new year retox: joe murray on smacked cucumber, sindre bjerga, tom white, ansgar wilken & urine gagarin

January 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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SMACKED CUCUMBER – FIRST TIME IN SPACE (tape or download, SPAM, spam6)

Sindre Bjerga & Tom White – Water Information (tape, Total Vermin, #87)

ansgar wilken – thank you (tape or download, SPAM)

Urine Gagarin – Hanged in a Cavern (CD-r, Total Vermin, #83)

Smacked Cucumber

Smacked Cucumber – First Time in Space

While Christmas indulgence can be fun for a time it eventually reaches a point where the 5 course breakfast becomes less of a treat and more of a pork-based endurance test.  Let it be recorded here that from 1st Jan onwards I am pulling on my running jersey and dusting off my spikes to become a fitter, leaner guest-blogger.  I will trim off the love handles.  I will pass over the puddings and pies in favour of the simple lentil and kale combo.

Sonically too my ear is yearning for a cleaner palette, an astringent and sour mixture to wash away the sweet-honey of seasonal carols and jingles.

I reach for the most healthy sounding tape on the review pile and slip it into my walkman as I gingerly pound the streets of West Newcastle huffing and puffing like a lardy goat.

Smacked Cucumber are a new name to me, and in a effort to ‘listen without prejudice’ I keep it that way (rejecting Dr Google) reacting only to the music marching calmly out my earbuds.

And what a green and vitamin-rich sound this is!  All the excess is trimmed to leave pure, clear sounds: a rubber ball rubbed on a snare drum, creaking wooden door, a gentle ting-tingling of tiny bells, gentle traffic roar, the hushed ping of a battered zither, air blown softly over the neck of a milk bottle and a rough stone rolled slowly round a pottery bowl.

These simple yet utterly controlled and focused sounds are paired together in a sparse duo format (fondled floor tom versus earthenware flask for example) with what sounds like two players gently reacting to differences in texture and timbre, never rising past a quiet whisper.  This sensitive style of playing is EXACTLY what I need right now and I recommend this as an aural detox to all RFM readers.

I’m a curious old bird and can’t resist a quick check up of who the hell these Smacked Cucumber folk are.  It’s with joyous surprise I learn the sounds I’ve been greedily soaking up come direct from the brains of Ross Parfitt and Jen Iker – two fellow travellers I met all the way back in 2014 collaborating with the ‘holy spirit of misadventure’ Ludo Mich.  Cor Blimey guv.  It’s a small world ain’t it?

Beat the bulge, smack that cucumber!

Tom and Sindre

Sindre Bjerga & Tom White – Water Information

The sleeve notes are quite clear on this tape and with good purpose.  All the base sounds are live recordings of Sindre Bjerga made in the Summer of 2013.  Tom White then took these recordings, mulled on them for a while and applied some black-handed studio do-hickery in the Winter of 2014.  Tom’s name keeps cropping up in dispatches and a quick check of his CV reveals a pretty-darn-hot hombre presenting real-life sound art shit but still finding time to rub himself up against some creamy live collaborators – Vasco Alves and Maya Dunitez to name but two.

OK…back to the tape (and that’s TV #87 folks.  Can you believe it readers?  Total Vermin are approaching the big one-zero-zero).

Regular Sindre-watchers will be familiar with his grey-particle mist.   Somehow, using the same kit as many other folk, Sindre brings a signature flourish to his sound; like a fog of iron filings laid down in regular parquet patterns.

And, at first this is what you hear, until Tom starts to ingeniously ‘churn’ the mix.  Beware listeners…this is no regular remix project full of lazy thread layering or sneaky crowd-pleasing tactics like dropping a ‘dope beat’ (perish the thought!).

Side A ‘Images of Hard Water in the Area (Andrea Sneezes)’ begins with a ping-pong response that is soon being forced through tight tape capstans, stretching and warping it in a frankly stomach-churning way.  The queasy lurching develops into wet squeals with the canny tape delay slightly overlapping things so ‘Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ becomes ‘Dolphin Succumbing to Greasy Sexual Ecstasy’.  More briny rumblings reach a climax with the neat little sneezes referred to in the title.  Gesundheit!

Side B ‘Tidal Surges on the Way’ takes Sindre’s glottal tape melange and gently duffs it up until the sound is a blue and purple bruise decayed and aged like some booming My Bloody Valentine guitar riff.  The rolling and boiling sound sputters into an arrhythmic pattern that makes the dog nod.  Blimey…this is pretty heady stuff!

All in all this is an intoxicating listen.  A re-framing of intelligent ideas!  A gas-pod ready to pop – huff it up dear readers.

Ansgar Wilken

ansgar wilken – thank you

Another head-changer from the German SPAM label.

The central thread of this charming little tape is the…wait-fer-it…the humble cello played by the mysterious timebomb Ansgar Wilken.

At times the cello is played straight, pretty little tunes leaping from the springy strings. Sometimes extended techniques sneak a looky-in with cracked bows all bald and hairless being dragged across protesting strings.  Electronics and spoken word interludes pepper several of the eleven micro-pieces (only one breaks the 3 minute mark, some don’t make it to a single minute) while the spirit of Henry Flynt whips up a storm with the cascading, ever modulating drones.

There’s a feeling that Ansgar is working something out with these pieces.  Beating the blues, reaching for the light perhaps?  I dunno.  All I can say is ‘Johann Von Auben Heute’ and ‘Barn Dance’ invoke the bones of mighty, mighty Moondog and made me stomp about going

Yeah Man Yeah!

This tape has a sense of knowingness… are you prepared to let its ancient intelligence in?

Urine Gagarin 1Urine Gagarin 2

Urine Gagarin – Hanged in a Cavern

A rare CD-R of scum jazz on the tape-dominated Total Vermin.  The classic jazz trio (sax/bass/drums) is mentally Xeroxed so many times that a very real trumpet, drums and guitar mutate into splintered wooden plank, elephant seal and bulldozer and at times horrific diarrhoea, blood-hurricane and plague of locusts with the sheer force of their unhinged playing.

The whirring energy of fresh jazz is whipped and spun like a fucking top until all the sharp edges blur into a charcoal sludge.  Imagine wet clay on the potter’s wheel toppling out of control on some lame game show; the squeals of the audience replaced with Formula One’s top-throttle pointlessness.

THINKS TO SELF << In fact those stun/concussion groups of the early 1990’s like Ascension or Blowhole are not just a great reference to this CDr.  Why don’t they play that shit rather than Fleetwood Mac over the bloody racing car monotony?>>

OK…back on the case Joe…This trio are in full-on crazy mode.  With no let up or pause it’s like Harsh Noise Acoustic, a continuous, rolling, tumbling, boiling of pus-soaked bandages; the flames from the stove flickering a septic green and rising dangerously high.  The curtains catch fire and you must abandon the building with Arnott/Cummings/Pitt scorning your yellow cowardice.

If you got the stones slip this one on high!

For more of this damn-hot action check out some live Urine Gagarin doing it Nice & Sleazy.

—ooOoo—

SPAM

Total Vermin

[Editor’s note: the TV site hasn’t been updated for nearly two years now but Stuart is evidently still active.  The resourceful can track him down and the rewards for doing so are legion.]

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