domestic strangeness: joe murray on richard youngs

July 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Richard Youngs – NO FANS COMPENDIUM (7 x CD, VHF, vhf#137)

no fans boxno fans contents

Note: Written over a series of long-long-long train journeys from Newcastle to London over the course of about 12 hours.  It’s a big box, I wanted to give it time to seep into my lazy DNA.

Not a Rick, Rich or Dick.  The brown-paper plainness of the moniker Richard Youngs seems to suggest an everyday everyman.  The punk philosophy said everyone can do it.  The No-Audience Underground proposes that everyone is doing it.   And Richard is a patron saint, a twenty-year kinda guy releasing a shed load of N-A U essentials and the stone cold classics Lake and Advent that get regular, almost weekly, airings in Posset Mansions.

What I love about RY’s sound is its domestic strangeness.  There’s none of the clichés.  And, as much as I love demonic screaming, ritual slaughter and abandoned blotter-acid munching, the day-to-day oddness of libraries, baking and the sweet psychedelic of swirling tea leaves is so much more satisfying.

But so far I’ve only gulped down RY in relatively small doses.  This seven-disc monster takes up a whole working day to swallow.  So, like Man versus Food’s Adam Richman I starve myself of music for a while and dive into this beast in four enormous sittings.

Disc 1.  20th Century Jams

  • 19 Used Postage Stamps – A crystal-clear recording of a guitar and smeared vocal mung set.  The stretched out, elongated repetitions build like waves spilling over the levee.  A very good start from 1987 St Albans.
  • Inner Sky – Coloured sand from the Isle of Wight tumbling through an eggy-timer; sirens chant through yellow plastic drainage pipes.
  • May Verses – European-style text piece or deconstructed madrigal?  Hey man, why not both…at once.  Two RY’s face-to-face dropping single, clear words into a perpetual motion machine.  It revolves, frictionless, word balloons collecting in dense sound clouds.  As pagan as you like without a cock ring in sight!
  • Live in my Head. 19 minutes of cheap keyboards morphing into the tube/tunnel/barrel sounds Goldie and his Metalheads would use to evoke holes being punched though solid air.  But better.

Disc 2.  21st Century Jams

  • Live in Glasgow 2000 – Nu Feral Trax.  Feeding time at the Owl Sanctuary while a wooden crate is wrenched apart – quite a spectacle in Sauciehall!
  • Easter 2001 – The glass celestia pre-set on a knocked-off Casio fully flummoxed.  A true experimental spirit as autoharp collapses in the boughs of electronic twinkle.  It’s irresistible to the faeire folk but, unfortunately, deadly on consumption.
  • This Life Gives Force – A scant 9 mins.  This single note song has the barest bones allowing you to climb inside.  RY asks us to ‘lay aside navigation’.  Sure thing.  I’m pinning my compass to this poem of emptiness.
  • Sun Lay Lay – Pre-birth/post-opera.  Star Trek door ‘visssh’ swarmed and scrumped.  Hey Dani Filth – you need to get into this to properly scare the Home Counties.

Disc 3.  Multi-tracked Shakuhachi/Live in Salford

  • Multi-tracked Shakuhachi 1, 2 & 3 – Devastating Exotica that makes Martin Denny sound like an underground car park.  The tones quiver like fat drops of cum.  It is really super simple: breathy tubes, tumbling fibres and gentle sighing get carefully overlaid building up a pencil-line drawing all curves and slopes.
  • Live in Salford – Swanee whistle masquerading as Shakuhachi perhaps? Twenty Eight minutes is a long time for a whistle solo!  But brass balls for the uneasy silent patches making this like ASCII art in sound.  The sea-blues shanty coda snaps everything back into sharp focus with the ghost of M.E.S living in the ‘Ah’s!’

Disc 4.  Somerled/No Place Like Home

  • Glasgow Device – Tortured Poundland organ fed through Hawkwind’s set-up (minus Stacia).  The hammer-ons crack the brittle plastic keys and there’s some pitch knob twiddling to be sure.  A benchmark for the home recording mafia.
  • Mixolydian Sea Tone – A Bulgarian Choir, all with RY’s face (like Windowlicker yeah).  Wordless sound arranged as tightly as a Roman tortoise, no room for a spear…fully armoured mate.  Real World would poop to release this.
  • Revolution Again – Re-creating the aimless drones of an organist warming up in a Methodist chapel.  Single deep tones repeating and un-coiling as mosquitoes ‘sing’ above your ear flaps.  Sleepy like nutmeg – count me in/out!
  • Alarms 1 & 2 – Exactly the same as ‘Revolution Again’ but replace the Methodists with a shiny metal golf ball sprouting robot arms and hands.
  • No Place Like Home – A mesmerising electric organ piece, the lag accumulator hijacked to marvellous effect.  But you know what I’m hearing readers?   The vacuum-inducing ‘whump’ of a beat from Astral Social Club fading in at about the 5 min mark and then Vast Aire spitting some grim verse.  Blimey!  I’m falling into the Youngs-hole.

Disc 5. Three Handed Star/Garden of Stones

  • Three Handed Star – As different as you can imagine from anything else that’s happened before.  RY leads a trembling chant – “Soul-Math-Mammoth-Soul” or something – with an accordion accompaniment.  This is an ambitious piece with several distinct movements; from jaunty sing-a-long to wah-hah concertina, repetitive call and response to broken down leathery lungs.  Gritty electronics gradually take over the air’s powdered huffing and the fractured voices get folded in.  It’s all a bit festive, a wassail if you fancy it.
  • Garden of Stones 1 – As heavy as Alice Coltrane gone Eddie Hazel.  The N-A U Maggot Brain!
  • Garden of Stones 2 – Just as effortlessly cosmic with none of the wah-wah.  Sun worship through Dr Strange incantations (i.e. this is exactly what Dr Strange probably sounds like)
  • Garden of Stones 3 – Marvellously slow and sedate, drawn-out like flu symptoms; Fushitsusha loops on the Buddha Box.
  • Garden of Stones 4 – A sorbet of Dulcimer tones sharpened like a razorblade beneath a pyramid, nixed Nantucket Sleighride for a current affairs vibe!
  • Garden of Stones 5 – A cousin to GoS 3 but with added dark rubber burns and sadness lines.  Borstal dots weep.

Note: if you are looking for a place to dive into this massive boxed set I’d strongly suggest this here disc 5.

Disc 6.  Harpenden!

  • Green Milk – As skewiff as the Residents.  An off-kilter waltz unhinged like the Overlook’s carpet.  Django Reinhardt twiddles on the nylon strings whilst Danny Torrence slaps the xylophone as exact as a metronome.
  • To the Hills – Oh my.  This one takes the funeral pace of ‘Goat’ and the sound of 1000 cocktail sticks being dropped over and over again; Danny keeps his end up on the xylophone.  An interruption on the vocal track at the 3 minute mark…

    What?  OK.  Thank you.

    …reminds you this was actually made in the, you know, real world.  Not some odd zone at a slight tangent to the Earth.  “Take me to the hills” is chanted over and over until I’m just about to snap and then a blissful violin scrape breaks the spell.  It seems as natural as a brass hinge being bent back and forth.  First one way, then the other: herrrr…huwwrrrr… herrrr…huwwrrrr…

  • The Dead Fly – Recorded down a mossy tunnel with a hairy-trousered Pan, lonesome ‘ahhhhs’ bouncing off the dripping brickwork.  Clip-clop goes our fleecy friend whispering in Gesualdo’s ear, “I’ve got an idea for you mate.”
  • Setting for Voices – This is the proper Thomas Tallis shit.  All holy rafters and gristly sibilance.  The ‘chooo-chooo’ echo adding a delightful rhythm to the wordless choir of RY complete with round bellies, curly locks and apple cheeks.  Quite, quite beautiful.

Disc 7. Thought Plane

  • Thought Plane – The first thought that pops into my exhausted skull as I’m listening to this is ‘Blimey, I bet Chris Sage would love this.’  Chris, my unfeasibly tall friend, left Newcastle about 20 years ago.  Just before he left he gave me a bunch of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno records, No Pussyfooting being one.  I’d never heard of Fripp at the time and these records pretty much blew my tubes.  Well Chris…if you are reading this I can confidently predict you’d love every minute of this hour-long granulated sparkle/crystal-tips workout.  Dang it Chris…you’ll dig this whole boxed set man!  The swooning loops change real slow, a gentle swirling of stars.  Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look out the leftside portal you’ll see the Horsehead Nebula.

And in a funny sort of way ‘Thought Plane’ is a perfect ending to this No Fans behemoth, it being made up of all the different approaches on the 6 other discs: ritual repetition, acoustic patterning, wordless vocal jaxx, saw-tooth loops etc . For sure there’s some trepanning-strength psych effect in this box but it’s all balanced with the edge-of-the-bed recording techniques and Oliver Postgate cranks and ratchet.

But as this final disc gently fades out Richard digs deeper than ever before and opens his heart with a few clear and confident words.  What does he say?  Well, you’ll just have to travel the way of the No Fans Compendium.  The journey’s long, readers, but jeepers… it’s worth every minute.

—ooOoo—

via VHF in USA

via NO FANS in UK

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