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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 243 - 06/20/16

Famlende Forsøk
Lost In Laos, Vol. 1
SHiT Tapes/Sub Culture Records

Famlende Forsøk (meaning something like Staggering Attempts) was a flagship in the Norwegian sub culture devoted to independently released cassettes in Norway from the early 1980s onwards. Several of them on their own SHiT Tapes label. Lost In Laos is the first release in a series of live-recordings that partly have been remixed, partly re-recorded and revamped. This first volume is based on the recordings from the release party of last year's Washing China. This album was also based on a live recording, from 2009. So while it took almost six years to finish the China album, the Laos one has taken a mere 13 moonths. Stupendous! Lost In Laos has been launched both as a cassette in a very limited edition of 30 copies and a digital version with four more tracks. The latter means the entire concert, with encore and all. The cassette works more as an entity, an album, Lumpy Davy of the quartet told me. But of course you can edit the streamed album to be played like the cassette as well, if you so wish. The previous FF cassette release, I think, Return Of Monster Attack, was launched almost 20 years ago and presented in our second Luna Kafé menu way back in 1996. So here we are, back to basics, but with modern accessibilities in addition.

The live recording from May 2015 has been mixed with recordings from the quartet's rehearsal the previous day, original studio recordings of the tracks and augmented with new studio recordings on top of that. Confusing? Is it live? Is it studio? Yes and no! This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for K2, the newest and by far youngest member of the band, and soundman by profession. He has been the architect behind the blend, I suppose. And these efforts have made the release highly worthwhile. One might fear that a recording method like this would have turned the tracks into dense messes. But it sounds better than ever, according to our FF spokesman. Quite right! When I compare the Laos versions with the originals, most of the soundscapes stand out with more air and space between the sound sources than the earlier versions. Only "Nyarlathotep" from the HP Lovecraft album One Night I Had A Frightful Dream (not included on the cassette version) sounds more dense than the original after a while, that suits the claustrophobic lyrics very well. Front man Brt has also slightly revised his lyrics here and there, with some spontaneous improvisation and humorous comments in between as a bonus.

In addition to three tracks from Washing China (omitting the "This Is The Space Age" intro on the cassette), the album includes one or two tracks taken from the band's previous cassette and LP albums and one brand new one. Since I made a mention of the performance at the release party last year, I won't repeat myself and dig further into the tracks here. Only have to point out that the newbie, the sailor song "Gensern Te'n Johansen"(Johansen's Sweater), the start of the new project of sea shanties as you've never heard them before, have been omitted from the cassette. It will instead be included on the next volume in the cassette series, to be called The Tao Tapes, with an improved backing track. If we're lucky, it will see the light of day in the first half of autumn, this year. Believe it if you can. Anyhow, it will be eagerly awaited. The live settings add a dimension or three to Famlende Forsøk's music, sounds, spoken words, the lot. The humorous aspects are more overtly than on the pure studio albums and mean what they have on offer here is more accessible.

So, this is not a live album. It's not a 'best' of compilation. Lost In Laos stands firm on its own. At the same time it might stir the curiosity to dig into the Famlende Forsøk back catalogue. It certainly made me do so.

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You may also want to check out our Famlende Forsøk articles/reviews: Døve Munker Ut Av Norsk Industri, One Night I Had A Frightful Dream, A Tribute To H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), Return Of Monster Attack, Still trying - An interview with Famlende Forsøk, The Tao Tapes, Vol. II, Washing China.

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