Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Brian Ruryk has been making tapes for over 30 years. He's been working away, deconstructing solo guitar and continues to be a shining light in the Canadian underground scene.
I recently caught up with Ruryk at a show he was playing in Toronto. His live performances are intense displays of destruction often involving overturning crates of rubber balls, throwing debris, broken guitars, general mayhem. These sets are volatile, bordering on violent, Dada and not to be missed. I asked him about new releases and he reached down under some dead leaves and pulled out three cassettes. Each one was taped inside an envelope and the task of getting the cassette out meant partial destruction of the packaging. A very clever move and a finger in the face of collector scum.
Each of these tapes are 60-minutes, showcasing what Brian does best: disorienting guitar garbage cut-up scrambles. In the age of short attention spans, no piece of sound on these seems to last more than 30 seconds - most much less - expertly collaged with all-thumbs, layered with weird field recordings and found sound. These are handmade self-releases. I thought the label had no name, no catalogue numbers as the packaging never indicated any. However, recent internet trolling has led me to discover the label does have a name: Eyeofth Ephallus. Also, there are catalogue numbers. However - as most information on the internet - this is suspect as the site also lists a cassette from 2002 with a higher catalogue number than those released this year...
"Trout Mask Replica" - According to the packaging this tape of "Guitars etc" is dated November 2014 and is the newest release of the batch. Some brief vocal stutters captured and sew across acoustic strum offs. This tape has some nice quieter almost ambient moments interspersed amongst explosions. The splice of pilfered radio/TV recordings add to the aural confusion.
"Nothing But Trouble" - This tape came out at the end of October. The words "acoustic guitars in public" is scrawled on the cover and it's a pretty good description of the sounds on the tape. A document recorded live on the streets of Ontario then collaged together by the artist captures passing planes, traffic, conversations and guitars at varying fidelity. Weird tape warbles and sharp cuts create some great environments.
"Country Style Guitar and Blues" - The liner notes say this was recorded at Ruryk's Toronto jam space. The axe was clearly left in the blender. Acoustic/electric burn outs and feedback fast-action rip this tape along at break-neck speeds. Distorted and dangled out the window this tape is weird for sure...
Not only is the anti-collector packaging appealing in this day of mass consumption and commodity fetishism, I also commend Ruryk's working method. When so many artists turn to rare or expensive equipment, boutique pedals and fancy post-production to polish their final product, these tapes contain the raw deal. Not to say they were not edited with care but Ruryk works with material at hand, found in the street, broken and breaking down. If you like the sound of breaking down, get the real thing:
Also check photos of some older Ruryk releases:
Interview with Ruryk from 2010: