I just received the Korm Plastics re-release of The Hafler Trio’s Dislocation. I’ve been waiting for this one more than any of the others thus far. The Korm Plastics re-issue series is a magnificent undertaking wherein a large chunk of Hafler Trio material that has long been unavailable or available only in “wrong” versions is being re-issued in definitive form. The packaging for each has been stunning: each release in a booklet sized “wallet” form, with full booklets, posters, post-cards, and more. The releases are all wrapped in a vellum (or vellum-like) material with additional writing. The packaging alone is of the highest grade - far higher than what these releases saw in their original forms (even ones that were also in wallet/booklet form).
I first became interested in The Hafler Trio when the Hafler Trio / Nurse With Wound collaboration was issued on CD, which I picked up in … 1995? 96? I was a big Nurse With Wound fan at the time and, thus, gobbled this one up. I was blown away. While I recognized many Nurse With Wound sounds, the overall production and flow was of a different nature. Similar, yes, in it all being (perhaps) some form of Musique:Concrete. It just sounded a bit more … polished? Subtle? In any case, it remains a personal favorite.
At this time, I was 20-21 years old, poor, bla bla bla. Most of these CDs that I liked were all import and out of my price range (when they could even be found). But one day around this time, I was in a used cassette shop, and came across the original Hafler Trio Dislocation cassette. For $4! It was a Staaltape release, in a bag (my second one - a couple of years earlier I picked up what turned out to be a fairly rare Legendary Pink Dots cassette in the same style of packaging, mostly because I didn’t yet have a CD player). Not knowing much of The Hafler Trio at the time, I knew that this was something I should get, as it was unlikely that I would easily come across such a find for years to come.
I liked the tape, but I admit that it took a while to grow on me. It was very quiet and subtle, with a lot of field recordings. It was something that I enjoyed, but I found that I had to give it more attention than similar recordings from other artists. I loved having it on tape, though. It heightened the “found sound” feeling. And I loved what was inside the bag (besides the unlabeled cassette). Inside, there was heavy paper with fragments of maps on one side and various clippings on the other. It was far more interesting than some of the cheap shock imagery (or just cheap packaging) used, again, by somewhat similar artists that interested me at that time.
However, as fascinating as it all was, that would be it for me and The Hafler Trio until 3-4 years later when, after moving to the east coast, I’d find a copy of A bag of cats at Printed Matter’s old Wooster Street location in NYC. After that find, I’d lap up whatever I could.
So Dislocation has been held in a special place, and I’d been watching that Korm re-issue series list tick along, waiting for this one to show up. Now it’s here. And it’s much more impressive than imagined. First, the booklet is a new heavy-stock foldout variation of the same maps found within the cassette version. When folded up… I can’t even describe it, really. It’s just beautiful and very different from the booklets that have accompanied the rest of the re-issue series.
But what’s really been impressive has been the audio. This time, I have no prior CD to compare; only tape. And I love tape. But now, more than any other re-issue done thus far, I can really see how well done the audio restoration has been. Remarkably well done. This album deserved (and required) it. As much as I loved the “found sound” fuzzy feeling I got from the tape, there are a lot of nuances here that I may now appreciate. Goddamn well done.