thrashing circumstance: self-released by dr:wr, forgets, orlando ferguson, luminous monsters and garland fields

April 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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DR:WR – Zamage: Music For Party (self-released download)

forgets – reasons based on our thrashing circumstances (self-released download)

Orlando Ferguson – O! What hath man wrought? (self-released download)

Luminous Monsters – On Rubied Talons (self-released download)

Garland Fields – Schizophreniclustercadence (self-released download)

drwr - zamage

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: this ‘self-released download’ business is punker than punk. It is now possible, via services like the all-conquering Bandcamp, for anyone to present any sound at all to anyone else. Admittedly the means of production have not been seized entirely – we still need the internet, which is far from universal, and those banks of servers hosting The Cloud are not owned by a vegan co-op – but compared to the advances punk made in democratizing the creation of art and music this state of affairs is flat out anarchy. No one is listening, of course, but that isn’t the point – this is a qualitative change that we (well, oldsters like me) are still marvelling at. In celebration of all this freedom here are some glowing accounts of items I have been pointed at, *ahem*, ‘recently’…

DR:WR – Zamage: Music for Party

First then, a two track download from the school of The Zero Map. Firstly, ‘Wooden Flesh’ (reminds me of my entry to a ‘make up your own Channel 5 shock doc title’ contest: ‘The Boy With Wooden Legs… But Real Feet!’) sounds like dawn in one of those 2D, day-glo chthonic realms visited by the Yellow Submarine. Creatures gibber and shake the undergrowth as their cartoon anatomies burble. The middle section takes on a hunted tension then, having breakfasted on each other, the improbable animals settle down to the pan-dimensional business of the day.

‘This is not Thesis’ has a greater urgency to it. A crystalline shimmer is sullied, smeared as insistent ticking (at first) then a low end throbbing alarm (in the second movement) suggests there is only a very short amount of time left to defuse the suspect package – bristling with coloured wires – that no-one saw being delivered. If only you’d not spent your lunch break on the river bank eating magic mushrooms, eh? Luckily the only thing that happens when the big red LED counter gets down to ’00:00′ is that a little flag unfurls with the word ‘BANG!’ printed on it and we can all enjoy a pleasant come down.

forgets - reasons

forgets – reasons based on our thrashing circumstances

Next is forgets, winners of ‘the band I feel most guilty about not mentioning in the 2013 Zellaby Awards award’. Their latest recording – a raw, rehearsal room mix that demands volume and attention – features prose poetry from Kroyd over the improv noise guitar of Mitch, as expected, but also has some instrumental interludes reminiscent of the duo’s free rock incarnation Bluejay Neutrons too.

I find Kroyd’s storytelling to be hypnotizing. The dourness and despairing humour of his observations are perfectly relayed by the rhythm of his delivery and underscored by Mitch’s post-apocalyptic (well, that’s how it feels in some parts of Leeds on a rainy weekday afternoon) chang. At their most effective the poems bring on a kind of existential panic. Kroyd is not content: he realises that his ability to document the cruelties and absurdities of life does little to mitigate them. Being able to feel is not necessarily a survival trait. In fact, to see clearly can be a debilitating disability. So why not blur that vision with drink and rage and wry self deprecating humour, eh? I think Kroyd might be a hero of a strange sort and Mitch is either his therapist or his enabler depending on the shifting mood in the room.

This is not an easy listen but I recommend it, as I do the rest of their back catalogue.

orlando ferguson - o what hath man wrought

Orlando Ferguson – O! What hath man wrought?

Boy, have I come late to this party. I’m hoping a cheesy grin and a blue plastic bag full of cans is going to get me past the doorman… Orlando Ferguson is a York based duo: John Tuffen and Ash whose-surname-I-don’t-know. Long term midwich fanciers may recall John’s beautiful techno album available from namke communications which I released on fencing flatworm recordings, or perhaps his own artfully packaged micro-label minimism. A decade, and several regenerations (see: neuschlaufen), later John got in touch to alert me to this new project. I was delighted to hear from him but, within minutes, had lost the file down the back of the harddrive and, minutes after that, forgot about it. That was months ago – shame on me. Something, possibly guilt at missing their recent Hogwash show here in the beautiful garden city of Leeds, got me rummaging around and I’m very glad that I did.

Orlando Ferguson was, I am told, a late Nineteenth Century advocate of Flat Earth theory and created a very beautiful map, decorated with bible quotations and jibes at fancy-pants science types, in order to disprove all that globe nonsense. Given that the band is named for such a character, its histrionic title and the defiant running time of 48 minutes for a single track you might expect this album to be epic, idiosyncratic and to have serious courage in some entertainingly wonky convictions. You would be right on all counts.

Put simply: this is a long, involving, proggish, psychotronic ritual which, despite its grand spaciness, remains admirably disciplined throughout. Yes, there is scouring, splintering guitar but it never gets noodly or aimless – riffs have an effective tech/kraut simplicity. Found sounds – some Foley work with bits of metal too – give the piece a grounded, located feel which I appreciate whilst voices gurgling and spitting keep the angelic host tethered to the altar. Its overall success is a product of John and Ash’s balls-out confidence – this was performed live at a noise show where sets are generally half this length – and obvious faith in their work. Great stuff. I now discover there are seven releases available via their Bandcamp site, all of which can be had for a mere couple of quid a throw.

luminous monsters - talons

Luminous Monsters – On Rubied Talons

When Matt of the inexplicably named guanoman emailed to plug his new Luminous Monsters album the description had me bouncing in my chair with anticipation:

Five tracks ranging from delicate near-silence to raging psychedelic noise, via heavy drone and the customary ham-fisted approximations of Middle Eastern modes.

Oh, Matt you smoothy – you had me at ‘ham-fisted’. I jest, of course, but it did sound custom made to fit these sorely mistreated ears. So it has proved – I like this album very much indeed.

We start with ‘The Kundalini Engine’. Imagine a great master of gamelan has died unexpectedly in the night. The following morning his shocked students gather to play a tearful, heartfelt tribute. A background buzz of sympathetic electronics and a swell of crystal guitar are entirely appropriate and poignantly represent the fragility of it all and the nearness of the spirits that day.

Next, ‘Tears of a Shoggoth’ sees an example of Lovecraft’s terrifying, amorphous, slave race summoned by a strangely faceted purple crystal and imprisoned in the dome of a mosque. An almost instinctive folk memory is awakened in the frightened populace and, on a moonless night, they surround the building with torches and play music – anything to keep the thrashing, furious animal inside.

Regarding ‘Coils of the Doxic Host’ I was recently asked what it is I am currently looking for in music and, without thinking, I replied ‘low end with sprinkles’. Plenty of that here. A satisfyingly full drone calls to mind a giant cauldron full of boiling caramel. The witch tending this delicious but lethally hot concoction is killing time by improvising on a miniature hand-held church organ.

‘Of Smoke and Sinew’ and ‘Wrath of the Tyrant Sun’ could be parts one and two of the same adventure story. We start with guitar shimmer, a heat haze over the desert sand, then – drama – a truck full of excited men with shovels arrives. They leap out and throw themselves into the task of uncovering a giant hatch that, according to the chap holding the map, is the gateway to a nameless underground city. Once opened, the gathering storm above and the hot, unnervingly breathy, wind coming up from the blackness below suggests the whole business has been a very bad idea indeed…

A cracker. Sadly, I think you’ve missed the pre-release opportunity to swap a free download from Matt for a hand-drawn picture of a monster (charming, eh?) so you’ll have to pay actual dough for it but, at three quid, this is a steal.

garland fields

Garland Fields – Schizophreniclustercadence

Finally then, the above.  This is officially on a label, Megawhat Recordings (I can’t decide whether that name is teeth-grindingly cheesy or some kind of Oi! genius – might be both), but as all the ‘acts’ gathered under this umbrella are incarnations of the same bloke, Robin Foster, this definitely counts as self-released.  Robin presented this to me with all the enthusiasm of a kid being ordered by the playground bully to light a banger pushed into some dog shit:

I hope at the very least my music doesn’t repulse you too greatly.

…he said and who can resist such a persuasive hard sell?  Luckily, not me.  The release comprises one 20 minute track of trilling electronic noise.  On first listen it appears to be a shipping container full of panic-stricken R2D2s short circuiting as an anti-droid luddite hoses ’em down.  Which is good, obviously, but further listens reveal quite a lot more going on.  Fans of foldhead’s gurning squawktronics will enjoy the struggle as flopping, squashed sounds try to right themselves whilst a malfunctioning gravitational field hurls everything arse over tit.  Good fun.  I shall investigate this guy’s work further.

—ooOoo—

DR:WR

forgets

Orlando Ferguson

Luminous Monsters

Garland Fields / Megawhat Recordings

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