Brought to you by record collector and DJ Grace George, Label of Love is a series that tells short histories of music labels & their legacies. For this week’s Label of Love, we travel to Tilburg, a Southern city in the Netherlands, where the label Eksakt was born.
Now defunct after operations ceased in 1990, it started releasing music in 1982 under the main Eksakt imprint & its two subs Fragment & Traction Avant. The word Eksakt translates as ‘Exact’ in Norwegian. Google Translate doesn’t recognise it as a Dutch word, and ironically the exact origins, purpose & history of this label are hard to uncover. It was the cartoon logo of a dog defecating that drew us in; this label most likely encouraged a shit-storm of rebellion & musical unrest during its existence.
Our inability to uncover the origins of Eksakt is to be expected when one is digging across the internet hoping to unearth hidden emeralds for the ears. There will be labels that simply do not have an available written history for the modern listener. Instead, an oral history will suffice, as often the sounds & design of a label can hint at its political & social ethos.
Eksakt released new-wave, psychedelic, post-punk, experimental, synth-pop & art-rock artists on vinyl & tape formats. However, for this piece we are going to focus on three cassette releases & their unique packaging, with a short introduction to Dutch cassette culture & the home-taping scene.
Sounds of Eksakt
Eric Van De Boorn – Who’s There (1982)
This instrumental new-wave / electro track from musician & producer Eric Van De Boorn is part of a cassette compilation ‘1 Hour’ for Spits. The compilation features music from fellow Dutch musicians, all obscure now and tricky to track down. Without the opportunity of hearing the other work, the most alluring feature of this compilation is its bizarre packaging. The cassette was housed in a yellow bath-sponge ‘in a multi fold-out, silk-screened card with info and credits printed’ in red and green. Perhaps to clean yourself of the blood, sweat & SPIT accumulated through writhing & grooving to this compilation.
80’s cassette culture in the Netherlands was spearheaded by “musical outsiders and eccentrics” armed with new technology & a Spartan resourcefulness. It was a “rebellion” against the traditional vinyl of the music industry, and an affordable way for musicians to record and distribute music. These musicians often aimed to outdo each other with their extravagant but austere packaging at the public cassette fairs held across Dutch cities in the mid 80s.
For more info on the home-taping scene & its distorted intricacies, Dutch artist Jeroen Vermandere has a radio show on Redlight Radio named Tapes & runs reissue label Ongehoord that explores Dutch cassette culture.
Exploiting the Prophets – The Thin King Man (1983)
A Tilburg based new-wave & experimental group, also featured on the 1 Hour for Spits compilation with producer Eric Van De Boorn. Their first album release on cassette came with “a very large, screen printed cardboard which contains artwork and information”…prompting the question, how was this distributed?
The full LP can be downloaded through Dutch blog FREDHEADSET’S MIND WARPS. No cardboard artwork included sadly.
Various – Fragment 1 & 2 (1984/1985)
Two compilations released under the Fragment sub showcasing Eksakt’s sounds of the mid 80’s home-taping scene alongside chosen tracks of the labels taste: “Each issue contains surprising and unreleased material from unsuspected places.”
Both cassettes were presented in a plastic bag, with screen-printed artwork of cartoon dogs, one in red, the other in blue & perhaps in connection to the logo of the naughty defecating dog. Huib Simons is listed as the designer for both the Fragment & The Thin King Man cassettes & many more on the Eksakt catalogue, an artistic person of mystery.
If you have any information to share on this label & its cadre, we are all ears & eyes!