I have to admit that I have a love-hate relation with this album. I love the way this album was made. It represents a somewhat bygone musical age, a time with cassettes and without e-mail, when things worked perhaps slower, but perhaps also more intensely.
The full story of how the IMCA project (International Musique Concrete Ensemble) came together is told in detail in the CD booklet. In short, in 1990 Frans de Waard started a mail collaboration with John Hudak and Jos Smolders for a cassette on Midas Music, and later a second one with Guido Huebner (of Das Synthetisches Mischgewebe), Ios Smolders and Isabelle Chemin, which was the LP released by Korm Plastics. The basic soundmaterial (created by De Waard) was mailed to the first recipient who would rework the material and mail it to the next recipient etcetera.
Thus a network chain was born. The results were released on the original IMCA album, which came on glorious white vinyl and contained an explanatory booklet. The vinyl edition consisted of 98 copies; 77 of these were for the public, 21 for the makers, resulting in the fact that many people knew about it, but only a few actually heard the music. I remember I was supposed to help gluing the covers, but I can’t remember if I did in the end. I was given a free copy, so perhaps I did. I love the way this re-release is presented; an old tattered cover of the LP was used for this CD, which gives it a nice archival touch.
The booklet is well-designed (by Meeuw), contains some of the original notes and explains the recording process in detail.
But now to the music: IMCA is not easy listening, it is in fact a very demanding, electro-acoustic record with extreme dynamics. These dynamics were a bit lost on the original pressing on vinyl, but due to Jos Smolder’s remastering these are back in place, which means you’ll get to hear the IMCA ensemble as it was meant to be heard.
The opening track of the CD still gives me a headache: high pitched feedback shrieks close to the level of irritation. It’s hard to listen to this without turning the volume down. Luckily the electro-acoustic/musique concret of IMCA becomes more listenable after the challenging intro. The often dry sounds (dry as in untreated”) are combined with long silences, with, at times, sudden blasts of concrete noise. Most of the used sounds seem to have their origin in noise (musique concret) rather than a musical source. Despite the many hands at the wheel of this album, the results are strangely coherent, which is a complement to those involved.
In total 10 tracks are indexed, even though it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other one begins. IMCA is probably best enjoyed in one long listening session in the right frame of mind. The final 2 tracks, which make up for the final 30 minutes of this CD, feature side A and B from the Midas cassette version with contributions from John Hudak. Here the sound is more traditional industrial if you like, with rhythms and a bit of a Nurse With Wound touch.
Not bad at all. This is an important archive release of an album made by adventurous musicians who actually live up to their name. Like back in 1991, I’m not sure if it’s musically a classic, but I am very happy to have this in my collection. vital weekly 592