from ibiza to samalayuca: new by midwich/the skull mask/midwich

June 11, 2014 at 11:09 am | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich – Inertia Crocodile (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CRR003, edition of 50 or download)

The skull mask and Midwich – Six angles (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 25 or download)

Midwich & The Skull Mask – Six Angles (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CRR004, edition of 25 or download)

midwich - inertia crocodilesix angles - kevsix angles - dan

Returning from a refreshing break I am delighted to find the garden in full bloom.  New reviews from Joe kick a ball about whilst awaiting my editorial attention, intriguing parcels and emails squabble about whose turn it is to go to the off license and, most excitingly, two new midwich releases bask in the sunshine.

I will account for these shortly but first a brief word of thanks regarding the brunt. I self-released this half hour long, single track midwich album about a month ago via Bandcamp charging a minimum of £1 for the download.  The idea was to raise a few quid to help cover the minimal costs of this stupid hobby and, as ever, I have been touched by your generosity.  Cheers comrades.  Much to my great satisfaction, I also heard that its vibrations helped loosen a stubborn bout of writer’s block over at Idwal Fisher.  OK, on with the new stuff…

inertia crocodile was recorded at the request of Andrew Perry, noise-tigger and label boss of We’re gonna get fucking drunk tonight boys.  I was aware that Andrew has a pretty fluid notion of ‘time’, thus delay would be inevitable, but I couldn’t resist the lure of having a CD-r out on a label with that name.  Well, not at first.

There then followed a year during which I would occasionally send passive/aggressive, elbow-nudging emails trying to chivvy the dude along.  Response came there none.  I worried for his health but having been assured by a mutual friend that he was OK my uptightness got the better of me.  An ultimatum was issued.  On the due date RFM’s ninja squadron broke into Andrew’s central London penthouse, liberated the master tapes, passed them to a waiting courier and melted into the night.

Daniel Thomas of Sheepscar Light Industrial was aware of these shenanigans and had expressed an interest in releasing the album on Cherry Row Recordings, his SLI offshoot label for releases longer than 22 minutes.  Thus within what seemed like half an hour of the courier unzipping her black leather catsuit inertia crocodile was a Bandcamp sensation.

The album is unlike my more recent stuff.  It is not extraction music – not overly dronish, no field recording and the only sound source is my Roland MC-303.  I guess these three tracks comprise a sort of love letter to that increasingly worn and temperamental machine.

The title track is clattering, clockwork rave – neon stabs trip and pile up over a central throb in an atmosphere choked with dry ice.  It is a badly smeared fax of a photocopy of a fax of the type of music the 303 was designed to produce.  ‘Piped’ is one of those short, mood-puncturing bibbles that I used to insist on peppering midwich releases with.  An analog squelch is allowed to run its course through the filters and that is about it.  As satisfying as the viscous ripples formed when pouring honey onto porridge.  The main event is ‘The Sure’: fifteen minutes of juicy pulses sliding over each other in a perversely fleshy, amply lubricated manner.  It has a swaggering bounce that I hope will have you nodding your head.  Dan coined the term ‘abstract Balearic’ to describe this which is amusingly apt.  To borrow a phrase that Neil Campbell used to use to describe everything he released: ‘this is my disco album’.

No need to take my word for it though.  Another opinion can be found here, as friend of RFM Forestpunk put together a terrifically flattering account of my music (and further musings about my writing and the underground in general) within a day of the album’s release.  Much obliged to you, man.

Six Angles is a thoroughly collaborative affair involving myself and Miguel Perez (doing the music) and Daniel Thomas and Kevin Sanders (doing the releasing).  I’m very proud to be part of it.  As might be expected with a transatlantic effort like this, the process has already been documented in email correspondence, blog posts and Bandcamp blurbs so I’m going to tell the story with a bunch of quotes.  Shameless, yeah, but efficient.  To start, here’s me from an email on recording and editing the two tracks:

‘five angles’ – This is made up of five components: two guitar pieces and an organ drone by Miguel, two synth drones by me. Originally I wanted to layer these all together but it didn’t work so I have stretched them out end to end, one after the other, so now they can be examined in turn and tell a little story.

‘written in sand’ – This is the sixth angle and is made up of four components – guitar and organ drone from Miguel and two more synth drones from me. The guitar and organ are in alternate layers with a crescendo of synth running for twenty minutes underneath, everything comes together a few minutes from the end then gradually drops out. I wanted it to be an overwhelming, psychedelic alarm. It works.

Here’s Miguel expressing his satisfaction on the Oracle Netlabel blog:

This is totally special :
a) Is my first collaborative effort with my good friend Rob Hayler (Midwich) a total supporter and kick to get the name around UK
b) Is my first release to be out not in one, but TWO labels at the same time!
c) These labels are no other than Dan Thomas’ own Cherry Row Recordings that is starting to get fire with some AMAZING drones and is dedicated to more long form releases aside from his totally successful Sheepscar Light Industrial
d) The other label is Hairdryer Excommunication, providing some of the best drones of the world via Kev Sanders and his own Petals project and lately under his own name.
e) This is the return of The Skull Mask after a somewhat unwanted hiatus.
Featuring Midwich on electronics and The Skull Mask on organ and guitar work, this took LONG to be finished. It was like an idea on the air. There was a planned release with Smut (that hopefully will see the light one day) and the tracks remain unused. Some emails back and forth and the proposition was made to work with Rob Hayler. After our successful split (that you can find HERE) this is the first time we collaborate together.

He sent me the work finished and just can say that this is nothing short but AMAZING…please taste the sand and let yourself fly out there!!!!

…and now Kev on the unusual decision to release it on two labels at once, from the hairdryer excommunication blog:

This is the sort of thing that happens in the no audience underground. Rob and Miguel will offer you some material to release which is amazing. So amazing, in fact, you want to more people to share in the fun of being involved in the release and getting more people to hear it.

This being the case, who could have been more perfect than Dan over at Sheepscar Light Industrial/Cherry Row Recordings? We’ve all pretty much worked together in some way in this game o’ sound and community… it was just too good of an opportunity to miss.

Dan’s put 25 copies out through his Cherry Row Recordings imprint and hairdryer excommunication have done the same thing, with us both hosting it electronically: No modes of exclusivity here.

Yeah, there’s a charge for the physical version, but we’re doing our best to refute capital, exclusivity and all that shit. Low cost, handmade releases (£3 plus p&p) and free electronic access: You , dear participatory listeners, can’t go too far wrong  with our collective ways of organising this sort of thing, right?

In homage to the People’s Republic of DIY, the hXe physical version is adorned with a rather miserable looking Yorkshire Terrier with a crown on.

This is an international release of manipulated acoustics, synth and electronics. It is one of my favourite listens of the year and has come together in no time. Perfect stuff.

…and finally Dan explains, in an email to me, the joss paper that features in his packaging of the piece (Tatum is his Cantonese teacher):

…it’s an offering paper; something that you would burn to send good wishes etc to family, friends, ancestors etc … As expected, the text works very well: Tatum just sent me this;

“The overview of the text is “after life” (reincarnation) money; these texts were repeated several times with the five elements: Gold, wood, water, fire, earth and others such as Heaven and moon etc.”

Fits very well with the vibe and atmosphere of the pieces.

Don’t it just? In summary: Miguel sent me two lengthy improv pieces, an organ drone and a desert guitar shimmer, I edited and augmented these to create the album’s two tracks and Dan and Kev decided, in an act of mischievous, exuberant novelty, to each release half the run with two sets of entirely different packaging containing identical music. Contemplating the wonderful absurdity of all this is giving me goosebumps. As Kev says: this is the sort of thing that happens in the no audience underground. Cool, eh?

—ooOoo—

Inertia Crocodile on Cherry Row Recordings

Six angles on hairdryer excommunication

Six Angles on Cherry Row Recordings

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