falling over and over and over: joe murray on dale cornish, these feathers have plumes, isnaj dui, sarah hennies

May 4, 2016 at 11:25 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dale Cornish – Ulex (vinyl LP, Entr’acte, E190, edition of 200 or download)

These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split (tape, Was Ist Das?, edition of 75)

Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release (CD in hand sewn packaging, Category of manifestation, KIND_3)

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Dale Cornish – Ulex

Ya fucker!  I had one of them Airfix models yeah.  Harrier Jump Jet and all that, it was the Falklands and shit and I pure built the fucker up from like about 200 parts.  Fucking V/STOL engines and undercarriage and the little fucker that flies it in his own little ejector seat.  It took me, like, hours and hours to glue the bastard together, smoothing off the excess glue, filing down the rough edges and shit.  Even longer to paint it all.  Navy colours yeah, as a result of it being part of the Task Force and what have you.

Consider that Harrier Jump Jet Dale Cornish’s Ulex; an evocative piece of miniature machinery.  Then, in a moment of glorious enlightenment, Dale strips off the paint, slices open the fuselage and lays each grey piece out all naked and alone.

This act of separation (pieces pinned like a butterfly under glass) lends a steely intensity and purpose to each sound, the distillation of thoughts and deeds become pure essence. It goes like this…

  • Ulex Pattern 1. The steel pan revenge plan; a falling over and over and over into endless insect Gamelan.  Donkey kick drum, once then twice… then that’s it.
  • Ulex Pattern 2. Bamboo rattles in a magnetic hole. Invisible forces snatch and grab at any vibrations causing a stretching of each dry, brittle note.  Sufi mystic collapse.
  • Ulex Pattern 3. She’s lurching, dragging a sandbag over bright pink coral. I tap the side of my canoe with an outstretched palm and bail out the overflowing rice with an old soup can.
  • Ulex Pattern 4. Fog demons breathe over mangrove roots to haunt the islanders with deep booming warnings. The earwigs glassy cascade becomes relaxed antiseptic counterpoint.
  • Ulex Pattern 5. I’m slightly shocked as the spare crackle of needle hitting vinyl is overwhelmed with a distorted voice all meshed up and jaxxed, rolling in three dimensions like some forgotten Fylkingen piece.  My inner Agatha Christie picks up a little something though.  I might be old but I’m crafty.  All I’m saying is Alright Duckie!
  • Ulex Pattern 6. Steelies penked off a copper plate.
  • Ulex Pattern 7. The longest rippling.  Distant fireworks ignition in slightly off-kilter realities, the original cucaracha stepping on echo-bugs ‘till each pops like dark ink.

Ulex is deconstructed so completely it’s almost empty.  Some of these tracks are so spare they make regular minimal look messy.  It’s so damn pure and yet, tied up in silver-plated knots.  Jagged and fresh but never sharp.

whatchyalookingat?

tfhp-id

These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split

Oh.  The synchronicity!

Planning the previous Dale C piece I came upon a tweet from Andie Brown (AKA These Feathers Have Plumes) explaining her next tape would feature that Dale on spoken words.  That’d make a neat journalistic link I thought and contacted the most excellent Sophie Cooper, a known accomplice, to help me locate it.  Like clockwork a download code arrived (cheers Ned) and I plugged in my earphones all ready to get swept away in the foaming clouds of glassy tones.

These Feathers Have Plumes carry me to three specific places on those rusty wings.

For this is music of the sea.  The boom of the swell against the groyne; the ever-churning motion of salt-water loops.  The sneaky shifting creep of dunes, the ‘sshhhussshhh’ of shingle dragged across a beach.  ‘Return II’ moves from pregnant ringing blossoms, all rounded and warm, into the nightmare sound of ice cracking beneath your feet as you dash across the fiord.

This is music of the city.  The huge-wine-glass clang is as full and broad as Spitalfields’ Christ Church.  Field recordings slide into the mix: the chatter of taxi cabs and metallic shudder of shopping trolleys; the stark staccato clack of stiletto heels that chitter over cobbles.  Brandy balloons writhe and wobble on ‘Soho Living Room’ with Dale’s dry crackle striking teenage memory gongs while Joincey, the sinister ice cream man, packs something wicked into his 99’s xylophone dubs.

This is music of the sky. ‘You can’t burn my dreams’ swoons like lovesick chem-trails, a thousand feet above, streaking deep white scars across the palest Springtime blue.

The impeccable Isnaj Dui responds with ‘Answers at Dawn’ a noble and ancient wisdom.

I’m transported to a cloud kingdom.  The children are piped into the barren courtyard with ornate horns.  Curved downwards, the sound bounces from the terracotta tiles to echo around the courtyard setting up a matrix of slow breath. 

They dance in staccato movements, each limb stiff and mechanical.  At first in unison, then falling slowly out of phase, each arm, each leg fluttering in stroboscopic effect. 

From above miniature bronze bells are hung from prayer flags.  The gentle tinkle is accompanied by each child, now armed with reed-end sheng randomly puffing like the crickets they keep in tiny cages.

Silently the children are marched back to their solitary cells to sleep until the ritual is repeated tomorrow.

KIND_3-cover

Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release

I first came across Sarah’s work via a wonderfully head-tilting vibraphone piece Settle and did the usual bit of cyber-sleuthing to see what’s up. When I usually do this I find I’m so far behind the curve my ‘new’ discovery is wrapped up shroud-wise and I’ve been dozing 25 years too late (example: François Dufrêne – we could have made such sweet music together!). So I was super thrilled to find a new Hennies release was, like… imminent.  I paid my pal and waited…

This nifty package turned up a week or so later with a real needle and thread sewn into the cardboard sleeve (ha ha) evading customs (ho ho). The two lengthy tracks make up almost an hour’s worth of extraordinary music that left me giddy; brain fizzing and fingers tingling.

‘Gather’ is 27 minutes and 56 seconds of exquisite minimal hiss.  A real recording of a distant waterfall apes a prickly electronic cascade; a shy, wavering tone blends into a constant tide of warm and wooden.  It continues…

The sharp change at 21 minutes makes me sit bolt upright.  We are edging a corner and the salty gush is revealed.   The chromed larynxes of the Sirens are dancing across the wide stereo field – a psychic Doppler Effect.   Droplets of steel-gray water gather on stiff riverside grass.  They quiver, slowly recovering from their thunderous journey.

The final 30 seconds of HNW/H2O-NOISE is shatteringly complex and then bursts into hollow silence.  Oh…consider me gathered!

‘Release’, unrolls another half-hour or so of gentle movements… an eruption in slo-mo.

Felt, the most underused of elements, patters great pools of molten copper.  The swell and its decaying negative unlock the rhythm in simple sets – ( )  ( )  ( ) – brackets of time in which tension is folded.

Hard wood pitches between ears now softened up (creamy like butter) making my lanky frame a pendulum that swings (tick, tick); a nervous clock.

It seems like the air is trembling with glass beads.  And yet… forgotten memories of a music box, complete with plastic ballerina doomed to twirl forever, enter my skull clear and bright.  A gruesome poem is drowned in a racket as pure as the scar on my skinny wrist.  Justice’s violins are wrecked.

A soft canvas bell / a fudge clapper.  Both marking out a dusty life; school to work to retirement to death.  Brief shreds of joy peal gently.  But the rhythm never falters: byenn-boom, byenn-boom, byenn-boom.

(sotto voce) when it stops all things around me judder.

—ooOoo—

Entr’acte / download

Was Ist Das?

Category of manifestation

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