Mike James

Friday, 16 March 2007

I think that it was Marco Kalnenek, who introduced me to Mike James around 1991, but I am not sure. Anyway, within a few weeks I had received from him a few dozens of cassette tapes, with all kind of interesting material: rare and unknown LP’s, radio shows, television documentaries and last but not least Mike James himself rambling about everything that was of his interest.
There was little to none information on the tapes, which I learned to appreciate over the years. I prefer detailed liner notes with every track, but it paid off to lower my audio gourmet standards. Of all the people I trade with, Mike James is one of the most generous.
Mike James was, among many other things, an artist and he run a small private printing company, called The Phantom Press. Somewhere on this page you can see a set of little portraits that Mike made of mystery authors. (I noticed I have an extra set, so if you think you are worth it, just ask.) His musical activities were done under the name Underground Culture Vulture. I think his basic activity was giving away cassettes, but I know he also wrote articles and published several fanzines. But when I got in contact him he was already far from healthy and one by one he had to give up his activities. Still, on the more than 100 (!!!) audio letters that he sent me, he never ever complained. He is one of the people that opened up my ears and eyes to certain things, which I doubt I would not have noticed without help. (He also introduced me to Marc Reeve, another person who really turned my life upside down. But that is story for later.)
After having received all those tapes, I made a compilation cassette with excerpts from Mike James’ audio letters. I also made a little fanzine with some extra information about this phenomenon and asked Marcel Ruijters to draw an illustration for the cover. The flood of tapes did not stop, and I should have made more compilations to do the man justice.
As an audio illustration I picked a part from the compilation tape, which should not be considered as representative for the rest of the tape.