FANTASTIC PLACE - Ringlets & Gaskets / The Catskills Tape (Expanded Edition)
Ringlets & Gaskets sessions recorded between 1988 and 1990 in Jersey City, NJ. The Catskills Tape recorded in 1994 in Chichester, NY. Track 1, track 3-14, track 32 - previously unreleased from the Ringlets & Gaskets sessions. Track 2 – originally appeared on the Yeti Nine compilation. Tracks 15-17, tracks 30-31 - originally appeared on “The William Berger Ringlets & Gaskets Cassette” – edition of 4 copies. Tracks 18-24 , tracks 26-29- previously released as download only on bandcamp as The Catskills Tape. Track 25 - previously unreleased from the Catskills Tape sessions.
“During the mid to late 1980s I was using a Tascam 4-track Portastudio as a cassette tape sketchbook, throwing down sounds and melodies with reckless urgency between bouts of drawing comics and oil painting in a top floor loft in Jersey City. The idea was to fuck around with sound and music without regard to any rules or production concerns. I just got stuff down on tape to see what came up. Any recording was better than no recording. I had met the home-taping pioneer R. Stevie Moore by chance in a Sam Goody record store when I was 17, and his records, with all their little glitches and splices and insanely hooky hooks really did it for me. Low-fi held the magic. When the Tascam became a thing in the 80s there was nothing holding me back. Cartoonist (and then WFMU DJ) Kaz moved in, and our loft became a buzz of 24 hour psychedelic energy. Bill Berger’s Low-fi radio show emerged in response to the growing home taping scene. Mike McGonigal started up his legendary Chemical Imbalance. Generator Music Gallery opened in the East Village and sponsored live shows with Arcane Device and Conrad Schnitzler. On 8th Street, Psychedelic Solution put original underground comic art and blotter acid on the walls (we met R. Crumb and Charles Burns!). Steve Cerio worked there and came over to collaborate on a few recordings using my shitty drum kit which had been rescued from the trash. My crap 35 dollar Telecaster guitar copy was a mainstay in those days. I made instruments out of drinking glasses, rubber bands, butter knives. And I had somehow gotten a hold of an old red and white 60s Farfisa organ, which I put to constant use. In addition to collecting ambient sounds with a Walkman cassette recorder and a little stereo mic, I gathered musical instruments of all kinds. I had a double pipe zummara, a bombard, a clarinet, a trombone, a buck call, a jaw harp, a banjo and a banjo tuning pipe. I had a busted, re-glued nylon acoustic guitar, a bunch of cheap mics, and an original wah-wah pedal. There were piles of books, stacks of cassettes, all the vinyl of course, a sturdy Remington typewriter, and plenty of wires going across the floor. Once a tiny magic mushroom sprouted from the moist wooden edge of our kitchen countertop where we had previously split up a bag of them. 25 O’Clock by Dukes of Stratosphear had recently come out, and Bam-Caruso was re-issuing all those lost 60’s gems. My songs came together piecemeal, often in long, late night sessions sitting cross-legged on the floor with headphones on and instruments all around, bouncing tracks to make room for more tracks. I couldn’t play the drums to save my ass but didn’t care and would lay down the drums ahead of time without knowing what the song was yet. My only high-end instrument was a Rickenbacker bass guitar because, well, Chris Squire right? Oh god, yes, we had heaven.” - Alexander Ross, 2023
"This lovely artifact came together by chance. I recently visited my pal, Justin, to pick up a used cassette deck; he showed me his collection of used cassettes he was selling, including a batch of rare 80s/90s DIY cassettes that were originally part of William Berger’s (RIP) private collection. Having been a key member of the NYC alternative/indie rock scene, William (Bill) Berger was also an important free-form DJ at the legendary WFMU. Back in the 80s/90s, he had radio show segments titled "Low-Fi" and "Home-Taper's Showcase," that featured private, homemade cassettes he received from bands and solo artists. This is how I stumbled upon what turned out to be the rare original “Ringlets & Gaskets” cassette by Fantastic Palace.
I decided to reach out to Fantastic Palace (visual artist Alexander Ross) hoping to find more info about this unique release. He made the private cassette primarily for Berger and his WFMU show - only 4 copies were made. Intrigued, I asked Ross if he had any other unreleased material – lo and behold, he did. And now, this new release was born! This cassette/download includes unreleased tracks from the Ringlets & Gaskets era, along with the first-time official release of tracks from that private William Berger cassette. Side B consists of the self-released Catskills Tape from 1994 plus unreleased tracks from the 2 sessions. Big thanks to Alex Ross for sharing his music and art for this special project. And thanks to the late William Berger, his estate, and his essential freeform WFMU radio show. Without that show, this cassette would not have come together" – Tom Hyland (aka TomDash)
After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.
This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).
Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.
Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.
Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).
So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.