Shaun Robert, et al.
Review by Kent Manthie
Mutant Beatniks is one of the latest incarnations of a long continuum of experimentalist Shaun Robert, who began creating music around 1979, as sort of a hobby that somehow turned into something bigger than her expected. By 1983 Factor X was born as a conceptual music project that included noise-drone-avant-garde-experimental stuff. It began, way back when, on the first one, Robert used a cassette tape whose shell had been taken apart and lacquered, with globs of black paint which resulted in a mess of grinding, metallic, white noise that would be the result of putting the “altered” tape into a tape deck (he’d be lucky if the tape deck wasn’t ruined first) that was the genesis of Factor X. This resulted in a series of like-minded cassette experimentations. The second Factor X experiment was entitled “E.T.A.” (Experimental Tape Art), originally recorded in what turned out to be “lopsided stereo”, which he subsequently redid by recording onto a mono format.
Since then, a lot of different like-minded tapes were released on various indie labels, like Drahtfunk Products, Jeremy Bander Tapes, SPH and Bandaged Hand Produce.
A collaborative CD was released with TAC and Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock by Harsh Dept. back in the mid-80s.
In the mid-1990s it had been quiet for quite a while when Shaun decided to get things going again and came back with new ideas and projects, including Mutant Beatniks, et al.
Anyway, Robert felt, in recent times that it would be a great idea to revisit some of the older stuff he had done back in the 80s and re-introduce it to the public. Thus, this CD, Factor X was born.
This is a sampling of some of Robert’s early inventive experiments with sound that he was into back in the day and included some stuff like using two different tape decks, each playing different things and a third deck which was used to record the cacophonous experiment. Pretty crude stuff – even for back then, but still, quite imaginative. Just the iconoclastic thinking and work that was put into these recordings make them quite enjoyable – there are not only strange clanking, metal machine noises but also samplings of what sound like vocal radio transmissions, South Asian singing over percussive things but also lots of other practically indescribable stuff – except to say “c’est tres avant-garde” which is, nowadays, somewhat trite and sometimes overused, but in this case, is right on the money. It is definitely iconoclastic, unique and one person’s vision that foreshadowed a lot of the current underground noise-drone style outfits out there, especially those on various netlabels and on DIY, make-’em-yourself CDs, etc.
I really dig it all, it’s really hard to single out any particular track to say I like it more than another or to highlight one or two at the expense of the others – instead, I’d say that it’s best to listen to the whole CD in one session of listening to “get” what’s going on. The last track is a very interesting one, a little more “modern”-seeming than the rest, featuring a lot of samples of female voices speaking (announcements? warnings? advertisements?) juxtaposed over industrial sturm und drang; “sludge”.
Also, right now, one can get a glimpse of another Shaun Robert project – the infamous Mutant Beatniks, who you can find all over Facebook, at least if you know where to look.
For more information, including how to get this stuff and other info, one is directed to the Monochrome Vision website: www.monochromevision.rv It is, especially for the times, even a little more “industrial” than Throbbing Gristle and maybe even more so than Whitehouse… the latter for sure, but then again, Whitehouse was pretty noisy and nihilistic. But anyway, check out Mutant Beatniks on Facebook to find out more about them and the phenomenon that surrounds them and, while you’re at it, look up Shaun Robert, since he’s ever-changing and has a lot of stuff going on, which will be covered, as time goes on. I, myself, actually wish that I was more of a wild, experimental, indie freak instead of the metal-head (in 7th grade) and then “acid” or psychedelic rocker after 1985, I would’ve been able to “be there…now” back then. Know what I mean? But as things go, I’m now into many varieties of music (except for country and bubble gum top 40 garbage, like Britney Spears and all those other worthless here today-gone tomorrow acts whose names I don’t even know, except for that pussy Justin Bieber-I keep telling myself “don’t worry, he’ll be nothing but a forgotten bum in a few years…) – But for now, keep the indie-underground scene rolling right along and keep those dirty corporate hands off them!!! -KM