artifacts of the no-audience underground: objects by michael clough

August 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Michael Clough – Atem Tanz (Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.003, 3″CD-r, edition of 50 and download)

Walpurgisnacht 71 (self-released CD-r and booklet)

KleeKlonk (self-released CD-r)

Right then, my love for this guy, and our illustrious history together, has been well documented here, here and here so I’m going to crack on and you can go clicking later should your appetite be whetted.  My intention in this piece is to draw your attention to Clough’s return to the physical object.  His aesthetic has always contained a highly developed visual aspect so I knew SoundCloud wouldn’t be enough…

Speaking of which, first up is Atem Tanz a track lifted from Clough’s SoundCloud page (‘SoundClough’?) by the ever-resourceful Daniel Thomas.  Dan considered it, rightly, worthy of ‘proper’ release.  Thus, courtesy of hitting-the-ground-running-label-of-the-moment Sheepscar Light Industrial, this can be had on a limited edition 3″ CD-r for mere pence or downloaded via Bandcamp for a whatever-you-like donation.  It is described further down this page as:

a gloriously super-minimal analogue throb.  When listened to at the appropriate volume, that is: so loud as to be consciousness threatening, it sounds like the sewing machine that God used when she was stitching up creation.  Fucking amazing.

…and since writing that blurb it has only lodged itself more determinedly in my lugholes.

More surprising was a package I received a little while ago from the man himself.  It contained two CD-rs and a booklet and was so obviously and delightfully his work that I started writing a ‘thank you’ email before I realised that there was no covering note in the parcel.  I took a chance and sent the email anyway.  I wasn’t wrong.

After bemoaning a lull in the flow of zines and zine-type objects the tide has now definitely turned. I’ve had to sweep my wife’s ornaments and family photos into the bin to make shelf room for all the arty pamphlets that have been arriving.  Clough’s is one of the most intriguing.  No details of its authorship or production are provided, just an anonymous cover and contents made up entirely of smeary fingertip photocopies (example above).  These are humorous and vaguely unsettling, like a lo-fi version of the squashed meat (and, ahem, ‘two veg’) photographed for Chris Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny.

The booklet appears to accompany the Walpurgisnacht 71 CD-r, sister recording to the fondly remembered Mittelwinternacht 71 (sorry to give the game away…).  The new album, comprising one half-hour long track, is a monster.  Its sprung, metallic bounce suggests giant trolls bashing out a gamelan-style pulse on high tension electricity cables strung between pylons.  Presumably using torn up street-lighting poles as beaters.  The crunching rhythm that this devolves into is like a slowly melting fire alarm in the frazzled bowels of the underground Krell complex.  Almost panic inducing at times.  Magnificently so.

KleeKlonk is a relatively sedate affair.  Relatively.  It is named in part for Clough’s favourite artist Paul Klee (and may even be a reference to a cheeky riff on Klee’s famous quote about ‘taking a line for a walk’ that started my previous review of Clough’s stuff) and contains a bit more space than the other two releases.  It has a kind of milky, pale blue, early morning feel. The blopping sounds like water in the pipes under the bath here at Midwich Mansions.  It is just as relentless as the others but somehow… lovely.

I don’t know how many of these objects Clough has made but he did give me permission to write this so I’m now giving you lot permission to bug him about ’em.  Send a polite email to mriclough@aol.com and see what happens.

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  1. For the record, I officially utterly refute any connection with the mysterious slab of Kosmische “Mittelwinternacht ’71”, despite the efforts of various mischievous scamps to point the finger in my direction. It seems to have originally appeared on Phil Todd’s ‘Betley…’ label. Just saying….;-) Those interested may find 3 of its 4 tracks for free on YouTube.
    Folks wishing to purchase the wares mentioned by Rob should wait a couple of weeks til I can afford a colour cartridge for my printer and some suitable paper…
    Btw, I wasn’t intending to release KleeKlonk on it’s own, but as one enterprising young man has already asked about it – it has been. With an extra track, as it’s only about 13 mins long. And in a different cover as Rob got a bespoke one…..
    clough
    x


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