artifacts of the no-audience underground: more cdrs on striate cortex

April 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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  • Spaces Between – untitled, 13 tracks, 48 minutes, CD-r, S.C.39
  • small things on sundays – mass | flux, 5 tracks, 50 minutes, CD-r, S.C.38
  • posset – the silver conch, 11 tracks, 37 minutes, CD-r, S.C.15

Available from: Striate Cortex.  Audio clips from the SC catalogue can be heard here.  A gallery of cover photos can be seen here.

Back in February, I think it was, I was introduced to the label Striate Cortex by Neil Campbell.  He gave me one of his freebie copies of a double CD-r compilation called ‘The Trees Are All Blocking The Forest’.  My head was turned both by the high quality of the music it contained but also by the hand-made packaging that contained the music.  My mind boggled at the idea that some guy had made a hundred of these boxes, had given away most of them to contributors and was selling the remainder for a comically low seven quid.  I wrote a review which can be read here (an aside: this piece apparently generated sales!  Blimey – my meanderings have financial consequences…).

Intrigued, I had a look at the label’s website, which has a lo-fi, mid-90s, geocities feel to it, and the story appears to be a simple one.  Striate Cortex is Andy Robinson of Grimsby.  A few years ago he discovered experimental music and, with the zealous fervour of the newly converted, decided to start a label.  He was aided in this by Sindre Bjerga, prolific and ubiquitous presence in the no-audience underground, who features heavily in the early catalogue.  Andy’s releases are all on CD-r, in editions of 50 to 100, and are wrapped up in a variety of striking ways.

The three pictured above are a representative sample.  Posset’s the silver conch is parcelled in what appears to be home-made paper with thread decoratively embedded in it.  Spaces Between’s self titled album has a glossily printed cover hidden in a velvet pouch.  mass | flux by small things on sundays is housed in a sleek cardboard envelope with professional looking inserts and a hand-painted cover illustration.

Now, some readers will have heard me huffing about the pointlessness of elaborate packaging in the past and will be wondering why I’ve gone soft on this lot.  Well, none of this feels excessive – it just exhibits the refreshing care of a respectful enthusiast.  It helps that the music is good too.

RFM faves Posset present a spread of gonzo skronking and improvised, Dadaist unmusic.  The odd track is sketchy, even maddening, but the rest is engaging and the best has the playful feel of a Nurse With Wound collage.  One thing I dig about this band is that Joe is obviously bubbling with ideas but doesn’t let any one outstay its welcome.  I dunno if this is discipline on his part or attention deficit disorder, but it makes listening to a Posset album like eating at an adventurous tapas bar: even if one dish is unpalatable, a delicious morsel could be next up…

The Spaces Between album also contains short tracks which, although nicely differentiated, have a more unified feel.  There are tracks featuring shimmering guitar which, inevitably, call to mind Durutti Column or perhaps Frans de Waard’s Shifts project.  There are tracks featuring programmed drums, pushed slightly into the red, and a bit of scrunchy electronics and these call to mind the songwriting of the early 90s electronica boom.  This is a good thing.

My favourite of the trio, however, is the album by small things on sundays.  I realise that to describe a piece of ambient electronics as ‘atmospheric’ is about as informative as saying a plate of food is ‘tasty’ but these tracks do have a certain climate to them.  We hear models of complex systems, elements overlapping and feeding back.  Patterns emerge, but as to why – well, the dataset is intriguing but the findings prove inconclusive.  Only one of the five lengthy tracks proves predictable but even that one – the set closing ‘floating in space’ – is an excellent example of the synth-wash epic an ex-girlfriend of mine christened ‘wob wob music.’

Buy here

1 Comment »

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  1. thanks for the very kind words here Robert ..
    much appreciated ..

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