up to the surface: culver and la mancha del pecado

September 29, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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la mancha del pecado and culver – “collaboration vol. 5” (tape, Narcolepsia, narco 039, edition of 80)

Culver – Saps ’76 (tape, matching head, matching head 210)


Ah, Lee Stokoe and Miguel Perez – two old friends of your humble editor and of this blog. What have they been up to I wonder?

Well, it appears Miguel has been conjuring a no-audience attracting, improv noise racket as one half of the duo ZN, has been recruited as bassist for proper (corpse paint, cowls – the lot) black metal band Funereal Moon, has retired his labels Oracle and Agorafobia (over a hundred releases! Many still available via Archive.org – be resourceful), started a new one dedicated to harsh noise called Collants Noirs Releases (NSFW – unless you work in a sex dungeon, I suppose), engaged in numerous collaborations, rethought his major solo projects – Wehrmacht Lombardo, La Mancha Del Pecado and The Skull Mask and maintained a release schedule that would give Sindre Bjerga heartburn. Oh, and he has two new, excellent tracks on this compilation raising money for the Syrian refugee crisis – a cause well worth your donation. Despite all this Miguel assures me he is following some advice I gave him a while ago: to slow down. Heh.

…and Lee remains Lee. Solo as Culver, or in collaboration with others, released by his own label Matching Head, or elsewhere, Lee is the truly underground musician I sometimes wish I could be. Indefatigable, unruffled, he continues to explore the contours of a rigorous, uncompromised aesthetic. He dupes tapes, he sends handwritten letters, he shows a disdain for digital culture that has gone past anachronistic, through wilfully perverse and become almost heroic. His work – a distant but ever present ominous rumble – attracts a handful of acolytes (myself included) who tend their ridiculous collections with obsessive care. The newbie should not be intimidated, however – you can start raking the sand anywhere. Here will do.

I first encountered this fifth (of six?) collaboration between the two early last year when an overexcited Miguel sneaked me a preview via the magic of the internet. I reviewed it thus:

#5 is 38 minutes of scouring radio static as heard in the cockpit of a single propeller aeroplane surveying the bomb damage inflicted by Wehrmacht Lombardo’s war machines.

[Editor’s note: quote taken from a pair of articles posted 9th and 12th February, 2014. Wehrmacht Lombardo being Miguel’s hardest noise project – see links for context. Also, whilst inlay card states this is narco 038, internet says: narco 039]

…and, yeah, I’ll stand by that. Interestingly, despite being almost entirely static there is an attention-diverting rasp that stops it becoming mere background. The listener (well, this listener at least) is not allowed that ‘warm bath’ ease that the experience of much ‘harsh’ noise quickly devolves into. Even when played quietly, volume knob dressed to the left, it still sounds like incidental atmospherics from the tension building corridor scene in an otherwise relentless gorefest.


Saps ’76 has a (relatively) elaborate four part narrative structure that describes a (more or less) upward trajectory.  There ya go – that’s the sort of classy musicological analysis you read RFM for, eh?

The first section is muscular and discordant guitar abuse.  Imagine a laboratory set up deep in the Martian caverns of Abomi to study the vampire jelly creatures that slither the walls there.  Alas, these nightmares have figured out how to melt through the helmets of the scientists, have affixed themselves to their hapless heads and have dissolved everything from the nostrils up.  Now bloated on this broth of brain, bone and hair they urge their new host bodies to smash up the lab’s equipment.

[Editor’s aside: if you don’t know ‘The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis‘ (1932, also known as ‘The Vaults of Abomi’ in an extended, restored version) by Clark Ashton Smith then settle down for a treat.  It’s a brilliant Lovecraftian weird tale with a disgusting schlock finale.]

In the second section, led by a simple, melancholy synth riff, horror-struck colleagues lock, bolt and brick up the lower levels knowing that no-one down there can be saved.  Later, those that are able to sleep will wake sweating and screaming but for now the only thought is of escape.

The third section is a grey rumble – more felt than heard – experienced by passengers in the cramped elevator to the surface.  The sound is partly the grinding of overloaded lifting machinery, partly the roaring of blood in their ears.

The fourth and final section opens out with the return of the guitar – this time it is keening, psychedelic.  The landscape the survivors stumble out to is crepuscular, desolate.  The air is thin, cool.  People breath as heavy as it will allow and glance around, silently noting who is here and who isn’t.  The first nervous laugh is cut short when the doors of the empty elevator close and the ‘down’ arrow is illuminated.  Who called it?



Matching Head (no internet presence as such but contact details for Lee can be found on this Discogs page)



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  1. great artwork..

    • Well, the artwork for the narco tape is by Lucy Johnson and is good, like everything she does. Lee’s is a bit embarrassing, though it is cheesecake compared to the set I complained about in the 500th post! I won’t be posting anything ‘harder’ than this again and will be thinking about the content of images even if they aren’t explicit/violent.

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