reverse baboon, hooded epiphany: luke vollar on robert ridley-shackleton and friends

December 14, 2014 at 10:27 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Posset / Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Untitled Split (CD-r, Hissing Frames, edition of 12)

Werewolf Jerusalem / Robert Ridley-Shackleton / She Walks Crooked – April Fools (CD-r, Hissing Frames, edition of 22)

posset, r r-s - splitwerewolf jerusalem - r r-s

‘Robert Ridley-Shackleton’ – a name for the stage if ever I heard one.  It conjures up images of a dandy striding purposefully about town: a bounder, a cad, maybe even a rogue!  A quick search on that internet reveals him to be nothing of the sort; rather a hirsute, occasionally shirtless, fella with a red bass guitar. I have been curious about his work for a while mostly due to coverage on this very blog. I had read about the large and expanding back catalogue of insanely limited discs and tapes on his Hissing Frames label, his wild veering between micro genres and even genres that he’s stumbled upon by himself (‘no audience funk’ anyone?) but I had not stuck any Robert in my ear until a little box arrived recently containing, amongst other delights, a split between Robert and RFM’s very own posset a.k.a Joe Murray.

So: posset first. A small wobbly tape hum gives way to full on mouth gubber and it seems that for this session Joe has given his dictathumb the night off.  Instead, on tracks one and two Joe sounds like he’s using the dictaphone to brush his teeth, doing a reverse baboon impression and flapping his wet cheeks into a demented frenzy like Dylan Nyoukis singing Van Halen after a bottle of Buckfast. On track three he goes for ‘Tibetan gong ritual on pan lids’, the singing metal feeding back nicely into the portable recording device while background life occurs. I really like Joe’s music: it’s fun, inventive and unpredictable.  This is another beauty for my collection.

The ‘what is happening?’ vibe continues with Robert’s tracks, his studied junk rattling most immediately reminiscent of those usurper lads but with some disobedient electronics included. A deeply curious and weird atmosphere pervades these recordings.  I found my brow furrowed in deep concentration trying to figure out what the heck it is that he is up to. It sounds very serious, whether he’s wrapping his kitchen in cellophane, constructing a testicle scratching device from forks, teaspoons and elastic bands or plugging an old radio into his microwave while sawing the ironing board in half.  And roller skating on gravel.

Suitably impressed I dropped Robert a line wanting more Shackleton in my life. Along with the Melting All My Years In2 Tears tape reviewed earlier in these pages [Editor’s note: terrific self-selected ‘best of…’ and great place to start with RRS] I obtained the split disc with Werewolf Jerusalem and She Walks Crooked.  An aside on Harsh Noise Wall…

[Editor’s note: imagine screen wobbles and fades to Luke recollecting…]

…a few years ago when I found myself in a small cold church in Skipton with a black bag over my head having a bit of an epiphany as the coruscating blast from French man VOMIR filled my head. There was no change, no development just a a dense static roar. It was loud, inhuman, weirdly beautiful and intensely psychedelic.  Afterwards I felt cleansed – as if my brain had been rebooted – noise was exciting again.  It seemed to me like a logical progression from the anti-everything rhetoric of The New Blockaders; a stubborn and unrelenting two fingers up to everyone and everything.  Also a motionless man with a black bag on his head stood in front of his noise box but never touching it is pretty chuffing hilarious if you ask me. Thus started my vomir obsession, I amassed a ton of recordings all of which sounded the same but different and enthused about his noise to anyone ‘prepared to listen’ (meaning smile politely whilst edging towards the nearest exit)…

[Editor’s note: *clicks fingers* aaaand… back in the room]

…here I am welcoming another HNW disc into my life.  To start we have Werewolf Jerusalem whom I hold in as much awe as vomir. Records like Black Chapel and the box set- Confessions of a Sex Maniac are stone cold classics. Richard Ramirez has been bringing the noise for donkeys years now in the equally brilliant Black Leather Jesus and a slew of other projects. On the first track he gives us around nine minutes of popping crackling noise as crisp and clean as a mountain stream.  To crank it up is to discover an alien sound world teeming with a wealth of detail.  His mastery of his gear ( antique sports radio and a few pedals) is evident as subtle touches guide the tracks progression.

Next up is Robert who gives us a fine chunk of high end scree overlaying a bass whubbawhubba.  Some of these HNW types prefer to sit back and let the kit do the talking but Robert reaches for his gear throughout the track giving it a nice tactile quality, as if the noise is a wild stallion that he is trying to control.

We end with the curiously monikered She Walks Crooked who unleashes (sorry boss [Editor’s note: s’ok]) a blackened torrent of dense noise overload, strongly reminiscent of vomir but with its own personality and just really really good.

I’ve had some shitty times at work recently and this little disc has done wonders on the drive home in helping me forget my worries and embrace the abyss.  In conclusion, I hope that Robert Ridley-Shackleton will continue on his strange journey and continue to share it with the world. I will certainly be paying attention from now on.


Hissing Frames

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