drowned church, boiling noise: scott mckeating on joseph curwen, benway, deceiver

September 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Joseph Curwen – From Beyond (tape, Cruel Nature Records, CN008, edition of 30 or download)

Benway – Surfs Up (tape, Fuckin’ Amateurs, Fa 79, limited edition)

Deceiver – Tour 2013 (3” CD-r, Human Beard Records, limited edition)

joseph curwen - from beyondbenway - surfs updeceiver - tour 2013

Dictated via whisper-ma-phone from his undersea lair, Scott McKeating – RFM’s mysterious third voice – opines thus:

Joseph Curwen – From Beyond

My initial thought on the way that this tape’s opener, ‘From Beyond (Part One)’, begins is that it might actually make a great intro for an industrial metal song – its stasis drone crawl could well portend some epic pounder setting the goth club dance floor alight. However, Joseph Curwen (aka Newcastle resident, Alexander Roberts) is drone through and through thus no easy catharsis here. Instead the track fills the mind with a drowned church stillness, the silt disturbed by a loping pattern of notes, a mouldering noise toying with melody. ‘From Beyond (Part Two)’ is another low-visibility water piece, currents pushing the tones a little higher up the scale this time. It’s the most markedly Lovecraftian of the tracks: a distant but approaching din hints at chaos crawling through the deadening ambient fug.

The three parts – two short, one long – that comprise Side B are a little less inspiring. The relative lightness is not unwelcome following Side A’s murky grey but allows the listener’s attention to wander to the less cosmic chaos of everyday reality. Whilst the initial tracks have the hypnotizing creepiness of a time-lapse film of verdigris creeping across a forgotten bronze statue, this second side allowed me the headspace to worry about the car’s MOT.

A word about the cover art which is surprisingly ‘new agey’ given the content. I presume it is meant to depict the ultraviolet alternate reality revealed by the occult machinery in Lovecraft’s short story. Unfortunately, what it reminded me of was the opening scenes of that steaming-curled-dog-egg Prometheus.

Benway – Surfs Up

After all that droning sometimes it’s good to get your head kicked in by a bit of noiserocknroll. Here’s Martin of Fuckin’ Amateurs fame to set the scene:

Benway was the group put together by Steve Savage aka Steve The Goon aka Steve Pierce the week after I interviewed him for a forthcoming the punk book. He was in Dementia Praecox and a local character at the time. After the interview he mentioned getting a band together so I introduced him to some mates.

Benway (presumably named for Burroughs’s dubious doctor) is the sound of the assembled players orbiting the very aptly named Savage’s scuzzily serrated guitar. There are various jams available on cassette with a revolving line-up of players like Wrest, One Wobbly Egg, Noisebastard / Noisebear / Mark and our very own Posset who backed and enveloped Steve in venues like the legendary Morden Tower (R.I.P., alas).

The main track on Side A of this one is a great howling thing. A loose feedback fouls everything (even the poorly recorded radio forecast attempting to butt its way in) mixing up a sonic morass. Riffs are ragged chugs, pounded on an anvil as bass turns steely cold. This piece is a one instrument show with a band sound; the Moe-Tucker/krautrock rhythm of Jamie’s drums is the next loudest thing but still a flickering match in the pitch black train tunnel of guitar. Of course, it’s a Fuckin’ Amateurs release so there’s the ubiquitous dicto-surveilled audience chat and, as a bonus, Side A also offers some solo drum work (not a drum solo) from Wrest.

Side B is a different thing altogether, Savage offers up four tracks of reverb friendly instrumental and crystal-tipped electric guitar work. Melodic and reminiscent of Robby Krieger’s playing on ‘The End’ (something another punter also mentions in the recorded chatter after the show), it’s a good counterpart to Side A’s roughness.

Deceiver – Tour 2013

Having already berated Matt Goodrich, Human Beard Records label boss, for not giving this disc a catalogue number, there’s little point in me grumbling on RFM about it too [Editor’s note – yes, if you weren’t already locked in the cellar, I’d lock you in the cellar for excessive nerdiness]. Anyway, when not thwarting my Discogs obsession, Matt is a member of the mighty powerviolence band Water Torture and is also the fellow behind the noise project Deceiver, now based in Rochester, NY.

Deceiver do a great line in fierce, boiling noise, in lo-fi audio recordings of disintegrating city scapes. Bass is used to underline certain passages, but Tour 2013’s single ten minute track is formed mainly from layers fading in then being disintegrated by the knotted razor-wire sound. The track could be digitally sourced, but as it moves organically – clouds of scuffed metal consume each other – I prefer to imagine a string of effects pedals, each throttling the next in a macabre, red-faced, eye-bulging daisy chain. There are hardcore vocals here too, courtesy of noisemaker John Kerny (aka Dead Weight) who red-raws his throat by screaming like a wrong ‘un at someone/something. Absolutely no idea what’s he’s saying, but it’s clear that he’s pissed off.

—ooOoo—

Cruel Nature Records

Fuckin’ Amateurs

Human Beard Records Bandcamp / Discogs

rfm attends to recent downloads: cthulhu detonator, deceiver, orange annihilator, seth cooke, petals

March 8, 2013 at 10:41 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Cthulhu Detonator – Infernal Machines (self-released)

Deceiver – I Will Always Be Dead Inside (Bells Hill Digital)

Orange Annihilator – Scrub (Bells Hill Digital)

Seth Cooke – Intercession (Impulsive Habitat, IHab065)

Kevin Saunders / Petals – various back catalogue items (Hairdryer Excommunication)

cthulhu detonatordeceiverorange annihilator - scrubseth cooke - intercessionpetals - nautical almanac

My lack of willpower regarding downloads has been extensively documented on this blog before and explains my general attitude of wariness towards this most tempting aspect of modern musical appreciation.  Not all music stored on physical objects is good, of course, but to present it as such does indicate a faith in the work and acts as an initial filter to limit an otherwise unprocessable torrent.  My preference is to sit with my back to the firmly secured floodgates and listen to them creak as I open my post.

However, what is a boy to do when approached by charming artists touting interesting sounding projects that are only available on that Bandcamp or via netlabels?  Or if a known favourites make experiments or long forgotten back catalogue available via the same means?  I would hardly be a conscientious editor if I just ignored these leads, now would I?  In that spirit there now follows a series of ‘in brief’ accounts of some clickable goodness recently brought to my attention.  *Sigh*, one thing no-one dares mention when warning you of a slippery slope is just how much fun it can be to slide down it…

First is Infernal Machines by Cthulhu Detonator.  I know what you are thinking: “how dare this impertinent rascal imply that our master, Lord Cthulhu, is the sort of thing that can be detonated?!”, right?  Well, I’ve sent this disrespectful heretic an oddly cut purple crystal in an anonymous package and if he looks into it he is fucked.  That’ll teach him!  Ai, Ai!

Anyway, blasphemy aside, this album is very entertaining.  Perhaps, like a lot of debut albums, it is a little over full – RFM recommends keeping it to a tight 40ish minutes and saving the offcuts for an accompanying EP – but who am I to fault exuberance?  This is from the computer-constructed/electronica end of noise: ten distinct tracks working through aspects of a coherently defined sound.  There is a momentum, a squelching bounce, that is gleefully pummelling interspersed with quieter moments spent exploring cyclopean ruins with faulty batteries in your torch.  Nicely balanced and engaging throughout.  Ideal background music for an evening spent flicking through your dog-eared copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

Second are two cuts from the recently formed Bells Hill Digital.  I Will Always Be Dead Inside by Deceiver is as grim as its title suggests.  Part I is a three minute harsh noise blow-out, a planet wide, corrosive hailstorm pitting the black surface of an inhospitable world.  Part II is an almighty eleven minute conflagration.  About halfway through a mournful tone attempts to rise above the roar – like the one building miraculously left standing in an area otherwise devastated by carpet-bombing – but is soon vandalised, deliberately destroyed by the same spiteful fire.  It is utterly without hope and, in my humble opinion, remarkable.  Please investigate.

Scrub by Orange Annihilator is so irresistible that I listened to it ten times in a row the other day, non-stop, on my commute to work.  No, my bus wasn’t stuck in a snow drift, nor have I been seconded to Aberdeen.  The reason this feat was possible is that this five track album is in total three and a half minutes long!

It is electronic noise, best heard at ear-splitting volume for maximum nostril-flaring effect.  Plenty happens but this is not a frantic gonzo cut up.  Segments are allowed a toehold, are established fleetingly, then tumble into the void and are instantly replaced.  Its efficiency and brevity are refreshingly classy.

I think this is a clever example of what imaginative types can do with the Bandcamp model.  I’d argue that this really is an album – it is coherent, complete, self contained – but its length makes it very difficult to present physically.  A 7” single maybe?  Expensive to produce, difficult to distribute.  A credit card CD-r?  A fiddly format that has never really caught on.  Neither of these formats suggest ‘real’ album anyway.  However, on Bandcamp its format is just the same as for everybody else.  Brilliant.

Next is Intercession by Seth Cooke released on intriguing netlabel Impulsive Habitat.  This is one 21 minute track constructed with Seth’s customary attention to detail from sound sources found ‘singing in the wires’ at his place of work.  It starts with a frantic chirruping and buzzing – an orchestra of locusts conducted by Steve Reich – before settling into a shifting pattern of hums, ticks, throbs and gentle feedback tones.  It suggests the micro-climate of self-storage warehouses, server farms, aluminium tubing, ducts in the crawlspace.  In the last five minutes birdsong and traffic can be heard alongside a scything overload in the cables, reminding us of the natural world replicated by the landscaping of the science park outside.  I find this intensely absorbing.  It has a kind of fractal geometry that pulls the listener into the recording.  Despite being as cool as air conditioning and as alienating as fluorescent light I’m sure I can hear a very human yearning behind the machine buzz too.  Exemplary.

Finally, I need to mention the archival project ongoing at the hairdryer excommunication Bandcamp page.  Kev is making as much of the Kevin Sanders / Petals back catalogue as he can find freely available via this resource.  I guarantee that any fruit you pick from this vine will be delicious.  The more I hear of Kev’s work, the more I want to hear and there is no higher praise than that.

All this stuff is freely downloadable:

Cthulhu Detonator

Bells Hill Digital

Impulsive Habitat

hairdryer excommunication

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