As a child, future driving force of the Get On musical collective Eugene Guribye watched a cartoon in which Stone age cavemen created proto-music by repeating guttural nonsensical phrases and banging on stones and bones. Right after the release of ”Electricity” in 2003, Get On started working on several projects, including works for film and theatre, as well as recording new material for forthcoming albums. One of these was a dogmatic concept album in which all sound sources were to derive from the human voice.
Influenced, perhaps, by Jean Michel Jarre’s seminal album “Zoolook”, the musique concrete of Pierre Schaeffer and the text-sound compositions of the Swedish Fylkingen group, Eugene meticulously compiled an extensive library of words and phonemes across the following years, working closely with actors rather than singers. Besides the stone-age cartoon, another major influence was Dadaist sound poetry as developed by the likes of Hugo Ball and Kurt Schwitters in the early 1900’s. In fact, Eugene had experimented with similar poetical approaches (again influenced by the aforementioned Stone Age cartoon) during constant travelling in the 1990’s, naively unaware that he had “reinvented” sound poetry almost a century too late. Similarly, in 2004, Bjørk released an acapella album which led to the decision to temporarily abandon the voice-project.
The three tracks presented on this album represent fundamentally different approaches, like a schizophrenic patient hearing distinct voices and personae in his head. The first track, “Temsem”, is surprisingly funky. Sequenced phonemes and voices processed through a BOSS VT-1 Voice Transformer provide a rhythmical backdrop for liberal vocoder improvisations and bluesy grunts reminiscent of Johnny Winter’s outbursts from the audience during the seminal recording of Muddy Water’s “Mannish Boy”. But nowhere is the influence of “Zoolook” more evident than here. The “poetic” ending is in fact an interpolation of a separate text-sound composition. Accessing the library of single words edited from samples from newscasts, spoken word records and radio transmissions, a long “text” was compiled by sequencing the samples. Lifted from a longer work which took years to finish, only a couple of sentences have survived: “We do this thing we do to get lyrical/We do this thing we do to get mad”.
The second track, “Metsem”, on the other hand, was composed in a single night. A Norwegian actor with a dark booming voice improvised a long take consisting of guttural noises which were subsequently edited and rearranged. A long dark drone-like introduction displays the finer nuances of the actor’s voice, over which hovers transposed and ring modulated variations towards a cacophonous crescendo. Then, guttural phrases, perhaps reminiscent of the Stone Age cartoon, create a simple, repetitive rhythmical figure with plenty of humour – only to be replaced by another crescendo.
The third track, “Emmets”, is a short technological improvisation reminiscent of a conversation between mutilated voices. A short vocal sample was processed through an AKAI s-900 sampler into the unique sampler interface on an Akai AX60 analogue synthesizer, allowing real time manipulations of the synthesizer’s arpeggio tempo-control and filters. The ending, once more, is an interpolation of a separate composition. An African vocal game performed by children in an elementary school class was recorded in situ on a portable dictation machine. As a modernization of the vocal game, the recording, as in Herbert Eimert’s Epitaph for the first victim of the Atom Bomb Aikichi Kuboyama, was subsequently electronically manipulated beyond recognition. The voices now resemble drops of water slowly dripping inside a Stone Age cave inhabited by proto musicians.