There is something reassuring about the way each new generation of Americans produces a fresh breed of musical freaks. These are not just the quaint eccentrics the British specialise in, but are some seriously bonkers individuals who somehow find a sonic outlet for their skewed view of the world.
A case in point is Borful Tang (aka Dominic Cramp / Qulfus) who I first encountered via The Wire magazine‘s subscriber compilation Below The Radar Volume 5 . For this he contributes a previously unreleased track called Sanctuary featuring, among other strange happenings, a cut up of a Californian weather bulletin (“cloudy visibility…for tonight….after midnight …winds will diminish”).
This intrigued me enough to want to learn more about the brains behind this project and led me to the website of Gigante Sound – pronounced HIGG – ANT – A , an online label run by Borful Tang and Jared Blüm (aka Blanketship) which operates under the tagline :”Uncomfortable music since 2005″.
On his profile, Borful Tang is described as “a being from another time and another place; a place not of this Earth but a parallel world”.
This label’s current claim to fame is that it has put out two volumes of inspired sound collages called Motown Meltdown culled from a collection of karaoke recordings of classic Motown hits.
Tang and Blanketship are responsible for Volume One while the second was opened up to other like-minded nutcases. The established ground rules that “no outside sounds allowed…..no other drum beats, basslines, keys etc. can be added into the mix”. The radically altered tracks are highly original and often very funny .
All this recontextualising owes much to the John Oswald school of plunderphonics auditory science and to one of John Peel’s favourite artists Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) and since they brazenly defy all copyright laws these complilations are available to download for free direct from Gigante.
I’ve also been contentedly exploring Borful Tang’s solo albums. My current favourites are two tracks on Root with an hilarious mash up of a tape for English language learners featuring John and Mary (both men!) delivering useful phrases like “I can’t find my husband”, “As bold as a pig” and a little Irish proverb “ The windy day is not the day for scallops”!
Borful Tang and his cronies are most probably certifiable but who needs normal anyway.
Blanketship lIve on WFMU – June 2008