Album Review

Preslav Literary School – Echolalia (No-Fi, 2010)


Preslav Literary SchoolSide A

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There’s so much background on this release I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to actually talking about the music. First, there’s the real deal historic Preslav Literary School, which I’m too busy to actually research, so here’s the Wikipedia article. Have fun. Then there’s the contemporary found sound/tape manipulator/drone artist Adam Thomas, aka Preslav Literary School, who lives day to day in waist high awesomeness. And then there’s the 2 day workshop Thomas led in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England (yeah, that’s the name of a town) about making tape loops. A bunch of highly-respectable people showed up, like Machinefabriek & Poldr, and they all made a ton of loops. Afterwards they did a live performance, endlessly fucking with the tapes. Echolalia is a recording of the live show.

Trying to talk about the performance as a whole is hard because they jump genres every half second and use anything & everything as source material. So, obviously, this is rad as hell. There’s squawky electronics, bird chatter, synth patterns, squeaky balloons, hidden arias, ancient TV/radio broadcasts, high pressure crackle & hum, typewriter windchimes, indecipherable voicemail recordings, vacuum cleaners, and tape hiss galore. And that’s just a fraction of the sound sources, which get warped, twisted, rewound, slowed, shifted, and glitched in every way possible. They take tape manipulation to places I never thought of, ambient doom, grooved psych, gauzy pink bliss, debased spaced journeys, all with the help of impeccably juxtaposed random shit.

Echolalia is about as crazy & erratic as a record can get while still being fucking fantastic, exceedingly listenable, and coherent. I think part of my enjoyment of this comes from picturing the 11 people hunched over their own collection of tape loops while I listen to this. I love imaginging who’s doing what, trying to figure out how/if a certain sound has been altered or if it’s just been decayed by time.

This hot piece has ben transformed into vinyl by No-Fi, but only 500 copies were pressed. It comes with a digital download of the album (no biggy) but also an exclusive recording of Machinefabriek’s live solo tape set from the same night. FUCK YES. +10 cool points