crossing the streams: broken arm and the piss superstition

April 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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The Piss Superstition / Broken Arm – Live at The Fenton (tape, Great Sadness)

piss - arm - fenton

It’s years since I read it but, if I remember correctly, Foucaults Pendulum by Umberto Eco is about hoaxers who get in trouble when some bullshit they made up for a laugh gets taken seriously by dangerous conspiracy nuts. After hundreds of pages of dramatic incident and post-modern clever-cleverness the punchline is (spoiler alert) that the greatest secret has no content. Thus: the more you deny there is anything to know, the more desperate those desiring to know will become.

(Aside: should my exciting synopsis cause you to consider reading this book may I recommend instead that you go for The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. It covers similar ground but has way more fucking in it and far fewer witty puns in Latin.)

I  was reminded of Eco’s conclusion when listening to The Piss Superstition. Thus: I flounder about trying to make sense of it all whilst Julian (Bradley) and Paul (Steere) look on amused, shrugging and whispering to each other:

Dude, it just is what it is…

…but of course I don’t believe them and my babbling interpretations continue to spill out.

First, the facts: here we have the latest release from The Piss Superstition, winners of the Best Album gong at the 2013 Zellaby Awards. It’s a split tape shared with Broken Arm featuring two sets recorded live in famed Leeds shithole The Fenton. The recording quality is of an acceptably raw ‘walkman bootleg’ variety, mastering is limited to topping and tailing with the settings otherwise jammed on ‘brutal’. TPS contribute one track, ‘A Stupor-Look On The Knife Throwers Face’, lasting about twenty minutes. BA’s set comprises seven songs lasting half an hour. It has apparently been released by a label called Great Sadness though no contact details are provided on the object and perfunctory net-based ‘research’ also reveals nothing. Mysterious.

The Piss Superstition sound on this occasion is made of stringed noise (unrock guitar digested by intestinal effects), electro scribble spiralling into gibberish and stumbling, ill-fitting rhythms falling over themselves. ‘Wait, what?’ a mournful two-pitch pulse seems to groan, as if from a nightmarishly devolved nursery rhyme. Now, tempting as it is to romantically claim that the TPS back catalogue is the noise equivalent of the Voynich manuscript, I don’t think these boys are perpetrating an elaborate hoax. Nor are the indications of meaning accidental – there really are fossils of Cambrian oddities in these shale fragments, not just artefacts of rock formation and wishful thinking. No, this music is detuned – not discordant as such, just eroded, smeared, until its original content is lost or, at best, obliquely hinted at. That is what makes it so endlessly fascinating.

I know nowt about Broken Arm because they are, y’know, a ‘band’ but I very much like the smashed garage punk on display here. Their riffage is meaty and prominently veined, the high point being, err…, that track in the middle (who can follow a track listing whilst listening to a tape, eh? Not me – my brain is mush nowadays. *Sigh*, as a teenager I could sing along to Scum) where they get on a groove that is part glam stomper and part Spaceman 3 via orange swathes of distortion pedals. Highly entertaining and serves the main purpose of any decent live recording: it makes you wish you’d been there to see it performed.

For details of how to secure a copy visit the TPS blog.

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