Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Taming Power

Taming Power: Selected Works 1996-97
EMR 7” - 001. 100 copies.

Taming Power: Selected Works 1995-97
EMR 12” - 002. 150 copies. 

Taming Power: Selected Works 1989-98
EMR 12” - 003. 150 copies.

Taming Power: Selected Works & Fragments 1987-97
EMR 12” - 004. 100 copies.

It seems perverse that we should end our relationship with Taming Power where Taming Power began. With the first four Early Morning Record releases that despite me Campbell and Hayler raving about them still exist. Or do they? Askild Haugland sent these through a few months back where they’ve been receiving ready spins ever since. Maybe the glowing reviews have worked and Mr. Haugland has now, eventually, after years of sitting on these treasured platters finally found a home for them all. I hope he has.

For those still not familiar we have in Taming Power the ultimate motherlode of outsider drone experimentation. For years Haugland has been self releasing his work from his home in Norway into a void of virtual indifference. Until Campbell mentioned him to me and Hayler who in unison, though miles apart, both wept tears of unfettered joy. His music has that effect on people. Those of a nature who appreciate drones and sounds that can be achingly beautiful, austere, atonal, harsh and charming all within the same same release. His later work created using guitar and reel to reel feedback have a devastating simplicity to them. Its not something you come across often and to discover that someone had been creating all this in total isolation made the discovery all the more remarkable.

And so it goes with these much earlier releases. Which as Haugland points out, are lo-fi and fragmentary in nature but none the less as beguiling and compelling as any of his work.

Selected Works & Fragments 1987-97 has no less than fifteen tracks on it, most of which are short interludes [August 96 being just eight seconds in duration] all of them primitive constructions recorded using a Casiotone MT-36, acoustic guitar, harmonica, recorder, voice, percussion and a tape recorder. Wheezy and distant melodies of a whimsical nature, each track imbued with a covering of back of the cathode ray TV tube dust. Delightful in their innocence, crude but joyous.

Haugland’s most challenging work comes with the arrival of the Tandberg tape recorder. A piece of equipment with which he creates feedback and with it a test of endurance for even his most ardent fans. On Selected Works 1989-98 he utilises the Tandberg in conjunction with an electric guitar the results swinging between mellifluous and terrifying. Barring two minutes of radio on the final track of Selected Works 1995-97 the whole of the album is given over the Tandberg and as with the previously reviewed Selected Works 2000 this proves to be his harshest work. At times its not pretty with certain tracks containing nothing but the screaming of subjugated circuitry but its austereness does have its own perverse appeal.

The very first Early Morning Records release gives us no clue as to its instrumentation but from its ghostly grooves we can assume that those Tandbergs weren’t far away. Feedback plays its part on side A again building in volume over a background of scorched earth while the flip contains some bowl ring and reversed tape sounds. All very basic, all very welcome. 

Above all Early Morning Record releases are very personal recordings, not only do they contain Haugland’s own compositions they also contain his artwork, the labels are in his hand as are the glued on track listings. Whether this is the last we shall see of him or his label remains to be seen but all is not doom and gloom, videos have recently appeared on his Youtube channel and Winebox Press have recently released a twin cassette collection of his work. Watch this space as they used to say.

Taming Power Youtube Channel

EMR Web Presence

Winebox Press

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