i’m all for baubles: joe, luke and rob on robert ridley-shackleton’s cardboard clubFebruary 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: bob tale, cardboard club, duplo chat, faniel dord, hissing frames, improv, joe murray, lathe cut, luke vollar, mutant pop, new music, no audience underground, noise, outsider art, picking speeds, picking speeds g.o.l., robert ridley-shackleton, smithers, tapes
Picking Speeds G.O.L – Shirty Shorts (tape, Cardboard Club, CC01, edition of 10)
Duplo Chat – Just Chattin’ (tape, Cardboard Club, CC02, edition of 7)
Bob Tale – Toxic Shock Demo (tape, Cardboard Club, CC03, edition of 5)
Smithers – Is Ure Carpet Right? (tape, Cardboard Club, CC04, edition of 12)
Picking Speeds – Afternoon Vans (7” lathe cut vinyl, Cardboard Club, CC05, edition of 10)
faniel dord / Picking Speeds G.O.L – Who can I help? / Back is Block? (tape, self-released)
[Editor’s note: a parcel from blog fave outsider artist Robert Ridley-Shackleton is always a treat. Tipping its contents onto the kitchen table affords a view into another world, existing orthogonal to our own, in which Robbie has become a giant star by mimicking, satirizing, collaging or obliterating the cultural detritus he finds slung out by, well, everyone else. He is a noise-womble. Shortly before Christmas he decided his label Hissing Frames was no longer a large enough pouch to hold his prodigious output and the sub-label Cardboard Club was born. Being a generous guy, he sent copies of the half-dozen initial releases to me, Joe and Luke (this was just before the new era of gender equality at RFM) and so we decided to write a joint review in which we’d each begin at a corner and chew our way in until we met in a perverse Lady-and-the-Tramp-eating-bolognese-style three way. Here goes. Joe first:] Picking Speeds G.O.L – Shirty Shorts This slinky tape is a single-sided wormhole, a backwards trip through the looking glass.
…he says. And as a veteran loop/noise/collage/mungtape operator, who are we to argue with Mr Picking Speed G.O.L.? As a whole this tape serves as a map of several territories. Across 45 minutes or so we visit a number of kingdoms and principalities. As you’d expect it’s a Babel of languages and customs, but the seasoned underground traveller is quick to pick up the meaning behind the semi-industrial clatter and howl. As tasty as a bowl of salty olives we find ourselves listening to a squid inexpertly fitting the lid on a Tupperware box, the sinister whisper of a faraway ghost, spoken word fribulation and the all-to-human cut/jaxx organ hiss-pokery that makes the heart sing. But of course these groovy individual parts build up into a more complete picture. The very fractured nature of the edit leaves clues regardless – a lo-fi gentleness, a light touch with the FX, a funny-bone caress [exhibit A: a jalopy take on the lone toker’s ‘Wake me up before you Go-Go!’]. The last 10 minutes or are a gentle comedown with the warm, soft rattling of one of my favourite Dictaphone techniques – smooth pocket jazz. Being a trainspotter type I like to have a flutter on the hardware involved. My guess? It’s the Olympus PearlCorder S701 in the left hand pocket of a Navy blue Duffle Coat. As Picking Speeds G.O.L goes about his daily business play and record are surreptitiously engaged allowing said Dictaphone to pick up all the tweedy scratching but nothing more. It’s a sonic buffering of which I never tire. Now me:
Duplo Chat – Just Chattin’
Bob Tale – Toxic Shock Demo
Smithers – Is Ure Carpet Right?
faniel dord / Picking Speeds G.O.L – Who can I help? / Back is Block?
[Editor’s note: as my much loved/horribly abused walkman is finally broken beyond repair, my ability to listen to tapes is currently very limited. In order to get through the above I had to listen to them in a row one afternoon whilst off work with a heavy cold. I think this was a pretty good way of experiencing them but, on re-reading, my notes are brief and don’t make much sense. Mea culpa.]
So, both Luke and I got copies of Just Chattin’ and both of us were left scratching our heads. It appears to be a full tape of what Luke described as ‘quiet HNW’ – like a tabletop of clockwork noise makers, overwound and recorded with the levels in the red and then mastered so as not to wake the neighbours. Towards the very end I think I started to understand the itchy scrabbling of it all but this one wasn’t for me.
Toxic Shock Demo by Bob Tale is a short performance by Robbie’s lip-curling, Elvis-channelling, bequiffed, Alan Vega impersonator. His breathy squawks slide over a trilling, pitter-patter (more treble than) bass line. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t record this wearing a leather cat suit. Duped onto tapes recycled from The Children’s Talking Bible which means that as Robbie cut out a mellifluous voice said
…who should he see walking towards him but Elijah!
…which in my fragile state made me laugh pretty hard. Then cough.
Is Ure Carpet Right? by Smithers (‘Jon & Rob’) begins with some brute radiophonics – all wabwabs and squiggly pot-flipping with poorly earthed pylon fuzz and 8-bit cheat mode flicker – then a storm of harsh noise gathers over which protestations are groaned. In amongst the gurgle loops I think I heard:
In your dreams!
We’re not dead, we just look it!
…but who knows? Outdated methods of communication – Morse code, fax machines – struggle to be understood over noise whipping like tent fabric in a blizzard. And then it’s done. More Children’s bible:
…before the cock crows, Peter…
Lastly from me: the split tape Who can I help? / Back is Block? by faniel dord (which I’ll go out on a limb and suggest is a pseudonym of Daniel Ford) and Picking Speeds G.O.L (no, I don’t know what the acronym stands for either).
The faniel dord side is something completely unexpected: actual, y’know, music played on actual, y’know, instruments. Over the course of five songs guitar and ukulele are picked and twanged with aplomb, lyrics are sung in a clear and decipherable manner and a dog joins in for added down home, back porch authenticity. It is funny and charming and an absolute pleasure.
…which is also how the Picking Speeds G.O.L. side could be described, though for very different reasons. Reminding me of 2013’s Piano Sonatas for Prepared Oven Mitt, this is a similar stream of consciousness recording seemingly allowing unmediated access to core Robbieness. Is this what it’s like being him? Could be. We hear pocket scrabbling dictaphonics, details of surreal errands (returning socks to the butcher), bursts of mutant electro pop and in-character-with-husky-voice musings on traditional Christmas decorations (from which this article takes its title). Whilst acknowledging that to some this must sound like inane self-indulgence, I can’t get enough. If there was such a thing as Robbiecam I’d have it on constantly in a little box at the top right hand corner of my laptop screen. What is he playing at?
…and finally Luke on:
Picking Speeds – Afternoon Vans
I will get right to the grit of it and declare that this is a straight up shazzy slice of drizzly English weirdness: we get the junk foraging, we get the two note laments on knackered keyboards, we get looped synth squelch with sleazy crooning and we get untamed scree blurts all slapped across the platter with much gusto and flared nostril.
I can almost picture Robert finding a £5 keyboard in his local charity shop, selecting the preset ‘sex grind’ and frightening the old dears with pelvic thrusts before getting booted out for making cyber growls and dog bothering feedback. I guess this mental image is fed by the knowledge that the guy can carry off a purple leather jacket – not something you can say for most people. [Editor’s note: heh, heh – bang on. This criminally limited lathe cut is boss cracked and a high point on which to end our tour of Shack’s Cardboard Club.]