Cassette Culture #1 – Arbeit Macht Frei

By mid-1984 SCW had established a practice and recording space at Willow St. in Waterloo, Ontario, and had access to the electronic music labs at the University of Waterloo. In August of that year they released their first cassette, entitled Arbeit Macht Frei.

“Arbeit Macht Frei” tape cover – folded out – by PnrH

The cassette was 90 minutes in length, with about 32 individual tunes. Here’s some highlights:

Kill Pigs

All you wanna do is kill yourself

All you wanna do is kill yourself

Why’re you trying to kill yourself?

Why aren’t you trying to…

Kill Pigs!

Kill Pigs!

Kill Pigs!

SCW salutes their punk roots using a distinctly un-punk drum machine…

Ashes In My Bier

This track features vocals from our dearly departed friend Geoff Hendry. He’s complaining about people using his beer bottle for an ashtray at parties. Geoff was SCW’s sound man, recording engineer,  roadie and #1 fan. He took his own life in 1994 and is still missed:

Father’s Day

This piece shows the influence of other bands that were using found audio at the time, such as Throbbing Gristle and Caberet Voltaire:


This piece was done using the pause/rewind buttons on a consumer cassette recorder, several years before SCW got their hands on digital samplers:

Trash The Roller Coaster

SCW was strongly influnced by funk, disco and go-go music. In fact, in the late 80’s SCW became a live disco-funk band. More on that later. In the summer of 1984 James Brown played a week-long residency in Kitchener, preparing the band for his North American tour. SCW came out several times to see him, at one point being mistaken for Cano, who were apparently also in town. This tune is SCW’s dada-ist take on the Ohio Players’ Love Roller Coaster, featuring Mr. T on guitar, who would later join SCW for their final live show:

Work For Happy Feelings

More disco influence. This tune used the Roland TR-606 driving the SH-101’s sequencer:

…and a less disco/more rock instrumental version…

Do The Sucking Chest Wound

Like everybody else, SCW was heavily influenced by reggae and dub.This was the SCW theme song…


I don’t wanna work… Dub and acid. 10 years after recording this tune, the dub influence took hold on SCW in a major way…

Jeff-o is Dead

This tune is based mainly on SCW’s Moog modular synth experiments. Also clearly influenced by My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

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