a yeasty upstairs room: rfm on blood stereo, stuart chalmers & neil campbell, rlw & dylan nyoukis and the custodians

July 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk)

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (No Label)

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk)

The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk)

choc monk

Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk) CDr

The wet-slippage of malfunctioning MP3 files or possibly a functional electronic sound – say the alarm in an overloaded lift – starts this single 37 minute grunt.

Over the course of the next half hour there are more than a few moments to treasure…

  • Cannibalised spoken word overlaps a low moaning (licked forefinger rubbed over smoked glass coffee table?) in perfect sympathy…a ghostly parrot chatters the syllables in strict timing.
  • 10cc’s tape loops hijacked for the ‘oooooooo’s’ and pulled through Kolkata in a handcart.
  • “What is this shadow in which we come?”asks an inquisitive voice.
  • A brief movement scored for plastic packaging materials, ring modulator and rain on a tin roof.
  • The matrix recording of coins dropped into hot syrup is re-mastered with a Joe Meek mind.

The sink gurgles and psychedelic reportage are kept to a minimum though to concentrate on rhythm in all its forms, for this is Blood Stereo’s most spacious record yet.

Dry, echoing ‘clonks’ and ‘squarks’ are placed carefully into the mix – but not with a dictator’s swagger stick.  Rather the gardener’s crisp carrot!  These, sounds are encouraged to grow, swell and bloom.  The fullness of the harvest is a testament to this pair of green-thumbs, nipping and tweaking, composting and watering their bumper crop.

But fear not goofs! It’s not all serious trousers – there are still yuks in this mix.  The family (sound) portraits and the occasional snot-nosed sniff make an appearance before the truly beautiful, final movement of antique telephone engaged-tones and exotic hot breath-waffles.

Blood Stereo’s statement is clear…from the trash I create diamonds, from the unheard and unloved I fashion unique listening flaps.

Aye.  That’s the grace all right.

chalmers Campbell

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (no label) CDr and digital album

Two monarchs ruling together in the kingdom of the Reversing Pool.

This super-sick collaboration takes the idea of loops and propels it into the negative zone where all laws of physics are crudely tippexed out.

That’s not to imply it’s lumpen.  No way! There’s a real delicacy to these swooping spirals, like a collection of rare ceramics spinning in a vortex.  You catch the occasional blurred pattern, a hint of Royal Doulton perhaps, that you can hang your hat on but your brain is mostly taken up with the sheer majesty of complex, cyclical movement (deep in the reversing pool).

‘Star Camera’ must be a J-Pop K-Hole.  The baffled drum loop, a soft beat, slipping in and out of reality as our avatar (probably dressed as Sailor Moon) squawks an electric fudge.

The whirling, swirling miasma doesn’t let up quickly.  Even the slurred vocal starting ‘Slipping Slipping’ is part of a greater orbit.  A sort of cosmic churning taking in smears of electric guitar and fizziling keyboard washes.

A reprieve is served on ‘Detitrus on Old Bank’ and ‘Migrating Dirge’.  They are looser for sure but spinning just as fast creating sparks that ‘zip’ off my xylophone and makes me ring my bicycle bell with abandon.  By the final minute ‘Detritus…’ has turned into solid jam.  ‘…Dirge’ jingles like pennies in a sock; a curious bank or preparation for the borstal breakout?

A joyful noise unto the creator – you bettchya sweet cakes.

rlw and dylan

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Stone-cold classic tape-werks from wonk-central: Chocolate Monk.

(adopts HBO voiceover pose)

“Previously on Chocolate Monk

Dee Nyoukis shifts his spittle at the Nefertiti Jazz Club, Gothenburg six or seven years ago and pledges the live tapes to one Ralf Wehowsky, legendary thinker and doer who unleashes several gallons of whup, whup all over them.

The result is an interchangeable reality sauce, or something. “

The Nyoukis-vox tapes are a shadowy presence and tend to inhabit the corners and dado rails of this mix while RLW slathers on huge scoops of itchy sound.  At times it’s a fine violin, a recognisable sound fragment that adds a kind of sign-post, indicating the way.

At others it’s a deep abstract scribble.  Like an IRCAM-heavy squall the sheets of sound are utterly alien and yet comfortably retro-fitted.  Before you can polish your specs a granulated ripping peppers things, spicing lengthy tracks ‘Left Shoe’ and ‘Right Shoe’ up hot!

Sounds tend to whizz more than I am used to filling up my room with blank swoops or popping-mud farts.  Dylan’s strangulated vox get pinched further via squealing Ralf-manoeuvres; pitched up through your appendix scar and out via your nostril.  A silver thread seems pulled through me aching Gulliver scrambling my mind eggs.

Can I mention Varèse in this punk-ass blog?  Eek! I guess I did.  Well some of the ‘Right Shoe’ movements are percussive clatter-boxes – part Ionisation part Goldie’s Metalheadz crew but all bookended with damp squelching like a thick milkshake being sucked.

A disc for damn voyagers and heroes.

custodians

The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Top-quality brain-scrape from double-saxed trio with added Bohman power!

If you were to do a google image search for ‘Englishness’ I’m sure the old clichés of well-oiled cricket pitches and fluffy cream teas get fetched up before long*.

But for me…nothing seems more English than a ragged mess of electronics/objects balanced on a pub table in a yeasty upstairs room.

Imagine the very polite anticipation as we stand around waiting for some beard (Adam Bohman) to rummage about in the confusion and wrench out an antique-shop clattering.  Picture the sympathetic tones coaxed out of some saxophones (Adrian Northover & Sue Lynch) – but not too loud mind!

And in this way The Custodians are the most English of groups.  Perhaps it’s the practice habitual orderly queuing creates that explains the space each player leaves making this an altogether charming listen.

But how do these Toby Jugs come together, what’s the chatter yeah?

A double-barrelled approach divides performances into either:

  • thin sax tones floating over industrious sawing and dry chitter / picture Ronnie Scott’s after closing time with the roaches skittering around brass holes or…
  • bi-narratives/tri-narratives weaving sense in, out and around both my pink ears like the dusty graveyard where radio plays go to die.  These talking pieces make the tired old brain work HARD.  It’s almost like there is a loop of text that keeps getting manipulated live between Adam, Adrian and Sue as painterly touches of soft-round brass spread buttery glee.  No mercy!

The audacious tri-narrative; ‘King and Queen-Traction and Wine’ squeezes my head-sponge good with its three-fold reading text-loops, pitched squeal and wonderful steam train noises making it all tip-top and tally ho!

A real Babel is unleashed on ‘Tlotm variations’ where our three friends are joined by linguaphone tapes running backwards / forwards / sideways pressing all sense though a reality sieve until all that remains is a flapping jaw and soft wet tongue.

*don’t bother to check the validity of this – in reality a Google Image search for Englishness is predictably awful

 

Neil Campbell Big Cartel / Stuart Chalmers Bandcamp

Chocolate Monk

-ooOOoo-

samizdat territory: joe murray on blood stereo, hair & treasure, aaron dilloway, thomas bench, dylan nyoukis

May 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Blood Stereo / Hair & Treasure – Split LP (vinyl LP or download, Discrepant, CREP29)

Aaron Dilloway & Dylan Nyoukis – Dropout Elements (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.328B)

Thomas Bench & Dylan Nyoukis – Dylan Thomas (tape, Chocolate Monk, choc.330, edition of 50)

Blood_Treasure

Blood Stereo / Hair & Treasure – Split LP

The Blood Stereo: a photograph album with all the eyes scratched out.

This side is an incomplete memory guide.  The abstract is re-stitched as finest tapestry. It’s never about the destination but always the in-the-minuteness, the total immersion that acts as inauthentic spirit guide.

Again, the domestic (snotty snores, child chatter) is nestled up to improv clank / clatter and holy minimal organ meditations.  But the BS still kick it hard and surprise just like a Jodorowsky Box Set from Auntie Gladys at Xmas.  The wrenched tape / throat glots are fresh and salty as any shucked oyster as the KOFFS and SKWAA bounce between my 5am ears.

Hey you! This complexity is exquisite – multi-layered like a dream, each piece pregnant with meaning and freaky symbols.  Even without the snatches of fuxxhorn this is a distinctly Ellingtonian piece from the pebbles.  Take the fucking A Train pal!

But the B-Bop doesn’t stop things getting a little spooky.  The final third is measured out in soul weights; scant grams but super dense.  Curious backwards propulsion becomes the perfect background for Lewis Carroll’s LSD-flecked Victoriana; starched petticoats and cheeks stuffed with mushrooms.  The final few seconds take us into Samizdat territory, but I realise, slowly, slowly, slowly that this is not an ending but merely a new beginning in an ongoing BS continuum.

It’s like ∞ man.

Hair & Treasure; those guys deliver! And they rub out not one but two pieces on their carefully scratched side.

Part one takes Table Electronics (?) or Tape Manipulation (??) or Computer Enhancement (???) and crispy dries it.  The crackles and clicks are set with poise and deliberation becoming an ornate gilt frame.  They say:

These are the new boundaries.  Pay attention and look deeply.

Hoofing yoghurts are pitched against Bollywood dancers weak with fever so every finger snap and coquettish glance is damp with sweat.  It’s musical collage as Curiosity Cabinet.  Small shelves and alcoves filled with err… hair and treasure?  But instead of your withered Monkey’s Paw or violet Amethyst you’ve got foreign-language dubs, whooping cough rhythms and fake farm-yard bleats.

But when all is shown, the ‘ooohhhss’ and ‘aaaahhhhhsss’ are extracted from our audience until it gets serious with the Basic Channel sound leaking from one speaker.  The deep throbs and gristly bass wash over me submissively and I realise it’s only the Dictaphone ‘scccccvvvv’ that’s keeping H&T off the front of Mixmag or something.

Part two is a knockabout – a lightener, but with damn fine loops chicanery.  Imagine Tom Recchion/Stuart Chalmers/Klaus Fillip goofing over your tape collection of handmade loops.  You diggin’ it?  Short and precise… it ends with marvellously sick coughing.  Seek help! Get better…

a and d

Aaron Dilloway & Dylan Nyoukis – Dropout Elements

A sold-out tape version of this gunk led to a pretty swift CD-r re-release.  But ditherers take note: this mung moves quicker than shit through a goose so make plans, make plans.

Modus Operandi? Four pieces of roughly equal tape glitch and loop menace.  And, like Guru Josh in a trench-coat, this disc showcases the power of gentle squeezing, gradual release and deferred gratification.

These are ‘process pieces’ so the source material is just a starting point in the sonic flowchart.  It’s what they’ve done with it that tightens the plums.  I’m riding the gradual rise & fall of sound as AD & DN reveal themes, cryptic, like scraping moss off a rock.

Some parts lay exactly halfway between goof-gravy and M25 Acid Squelch (Untitled I) others play with the very idea of ‘realness’.

Let me explain:  A Mongolian horse-head fiddle recorded on a University-sponsored field trip?  It’s an HD recording and fully annotated with extensive notes (English & German) yeah.  OR it’s a broken violin recorded in a sweat-lodge back room, bounced on the crappiest MP3 across the Atlantic.  Does it matter when my ears rotate and my hair levitates? I’ve not quoffed the Reindeer urine cocktail – I favour the metrosexual Soy Latte – but the result baby… the results are the same (Untitled III).

Take four notes from any Cosmic Psychos thug-anthem, reduce to the two nastiest and distill until it becomes the memory of a too-loud night ringing in your ears.  Rushing and repetitive, a whooshing loops through the hippocampus so you twitch and drool in yr sleep (Untitled IV).

What did Dolly say?  If life gives you lemons, make super-strength headfuck juice!

dylan thomas

Thomas Bench & Dylan Nyoukis – Dylan Thomas

Two sides of the same coin?  Hardworking Tom and indolent Dylan take a recent live set made in brotherly togetherness and rip it apart like a ripe tangerine.

Side Tom – Astral Travel grants transparent eyes! All the colours become visible, so as long as I peer into the bubbling BenchMix I can re-live these total colours and shades.  Gems are hidden like Easter surprises –both glittering and sweet, familiar and faintly chalky.  Deeply knotted, a suspicious slopping occurs halfway through broken down into a hiccough/doorbell loop that’s pure Vision On!

In fact the vibe of Schools & Colleges leaps like a leaky thermos; it’s a crispy pancake flicking a zippo lighter.  No thumbs!

Side Dylan – Single moments (hiss, consonant blip) chopped and kneaded together.  It’s pretty fucking wild and twice makes me rip out the ear bugs – ‘who said that?’

I’m goofing on the pause-button choke that makes all words and sounds slippery when pizzicato turns tardo.  I end my listening lustily – insect porn narrated with heavy emphasis on the gasps and snarls.

Don’t tell mum.

—ooOoo—

Discrepant Records

Chocolate Monk (or via Tom’s Hardworking Families)

the tin skeleton: joe murray on blood stereo, luke poot, lovely honkey, gate

February 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Blood Stereo – The Lure of Gurp (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.320, edition of 47)

Luke Poot/Lovely Honkey – Shame 3  (CD-r or download, Angurosakuson)

Gate – Saturday Night Fever (12″ vinyl, MIE, MIE036, edition of 600)

Gurp frontGurp back

Blood Stereo – The Lure of Gurp

A selection of mini-trax that hiss as natural breath: in and out, in and out.

B. Stereo leave the long-haul jam behind for this one and concentrate on a smorgasbord of lung expand and a coy pinkie on the tape head.  In their on-going campaign of pitching formal versus informal sound, the wooden spoon is spun thrice round the bowl in heavy, sugary swipes.   Can I lick the spoon?  Yeah man, why not!

Moves are dramatic and executed with confidence in bold smears (a palette knife spreads ruddy ochre across smooth glass) so things are very well defined but not necessarily primary in colour.

As a result melancholy haunts certain corners.  Examples?

‘Huntiegowk’s Return’ soundtracks that most modern of ills, the loneliness of crowds.  This rumble is handled with a touch as light as mushroom spore.  The title track scoffs and mutters while a Chelsea Pensioner polishes his brass buttons, rum-scented wind whistling out of stiff pink nostrils. Ever tried to catch a memory?  They often move too fast for your fingers and dissolve on contact anyway.  For this study of Tantalus tune into ‘The Hand That Will Not Cup’ and follow the psychic instructions.

But the best example of this sepia-tinted longing erupts on ‘Gob & Soupy’, the Shipping Forecast through a post-ecstasy downer.  Or it’s hippy Elvish.  One of the two.

Whilst never regular church-goers, Blood. S are adept with the dusty church torpor that settles on dull Sunday worship.  That blanket-heavy hum that sucks away at your vitals but buffs the rusty brain like you ate up double portions of sleepy lettuce.   I swear I’m transported back to Methodist Ministries with the ‘rambient’ (random/ambient) churn of heavy organ keys pushed to release grimy gas.

And if I can hear the twitch of a goatee from the under-represented jazz-cat, I worry not.  Everyone’s favourite bass-clarinettist, Yoni Sliver’s damp fluttering is taken apart in a super skilful way (and I should know- I’ve tried it) to re-build into a B&W herky-jerky chorus making Korky the Cat jiggle and swing – on the yip!

The No Audience-Underground is often criticised for being amber-stuck, uncritical and self-satisfied.  Silly goose I say!  Check out this latest BLDSTR infotainment disc (complete with pics, sleeve notes and collage or something) to hear a stretching out and cheeky toe wiggle.  Its new territory marked out with heady musk.

If this doesn’t make those plants grow I’m calling you Percy Thrower.

shame3

Luke Poot / Lovely Honkey – Shame 3

I’m feeling a bit Top Trumps.

Name: Luke Poot

Avant Schtick: Tape farmer, ideas basket, office stationery re-claimer

Distinguishing features:  Mighty colourful beak & ‘sad’ eyes

Hidden Weakness: Feared of magicians

Luke Poot’s singular furrow has been ploughed across the sub-toilet circuit for the last five or six years and often leaves the casual listener in need of a new fold-out map and clearly defined landmarks.  Listen to this without basecamp support and a Sherpa or two and you risk being lost in a white-out of pro darts, taped slurp interruptions and heavy breathing  all delivered with the expert timing of a 60-a-day stand-up comedian (circa 1977).

But back to the map.  Two live recordings bookend some Manchester-born radio sessions that sound unusually strapped inside my skull; like Poot is playing from the inside out – a most disconcerting osmosis.  More of this later…

‘I Wanna Be a Cape (Live in Notts)’ is a brief 6 mins of prepared tape, infrequent muttering and embarrassed silence.  A total environment is carefully laid out but exists just out of reach, making me miss whatever fetid dungeon this was first crouched in.

The three radio pieces occur as part of an equipment breakdown. The first is a classic mouth/tape recorder duet where prior planning only accounts for half the excitement.  The seat of the pants call and response milks some strange teats indeed, some half-got football reference adds to the sickly approach, like watching Noel’s House Party running a sweaty fever. Part two features the half-explosive screams Poot has become famous for…being both powerful and polite, more like an abortive sneeze I suppose.  They are certainly becoming increasingly nasal as the track goes on and I feel like ticking off the severity on a Beaufort scale.  And at last, it had to happen, Richard Harris gets his first oblique mention in the fabled Poot-ography.  Part three is a study of failed whistling gibbers and gobbles with what sounds like some very real throat damage as fleshy tubes get pinched sharp.  There is a discernible story arc (again football related) but bearing no relation to Roy of the Rovers.

‘Happy, Yeah? (Live in Sheffield)’ follows no such narrative and seems to be a secretly recorded tape made of John Cale walking his favourite lady out on a date.  The sun is starting to set and everything is relaxed in buttery yellow light.  They pass hang-outs and cherished restaurants.  Poot is following behind the couple with an outstretched hand.  He gives the command and Sea Lions spout out of the man-hole covers (it’s New York right?) clattering them aside and, in fishy unison, chant and honk a Backstreet Boys version.  All whiskery naturally and over in five brisk minutes.

I recommend this highly.

Gate_-_Staurday_Night_Fever_cover

Gate – Saturday Night Fever

It seems to be a universal truth that most humans can’t bear to hear their own voice on tape.  You’re instantly confronted by your worst self-image without the filter of selected hearing or (in my case) regular oblivious dumbness.

Once you join that vocal jaxx brigade you’ve got to get used to your strangulated vowels and plummy neck pretty darn sharp.  It’s not pleasant but you get used to it.  You dig?

But what really makes me knock-kneed with fear is the prospect of capturing an image of myself dancing.  It happened once and what I viewed was an almost evolutionary wrongness.  Like a gin-soaked St Bernard reared up and deciding ‘four legs bad’ I folded myself into 6 foot 3 inches of tangled limbs and chin-drenched shaking.  I’m not a dancer.  I’m a grotesque.

I think it’s for this reason I’ve steered clear of so much ‘dance music’ in my life.  I love the idea of euphoria blossoming up from your feet and gushing out your blowhole.  I love the concept that freedom of movement unhitches my brain for a few blessed minutes until the lights and sound replace the fetid sump oil of my soul.  I like watching people dancing but shudder at the thought of actually doing it myself.

So it’s with clammy hands I pick up Michael Morley/Gate’s new record, an exploration of disco’s glittery fulcrum – Saturday Night Fever.

It’s a 12 inch, of course it is… the ultimate dance format, with four extended loop-driven swoons, smooth as Calpol.

Horns! Horns unapologetically honk brassily from the front end of ‘Asset.’ MMorley tells me I should be dancing (did you not read that last bit mate?) and, despite myself, I begin to twitch a little until all things buckle under Dead C-heavy guitar clouds.  As the kids say…

pretty sweet.

Are those palm trees?  Rich coconut oil drips from swollen husks. I’m ‘on the strip’ with Vince Neil and the boyz.  The sunlight is blinding as something by Circle plays on the AM radio and the Wolfman Jack cries ‘Licker’.

Fucking ‘ell Vince,

I say,

this rawks!

Vince just winks and flashes a gold molar.

The shortest track, ‘Caked’, is still over 9 mins long and boxy and shallow.  This is no creepy insult; I mean it’s all jittery surface, like a frozen lake.   The action takes place at your eye level and concentrates on wild wobbling and heavy keys.

OK… things have been pretty great so far but the closer ‘Hijack’ might just be an example of bright-shiny-footloose perfection.  A nagging set of bells/parping vocals loop in tight little circuits building up a mesh of rhythms.  Our Mr Morley’s hang-dog singing (he’s a 21st century Jona Lewie for sure) is gravy on the steak but the real genius is revealed in the fade out (almost half the length of the track) that strips away dance floor to focus on the reinforced mechanics, the tin skeleton I’ve been raving on for the last 10 minutes.

Like fluff on a needle it’s a beautiful static ruffle: pffft… pfffft… pfffft.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Angurosakuson

MIE

the 2015 zellaby awards

January 8, 2016 at 11:24 am | Posted in blog info, musings, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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zellaby award envelope

Hello friends and welcome to the 2015 Zellaby Awards and Radio Free Midwich end-of-year round-up.  I’m very glad to see you.  My apologies in advance to those long term readers expecting the usual introduction full of whimsical nonsense.  There will be some of that, of course, but this year needs to be taken seriously and I’m going to start dark.  Don’t worry though – spoiler alert – there will be joy and life-affirming redemption by the end: this piece is my It’s a Wonderful Life.

Firstly, it is not the job of this blog to comment on the wider world but aside from the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, our glorious future prime minister, 2015 was largely without hope. I wish you all good luck in navigating the coming End Times.

Personally, away from music, my year can be split into three four month long segments.  For the first of these I was ill with non-stop, run-of-the-mill viruses.  Nowt serious on its own but the cumulative effect of so many strung together – a necklace of snot – left me in a parlous state.  My depression played cards with its fidgety cousin anxiety, waited until I was defenceless and then kicked in the door.  The second four months were spent off work attempting to shift these unwelcome guests whilst maintaining a functioning family life.  I’ve written about this debilitating effort elsewhere, no need for further details here.  The final four months of 2015 were the tale of my recuperation and slow recovery following a change in medication and a breakthrough in both the treatment of my illness and my attitude towards it.  After much grief, I left 2015 exhausted and resentful but hopeful that new ways of muzzling the black dog will allow me a lengthy period of peace and sanity.

When I was down in it, days, weeks even, passed when music seemed more trouble than it was worth.  The list of releases submitted to RFM for review, plus other stuff that caught my bloodshot eye, became an untended vine cracking the panes of its greenhouse and desiccating the soil in its giant terracotta pot. I’d try to ignore it, slumped in my deckchair, but would be tickled awake by a tendril and look up to see something like Audrey II grinning down at me:

Fleshtone Aura

Or maybe one my colleagues – Joe, Chrissie, Sof, Luke, marlo – would arrive with a ladder, new glass, plant food, exotic orchids or intricate alpines to distract me, gawd bless ‘em. Looking back, I’m surprised at how often I actually did pick up the trowel – if only to wave hello, or whack Luke on the nose with it when I found him digging in the flower beds – and I’m quietly proud of maintaining this garden despite the inclement mental weather. During 2015 radiofreemidwich received approximately 32,000 visits – a new record. 93 posts were published, including the blog’s 500th, by half a dozen different authors. The most popular of which were last year’s Zellaby Awards and my no-audience underground ‘state of the notion’ address – most gratifying as both are heartfelt celebrations of the scene. Not bad, eh?

Now, at this point in the introduction I was going to get catty about my usual scratching posts, hit a few sacred cow arses with a banjo etc. but, looking down at the silted pavement and up at the grey sky, it’s clear that what the world needs now is love, sweet love – not smart alec remarks and passive-aggressive score settling. So let’s get the party started instead.

Here’s the rules: to be eligible in one of the following five categories this music needs to have been heard by one of us for the first time in 2015.  It does not need to have been released in 2015.  As the purpose of these awards is to spread the good news about as many quality releases as possible, should an artist win in one category they will not be placed in any of the others.  I do not vote for my own stuff as midwich, nor any releases that I had a hand in (thus no Aqua Dentata on fencing flatworm – sorry Eddie). The team will avoid touting each others’ projects too – not because we care about conflict of interest (there isn’t any down here) but we do like to maintain at least a veneer of decorum. Aside from marlo, who has been nostril deep in PhD crap all year and thus didn’t feel qualified to contribute, the whole team has chipped in and I will be pasting their responses below. This year I am at least nodding in the direction of democracy when compiling the lists but, as editor, I am reserving final say.  Don’t worry though – my dictatorship is benevolent and progressive.

Right then, time to pop some fucking corks…

sof's pina colada

—ooOoo—

Radio Free Midwich presents the 2015 Zellaby Awards

5. The “I’d never heard of you 10 minutes ago but now desperately need your whole back catalogue” New-to-RFM Award

Chrissie expresses doubts about the whole process then nails a perfect nomination:

I’m not much of a one for end of year retrospectives, forward is my preferred direction. Also I find it hard to compare music and place it in any sort of order. One day a particular piece or artist will be exactly what I need, another day it will have me screaming for the STOP button.  Add to which I haven’t actually reviewed very much this year. Even when I found a (rather large, rich) niche to occupy I still take longer to complete a review than I’d really like.  Still, I hate to disappoint, and I never miss a deadline so…

Sabrina Peña Young

Even while reviewing one album, I couldn’t help mentioning tracks on other albums!

[Editor’s note: an extract from Chrissie’s review of Science Fiction & Horror Movie Soundtrack Collection: Strange Films of Sabrina Peña Young:]

‘Singularity’ is a whole Star Trek episode in miniature. It opens as an almost conventional, if nicely constructed piece of theme music, and gradually becomes something very much more. Going from the journey out, discovery of a possibly inhabited planet, then meeting an alien, trying to escape and the closing theme music again – a novella in seven minutes forty-three seconds! To be honest I’m pretty sure that that isn’t the actual narrative of ‘Singularity’ but I like to make things up as I’m listening and that idea seemed plausible at the time [Editor’s note: it’s the RFM way…]. What it’s really about is the rise of machine intelligence, of course; which is equally scary, possibly.

SPY0

Joe speaks in italics:

Not for the first time, Serbia’s No Basement is Deep Enough label has pinned my lugs back and hotly tongued my ear.  But this time it slipped a note in my pocket that read ‘G.J de Rook’ (but no phone number I notice!). 

Gerrit’s considered gobble-de-gook on a and bla is the metallic-gravy I’m craving right now.  The calm and pleasant gibber hits that sweet-spot of babies gurgling, a hummingbird’s gaudy thrum and the plastic pop of wrenched bubble-wrap.  These are universal sounds; sounds enjoyed from the Mongolian deserts to the Seattle coffee-house scene. These are the sort of sounds we need to send into space – gaffer tape a CD-r to Voyager or something- for them bug-eyed overlords to ponder.    

Although Gerrit’s wider discography is relatively thin and achingly expensive don’t worry readers, I have a plan in place to slurp slowly in discreet ‘o,o,o,o,o,oa,oa,oa,oa,eh,eh,eh,o,ooo,o-like’ sips.  Think on.

rook

Sof’s joy in discovery:

I heard and reviewed the album 3 by Sonotanotanpenz at the start of my Midwich employment and have since heard everything I can by them because, for me, they just tick all the right boxes. Cheers to Kirigirisu Records for pointing me in the right direction finding this stuff!

sonotanotanpenz - 3

Luke forward/slashes:

Ben Hallatt – Kay Hill, scke//, KIKS/GFR – the sinister/minimal man, eerie urban horror with muted synth/tape work.

tessellation

…and I say:

…that I haven’t had the wherewithal for the obsessive curiosity that usually makes it so easy and obvious to decide the winner of this category.  I have a few interests bubbling under – that lovely, young Graham Dunning seems like an intriguing chap so maybe I’ll stalk him once I have the energy – but in the meantime I’m happy to to go along with Chrissie’s nomination of Sabrina Peña Young.

SPY1

4. The “Stokoe Cup”, given for maintaining quality control over a huge body of work making it impossible to pick individual releases in an end of year round up

Sof ponders:

I don’t think I have an answer for this one, I can only think of Delphine Dora who released four albums this year which to me seems a huge amount! I’m not really into musicians who put out so much stuff that I can’t keep up. It puts me off if I’m honest, I like small and considered bodies of work. [Editor’s note: a very practical attitude – and Delphine should definitely be on everyone’s list anyway.]

delphine

Chrissie scratches her head too:

I’ve not really reviewed enough to come up with a suitable nomination for this. Similarly for the label award. I was tempted to nominate Steve Lawson for the Stokoe cup but he might be rather too ‘big’ for that to be sensible now and also I don’t believe he’s ever been reviewed here [Editor’s note: he is and he hasn’t but, hey, s’up to you – it’s an indication of where you are coming from too]. However he does release a considerable amount of material and it is of quite an amazingly high standard.

No doubts from Joe:

We’re all renaissance men and women now eh?  Fingers in various pies yeah?  You’re a composer/performer, a curator, a thinker, an archivist, a broadcaster, a hard-assed critic and goofy listener, a publisher and promoter?  Scratch the N-AU and we bleed like colourful skittles. 

This is all vital and impressive for sure.  But the real trick is to weave all those various roles together with a broader sense of ‘who you are’, a central-unifying-theme and aesthetic that’s as real as Westeros fantasy shizzle. So with the powers invested in me by the fabled ‘Stokoe Cup’ I hereby recommend Andy Wild, the Crow versus Crow guy guy, as an upstanding exemplar of unified vision, industry and purpose.

Not only is Andy releasing beautifully packaged CDs on the CvC label, he’s keeping us up-to-date with a set of paintings and photography.  He’s had a one-man exhibition, “You’re Gonna Need That Pure Religion, Halleloo” in his native Halifax.  He’s researched, presented and broadcast almost 100 radio shows and curated a bunch of special one-off sessions (like John Peel yeah).  And all this strikes me with a look and a feel that’s unmistakably CvC and unified.  Here’s an example: as Andy dug deeper into old blues records spindly hiss and burr appeared on the paintings (and in the exhibition title).  The smeared photos mirrored the abstract sound of worn vinyl.  The shows became looser, the voice deeper and the mood darker.  Do people still do mission statements?  If so, is ‘be beautiful’ taken?

crowradio

Luke starts on a theme:

A tough one this year with the above mentioned Ben Hallatt and the incredible Stuart Chalmers.  My vote, however, has to go to Robert Ridley-Shackleton: the Oxfam prince, the cardboard king.  He keeps on peaking, inhabiting his own corner. In a just universe he would be on the X Factor panel: he IS pop.

robbie7

…and I say:

Well, Joe makes a compelling case for Andy Crow there and since being born from an egg on a mountaintop the nature of Shackleton is irrepressible, but I’m handing the trophy to a familiar name and previous Zellaby award winner: Kev Sanders.

Whilst not quite reaching the Stakhanovite release rate displayed in 2014, his productivity remains alarming high, as does the quality of his work. I’ve not reviewed a great deal of it, nor much else released on his label hairdryer excommunication (this collection of haiku from September being my main engagement) but it has been an ever-present background radiation.

If you picture the year as an autobahn, one which I have been stalled beside, hood up, engine steaming, then Kev’s music is a series of electricity pylons running alongside carrying cables buzzing with an intensity that is somehow both bleak and comforting. I wish him well with his coming move to that London and look forward to a chance to catch up whilst he is otherwise engaged. Now, like a casino bouncer chucking out a professional gambler, I’m banning him from winning anything else for a while. House rules.

embers

3. The Special Contribution to Radio Free Midwich Award

Sof and Chrissie have a playground tussle over who gets to be teacher’s pet:

SofIt’s no secret that Rob Hayler has had a rough year with his depression but his drive and passion for underground music has meant he’s kept up with this blog which I’m sure a lot of folks wouldn’t do under the same circumstances – fair play and respect to you!

Chrissie: At the risk of sounding like a spoilt kid sucking up to the boss, I’d like to nominate Rob for this award. In what has been a difficult year for him he’s hired three new writers, no small risk in itself, trusting our ability to actually deliver readable prose (well, in my case anyway) in usable quantities, not to mention editing it onto the blog in good shape and good time. He’s also put up with my erratic writing schedule and lack of enthusiasm to take anything off the review pile – preferring to go off on my own in a crusade to bring more female artists to the notice of our good and loyal readers.

[Editor’s note: it might appear shameless to include the above, and I admit it kinda is, but, as I’ve pointed out, it has been a tough year and I was touched.  Let me have a little sugar, yeah?]

Luke picks an outlier:

Sorry gonna have to be Robert Ridley-Shackleton again [sings: “Return of the Shack!  Here it is…!”].  A little quote from Robbie following a chat about tedious porn/bondage themes in noise:

To me noise is a positive thing, it fills my brain full of the joys. I don’t understand all the negative themes presented, to me it’s life affirming

Yeah baby!!!

[Editor’s note: R-Shack’s physical contribution to RFM is indeed notable as he sent copies of all his releases plus extra examples of his womble-on-ketamine junk art not just to RFMHQ but also personally to Joe and Luke too – a Knight of the Post.]

Joe rallies the troops:

As ever, I reckon this one belongs to everybody.  Anyone that sent in a tape, clicked on a link, wrote a review, listened with intent, left a comment or gave a god-damn fuck.  This one’s for you.  It’s all of us that make this: writers, readers, editors…even you cynics (coz debate is good, yeah?).  We’re all part of the oneness.  No one hears a tree fall in an empty forest right?

…and I say:

Tempting as it is to fall into step and punch the air, nostrils flaring, there is an objectively true answer to the question and that is: Anne, my wife.  Without her love, care and truly unbelievable strength this blog would not have continued to exist.

However, if we limit the word ‘contribution’ to meaning actual hands-on graft accounting for the endeavours of the no-audience underground then only one name can be engraved on this medal: Joe Murray.

Of the 93 posts published this year a huge proportion were by Joe and each of those usually contained reviews of numerous items sourced from far-flung corners of the outer reaches.  Despite his hep prose poetry being the best music writing currently available – Richard Youngs himself described Joe’s review of his epic No Fans seven CD box set as ‘the definitive account’ – he is completely selfless in his unpretentious enthusiasm.  He embodies the ethos of this blog.

posscat

[Editor’s note: hmmm… getting a bit lovey and self-congratulatory this isn’t it?  Maybe I’ll rethink this category for next year <takes deep breath, dabs corner of eye> OK, on with the big gongs!]

2. The Label of the Year Award

Sof sticks to the point:

I’ve really enjoyed every release I’ve heard from Fort Evil Fruit this year, and most years, I think we must have the same taste in music.

fort

Luke whittles on the porch:

Another tough one with old favourites like Chocolate Monk continuing to deliver the goods.  However at a push it’d be Winebox Press, a fairly laid back work rate but always something to look forward to, can’t think of another label as aesthetically as well as sonically pleasing to me at least. Objects of cosmic power that’ll warm you from the inside out.

winebox

Joe’s takes a turn:

Let’s hear it for Cardboard Club.  Why?  For the dogged determination and other worldly logic of course.  I have no idea what is going on in the disco/noise shire of Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  All I know is that I like it, I like it a lot. 

Robert’s singular vision is not so much outsider as out-rigger; a ghost on the pillion.  The label spreads itself across media so the scrabbly zines, tape artwork and ‘pocket-jazz’ sound can only contain the RR-S, nothing else.  But what made me giggle, what made me really smile was the recent move to vinyl.  Some lame-o’s see the hallowed seven inch as a step up; a career move if you please!  With that kind of attitude the battle is already lost and all ideals get mushed in ‘rock school’ production.  None of this for our Cardboard Club… it sounds exactly the same!  A hero for our troubled times.

cclub

…and I say:

Yep, all excellent selections deserving of your attention but, with hairdryer excommunication out of the way, I’m going to use editor’s privilege to share this year’s prize between two exemplary catalogues: Invisible City Records and Power Moves Label.  Both are tape-plus-download labels based on Bandcamp, both have strong individual identities – in ethos and aesthetic – despite presenting diverse, intriguing rosters and both share impeccable no-audience underground credentials (PML’s slogan: ‘true bedroom recordings with delusions of grandeur’).  It don’t hurt that the gents running each – Craig and Kev respectively – are polite, efficient and enthusiastic in their correspondence too.  Anyone looking for a model as to how it should be done could do worse than sit at the front of their class and take careful notes.

[Editor’s note on the Editor’s note: yes, yes, I know that ICR re-released my epic masterpiece The Swift, thus making it the label of the year by default but I felt duty bound to mention it anyway.  Shame on Tabs Out Podcast, by the way, for filling the first 135 places of their 2015 Top 200 with hype and industry payola.  Glad to see sanity and integrity restored with #136.]

icrpower

1. The Album of the Year Award

Chrissie kicks us off:

1. R.A.N

My first female:pressure review and the one I still listen to the most.

…not only are the individual tracks on this album good, but the ordering of them is exquisite. They follow on from each other in a wonderful, spooky narrative that runs smoothly and expertly from start to finish – the gaps between them allowing you to pause for breath before being dragged into the next hellmouth.

RAN_-_Her_Trembling_Ceased

2. FAKE Mistress – entertainted

The opening track, ‘Appreciate the moment’s security’, will pull you in with its drama, heavy noise-based beats, spooky voicing and very punkish shouting but you’ll stay for the gentler opening of ‘You better trust’, intrigued by where it’s going. There’s harsh noise in the middle of this track and in lots of places on this album, but it’s never over-used. It’s here as a structural device to take you by surprise and drag you out of your complacency.

entertainted

Luke casts his net wide:

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Charlotte Braun – Happy Being Sad

Absurde, Chier – Absurde VS Chier

Skatgobs – Pointless

Blood Stereo – The Lure of Gurp

Alec Cheer – Autumn

Ali Robertson & His Conversations

Guttersnipe – Demo

xazzaz – descent / the crusher

VA AA LR – Ping Cone

Stuart Chalmers – Imaginary Musicks 3/4

Anla Courtis – B-Rain Folklore

S C K E / Kay Hill – Disclosure, TESSELLATION A/B, IN-GRAIN, Cold Title

Jon Collin – Wrong Moves / Dream Recall

Whole Voyald Infinite Light – Uncollected Recordings

Ashtray Navigations – Lemon Blossom Gently Pixelating In The Breeze

Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels

yol / posset – a watched pot never (no link – ask yol or Joe, they’ll sort you out)

half an abortion / yol – the designated driver

Shareholder – Jimmy Shan

[Editor’s note: blimey, eh?  Luke also provided a ‘year in metal’ list too!  Available on request.]

lemon

Sof’s impeccable taste displayed:

I’m going with Steven Ball’s Collected Local Songs which I reviewed earlier this year because it’s the one I’ve gone back to over and over, each listen revealing more to me. It’s such an original piece of work.

Originality is the theme of my list –

Saboteuse – Death, Of Course (this maaaaaaay, have come out last year!)

Bridget Hayden and Claire Potter – Mother To No Swimming Laughing Child

Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God

Guttersnipe – Demo

Rosemary Krust – Rosemary Krust

Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton Barker – Show Your Sketches

Delphine Dora – L’au-delà

steven ball - collected local songs

Joe selects:

I fucking guarantee your serious music critics will moan and denounce 2015 as a fallow year for sounds.  Fools!  If you look around there’s an embarrassment of riches spilling out of the tape drawer, CD-r pile and download..er…folder? 

I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable hurling my opinion of ‘what’s best’ around so, in the spirit of “non-competition and praise”, here’s what I’d play you right now if you were to pop round for sherry.

  • yol – everyday rituals. When a record makes you run giddy for the Spanish/English dictionary you know something extraordinary is at work.  You’re familiar with yol yeah? You’re not?  Get a-fucking cracking pal.  This is a truly explosive & genuine performance that makes your insipid rebellion look safe as milk.
  • Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God. A super-subtle voice and tape work.  What I love is the ‘too studio-fucked to be field recordings and too much punk-ass rush for fluxus’ approach.  Natural and wonderfully blunted domestic, ‘Others…’ inhabits its own space – like a boil in the bag something served piping hot.
  • Midnight Doctors – Through a Screen and Into a Hole. The merciless despot with a harmonium!  Phil Begg’s steady hand guides a cavalcade of rough North East gonks through their paces to produce a timeless noir classic.  It is equal parts soundtrack, accurate cop-show homage and mysterious new direction for tight-meshed ensemble.  C’mon Hollywood… make that damn call.
  • Shareholder – Jimmy Shan. Rock und Roll songs collapse in sharp slaggy heaps. Dirty explosions replace instruments (the guitar x 2 and drums) leaving us dazed in a no-man’s-land of stunning, blinding light and electricity.  Ferocious and don’t-give-a-fuck all at once.
  • Tom White – Reconstruction is tied, even-stevens, with Sindre Bjerga’s – Attractive Amplification. The world of violent tape abuse is one I follow avidly. But there’s nothing to separate these two outstanding tapes (of tapes, of tapes, of tapes).  Both Tom and Sindre have the muscle memory and total mastery of their mediums (reel to reel and compact cassette) to wrench brown, sticky moans from the vintage equipment.  It sounds belligerent, punch drunk and rum-sloppy to my ears.  A perfect night out chaps!

yol - er

…and finally, your humble editor:

Bubbling under: here are the releases that made my long list but not the countdown. Every one a cracker, presented here in alphabetical order to avoid squabbles breaking out in the car park:

Culver – Saps 76

David Somló – Movement

Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper – Distance, Future

Dominic Coppola – Vogue Meditations

Hagman – Inundation

Hardworking Families – Happy Days

Ian Watson – Caermaen

joined by wire – universe allstars

Luminous Monsters – The Sun Tree

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Saturn Form Essence – Stratospheric Tower

Shredderghost – Golden Cell

yol – everyday rituals

[Editor’s note: I also have to make special mention of Askild Haugland and his peerless recordings as Taming Power. I’ve received two (I think, possibly three) parcels from him this year containing his work, all the way from Norway, and these recordings always have a profound and meditative effect. Some of it, for instance the 7” single Fragments of the Name of God, could quite possibly be perfect.]

OK, right – ooo! exciting! – here’s the top ten, presented in traditional reverse order:

10. E.Y.E – MD2015

md2015

…and what a joy it has been to have Paul Harrison back in the fray!  Yes, after over a decade new material from Paul’s Expose Your Eyes project was finally made available via his new Bandcamp label Eye Fiend – a repository for much missed Fiend Recordings back catalogue (Mrs Cakehead has to be heard to be believed) and digital versions of the new stuff which is otherwise only available in tiny hand-splattered physical editions.

MD2015 is a four CD-r, four hour and twenty minute set comprising discordant synth clatters, decontextualized chanting (familiar to anyone into first wave industrial music), beats: pitter, patter – galloping hooves – factory presses, intoxicating loops, delirium (remember that footage of animals drunk on fermented fruit?  This is the OST to a bootleg version of The Lion King that features those orgiastic scenes), repetition beyond human endurance / irresistible motoric groove, ‘proper’ noise – all primary sexual characteristics out and flapping in the breeze, and sorbet-refreshing shortwave-radio-ish pulse.  It is a lot of fun.

9. AAS – Balancing Ritual

aas

Y’know when your favourite stoner rock band lay down a super heavy, half-hour long, ego-obliterating, tethered crescendo but it isn’t quite enough so you and a hardy group of the suspicious break into one of the spaceships of a seemingly benevolent alien race currently visiting Earth and discover this playing inside?  Yeah?  A version of the above but clinical, steely, a step up from our humble efforts.  It’s like that and I, for one, welcome our new drone overlords…

Graham Dunning offered to send me a tape of this, I visited Bandcamp for a sneaky preview and ended up so impressed that I’d bought the download and fallen in love before my exhausted postie even delivered the jiffy bag.  I can count on the fingers of no fingers the other times that has happened recently.

8. Duncan Harrison, BBBlood, Aqua Dentata – “Ineluctable modality of the visible”

ineluctable

What an excellent three-fer.  Not only occupying a wholly justified place in the chart but giving me the opportunity to praise Paul Watson (BBBlood), Duncan Harrison (who’s Others Delete God tape, so highly praised earlier, shamefully passed me by.  Did I ever own it?  Did I send it to Joe in a moment of madness?  Ah, who knows?) and Eddie Nuttall (who, as Aqua Dentata, is producing amongst the finest work on my radar).  Here’s some extracts from marlo’s review:

…But, damn you, Duncan Harrison! The first track immediately gets me back in my academic head! ‘(Je suis) La Loi’ makes me think of psychoanalytical linguist theorist Julia Kristeva and deconstructionist scholar Jacques Derrida. The use of breath and physiological sounds makes the listening an embodied experience. The listener feels present. It is hard not to notice if one’s lips are dry or if you possibly had too many coffees…

…In ‘Nexistence of Vividence’, BBBlood returns to more of the crunchy reeling and wheeling and dealing. It is a typhoon that builds and waits. Never fully collapsing, the sounds peters out like attempting to catch water running through fingers. Yet there is an ethereal resolution to the struggle and the listeners are laid to rest, an aural wiping of the brow. Time to rest after the long haul…

…Eddie Nuttall, a.k.a Aqua Dentata, is not from this planet. I honestly don’t think he is. His music feels like extraterrestrial communication from outside our universe. Like binaural beats and subconscious interfering hypnosis, his untitled track sounds like it is made of laser beams. As a listener, you feel like you merge with the frequency and question your ability to make cognitive sense. It isn’t because of a reliance in bombarding one with several sounds but rather a direct cerebral invasion…

7. The Piss Superstition – Garage Squall

garage squall

Joe reviewed this one in the shape of a UFO. No, I don’t know why either but it is absolutely bang on:

Mag-lev trains.

The very best form of bluster.

As gentle as breath on a mirror,

Predator’s Answerphone message

The Velvet Underground trapped in a matchbox.

A map! Hectares of featureless crystalline crackle – zoom into mountains,

A corduroy vibe; not geography teacher clichés but that ribbed softness – a tickle on the fingernail.

Ride the world’s slowest roller-coaster taking 1000 years, cranking the incline.

Forbidden Planet strained with nourishing iron-rich greens,

A dream-tractor changing gear on the endless road.

Immense power restrained by gravity

A hit of strong, clean anaesthetic,

I’m counting backwards.

10, 9, 8…

6. Stuart Chalmers – Loop Phantasy No. 1, No. 2, No. 3

lp1

Joe again, not sparing the superlatives:

…But this time I throw my regular Northern caution and cynicism out the window and claim these three recordings THE MOST IMPORTANT SALVAGED TAPE LOOP RECORDINGS EVER YEAH.

What?  Like…ever?

I hear you ask.

Yes

I answer with a calm, clear voice.

Like in the whole 100 year history of recorded music?

You probe,

even including the oft- mentioned high- water mark of looping Tom Recchion’s Chaotica?

You add.  I merely smile and press play on the device of your choice.

You must listen, you must listen to truly understand

I chant with glassy eyes.

Anyway… fuck yeah!  That’s what I’m saying.  If you want to know where looping is right now in 2015/2016: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you are looking for an instructional map of what’s possible with simple tape loops, a couple of pedals and some hot ears: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you want to open up that valve in your stomach that helps you release gaseous tension: PLAY THESE RECORDS…

…Students of tape culture – your set-text has arrived.  Screw in those earbuds and get seriously twisted.

5. Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica

ashshimmer

A beautiful album in every respect and an entirely life-affirming experience.  Terrific to see Phil and Mel get such a high-profile, flagship release in what was a high-profile, flagship year for the band.  I will have more to say on this in a long-planned article which will be published around the eventual release date of the long-planned best of Ashtray Navigations 4CD box set.  Coming soon!  In the meantime: buy this.

4. Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels

mel

Likewise, Mel’s remarkable solo venture deserves a much more detailed account than it is going to get here.  Via a kind of meta-semi-improv (or something?) she continues on her utterly compelling, largely unheralded project to reinvent music on her own terms.

I imagine a Dr. Moreau style musical laboratory in which Mel cares for her cross bred instruments, incunabula parping their first notes, joyfully interacting with the sentient automata Mel has created to entertain them with.  She dangles a microphone over the giant aquarium tank in which they all live and conducts this unique performance.

Unlike anything else I’ve heard this year, or maybe ever.

3. Helicopter Quartet – Ghost Machine

ghost machine

A peerless work, even within the band’s own faultless back catalogue.  From my review:

It is difficult to write about Helicopter Quartet, the duo of RFM staffer Chrissie Caulfield (violin, synths) and Michael Capstick (guitars), because their music is so enveloping, so attention seizing, that when I’m listening the part of my brain I use to put words in a row is too awestruck to function.  However, following many hours with it, I am certain this is their best album yet.  That a work of such mature beauty, sculpted over months, is freely downloadable is surely further evidence that we are living in a golden age for self released music.  It has the austere and magisterial presence of a glacier edge, the drama of that glacier calving into the sea.

If you ever act on anything I say then act on this: go get it.

2. Guttersnipe – Demo

guttersnipe

Wow, this kicked the fucking doors in.  With this CD-r and a series of explosive live performances Guttersnipe owned 2015 – they were either your new favourite band or you just hadn’t heard of them yet.  Luke got to review this one, here’s an extract:

Guttersnipe whip up a frightening noise on drums, guitars, electronics and howled vocals that will have you reaching for the light switch. The cassette fidelity smudges the freejazzmetalhaze into a fog of terror from which emerges the fangs of a gaping gob ready to bite you. I’ve been listening to a lot of black metal recently and these vocals could have the corpse painted hordes crying for their mama.  However, they are not the guttural grunts of the alpha male but more a feminine screech of desperation and disgust which the other two respond to by conjuring a blackened and unsettled miasma.  Calling this disc demo leads me to believe that Guttersnipe are selling themselves short.  This is impressively original material that comes over like a Xasthur/Skullflower hybrid with a hefty slug of secret ingredient.  Marvellous job.

Amusingly, and presumably because he hadn’t seen them live at the time, he seems to imply this duo is a trio – a testament to their ferocity (and my skills as an editor…).

1. namke communications – 365/2015

namke - 365-2015

Finally then, the winner of the Zellaby Award for album of the year presented by Radio Free Midwich is, in an unusually literal sense, the album of the year: 365/2015 by namke communications.  Here’s some context from a piece I wrote in March:

…old-friend-of-RFM John Tuffen, in a project which recalls the conceptual bloodymindedness of Bill Drummond (who has raised ‘seeing it through’ to the level of art form), is recording a track every day throughout the whole of 2015 and adding them to the album [on Bandcamp] as the calendar marches on … each track is freshly produced on the day in question and, as might be expected, vary enormously in style, execution and instrumentation – there is guitar improv, electronica in various hues and field recording amongst other genres welcome ’round here…

Indeed, added to various forms of (usually light and expansive) improv and field and domestic recordings of life’s ebb and flow were many forays into sub-genres of electronica, techno as she is written, actual *ahem* songs, drones of many textures, experimental sketches with software and new toys, callbacks, the odd joke (all tracks in February had the duration 4’33” following a twitter exchange with me) and so on and so, unbelievably, on.  I can’t claim to have heard all of it – of course I haven’t – and there are misfires – of course there are – but the level of quality maintained is gobsmacking given the scope of the exercise.

Each track was accompanied by notes, most with a picture and then a tweet announced its presence too.  John was no slacker on the admin – I approve.  In March I suggested:

This one I have no qualms about dipping into, in fact I would recommend constructing your own dipping strategies. As the year progresses you could build an album from the birthdays of your family, or never forget an anniversary again with a self-constructed namke communications love-bundle. Won a tenner on the lottery? Create your own three track EP with the numbers and paypal John a couple of quid. Or perhaps a five CD boxset called ‘Thursday Afternoon’, in homage to Brian Eno, containing everything released on that day of the week? Or condense the occult magic with a set comprising every 23rd track? Ah, the fun to be had. Or you could just listen to it on a daily basis until it becomes a welcome part of your routine…

I was at least half-joking at the time but engaging with 365/2015 has proved a unique way of experiencing an album.  During the worst of my illness, as I spent nights trawling Twitter unable to sleep, it did become a valuable part of my daily routine.  Literally a light in the darkness – Bandcamp page shining on the tablet as I lay in bed – John’s project, existing due to nothing but his crazy drive to create (the whole thing, 40+ hours, available as a ‘name your price’ download!), truly helped me through.  A clear and worthy winner.

In conclusion…

So, that is that for another year.  John’s prize, should he wish to take me up on it, is for namke communications to have the one and only release on the otherwise dormant fencing flatworm recordings some time in 2016.  A surprise baby sister, perhaps, for his lovely available from namke communications released by me back in the day and now (I think) a teenager itself.

Many thanks to my fellow writers and to all who support us – for your time, patience and enthusiasm – it is much appreciated.  Heartfelt best wishes for the New Year, comrades.

All is love.

Rob Hayler, January 2016.

—ooOoo—

choir of pelicans: joe murray on kieron piercy & dylan nyoukis, f.ampism & fritz welch

April 5, 2015 at 9:40 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.305, edition of 50)

F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.286)

F.Ampism – The Ancient Wing (tape, IKUISUUS, ikasus-046)

f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole (CD-r, humansacrifice, HS009)

piercynyoukis

Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness

Mr Kieron and Mr Dylan present a 27 minute odyssey – a minute for every year of Kurt Cobain’s life on this coppery beast.

Just in case you’ve stumbled on RFM from Cuba or something here’s the back story.  KP hails from inland Megalopolis Leeds and plays tapes and devices in the hypnotic-power trio Spoils & Relics. DN plays similar tapes and devices but this time from the damp coast of Brighton with memory-scrub duo Blood Stereo.  Together these gently glowing men methodically flip the switches in my head marked ‘fump’, ‘whirr’ and, most importantly ‘squelch’.  Right on!

Kurt’s early years are depicted as a gentle hissing – a rising of the sap through hollow young legs no doubt!  Cheeky.  But by Junior High the AM Radio starts to fill his blonde little head with snatches of ‘The Mac’ stripped of everything apart from Stevie Nick’s breathy acrobatics (she sighs like a pro), each expulsion of C02 piped through an intricate system of fur-lined loops.

Our man comes of age.  And while much ink is spilled over his punk rock credentials (the Flipper jean jacket patches, the Scratch Acid mixtapes) little time is spent studying his Linguaphone experiments, playing Greek Progressive Rock through that new Walkman contraption, gurning along while dropping potatoes into a ceramic bowl.  But of course Piercey & Nyoukis nail this moment perfectly.  History is rewritten – check your facts Charles R Cross!

The move from Fecal Matter to Nirvana is a small one, but still important to note.  With eyes firmly fixed on the prize of rock explosion, a series of stretched-out faux frog calls batter my poor eardrums… but all rippled and slushed.  Some said the decision to open that infamous Reading Festival set with a choir of Pelicans was a career-limiting move (and some still blame the drummer) but those brazen sea-birds honk with a mournful timbre – a cosmic disaffection rather than a cry for raw herring that says more about The Stooges and the taxonomy of ‘alternative rock’ than any limp chord or riff.

The birth of a child and a marriage takes a psychic toll as serious as Geffen contracts so it’s no wonder the mood turns darker with a comfortable helplessness – skittering pops and shuffles leaking out of my tiny earbuds mirroring the sound of grazed knees.

Now it’s near the end; the final moments amplify the torment of ‘the Rome incident’ and track the disembodied voices of the medical staff and the cardio vascular crack of the ribs.  It’s not comfortable listening, but then again what is?  You want comfortable?  Drop some Mantovani.  You want real?  Plug into this delightful moroseness and let those silent tears well up and spill from your fat eyelids.

pattern interruptancient wingcosmogonic

F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt, The Ancient Wing, f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole

All hail F.Ampism, king of the Quiet Village and noisy jungle!

Pattern Interrupt creates a sweaty negative zone where swollen lacewings fripp by at ear level and recycled bicycle bells become a spooked gamelan.

If you peak from under your oversized pith helmet you can watch the noble tribes holding a soft revolt, a velvet coup by waving their iPhones at the gawking tourists, SIM cards full of classic Ubuweb downloads.  The cultural incongruence is too much for some holiday makers and they run screaming through the sinister Swiss Cheese plants.  Those that remain hawk it up for pregnant yuks.

But it’s not all Hugh Tracey tropical offerings. The frosty steppes get a look in too.  Picture a landing site for a burned-out cosmonaut; thousands of miles of desolation stretch out in all directions with only the unthinking wind for company and a boner in your spacesuit.

Mark my words.  There’s a yearning quality to these recordings.  A longing for a retrofitted future where Margaret Mead pursued foul-electronics rather than Anthropology and Blind Lemon Jefferson composed for the frost Calliope.  This alternate future/past is best played out on ‘The Infinite Inward’ a wormhole through NYC docks (circa 1946) via Moondog’s fully open third eye.

No-Audience Exorcists take note: ‘Did you mean Wasabi’ features some of the most evil wonk-muttering, like the wolves that live in the wall of our haunted house. ‘X’ marks the spot me hearties!

The Ancient Wing tape has found a home on the awesome Ikiuisuus label* and folds the incidental music from Ulysses 31 into World in Action Technicolor.  The separate tracks, peppered with ‘bloops’ and ‘bleeps’, work as a perfect whole and sound like a beautiful analogue lava-lamp slowly melting in a head shop.

And, overall the mood is funky; damn funky.  I don’t get the opportunity to use the ‘F-word’ much on these here pages, but as any funkateer knows, it’s all about an appreciation  of space, of slipping your timing and mining the absence.  What you leave out determines what the listener has to put in whether it’s on the god-damn one or not.  You gotta work for your funk and F.Ampism makes my pulse rate flitter.

But, apart from getting me a hot foot this collection is giving my memory centre a good old going over.  The partial, ever mutating tunes and rippling, bubbling synths that lick like a sauce kick off a series of half-remembered sensory dreams: the toilet smell of Whitby, this hiss of an opening vacuum flask, the feel of vinyl car seats in July.  I feel like a dormant part of my brain is flickering into life, the lights are starting to glow.  An aid to meditation and psychic recovery!

On the quite beautifully packaged Shouting a Hymn Down the Cosmogonic Dream Hole our very own F.Ampism is joined by my favourite transplanted Texan – Fritz Welch.  The theme is jazz-tinged industry with a busy, busy earful of tinkering taps, bells, squawks and diddles moving across eight untitled micro-moments.  I’m delighted to hear Fritz is back behind the drum kit again with super-sharp scattering as dry as twigs vibrating the piggy membranes.  F.Ampism is majoring on Dictaphones and I have to say, one Dicta fan to another, this playing is nothing short of astonishing: witty, quick of thumb and lyrical.

Although the energy level is cracked up to Jolt Cola levels that doesn’t mean any detail is lost in the delightful kerfuffle.  ‘Recorded in Brighton & Glasgow’ proudly proclaims the label and I’m guessing this is no clinical studio jam but a warm-up, pre-audience knock-about that captures all the spontaneity of a show without the beer-fug and crowd noise.

The first couple of tracks hit that pretty classic drum/Dicta duo bullseye, and after a while voices, and longer snatches of tape get fed into the audio-mincer.  My bristly ear picks up some of Fritz’s Crumbs on the Dumpster tales of youthful indulgence amid the clatter and flummox.  But nothing stands still.  The subtle sound of coughs and whistles slide into the brain-pan and add an intimacy sadly lacking in your Incus-wannabe releases.  Wibbley-wobbly mbira tones get plucked and tea cups jitter on bone china saucers; it’s all grist to the collective sound-mill but never feels slapped on with a trowel.  That old balancing act  – being free in spirit but precise in intent is easily soft-shoed across Niagara.  The double-headed Fritz-ism wants you to listen and ENJOY listening.

So Enjoy.  Do it!

—ooOoo—

*Hey cheap skates! Ikiuisuus not only brought us F.Ampism on this very day but you have to check out these free downloads from a whole bunch of beards and forest folk on their colourful website.  The label that keeps on giving eh?

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

IKUISUUS

humansacrifice

scunnered, holding a pickle: joe murray indulges with chocolate monk

February 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dylan Nyoukis – Scunnered at Breakfast (CD-r and text inserts, Chocolate Monk, choc.299, edition of 50)

Blood Stereo – Rid Raw (tape, Chocolate Monk, choc.300, edition of 20)

scunnered

Dylan Nyoukis – Scunnered at Breakfast

This booby is 25 mins long and formed of two waxy-cream hemispheres. Dylan kicks off in balls-out Holy-Mystical-Roller mood with a lulling and lowing, slightly shifting, accordion loop that puts a stoner nod on your basic livestock (goats, cattle, llama etc).  Cud-scented breath busily excites the brittle reeds with a ‘whhuuuuuuhhh – whuuuuuuuhhh’.  Gosh!  It’s like accidently tripping over some classic organ piece; Psych Mouldfield’s Tubular Balls or something as eventually flutters of speech and slivers of stomach-ache gas right in through the swollen yellow belly.  I’m goofing off over the stretching that’s going on here and it takes me right back to a fragrant memory-bomb: thinning bright oils with stinky turpentine, just like it was yesterday.  After approximately 8 minutes of kneading this pale wash a whole bunch of crispy characters get an invitation to the dusty rodeo.  Familiar faces rub their paws together with some names new to me.  So (koff koff) on the mike, it’s head-cheese from…

Hitomi Arimoto, Marco Cazzella, Seymour Glass, Paul Kirk, Ludo Mich, Angela Sawyer, Norman Shaw and Erkki Sinnemaki

…all magi-mixed with a steady hand on the capstans.

Scunnered.  The guest’s sounds turn to speech, words fracture meaning.  Scunnered.  Slowed talking stories from assembled heads, multiple-layered voices, pinched taped squall.  Scunnnnered.  Placement plays with sense & non-sense; reptilian repetition leaks into my gut.  My brain (eager to please) takes these sleazy pieces and stitches together a map with key designed by Flavor Flav and Sen Dog.  Skunnn-nered.  I follow the contours and with the handy charts supplied work my way through the (SKUNNE’RRD) text,

…flurr

flutchy

fluther

fluze

flype

flyrd

foal

foarrie

fob

foachel

fochen

fock…

mouthing along with the international word-set, puckering my lips in a dry whistle and filling my neck pouches with greedy air to bellow a long and low mewl. That thing happens when sibilant hisses all come together like an MC5 jam, riffing on the chord, and building intensity around a single abstract moment.  The source doesn’t matter so much…it’s the heart with which you execute the exercise.  Scuuuuunnnnnurrreeeeeddddddd.

Phew.  My Kelman-flaps flicker.  Let’s get this shit on the National Curriculum, eh?!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

BTW…the random Radio Free Midwich quality check suggests that while I score high on gonzo it’s far too low on eyeball-scrape.  I’m all about the soundz (man) so often forget to mention the rusty packets this shit gets sent in.  No more!  Attached are pics of this whole goofy package.  You can sing–a-long my friends and gaze at our knighted host.  See…I listen!

rid raw

Blood Stereo – Rid Raw

This ruby red tape holds the accolade of being Chocolate Monk 300.  Think about it.  That’s Three Hundred soft-tissue missiles delivered on target.  Three hundred brain-pans re-tuned and soured.  And three hundred beautiful objects to line up and believe in when you’re up against the mundane cruelty of early 21st Century life.

Blimey…I’m getting all emotional…I better just talk about the music eh?

It’s tape in two parts right?

(a) futtle-the-pin It goes “Kuff, Kuff.”  There’s street noise and lavatorial water-gurgle.  This is pieced together like a Junk Opera where two layers of sound overlap each other, two layers of consciousness leak into one omni-strata.  The arresting ordinariness of some of the sounds – cat’s crying, bird song and distant traffic ‘shooosh’ play like a new exotic into the Dr Who tape melt.  Then a slammed cell door makes this a dub and I understand the dread that runs beneath this whole side.

(b) outen-under starts with strange kissing cousins: a violent choking and Chinese flute that’s just about the most uplifting sound ever.  A strange under-the-duvet recording of deep lungs wraps itself up in a gentle clanking (the mechanism for a dry dock pumping out oily water perhaps) like a sweet spring roll; crispy on the outside, gelatinous within.  The Chinese theme continues, tinting the air in my dank writing corner, refreshing and fragrant as freshly picked jasmine with the insistent electronic bubbling adding a splash of vinegar!   Then the weird gets spread about like tick-cream and the lost voices/spooky keys/frog-goff starts to resemble a future dream I might have tomorrow –   faceless bodies hum and vibrate, hair sprouts out of palms.  An old horse-drawn carriage clip-clops down the forest track, led by nuns lashed to the bridle.

Sick of reading my shit yet?  You wanna one-liner eh?  It’s the best bloody Blood Stereo side for ages man…go find it doof!

Oh yeah…I made a promise to mention the art.  The cover art seems to be penned by the same hand as Scunnered with thick, black lines carving out an image that would have fit nicely into 2000AD’s Cursed Earth landscape.  Their Muties were genuinely disturbing man…and this bugger’s holding a pickle.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

[Editor’s note: alas, both releases now sold out – frequent visits to CMHQ recommended to avoid disappointment.]

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

group mind clank: the murray dynasty on ua yenoh cry cry, le drapeau noir and various various artists

October 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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space and order

Ua Yenoh Cry Cry – Space and Order (C40 tape, Orl Records and Paraphernalia, orl17, edition of 100)

Ua Yenoh Cry Cry is some Shon Mahoney dude from the USA doing his solo jizz on the cheeky Greek label, Orl.  Who sez the no-audience underground doesn’t get around eh?  Well packaged with some lace/plant cell motif this sexy little tape slips into bed and spoons you without any small talk.  Headline…degraded loops of keyboard mung and gentle brown distortion fug round the corners of some proper tunes that repeat and loop and repeat.

Now then, reviewing tapes can be a lonely business so this time I enlisted young master Posset for his views.  We did the Burroughs/Bowie/Gysin method to create a two-mind, stream of consciousness thing.  You get the drift.  So catch this one:

Soft waves of chords and notes travel to you from another space as black rubber drone pipes get huffed leaving a sooty halo round the gob. The ever growing drone wobbles and shakes; micro-syringe sounds swagger like mercury badgers waddle.  ‘Verberating beacon flashing highs and lows bridging the gap between no-audience underground and the hipster set…a crossover hit?  A meditation on ferric construct?  The incessant ringing becomes more eerie and sinister as kindergarten keyboard melodies (played by stubby fingers) lighten up a blowfly hum.  The sci-fi organ continues to bless us with more notes and patterns as the drone pauses and sound pierces the atmosphere.  The ominous furious-classical rusts and decays.

(Editor’s note: woah… can you dig it?!  Whilst they were being super-jive hep cats Joe and son created a visual review of this tape too.  Check it out.)

Hope that’s all useful my dearest reader.  And if not Orl have a snazzy website with all the sounds so you can do a judge for yourself.

le drapeau noir - whalley range

Le Drapeau Noir – Whalley Range (C30 tape, Krayon Recordings, KR020)

A whole family of mungfarmers: Chora, Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides and The Hunter Gracchus team-up like DC’s finest to beat up swollen-headed bad guys.  This is reconnaissance blues.  A stealthy assault, silently slipping a dagger between the ribs…you don’t know you’re cut till you drop to your knees.  My head was here, there and everywhere when I first jammed this one so I bribed Master Posset again to give me a hand with the cut-up technique:

Group-mind clank and free reed drone; quivering waves and harmonic screams with cymbals thrashing, drums beating.  Imagine the Edinburgh tattoo populated not by purple rinsed matriarchs but the very you and me; but there’s subtle feedback behind the violence.  They shriek, “A river flowing out to the sea embraces the thick salty arms of wild current.”  Whooping and gentle rings pierce the heavy beat of a solemn drum but among the soft rock, soldiers march in concentric patterns – shifting your gaze starts the sands to pour down one channel.  Slight shakes can be heard but they’re not alone in the sound of this dark opera.  The grain of moans is rough, a feral call to prayer.  Then the noises clear and all that is left is the drums and metallic, echoing howls.

Yup.  That’s it.  It’s been out for a while now but still available via the ever reliant bandcamp.

RFM_CM Tour Tape 1RFM_CM Tour tape 2RFM_CM tour tape 3

Infinite Gaaah / Blood Stereo / Usurper / Pengo – Summer 2013 Tour (cassette and inserts, Giant Tank)

I missed my opportunity to get one of these on the actual tour but later was cock o’hoop to slam it in the tape drawer and dribble on the eiderdown as it gushed.  Infinite Gaaah takes a couple of loops of sweating machinery, roasts ‘em up nice and hot and plunges them in ice-cold cider.  Bright and refreshing.  Blood Stereo take a nice set of domestic cackles and record in the garden (it has been a great summer eh?) bending and shaping loops like they were silvery zinc.  A dinosaur’s tears roll down scaly cheeks while a caveman mungs on.  It could be that I have all that Opal Tapes stuff locked in my head and I’m making unnatural connections between things.  Check out your nearest hipster coffee room.  Are they playing Blood Stereo?  Thought so…the tide is changing and the Blood shall inherit the earth.  The Usurper employ egg whisk and bottletop-rattle, twanging ruler and various dull ‘clunks’ to make a pastoral piece of gentle loveliness.  Like listening to the breathing of a new born baby this has an innocent rise and fall with sweet chirrups of milk-sour breath making your nose wrinkle and say, ‘Ahhhhhhhh-bless’. Pengo come across like a beefy Spacemen 3 raised on good old beer rather than that nasty heroin.  But the routes to transcendental bliss are buffeted and bruised by honking geese and wild fowl as the kind of echo-action King Tubby saves for extra strength dub gets hurled about.  A mighty tape document of this season’s tip-top sounds baby.

…and if these sounds were not enough there is visual tosh to viddy while you listen.  Karen Constance & Dylan Nyoukis collaborate on a tidy cardboard box cover (that squeaks pleasingly on opening) and four C-30 sized postcards printed with a kind of kinky Victoriana that raise a variety of chin-strokers around the medical aesthetic.  Release the foxes!

See the Duff and Roberton tumblr and email ‘em for availability.

RFM_Blue Spectrum comp coverRFM_Blue Spectrum Comp 1

Blue Spectrum Tapes Artzine #4 (Various Artists Patterns Grown Like Crabgrass CD-r and 30 page art-book, Blue Spectrum Tapes, edition of 50)

Another intriguing package from Brum’s Blue Spectrum.  The zine cradles a selection of ‘cut ‘n paste’ collages from Mr Blue and the occasional photo-copy blurr/photo shot from some of the other collaborators.  I’m no expert but I’m guessing the zine as we know it is celebrating it’s 40th birthday right about now. But there’s no grey hairs or paunch for this slim-hipped package…it crackles with punk energy and sticky edges.

As for the disc, there’s 17 jokers on here all pumping it hard and bursting forth with variations on scorched-earth noise, rusty-metal-clanging noise, throat curdling noise and black ambient noise.  For reasons beyond my ken there seems to be a hard drinking theme to this comp; it all starts off pleasant enough but before long you’re wobbling on your heels and puking down someone’s neck.  A guilty knee tremble round the back then it’s nosh first into some deep-fried nightmare.  Most notable mentions go to the Gas Mask Horse for recording a bouncer’s dark thoughts pre kick-off, Yol for an increasingly unhinged closing time lament (to Kebabs it seems), Kapali Carsi’s subtle mic bumble that wanders into sound poetry, Robert Ridley Shackleton’s enraged ripping sound stretched low and slow and the extra-violent, knuckle duster kerfuffle from Blue Spectrum himself.  There’s over an hour of sub-underground noise and drone in this sleek edition of 50.  Don’t wait ‘til they ring last orders.

Buy here.

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