issue 21 :: March 2012

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Archive: Gerard Klauder

Chicago tapes (private releases)

My friend Gerard Klauder probably best made a name for himself as part of Florida’s noise scene, playing with the Laundry Room Squelchers, To Live and Shave in LA II, Anti-Pope, Dixie Prix and Memories of Underdevelopment. He killed himself in 2006; I do not know the details of what happened. A nice archive of his Florida-era projects resides at, but I wish to document the music he made before in Chicago.
I don’t think I met Gerard when I lived in Chicago, only after I had moved to Austin. I do not remember if Gerard first contacted me about getting his tapes into Monk Mink Pink Punk or N D, or if I contacted him to get my tapes onto his show on WHPK, but we started sending each other our music, each of us exploring sound as best we could within our limited budgets. I can only assume that Gerard, a fellow University of Chicago student more concerned with experimental music than his studies, was also trying to figure out a personal, unique style that was true to himself. I thought that he was succeeding better than I. When I got what I thought was my big break, a spot on the first Lowercase compilation, I entitled my submission “For Gerard Klauder” because I thought my piece inadvertenly sounded similar to his work, which, of course, influenced me greatly.
Gerard wrote one of the most interesting pages for MMPP 6. Aside from that, we only worked together on one project, but there wasn’t much actual collaboration on that. It always seemed that there was a long future of possible projects between us that could be put off to some other time. We had one minor adventure together, a story I won’t tell here, but it is one of those stories that I think can define a person. Such as this: “Gerard Klauder of the Dixie Prix sets the tone of the evening by playing Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes in its entirety through the house P.A. This raises the tension level inside the club tenfold. Gerard stands alone on the stage under the spotlight and drinks a 12 pack of beer with the slightest smirk across his face.”
Nine tapes he sent me: I do not know if these were releases, or unique documentation sent to me alone. Only two of the tapes seemed to have a traditional cover with addresses and any concrete information. I have kept noise reduction and editing to a minimum so you will hear these just as if I played them for you in my studio. Throughout the tapes, there are long passages of tape hiss—sometimes a tape would begin with two minutes of hiss—and I may have trimmed these, but unsure if the static hides some bit of musical or other information. The uncompressed files are available upon request.

Sing Song February (mix 1) .mp3 (49’05”)

This one side is a beautiful, wonderful masterpiece of quiet intersections of piano, accordion, acoustic guitar, seemingly random noises. Unexpected bursts from a trumpet or a crash of a drum kit will explode for no reason. Gerard has perfected hanging sounds in space, in that way that recalls my favorite works of Cage and Feldman. But Gerard’s noise music is cemented by static and background sonic detritus. I cannot praise this tape enough. I’ve always wanted more people to hear this beyond rare guests to my studio.

Side B of tape is the piece “Don’t Crush Those Tunes, Hand Me The Blender” by Blender Blender 2X4 (K.D. Schmitz), whose presence on this cassette remains a mystery, other than it is obviously a piece I would enjoy. Previously, I may have sent Gerard a mix tape of avant-garde vocal works by Jani Christou, Alison Knowles, John Cage, Kenneth Gaburo and the like. Gerard also sent me a tape of Willem de Ridder’s first two Radio One programs with this tape.

piano pieces 1, 2, 3, 4... 12/5/97 .mp3 (26’43”)
This resides among my favorite music. Variations on these strange, processed piano recordings appear in a few other of Gerard’s tapes, but here, they are the primary focus. The processing appears to consist of a method of hitting the pause button during recording, producing wavering piano tones. I don’t know if Gerard is playing the piano/keyboard (it sometimes sounds like an electric organ) or is sampling from a recording. Long stretches of silence break up each piece.
cinghiale trunk manuscripts for s. beckett 12/5/97 .mp3 (17’22”)
The same tape player manipulation as above is used on this piece, but the source of the recordings is now a recording of a wind ensemble, I can sometimes discern an alto saxophone and a bass clarinet, although not enough to tell what record is being used. [I am told this is from a duo of Mars Williams and Ken Vandermark called Cinghiale, whose only CD contains a track called “Trunk Manuscripts [For Samuel Beckett].”] Gerard’s tape technique creates some lovely lines from the disjointed cuts of the wind instruments.

BERN .mp3 (26’35”)

The tape cover was damaged in flood, but is one of four covers of painted blue and pink, that I called “Sky Tapes.” These tapes all had stenciled-painted large letters on them, and no other information. I have used these letters as the piece titles, although I do not know if were intended as such. I remember all four arriving at the same time.

BERN is just one side of sound, but the Left and Right tracks are two separate things, it’s not a stereo recording, but two mono recordings. The Left side is much more active than the Right, which is mostly tape hiss. The bulk of the sounds here seem to be bursts of radio static, sometimes voices, sometimes unidentifiable electronic noises jumping in and out of hearing with no rhyme or reason. This is for harsh noise fans who like long unexpected spells of silence.

for kai revised 11/28/97 .mp3 (25’34”)

To my ears, then and now, I hear Bernhard Günter’s landmark work Un Peu de Neige Salie, but obviously this is Gerard’s take on that ultra-silent intensity that today would be called reductionist. And in Gerard’s hand, it does sound like he is exactly reducing an already sparse work, perhaps the “for kai” in the title. We hear static, we hear tiny clicks, occasionally a short blast of radio or the processed piano recording that is on so many of these tapes. There is one point I have to make, to anyone listening to any of these tapes, but especially this one due to its quiet nature: you can hear a tiny patch of hiss jump in and out of the background of tape hiss. It sounds like noise reduction software improperly gating the signal. This tiny hiss that comes in, sometimes in a regular pattern, is on the tape, either deliberately composed by Gerard, or an artifact from his tape mixing. If you dismiss these tiny changes as an artifact of the digital transfer, you will miss another layer of sound made by Gerard. I know now the kai in the title is Kai Medville, who performed with Gerard in “a couple of bands and the names changed pretty fluidly.”
b/w b/w 11/28/97 .mp3 (34’33”)
“b/w b/w” continues the processed piano studies, somewhat denser and faster than “piano pieces 1, 2, 3, 4...” and no less vital than those. Short cut-ins of other sounds, from records/radio?, interrupt the piano. I find some of the decaying piano notes quite beautiful.

JOH .mp3 (26’38”)
A cut-up collage of a band starting to warm up, static, radio noises, and silence. A Miami/Ft. Lauderdale radio station ID indicates this tape was either made in Florida, or Gerard recorded the ID during a trip home; a WHPK station ID further complicates dating.
N .mp3 (26’12”)
The second side continues from the first, except we hear more of the band playing, electric guitar, drum kit, feedback and crowd noise.

ART .mp3 (51’25”)
Another one-sided tape, the longest one. Filled with static, more processed piano, tiny clicks, electric buzzes, and much more undulating static. This is music stripped down to ghostly silences, dusty motes on a forgotten wooden floor.

COLE .mp3 (49’11”)
Much like the tape ART, COLE is more silence, static, buzzes, strange tones, distant piano sounds chopped into an ever-surprising mix.

tape improvisations 1, 2, 3, 4 .mp3 (42’32”)

After four fake sky tapes, now a photo of the real sky. This may not be a Chicago tape, but the first and last of tapes from Florida before Gerard switched to sending me CDRs. Like the similarly named “piano improvisations,” these pieces feature Gerard’s pause-button recording technique, but we can hear he is using another tape player, one that allows much more dynamic possibilities. There are some great deep rumbles here caused by the tape being slowed down for a moment that are absent from earlier tapes. Piano is still a primary component, but we also hear tiny tinkling percussion, static and lo-fi tones. At 26 minutes into the tape, the music abruptly changes to a boisterous live recording of a band, drums, guitar, feedback, which could be the Laundry Room Squelchers. The band portion doesn’t seem to be altered in the same way as the “tape improvisations.” Perhaps Gerard recorded the first part of the tape over a LRS show tape. This may make sense as that is what the flip side is. The band gives a shout out to Will Smith at the end, if that helps to identify the actual group.

laundry room squelchers 12-25-98 .mp3 (19’29”)

Gerard’s handwriting is purposely messy on this tape, so I didn’t decipher this title until very recently. “laundry room squelchers” would be Rat Bastard’s noise ensemble that I saw in Houston at Sound Exchange a couple of years after I received this tape. Unlike the untouched portion at the end of the other side, here the LRS gets the pause button effect, mixed in with more piano sounds and crowd noises. It’s very disjointed and odd.

absolute improv band may .mp3 (32’16”)

Note: title on cover is “absolute improve band.” An insane group playing a screeching, tumultuous wall of noise. It’s hard to tell how many or even what kind of instruments are being used, everything is distorted and boiling. I wish I knew who else was in this band, assuming it is not all Gerard. He was obviously listening to the same Dead C LPs in the WHPK library that I did.
sing song may .mp3 (46’12”)
If the inspiration of the other side was the Dead C, the inspiration for this side is surely Jandek. A compilation of rambling songs of guitar and mumbled vocals, layered with feedback, ringing telephones, and unidentifiable noises, it never sounds like Gerard is deliberately trying to sound like Jandek, either in his singing or his guitar playing, but I can’t help but think of Gerard holding those same Jandek LPs at WHPK that I held and wondered about. Twenty-five minutes into this, a second, even sleepier, mumblier voice enters, someone else or Gerard overdubbing himself? The recording fidelity also changes, recorded in a different room, the guitar playing becoming more frantic and urgent. Note: the tape named “Sing song may” contains the piece “sing song february” but not this piece “sing song may.”

side a .mp3 (32’18”)
side b .mp3 (32’25”)
Written in Monk Mink Pink Punk 3 (Fall, 1995):
Gerard Klauder is a musician and taper from Chicago. His tape ~ is a collection of lo-fi tape-loops (?) in the sonic territory of Merzbow or the Haters; noisy, harsh and the source materials are completely unrecognizable. I think my favorite, although being the most different from the above description, is the third piece, cryptically titled as “old direct (from radio)” in which the throbs of a noisy bass guitar (?) are punctuated with snippets of high-pitched noise pulses. The next piece, an unrelenting, grating drone is also notable. Two tracks here were taped and processed from a performance of fellow Chicago improvisors John Corbett, Terri Kapsalis and Hal Rammel. [this has since been verified by John Corbett. -2012 Ed.] Klauder also DJs a tape show on WHPK focusing on hometapers and small labels. Write to him for more details on his activities with his show and music.
For years, since listening to the first tape in this archive, I have thought about releasing Gerard’s music in some form. I had expectations that someday, some label would give me control over a small imprint to release whatever I thought needed releasing. In my delusional daydream, I even designed covers for what would be the first two releases, lost works by Jani Chistou that I would somehow collect, and a selection of Gerard’s works, including the entirety of “Sing Song February (mix 1).” That obviously never happened and once he got to Florida, his music seemed to find itself on many releases, small-press to be sure, and it seemed there was no urgency for my release. I don’t think I ever told him of these plans. I certainly never showed him my cover design. I wish I had. We could have had at least one more laugh together.
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