vowel tax, headtangle: luke vollar on ali robertson and dylan nyoukisSeptember 4, 2015 at 9:12 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
Tags: ali robertson, chocolate monk, collette robertson, dylan nyoukis, giant tank, luke vollar, sacha kahir, usurper
Ali Robertson – Ali Robertson & His Conversations (self-released CD-r in card booklet, edition of 100)
Dylan Nyoukis & Ali Roberston – Every Man Deserves A Juice (CD-r, Giant Tank/Chocolate Monk, choc.312, edition of 50)
Can you help me out of bed? I need a pee…
…is how we get started on this disc. Robertson is addressing his wife Collette who willingly obliges, we even get to hear the sound of domestic bliss: a morning kiss. Aww. After this though it just gets stranger…
Ali Robertson is one half of long serving Edinburgh odd balls Usurper. I’ve been listening to Usurper for about three of my son’s life spans now and I remain as confused, amused and baffled as when I first encountered them. Imagine a wobbly screen moment as I take you back to the heady days of 2006, a time of floor-core-loop-pedalling-eye-rolling-sun-worshipping-ecstatoprovisation and… Usurper. Two scruffy Herberts rolling marbles, bowing polystyrene and making a very quiet, pointillistic improvisation with gaping mawz of silence. Brave, absurd, funny and frequently beautiful they seemed to defy categorization. The good news is that they’re still going strong and haven’t gone shit.
Solo adventures from Ali Robertson have been a rewarding side step from Usurper with Ali delighting in the sound of his own voice, simple overdubbing and the hidden sound of junk brought to life.
Ali Robertson & His Conversations is awesomely packaged in a kinda booklet thing with a poem inside that hints at the dissatisfaction and turmoil under the surface, or even on the surface for much of it. A post Tory election win meditation on austerity Britain or a ‘What’s Going On’ for the no-audience underground. The first track sees Ali and Collette repeating mantra like hymns to working life and the cyclical nature of it all, there is the soft patter of feet walking to work and occasional noises: slurping, crunching.
On to track two and we have Sacha Kahir joining Ali for conversations about Karl Marx, employment, the media, the economy, the class system and more. There’s also swearing. The discussion fades out and Ali is making like an overworked auctioneer who’s had his vowels removed as he couldn’t pay his vowel tax. As we return to the discussion the recording quality has deteriorated and the speech is taking on a harsh buzz. We are sitting in a room with two Scottish men, talking.
Track three features more Sacha and more lippy furbles from Robertson. Allowing speech to clash, overlap and intermingle. It’s a headtangle for sure as the discussions are pretty interesting with a fine streak of misanthropy running through them, but by this point it becomes nearly impossible to follow the threads. Odd words, sounds, chortles poke out from the wordage creating a lulling effect that, while not exactly soothing, is pretty hypnotic.
Every Man Deserves A Juice is Ali Robertson in collaboration with long term buddy Dylan Nyoukis and was put together for a short European tour. Text recital, object tinkering, tape scuttle and the like have been recorded and edited separately then somehow stitched together. Shit, I don’t know how but it’s certainly less ‘weighty’ than …Conversations and more of a family knees up for the weirdies with a game of trivial pursuits included amongst the flotsam, a tape recorder left to document lovely moments or maybe a submerged aside on all no-audience endeavours (‘trivial pursuits’?).
A drop into a discussion between our heroes about power stations, holidays (?!) is cut off by a gumbone solo (I’m guessing Robertson – I can hear the cut of his jib you dig?)
They didn’t get it cause they’re Americans and they’re fucking stupid
…in a slowed voice amongst a plethora of objects rattling, untuned strings and other ephemera dragged into a corner by Dylan and Ali to be mauled and slathered in noxious yellow goo, quite a potent aroma as you can imagine. Ain’t no sense in trying to make sense of these recordings. I picture Ali and Dylan grinning like demented educators as they pour the wine of confusion from a great height just to see what patterns will emerge. You can be damn sure that I will continue to lap up that sweet berry juice cause it tastes so fine.