artifacts of the no-audience underground: bells hill label review part twoJune 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: astral social club, bells hill, drone, eyeballs, improv, jazzfinger, new music, no audience underground, noise, posset
We all live in a classic English womb: a tribute to jazzfinger (Bells hill 99)
I’m ashamed to admit that I know almost nothing about Jazzfinger. I’ve heard, what, two albums and a handful of compilation tracks maybe? I met Ben Jones once at the Cumberland Arms gig that Lee Stokoe invited me and Julian Bradley to play in 2002. He was charm personified, with a tigger-esque energy and enthusiasm, and when he had to leave during my set (to attend another gig elsewhere – over-committing being a typical Ben move apparently) he was all thumbs aloft. Anyway, I’m beginning to plug this shocking gap in my musical learning but am still a callow neophyte amongst adepts.
This compilation is a physical manifestation of the reverence in which they are held. To describe these eleven tracks as Jazzfinger cover versions is perhaps simplistic. Whilst I’m not familiar with the source material I suspect it has been used more as inspiration than blueprint. Three highlights: 1. ‘I Am In Blood’ by The Golden Sores is a tasty drone as satisfying as pouring golden syrup from a tin. 2. ‘Old Goose (The Undying Optimism Of Ben Jones And Overall Splender Of Hasan Gaylani)’ by Murder Book in which a core of quiet violence is smothered in swathes of static. 3. ‘The Quintessential Mars Muffler’ by blog-faves Eyeballs which is grin-inducing, hyper-joyful metal machine music.
In summary: one track is awful, a couple are of little consquence but otherwise quality is top end. The album is coherently sequenced, nicely mastered by Waz of Infinite Exchange, and there are lengthy, entertaining, impressionistic liner notes by Richard Dawson of Eyeballs. He describes his experience of Jazzfinger in terms I could use almost word for word to describe how I felt about Vibracathedral Orchestra ten years ago. Ahh, now I get it!
Shortchanging The Muse Volume 1 (BH022)
OK, the provenance of this one is a little convoluted. Despite me quoting a BH cat number above this physical object – double CD-r in half-size DVD case – is actually a product of cidershed which is, I think, an affiliate of Fuckin’ Amateurs. From the liner notes:
Bells Hill and Tarot Formula Recordings produced this digital download of Newcastle bands early in 2010 and cidershed thank scott and mike for sanctioning this hard copy for dish out at the lowest form of music festival 22-24 2010
Its origin as a download is evident from the fact that the tracks are arranged in alphabetical order by band name. This compilation has been sequenced by File Manager. Like most double discs the best of this would make a killer single disc but there is much of quality thoughout. Four highlights: 1. ‘false wonder’ by Cathode – expertly crafted electronica from another lovely guy I met the once at a poorly attended gig, this time one of Matt randomNumber’s Statement of Intent gigs in Leeds. 2. ‘jamaica hospital medical center’ by Gankeenankee which sounds like a field recording of a New Orleans jazz band attempting to play whilst tossed about in a giant cement mixer. 3. ‘the forever well’ by Mariposa which is a wide-open, guitar-and-harmonica drone piece. 4. ‘warm front’ by Warm Digits which is an accomplished piece of pastoral Krautrock.
Anyway, given that my copy is numbered 17 of 20, I’m not sure how ‘available’ this might now be. Worth asking after though.
George Ferguson McKeating (BH001)
And we finish on an unavoidably serious note. Scott started Bells Hill in order to release this double disc compilation of exclusive underground music, its purpose to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. From the sleeve notes:
Pancreatic Cancer came out of the blue on the 2nd of April and within just over three months of the initial diagnosis my dad had passed away. I miss him. This disease has the lowest survival rate of all cancers – approximately 3% of those diagnosed survive five years or more. There is no early detection test, treatment is limited and there is no cure – the average survival time after diagnosis is just six months.
Hence the simple title and the poignant cover photograph. I obviously couldn’t accept this as a freebie so, when prompted, Scott suggested I send the money, a mere 8 quid, as a cheque (made payable to Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund) directly to the PCRF. The address is: PO Box 47432, London, N21 1XP. Perhaps you could drop him a line, order a copy and do the same. More details about the PCRF can be found on their website.
I’m happy to say that you needn’t do this out of a sense of duty as the music you’ll be getting in return is worth twice the donation. I’ll just mention the two biggest names. Astral Social Club’s ‘Ramoon Redux’ on the first disc is six minutes of ecstatic, uplifting, nostril-flaring chaos. Jazzfinger’s fifteen minute ‘Brittle Wood Fallen Stone’ opening disc two is a beautifully subtle, quietly expansive piece of third-eye opening psychedelic noise. The rest is great too – well sequenced, nothing outstays its welcome. You should buy this.
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