machine soul part three: graham booth and no energy

November 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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no energy (fencing flatworm recordings, ff007)

  1. termite strings
  2. unfold in
  3. crush
  4. in the shade
  5. planning
  6. slow fireworks
  7. spark fuse to flame
  8. dead air

I first ‘met’ Graham Booth via the proto-internet world of mid-90s electronica fandom.  This was back when the vanguard was Geocities and Usenet and the method of exchange used to swap Aphex Twin rarities was tapes in the post.  However, soon came mp3s and Napster and affordable CD-rs and thus the exhaustive documenting of the electronica boom that is still to be found gathering dust on an external hard-drive in RFM’s attic.

Once we met face-to-face we became firm single-issue friends, bound by music, in that way possible amongst chaps.  We could spend hours talking, or thousands of words emailing, about what we were listening to but I couldn’t tell you, say, whether he had any brothers or sisters.  Unless it was rudely intrusive and couldn’t be ignored, we chose to leave the pesky distractions of real life to one side.  C’yuh – men, eh?

Anyhow, Graham was one of three musketeers, the others being Jeremy (of Straight Outta Mongolia) and Joe, who came over from Huddersfield for Termite Club events and were soaking up the Leeds D.I.Y. scene at the same time as I was.  Concurrently, Graham was becoming adept at creating programmed music himself – a skill he was later to perfect in the exacting realm of drum and bass – and no energy was his contribution to the nascent FFR catalogue.

My recordings as midwich were, at first, a ham-fisted attempt to cross the experimental music I was discovering with my favourite areas of the electronic music I was obsessing over.  I think no energy is informed by a similar idea, albeit realised with more ambition, imagination and skill than I could muster.  Graham shamelessly urged the austere, grainy timbre of laptop digitronics to down a cocktail spiked by the resolutely analogue, defiantly live jazz and improv we were hearing at Termite gigs.  The resultant queasy lurching is what is documented here.

First he out-midwiches midwich with the gloriously off-kilter shimmer of the opening ‘termite strings’ then the sound becomes dominated by the swell and fade of filter effects.  These gather and digest the harsh fuzz, akin to some cyborg process of peristalsis.  When a marshal rhythm is introduced, shockingly, into ‘crush’ it collapses under its own weight within seconds.  The entropic dreamscape of the terrific ‘in the shade’ features incongruously laid-back brass and a squashed funk vocal destroyed by shrill short-wave radio interference.  And so on through eight fascinating tracks.  What a strange and accomplished piece this is.  It still sounds alien; even more so now, perhaps, as its context has faded into the past.  It has become a clay tablet, covered in eroded glyphs, pulled from a featureless sand dune.  I heartily recommend downloading and perusing at length and in detail.

I lost touch with Graham some years ago, unfortunately, and have been given permission-by-proxy to post this music by the aforementioned Joe.  He remains a perpetual Leeds D.I.Y. scenester and has been wrily amused by my recent reappearance at gigs.  Joe tells me many amazing things about Graham’s endeavours during the intervening time – that he was elected Mayor of Huddersfield, that he won the Nobel Prize for Sticky Toffee Pudding, that he can tell you which one is Ant and which is Dec etc. – and I am delighted to hear he is doing so well.

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