rolling gums, stiffening whiskers: joe murray on id m theft able

November 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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i’d m thfft able – Werther’s Original/Bruised Apple (tape, mangdisc, #69)

I’d m thfft able – BLOOD BLOOD / HER BLOOD (2 x 3” CD-r, Orl, orl16, edition of 100)

Le 6eme Doight de Dwayne (tape, mangdisc, #70)

Id M Theft Able – Babb’s Bridge

her blood-blood blood oneher blood-blood blood twoRFM IDM

Hark!  Let’s have a cheer for IDM Theftable.  Or is that a shout out for IDM Theft Able? Or possibly we need to make some noise for I DM Theft Able?  Whatever way you spell it, whatever way you say it, Skot Spear is a man of multiple characters, approaches and many, many tapes (editor’s note: since the time of writing Joe has done some journalism and asked Skot about this.  According to the man himself there are two ‘official’ spellings: id m theft able or i’d m thfft able.  No hint as to appropriate use of capital letters so we’ll just wing it.).  A recent trawl through the internet slurps up at least 50 but I’m pretty sure that’s just the tip of this particular ferric iceberg.   I first came across Skot in a very real, physical form.  I pretty much tripped over his enormous rucksack at Newcastle’s historic Morden Tower (sadly now decommissioned) and amid the apologies and grovelling we started to chat and it turned out…this guy was the band.  OK.  Fast forward a hour or two and the whole room is glowing with rum, wearing witches hats and moaning and groaning under the instructions of the giant ginger instructor.  It was a great night, a live spectacle, a shaking of hands across the Atlantic and all that.

In a plot hatched between Skot and Jonah Jameson (editor’s note: heh heh, very funny.) here I’ve scored a whole swag bag of ID M Theft Able goodies to talk/spraff/go wild about.  OK…time to dig in and see what comes out first.

There’s a whole bunch of approaches across these releases.  But Werthers Original/Bruised Apple are what some cats are calling sound poetry these days.  Yeah….I kinda go with that description but there’s none of that academic frigidity in ID M’s voice.  The psychedelic domestic is explored and probed with an adventurous tongue as word bombs light up the gloomy interior of my skull.  The phrase “she slipped a Werther’s Original into my mouth and my eyes rolled round like a slot machine” is teased and taxed with no electronics or nothing.  Just lips, teeth and throat flapping the gas out into my ear.  The B-side (ID M describes this as a ‘kinda like a single’) is more overlapped with various ID Ms inhabiting different levels of time & space intoning his Bruised Apple schtick.  The words, phrasing, inhalations of breath all stir together in a creepy kind of way making nonsense of sense and leading your lurching down the path mossy with glossalia.  We need more of this mung in the top 40 you pop pickers.

The double CD-R package (HER BLOOD / BLOOD BLOOD) comes in the kind of triple folded pop-art collage folk like Richard Hamilton used to paste up and makes me happyjolly right from the off.  Inside the delicate envelopes are two live discs; ‘HER BLOOD’ is pure vocal, feral choir chops, with an audience of youngsters and hipsters.  ID M makes the process easy, explaining his cues to the assembled choir, then launches into a giant hissing and sighing piece that sounds like the world’s largest Whoopee Cushion deflating as Yoda settles his bony buttocks into the rubbery folds letting out a goose-honk ‘bronx cheer’.  Phonetic consonants are rolled round moist gobs and spat into a crackling fire as some Chip, Chet or Chuck wonders ‘Why did he put that in? It’s plastic.’  There is an occasional bell ring from an old fashioned telephone to punctuate but, in the main it’s all live hiss conducted for the BBQ crowd.  Wow.  This is a hell of a heavy document.

‘BLOOD BLOOD’ (very confusingly) starts with The Verve then Florence and the Machine’s corporate indie rock, and what sounds like psycho-beard Matt Berry (from the IT Crowd fame) as some hapless XFM Jockey…until I realised I had knocked on the radio my mistake.  Sheet!  I listened for about 5 mins before realising my mistake.  I think this serves as a salutary reminder of how diverse ID M’s chunks can be.  I guessed it was some anglo-indie-tape piece.  No dice!

Right…back to work, here’s the real deal.  ‘BLOOD BLOOD’ starts with some speed rapping “I Want It” and breaks into brief verses from TLC’s classic ‘Waterfalls’ to spice things up.  The infamous ‘box o’ things’ makes an appearance like some Harry Partch equipment hot-wired by the mice out of Bagpuss and cranked up tight by angry worker bees to sculpt the minimal poem ‘The Hole’; soft twanging tones rumble gently reminding me of a foam gamelan.  ‘Encore!’ Chuck, Chet or Chip calls out squeakily and, ever the gent, Theft-san rolls his gums up round more tape-collage fuss to spit and slobber ‘I’m Swimming in Blood, Blood, Blood’ mixing gob-punk techno-squelch with random radio blather and feedback tweaks.  A heavily amplified hamster cage is rattled for a bit like another Harry, this time of the Bertoia persuasion, was kidnapped and thrown in the boot seguing into the most primitive sampling this side of the Dave Howard Singers, ‘boof, Burrrfff….clunk!’  Wow.  The audience babble and chat and laughter only makes this all the more dixy.  As a beginners guide to the ID M universe this is a mightily good place to start.

So far there has been a knockabout, laff-a-minute thread to many of these ID M releases.  Me, I love this.  Does humour belong in music?  If you don’t know the answer, pack up and go home man.  But, ya’ know, we’re all different and I appreciate not everyone likes to listen to the band playing for yuks.  OK…now that’s settled, the stern-gobs can be safe in the knowledge that Le 6eme Doight de Dwayne is pretty much a serious piece of group improv recorded in a basement so low ID M couldn’t even stand up in it.  Instrumentation seems to be sporadic with metal percussion, keys, voice and occasional bass making a rich broth of hive-mind.  For a tape recorded in Quebec in 2011 it has a very late 1980’s Eastern European quality (perhaps one of Martin Klapper’s shindigs?) with deliberate placement resulting in busy-brittle-rustling meshed up with junk/toy clatter.  ‘Ching, ching…wurrrupp’ says a musical see-saw answered with polite restraint from the players.  Things really take off when the voices babble in unison, the electronic bird caller warbles in the background, and throats coalesce into a single snort and honk chorus.   Again… I’m a sucker for this approach and it takes me back to huddling under the bed covers listening to Mixing It on the verge of sleep; all the signals getting scrambled in my dozing brain.

Babb’s Bridge (on recycled Max Bygraves tape…I didn’t know Max had ‘broke’ America) channels a totally different approach to everything else I have heard up to now from Thefty (editors note: apparently originally released on vinyl in 2009 via a four-way label collaboration involving Veglia, King Fondue, Zeikzak and Taped Sounds).

Side one totally wrong foots me as it starts with a field recording/stream-of-consciousness poem that rambles politely across time, tense and sense to come up with demented couplets, “loves Kurt Cobain…forever, italiano cheek, 1980…Mike Gray is gay.  Bleed rat bleed.” which the occasional knotty thump that I suspect is tapped out on Babb’s Bridge itself.  Slowly it turns back into field recording as cars drive on and revellers shout.  It’s all drawing to a close I think but, amid the sparse background chatter ID M continues with more precisely timed loves and losses, “the sexy ass beast” and most unusually, the occasional Wu Tang Clan quote.  Then it dawns on me…he’s reading from the bridge itself, or rather from the accumulated graffiti that must be scrawled across it; picking up themes, repeating them, turning words and phrases inside out.  What makes this all the more haunting and worthwhile is the calm and relaxed way it’s all delivered.  There’s no am-dram shouting or over-enunciated performance poetry theatrics.  It’s all matter-of-fact and chatty, like overhearing one half of a conversation between an anxious God and his disciples. A beautiful piece of music to add to the ever-growing no-audience underground sound poetry cannon.

Side two picks up the honky electronics, wires, tapes and samples approach.  Flustered mouthings and fizzy lippings are laid out over Morse Code spurts while the wheels of a matchbox car are mashed into bright blue Play Doh.  It’s all speed-of-thought chaffings and pips, rolling and lurching (bishp…booop.  FZZZZZZZzzzz) that raises the pulse rate and stiffens the whiskers.  The logic of the collage is taken to extremes with one sonic idea laying over its partner to create a herringbone pattern of interlocked brickwork.  As one sound fades it’s cousin takes over, holding the construction tight, making it safe to walk over…just about perfect for a bridge yeah?

For a far more in depth understanding of this mysterious record (also available on vinyl) check out this vintage interview with the man himself.  For more general intelligence on IDM look no further than his propaganda page: KRAAG.

I reckon I’ve listened to about 3 hours of IDM Theft Able straight this morning and it’s been a right tasty trip for my ears.  I’ll listen to goof-off mouthing all day but it’s Babb’s Bridge that’s stolen my heart with it’s pure otherness.  Use Google…check ‘em out Midwichers!

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