Tinkerhorn Muziek (Lost Myths Records LM-0013) was a 10-inch 78rpm released only in Europe in 1927. There was only ever the one pressing, and it’s unlikely that there were more than a few hundred copies made. Only seven copies are known to still exist. The original recordings, along with any documentation that might have helped us understand this music better, were lost in a fire in 1940, when the Nazis invaded Amsterdam.
Both sides are simply labelled “Tinkerhorn Muziek” and are unlikely to be songs per se. There is a sense, as the recording begins, that the music started without us, that we are catching a portion of a longer work, or perhaps even only a snippet from an eternal symphony that might have been playing since the beginning of time itself. Similarly, the music does not end. It merely stops, mid-beat. An unfortunate consequence, we fear, of the time limitations of 78rpm records.
The melodies are simultaneously plaintive and playful, strange and familiar, preternatural and folkloric. We have not been able to determine which instruments, exactly, are being played by the Dutch Tinkerhorn Folkloric Orchestra. The language of the vocals is also baffling. Some musicologists are convinced that the vocalizations are sound improvisations, but some linguists claim to have detected traces of ancient Celtic tongues.
We have been unable to locate any surviving members of this obscure musical ensemble. Some have advanced the theory that the jacket shows a photograph of the Tinkerhorns’ true appearance — i.e., that they were not human, but instead some sort of woodland fairies from the rural Netherlands — but that is patently absurd. They are obviously wearing costumes.
illustration & character design by Rupert Bottenberg
music by Thus:Owls