2003   SEPTEMBER 15   #258

The J & H Productions Tape

Longtime fans of oddball & outsider music have heard their share of laughable demo tapes from nutcases seeking to conjure superstardom out of their threadbare talent, but the uncanny J&H Productions tape may be history's only case of someone trying to enter a non-talent branch of the music industry by mailing out an audiocassette of himself. Think of an urban I Sing About Blue guy who does not, in fact, sing.

Describing the tape any further is not merely difficult, but quite beside the point; one really has to hear it and even meditate on its content to truly enter the speaker's fractured universe. Also hindering description is the fact that only the barest scraps of the tape's history are known. About all that's clear is that, sometime in the 1980s, a man in Cincinnati decided his ideal vocation would be a career somewhere in the organizational/promotional end of show business. He described his various goals into a tape recorder, mailed the resulting cassette to at least one recording label, and a legend was born.

Although the entirety of the tape is a single man's speech, one can hear a kind of avant-garde music in the way the speaker repeats and intertwines the major themes of his modest proposal. The J&H guy's musical scale is his rudimentary vocabulary of two-and three-word phrases; his metronome, the leisurely speed at which his brain feeds the next sentence fragment to his mouth. And just when you think he's become so repetitive that you might as well stop listening, he surprises you by tossing in a new "note" and weaving it into the larger symphony. The overall effect is truly of something from another dimension, an effect that manages to sink in quite deeply over the tape's generous 13-minute running time.

Uninterested parties dismiss the tape as the unfocused ramblings of a madman, but the discerning fan hails it as... well, as exactly the same thing. I myself find the tape more inspirational than the most profound gospel ballad. For lurking in the pauses between the J&H Guy's zigzagging thoughts, there lies a tale of one man's unsinkable ambition and fearless determination in the face of such powerful forces as grammar, logic and organized narrative.

In hopes of someday, somehow tracking down and meeting this remarkable man, I maintain a modest fan website devoted to the tape featuring a transcript and the scant intelligence its fans have gathered, but I urge the uninitiated to download from here, and give it one or two full listens to completely form your own feelings before attempting to delve further into the tape's mysteries.

- Tim Harrod

TT-13:30 / 12MB / 128kbps 44.1khz (MONO)
Thanks to Erik Olsen for encoding J&H for 365

Darren James writes:
I have just listened to the J&H productions tape and was blown away by it. Why use ten words when you can use 12,326! I think this bloke should get some kind of award for using the word "pertaining" so many times. Sheer quality. Here's the worrying bit... After months of listening to George Dubya Bush's rhetoric (even more amusing from my Brit perspective - see poem at end of email [and I thought Ronald Reagan was funny enough!]), Mr J&H production is clearly a Dubya fore-runner, maybe even a pre-clone, this is confirmed by your intro:

"The J&H guy's [read Dubyas] musical scale is his rudimentary vocabulary of
two-and three-word phrases; his metronome, the leisurely speed at which his
brain feeds the next sentence fragment to his mouth."

I don't think I've heard Dubya use a sentance with more than five words in it! This following poem is composed entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush. It was compiled and arranged by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson.

Make the Pie Higher

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen
And uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
Become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish
Can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!