blowholes flaring: happy harshcore from robin fosterJune 23, 2015 at 11:11 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: depression, improv, new music, no audience underground, noise, robin foster, say cheese or die
Robin Foster – Shitty Noise Moon (download, say cheese and die)
Robin Foster – ADHD NEOWZ SCHWAB (download, say cheese and die)
Regular readers of this blog will know of my troubles with depression and, more lately, anxiety. I am suffering at the moment: what seemed at first to be a mild dose around Christmas took firm hold during four months of rolling physical illness and I am now proper fucked. A coincidental run of poor luck has only exacerbated matters. So what can I do? Hmmm… I know! I’ll count my blessings and cheer up.
Any fellow sufferer will shudder and/or crack a rueful smile at that last line. Heartfelt sympathy from the well intentioned is often harder to deal with than simple, uncaring ignorance. Any antediluvian HR idiot who tries that ‘well, we all get tired’ bullshit gets a curt and well-rehearsed critical beatdown from me and is banished from the room with a face like a well-slapped arse. But what do you say to a friend or loved one who is genuinely, if ham-fistedly, trying to help:
You have so much to live for! Your life is great!
…yeah, and yet I feel like this so why go on?
But what to you have to be depressed about?!
…you are mixing up two meanings of the word. I’m not depressed about something, I’m ill. Would you ask someone with diabetes what they have to be diabetic about?
…and so on. I’ve had polite, firm-but-gentle versions of this conversation many times over the years and it is getting easier as understanding of the condition widens and deepens. However, just recently I’ve been acting on a revelatory suggestion from my counsellor: maybe I should acknowledge what I have to live for. Maybe I should count my blessings. Maybe I could even pussyfoot around the idea of ‘cheering up’…
The idea goes something like this. I can’t stop having these thoughts and feelings but I do have some control over how I react to them. Consciously fighting them off is one tactic but can prove counter-productive. The illness loves a pagga because even if I win it knows I’ll be in a weakened state for the return bout. Depression doesn’t mind playing a long game. Better perhaps to crowd it out, to fill the headspace available with more positive thoughts. It’s akin to the much debated tactic of ‘no-platforming’ a political opponent – sure, I can’t ban you from expressing abhorrent opinions but you won’t be doing it at my rally – and each time the grimness is denied and the positive celebrated the latter is reinforced. Conversations with my counsellor have followed this pattern:
So how have you been?
Well, mostly pretty bad, I’m afraid.
‘Mostly’, not all?
I guess there have been a few good things, amongst the bad thi…
Let me stop you there – tell me about those good things.
On my own I have, somewhat sheepishly I admit, been consciously, literally (even out loud sometimes) counting my blessings:
1. Anne and Thomas, 2. radiofreemidwich, 3. jam doughnuts…
It doesn’t work all the time but it feels like steps in the right direction – into the light, away from the dark….
*Phew*, anyway, forgive me, it helps to write it down. The 500 words above was meant to be a brief introduction to a few reviews of what could be called ‘joyful noise’ and an explanation of why I might be receptive to a bit of cheering up at the moment. Shall we crack on?
Robin Foster – Shitty Noise Moon & ADHD NEOWZ SCHWAB
The charming Robin Foster got back in touch at the start of the year to steer me towards his new Bandcamp site (all aliases are his) and introduce his notion of ‘Happy Harshcore’ which he described in an email as:
…basically harsh noise without the dead babies and Nazi themes.
I was tickled by this as his label is perilously close to ‘happy sadcore’, one of the mythical sub-genres that Chris Morris used to befuddle witless interviewees when talking about the mythical drug ‘cake’ on Brass Eye (I think). Heh, heh – every possibility in music will have its day. I downloaded a bunch and… lost them down the back of the hard-drive for six months. Mea culpa. Anyway, their rediscovery was at an opportune moment.
Shitty Noise Moon is eleven genre-spanning short tracks from Robin’s fun-fur lined studio. Kinda like one of my toddler’s energetic crayon drawings converted to electrostatic squigglecore. Like the chatter of noise-punk dolphins disgusted at the new age appropriation of their culture and reclaiming the sea for break-fin, blowhole-flaring racket – that dreamy sunset poster mum and dad are on can fuck off. Like groaning, out-of-phase EVP muttered by a spook bumping along the virtual fences of the Ghostbusters containment facility. Plenty to make the listener smile here – not least the invitation to join a recording of a family enjoying what sounds like a backyard display of home-made fireworks.
Despite the title, the seven tracks of noise improv that comprise ADHD NEOWZ are longer and at least as coherent (make of that what you will) as those on …Moon. Perhaps this album is its older brother, perhaps the Ritalin is starting to have some effect? A couple of these tracks are addled and Usurperish, some feature a nostalgic gristly throb. The best of it is paddling in electric foam burped onto the shoreline by a mysterious, glowing shipping container, crowbarred overboard by suspicious crewmen. You open a soggy document wallet bobbing in the surf and read ‘Caring for your Shoggoth’ at the top of the waterlogged paper. Urgh, what’s that fizzing into being in the jelly around your flip-flops? Eyes?! Teeth!! RUN!!!
Heh, well I thought it was funny and I am very grateful to Robin for the distraction. Plenty more where that came from, thankfully.