everyone’s favourite uncle: joe murray on adam bohman (again)

June 25, 2014 at 11:09 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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ADAM BOHMAN – Music and words 2 (CD, paradigm discs, PD 30)

Adam Bohman - Music and Words 2 aAdam Bohman - Music and Words 2 b

Like a classic mixtape you make for your good friend overseas this utterly charming record is less snapshot of ‘where it’s at’ and more time-travel device for the hyper-elastic mind.

Clive Graham from paradigm discs is the good-guy compiler here and all his source material comes from the personal chump-tapes and hen’s teeth releases from everyone’s favourite uncle – Adam Bohman. Some recordings stretch back to 1977 and it’s a trip to hear Adam as a young man all clipped and springy.

In Music and words (re-released 2013) the spotlight was on Adam’s tutored ping, verbal monologues and electric tape-jiggery. This time round (or before, or after) we get to hear some more linear sonic collage, extended ‘talking tapes’ and some real life songs!

You all know that the art of compiler lies in pacing and placement. Do you big-bang it at the start or drop a sleeper half way through side two? Well, dear reader, with material as rich as this you can afford to do both.

Things start with the world-wide mega-hit ‘When a man’; a viciously witty response to every meathead jock, alpha male and pumped-up Charles Atlas type swinging their (metaphorical) johnson in your (metaphorical) face. Delivered in the style of a gravelly action-film trailer arguing with itself we are treated to the world of what real men see, think and do. Real men (the interlocking voices of ‘Kenny’ & ‘Shane’ tell us) kill people, blow them away and have intercourse with horny chicks. And then it piles weirdness on weirdness with Rhodes Boyson and Steven Segal and Gore Vidal being referenced…

I saw someone blown away by Norman Lamont

…creeps out of one speaker building mental pictures of an evil-looking Spitting Image puppet getting freaky with the Bohman fist controlling.

And it’s these talking tapes (and variations thereof) that have captured the no-audience underground so much. Trips to London, Southend-on-Sea and Wiesbaden become enlightening travel guides of the curious-mundane. Adam’s daily fry-ups, train delays and listening habits are magnified through tape to enter a level of detail Nicholson Baker would be proud of. London & Wiesbaden are the build-up to gigs Adam is playing and the slow and measured psychedelic-domestic reveals a universe of connections; it becomes a precursor to the show, an essential route map of thought-processes that lead up to a tantalising blank, because, of course, the show itself is not represented.   His trip through customs on one of the Wiesbaden pieces is almost a live performance anyway with the airport security playing a supporting role to Adam’s youthful mutters.

The sonic-collage pieces seem to each take a different medium and apply the same signature blunt tape edits creating delightful variations. In ‘Interruptions’ an old chord organ chokes and coughs with dust. In ‘Screams of the Undead Earthworms’ vocal blips and bibber melt like spit and during   ‘Crimson Catfish’ Adam takes rogue radio recordings and chops them up with a rusty hacksaw.

The more song-oriented pieces: ‘Vicar with a Travel Bag’ or ‘Ordnance Survey’ or ‘Waterfall Song’ are as British as a cockle-scented general. His cheeks brick-red from massive Sherry consumption he wonders:

Why didn’t that Damon Albarn chappie use Bohman rather than Ray Davis to create his Hope & Glory template? Others would have followed. I can see Shed Seven ditch their feathercuts for Bohmanesque tonsures, muttering into Dictaphones as they search the aisles of Maplin’s for cheap batteries. The Verve taking their ricket-legged swagger down the allotment with a tartan flask, carefully comparing the differing resonance of scrap metal pipes. And of course Elastica copying every detail of a collage down to source material and then passing it off as their own work.

But never let it said these are naive recordings. If you are looking for cynical bite ‘My Wife’s going to have a Baby” is dripping with sarcasm and first-world-male-dread. The Southend-on-Sea talking tapes capture the darker side of Essex drinking culture and Adam acknowledges “I must sound like a terrible snob” as he avoids the thick-necked quaffers.   The ‘Jenkins Family’ is pretty much a sharp poke at cultural tourism and, as the sleeve notes proudly point out,

…was recorded the year before EastEnders was first broadcast.

At just over 79 minutes this is a long record…but never seems it. The pieces have a careful planning (as careful as any mixtape meant for wooing I’m guessing); the Talking Tapes come in convenient chunks and are interspersed with collage and song, making this more like an afternoon with a spectral Radio 4 taken hostage by the ordinary ghost. Essential.

Buy here.

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