unlicensed hiss: joe murray on tapes from vitrine: church shuffle, ross manning, abh, tom white

October 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Church Shuffle – Aura Deterrent  (tape, Vitrine, VT25, edition of 100)

Ross Manning – Natural Causes (tape, Vitrine, VT27, edition of 100)

ABH – Drag (tape, Vitrine, VT30, edition of 100)

Tom White – Automated Evangelism (tape, Vitrine, VT028, edition of 100)


Church Shuffle – Aura Deterrent

Another set of classic tape-werks from those Vitrine wizards.

The sleeve tells me Aura Deterrent was recorded direct to a ‘Singalodeon Karaoke’ and while I’m not familiar with that exact device I feel I’ve lived the best parts of my life in the warm, comforting fug of this signature cheap tape hiss.

This modest and unassuming tape mixes broken beats (‘Liberty Choice Falafel’) with spoken word, field recordings and instrumentation to create basic structures.  But it’s the magic of the medium sprinkled over these foundations that gives everything a Mars-like tint; pinky red and drugged-up warm.

Before I think about napping ‘Phone Ring’ rattles like an extremely polite noise tape, excusing itself for volume but weaving complex patterns from left-over sonics – I’m shot though like milky coffee.

Take ‘Monty Order’, a comforting lentil dhal of a piece, that circularly flirts like a shadowy ring on a shadowy planet – abstract groan-happenings whipped up from carefully manipulated tape hoof with uncomplicated feedback acting as cruton.

The self-depreciation of ‘You could have bought a house’ (if what?  If you’d not started a tape label?) adds a splash of vinegar to the warm rumble, the clotted sounds all buffed up and polished by cheap electronics.

So while this is purring like a cat in one way, there’s a sharp claw extended… just in case.


Ross Manning – Natural Causes

Percussion workouts that run the gamut from scrap-metal-dinosaur-bar-brawl to tinkling-glass-rod-foreplay.

Ross Manning is an Australian and therefore adept at the ancient art of sound-mugging; whereby a collection of related tones creep up behind you, pin your arms to your side, and envelops.  No need to struggle as the argy-bargy slips a practiced hand into your inside pocket and removes exactly seven dollars.

The whiff of homemade instruments and DIY electronics is ripe and strong.  Such gloriously natural and human sounds can only slip out of the lonely ramshackle workshop.  Think Moondog’s chops played on Harry Bertoia’s vibrators.

The beard-rockers can goof on ‘Catalogue from a Young Man’ all construction site abstraction but a gentleman may entertain a lady when ‘Dub Date’ speeds up and up and up to a Nancarrow velocity.  Each percussive stroke sharp and precise; mapping the exact grey explosion from fat raindrops.

The sidelong; ‘Song for Eugene’ takes glorious time to deliver like a preacher.  The smeared window squeaks, a chorus of faulty windscreen wipers, are gently drowned in frosty lake; the crackle of ice all but muffles the gamelan tones slowly booming in the crisp air above.

But what’s that?  Baka Pygmies reach for the most sonorous logs and clap them, slap them across a wide stereo field.  The rhythms are exotic and eccentric, scoring circular patterns in the air growing more complex and waxy by the minute.  I try to follow the connections, marking each change in crystalline tone, percussive intensity with a simple chalk mark.  Until it all becomes too much, I’m knee deep in white dust and whacked out as Gorilla Glue bud.

Extras: (1) Cover art shows some rickety pencil drawings of the instruments within.  All spindly and ragged this insight helps an old codger like me visualise.  (2) Sold out at source so you’re going to have to dig for this victory. (3) The sound quality is beautifully sharp and deep.  Audio snobs take note!


ABH – Drag

[Editor’s note: band name on inlay card is ARTBREAKHOTEL but in label listings it is as above.  As you will.]

Reader, you have a choice.  You can imagine the man-made or the natural; a faulty malfunction or a raw natural process ‘coz both apply to my tin ears.

One-man wrecking crew, Nobuo Yamada, is joined by Newcastle’s New Blockaders in some form (psychic, physical, spiritual, actual) to rattle the edges of reality with a scrap merchant’s calloused hands. Something decidedly metallic is scraped against bone (or shell!) while a field recording of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is blasted from the top of the historic Morden Tower.  I posit ‘Drag’ is either: a badly-oiled machine crashing through its gears or the heavily amplified sound of a lobster shedding its carapace?  You decide.

Despite the absence of Geordies, ‘Spin/Off’ is no less hectic and reminds me of the time I was battered with a rubber hose.

I dropped my keys into an enamel kidney dish and took the beating willingly. As the truncheon swished and rudely flexed I used my heat-vision to melt the copper wingnuts holding the Town Hall’s scaffolding together so the poles fell like giant pine needles noisily scattering on the cobbles beneath.

A temporary bliss of forgetting washes over me (hiss, shissshhh (internal tape noise)) but soon enough the deep clang of crab claws tap out an occult rhythm on my exposed throat.


Tom White – Automated Evangelism

London’s Tom White has researched and translated a singular vocabulary from the humble reel-to-reel tape machine.  These antiquated pieces of sound propaganda have been used by many mind-roofers but no one makes it gush quite like Tom!

The building-blocks of his tape language recall the rutting of sentient sponges; both deeply wet and intimate.  But it’s the brutal punctuation that makes a listener sit up straight and say


Abrupt slops bookend gooey, muddy, pops right from the get-go on ‘Evidence of Tampering’.  One sparse sound-matrix is overlaid over another, building up a sonic checkerboard that (and this is where you hear a master’s hand at work) never becomes cluttered or slips out of focus.  The landscape is precise and tight yet builds up an urgent sense of motion; for this music moves with an awkward beauty… all elbows and knees.

And this dancing abstraction eventually bows to the unlicensed hiss of surreptitious street recordings – a domestic detail held and turned over in Tom’s hot paw until it clicks together brilliantly, forming a broken tune fragment (yet cleverly framing a clutter of ‘pop and crackle’).

The third and final movement stutters like a shadow flickering over a chain-link fence.  Ghostly ‘phafs’ and ‘vumps’ ripple as the scales of a snake do; the constant expansion and contraction –  mesmerising as sneaky Kaa singing ‘Trust in Me’ ya hippies!

Shimmering crickets rub their legs in King Tubby’s yard on ‘Lapillo’ as rubber tiles are slapped against wooden boards.  The gentle pissing of water lubricates a shifting sound-platter serving a hot human hummus. Things become more rhythmic and I picture a hip-joint popping and locking in its socket: a juddering bone wrench worthy of any Old School Hip Hop crew until meek croaks and phlegm waves soak up the battered piano I left for dead on the shore.  This trip is a dreamer, a brocade curtain-raiser for sure.

SOLD OUT AT SOURCE!  So if you want hands-on tape manipulation at its very best you must dial 0800 T-W-H-I-T-E and ask for a (wink wink) thumb tweak on the ferric (wink).


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