all routes via drent: joe murray travels with gen ken montgomery, midwich, thf drenching and marc matter

February 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Gen Ken Montgomery – The Well Spliced Breath Volume 7: Voice Clippings (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.274, edition of 60)

Midwich – The Swift (CD-r, Altar of Waste, AOW 145, edition of 15)

Birchall / Drenching / Poot – Scottish Floating Charge (self-released download)

THF Drenching – Unnatural White Inventions (vol 1) (self-released download)

THF Drenching – Unnatural White Inventions (Vol 2) (self-released download)

Marc Matter / Voiceover – L’oeil Ecclatante (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.276)

marc matter

It’s 7.15am on a rainy Sunday morning.  Newcastle sleeps off its Saturday night as I board the National Express to London Victoria.  Seven hours forty minutes of travel stretches out in front of me…seven hours forty minutes of quality RFM listening time.  So here goes, settle down, headphones on…

gen ken montgomery

(Newcastle to Catterick Garrison)  First up is Gen Ken Montgomery – The Well Spliced Breath Volume 7: Voice Clippings.  I’m assuming the dizzying speech loops for this charming disc are culled from self help/instructional/educational tapes from GKM’s legendary sound library.

The tone set is wonderfully dated.  That Formica-slick 1950’s sound of gentle assurance and paternal wisdom (don’t worry about the bomb – it’s all going to be OK) nags at the brain stem like a fake memory.  GKM adds disquiet to these Bakelite loops with bee-waffle, Disney strings and random clatter as the repetition of the most innocent of phrases, ‘You’re as pretty as a picture’ become darkly sinister.  I’m reminded of those between-song collages from Bongwater, or the sharp, cultural poke-in-the-eye of Negativland.  None of this in a bad way – more like when you come across a Butthole Surfers interview in inky old Melody Maker and think, ‘Cor…they were great weren’t they.  Why don’t more folk do that?’  Only the track ‘If you need help’ bucks this trend and splices partial vocal snitches as tight as the wrapper on a chewy toffee penny.

“We don’t have to suffer, we’re the best batch yet”, croaked old Don Van.  And I’m thinking the same think about old Gen Ken here.  The Well Spliced Breath series on Chocolate Monk is damn essential listening for the student of vocal fuh.  You know that.  But, dear reader, this one is the creamy-doof, the Shia LaBoeuf!

midwich - the swift cover

(Wetherby to Woodhall Services) I’m hoping my terrible geography won’t let me down as I delve into The Swift by Midwich.  I want to be knee-deep in Midwich as we pass through Rob’s adoptive home town of Leeds; creating a feedback loop of musty drone from coach to city centre.

The Swift is a single hour long piece in three distinct movements.

Movement one: It starts like the soundtrack to ‘Evolution…The Movie’ as grey gloop is replaced by lazy cellular dividing and static, internal egg-memories. Things settle on Mothra’s mating ritual – long drawn-out breaths gradually moving out of synch as feathery lungs push huge volumes of air through Sperm Whale baleen.

Movement two: A rhythmic ticking and the clatter of ghostly forklift trucks start to creep in.  The Swifts chirrup, skittering in the air warmed by the horny Mothra.  Listeners note: this section accompanies the flock of stately wind turbines near Chesterfield spectacularly.

Movement three: The final five minutes heave like the tides, slowly encroaching on an abandoned city; washing through the deserted streets, clearing the human junk for a stronger, fitter civilisation floating slowly through the brine.

No question this is Rob’s most immersive and ambitious piece of Midwichery yet.  You gotta have it!

(Editorial aside: the more cynical amongst you may scoff but I’m satisfied that Joe’s praise for this album has nowt to do with it being recorded by me, his editor.  Nor will my praise for the Black Leather Cop tape in a future review have owt to do with the fact that it was recorded by the duo of Scott and Joe, my RFM comrades.  Can there be ‘conflict of interest’ down here in the no-audience underground?  I may tackle this question at length some other time but, spoiler alert, I suspect the short answer is: ‘no’.  At the time of writing there are still a couple of copies of The Swift left for sale – hop to it! – RH)

birchall drenching poot

(Hucknall to Whipsnade Zoo (including nap))  I came across Birchall / Drenching / Poot – Scottish Floating Charge while using Mrs Posset’s Facebook contraption…what joy these ‘likes’ bring!

This heavyweight trio treat the disc as very jazz with a muscular Drenching doing a moody Mingus on bull-Dictaphone.  His Clangersesque chops weave around Luke Poot’s patent furniture jam and Dave Birchall’s scribble-scrabble on guitar.

The ghost of Carl Stalling looms.  The busy peaks are a cartoon catfight in a sandpaper factory; the loser tarred and feathered.  Heavy weights get dropped on heads and Bluebirds tweet over a swiftly rising bruise.   But it’s not all three-way, slapstick action – No Sir!

‘Deed of Negative Pledge’, a duo between THF Drenching & Poot is a dense mung of collapsed electrics in a scum-filled pothole.  There’s something here that reminds me of Prince – a kind of affronted pomp.  It’s easy to picture The New Power Generation battle The Revolution with toys from an Argos Christmas cracker on this one.

‘Nano-tech Slave Canoe’ by Dave & Drenching is a double-D storm of fizz & gaseous cloud – behold the hot hail.  It gladdens me pans to hear some joyful ruler-twang nestling between dicta squirts and scree.

Lo…the energy never stops. ‘A Deer Walking on Some Cardboard’ is plumped up and caffeinated like early Adolescents wrecking that forgotten kitchen cabinet full of old parts for a pre-war blender until some gonzo moose-honking heralds our arrival in glorious Luton.

thf drenching - inventions 1

More tape-screw bounty accompanies me from Dunstable to Victoria with THF Drenching’s Unnatural White Inventions (vol 1) .  This solo disc showcases the Herbie Hancock of Dictaphones melting into a somewhat Ballardian mood.  The future is five minutes away and carved out of alienating concrete.  Drenching, thumbs as heavy as Stonehenge uprights, crushes micro-sounds out of the pinched brown tape with a steel-tension squeak.  Listeners note: Lovers of Raster Noton shit will dig the clean and clinical splatters of goof on display here – honest.

‘Live Acoustic Nail-Fetish’ has some button-pushing genius measured out in Samuel Morse’s code spelling out, ‘Overthrow the Ruling Classes.  Unite.  Rejoice!’ if I’m not much mistaken.   This decoding made me jumpy.  So it’s with a nervous titter I relish the electric horse sound (invented by little Jimmy Osmond) that closes this tasty piece.

Fans of balls-out skronk look away now.  ‘Postal Ballot Reflux’ is a dystopian Gamelan, heavy with loss, mourning the death of the Arts & Crafts movement.  It’s a lament for Brent Cross…it’s a silent scream in Halfords superstore.  Finally ‘Alternating Meat Wipes’ de-tunes a radio like a Victorian lady succumbing to Polystyrene ear-pressure.  That’s not something you hear everyday brothers and sister right?

thf drenching - inventions 2

I’ve arrived in the capital! And after I’ve slapped some blood back into my legs I relax into THF Drenching’s Unnatural White Inventions (Vol 2) as I make the cross-town jaunt Victoria to Stoke Newington on the number 73 Routemaster.

It’s a bold opening: the squeal of miniature figs in a foam of iron gravy that starts ‘Xmas TP-M110 Jammy Slobber’.  Presently the Christmas tree decorations are taken down and the resulting chatter recorded by noisy Krill.  Rice expands to fill a seeping wound…whoa man Drench!  Things get serious with ‘Jettisoned Inky Crags’, a music concrete composition (electric whisk in a Smash tin) that zip-scratches and Velcro-rips like Mixmaster Mike with crabs.

The erotic closer, ‘Something for a Stabproof Goose’ is a fumble in the hide.  An Owl’s haunted ‘twit-t’woo’ in strong sunlight.  My ears tell me it’s all composed in negative with the fowl sound redacted, the anti-echo of quack left to dissolve into the dusk.  Punishingly austere and perfectly suited to staring at the back of an old guy’s head for 50 minutes.

marc matter

The next day, my London business done, I tramp back to the train station and Marc Matter / Voiceover – L’oeil Ecclatante accompanies me from King’s Cross back home to Newcastle.

I chat to the poor bugger next to me.  She’s working on spreadsheets but I’m overcome with the urge to spout forth…

Hey lady!  Here’s more vocal shenanigans from your Cannonball Run chums Chocolate Monk.  This Mr Marc has already done his personal huffing and honking and scratched his mung into soft black vinyl if you please.  The vocal explosions are then mixed and mashed up via turntables, mixing desk and effects.  Neat eh?

Do you like history lady? Marc knows his onions and has been DJing with the ‘hoof and varble’ of ancient text compositions/sound poetry for a few years.  It’s no surprise then that L’oeil Ecclatante comes across like the late, great Henri Chopin; full of damp glottal slops and high-pitched steamy hisses.

Listeners note: at this point I offer her my earbuds.  She declines but continues to look interested.

At times it’s like being trapped in a vast jug: bub, bub, bubbing as liquid is poured out on to a blackened tree stump,

…I continue,

…other moments revisit the sonic texture of corduroy as my old school trousers, Bishop Barrington Comprehensive – year 8, are rubbed against sensitive fruit.  Do you think that the sleight-of-hand encouraged by turntables allow sounds to slip wetly between your ears and rough running-breath to be laid over internal lung-farts to patch up a rhythm, soon to be nixed by the pinched trachea of Ligeti’s angels?

Although she didn’t answer and quickly went back to her spreadsheets I could tell she was hooked, another convert to the no-audience underground.

Mind the gap!

Chocolate Monk

THF Drenching on Bandcamp

Council of Drent

Midwich on Altar of Waste

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