wired for sound part 34: new from total vermin

December 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Core of the Coalman – Stain (Total Vermin, #65, C59)

Fordell Research Unit – The True Meaning of Red (Total Vermin, #66, C32)

Acrid Lactations – Crude Paintings on Porcelain (Total Vermin, #67, C37)

Hard Pan and Hobo Sonn – Soup Electric and Roll (Total Vermin, #71, C26)

Smear Campaign – Love in an Heroic Vernacular (Total Vermin, #72, C36)

fordell research unit - the true meaning of redcore of the coalmanhard pan and hobo sonnacrid lactations - crude paintingssmear campaign - love in an heroic vernacular

Stuart Arnot, boss of prolific tape and CD-r label Total Vermin, likes to put on a spread.  Rather than drip feed us his releases one at a time he prefers to prepare a banquet, a smorgasbord long-promised then presented triumphantly in full on the Total Vermin blog.

I can see the sense in this approach: one big promo push covers a raft of releases, simultaneous availability encourages multiple purchases which are, in turn, easier to post in batches.  Economies of scale and all that.  The only problem is getting excitable punters such as me to sit still, chew their food and digest each course properly before gorging on the next.  Over the last month or so I’ve been savouring the five tapes above from the latest menu.  I’m finally at the picking-my-teeth, calling-for-the-bill, sending-my-compliments-to-the-chef stage of the meal.

First up is Stain by Core of the Coalman.  Jorge keeps it simple: a full hour (in two halves) of slowly evolving variations on a fuzzed-up viola loop.  What at first seems like a Tony Conrad-ish endurance test took a few minutes to pop my bubble of mental resistance (soap-film thin at the best of times) then mind freed, my arse did follow.  I was soon dancing naked on the driveway of Midwich Mansions.  This tape is hard, lovely.

Fordell Research Unit is flavour of the month round here and The True Meaning of Red is a late contender for tape of the year in the hotly contested ‘droning fuzz roar’ section.  Five short to mid-length tracks, all beautifully balanced, all sharing the delicious alchemy of a poached egg coagulating in fiercely boiling water.  The whole thing invokes a feeling that we are rarely treated to: total, magisterial, soul-cleansing satisfaction.  A must buy.

Now we come a series of tapes illustrating what might be called the Total Vermin house sound.  Whilst the girth of Stuart’s impeccable taste is impressively meaty, listen to a bunch of TV tapes – especially those involving Stuart himself – and you’ll start to recognize variations on a similar groove.  It isn’t coolly academic meta-music, nor is it balls-out fire music, rather a kind of all-in, kitchen sink improv.  Recordings are lo-fi, but components are not mashed together, detail is maintained and no sharpness is dulled.  It exists in its own world where ‘real’ instrumentation muscles in on everyday activity and makes the commonplace enigmatic and musical.  The approach is perfectly at home on tape and housed in the vibrant paint and crayon colours of the packaging.

Examples?  Take your pick.  Soup Electric and Roll is by Hard Pann and Hobo Sonn which unpacks as Stuart, Pascal Nichols and Luke Poot who are joined for this recording by Ian Murphy.  Side A is all stomping, knocking electronics with subtleties bobbing to the surface, side B is a sublime, too-wide-eyed choir of Nurse With Wound-ish unvocalizations.  Compelling late night listening or discombobulating walkman contents for the commute.

Love in an Heroic Vernacular is Stuart solo in his Smear Campaign guise.  A band name like that might lead you to expect power electronics or harsh noise but not a bit of it.  Instead you get in-between-train-carriages whistling wind, queasily arrhythmic percussion, clouds of robot starlings, skittering electronics and mournful trumpet.  At one point the entire mix is dropped down a well.  It’s like the alien funk of 1970s Miles filtered through ectoplasmic gel and played at half-speed.  Terrific.

Finally, we have Crude Paintings on Porcelain by the wonderfully named Acrid Lactations, a duo of Stuart and Susan Fitzpatrick.  Possibly the most lo-fi of these productions, it was apparently recorded in a shower room and, as the occasional sound of running water proves, the fixtures and fittings were pressed into service.  Side A is rumbling, popping improv percussion using whatever implements and instruments they could drag in whilst still being able to close the door.  It sounds like Paul Hession trapped in a cupboard and trying to alert the search party.  This is augmented with some unplaceable trilling and circuit-bent stylophone stylings and finishes with Susan and Stuart hallucinating the trumping horns and jangling cowbells of a procession of tiny Swiss goat-herds as they march across the linoleum.  Side B starts in a contemplative fashion before the goat-herds return in buoyant mood having eaten some mouldy bread and interesting looking mushrooms in the meantime.  The second half has a more ominous feel as a foot-long giant bee starts banging its head against the shower room window.  I dig it.

To buy this stuff visit the Total Vermin blog, make your selections – tapes at £2.50 a throw plus postage – and email Stuart at smearcampaign@hotmail.com for an all-in quote.

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: