buttery panes: joe murray on neil campbell, steve gregoropoulos, no artist, mel bentley, 010001111000

January 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Neil Campbell, Steve Gregoropoulos – chapters from WAYWORDS AND MEANSIGNS: Finnegans Wake set to music, unabridged (forthcoming download)

No Artist – Masochism (tape, Vitrine, VT18)

Mel Bentley – Red Green Blue (tape, Vitrine, VT17)

010001111000 – lmof (tape, Vitrine, VT16)


Neil Campbell, Steve Gregoropoulos – chapters from WAYWORDS AND MEANSIGNS: Finnegans Wake set to music, unabridged

Have you ever listened to an audio book readers?

I mean like, really listened.  All the way though – from start to finish – taking a break from time to time to paint your nails or drink some tea?  Have you listened in your best chair, on the bus, in the bath, in bed?

I tried to listen to Dawkins’ The God Delusion while I was decorating a house once and it kind of got super tedious, like a very lengthy monologue from a bad radio play.  So much so I turned it off to listen to a real bad play on Radio 4 just to get the damn wallpaper off.

I’m no Luddite readers but I’ve found it hard to get my head round such modern fripperies like the Kindle and the Audio Book.  It’s not like I’m a snob or nothing, I just can’t like… get with them.  Know what I mean?

So it was with trepidation I accepted Rob Hayler’s Mission Impossible to take on two chapters from this mega-ambitious project to audio-ize the whole of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake… with words and music!

The tempter was seeing the name Neil (ASTRAL) Campbell among the contributors so I cleared some space in my diary, de-cored my headphones of earcheese and leapt right in.

The first thing about having a Campbell breathing into me lugs is… it feels super normal.  Like we’re having an (admittedly one-sided) conversation or something.  His reading is nicely paced, warmly English and with a fat daub of greasepaint that keeps me tuned into Joyce’s tumbling and rambunctious prose.  The Astral accompaniment creeps slowly beneath the soft-linked words (I’m picturing sausages of language), a slight electric fizzle, birds singing next to a well, a tin-Casio going ‘tish, tish, tish’ matching the quiet intensity of the language… for over an hour!

After a while my mind starts to blur the boundaries between the steady cascade of words and the stream of endless sound until it all becomes a glorious oneness.  I pick out the odd phrase or choice word but as a whole I’m goofing on the lo-fi rhythm of speech being another thread in this dense and colourful tapestry.  At the end of the session my ears are going ‘shoop – shoop’ as Mr Campbell’s molars gash the endless!

Next up is a new name in my noggin, Steve Gregoropoulos who delivers a more theatrical performance from another chapter of oyster-fresh Joycean speech.   Opening this hi-tech file (with a satisfying ping) brings forth a proper old flea-pit orchestra full of rank piano, goosey honks and creening bows and my oh my are they not whipping up a storm of lappit voices?

Is this like…Vaudeville?

I ask the ever vigilant Dook. She’s not sure (we never watched The Muppets) but things feel so real I fear a rash from the grotty flip-back seats and rub the armrest shiny with my corndog.

The prose of old man Joyce is a psychic conundrum laying ever-so-lightly over the Gregoropoulos burlesque.  Again I’m finding the words stretch like sticky pizza dough, forming interesting new shapes between thick-fingered hands.

The further we venture the deeper we roll into Shimmy Disc territory.  Guitars start to replace the flea-pit until an unhinged Dogbowl-style solo finally flips a switch in my head so Steve’s voice becomes John S. Hall’s reciting a teenage dream diary.

Another hour has passed and I realise I’ve been enjoying myself enormously, soaking up his black gravy.  Gosh… I must be really getting into this audio-lark.

Checking the Waywords and Meansigns website I can see this is soon to be released in its entirety, the whole damn book and with the mighty Mike Watt adding his spiel to boot.

Three Quarks for Muster Mark!

vitrine 3vitrine 2

No Artist – Masochism

010001111000 – lmof

Mel Bentley – Red Green Blue

While most gonks steer their ship far from the indistinct, the blurred, the unfinished and should-a-been, Vitrine stoke their hot engines and set a course at ‘ramming speed’ for the fog-shrouded islands of WTF!

They cannily know where the nuggets lie and have made a virtue of the smeared and miss-heard with a funky mission statement comprised of off-stage and occult sound.

These three tapes floated around my furnished rooms for about a month with the faintest whiff of camphor before I could dive in.  But once I lit the incense a noxious cloud stole all the light from within the brocade drapes.  Read on…

No Artist (AKA  A long-time listening bell // a casket for one)

It’s them psychology experiments, the ones they tried to ban.  A Manchurian candidate plays the hollow rasp of whirring tech, tape rushing through spools, the concentric fizzle of cheap condenser microphones – the very air feeding back into the plastic-coated mesh jammed with a decade of pocket crumbs.

A recording of a recording?  A Xerox gradually being erased?  The splendid hiss and fuss that made the oxygen in the room go [~~~*~~~~~~**~~~~].  Ung!

010001111000  (AKA  The medical model // smudged with opium prints)

More dung honey for your money.  A ripe and pregnant landscape yet delicate as rice paper.  When be-bop was reborn it traded complexity for layering as fine as filo pastry; and that’s part of the story here.  A circular fag end becomes the orange sun when viewed through these buttery panes – burning with a treacherous light and cruel heat.

No need to lean on ASMR for scalp tingles!  Simply jam this tape on and insert a thumb in your ass.

Mel Bentley (AKA  Moist vowels // the bravest of all approaches)

My first thoughts are of Phillips Records – circa 1963 when my Granddad worked in their Croydon factory.  The bold cover design strikes the memory gong, delivering that Red/Blue/Green magic making my pale eyes work.  Wrong-footed I swoon at the serene loveliness of a natural voice, well-paced and commanding.  The pen proves its might (once again) as ink scratches summon new worlds and prickly sensation.

Mel talks to us.  She gives Lana Del Rey a pasting and cuts-up office clippings like Burroughs until they “acquire patina and decay”.  She reels calm, without enunciated drama, from a coffee bar so real you can hear this steamy ‘hishhh’ of the barista.  Grunt-heads can get off on the augmented pieces that turn this from poetry to no-fi experimental sound gonk but I’m far too young to get hung up on bloody labels.  I’m fucking melting here man with the sweet word-power…

your dog dies in an onion ring

Oh yeah!


Waywords and Meansigns

Vitrine (Facebook)

Vitrine (Discogs)

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