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 viperMarch 17, 2017 at 8:37 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: bren't lewiis ensemble, bufms, chocolate monk, crow versus crow, crow versus crow editions, dante's ashtray, donk, dylan nyoukis, faniel dord, fonk, joe murray, seymour glass, skronk, stefan jaworzyn, the tenses, the viper
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)
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.
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.
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 (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.
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 & 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.
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!
Tags: dante's ashtray, distraction records, faniel dord, jazzfinger, joe murray, quagga curious sounds, shareholder, stuart chalmers, yol
Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw (CD-r or download, Dante’s Ashtray)
Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns (self-released tape or download)
Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance (CD-r & collage in decorated envelope, Quagga Curious Sounds, QCS_090, edition of 30)
Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix) (7″ vinyl in screenprinted cover, Distraction Records, DIST23, edition of 100)
…and here’s another thing. Cock-punks talk about ‘meaning it’ but the NA-U are well used to full-immersion in their practice. No-one dials this shit in. You’re either totally committed or you may as well settle back to watch Oranges Are Not The Only New Black. Or something.
Here are four examples of total commitment. Are you sitting uncomfortably?
Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw
Faniel Dord kills the song, deletes the long-form drone and brings back the radio play with his utterly bonkers, psychedelic horror noir – THE CURSE OF THE DRIPPING JAW.
It’s a story as old as storytelling itself; the mortal narrator lifts the veil between the two worlds, receives an ancient and evil wisdom and is then cruelly punished for his trouble. The gods are such dicks yeah?
It’s totally base, crude and infantile, as Dord swoops through a cast of barely comprehensible characters each revealing a grim (and usually dripping) secret.
So far, so Spike Milligan, but what sets Dord firmly in the wonk-camp is his eccentric timing and ‘rude kid’ narrative. Voices speak over each other, interrupt, argue and go off onto muttered tangents. They lose their script and adopt different accents mid-sentence. These characters are not so much unreliable as actively confusing and devilishly impish.
And like all good radio plays the incidentals lend an extra layer of gosh. This being a Faniel-joint, fings get rambunctious and frenzied quickly; the foley work stands proud but with deranged intention, like planting a fresh turd in a gravy boat. The musical numbers have a twist of the Alan Bishop about them as the spaghetti-western-meets-his-Uncle-Jim vibe informs a couple of tunes or even the warbling of (deep breath) Wings!
If you’re looking for the perfect antidote to po-faced rumble and plinks dial ‘F’ for Faniel and get in touch with your inner-Rawlinson (NSFW).
Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns
BRONTOSAURUS-MONOLITH- QUIT -MUSIC FROM THE VERY EXCELLENT SHAREHOLDER LURCHES OUTTA MY ‘PHONES TODAY. TREACLE-THICK AND HOT-SWADDLED IN 50,000 TONNES OF FUZZ AND DISTORTION. Q:SOUNDSLIKE? A BLACK WREATH OF A VOICE OFFERS DARK CRITIQUE WITH A POET’S EYE. SUPER-HEAVY, WITH SERIOUS DAMAGE INTENDED, TWIN GUITARS MAY MOAN, MAY ROAR, MAY MAJESTICALLY IMPLODE – AT ODDS WITH THE WORLD AND AS QUICK AS PLUCKING A DUCK. THE TRAP SET LAYS BURIED DEEP, DEEP, DEEP THEN HOPS FULL-FRONTAL CRASHING AS FLINT ON STEEL (WITH ALL THE IMAGINED SPARKS). MEAT TENDERISER BLUSTER MIXED WITH THE DRUNKS WITH GUNS DEDICATION TO PURE THUDDING REPETITION. SAY IT ONCE, SAY IT AGAIN, KEEP ON SAYING IT. MOMENTS OF RESPITE ARE SLIM BUT OFFER SOME COLD COMFORT: HUGE CHUNKS OF IT IS MORNING ARE SPECTRAL AND SPIDER-LIKE, MORPHING INTO A GAMELAN CHIMING – A LEAKING BEAUTY. AN UNEXPECTED MADNESS DELIVERS AN ACCUSATION,
IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU
MAKING STRANGE BEDFELLOWS WITH COLD HOURS, A GENUINE CREEPY FOOLER (GLAD I CAN’T UNDERSTAND A WORD). WHEN A ROUGE BASS NOTE NOSES IN, ALL PINK AND AQUIVER, I WONDER
CAN YOU BE BOTH MATTER-OF-FACT AND IMPASSIONED?
THE SURLY/CONFIDENT DREAMLIKE IS ANTHEMIC TO THE POINT OF FINDING OUT WHERE JIM KERR LIVES, RINGING THE BELL AND THEN KICKING HIM RIGHT IN THE NUTS. SHAREHOLDER – ALWAYS FILLING ARENAS.
Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance
An almost indescribably excellent collaboration from the King of the Loops and the Master of Kinetic Poetry.
The frantic pace and electricity of opener ‘World on Fire’ shakes my varmints like Kid 606 did back in the day when it was acceptable to wear Hi-Tops. It’s a hyper-real explosion fizzing with extra-strength gristle taking Yol’s scorched-earth screams and Stuart’s Dictaphone frot into strange new territories.
A stunning symbiosis starts to take place. I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of collaborations; who gives and who takes, where the total becomes more than the sum of its parts, how compromise can open up new avenues of grot. And here you have two artists seriously leaning-in to each other; the methods start to bind in a ferric DNA with the hoarse throat and metallic tinkle meshing perfectly with the sophisticated Dictaphonics. Check out the liquid tape-scree (sodium burning bright) and desperate industrial voodoo cures [Editor’s note: typo for ‘curses’? Don’t care – I’m leaving it in.] of shattered lung on Rusty Rats.
Did you? Recovered yet?
And those moments just keep coming and coming; ‘Pop Eats Itself’ and ‘Secret EVP Door’ [Editor’s note: my favourite track, astounding] crackle and fizz like blistering paint. The sound bubbles up with malevolence, rippling and roaring with an evil turpentine stink. Small moments catch my magpie eyes… is that Leonard Cohen, a castanet, a dropped coin? Has Yol keeled over and fainted? Why can’t I feel my toes?
Closer ‘Best Shot’ is like a peak into a fantasy dimension. Puppet-master Stuart controls a rogue Yol and pits him against the real thing using the in-built slurring qualities of the Dictaphone to mimic and provoke. It’s a pointed statement, with added whirr… the muscular text smudged into granular sound poetry.
Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix)
Jazzfinger drill deep into the earth on ‘Beachy Head’. Smudged groans overlap each other like large terracotta tiles. The high-tension pings pepper things up. A forever-murk of old tape gunk, air-to-air recording techniques and telepathic improvisation grease the wheels in ways only Jazzfinger can.
As ever, listening to a Jazzfinger jam, equal and conflicting forces tear at your brain; the urge to submit and go under, drown in the pregnant fullness or treat this with an archaeological bent and carefully sift through the multiple layers, up to the armpits in rubble and soft red dust.
As reviewer I had to flick between approaches to bring you back this missive and found myself spending hours, possibly days putting the needle on and off, on and off, never quite sure if it was night or day, making astral travel a distinct possibility.
The flipside,’Moroccan Car Park’, is an eccentric remix, bold in terms of scope that shimmers from barely-there gossamer tones to full-on horn blasts perfectly echoing the ‘whale talk’ vibe of side A.
With such rich material to work with D Harwood is wise to craft a self-standing structure, distinctly recognisable as Jazzfinger, yet strangely unfamiliar and distant. This wonderful blend swirls like pungent spice or choking incense, filling the room with deep memory.
Packaging detail: This seven-incher comes in a deluxe package… an eccentric fold out sleeve that nestles the precious wax like a lotus flower. The dark image is, essentially, blacker than black with a delicious tackiness [Editor’s note: presumably Joe means ‘to the touch’, not ‘cheesiness of design’] and sulphur whiff. Includes download code too for the ultimate customer service experience.