Wookie, I Kill Jawa

In 199..ummm, like 1993 maybe? 1994? No idea. But way back then, when I was high on Ongaku Otaku and Hijokaidan and CCCC, I decided to record my own experimental noise album. I had no real musical equipment, talent, or skill, but what I did have was a clunky 386 computer with some sort of DOS-based sound recording software, a bunch of old electronics, and a lot of VHS tapes. Using a lot of pretty advanced, high-tech recording and mixing techniques — like holding a mic up to a TV or playing two sound sources at the same time and holding a mic up to them (Realistic brand, if memory serves) — I managed to get a pretty big tangle of sonic mania dumped onto what was a pretty big hard drive back in those days, like easily three megs.

With no real idea how to use the sound recording software (which I am pretty sure I acquired in an old-fashioned piratey way — I checked disks out of the library and copied them), I just tore into it. A lot of the resulting effects were purely accidental. A random blind tweak of some setting here, holding a mic too close to something and getting a blast of distorted feedback there. Once I was happy with the muddy cacophony I’d created, I made my “master tape” — by plugging an off-brand Walkman into the computer’s headphone jack and hitting record. I gave everything silly wookie-themed names for no reason I can think of (I wasn’t that big a Star Wars fan), and the final product I wrapped in a xeroxed cover.

I made maybe twenty copies, mostly for friends. One I sent to Japan’s Alchemy Records (never heard back from them). My friend Pat, also a big fan of noise and old experimental and ambient music, put a few copies in his record store, and I guess some fools bought them. By 1997 or so, after a couple moves and a hurricane or two, I lost my copy. The old computer and original files were long gone. In time, I forgot I’d done it at all.

Then a few years ago, Pat writes me and says this guy contacted him, someone doing a research project on independent weird music. He hoped Pat could help him with something, a tape he’d picked up in Pat’s record store called Wookie, I Kill Jawa. Pat immediately got the guy in touch with me, and neither Pat nor I could believe not only that someone had bought the tape, but that they had assigned some sort of cultural significance to it. I was interviewed, and I think the guy was a little disappointed to learn I wasn’t some shady freak who moved with a big, secret noise music underground. I was just a nerd who had been noodling around in his apartment one week. Still, the guy was cool enough to digitize the cassette, scan the cover, and send me copies. And now I get to share them with you.

Download the whole mess here.

It’s amazing to me how much of what I recorded happened purely because something really didn’t work. They fixed all those technical issues in the twenty years or so since I made this, so a while back when I decided I might record something new, nothing interesting came of it. It’s noise, of course, and pretty crude and poorly recorded. But I’m actually happy still with some of the tracks, and the remix of The Warriors into one muddled, static-filled seven minute explosion makes me happy.


3 thoughts on “Wookie, I Kill Jawa”

  1. I loved this. Speaking as someone whose band was once described as “A fucking horrible attempt at Big Black trying to emulate Babes in Toyland with a side order of Slayer. And those are the good bits”, I’m impressed that you got artistically rehabilitated.

    Have you ever watched “The Alchemists of Sound”? It’s a cute little documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the ’50s and ’60s, and the craziness they produced with the ’50’s and ’60’s equivalent of a cassette recorder and a Realistic microphone, but lacking even any samples from The Warriors. And a car alarm.

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