artifacts of the no-audience underground: recent jazzfinger

August 7, 2012 at 7:57 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Jazzfinger – Poem of Stones (Bells Hill, BH010, CD-r, edition of 50)

Jazzfinger – Night Fall At Borrowed World (Sonic Oyster Cassettes 009, edition of 50)

OK, what we have here is a nicely presented CD-r on Scott McKeating’s ever reliable label Bells Hill.  It contains one track which documents about 45 minutes of a Jazzfinger rehearsal from 2004.  The recording is inexpensive, unedited – rumble at the bottom, harsh at the top, meandering throughout – however as it progresses it becomes clear that this is no mere ephemera of interest only to Jazzfinger obsessives.  I can’t get enough of it.  The liner notes provide some context:

Recorded at Morden Tower, this was a rehearsal for a gig we were going to play at a Weekender at the abandoned Aldwych Tube station back in November 2004. As it turns out the event was cancelled at the last minute and coincided with John Peel’s funeral on the Friday, and Jhonn Balance‘s death that Sunday. What a shit weekend.

Presumably the band did not foresee this shitness but the melancholy air to much of the piece suggests a hint of what was to come may have been in the room.

There are changes of direction, as you would expect from a rehearsal tape, but these are far from aimless.  As with all good improv, the transitions are as interesting as the periods of ‘steady state’ noise.  It shifts with the unknowable purpose of a nocturnal marine predator swimming over what in the daytime is a multi-coloured reef rinsed to grey-scale by the moonlight.  Is it looking for food, a mate, shelter?  Or is it a Lovecraftian ‘Deep One’/human hybrid, fully adapted to the life aquatic and shaking off the last vestiges of its humanity?  Irresistible.

The tape is a more manageable, relatively slick affair with properly edited and titled tracks released in the generic neon packaging of the collectable Sonic Oyster cassette series.  Would it be perverse of me to describe this as ‘urban pastoral’?  What I mean is that Jazzfinger’s psychedelic noise is no hippy delirium, no prelapsarian bliss.  Instead it seems pulled up from the streets of the city, like strange flowers growing through cracks in the pavement, in a place where urban foxes knocking over bins have the same totemic power as the coyotes of the Mexican desert.

For more on Bells Hill see their discogs page or email Scott via scottjamesbellshill@gmail.com.  Details of how to get hold of the the Sonic Oyster tape can be seen here.

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