wired for sound part 35: tapes from pete cann

December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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BBBlood / Half an Abortion (C30, no label, edition of 100)

J Lexso / Half an Abortion (C20, TNR Tapes, edition of 40)

Inverted Nepal – Unverted (C40, Waterpower, WP030, edition of 50)

half an abortion split tapesinverted nepal

For a bloke who sometimes gives the impression that he’d shatter into pieces if you tapped his elbow with a toffee hammer, Pete Cann is proving remarkably robust.  Don’t be fooled by his slight, angular frame or his self-deprecating manner – he’s been getting stuff done.

Pete has had – by our terms – a busy and successful 2012.  He organised one of my favourite gigs of the year, played live solo under the charming moniker Half an Abortion, as half of the ‘May to December’ noise duo Inverted Nepal with Paul Walsh (of foldhead and early hominids) and as one of the trio Carcinogenic Hooligans which is him, Paul and Kieron Piercy (of Spoils and Relics) amongst other projects.  He started his own tape label, Crater Lake Sound, and used it to release his own second album.  Various splits and collaborations have also started to appear on micro-labels world-wide.   Allow me to call your attention to a few.

Unverted by Inverted Nepal (I know, I know – that name), released by American label Waterpower is 40 minutes of what I believe is referred to as ‘harsh noise wall’ (EDIT: this is a joke, as I hoped the sentence following describing textures and movement would make clear.  No need for any more ‘clarifying’ emails or forum posts, thanks.  I know that ‘HNW’ is a term of abuse for any guy whose noise is more boring than yours.  Ha!  Joke again!). You get toaster-in-the-bath crackle, gravel truck speeding down pot-holed dirt track, bent circuits howling as their solder melts and palsied gabba shudder and you get it all at once in a series of overlapping crescendos.  If you dig this kind of thing you should really get hold of it.  I find it joyful, hilarious, cathartic. If you aren’t sure then I reckon this could convert the undecided.  Give it a blast.

The J Lexso / Half an Abortion split, released in an edition of 40 by Triangle and Rhino offshoot TNR Tapes, is a C20 that comes in a cute fold out brown cardboard sleeve, hand-printed with minimal details.  Smart little object.  The J Lexso side is, y’know, perfectly fine if a little polite but I’m afraid that Pete’s track, ‘That’s The One That Often Comes To Mind’, wipes the floor with it.  It has a greased up, spinning blades velocity that is well cool.  Next time you walk past one of those little shops that cut keys and repair shoes stick your head around the door and take a deep sniff.  Now imagine converting that smell – hot glue, leather, grime, metal filings, melted plastic – into a ten minute long noise track.  That is what Pete has created here.

And now the best, saved until last.  The BBBlood / Half an Abortion split, self released by the pair of them in an edition of 100, is a magnificent half hour that may be the best ‘hard’ noise release I’ve heard this year.  Both tracks are composed entirely from glass – yeah, think on that for a second – but this is not just a trip to the bottle bank (although Pete’s side does feature such recordings – his younger brother can be heard gleefully enjoying that officially sanctioned destruction).  The dedication of Paul’s track to ‘Lowe and Lanz’ gives you some idea of the context this slots into and the tradition of warped humour and physical performance that it is part of.

It is, as you’d expect from these two, artfully constructed, nuanced and textured as well being totally balls-out gonzo in places.  Clinking-plinking-tinkling, smashing, grinding, crunching, squeaking, that kind of ‘pouring sharps’ noise as the pieces settle – like the apocryphal Eskimo having 40 words for snow, a specialist vocabulary is needed to describe the effects these chaps pull from their single sound source.  They play with the psychological implications of breaking glass too: veering from the amusing (as when someone drops a pint glass in a pub) to the unnerving (a quiet cracking downstairs in the middle of the night).  Eerie little rhythms are created by looping clinks, white noise roars by layered scrunching.  As with the BBBlood disc on SLI the artifice is occasionally foregrounded such that you can’t mistake it for bare field recordings and have to approach it as ‘music’ or ‘performance’.  Thus figuring out the choices these two have made draws you further and further in with each rewind.  Fascinating, funny and, depending on your mood, troubling or weirdly soothing.  A fucking triumph.

See the BBBlood blog for purchasing details, or contact Pete directly via pete_cann@hotmail.co.uk.  Make sure you do.

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