Monday, 28 November 2016

Komovari64 - "Komonovari" (self-released cassette / Privaat Band Drie) 1982

Remember Komovari64?.....from Holland?.....No?....not surprising because literally only a handful of these cassettes were ever sold or given away.(see the full story below)
This is the kind of stuff that defines the beauty of the DIY heyday of Cassette Culture.Full of charm,devoid of commercial ambition,naive, amateurish,honest, everything that describes the the refreshing dilettantism of that golden epoch.
Everyone has 'something' to get out of themselves, just like there are plenty of people/artists who get far too much out of themselves.Generally an artist should only liberate one or two pieces, then retire; after that they only start to repeat themselves, and even worse, try to think! Persons such as Paul Werkman (Komovari64), used this liberating revolution in art to slap down his version of minimal electronica from some kind of unconscious need to express himself; but with no clue how to do it. A musical version of feeling the 'Force'.
This naturally leads to the creation of something pretty unique,free of rules except natural law.There's something incredibly personal about music like this.A privileged invitation in to someone's private world. 
If it was possible I would fill this Blog out exclusively with moments like this.(If you have anything impossibly obscure from your distant past, please send them to me and get it featured here....unless its some Heavy Metal shit or worse of course!)

For further insights into the story of Komovari64, i'll leave you in the hands of Paul Werkman himself to explain further:

"When I was 19 I was very much inspired by electronic music, which I read about in music papers, such as Muziekkrant Oor, things like Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark and Human League. I wasn't a very social person, so I never knew many people who are also interested in doing that kind of music, and I didn't like punk music very much. It seemed to me that this electronic music was something one could do on it's own. I got a pretty large inheritance from my grandfather who died, and it seemed to me great if I could have some equipment and see how it would be like an electronic musician. So I bought all of this stuff new, the Moog, Korg, a microphone, a small mixer, some sort of echo device and a reel-to-reel machine. The vari64 rhythm machine was second hand I think. I no longer know why I didn't buy something new for rhythm machine. I also had a guitar and a crackle box. I even paid something extra to have it all delivered by car to my home. I was living with my parents still, as I was at the university (studying political sciences) and that was close by. I remember unpacking all this stuff and putting it on a table, thinking it looked like a proper studio. I wish I had a picture of it, but sadly I don't. The first time I switched it all on, I was thrilled, but it was very hard to get a sound out of it. Maybe naively I thought machines like this would play by themselves? I think I listened to the rhythm machine for a long time, just by itself, going through the echo, which I thought sounded great. After a while I started to get sounds out of the other machines, but I soon realized I had no idea about making songs, or melodies, so mainly my 'songs' were rhythm and sounds, also because I played everything live, using 2 hands, which I though this was supposed to be. They did it like that on TV.
Of course I knew about the whole world of independent record labels, and even cassette labels, so I thought it would be good to do a 'label' myself. I ordered from Plurex the manual for independent labels, but the release of vinyl was a bit scary when I read all of this, so I took the two best songs I had, 'Pana Pagan' and 'Stop' and released a very short cassette, which was copied on sixty minute tapes, but cut them by hand. I did a really bad cover, not by accident, but I had no idea. I called the project Komovari64, after the three instruments I liked best; it sounds a bit like Minny Pops of course (also named after a drum machine), which I quite liked. I copied some, some of which I gave away to some fellow students. Some liked it, but most didn't understand this at all. I also put some in the local record store, 'Melody'. The cover is orange, as is the colour of the Dutch royal family, and I hoped that everyone thought that was really shocking, but nobody ever said something about it. I wrote them all by hand, since this seemed very arty at the time to do.
I struggled on and everytime I looked at that Plurex booklet, the whole idea of a real record seemed appealling and I did the 7". I recorded 5 songs, which were very smooth and I mailed my tape to a pressing plant. It was the wrong (slow) speed, but they made a test pressing anyway, correcting the speed for free, which I thought was very nice. I got about 10 copies of the testpressing or so, but then I got scared of actually a lot of people hearing this music, so I made this orange cover on xerox machine and put these 10 in the same record store for sale. I went in every week to see if they were sold, and after six months 4 were, and I found it embarrasing to ask all the time, so I didn't anymore. When the store disappeared I didn't go back to ask for the unsold copies.
By then I no longer lived at home, but in a squat, but also was diagnozed with schizoprenia. I heard voices and therefore I couldn't listen to my voice on tape. Slowly I had to sell the equipment, as I was not working and due to my state I also forgot to collect welfare money. First I sold the guitar as I had used this on only one song. I had a bunch of songs, no vocals, but in the same style, which all seemed to me the same at one point. I made a second cassette, but beyond making the master and the cover nothing happened; I think I made some copies (10 I think, mostly for friends), but not a lot, maybe with different covers, I am not sure now. This cassette is called 'Komonovari', since much of the music was in mono. I found too late to change the music, since I recorded only live and couldn't re-do the music.
In the end I even had to sell the rhythm machine, so I taped 5 minutes of different rhythms on a cassette with the microphone and did 3 small, 1 minute pieces, with a cut up of that 5 minute rhythm tape, and a manic 'text piece'. I remember I threw the microphone out of the window. I believe I sent these three pieces to a compilation label project in France, but I don't know if it was ever released. It is very likely but I didn't put a return address on it.
After that I lived on the streets for a while, dabbled in drugs, which wasn't a very good combination, but someone 'found' me, and helped me to work on all of this. I never told him I did music, as it was all behind me. A few years ago my mother died and I must have given her a box of cassettes and tapes with all that music on it, but I haven't heard any of it as i no longer have anything to play it with. It's not a lot of stuff in terms of 'finished' compositions (I always called them 'little pieces') or even 'unfinished' ones. These days I work for the city government (department of parking meters!), play tennis and sometimes listen to Coldplay and Muse."


Vaykorus said...


Henk Madrotter said...

I will re-record a cassette that I have from Rotterdam band Nieuw Hip Stielen, it's a live registration of their concert in The Doelen, at one of the legendary Pandora Festivals, Rotterdam around '85, I was standing in the front at that concert.... And there's some studio recordings on it too...

Weirdest thing, I bought that cassette in a record shop back then and it seems I'm the only one who has it, Maarten, who was their front man (and ex guitar player of Rotterdam punk band The Rondos) said he never seen it, also the other band members have no idea where it came from, so it's really obscure... VERY cool music....

I assume you know about those Pandora Festivals right? I saw Psychic TV there, The Gun Club, The Anti-Group, Nick Cave, Die Haut, Legendary Pink Dots, Kiem, Jah Wobble, Einsturzende Neubauten, Abwaerts and other bads....

Soon as I'm done recording it I'll send it to you, I have a feeling you'll love it :)

Jonny Zchivago said...

Many thanks Henk, sounds interesting.

Henk Madrotter said...

here's a bit of nieuw hip stielen

komovari64 said...

thank for this posting. hope anyone like

paul werkman

Jonny Zchivago said...

Hello again Henk,
yes really like nieuw hip stielen
Sound a bit like the groups i've been in of late.

Henk Madrotter said...

Here you go, I really think you're going to love this :)


emuziek said...

Great!!! I will add this to my playlist on '' xwaveradio (dot) org '' - Sundays with emuziek contact me for 'neträdioplay' @ emuziek .

Ian said...

Much thanks for the post. Didn't know this one. The Dutch gave a gift for the DIY ethos--De Fabriek and The Ex being leading examples--they just do what they do and let it be that. Not much concern for perceptions, theirs or the listener's. Looking forward to hearing this. Hartelijk dank.