernando (Melodinamika Sensor) could have appeared perfectly in the compilation but as with other musicians, I did not include it because they had already appeared in other compilations.
— "El décimo futurista" by ECDP was about to be included but in the end I opted for "Golpea tu cerebro", because the title was perfect for the compilation.
— "Ambient music for empty rooms" of Línea Tactica was replaced at the end by another similar but unpublished one that Luix Terán discovered in his archives.
— "Untitled" of Septiembre Negro was replaced at the end by "The inspiration of the scriptures", an unpublished track that Ángel Álvarez gave me.
— The same thing happened with "Dolor Vasco" by Zussamenwachsen, which was replaced by an excerpt from one of its rare cassettes that have not been digitized until now. — "Oh Laurie!" Rafael Flores (Comando Bruno) was left out because he was perhaps too "vocal". A compilation in that mode (sound poetry, etc) would be a good idea without a doubt.
— "Gangrena Gelatinosa" by EPDO was the song that caused a stir when it was broadcast by Diego Manrique in one of his programs.
— "Potencia 3" of El Enterrador Enterrado was replaced by another track less known by him (Juan Manuel González) and that had never been digitized.
— Sociedades en Tetra Brik (Biel Oliver's project) is a good sample of people who did very interesting in the scene of Spanish cassettes of the 80s but that due to space problems could not be included in Golpea Tu Cerebro.
— "Se cortó la transmisión" by Bulbo Raquídeo was recorded live and it's the perfect track to finish the mix. Bulbo Raquídeo was the group of the Javier Cinca "Viriato", one of those people who remain in the shadow but who hide a very interesting story and had a vital importance within the Spanish experimental underground scene. Without Javier, it would not have been possible to "hit your brain".