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

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

Faniel Dord – Faniel Dord (Dante’s Ashtray)

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

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

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

 states 3

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

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

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


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

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

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


CVC states

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

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

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

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

cvc states 2

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

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


faniel dord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fans of Derek and Clive take note and click.

nyoukis etc (1)

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Whisper your answer in my hot pink shell.

the tenses

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

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

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

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

…and who am I to argue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Blood!

the viper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t fear the Viper!


Crow Versus Crow Editions

Dante’s Ashtray

Chocolate Monk




stacked and re-stacked: joe murray on bren’t lewiis ensemble

February 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Hard Molt (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS58, edition of 100)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Rapture Piles (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS48, edition of 50)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Gloria (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS49, edition of 50)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – The Thirteenth Century German Poet (and who can forget him) (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS55, edition of 50)

ble - hard molt

Like Duh!  The fabled Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble provide the high-water-mark for sheer sonic oddness.

With their Bananafish passport and Guru Gnarlos guidance this troupe of varying bodies are dab hands at tweaking tapes, throats, minds and other unmentionables to create a new psychedelic moraine.

Working like ants the loose connections wriggle in mobile units.  Senses become overlapped and smeared (I smell you, I taste you) until conversations are not just stacked up like tasty pancakes but woven into a yeasty lattice.

An urchin might read this and cry,

So it’s a bit of a head-fuck mess eh?

A sharp cuff to the brow will only reinforce the lesson, but for once I resist.  Speaking clearly I explain:

Never let it be said this is random abandon.  There is an underlying inter-connectivity at work here as old as the ancients.  As you listen you become part and parcel of the process.  You press pause or breathe out for too long and you become a remix-agent, a co-conspirator a new and valuable cog in the majesty of Bren’t Lewiis!

The urchin mouths,

but it’s still weird yeah?

…toothless maw full of demolished ket.


I respond and position the speaker horn nearer my ear for the full mono-sonic effect.

It goes like this…

Hard Molt – Vigorous mood swings between corrupted pop to sizzling milk to live-action rattle and roll.

After an initial period of acclimatisation to Bren’t Lewiis and the merry-go-round of co-collaborators I get my brain round the two fleshy hemispheres of Hard Molt; the slack live jam and the grim tape fumble.

The jams have a clammy looseness like when the band is trying to get it together before the prick with the spanking Marshall turns up.  The tape jizz has some real flinch and hobble like carpet stains stitched together, like hot sprawls.

An occasional dread enters things (for an example please listen to ‘the chert hold tightly’) but this disc is mainly a sherbet dip, an uncomplicated squeal of joy.  And listening is as innocent as watching a windsock flutter man.

The real to real tapes shudder, rusty ghosts pulling magnets across sharp shale and it all makes my ears swoop and whoosh like that time I did a kettle bell workout and went temporarily deaf.  Since then I’ve craved this whoosh dearly but dropped the weights.

Things progress and rattan furniture is stacked and re-stacked each bristling fibre setting off a dry crackle that recalls a woodland walk.

I’m signposting here.  It’s not about noise, it’s about noises.  A fresh sound is basting your turkey.   Time to try that red pill eh?

ble - rapture

Rapture Piles – This one surprises the listener (that’s me right now but it could be you tomorrow, reader) with a handful of cover versions.  Normally the amyl-hit of a pop-cover makes my eyes widen with a startled sniff.  And with Magazine’s ‘Permafrost’ and The Carps’ ‘Calling Occupants’ it ramps up the resident weirdo by injecting a severe dose of the norms.

But the showband is on a fag break and any slick accompaniment is replaced with a sea cucumber’s rude squirt.  And you know what?  Things are all the better for the Bren’t Lewiis whom-evers who’d rather mangle their hands than finger a chord.  Yeah!  I want to hear Devoto sing the dement-oid track ‘my mother wouldn’t let us use nicknames when we were kids’ as punishment, with its concrete poetry gone daffy vibe.

In fact Rapture Piles is less of an overall bimmer and takes me back to the sleepy whinge of The Tinklers that so excited my teenage loins.

ble - gloria

Gloria – If you like you can sum this monkey up in the one minute twenty micro-track ‘You Done My Brain In’.  Simple, descriptive and straight-forward; it sets the standard on Gloria and marks this disc out as the most bonkers, and most beautiful, of the bent quartet.

Yessiree! Real beau-ti-ful I said.

Throughout the reign of Queen Gloria vocals/voices/speech/talking take their rightful place – centre stage.  Draped in jewels and ermine the original voice pieces are wrangled slowly, sensuously with deep chunks of negative-mountain absence thrown in to keep it funky. Language is taken apart with deliberation and care, rather like peeling a soft-boiled egg.

Where recovered sound (from radio programmes and paranoid instruction tapes) is used it is super-un-ironic.  Purely for the love of texture we are coddled by a man from Preston.  Only because we want to hear if it’s possible the playground chants of knock-kneed children are julienned into thin flexible strips.

Fans of conclusion and climax can FFW to the title-mung ‘Gloria’ that seems to use Bell Laboratories Speech Synthesisers over a maelstrom of malfunctioning MP3 files as a cheap pick-up band.

Gee.Ell.Oh.Are.Eye.Ay it says in a variety of regionals as my wattle flutters with the pulsating shudder of collapsing data.  I’m a total sucker for the weaving of male and female throat-guff and hear (or here) the fibres all get twisted up into a Moroccan felt hat.  Stylish and practical.

The Thirteenth Century German Poet (and who can forget him) – presents super value for money with 18 short gas-pieces in all manner of styles and hues: gonzo-billy, bad fantasy art, vegetable starch punk,  Enya studio out-takes, Slow-Jimi and of course, how can I not mention – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!  Students of beat science get few scraps from this table but even the beret-brigade get a goatee-tweak on ‘The Drowning Machine’.

Roll up, roll-up.  There’s something for everyone here.

But perhaps the catchiest ditty comes in the form of an internet meme (that’s the right term yeah?) coupled with distinctive sound of macaroni cheese being stirred in a pot (slurppyslurppy) on ‘Both of My Feet Hurt’.  This approach takes exactly one half measure of homespun wisdom and grafts on unapologetic mung.  But by now you’ve dug that one up yourself eh?

You got a short attention span?  Chief?  Attention span yeah?  Check this one out first.  I said, check this one.  Out.  Out first mate.  Yeah.  This one mate.


If you can only listen to one yeah?  Just one.  This is the one mate…


Butte County Free Music Society – Facebook

Butte County Free Music Society – Discogs

…also available in UK from Chocolate Monk

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