Serious question: are cassette tapes (or recordings of any kind) the petroglyphs of our time? We’re not really chiseling away at cave walls anymore, but just because we’re not literally in a cave with a couple of blunt instruments doesn’t mean we’re not trying to convey some sort of representational art that will last beyond our own days. Can’t our musings on our specific surroundings and our artistic responses to them connect beyond regions and cultures and burrow into the wider cultural conversation? I don’t mean to speak for the whole team here (although I’m gonna anyway), but isn’t that what Tiny Mix Tapes itself exists to perpetuate?
I ask this, because Bulgaria’s Amek Collective has released this mysterious (well, “mysterious” without research beyond the j-card or Bandcamp page) double cassette by Ergomope called Етиологии (pronunciation guide please!), which is in Cyrillic so I can’t read it but means “etiology” according to Google Translate. As such, we’re looking for origins, for roots, for causation. And I’m not sure that Етиологии doesn’t just take the entire origin of the human race and go through it over this dense and lengthy release. The origin of modern humanity anyway. Golly, this thing is massive. And intense.
Piano, field recordings, and cracked electronics populate this noise/drone/ambient epic poem, the tragedy of its sources filtered through a distinctly Eastern European lens in the shadow of industrialization and modernity and war and capitalism and cultural shift. The sheer volume of these pieces suggests that Ergomope is trying impart historical knowledge, to record vast amounts of data about an entire people in order to bring attention to hardship and suffering, but also perseverance and hope. Just like ancient humans, Ergomope picks up their tools and begins meticulously to carve in the audio space the important cultural identifiers, the ones that tell the overarching story, but from the perspective of an insider.
This abstract encyclopedia is out now and describing things in ways you’d never expect.