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4tRECk | 4tRECk #4 (4tRECk)
As the name itself suggests, the work of 4tRECk is a series of musical journeys documented on one of the simplest forms of home recording equipment; the beloved 4-track tape machine. In the eyes of 4rRECk (or indeed his alter ego Sam Callow, composer, arranger and 'label boss'), the utilisation of basic equipment need not be seen as a limitation to one's musical progress. Quite the opposite in fact: Sam relishes the challenge of finding new ways of making the most primitive technology produce interesting results. This fourth CD-r release sometimes finds our intrepid hero in the arena of world music, but mercifully without any pretensions of authenticity. Elements of various musical cultures are absorbed and reworked through the 4tRECk four track, with a surprisingly hi-fi sound. The bulk of the album is a semi-acoustic affair, with various picked guitar styles pleasingly prominent. The opening Folk Metal Eight offers whimsical English folk rock guitar accompanied by a series of recorders and bowed string instruments, very much in the vein of the quirkier music of the celebrated film score of 'The Wicker Man'. This folky style is reworked in a jaunty instrumental piece with a blues/Cajun feel (Acoustique) and again in the raga frenzy of Eastern Promise, with additional psychedelic effects of treated cymbal washes and fizzing electronics. It seems that 4tRECk has great affinity with the grand tradition of the eccentric outsider artist, as the accordion led Recordian (Pt 2) has its roots in the mantras of Ivor Cutler. Elsewhere, though, things just get plain weird. The very one-man band nature of this project means that 4tRECk is keeping time with himself whilst 'playing' a series of instruments via the four track. Anybody familiar with The Legendary Stardust Cowboy's Paralysed will understand how frightening this notion can be. Eccentric time signatures and instrumentation fight for centre stage all over tracks such as Harmonique and Kamchatka. The brutal guitar/drums battle of Imp Heavy attempts to demonstrate what The White Stripes might sound like if their primary influence was the Wyatt-less Soft Machine, instead of grungy swamp blues. These progressive recordings are not for the faint hearted, especially as 4tRECK elects to conclude #4 with a disgusting cut up 35 second rearrangement of Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, with discordant riffs reassembled at random. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise from a man who has covered the theme from 80s helicopter drama 'Airwolf' on 4tRECk #3. The overall mood of 4tRECk #4 is split between the off kilter acoustic pieces and deranged experimentation, but in both instances 4tRECk's maverick DIY spirit remains untamed. (To obtain 4tRECk releases, contact the man himself at s.callow@virgin.net)

Simon Berkovitch
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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