The following essay is a PDF digital download extra which I’ve written as part of the release Junk by Patience Worth (Sheer Zed’s Phantom Spirit Remix) on the TQN-aut label and is posted here for the first time on the day of it’s release.
“Let the tabby drowse and blink her wisdom to the firelog . ” – Patience Worth.
One thing leads to another. Such is the way with unseen forces that drive life. One connection, then another and another. Soon a chain develops and before you know it you are in some small or large way back to the source, back to the very beginning. While casually surfing the vast and endless continuum that is globally known as the Internet I came across a rare and somewhat obscure piece of 1980’s cassette culture esoterica. Not only was this uploaded, free and abundantly creative work of ingenuity charming, it also yielded a powerful and resonant window into the past and present. A portal of divine spirit.
Junk by Patience Worth was uploaded by Jason Scott on December 3, 2015 onto the NOISE-ARCH Archive which is a part of The Internet Archive, a San Francisco–based non-profit digital library with the stated mission of “universal access to all knowledge.” Jason Scott Sadofsky (born September 13, 1970), more commonly known as Jason Scott, is an American archivist, historian of technology, filmmaker, performer, and actor. Scott has been known by the online pseudonyms Sketch, SketchCow, and The Slipped Disk. He has been called “figurehead of the digital archiving world”. According to Jason Scott, “Archive Team was started out of anger and a feeling of powerlessness, this feeling that we were letting companies decide for us what was going to survive and what was going to die.” Scott continues, “It’s not our job to figure out what’s valuable, to figure out what’s meaningful. We work by three virtues: rage, paranoia and kleptomania.”
The NOISE-ARCH Archive is a compilation of various underground/independently-released cassette tapes from the days when the audio cassette tape was the standard method of music sharing…generally the mid-eighties through early-nineties. The material represented includes tape experimentation, industrial, avant- garde, indie, rock, DIY, subvertainment and auto-hypnotic materials. Much of this material defies category, and has therefore not been given one. The bulk of the tapes in this library were donated to the project by former CKLN FM radio host Myke Dyer in August of 2009. Myke is co-director at the Scenic City Film Festival and the former programmer/director at the Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film.
In the 1980s – 1990s Cassette Culture Archives group on Facebook Myke said; “I just found this site (NOISE-ARCH). What a resource. I programmed cassettes on a community radio station in Toronto, had a small label (John Doe Recordings) and brought artists to perform in the city . Y ears later m y collection was archived online and much of it remains here…” The original NOISE-ARCH site was hosted and maintained by Graham Stewart and Mark Lougheed. Junk by Patience Worth is a tape Myke Dyer played on CKLN FM. There is no UPC or IRSC codes, no genre (as such), no sign of an artist page or management and despite the superb quality no audience.
I wrote to Myke Dyer via Facebook about this tape, enquiring about the artist and whether or not they knew of their whereabouts. Myke had just moved with his family to Montreal, the U-Haul truck’s wheels only just cooling down from his journey to the city. Myke kindly responded;
“The cassette archives have taken on a continued life of their own. This project was initiated 10 years ago. Unfortunately the original noise-arch domain lapsed and was taken over by another business. I was grateful that Jason had quietly been archiving most of the tapes (not the complete collection) and garnered some press around the new location. Recently there has been some social media around the complete set of recordings as a downloadable TAR file. I’ve been pushing people back to the archives site to download individual tapes. So I’m obviously fine with anyone downloading and playing with these recordings, but they aren’t all mine and I always like to defer to the original artist for a project like yours. When I was doing my show at CKLN Dave Bush was the mind behind Patience Worth. Just as an aside, if you look for the original site on the Wayback Machine you will find more music and see how the site was originally laid out.”
Explore the original site, which has plenty of extra sounds to listen to here: https://bit.ly/2XT2RAQ
Junk by Patience Worth (the original can be heard and downloaded here https://bit.ly/2LJD6N2) is a fine example of the wonderful creative spirit that many artists manage to capture and create with next to no resources. A tape recorder is a powerful and incredible instrument of divination and art if wielded with a touch of skill, craft and editorial finesse. As William S. Burroughs stated while discussing the cut-up technique; “You cannot will spontaneity. But you can introduce the unpredictable spontaneous factor with a pair of scissors.” My “Phantom Spirit” remix of Junk by Patience Worth is an attempt at creating a response to the initial impulse while recognizing the forces that brought this artifact into being. Which now begs the question; what was the initial impulse to create this tape in the first place? The spine on a second tape labeled “Patience Worth” (26mins and 25secs) revealed the handwritten words “D. BUSH 1989 DOLBY B”.
Is this the artist? “D. BUSH”? Indeed it was. After what seemed like an impossible idea I finally after much searching and quiet persistence got to speak to Dave Bush, the artist behind Junk by Patience Worth. After unashamedly proclaiming myself a fan, Dave Bush, a self-effacing and kindly artist, responded with much surprise; “I created “Junk” many, many years ago. Just got your request via Myke Dyer. Feel free to proceed with your plan. I’m frankly astounded you’ve done this. I’m completely on board with the project. This is the last thing I ever expected to happen, but a great surprise I’ll embrace…This is a completely unexpected piece of good news.”
A thought is a strange thing. Once it emanates and transpires, it can take you on a journey to hidden worlds. Maybe I should type in the name Patience Worth into a search engine and see what happens. Upon further investigation more intriguing and fascinating information came to light. Patience Worth was allegedly a spirit contacted by Pearl Lenore Curran (February 15, 1883 – December 4, 1937). This symbiotic relationship produced several novels, poetry and prose which Pearl Curran claimed were delivered to her through channeling the spirit of Patience Worth. Beginning in July 1912, Pearl Curran and her friend Emily Grant Hutchings were making a call on a neighbour who had a Ouija board and during that call there came what purported to be a message from a relative of Mrs. Hutchings. Mrs. Hutchings then bought a Ouija board and took it to Mrs. Curran’s house with the idea of continuing the communications. Pearl was somewhat indifferent and had to be coaxed to participate at the board. On June 22, 1913 a communication from “Pat-C” began to come through. Then on July 8, 1913 the board seemed to be possessed with unusual strength and supposed communications from Patience Worth began. “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name. Wait, I would speak with thee. If thou shalt live, then so shall I. I make my bread at thy hearth. Good friends, let us be merrie. The time for work is past. Let the tabby drowse and blink her wisdom to the firelog.”
Pearl Curran went on to describe her association with Patience Worth as “one of the most beautiful that can be the privilege of a human being to experience.” Pearl and Patience together wrote several novels including Telka, The Sorry Tale, Hope Trueblood, The Pot upon the Wheel, Samuel Wheaton, An Elisebethan Mask as well as several short stories and many poems. Read more about Patience Worth and her extraordinary output in this fascinating article by Ed Simon here; https://bit.ly/2JrmAzL.
The idea to take elements and remnants of the huge NOISE-ARCH collection of cassette tapes and remix, deconstruct or create brand new fresh forms from them is not entirely new. The artist O. o. p. s. (Operating Other Peoples Sounds) based in Trondheim, Norway has already on Bandcamp and SoundCloud mined this vast and seemingly endless seam of audio phantasmagoria and created numerous releases.
My “Phantom Spirit Remix” however is focused solely on one tape and not the entire NOISE-ARCH collection. I have been drawn/guided to this singular tape through sublime spirits working with me. This is the basis of my remix. A strong, resonant and significant chord has been struck. A warm and hearty celebration of audio cassette culture has been instigated. Tape cassettes are how I started my audio experiments way back in the early 1980’s, just an eleven-year-old boy stuck in his bedroom, hiding from the sun, breaking the sound envelope with a cheap HiFi system. In an act of what I would tentatively call deep meditational technomancy on the 22nd June 2019 while travelling in trance state I downloaded the tape album Junk by Patience Worth from The NOISE-ARCH Archive. I began to work on the remix in a state verging on a Liminal Gnosis, while channeling and being guided by various spirits during the remixing process. Random elements informed me. Various thicknesses of tape hiss, blisters of noisy distortion, chaotic delay, echoes, different dislocated reverbs, layers of inaudible textures, glitches, confusion, building and falling drones, ambient resonances and pulsating elements all coalescing in vortex like dances of becoming and fractured disintegration. Being on a different chapter is perfectly alright but it’s not as good as being on the same page, which together we can all turn one page at a time.
This album remix is dedicated with thanks to Andy Wood, David Howcroft, Dave Bush, Myke Dyer, Jason Scott, Graham Stewart, Mark Lougheed, Ash Cooke, Jonas Halsall, Pearl Lenore Curran and the spirits Patience Worth and Sensei Orishi. May the spirits bless the NOISE-ARCH archive, TQN-aut, this remix and all who sail in and around her!
Genre: Experimental, dark ambient, ambient, drone, noise, glitch and cut-up technique.
Release date 6th December 2019.
Sheer Zed • Electronic Musician • Artist • Shaman • 1st – 8th July 2019.