R.A. Cantius - Playing In The Dirt

R.A. Cantius “Playing In The Dirt” EP
with booklet by Scott Seward & Byron Coley

Limted Numbered Edition of 200

This LP exists through an act of sheerest serendipity. Scott Seward of John Doe Jr. Records up in Greenfield, MA was talking to one of his regulars, an Amherst-based photographer named Bob Cantius. In the course of their conversations, Scott learned that Bob had — in a former life — done some experimental sound recording, portions of which featured his own homemade string instrument: The Brunt-Milter.

Eventually, Bob was able to turn up tapes of two finished pieces. Both were begun with the Brunt-Milter in 1964, then finished off with added sound sources and mixing in 1968. When they were started, Cantius had just finished his arts degree at Montclair State University, and was working in a dirt floored studio in Paterson. He then spent three years getting a Masters at NYU Film School, and that’s when he added the new work to his instrumental beginnings.

The music is a great collage of strange strings, street recordings (some made by Bob while he was doing sound for film shoots) and various effects, techniques and radio manipulations. It’s a rather remarkable find, and documents a style of experimental thinking and creativity that was common at the time, but usually ended up in the dumpsters of history. Includes text related to the little known Happenings scene at Montclair State and other secret histories.

– Byron Coley, 2015