This is the second re-release for “La noche del anhídrido”, a cassette originally published by Miguel Ángel Ruíz in 1987 (which now goes for serious money on Discogs), and first re-issued on CDR in 2009 on Ediciones Toracic (an edition which goes for less money but which is still rare and prized). It’s now been dusted off again, remastered and made available to a wider audience.
So now a wider audience can sample this curious piece of rough, thoroughly experimental lo-fi instrumental industrialism. It was made with a relatively modest selection of kit- Casio Sk1, SW Radio, Yamaha DX7, and drum patterns provided by software called Cheetah SpecDrum for the good old Sinclair ZX Spectrum- so the passage of time has made it sound marginally dated, home-made and ‘small’ compared to what might be possible with today’s home tech, but the scale of the ideas is not impinged.
Dark brooding drone sounds infuse tracks like “Miedo al cricket”, where phased drum delays offer up tense disorientation. The pull of percussive repetition against long drawn-out sinister and distorted chords plays out in accomplished fashion in tracks like “Gas de Abidjan”.
“Entre palidos muros” is a highlight and also quite a curious track, an off-kilter arpeggiated synth rolling over dark synth pads and syndrums that manage to sound both filmic and 8-bit at the same time.
The limitations and thoroughly 1980’s low-ish-budget production values aren’t always compositionally hidden though, and in pieces like the rough-edged “Schlamm”, despite some nicely unpredictable radio feedback work, the EQ tonal quality of it really does throw you back to listening to obscure tapes late at night and hoping they wouldn’t mangle in the player.
The original six tracks from the tape have been supplemented by four bonus tracks previously only found on contemporary compilations (or two of them on the 2009 CDR edition). They’re consistent enough to form part of the album as a 49-minute whole. Of these, highlights include the dub-reverb laden gunfire and reportage sounds of “La noche del rail (Jovenes en el Horno)”, and the consciously noisier “Segunda noche del anhidrido (Feria del Flanger)”.
It’s got to be said that the artwork is extremely misleading. I’ve rarely seen cover artwork which represents the music inside as little as the artwork here! The new artwork is a polished and colour variation of the original 1987 release which used the same photo, and the choice of it, like some of the music, feels deliberately subversive, and intended to defy expectations.
There’s a form of sonic nostalgia here in the time and the attitude of the experimentation, but it’s also packed with enough interesting acerbic sonic texturing to make it a worthwhile listen in its own right as well.