John Olson & Witcyst - Foes Like Gentle Talk

An ugly beauty from the very early days of American Tapes, when Wolf Eyes was still years away and the compulsively prolific teenage John Olson was already taxing the motors of his Tascam, issuing a staggering number of small-run cassettes from suburban Ferndale (Tonight!) Michigan. This was pre-No Fun, pre-Hospital, pre-eBay, pre- that fleeting moment when noise was cool.

"Foes Like Gentle Talk" came out in a numbered edition of 30 copies on Am Tapes' Grave Prog imprint on 17 August 1999. It's a postal collaboration of fuzzy drone, backwards tape scramble, and woozy "free-improv"-lineage clarinet squawk perpetrated by Olson and his Southern Hemisphere equal, New Zealand's mighty (and, for reasons I cannot fathom, relatively unsung) Witcyst, whose own endless discography of defiantly homemade spliced-tape trash is as impressive as it is obscure (but you may as well start here). It seems likely that Witcyst's prodigious output influenced a young Olson from the other side of the planet, hence the evident empathy between the two on this tape. "Foes" contains no-fidelty, couldn't-be-arsed open-reel fuckery pressed right up against extended passages of delicate improvisation and single-minded static hush. It's a solid album of purposeful nonsense, as deep and evocative as it is gloriously unpolished.

As with all early Olson transmissions, "Foes" came out to zero fanfare and was probably mostly mailed out for free to friends and fanatics within the worldwide network of tape-traders and weirdos. Clearly, though, it deserves a wider audience. Soak it in, sports fans.

John Olson & Witcyst - Foes Like Gentle Talk


badgerstump 20 June 2014 at 16:08  

What a great post! Magnificent!

Anonymous,  21 June 2014 at 19:15  

not bad!