wired for sound part 36: geldings – in death’s pulp mask

March 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Geldings – In Death’s Pulp Mask (Sanity Muffin 26)

OK, whilst I am otherwise occupied with the joys and responsibilities of fatherhood (which I am loving – even in a perpetual state of sleep deprived fuzziness) I’ll keep things ticking over here by hauling out a previously unpublished review for your perusal.  This was written back at the end of 2011 (I think) then shelved at the request of Sanity Muffin head honcho Billy Sprague until the tape was officially released.  Fortunately (for Billy)/unfortunately (for you, dear reader) it sold out immediately and so the shelf was where this piece remained.  However, in a recent email Billy tells me that…

…we’re repressing soon… they have a new tape, its here on the bigcartel site and you can let folks know that the first one will be reissued very soon….

…thus, by happy coincidence, posting the below is timely again.  Here goes…


Answer as soon as you buzz, no conferring.  You are offered the opportunity to hear one of two pieces of music, piece one is already well known and loved by you, piece two is completely new to you – which would you choose?  I trust that most of the intrepid sonic adventurers that read this blog would, like myself, usually be unable to resist the lure of the latter.  One of the great pleasures of music appreciation, especially out here on the fringes, is the joy of discovery.  Very little is wholly new, of course – the story of all music being one of plagiarism and mutation – but, amazingly, it still appears possible for the elements to be combined into novel alloys, bizarre amalgamations.

You might be forgiven for thinking that an old war horse such as myself would be jaded and weary but not a bit of it.  Much to my surprise and delight, I find myself more switched on and enthused about music than ever.  I often find myself cracking a grin on the bus to work, or lost in whatever minor chore I happen to be up to – repeatedly washing the same plate etc., or just sat staring out of the window, pen in mouth or laptop humming ignored, whilst transfixed by the glorious thought: “what the fuck am I hearing?!”

Sanity Muffin, long-time RFM blog-fave tape label, run by Californian artist and general-all-round-force-for-the good Billy Sprague, seems to specialise in providing me with these moments.  His hit rate is spectacular – and what higher praise is there around these parts?

This tape, In Death’s Pulp Mask by Geldings, is a fine example.  First the cover: a really terrific fold out illustration in gold on black that looks like the plumbing or electrical schematic for one of outsider artist Achilles Rizzoli’s fantastical Y.T.T.E buildings.  There is something very pleasing in the way the organic shapes – tree branches, crows – both impinge on and are encompassed into the symmetries of the blue(gold?)print.  I’ve resisted the urge to scan it entirely in order to save you a treat after your inevitable purchase.  Secondly, the music provides many of those distracting and puzzling moments discussed above.

Some impressionistic highlights of side one: birdlike trilling, rolling waves of analogue crescendo tipping over into a froth of distortion, Numanoid off-key synth-line putting its hand on your chest and holding you back from glorious reverie.  Ultra compressed gabba beat slowed to the boom-tschik of late 70s electro-industrial, indecipherable chants and screams but this is not power-electronic thuggery – more like the Theatre of Cruelty of Artaud.  Looped warble, running water, an overnight field recording of a haunted mansion made by Whitehouse.  Some kind of wind instrument, horribly distorted (house band of the Overlook Hotel?) swamps the pitiful bleeping of ridiculous ghost hunting paraphernalia.  We end with teeth loosening shudder…

Side two has a more narrative feel – like the stages of an ill-advised rite being performed in an attempt to summon something from the depths of Lovecraft’s Nameless City, lost in the desert.  A hypnotizing heaviness settles early on and builds to the terrific title track which, playing as I type, has just caused me to stop, give it my full attention and nod my head, thus playing my part in the calling of the beast.  It has a close-up, brute sensuousness that is mesmerising.  Imagine plunging your arm into a crate filled with lightly oiled ball-bearings – a delicious, dirty action that leaves a residue on your skin.  The Skinny Puppyish pummelling with which we finish is a doomed attempt to scour it all clean again.  Too late, people, too late…



Visit the Sanity Muffin Big Cartel site here.

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