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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 35 - 08/26/99

The Music Tapes
The First Imaginary Symphony For Nomad
Merge (Elephant 6 Recording Co.)

That's it! No more TV for me! Actually I've been living without a TV set for the last 3 months because there aren't any signals to tune in to down in my basement. The TVs The Music Tapes sing about hail from outer space. The weird tales and sounds of The 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, Music Tapes' first album makes me smile and keeps me entertained without any broadcasted pictures.

The first thing that strikes me is the strange sound of the album. Until I read (the extremely small letters) on the back of the cover about the recording equipment used: an 1897 Edison wax cylinder recorder, and a 1940's Wire recorder! The recordings took place in Julian's grandma's house, and in their moving bedroom..!? The Music Tapes are Julian Koster (also to be found in the awesome Neutral Milk Hotel - probably the best band in the world!) and Robby Cucciharo. The Tapes have released two 7" singles earlier: Please Hear Mr Flight Control b/w Smoke Is A Fireman's Friend (on Elephant 6, as an 'Introduction To The First Imaginary Symphony For Nomad'), and The Television Tells Us b/w Freeing Song By Reigndeer (Elephant 6 / Earworm). Every record comes with excellent pop-up sleeves, including weird cartoons, all this worth the price alone. As usual when we're dealing with one of the bands from the Elephant 6 collective, we find a lot of familiar names among the musical or vocal contributors: Jeff Mangum (of NMH), Scott Spillane (of NMH + the Gerbils), Eric Harris and Will Cullen Hart (of the Olivia Tremor Control), Laura Carter (of Elf Power), Andy Sailboat ([probably not his real name...] of Marshmallow Coast and Of Montreal), plus others. And the music? Incredibly strange, hiss-filled anarcho-alien-psychedelica, totally off from most other bands. Sometimes maybe a bit reminiscent to the world of the Residents, other times they're just The Music Tapes doing their stuff. Telling tales from the wildest side of fantasy, presenting fantastic titles like 1st Imaginary Symphony By Vacume Cleaner, March Of The Father Fists, The Clapping Hands, and Song For The Death Of Parents.

The album isn't a great album, but there are lots of surprises along the grooves as you play it. The most focused, or "normal", song is the poppy What The Single Made The Needle Sing (neat title!). The opening song Song For The Soon To Be Sailor is another fine moment, but the smash of the album is the blistering The Television Tells Us. An astonishing musical story of TVs from another planet coming to Earth (as friends!) with an urge to be like us:

Human beings - We are your Conquerors...
Please hear us, please stop us.
We are televisions, and we come from a far off planet, far from this one.
We are a lifeform of observers, we observe all living lifeforms on their planets,
and we study them, and envy them.
'Cause we can observe the real life that you live,
but we cannot live life, only watch.
We came to Earth just to look inside of you.
Look inside of us and you will find: ...We want to be like you.

If you think pop is dull and you're seeking something new and challenging, you'd better get this record. You won't be bored, I tell you. The Music Tapes make incredibly strange music. Befriend them right away! I guess Edward D. Wood Jr. could've directed the movie...

NB! The cover pic in the heading of this review is taken from the CD version. The LP cover is totally different - check it out!

Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Music Tapes articles/reviews: Mary's Voice, Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes.

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