What Are They Saying About Disism?

Fiesta In The Dank

Fiesta In The Dank is a special release because it marks the 30th anniversary of the year that Charles Rice Goff III and Killr “Mark” Kaswan formed Disism. After lying low for a while, Disism got kicked started in 2012 when Goff found several cassette tapes of improvisations and collages that had been recorded between 1988 and 1995. This resulted in the Disism reDIScovery series in which Goff edited the recordings into various fun forms for public release.

Fiesta In The Dank consists of brand new recordings made in May of this year. The set opens with the appropriately titled Chains Batons Pipes And Hammers, which is a musical and rhythmic sound collage of bells, synthesizer, clatter percussion and jamming guitar, some of which gets pretty fuzzed and spacey. There’s a clear feeling of thematic development and the music evolves quite a bit for less than 7 minutes, with the mood getting intense at times. I also like the way pleasant melody and dissonance abounds in equal and enjoyably cohesive measure. Wake Of The Siluriformes is next and if you like Space Rock and have a taste for the avant-garde then this one’s for you. Freaky space electronics zig-zag and soar along with free-improv guitar and some kind of horn or kazoo, whimsically melodic acoustic guitar, myriad synths and plinkity electronic melodies.

Lots of components here and they’re craftily blended in freakishly contrasting ways. Piranesi’s Prisons continues in a similar fashion, mixing eerie sci-fi effects and weirded out Psych guitar with toy instruments and more. The atmosphere gets hauntingly cosmic after a while, like some kind of Plan 9 From Outer Space meets Dr Caligari soundtrack sprung from a Robert Fripp and Residents collaboration. Ergo Ipso is a hallucinatory mix of experimental free-improv, oodles of electronics, both spaced out and playfully strange, plus an occasional sense that some Halloween soundtrack is going on. Birth Of Remodernism is another piece with a soundtrack feel, being simultaneously schizophrenic and off-kilter musical. Finally, Raspberry Sporidium and the closing title track play like one piece, having some cool Prog sounding keys, plus all kinds of other zany keys, typically played at the same time, and a wild mixture of space electronics, weirdly warbled guitar and robotic forest sounds (which may be the croaking frogs I see in the credits). It’s like someone mixed together an avant-garde toy instrument ensemble, a sci-fi soundtrack, a jug band and an oompah band. Wild!

What stood out most prominently for me on Fiesta In The Dank is the use and abuse, plus clever and always fun blending of multiple musical and sound components. The bit and piece sources are important but the craft is in the editing, making for lots to wrap one’s head around over multiple spins. Well done guys. Keep ’em coming.

Review by Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Bay Side Story

Founded in 1985 by Charles Rice Goff III and Killr “Mark” Kaswan, Disism has been active in fits and starts over the years, including a kick start in 2012. That same year, Goff found several cassette tapes of Disism improvisations and collages that had been recorded between 1988 and 1995, which resulted in the Disism reDIScovery series, of which Bay Side Story is Volume Seven. Goff has taken these recordings and edited them into the form heard on these reDIScovery sets.

Introducing Freddie And Donkey opens the set with a child improvising the introduction to a variety show as cello and electronics warm up, finally inspiring the child to sing along. Talk Of The Town consists of music stumbling along in drugged, surreal fashion like a 78rpm record struggling between 33 1/3 and 45rpm, accompanied by a whimsical party band at normal speed and includes intermittent narration about murder in Oakland and other less than pleasant area news. Eliminate Panic Eliminate Fear is next, featuring a fun combination of jolly guitar and alien electronic melodies jamming away and accompanied by freaky scat-like synth effects, choral chanting female vocals and documentary voice samples. The Extruding Of Golden Grain is a creatively goofy children’s tune (that would seriously confuse the kiddies) enhanced by a variety of sound and percussive patterns. Navigating The Nimitz is a melodic and rocking guitar rumination, including some cool Frippoid and Beefheart styled bits. N Judah Muni is another fun tune, feeling an like an acid fried and Residents imbued meditation.

A shorter version of Walk Into The Sunset was originally released by EE Tapes of Belgium in 1998 on the cassette album Remnants From Magic Carpets. It’s a sprightly chamber duo of impassioned cello and chipper synth, with the cello handling the Classical chores and the synth adding a kind of alien hoedown element. The result brings to mind a lysergic interpretation of a Carl Stalling soundtrack (though I’m convinced Stalling and all those Warner Bros. guys had to be on acid themselves). Finally, the 17 minute The Tenor Of Temescal is like a roundup of everything we’ve heard prior, which I would describe as Psychedelic music for the experimental set. This is seriously dosed stuff, featuring freeform jamming guitar solos, electronics, and cleverly fucked up tape manipulation. At times I was again reminded of an artistically fowled, acid rock take on a Stalling soundtrack, but we’ve also got space electronic freakouts and general good fun sound collage mayhem.

There’s lots to soak in here, which is a comment I could make about most offerings from the Taped Rugs label, and from one spin to the next I know my descriptions would be altered at least a bit. But you get the idea. Note that Goff has threatened to unleash a brand new Disism set of recordings. I’ll be looking forward to those.

Review by Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Disism (1st Cassette Release) and 60 Seconds Left

80's Delirium alert! There are many ways to achieve total delirium. One of the most time-honored is to spin around and around in circles until the self is released from rationality. Disism do sort of the same thing but with tape loops, piling more and more on until you submit to the concentric force and just sit there enjoying the woozy wave. Its a way of resisting mass culture by piling it all onto the same sound plane. Solid Eye, I would say, is a distant cousin, in the organic drippy squash texture that is achieved, you could say Fripp/Eno, but Disism seem to have been their own isolated sound laboratory. But would you ever listen to Disism for pleasure? Well, lets say you had a long car ride ahead of you, perhaps across the country, and you need something landscape-like to alleviate the boredom and combat the billboards. This music is sublime, landscape-like. I bet the two members of this band are into cross country skiing, or at least grew up n the country, you can feel it. There are two Disism tapes, originally from the late 80's. Which is better? The self titled tape is more abstract, sculptural, truly for PHD candidates in sound manipulation. It has a cooler cover. 60 Seconds Left is more political with samples drawn from the Iran Contra Affair, Kipper Kids-like moments of rhythmic guttural nonsense. Not for everyone, but if you dig Ron Geesin you might want to check out what kind of Zoviet Frantic birthday cakes these gents are frosting up and then get the HELL out of there before 1. The boss gets back from vacation to find contact mics all over his office 2. Your insane mother escapes from the asylum wearing a Genesis P-Orridge mask 3. Voting machines everywhere get hooked up with wireless internet.

Review by I.M.A. Pelican, Cassette Gods

60 Seconds Left

Disism, using the misadventures of Reagan and capitalist society as fodder for sonic assault, mesh the reality of American political action with the din of electronic collage to create a collection of sounds which confuse and seduce the listener. The technique involves the combination of electronically treated instrumentation, group vocals, and the occasional rhetorical panderings of prominent officials. The dense combination of sounds coagulate into a milky whole, as words come and go without the time or clarity required for acknowledgement. The absurdity of what is said becomes a part of the entire situation, and all is reduced to a confusion that becomes the hallmark of the entire tape.

Review by Nathan Griffith, Option Magazine

Disism was a duo project from Charles and Killr "Mark" Kaswan. All the music on these discs was recorded in the same day though the result is two very different sets of music. Disc 1 opens with a wild cacophony of block percussion, wailing space electronics, drones, and a seemingly endless but well concocted blend of sounds. There are song titles but the whole CD plays as one continually evolving track. The liner notes list a slew of instruments and toys, though electronics and guitar seem to predominate. It's aggressive stuff indeed, and while the music is often harsh it's not in a grating noise based way. Imagine a collaboration between Tangerine Dream and The Residents with both Manuel Gottsching and Fred Frith on guitar (that'd be something huh?). The Kosmiche factor is high but it's all firmly in the experimental realm. But after a while the cosmic themes take a breather and a more collage like sound sculpture section kicks in that also displays some avant-prog influences. And of course there are moments when all these elements come bashing together. Overall, chaos reigns, but what makes this such an enjoyable listen is that the music develops smoothly and seamlessly with such a wild and varied blend of sounds and activity that it held my attention the entire time.

Disc 2 is a very different set, opening with tribal chanting, babbling, mad laughter, and haunting growls. Some of the voices have a Residents "Eskimo" flavor, though Disism's approach places the Eskimos in something of a carnival setting... and boy are they having fun. Once again we're treated to one continuous track, and of course nothing stays the same for long as the voices fade and the music transitions to a free-improv guitar and electronics excursion set against a dark atmospheric backdrop. The space element eventually returns but it has more of an avant-garde textural free-improv feel than heard on the first disc, though structurally the music does at times jam along like the great old time Krautrock albums used to.

Overall, this is one hell of a good fun set of avant-garde space jams and sound sculptures. And popping up intermittently are samples from the Iran-Contra hearings, indicating that 60 Seconds Left is something of an indictment of the Reagan years.

Review by Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Whoa - an underground classic to be sure. It's tape excerpts from the Iran-Contra Hearings interspersed into a tapestry of odd instruments and electronics free improv.

Review by Hal McGee

Live At The Abject Music Festival, UC Berkeley 1988

this disc right here captures a disism (the duo of goff and killr mark kaswan) performance from april 30th, 1988 at the university of california at berkley. disregard the fact that this is from 1988.. on second thought, don't. it's important to know that there was older experimental and avant-garde music that sounds like it could've come out, well, i guess 2006 would work perfectly or, now.

for just being two guys, disism is doing quite a lot to keep us paying attention. ollie's laundromat (the ollie, refers to oliver north) weaves together guitar noise, multiple layers of sound bytes (having to do with you know who, without feeling stiflingly political), droning tones, random odd sounds and even a brief bit of sampled percussion towards the end. the only thing i didn't care for about this track were the noises that resembled farting during the final two minutes. i like my scatological humor and my music to be separate, thanks. if it was more of a coincidence, that's unfortunate because it was a fine track, otherwise.

pancake make up centers heavily around the guitar once again and also field recordings of animals, at least in the first half of its eight minutes. one of the strengths of this disc so far is the job done with layer panning. there's some clanging going on in the left channel, light and distorted guitar noise in the right channel, then eventually two different vocal samples in both speakers, additionally. there are also some great tape manipulations which segue into the ambient-fueled final third of pancake. very nice.

i'm a huge fan of the guitar, in either conventional or experimental settings, i love it, so i'm definitely enjoying the use of it in he's got the whole pig in his hands. again, awesome panning job here. initially, there's two unique guitar idioms being used. eventually, they'll merge into an entirely new one, yet different sounds of it are segmented between the two speakers, creating an interesting sound. as this one plays out it makes for disism's most musical effort, and i like it a lot. best part? the insertion, and slight manipulation, of the old timey "who's afraid of the big bad wolf?" (frank churchill) sample. the entire last half of hands weighs heavily on a myriad of layered samples, but remains interesting throughout.

the final ten minutes of the disc belong to double stop hop and they'll see disism doing an abrupt about-face in terms of (widely accepted) musicality. violin noise in one speaker, guitar noise (random soloing) in the other, sound bytes and the pleasantries of an air raid siren are just about the sum of double stop hop. there is a more ominous sounding base for all of the other components, something i didn't hear in the three previous tracks.

review by avant gardening, Smooth Assailing

Live At The Rock On Broadway, San Francisco 1986

DISISM is Charles Rice Goff III and Killr 'Mark' Kaswan. The tracks on this CD are quite old; they were recorded during a live performance in 1986. This performance is directly recorded from the loop tapes. I am not sure but I think that afterwards the recordings were in some way edited in the studio. The sleeve text tells us that Frippertronics, a technique used by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, was a big influence.

The CD starts with industrial sounds and develops into a Zappaesque guitar theme. The guitar plays an important role in all of the compostions. Although only the titles of tracks 3 and 5 ('Improvisation: Jambits 2' and 'Improvisation: Jambits 3') refer to improvisation I find that all tracks sound as if they are improvised. 'Freeway' sounds as if living legend Captain Beefheart himself came by and jammed with our two friends. 'Improvisation: Jambits 3' is a nice piece; fragments of guitarsounds and cello come and go, unstructured. In 'Two plus Two' the Frippertronics treatments form the basis of the piece; with nice layered guitarsounds frequently disrupted by other more unrecognizable sounds. The masterpiece on this CD is 'God Bless America (Irving Berlin, sort of...). It is a long track with a lot of different sounds (voices, instruments, noise etc.) and as a result, different moods -- impressive. 'Let's Take A Ride In The Automobile' starts gently but slowly develops into noise. The CD ends with again a track called 'Two Times Two'. It sounds completely different than the first version on the CD. It is an edgy piece, not for the sensitive listener.

I was surprised when I heard this CD. What you hear is two nonconformist musicians who are good at what they do; making music that gives the listener's mind something to think about.

review by Pascal Hamment, Rigodon

More music by Charles Rice Goff III, here in a band guise with Killr "Mark" Kaswan. As Disism they play guitar, cello and singing, fed through a bunch of reel to reel recorders which have tape-loops on them. Kinda like Eno/Fripp loop system from the seventies. The recordings on this release stem from the second concert as Disism from 1986 and now made public for the first time. Music, despite the tape-loop system applied, of great freedom in playing. Traces of Residents or Eugene Chadbourne are to be found here but the tape-loop system adds a strange quality of repetition to it. Not every moment is great and the recording is quite crude, but overall it's a nice release of free improvised music anyway.

review by Frans Dewaard, Vital Weekly

This Disism CD was perfect for my post work "floating". This is very cool stuff, some of the best "D" that I remember hearing. CIII and Killr have the loops down and understand the pacing of it all. Talk about trippy... Perfect for restoring from the vaults.

review by Don Campau

Head Cold Fog

Studio manipulation from Charles Goff III and Killr Kaswan, as the five selections of this tape cleanly yet densely layer sound. The pieces are built on beds of noise, while acoustic and electronic instruments, particularly brass, guitar, and strings, play on top. Appearing in the midst of this mass are modified and manipulated sources from records (starting with Elvis), movies, TV, etc., voices singing, moaning or yelling, and other oddness. Presented with a sense of restraint, the pieces often fall prey to the background sound syndrome, though something strange eventually draws the listener back. Good techniques and fine playing, if off center, are found throughout this interesting sonic presentation.

Review by Factsheet Five

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