Gum’s Vinyl is the weirdest thing in my record collection.
Look, I’d never heard of “turntabilism” before. I mean, I like Australian stuff, and what little I could find about Gum online made them seem experimental, so I bought this record. And I suppose they were. But they’re weird. I mean really, really weird. It’s literally locked groove madness, like snipits from deranged records that have skips, caught in continuous loops that bore a hole in your head. Some are insanely annoying, like the opening track “Stormy Weather;” others like “Testicle Stench” are almost pleasant… if not for being incessantly repetitive. And yes, I just wrote that “Testicle Stench” is “almost pleasant.” See? Gum makes you do and write and say and think strange things. It’s like a bad acid trip, without the trip to the ER. I suspect it’s a bit like an updated samples version of Lou Reed’s screw you to the world Metal Machine Music. Except, you know, just crazy in a different way.
Somehow I came across what I think is a first pressing of this over at Silver Platters the other day. You can tell it’s a first printing by the old school bondage photo inserts and the 45 with the word “VINYL” painted on it attached to one of them (apparently the second edition has the 45 glued to the jacket…). Right. Of course. All used records have a story. So does this one. Someone owned this before me. Who was it? Did they buy it new? At a store… at a show? What did they think the first time they dropped the needle to it? Did they love it, or did they find it as troubling as I do? Did it change their life or make them change their drawers?
The sounds on Vinyl are nothing more than loops from other records, tiny segments repeated over and over and over and over and over… What was going on in Australia in 1987 that led to this? What was going on in Andrew Curtis’ and Philip Samartzis’ heads, and are they well now? There are actually some very in depth dissertations of Gum’s work on the internet, but perhaps this quote describes them best:
“At high volumes it will also piss off your parents more effectively than the last nordic black metal record you just bought. I promise.”
Bravo to Gum for coming up with something uniquely bizarre. Not sure if I’ll ever play it again, but I’m glad I listened to it once.