I’m very pleased to have completed the first release phase of some Violence and the Sacred music recorded between 1985 and 1993. Viosac performed many concerts during this period and spent significant time in the studio. Some of this material was released on cassette and vinyl, but the majority was not. I’ve been selecting, mixing, and (significantly) editing these works into a series of powerful and focused CDR releases, each different from the other, but all expressing those myriad of characteristics and influences that informed our music at the time.
The best way I can think of to describe the emotional character of the music on these CDs is: an absolute acknowledgement of our despair-inducing world, mixed with a gleeful, confrontational sarcasm and humour, mixed with an uncompromising, but often hidden politics, mixed with a thorough understanding of the cultural and artistic history of the 20th century, mixed with an intense desire to entertain and draw attention to ourselves.
The CDs are available as free digital downloads (payment is optional) and as full physical purchases ($6, including shipping) on Bandcamp. The Viosac website sells them as well, and is offering two special deals: all five for $20 including shipping and all five + our three other recent CDs for $25 including shipping. All the music is licensed under the Creative Commons: attribution, share-alike.
John Whyte has done wonderful work on the CD design and strategy.
The first release phase consists of these five releases:
1. Scarcely a pause in the process of butchering
The first performance by the small, intense, and fanatical improv group. As close as we ever got to pure noise / industrial music, but we can’t sit still long enough for the industrial mood to entirely settle in, and instead inject tapes, spoken text, classical instrumentation, and humour as much as possible. Small close crowd, equipment problems, lots of feedback. The CD’s Cover painting is by Stephen Campbell, 2007.
2. The True Poison
A combination of two concerts and some studio work. The end of a not so subtle phase, there is more attitude on these recordings than the others: the closest we ever came to making specific statements. The music is harsh and bold, and in places tries to fit into existing forms. The CD ends with Scott Kerr’s excellent piece ‘Sincerity’ which points the way to the aesthetic of confrontational sarcasm that follows in most later recordings.
3. Teddy Bear Stinks Real Bad Now
The first performance that freed itself from existing expectations and proceeded with confidence in its own methods, characterized by liberal use of tape and stolen sound, more atmospheric and coordinated performance, texts from literary rather than political sources, and a greater effort to entertain. Graham made frequent use of his MS-20 (bought for $150) in this and later concerts. Don McKellar, part of the Viosac entourage at the time, provided us with a wonderful Teddy Bear painting to adorn the private cassette release.
This became a classic of 1980s cassette culture, released by Sound of Pig music. Arkinoid feels dark and blue to me, highly atmospheric and sparse, the first bits of depression and introspection in Viosac. Texts by Samuel Beckett and Alfred Jarry. Moments of searing guitar and Burl Ives. Ted played his fabulous, tiny, travel guitar. The concert was videotaped by two people and video postings of it are pending, pending. The cover marks the first appearance of Viosac’s mascot and determined brand image, Tubby.
5. Lost Horizons
This was an ambitious two hour concert, featuring 2 televisions, one full screen video projector, and hundreds of slides. Very well attended, quite confrontational and assaultive. The music ranged from harsh to beautiful, partly influenced by a Ensonic sampler loaned to Scott by Gary Roscoe Johnson. St. Deborah’s readings came entirely from Lautreamont’s Les Chants de Maldorer. There is maybe more anger in this concert that others; I remember being in a bad mood.
Ten more releases are planned in this series. The next five will be available before the end of the summer.