your face and the concrete: luke vollar on benjamin hallatt

June 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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S C K E – Disclosure (tape, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 50)

Kay Hill – TESSELLATION A/B (tape, Strange Rules, RULE-087, edition of 36 or download via ANTI)

Kay Hill – IN-GRAIN (2 x tape or download, ANTI, ANTI004)

Kay Hill – Cold Title (CD-r or download, ANTI, ANTI003)

in-grain tape b

Some background: I first came across Ben Hallatt at the wonderful Crater Lake festival.  Completely oblivious to the man, I wandered into his set, ale in hand, to be immediately engulfed in a living breathing sound. There was Ben stood on stage looking at his reel to reel machine. It felt like there must’ve been some fancy pants sound system set up, as the sounds seemed to throb out of every corner of the room. From the machine came a depth of obsolete sepia loveliness like so many layers of rust that was, to my ears at least, beautiful. I found myself a corner and sat with a sloppy grin on my face for the remainder of the performance. It was a fantastic day but Ben’s set really stood out for me and I didn’t hesitate to seek out what I could online. My delight was completed when Ben hit up a RFM comrade for my details so as to send me some more goods [Editor’s note: see, it pays to write for RFM – albeit not in money, of course].

scke disclosure

S C K E – Disclosure

Whilst the label, hairdryer excommunication, advises…

…this is certainly one to be enjoyed alone in a dimly lit room, possibly with a scotch based cocktail for company…

…I have opted for a wheat beer.  Analogue synth action on this tape – only the kind of ‘action’ you’d expect from a snail on valium. Eerie whirring and rising hiss make for spooked late night listening, the kinda tape to jam in your car whilst driving around the city at night, occasionally stopping to stare with malevolent intent, only half your mug illluminated. There is an obsessive attention to detail that can chill the bones of yer. Much as Hungarian film maker Bella Tarr can bring mundane details into woozy focus with oblique, deadly slow panning so does Ben with sound, like some kind of understated urban horror. The blinking indicator on a ruined car on it’s side, illuminated with orange light, the wind screen wipers thudding with the steady drizzle. This isn’t waterfalls and oceans, man: this is your face and the concrete.

tessellation

Kay Hill – TESSELLATION A/B

We’re onto the Kay Hill moniker next and I’m happy to report that the accident wasn’t fatal. While severely battered and bruised, with time and expert care a full recovery is guaranteed. Dunno how long I’ve been out for but the staff in this place seem to literally glide by with cool efficiency, their smiles and willingness to help unfaltering and unending. It’s not like any hospital I’ve ever been in. The calm and the pristine comfort of the place makes me want to stay here forever. As I lie here a cylindrical object is placed next to me and attached to my arm. The chambers within the cylinder rise, fall and turn, radiating a blue glow that seems to throb in time with my pulse. I feel… epic.

in-grain tape a

Kay Hill – IN-GRAIN

Peering into the granular gruel of Tape B of the two tape set IN-GRAIN (that’s right I put B on first, is that a problem?) I see the last flicker of a cobwebbed analogue television, a loop of rusted audio degraded beyond repair.  Further evidence of singing junk on the flip as cardboard boxes are fed through the serrated teeth of a reel to reel machine. Ben nudges up the malevolent intent with sinister bumps and hissing in the background, like a silky New Blockaders. The noises merge into a grey/green river of sludge.

This bloody minded minimalism is maintained on Tape A, the hum of the machine pushed to the forefront whilst scudding tape noise sounds from the bottom of a well. A more varied palette on the flip. The bumps and coarse granulated morass made lighter with singing feedback cutting through the murky waters like a torch.

cold title

Kay Hill – Cold Title

The final piece of the puzzle – another set of tracks that maintain a fascinating and hypnotic aura with the rudimentary equipment used. Like peering through a grimy window trying to figure out the shapes inside, the first track rouses a curiosity and then a cold sweat as it becomes apparent that those shapes are human. Further on and we’re atop a grey scrub of featureless land whilst an industrial Mecca several miles away hums relentlessly.  Exposed vegetation produces subdued cracks and pops as it is played by the wind. Longer tracks are broken up with very short fizzles of gloop as if briefly nudged into life before dying back abruptly.

This is music of quiet intent, and understated brilliance. Less is most definitely more. And more. And more

—ooOoo—

S K C E on hairdryer excommunication

Kay Hill / ANTI

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