We’ve decided to re-release our very first ‘statement of intent’ – the now impossible to find Paramusic tape – back out into the public square again after an absence of many decades. This is the first and only complete re-release of Paramusic in some forty five years*.
Paramusic was originally a self-released (because no record company at the time would touch us with a barge-pole), self-recorded cassette album, sold only at Red Square gigs between 1975 & ‘76.
This complete re-release has been newly edited and mastered by me from digital transfers of the original stereo reel to reel master tapes.
The original order of tracks has been preserved, as have many of the original album’s audio idiosyncrasies.
For example, towards the end of track 10, you can hear a friend of the band who was keeping an eye on the tape recorder shouting ‘stop, stop!’ as the tape reel began to run out. On track 8 the sound of me unknowingly treading on the microphone stand, and a door opening and closing as family enter and leave the room, add a nice ‘field-recording’ ambience to proceeding.
There are many others – including Roger casting aspersions on the band’s personal grooming regime of the day, and a guest appearance on vocals by Ian’s dog – which I’ve left in for you to discover along the way.
Some of the original tracks had bizarre fade-ins, others ended abruptly. There is amp-hum aplenty, and the occasional scribble of tape hiss. I’ve preserved all such infelicities in this release. They add a nice element of period charm.
The recording technology we had at our disposal in 1975, and our mastery of it, was pretty rudimentary. There was Ian’s Akai 4000 sound-on-sound reel to reel tape recorder, two mismatched microphones, and one microphone stand, so one of the mikes had to be propped up on a fireplace or on a pile of books on a chair. Unsurprisingly, the stereo imaging of some of the recordings is pleasingly non-textbook. I’ve slightly re-balanced some of these, but sought to broadly retain the feel of the originals.
Part of the determinedly DIY Red Square aesthetic at the time was a reaction to the then-current vogue for interminable, lavishly-expensive, over-produced concept albums. Red Square music was totally improvised and in, and of, the moment, (and so took as long to record as the length of each track took to play), and any shortcomings in our recording techniques added a layer of extra audio interest that was as welcome to us as an expensive new keyboard was to Yes.
Whatever happened in the room went to tape. Oddities of the recording process were retained. Capturing interesting music did not (and still doesn’t) depend on the length of the equipment list in a studio or on the cost of the drums, guitars or saxophones.
The tracks on Paramusic mark the transition from Ian and myself working as an experimental multi-tracking duo (1972-74), influenced by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Terry Riley and dada, (tracks 4, 7 & 8), to our development as a more focused free-music power trio following the addition of Roger’s free-jazz drumming (1974 onwards).
*Four of the eleven tracks [1, 3, 6 & 10) were included on the 2008 album ‘Thirty Three’, a compilation of Red Square recordings released by FMR Records.