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digging for [audio] treasure

my computer tells me that i need to cut down the amount of music stored on my overstuffed hard drive. my ears tell me that that would deprive me of some wonderful listening experiences. 


halifax, nova scotia was not the easiest place to find out about music with limited appeal. it was a very music-centred city, to be sure, but, being smaller, things like noise, industrial, and experimental music struggled to gain a foothold, even as the alternative rock scene exploded in the early nineties. i was lucky enough to have some friends who were happy to share music that they loved, but i knew that there were lots of things that i was missing out on.

with the dawn of the internet, and various types of music sharing, i found myself able to discover bands that i'd heard about, but never managed to track down, from the days of underground cassette culture. and, to my surprise and elation, many of them do very much live up to what i'd imagined from reading descriptions of them in catalogues and magazines.

another benefit of the rise of music sharing and the general resurgence of interest in electronic music from the eighties and early nineties is that i've been able to discover projects that were too narrow in their appeal, or too limited, or too short-lived to have even registered in my mind. there is a thrill to discovering something you never knew was there, like suddenly i am the indiana jones of music no one has ever heard of.

i had an experience like that recently, listening to ame triste by french group a gethsemani. i'd never heard of them before i snagged a digital copy of the album, originally released as a very limited cassette in 1987. it was apparently their debut album, put out by the band themselves, as all of their subsequent releases would be [either directly, or through their label, gakmad].

their sound wavers between more accessible alternative electro-pop sections and less concrete, sometimes cinematic passages. it's not unlike a lot of music coming out of france and belgium at the time, like clair obscur, bene gesserit, or the more experimental bits of trisomie 21. those artists went on to gain a higher profile, connecting with bigger [within the scope of a small scene] labels, and a gethsemani did not. but they could have. there's nothing about their sound that would have disqualified them from reaching a larger audience, but instead, they had a few productive years in the late eighties and early nineties, and then flitted away.



well, not quite. while preparing this post, i discovered that the man behind the band, bernard peurh, had continued to make music, appearing most recently on a 2016 compilation called no trumps [can't imagine what that's referring to] on the french experimental label inpolysons. i doubt that this is a full-time pursuit for him, but it still brings a smile to my face to know that, as obscure and as far in the past as a gethsemani was, its primary creator continues to find outlets for his creative energy.

if you'd like to hear more from the band... good luck. their releases are beyond out of print, because it's debatable that they were ever "in print" in any usual sense of the term. mr. peurh has made some of their material available, although unfortunately not ame triste. that album was uploaded by the musical saint behind the nostalgie de la boue blog and label. [note: the blog operates with the permission of the artists whose music they share.] there is a portion of their catalogue that has been preserved on youtube as well.

although there has been a moderate resurgence of interest in this almost-lost, genre-less type of electronic sound, a gethsemani are likely too obscure to register on the wishlists of many collectors. i like to think of myself as pretty well-versed in this sort of thing, and i hadn't heard of them until very recently, which makes me think we won't be seeing a lovingly remastered version of their back catalogue any time soon. hope springs eternal, nonetheless.

until then, i'm going to shun my computer's advice to delete vast quantities of music and keep perusing the gems i've been lucky enough to accumulate. there are lots of new things to discover, but i also like spending time exploring the wonders of the temple of musical doom. 

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