Casioworks by Gust De Meyer
Jj Funhouse is very happy to announce the reissue of ‘Casioworks’ by Gust De Meyer, originally released as a cassette on Ding Dong Tapes and Records in 1983. This stuff has been making crooked collectors, old and young minimal-wave heads and other music lovers going bonkers for years.
At the age of 35, back in 1983, Gust De Meyer was working as an assistant at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Catholic University Leuven, were he did some groundbreaking work. He got a PhD in musical industry and introduced the study of video games.
Besides that he was busy writing texts and selecting records for a weekly 4-hour pioneering radioshow called ‘Funky Town’ on Belgian national radio. The show was specialized in the Afro-American dance music of the era: discofied electronics, funk, boogie and rhythm & blues. Next to brand new American records, from Chicago, Philly and New York there was also room for European stuff, sharing a likewise bouncy character or electronic groove: italo-boogie, kraut-grooves and some local danceable new-wave. Slick, glossy and commercial but also groundbreaking and goddamn funky. No wonder this radioshow became a hit in no time, even outside the national borders.
The producer of this radioshow was the now world famous composer of minimal and soft
classical music Wim Mertens. Around 1981 he started up his Soft Verdict project. The first LP Wim released under this name, was in fact a collaboration with Gust: ‘For amusement only’, a rather radical and raw experimental album concentrating on sounds made by pinball-machines and early computer games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man. It was released in 1982 on the now legendary Les Disques du Crépuscule label, that was launched just two years before in Brussels. This label was promoting a fresh and eclectic mix of ambient, post-punk, exotic electro-pop and contemporary music, all nicely dressed up in well designed sleeves.
The compositions on this ‘For Amusement Only’ record are very minimal and rhythmic in nature, no touch of melody in sight. These tracks were composed with both ears wide open to the heavy ambience of techy noise and locked grooves of popular game machines. You could find these so-called ‘flippers’ in common bars at the corner of every Belgian village in those days. The follow up record ‘Struggle for pleasure’ was minimal and sharp but also very melodic and more acoustic then electronic. It already included Wim Mertens’ biggest hit record ‘Close Cover’ but also some trancey, more rhythmic tunes like ‘Salernes’ and ‘Gentlemen of Leisure’ with a strong legacy towards the work of minimal composers, like Glass and Reich. The record was released in the same year as ‘Casioworks’ but without the cooperation of Gust.
Inspired by Wim, Gust was occupied by the creation and release of his own magnum opus and bold musical statement: ‘Casioworks’. After which he, strangely enough, never ever released music again.
‘Casioworks’ was made at home with only one instrument: the then very popular and cheap
Casio VL Tone 1 synthesizer. Every track was recorded in one take on a porta-sound Fostex 250 4 track cassette recorder/mixer. For a first record it’s very focused and mature but also playful and heavy with urgent and visceral power.
The release as a tape (in the form of a very neatly designed package) on the Ding Dong record and tape label, means his ears were also sharply tuned to the underground tape scene of these times and the minimal, electronic, industrial and experimental, but also often electropoppy sounds that were banging out in the Benelux and beyond. Ding Dong operated from Arnhem. The label was launched in 1981 by Ed Van Kasteren and Ignit Bekken, in order to release their own stark and cold take on electropop as ‘Van Kaye + Ignit’. Besides their own music, they released the diverse experimental work of like-minded souls like the Legendary Pink Dots, Anne Gillis and Bene Gesserit. Ingrid also presented Spleen, a radioshow on the national Dutch radio station VPRO, which was strongly pushing these new sounds, creating a community not only through radio-waves and taped music but also by publishing a magazine with information of this new wave in life and sound.
Somehow Gust De Meyer made a unique mix of all his influences from within a strong personal musical vision. In eight all killer and no filler tracks he shows his musical talent in a very assured, effective and fun having way. He managed to make his own lo-fi mix of the extremely repetitive grooves of American minimal music. With a deep sensibility for melody, he created a rather light but heartfelt version of the moodiness of European cold-wave. ‘Casioworks’ was so well executed no follow-up was really possible. Forever and ever expressing that deep tropical desire of a Belgian city dweller on a rainy day.
This white vinyl comes in an offset printed discosleeve covered in a thick plastic outersleeve, including a unique Mp3 downloadcode. Limited to 500 stamp numbered pieces.
All music composed by Gust De Meyer on a Casio VL Tone 1 synthesizer,
recorded (each track in one take) and mixed on a porta-sound Fostex 250 in 1983
Remastered by Kris Delacourt, Artwork by Jj funhouse
Previously released by Ding Dong Records on tape in 1983 and reissued by Waving Hands Records in 2015