knotty scabs, fresh burns: joe murray picks at smut, witchblood

November 30, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Smut – Incomplete Chaos (CD-r, Turgid Animal)

Popular Radiation/Witchblood – Live at the Mining Institute (tape, Boiled Brains Bootlegs, BBB #003)

Smut - Incomplete ChaosSmut - Incomplete Chaos 2

Smut – Incomplete Chaos

Lucy passed this one to me merely minutes before she clambered up on stage at Newcastle’s OctoberTUSKfest and fairly flattened the attentive crowd with the extreme heaviness found inside an old violin and some dodgy FX pedals.

This time Smut plays it spookier and looser with a bunch of long/short/long pieces moving from candle wax smooth to hessian rough over 50 delightful minutes.

‘Mother Shipton’ is, as you’d expect, cave music; throbbing reverberation and haunted echoes.  Squashed foghorns moan in a deep drizzle, a children’s pipeband is lost in a nearby chamber but play to keep their spirits up.  You can hear terror in their reedy voices as eyes skit round the dampness looking for any pinpricks of light.

A rush of thick flaming oil is captured in the brief but aptly titled ‘A grandeur in the beating of the heart’.  It’s warm and rough like knotty scabs over fresh burns; you can’t stopping picking at it despite the crimson pearls of blood collecting under your fingernails.

Free-guitar overload lurches while the runes rattle as the pivotal piece ‘G&G’ unfolds…chunky riffing collapsing and re-building solid shapes, sucking all the light out the room.  A ragged apocalypse, dark alkali fires and barren earth all spring into my mind-cinema as I’m buffeted by this howling voodoo.

Long nights bring the unknowable with the three cackling demons: isolation, paranoia and fear.  The super-spooky track ‘Tramadol 4am’ is a séance of terrible magnitude.  Like slow suffocation, or waves closing over your head, the scruttered voices are just beyond the level of intelligibility… their dark chatter is unclear making this all the more haunting.

Phew… this brings us to the melancholic closer ‘Blood Moon.’  A giant ribcage from some monstrous beast is bowed (deeply) whilst thunderous exclamations get chucked from on high by a grumpy Zeus.  Truly restrained and ponderous, like the sound of glaciers calving, this is now standard kit for all Antarctic explorers.

Being in the right place at the right time snaffled me up this boxed copy but Incomplete Chaos will be released on Turgid Animal soon.  Keep watching… as the nights draw in you’ll need this grim disc, as autumnal as acrid bonfire smoke and spent fireworks found in the damp street.

poprad-witchblood frontpoprad-witchblood back

Popular Radiation/Witchblood – Live at the Mining Institute

Like Cheap Trick and the Budokan or Motorhead and the Hammersmith Odeon some bands and venues seem inextricably linked.  Is it the acoustics, the pre-gig ‘refreshment’ or the vibe (man)?  I’m not sure about all that lot but one thing I know is some places accept a performance and some don’t.  I’m delighted to report Newcastle’s Mining Institute is fast turning into a little Carnegie Hall for the No-Audience Underground with excellent performances this year from Fritz Welch & Crank Sturgeon, the Minton & Poot duo and Roger Turner & Urs Leimgruber to name but a few.  So while you might not be able to scream, “I was there man!” you can sup from the excitement goblet by jamming this pink little tape.*

First up, Hasan Gaylani’s Popular Radiation.  A full-throated and rich-coffee roar fills the air as soon as I press play.  Blimey… this is heavy.  Derived from something Sarod/Tanpura-esque this is a single point in time, stretched across 20 mins or so, but it would be disingenuous to call it a drone work.  Poplar [sic.  Editor’s note: nice typo though – imagine the luminescent forest!] Radiation has more in common with the dark art of the DJ, in particular Millsian techno. Deep sounds are mixed and blended and it’s in this mixing and blending that the magic takes place.  Tiny incremental changes are edging between different states until it dawns on you that you’ve moved from one listening position to another without even knowing.  As the Killer Bees state:

The slow blade cuts deepest.

Flipping the tape introduces us to Witchblood (Smut & Culver) who employ gas piano and shadow violin in a devastatingly effective duo.  For me the name Witchblood conjures up Hammer Horror but this music is no campy bombast; it’s pure dustbowl depression.  Like a tornado full of sepia-tinted pianola and slack cat-gut, sound whirls slowly.  Things keep at a menacing pace but become more dense and complex as notes topple over each other, edging themselves out the twister to collapse to the ragged rocks below.  It’s elemental, with that sense of gathering power, like when clouds bruise and blacken and you feel the delicious tension before the first fat drops of rain fall.  Most precious of all is the beautiful, respectful silence that follows the thin grey fade out, a precedent to the howling cheers and applause.

All this for £4 only from the mighty Turgid Animal site.

—ooOoo—

*the other option of course is to just lie about it like the thousands of Manc half-wits who ‘saw’ the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall and still haven’t stopped going on about it…

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: