Chapters from the Book of Shadows, Story of a Tape

The tape is solo by Rinus van Alebeek, and you can only get a copy by sending mister Van Alebeek a tape in return. The very foundation of the world of cassettes. You will also receive a small plastic bag with rubbish, which you can throw away and save Van Alebeek in doing so. Maybe the nature of recycling is what this is about. Snippets of field recordings are used, along with a collage of disco records, dictaphone stuff and such like. The sort of sounds we use or throw away, but Van Alebeek decided to keep them, stick them together in a rather random order and call it music. The music is copied on a recycled cassette – Irena Seda in my case – and looks strikingly familiar to the ones released by RRR as part of the ‘Recycled’ series. Not entirely my cup of tea, this whole ethos of ‘I can do it, you can do it’ which doesn’t necessarily give cassettes a fine name for great music. (FdW)


It was curious to read how Frans de Waard, the reviewer, pondered about the nature of my tape. I realised I had send him too little information. He writes as if he walks around in a room blindfolded, picks up things and wonders what it is. The outcome is an honest report of his listening experience. But I remained in my seat long after, with the image of a blindfolded man taking care not to bump against or fall over obstacles.


In the early seventees my father gave me a cassette player he had found on one of his daily walks. It was a Philips portable mono machine, my first possibility to listen to my own choice of music. Up to then the portable radio had been my only gateway to the scarcely transmitted music from the beatlesandstones age. As an experiment I bought a compilation cassette of Jimi Hendrix. It was way too expensive. My collection of cassettes was a result of visits to friends. I cannot recall when that collection of tapes disappeared. At the end of the eighties I started to visit Italy over longer periods and eventually ended up living there. Here I encountered the cassette again Friends made mix-tapes, choose a picture for the cover or designed one themselves and gave them as a little present. I liked that and I liked to make those tapes as diverse as possible, so that every new track would come as a surprise.

Long story short

The tapes and cassette players on my table have joined me at some point in my life during the last ten years. I still make mix tapes, but of a somehow dfferent nature. One is with recorded sounds, the other is re-arranged with the use of a four track. Every now and then I perform.

Tapes from the Crypt

In the month May of the year 2012 I performed at Ateliers Claus in Brussels. This happened upon invitation by Jean Jacques Duerinckx. The theme was ‘scary but funny’ and I had to play in a duo with Flavien Gillié. When I received the invitation I thought about what sounds to use. I asked Adrian Shephard with whom I present Radio On if he had some scary sounds. Adrian is a great connaisseur of the occult. He gave me a tape with a recording of ‘chapters from the book of shadows.’ and made me promise not to loose it and to give it back. That was scary. The tape itself was not as scary as I wanted; soap bubble voices spoke against a background of soap bubbled music: “O thou hor-ned one.” I decided not to use it and returned the tape.

A recycled cassette

A few years ago I saw a box with Turkish music cassettes outside of a thrift store. I went inside. The shopkeeper showed me piles of boxes that reached up to the ceiling. They would cost 5€ per box if I bought all of them. I bought one for 8€. At home I counted two hundred commercial music cassettes, all of them in a plastic wrapper. When I considered to copy the scary cassette I chose one of them rather then a new one. New ones cost money. The one I had picked, had the portrait of a lady on it. I wrote the title over her face in my typical left-handed (I am right-handed) calligraphy: ‘Chapters from the Book of Shadows.’

A strikingly familiar look

With RRRecords recycle series,” Frans writes. What strikes me when I watch the cover of one of their cassettes is the manifesto character of it. Recycling might have been a worthy revolutionary message back then, now in an age of food container divers it is common behaviour.


The cover of my cassette is a bit similar to these of the special ‘Tales for Tapes #7’ edition that I made for Anton Mobin.


I will not publish the picture of the tape I discuss here. Let it be your surprise, in case you decide to trade.

Sounds we use or throw away

There were new cassettes in my collection. Probably they’d jumped in the box to shmousz with my regulars when I was away on tour. I listened to them and heard what scholars call ‘music.’ Together with my other cassettes ( and pencils and ink and paper and cassette players and notes and cables and keys and coins and glue and oddities of all kinds ) they lay scattered around on my table. “Hmm,” I thought when I listened to the supposed scary sounds. And then it hit me. I was curious to find out if the first five frightening minutes would go along with the sounds I had in mind. It did. I continued and filled the tape using my own and the cuckoo cassettes.

In a rather random order

Ever since Kris Limbach contributed a few sound snippets to the ‘Four Corners of the Night’ cassette album, I knew of chance. Chance was when you did something randomly with a precise idea behind it.


Once upon a time it was a very conscious act, to choose the recordings I would use in a performance.
Then I found out: 1. whatever I choose, it will always be me. That made picking a cassette much easier and less time consuming. Consuming time gives me a head-ache. Other discovery I came across was that 2. there is always some sound you can use in composition, no matter what kind of recording or piece of music you want to choose from. Together with 3. Every listener will try to hear harmony and 4. I can do what I f*** want to, because of 1. plus a handful of 5. Don’t bore yourself you are equipped enough to get yourself accustomed to 6. Your Intuition is always ahead of you, which makes endlessly working on a composition senseless, also because of 1-5.

What this is about

I don’t play drones. Playing drones is like playing acoustic guitar next to a campfire, with people slumbering away in their sleeping bags. I want rapid ear movements. When I compiled ‘Chapters etc” I thought of people at night searching the radio frequency’s. My sounds would work like an ambush. Before you realise what it is, you would be in the middle of the next soundquake. On the scale of Richter “Chapters etc” is more like this


and this.


Rubbish, which you can throw away

Anne F. Jacques sent me a postcard from Montreal, a real one, that I found in my letter box. Anne has a tape label called “Crustaces.” The only way to receive a copy is to send her a postcard or a little present. Her postcard was in need of an answer. I wrote a letter, and I thought that I could send her a copy of ‘Chapters’ as well. But German post doesn’t distinguish between one or four tapes in the packet. It will still cost €3.45. I decided to put some small things in a transparent plastic bag, well chosen, not to many, a good variation of sizes and material. All these things were lying in my house since ages. I never found the courage to throw them away. To every item there was a memory attached. By sending them to someone I would not get rid of the memories but put them in the trust of the other person. This was not the only reason. I also thought of modern archeology and my own interest in seeing/touching things that come from a daily life thousands of miles away from mine. And, it did look like a cover.

I can do it, you can do it

Frans writes it is an ethos, this do-do thing. I figured that I had missed something, thought of the teachings of Gurdjieff (becoming a master through mowing a lawn endlessly) or a master-pupil relation in general, that had replaced the more egalitarian ‘every-one can do it.’
I looked it up and found out that ‘I can do it, you can do it’ is a yell used by weight control support groups in the US.


Comments are closed.