woollen arms cradling: joe murray on vampire blues, culver, somália, yavgnu and roman nose

November 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Vampire Blues – Recorded Live at Les Voûtes, Paris, France, 24th November 2012 (C36 tape, Winebox Press, winebox22)

Culver/Somália ‎– Untitled (tape, Matching Head, 197)

yavgnu/Roman Nose – Split (tape, исподволь)

RFM Vampire BluesRFM Vampire Blues 2 culver-somaliaRFM Roman Nose Split

Vampire Blues – Recorded Live at Les Voûtes, Paris, France, 24th November 2012

Vampire Blues is the natural-organic duo of Jon Marshall (Harmonium) and Jon Collin (Electric Guitar) feverishly stroking and a’ huffing live in the City of Light.

Side one is super-heavy on the harmonium, wheezy like an asthmatic pony as the guitar gently rests, calmly ‘pinging’ every so often.  This is a boozy sedative with absolutely no intention of rushing.  Waves of heavy vibration are pushed and pulled through the battered reeds and amplified with the slightest hint of over-distortion making everything quiver like it’s heard through a heat haze.  As ever, with Winebox releases, the sound of the tape itself becomes a third player with its woollen arms cradling the sounds making it all fuzzy-eared and alive.  After a while guitar rouses itself with prepared plucks performed with gnarled, wooden fingers, new leaves sprouting in place of nails.

Side two rips pretty much from the click of the play button.  The gravy-brown harmonium picks up pace (huff-huff-huff) as a Sonny Sharrock style guitar solo falls heavy like electric sleet.  Nifty playing makes the guitar sound backwards/forwards, background/foreground all at the same time with a thin keening edge…the sound of loss and yearning.  The harmonium pumps on and on reaching some candle-lit nirvana; reaching the peaks of ecstasy like some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sculpted from geranium-scented air.  After the dizzying heights are reached there’s the slow trek down into the foothills to drink deeply in the crystal-clear brook that runs swiftly across the valley floor.

Bavardage assez, voici le boeuf. Edition limitée de 70 ans. 7 £ pour acheter de  thewholevoyald.blogspot Pour votre argent, non seulement en êtes-vous présent document extatique mais cette petite bande vient cloué sur un morceau de peinture de table éclaboussé!

Culver/Somália ‎– Untitled

Culver is a master of the dark art of static movement.  In the same way smoke will fill a room to the corners, too thick to see thorough but fragile enough to part with the wave of a hand, Culver plays that hard/soft, full/empty, maximal/minimal dichotomy like Erich Von Daniken’s  ancient astronauts. Always working on the edge of being there and not being there this piece, this relatively brief drone called ‘seven human hairs’ is like watching ink boil.  The darkness is mesmerising and minutes lurch past, my fingers poised claw-like over the keyboard, when I sort of forget what I’m doing, so drawn into the loamy and fertile sound rolling out the speakers.  I’m lucky enough to get to see Culver play a couple of times a year so I have a window into his working methods.  I reckon this is a keyboard derived drone made with simple pieces of kit (Casio, Dictaphone, Sticky Tape) but that doesn’t stop the coiling tentacles probing out all soft tissues; leaching the essence of me out my living skin, as Nyarlathotep looks on delighting in the exquisite cruelty.

Somália is some mysterious Portuguese music maker who, on ‘das cordas’ takes a melancholic Satie riff (Gnossienne No. 1 I think) and loops it over and over again with a grimy patina of tape murk.  That’s it.  No speeding up or slowing down. No descent into beats or basslines.  Just a gradual fade into the muck collected round the capstans.  Super simple and super effective.  It works at times (and I have to point out here I have played this tape a lot!) like dark canvas, swallowing the light but freeing up the subconscious.  This is dreaming music. With my amateur musicologists hat on this whole idea of macro-samples could be traced back to hip hop I guess and people seemed to get their knickers in a twist when that hipster Oneohtrix Point Never did the same with a Chris De Burgh sample (‘Nobody Here‘).  This is twice as cool and double the fun.  It also became Mrs Posset’s favourite tape of the year which I think says a lot.  Keen to learn more a quick Google search reveals little about Somália apart from an up-and-coming split tape with the with bonkers Portuguese duo Yong Yong.  Wow…sounds like another essential release.

Sparse info here.

yavgnu/Roman Nose – Split

Direct from Jon Marshall’s duffel coat pocket this tape has travelled back from Russia on friendly sleeper trains following his visit deep behind the Iron Curtain (editors note: Scott chips in to tell us the tape is on a Russian label called ‘ispodvol’. According to Jon it’s a Russian word ‘исподволь’, meaning something like ‘gradually’.)

yavgnu are a ‘New Weird Moscow’ collective of bowed strings, flute, effects, vocal, guitar and percussion yet they speak the universal language of folk-group improvisation like any Chora or Hunter Gracchus would back in Blighty.  Whacked out violin and percussion jangles crack the frozen earth as river-smooth pebbles of ‘echo’ are lobbed down any grike.  Rusty bows are rubbed up against guitar and cymbal until the horsehair splinters and rips while previously recorded experiments jump through time-holes making the very ‘then’ now.  Whilst the methods and vernacular are common to improvisers the world over (and this is no place for my extraordinary pamphlet linking the desolate Tuvan plains to Hull’s abandoned factories) the overall feel is very different.  The balances we grow accustomed to in western improv are skewed and jammed.  The weight of instrumentation feels different in the hand and demands careful consideration. There’s no desire to fill each space with sound; the restraint in the playing and decision making is apparent and welcome.  There’s a calm confidence to this work that many an improv collective could learn from.

On this tape Jon’s Roman Nose is a collage of solo jams on ‘bicycle breaks, effects pedals, junk, metal food bowls, harmonica reeds, harmonium, sheng, tabla, tharqua, xaphoon & vocals’ and is as ecstatic and mixed up as that all sounds.  Notes, tones and breaths tumble over each other in a frantic rush with tightly coiled punk energy.  Metal bowls are bashed rhythmically until the tinny echoes fold in and the reverberations become diamond sharp.  A sheng is blown with such lung-bursting power bamboo splinters and rips, tabla’s are amped up and twonked until skin can resound no more.  This is a pretty violent melange and a world away from the more composed (but no less frantic) three-piece Roman Nose I saw live recently.  This is all about the forward motion, propulsion, riding the peaks and soaring the ionosphere.  Bliss.  You might be able to get this from singing knives but I’d move fast if I was you.  A birdy tells me there are fewer than 10 in the whole world!

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