corn toes throb: rfm on diatribes, yearning kru, sophie cooper & julian bradley, sam andreae/david birchall/otto willberg and kay hill

April 27, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Diatribes – Sistere (Mappa Editions)

Yearning Kru – Swumpengelf (Mantile Records)

Sophie Cooper & Julian Bradley – The Blow Volume 3 (Front & Follow)

Sam Andreae/David Birchall/Otto Willberg – Hair in the Chimney (Heavy Petting/Vernacular Recordings)

Kay Hill – ANARAK (Invisible City Records)

Kay Hill – Summit Tapes pt 2 (Strange Rules)

diatribes 

Diatribes – Sistere (Mappa Editions) Handsomely-boxed C40 tape and digital album

A new-to-me name, Diatribes, are a Swiss improvising duo – D’incise & Cyril Bondi – who offer us two damn-fine, side-long, ritualistic explorations.

‘Tabi-Tabi’, this woozily hypnotic twenty-minute rhythm workout starts like a boredoms drum-circle with a handful of percussion (bells, shaker, bamboo claves, half bag of rice and those damn shell contraptions) round a campfire and stays near enough in that vein for the duration.  Off-kilter electronic fingering appears around the edges and new shaken textures begin swooping in over the central heartbeat.

A lazier reviewer would play the Steve Reich card but this seems in no way minimal.  Sure there’s not much in terms of shifting sonic content but the arrangement and variety of dryness verses simple clattering brass is filling my soft head with little tinkles like I done an ASMR youtube marathon.

The pulse never changes…but just when I think “I’m about to leave my earthly body, swooped to heaven with winged heels…” a series of thin ringing tones guides my soul back into this slumped form on a silver wire.

I’m a cotton-mouth shaman!

The contrast of ‘Utsara – Utsara’ couldn’t be more pronounced.  Double-deep floor-tom beats in half-time with a sultry resonance.  It sounds human-played with deft smears and deep-red ringing.

Imagine your favourite gamelan record slowed down and ironed out to a single fragrant strike repeated over and over again while something lurks behind the mix hissing and spitting.

This is the music of waiting for bad things to happen and listening is an uneasy, spiritually distant experience – there is no euphoria in the repetition – just slowly creeping dread like the crops failed and goat milk has gone sour.  Why’s everyone looking at me?

I’m a cowering villager!

yearning kru

Yearning Kru – Swumpengelf (Mantile Records) tape and download

What the Dickens tape-mulch that sounds like a super-high-gloss production being ruined by an unexpected plutonium pulse and scrambled forever.

This tape is such a delight because of it’s extremely twisted DNA.  No sound is left unmolested for a moment – each digital bang or gritty slump is smothered in maximal oddness, then wrung out, then laid out on another freakish griddle.

I’ll try to make sense of it for you but I fear I’m too old…

  • Swooshing, the colour of Vogue Magazine – all fleshy beige (Canisters in the Marsh). A three-part structure is implied but never enforced: smeared samples, a clock ticks backwards drips behind, smashed glassy tinkles blink.
  • Unpleasant whalloping (Gulping Boulders) and dropped iron vases. Corn toes throb.
  • Beamed direct from Hell (Nightbrightener) as Dante attempts to sing his way out over a barrage of malfunctioning bass machines and melting RAM.
  • One recognisable mbira is a brief oasis (Tattoo (Petrol)) until my bratty breath is looped (The Address) like no human mouth could ever, ever, ever…it ends in desperate scratchin’.
  • This is no conventional medley (U Neva Glissend) but a hint of Sunday School organ gone random while the bad kids glitch and moan in the pews.

[Ed’s not: despite the computer-led approach, Cronx’ Yearning Kru leads directly to Hull’s Yol on my why-aye-player and the segue into gritty, real demolition sounds perfect – hey people – let’s make it happen!]

Fans of Guttersnipe and Autechre form a queue please…

front and follow

Sophie Cooper & Julian Bradley – The Blow Volume 3 (Front & Follow) tape and digital album

RFM’s very own Sophie Cooper and his Excellency the Julian Bradley have been creating soft bubbles of weirdness for many years ploughing fuxxed-electronics, vocal grease and guitar-moff in a variety of solo trips, swift duos and long-lived freakbands.  Pledging their troth to the way-out they formed The Slowest Lift (check press for details) but on this fayre tape they play under their own names.  No less sloe! No less lifting!!

OK…that’s the scene set.  What you’ve got here is two sides of ferric huss that runs the gamut from ‘thundering whale barnacles’ to ‘cardamom fueled intoxication.’  The controls are jammed into the red from the off with maximum distortion, reverb and delay of a type so strong it begins to punch through the fog that obscures the river bank that I’m squatting beside.

Details?

Tracks like ‘Wish Me to Forget You’ a gruff-electronic-folk-sonnet wonders what became of the hangman’s beautiful daughter.  ‘The Body’ considers the mysteries of the fallow field.  Full of shuddering wormy detail and slowly rejuvenating with essential nitrates!

Super-slow and re-imagined ‘Greenhead’ is as catchy as Under Mi Sleng Teng and fair forms a crust with them steel-pan clonks that count it out…5,4,3,2,1.

The three-part movements of ‘Nowhere from the Water to Go’ starts with (1) misty-eyed spirals of multiple guitars picked in the spirit of Portugal’s Manuel Mota – rugged plucking looped over thumbs like cat’s cradle – until (2) all sin is washed clean with thick, bassy waves of caustic tone spitting like a red-hot poker plunged into rough cider.  The coda (3) haunts in its brevity – a pickled pepper of all that’s gone before.

Up-to-the-minute tape-scroll and scratch-jaxx infects the short neighbours ‘My Muscles’ and ‘The Mirror’.  The former a black-dark fustering of synth-tones, dragged copse and dislocated voice the later a bona performance of séance gymnastics.  Lo!

The spookiest of the bunch, ‘Congratulations,’ showcases floating twin vocals becoming an almost-ghost.  No doubt a terrible tale is being told over a tune as loose as a Bardo Pond jam from way back.

Seriously delightful, yet quivering with restraint.  Sort of like sweeping an experienced hand over the powerful flanks of a gelding.

birchall etc

Sam Andreae/David Birchall/Otto Willberg – Hair in the Chimney (Heavy Petting/Vernacular Recordings) CD

Ecstatic three-way improv shunting with many fingers.

That idea of complex gets a bad rap eh?  In a world where simplification and convenience are sleepwalking us into some sort of human stasis we often shove anything difficult or involved on to tomorrows ‘to-do’ list.

Those real-gone physics-beards have got the right idea though.  They claim even the thorniest, knottiest equation can be beautiful.  A problem so complex so wide and deep and long that most of us mere mortals can’t even understand the damn question gets wrapped up and buffed into a solution all brief and balanced  – achieving beauty.

So along with the Prof Yaffles: Sam Andreae/David Birchall/Otto Willburg invite us to smudge their chalky equation with our fresh ears.

Hair in the Chimney is an ultra-complex, lovingly-layered and nuanced peak into a virtually infinite system of sax, guitar and double bass techniques.

Don’t get your Zappa out! These techniques are a million miles from prog’s privileged meanderings (and for that matter refreshingly free of improv cliché) and almost telepathic as any squeak, belch or ‘boing’ travels from sax to guitar to bass in a second.

There’s three lengthy pieces here, long enough to get dug in and explore an ever changing landscape of some new improv patois.  The textures move from brittle and broken to bulbous and ripe over the course on each imagination.

And though you might expect that with two string-bringers there’s an overreliance on pluck.  Not so! The guitar and bass are as happy to hum and wobble as the sax is evidently delighted to quietly pop from time to time.

Of course it’s not all about speed and mimicry. The sympathetic support of each instrument and player is super-palpable as each voice is selfless enough to bring out the best in each other.  Be that a slow dripping, almost Sonic Youth-style, electric gamelan or a razor-sharp ladder of tones, each essential to the overall sculpture.

Floats as easy as lubricated conversation.

kay hill

Kay Hill – ANARAK (Invisible City Records) C20 tape and digital download

A welcome return from Ben Hallatt.  A fine player who first ruffled my feathers a coupla years back at the glorious Crater Lake festival –  then proceeded to gently massage my shoulders, taking great care to conceal a syringe of potent sedative that could be plunged into my neck when least expected via a slew of marvelous releases.

Here under the Kay Hill moniker he continues with what I previously described as eerie-urban-horror with muted synth and tape work.

On the mysteriously illusive ‘ANARAK’ (no info save from the artist and title) Ben offers two sides of insistent minimalism that flick with cold urgency like Morse code distress signals. The stately and austere construction of these pieces nudges Ben further away from the noise-dingus camp into a zone of bespectacled academia and ultra-minimal electronics with the implied threat of early Wolf Eyes/American Tapes/Hanson releases.

I guess the rotating orbs we hear are reels of analogue tape floating with thudding rhythms that are offset by smears of static gristle and clunk. Ben constructs his tracks like a plate spinning exercise of noises, his timing and flair for adding and subtracting sounds at the right time is impeccable. (Luke Vollar)

kay hill summit tapes

Kay Hill – Summit Tapes pt 2 (Strange Rules) C20 and digital download

‘Summit Tapes pt 2’ continues the engrossing drama with high lonesome tones smooshed with low key grunk and fleck.

The forlorn, barely-there conclusion of the first side sounds, for all the world, like the slow journey through an underground cave-river to an unknown conclusion.  A dim light illuminating the craggy rock and the knowledge that you may well be facing the end alone.

The subtle and eerie unraveling of the second side has a slow and steady whistle rising like Doctor Octopus’ steely tentacles within a claustrophobic vortex . I keep going back to horror as a comparison but it does seem appropriate with Kay Hill as he has a gift for building tension and dread that, like the best horror films, focuses on the drawn-out suspense and fear – not the grisly climax.

So it’s fitting that there is no grisly climax to be found on either of these Hill tapes; and as the muted keys whir and crunch, half remembered voices play out ‘side b’ like a waterlogged fifth-generation tangerine cassette.

I am again extremely impressed. (Luke Vollar)

 

Mappa Editions

Mantile Records

Front & Follow

Heavy Petting / Vernacular Recordings

Invisible City Records

Strange Rules

-ooOoo-

slip away into the great digital night: the midwich review pile and nine clumsy haiku offerings

April 23, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Fells – Menhir (Self Release)

Traven – ЯTLLCTЯNCS (Aetheric Records)

Sad_Rave – Add Red (Don’t Drone Alone)

Algobabez- Burning Circuits (Fractal Meat Cuts)

Ewa Justka – Acid Smut (Fractal Meat Cuts)

Epipohra – Love Songs (Self Released)

Mattin “Songbook #6 (Munster Records/Crudités Tapes/SDZ/Insulin Addicted)

David Greenberger, Glenn Jones, Chris Corsano – An Idea in Everything (Okraïna)

Alan Courtis – Los Galpones (Fabrica Records)

 

Life!  It’s all a bit of a balancing act eh?

On one hand I’ve been bemoaning poor attendance at live shows.  Is a crowd of 6 people at a gig still worthy of the title ‘crowd’?   But, on the other hand the amount of downloads, tapes and CD-Rs that we in the N-AU put out seems to be increasing exponentially.

I get it.  Sometimes getting out the house can take military planning and a frugal counting of pennies.  For many of us life is a careful juggling act with work, family, artistic practice, economics, study and health just a few of the balls in the air at any one time.

Or, leaving the house could even be a very reasonable reaction to world affairs.  Things are so fucking fucked pulling the covers back over my head in the morning sometimes seems to be the only sane thing to do.

For many of us staying in results in getting more done.  There’s more time to plan/plot and record. Using free software to create, edit and distribute your work means a project can move from brain-spark to universally available download in an afternoon.  And while the N-AU has always had a prolific work-rate, releasing something every couple of months is becoming the new norm.

Hoorah and good gravy eh?

But herein lies the rub.  For the last 3 or 4 months we at RFM have been staggering under an increasingly huge listening pile – close to 150 releases.  Try as we might; the regular chipping away from us old hands and even taking on a clutch of talented and exciting new writers is not making a huge difference because each passing day adds another multi-album download or set of (generally wonderful looking) links to the pile.  And of course we’re human too and all juggle work, family, artistic practice, economics, study and health along with this extra listening and writing.

We’ve reached a point where something has to give.

So apologies to anyone who has been waiting 6 months plus for a review – it’s probably not going to happen – but I suppose you guessed that already.  We are going to keep the 50 or so recordings we have personally agreed to, but the rest of the pile will respectfully slip away into the great digital night.

Nothing happens at Midwich Towers without debate and this is not a decision that we arrived at lightly.  But it does mean we can get back to doing what we set out to do: share passionate and energetic writing about the music that matters to us as it happens.

In the meantime here’s some snatches from the notebook hoofed into a clumsy haiku format…

fells menhir

Fells – Menhir (Self Release) tape and digital album

Wonderful breathing:

Granite sighs with great effort.

A bright moon looks on

traven

Traven – ЯTLLCTЯNCS (Aetheric Records) 3” CD-r and digital album

Spanish moss hangs low –

hissing tape, werewolf’s foul breath

no silver bullets…

sad rave

Sad_Rave – Add Red (Don’t Drone Alone) CD-r and digital album

Flickering notes from

a faithful Pisaro score.

Chat.  Sine-wave edits.

algobabez

Algobabez- Burning Circuits (Fractal Meat Cuts) tape and digital album

Real-time coding act.

Beats liquefy into goo,

Brain-melt soon follows.

acid smut

Ewa Justka – Acid Smut (Fractal Meat Cuts) tape and digital album

Sid James – “Haw, Haw, Haw”

dripped with a caustic liquid.

Dancing feet scrubbed up.

epiphora 2

Epipohra – Love Songs (Self Released) non-physical release

Mashed through dark velvet.

Maybe a jealous lover

bent up your best shades?

mattin

Mattin “Songbook #6 (Munster Records/Crudités Tapes/SDZ/Insulin Addicted) 12” vinyl and digital album

Severe warp and fuxx

Genre-free rock played like jizz

Don’t resist – give in!

greenberger

David Greenberger, Glenn Jones, Chris Corsano – An Idea in Everything (Okraïna) double 10” vinyl and digital album

More Duplex stories

Banjo and drum improvise

Lost wisdom and joy.

alan courtis

Alan Courtis – Los Galpones (Fabrica Records) limited edition vinyl LP and digital album

Overlook Hotel.

Evil lives in the walls here.

Guitars drive them out!

Fells Bandcamp

Aetheric Records

Don’t Drone Alone

Fractal Meat Cuts

Epiphora Soundcloud

SDZ Records

Okraina Records

Fabrica Records

-ooOOoo-

 

forcing the entire world thru the ghost of a worn-out shredded nail thread: joe henderson on an eiderdown records easter special – the year of the rabbit

April 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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A Story of Rats / Hellvette – Split (Eiderdown Records)

Gonzalez & Steenkiste – Stuffed With The Down Of The Eider (Eiderdown Records)

Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand- Live at the Comet (Eiderdown Records)

Woven Skull – Emissions from Sun Bleached Brains (Eiderdown Records)

Bird People – Down of the Hasma (Eiderdown Records)

Gregg Skloff – The Glacial Enclosure (Eiderdown Records)

Jake Blanchard – Colour Discolour (Eiderdown Records)

Bent Pyramid Trio/ The Shouts From the Sea – Split (Eiderdown Records)

Prana Crafter – Mindstreamblessing (Eiderdown Records 2017)

Somesurprises – Serious Dreams (Eiderdown Records)

Easter-Shrine

I have in front of me three cassettes. I also have Bandcamp links and a number of mp3s. They are all from Eiderdown Records, in Seattle. I chose ‘em. I consult Discog’s for information.

The releases span roughly five years. I feel a puzzle is to be solved. I am looking down the open grove of trees, at a path yet taken. The urge to contact my editor for a quick resolve is there. But for now I will resist it and admire the dates as if they were counting down to some future event, all partnered up in artwork duos, twin-sets of thick printed double colours. That’s the Eiderdown Way. All releases on cassette tape, some available, some sold out. But all put together they remind me of a comic book strip, that goes like this:

a story of rats

A Story of Rats / Hellvette – Split (Eiderdown Records 2012) Split tape and digital album

Track one: The ‘deep vibes scene’ of the Pacific Northwest, Garek Druss & James Woodhead: AKA A Story of Rats & other. 19 min’s wandering thru the last route taken by Laura Palmer. Deep swells, UFO’s, tremolo sap greening bright fluorescent, and a few ghostly voices. Melody breaks the inhuman sphere. The clearing. A tongue comes in. It’s backwards looking. Opens up into protocol. The humans are coming.. .

A soft plod. Menagerie of grey-tailed parrots applying pressure to their own necks. Reminds me.

Tracks two – five: Before I know it we have skipped a few miles. It is SYLVESTER ANFANG ‘s Glen Steenkist. The accordion swells. If it is that at all. It is an air organ. Swirling. Hypnotic. Cathedral.

You’ve just got to slow down, space your letters, don’t dash your punctuation, don’t join up, half-it.

It stops, for once. It’s retrospect. Harvest-like. Shuttered backwards through a field of maize. Sunshine. Leaving tracks in the floor. A newly formed memory. Slightly disintegrating. Moving downwards. To the place of forgotten dreams. And sly bubbles. And synths. And something in between the air gland again & the well-rounded little option on a keyboard (I miss those). Hermes continues to smile from the wall out there. As always, but this time craning low. A bunch of fairytales beside him. Half broken, half working; illuminating. By a battery box. – TIME – bowed banjo, harmonium, tampura, and Casio. There you go.

Cassette SOLD OUT. Super limited “bootleg” version cassette: All tracks dubbed on one side of a 100 min cassette. Side B left blank for you to dub your own music on it.

gonzales

Gonzalez & Steenkiste – Stuffed With The Down Of The Eider (Eiderdown Records 2012) Tape and digital album

Three tracks.  Track one; bowed metal and air. The sense of circular gestures, I imagine it to be calming. Physical. Tactile. Not synthetic. Not synthesized. But in volume. Loopified. Pulling at two threads. Stop.

A tune in the dried up grass. Gentle. Concerned for each other, in a non-charitable way. Like brothers.  Striving to make things better, in a tiny microcosm on a field. Surrounded by houses. Displaced. Cancelling out the manufactured skyline.

The breathing exercises continue. Made public. Like a cut in time. I get to thinking about how we are not free. That free-will and potentiality are just different words for chance and chaos. Walking the line, as if being tested by a police officer. The bright blue strand of lineage. The cat-eyes that light up the road.

Closing the window for a while because it is my right, or option. To be in the world or to halt. And world a place right here, right now. Worlding the moment you retreat from “them”. And encounter “them” in another place. The transportation of music has made it possible for us to be with others. With their dreams. Their fantasies. Their drives. I am listening to the sound of a man scrape the walls of a metal cave, I can even hear the monkeys outside in the jungle. Is it a ritual?

I look at the vent half plastered over in the far side of the wall. Is it an attempt to cover up the vent? In wavy lines. An ornate pattern of holes that I had never noticed before.

I become aware of my pace. My punctuation. My breath. Picking up tiny mounds of wisdom along the way. That I rattle imperceptibly in my hand. My fingers aware of the air. Correcting myself. I like how this music compresses the air, as if it were being played as an accordion itself. Pleated time and space crumpling and expanding in designed concertinas.

They are Belgians, these too. The Anfang guy again with Ernesto Gonzalez. Released in 2012 and all SOLD OUT. Makes you think of the bliss of the ‘original’, that we all, seemingly unwitting or not, follow. The glow of the most bitter and finest. Tinsel like. This is an attempt at redemption. I mean to say an attempt to speak thru the Distorian. Through the hand that muffles your snout. The internet soon breaks. We’re all left alone on a cloud. Unable to talk. Unable to speak to each other. In Australia. Bites hard, the fingers tapping down. Predicting the past. A bend in the pipe. And then a hard finish. Which makes me impressed with that. Like an orphaned duckling.

Bootleg version still available: All tracks dubbed on one side of a 100 min cassette. Side B left blank for you to dub your own music on it.

Hound Dog Taylor

Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand – Live at the Comet (Eiderdown Records 2014) Tape and digital album

Hound Dog Taylor throws a rusty old bike into a lake of river water that’s swept into town (see, we can play with time – it’s guitar and drums). I’ve become anxious.

What is this non-existent howling coming from the courtyard outside?

Good, I’ve become sentient again. Climax Golden Twins man Jeffery Taylor has been jamming with Ostrowski & Seman. There’s double bass.

First ever release by Seattle’s secret weapon against the tech squares and yuppie droolers! . . “Live At The Comet” is a document from a town that doesn’t even know what’s good for it” – says Eiderdown Records.

 Windows open and close quite energetically upstairs. Pain fecks (or paint flecks) rain down. The hairdryer or likewise is activated. No, it’s definitely a deliberate hoover. Aggressively cleaning the hallways upstairs. I am confronted and close huddled to these kinds of sonic events that ring down thru the courtyard that amplifies micro-details like the squawking of the birds and that same mans laughter. Just breath in time with the words, said to the cleaner. And slam the brakes down on these old walls. Everyone is in silence.

Cassette available (with perhaps the coolest artwork of them all)

woven skull

Woven Skull – Emissions from Sun Bleached Brains (Eiderdown Records 2015) Tape and digital album

 (Aonghus: Guitar, bells, field recordings, Gamelan, wooden flute. Natalia: Mandola, Gamelan, Scrap metal, wooden flute. Willie: Percussion, Gamelan, Wooden flute. With others. Recorded between 2013 & 2014 in Drumnadubber. Antwerpp. Occii. Amsterdam. Queens University. Belfast)

 This is one of the tapes I have between my fingers. I begin down this twisted path. The trees make tunnels. Rain. Sudden and reliable. The most soothing of all waters. The mystery remains. They are Irish. I begin to satisfy my laziness. The day becomes an option. We have entered sacred territory now. Time is better. It is not so frightening. The walls become a healthy option. Like some decision made centuries ago. I turn the corner slightly. The course of the future. It’s all a game now. With no winners, only players. I zone in on the voice now and it startles me. Something has entered the realm, or I have left. This is magical realism. An invocation of the artistry. The artisans of past. The Old Ones. Who knew how to operate the forest. And the seas. The Old Ones who have come to look at their children. And what they have done. It’s the smoke from waste incinerators that seems to make our environs clean and pleasant to be around and in. I live for those drums. That synchronisation. Something faintly emerging from it. That sounds like a voice. And then it gracefully ends. Somehow we have entered the last third of the second track. I wonder if this is numeric. There’s moss growing where it shouldn’t be. We should not hack this of life. The earth is an emerging artwork. Only seen by our worlded eyes.

  • The Uncertain Shuffle / A Sweeping Minion And A Man-Made Goat / A Toad Till Now.
  • First Three, Then Seven / Stoned Teenage, Listening To Tangerine Dream (part 2) The Quivering Few.

 Cassette available

bird people

Bird People – Down of the Hasma (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album

 ‘The bird-hipped group’. Is the first thing I wrote of this. Whilst I was reading about T-Rex & Britain (that fictional island). Working in the sewers. Having a genuine holiday whilst listening to this release. That’s from 2016.

Our future in the sun. Hanging off the edge. Dangling. The dam synchronicity. The bell taunts from a newly formed occasional windows message. At precisely the same time. We have taken some few steps towards the opening of another dimension. And we walk thru it confidently. We make a quick promise to take it with us wherever we go. And that is a little one of the magic’s of musical ‘stuff’. We kinda touch fingers, and everything becomes a little bit shorter. A little bit more.

(I will talk about artist Jake Blanchard, who’s made the imagery for the tape, later.)

Bird People are from Vienna. Turns out there is myth-istry in the duck and the Eider. Something about the Hamsa. Someone wants to go back.

 Lap steel guitar, electric bass, voice, cello, fiddle, sitar, shruti box, gong, percussion, bansuri, alto sax, harmonica, oscillator, and bells. From 14/15. Winter. Uli Rois, Roy Culbertson III, Réka Kutas, Steffi Neuhuber and Lucas Henao Serna.

It’s still bellowing. With string and air. It’s like a wooden Nintendo-65.

There’s some sitar now. And the soothing bellows. The drone again. Who would have known that a sub-genre would become equated with these creepy little entities that we’ll have to become acquainted with very soon. Or else live in the shadow of a shadow world.

Chewed up India. Mixed up with America. Something rustic about this introspection. It’s still whirling. On a pleasant Easter afternoon.

It’s all gone Jungle Book, one of the best. We’re still here. I feel as though I am looking backwards at a marathon I have just run. I put on the shawl of India. And sit here, in Brighton. As the music has ended. And the seagulls talk in increasingly complex fashion.

 Cassette available

gregg skloff

Gregg Skloff – The Glacial Enclosure (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album

 Cryptic contrabass, ‘objects’ and ‘effects’. Olympia WA. 2014. Nehring on artwork. Weathers on the Master. At the Little Blue House by Kevin Doria.

What is this? And who are you? Are questions bought to mind when I’m tapping. Gregg Skloff. The time flies by right throughout the day. I pay close attention to the keys, as they are always present: dangling. Puts me in the oeuvre of ‘Miasmah Records’ in Scandinavia, Norway.

I feel the lineage, a rope in the blizzard. Pipes, wooden pipes with reverb stuck on them. WITHIN. BENEATH. OVER. AFTER. THE GLACIAL ENCLOSURE. The scoop calls closure. They go on. They’ve got echoes to catch up with.

Decriminalise human behaviour. We will continue on. It is drone. It is a discipline. It is to see into the future. It is all about time. And the stretching of time. Somehow thru sound. The making of sound physical. As it has always been. Imperceptiblebeginnings to track three that lush into a private and introspective hum, one that’s just for yourself. Not the kind of music, as has been said before, to play with companions. This is private music. For you, and you only. It’s all gone silent.

Cassette available

 jake b

Jake Blanchard – Colour Discolour (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album

Keeps goin’.

Scissor snaps. Sundays blur into Sundays. And then the rain shifts, he’s doing something mathematically wet. They’ve stolen the duck tunes. It’s of no use to them. Intermittent.

Quite relaxing for this supposed Brighton Beach scenario, where I’m all holed up in a basement. That’s the way it is.

It’s pretty, this. Like jewelry. Where are they when you need them? A reddish ecstatic.

Intermittent: joyous snake. Digitized. Searching the horizon for home.

The line blinks. We’re still here. I am watching ‘Arrival’. Long drones let us know we are here. The eyes set downwards. “You can do this”.

Released in 2016 with some nice pink and green screen-print of a mammal on a tree.

Pigment // The Witches horse-Block // Distant Migration

“Electrifying shahi baaja and other contraptions”

 Cassette available

 bent

Bent Pyramid Trio/ The Shouts From the Sea – Split (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album

 (BPT. Ambrosia Bartosek. Voice & Electricity. James McClellan. Reed & Floor work. Adam Svenson. String & Metal. Recorded live at Hollow Earth radio for Magmafest Eiderdown Sound Salon. 3 – 2015 / TSFTS. Patrik Cain & Phong Tran. Recorded “live” at Richmond House. January 2016)

 A twitch. It’s sounding right now. I check to see if the world is still closed off. I will continue as long as you have my hands bound behind my back. Conducting my business as usual. Tinkering. The bells. A stroke of genius. Wistful. Because they cannot make noises. It’s two tracks. One from Bent Pyramid called “Three points”, one from The Shouts From The Sea called “Untitled.  Swinging, jostling. These are faint and warbling. Lots of little sounds.

A device in your hand. Some kind of Walkman. Encouraging. Enthusiasm, tempered by the physical properties of metal. And clapping hands.

Tinkering about in loops. And beating. Breaks into my kind of rhythm. The one you dread to describe, or pin down. It’s nice now that there are voices travelling backwards. A siren winding down. At night. Something squeezing past the alleyway. The bits of rubber. Elongated waste. Quite erratically whirling around. Gurgling. Ascending. I leave it be. There is a siren. It cannot be! Plucks us into ‘The Breathing’.

Blue & purple artwork of a three faced naked Cyclops-persona.

 Cassette available

prana crafter

Prana Crafter – Mindstreamblessing (Eiderdown Records 2017) Tape and digital album

Very beautiful, sounds live at the start. Reminds me of Mayonnaise. The day belongs pretty much to us. Let’s walk along the path of honesty. Find out what music can do to you. Softly softly. Whilst cutting a filthy figure. Digits roll down. You’ve burnt your tongue. Like a cloud, splintering at the seam. Always looking a little bit further past the rift. Each track distinct. A new mood. Impressed upon you. I’d forgotten what a good nights sleep felt like. My limbs, like Luminous Clouds. It’s a bright and chilly Easter Monday morning in this part of the world. I forget it is The Year of the Rabbit, mist rolling in over The Downs. Joined with me is Prana Crafter aka Will Soll, gusting by my left, but your right shoulder (an enduring riddle). I leave the rest up to fate…

At Agartha’s Gate // As The Weather Commands // Praina Pines // MindStreamBlessing // Luminous Clouds // Bardo Nectar

Purple and green picture of a four-poster bed with a tree in it and a lizard on top in some fantastical volcanic landscape.

 Cassette available

 somesuprises

Somesurprises – Serious Dreams (Eiderdown Records 2017) Tape and digital album

The guitar plucks intro is reminiscent of Hope Sandoval (yes, Joe – I told you I wouldn’t use comparisons) – but whilst we’re at it, Marissa Nadler too. The peach guttural of Cat Power. That phonic embrace, the mouthing of the words.

Now, for a certain disposition at times, I would say that this constellation of invocations may actually serve a purpose for people like me. If you are like me. And like Cat Power et al. All standing in a circle holding hands. Sisterhood.

 Noun: a quasilegendary nymph of the Rhine who lured sailors to shipwreck on her rock by singing: a creation of Clemens Brentano in a poem of 1800.

Strumming my arteries, this is a nice sensation. I feel as though I could welcome anyone in right now, to tea & cake & some surprises. I look like shit, I feel like shit, but this is civilized. No-one will suspect me.

It is beautiful, and past-tense, and hurrying back in time. Infinitely sad. In a retrograde way that you will recognize when you see it. Like this sadness has always been around; I only just noticed it. I only just read the news today. I*just* didn’t have the time to think about it. Somesurprises here are trying to think of things that make me sad. And introverted. But I blame it on the news and turn away. ‘Cause I know I’ll be coming back to this one solely because of my disposition. It is undeniably beautiful. [A past commentary].

Part two of the aforementioned landscape mini series. This time it’s a pile of alphabetty-style bone things with a chimney bit ontop that is smoking and a river in the foreground. El-Sergany & Medina w. Luelle. Washington.

Eiderdown says: “late night sound epitomized…true hypnagogic odes to the spaces in between dreams and reality, form and fiction”

mayor skipped town / srs drms // late july // all my failures // low on sleep // 21st century cigarette.

Cassette available.

Thanx Eiderdown Records in Seattle for occupying my mind for the last month or so with spiraled curly audio-forms and carefully chosen relics from the distant present-era.

Next up is an ECLAT (Every Contact Leaves A Trace) special for May: ‘The Year of the Waking Machine’.

We leave you with this month’s installment of pavement topics:

THE APRIL STREETS EPISODE

“You’ve fooled me time and time again, Brer Rabbit, but now it’s my turn to pay you back. I’m going to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget and when I’ve finished we’re going to eat you for supper.” With that Mr Man called his daughter to guard Brer Rabbit and stamped off angrily up the garden path. Brer Rabbit stayed very quiet until Mr Man was out of earshot. Then, to the little girl’s surprise he began to sing. In those days Brer Rabbit was a very good singer, though not many people were aware of the fact. The little girl was delighted and as soon as he had finished she begged him to sing some more. Brer Rabbit coughed harshly. “Oh I don’t think I can sing any more, little girl. You know I haven’t been well at all and I don’t want to damage my chest. “ “Oh please, Brer Rabbit. Just one more.” “Impossible, I’m afraid. I could dance for you instead of course. There’s nothing wrong with my legs and you may not believe it but I dance even better than I sing.” “Yes please, Brer Rabbit. Oh yes, do dance, I’d like that.” “Not possible, unfortunately.” “Oh please,” said the little girl. “Just look at me. How do you think I can dance trussed up like this? I can hardly waggle my ears let alone move my legs.” “Let me untie you then,” said the little girl. “You can if you like,” said Brer Rabbit coolly. The little girl bent down and untied all the knots in the fishing line – and Brer Rabbit was free again. He looked around cautiously for any sign of Mr Man, but he was still busy in the house. Brer Rabbit did a rapid pirouette. “Just watch me dance, little girl,” he shouted as he raced for the garden gate. And Brer Rabbit danced all the way home.

See?

Eiderdown Records

-ooOOoo-

 

languidly hedonistic: keir neuringer and matthew wright, dale cornish, spoils & relics

April 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Keir Neuringer and Matthew Wright – Speak Cities (Extra Normal Records)

Dale Cornish – Cut Sleeve (Halcyon Veil)

Spoils & Relics – Threadbare Adult Life (Second Sleep)

keir neuringer matt wright Keir Neuringer and Matthew Wright – Speak Cities (Extra Normal Records) CD-R

Saxophone and turntable duo reaching into the soul of improvisation.

I’ve been wary of electro acoustic pairings for a little while now – as ever my beef is with technology – so the acoustic seemed to get swamped with the electro and it all became noodling with knobs on.

Not so here on this project from Keir Neuringer (saxes) and Matthew Wright (turntable, computer) that gets the balance perfectly right: Keir’s saxophone is both warm, edgy sighs and full-on honk, joyous and bulbous – with a touch of Ayler’s gospel roots.  Matthew’s turntables imaginatively compliment, re-work and suggest rather than smother in cloying digital sauce.  There’s a light touch and time travelling element as sounds run backwards and repeat on the decks.

Based on improvisations recorded as a duo in Brooklyn then re-sampled and worked on in Canterbury by Matthew the opener ‘Above the Clouds’ is a proud statement of intent – a slowly mutating virus of brassy air and electricity.

The long pieces (three are around quarter of an hour in length) are stuttering slick birdsongs with thin gassy overtones.  They mutate slowly and gracefully, folding in clicks and snitches; iron breath hissed through Talos’ immobile pursed lips.

As ever the devil is in the detail.  Moments of clarity when the busy-fidget swooshes the curtain to one side and presents with an open palm.

“Here.  Look at this…”

…it seems to say, as a new vista is revealed, a fresh clean perspective peering out of the mist teeming with life and insect-scurrying detail.  These brief calm moments create a map of these ornate tessellating sound-pieces.

The sense of movement is palpable.  Like watching leaves jerk in a strong wind, sounds are whipped back and forth with the flexibility afforded by young sap and evolution’s unarguable wisdom.

Bridging the gap between beatnik buzz and technician’s overcoat – perfect dinner party music pre-lift off!

dale cornish

Dale Cornish – Cut Sleeve (Halcyon Veil) sold-out tape and digital download

Sound-placement king and baron of the almost-there; Dale Cornish’s Cut Sleeve sold-out-at-source in a blink of an eye to a switched-on audience.

Both politically angry and languidly hedonistic this ultra minimal slice could have been designed to soundtrack some glistening sci-fi thriller if not foreshadowed by the opener ‘Status 2016’ where a wrecked-electric voice tells us, “In 2016 it is illegal to be gay in approximately 75 nations and regions around the world.”

From then on each sound wobbles with history and heavy intention.

This is a brief record.  No track clears the 3 minute 30 mark but this brevity comes with a deepness and sturdy attention to detail.  ‘LW’ spirals down a wormhole with its one-note bass and endlessly brassy high-hat shimmer.  As if to compete ‘Infix’ introduces a one/two/one/two rhythm-collapse highlighting tiny details in the metallic decay built, or rather knitted, like scabs around the central theme.

Almost a third of ‘Vauxhall’ is a single thin whistle through minty teeth.  Then the milkman is interrupted with haunted snare pops; some electronic damper making each bong hit dank and sticky.

This EP ends with one of Dale’s most impressively warped vocal pieces.  The slo-mo slurp of some repeated phrase slops about between my ears poked through with bright handclaps, occasionally arranged in duos, triplets and quartets.  The ‘Emperor Ai’ of the title is described – perhaps in a cautionary fable but so cunningly and comprehensively mashed I’m left rewinding again and again.

Does this track really end suggesting “rather than buy blubber awake” or are sarcastic laffs that echo in my headphones meant for me?

Breathless am I.

THREADBAREADULTLIFESpoils & Relics – Threadbare Adult Life (Second Sleep) 4 x cassette tape

Damn inscrutable non-music from that most considered of trios – Spoils and Relics.

But before I disappear into a black hole in trying to describe music that denies narrative (see RFM 19th Feb 2014 for Rob Hayler’s excellent thoughts on S&R) a few words on what we actually have here.

If you buy one limited edition, multi-tape boxset this year surely this is the one to grab.  The four lengthy cassettes are groaning with eight full sides of sonic spoils dating back to 2005 (possibly).  The handsome box holds these tapes snug as possums, the insert is cryptically poetic and the weirdly unfathomable artwork is just super-dandy on my rheumy eyes.

Tape one, ‘Rose Tinted (Works 2005 – 2008)’ is a wander by the canal.  Old lock machinery is rusted shut, bright green moss grows up the walls of an underpass; the court buildings are surrounded with smokers and lone men shouting into mobiles. I suppose what I am trying to say here is this is an urban sound, a human sound teeming with busy life in all its forms – from the wild ecstasy of teenage girl-gangs to the yellow finger-nailed grimness of the loner outsider.  A concentrated listen is rewarded as the disparate action-painting (in sound) comes together in peaks – an 8 mm film projector’s delicate and patient click, a voice interrupted or a rush of organ swell.

The spooks of tape are revealed on ‘Packhorse Re-view’, the second cassette that is altogether more spectral than its feisty companion.  Things are left to grow slowly, virus like, as taped interjections (fast forward scree, gritty capstan rattling, earphone socket crackle) are smeared liberally between my sensitive lugs.  The sound of the sound comes to the fore creating layers of sweet hiss and miniature thunder-rumble.  There’s a genius hand on the edit button here by the way – with some movements ending in an abrupt click and others mashed together building a complexity of huss until it all fades to the sound of sweeping leaves.

The power of the indistinct is celebrated on ‘Forgotten Four Way ’ as a thin quavering tone struggles to keep itself from breaking up.  Almost-sounds flitter in and out of focus, partial and half-formed, nothing is allowed to settle for too long.  A constant churn of soft and gentle, an avalanche of chinchilla fur, envelopes an unsuspecting listener warming the cockles like a fine brandy.  But that’s not to say this third cassette is without jeopardy.  Side B starts out with some expert tape-juggle and pretty goofy vocal jaxx that fades into a bloody accordion!  Decorum is quickly restored as super-fast-but-smooth edits reference grandfather clocks, swirling drains, old-style Hollywood and descending keyboard shifts.

Typically there is no conclusive judder to ‘Assembly of Mansfield’ the fourth and final tape in this quartet.  To my ears it seems more voice-based mimicking the sigh of soft breath and pink-squelch of an oesophagus without recourse to amateur endoscope violation.  The timing is sharp as Harold Lloyd’s with each ‘click’ and shuffle exactly in the right place.  Side B reveals some curious slapstick with a dry panting being commented on, “is that a dog?” a deadpan voice declares as we become buried in a malfunctioning toy sending out  sporadic hisses and electronic spurts.

The final few minutes of this tape are almost a montage of everything you’ve heard already but cut shorter and in decreasing level of volume so electronic ‘pips’ and tones melt into milkshake slurp then peter out like the tiniest vinyl crackle.

After listening to such a lengthy and intense set of recordings I’m not sure I can think of any colourful or witty general theme – this is music that simply ‘is’, or if you choose not to, ‘isn’t’.  It doesn’t use fancy equipment or rely on difficult technique – it’s about ears and fingers and the interplay between confident players who trust each other.

And then it dawned on me! What could have been dry, bloodless academic music – something that aspired to musique concrete aspirations is refreshingly removed.  This is No Audience Punk to the New Wave of the pre-packed, non-threatening experimental gravy train.

Neat Neat Neat.

Extra Normal Records

Halcyon Veil

Second Sleep

-ooOOOoo-

abstract ivory plonk: zoe polanski, various hyster artists & robert ridley-shackleton

April 11, 2017 at 7:13 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Zoe Polanski – Inertia. Music from the Motion Picture (Hyster Tapes)

Various Artists- L’Incoronazione (Hyster Tapes)

Robert Ridley Shackelton – Atlas Banghouse (Cardboard Club)

Robert Ridley Shackelton – 0800 NEW CARD (Cardboard Club)

Hyster Zoe Zoe Polanski – Inertia. Music from the Motion Picture (Hyster Tapes) C40 one-sided & recycled tape

Real film vs fake soundtrack // fake film vs real soundtrack  // real film vs real soundtrack // fake film vs fake soundtrack

I started to ponder this conundrum and then just gave up.  This may or may not be a Zoe Polanski or a further pseudonym – Bela Tar – but what this is, 100% truthfully, is one damn fine tape of pushed-out synth/sampler swoop with the buttons taped down on the ‘ecstatic strings’ option.

Imagine taking one split micro-second of 10CC’s ‘I’m not in love’ and smearing that Brummy ‘ahhhhhhh’ all over 20 minutes of atmospheric and recycled tape.  Imagine catching a drip of MBV’s sampler-drek ‘hhuuuhhuuu’ and coating your atmos with that saucy ferric message.

Capiche?

Like an endless happy yawn the constant dragging of the orchestra pit makes me sleepy and lightheaded…but for such a brief soundtrack, moods and motifs keep emerging so I’m also on caffeine-soaked red alert.

The two note breathy faux-voice crops up hystering across the mix like a sea cow or something in ‘Mother’s Theme’.  A sepia-stained, 6th generation dub of (perhaps) a smoke-filled cinema organ adds rhythm to the beautiful yet creepy ‘TV Nightmare’.

Hyster Comp

Various Artists- L’Incoronazione (Hyster Tapes) C20 recycled tape

More ultra-lo-fi tape scrapings from the House of Hyster.

My copy is taped over a ‘Pallo Punainen’ release but sounds excellent and full and wobbly, especially as DEAR BELOVED HENRY hawk out a couple of wonderful untitled tracks that seem to bridge the gap between Gastr Del Sol’s sweetly-composed minimal whimsy and the raw burst of anger unleashed when you realise your car’s been nicked.

No clues as to what turns on DEBT OF NATURE  – bird sounds and cicada-menace haunt their dismal keyboard slouch like teenagers forced to go to Sunday School.  They may tit about in the kitchen but the leavings are pure Lambkin.

Irregular tappings and knocks play us out the first side with R.S.T. seemingly rattling some old rubber-junk while a tape of Max Roach gets more and more distorted in one ear.

Old school hock-rockers GREY PARK reveal a decayed piano tune that doesn’t even reach the 3 minute mark but for me could have continued all afternoon – abstract ivory plonk – what’s not to love?

Without a single Ray Davies riff the AUTUMN APPRECIATION SOCIETY sweep up a baffling collection of grim found sound and added scuzz-electronics.  If this is an autumn scene in Finland then it seems to be heavily industrial Snow-Plows clunking apart to transform into gilded robots.

You looking for proper Northern European, DIY, no-audience, no-frills tape action reader?  Be sure to check out the Hyster.

RRS Atlas Banghouse

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Atlas Banghouse (Cardboard Club) C30 tape and digital album

It’s no wonder Robert Ridley-Shackleton’s recent move to the thrillingly vibrant city of Bristol has accelerated a change in his distinct ‘pocket-jazz’ sound.  Bristol has long since produced hip outsiders and wierdos to bother the mainstream; now the N-AU get’s a new Bristol lickin’.

In recent conversation with the Cardboard Prince he spilled that Techno was a great and deep love and I’m delighted to report this banger is technological with a distinct hissy twist.

Thin claves and handclaps are a shifting matrix for some pretty heavy squelching and hollow plastic thumping.  In particular ‘No Peaking’ moves jigsaw pieces of rhythm so they fit neat and tight – then wrench them apart so the percussive tabs and blanks get bent out of shape and deformed.

Side two opens with ‘Don’t Worry’ –  a donk, most certainly, ‘on it’ bleating in the sort of time signature Sunny Murray would love as the pots get twisted, letting soft grease flood the headphones.

Fans of the RRS old-school sound need not worry as the subtle and strangely euphoric sounds of the inside of his tape recorder and stressed fruit punnets are writ large on ‘The Ohh Ahh and ‘Duplo goes Chatty Crazy.’

But it’s the closer ‘Birthday Card’ that melds the fine granular huss of classic RRS with the nu-skool beats in new and dangerously exciting ways.

“I think it’s about 140 BPM I think…if you were wondering.”

The Prince helpfully tells us as a feeble clip-clop-clip-clop makes this more paranoid-Fall-album-interlude than filthy-Detroit-floor-filler.

Crackle, crackle…scooouuurrrrrr….hummm (with added sniff).

RRS New card

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – 0800 NEW CARD (Cardboard Club) tape and digital album

Seven new tracks from the Cardboard Prince.  In praise of the skeletal style a skeletal review.

  • 0800 New Card – Brittle drum machines are back / Phat keytar is back / Sex Rap is back
  • Eye Gonna B Rich – Sweet and low tech-experiment-no. The ‘whump’ gets progressively deep
  • Oh Lord – Stream of consciousness, back-room clutter clearance – of the mind. “A microchip or some shit.”
  • My Fashion – 45 seconds of jerry-rigged funk with popgun accents
  • Call me up, Tell me how U feel – delay reaction techno with an ‘I like to party’ baseline
  • Cuz I’m Cool – wrapping party wrench from a sleepy RRS. Dream-logic-plea for Power Rangers
  • Waltz 2016 – Reluctant Jazzie B soundcheck.

Dig a fucking pony!

Hyster Tapes

Cardboard Club

Hyster Both

-ooOOOoo-

menace of feathers: fordell research unit, witchblood, diurnal burdens, downer canada

April 8, 2017 at 5:50 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Fordell Research Unit – Etches of Pain (Invisible City Records)

Witchblood – Xenie (Invisible City Records)

Diurnal Burdens – Inaction / Extinction (Invisible City Records)

Downer Canada – Ares (Power Moves Library)

fordell research unit

Fordell Research Unit – Etches of Pain (Invisible City Records) C45 Tape and digital album

Have I told you about my eyes lately?  It’s the ordinary story…this old guy keeps gets older, bits keep conking out on me – but my eyes?  I need my eyes!

I’m counting out change wrong, I can’t read a bus ticket at all and now these damn tapes have become a blur.  I need to rummage for my specs for any meaningful exchange between tape gunk and brain dump.

The reason I’m telling you this is, for a few weeks, this was written up as ‘that black tape’ in my note book. It took me a long time to notice the subtle grey on black lettering on the j-card – something one of you youngsters could spot at 100 meters no doubt.

My ears are sharp as a bat’s however so each time I played this mysterious monolith I was soon enveloped in the deep, smoky fug of what I recognised as an expert dronester.

Was it a secret butter-fingered Robert Fripp jamming with a sleepy Stephen O’ Malley? Were Jazzfinger scooping treats from their legendary tape library?

And then it slowly swam into focus…in a bleary wobbling font…it’s a Fordell joint.  Of course!

Things start out damn majestic with a shuddering overture as easy and relaxed as soft breathing in your ear.  Cornelia Parker’s flattened brass instruments shuffle themselves into formation on ‘Flying not Jumping’ creating a collapsing house-of-cards effect.

But it’s ‘Heat Death of the Universe’ that shifts these lofty airbourne melodies into pulverising heavy sub-bass Sabbath riffage.  A relentless avalanche, cascading down, down, down…and yet somehow it still remains pretty.

I wonder aloud, “How does he do it?” as the cats sit watching me.

But they soon scatter when ‘Frodell Ferox’ digs even deeper.  It’s a god-damn canal dredger of a track.  Filthy silt is drawn up from a hidden watery grave and held aloft facing an indifferent sun.  Jesus – this is epic stuff, but still…you know, beautiful man.

The B side shimmers macro to micro; from the size of a sparkling infinite universe to the dull silver bubbles swirling in my gin and tonic – it’s all here.

The constant now of ‘The Wrong Train’ is a singular vibrating point dragged out into eternity (quite seriously Horizon need to check this out for their science docs) each moment gently circling a central atom of dust.

The closer ‘Shark’ describes the brain collapse that immediately precedes sleep – a deep submission.  This night-time plummeting is underscored with a slight feathering, like the flex of a fin as it cuts through the dark water.

Truly immense music that echoes the subtle power of the natural world.

[postscript- it was only when I was jamming this tape later, in preparation to watching FRU in Gateshead, I noticed the sneaky Miles pun of the title.  Which reminds me…have I told you about my eyes lately?]

witchblood

Witchblood – Xenie (Invisible City Records) one-sided C70 tape strictly no download

This genius collaboration from Lee ‘Culver’ Stokoe and Lucy ‘Smut’ Johnson takes simple piano and tape drone and using their collective dark alchemy turn it into the purest gold.

This really is one hell of a tape – the handling of such humble materials is exceptional and each piece strikes a different tone on the melancholic memory gong marked ‘summer heartbreak caught in delicious amber’.

There’s an aching to the sound that’s more than the sum of any hiss or lo-fi tape wobble. It’s the marbled end-papers in a leather-bound book, it’s the smell of cigar smoke on a blue velvet jacket.   The sounds are so evocative of longing it is hard for me to not to run off with some Byronesque fancy, all frilly sleeves and a head full of opium.

Example?  A moment on the third piece where one tape of piano gently doubles up with another with the most gorgeous dissonance that made me, quite literally, swoon like a regency dandy.

The fragile and opaque piano clusters merge perfectly with the distant tape grot spluttering away yet they seem to swap foreground and background with a subtle magic – one moment I’m picking out ivory notes descending like doomed men.  In the next the boiling-ink bluster of the tapes scrubs my frontal lobes clean of any other information.

I flop around foolishly anticipating one of ‘my turns’ again and realise I’ve been gloriously witchblooded.

Limited to 50 only and no download (ever) so move quickly to bag this essential release.

diurnal burdens

Diurnal Burdens – Inaction / Extinction (Invisible City Records) C60 Tape and digital album

Superfuckingheavyconceptdrone from king of the amplified barbecue, Ross Scott-Buccleuch.

The sleeve notes are clear this smudged and grimy sound was created from reel-to-reel, no-input mixer and walkmen etc – but a sit down listen, pumped up pretty loud, suggests something more elemental.

The side-long ‘Inaction’ seems to be composed of low pressure ridges or gigantic boulders howled at by monks.  Then things change and become more avian – the magical instinct of migratory birds swooping through thin magnetic fields following graceful arcs of the ocean captured on tape.

It holds that menace of feathers still – a sight to behold but no one wants a quill in the eye!

Flipping it, ‘Extinction’ is slowly decaying leaves: bright reds and yellows leaching their energy back into a grateful Earth.  The movements are more delicate and angelic with an emphasis on collapse and euphoric hypnosis as centres associated with freewill switch off one-by-one.

The long-legged rhythms provided by the loops allow this tape to amble in an exploratory mood – looking in your mood cupboards and checking your emotional temperature before slinking out the backdoor leaving the gas on.

The final few movements are a lazy rumble, worn smooth with use, like a pebble picked up from the banks of the Styx.

Heavier than expected but comfortable – but what is that terrible hunger?

ares downer canada

Downer Canada – Ares (Power Moves Library) CD-r and digital album

Superb gritty tape huss.

Kev Power Moves is really pushing at the boundaries of what is possible in the world of Dictaphone composition right now.  The limitations of micro-cassette have become their signature sound: that decaying roar, the wobble of thin magnetic particles and a mid-range fullness smeared like anchovies on hot toast. Kev takes each element and works it over with a purist’s conviction and a scientist’s ear for granular detail.

This two-piece disc starts and ends with some exquisite pause-button juggling that creates small movements of momentum in sweet binary on/off/on/off.  A constant tape roar is a busy scuttle – half howling winds of Tuva: half teaspoon circling a rough raku bowl that’s punctuated with the occasional cavernous Dub sinkhole.  This negative space punches through the mix like a hypodermic piercing tough skin injecting a rich blossom of carnation red.

This is the sound of the machine itself, not tape as a sound collection medium but tape as an instrument in its own right.  And for roughly 20 minutes, that’s it.  A confident and unfussy buffering as detailed as the dirty margin doodles in a High School Biology text book.  Wonderful!

The second 20 minute piece leads us out of the inner world of Dictaphone mechanics and manipulates real-world sound (all taped of course): water, street noise and rubber-band plucks in a cascade of doppler infinity and shove-button interventions.

The clarity of the plucks decays into an echoing shimmer (Alvin Lucier style) that makes my ear bristles vibrate passionately.  New taped-sound (footsteps, 3rd generation hiss) are introduced with care creating the gentle psychedelic effect induced when a loud sound is suddenly turned off and you can hear the oxygen atoms sigh with relief.

Increasing intense, complex and thoughtful music from the essential sound of Dictaphone Canada!

Invisible City Records

Power Moves Library

-ooOOOoo-

 

more yomp than stroll: socrates martinis, enrique r. palma, richard kamerman, louie rice & daniel bennett

April 4, 2017 at 6:13 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Socrates Martinis – Under the arches of her voice (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Enrique R. Palma – Contenance (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Richard Kamerman – Music for Glassblower’s Studio and Broken Toy Piano (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Louie Rice- 33/45 (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Daniel Bennett – Roil (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

socrates martinis Socrates Martinis – Under the arches of her voice (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) CD and digital album

Richly textured recordings of rumbling mic damage.  Abstract in the extreme, this symphony of hiss and clicks, gritty-roar and deflated muss are edited cruelly with a straight razor.

The quick, decisive cuts that dart between dry hessian rough and oily slipperiness are arresting to say the least.  No sooner does my heart-rate settle into a particular gruff hum then I’m thrown by a high-end squeal or inflatable ping.

Insights?

Track 3, ‘Under the arches of her voice, words explode in blue sparks like gunpowder spilled on candles’ gradually reveals a slender hand dropping plastic cups, the echo of the cloister thick and clouded as mediaeval glass.

To my cloth ears track 4, ‘Under the arches of her voice, horses carry the milk of dawn’  seems the most worked on: an imagination of typists clicking away on MacBook keys, inside the Laundromat, singing bowls rubbed with warm Vaseline.

But its track 6, ‘Under the arches of her voice, the air of summer whistles over the headless statues of the hours’ that stretches out a battered alarm bell’s (?) tinny ring into the most gorgeous fade out you’ll hear today.

But any way you want to slice this dusty fig the power of the scrubbed and polished sonic palate is palpable.

Like stepping down the ladder of the landing vehicle to emerge blinking into the harsh white light of Mars.

enrique palma

Enrique R. Palma – Contenance (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) 3 inch CD

Enrique offers us lucky listeners a passport to an imagined future via the murmurings of some giant data engine.  The sound of one million calculations bouncing from damp connectors and making the valves glow a warm sunset orange.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  The process is important and in this case the process involves Javier Beci on melodica huffing over Enrique’s bowed cymbal and computer morass – the electronic 10101010’s merging seamlessly with that dry breath bruising a vibrating reed.  Simple enough I guess but the resulting bluster can throb wildly like a stubbed toe or smear itself as hot tar covers a pock-marked road.  Gosh…either approach is good for me and I find myself rocking gently to this 20 minute piece never quite relaxing but riding the changes in intensity and clarity…we’re weaving between clearly recorded melodica/cymbal and abstracted NOIZE flickering like a stick pulled across a chain-link fence /or/ a rusty jet taking off /or/ a scrap-yard dog dragging an iron bone across black rivets.

The only un-rawkus moments are the final 3 mins.  Of course this only serves to remind us of the technique and brains behind this operation.  As slack as a Jazzfinger jam, this brief pause in the splintering noise digs deep into the engineering of sound, pulling leavers and oiling the blunt teeth of the many cogs making up this contraption.

File under: magnifying-raindrops-to-better-understand-the-hurricane music.

richard kamerman

Richard Kamerman – Music for Glassblower’s Studio and Broken Toy Piano (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) Cassette and digital album

Blimey!  Ultra-minimal rattle and site specific munge; a real scratcher that makes me go ‘wha?’  And I like it.

Side one – This may well be a glassblowers studio with the fiery ‘husss’ of the blast furnace underpinning some rusty hinges, various droppage and steel-rod clangs along with an almost Lucier-like radio chattering in a room (in a room).  There’s an easy momentum as things get plunged into stuff, utensils are washed and tools are replaced noisily to the tool box.

Side two – The flipside makes me think of a miniature Big Ben, small enough to fit in John Cage’s top pocket along with the pens.  Delicately placed pings humbly peal through a glorious riot of cassette grot.  Ever heavier manners are laid upon the scene until dread is the only emotion vibrating out the stereo.  A happy finish of deeper drone, slow slaps and the faint impression that you’ve left the iron on.

Layers of enigmatic rustle; plateaus of barren shell-noise whistle – this cassette pushes boundaries.

louie riceLouie Rice- 33/45 (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) 7 inch single and digital album

33

Right-to-left dry brillo scours out your ears, bouncing

A slow glutinous train advances from Osaka directly into your weak skull

Onward black snake, advance dark worm!

This hiss that shuffles the shadows, the finger that smears grease on soft bacon

A fumble for tickets means you drop your felt hat

45

More pop than mope, more yomp than stroll

The interior dialogue of a boulder (containing quartz and seams of basalt)

The soft rubber leavings from an erased life-drawing collected in tiny pyramids

Metal Guru? Iron Man?

There’s a great Wurlitzer in the sky hungry for the 3:23 of this perfect un-beat

 

daniel bennett roilDaniel Bennett – Roil (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) CD

This sharp palette of breathtaking sourness makes me realise how sweet and cloying much of today’s music is, as our Daniel is relishing in the zesty and tangy on this quartet of electronic pieces.

The first two tracks ‘Pain’ and ‘Mint’ are forged of elements ranging from thin magnesium to bright electric scissor-kicks.  They unfold like the endless belt on an escalator, gnashing interlocking steel teeth with a relentless energy.  But there is enough black avalanche to please a grim-faced noise fan. For me though the sweet spot comes in the quieter moments: a reflective squeal, an introverted circuit snap, all placed with unknowable logic.

The second pair of tracks take a clubbable twist with the scent of salty bodies writhing on ‘Tennenbaum’ and ‘We’.  The first is a superbly warped beat and bass rumble that’s boiled down until it is almost liquid.  The approach to rhythm is choppy as the Solent with static breakers crashing on a crisp digital shore…

…and on my deckchair I fantasise about FKA Twigs humming over the top of the bit-splicing, waving a tiny foot in a bruised ballet pump.

The closer ‘We’ is a bacchanal; a no-holds-barred ritual in losing one’s shit at 6am in the morning after fourteen hours of hard partying and then ending up in a chill out room with a cyborg Sunn O))) providing the vibes.

Or do you disagree?

 

omft

-ooOOoo-

leery sludge grunt: luke vollar on aqua dentata, cold sore/ libbe matz gang, infernal body and scott mckeating on skullflower

March 31, 2017 at 6:01 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Aqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press)

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading)

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records)

Skullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (Bandcamp Self Release)

 

AquadentataAqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press) CD-R

RFM house favourite, Aqua Dentata returns (well returned last year) with a collection of five untitled pieces that gleam like pebbles on the beach, made smooth by unknown excursions.

A brief soothing hum on the first track carries us elegantly into the meatier fullness of the second track.  Duncan Harrison’s clarinet-gravy provides a delectable jus to the already rich stew of synth-violin and zither.  A nourishing entrée that had your reviewer slack-jawed on the sofa – fast asleep – RFM’s drowsiest writer baby.

Track 3 takes Nigel Tufnel’s ‘simple lines intertwining’ into inner space as hovering robot fireflies bounce around a single blue light in infinite confusion – creepy right?

Track 4 is a prism of light, picking up the dust floating in the air or a music box played backwards through a stained glass window to no-one. I can’t decide which!

Track 5 is the longest; a slow mutating ‘whub’ of blunted tone-smoke to rattle your fillings. A sinister vessel rotates slowly downwards into uncharted depths and shifting arcs of colour and light. The clarinet returns bugle-like as the vessel sinks out of sight.

To summarise –  ‘Oopht.’

 

libbe matz

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading) C30 cassette

Themed around the medical treatment of juvenile delinquents these two artists share a side each on this gnarly tape, presenting some dark electronic meditations on sinister control and repression mechanisms through medication.

The only vocals evident are disturbingly delayed speech lifted from instructional tapes (?) discussing amongst other things Largactyl or Chlorpromazine – anti-psychotic medication with the ability to flatten and pacify with some unpleasant side effects: drooling stiffness and involuntary movements, commonly used to treat psychosis it was / is used in prisons to control aggression.

Libbe Matz Gang’s, ‘Under the Chemical Cosh’ makes explicit its theme as a bruised and persistent sustained tone deviates into the spiked and poisonous sting of a scorpion, crackling with ill intent.

We have moved from the cold-sweat-dread of a general anaesthetic administered by faceless medics with dead eyes and ended up at the wrong end of a sterile corridor in a Dead Ringers style body horror. The high-pitched whine that closes the storm is what you hear as the anaesthetic wears off – you wake alone in surgical gown, slowly sitting up to take-in your grotesquely transformed reflection.

Cold Sore’s track is a grey and eerie bombed-out fug of barbiturate hangover. ‘The Significance of Nothing’ limps into existence as a drowned air-raid alarm sounds forlornly while an impassive female voice rises from the murk, looping in sad resignation.

While the Libbe Matz Gang track seems to represent the panic and terror of a young person in over their head, no longer in control of their actions, the Cold Sore track is the cold sedation of a forced intramuscular injection.  Like being dropped into a restless sleep from which you may never wake.

You are alone, you don’t know where you are, who these people are or what they want.

 

infernal body

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records) Tape

It was a gig at the Leeds Mecca of all No-Audience activity, Wharf Chambers, that I happened across Infernal Body, placed on the bill amongst some familiar names on these pages.

My curiosity had been roused as a pal mentioned they were a Black Metal band and as they took to the stage my black-heart began to sing a little. While not immediately identifiable as an unholy horde, with short hair and sensible jumpers and shirts, they conjured a very satisfying jagged and bitter Black Metal Punk fury.

The singer’s look of utter disgust as he prowled back and forth hawking up a tirade of indecipherable invective flanked by a blast of pounding negative energy had the cold brittle attack of early Darkthrone with episodes of leery sludge grunt.

Of course I picked up their tape, ‘Barren Land’ at the end of the night – feeling its icy grip in my pocket on the bus home felt reeeal good.

The format and less-than-perfect production lends itself to the kvlt vibe. A doomy, ‘Retempered Only in Blood’ sets a distinctly uneasy tone with the ghoulish vocals focusing on loneliness, isolation and self harm (a handy lyric sheet is included) as the rest of the group offer a graveyard ambience of sparse dread before lurching into the punkish ‘Red Impressions’.

There is enough dynamic and variation on offer to prevent it ever slipping into cliché or a tired rehashing of the greats. Indeed the fact that it was recorded in my old stomping ground Armley, a less than salubrious suburb of Leeds makes sense; the grim concrete inner-city smog coming through the pores of the songs like sweat.

I give dark hails to these gents and I hope to hear more work from them soon.

 

skullflowerSkullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (self released – digital download)

Readers out there who don’t follow Matthew Bower’s every move (I mean, for fks sake…c’mon), may  be unaware that he and Samantha Davies are now pretty steadily hammering out the Skullflower / Voltigeurs /Black Sunroof releases via their bandcamp. Gone are the semi-regular CDR missives or black heraldic vinyl relics from the duo that would thankfully see a kind of blue-black bruised daylight through the lightning rod of Volcanic Tongue.

For something of a Skullflower cultist who has long mocked the fetishism of limited edition, fancy-ass physical releases, the lack of faith I’ve had in the duo’s increased digitalisation has been difficult to process. Their work has always been a thing of immersion, grandeur and time-transformative power.  And while I might end up listening to both, a ripped CD or a download, exactly the same way – on my phone – the fact one came from the physical world makes a kind of difference. In my addled reality the fact that it was once ‘solid’ means it has some sort of power over a download. Of course, all of this fancy format flapping is just another bullshit.

Spending time at Skullflower’s website and delving into their bandcamp release images, the ease with which they’ve settled into the use of this digital portal isn’t that surprising. If the images there are to be believed, the duo have constructed a world that merges totems, their own dragon obsessed art, bones, glyphs and their much loved familiars. It’s a world so clearly self-contained and idiosyncratic that the act of popping to Curry’s for some CDRs must seem like a transdimensional leap into the other.

Notwithstanding the ghastly title, Bayou Perfume Advert is a great waking whirl of guitar-bleeding that’s closer to gushing pitchshifted mechanics than fret board hysteria. There’s no reinvention of the wheel in this opening flow; it’s the instant launch of the abstract expanse – vistas revealed, minute details there for the taking.

If Davies and Bower have a trademark move it’s the swift draw-you-in –fade-up. Making the listener instantly Jonah to Skullflower’s whale/wail.  Marvel to the rattling grind of feedback and incense-detritus timbres, the Daddy-long-legs legs guitar lines. A gathering of loops without seams, of patterns that never had a start or finish in the first place, Bayou Perfume Advert is a fully formed thing that shifts like patterns of falling/fallen ash.

With a hallucinatory undertow of Astral Social Club / Sunroof!, the core elements of Bayou Perfume Advert are the free guitar sounds – the circling peregrine soloing. While there’s little clearly defined emotion in what Skullflower do, even when signposted by song titles, there’s definitely a living consciousness in this, more of a reach or a search without a goal.

Pared down to a snappy one liner: it’s a 27 minutes blast of blitzkrieg in stasis…elongated shards of. But how the duo make this sit consistently more entertaining than their peers remains a mystery.

Sure, it’s half an hour long, but it feels (in a good way) like it’s a abyssic gape of time, drawn out in wormhole  minutes. Vital – it’s alive and it draws (probably again for me) comparison to some great shifting wyrm.

Oubourous without end or beginning.

 

Tor Press

Libertatia Overseas Trading

Infernal Body

Skullflower Bandcamp

-ooOOOoo-

human knotty complexity : joe murray on katz mulk, daniel carter/george lyle/fritz welch, downer canada and brb>voicecoil

March 27, 2017 at 6:04 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Katz Mulk – Katzenungen (Sacred Tapes)

Daniel Carter, George Lyle, Fritz Welch – So Long Farewell Repair live at The Glad Cafe (Iorram Records)

Downer Canada – Snarl like a Poem (Power Moves Library)

brb>voicecoil – Cloth White Skin (Muza Muza)

 

katz mulk

Katz Mulk – Katzenungen (Sacred Tapes) C30 Cassette

(i)Introduction

A new project from N-AU stalwarts Ben Knight, Ben Morris and Andrea Kearney* should make the most cynical of listeners burp – but I can report back from my comfortable trench that Pepto Bismol is not, repeat not needed.  This Mulk slips down easy as sherry trifle.

 

(ii)Inputs

Knight continues his imagineer work for a darker-Disney building a domestic palace of half-song and chant.  He adds delicate plonks with increasing grace and moves the air with a palm, then a knee.  And Morris knits these materials into a thread-bare tapestry that celebrates the tiny, the small and the microscopic. Kearney provides the graphic score…

katz mulk 2

(iii)Outputs

Side one: truth bandits, engaging rumble of an outboard motor, the squished goose honk of decaying electronics and wet hiss of traffic.  A voice says ‘squeal, squeal’, a bell rings and tinfoil gets crushed underfoot, a plate spins. Alligator goodbyes!

Side two: roar of a space heater, hectic metallic scrape, a voice battles sense against ripped rubber electronics, taped blister pack wrench overlaid by gentle footsteps. The plumber’s mate fouls up the pipes leading to complex knocking (at the7 min 30 second mark) that is both wet and dry, hard and soft, immediate yet attached to memory.

The end is heralded with the kind of repetition pin-ball/gong-strike/marble rolling I could listen to forever.

(iv)Outcome & Impact

The rare art of listening is engaged in this most rewarding of tapes.  I’m guessing this is a patchwork of ‘live’ and ‘studio’ jamz with the idea of sparse pushed through a nozzle, so the language bacteria grows in a dish; the rattles of accompaniment become as real as altitude ear-pop.

One to catch in a butterfly net no matter what!

*a most fortuitous bumping into Andrea enlightens me that her presence on this tape is purely graphic score construction rather than future-ghost player.  But FFW to the planned Katz Mulk disc on Singing Knives coz itsa trio of all-three-players-playing!

carter lyle welch

Daniel Carter, George Lyle, Fritz Welch – So Long Farewell Repair live at The Glad Cafe (Iorram Records) CD

Real-proper JAZZ chips from this sax/piano, double bass, percussion trio and sadly the last ever recording from Glasgow bass-face George Lyle.

The dials are set for human knotty complexity rather than eviscerating fire and that is all super-smashing-great for me.

It’s like this.  My simple mind is pulled in several directions at once.  George saws an undercurrent of resin-soaked wood so it glows like a fire biding its time.  Fritz supplies the sizzle of gentle rain on the griddle – a liquid bada-bing!  Sax sings for the brassy siren then Daniel moves to a dusty piano playing all the in-notes outwards.

But each piece tightens the jewels further, like when you find the bite on an old socket set and each bolt and nut clicks an extra few revolutions.  This is true open-jaw music that plays the lush valleys between the craggy peaks.

Even the most casual listen reveals ear-gems and brain worms: the guilt marimba, felt ravioli all come seeping out a blowhole and begin rolling around my feet.

But weirdest of all, the closing minutes of ‘News Loom’ seem to suck god-save-the-queen backwards over all the rippled sonic scree.  That can’t be right eh?

Shit! What more do you want me to say?  This threesome are impressive enough as lone gadgies but the sum is most definitely more when all those ears and fingers (and feet) get warm and busy.

Bop it!

downer canada full

Downer Canada – Snarl like a Poem (Power Moves Library) CD-r in classy envelope and free digital download

This slim CD-r is packaged between two pieces of thick card and makes me think that the music is being coddled in some way – like it’s a delicate thing that needs protection from my fat, greasy fingers.

But when played ‘Snarl like a Poem’ is surprisingly robust – a full frequency exploration of brushed steel flux and hissing radiators.  It knocks like the ancient plumbing attached to your old head (a gaseous ghost in the pipes, hurtling through copper joints , whipping right and left) until you are not quite sure what’s going on.

And then…a feedback suite; a feeble keening smooth as marble.  Limp Morse that rolls as a cylinder would over a deep ice puddle yet fuzzy at the edges like someone just smeared my glasses with Vaseline – most agreeable!

Tones on the edge of collapse send oily ripples through my ear canal, a lo-tech Eliane Radigue, until things blister, bubble and pop.

Dry mouth sounds… ‘kah’ and ‘schah’ and ‘khow’ reveal dusty language roots.  Is this the lost speech of the sand-encrusted pharaohs?  Or perhaps a sound poet’s secret  library hiss?

What was once ultra-minimal collects the grit of a classic Dictaphone approach with each surface filled and smoothed-over with fizzing huss.

It fills my head with sweet drizzle!

brbvoicecoil

brb>voicecoil – Cloth White Skin (Muza Muza) C25 Cassette and digital download

The perfectly dank sound that joins the dots between classic long-form drone, field recording and musique concrete.

Kev Wilkinson’s bands Drill, Big Road Breaker and the more recent brb>voicecoil, have been stalwarts of the Newcastle noise/drone scene for as long as I can remember. After years of steady, underground activity his brb>voicecoil delighted a whole new generation in a triumphant performance at last year’s TUSK festival.

This cool-looking tape is the next instalment in an epic story.

Using source material recorded over an 8 year period the side-long title track ‘Cloth White Skin’ weaves an arcane industrial process (cast-iron rollers flattening bone fragments / blast furnace being stoked with terrible energy / huge tumbling spikes) with the spluttering of cold liquid metal and the distant thunder of Xipe Totec .

But it’s not all spitting-bluster.  The final short movement is an introspective shudder, a ‘someone’s-just-walked-over-my-grave’ uneasiness of rusty tin slowly coming to rest.

The itchy rhythm of ‘Crack Vessel’ mimics exactly the enamel rattling of a child’s tooth in a jam jar.   The accompanying offset, slopped-shunts of sound remind me of dancers limping after brutal rehearsals, all sore toes, ripped calves and swollen ankles.

The closer, an aptly named ‘Vent 2’ treats us to a Heath-Robinson industrial scene.  Grey gas escapes under enormous pressure from cracked terracotta pipes.  The hullabaloo flips a series of leather coated buttons to perform an organic, irregular beat.  The surrounding soundscape is crisp with busy electric crackles and fades into one lone drummer drumming.

A taste of the grim future?  Automation gone loco?

Regard the prophetic warnings of brb>voicecoil!

Sacred Tapes

Iorram Records

Power Moves Library

Muza Muza

-ooOOOoo-

pick-up truck vocabulary: joe murray on crow versus crow, faniel dord, stefan jaworzyn/dylan nyoukis/seymour glass, the tenses & bren’t lewiis ensemble and the viper

March 17, 2017 at 8:37 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Crow Versus Crow – States (Crow Versus Crow Editions)

Faniel Dord – Faniel Dord (Dante’s Ashtray)

Stefan Jaworzyn, Dylan Nyoukis, Seymour Glass – My Disgusting Heart (Chocolate Monk)

The Tenses & Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Daughter of the Boot (Chocolate Monk)

The Viper – Art for Pain’s Sake (BUFMS)

 states 3

Crow Versus Crow – States (Crow Versus Crow Editions) 3 inch CD and 20 page art-zine photo booklet

This beautiful package comes sandwiched between plain grey heavystock card; the sombre plainness a reaction to the vibrant colour inside perhaps?

I’ll start with the sound.  The disc contains 17 minutes of the real Americana collected by Andy Crow on his 2016 road trip to southern states of the USA (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia – fact fans).  As you’d imagine there is a rejection of any field recording cliché – this is pure extraction music with no toothless fiddle or Grand Ole Opry in sight.

State/states/state…

It’s a subtle and slow movement for sure: the opening static crackles makes way for a woven pattern of cicada’s rhythmic rustle and the liquid whoosh of passing cars. An occasional maraca-shake could be a deadly rattlesnake.  The  ‘tich-th’ of the owl a hi-hat sizzle that reeks of baked desert heat and sonic shimmer.  But rather then present this slack-jawed and unexamined the mix builds a hidden momentum through increasing the thread count and rippling the fabric with a deft thumb.

The final movement drags lazy ears into unapologetic high-performance mode.  A lonely buzzard calls out across the valley – the sound of the air around the recorder fizzes with unknowable purpose.  An excitable preacher (my guess is via battered radio rather than a gaudy TV) adds the sort of paranoid verbals African Head Charge favoured era Songs of Praise.

It is of course a suggestion piece – with no literals to hang your baseball cap on the imagination picks up tiny clues and builds a personal narrative from the crumbs.  My reality is not Mr Crow’s but what we now share is a gas station dream, a pick-up truck vocabulary.

States/state/states…

CVC states

But as well as his ears he’s brought his eyes.  Eyes that spy detail in the trash and the unloved, beauty in the unused and plain old decrepit.

It’s almost impossible to look at the booklet without adding today’s awful political charge and context but a deep breath helps to remember a time before this extra ladle of madness soup soured what was the American dream.

People are absent, but the hands of the hardworking and decent, the just making do, are all over these gorgeous images.

As Crow’s lens is drawn to the weather-beaten and well used the inference is communal – we are joined by the codes of work and play.  And even when the work has gone and the players drifted home the traces we leave are still good.  Not necessarily grand or initially impressive but honest and modest and well-intentioned.

cvc states 2

Railway tracks vanish to a point, exposed brickwork bakes in the sun and corrugated metal rusts like soft brown blooms.  A single word ‘sorry’ is inked onto a door frame.

States shows a land waiting for interpretation, a mythology waiting to be written.

 

faniel dord

Faniel Dord – Faniel Dord (Dante’s Ashtray) CD-R

The Scouser Sun City Girl deals us a full-deck of deranged approaches on this tasty self-titled release.

Micro-songs are played on dodgy keyboard, beer-stained piano and battered guitar then dripped though a lo-fi studio set up that adds a delightful scruffy edge to these enigmatic pieces.

Some arrive fully-formed; dripping with sarcasm and uncomfortable political questions like a Mersybeat Porest.

Others riff –out a tune that has always seemed to exist somewhere behind my ear until the mighty Faniel has just shucked it out with a blunt knife (for evidence see My Bowl of Skulls).

The shadow of Edward Lear inhabits Dord’s world in both word and deed.  A lover of scatological shock and the innocently odd –  both ends of the stick are jammed in the jellyfish mouth until the protoplasm pops.

But of course it’s not all yuks, ‘Zaidida’ concludes in deep Rembetika sorrow after a frantic three minutes and ‘Medusa’s gone Digital’ warns the Gorgons and their ilk the dangers of modern life – something I don’t think we do quite enough of.

Fans of Derek and Clive take note and click.

nyoukis etc (1)

Stefan Jaworzyn, Dylan Nyoukis, Seymour Glass – My Disgusting Heart (Chocolate Monk) CD-R

Shock!

I never expected Jaworzyn, that long-haired, six-string Ascension/Skullflower wire-wrangler on this kinda gob-jaxx (see Nyoukis) / tape-huss (see Glass) melange.  But more fool me eh? The iron banjo adds some rich, metallic DNA to this most lovable of three-ways.

Stunning!!

Opener ‘Frozen Tombs of Siberia’ is a medium-sized panic attack; part elephant seal growl, part rattling coffin nails, but all Skippy the Kangaroo incidental music.  As you’d expect from these experienced heads the pace is stately, elements of bubbling vowel or chopped-to-john-o-groats guitar placed in a sonic Battenberg with a similar marzipan roughness.  The closing seconds of this jam re-imagine a Tardis’ asthmatic ‘whump-whump’. Calling all BBC commissioning editors – get these lads in – you’ve been warned!

Astonishment!!!

Song title of the week is well and truly won by ‘Dirty Owl Teat’ and works like one of them Scandinavian open sandwiches.

  • (rye cracker base) slow-mould guitar wrench, harmonic pimples and drumlins, a yeast of amp hum…
  • (smoked herring topping) an expression of joy hissed through side-mouth bibbles, coughs and spaniel-like panting.  Occasional v-words are the glace cherry.

And the Smorgasbord analogy still holds for ‘Slowest Emergency Team’ with oodles more tape-frot.

But it’s the closer ‘Gang-related Sneezing’ that really quivers my liver.  This modest track is a stop-start-stop-start wrecking ball of un-sense tape-slivers.  Neatly delivered in finely measured bursts that defy any conventional rhythm; pretty soon my arms and legs are tied up in Twister-esque contortions.

A test-card for the mind or an essential document of new solutions?

Whisper your answer in my hot pink shell.

the tenses

The Tenses & Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Daughter of the Boot (Chocolate Monk) CD-R

Two long, long, long pieces of near psychic jam make up this extra-value 60 min disc.

A whole platform of players (note ‘em: Oblivia, Ju Suk Reet Meate, Lucian Tielens, Sylvia Kastel, Leroy Tick & Gnarlos) strike bowls, press buttons, crank up turntables and rattle cutlery in an infinite variety of ways.  The label says…

 ‘spontaneous sound collage, bent improv, non-musical weirdness’

…and who am I to argue?

Of course it’s the group-think that makes this disc hover in an unnatural manner.  The linkage of brown ideas and soupy ingredients interweave in an effortless stew.

And where ‘Authentication of Ancient Chinese Bronzes’ is a pointillist pin-prick on tightly ruled graph paper ‘Heroic Armor of the Italian renaissance’ is more of a flexible lake or a fake puddle.  The difference is startling yet understated, like putting sugar in the salt cellar.

As I lay back and let ‘the music take me’ I picture several conflicting images: emoji torture, dry goods being bagged, the gritty feel of a military mess kit.  But that’s just me!  You may picture the red stone of Bologna or the broad green leaves of Portland but that’s the point innit?  From a base of gentle tinkles and sound-scurf we make our own reality.

And at this point I start to doubt the sanity of reviewing such a subjective sound environment and ask you to point your finger here to listen to an extract and write your own damn review.

But, dear reader that wouldn’t be the RFM way eh?

Another couple of spins in different environments (making dinner, jogging through the park) reveal the onion layers.  The surface complexity is really a carefully constructed chicken-wire framework to hang the softer, more feather-light sounds.

So…the clear-edged ‘clonks’ and ‘smaks’ punctuate the more ghostly ‘heshhh’ and ‘vumpf’ until, before you realise it a thousand bicycle bells are ringing you through The Arc De Triomphe.

Sacred Blood!

the viper

The Viper – Art for Pain’s Sake (BUFMS) CD

Vintage tape experiments from one Mr Richard Sterling Streeter and his long-suffering family and friends.

What strikes me first is the application of the universal language of mucking about.  You know what I’m talking about; that finger heavy on the play/pause button, that snotty ‘la la’, the classic chopstick-on-margarine-tub click.

Are these early tape experiments (made between the years 1978 to 1982 according to my terrible maths) any less worthy for that?  Well of course not.  As a listener I’m humbled to be let in to this world and nostalgerise my own (now thankfully lost) juvenilia.

But before I get too comfortable and misty-eyed our old friend progress rears its head and the later tracks (for all are arranged chronologically) dig deeper into the heart of echo, reverse reel-to-reel wonk and real-live violin scraping.

Music Concrete is an old maid on ‘Ollidarma’ an infectious riot of bright stereo blossoms. Raw sound becomes the source itself as it whips though the tape heads smeared by speed or plummets down a wormhole of creepy reverb.  I’m treated to a whole dossier of tape wonk with added ‘accidentals’ that seem to come from the 1940’s via a haunted dancehall and a coffee-jinxed auctioneer until the white-coated engineers start pulling chunks out the Revox machine creating whirring thrums and empty pings while George Harrison wheedles away his yolk-less omelette in the main studio.

The almost traditional instrumentation of ‘In a Garden’ makes be bark like a dog.  Piano, bass, shuffling snare and lonely violin tug on those melancholic heartstrings like a Midnight Doctors jam.  Pure longing and loss gets bowed out across the cat-gut until hot tears snake down my cheek.  Crikey!

‘Dreams of Glipnorf’ the energetic closer starts rough-hewn like a callous but ends up boogieing like that Canned Heat out-take where Blind Owl really starts to lose his mustard.

Don’t fear the Viper!

 

Crow Versus Crow Editions

Dante’s Ashtray

Chocolate Monk

BUFMS

-ooOOoo-

 

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