review by Doug Mosurock
on Still Single (Jan 2015)


Cassetopia presents an assortment of ambient and noise pieces from the early 1990s, as realized by Reynols’ chief conspirator Courtis in his home studio environment. The record escapes classification by nature of its very existence; there is not a connecting thread in here, nor does Courtis run to any extremes in his music (though there is a level of pressure reached around the end of side 1 that could be torturous under many conditions). To me these sounds like attempts at defining one’s character through sound, as previous efforts in a more rational, personable manner had failed both the artist and the audience. Intriguing for sure, but at 250 copies, decidedly for the few. (
(Doug Mosurock)



review by James Wyness
on Fouter & Swick (Jun 2014)


I’ve listened to this album many times and would say that Anla Courtis seems to favour specific musical values: musical meaning expressed by means of a plurality of sound sources and inventiveness of composition; an almost historical approach to the making of the album – a sort of retrospective glance at methods and sound archives and consequently the possibility of nostalgia in setting out a lo-fi environment; short episodic pieces each exploring their own corner of sonic territory; inventiveness within the limitations of a of restricted palette. The sources are diverse – electric guitar, tapes, bags, bells, bronceosasma system, pipes, turntable, violin, plastic trumpet, music box and processing. The music was recorded on to 4-track cassette in the early 90s and, though we are left to guess, possibly reworked.

The album is quite simple to describe but hard to recall. I can’t form an image of the music in my head as I can with, say, the music of Mark Fell or Francsisco Lopez, to take two well-known contrasting artists.

Side A has a quiet start with rumbles, clicks and loops. Then pauses and synthy pads. The music starts to become a mixture of more concrete recorded material and device-driven sounds set out as short passages of disconnected material. The foregrounds, generally identifiable timbres, are often layered with noise. Away from the processes, concepts and gestures, in purely sonic terms some of the noise passages are quite interesting as are those which focus on sound rather than organisation of sounds.

Side B offers some contrast. Things seem to run and evolve a little more freely, though again with fairly recognisable sounds, some surprises (for example something resembling a WEM copicat in full voice and something else resembling a Romanian nose flute) and carefully considered injections of feedback and resonance. Even with somewhat bland electric guitar sounds everything is extremely well-crafted and musically structured.

The whole album, to put it simply, sounds very experimental, like an invitation to a not-quite-mad professor’s lab which lends the work an atmosphere of warmth, generosity, honesty, humor and enjoyment. These are not to be treated lightly and are the qualities that make Courtis’ music so accessible.

I asked some questions of the artist questions to help me understand his choices, ideas and processes:-

What makes you decide to use so many different sound sources? Do you restrict yourself, are the resources simply what you have to hand or do you make a conscious decision to work with what one might call lo-fi sources?

The LP is from the early 90’s when I started with solo recordings. I got my first portastudio and I discovered a whole world recording in my own bedroom. Four channels on cassette! It was all fresh and new so it was exciting to try out many sounds sources and record with them as much as possible. The lo-fi aspect has to do with the cassette itself: since I didn’t get a computer until the end of the 90’s that was the only way for me to make these kind of pieces. By the way I like the cassette sound a lot – magnetic tape has some organic quality that works very well with some stuff so I still use the portastudio sometimes.

What do the titles mean – are they significant in the context of the music?

The titles are based on a neologism that connects the words “cassette” and “utopia”. Despite the fact that the name came afterwards I think it describes pretty well the spirit of that moment.

I sensed a structure of short-ish disconnected pieces. Is this a deliberate formal choice, driven by restrictions in the material or something else?

The pieces themselves are in a way all pretty different which was a kind of hallmark of that moment. To choose a sound source, to try to do something with it not knowing very well where it would end up were all part of the creative process. And I think it’s still nice that the pieces don’t sound all the same.

Some, perhaps a majority of the pieces, are gestural and quite linear. Is this again a deliberate compositional choice or is this driven by a live mixing approach to making the work? I suppose I’m asking about spontaneity here as well.

During those years I was pretty aware of my limitations so to focus only on one sound or one idea was something normal. In the end maybe that helped a bit the pieces to avoid becoming too “pretentious”. However now I find that early simplicity to be something not only anecdotic but also pretty interesting in itself.



on Textura (May 2014)


The always interesting ini.itu label returns with three new vinyl releases whose musical terrain extends from the “dystopic lounge ambiance” of David Ross and Clive Bell and the “serenity and alienation” of Anla Courtis to the imaginary landscapes of Anaphoria. 


Buenos Aires, Argentina-born Anla Courtis (b.1972) brings a wealth of experience to his Cassetopiarelease, with the founding member of Reynols also having collaborated in the past with figures such as Pauline Oliveros, Otomo Yoshihide, Phill Niblock, Mats Gustafsson, and Toshimaru Nakamura. Based upon four-track cassette recordings produced between 1990-1992, Courtis uses a number of source materials (guitar, violin, bells, plastic trumpet, tapes, turntable, electronics, field recordings, etc.) to shape his electro-acoustic pieces into evocative explorations of contrasting design. Some qualify as noise exercises or tape experiments, while others are comparatively more musical, with an actual melody or two emerging from the dense undergrowth.

Featuring eleven “Cassetopia” variations, the album begins with sparse and spooky nocturnal meanderings before the cryptic tinkle of a music box suggests relocation to a child's nursery. Grinding noise experiments speckled with the garble of distorted voices and smeared horns surface thereafter, though it bears worth mentioning that Courtis's noise pieces, which tend to creak and whirr at a comfortably calibrated pitch, are always easy on the ears. On side two, an initial excursion into deep space leads in turn to agitated flutterings, the raw scrape of a violin, and the molten, grime-coated groans of an electric guitar. The sense of woozy disorientation that pervades Cassetopia culminates in the closing track, a crackle-drenched vignette that drunkenly sways more than any other piece on the album.




description by Chris
at Toolbox Records (Apr 2014)



organic ambient, full of delicate sounds... like a melody played in a cellar with every kind of objects you could find there. Not really a noise album, niether Idm or ambient... here we go abstract child music, hasardous accoustic toy bending, grandma violin tortures... Ambiances rather than ambient !



review by Frans de Waard
on Vital Weekly 925 (Mar 2014)


Whereas the Ross/Bell and Grady records might still be 'exotic' - mainly in the use of instruments, I should think - such a thing is not the case on the record by Anla Courtis. This former member of Reynols harks back to the days before Reynols, and re-explores sound material recorded back then. The only vaguely exotic thing is the country from which Courtis is, Argentina, but by now he's very much part of the world of experimental music, traveling annually the world and playing with virtually anybody he comes across. On this solo LP however he relies on using the guitar, synthesizers, tapes, bags, bells, pipes, turntable, violin, plastic trumpet, music box and electronics, and apparently this was recorded in 1990-1992 on a four-track cassette. It's somewhere along the lines of drones, guitar noise, psychedelics, cosmic music and occasionally sounds rather simple, but throughout I think it works quite well. Courtis has here an interesting amount of variation on offer and in these eleven pieces he bounces back and forth between hard-core minimalism, brave improvisation and noisy electronics. I'm a bit in the dark as to why this had to be released now, but it's also a brave attempt at moving away from the ethnic feel and expands more into a label with a broader interest. And at that this is surely one fine move. (FdW)



description by ReviewBot3000
at Norman Records (Mar 2014)



I tried to give this LP a preliminary listen at dinner time last night, but it quickly became apparent that its disjointed avant garde ambiance was a bit too high brow for my long-suffering housemate so it didn't last long. Listening to it on my own at half past seven in the morning, however, is another story entirely as I'm able to properly devote my attention to Courtis's latest head-scratching noise tapestry.

There's all sorts going on here, from weirdly layered field recordings that clack and slap and clatter and rumble chaotically, farty'n'squeaky brass drones, tinkling bells, harsh electronic buzzes and squealing feedback...but don't worry, it tends to be sequential, these things aren't all happening at the same time! Each sonic idea is given a little time to breathe and develop, but it's still a somewhat confrontational and difficult aesthetic that will most likely alienate anyone on the hunt for a tune. If a confusing and vibrant collection of awkward textures is what you're looking for, though, this is a treasure trove.


description at Metamkine (Mar 2014)


Anla Courtis, que l'on connait comme membre fondateur des Reynols, est un musicien imprévisible, autant capable de se rouler sous un piano que de jouer du peigne ou des cintres à vêtements sans parler de l'amplification de bruits de bandes. Réel aventurier du son, il travaille sans filet et ose les rencontres les plus improbables. Pour ce Cassetopia, il joue du 4 pistes K7 avec une multitude de sources (guitare, sacs plastiques, cloches, violon, trompette, tubes, ) et fabrique un véritable cabinet de curiosités à base de miniatures toutes plus mystérieuses les unes que les autres. Une musique électroacoustique hors de tout académisme. C'est enregistré entre 1990 et 1992, transféré sur digital en 2011 et masterisé par Tayor Dupree en 2013. Limité à 250 copies.