Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Chop Shop: Primer 2 x LP and blacktop_audio CDR reviews!

Thanks to Frans de Waard for his thoughtful reviews of both of these releases!


Scott Konzelmann's project Chop Shop is one of the most underrated music projects I know. The reasons for it I am not entirely sure of; partly it is that there never have been a lot of releases and also never a lot of concerts, but also misfortune in which Konzelmann lost his sound tools in a flood. His tools include rusty speakers, ancient reel-to-reel tapes and it is some truly great noise music. There is very little out there on a similar level. Active since the late 80s, there are not a lot of releases; six albums (of which only 'Oxide' ever made it to these pages, Vital Weekly 625), plus a bunch of singles including a double 10" with heavy steel plates and a 3" CD on the sadly no longer existing label V2_Archief. The latter with a soft lead cover; another release came with broken security glass. All of these releases are not easy to get hold off and all of these show what Chop Shop is about and that's the physical sounds through visible sources. The covers look like the music sounds; rusty and loud. Konzelmann created speaker installations of old speakers, through which he sends his sounds; loops of tape or records and in general these sounds are picked up from space, so there is an additional 'harsh' feeling about this. This is music that needs to play at a loud volume, as you would miss out some of finer frequencies. Maybe therein lies also one of the reasons that Chop Shop isn't that well known. It was never easy to travel with these heavy speaker objects and besides getting lost in a flood a record is perhaps not the same as seeing and hearing one in the rusty flesh.
    This double LP consists of Chop Shop's earliest recordings. The first LP is culled from his first cassette, 'Primitive Power/Positive Force' from 1987. Originally this was a ninety minute cassette, but part of it is apparently (it is one of those Chop Shop releases I never heard) has "sampling that would have raised serious copyright infringement/clearance issues", while another part is still available as a CDR, so the remainder is now on the first LP. Here we have Chop Shop in its earliest incarnation and the presence of a drum machine in the opening piece is rather surprising. On the other side, there is a piece, which is culled from looping pop music (I think) and along with some of the heavy electronics used, it is not difficult to see Chop Shop’s first release to be part of then-burgeoning power electronic scene. Having not found his own voice yet, this is, however, something of historical value, Chop Shop’s first steps to what became his trademark sound, traces of which can already be found in this record.
    The second LP contains the C45 cassette 'Scraps', as released by Chop Shop in an edition of 200 and which was available at Generator, Gen Ken Montgomery's store/gallery in New York, where Chop Shop presented his pieces as installations. Montgomery is responsible for some of the liner notes here. It's on this cassette that Chop Shop's sound fully matures into this rich junk/scrap metal sound; the heavy amplification of what seems to be the sound of a rusty plate on a turntable or the stretch loop of a reel-to-reel recorder. At times it seems like there is something attached to the speaker, which adds an additional layer of rattling, which, again, adds to the literal vibrancy of the music. The instability of machines used are not covered up, or edited out, but used as sounds by themselves. Sometimes a quick change, a rough cut, changes the material from one abrasive field of sound to the next. Now, there was at the time very little that was alike. There is, of course, the lack of visuals here, the rusty constructions in metal and perhaps also the sonic overload (depending on what you are willing to do with your volume setting at home) is something that needs no controlling, but you get the drift.
    The release of this great record marks the end of the C.I.P., this being one of those much-wanted re-issues and a dream now realized, which is perhaps a sad thing. However, the next imprint is already in place, Ballast NVP, for some time now. Of course with Chop Shop’s analogue approach there is no download code, but I guess you expected that already. (FdW)
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If you start reading this and your first thought was 'Blacktop_audio'? Never heard of them? Then that is no surprise. This group existed for four years, in Boise, Idaho and was the musical side of a 'street theatre' group called Blacktop. By accident Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen and Ballast NVP heard some of their music when he was exchanging sound material with Jeph Jerman (a.k.a. Hands To) in the early 90s. He liked what he heard, but forgot about it until in 2002 he was cleaning out his cupboard and found that tape again. Online research didn't result in much, but with the help of Jerman, a former member was tracked down, and in particularly Penny Chapman was helpful in getting this release out. It comes with an introductory text by her, as well as a long interview she did with Jeph Jerman, plus a list of gigs and descriptions of their releases; all cassettes in editions of 11 to 20 copies. There are no pictures of the group in action or otherwise, which leaves something to imagine. It all makes up a very interesting read, which is something that Ballast NVP usually takes off very well. The group used very primitive means, such as air organs, radios, keyboards, skipping records, cassettes and guitar. This is not your usual no wave group, but something that comes very much from the early days of noise music. Not Throbbing Gristle alike or Whitehouse, but it's easy to see influences by Boyd Rice's black record for Mute Records, but with a bit more variation when it comes to using instruments, technology and even with the odd melodic touch; I would guess from some kind of record stuck in a lock groove. It is all quite the prototype industrial music of the early 80s and I would think that had this group not split up/gave up and existed for some more years they could have been on worldwide group of cassette enthusiasts and even have acquired some 'fame', or even a re-issue or two on hipper re-issue labels. This re-issue is most welcome, surely, but at fifty copies remains obscure, I guess. The music is great but not without flaws; some of these pieces are just a bit too long, and understandable from the point of time. Back then it was a thing to do: stick on noise for too long and be provocative. Maybe some more pieces, but shorter would have been great as well? Or maybe this is it? In which case I didn't say a word. Looking for obscure historical noise music? Blacktop_audio is something that quite rightfully should not be forgotten. (FdW)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Chop Shop: Primer 2 LP set

So technically, this is a CIP release—but it's also the release that will bring CIP to an offical close, so...
This 2LP set (in an edition of 500 copies) presents the very first—and long unavailable—Chop Shop recordings, remastered by Scott. 
LP one is a remastering and reworking of Power Pieces Positive Force from 1987, originally a 90 minute cassette released in an edition of 60 copies. 
However, as 20+ minutes have been reissued as the “A Different Kind of Connie” 3” CDR, and another 30 or so minutes involved large swaths of sampling that would have raised serious copyright infringement / clearance issues, Scott decided to revisit the master tapes to create this reworking of his germinal recording. 
For Chop Shop fans, this disc provides a fascinating aural journey to the big bang of the Chop Shop sound.
The second LP, Scraps, was originally released as a C-45 cassette in 1989 in an edition of 200 copies. 
Scraps is, by Scott’s own account, “the first truly coalesced and focused Chop Shop release,” utilizing the home-built speaker constructions that cemented Chop Shop’s reputation. The hallmark sounds—machine vibration, furnaces, the rattling inner echoic walls of a factory, pinging frequencies, and the magnetic tape itself—all come to life in these recordings.

The record comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve with the record slot opening facing the interior spine and liner notes by me and Gen Ken Montgomery.

The 2 LP set is $30 in the US, postage paid; please email me if you’re outside the US for shipping. That said, there will be international distributors—I am in the process of securing quantites for those channels—and when  do I will update this blog.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Now available: ballast NVP013 Vertonen: Anchor / Weathervane / Lantern

Anchor / Weathervane / Lantern is a 6 CDR set of  audio composed and edited from recordings made between 2012–18 with the Polivoks synthesizer.

Long-form drone to subaquatic burblings swimming through the stereo field with many stops in between.

edition of 33 signed and numbered copies.
$36 ppd in the US: overseas orders, please shoot an email so I can calculate postage.
thanks as always for you support and interest,


Thursday, December 7, 2017

NVP017: Dead Edits: Opaque Staggeries

Very excited to announce a new dead edits (Blake Edwards and Eric Lunde) release that, had we better sense, would be the final dead edits ever issued forth into the world—we’re that excited about it.

Opaque Staggeries is, perhaps unsurprisingly, our take on Oblique Strategies, Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno’s lateral thinking exercises. We have come up with 112 ideas to get you thinking / unblock creative processes, housed in two delightful (and I dare say refined) jewelry boxes. We intended to replicate both the size (7 cm x 9 cm) and color (black text on white side, all black on the flip) of the original edition of cards, but, inadvertently taking one of our own suggestions (“measure once cut twice”) it soon became apparent the box wouldn’t shut if we had kept the same size. So, they’re a little bit smaller.
Of course, dead edits also creates audio, so enclosed with (technically sandwiched between) the boxes is a 3” CDR, the audio upon which is a tri-layered recording of me typesetting the Opaque Staggeries in Quark 4.0 on an iBook G3 while one of Eric’s “opycay” devices recorded and played back intermittently, a microcassette recorder recorded and played back intermittently, and a microcassette with audio from Eric played back intermittently; the 60-ish minute process was captured on a zoom recorder (non-intermittently) and then layered to create the final product.

As a side note, as all of the cards were cut by hand, there were some glitches in the matrix, so a few editions have one or two “replacement” cards: the same strategy, but a different card backing and paper finish.

This lovely little item is in an edition of 22 copies, signed and numbered, and it’s going to be $32 ppd in the US. Overseas orders, please email for shipping costs.

Please note, this will be ready to ship by December 18, and payment can be made by that point.
thanks much,


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Recent Reviews of NVP09, 13, and 14

Frans de Waard had some kind words about the recent batch of ballast releases (Vertonen: stutterer 2CDR + book; Vertonen: No. 6 6 x 3” CDR and texts; Dead Edits: Three Degrees of Dead Edits 3 x 3” CDR and book).

The complete review can be read here, but below are some of my favorite excerpts:

stutterer: “I am most reminded of the earliest experiments by Esplendor Geometrico, at their most brutal noisiest rhythm, and probably their most minimal phase and least danceable.”

No. 6: “Vertonen took the iconic opening theme [of The Prisoner] as a source and created no less than six (but really, what other number should it have been?) 3 inch CDR releases, so that is close to 120 minutes of music. This sees the many musical interests of Vertonen spread out over these two hours. Much of it goes quite deep into the drone territory here, but not exclusively a fair bit of the material is rhythmic and noisy, and sometimes a combination of both. Of course at no point whatsoever I recognized the tune of 'The Prisoner', as such things go in these cases."

Three Degrees of Dead Edits 3 x 3”: “Brutal, noisy, lo-fi, and estranged...Dead Edits love to use and re-use spoken word,  tapping in on the lowest means possible and playing it back into the same space, and this ad infinitum. It works very well in this particular piece I think."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three New Ballast Releases Available Now

When it rains, it pours! Here are three new releases available now.

NVP09: Vertonen – stutterer (2 CDR, 48 page book, edition of 45, signed and numbered)
NVP013: Vertonen – No. 6 (6 x 3" CDR, 17 text inserts, edition of 24, signed and numbered) 
NVP014: Dead Edits: Three Degrees of Dead Edits (3 x 3" CDR, 64 page book, edition of 15, numbered)

NVP09: Vertonen – stutterer (2 CDR, 48 page book, edition of 45, signed and numbered)

This is a bookend to NVP03, utterer, in that is also uses source material provided by Anthony Dunn (Terran Wretch). However, after my recent mechanical rhythmic works, and in contrast to NVP03, I decided to explore some rhythmic noise flavorings. Although your mileage may vary, you might catch a few wafts of Esplendor Geometrico, Sat Stochizmo, or SPK. I also included the original source material as a coda to the stutterer disc. The second disc, Three Situational Drownings, uses the same source material but the execution is more drone-based. The accompanying book contains some texts, but is primarily visuals based off modified stills from a 1988 Eric Lunde videocassette, applying reduplicative strategies via Photoshop.

NVP013: Vertonen – No. 6 (6 x 3" CDR, 17 text inserts, edition of 24, signed and numbered)

My homage to the UK TV series The Prisoner, using only samples from the TV program’s opening theme to create six different compositions. Each composition was created using parameters linked to numerical corollaries with the series (degrees of panning, duration of compositional elements, percentages of processing). In addition, the release also contains 17 texts based on OULIPO-esque writing constraints (each text uses only letters that must appear in at least six of The Prisoner’s episode titles, for one example), which are outlined on a supplemental  insert. All contained in a jewelry box.

NVP014: Dead Edits: Three Degrees of Dead Edits (3 x 3" CDR, 64 page book, edition of 15, numbered)

In 2016 Dead Edits played two shows in Chicago, and this release documents three “degrees," or variants, of Dead Edits “live." 

Disc 1, "An Evening with The Happiest Men in The Room" is a document of Dead Edits live, December 2, with both members in the actual flesh. 

Disc 2, "Dead Edits Present a (Re)presenting Permutation Presentation of: 'Dead Edits Present: Stefan Weisser’s Poextensions and Contexts: a Forgery' (Encore)," was composed from live and processed elements of our first Chicago show, which was performed by one only Dead Edit. At the last minute, Eric was unable to attend but sent a DVDR of himself as a proxy, which I further permutated as part of the live set that evening. I then further mutated and subsequently modified ~that~ recording to create this “reconstruction” of that evening’s performance.
Disc 3, "unheard until written," is me reading a passage from Eric’s 1991 book LLND, processed using tape methodologies Eric had shared previously with me, set to a mutated tape loop.

The final package that accompanies the release contains the "tale of the tape" (recording information / processes about the content of each disc) as well as the text recited on the third disc.

The book that accompanies the discs itself is a capture / end result of Eric’s "drill poem," which opened our December 2 show.

**  **  **  **

The pricing for each release is as follows and includes shipping in the US: for the rest of the world, contact me first so I can get an price based on your location.

NVP09: Vertonen: stutterer (2 x CDR and book) - $20 

NVP013: Vertonen: No. 6 (6 x 3" CDR, textual support) - $24

NVP014: Dead Edits: Three Degrees of Dead Edits (3 x 3" CDR, book) - $20

Thank you for your interest,


Sunday, November 27, 2016

NVP12. Dead Edits Present: Erased

With each Dead Edits release, Eric Lunde and I happily delve deeper into concepetual territories as we plumb the recesses of what language does and doesn’t. This two book, two CDR, and ephemera set take us to another step along the adventure.
The concept of erasing, copying over, duplicating, and permutating has been an integral (one might say driving) force in Lunde’s own work since the 80s; I have been repurposing equipment and reworking audio sources for quite a while, but I too have been fascinated by the limits of language from when I was exposed to Z’EV’s uns material in the early 90s. For this release, both Eric and I wrote texts in pencil and then sent them to one another, where we proceeded to erase and / or add to the text whatever we deemed necessary. The audiobooks (the two CDRs) represent various readings of the contents of each of the collections of writing, with elements of the recording of voice process (tape player sounds, reading errors, and accents of erasure) substituting (and enhancing) the erased and modified hand writing.
From the supplemental text:
He who writes treads, leaves marks, leaves corrections, leaves errors. He who writes trades, accepting shortcomings in the script for the benefit of documentation. Purported benefit. The revs outwait the costs, and long after the author’s dead does the deciphering and reinterpreting take life.

Or does it even rely on the author’s death?

 Confusion arises from the first mark on the page, in the sand, in the clay. The perspective, that of the writer, is a singular no matter what “voice” is intended—it is only from one, and one only, perspective, and cannot possible be understood by anyone but the author. And so that author struggles, rewrites, erases, discards. And the writer who realizes the words are weightless wastes no time aiming to write; they (words) stand on their own, once released from the author’s and they are the property of the earth.

Erased is a limited edition of 20 signed and numbered copies. The CDRs are tucked inside 9" x 12" envelopes with smeared misprintings (caused by printer feed error) of the supplemental text. The supplemental text, along with an insert about recording processes and track information, is tucked in a separate stamped envelope. The two books are bound with a pseudo obi band.
The cost is $25 ppd in the United States; for rest of world orders, please contact so I can calculate postage.