Unsolved Mysteries: The Invaders – “Night Ride” b/w “Invaders Twist” (Pacer, 1962)

(Image source: Discogs)

As always, if you can help shed light on our Unsolved Mysteries, please do! Any information is very much appreciated — please leave it in the comments section, and I will update the post, with credit, accordingly.

[See the end of this article for an exciting update!]

While listening to Fool’s Paradise, a rockabilly, surf, and rock & roll show on WFMU, I heard a thrilling instrumental surf track called “Night Ride” by an act called The Invaders. The band appears to be a trio — drums, bass, and guitar. A simple but momentous bass line incites matters, after which a wave of amateurish but rollicking drums sets an off-kilter pace, while a fluctuating guitar line brings the treble.

According to Discogs, this was put out in 1962 on a local, one-off record label named Pacer, based in a small city in Ohio named Delaware. The writing credits were Balogh, Iver, and May.

“Night Ride” and, in one case, its b-side, “Invaders Twist,” have appeared on a handful of compilations of obscure rock and roll singles over the years, released on specialist labels with titles like Realllll Rrrrrockin’ and Rare Rockers From Small 1950’s Labels Vol. 3 and, my favourite, The Best Of Greasy Rock ‘N’ Roll Volume 6. But no information survives about the band itself.

Greasy! (Image source: Discogs)

I did some digging. There is a Pacer Inn and Suites Motel in Delaware, which matches the record label. Unfortunately, all three names listed as writer credits are common ones, so Google searching those names in conjunction with “Delaware Ohio” and “Ohio” is of limited utility.

Eventually, I reached out to the Facebook page of Endangered Species, a Delaware OH shop that bills itself as “The Last Record Store On Earth.” Stephen from the store responded quickly, letting me that they get a copy into the shop every once in awhile. He clarified that the term “Pacer” has special significance in Delaware. “We are the home of The Little Brown Jug horse race and the horses are called ‘pacers,'” he explained. “It is the team name for the local high school as well, The Delaware Hayes Pacers.”

108 Spring St., Delaware, OH, circa Aug 2012, according to Google Maps. This is the address listed as the Pacer record label HQ on the “Night Ride” single. A pesky tree obscures our view.

Stephen told me he’s worked in the shop for forty years, but has never been able to clarify the origin of the single, suspecting it was self-produced and self-financed by some “local teens.” “We get a copy in now and then and if in nice shape, sell it for $2.99.” Considering copies have sold for $66 on Discogs, that’s quite a steal!

If you can shed light on the mystery, please do! Include any relevant information in the Comments section and I will update this listing, with proper credit provided.

UPDATE! July 20, 2020: Mystery Solved!

David May, one third of the Invaders, left a comment on this very page (see below) and connected with me via email to fill me in on the Invaders story!

May now lives in Brentwood, Tennessee, but he grew up in Delaware, Ohio. He started the Invaders in fall of 1961 after meeting a new friend, Tom Ivers. They were both in high school. “We played as a duo for a time and used the name The Invaders, boasting ‘rock-it to the music that’s out of this world!’ After a few weeks our ambition grew and we found a drummer named Greg Balogh – at a different high school – and we became a trio doing instrumentals. We were the only band we knew about in the area and were invited to play at lots of local events and parties. We did have a few original compositions and decided we should make a record. Greg’s grandfather owned a local recreation area named Eckels Lake and he offered to underwrite our recording session.”

They were managed by Rick Scarry, who had recently graduated from their high school, and who was working as a radio DJ. “He had connections with radio and TV people in Columbus and one, Jerry Beck, knew his way around the recording studio and distribution channels.

“We did our recording session at Coronet Records in Columbus and 500 copies were pressed at Columbia Records in Chicago. The records were placed in local record shops in central Ohio and in juke boxes. Local radio stations played it quite a bit in April, 1962 and we often joined disc jockeys at sock hops they hosted all over central Ohio. We were featured guest recording artists! Our band’s lifespan was fairly short, however, as I left town in the fall for college in Kentucky.  We may have reconvened a time or two after that, but I never went back to Delaware once I was in college.

“The Pacer Records label was inspired by the harness racing theme that was a big deal in Delaware.  One of the triple crown races of harness racing, The Little Brown Jug, was held every September in Delaware. Our high school mascot was a pacer. Thus, Pacer Records. The address on the record label was the home address of Rick Scarry, our manager.

“Rick left Delaware himself a few years later and became a very popular radio personality in Los Angeles during the 70’s and 80’s. Following that, he embarked on a successful career in movies, television, and commercials. He is still active in that industry today. I have been in contact with Rick over the past few years, and most recently about these findings, and he is as surprised as I am.”

The story of how May came across this blog post is its own story. “I have been playing guitar since the late 1950’s and focus mainly on instrumentalists from the late fifties and early sixties,” May says. “I am constantly looking for new things to learn to play from that era. I search eBay for ‘rockin’ guitar instrumentals’ once or twice a year. A search I made in April led me to an album titled Guitar Runaway and as I scanned the track listings my eyes settled on track seven, side one, by The Invaders. It was titled ‘Invader’ (not ‘Invader Twist’ – the true title) but the writer credits were the names of our band members. I was stunned by this finding because it never, ever entered my mind that our recording would ever get out of central Ohio and certainly wouldn’t have acquired any interest from collectors or record manufacturers.

“I also found out at that same time that both sides were actually posted to YouTube. I messaged the person who posted ‘Night Ride’ about how he was able to post it to YouTube and he revealed to me that the song was found on an album, Rare Rockers From Small 50’s Labels. He furnished me the link to Discogs, which listed that album. From that link I was able to make the discovery of all six of the compilations that contain one or the other side of our recording. That was my initial exposure to Discogs. There are currently 36 of the various albums containing our record for sale by Discogs members. The sellers are all over the world. I am just absolutely astonished by these findings, and quite enthusiastic to say the least. I have had contact with several Discogs members in the past week about the record.  One man in Belgium paid $167 for his copy of it.

“I was directed to the article in your website by another member of Discogs community. He owns a copy of our record and was identified on the website as an owner. I messaged him asking how he came to acquire the record, and he shared a lot of interesting information with me in his reply. He first heard the recording on the same radio show you mention in your article. He even shared with me playlists for the several dates on which he heard our record played!  He put in a saved search on eBay for the record and finally after three years waiting a copy came up for bid which he acquired in 2017.

“In his delightful message of reply to my inquiry he sent me the link to your article about our record in Anomaly Index, May, 2020. I can’t tell you just how excited I was to read what you had to say and to have the opportunity to provide the information you were seeking about the band and the record.

“Today I called the owner of the record store, Endangered Species, in Delaware, Ohio, that you had communicated with. I shared information with him about the band and about the members. We had a wonderful conversation, and he recalled communicating with you about it.”

May updated me on his pursuits and the whereabouts of the former Invaders. “I know that Tom Ivers, the other guitarist, has deceased some few years ago. I have been unable to locate Greg Balogh, the drummer, but have information that as recently as two to three years ago he still lived in Delaware. I asked Patrick Bailey, the record store owner, to help me trace down Greg, if possible, so there’s a chance I might still find him. I know he will be or would have been delighted to hear how our little self-financed record has achieved a world-wide following (sort of!).

“After college, I enjoyed a 34-year career with Southern Bell/BellSouth telecommunications company, retiring in 2000. I took a hiatus from playing for several years but resumed in the late 1980’s when my oldest son became interested in playing guitar. I have been spending lots of time playing ever since. I also have a nice collection of guitars and amplifiers. Nothing really valuable, just for variety’s sake. I have a good friend that plays drums and we have played gigs for several years identifying ourselves as The Elderly Brothers. My oldest son plays bass guitar with us quite often. We play exclusively music of our teenage years, 1956-64. Keeping the beat alive, so to speak.”

May expresses gratitude for the interest in his decades-old record. “This experience of the last couple months has really elevated the spirits of this old man!! 58 years after our record’s release into obscurity.”

Thanks to David May for the interview and for the images.

Mark Pawson ‎– 8705640 anti-7″ (self-released, 1984)

(Source: Discogs)

About nine years ago, around 2011, a strange record turned up on Discogs, titled 8705640 and credited to an artist named Mark Pawson. I came across it while cruising a list of silent records compiled by a user named “type.” The record’s title corresponds to a strange barcode on the front cover, and it was listed as an anti-record because, as the images showed, the record itself had crude, hand-etched grooves, leading to a warning:

Could be played, but WILL cause severe needle damage.

Curious about this anti-record, I tracked the artist down. It turns out he is a mail art veteran who has published books and staged exhibitions of visual art.

How did the idea for this hand-etched record come about?

Through play and experimentation, and using readily available materials/techniques. I was about 19 when I made this and making  printed materials such as spraypainted postcards, photocopied leaflets and an assembling publication. Distributing to personal friends and via the mail art network. I think this was a one-off – (probably) made as a contribution to a specific Mail Art project/exhibition.

(Source: Discogs)

Were you aware of other hand-etched or damaged records, or records where people are encouraged to carve their own sounds into the grooves? Was there any conceptual/philosophical background? (Yours is one of the earliest incarnations of this theme).

At this point in time no, but I’d seen self-released records, with folded photocopy/handprinted sleeves, rubber-stamped labels, etc — so that DIY/self-made aspect was more of an influence. The felt-tip pen spirals on the labels were inspired/copied from one of those. My idea was for patterns and textures on the sleeve, labels, vinyl, 

What else was going on (in your life, in your musical life) around the time the record came out?

It was the period between school in my hometown, Lymm, Cheshire, UK – the address which is on the sleeve – and moving to London to attend University. Very active in the Mail Art Network – which was my art education. At this time made some very rough tape overdubbed ‘music’ (but nothing since then). Listening to the John Peel radio show,  buying a few records (but i didn’t have a record player for a long time!) and going to gigs – when I had the money – and when I could get a lift. Locally – Dislocation Dance, Mudhutters, in Warrington – Membranes, Drones, A Certain Ratio, At the Manchester Apollo – Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Skids, Altered Images, Vic Godard &  Subway Sect, most of the 2-Tone bands, The Clash, Orange Juice, The Mo-dettes, Diagram Brothers, Stray Cats, Barracudas… At the Hacienda in Manchester, Undertones, New Order, The Final Academy -PTV/Wm Burroughs/Brion Gysin…

(Source: Discogs)

Can you take me through how you made them? What was the process for creating the covers and for creating and etching the records? (Were they blank records or recycled records?)

Cover – I used this photocopier-generated print for several projects/purposes, kind of as a generic device.  Record was re-used, it was hard to scratch with any accuracy/precision, think I used the end of a screwdriver and pressed down really hard.

How was it distributed?

Gift/exchange

How many copies were made?

I think this was a one-off, it is possible there might have been  a couple more, don’t think I still have any.

What did people think of the record? What was the response like?

I don’t know!

Do you have any interesting stories related to the release?

It was interesting to see that it appeared on Discogs!

Just to make sure I understand — this was only produced in a single edition of 1-3 copies? And then it popped up on Discogs without your intervention?

YES!

I know that, apart from this, you are involved with numerous artistic projects, including zines, books, and visual art. Your website is amazing! I wanted to know a little bit more about you — some background on where are you from, roughly how old are you, and what do you do outside of your involvement in arts?

Website and Instagram gives a pretty good idea of what I get up to. I’m 56, live in East London, I’m a bookmaker, book seller, Lecturer, artist, writer…

Thanks for filling us in on this strange release!

Mark Pawson’s website.

Lost Albums: Various Artists – BritneyWave (Sunbeam Records)

Lost Albums is a way of documenting records that exist in some manner, but don’t exist in the public realm — records that were recorded but shelved, records that almost-happened, records that never were.

In late 2018, a vaporwave label called Sunbeam Records, responsible primarily for digital releases, put out a call for submissions for a new tribute album. Run by two vaporwave producers named Opal and 氷河, Sunbeam was not new to tribute albums. They had put out two tributes already, one dedicated to the enigmatic Luxury Elite (who has since disappeared entirely), one focused on the producer Waterfront Dining, and the other an homage to 猫 シ Corp., a Dutch performer named Jornt Elzinga responsible for one of the seminal mallsoft records, Palm Mall.

But this tribute was different. They were pitching a vaporwave tribute to a very non-vaporwave artist, Britney Spears. The Oct 29, 2018 tweet came with the following image:

I connected with Opal via email to learn the background behind this proposed compilation, which had some submissions but never panned out. “Sunbeam has not been active for some time, due to me owing some people a few physical orders, and BritneyWave did in fact never come out,” Opal explained. 

Opal, who is in his early twenties and lives in “Amish country, Pennsylvania,” works full-time at Subway and produces music, plays video games, watches movies, and enjoys the outdoors. He is saving money now, possibly to go to at school. “I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I’m excited to see,” he tells me.

He explained how he caught the vaporwave bug. “I got interested in vaporwave a couple years ago, probably about 2015-16, when a friend kept playing a lot of it for me.” He, by then, had been exposed to Macintosh Plus’ Floral Shoppe, a seminal vaporwave record known for its post-modern mash of diverse sources, ranging from the now-forgotten seventies soft-rock band Pages to the soundtrack to the Nintendo 64 game Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. But it was the experience of completing schoolwork and listening to Canadian producer Blank Banshee’s 2013 album, Blank Banshee 1, that sealed the deal, inspiring him to download the sound editing program Audacity and to start experimenting with his own productions.

He then discovered a subgenre of vaporwave called late night lo-fi, which uses smooth jazz samples to evoke the experience of being up at night, circa 1993, watching TV and staring out the window of one’s luxury condo. It was Late Night Delight, a split release between Luxury Elite and Saint Pepsi, that did it for Opal. “I fell in love with it and spent probably a good month listening to many artists, like Saint Pepsi, Luxury Elite, Waterfront Dining, and tons more.

“Part of the reason that vaporwave appeals to me so much is because I grew up on classic rock and that blended into me discovering eighties pop. Vaporwave combines the internet era, which I am very acquainted with, and eighties pop. It’s a way to take an already created piece and make it your own. It also opens doors for me to explore new music that has been out for years that I’ve never heard before. It kind of symbolizes the known and unknown for me. It’s a blend of future, present, and past.”

Sunbeam Records occurred when Opal met 氷河 over Twitter. “I had wanted to do a collaboration project, and we met based on a tweet I had put out asking if anyone would like to either collaborate or make a split album,” he recalls. “氷河 messaged me and said he was interested. And so, our collab project ゴールデンアイ1997 was born. Shortly after our first album came out on Flamingo Vapor, I decided I wanted to start my own netlabel. And so, I figured who better to help me than my collaboration partner? I asked if he was interested and he said yes. And so we started Sunbeam Records. Most of the music in the beginning, and throughout the span of it, was made by us, with the occasional release by an artist or friend.”

Eventually came Sunbeam’s tribute compilations, which remain among their most popular releases. “The tribute albums were an idea I had while thinking about artists I personally liked, and realizing a lot of them, while similar, have a signature sound. I thought it might be a fun and interesting experience to invite artists to try to mimic their favorite artists’ sounds, while staying true to themselves. And as it turns out, a lot of other people liked the idea as well. Our first tribute, an album dedicated to Waterfront Dining, was by far the most popular album we released at the time. And so I decided to continue with them. We released a Luxury Elite tribute and a Cat System Corp. tribute. To this day, people still ask about them. The artists who were featured talk about them. A few have approached me about doing tributes to other artists. I think what appeals to me about this format is the sense of community. Many people were inspired by these artists to make their own music, and it’s a fun way to see how each person interprets the music and makes it their own, while still having the umbrella of us all having the same influence.

BritneyWave came about from a friend who really likes Britney Spears. An artist known as Valet Girls. He made a joking comment about making a Britney tribute, and I actually liked the idea. I thought it was a little more out there, but I knew a lot of people who liked her as well. Unfortunately, it marked the end of the tributes thus far, because we only got a handful of scattered submissions. At this point in time, I’m not planning on ever releasing it, but maybe sometime in the future if it becomes a popular idea again…

“We only received about four submissions. One was a male vocal cover of a slowed down ‘Toxic.’ The other three were original vapor pop pieces.”

As of late, Sunbeam has seemed to close up shop. “Sunbeam has petered out right now because of one simple problem. I got in over my head. I offered a CD set for a group of albums, and once a few people ordered, I realized I didn’t have experience shipping things out of the US. I decided to take hiatus with the label until I fulfilled people’s orders. Once I do so, we will be back up and running. The other reason we stopped is because I felt like most people didn’t really care to listen other than the tribute albums, and so we didn’t get many submissions.”

Sunbeam is an online endeavour primarily, but Opal mentions that he had made connections with people IRL. “There’s a handful of people locally interested, namely a man who fronts a local dream-pop band called Vicious Blossom. He contacted me through my Bandcamp and asked if I’d be interested in remixing their music. He also has proposed a music project mixing vapor and dreampop. We’ve grown to be pretty decent friends I feel.”

And he’s managed to intrigue a few associates. “My family and friends and girlfriend all know about vaporwave. I practically never shut up about it. They’re all proud, and a few are curious about vaporwave. Most of them never knew about it before me.”

Robe. – Did I Not Bid Thee to Arise CDR (Vade Retro Records, 2008)

Robe. was the doom project of two twentysomethings from Indiana, Adam Cooley and Kyle Willey. Over their run, Robe. released dozens of albums on CDR and cassette, some of which had interesting backstories, including an album recorded in a bathtub and a box set whose every copy came with a different bodily byproduct. Did I Not Bid Thee to Arise was one of their most unusual records.

I met with Robe. member Kyle Willey over Skype to discuss a number of the band’s releases, including this peculiar CDR. Unfortunately, Adam passed away several years ago, at the age of 27. Kyle, who still misses his friend deeply, credits Adam’s dynamic personality and zest for innovation as key factors in Robe.’s sprawling discography. The idea for Did I Not Bid Thee to Arise was a classic exponent of his offbeat creativity. Kyle explained to me that Adam used to spend a lot of time listening to music in his car, often blasting releases that they had recorded together . Their work together was all about experimentation, and they started to wonder if it might be possible to record a full release in a car – intended to be listened to while driving.

To make it happen, numerous details had to be sorted out, including where to sit and how to power up their instruments. Adam suggested using a portable mixing board connected to the cigarette lighter via an adapter. They then figured out they could both fit in the trunk of the car, lying flat in opposite orientations, while a friend played trombone in the backseat. Adam played guitar and Kyle played bass; using the mixer, they could modulate the relative volume of the trombone. Another friend was behind the wheel, responsible for driving the band to Indianapolis and back, the trombone blaring just behind her. Because they were in a car trunk, it was a dark ride. This was made worse after Kyle dropped his flashlight as the car hit a bump; it fell under his back and lodged there, leading to an uncomfortable ride and two days of back pain.

After the drive, they chopped up the recording, isolating its best moments then shuffling the pieces together into a record they were proud of, naming the album and its songs after de-contextualized quotes from Edgar Allan Poe stories. The release was put out on CDR by an Italian label called Vade Retro, run by Steve Spettro, who also performs as Spettro Family. Kyle tells me that he is still occasionally in touch with him, and that the label even arranged for Robe. to appear in three issues of a still-running Italian music magazine called Blow Up, including a three-page interview published entirely in Italian around the time that the album was released.

Did I Not Bid Thee to Arise is available on Bandcamp. It’s an entrancing collection, primarily composed of droning guitar tones, though the trombone appears at times, deep in the mix, hollowed out by infinite layers of reverb. The one noisy freakout jam, “Into The Outer Night,” is almost a diversion, coming right before the album’s finest moment, the sepulchral “The Conquering Worm.” Suffice to say, you would never guess that this disc was recorded in a car.

Atrax Morgue – 000000000000000000 anti-cassette (Slaughter Productions, 1995)

Atrax Morgue, born Marco Corbelli, was an Italian noise artist obsessed with the concept of death. Over the course of a long career on the experimental music avant-garde, dating back to 1992, Corbelli issued a stream of releases dealing with the subject, from 1993’s In Search of Death (which was more industrial than noise) to releases like Autoerotic Death (a C60 of analog synthesizer improvisation released on BloodLust! in 1996, and later reissued in a deluxe box edition by Urashima) and Close to a Corpse (a live performance from 2001 issued in a 3-CDR set). Many of these came out on his very own Slaughter Productions.

Corbelli, sadly, died by suicide in 2007, though reissues and even new releases of his work continue to trickle out, reflecting the impression he made on noise listeners.

One of Atrax Morgue’s more unusual releases was this item from November 14, 1995, also released on his Slaughter Productions imprint. Reported as a limited edition of “00000000000000000 copies,” it was a box for an old VHS tape which, when opened, revealed the mangled parts of an audio cassette laid on a bedding of burnt cotton.

Corbelli’s motivations behind this release aren’t fully known, but the packaging includes a clue, the cover describing it as “an example of real ‘dead music,'” which suggests this was yet another manifestation of his long-standing fascination with death. Corbelli also warns the anti-tape’s recipient:

"do not use a tape recorder for listening
just use your brain and think that music is DEAD."

Incidentally, it has been written that, prior to releasing music under the name Atrax Morgue, Corbelli produced several A5 zines under the name Marco Rotula, namely The Pleasure Agony, Sick, and Murder. These apparently dealt with themes of “sadism, schizophrenia, insanity, murder, psychosis, necrophilia, diseases, and most importantly, death.” To my knowledge, none of these zines have materialized in digital form — I wonder if copies are still out there and, if so, whether they might find their way online.

[Cover images courtesy of https://www.diary.ru/~comusic/p133807913.htm?oam]

Spiegelsplitter ‎– Spiegelsplitter anti-7″ (Rocktopus, 1981)

Image of the Spiegelsplitter anti-record from Dirk Schlömer’s collection.

Twelve years back, a strange anti-record turned up on Discogs, credited to a German duo named Spiegelsplitter. Images revealed a grooveless LP that appeared etched with the band’s name in stylized letters, alongside a Xerox-collage cover. A note was included in the listing:

Not released for commercial, only send to stores, radio stations, discotheques etc. to promote the debut-release “Spiegelsplitterspitz”

Spiegelsplitter was the duo of Dirk Schlömer and Peter R. Deininger, responsible for one lone 1981 single called Spiegelsplitterspitz, which was released on both the seven-inch and twelve-inch formats.

Intrigued by this unusual artifact, I spoke with Schlömer via Skype, and he generously filled me in on the story behind the release. He told me he was a guitarist in a conventional rock and new wave band called Cöln when he decided to leave and form a synth-wave duo in Berlin within the Neue Deutsche Welle mould. His friends were shocked by the change.

The concept behind Spiegelsplitter, whose name referred to a mirror breaking, was to de-prioritize the guitar in favour of sequencers. Schlömer was the instrumentalist and Deininger was the singer.

Spiegelsplitterspitz was recorded at Hansa Tonstudio, just next to the Berlin Wall — the same studio where David Bowie wrote the lyrics to “Heroes,” Schlömer mentioned. The A-side is up on YouTube; it’s a jagged post-punk opus with abrasive samples that estimate the sound of a shattering mirror. Schlömer told me they had recorded enough material for a full album, though it was never released, apparently because Deininger joined a travesti troupe and no longer had time for the band.

The anti-record in question was crafted by Deininger, and was actually one of two promotional items produced to help draw attention to the release of Spiegelsplitterspitz. The other item was a series of mirror pieces with a similar design on them, a reference to the single’s name, which refers to shards from a broken mirror. The blank LPs were individually stamped with the band’s name using a hand-crafted stamp created by Deininger. “It was a promotional tool,” Schlömer explained. “The idea, as always, was to cause some curiosity or some questions, like you have now. It was sent mainly to radio DJs or music journalists.”

He estimates that there were between 300 and 500 copies produced, the blank vinyl coming from a pressing plant. He stressed that the record was not intended as a conceptual statement, but instead to help promote the actual single. It came with some unusual liner notes which included photocopies of Schlömer and Deininger’s passports. “We really wanted something strange, something disturbing, but not politically, but more in a Dada way, or, as said, surreal. That is why we put in copies of our passport, and the only photos that music magazines had, were those passport photos you see on the paper.”

He wasn’t aware that it had been posted to Discogs, and was tickled to find the release there. Since Spiegelsplitter split up, Schlömer has been involved extensively in music. To this day, he runs a studio and record label called AmygdaLand, which has, as of late, released some great guitar-based music in a drone / ambient vibe.

Dirk Schlömer’s copy, from another angle.

Fukte – The Threatening Aspects of Technology hard drive (Toxic Industries, 2016)

(Source: Discogs)

Fukte* is the name of the noise project operated by Fabrizio De Bon, who lives in northeast Italy and has run his Toxic Industries label since 2009. He arrived at noise music through black metal, in particular through the various side projects of Mz.412 and its most famous member, Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. His first noise record was by Björkk solo project Hydra Head 9, which he bought on on a whim because he was intrigued by the cover. And while his initial impression was that he had wasted his money, he forced himself to listen a few times and eventually saw the light. He started recording noise experiments in 2004, at first using a “very cheap microphone” and an old copy of Fruity Loops. He eventually built his own contact mic and invested in distortion pedals and a proper mixer, preferring the analog sound for his noise.

He didn’t release any of his noise until 2009, when he put out his first release, a split-cassette with his pal, Escaton, that had motherboards glued to the front of the cassette cases, grinded to shape by De Bon himself. Over the decade he’s spent releasing music on his label, De Bon has earned a name for the distinctive packaging of his releases. He often utilizes broken computer parts in his packages, which he primarily sources from his work in I.T. In the past, his concepts have included repurposed circuit boards and releasing a three-inch CDR inside malfunctioning hard drive cases. Most of his elaborate packages have been issued on a sub-label called Very Toxic. Another sub-label, Irritant, is dedicated to Harsh Noise Wall music only, and limits all releases to 33 copies.

His 2016 release, The Threatening Aspects Of Technology, wasn’t just a packaging novelty. It was an album whose format was hard drives, namely old internal drives recycled from work.

(Source: Discogs)

In an interview over Skype, he told me the story of the audio itself, explaining that it was recorded during a rehearsal session. Trying to create a Harsh Noise Wall, he carefully tuned his gear to get the noise he wanted to hear. “I said OK, let’s try to set up the gear in a way I like,” De Bon explained. “After a couple hours of adjusting the noise, I found the sound that I was interested in. I said okay, let’s leave it to evolve for a couple minutes.

“After twenty minutes, I came back, then thought I’d stretch the experiment, change it a little bit, a slight movement of the knobs, or the position of the microphone. Then I thought why not go even farther than this. I decided to leave all night, then went to work. All this time, the sound was evolving itself.”

After two and a half days, he figured it was time to stop the recording, though it took two and a half hours for his computer to save the file. He has never listened to the whole thing, only having listened to a few parts to “follow the flow a little bit.”

(Source: Discogs)

He copied the files to the outdated hard drives, producing ten copies of this inaccessible release on its inaccessible format, which requires that the owner purchase the necessary cables to connect the hard drive to their computer. About half the copies were sold, and half were traded with other noise artists and labels. And while he figures that most people obtained their copies to “collect it as a weird piece of noise music,” he does know of one friend who endeavored to listen to the whole thing. That friend consulted with De Bon about what equipment he needed to hook it into his laptop, then bought it all on Amazon. He listened to the whole thing, in hours-long chunks, over the course of a few weeks.

De Bon was impressed by this, since even he had never listened to the whole thing, only listening to a few snippets to get a general sense of what it sounded like.

*De Bon wants you to know that Fukte is pronounced ˈfukˈtɛ (i.e. fook-teh), not the far more vulgarˈfʌkt (fuckt).

D.L. Savings T.X. – Thank You Urine Doll C90 (American Tapes, 1997)

When it comes to record labels specializing in elaborate, handmade packaging, there’s no getting around American Tapes. It was a record label run by John Olson, a founding member of the seminal noise band, Wolf Eyes, as well as over a hundred other bands and solo projects. American Tapes started in the early nineties (there were a series of early, unnumbered tapes that are poorly documented prior to the start of their ‘official’ catalog around 1995) and ran for twenty years, closing shop in 2015, accumulating an incomprehensible mass of approximately one thousand releases in total.

Cover of Thank You Urine Doll — see the cassette attached to the tormented seven-inch single. (Source: defunct American Tapes website)

Olson’s label was known for releasing minuscule editions of experimental music, often released in elaborate handmade packaging. In an interview conducted via Skype, Olson explained that he was inspired by the similarly inventive packaging pioneered by noise artist MSBR (Koji Tano), and that he often used extra odds & ends that he obtained while working in an antique store. He also shared with me his passion for lacquering things — which was often the final step in producing an American Tapes creation.

Many of Olson’s American Tapes releases were immortalized on the Geocities-hosted American Tapes website, where he documented his discography and included images of the creations, which now are all that remains of many of the releases. Much of the website has dropped from the internet, but subsists in archived form and on Discogs. It has been said that Henry Rollins himself has been attempting a full archive of Olson’s tapes and records.

Many of American Tapes’ releases were by John Olson sound projects, of which D.L. Savings T.X. was one. This “band” was originally named Daylight Savings Time, inspired by a particularly nerve-rattling daylight savings time day; he shortened the name after being inspired by a fellow Lansing experimental musician named D.S. Hastings, who himself once stuck a microphone in a laundry dryer, recorded the resulting rattle, and released it on tape.

American Tapes logo, designed by John Olson’s friend — who had never heard any of American Tapes’ music! (Image source: Discogs)

Thank You Urine Doll, which was release number 28 for the label, has an especially distinctive cover. Olson, who loves commemorating occasions where he subtly mishears a spoken phrase, states he named this tape after drunkenly mishearing a friend telling him, “thank you, you’re a doll.”

To construct the cover, he took a bunch of seven-inch records and coated the surface of each with as many noxious chemicals as he could think of, including lacquer, enamel, acrylic, laundry detergent, Windex, oil, and paint remover. He then left the toxic stew for a month to react. Together, the chemicals were about half an inch thick, and by the end, the surface of each record looked a little like the surface of Mars. Each mutated disc was then fixed to the surface of one of the tape containers.

The tape, each side of which is a prolonged jam (at the time, Olson’s preferred method of sonic exploration), has two track titles. Olson loves naming things, expressing a preference to establish song titles first, then hit record. He explains that “Bird On Wire” is a Leonard Cohen reference, whereas “Front And Center At The Bargaining Tab” was a truncated version of an oft-spoken phrase on NPR.

The only known image of Thank You Urine Doll comes from the defunct (but fortunately archived) American Tapes website, and this is also the image that appears on Discogs. An mp3 rip of the tape was put up on the New Noise Net blog in 2009, which suggests at least one other copy still existed then, though the link is now dead.