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DE SAINT-OBIN, ANDRE - Sound on Sound

Format: LP + CD
Label & Cat.Number: Plinkity Plonk Records PLINKITY PLONK 33
Release Year: 2014
Note: re-issue of MC only release from 1982 with homemade DIY 'New Wave': electronic beats & sequencers, distorted guitars, chorus bass, great lyrics, often quite experimental... re-discovered by FRANS DE WAARD "...a glorious collection of twisted gloom pop, spasmodic anti-funk, jittery mechanoid electronics and bizarre synth-punk, some seriously fractured, lysergic, dystopian outsider weirdness.... " [AQ] - the included CD has five bonus-tracks
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €17.00

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"It is with extreme pleasure I announce this release. Ever since I first heard this, I was hooked. To me this was pop music should be. Here I found lots of guitars, a hammering rhythm machine, and lyrics about desolation, drugs, suicide but also 'plopmusic', whatever that was. That was in 1982 and throughout the years I have been cherishing this cassette only release (by the legendary Dutch label Ding Dong Records & Tapes). Andre played all of the music himself using 'sound on sound': you play a bit, loop it and play something else on top. Besides this cassette, he released on the same label a 7" single and delivered some pieces for compilation cassettes. Then he seemed to have disappeared as suddenly as he arrived. Vanished it seemed.
About ten years ago I thought it would be great to have this on a CD or LP. I spend hours browsing the Internet to find Andre de Saint-Obin and a few years ago I found him. It still took three years to release this. Partly due to the difficult nature to re-master this music (of which no multi-track tapes exist - obviously), partly because of the free-spirit nature Andre is these days, but now there is a LP with the original thirteen tracks of the 'Sound On Sound' cassette and along with the LP you get a CD with those thirteenpieces as well as five bonus pieces. CD and LP can not be purchased separatly. The 7"'Human Machine" is not part of this package and is only available through download in all the known stores." [label info]


"Yeah, Bernard Sumner may have claimed the computer as the ultimate punk instrument; but not everybody in 1982 could afford a computer to program samples while sipping cocktails at the Hacienda. Tape - now THAT is a punk as fuck tool. It was everywhere; it was cheap (not so much anymore, mind you); and the tools to edit tape could be as simple as a razor blade and a tape recorder. Andre De Saint-Obin was of this DIY mindset, a musician making the most out of the least, utilizing that aforementioned punkest form of technology. This Dutch fellow was home-taping for only a few short years in the early '80s, releasing a couple of singles and a cassette... and then he just disappeared. An impressionable Frans De Waard (the man behind Korm Plastics, Plinkity Plonk, Vital Weekly, and too many bands to mention) was smitten by that De Saint-Obin cassette back in the day, and years later, he embarked on a quest to seek out De Saint-Obin in hopes of reissuing the album. We'll skip forward through the bits about interminable internet searches and dropped conversations due to artist idiosyncrasy and flighty weirdo behavior; for here we have the glorious fruits of De Waard's labor of love - a minor masterpiece of Dutch post-punk / minimal-wave eccentricity: Sound On Sound by Andre De Saint-Obin.
The title refers to means-of-production, De Saint-Obin didn't have a multitrack recorder, but rather he could overdub tracks onto a single piece of tape in the tradition of Les Paul and the earliest of sound engineers. Yup, in mono! Built up from the bottom up, starting with drum machine, then bass, the guitar, and finally voice, each of Andre De Saint-Obin's songs required considerable foresight and architectural planning. The process was a destructive one, so if he fucked up on one of the last layers, he would have to start all over again. The fact that these songs are so fractured, so lysergic, so dystopian speaks to the cracked vision of De Saint-Obin. The opening number (eponymously titled "Introduction") is an instrumental cut with swollen basslines plucked with the swaggering panache of a Peter Hook or a Simon Gallup, punched with spark-plug guitar jitteriness and mechanoid electronic rhythms. It's pretty damn close to being a perfect piece of gloom pop, but fixed to a woozy DIY axis instead of a baroque goth polish. The spasmodic anti-funk number "Dance Till I Die" sports jagged guitar fuzz and exasperated vocals above a backbeat of machined click and churlish basslines, lending to visions of Pere Ubu or James Chance in a fit of epileptic delirium. The manic-depressive bounciness of "Hey You" sways toward sexual frustration, and "I Got Plopmusic" veers towards the truly bizarre in the vein of Fad Gadget or any of those synth-punk ditties that Colin Potter put to tape around the same time.
The accompanying cd, in addition to the record proper, features 5 bonus tracks, including the predatorily creepy yet captivatingly catchy "Stay Tonight" and the much sought after "Everytime We Say Goodbye" originally released on one of Alain Neffe's Insane Music compilations. Sound On Sound finds company with a few contemporaries in the head-scratching Factory Records ensemble Crawling Chaos and Pete Shelley's aptly named Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners; but was very much a precursor to what the Blank Dogs and Ariel Pink attempted several decades later.
We should note that aQuarius is the ONLY shop in North America that you can get one of these, and get one you should!!! Fuck yeah!!!" [Aquarius Records]

"The 80s. A decade well worth plundering for some great music you never heard of. One of its stars was Andr de Saint-Obin, at the time student at the Arnhem academy of the Arts and part time DIY-musician. His musical legacy is small: one cassette, one single and some stray tracks on compilations. The single and cassette were both released on Arnhems Ding Dong Records and Tapes in 1982. As such, Andrs star shone bright - but brief. As you are probably aware, much of what has been made in the 80s DIY-scene has been made available on CD or LP. Then why did it take such a long time for this groovy cassette to be published? Well, one is Andrs elusiveness - the man was seriously hard to track down. Secondly, Andr is a perfectionist. It shows in how Sound on Sound was recorded (more of which later) and if there was to be a reissue, it would have to be perfect. So, yes, this release on Plinkity Plonk took a long time to materialize, but how great it is to finally be able to play his powerful and innovative music again! In the mid 80s, I spent enormous amounts of time at the Ding Dong store in Arnhem and I remember both the single and cassette on display. Oddly enough, I never bought them at the time. Only years later I re-discovered the La Voix Qui Rit single*, which featured two tracks Human Machine and Cassette Gazette (both unfortunately not on the Sound on Sound album). You could get it in a 7 cover or, if you paid a few Guilders more, in a more elaborate 12 packaging. It made me want to own the cassette as well and this proved annoyingly difficult, as copies were, in that pre-internet age, quite hard to locate. Me and Frans (who runs Plinkity Plonk these days) used to discuss Sound on Sound Why is such a great album not available on CD?. We just couldnt get it. Because great it is! On this album, Andr uses his knowledge of making tape loops (at times stretching over 3 minutes!) using the process of bouncing: recording a loop/rhythm or guitar groove on one channel of a stereo Revox tape recorder**, recording another instrument on the other channel, bouncing it back to one channel and record over the free channel. That not only sounds like a lot of work but it actually is. Plus its a process of trial and error. Not that you could tell from the results: yes, the album is mono (obviously), but it sounds really good. Clear and edgy much like the music. There is an angular and awkward edge to Sound on Sound, which makes it perfect to dance to I wanna dance till I die Andr sings in his at times awkward English pronunciation. There are a few instrumentals too and girls singing backing vocals. Sound on Sound is a perfect example of the 80s as a musical, political and societal decade. It is also a perfect example of the DIY atmosphere that surrounded that angst. As a bonus, the LP includes a CD with the full album and five additional tracks. The insert features a cover to that CD that you can cut out
what a brilliant idea! There are also pictures of Andrs live set up on the insert and an appeal to return his stolen Fender Stratocaster guitar. There is so much to enjoy in this release. And now, at a few clicks of your mouse, you can own this album too. There is nothing to hold you back. Treat yourself to a near-forgotten master of sound - on Sound! Brilliant! (FK)
* Andr if you are reading this: my copy of La Voix Qui Rit features a handwritten letter in pencil from you to a German girl on the inside cover. Obviously I cannot reveal the content of the letter, but I have been wondering ever since I bought the single did it ever work out and did she bring her sleeping mat?
** The Revox tape machine pictured on the cover looks suspiciously like the one I used to work with in the 80s after having borrowed it from the Arnhem academy of the Arts (where I studied)." [Freek Kinkelaar/Vital Weekly]