Philip Jeck. Janek Schaeffer. Otomo Yoshihide. Thomas Brinkman. These are the avant-turntablists whose praises we've sung in the recent past; yet the use of the turntable with experimental music is nothing as novel as the current infatuation would indicate. Turntablism could be traced back to John Cage's Imaginary Landscape (1939), but perhaps a better historical jumping off point for those artists' delirious collage work would be with the early work of Christian Marclay and Non, who both reconfigured the noise and disembodied cultural reference from skipping records in the late '70s. It was that environment of Industrial culture that spawned Gum -- the Australian avant-turntablist duo which began quite literally with a skipping Brian Eno record. Their 1987 output has now been reissued on a double-CD titled Gum: "Vinyl Anthology".
While Gum's Andrew Curtis and Philip Samartzis shared a common interest in Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and Whitehouse, their work centered upon the volatility of surface noise from cheap turntables that they rescued from thrift stores and junk shops. At the same time, Gum balanced their destructive pursuit of tumultuous noise and electrically charged static with a clinical disembodiment. Even when disco-grooves from the Bee-Gees or porno climaxes get mangled in their Frankensteinian aggregates of loops and layers, it's hardly funky or sexy... rather a wonderfully disturbing mess. Having only a couple of singles on RRR and Korm Plastics as well as two self-released LPs, Gum had remained a secret history within the prolific oeuvre of Australian sound art; and now, thanks to this Vinyl Anthology compendium which features the bulk of their recorded works, the ecstatic expressionism of Gum can now be rediscovered for what it really is: precocious genius.
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