just what is the piss superstition?

October 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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The Piss Superstition – Dallas’ Amp (Medusa 062)

Sometimes this ‘writing about music’ lark is easy.  Present me with a piece that I can get a handle on and I will happily tug that handle and catch the words that tumble out.  Stick in a few tortured metaphors, add a little self-referential narcissism, clip into paragraphs and I’m done: 50 hits, a tweet and three mentions on facebook in the bag.  Alas, the standard procedure is no good when it comes to the work of Julian Bradley, forever to be known as ex-Vibracathedral Orchestra, now groovin’ his own way under the puzzling moniker of The Piss Superstition.  Any attempt by me to describe his unique aesthetic involves a lot of pen-chewing, window-staring and laptop ignoring.

OK, let’s try this:

Imagine being shaken awake at 3am to discover two huge alien creatures looming over your bed.  You roll over onto your front thinking “Christ, it has only been a fortnight since the last probe,” but tonight they aren’t interested in your fundamental aperture.  Instead they want information: “WHAT IS MUSIC?” barks Alien One, “QUICKLY!!”  “Err… sometimes it has guitars in it,” you mumble blearily.  “GOOD.  WHAT ELSE?” says Alien One.  “Uh… keyboards too?  Percussion – you know rhythmic pulses,” you say, warming to the topic as you wake up, “music is sound organised as to…”  “OK, OK, ENOUGH OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SHIT,” snaps Alien One then turns to Alien Two and asks: “YOU GET ALL THAT?”  Alien Two motions with his space pen at the space writing on his space notepad and they disappear.

Back on Planet X, for reasons known only to them, they treat your sketchy responses as a sacred text and build a whole tradition of composition upon them.  Eventually SETI picks up a performance of the results and it is examined by the world’s leading xenomusicologists.  “Well…,” they say, “all the elements are there but it is scorched with wrongness.  It isn’t that we don’t get it – more like we can’t.”

Or, if you are short of time, how about this:

Julian has found a way of cutting and pasting music into Google Translate and has amused himself by pinging it back and forth between languages.  Once the entropy of the process has removed meaning and context altogether, once all that is left is an incommensurably strange residue, he then offers it to us.

Still no?  OK, how about an anecdote with a punchline?  On the evening of Wednesday 12th October 2011 in the Fox & Newt here in the beautiful garden city of Leeds I saw The Piss Superstition (beefed up to a power duo by the addition of the charming Paul Steere) play live.  Over the course of about 20 minutes of performance they blew my mind.  As I swept up the splinters I made the mistake of prematurely trying to talk about it.  First to Paul Walsh, who didn’t notice me not making any sense as he’d had a few, then to Phil Todd who listened patiently to my incoherent monologue and occasionally tried to chip in.  He was rescued by Julian himself who appeared at my elbow, took our praise with his usual grace, and summed up his philosophy in one crisp seven word sentence:

I just want it to sound fucked.

There you have it.  Anyone into the kind of stuff I write about here should be checking out Julian’s work.  I consider it essential.  This tape, for example, is nicely representative of his recent vibe and is available to buy from the wonderful Canadian outfit Medusa.  Julian also has copies to sell so approach him direct and, whilst you are at it, ask him about the CD-rs he probably has knocking around too – aggressive self-promotion is not his strong suit.

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