Luc Van Acker ‘Taking Snapshots’ (Self-Released, 1982)

“These track names were created by the people who bought the album in 1982,” asserted Belgian artist Luc Van Acker of the 2009 reissue of his debut album, ‘Taking Snapshots’.

You’d be right to feel confused reading such a statement. Track names are the work of the artist responsible, not the audience, right? Well, not in this case. When ‘Taking Snapshots’, was originally released in 1982, things weren’t so straightforward. 

With a computer programmer father, few, if any, friends interested in similar things around him and heavily into rock music due to his love of Melody Maker, Acker was still in secondary school and developing his skills as a budding, bedroom recordist when he produced his first track. The abrasive, jerky, electropop jolt, ‘Onze Vader’, landed him a spot on ‘No Big Business’, a compilation put out on Kleo Records by Roland Beelen in 1981. 

He released ‘Taking Snapshots’ soon after, and it became a street-level, mail-art project. Armed with his Revox tape machine and his Renault 4, Acker toured the album around Europe for three months with a batch to sell (10 sales a day generated enough cash for food and a place to crash). 

Although the idea lent itself well to his art-school roots, the income was so meagre, the album was devoid of information – a black hole on vinyl. Those who bought it would write their own song titles in their own language on the record, leaving them free to submerge themselves in the raw impact of the void they were being joyously swallowed up by, stripped of any preconceptions about what was in store based on the titles of the tracks.

Inspired as much by punk rock’s DIY ethos and self-professed non-musician Brian Eno as the calligraphy of the Buddhist monk Huai Su and the Fluxus art movement, the album is a masterful refinement of where it started. Unleashing the kind of noise that takes your nose off, it’s the sonic equivalent of Su’s work, described as “steel strokes and silver hooks”. 

In later life, Acker collaborated with Les Disques Du Crépuscule luminary Anna Domino and with Wax Trax! Records as the superglue oozing throughout a lot of the tales told and the protagonists within them. Readers may also recognise Acker as a founding member of industrial hell-raising tricksters, Revolting Cocks. 

Yet, a strike of the match before the interesting, interconnected little flames really got going, these first tracks without names and with thousands at once, these experiments in the capacities and pushed-against limitations of his Tascam 144, are where it all began. The second year zero. 

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