wired for sound part 20: julian bradley – oto/t01

October 24, 2011 at 7:57 am | Posted in fencing flatworm, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Julian Bradley – oTo/T01

Julian Bradley – oTo/T01

Not sure what you are looking at?  Here’s a primer: an account of the oTo tape project can be read here, it is mentioned again at Bang the Bore here (and elaborated on in part two here), thoughts on my erratic bromance with Julian are here, and an evaluation of his recent endeavours here.

Once you’ve digested that little lot it will become obvious that the mysterious glow emanating from this post is the light of historical significance.  What you are seeing is literally (a scan of) the very first oTo tape: number 1 of 50 of T01.  Click the link below the scan to hear its contents in glorious 320kbpsmp3orama.

I was inspired to dig this out after reading a review of Alan Splet’s wonderful soundtrack to Eraserhead in the October, ‘Halloween Special’, issue of Hiroshima Yeah!  Didn’t I once compare Julian’s oTo tape to Splet’s sound design?  I did:

24 minutes of geological lo-tek. Guitars, tape loops, document a sound heard deep under the earth, or deep inside your head. Alan Splet meets Vibracathedral Orchestra. Tick the ‘other’ box and leave the comments blank.

From the original oTo sub-site at fencing flatworm recordings.  Pretentious, probably, but accurate in my humble opinion and Julian was flattered by the comparison (obviously still is as he has used this description on his discography page).

So I lit a candle and headed down the greasy, treacherous, stone steps to the vault underneath RFM Towers.  After tossing the place I eventually found it hidden behind my copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt (a dog eared translation, not the German original – alas) and whilst among the grimoires I noticed the rest of the oTo tapes looking smart in a regimented row upon a high shelf.  I was asked recently if I planned a digital afterlife for oTo and, in short, my answer was ‘no’.  Perhaps enough of my finite and irreplaceable life has been sunk in this direction already, but favourites and oddities may surface here occasionally…

bang the bore celebrates fencing flatworm recordings part one

September 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Posted in blog info, fencing flatworm, midwich, musings, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Hello to anyone visiting after reading Pete Coward and Seth Cooke’s lovely article posted at Bang the Bore about my work with fencing flatworm, oTo and this blog.  I hope you find much of interest here, not least many free-to-download mp3s of FFR releases.  Should you be a regular reader wondering what I’m talking about then mix yourself a drink, settle down and click here.

Part one is an article written by Pete Coward (described by Seth as: “bootlegger/blagger and Wire website tech guru”, known only to me as “that guy who used to buy stuff that I met at that one show once”) about FFR and its philosophy.  His thoughts are insightful, generous and laid out with panache and I am grateful to the point of jaw-dropping amazement that he gave my (*ahem*) legacy (*snigger*) such considered consideration.  Part two, to come in a fortnight or so, is a lengthy email interview with yours truly conducted by Seth with Pete chipping in.  I hope you find the exchange as entertaining to read as it was to write.

Being involved in this project has been great fun and, of course, enormously flattering.  I enjoyed having to think hard about what motivated the Rob of ten years ago; it was a very interesting experience to apply the benefit of hindsight to the FFR/Termite Club days.  Sorting all that out in my head is one of the major factors inspiring my continued reactivation of midwich (watch this space).  Should you not be aware of Bang the Bore I heartily recommend frequent and substantial visits.  It is a force for the good.

ladies and gentlemen: the truant accord

August 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Truant – The Truant Accord (Memoirs of a Flatworm)

Radio Free Midwich is delighted to announce the release of the long lost second album by Truant.  Yes, Phil Todd’s Memoirs of an Aesthete dug up the decaying remains of fencing flatworm recordings and a terrible act of deviant union took place.  The resulting unholy hybrid – Memoirs of a Flatworm – exists only to present this forgotten masterwork in a strictly limited run of 100 CD-rs. 

The Truant Accord was recorded ten years ago by Michael Clough of prog legends Rancid Poultry and PRP Group, the aforementioned Phil Todd of Ashtray Navigations and myself of midwich ‘fame’.  An extended history of the Truant phenomenon can be read here whilst you listen to an mp3 of our first album, released on FFR.  The post includes an entertainingly misremembered account (from me) of why such a high quality recording was left to gather dust, followed by corrections from the less brain-damaged members of the group (Phil and Cloughy).

Anyway, no matter, for it is here now.  What you get for your money is a short, squawky noise intro to confuse the casual listener (hey, it worked for Oneohtrix Point Never) then we launch into… well, I’ll let Joe Posset, RFM’s North-East correspondent, take it from here:

But then all of a sudden the guitar, bass explore, electronics and keyboard all settle into a summer afternoon vibe (‘New river apple’)…it’s all jasmine scented air and warm cobbles.  It puts me in mind of groups like ‘Stars of the Lid’.  All about exploring the drone but with a Ravi Shankar record in their back pocket at the same time.  ‘Mollusca’ is like one of those boiling mud pits in some Forbidden Planet scenario…or even a Bleep & Booster tribute.  The absence of drums lifts these tracks pretty damn high without no anchor to weigh things down.  The real gravy comes with the 10 min plus of ‘Animal Kingdom’ featuring some wacked-out guitar slalom bending and stretching all over itself; ever questing, never peaking.  I’m guessing this is Mr Phil Todd throwing the crazy shapes here…why on earth people make such a fuss of all that Pink Floyd shit when you have faded-empire whimsy and mind-expanding string worrying right here on yr door step I’ll never know.  This is a fine example of English psychedelia and no mistake.

Why, thank you Joe, much appreciated (more can be read at his blog too – look out for Posset on tour in October)!  This CD-r, packaged in a space-saving plastic wallet with Phil’s brain-frying full-colour cover, can be had for the bargain price of £6 from Ashtray HQ.  Also available (finally!) is Ashtray Navigation’s amazing Cinderella Stamps which was highly praised recently on this very blog.  G’wan – buy both because they will make you happy.

clough, truant, termite club, phil todd and the lost second album

May 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, musings, no audience underground | 4 Comments
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ff010 truant – zellaby’s beautiful sacrifice

Michael Clough, known universally as Clough, or Cloughy to his closest confidants, bestrode the Leeds experimental music scene like a loose-limbed, roll-up-smoking colossus.  A scholar of improvised music, a dry wit and as Yorkshire as a pontefract cake, he played bass in the legendary kraut/prog outfit Rancid Poultry and their successors PRP Group.  The latter were so rigourously mysterious that, despite a weekly rehearsal commitment, the trio’s compulsive perfectionism meant recordings were rare and gigs vanishingly uncommon.  He also manipulated squiggle-boxes for microsound troupe Klunk and helped run the Leeds free-music institution Termite Club.  It is through the latter that we came to be friends.

Cloughy, like Julian who I was bromancing at a similar time, was one of those chaps I was always glad to see at gigs because I knew that, in his company, the night would be fun no matter the quality of the music.  We met for lunch, along with Neil Campbell, once a week to talk nonsense about music and when I picture him he is always wearing a shirt (sleeves rolled up) and tie as he had always ‘come straight from work’.  I left his wedding reception early in order to see Whitehouse.  It was perhaps inevitable, given our shared interest in long-form electronic music, that we would hatch a band together.

The name ‘Truant’ came about, I think, as a kind of joke: Cloughy was busy with PRP Group, I was busy with midwich/fencing flatworm – Truant was what we did when we were bunking off.  The idea was simple: we would create semi-improvised, fairly lengthy tracks constructed from loops and throbs ‘playing themselves’ over which Clough would add a moody bassline.  Our very first attempt was recorded for posterity, prosaically titled ‘rehearsal’ and skillfully mixed by Cloughy into something we both thought promising.  You can hear it by clicking on…

In fact, so proud was I of this swing-and-hit that I clipped two bits out to be the A and B sides of a 7″ single.  Money stopped this from being realised, unfortunately, so why not imagine sliding a black disc onto a turntable as you click on the below:

  1. church and state part 1
  2. church and state part 2

There were three gigs I can remember (by which I mean document – I keep my memories in box files as my head is not entirely reliable), all of which took place in the space-age year 2000.

The gig above was on a blisteringly hot summer Sunday.  We throbbed and shimmered as people rolled up then joined in with the slack-jawed-but-delighted response to outsider magician June Powers.  He entertained us with a set of untricks that had us worrying about his mental health.  This was so odd that if its reality wasn’t confirmed by the poster I’d have thought that I dreamt it.  Vibracathedral were in their prime and finally put to bed all those Velvet Underground comparisons by playing with their backs to the audience behind a curtain of silver tinsel – you see?  Nothing like ’em!  Note comical entrance fee – those were’t days, eh?

Secondly came one of my favourite experiences of playing live.  Again at the Royal Park, again sweltering – though this time due to being rammed with people.  As Jackie-O Motherfucker had about 27 members and the stage was full of gear, we set up at the mixing desk.  The vibrations from our bass-heavy set started the drum skins hissing and strings vibrating until the instruments on stage were playing themselves.  When Jackie-O came on they jammed along with us before, as we faded out, beginning their meandering proper.  It was a magical moment for me.

The third and final gig of 2000 was at the terrific Termite Club Festival in November.  In between this and the last gig Truant had become a power trio with the addition of Phil Todd on guitar.  Phil had recently moved to Leeds from Stoke and needed to be distracted from his oatcake withdrawal.  He did this by getting involved with every musical project within a five mile radius of the Adelphi Hotel (now cruelly gentrified, alas).

I remember this weekend very fondly despite many of the reasons for doing so being ignoble or infamous.  Cloughy and I were on the door on Friday and the headliners V/VM gave us a bunch of CDs to sell on their behalf.  After their gruelling set of mangled pop covers we gave this unwanted product back to a guy we thought was a member of the band.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t and the bewildered punter scarpered with his unexpected haul.  In our defense V/VM were playing wearing masks, but they were unimpressed with our gaffe and later made caustic remarks about Arts Council funded gigs which I suspect were aimed at us.  Oops.

The headliner booked for Saturday was legendary improv guitarist Derek Bailey (who sadly died in 2005 – rest in peace, Derek).  A few days before the show, I was sat staring at the peeling wallpaper in my slug-infested hovel when the ‘phone rang: it was him!  At first I was so star-struck that I didn’t really cotton on to what he was saying.  “Holy fuck!  Derek Bailey is speaking to me!” I thought, “He’s telling me that he has the shits so bad he has to cancel!  Amazing!  Hang on, wait a minute – what was that?!”  Luckily, Paul Hession (officially the best percussionist in the UK) who had been booked as Bailey’s foil roped in fellow free-jazz wildmen Mick Beck (wind) and Pat Thomas (keys) to play instead.  They delighted the crowd by channelling the spirit of Sun Ra and tearing the place up.  Sometime later Mick offered me the recording of this set to release on fencing flatworm and I bit his hand off.

But I get ahead of myself – earlier it was our turn.  I was already jittery having been shouted at by Mick Flower of Vibracathedral for standing on a snake’s nest of cables that was apparently a vital component of his set-up (though now I suspect he was joking with me – not always easy to tell).  I attempted to gloss over my nerves with beer and volume.  I was ‘playing’ a loop of vinyl out-groove crackle that was layered and amplified into a wall of white noise, Cloughy’s vintage synth gave out a bowel-churning wobble, Phil took the role of the absent Bailey and crashed out some improv guitar.  We had people pressed against the back wall of the venue, including some hapless work colleagues who had turned up out of politeness and had no idea what was happening.  I enjoyed it but Phil was grumpy that I had drowned out his solos.  I thought we were ‘sparring’ but was apparently mistaken.  Heh, heh – I’ll never understand how improv is supposed to ‘work’.  Maybe we should have rehearsed.

Anyway, I’m unsure of the chronology but the first album must have been recorded around this time, as a three piece, in Cloughy’s attic, mixed by him and released as ‘zellaby’s beautiful sacrifice’ by me on ffr.  One track, titled that fight you lost, clocking in at well over half an hour, built from relentless throbbing (Clough), loops and swooshes (me) and guitar maltreated in various interesting ways (Phil).  Phil is dismissive of his playing on this piece but I dig it.  All hipster fans of Emeralds please note: this is how it should be done.

At some later date the three of us returned to the attic to record the follow up and here began the end of Truant.  The recording was, I think,  more ambitious and more accomplished than our first attempt and I was impressed with the first mix.  However, as I remember it (and note: I am an unreliable narrator) Clough wanted less guitar and Phil, unsurprisingly, wanted more.  The issue was never resolved, the album, ironically titled ‘The Truant Accord’, was quietly shelved, and Truant ceased to be.  I was pleased to have done something so rock ‘n’ roll as to split up over musical differences but other than that the situation sucked.  Years past.

I realise that throughout I have been referring to Cloughy in the past tense.  This is not a eulogy, the guy hasn’t died.  It’s worse: he moved to London.  Ha!  I jest.  He and his better half Marie are enjoying life in the seething metropolis and getting on with the business of raising a kid.  We had drifted apart but, in an amusing piece of synchronicity, he got in touch via this blog at almost exactly the same time Phil and I dug out and re-listened to the long lost second Truant album.  We did this independently of each other – the time is obviously ripe.  All disagreements have been forgotten and when a CD-r was suggested there was a vigorous nodding of heads.

So watch this space.  Coming soon on Memoirs of an Aesthete/fencing flatworm recordings…

EDIT: Phil offers a correction: 

If I remember rightly, the 2nd CD didn’t get released cos I wanted to hold out to find a label who would do it as a proper CD –  never happened needless to say…

Heh, heh – told you I wasn’t to be trusted!  Hah – I’m gonna front it out: I’m a storyteller, not a historian…

archive ransacked, discography complete

April 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Posted in blog info, fencing flatworm, midwich, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Radiofreemidwich is delighted to announce that the crack team of archivists engaged in the task of compiling catalogue raisonné de Hayler have finally published their work.  The previously ramshackle discography page is now sharply formatted and as comprehensive as it is ever going to get.  Aside from a few gaps to be accounted for below, every release is represented with a cover pic, catalogue details and freely downloadable mp3s.  Some notes:

The gaps

Mp3s are not available for three days in, four to go as, amazingly, it is still available to buy.  Please go to Carbon Records and surprise Joe with an order – this really is a good one and the silk-screened cover is lovely.  Similarly, the two culver vs midwich tapes can be had via Lee at the ever-inspirational Matching Head.  I’m also holding off on months, years (both original and reissue) and raised ironworks in the hope that more units of these cdrs can be shifted.  Finally, With Maples Ablaze is not my release to post.

Noteworthy additions

Amongst the newly available stuff are all my appearances on compilations.  This is a mixed bag, I have to admit, but why not dip your toe in by trying an excerpt from a very drunken gig Neil Campbell and I did back in the hazy days of Summer 2002?

Talking of live stuff, there is a shonky but historic recording of the ffrkestra – basically everyone who played on the evening of a ffr themed gig in the year 2000 plus members of Vibracathedral Orchestra and a bit of audience participation.  I may write more about this in future.

I will definitely be writing more about Truant: the kraut/noise power trio of me, Michael Clough and Phil Todd.  The first rehearsal recording, featuring Clough/Hayler as a duo, can be found in the listing for in brine.  The first album, zellaby’s beautiful sacrifice – recorded after we’d been joined by Phil, is also now downloadable.

Finally, I’ll mention ‘this whole process’ which probably merits a post of its own as well.  This 25 minutes of relentless throbbing, best enjoyed at ridiculous volume, was released as my half of a split cdr with Moon.  This was not what I originally planned for what was to be my magnum opus, my ‘strings of life’, my step up to the next level.  Instead it turned out to be the beginning of the end for midwich v1.0.  Buy me a ginger beer and I’ll tell you the story…

All of these tracks can be heard via links on the ‘rob hayler discography’ page – please click on the tab above.

for sale: birchville cat motel – nurse

March 31, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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birchville cat motel – nurse


fencing flatworm recordings, ff027, 1 track, 31m45s, CD-r in plastic wallet with colour cover, second and final edition of 10

Whilst poking the ffrchive with a stick the other day I discovered a handful of pristine, full colour, laser printed covers for the release above featuring the beautiful photography of my former flatworm comrade Sean Keeble.  Seemed a shame not to use ’em so I’ve decided to make this CD-r available again in a second edition of 10.  This is your absolute final chance to get hold of this fondly remembered release, on the influential fencing flatworm recordings, in its lovely original cover.

Campbell Kneale should need little introduction to readers of this blog.  The hardest working man in drone-business, once ubiquitous as BCM but now better known as Our Love Will Destroy The World, he has spent years building up a dauntingly large and relentlessly beautiful back catalogue.  The world is a brighter place for having him in it.

Here is my original blurb from the fencing flatworm site:

campbell never lets you down, right? when I saw the instrument list included such things as ‘baby monitor’ I was worried this might sound gimmicky, but not a bit of it. as high class as your previous favourite birchville release, if not more so. this is a half-hour of beautifully enveloping organic drone. if you know bcm: you’ll need this, if you don’t: why the hell not?! you should start right here.

And here is a little mp3 clip.

See ‘for sale’ page (tab above) for purchasing details.

new ‘for sale’ page and first new midwich product in six years

February 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Raise your eye slightly, dear reader, and you will notice a new page tab labelled ‘for sale’.  Tap on this to visit the rfm mall, so recently opened that I still have the scissors in my hand and the ribbon at my feet.  The main purpose of this venture is to make available the new midwich releases below.  Yes, my vanity has finally got the better of my common sense and midwich, idling on ‘standby’ for six years, has been reactivated.  I may also use the for sale page to sell rarities, ffr oddities and secondhand goodies with a view to funding this foolishness.

So, without further preamble, poetic debris editions is proud to announce:

midwich – raised ironworks

8cm CD-r, 4 tracks, 18 and a half minutes, edition of 50, poetic debris 01

Four tracks originally recorded for various projects which then failed to surface.  One track appeared in a different form on the long sold-out Pjorn (0)72 compilation but over 17 minutes of this music is previously unreleased.  Expect: shards of broken mirror, grinding robo-rhythms, sunlight on the river – golden apples bobbing, emotionally overloaded clockwork rave…

(aside: with thanks to Matt Robson)

midwich – months, years

8cm CD-r, 1 track, 21 minutes, edition of 50, poetic debris 02

Originally released ten years ago as one half of a split CD-r with the lovely Karina ESP on the defunct label Trademarked Industries.  This epic of Yorkshire Nothing Music is two parts immersive, solvent fuzz to one part soul-coddling womb-throb.  A must-have for the aficionado of ego-dissolving drone.

(aside: if anyone out there has contact details for Nick Davey of TM Ind I’d be grateful if you’d pass them on)

Visit the for sale page for details of costs and how to order.  Value, quality and convenience are our watchwords…

ayr unit & midw(h)ich – the happiest music on earth (bake records)

February 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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ayr unit & midwich – the happiest music on earth

  1. first track
  2. second track
  3. third track
  • Original artwork: here
  • Alternative artwork: front above, back here

Here is something really special and I have no qualms about saying so because most of what is praiseworthy about this release is the work of John Charles Wilson, my collaborator.  It comprises three lengthy untitled tracks totalling 39 minutes.  The first two share a similarly sombre, reflective mood.  I provided some drones over which John layered crystalline guitar shimmers and mournful violin.  The third track is a cathartic wash of noise.  As a whole it has an immensely satisfying emotional coherence – in my humble opinion, that is.

It was released as a CDR by Frans de Waard‘s Staalplaat offshoot Bake Records (now sadly defunct).  The original cover can be seen by clicking on the link above, but I’ve chosen to illustrate this post with a previously unseen unofficial alternative.  This was created by my fencing flatworm co-honco Sean Keeble and I remain grateful for his thoughtful gift.  Actually, the original original cover will never be seen again as it misspelled my band name as ‘midwhich’.  Frans had, and continues to have, a formidable reputation in the noise underground and I remember being a bit scared to point out this error.  However, I did call it to his attention and weathered the slightly disgruntled reply.  Despite this awkward moment I ended up releasing a Kapotte Muziek CDR by him on ffr and am happy to report he is a tremendously helpful and unbelievably industrious guy (just check out the gargantuan discography).

John is most familiar nowadays for the ‘splatterbeat folk’ of his project Frog Pocket, picked up by the prestigious Planet Mu.  He was a great friend to fencing flatworm, the initial link being Matt Robson of randomNumber, and promoted a handful of very memorable shows for bits of the flatworm roster at the 13th Note in Glasgow.  Should you be interested to read an amusing account of our drunken endeavours then please direct your browser thisaway (article originally published in DDDD).

midwich – new ways of saying yes (trademarked industries)

January 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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midwich – new ways of saying yes

  1. mysterious parcel
  2. stomaching
  3. doubled over
  4. gradual, new

Groping underneath the tarpaulin thrown over the flatworm archive has revealed this mid-period entry in the midwich discography.  The spec follows a familiar blueprint: 4 tracks, half-an-hour-ish.  Released on CDr in 2002 (with the great cover above) by the now sadly defunct Trademarked Industries.

I’ve always been in two minds about this one – as I apparently was when I recorded it.  The title is unusually upbeat, as is the quick opener, ‘mysterious parcel’, which lumbers comically from foot to foot for 40 seconds.  The closer, ‘gradual, new’, is a 14 minute fuzz-drone that radiates blissed-out happiness and contentment.  Odd, I know – what was I thinking?

The trouble comes in between.  ‘Stomaching’ is a minimal, splintering, battle-of-the-car-alarms that I now find too gruelling to get through.  ‘Doubled over’ is a muscular analogue throb that remains satisfyingly pummelling at high volume but is hardly easy listening.  I’m guessing these tracks were inspired by a bout of gut-churning illness – alcohol related – that I endured in the squalid, slug-infested hovel where I was then living.  That said, they may have just been recorded with the house style of Trademarked Industries in mind – generally more aggressive and percussive than fencing flatworm.  My memories of the details are patchy – which suggests the alcohol related explanation is probably the correct one…

new namke track discovered hidden in comments

December 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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An advertorial interlude:

Long time flatworm fanciers will know John Tuffen’s namke project from the sublime ‘available from namke communications’ (ff020), mp3s of which can be found a page or two down in the first ‘machine soul’ post.  If you haven’t downloaded it already then hop to it, kid.

Whilst concentrating most of his creative efforts on photography (see pic above and his excellent flickr stream, currently host to some amusing Movember pics amongst the art), John has recently commenced a return to audio.  This was discretely announced in a comment on one of my depression pieces below and would have been missed by all but the most eagle-eyed.  As such, I have decided to drag it into the light.  ‘Laid waste’ is a neo-radiophonic layer-cake of analog synths and ebowed guitar, beautifully simple yet carrying a satisfying emotional heft .  Great soundtrack for staring out of the window at the thawing snow.  It can be heard via soundcloud here.

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