the best of
by chuck & doug
Choug & Duck are Stephen Thomas and Dave Phillips, who met in Zurich in 1988 and created music together till 2000. Both have since become notable as highly active musicians in various outfits – Thomas perhaps most notably as a member of the Dead Brothers, Phillips as a member of the legendary Schimpfluch Gruppe and as a solo noise artist –, but this 80-minute compilation goes way back in time, unearthing unpublished documents of their musical creativity, from an era when various experimental musical strategies were tried and tested with a sense of fun that seems almost tangible on the release.
Back in the day, Choud & Guck recorded countless sessions from 1994 to 2000, but released next to no recordings. this compilation, culled from more than 33 hours of recordings, can be considered an important historical document – fully deserving of the heavy gilded frame on the cover worthy of a masterpiece in a museum. True to the spirit of the time when it was recorded, a cassette tape is the only adequate format for it.
As the artists' liner notes indicate, the recordings were made on audio tape, 8-track tape, and DAT – the latter two being bridge technologies into the age of digital recording that no one under the age of thirty has possibly even heard of. But the DIY distribution method at the time of recording would definitely have been a tape, as burners for CD-Rs only became commercially available shortly before the turn of the century.
Choke & Dog used samplers, drum machines, CD and tape players, a groovebox, guitar, bass, drums, voices – and they did it with a wild playfulness that not only appropriates found sounds (especially voices) in a humourously minimalistic way which seems typical of that age of analogue tape collage and limited sampler memory, but which also contrasts manic beats with ambient loops in ways that defy any categorisation. Releasing The Best of Dug & Chouck is a true honour and pleasure for attenuation circuit, because the global experimental underground our label has been promoting for well over a decade owes a lot to the tape experiments of previous decades. In other words, the older among today's digital practitioners have emerged from the primeval mud of tape hiss and mulching low-end frequencies echoing through this release, but on the other hand this is also (in parts!) one of the most danceable attenuation circuit albums ever. Surprised? We'd say it only goes to show that music has no boundaries.
File under: experimental, lo-fi, sound collage, electro, industrial
Released in 2023
limited to 100 copies
price: 10.00 EUR (excl. postage)
recorded 1994 – 2000 in zürich
mastered by dan suter at echochamber
choud & guck are stephen thomas & dave phillips
The Best of Chuck & Doug (ACT 1059, C-75) ist ein Rückgriff in die frühen Jahre von Dave Phillips, vor seiner Zeit als Schimpfluch-Associate und lange vor seiner Zeit als Kritiker des anthropozentrischen Utilitarismus, der angesichts einer drohenden „Sixth Mass Extinction“ und der Diagnose „Humanity is a Virus“ einem Paradigmenwechsel ins Cthuluzän das Wort redet. Zwischen 1994 und 2000 hatte er zusammen mit Stephen Thomas als CHUCK & DOUG massenweise Material angesammelt, das auszugsweise nun dem Vergessen entrissen wird. Doug wie Doug Funnie? Chuck wie Chuckie, die Mörderpuppe? Zwischen 'Love Story' und 'Rapetales', 'Dougout' und 'Chuckout', 'Tram & Bus' und 'Ignoramus 'finden sich da ein 'Goofy House Track' und ein 'Duo for Dentist and Hellion', nicht mit Helium, sondern einem Teufelsbraten. Unter Einsatz von Samplern, Drum Machines, CD-Playern, Tonbändern, Groovebox, Gitarre, Bass, Drums und Stimme entstanden diese 18 als repräsentativ angesehenen Tracks: Loops, merkwürdige Lo-Fi-Collagen, launige Grooves, kuriose, tonbandmanipulierte Stimmsamples, die aus Cartoons oder dem Red Room stammen könnten und mehr als nur einmal nach dem Etikett 'goofy' schreien. Dazu hört man Schritte, tippende Schreibmaschinenbeats, technoide 4/4, dräuende Orgel plus Carillon, scheppernden Breakbeat, Radiostimmen in Rückwärtsjapanisch, schwammigen Zwei- und dröhnenden Schwellklang, fickrige Rhythmik in 5.000 m-Hürden-Tempo, in 400 m-Hürden-Rasanz mit Hornisse am Arsch, Drehmomente für Dummies. Höre ich da „Das Maß ist voll“ zwischen allerhand Kannitverstan? Verzerrtes Tamtam klopft mit quäkigem Ami-Stimmbeifang, 'Avian Sex' groovt vogelsexy mit Surfgitarre und Trommelgeflatter. Und der trollschwer schleppende Tritt als Ausklang verrät, dass man schönen Phrasen wie 'waving goodbye sailing into the sunset smiling' nicht trauen kann.
Who are Doug & Chuck, and why is there a 'best of'? Going back to 1988, Stephen Thomas (these days a member of the Dead Brothers, and much more) and Dave Philips (best known for his radical solo work, and working with Schimpfluch Gruppe, but very early on with grindcore group Fear Of God), started to record music together. In 2000 they stopped as a duo. They recorded a lot of music, using samplers, guitar, bass, CD players, a groove box, voices and much more, which now compiled into eighteen pieces of music. All of this is news to me, but looking on Discogs, I see they never had any releases until this one, so there was little to know in the first place. The eighty minutes of music here is a wild ride. Heavy on the rhythmic samples, this sounds like nothing I heard from Phillips, but thinking about it, there is certainly already the seeds of his current extreme soundscaping here. The rattling of rhythms, loops, and samples are at times monotonous, without movement, and recorded quite loud, a forecast of things to come. Sometimes almost like techno music, groovy and dance-like, but also too much stuck in the minimalist groove. There is undoubtedly something wacky about this music, showing a humorous side that I didn't know was there. 'Goofy House Track' is such an off, funny ditty. In the end, it is all a bit much, to be honest, but I found it all most enjoyable, taking in one side of the cassette a day.