sunny murray’s right foot: rfm on brb>voicecoil, artwhore, no audience underground tapes, teatowels

October 7, 2017 at 8:12 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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brb>voicecoil – Reconfigure Moments (Muza Muza)

brb>voicecoil – Containment (Muza Muza)

Artwhore – Pasty Posture (Muza Muza)

Various Artists – No Audience Underground Tapes

Teatowels- We are the Deadness (Beartown Records & Tapes)

 reconfigure moments

brb>voicecoil – Reconfigure Moments (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

“Heavy manipulation of source material and resetting of audio time frames” says the ever informative Muza Muza website.

But even that clear warning couldn’t prepare me for the massiveness of these sonic-boulders or the grittiness of the resulting rumbling on Reconfigure Moments.

Totally elemental with that whole earth, fire, water and air gang being represented at the top of their game.  A full bandwidth vista is peeling open my reluctant eyes and saying:

FEEL YOUR BONES CRUSHED,

YOUR SKIN CRACKLES WITH PHOSPHOR,

YOU ARE BRIGHT WITH FIRE…

…until I feel myself lurching for the ‘stop’ button on the booming stereo (and in an instant thinking – the old thing has never sounded quite so vicious as this before).

Phew!

brb’s Kev Wilkinson has collected years worth of field recordings from across the UK and subjected them to the most punishing treatment turning minute taps into ocean-going groans and gossamer strokes into the poisoned lash of a stingray’s tail.   This really is ‘sound as weapon’ territory but at no moment does it ever succumb to ‘noise’ cliché.  Each sound-mugging is clear as a shiv in the moonlight and twice as sharp.  The crackles, rattles and pops are HUGE but placed with delicacy and a dark poetic logic.

The canvas is vast and as much attention is paid to the silences, the absences, as the abrasive implosions and gigantic reversed echoes like someone turned a borehole inside out.

Phew!!

FOOTNOTE: I took this down to Richer Sounds to test out a new tape deck and the smarty pants clerk looked fucking horrified when I cranked this up.  The assembled glut of customers looked round, gulped and left as one.  What more recommendation do you need comrades?

containment

brb>voicecoil – Containment (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

A sister piece to the fearsome ‘Reconfigure Moments’, ‘Containment’ is made up of nine unprocessed field recordings with ears precisely trained on the resonant interior of huge concrete and steel structures (I’m guessing).

This being brb>voicecoil the locations are selected with great insider knowledge of the very mechanics of these materials and years of scientific precision.

What we hear are dislocated ‘clunks’ and ‘squeals’.  Sheered of their original context the howling winds whip up these thick steel cables to really sing an unnatural overture.  There is a cold ‘thwack’ of metal against cement that reverberates in these man-made canyons, decaying gradually into another whooping collapse.

These recordings being at the mercy of the weather/ambience make strange things happen to the timings.  A dry ‘crack’ or gravely ‘crunch’ pop at the most eccentric moments.  Like the earth became Sonny Murray’s right foot, this tape swings with an internal metronome that us mere mortals can barely comprehend.  Like the freest of all jazz soaring buttresses honk deeper than Ayler and become more ‘out’ than Sun Ra.

Use this tape as an essential stepping stone readers – plug into the industrial Gaia-beat outside your door that’s as syncopated as chrome Dixieland.

artwhore

Artwhore – Pasty Posture (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

There was a time when you couldn’t pass a lamp post in Newcastle that wasn’t tagged with an Artwhore sticker.  They seemed to be everywhere at once: playing a thousand shows and dumping flyers to soak up spilled beer in the Barley Mow, Egypt Cottage and Broken Doll.

But while this mysterious crew had their street-art and promotion in the bag unfortunately I never caught them live.  Thankfully Muza Muza have released these lost 1996-97 recordings on a kicking and screaming public.

The issue with vintage recordings is pretty obvious – does it stand up today, right here, right now?  I’m delighted to say a firm yes to these curious electronic hummers.

The darkness is turned on for the majority of these pieces – dull thumps underscore sleet-coloured drone but an optimistic twinkle, a very Geordie characteristic if I may suggest, peppers these recordings.  What I think is ‘Vallis’ is a truly gorgeous rainbow and unicorns number, all pink sunsets and warm hugs.  By contrast ‘Hooverdub’ and ‘Electricity’ spit nails and rubber bullets.

The influence of rave culture is another signifier of the time.  It hit the toon hard and it wasn’t unusually to find dreads and skins swap their para-boots for flip flops on a Saturday night.  This strangely sounds fresh as daisies on ‘Shamm’ and ‘Horseloverfat’.

For younger readers…just think of it as the original vapour wave or something yeah?

louie and luciano

Various Artists – Live Series (No Audience Underground Tapes) Cassette with occasional inserts and detritus

And so it came to pass.

As I mentioned before on RFM  the much-loved NAU stalwarts Fucking Amateurs called it a day with their 100th release (give or take a few) earlier this year.  I’d hinted that the baton had been passed and I’m delighted to say their grubby, semi-legal but thoroughly heartfelt, true and D.I.Y corpse is being reanimated by David Howcroft (ex-Helter Skelter Records) and the impeccably named No Audience Underground Tapes.

A straight-outta-Gateshead thing NAU tapes are attending those shows that you can’t get to, jamming performances direct to tape and bundling them up in outrageous packaging.  Then dear reader they are being offered to the global underground FOR FREE!

Yup.  Keeping this real is important to Dave so he is just asking for postage right now.  But I know you are a generous bunch so an extra quid for tapes and stickers might be an idea eh?

So…what are NAU Tapes offering?  It’s an eccentric and ever-growing catalogue.

  • NAUT 01# brb>voicecoil / Vampyres / Spoils and Relics / Ali Robertson & Joyce Whitfield. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 23/07/17

  • NAUT 02# SMUT. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 13/05/17

  • NAUT 03# Watts / Fells / Church Burner. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 30/06/17

  • NAUT 04 # (Limited Edition Band Members Only) Church Burner.  30/06/17

  • NAUT 05# Trevor Wren / Proboscis / Eigengrau. Live at the Little Buildings, Byker 15/07/17 (Ed – Dave notes – quality of recordings compromised by tape recorder malfunctions)

  • NAUT 06# Sippy Cup / Ant Macari & Posset / Acrid Lactations. Live at The Old Police House 30/07/17

  • NAUT 07# Damo Suzuki’s Network. Live at Cluny2 04/08/17

  • NAUT 08# Louie Rice & Luciano Maggiore / Pinnel / Rust Ruus. Live at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead. 12/08/17

 

OK…that’s the infomercial.  What do the damn tapes sound like?

NAUT 01. Captures the dark shudder of brb>voicecoil and Vampyres in grim fidelity.  The boiling leaves a grey scum shot through with diamond streaks.  On the other side of the equation Ali Robertson & Joyce Whitfield gabber like geese in an old-timey hairdressers (the ones with huge machines you put your delicate head in).  Spoils and Relics fashioned their gruff-pumps through wires to hiss like an old factory of dreams. They are the equals sign, the fulcrum that balances a perfect evening.

life hacks

NAUT 06. Acrid Lactations swirl a hand round the gene pool and pick out several chromosome-jamz. Both skitter-dry and tape deep –the  first recording of the tiny AL with powerful lung!  Dullard Posset and real-live artist Ant Macari continue their world domination thru corporate hypnosis and evil vibes (spoken word).  The wonderful Sippy Cup (Drenching/Armitage) are as jazz as they come; each hand grabs an implement and drains it of sound-juice with expert timing.  Total clutter core!

NAUT 08. Rust Ruus presents his piece for solo snare drum, tapes and steel butter dish – KLAKA, KLACKA, KLACKA energy!  Pinnel loops soft voice and mouth pops on her Black & Decker Workmate. The crowd went wild after their vacation in these gentle hisses and slips.  The most Eno!  Rice & Maggiore are dressed in black and vibe out the audience with their regal focus and concentration.  Performance for modular synth, puckered lips, red hands and two sets of big stamping boots.  An outstanding show of control and timing.  Don’t believe me?  Order the damn tape yeah!

There’s no website comrades so please send questions, requests, stamps and good karma to : howcroft.d58@gmail.com

 teatowels

Teatowels- We are the Deadness (Beartown Records & Tapes) Cassette

As the gardener must prune their prize roses with regular surgical snips the musician must occasionally take a hatchet to their craft.  Slicing out overused approaches, chopping back any excesses and burning the lazy ideas to truly grow.

The Teatowels have cut and cut and cut until all is left is one guitar/one drum/one voice. Even the idea of a song is sliced and diced in a semi-improvised blur. Sure, some pieces on this extraordinary tape are recognisable ‘songs’ (track 6) but others are fumbles, sketches and essences that make this like a long-lost practice tape found in the bottom of a shoebox.

The rehearsal room ambience is thick with amp fug and ideas blooming in the moment. It’s a secret shared in hot breathy gasps.  The shamanic use of repetition and lowest of all known ‘fi’s’ becomes a grey carnation shuddering in an autumn storm.

If you’re looking for less botanical references the mumbled vocal, spindly guitar and boxy drums take me back to the woollen-scratchy and indistinct world when the Dead C and The Fall and Sonic Youth had a lot more in common and seemed to answer a three-way conversation back and forth across the international freak-rock underground.

And like all three examples above the process of recording became part of the signature sound: cheap studios, busted amps and exhausting schedules gave this music a patina of sleep-deprived itchiness, a splitter van’s claustrophobia.

Teatowels have built this up into an impressive whirl where things abruptly jump-cut between half-remembered jams, free-rock (track 2), drum-led moaning (track 3 ) and more realised explorations.  A deft finger on the pause button (track 7) makes some of the more hectic jamz blur with distinctive tape smear and is the perfect hot sauce on this tasty wiener.

The closer (track 8) is a lengthy nine minutes and boils all these approaches into a thin gruel applied in erratic brush strokes over the bones of the type of speaking –song-dramatic-build that Slint favour.

But instead of the Louisville drama we get an unrelenting British chug – all tension and no release; drizzle sizzling forever on the vinyl roof of a Ford Cortina.

brb>voicecoil,  Teatowels are playing TUSK festival 13th – 15th October. 

 

Muza Muza Bandcamp

Beartown Records

–ooOOoo-

the sweet jelly is in the deft cut: joe murray on david birchall/nicolas dobson/javier saso, dylan nyoukis & friends, plastic hooligans and acrid lactations & gwilly edmondez

March 3, 2017 at 6:00 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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David Birchall/Nicolas Dobson/Javier Saso – XZ ::::::::: Brazil (Soundholes)

Dylan Nyoukis & Friends – Mind Yon Time? (Chocolate Monk)

Plastic Hooligans – Untitled (Chocolate Monk)

Acrid Lactations & Gwilly Edmondez – You Have Not Learned To Play & Mock in The Psychic System (Chocolate Monk)

 birchal-etc

David Birchall/Nicolas Dobson/Javier Saso – XZ ::::::::: Brazil  (Soundholes) C30 cassette

Super-charged scrimple-skriffle improv coming at you mixed in, depending on your view, (almost) mono or 3-way stereo.

But what’s going on?

Dave Birchall plays granite-flecked guitar in the left speaker, Javier Saso spills slippery, silvery lapsteel in the right speaker and Nicolas Dobson sprays wild, wild violin all over the place.

Side one is a string piece for three players and it waxes happily, darting in and out of focus like a lazy eye would.  Contributions are in part clotted and meshed (like a scab) and independently driven.  Imagine walking three energetic hounds, each with their own digging, burying, pissing mission.  Their colourful leads are soon a wrapped-up maypole binding your arms and hands.  Got it?

Now replace the noble hounds with these three improv-dudes and the dog-specific missions with group-mind blankness and collective musical mischief and you’ve got the perfect picture!

While the pace is athletic there’s always room for a ruminative cul-de-sac, a wet sniff about a single tone or blunt-thumbed technique.  And as I listen I pass through several phases myself: chin-stroking on the non-idiomatic tip but also horn-throwing on the sexy electric eruption.

On side two I briefly land in a thoughtful strung-out lake but get distracted by amp-pops and bright lead-crackle.  The tension mounts as our three players riff on the giant nothingness that exists right at the point of the horizon; saw, saw, sawing away, whipping up a gentle typhoon that bursts with bloated rain.  It doesn’t take long to plinkety-plonk and things end with that ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ intro-played inside out and over ice.

This is what it sounds like when Slash cries.

dylan-nyoukis-and-friends

Dylan Nyoukis & Friends – Mind Yon Time? (Chocolate Monk) CD-R

Popular wisdom suggests that there is nothing more boring than other people’s drug tales.

Ha! Popular wisdom is a duff grey lie.

On this re-imagining of Dylan Nyoukis’ Fae Ma Bit Tae Ur Bit radio show various sub-underground lads and lasses ‘fess up their first or otherwise notable drug experiences.  Imagine Radio 4 has been snorting and huffing all night long (or something) with Dub Naughty on the controls.

They talk, in soft mumbles and gentle whispers; ‘it was like this…’, ‘we took a taxi…’, ‘I started to feel strange…’

Recorded up close it’s an intimate listen.  Breathy and in your ear(s) – you sense the memories being dragged from that grey-matter prison and forced out into the open (in some case decades later) with all the added memory moss and drama a bit of distance provides.

D-Nyoukis works like a psychedelic Foley artist, twisting the background.  Adding an addled ‘whuff’ or stoned ‘skofff’ to the voices that are dropping cautionary, ecstatic and, in some cases heart-warming tales of sweet, sweet intoxication.   Subtle it is, in the way a shimmering hallucination first grabs you and makes you say “wha?”  But it’s a flanger-free zone yeah?

So…anyone want to split this bottle of Cherry Lambrini? I’m thinking about getting it on now anyhow.

See ya on the other side travellers!  YEAH!

plastic-hooligan-1

Plastic Hooligans – Untitled (Chocolate Monk) CD-R

The aptly named Plastic Hooligans are gentle souls wrapped up in retro Adidas and Fila.

But an obsession with the Arabic world introduces ritualistic field recordings in a primitive electronic cloak.  With a sparse, shady touch, loops are played via old reverb units and malfunctioning oscillators ramping up the potency of these already fairly ‘loaded’ sounds.

The shivers come in four waves.

  • A xylophone tinkles in a French-speaking colony. Delicate as a music box found among boiled chicken’s feet.
  • Moroccan tapes get fed through the mincer. The ‘boing’ of the overdriven hand-drum and voice pinched sonically to release only the most important tones.
  • Rubberised machinery clunks away as a giant horn is blown roughly but slowly. Deep reparative hums.
  • A hiccough bounced across eleven cryptic reverb-drenched minutes. The sort of mind-loop you feel on waking from a cumin-scented dream.

alge-1

Acrid Lactations & Gwilly Edmondez – You Have Not Learned To Play & Mock in The Psychic System (Chocolate Monk) CD-R

The exact Reuleaux triangle-shaped intersection between modern classical, goofy wonk and hardcore improv. Oh yes!

History Lesson #1: The Acrid Lactations have been humble key-players of the untranslatable wonk scene.  Really, really, really free players smiffy that non-idiomatic improv by adding an indefinable ‘something’.  I’ve pondered this conundrum long and hard and the best I can come up with is that ‘something’ might be their slight unhinged quality; a willingness to go the extra mile, wherever that trek will take them.

History Lesson #2: Gwilly Edmondez has ploughed a similarly deep furrow.  A Dictaphone high-priest, instant composition stalwart and one half of those rising stars YEAH YOU!  [The UK’s only father/daughter slack-hop duo pop-pickers.]  Gwilly, the tallest man alive, is a selfless player, an encourager, a persuader whose full-frontal yet ego-less schtick seems to be able to connect with that artistic blank space where anything becomes possible.

Taking this babycake as a whole I’m shocked by the time-shifting quality to these suckered gobbles, hazy trumpets and clogged electronics.

The lumps are bigger yeah! For 20, possibly 30 seconds you could be listening to Pharaoh Sanders (Impulse Era), or Morton Subotnick and then it could be nothing other than the good ole AL & GE.  Things are so precarious I’m on a mental zip-wire sporting a psychic g-string baby.

But readers, it’s the edit that’s the thing here.  In a similar way to the exceptional Hardworking Families latest disc the sweet jelly is in the deft cut taking these pretty much wonderful recordings and carefully layering, stripping and selecting the ripest cheese.

And this editors ear not only multiplies this trio but forges new links and allegiances between sound-nodes.  Put simply; a ‘clunk’ recorded one day now spoons a sexy sigh recorded another and lo!  A whole new thing starts a’going on.

The sounds?  A dignified sniffle and pre-language burrs make up a respectable percentage but add to that bamboo pipes that ape the breath hissing down a human neck, disturb-o-moans and high-octane heffer on brass and tin.  We’re talking “Seriously munged magic” (Nyoukis 2016)

But I’m throwing in a deep balloon-rubber ripping, a damp Dictaphone squelch and a goff-keyboard going electronically slow & low.  Not only but also, the relaxing humming of social insects (ants probably) discuss their complex legal system.

To sum up I’ve got (consults notes, adjusts spectacles and frowns) three quarters goat-legged- spry and muscular, one quarter lazy liquid.  So that’s something for everyone then; time for dreamers to collect themselves and activists to get-up-offa-that-thing.

Right-o.  Discussion proposition?  Dub opened a new door for Reggae.  Teo Macero projected Jazz into an alternate future state.  What about this N-AU versioning then readers?

Like…whoa man.  Makes you think  and shout “welcome to the world Keir J Arnot.”

Soundholes

Chocolate Monk

-ooOOOoo-

fruit smoke: joe murray’s tutore burlato special: acrid lactations & jointhee, flocculi, final seed, dylan nyoukis, i placca

June 9, 2016 at 11:11 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Acrid Lactations & Jointhee – Chest (tape, Tutore Burlato, #10)

Flocculi – Gara delle facce (tape, Tutore Burlato, #09)

Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis – split (tape, Tutore Burlato, #08)

I PLACCA – la la vitea (tape, Tutore Burlato, #11)

acridj

O sweet Bologna! That most beautiful and learned of jewels; famous for world-renowned sauces and stunningly practical porticos.

But Bologna is swiftly becoming the epicentre of new movement, some audacious No Audience activity; a nerve centre of excellence named TUTORE BURLATO. And when this sticky spider’s web converges it does so onto a man.  A man strong of arm and handsome of chin.

His name?  Signore e signori… allow me to introduce Ezio Piermattei.

Ezio’s tape label has been documenting the N-AU as it stands and as it hopes to be.  Giving airtime to the old faithfuls and thrusting new gushers alike.  And this recent batch of tapes from BURLATO mixes the new and the old, the Anglo and the Italian, the after-dinner cigarillo and the hastily burned spice mix.

oOo

My old hands go snatch up the Acrid Lactations & Jointhee jams to play first.  Spying the body positive title, Chest, my mind spins back to their 2013 (?) release Toe where I honked on about: semi-improv, pre jazz hornings and Joincey dueting with coyotes.

And some of this would still float.  Yeah… it’s ‘song’ based for sure, but these three pulsating brains have stretched the idea of what a song can be and on Chest serve up unconscious narratives with brittle dream accompaniment.

Brittle?  Yeah… brittle is most definitely the word as there is a delicious fragility to these tunes; a fluttering of three tiny hearts in a cage of hollow bones.  They stand up (only just) on stick-thin Bambi legs, all a quiver and vulnerable.

But stand they shall, for there is some other force that holds this three-ness with powerful limb-locked poise.  Study the archaeo-acoustic cranks and they will tell you the ancients moved giant blocks with similar tones and chants.  The trick is (I propose) to melt the ego, to drain it out of your heel, and relent.

And because the general speed is set to stately (there’s not any of that ‘itch & scratch’ haste to the improvisations) Chest presents some red-hot moments:

  • Bubbling synth/keys, birdsong bubbles, mung-voice choirs and frankly horny Dictaphonics.
  • “How do you identify lazily?” The unknowable mumbles in a rare moment of call and response.  An underlying ur-tone of jaxx-babble frames the question.
  • Depeche Mode B-Side moogs paired with drunkenly whispered threats into a green parrot’s ear (or whatever it is parrots have)
  • Short mbira plunks as Jointhee sings like a cactus would – free of convention, pure with antiseptic pulp.
  • The Free Jazz is dealt like a wildcard, at the optimum moment of strategic value.  And these chops are paper-cut sharp and drone precise.
  • Crossed frequencies on radio-weird.  Damp-eyed with pride, accented words and phrases patter like fresh baby feet.

It’s so precious I’m holding my breath as I listen – a glorious submission – I tap out.

oOo

floc

It’s the next day.  I’m up early, guiltily hungover while the house still sleeps.  I slap on Flocculi’s Gara Delle Facce to help re-build my soul.

Like a broth strong with lentils and kale this kind of junk really nourishes me good.

Another trio: Devid Ciamplini, David Lucchesi and Ezio Piermattei take a bunch of ‘objects’, vocoder, percussive fixings and rattle on like those old guys swigging their tiny coffees.

It’s all about the gesture and aplomb.  Rustles and dry clicks snap me back into last night’s tamed debauchery.

A stone floor is brushed with a stiff brush, copper bowls are wiped out with a sponge.  Once tight strings are slackened till they flap like a clown’s waistband. Sloppy electronics hum and splutter over graven images.  The pace is the busy, busy, busy of a market stall; conversations are started with a warm meatiness and broken off in chaotic order.  Is that a fumble for loose change or a heavy finger on the scales?  A half-dozen blood oranges get popped in a paper bag, the ends twisted with a practiced flourish.

Then a creaking of door-hinges bookends Ezio’s patented pigeon impression and punctuates the rubbery throbbing.  A glassy glissandi on prepared guitar shimmers like the ice in my Campari.  My only critique would be these jams are too damn short!

oOo

fsdyl

On a bit of a roll I un-wrap the Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis tape; a shy, blushing pink it brightens my wobbly mood further.

First some biog-jizz.  Final Seed is the very Jameson Sweiger from mysterious US-based folk Maths Balance Volumes.  I talk like I know all this shit but, truth to tell, this is all new information for me that I just Googled [Editor’s note: good man, exactly the kind of journalistic thoroughness our readers have come to expect].  But boy… have I been napping!  Investigations reveal some sweet-weird going on in Minnesota.

Seed’s untitled side is a match-head; bulbous and explosive with all that energy fizzing and bright phosphorus boiling from the very first strike.

Ukulele plucks/strums and reconstructed vocal-hawks & blither (aka cunk-singing!) are layered like thick acoustic plasters creating a Rauschenberg sound-collage.  And for a while it veers between this flexible ‘boing’ and gristly rattle.

But it’s the long drawn-out synth coda that’s the soothing balm my aching neck craves.  A two note ‘ooohh…ahhhh’ tolling like soft bells.  A gentle relentlessness, a rolling muscle stretch that slides easily over damaged cartilage.   I can.  I can feel.  I can feel myself slipping under…

*GASP* <EYES BLINK OPEN WIDE, DROOL WIPED ON BACK OF HAND> *GASP*

Achem!  Dylan Nyoukis has kindly recycled elements of his hen’s-teeth Encephalon Cracks series to create a mega-mix for retirement homes.

Surprisingly electronic

one of the kids mutters as they roll out of bed and cram with cereal.  Of course the innocence of youth belies cosmic wisdom.  There really is an electric-tang to this side.  I imagine the guts of an old casio-tronic are ripped out and refilled with warm candy.  So, pressing the keys now releases rainbow-scented blurs and fruit smoke.

Voices and domestic tape interjections keep things frisky but about halfway through this piece a seam of organ meditations begins to glitter distantly like coal dust.  It has a melancholic non-congruent shine, like a shrugged shoulder coupled with eye-contact held for a fraction too long; never less than lovely, deeper than delightful.

But oldey-timey listeners need not fear!  The Nyoukis jaxx-vocals still warp and stutter, freeing strict-language from its unnecessary shackles.

In short… it’s a trip and your ticket is well and truly clipped pal!

oOo

Placca

It’s much later now.  The sun has done its work and snuck back leaving all surfaces pleasantly warm.  I type into the fading light as I PLACCA’s offering, the mysterious la la vitea plays massaging my tired old brain.

A classic tape collage work, this beast moves from knockabout to spooky in super-quick time.  There is a wonderful joy at play here.  The sounds/recordings/interventions are really allowed to breathe, to grow and sprout wings.

Side one starts with leaky plumbing and ends in a JUNK MASS with golden voices going all ‘halleluiah’ while mountain goats bleat.  It’s a tingler for sure!  On the way though this knotty terrain we’re served up buzzing flies like some eccentric lord in a sauce of wobbling naughtiness.  The double-loop reverb of a strain-station [Editor’s note: I think ‘strain-station’ may be a typo but it is too glorious to correct] Tannoy goes all tape-ga-ga across a Stooges-esque riff.  Result?  It’s like being stuck on fast forward for a year and a day.

Side two guffs the voice track with a mouthful of slow pebbles – it’s a Babel tower baby with ramps for Davros.  Soon a static blanket is draped over a clarinet and guitar in a cheeky seaside manner; a nudge and a wink if you will.  But the movement is forward, ever forward… plastic buttons may get pressed and un-pressed but it’s the lusty crying that keeps me riveted to the spot.

More wonderful wet-coffs for the Dental Tourist; a gem of a sensible tape resourcing!

—ooOoo—

Tutore Burlato

fizzing blue stars: joe murray on ksds, acrid lactations, smear campaign & poulsen/harrison/watson/bjerga

February 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Claus Poulsen, Duncan Harrison, Paul Watson & Sindre Bjerga – Blind Dates (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.294, edition of 66)

KSDS – Black Abba (CD-r, T-Shirt and stickers, stars, dots and the “new” junk, Starsdots016, edition of 15 or download)

Acrid Lactations – Drizzling Quids A’ Crepuscule (tape, Total Vermin, #88)

Smear Campaign – Funky Cold Demeanour (tape, Total Vermin, #36)

blind dates

Claus Poulsen, Duncan Harrison, Paul Watson & Sindre Bjerga – Blind Dates

A note on construction: these two duos; Duncan and Claus, Paul and Sindre played live to an audience in single figures in London’s free and easy Olive restaurant last year. These remarkable first-time duos were recorded and expertly mixed by Claus Poulsen and released in an edition of 66.

Duncan and Claus serve up a hubbling, bubbling mixture of tension and texture.  Drawn-out scrapes and moans open the piece until loose cheeked ‘pops’ cut some slack and open up the landscape for Duncan’s concrete word-dub.  Meanwhile a rich acoustic ripping rolls out of Claus’ fingerless gloves as he jingles a vintage synth with his toes.  The button marked ‘sexy robot talk’ is fingered to start up a hot conversation that would make Louis and Bebe Barron blush beetroot red!  A satisfying climax is sculpted out of decaying polystyrene blocks and Viking horns – classy!

Paul and Sindre begin inside a peach, pulling out chunks of juicy flesh and dropping it noisily to the floor.  Sindre starts his onyx panther purring while Paul plays an egg-slice by caressing it with red Tudor brick.

Next they turn their attention to soundtracking a rowdy bout of Olympic wrestling.  I can clearly picture the slap of stinging-pink flesh on the crash mat and feel the astringent whiff of liniment in the nostrils.  A cub reporter gets in close with the Dictaphone but fluffs the buttons (screee…) and a disco plays, thump, thump, thump in one unfortunate head until you bail and cry ‘UNCLE!’  Chucky Cheese is hosting a sugar-frenzied birthday party for Sky Saxon and the electricity keeps cutting out like Norman Collier is controlling the Black Ark.

Then things get serious.  A sound like giant granite blocks being slowly moved around the chessboard is overtaken by Wu Tang Killer Bees (swarming) then descending into the insect-o-cutor to die spectacularly as fizzy blue stars.

All this furious invention makes me ponder the position of the improviser in 2015.  It used to be a point of pride for grey beards to master the jizzle, skin or hornpipe until they could play inside out.  Listening to a record like Blind Dates makes me remember that a collection of eggs, dried seaweed and a typewriter can transform just as spectacularly in the hands of a select goon.  Ears are of the highest importance.  Imagination is gold dust.  Courage is the epaulette earned through practice and concentration.

Hold up your heads gentlemen…you join the pantheon along with yr average Derek, Evan or Han on this blow-out piece.

black abba

KSDS – Black Abba

This is a cheeky one alright.  Mocked up to ape the Sabbath classic Master of Reality this disc by KSDS might be free of all inverted crosses but it’s still a heavy trip (man).

Fans of Kosmische-leaning keyboard action pay attention!  This is whirling like a day-glo electric galaxy.

In some places heaviness comes from clustered chords held down until grim fingers bleed.  In others (‘Cosmic Radiation’ for instance) crude beats lend weight and sound like the ghost of Jacob Marley took up the drums, rattling his rusty chains.  ‘Hammer of the North’ is as claustrophobic as an oft remembered family car journey with a similar sense of tension and restrained anger; the shifting banks of delay sculpting something almost dancefloor friendly that would sit neat and tidy in the Opal Tapes catalogue.

And just when you think you’ve got the measure of things a tune of pure loveliness (‘With Anger’) swirls like some green and pleasant church organ gone up the silk route for hash and adventure.

But it’s on ‘The Stack’ that things get totally sepia-tinted kraut.  Sounding like mid-period Cluster simple lines overlap building up layer upon layer until the tinniest beat (high hats spitting like a drowning man) keep strict tempo with a military bearing.

tv2

Acrid Lactations – Drizzling Quids A’ Crepuscule

More strung-out edge-of-consciousness skronk from that most singular of duos, Acrid Lactations.

Following in the footsteps of The Who, Iron Maiden, Kiss and Johnny Cash, Acrid Lactations release their version of that record industry classic – THE LIVE ALBUM.  For many bloated groups it was a stop-gap, a cynical filler to be snorted up between tour and studio.  But for some (hopefully the old beards named before) the live album becomes more than just a different version of the same old shit.  It’s a chance to stretch out and rediscover the energy and vim that brought you together in the first place.

This collection of jams recorded between 2012 and 2014 is so live you can chew on the humus breath of the audience.  You can sniff the peculiar brew in the air and feel the starchy knit of a woolly jumper necessary for the unheated venues of the no-audience underground.

But what do you get from the Lactations in a freewheeling live space?  I sense a willingness to push things even further in these recordings.  I mean…this is performance right?  Honest entertainment for cold hard cash yeah?  Stuart and Susan know the value of a dollar and play right up to punters letting new gasses fly.  There’s a strong brass presence with the familiar Arnot trumpet joined by a whole selection of metallic blowholes from Sue (pipe, whistle, ocarina perhaps).  An old accordion is humped and huffed with a lazy foot, tattered voices mesh, taped squalls blabber and a metallic shiny sheen shimmies.

Yet it’s the very dualism of a two piece group that makes the strongest impact here.  With only four hands between them there is a delightful limitation to what can be done.  You can only juggle with what you have eh?  Sonically there’s a ‘to-you-to-me’ that’s so much more than basic call and response…it’s an appreciation of what needs to be left out, rejected, un-attempted to concentrate on the pure reaction/expression/reaction that flows like warm milk.

Most of the recordings are high energy affairs, skipping slightly quicker than your beating heart, but on occasion a delightful interlocking calmness occurs making a high tide mark in the performance journey.

Someone draw a plimsoll line so we can see how high we all got!

Another fine Acrid tape on the goddamn essential Total Vermin.

tv1

Smear Campaign – Funky Cold Demeanour

The word on the street is that this ruby red tape is based on old hip hop vinyl found in Glasgow’s charity shops.  The Fly-girls and B-boys among you will perhaps notice the play on words in the title barfing up memories of your favourite gold rope wearing sexist Tone Loc.

So can you expect block rocking beats on your boombox?  Errrrrrr…not really.

Side one starts off with what sounds like a huge bath full of agricultural slurry being thoroughly mixed…a flexible hose runs from the bottom of the steaming vat to your ears so you can better hear the liquid brown churn.

Soon metallic voices start to spar and dart (could this be our Anthony?).  The distinctive ‘schliip’ and ‘f’wip’ of  turntable melts into the dull consonants like a seasoning, bringing out the highlights, shining the vowel.

Side two opens with some percussive bumming as rusty sponges are rubbed together.  A brief spurt with some human air is soon battered like a pork medallion with swathes of medieval feedback.  Yet still the lip, teeth and tongue flip and stutter like a malfunctioning mp3 file.

This minimal judder strolls seamlessly into an altogether more hellish movement of tightly bound-up humming and rubbery percussion, stretching out across all points of the compass before ‘snick’ the sound stops and the tape pops.

Having said all that (and yes I know I was starting to become really cryptically verbose before) this is all done with a sense of reverence to the source material.  This is certainly no ‘look at those people in the past, they stoopid cuz they clothes different’ schtick but a real act of honest sonic ecology.

Recycling done with no turntables nor a microphone.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

stars, dots and the “new” junk

Total Vermin (now nearly two years since a blogspot update but Stuart is clearly still active.  Be resourceful)

scarfing antelope: joe murray on lovely honkey & his acrid lactations

July 26, 2014 at 10:29 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Lovely Honkey & His Acrid Lactations – Hardy the Wayfarers (tape, Total Vermin, #85)

acrid honkey

I’m a bit of a worrier me.  I worry about all the normal things a middle-aged, pampered, white, male worries about I suppose: kids, missus, job, state of the world and all that jazz.  But being a welded to the no-audience underground I sometimes worry I’m being an inadvertent elitist.

Is the underground, with its limited editions, challenging approaches and cultural immersion more valid than the mainstream?  The best I can muster is a, “Duh…I dunno” most of the time.

Maybe it’s time I did some serious thinking.

To make it clear reader…I have no problem with pop music.  Check out the teenage magic-realism of Eliza Doolittle’s ‘Walking on Water’ or the outrageously frothy ‘Call me Maybe’ by  Carly Rae Jepson?   Curiously enough this kind of pure, purple, pop makes me smile just as wide as any of Phil Minton’s japes.  Sure it’s a transient sugar rush…but are you telling me that Shakira (Editor’s note: Ugh.  I was with you up to Shakira) don’t make you snap your fingers like the Art Ensemble?

So that’s pop music sorted out…but what about it’s more grown-up brother: indie rock?

In this day and age I should know everything about the current crop of indie rock lovelies, eh?  As folks keep yammering on it’s all on the internet, for free, forever.  Yup…the internet might be a portal to everythingness but you still need to peak in the right window – you dig.

I took the recent bloat-fest Glastonbury to be my window on the world.  The BBC kindly chopped up footage into easily digestible mouthfuls so I could taste the best the indie rock world had to offer whilst sat in comfort at home.  What a treat!  These truly must be the best of times.  I settled back with tea and a selection of biscuits, giddy with the knowledge I was bound to discover some rare breed, some slinky mink that had passed me by while I had my eye lowered to the grubby underground.

And I waited, and waited, and waited some more.  I know Jonah Jameson (Editor’s note: very funny – you’re sacked) don’t like no negatives so I can’t really go into detail here.  Let’s just say I watched 6 hours of footage and the only act that excited me was some bass and drum duo.  And that’s just coz they sound like my brothers band.

So… I tried, I really tried; but with my scientist head on I can say the experiment failed.  The indie rock mainstream is not for me, doesn’t want me, can’t stand me and its back to the underground I hop.

I slip on the next tape in the review pile from Lovely Honkey and his Acrid Lactations.

Now this is telling us something right from the off.  Like Cliff & the Shadows or Mike and his Mechanics this is presenting us with a handy sonic-perspective, a clue even.  I picture some formation; a bizarre food pyramid with Luke Poot as its king carnivore, his golden mane flowing in the hot Serengeti wind with Sue Fitzpatrick and Stuart Arnot scarfing antelope at his shoulders.

That’s set me a visual.  But musically, how does this Robin Hood and Merry Men scenario unfold?

Immediately three, really wet mouths are coughing in phlegmy unison!  ‘Hierarchies of Spirit’ slurps and spits, moans and whimpers its way through a spellbinding array of lip-smacks and bloats.  The genius touch is a two note drone on dusty keyboard (or cracked violin) that anchors the gurgling mouths from setting alight.  Such glorious tension.

‘Gulch Reflexion’ is a whole load of trouble deeper in the throat with pre-language babble (via Sue) over the severed epiglottis explosion.  In fact the best advice I can give you to build up a mental picture for this is take any Carcass song title and shave off its hair.  Naked and pink yet?  You got it.

Take a baking tray half full of water tapped with ritualistic seriousness as your baseline for ‘Snails in the foundry of the Demiurge’.  Beat in a dozen Delia’s getting loaded on sticky Madeira and Babel hollas a gibber.  Coda: the distinctive cracks and pops of a Glasgow tenement building coming to rest after a violent Hogmany.

The longer pieces ‘Obedient Refexion’ and ‘(Briny) Expiant and (Milky) Redemptive’ grace side two with a calmer mung.

My first listening summons up visions of Shhh/Peaceful scored for gibbering monks and played back through medieval Dictaphones:

The illumination is all greasy from burning candles but the brilliant colours shine through.  The fabric may be rough but the needlepoint is detailed.

An insistent rhythm is heard from outside the Monastery walls (Tony Williams on tea-caddy?) as the wails of limp-berserkers float in on the mist.  Some joker messes with the intro to Iron Man (Sabbs not Marvel) and Wayne Shorter swaps his horn for marbles that he drops into a bucket.

Phew…you’ll surely admit to some Miles Davis/Viking invasion thing going on here.   It’s not just me is it?

…as the mental-mists clear I realise this is what I’ve been missing with all that flaccid indie rock.  There’s no pictures, no sizzled synapse leaps… just the dull plod, plod, plod of the verse and the tedious plod, plod, plod to anthemic chorus.  But the Lovely Honkey and his Acrid Lactations my fine friends are as magnetic and shiny as an Aaliyah video (Editor’s note: that’s more like it – you’re hired again, back to work).

And if you don’t agree I hex you with the curse of never-ending Elbow.

—ooOoo—

Total Vermin

(Editor’s final note: at the time of writing the TV blog is way out of date, so hit up Stuart directly via smearcampaign@hotmail.com or on one of them social networks and he is sure to oblige.)

kinetic poetry: joe murray on acrid lactations, yol, blood stereo and zn

April 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Acrid Lactations – The Rotten Opacity of it All (All This Rot) (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.280)

Yol – Metal Theft (C20 tapes, kiksbooks, edition of 20)

Blood Stereo – The Trachelin Huntiegowk (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.243)

ZN – ZN (C90 tape, Agoraphobia Tapes, 30)

yol - metal theft

Acrid Lactations – The Rotten Opacity of it All (All This Rot)

The Acrid Lactations introduce themselves with a keening, blackboard scrape of the mind.  Like when some juiced-up Beat described the howling pipes of Morocco as  ‘prehistoric rock n’ roll’  Glasgow’s finest ingest the Master Musicians of Joujouka and spit them back out as the black-sticky-tar of deepest mung.  There’s no doubt this has a scaly dinosaur vibe but it’s brought right up-to-date; like a Jurassic Park vacuum flask or something.

Three longish pieces make up (all this rot).  Individual tracks could be modestly un-named or included in the mysterious limerick emblazoned on the backside of the blinding white sheath.

What was dirt coils,

Vainglory peals the frothy blossom,

No peal but dull the solemnest ballast.

So track one, or in my mind what I’m calling ‘What was dirt coils’, twin violins are subject to agonisingly slow torture.  Trilling ‘bruuuuurrrrsss’ and abstract humming mesh the astringent scrape with careful tape manipulation, adding another layer of dislocation to the lonely lament.  My overactive imagination pictures wandering alone on a desolate heath, the wind whispering cruel curses,

‘stick t’path, keep off moors’.

At this point questions like, “What’s vibrating string and what’s accelerating black tape screee?” become pointless.  I neither know nor care.  I’m simply delighted to surrender to the every-growing lycanthropic paranoia.

‘Vainglory peals the frothy blossom’ is a remarkable Dicatphone construction.  A hyper-kinetic patchwork, busy with detail pinched from domestic recordings (red apple crunch) and intentioned playback (ukulele fiddy).  It flashes bright as flame.  Perfectly balanced, the blind-thumbed FFW screee and tape-knit bleats are measured against quieter ripping or an occasional shout or polystyrene scrunch or sewing box scrabble.  Like listening to two people at once telling their side of the same story salient facts collide and disassociate at speed, context becomes all.

The closer ‘No peal but dull the solemnest ballast’ is a right Mad Comix knockabout hash-crash-smash with super-speed rubber percussion picking the bones out a towering Babel.  More pipes (flesh and bamboo) slurp up against plucky banjo.  Sounds are mixed right-up-in-your-face and then bathroom-down-the-hall with an untypical unevenness making this listener stoop then stretch to catch the narrative.  This is a Jane Fonda workout of a listen…and my pale flabby midriff thanks you for it.

Again the distinctive fluid wretch of tape manipulation (in some grumbling form) take the language of improvisation and lactate it, milk it, not into sterile test tubes for the middle-brow arts crowd but into rude pottery jugs.  Creamy and nutritious it slops over goblets, rough to the touch.  And when I raise this white-gold to my lips and drink it down I’m refreshed in my body, head and heart.

Yol – Metal Theft

This smart little tape drops through the gloryhole with a familiar plastic crackle.  Tapes from Yol always seem to fast-track the listening pile and proceeded directly to the cheap-o hi-fi for immediate consumption.  Nom nom nom.

Squeak-clack, play, hiss… ‘There is no finish line’ starts the Yol ritual with a teensy, tiny bell solo, a gentle brassy tinkling played on the sort of souvenir cow bell you might have picked up from a school exchange trip to Switzerland in 1985.  Like the Swiss it’s sedate, low key, intimate…a nice little opener.

But hang about there.  What’s this rough, throttled and somewhat skanky tape glot?   It’s ‘Dock Noise’: a mucky wind-roar, a metallic crash.  What are those machines called?  The ones in a bowling alley that set up your pins with a clatter?  A Bowl-a-rama?  A Pin-matic?  Well, whatever their trade name ‘Dock Noise’ sounds like one of them going all Hijokaiden and then catching on fire.

‘Empty Flattened Tents’ sports a see-sawing hinge-creak; almost like a lost voice (ahhhh – a – huhhh) that runs through this piece creating a rubbery flexible backbone.  Layered over the skeleton an angle grinder moans away like a snapped clarinet.  Stressed metal squeaks underneath Yol’s kinetic-poetry (all pretty full and fluent…not the hiccoughing – stammering violence of yore) to yarble about  “angry broken wasp’s nests”.

Errrrr…side two opens with ‘Posset bite’ a very moist and unhinged random mouth-jam multiplied by several Dictaphones…gulp…a charming gesture from Yol that makes me blush like a red tomato.

‘Miniature dog live’ returns to one of Yol’s classic approaches – a rusty filing cabinet hauled across a rubber floor.  The offending office furniture gets thoroughly beaten and beasted as he ROARS ‘what is that noise…WHAT IS THAT NOISE?’ between gravelly chokes and strangulated ‘gahhhhhsss’.  As the name implies it’s a live piece and the influence of the audience coaxes a confrontational, no-instrument black metal performance from Yol; the bleakness of the Norwegian forest transplanted to freezing-cold factory units.

This whole tape is recorded in two distinct styles.  Lo-fi stinkers can curl up with gentle inner-ear fumblings; hi-fi bores can rejoice in the gloriously expansive live recordings.  But there is still that wonderfully claustrophobic greasiness to this tape, like being cooped up inside a whale.

As the Kiksbooks blog rightly points out.  This is a release ‘for the connoisseur’.  I love that nudge-nudge touch.

So, broadminded readers.  You’ll have to move quickly as this chap is limited to 20 copies.  And at a reasonable £4 plus is a budget-busting snip.

blood stereo - trachelin

Blood Stereo – The Trachelin Huntiegowk 

Two twenty minute pieces of gnarled-fux originally pressed into 50 pieces of wax and now burned onto polycarbonate plastic and aluminium for the hoi polloi!

Friends and neighbours of the no-audience underground (North & South) come together on ‘Side one’ in a collection of discrete recordings formed into a new whole.  This earth mother divides itself into 5 glorious parts:

  • Part one – It’s slow & low.  An ear to ear shuffle, domestic giffles and snatched school recordings run into vomit splosh or piss trickles.  It makes me stop and wonder how long it took to capture each snippet…it’s a labour intensive approach for sure.  The flowsy clarinet is introduced.
  • Part two – a deep-dub Residents territory: collapsing loops of piano and doors slamming.  Hiss and cornet again that reigns (in blood).
  • Part three – back to a darker domestic…gurgles and snotty in the right ear, truncated samples in the left “eh oh eh-eh” (into bubbling lap experiments).  A stray dog sniffing each lamp post moves in circles, testing and probing…straight lines are for squares man.
  • Part four – breath sighs, moon loops…no one does it quite like this.  Gasps.  Organic weaving.   But with a chaste cast, there is nothing sexual here.  It’s like the innocence of snoring in a sinus-like cathedral.
  • Part five – a pushy (and drunk) Canadian takes place of a come-down coda.

Phew…after that yeasty trip part two is going to have to live up to major expectation. With nowhere to go except true respect this second live piece is an honest, forming thing.  Huff and chump are played cautiously like feudal warlords moving cavalry over the common ground of The Shire.

With few peaks this is a guerrilla campaign; hit and run…a war of attrition.  The Blood Stereo show their mastery of the common ‘click’ and ‘clack’.  You thought glitch-core went out of fashion with Oval.  No way.  These south coast munsters clunk-click every trip, building a sound-world grumpy Gaudi would dig with different timbres and speeds interlocking and breaking free.  A thought erupts that I just can’t stop…

from this machinery hums come
oiled and whirling
fast, strong
tightness, meshing
meshing forever
(pert near)
steel gear inside gear
and smoothness
engaging, releasing
lapping and plunging

( – ‘Another Theory Shot to Shit’, fIREHOSE, 1986)

The boss has been talking of extraction music of late.  An acute and timely observation.  But what of the chaff left over from the mining process?  The Trachelin Huntiegowk probes the remaining slag, the detritus of sonic grief, and polishes up a shiny opal reflecting the sunlight as a rainbow of all your collective memory.

Delve deep, drink fully.  Dream dangerously.

zn - zn

ZN – ZN 

Direct from the ashes of Colectivo N ‘ZN’ is born; the new handle of Ciudad Juarez’s finest Gerardo ‘Picho’ and RFM favourite Miguel Perez.

This god damn C90 tape is blackly black and starts off with the sound of someone wrestling with the wrapper of a riveted toffee-apple…’crackle, crukkkk, kraaaaak.’

Sparse yells and hollas slice like wounds but the the urge to rush forever forward is rejected and space opens up, blackness descends and unholy worlds are born in silence.  At first power comes not from extreme volume and speed but the grey gravity that flows between gigantic bodies.

To an audience that’s grown accustomed to harsh walls of feedback and electronics the pairing of cornet and bass might seem a little light, pastoral even.  But make no mistake the cornet (at times dry and hoarse as whooping cough, at others wetly thick) is painfully brutal.  There is a military history to the brassy horn and it’s no wonder…this is making me edgy with its hot vibrating breath intent on conquest.

The bass sounds like it’s strung with industrial cable wrapped and stretched to dangerous high tension.  Yup…there is the occasional deep growling riff but in the main Miguel keeps things high in the register, scraping and plucking.  Not laying down any rhythm but leading you down blind alleys, deserted side-streets and into dangerous neighbourhoods.

The resulting oddness of side one (recognisable instruments doing unrecognisable things) frazzles my little brain and just about when synapses are about to snap a light-aircraft drone takes us above the clouds and into the merciless bronze sun.

Up here the gods clatter their impotent weapons, hurling abuse to the mortals below for failure to believe.  A lone minstrel plays on impeaching the gods to spare mankind.  Tears flow down ravaged faces but the cruel Sun God nods once, twice signifying displeasure, the minstrel is thrown down to earth to lay crushed on the rocks below.

Phew.  I take a little break and prepare for the next instalment.

Side two opens with ‘Bitches Brew’ era Miles echo-horn but this time Teo Macero is slugging it out with Romain Perrot in a tin bath while exotic aluminium parrots pelt them with ingots of coal tar soap.

Tape grot and the crackle of 1000 bonfires smother a distant beat.  And although at the same volume and intensity I get the feeling these are miniature, secret sounds amplified greatly.

Hoots echo round the concrete bunker and everything submits to this simple repetitive beat (and added fuzz combo) to form a sickly pitched nausea.  This feels like the cover story for something really nasty. The longer it goes on the more I’m reminded of some deep nagging unease.  It sounds like…

It sounds like corruption.

Once that thought is lodged in my noggin the scorched earth screech takes on a darker hue, layers of noise collapse on each other burying themselves…but still the beat remains.  As relentless and banal as true evil.

In the best possible way this is a deeply unpleasant listen.

For more industrial ear-damage and to discover the real sound of Ciudad Juarez, check out their Bandcamp.  This here live recording is a similarly outrageous trip.  Phew!

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Kiksbooks

Oracle Netlabel / Agorafobia Tapes

ZN on Bandcamp

rfm attends colour out of space part one: joe murray ruminates

November 22, 2013 at 8:38 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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COLOUR OUT OF SPACE / 6

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FESTIVAL

Performance Weekend: 8th – 10th November, 2013, Brighton, UK

COOS poster

Editor’s note: RFM had two roving reporters present at this year’s Colour Out Of Space festival down in that Brighton. Regular contributor Joe Murray, who also performed, enjoyed himself enormously.  Pascal Ansell, whippersnapper and occasional guest of RFM, ahh… not so much.  Copious enthusiasm from Joe first, a more exacting response from Pascal to follow.  Over to Joe:

—ooOoo—

Ahhhh Brighton…the sun, the sea, the squalor!  I’ve had a soft spot for Brighton ever since I was a wee kiddie with a vivid imagination, trying to piece together the violent Mods & Rockers legend with the twin-set & pearls crowd that strolled slowly down the pier huffing camphor-scented liniments.

These days of course it’s all about the hipsters and Bubble Tea but I’m not complaining; I’ve got my freak on as I meet my gracious host Bod for a pint or two before we lurch expectantly to the main venue, The Old Market.  Immediately adopting ‘Brighton time’ I missed the mysterious Occult Hand and outrageous Acrid Lactations who I both really wanted to see – please accept my apologies Occult Lactations, I was with you in spirit.

It was sometime around pint four I met up with my co-reporter Pascal Ansell and we immediately set ourselves up in a Hunter S Thompson style press-pack; silver-eyed Tuna darting purposefully through the flitting shoal.  We rejected the usual journalistic conventions to move straight from gentle ‘forming’ to chaotic ‘storming’ within minutes, swapping war-zone anecdotes, snippets of esoteric record knowledge and the loudly proclaiming the relevance of Sammy Davis Jr.  The result of such firm-calved bonding and reckless drinking resulted in a beery bonhomie for sure but also meant I pretty much missed every act to play on Friday.  Oops…I did it again!  The one that got away was the Enzo Minarelli.  Dressed in dark jeans and tight black T shirt, his hair scraped back, there was an air of the ninja in his vocal guffings.  Assisted with backing tracks of further mouth-chaff the precise and deadly Enzo sliced the air with steel-edged hissing and lippy smacks.  This was no po-faced sound poetry lark but a right old hootenanny with his piece ‘Poem’ being turned into ‘PoemMacaroni’ in the curdled air.  The rest of the bill was crammed with exceptional acts of legendary avant-gardary but to my shame dear reader I spent the remnants of Friday propping up the bar catching up with old friends and making new ones.  I’ve never been a good mixer Midwichers but I made up for 43 years of insecurity and introversion with full-strength good cheer and love for my fellow travellers.  You’re (hic) my best pal (hic)!

Saturday morning was an exercise in sickness, pain and remorse as I sheepishly ate brunch with family Bod and took the drizzly bus in disgrace to witness Gen Ken Montgomery in a Hove Oxfam shop.  The steamy windows of the Oxfam obscured the ‘standing room only’ crowd as I inched in and stood, stomach lurching, for this exploration of the 8-track tomfoolery.  Gen Ken, dapper in vintage Op Art shirt and tie manipulated old portable 8-tracks filling the damp air with warped 70’s AM rock all mashed and rotting.  The warbles and trembles on the tape gave the Bee Gees et al a sepia fuzzed-out logic as loops were found and layered up into the consistency of dusty blancmange.  He was a right card too, playing it up for the steaming crowd, making asides and throwing out hula-hoops of pulsating ‘waaahhhhoooosssshhhhh-voooshhhhhh’.  After Gen Ken’s performance I wandered round Brighton for a bit, drank some peppermint tea (swearing off the demon drink for the rest of the weekend) and soundchecked with the great Gwilly Edmondez & THF Drenching.

coos_dylan nyoukisCoos_maya dunietz

At about teatime I found myself outside the very proper St Andrew’s church for some right high culture. Old-guy Produktionsprozesse composer-guy Dieter Schnebel was interviewed by Ilan Volkov about his approach to music and personal history.  Dieter seems a game old bird, humble and gracious but with a sharp sense of humour…he somehow manages to call the audience stupid and make them love him for it…dude!  A bunch of doofs play some Schnebel pieces: Maya Dunietz world premieres the ass off a beautiful and catchy piece for piano, voice and tambourine.  Ilan and Maya throw some shapes in a gestural piece where composer and pianist struggle for supremacy like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.  Then Maya and Dylan Nyoukis get all serious and tackle a vocal piece for restricted mouthshapes and we end up with the most spellbinding piece of the afternoon.  Like air hissing through naked ribs, dry and crackly.  The pair, dressed in formal black, embrace at the end of the show, cracking hearts at CooS and letting pure love flow.  The only way to follow such an intense and refined performance is of course with some chips so I headed to Bankers (Brighton’s best Fish & Chip shop) for sustenance.

Energised by hot potato and grease I walk into the Old Market to see the friendly and familiar face of Sindre Bjerga coaxing gentle tape loops out of his mess of wires and objects, polishing them up and floating them on the breeze like water-filled balloons pulling gruff-clouds out the air.   Stepping round his desk he carefully wraps up a few people in abandoned cassette tape, hurls a miniature cymbal onto the deck and politely waves marking the end of a neat little set.  Next up were a bunch of A-Band/Ceramic Hobs/Zero Map/Smell & Quim refugees calling themselves The Y Bend.  The programme describes ‘no-mind sounds’ which pretty much sums up the Hawkwind out-takes vibe.  Personally I’m transported back to the days of Anti-Poll Tax benefits as this jam band takes a note and jiggles it proper between guitar, keyboard, violin and eccentric hand percussion making incidental music for the revolution.

coos_jon marshallcoos_charlie collins 2

Roman Nose take the stage behind them and win the rosette for ‘best band of Saturday’.  These days Roman Nose are very much a ‘band’ bridging the gap between rock’s looseness and tape/noise/jam’s love of overload. It’s almost funky with a pushing and pulling, a wrapping and un-wrapping of tape-fuff mittens across fluttering drums and breathy intrusions via flute and black-bamboo sheng.  Throw some horns for the Nose!

coos_sharon galcoos_sharon gal 2

Huge wineglasses are set up amid electronic doo-hickery for Sharon Gal and Andie Brown.  These glasses are Jeroboam massive, pregnantly full; delicate but comprising a thousand potential shivs.  Like an inverse Justice Yeldham the glass is thumbed to produce deep rasping drones.  It’s great to watch the deft hand movement turn into such singing and bassy mulch.  Gal uses her voice like some terror-choir re-enacting a trauma.  Electronic squash makes a Black Metal grunt adding to the dungeon gloom.  Wow…a Carpathian Forest sprouts from the floor as the thin rays of a dismal sun rise slowly in the East.  The bald guy with all the pedals is M. Stactor; his mask is a composite of Her Majesty Betty II and Saddam Hussein.  Slowed down speech goes ‘burrrrrrr’ and get shoved through a variety of whizz-bangs to come out ‘BURRRRRR’ anointed with contact-mic crackle and hand-palming crunch.  Brand new CooS trio Edmondez/Posset/THF Drenching adopt the dual Dictaphone position like a crouching Judas Priest. Gwilly bangs his head like Halford.  And seeing as I’m involved modesty prevents me for saying too much about this fine-legged beast.

coos_will 2coos_possetcoos_drench 2

I caught about 20 seconds of Bridget Hayden’s set but within that 20 seconds I heard the entire history of overblown fuzz-guitar from the Sonics to the Velvet Underground to the Dead C.  Rusty chainmail began clanking out the walls; rolling thunder crashed from the ceiling.  The very gods showed their pleasure in ancient, animalistic ways.  Oh boy!  I was still kicking myself when Greg Kelley & Dylan Nyoukis sat erect and purposeful on a pitch black stage.  Side by side they were, with Greg’s tubes augmented with cold brass and Dylan’s with moist flesh.  Snide hiss and scything tones crept almost guiltily from trumpet and gob, playing merrily between wet-mouth slappings and full jowl squelch.  This was no dramatic, overwrought, performance piece nor academically apologetic. The “my voice, your voice” mantra summed up a lot of the days sessions in a simple repetitive phrase.  Some jokers joined in on coughing and started a response group reflex (koff-KOFF-koff).  The optimist in me thought the spontaneous outpouring would lead to a scratch feral choir but no…it was a piss take…yet troupers Kelley & Nyoukis toughed it out cackling and blowing the third eye till it blinked all yeasty.  Lovers Ritual (Maya Dunietz & Ilan Volkov) used voice and violin to beguile, encouraging minimal and thin tones out the cracks in the light fittings. Not content with sticking to the stage both Maya & Ilan ended up on the floor, among the punters, stroking and keening their flexible bones in a tangled tableaux.

It’s Sunday.  The Lords day.  And me & Bod celebrate with a visit to a typical Brightonian Car Boot sale; he picks up some Colombian tapes, I nab a Fantasy Island fridge magnet and we both head happily to the Sallis Benney Theatre for the famous CooS film screenings.  I really loved what I saw but I soon discovered it’s hard to take notes in the dark so am relying on musty recall only.  Standouts…the bonkers The Handeye (Bone Ghosts) by Anja Dornieden & Juan David Gonzalez Monroy which coupled 19th Century taxidermy with digitized commands and the bumbling chunter from Patrick Goddard’s charming Free Radicals.  As the films ended, us gaggle of cinema-goers milled around, checking maps and GPS systems to find the next venue, giggling over being able to genuinely say, ‘See you in church later man.’  A walk along the cold, crisp sea-front takes us back to St Andrew’s Church for a session of spooky Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) from CM von Hausswolff & Michael Esposito.  I’m really excited about this one.  Since I was a kid I’ve been in love with that flexi disc that came with the first edition of ‘The Unexplained’.  Of course I never knew these supposed ghost voices were EVP but I totally dug the hissy weirdness.  The two gents open with about 15 minutes of static tape hiss with the occasionally clunky ‘chump’ like ghosts dropping wooden marbles in a bucket.  The fuff was pretty damn immersive and had some of the flagging hordes crashed out on the pews.  CM and Michael then took us through some of their EVP recordings (cue demonic chuckle) made in this very church.  What could have been (possibly should have been) spectral and creepy turned into a bit of a laugh as the particularly chirpy Michael introduced second-long sound-clips of the dead calling us ‘assholes’, urging us to ‘get out’, that they ‘are in love with married men’ and…to much hilarity…‘it’s all shite’.  Wow the ghosts sound like angry jakeys!

COOS Jooklo Duo 1COOS Jooklo Duo 2

Back in the Old Market I strained limbs to find my comrade Pascal.  It was Jooklo Duo next and I was pretty sure he’d be right up the front for this.  Some lazy sleuthing revealed Pascal had packed up and gone.  He’d had enough and trekked back to Leeds earlier in the day.  Oh Pascal…you would have loved what came next!  Jooklo Duo were absolutely amazing.  Now I know that’s trite, lazy journalism but I was too busy picking my eyeballs up off the floor to concentrate on clever words.  This was a 100% lung-bursting blowout with drumming as agile as a crack-fuelled squirrel.  I’m no jazz buff but I like my brassy honks and squeals.  Jooklo one, Virginia Genta, plays like Pharaoh Sanders with some nifty Arabic scales quickly releasing that cheeky kundalini from the base of my spine.  Woah boy, I said Woah!  Not one or two but three casual acquaintances said this was ‘better than Brotzmann’. Heard that?  Promoters…book ‘em now.

COOS f ampism

Brighton local f.Ampism loops and loops and loops domestic clunk, mbira tones and gentle sighing all engaging and releasing softly like the briny blue sea just 100 meters down the street.  A film is projected behind his hat and beard; cut-up collage sourced from what seems to be the family Nyoukis archive and Martha Colburn’s paint splattered horror-core.  I have to admit I’m a total fan-boy of Amp’s choogle-leech-warp but this was a whole new saltine!  Fordell Research Unit sat like a couple of chess masters and manipulated a pretty damn heavy drone with micro-movements.  So far, so good.  In tiny, tiny increments the drone gets grunty and somehow slower and fuller until we’re faced with a monolith – a black slab, playing the theme tune for the world’s most evil super villain.  There’s a growing feeling of excitement for the next set from noise-monkeys Spoils & Relics with Karen Constance.  Faced with a table full of gizmos and wires the quartet sat in quiet contemplation building a Jenga house of quivering tones and darkly-twinkling steam.  Like some giant engineering puzzle, pieces are interlocked; a spark starts a fire and is extinguished ruthlessly by the hobo fire brigade.  After a time the factory klaxon calls and the workers down tools and melt into grease.

COOS Usurper

It’s no secret; I’m a little in love with Usurper. Ali Robertson and Malcy Duff have been making the most singular no-input music for half a decade at least.  Writing about Usurper is always a tough gig; their total lack of any of the regular handholds makes the amateur pamphleteer work hard, busting chops to describe their occasional cutlery pings and tales of Auld Reekie.  Tonight they are joined by Dora Doll, one half of the legendary Prick Decay, on scissors as a circular story unfolds on twin tape recorders.  Narratives intertwine as a regular haircut turns into a meditation on the seaside and seaside ritual.  A grumpy Ali gets wrapped in ribbon like a maypole, Malcy crawling on the floor streaming the red and white tapes behind him.  Hairy objects are presented to Ali & Dora for snipping.  A guitar FX pedal, a pair of glasses, a descant recorder are shorn of hair and (in some cases) indecently rubbed beneath the barber’s shawl.  Apart from the taped stories, folding in and out of phase there is a rare skronk-interruption on contact-miked yard brush ‘Shussssh, shusssh, shussssh’ as Malcy coughs up hairballs.  Any traditional ideas of what performance is are dashed.  Any preconceptions of what underground art should be are delightfully roasted.  Usurper are right out on a limb, doing their very own thing and making up a whole new set of parameters.  What on the page seems like random vignettes has a strong sense of direction and pace…and most importantly fun.  I’m laughing like a drain and looking round to see a crescent of bemused yet joyful faces.  No one is really sure what they have witnessed but pretty much everyone agrees it was damn fine.

The tapes spool to an end, Usurper and Dora bow and grin, and my CooS adventure comes to an end.  It’s been a trip and a half Midwichers.  Brighton itself is a beautiful backdrop to this very psychedelic weekend, the bands/acts/performers have all brought their own slice of oddness with a spice and professionalism the naysayers often miss.  But for me it’s all been about the people…the floating and transient chats, the laughs and the in-depth conversations.  There’s that quote about the Velvet Underground isn’t there?  They didn’t sell loads of records but everyone who bought one formed their own band.  Well this weekend might have been an intimate affair but I wonder how many projects and plans were hatched, how many ideas were sparked and alliances formed.  CooS brings the no-audience underground together like a giant think-tank…but what’s gonna occur?  I can’t wait to find out.

Editors note: a comprehensive selection of band bios and links can be found on the COOS website here.  Photos by Joe or Marc Teare.

guest post! extracts from the joe posset end-of-year round up! part two of two: conference of gurgles

December 12, 2012 at 7:11 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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OK, for preamble from both me and from Joe Murray, guest author of this post, see part one below.  No need to repeat ourselves here – on with part two:

(with continued apologies to those whose pictures I’ve stolen.  Click on the linked bits for further info and/or purchasing details)

–ooOoo–

hapsburg braganza - recurring dreams

Hapsburg Braganza – Recurring Dreams LP x 2 (Alt Vinyl)

Guitar reigns supreme here.  A faded, scrubbed, scuffed guitar sound that seems to slink along the skirting boards.  Sombre chordings and plucks play with time, swinging in places (‘Dolomite 98’ is almost jolly; like a weary parent’s forced smile) adding space like Dub.  To keep it all frosty Phil introduces the occasional fear piano (hear ‘In Holland Cloth’ brother and tremble) and dervish organ (mainline ‘Golding’s Eclipse’) with fog grey electronics smeared carefully over a few of the tracks.  The biggest Hapsburg surprise is the addition of super subtle drums every now and again; courtesy of Bong’s Mike Smith.  A lazy journalist would point to the drums and shout “A-Ha.  Slow drums and slow guitar…that’s post-rock that is!”  And of course they would be wrong.  There’s an older tradition here.  The tradition of the saga, the legend, the epic story shared between glowing faces over a roaring fire.  Recurring Dreams is a lengthy wallowing in the Kingdom of Hapsburg…and this is a place where you need to take your time, pull up a stool, bathe your feet in the stream. Recorded mostly in the early hours, on the edge of sleep, gives Recurring Dreams a definite feel…we often talk of peripheral vision…could this claim to be the first example of peripheral listening?

cabbage rosette with phil minton

Cabbage Rosette with Phil Minton – Ran out of breath licking elegy nipple, cough and fall to bits, tight chest as achievement? CD-R (Total Vermin)

Balls out skronk from Messers Poot & Vermin abetted by Mr ‘jazzface’ Minton on swelling tubes.  Over-blown kitchen electronics huff each and every cough and splutter so the inward sigh becomes symphonic, the lip smack a thunderbolt.  Squeaky doors or plastic tape cover are rattled to destruction (screeechhh, scraaaaaw) and the only recognisable ‘instrument’; a phat keyboard, blebs in dopey chimes, once, twice then not at all.  Sounds are fairly poured over each over with abandon and mixed up with a hot spoon.  There’s little structure or reason to this making it all the more fun and engaging.  The frenzied jerk and Tourette’s tick keep the energy up.  You can almost picture them, shoulders up to earholes, spazzing out on spittle warp.  Things get more crimped towards the end when what sounds like some remedial turntable abuse plays up against mouth babble and the whole thing ends in a conference of gurgles and wet-fart lippings.  13 mins in total…the perfect length.

blue spectrum - i almost drowned

No Artist – Untitled aka Blue Spectrum – I Almost Drowned MC (Blue Spectrum Tapes)

Sorry about the mystery surrounding the name here.  It’s all very confusing…if you’re trying to check it out it’s got a Pegasus on the cover.  Released in a huge edition of 3!  Flipping open the case and slapping this into the deck starts a strange claustrophobic trip.  Recorded in the lowest of all know fidelities this sounds like a penguin colony getting their hands on some sharpened sticks and menacing the keepers.  The bars of the enclosure are wired up to the mains and blasted apart using slow dynamite.  Sparks fly, low crunching fills the air and before long blubber and blood lap up against the sides of the pool.  Things get pretty nasty towards the end of side one with granite hammers being thrown at a giant insect-o-cutor.  High tape strangeness in the mould of an early Prick Decay or pre-school Cock ESP or something.  Side two couples its buffers to classic dark noise territory and sounds like massively amplified rolling stock slamming on the breaks and keeping them there for 25 mins.  Metal on metal screech and heavy rumbling fuss make this a steam powered listen, all oily and soot covered sideburns.  Refreshing as a Irn-Bru enema.

(Editor’s note: in the spirit of investigative journalism Joe contacted Simon of Blue Spectrum for further information and got the following response:

As far as the title and artist goes there wasn’t any, although I credited myself on discogs just to say who made it. I didn’t want it to have a name or title. On the spine there is ripped paper in place of where the artist and title would usually go. I think how you referred to it was perfect no artist – untitled aka blue spectrum ‘I almost drowned’ because it gives it an identity. The official label name is Blue Spectrum Tapes. This is the discogs page.  I will be making another batch of these soon, maybe 10 or so copies.

…so now you know.)

jazzfinger - destroyed form

Jazzfinger – Destroyed Form MC (Handmade Birds)

One sided cassette that opens the door to forbidden times.  At some level all Jazzfinger records are an exercise in archaeology.  Although I have a brand new tape in my hands the actual recordings could have been made 20 years ago and only now have filtered through the arcane and secret Jazzfinger process known only to Has, Ben and Sarah.  As it happens this does invoke ‘early’ Jazzfinger when cymbals and organ played a much bigger part in the ritual.  ‘Ocean is free’ sounds like my earliest memories of Jazzfinger with the singing-grainy organ, tape wobble and sickly cymbal tapping.  ‘Sun Punishment’ lurches forward in time to the white-out-guitar-squall period blowing static clouds of electric fuss all over.  This one is more badly behaved than most JF jams delving into metallic tantrum through to a come down of goblin hammers tinkling.  The final jam ‘blown cotton woodland’ sounds like the soundtrack to some terrible conspiracy theory documentary on cable.  A doomy horsefly buzzing in your ear, some backmasking sound manipulation drawing to a close of throbbed out organ bliss.

acrid lactations - presidential

The Acrid Lactations – The Presidential cow is bound to the maypole MC (Total Vermin)

This tape pretty much takes every gob-punk cliché and bombs them back to year zero.  Very fucking warped skronk and then some extra double girl on boy skronk are the order of the day.  Things seem to be in both real time and then manipulated via bad-electronics at random, making for a discombobulating listen.  Moaning and groaning is fighting with pinched throat gurgles, drawn out mouth drones stray to the fore with a more high pitched keening just at the edge of my (admittedly damaged) hearing.  Regular instruments are jettisoned as being bourgeois in favour of the more democratic domestic rattles of: bird-pipes, concrete sacs being dragged, ice chinks in a glass of Dandelion & Burdock, ripped cardboard, amplified plastic bags, violently bubbled milk and yogurt pots etc.  Helium high screes march over tape loops of ‘vurrrum-raaaam’ with indistinct clumsy DJ scratching like Grandmaster Flash’s first session on him moms hi-fi slipping a ‘high on crack’ sample against falling down the stairs drum machine.  There’s a bluesy quality to some of this…god know how that got into here…and then, just before you can dismiss this as aimless fucking about I’m reminded this is just a fag paper away from James Tenny’s classic tape piece  ‘Blue Suede’ from 1961.  The Lactations know their history man!  For today and today only this tape has the distinction of being the exact end point of what music is and what it can achieve.  Awright!

dylan - acrylic widow

Dylan Nyoukis – The Acrylic Widow Vinyl (Discombobulate)

As of writing this is still unreleased but early 2013 will see this burst forth like pus.  There are four measured tracks here.

  1. Dry coughs and outta-wack piano chords play into Boy Scout bike repairs, ‘test the bell, spin the wheel!’  Hot air leaks from a perished rubber hose.  With knuckles like hazelnuts, these sounds shine like delicately laid cobblestones, laid end-to-end without no fuss or haste, they are tram tracks.  Late night thumps, ‘boof, baff’ and a lousy Soft Machine organ solo talks a Brighton raver down from gritted jaw oblivion.
  2. Ideas are put through the wringer in stereo effect.  The domestic bric-a-brac builds up: a motorcycle revving, the dry crunch of gravel underfoot…a jumble sale of sweaty woollens, singing out through pinched throat to make un-sense of the phrase ‘iss, sum bear-lae-um’.  An unexpected kitchen sink gamelan makes for a feverish listen. Tension is introduced via leathery lunged accordion but there’s no crass crescendo.  Fading out like pinched guts.
  3. Euro voices abound in tangled syntax.  Verbs sounds & nouns renamed.  Sure, there’s blubber and chunder…’you, you, you and me’ that’s slam-up-bang to babby titter-chat for starters.  Then the downs come in, re-directed by taut tape loops making the ecstatic, grooving on the surface of bubble.   The proclamation, ‘I’m right here’ leaves us in no doubt who you are sharing your damp bedsit with tonight, slurping up the old wine as red as pooled blood.
  4. Another take on the stretched ritual.  A parrot squawks underwater struggling for fresh O2.  Furious eraser scurrying action is met with the stony silence of a 14 year old girl while apples crunch between strong white teeth.  Our old friends, words, are worried and fretted in a dark experiment; turned over looking for new seams and valves to shuck and prise open like ripe clams until mucus-like muscle slips free and falls to the flagstones below.

This is a living séance with The Acrylic Widow.  Wisdom from the Old Ones, the thin Venn diagram slice between frantic scuttling & sweet Miskatonic stoned.

–ooOoo–

…and so we end the extract with a fittingly festive Lovecraft reference.  Many thanks again to Joe for his kind permission to post these great reviews.  His complete 2012 round-up will be available at the end of the month over at the Posset myspace blog.  Reading it, and chasing up the goodies that it describes, will give you something to do in that null week between Christmas and New Year after you’ve broken all your new toys…

wired for sound part 34: new from total vermin

December 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Core of the Coalman – Stain (Total Vermin, #65, C59)

Fordell Research Unit – The True Meaning of Red (Total Vermin, #66, C32)

Acrid Lactations – Crude Paintings on Porcelain (Total Vermin, #67, C37)

Hard Pan and Hobo Sonn – Soup Electric and Roll (Total Vermin, #71, C26)

Smear Campaign – Love in an Heroic Vernacular (Total Vermin, #72, C36)

fordell research unit - the true meaning of redcore of the coalmanhard pan and hobo sonnacrid lactations - crude paintingssmear campaign - love in an heroic vernacular

Stuart Arnot, boss of prolific tape and CD-r label Total Vermin, likes to put on a spread.  Rather than drip feed us his releases one at a time he prefers to prepare a banquet, a smorgasbord long-promised then presented triumphantly in full on the Total Vermin blog.

I can see the sense in this approach: one big promo push covers a raft of releases, simultaneous availability encourages multiple purchases which are, in turn, easier to post in batches.  Economies of scale and all that.  The only problem is getting excitable punters such as me to sit still, chew their food and digest each course properly before gorging on the next.  Over the last month or so I’ve been savouring the five tapes above from the latest menu.  I’m finally at the picking-my-teeth, calling-for-the-bill, sending-my-compliments-to-the-chef stage of the meal.

First up is Stain by Core of the Coalman.  Jorge keeps it simple: a full hour (in two halves) of slowly evolving variations on a fuzzed-up viola loop.  What at first seems like a Tony Conrad-ish endurance test took a few minutes to pop my bubble of mental resistance (soap-film thin at the best of times) then mind freed, my arse did follow.  I was soon dancing naked on the driveway of Midwich Mansions.  This tape is hard, lovely.

Fordell Research Unit is flavour of the month round here and The True Meaning of Red is a late contender for tape of the year in the hotly contested ‘droning fuzz roar’ section.  Five short to mid-length tracks, all beautifully balanced, all sharing the delicious alchemy of a poached egg coagulating in fiercely boiling water.  The whole thing invokes a feeling that we are rarely treated to: total, magisterial, soul-cleansing satisfaction.  A must buy.

Now we come a series of tapes illustrating what might be called the Total Vermin house sound.  Whilst the girth of Stuart’s impeccable taste is impressively meaty, listen to a bunch of TV tapes – especially those involving Stuart himself – and you’ll start to recognize variations on a similar groove.  It isn’t coolly academic meta-music, nor is it balls-out fire music, rather a kind of all-in, kitchen sink improv.  Recordings are lo-fi, but components are not mashed together, detail is maintained and no sharpness is dulled.  It exists in its own world where ‘real’ instrumentation muscles in on everyday activity and makes the commonplace enigmatic and musical.  The approach is perfectly at home on tape and housed in the vibrant paint and crayon colours of the packaging.

Examples?  Take your pick.  Soup Electric and Roll is by Hard Pann and Hobo Sonn which unpacks as Stuart, Pascal Nichols and Luke Poot who are joined for this recording by Ian Murphy.  Side A is all stomping, knocking electronics with subtleties bobbing to the surface, side B is a sublime, too-wide-eyed choir of Nurse With Wound-ish unvocalizations.  Compelling late night listening or discombobulating walkman contents for the commute.

Love in an Heroic Vernacular is Stuart solo in his Smear Campaign guise.  A band name like that might lead you to expect power electronics or harsh noise but not a bit of it.  Instead you get in-between-train-carriages whistling wind, queasily arrhythmic percussion, clouds of robot starlings, skittering electronics and mournful trumpet.  At one point the entire mix is dropped down a well.  It’s like the alien funk of 1970s Miles filtered through ectoplasmic gel and played at half-speed.  Terrific.

Finally, we have Crude Paintings on Porcelain by the wonderfully named Acrid Lactations, a duo of Stuart and Susan Fitzpatrick.  Possibly the most lo-fi of these productions, it was apparently recorded in a shower room and, as the occasional sound of running water proves, the fixtures and fittings were pressed into service.  Side A is rumbling, popping improv percussion using whatever implements and instruments they could drag in whilst still being able to close the door.  It sounds like Paul Hession trapped in a cupboard and trying to alert the search party.  This is augmented with some unplaceable trilling and circuit-bent stylophone stylings and finishes with Susan and Stuart hallucinating the trumping horns and jangling cowbells of a procession of tiny Swiss goat-herds as they march across the linoleum.  Side B starts in a contemplative fashion before the goat-herds return in buoyant mood having eaten some mouldy bread and interesting looking mushrooms in the meantime.  The second half has a more ominous feel as a foot-long giant bee starts banging its head against the shower room window.  I dig it.

To buy this stuff visit the Total Vermin blog, make your selections – tapes at £2.50 a throw plus postage – and email Stuart at smearcampaign@hotmail.com for an all-in quote.

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