In 1986, an Australian fellow by the name of Andrew Curtis posted an advertisement in a couple of record shops around Melbourne expressing a desire to start a band with somebody who shared his interests in Industrial music. The only person who answered the ad was Philip Samartzis, who has since gone on to international acclaim for his pristine electro-acoustic compositions published through Staalplaat, Synaesthesia, and Dorobo. Back in the late ‘80s, the Curtis and Samartzis collaboration resulted in the sonically volatile project simply called Gum. With little expertise or training, the two gathered up what objects they were familiar with, in particular thrift store turntables and soiled records. Eschewing their original attraction to the giants of Industrial Culture, Gum quickly developed an aesthetic privileging the caustic rupture of skipping records and smoldering surface noise, predating the current avant-turntablist aficionados like Philip Jeck, Janek Schaefer, and Otomo Yoshihide.
Within a handful of recordings made during the brief span between 1986 and 1990, Gum piled thick layers of electrically charged static channeled from their locked grooves. These spiraling repititions and arrhythmic palpitations were suspended in the instant moment of ecstatic release as an infinite crash of overstimulation. Thanks to RRR and Korm Plastics who had published Gum tracks on a couple of 7″ compilations, Gum received a considerable amount of notoriety during the last gasps of pre-digital cassette culture. Since then, the two parted ways with Curtis turning his passions to photography and Samartzis infecting his students at RMIT with his cravings for immersive and tactile experiences through sound. Yet, Gum’s Frankensteinian grooves had remained a secret history within the prolific oeuvre of Australian sound art. With the publication of Gum’s Vinyl Anthology, 23five Incorporated uncovers the bulk of Gum’s work, including all of the material from their self-published albums Vinyl and 20 Years in Blue Movies and Yet to Fake an Orgasm as well as those aforementioned compilation tracks and plenty of unreleased material.