catgut pluck: joe murray on shareholder and lost wax

May 6, 2013 at 9:51 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Shareholder – The Backwards Glance Vol 1, 2 & 3 (self-released, 3 x cassette)

Lost Wax – ‘My Sore Daad Heap’d’ (cassette, Winebox Press, edition of 77)

shareholder 1shareholder 2shareholder 3lost wax 1lost wax 2

OK then, Ladies and Gentlemen, a message from the editor: as promised, here is the first piece by RFM’s official new contributor Joe Murray.  BEWARE!  This hep cat is far too jazz to use paragraph breaks so take a deep mental breath before diving in.  Over to Joe:

Hey there no-audience underground!  Delighted to spill my beans all over in frantic excitements.  You got time to listen?  Today I’ve got a bunch of red-hot tapes for you from rare solo projects;  Ben Morris’ Lost Wax and Sandy Milroy’s Shareholder.

Blimey!  This is a mammoth document from Shareholder.  Sandy’s been doing hard time with gruntcore dinosaurs Muscletusk for ages, dragging a screeeee guitar round the yeasty pub scene causing buckets of lightning to implode.  But it’s his Shareholder disguise that I’ve been digging this past few weeks.  The Backwards Glance is ten god-damn years of recordings all wrapped up in beguiling drawings, elastic bands and creepy collage work.  Sandy has taken the Faust approach and jams are cut-up hard against each other so you lurch between approaches, styles, themes and moods.  The last bunch of Shareholder CD-Rs I have heard were delightfully guitar based.  But this is so much wider in focus.  Things kick off with a faux-eastern style keyboard motif and pretty much chop & change at random over the next six 45 min sides.  That’s a lot of ground to cover so I’ll start with the signature Shareholder sound: very fucked, distorted guitar, swooping though soft arcs of ‘waauuuuuhhhhh, waauuuuuuuhhhh’ like an eiderdown chock full of downers.  At times there’s a harsher edge; like a Sonic Youth guitar breakdown, then things might spruce up like a flavour bud living or a flinty acoustic ramble.  All good yeah.  But added to this pot is a gravy of dark ambient groaning like some Supersilent workout, generous dumplings of radio play tape chatter, some real-time guitar versus drums jams, silent corridor creak and atmospheric crunch.  A staggering amount of styles are covered.  I think tape 2 (Alice?) hits the sweet spot from the word go with some jumble-under recording and some real classy sample work.  Single phrases are looped until all meaning has been destroyed via senseless repetition.  If this was London, people would shout ‘Hype Williams’ and draft an over-written essay on consumerism and modern culture…but as this is Edinburgh it’s all undercut with a Ned-ness lope and knuckle-head knock.  The radio interview/play aspect comes to the fore with a beautiful, beautiful tape/speech/keyboard piece.  I can’t tell where this starts and ends (no songtitles to help neither) but for 10 mins or so a perfect and poignant set of interviews, phone messages and gloomy keys float out the speakers with a cheeky wink.  ‘Proper’ songs poke at that Velvet itch, bombastic news idents screech out at random and there’s even eight bars of some 2-step boogie.  I could go on but this would just turn into a long, long list of the different snippets that amuse and startle.  And I’m guessing different bits would jump out for you depending on your mood or appetite.  My advice is to block out a few hours in your schedule, settle yourself in your preferred listening area and drink this special brew in deep.  As in the dog-eat-dog world of high finance the Shareholder is always looking for a unique selling point.  This USP for these clever little tapes is their god-damn addictiveness!  The Backward Glance was originally a private, ‘trades to mates’ kinda deal.  But such is the power of RFM that Sandy has agreed to dubbing a super-limited run of 10 (editors note: I suspect this is seriously overestimating our influence, but good on him! – RH).  You too can marvel at Shareholder’s brave vision by sending £10 (inc P&P) to  iamsandymilroy@yahoo.com  clearly marking your mail BACKWARD GLANCE in big letters so it don’t get missed.  Oh yeah…trades are very welcome.

(EDIT: After posting Joe’s review of the Shareholder tapes above I secured a set in trade from the charming Mr. Milroy.  I have to concur: they are wicked awesome.  You’d think my ragged attention span couldn’t deal with four and a half hours of anything but I was engaged throughout and right got the hump when ‘real’ life made me turn ’em off and deal with other things.  Wholeheartedly double-endorsed by radiofreemidwich – RH.)

Ben Morris has been treading the boards with what some nameless observer described as ‘the only decent band in London’, Chora.  This is his first outing as Lost Wax, with the cryptically titled ‘My Sore Daad Heap’d’ on cassette.  Right, first things first.  This little tape comes out via the Winebox Press so you’re in for some nifty & challenging packaging.  ‘Sore Daad…’ comes nailed to a piece of wood (once a comfortable futon by all accounts) and bound up in elastic bands and brown paper, making it all the more special.  With only 77 other handmade brothers & sisters around in the whole voyald you’re going to have to net this sucker soon.  It might just be a little thing to you but seeing all this hard work, inventiveness and sense of fun tickles my laugh lines from the off.  Sheesh…if I’m gooning over the packaging what’s going to happen when I slam this baby home?  Ok…stereo on…tape in…press play.  The anticipative hiss of a really warm recording shifts into a fly-blown world as hot and high as a Cement Garden.  Golden memory shimmers like  tissue paper and drags things like a summer holiday that never gets to the end of the six week fug.   ‘M1Jet’…a hissy and fizzy guitar, tape, rusty trumpet (?), organ and field recording struggle in a frothy brew of ever-changing colour and texture.  Waves slap against the jetty and a single bell rings as a pregnant coda.  ‘Brackish Lung’ takes tiny bell drone/ringing sounds layered over the unmistakable gurgle of piss flowing warmly into a thin tin funnel.  Other elements of warm fuggy huff get folded in until these gentle waves climax in a gushing golden shower of trucker’s Tizer.   ‘Afternoon Mesh’ summons one of my favourite immersive sound environments…rain falling on a nylon tent.  An homage to Maya Deren perhaps?  This makes beautiful the art of doing nothing much at all.  Rolling hiss and gentle rumble are punctuated by tent-zipper ‘whhoooossshhh’ and the everyday pyrotechnics of a close miked match (or something).  The listener is at the core of these intimate soundscapes and this gentle humming is as meditative as a giant gong’s enveloping reverberations; but writ in miniature, tiny cogs ticking away to silence. ‘Clogged & buttered’ takes the rhythmic ‘whump’ of the bilge pump and outboard motor and overlays a peasant guitar, mulchy walk, chunter and Geiger counter crackle to pull together the whole liquid theme.  This draws me to the ocean, like an aquatic ape…there is a naturalness and timelessness to this little tape.  A 1960’s Ladybird book come to life with clear and precise illustrations.  The art of composition is more of a lopsided collage for Lost Wax; see-sawing between clammy-fingered catgut pluck, natural woody drone and high performance field recording.  The lessons of Lambkin are applied making this a serious contender for tape of the year.  Want it?  £6.50 plus packaging costs from Winebox Press my friend.

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