bells hill digital and george ferguson mckeating vol. 2

February 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Various Artists – George Ferguson McKeating Vol. 2

(download, Bells Hill, Bells Hill Digital 2)

gfm 2

Scott McKeating’s Bells Hill, like other noise labels based in the North East such as Molotov, Matching Head and Fuckin’ Amateurs, prefers to keep it on the down-low. No need to advertise, no need for a flashy and substantial web presence, no clamour for ‘press’. Just dedicated fans and artists distributing releases amongst themselves and to a handful of grateful outsiders who have discovered their work. There’s nothing elitist or wilfully insular about this behaviour: these comrades simply don’t give a monkey’s about the trappings of ‘breaking big’ and are realistic about the limited appeal of their (mainly dark, metal and/or psych inspired) noise. They know that the curious will gravitate to them eventually. The unhurried self-sufficiency of this scene is a constant source of inspiration to me.

Some can’t help themselves, though. The indefatigable Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent, is filled with evangelical zeal and heart-bursting enthusiasm and his dispatches from the frozen wastes of Newcastle have won many converts. Scott’s approach is more reserved. The guy is clearly omniscient in matters of North East noise. If you need to know a name, an email address or the ‘phone number of Mike Vest’s tailor then a one-line email or blog comment will quietly appear from him within hours of you mentioning this gap in your knowledge. In fact, the only time I have seen Scott in effusive mood is when valiantly defending the principles of this blog and the wider no-audience underground in a facebook discussion following that Simon Reynolds thing.

Likewise, packages containing stuff from Bells Hill arrive with little fanfare, despite the quality of their contents, and are thus guaranteed to be a pleasant surprise.  The announcement of the new digital arm of Bells Hill, located inevitably on that Bandcamp, was a similar unexpected treat.

At the time of writing there are four releases to be found there.  I shall talk a little about the one pictured above.  Scott founded Bells Hill in order to release a compilation album to raise money for The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.  Pancreatic Cancer is a particularly vicious and fast moving variant of the disease and almost always lethal.  Sadly, it took Scott’s father.  Hence the simple title and poignant cover photograph.  Some brief thoughts from me on the first volume can be found here.  The possibility occasioned by Bandcamp has spurred Scott on to complete a long planned second volume.

Happily, I can report that – as with Vol. 1 – this is excellent throughout and would be an essential purchase even without the cause behind it.  It satisfies all criteria for a successful compilation.  It is sequenced in a coherent, flowing way but is varied enough to create some lively juxtapositions.  The quality control is consistently fierce so there are no barren patches to skip over.  Many of the tracks – all of which are exclusives – are beautifully self contained and are eminently rewindable.  The artists are a mixture of safe hands (for example: Brian Lavelle, Richard Youngs) and the mystifyingly new (to me, at least) that will have you scrabbling around the search engines looking for more.  There is glittering shimmer, monastic spirituals, haunting atmospherics, apocalyptic noise metal, ecstatic bubble drone, even a couple of actual songs – y’know with lyrics and structures and everything – and very lovely they are too.  What more is there to want?

The album is available in return for a donation to the PCRF.  For full instructions of how to do this and secure your download code visit Bells Hill Digital here.

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: