Tale of a Dictator
Cassiber


Information

In 1988, an avant garde group called Cassiber (German composer and music-theatre director Heiner Goebbels, Christoph Anders, and British percussionist Chris Cutler) wrote and recorded 'A Face We All Know', a CD which was released in 1989.

According to Chris Cutler, "the CD embodies an implied narrative, could be a sleep deprived dictator, maybe locked in a radio station, partly remembering, partly hallucinating while the old order goes down in flames outside. The Pynchon focused this -- effectively speaking for 'the outside'. (I can't tell you how reluctant I am even to write this. I hate to limit a work - please take this merely as a possible orientation). It was realized in 1988 in East Berlin, before the epochal changes of 89 - a curious mingling of fiction and fact. The title of course is from one of the Thomas Pynchon extracts, and is a narrative indication." Chris Cutler also writes: "I wrote 'A Face' (the narrative idea and my text) in Newfoundland in, I think, 1987, two years before the East block crumbled. Heiner and Christoph proposed incorporating the Pynchon texts. About the way the CD was conceived and created, Cutler states that it began "with no thought of Pynchon I'm afraid. Heiner and Christoph proposed the use of the Gravity's Rainbow extracts half way through the composition process. So, it can't really be said that that the CD was inspired by or was in any way a reaction to Gravity's Rainbow or Thomas Pynchon, though the Pynchon text is indispensable to it in its final form. We cleared the use of the texts, of course, and sent a copy of the finished work to Pynchon's agent."

Heiner Goebbels writes: "we (a three musician art-rock group called Cassiber (1982-1992), with the British drummer Chris Cutler, Christoph Anders and me) made up a number of songs for the album "A Face We All Know," using texts taken from Gravity's Rainbow - especially from its very beginning and very end; songs like "A Screaming Comes Across the Sky," "Under Archways," "They Began to Move," "Start the Show," etc. The CD came out in 89, and the most surprising fact about it was for me, that -- not knowing who the author was or where he author lived, but still in tune with a lot of mysterious information about him, I got the license to use his words within a day or two by fax, through his New York publisher."

Texts by Chris Cutler (1-5, 11-17) and Thomas Pynchon (7-10, 14), except 6 by Christoph Anders and German texts (8, 12, 14) by Rainald Goetz.

I.

This was the way it was. I don't remember. I took notes. We knew nothing. People came and went. One night we were watching that - the programme about the idiot who loses everything...

It was 2 'O clock in the morning. I'd drunk too much and fallen asleep in a chair. I woke in a panic. the TV was howling. My mouth was dry. I was burning up. I was burning. We were going into a tunnel we would never come out of. I knew. It was the end.

I thought I'd gone crazy. All the Old Gods had come back. As big as houses. I was twelve. All I remember is the stink: Ambrosia, sour on their breath like rancid milk. But I learned their secret: they vomited their own space.

I remember everything. I see it all before my eyes. Even the words. In letters that roll like credits when a film is over. They float in front of me. When I close my eyes I see what I think. And the words. In terrible colours.

Chris Cutler.

II.

The rhythmic clapping resonates inside these walls, which are hard and glossy as coal: Come-on! Start-the-show!
Come-on! Start-the-show! The screen is a dim page spread before us, white and silent. The film has broken, or a projector bulb has burned out ... The last image was too immediate for any eye to register ... And in the darkening and awful expanse of screen something has kept on, a film we have not learned to see ... it is now a closeup of the face, a face we all know. (p. 760)

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. It is too but it's all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders .... and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of the day through. But it's night. He's afraid of the way the glass will fall - soon - it will be spectacle: down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing. (p. 3)

They go in under archways, secret entrances of rotten concrete that only looked like loops of an underpass ... and it is poorer the deeper they go ... ruinous secret cities of poor, places whose names he has never heard ... the walls break down, the roofs get fewer and so do the chances for light. The road ... more broken, cornering tighter and tighter until all at once, much too soon, they are under the final arch: brakes grab and spring terribly... (p. 3)

They have begun to move. They pass In line, out of the main station, out of downtown, and start pushing into older and more desolate parts of the city. Is this the way out ? Faces turn to the windows, but no one dares ask, not out loud. Rain comes down. (p. 3)

Thomas Pynchon (Page references are to the 1973 Viking/ Penguin edition of Gravity's Rainbow)

III.

"This was the way it was. I don't remember. I took notes.
We knew nothing. People came and went. One night we
were watching that - the programme about the idiot who
loses everything....

It was 2 'O clock in the morning. I'd drunk too much and
fallen asleep in a chair. I woke in a panic. The TV was
howling. My mouth was dry. I was burning up. I was
burning. We were going into a tunnel we would never come
out of. I knew. It was the end.

I thought I'd gone crazy. All the old Gods had come back.
As big as houses. I was twelve. All I remember is the stink.
Ambrosia, sour on their breath like rancid milk. But I
learned their secret: they vomited their own space.

I remember everything. I see it all before my eyes. Even
the words. In letters that roll like credits when a film is
over. They float in front of me. When I close my eyes I see
what I think. And the words. In terrible colours.

Time gets faster as we get better at it. At the end we can
jump right into the middle. Then we go.....somewhere
else. And then …. what ?

It's never quiet. I went away. I went as far as I could. I
couldn't believe it. It was worse than the traffic, worse
than the chatter, worse than anything: crash, crash,
crash, crash, crash - my own blood crashing in my veins.

It's all too expensive. It all costs too much. I won't pay, I
can't pay.

You want to know my philosophy, my hopes and fears, my
outlook on life ? I was there once. You can see it all there.

I was old when I was young. I was robbed. I was cheated. O
yes, they loved my book. Everybody read it. I was right
after all. But I stopped caring when nothing resisted any
more. Now I keep awake with pills and injections
because....lf I sleep...we have to be on our guard...and
sleep, I have always known this, is alien - dangerous.

A little father. A little farther.

After the dark, the light. Everybody knows that."

(Chris Cutler, Newfoundland, 1987)

 

CD

CASSIBER
A Face We All Know


Chritoph Anders: singing, sampling keyboard, guitar
Chris Cutler: drums, electrics, voice
Heiner Goebbels: keyboards, sampling, Guitar on 16, bass, computerwork

Music by Heiner Goebbels and Chritoph Anders, except 6 by Rene Lussier and 7 by Chritoph Anders. Arangements by Cassiber.

Engineered by George Morawietz, assisted by Uwe Zeigenhagen. Special thanks to Georg Katzner.

1
This was the way it was
10:52
2
Remember
2:52
3
Old Gods
0:27
4
2 'o clock in the morning
2:37
5
Philosophy (1)
0:07
6
Gut
3:46
7
Start the show
3:03
8
A screaming comes across the sky
3:12
9
They go in under archways
4:12
10
They have begun to move
3:33
11
Time gets faster
0:28
12
It's never quiet
2:25
13
Philosophy (2)
0:05
14
A screaming holds
1:57
15
Philosophy (3)
0:32
16
I was old
3:54
17
The way it was
5:06
18
To move
2:54
total playing time:
42:03



Availability


Cassiber's "A Face We All Know" is released by ReR Megacorp in London,
distributed in the US by Cuneiform Records, P.O. Box 6517,
Wheaton, MD 20906

<www.cuneiformrecords.com>

 

Contacts/Discographies/Samples


Chris Cutler <www.ccutler.com>

Heiner Goebbels <www.heinergoebbels.com>

Information about Cassiber was first brought to our attention by Sanjay Kumar, who said: "I played keyboards in a couple of bands called Utotem and 5uu's, whose music is in a similar vein [to Cassiber's], although without the improvisation. In fact, I recall meeting Heiner Goebbels in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1990 at an art rock festival where Utotem gave its first European performance."

Samples of Sanjay's music can be found at:

<www.bdrak.com/sounds/ht.htm>

<www.bdrak.com/sounds/cri.htm>

<www.cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtm/fiveuu.html>

<www.cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtm/utotem.html>


Anderson, Laurie.
Famous New York performance artist Laurie Anderson dedicated a song to Pynchon on her Mister Heartbreak album.

Benatar, Pat.
Believe it or not, she named a final album Gravity's Rainbow.

Benny Profane.
English hard rockers from Liverpool, they took their name from a character in V.

Blowtorch, Eric
Reggae influenced artist putting Pynchon's lyrics to music.

Cassiber.
An avant garde German group used Gravity's Rainbow to tell a different tale.

Corey, Prof. Irwin.
The man who was the infamous stand-in for Thomas Ruggles Pynchon.

Dangtrippers.
They recorded Maxwell's Demon Box on their album, Days Between Stations.

Einhorn, Richard.
Another rendition of music devoted to the Demon, and much more.

Fariña, Richard.
An long-time friend of Pynchon, this folkie named an instrumental work after a Pynchon novel.

Favorite Color, The.
A New Jersey band sets a selection from V. to music on their album Color Out of Space (1996).

Fool, The.
Surely not Slothrop's band, this was a short lived group which did, in fact, have a harmonica player.

Forked Yew.
Independent, highly experimental rockers and Pynchon fans from the American South.

Frith & Kaiser.
An instrumental pair with a piece called The Kirghiz Light.

Hall, Ed.
An early 90's band influenced by Pynchon, they named a song Roger Mexico.

Insect Trust.
This jazzy, psychedelic group mined V. for lyrics to The Eyes of a New York Woman.

Jazz Butcher.
AKA Pat Fish, who named a track Looking for Lot 49 on his Fishcoteque album.

Jones, Spike.
Pynchon himself wrote the liner notes for Spiked!

Knopfler, Mark.
The Sultan of Swing sails to Philadelphia!

Koron, Barry.
Weilding the Sjambok never felt so good!

Lot 49 (Ontario).
This now retired hardcore outfit hailed from the hometown of Spermatikos Logos' own Laurence Daw.

Lot 49 (NYC).
Indie NYC rockers named after Pynchon's second novel.

Lotion.
A New York group whose liner notes were penned by the Man himself.

 

Maas.
A visit to San Narciso.

Nirvana.
Was the famous tune Smells Like Teen Spirit acutally inspired by a song from Gravity's Rainbow?

Nova Mob.
A "Rock Opera" filled with references to Gravity's Rainbow.

Ocker, David.
Musical meditations on Eight Facts About
Thomas Pynchon
.

Okasek, Ric.
Ride The Rocket with the former frontman of The Cars.

 

Pere Ubu.
David Thomas' legendary, seminal band shows some Pynchon influences.

PopCanon.
These literate Indies hail from Flordia, and have a song about Wanda Tinasky which is highly recomm-ended!

Poster Children.
This group from Champaign, Illinois, covers a lot of Pynchon ground!

Radiohead.
English art-rockers who incorporate many Pynchon motifs into their work.

Rapoon.
An offshoot of Zoviet France, Robin Storey's group named Rapoon released an album called The Kirghiz Light.

Sauter & Dietrich, Moore.
More liner notes written by Pynchon !!

 

Six Finger Satellite.
Indie electro-rock futurists Six Finger Satellite make a reference to Gravity's Rainbow.

Soft Machine.
Seminal "proggies," they recorded a full-scale work called Esther's Nose Job in 1969.

Spock's Beard.
In memory of "the evil Spock," they do homage to V.

Time in Malta.
A California metal group with a name taken from V.

Ware, Tim.
Pynchon scholar, Web master, and MIDI Musician.

Whole Sick Crew, The.
Purveyors of pirate folk-punk, truly a gang like their Pynchon namesakes.

XXX Atomic Toejam.
F. Thorendal, from praised thrash-heroes Meshuggah, gets one in for the Vikings.

Yo La Tengo.
Making music indebted to The Crying of Lot 49.

Yoyodyne.
Related to New York's Lot 49, ths Florida group also takes their name from Pynchon's work.

Zevon, Warren.
He recently released an album containing work inspired by Pynchon.

 


--Dr Larry Daw, Chris Cutler,
Heiner Goebbels, & Sanjay Kumar.
1 July, 2001