2021 Small repress **4xCD, over 4 hours of music. Co-Released by Hanson Records and Helicopter** Easily one of the most essential releases of this year, Hanson and Helicopter Records stunning 4 CD box set, reissuing Robert Turman’s visionary 1988 release, Chapter Eleven, reveals its creator as one of the most important and neglected artists of that decade, while foreshadowing the work an entire generation of experimental artists that would emerge over the coming years. Truly staggering in scope and creative ambition, it simply can’t be missed.
The last decade has been a fascinating period for Robert Turman. One of the pioneers of American experimental, noise, and industrial music, who first emerged during the early '80s in San Diego before disappearing from collective consciousness for nearly 20 years, we’ve witnessed a remarkable string of widely celebrated vinyl reissues of his seminal early cassette releases - Flux, Spirals of Everlasting, and Way Down - as well as more than a dozen new solo and collaborative works, since his resurfacing in Oberlin, Ohio during the mid-2000s. We’re thrilled to highlight yet another crucial piece in the puzzle, an expansive 4 CD box set, reissuing Turman’s Chapter Eleven, originally released in 1988 and among his last efforts before disappearing from view. A truly stunning piece of work, jointly issued by Hanson and Helicopter Records, Chapter Eleven dives deep into the remarkable fertile ground of the experimental cassette underground of its era, rising as a genre defiant wonder and an astounding creative accomplishment that firmly fixes its creator as one of the most important musical visionaries of its moment, while offering yet another proof of how far ahead of his time he was. Beautifully produced and carefully remastered from the original tapes, the sounds within far exceed any expectation, making it one of the most essential releases of this year.
Robert Turman first emerged during the nascent days of the American industrial scene as half of the legendary noise outfit NON, alongside Boyd Rice. While the collaboration was short lived - NON is widely acknowledged as Rice’s venture - the two collaborated on the project’s seminal 1977 single, Mode of Infection / Knife Ladder, before Turman departed to pursue his own vision as a solo artist. The first release under his own name, Flux, appeared in 1981 as a self-released cassette, quickly proved how far he had traveled and how expansive this vision was. Like so much of what was to follow, the album entirely upended the perceived boundaries of noise and industrial music, favoring experimental techniques that brought it far closer to minimalism, new age, and ambient music, or the output of projects like Gamelan Son of Lion.
The follow ups to Flux - Spirals of Everlasting Change and Way Down - both issued on cassette in 1987, once again expanded Turman’s pallet, minimal synth with the temperaments of industrial, darkwave, and noise music, blending synthesizer arrangements and drum machines alongside guitar solos, piano chords, tape loops, and primitive sampling, and laying the final pieces in the puzzle for what would be his last and arguably greatest work, the expansive 4 cassette box Chapter Eleven.
Chapter Eleven is a staggering piece of work, sprawling in length and truly remarkable for in what it is and does. While a very different beast, like Nuno Canavarro’s now legendary Plux Quba - issued in equal obscurity the same year - it foreshadows the work of an entire generation of experimental electronic artists - Gas, Autechre, Plaid, Rafael Toral, Biosphere, etc - that would emerge over the 1990s.
While remarkable cohesive over the entirety of its length - resembling an expansive and evolving sonorous journey through the darkened depths of visionary creative mind - Chapter Eleven collects solo recordings made by Turman between 1976 and 1987, and covers a vast range of territory and expression as it goes, from elegant minimal and warped melodic works that nod back to Flux, compositions of sprawling texture and ambience, pieces that skirt into electronic industrial and noise, and strikingly forward thinking, almost danceable minimal synth, culminating as a strange and unprecedented form of meditation music, pitch perfect for the moment it emerged. Built from the sounds of a vast range of sources - electric organ, guitar, piano, bass, Arp 2600, drum machine, kalimba, xylophone, zither, percussion, and balalaika - all played by Turman and recorded and processed by numerous tape machines and a Yamaha VSS-100 sampler, there’s really nothing like it out there.
The most ambitious and striking realization of Turman’s singular approach to tape music, synthesis, looping, drone, ambience, noise, and rhyme, it would be impossible to recommend Chapter Eleven enough. Much like Jim O’Rourke’s reissue of Nuno Canavarro’s Plux Quba on Moikai back in the late '90s, we can’t help but think that this reissue from Hanson and Helicopter Records will reveal Robert Turman as one of the most important and neglected artists of the era. Truly stunning and essential on every count, produced with love and care across 4 thrilling CDs issued in a beautiful box, with all the material carefully remastered from the original tapes, as we said at the outset, it’s easily one of the most essential releases of this year.