spirals and waves: product from kiks/gfr

July 17, 2013 at 10:38 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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W>A>S>P>S / nacht und nebel – Split (7” single, NUNWSP001, edition of 250)

SCKE// – (ornaments) (7” single, KIKS/GFR, MEIR/KIKSGFR, edition of 300)

Daphine and Lyndsey – Seascape number one (CD-r and foldout pamphlet, KIKS/GFR, KIKSGFR004, edition of 50)

scke - ornamentswasps - nacht und nebel - splitdaphine and lyndsey front

Older readers will recall the trend in noise, especially harsh noise, for ‘challenging’ packaging.  Many is the time that I had to resort to a craft knife or pair of scissors to free up the entombed release.  On one notable occasion a damp cloth and one of those handheld vacuum things were needed to get something into a playable state, on another a soldering iron was required to get the bloody thing open.  I never had much time for this nonsense myself but can’t help be entertained by the objects created by artists like Con-Dom packaged in slate, or, amazingly, in a genuine lectern.  And we all know the story of the Noisembryo Merzcar, don’t we?

It still happens, to a lesser extent, and opening a jiffy bag at Midwich Mansions can reveal something that needs to be unstitched and disentangled from its accompanying detritus.  But this is increasingly rare – the bar has been lowered by the times we live in.  In the download era, an age of instant and infinite access, the slightest whiff of inconvenience is enough to make the ‘average’ punter think twice.  Never mind baking your magnum opus into a clay brick then wrapping it in barbed wire, most people today will sigh and contemplate giving up if you just stick it on vinyl.

Yes, the format itself has become the challenge. As opposed to downloadable or rippable (or even taped) media which can accompany me at various points during the day I have to make an appointment to listen to vinyl and, to be brutally frank, I can rarely be bothered.  7″ singles are especially galling.  I’ll admit that the object itself – its size, its shiny blackness – is a button-pusher but by the time my beautiful Turkish manservant has helped me into to my wing-backed listening chair the bloody thing is finished and requires flipping over.  I am too old for such furious activity.  Luckily for the releases above, a generous gift from Benjamin of KIKS/GFR, my faithful valet dodged the cane I was attempting to thrash him with, slipped me my evening laudanum and took charge of the turntable himself.  Thus I was left to compose my opinions in a more contemplative mood.

The W>A>S>P>S side of the split 7″, self-described as ‘flat-plate noise’, is angrily uneventful.  It is like walking into your living room to find a giant, bulbous and oily-looking frog sat on the coffee table scowling at you.  Motionless and unshiftable – its eyes follow you around the room.  Sometimes I think trying to formulate a critical reaction to slabs of noise like this is missing the point.  It doesn’t exist, it does exist, then it doesn’t again a few minutes later.  That’s it.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  In contrast the nacht und nebel side manages to pack an impressive amount of drama and momentum into three tiny noise vignettes.  A compressed history of the rise, rule and fall of an empire of insect warriors told in deceptively simple but information-rich sketches.  I’ve written about Henry’s work below – I’ll be looking out for more.

The SCKE// single, (ornaments), reissues two tracks of crunchy, glitchy electronica from 2004 the like of which I haven’t paid much attention to since, well, 2004 I suppose.  I’m not sure how well they have dated, or otherwise, because I’m not up on that scene but repeated listens (on my walkman, having taped it) reveal a satisfying charm.  An aspect of note is that a ‘KIKS’ sticker had been placed over the centre label of the record thus obscuring the hole.  This meant that in order to play it I needed to puncture it or carefully remove the offending section with a craft knife (I did the latter).  A minor, 21st Century inconvenience to remind us old folk how lucky we are not to need soldering irons to hear our noise these days?  Or is this just a rebrand of the remainder of the original edition?  I dunno.  Anyway: the content is perfectly fine and the heft of the heavyweight vinyl is most pleasing.

Finally we have Seascape number one by Daphine and Lyndsey on the rippable format of CD-r.  The irreducible physicality of this release is the packaging: a hybrid object of the genus sometimes referred to as ‘artist book’.  The disc, printed with sea shells, is housed within in its own plastic sleeve which is in turn wrapped with a folded A3 pamphlet featuring some lovely beach photography and the release details.  This is all held together with a chunky elastic band and kept neat by a plastic bag with KIKS logo sticker.

The content comprises four tracks, the first three of which are short field recordings of Lincolnshire ‘seascapes’, the forth being a two-minute treated remix.  These are not high def, check-the-mic-spec, fidelity fetishist documents, rather they are trustworthy recollections of the day in question (4th July 2012, apparently) detailed enough to give the impression of sitting next to the rock on which the recording device was balanced.  Just right.  Having grown up on the coast then spent my adult life in landlocked Leeds I am a sucker for this stuff and could listen to it all day long.  It blew a welcome offshore breeze through my head as I walked home along the traffic-strewn, sun-baked streets.

KIKS/GFR

W>A>S>P>S

nacht und nebel

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