Monday, 30 November 2009

Gerhard Kammerlander

An impersonator of bands, Gerhard Kammerlander produced each sound with his mouth alone, like the various human beatboxes to be heard on rap records, the self-proclaimed first of these being Doug E. Fresh. Kammerlander first came to my attention several years back, via an airing of my friend Alasdair's copy of the essential John Peel's Archive Things ('s_Archive_Things), a 1970-released BBC label compilation (REC 68M). This absolute treasure trove of a record gathered together "unusual recordings from the BBC archives" - for instance, a traditional children's rhyme from Liverpool; a Zulu gumboot dance; Balinese gamelan; a live beetle jew's harp from New Guinea; and a nose flute quintet from Malaysia. In his back sleeve blurb, Peelie describes his "personal wish" for radio : "a completely flexible and format-less service", going on to mention that he came closest to realising his ideal in 1968 - '69 - firstly in the opening half of his Wednesday Night Ride show; and then in its Wednesday evening successor which "appeared briefly... before being pruned in the name of uniformity".
Herr Kammerlander's 1 min 40 track which closes side one - impossible to follow, I guess - is his interpretation (listed as Trumpet Imitation) of a march called Uzun Havasipo, "meaning a "long" or "tall" melody". Sad to relate that Internet searches have failed to turn up any information on this wonderful Austrian vocalist (from Bludenz, Vorarlberg). I'm unable to say if he's still alive, or if any other recordings exist - but I dearly hope there's more out there : how did those hundred seconds happen to be in the Beeb's archive ? Surely there must have been other performances, an interview, even... ?
John Peel went on to select more archive material for his 'eighties series Peel's Pleasures, including a marvellous recording of one Mrs. King and her Siamese cat Si-Si (sp ?), Mrs. K. singing Mighty Like A Rose with pussycat yowl accompaniment. I remember that Ivor Cutler incorporated BBC archive recordings into a series of programmes he made for (I think) Radio 3. Time, surely, for many more volumes of oddities and wonders from this rich source to be exhumed and compiled.

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