a stressful night in the bathysphere: joe murray on sindre bjerga, bruce russell, gnarlos, no intention, yol

September 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Sindre Bjerga – For The Automatic People (CD-r, LF Records, LF057)

Bruce Russell / Gnarlos – Ruined Again (12″ vinyl, L’Esprit De L’Escalier, LELE04)

No Intention – Representative Work (tape and zine, spam, spam 17)

Yol – Is it Acceptable? (CD-r, LF Records, LF056)

lf057

Sindre Bjerga – For The Automatic People

I’ve been listening to a lot of Sindre lately.  A damn lake of Bjerga-tronics have I been imbibing.  Morning (Sindre), noon (Bjerga) and night (Sindre again).  Those tape-jaxx interventions and kitchen-sink drones have been both bread and beer to me.

So much Bjerga has been supped I’m starting to look like the Norwegian ambassador himself. See my ‘Sindre-selfie’ for evidence:

self-portrait-as-sindre-bjerga

Diversion innit!  To get you in the mood and all receptive to my reviewing like.

Here comes the rot.

FTAP starts with some seriously munged vocal slurp.  Slow and low it hoists its freak flag and blows goonish raspberries to keep it flapping.

As ever, the pinch is never far from your ears, this time with an extra element of ‘double-singing’ that would make I DM THEFT ABLE widen his eyes and say ‘goop, goop, goop’ from his bristly gob.

From this point in it all gets a bit Philip José Farmer; a dune buggy idles on the sands, erotic-robots squeal with pleasure leaking greasy r/jizz.  Are those tentacles caressing the brushed-steel bodies?  Eek… time to make my excuses and leave.

I spy the spring-loaded ‘Bjerga-ma-phone’ dumbly boinging underneath this radio interference from Mars and can feel the slow creep of bacteria munching through the red sands.  It’s all fizzing crackle (cruck) and blistering sparks (hwunk).

Like a tennis match played with tinfoil equipment there’s a thin swoop and crisp backhand smashing lettuce through a sieve before the tape mush (source: Culver plays The Sweet?) takes over again burying me up to the neck in chatty sound ants.

I’ve never felt so tired I…

…as I awake the sun is starting to set.  I can’t move my head to see but I can bloody feel those robots dragging themselves towards me.

gnarlos

Bruce Russell / Gnarlos – Ruined Again

As warped a slice of wax as you’re going to find this side of tomorrow.

Seymour ‘Gnarlos’ Glass performs a magical work of tape-wonk blending musty sound-ingredients into a fetid whole: marbled like inexpensive brisket. Sections of this side entertain a gentle wobble and circular riffling that’s lifting the side flaps of my cap and inflating my valve. How exhilarating!

Brief mind-pictures?

  • Small mechanical birds mutter brief algorithms.
  • Slow goons argue about magnetics in a variety of future languages.
  • A visit to the All Moscow Dog Show (тяв-тяв)
  • A stressful night in the Bathysphere

Again I’m floored by the rattling squawk of the finch and whirr. It parrots a flywheel that, in turn, scores concentric patterns into the sole of my foot. I can trace them with a sharpened pinkie, mirroring the record rotating nearby in my darkening room.

Confused by the repetitive motion the Gnarlos-sounds sprays from my heel just as clear as from the knocked-off speakers causing a Quadraphonic effect not heard since Tommy pulled back the chromed plunger and let his blind fingers do the talking.

But don’t go to bed thinking this is just an exercise in the knockabout and playful.  ‘The Organ Courier and the Chinese Billionaire’ simmers with such a heavy beauty it’s almost too delicate to bear at times… that’s value for fucking money, eh?

Bruce ‘Dead C’ Russell quotes those fancy-pants French philosophers on ‘No Mean Dub/No Mean Cry’ as he rustles digestive biscuits in an old tin bath… the grimy miner.

Imagine the re-scoring of an Italian horror movie in which they all decide not to go back to the cabin but check out the swamp instead.  Ankle deep in solid water the perfectly represented group watch the fireworks damply explode overhead with a slub, a grobe and a wimpy gnash.

After a while sounds roll backwards, I pick out the Vuvuzela listed in the sleeve notes but also hear something darker…perhaps it’s Chango resplendent in his red and white beads, oiled moustache atop a wet red mouth.  Where’ve you been hiding fella?

In and around my increasingly religious visions the electronics swarm like a high pressure front and dry room recordings, half lecture, half apology, leap from varying fidelity-boards blowing kisses into my crispy ears.

Praise Him!

no-intention

No Intention – Representative Work

Totally beguiling and innocent tape work from Vitrine boss Allen Mozek.

For the pragmatic it’s a tape of domestic psychedelics; poems read by a variety of groovy cats, piano, occasional percussion and glorious tape gunk.

You know the kind of thing.  Lo-fi?  For sure.  But with no actual intention?  Here’s where we have to draw a line in the sand.

For dreamers and lovers this is blissful stuff.  A stream-of-unconsciousness it nudges at the same sleep-centres that pitch the wheel on my nocturnes.  Repetition and repeated themes allow both brain-drift and moments of sharp clarity.  I find myself zeroing in on details… a piano run, a particular condenser mic tone, a twist of unexpected studio panning.

There’s a bustle and busyness to the proceedings.  Short, quick steps clipperty-clop with a deft ‘pocket jazz’ feel.  It’s almost impossible not to get lost in the rattle and hiss, to picture yourself, collar up to keep out the drizzle, dashing between antique shops to keep out of the sudden downpour.

But what works so well is the sense of time travel.  This is undoubtedly made up of recordings made at different times for many purposes and then carefully stitched together, in yet another place and time.  But with an educated editor’s ear goofing on the similarities and differences, the sonic jigsaw soon fits snug and any ragged edges get snipped to fit.

An honorable mention to ‘Tape Op Ex (Four Cartridges)’ that has a European finesse, grand architecture and ruinous fountains, sweeping into a feedback breakdown that could be culled from a retro-BLOWHOLE session.  Damn!

And of course, things end with a sigh, a gasp.  The mechanical click accompanies a ditch-dry Allen,

these are my representative works.

And these works do you so very proud man.

acceptable

Yol – Is it Acceptable?

Yes, always.

Tempting thought it is to submit a two word review to THE BIG HIMSELF [Editor’s note: I would have published it too.] there is so much in these wonderfully rich recordings it would be a crime to short-change you (my dearest of all possible readers) of the fullness my ears have gratefully received from his majestic and most furious Yol-ness.  You feel me?

This collection of recordings sounds very, very live with a clear and achingly honest ambience. Traffic noise, hard brick-reflection and the occasional snippet of audience voice place these as performances or site-specific experiments.

And these urban performance spaces reveal an instantly recognisable landscape.  For me it’s the loading bay behind Cowgate Morrisons; fenced off with razor wire, concrete-grim with 24 hour dust and punctuated with rusty piles of unwanted something.  For you it will be a similarly bleak and underappreciated space.

But in Yol’s hands the sonics kick-off like a glorious one-man Neubauten nursing a Pernod-fulled hangover.

Trucks back-up beeping rudely, the diesel blows gritty chuff making a reet big KOFF, KOFF, KOFF.  Rubble is dragged across a factory floor and metallics cry out, bruised by sharp knuckles.

These are the bass rumbles.

But there’s a balance, a lightness to counteract this darkness – enter the domestic floor percussion.  Your yogurt pots and balti bowls make a brittle clatter that dances brightly and sparkles in the stereo field.

For me it’s the deformation of language that’s absolutely, totally riveting here.  It all starts with what I guess proper-critics would call a vignette. A super-lit and hyper-real world is conjured up in a few brief sentences or words, bold as Japanese calligraphy.  But these words are squashed and stretched in strange and terrifying directions.  Yol circles individual syllables like a vulture, swooping in to tear at a fricative or rip a vowel sound clean out of its meaning-carcass.

Words are shorn of a regular purpose when they are hoarsely barked with a Gobi-dry mouth.  But they land more powerful than ever; stark and isolated.

To my tin ears this plastic language and clatter is seen through a lens of what it means to live in Britain today; a country pulling away from culture and kindness. A country hurling itself into a greedy grab bag for the few and saving the rain-water kebab meat for the rest of us.

And what sound sums up this futility, the almost desolate hopelessness?  Perhaps it’s the lonely squeal of a castor that ends ‘Soz Hard’.

A symphony of petrochemical by-products and constant spiralling pressure.

—ooOoo—

LF Records

L’Esprit De L’Escalier (just a Discogs page – you may have to dig)

Spam (excerpt on Soundcloud, release coming soon)

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