The Creeping Man

A cassette tape rescued from the trash is what did it.

In 1989, I was a volunteer D.J. for KVSC--the campus radio station at St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota. The music department at KVSC received hundreds of music submissions each week. At the tail end of the 1980's, LP's were in. Cassettes were out. While cassettes were great for making mix tapes to play on a boombox or Walkman, they weren't the most convenient medium for an announcer to cue up in the studio. Quite often, cassette submissions were relegated to the dreaded "Music Hell" box--a canister one step away from the garbage.

Volunteers at the station routinely rifled through the box and took whatever they fancied. The leftovers would never again see the light of day.  

One such tape destined for the trash heap was by Wisconsin artist Joy Before the Storm. The handmade J-card caught my attention. "Art Teacher" proved to be an electronic field recording/sound collage experiment that transformed my way of thinking about music. 

Armed with KVSC's multi track studio, I blundered through my own recordings, creating in 1991 a 15-track mess of noise called "The Sunken Lounge."  And since I wanted to seem Avant-guard to the total of three people I'd share the tape with, I decided to call myself Dormouse. 

                                        Whatever. Can't believe I still have a copy.

Around this time, I became involved with the experimental cassette-trading/mail art culture. The tapes I traded for often found their way onto my Abstractions radio program, an experimental noise/sound collage broadcast in the prime time hours of 1-2 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

I recorded on and off for a number of years, but in 1997 when I got a real job teaching Language Arts in a St. Paul suburb, I donated most of my gear to Goodwill (two 4-track cassette decks! DAMMIT!!) and closed the book on home recording.

Until I caught the bug again in 1999. With college friend Bjor6n Oranj, the two of us recorded pseudo-indie lo-fi stuff for about a year as SQUID. We mustered two full-length CD's and an e.p. before we retired the cephalopod. Bjor6n moved on to better things with The Halcyon Brothers, and I took another recording hiatus, lasting nearly 15 years.

But I got itching to record again and purchased a few drum machines and synthesizers in 2015. I noodled around in a spare bedroom, learning how to manipulate my gear (My first two synths were a Korg Electribe and a Korg Kassiolator Pro+) and posted some of my recordings to SoundCloud, where my listenership of two was quite impressed. 

When I recorded the track JBS, and afterwards the three pieces that would become the e.p. File Error, I decided to come up with a name for my new venture. Since the best anagram of Christopher Campbell was A Limber Crotch Schlepp, I decided to pay respect to one of my favorite authors: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Creeping Man is a nod to the 51st Sherlock Holmes story Doyle wrote. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, it tells the ridiculous story of a renowned scientist, who after injecting himself with an extract from a monkey, starts creeping around his house, scaling walls and trees, and generally scaring the bejeesus out of his family. Admittedly, it wasn't a very good story.

It seemed like an apt name for my new recording venture.