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.

stuart chalmers and robert ridley-shackleton soothe a savage breast

June 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Posted in art, musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Stuart Chalmers – Dreaming Butterfly (download, Open Sound Group)

Stuart Chalmers – imaginary musicks vol 1 (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 45 or CD, edition of 50, self-released)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Melting All My Years In2 tears (C46 tape, hissing frames, edition of 100)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Rebirth (A5 zine, 18 pages, edition of 100)

stuart chalmers - dreaming butterflystuart chalmers - imaginary musiks vol 1robert ridley-shackleton - meltingrobert ridley-shackleton - rebirth cover

On the walk home from work on Friday evening I got into an altercation with the driver of a car who had nearly run me over. I was in the right, of course, and this bloke was an odious knobber. There was plenty of shouting and swearing (mainly on my part) as my foe chose to goad me from the safety of his vehicle. He ignored my repeated requests to step out so the argument could be settled in a physical manner. It ended with me delivering this devastating put down:

You’re like something out of a sit-com, mate, you’re embarrassing. Why don’t you go fuck yourself, you dumb fucking cunt?

…worthy of Oscar Wilde, I’m sure you’ll agree, and him chucking water from an Evian bottle over me before putting his foot down and speeding away. What a shining example of manliness at its most impressive, eh? It’s like Froch versus Groves or something.

I spent the weekend mulling it over. The question wasn’t why it happened – I am mentally ill, highly strung, and haven’t slept properly in a fortnight: go figure. The big question is why did I enjoy the experience so much? Sure, I had that tight, sick, post-confrontation feeling afterwards for a short while but not much remorse. Perhaps doing something so undeniably stupid was an enormous, cathartic release of pressure because usually I am such an upstanding, responsible citizen. Hmmm… evidence of mid-life crisis? Better speak to my counsellor. Or buy a motorbike.

(Aside: I did write up the whole incident with a view to using it as a preamble but thought better of it. Any fans of two-fisted action out there for whom the edited version above is not enough can email me for the unexpurgated story.)

Anyway, as I always do when in need of succour or a contemplative aid, I asked music a few questions and listened carefully to what it had to say. It turns out that my calm, rational side had been sitting in the backyard eating an ice-cream and listening to the albums above. The steaming, bellicose me joined him, cooled off, and soon started nodding in appreciation. These guys are boss.

Each release I’ve heard by Stuart has been better than the last. Interestingly, however, I’ve heard his work well out of chronological sequence. Thus, barring the unlikely possibility that I just lucked out and accidentally heard these recordings in order of quality, my reaction does not run parallel to an artistic progression on his part. Rather, I think, I’ve come to appreciate his music more as I’ve become more familiar with the world it describes, with the vision that produced it. The same happened with Robert – I picked through a vast collection of his releases more or less at random and my enjoyment increased exponentially as I used them to map out the bizarre contours of Shackleton Island.

My reaction to Daydream Empire, a CD-r on LF Records and the first of Stuart’s albums I heard, was puzzling but, in the light of the above, now explainable. I didn’t like it. Weirdly though, especially as I’m a stubborn ol’ bastard utterly confident in the infallibility of my own taste, it felt like it was my fault that I didn’t like it, that I was mistaken. I could hear the quality – the time, effort and care that had been used in its construction – but I didn’t get it. I ended up in the nonsensical situation of apologising to Stuart for this lapse. I don’t do that very often.

Dreaming Butterfly is from the archives, imaginary musicks vol 1 is new, both are beautiful. Stuart’s trade is in collage, mainly warm and fluid but with mysterious currents running under the rippling surface. Any readers as old and snaggletoothed as me will remember the electronica boom of the early 1990s and once or twice I was reminded of experiments in sample-based ambient music from that time. However, close attention reveals that Stuart’s work is not so easily slotted into pre-existing categories.

The world his music describes is fully formed and the listener’s experience of it is immersive and ego-dissolving (relaxing into it I felt a thousand miles away from my road rage incident) but carefully placed ticks – a filter echo, a moment of dictaphonic skwee – bring you back to the surface by foregrounding its artificiality. It’s like a South Sea Islands version of Philip K. Dick’s Time out of Joint. Imagine walking on the golden beach, admiring the dancing palms, looking out over the glassy ocean to the setting sun only for it all to suddenly disappear and be replaced with a featureless white room and a scrap of paper at your feet with the words ‘tropical paradise’ typed on it. As with all the very best stuff: the more I listen to it, the more I want to listen to it.  One or both of these releases will make the end-of-year awards shortlist, f’sure.

I note in passing that Stuart shows an admirable faith is his own work. Rightly proud of imaginary musicks vol 1 he had it mastered by Denis Blackham, who has previously worked with Touch and Nurse With Wound, at Skye Mastering. Fancy, eh?

Regular readers may recall the hefty overview I wrote of Robert Ridley-Shackleton’s back catalogue last year. A super-sized parcel from the guy was emptied onto the kitchen table here at Midwich Mansions and I picked through the contents, fascinated. All together it formed a psychological jigsaw depicting a map of his mental landscape.

The interior of Shackletonia is as exaggerated and brightly coloured as the Arizona-ish rockscapes of a Road Runner cartoon. Coastal areas are more rugged and brooding as beaches of jet black sand fall away into an ice blue sea under sky the colour of spoiled milk. In-between the two you will find strange crystalline formations of uncertain origin and giant sculptures made of compacted landfill – think Wall-E does Easter Island. Offshore, an intrepid scuba diver can visit a submerged cathedral choked with seaweed, where ghosts of drowned sailors perform rites worshipping the Deep Ones. On the surface, the radio of the support ship picks up decades old news reports informing the world of tragic maritime disasters.

To be more specific: Robert’s music contains elements of snarling garage punk, of rinky-dink Suicide throb, of harsh noise wall, of clattering kitchen sink improv, of unfathomable oddness. It is all recorded rough and tinny – as if bellowed down a cardboard cone and etched to wax cylinder with a knitting needle. Best to readjust your acceptable sonic range a full knob twist into the treble.

So, the purpose of this particular tape is to be an answer to the age old question: ‘where do I start?’ Our man has woven together a seamlessly coherent and highly enjoyable best-of compilation from numerous previous releases. It is presented both as a culmination and an introduction and I think it is fucking great.

A few words about the zine/pamphlet, Rebirth, that Robert kindly sent accompanying this tape. I like Robert’s graphic work as much as his music. I think I have mentioned the possible influence of Art Informel before and these photocopies of mixed media pieces call to mind a Catalan womble living in the sewers beneath the Fundació Tàpies in Barcelona. In his lair he creates art from the detritus left by tourists whilst chewing up a copy of the massive Tàpies catalogue raisonné, stolen from the gift shop, to fashion a nest of glossy spitballs.

—ooOoo—

The one-stop shop for all things Robert Ridley-Shackleton is Hissing Frames, his blog/label/publishing empire. Dreaming Butterfly can be downloaded for free from Open Sound Group here or found on Stuart’s Bandcamp site here. imaginary musicks vol 1 is available as a tape from Beartown Records or as a self-released CD via the Bandcamp site where much of his previous catalogue is also to be found.  The picture above (second one down) is the Bandcamp illustration and is neither the CD nor tape cover.

the barrel nut #6 and #7: double barrelled!

February 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 4 Comments
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tbn #6 covertbn #7 cover

The more zine-hungry amongst you will have noticed that during my recent illness I was, sadly, only able to publish one issue of The Barrel Nut microzine.  However, I’m glad to say that despite this unavoidable slowdown the plaudits kept coming in.  It was voted ‘The North’s most charming noise/art delivery system’ by Members Aflame! – the newsletter of the Campaign for Civility in Power Electronics and was awarded an unprecedented 4.5 star-shaped sensory appendages out of 5 by Tago Mi-Go – the journal of Lovecraftian Krautrock studies (heh, heh – lolz – that nugget of comedy gold dedicated to Paul Walsh who celebrated his 50th birthday last week – happy belated returns!).  This approbation has spurred me on to publish issues #6 and #7 simultaneously, thus recovering some of the lost ground.

Newbies might be wondering what I’m on about.  Well here’s me self-quoting some explanatory blurb (those in the know can skip it):

A microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be all internet-enabled n’ that then you are very welcome to download and print out your own.  It’s well salt-and-shake!  Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you’ll need to trim the print-out a bit down one edge to make it fold properly).  Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on the Nut’s own page (tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Please get in touch.

So there you have it…

Some really terrific contributions this time around.  We have gnomic poetry and lollipop toting ghost children from Julian Bradley of Zellaby Award winners The Piss Superstion – a chap who should be better known for his exceptional graphic work.  We have the monarch of the glen being prepared to become ‘value’ lasagne and a comment on the moustachioed breed of hipsterism by Yol, master of the starkly black and white and a TBN regular.  We are celebrating the release from prison of Hiroshima Yeah!’s Gary Simmons with a bleak sketch of a cell window and a collage made during his time incarcerated (the smears are toothpaste – he wasn’t allowed glue).  His fellow HY! editor Mark Ritchie contributes a poem-ish cut-up as does RFM’s very own Joe Murray, of Posset infamy. We have Michael Clough to thank for donating a double-page spread of elegant minimalism built from offcuts created whilst constructing one of his photocopier experiments (of which more anon).  Hard stares for Dex Wright of Tapenoise who lays down some paranoia-inducing, exuberantly worked, outsider Cubism.  Finally, we are treated to an unnerving sketch by Lucia Foster, a Mexican based illustrator affiliated to Miguel Perez’s Oracle Netlabel/Agorafobia Tapes axis.  Her work is new to me and I hope to see more of it in future.

I’m proud to bring this lot to your attention.  Contributors and subscribers will be receiving copies in the post in due course.  Links to downloadable versions below, as promised.  A plea: leaving aside a rainy day stockpile of stuff by the regulars I am in need of submissions for future issues.  If you’ve ever fancied giving it a go then now is the time to get the crayons out…

The Barrel Nut #6 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut #6 as a jpeg file

The Barrel Nut #7 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut #7 as a jpeg file

the barrel nut #5: hyper-signage, gargle-score, saturated doodle

January 18, 2014 at 9:22 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 2 Comments
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barrel nut 5 cover

Attentive readers will know that I have recently been ill, enduring an episode of the depression that fouls my life every so often.  Sadly, I remain knacked though some progress has been made.  I have, in part at least, been attempting to fight it off with creative endeavour – discovering that getting busy with the glue-stick then folding tiny zines can be a meditative, therapeutic exercise…

Hence the return of North Leeds’s premier oddness-aggregator: The Barrel Nut.  The latest issue, #5, is something of a showcase for regulars.  Check out the pan-dimensional, hyper-signage – pointing god knows where – by Stephen Woolley of joinedbywire and the text score (feel free to send recordings of your interpretation) and line drawing by Yol, champion art-growler.  Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon contributes a page of ballpoint mental cacophony and Dex Wright of Tape Noise concludes matters with a mysterious portrait in the naive style.  Cover collage, ‘migrating birds’, is by yours truly, as is the freestyle sudoku on the back.

For those new to this type of silliness, a microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be all internet-enabled n’ that then you are very welcome to download and print out your own.  It’s well salt-and-shake!  Links to the latest issue in jpg and pdf formats (in colour!) are below.  Assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on the Nut’s own page (tabbed above).  You’ll need to trim the print-out a bit down one edge to make it fold properly.  Apologies for the size of the pdf this time – I managed to save it in an unnecessarily ultra-high quality setting.

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Please get in touch.

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as jpeg file

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