Rediscovering the secret history of music: NMAtapes

Thursday 20 July 2006

Found via Half/Theory: Shame File Music hosts an impressive array of weirdo fringe music from Australia and New Zealand, all freely available for download. Most importantly, they are in the process of digitising and uploading the complete series of NMAtapes.
NMA was the new music magazine in Australia, publishing about one issue a year from 1982 to 1992. The featured composers and performers were resolutely of what New Yorkers call a “downtown” musical orientation, revolving around free improvisation, home-made instruments and homebrew electronics, multimedia extravaganzas, lo-fi sampling, bizarro forays into rock and dance music, and general eclecticism and mockery of the dogma emanating from the self-anointed cultural centres in Europe and the USA.
Each issue came with a cassette tape of pieces by musicians who appeared in the mag. Most (all?) of it has never been reissued commerically: for decades this music has circulated by samizdat, dubbed and redubbed from library copies and occasional radio broadcasts, passed between music geeks who knew there was more to life than horrible pub rock and tribute bands. The music is wild, unique, and utterly essential to anyone interested in the less offensive developments in music over the last 25 years.
Shame File is halfway through uploading the complete series of ten cassettes. NMA’s website has published the complete text of the 1988 book 22 Contemporary Australian Composers, which describes the careers of many of the composers on the tapes.