GEORGE RAYNER-LAW – Cantonese Tapework CS


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Retiring the Schwerpunkt moniker, South London sound worker George Rayner-Law changes the spool and hits hard and fast with the harsh noise barrage of Cantonese Tapework.

While George described the deep diving introspection of his last release on Brachliegen Tapes (The Lion Hunt) as his ‘singer-songwriter’ record, this he labels ‘tapefuck’. In place of the long form drones of previous outings, Cantonese Tapework is made up of tiny snatches of sound that hiss, rumble and scream out as one — symbiotic in a playful sort of abjection. He expands:

“Tapefuck is when you wrangle a tape though a signal chain that’s in the wrong order and keep recording until your ears can’t take it any more. Tapefuck is similar to tapework, but, you know, fucked. A freedom in head-cleaning improvisation, via abusing cassette play heads.”

The first two tracks ‘Sheung Wan’ and ‘Sai Ying Pun’ are both unedited segments cut out of a wider improvisation, with no overdubs and minimal post-processing. Rotations of tone clank and spin, as groaning layers of saturated frequency collide in an ecstatic cacophony. ‘TST’ is chopped and crossfaded excerpts, built from an improvisational piece — a broadside of tone churning the stereo spectrum. ‘Chek Lap Kok Airport’ is the sober moment of respite to close out the record — a mediation on a time past, in a place that no longer exists. A stitched mournful tape loop is overlaid with the ghosted field recording of displaced airport terminal bustle.

Cantonese Tapework is reflection on the absolute tailspin of British imperialism, the cloying persistence of the old world masking the metro ride to migrant driven urbanism, just past the racecourse on the North-South Corridor. A project with its roots in a visit to Hong Kong and Guangdong in 2018, the record reflects on the falsities that the long ignoble history of British orientalism provides, occluding the complex mundanities of actually-existing Chinas.

While there exists a thread between this release and George’s older material as Schwerpunkt (translated from the German as “focus point”), Cantonese Tapework marks a shift in emphasis. In previous releases, that focus point was parallel to other projects but distinct enough to warrant a moniker; now this experimental, improvisatory approach is constituent and indistinguishable from the wider body of work. The outcome is an immediate and visceral synapse-firing work of materialist noise.

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Weight 0.055 kg