the infinite ‘betley welcomes careful drivers’ catalogue, part one

October 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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La Mancha Del Pecado – Gélido Horror Obscuro (Oracle ORE 69)

In the comprehensive interview with yours truly that forms part two of the Bang the Bore ‘investigation’ into my activities (coming soon) Seth and Pete ask me various questions about how the internet has changed no-audience related endeavour.  To summarise, my answer is: not as much as you might think.  At one point I say (and please forgive me the narcissism of quoting myself):

This music is produced and appreciated by a tiny number of people who are driven to make it, driven to distribute it and driven to seek it out.  They’d be doing this with or without myspace or the like.  The internet has occasionally made their lives a little easier but the difference is purely practical, not a difference in kind.

This week I’ve had cause to reflect on that thought and, whilst I stand by the comment which I still think is correct, I realise that I may have underplayed just how large this ‘purely practical’ difference can be.

To illustrate what I mean let us examine the case of Miguel Pérez who records as La Mancha Del Pecado (“The Stain of Sin”) and runs the ‘non profit net label’ Oracle based in Mexico.  La Mancha Del Pecado featured in the last piece I wrote lauding the music of Lee Stokoe, famous throughout the land for his long running solo noise project Culver and his inspirational tape label Matching Head.  In an article which ran to over 1000 words Miguel’s music got just one sentence in which all I say is that, well, it sounds like Culver.

This lack of attention has proved embarrassing to me as the chap both found this blog and left a charming comment thanking me for the mention (see ‘about me and this blog’ page – tab above).  He provided a blog address for his label and out of a mixture of curiosity and politeness I downloaded one of the many releases available there.  I’ll talk about this in a minute but first I must address your growing impatience.  “yes, yes,” I’m sure you are thinking “Rob clicked on a link.  Big deal: we all know how the internet works – get on with it man!”

Well, to this I have two responses.  The first is that reporting on finding something interesting is all I ever do so I’m not apologising for that – go find a blog where someone posts cynical reports about stuff they think is boring and read that instead.  And secondly: well, you say you know how the internet works but the younger reader may not realise that, in this context, the internet is working exactly like a flyer that fell out of a jiffy bag in the 1990s.

Imagine this thought experiment: a scene in pre-millennial Leeds.  Lee sends me a parcel of tapes, included in which are a selection of flyers from other no-audience underground types.  The one from Miguel looks interesting so I send some of my stuff, maybe with a few dollar bills hidden inside, to his postal address and a few weeks later parcel number two arrives covered in exciting looking stamps and customs labels.  The result is absolutely the same: I get to hear Miguel’s music after being alerted to it by another node in the network.  In that sense the internet has changed nothing at all – that’s what I mean when I say it is not a difference in kind.

The practical difference, however, couldn’t be more pronounced.  A process which would have taken weeks before and involved the shifting of physical objects from continent to continent is now more or less instantaneous and involves no more effort than typing this sentence.  This is wonderful, of course, as we can all be instant connoisseurs of whatever whim presents to us.  It’s not even a problem for me that the Oracle website is in Spanish now that we have Google Translate to help.  However, it is also dangerously seductive.  So awed are we by the process that we forget the purpose and are tempted into amassing vast unlovable archives just because we can.  In my humble opinion it is healthier for your glands of musical appreciation to treat each download as if it were the contents of a hand-addressed jiffy bag and show it some love.

This is why I have only downloaded one of Miguel’s releases so far – Gélido Horror Obscuro (“Dark Frozen Horror”) – and why I have listened to it several times through before pressing a key.  ‘De Noche’ (“Night”) starts by following the Culver blueprint: a melancholy, echoing riff is slowly swallowed whole by distortion and noise.  At this point Miguel departs from the monomania of Lee’s recent releases and instead takes us through several movements using a carefully controlled palette of harsh sound.  Over a total running time of nearly 37 minutes it remains intriguing, refreshingly ambitious and almost wholly successful.  I’m not sure about the twanging guitar coda or the final burst of lounge pop though, as the lyrics are presumably in Spanish, I may be missing some contextual irony.  At least Miguel dodges one charge often levelled at ‘dark ambient’ or noise: that it is humourless.  He is not guilty – there is obviously a wry wit at work here.

A moment’s research informs me that ‘Rita Guerrero’, the second track, is named for a fellow Mexican musician who died tragically young earlier this year.  There is no sentimentality to this tribute, however.  Instead we get nine minutes of roaring combustion occasionally augmented with an unforgiving, scything screech.  This is a document of grief at its most angry and painful.  Before returning us to the world, the third and final track provides five minutes of palate-cleansing, nostrils-flaring, balls-out noise.  The whole release is effective, engaging and available for free download.  I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Scrolling through the other (70!) releases available through Oracle reveals themes familiar to those into noise: death, misanthropy, apocalypse, altered states of consciousness and so on, but this isn’t just dyed-black teenage nihilism.  The quotes on the front page from Pessoa and Lyotard suggest a philosophical and literary underpinning.  They propose salvation may be possible through creation, especially single-minded art-for-arts-sake undiluted by concerns of accessibility.  The notion appeals to me.  You too, I hope.

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