artifacts of the no-audience underground: culver – cherry vampire

September 8, 2012 at 8:04 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Culver – Cherry Vampire (CD-r, Molotov, 14)

If I was to answer the question ‘what is my favourite band?’ by merely naming the act I own most releases by then it would be Lee Stokoe’s Culver.  By a mile.  Even a cursory tot-up of vinyl, CDs, CD-rs and tapes uncovers around 60 items in the collection.  The fairly hefty Ashtray Navigations pile – house fave band calculated by my preferred method of time-spent-listening-to – is dwarfed in comparison.

Why so many?  Well, plenty have accumulated via trades or simply as a result of Lee’s generosity.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story, obviously.  I cull my possessions occasionally and am unsentimental about gifts.  Nothing is safe from my beady eye when I’m in a purging mood.  What then?  Perhaps it is because each dispatch illustrates a facet of the whole, mammoth project: another dark corner of another room of the strange and foreboding Culver mansion is briefly illuminated.  This is a life’s work unfolding and Lee’s tireless dedication to documenting every nuance of the task is, to an elite of aficionados, endlessly fascinating.

I suppose this must seem daunting to the newcomer, even to the novice clutching their first batch of Matching Head tapes.  Where to start with a back catalogue that amounts to days of seemingly indistinguishable roar?  My answer is: it doesn’t matter.  Whilst an obsessive might be able to chart the rise and fall of Lee’s preoccupations, his use of particular kit or recording techniques or the levels of variation and violence in the music itself, it makes no odds.  If you imagine each of these releases as a chapter in Lee’s ‘book of Culver’ then they are published in no particular order.  They add up to an aesthetic in the same way that the pieces of a jigsaw add up to the picture on the box.  So: amass what you can, start where you like.  For example…

Cherry Vampire is a single track, 36 minute CD-r released by the mysterious Molotov and packaged in an incongruously glossy 80s-style cover.  A low, pure electronic hum is allowed the time and space to envelop the listeners head.  It is then shaken slightly, teased out a little towards fuzz and augmented with the lightest of crackling and a top end of quiet but needle-sharp feedback.  The pace is perfect.  The patience and control evident in its construction are magisterial.

I first heard it during the early hours of last Saturday morning.  I had been woken by troubling dreams and needed to derail an unpleasant train of thought before being able to go back to sleep.  Remembering this piece, I reached for my walkman and gave it my full attention whilst lying motionless in the dark, teetering on the edge of consciousness.  Ideal conditions to appreciate its austere beauty.  Having returned to it since I’m happy to say it holds its own in more robust listening situations too.

Now the tricky part: getting hold of it.  No contact details are included on the disc or packaging, nor on the Molotov Discogs page.  My perfunctory Google-based ‘research’ revealed, as you might expect, a million creative endeavours that use the word ‘Molotov’ but the intersection of the Culver/Molotov Venn diagram is almost empty.  Lee sent it to me so you could try him: email and postal contact details are on the Matching Head Discogs page.  If anyone from Molotov is reading this please leave a comment or drop me a line.

EDIT: The always well-informed Scott of Bells Hill tells me that Molotov is run by a chap called Mike who can be contacted at: xazzaz@yahoo.co.uk.  So now you know…

2 Comments »

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  1. The lablel is run by Mike at xazzaz@yahoo.co.uk

  2. Cheers Scott – much obliged. Will edit the post to include this info. R x


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