artifacts of the no-audience underground: ‘masked out’ by petals on striate cortex

April 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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PETALS – Masked Out (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, Striate Cortex S.C.40.)

It’s a long scroll down to this text isn’t it?  Well, no apologies for the girth of the illustrations because this is another remarkable release from Andy Robinson’s Striate Cortex.  This time we have a 3″ CD-r and printed insert housed in an elaborate four-way, fold-out card holder, each ‘petal’ individually hand painted.  This is mounted on a hand-painted black background the reverse of which forms the outer cover of the release. This side is wrapped in hand-made paper embedded, appropriately enough, with plant matter – grasses, tiny flowers, stamen.  In a back catalogue rife with gobsmacking packages this is one of the finest.

Petals (or PETALS or petals) is the project of Huddersfield based Kev Sanders and is fast becoming a favourite round these parts.  His drones and noise pieces are constructed with intelligence, wit and with a finely tuned sense of balance.  Simmering anger, contemplative beauty – it can be as languid as a cat having its stomach rubbed, it can draw blood as fast as the same cat should your stomach-rubbing technique prove lacking.  Lovely chap too.

‘Masked Out’ is roar from the off.  Waves crash against a terminal beach.  The surf – thick with brown foam like a perverse expanse of cocoa-powdered cappuccino froth – pulls the pebbles to and fro, slowly pulverising shell fragments with a crackling, rhythmic hiss.  This is a perfect soundtrack to the penultimate section of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  The hero has flung himself into the unimaginably far future and witnesses what might literally be the end of life on the Earth:

The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in freshening gusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in the air increased in number. From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper … At last, one by one, swiftly, one after the other, the white peaks of the distant hills vanished into blackness. The breeze rose to a moaning wind. I saw the black central shadow of the eclipse sweeping towards me. In another moment the pale stars alone were visible. All else was rayless obscurity. The sky was absolutely black.

A horror of this great darkness came on me. The cold, that smote to my marrow, and the pain I felt in breathing, overcame me. I shivered, and a deadly nausea seized me. Then like a red-hot bow in the sky appeared the edge of the sun … As I stood sick and confused I saw again the moving thing upon the shoal – there was no mistake now that it was a moving thing – against the red water of the sea. It was a round thing, the size of a football perhaps, or, it may be, bigger, and tentacles trailed down from it; it seemed black against the weltering blood-red water, and it was hopping fitfully about. Then I felt I was fainting…

(Extracted from the end of Section XI, full text can be found via Project Gutenberg here.)

…at the fifteen minute mark we even have some ukelele picking which could be the forlorn scrabbling of this final creature.  Am I being pretentious calling on a great classic to illuminate 20 minutes of racket?  Well, maybe – but it is genuinely what it brought to mind.  Why not buy here for a mere £3 plus postage – and find out for yourself.

Also worthy of note from petals are lowest ever low a brief lament on a one of those tiny credit card CD-rs and collaboration by swan-hunter & petals which is two lengthy noise pieces of the balls-out variety on a CD-r in a sort of CD sized DVD case.  This also contains the intriguing insert featuring the mysterious owl creatures pictured below.  Contact Kev via hairdryer excommunication to ascertain availability.

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