kerry king’s amp fizz: joe murray on stuart chalmers, karl m v waugh, grey guides and cam

February 17, 2017 at 7:24 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Stuart Chalmers – In the Heart of Solitude (Constellation Tatsu)

Karl M V Waugh – Future Glows (Emblems of Cosmic Disorder)

Grey Guides – Beast Mask Supremacist (Crow versus Crow)

CAM – Mirror Confrontations (Skrat Records)


Stuart Chalmers – In the Heart of Solitude (Constellation Tatsu) cassette and Bandcamp download

Don’t know if it’s just me but this appears to be the perfect winter cassette of glum collisions.  Imagine bad thoughts reverberating inside your skull; the sounds bounce and amplify and leave a sooty fingerprint.  You shake your head but the dust remains however low and mellow the sun.

Regular readers will know Stuart manipulates tapes and tape loops with a sparse pedal set-up, mighty fists, secret knowledge and magical skill.  But this time it’s not just the loopology that takes the starring role, it’s the singular tape content that snaps like an arrowroot biscuit.

Here Stuart uses Indian Swarmandal tapes pretty much exclusively for his palette adding a layer of glittering resonance and magnetic space to each gentle track.

The dulcimer-like tones vibrate and twang, sour as brass but with an unmistakable air of mystery.  “Just what is behind those beaded curtains?”  They seem to whisper, while a be-jewelled finger beckons you through a hidden door into a room heavy with musk.

I’m transported (can’t you tell?) but you need facts eh reader?  The killer stand-out, the magnum opus has to be ‘reflection’.  It shimmers like a Bagpuss episode viewed through sepia-specs.  It builds slowly and metallically, fine interlocking coils spiralling ever tighter and tighter until sonic shrapnel bursts rudely from the shell.

There’s a slight panic, a speeding edge that propels each track into momentary discomfort.  And it’s that intersection between mystic enlightenment and dangerous toppling that makes me come back again and again to this wonderful little tape.

OH YEAH…While we’re talking I’ve got to give an honourable mention to Tlon a fruity collaboration between Stuart Chalmers (cassette/pedals) and Liam McConaghy (synths).  It’s now sold out in this realm but available for all you millennials on digital (e.g. not really there) editions.  It’s boss alright but gone, gone, gone.


Karl M V Waugh – Future Glows (Emblems of Cosmic Disorder) Cassette and Bandcamp Download

Ultra atmospheric, lichen creeping from the South Coast’s very only K M V Waugh.

Lengthy opener ‘Fire snow (i), fire snow (ii), fresh grow’ stretches out as slow as bone growth.  It starts slow and ends slow yet visits several distinct intervals on the journey: Meredith Monk on the Woodbines, bummed Didgeridoo guffs and the Electric Spanking (of war babies?).

Things grow darker on the even lengthier ‘Future glow (ii), final gravity’ that matches John Carpenter’s percussive judders over Space Odyssey’s floating-backwards-through-the-monolith-with-rainbow-brite-whurrrring .  The disembodied voice offers no comfort.

Designed for the sort of snitchy mediation we can expect in today’s topsy-turvy world.

A statement? Perhaps.  A coping mechanism? Very much so.

Plug in and remain alert!


Grey Guides – Beast Mask Supremacist (Crow versus Crow) Tape and bandcamp download

Encased in a top-notch Andy Wild photo-collage-art-piece (slate grey of course) this tape just fucking drips quality.

The Grey Guides hail from Morley outta Leeds and concentrate that satellite town dislocation that those city slickers just can’t replicate.  The exquisite weirdness of the suburbs runs through this tape like mould in a stinky cheese.

The instrumentation is sparse.  A gentle roaring (sounding rather like The Cramp’s Poison Ivy practising over in the next parish) becomes a backdrop over which indistinct keys, fetid tape grot and soft Dictaphone squelches hover on opener ‘One Eye Lower Than the Other’

The next two tracks, ‘Millipede in a Doll’s House’ and ‘Mushroom Heads are Turning’ are surely designed to spook; they come across like a Yorkshire Dead C with their sound-on-sound fullness, their squished-sonic wrongness.  Black reverb ripples across backmasked guitar and throb in a fair approximation of a tape player actually throwing up; brown ribbons spiralling out, collecting in sticky ferric pools. It all ends in a grim repetition which baffles against broken ancient machinery.  A woven howl (now sounding like a 16th generation tape of Kerry King’s amp fizz) smears as Gerhard Richter, using only charcoal tones and coal dust, comes up with his next masterpiece.

‘Just Burned Down a Care Home’ starts with some s-w-e-e-t tape-juggling, thumb on the soft pause squealing out fractured speech while that dude out the Cocteau Twins wonders why all his pedals now sound like elephant seals huffing petrol fumes.

Massed tape séance-traps are forced open on ‘Van Hoogstraten’s Big Pay Back: Gorton Poltergeist Revisited’ leaking thick magnetic ectoplasm with a “whurrr, whhorrr, whurrrr” rattling like an unsteady wind.  It’s heady like good brandy.

Several ghostly interruptions later we happen upon the rarest of beasts, a No-Audience Underground cover version of a real-live tune (x2).  The Grey Guides join the dots, reversed of course, between The Can and The Fall from a barely perceptible start; the faintest of pulses through to a garage-rock-recorded-through-codeine-infused-marshmallow finale.

I finally collapse to the unruly jaxx of ‘The Unlovely Acolyte Anointed at Last’ – Sidney Bechet clarinet played on Satan’s mouthparts and wonder.  “Is this what passes for entertainment in Morley right now? “

Yeah it is?

Book me on the Mega bus boys…I’m coming down to jam!


CAM – Mirror Confrontations (Skrat Records) Vinyl LP and digital album

These long-timers, Denmark’s enigmatic CAM, share six electronic improvisations with us on this classy vinyl offering.

It’s a noble three-piece set-up with Claus Poulsen, Anders Borup and Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau on an encyclopaedic array of tapes, synth, processing, objects, things, toys, electronics and improbable occult practices.

Keen RFM-spotters will recognise the name Claus Poulsen from his work with Star Turbine (a duo with Sindre Bjerga – on tour in the UK late Feb/early March) but this is a very different animal to their ion-drive grit.  CAM specialise in fast-moving tripod dialogue, texture and split-tooth wrangles ya’ hear.

The spirit of Northern Europe Improv is strong with strains of cold-dark hiss, low-frequency gloop and singular vocal hummings woven together in pan of steaming mind-think.

The six tracks on this el-pee make these impressions on my Swiss-cheese mind.

  • Squiffy beats ba-da-bump like Saaaaalllllt n’ Peppppper over a humpin’ vox (heavy on a delay). Snatches of field-recorded atmosphere are tucked up nice with an analogue-warm wave; reverse-hissing seems to be become a new Olympic discipline as breath gets sucked out a puckered pair of lips.
  • More moaning: a creaky bridge caught up in high wind. The cables sing sorrow in a thousand different voices.  The damp thump of workboots crossing the swollen planks adds a steady beat.  But what’s that I hear?  The dreams of the factory workers hoping for sunnier Spring days.
  • Uncertain hymns via Robert Wyatt’s fractured, dust-dry larynx. There’s a real Rockbottom vibe with that watery keyboard (a gift from Julie Christie) lapping gently at your stubby toes.  The oyster grit comes in the form of treble-heavy child chatter and bubbling electronic slime.
  • Primary tones/chalk sliding over wet slate/Babbit-bobble/wrenched petroleum
  • Confrontations in the afternoon, seeping prose and dramatic static ripples – don’t go chasing waterfalls.
  • Mind-over-matter becomes a group practice. Three individual voices hum the theme from ‘The Bridge’ in different timezones, accents and languages so voice two arrives before voice one and voice three has an acidic hangover.  Deep as an oil well and twice as sticky.

OK Travellers…a reliable signpost might say Supersilent but I reckon these dudes are looser and, without doubt, DIY to the core.


Constellation Tatsu

Emblems of Cosmic Disorder

Crow Versus Crow Universe

SKRAT Records


cscdng clttr: joe murray on david birchall, thf drenching & phillip marks

May 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
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David Birchall, THF Drenching & Phillip Marks – The Ludic Clamp (CD, Council of Drent Recordings, CoD007)

ludic clamp










choir of pelicans: joe murray on kieron piercy & dylan nyoukis, f.ampism & fritz welch

April 5, 2015 at 9:40 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.305, edition of 50)

F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.286)

F.Ampism – The Ancient Wing (tape, IKUISUUS, ikasus-046)

f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole (CD-r, humansacrifice, HS009)


Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness

Mr Kieron and Mr Dylan present a 27 minute odyssey – a minute for every year of Kurt Cobain’s life on this coppery beast.

Just in case you’ve stumbled on RFM from Cuba or something here’s the back story.  KP hails from inland Megalopolis Leeds and plays tapes and devices in the hypnotic-power trio Spoils & Relics. DN plays similar tapes and devices but this time from the damp coast of Brighton with memory-scrub duo Blood Stereo.  Together these gently glowing men methodically flip the switches in my head marked ‘fump’, ‘whirr’ and, most importantly ‘squelch’.  Right on!

Kurt’s early years are depicted as a gentle hissing – a rising of the sap through hollow young legs no doubt!  Cheeky.  But by Junior High the AM Radio starts to fill his blonde little head with snatches of ‘The Mac’ stripped of everything apart from Stevie Nick’s breathy acrobatics (she sighs like a pro), each expulsion of C02 piped through an intricate system of fur-lined loops.

Our man comes of age.  And while much ink is spilled over his punk rock credentials (the Flipper jean jacket patches, the Scratch Acid mixtapes) little time is spent studying his Linguaphone experiments, playing Greek Progressive Rock through that new Walkman contraption, gurning along while dropping potatoes into a ceramic bowl.  But of course Piercey & Nyoukis nail this moment perfectly.  History is rewritten – check your facts Charles R Cross!

The move from Fecal Matter to Nirvana is a small one, but still important to note.  With eyes firmly fixed on the prize of rock explosion, a series of stretched-out faux frog calls batter my poor eardrums… but all rippled and slushed.  Some said the decision to open that infamous Reading Festival set with a choir of Pelicans was a career-limiting move (and some still blame the drummer) but those brazen sea-birds honk with a mournful timbre – a cosmic disaffection rather than a cry for raw herring that says more about The Stooges and the taxonomy of ‘alternative rock’ than any limp chord or riff.

The birth of a child and a marriage takes a psychic toll as serious as Geffen contracts so it’s no wonder the mood turns darker with a comfortable helplessness – skittering pops and shuffles leaking out of my tiny earbuds mirroring the sound of grazed knees.

Now it’s near the end; the final moments amplify the torment of ‘the Rome incident’ and track the disembodied voices of the medical staff and the cardio vascular crack of the ribs.  It’s not comfortable listening, but then again what is?  You want comfortable?  Drop some Mantovani.  You want real?  Plug into this delightful moroseness and let those silent tears well up and spill from your fat eyelids.

pattern interruptancient wingcosmogonic

F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt, The Ancient Wing, f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole

All hail F.Ampism, king of the Quiet Village and noisy jungle!

Pattern Interrupt creates a sweaty negative zone where swollen lacewings fripp by at ear level and recycled bicycle bells become a spooked gamelan.

If you peak from under your oversized pith helmet you can watch the noble tribes holding a soft revolt, a velvet coup by waving their iPhones at the gawking tourists, SIM cards full of classic Ubuweb downloads.  The cultural incongruence is too much for some holiday makers and they run screaming through the sinister Swiss Cheese plants.  Those that remain hawk it up for pregnant yuks.

But it’s not all Hugh Tracey tropical offerings. The frosty steppes get a look in too.  Picture a landing site for a burned-out cosmonaut; thousands of miles of desolation stretch out in all directions with only the unthinking wind for company and a boner in your spacesuit.

Mark my words.  There’s a yearning quality to these recordings.  A longing for a retrofitted future where Margaret Mead pursued foul-electronics rather than Anthropology and Blind Lemon Jefferson composed for the frost Calliope.  This alternate future/past is best played out on ‘The Infinite Inward’ a wormhole through NYC docks (circa 1946) via Moondog’s fully open third eye.

No-Audience Exorcists take note: ‘Did you mean Wasabi’ features some of the most evil wonk-muttering, like the wolves that live in the wall of our haunted house. ‘X’ marks the spot me hearties!

The Ancient Wing tape has found a home on the awesome Ikiuisuus label* and folds the incidental music from Ulysses 31 into World in Action Technicolor.  The separate tracks, peppered with ‘bloops’ and ‘bleeps’, work as a perfect whole and sound like a beautiful analogue lava-lamp slowly melting in a head shop.

And, overall the mood is funky; damn funky.  I don’t get the opportunity to use the ‘F-word’ much on these here pages, but as any funkateer knows, it’s all about an appreciation  of space, of slipping your timing and mining the absence.  What you leave out determines what the listener has to put in whether it’s on the god-damn one or not.  You gotta work for your funk and F.Ampism makes my pulse rate flitter.

But, apart from getting me a hot foot this collection is giving my memory centre a good old going over.  The partial, ever mutating tunes and rippling, bubbling synths that lick like a sauce kick off a series of half-remembered sensory dreams: the toilet smell of Whitby, this hiss of an opening vacuum flask, the feel of vinyl car seats in July.  I feel like a dormant part of my brain is flickering into life, the lights are starting to glow.  An aid to meditation and psychic recovery!

On the quite beautifully packaged Shouting a Hymn Down the Cosmogonic Dream Hole our very own F.Ampism is joined by my favourite transplanted Texan – Fritz Welch.  The theme is jazz-tinged industry with a busy, busy earful of tinkering taps, bells, squawks and diddles moving across eight untitled micro-moments.  I’m delighted to hear Fritz is back behind the drum kit again with super-sharp scattering as dry as twigs vibrating the piggy membranes.  F.Ampism is majoring on Dictaphones and I have to say, one Dicta fan to another, this playing is nothing short of astonishing: witty, quick of thumb and lyrical.

Although the energy level is cracked up to Jolt Cola levels that doesn’t mean any detail is lost in the delightful kerfuffle.  ‘Recorded in Brighton & Glasgow’ proudly proclaims the label and I’m guessing this is no clinical studio jam but a warm-up, pre-audience knock-about that captures all the spontaneity of a show without the beer-fug and crowd noise.

The first couple of tracks hit that pretty classic drum/Dicta duo bullseye, and after a while voices, and longer snatches of tape get fed into the audio-mincer.  My bristly ear picks up some of Fritz’s Crumbs on the Dumpster tales of youthful indulgence amid the clatter and flummox.  But nothing stands still.  The subtle sound of coughs and whistles slide into the brain-pan and add an intimacy sadly lacking in your Incus-wannabe releases.  Wibbley-wobbly mbira tones get plucked and tea cups jitter on bone china saucers; it’s all grist to the collective sound-mill but never feels slapped on with a trowel.  That old balancing act  – being free in spirit but precise in intent is easily soft-shoed across Niagara.  The double-headed Fritz-ism wants you to listen and ENJOY listening.

So Enjoy.  Do it!


*Hey cheap skates! Ikiuisuus not only brought us F.Ampism on this very day but you have to check out these free downloads from a whole bunch of beards and forest folk on their colourful website.  The label that keeps on giving eh?


Chocolate Monk



the radiofreemidwich random tape grab-bag experiment, or: joe murray empties his bulging sack

March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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joe's bulging sack

[Editor’s note: Joe Murray, our resident beat prophet, has convinced his skeptical editor to temporarily abandon the usual formatting for reasons that will soon be apparent.  Thus there are no release details up front, pictures will follow reviews and links will be found where they lay.]

Like all my RFM comrades I have a teetering bunch of tapes to review.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  It’s a privilege and an honour to hear so many dispatches from the No-Audience Underground.

But sometimes I feel I’m doing you a disservice my friends.  It’s the same old, same old format: slot tape in, listen thrice, make notes, look at any other internet gubbins, write up final copy, post to Rob and await his judgement a’ tremble.

But today I want to spice things up baby.   I’m going 50 shades on this shit.

So, in  order to make things (hopefully) more entertaining and experimental in spirit for you, my dear reader, I chucked all my review tapes into a drawstring bag and will pull them out, randomly, sight-unseen ready to slap into the cheap-o hi-fi.  No prior knowledge, no prejudice etc.

Mystery Tape One.  The first thing I notice is an ambient hiss, growing and forming, covering all the other electronic ‘chunk-ka-kuh’ like Spanish moss.  Things get less rhythmic and more drawn out (elongated gong strikes / trapdoor creak) creating a soundtrack feel with some floating voices chattering.  There’s a synth or something humming giving this a very European feel… a dark Froese perhaps?  Now there’s electricity in the air as the test tubes fizz and pop; a scientist twitches and mugs singing snatches of opera in a cracked voice.  Somehow the radio picks up their brain waves: forgotten memories of the seaside and music hall?  An Anthony Caro sculpture comes to life with deep space moans.  Blimey.  Who’s this?  I pop out the tape and check it.   Bless my soul.  It’s the ever lovely Claus Poulsen with Collected Dreams on Skrat Records.

claus poulsen - collected dreams

Mystery Tape Two.  OK…so far so good.   I fumble in my bag and pluck out the next offering.  It drops neatly into the wide-mouth slot and kicks off some dark rubbery knockings, slurm residue and spurks-thumb.  Oh yeah man…this is tremendous stuff!  There’s a treacle-like bubbling and whomping, like some living salt-water lake throbbing dangerously, searching out new tributaries with its briny fingers.  This is pure sound abstraction that builds layers of thick, dark sound-paint until a giant glove smears the oily pickle.   The noxious mixture spreads thin, lightening the hue and spreading the sticky mixture over frame, wall, floor and ceiling until we are all covered with the stuff – a burnt Rothko orange.  Side two opens up with a fling of ducks all ecstatically hawking and honking.  These sounds are passed though some electronic doo-hickery that seems to split and repeat certain quacking frequencies so sections of the greasy reverberations get plucked for presentation with a sheen and glimmer.  The water fowl retreat to roost as we dip our ears below the slick surface of water to luxuriate in music for rowing boat hulls; wooden creak and swollen pop.  Gosh, this tape is really hitting the spot.  Who do I have to thank?  I should have known…it’s ‘The Ambassador’ Tom White with his Reconstruction on Alien Passengers.

tom white - reconstruction

Mystery Tape Three.  This tape starts off with some nice tape gunk that moves unhurriedly between half-tunes played on fuzzed-out organ.  A female voice with the smoky cadence of William Burroughs tells a tale about some sci-fi travel (or something) while Working Men’s Club beats (tiss-be-be-bon-tiss…) flit in and out of the organ tunes.  And then found sound and field recordings get thrown into the mix.  Not in a haphazard manner, no sir, this is finely tuned and tweaked like the exact halfway point between a Radiophonic performance scored by the late great Broadcast and waking up from a particularly vivid dream.  I have to be honest with you readers… I’m stumped here; I have no idea what or who or when this is.  It’s certainly more lyrical than the usual shimmy but the narrative and structure are all over the shop giving this a delightfully Victorian psychedelic edge.  I can’t wait any longer; I crack under the pressure of not knowing and check the cover.  Ahhhhh….it’s that beautiful and wonderfully eccentric duo Winter Family who are playing here with their How Does Time tape on Psychic Mule Records.  It is indeed a play, a play designed to be listened to on a very particular train journey between Besançon in France and  La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland for very particular watch makers.  The ultimate commuter listen.

winter family - how does time

Mystery Tape Four.  Your typical Northern pub chatter sets the scene with clattering bottles and knowing laughter.  An on-stage introduction welcomes you and says, ‘This is for d boon’ before a proper guitar riff chugga-chuggas.   OK…that’s a reference to the wonderful Minutemen  – I get that; are we jamming econo?  Is this gonna be some tour spiel dude? But, at the same time I’m expecting some tape collage work to start up, a wonk-move or gurgled gob etc.  Some music concrete shit and all that doings.  But no…this is pure UK hardcore, recorded very, very  live, possibly from some archive with guitar/bass/drums and an angry attitude.  Think Heresy or something but with a bit more of ‘baseball bat to the face and neck’ feel.  The songs come in short, sharp blasts.  Three or four in a row – chunka – chunka – cheer – crowd babble – chunka- chunka.  It’s invigorating stuff and seems to get looser and more chaotic as the tape goes on (always a bonus for me).  I’m totally lost here.  No idea who it is or even how it crept into my review pile. Shall we look readers?  OK…it all comes flooding back.  This is Battery Humans on Fuckin’ Amateurs with their For D Boon tape.  It is recorded live and recently: 6th September 2014 to be precise and features one Guy Warnes AKA Waz Hoola, the unsung hero of the northern drone scene, on drums.  The usual F#A! standards of presentation apply with anarchy inserts, random gaffer tape sculpture and art fliched from Viz Comic.  Side B is another live recording but this time from Scurge in 1991.  You want rage?   You got it.

battery humans

Mystery Tape Five.  I press ‘play’ and an undulating, chemically insistent, flute trills with the sort of chaotic abandon that pins Old God MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI into a restful slumber.  A thousand chaffed lips puff noxious gas through human thighbone pipes while the jester dances merrily on (like he’s posing for a Marillion album or something).  Gosh…this is pretty intense.  The next track saunters by sounding like that crap ‘pre-computer’ computer game Simon hooking up to Terminator’s Skynet and crashing civilisation as we know it into a frosty digital sludge. Blimey…there’s a hard stop as I turn the tape over but as soon as I click things into life the holy racket starts again.  This time I’m getting something like a rouge Funkadelic jam; real cosmic slop rejected by Mr Clinton for being too out-there as layers of keyboard fuzz and squealing huff pile up and up and up.  A brief moment of calm (the keys ape Vangelis in blade runner tights) lets me breathe again before I’m pushed out a 30 storey window (metaphorically, dude – don’t panic, man) and, as I tumble, I catch snippets of Mexican TV, Concrete Noise, psychic experiments and terrible quiz shows as I hurtle past the apartments spinning dangerously out of control.  An uneven gravity pocket spares me a sticky end and I land, gracefully and precisely, into a pair of oxblood Doctor Martins – the world’s kindest bootboy.  Crows cackle around me, applauding with electric beaks.  I check the details, no wiser of this tapes provenance but washed clean by its synesthetic high, to find out it’s my old Papal Bull buddy Jon Marshall and noise-nudist Pascal Ansell cavorting under the No Thumbs banner.  This beauty’s called Slug Birth and is available from the brand-spanking-new Tutore Burlato label.  If TB is a new name on your radar the quality hallmark of its founder, one Ezio Piermattei, should seal the deal.

no thumbs - slug birth

Mystery Tape Six.  A hawking ceilidh – all X-ray gingham and a skilful cheek-slapping solo.  Reet…now there’s some ‘brum-t-t-tuh’ ursonating richly, fupping my sonics.  Gosh…this is a tasty oyster to be gulped down whole.  A general Scottishness takes hold with gristle and blum; stiff wire wool scraping and beautifully played Dictaphone garble.  I almost trip over my big feet in my rush to turn it over as I’m aching for side two.  And that’s where my experiment has to end.  No system is perfect.  It’s darn near impossible to ignore the fact a voice immediately states…

I’m Ali Robertson

…in Ali Robertson’s voice, soon to be joined by a variety of other familiar burrs. This side is one long ‘game’ of read personal biographies all overlapping (stop-starting) set to strict rules that our cuddly despot is keen to enforce.  Waves of casual voice and chatter settle into strange rhythms – probably some mathematical fractal shit, interlocking as neat as a Rubik’s satisfying ‘click’.  So yeah…durrrr…it’s Ali Robertson and his handily titled Ali Robertson & Friends tape on the always brilliant Giant Tank label.

ali and friends

So my excellent friends, I hope that worked for you?  Me?  I’m refreshed and re-born!  My ears are prickling with cleansing static and expectation.

But tell me: how are you doing?


crater lake festival 2015

March 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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crater lake poster

Whoo, boy – where to start with Crater Lake? Maybe with the simple and declarative: Crater Lake Festival is a day-long celebration of experimental music held annually in March at Wharf Chambers in Leeds and is organised by Pete Cann. Them’s the facts. However, over the four years of its existence it has grown into something over and above a display of the curator’s unimpeachable taste and ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ approach to time keeping: it has become a gathering of the clan. As well as being an unrivalled opportunity to see the risen cream of ‘noise’ (some in combos suggested by Pete himself) perform to a large and appreciative crowd, you also get the equally important social side. Names are put to smiling faces, hand are shaken, warez exchanged, plots hatched – all taking place in a general air of slightly delirious enthusiasm fuelled by the constant flow of decent, fairly-priced alcohol.

This blog is known for a phrase coined as shorthand description of the scene it documents but I am steering clear of that for now.  I don’t want to co-opt something that is clearly greater than the sum of its parts and can’t be pigeonholed. I will say this though: when I noticed that Pete had hooked some relatively big fish for the bill, and saw the Arts Council logo had snuck onto the corner of his poster, I asked him how he’d managed to successfully tap ’em for funding. He replied, to my delight, that he’d used my write up of last year’s festival as the blurb for his application and they couldn’t wait to shower him with cash. Despite knowing that the Arts Council has recently taken an almighty bollocking for being Londoncentric and that any application from Winterfell was going to be seriously considered, it was still a very proud moment. There you go, people: this stuff matters. Hang on a second, I seem to have something in my eye…

<sniffs, turns to window, regains composure, harumphs manfully>

OK, a word about the below. Due to family commitments – a visit from my parents to celebrate the second birthday of my son Thomas – I could only attend for the three hours from 8pm to 11pm. To be honest, given the stinking cold I had, that is probably all I could manage anyway. So, having spent the afternoon chasing the kid around Home Farm at Temple Newsam (and marveling at turkeys that looked like monsters from Doctor Who, or an illustration by Ian Watson) I arrived flustered and discombobulated into an already pretty drunken milieu. Suspecting this would be the case I had already tasked the other four RFM staffers attending (alas, Chrissie had to be elsewhere recording an orchestra) with documenting the day so all I had to organize was a group photo.

In the piece that follows the author of the paragraph is indicated in bold like this – Luke: – and interjections about non-musical aspects of the day are (bracketed and in italics). Photographs of the workshop were taken by Sof (using the ‘nice’ camera) and the awesome pictures of the performers were taken by Agata Urbaniak and kindly donated to RFM for use in this piece. I am hugely grateful to her – and to marlo for having the presence of mind to ask – and recommend that you all visit her flickr site too.

Right then, let’s go!


(Joe: Too early! We – one half of the Newcastle delegation – arrive too early at Wharf Chambers. We spot an Evil Moisture prepare for his evil workshop through the crack in the door but take the old army maxim on board – eat when you can – and scoff a scrumptious Persian meal at the place round the corner. A brief sojourn to Leeds market is broken by a call from YOL. We can sound check so I make my way back to base camp. Pete’s relaxed event management skills pay dividends. Everyone knows/does their job. Things tick like Swiss time. The super-patient sound guy balances our 10 second sound check, we nod satisfied with the racket and slope off to meet ace faces Ben Hallatt & Dale Cornish cackling in the Wharf Chambers sun trap.)

workshop 1 workshop 2 workshop 3 workshop 4 workshop 5

The workshop

Sof: I fought my way through Saturday afternoon Leeds crowds to make it to Wharf Chambers just in time for the Evil Moisture / Andy Bolus Ghost Hunting Detector workshop. We had been instructed to bring along a non-metallic cylindrical object, basic soldering skills and undead ancestors.  I’m sure I had the first two with me at least.

We all gathered round a table in the middle of the bar on which we found various items I came to know as ‘cells’, wires and other dangerous looking bits. I’m generally quite scared of electronics (old residual fear of metal work at school no doubt) and so always sign up for activities like this to try and get over this issue. Andy’s approach to the workshop was really relaxed with his main instruction being a hand drawn diagram that he placed in front of 4 of us before letting us get on with it. He was available to answer questions and sort out our various mistakes – great teaching style. This helped to kerb my concerns, I mean, if he could be so chilled holding a wand that can melt metal then why shouldn’t I be too?

There were a lot of confused and frustrated faces around the table during the process but these all turned into massive grins when the detectors finally worked out. It took me nearly 2 hours to attach the cells to a battery and a long wire wrapped around a giant pencil but you know what, it bloody worked. I mean, I’m not sure if the loud squealing noises that were produced from this thing were communications from the other side but when I stuck it into an amp through a bit of reverb at home some use was envisaged. In retrospect I shouldn’t have drank a really strong black coffee during the process because the shaky hands did become a bit of an issue but I got there in the end!

Tom and Jerry, I mean Dale

(Joe: While the laboratory is an evil hive of evil activity the wonderful folk of the N-AU turn up, firstly in ones and twos, then huddles, then mobs. I meet Sophie for the first time and gasp in awe at the purple camera she’s sporting so rakishly. The N-AU are prompt, alert and full of relaxed bonhomie. Crater Lake has started!)

Mel 1  Mel 3 Mel 4  Mel 6 Mel 7

Mel O’Dubshlaine

Joe: fractured electronics garbled and yarbled straight outta Mel’s mini-mouth – possibly reading out what she was doing (I’m lowering the volume on this tape, I’m adding more reverb on this channel) – via a Dutch translation aid and robot clarinet.  The vocal musings were calmly paced, relaxed and with an electronic softening that tickled the tiled floor all nice.  Phil Navigations joined in on cyber-Taiko drum to muss things proper towards the end.  Ke-tung!

Luke: droll Yorkshire instructions fed through robot vocoder.  About five minutes in it dawned on me that I could listen to this quite happily for hours.  My mate thought I’d left because Phil turned up and it was in danger of going ‘all musical’ not so: my chalice had run dry.

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Yol & Posset

Joe: (view from the floor) dunno about this, lots of knees and boots, getting awful hot awful quick, Yol clatters…HIT IT!

Boof/~~~scree/HAWKS////zingzingzing/~~II~~:~~BAU~~~~/CLANK.  The end.

Cor.  That felt good.

Luke: yowser this was fun like visceral high energy free gumph played with the contents of a skip, lots of gurning growling and testifying.

Marlo: the interesting element of this performance is that opposed to some electronic noise acts that seem distanced or detached from actual live performing, these two were very alive, very awake and fully present in a visceral and physical way.  Yol, as usual, used his body as his instrument to full capacity.  Apparent in his performance were both his sensitivity to environment and his physiological response to Mr. Posset’s intuitive electronic gestures. Both, not shy to show some presence, expressed a reciprocal appreciation of live art.

(Joe: Later… the food comes out full to bursting with Pascal’s grapes… I’m too keyed up to eat but notice it gets a thumbs up from Lee Culver who, no shit readers, is a proper gourmet/baking behemoth. Top Marks.)

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Stuart Chalmers

Joe: top drawer Dictaphone thumb-nastics from Stuart.  The whirr and ‘scree’ of fast forwarding tape was a joy to hear as it bounced from one hand to another; Stuart flinging his luscious black locks like a metalhead and shaking like a nervous cicada.  Even my tin ear picked up the subtle tape preparations and timings as skronk melted effortlessly into ethnic-plink with industrial overtones.  Of course no one knows what Stuart really looks like…he threw his Kim Thayil wig into the crowd and disappeared into the balmy Leeds afternoon.

Luke: about three beers in this was lush green elephant tea. I dig the candles, the wig, the ritual maaan. Led to an interesting conversation outside.  Seems in the N-AU you got your tapes lovers and your tapes haters (known as ‘taters’)

I’d rather watch him play the sounds than play a tape of it

…one geezer remarked.

He was playing a zither thing!

I retorted in his defense. I myself am pro tapes: the wow, the flutter, the plastic encased mystery.

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Kay Hill

Joe: Ben Hallatt set up an impressive reel-to-reel machine and facilitated the sound of a monkey opening a recalcitrant jar of peanut butter through the fragile, disintegrating brown tape.  A play in two parts, this simian housekeeping was taken over by a more keening, knock-kneed hubble-style.  All glorious drippings to clear out me waxy tabs.

Luke: my highlight of the day. Tape music with lots of pop and hiss but with, if not a tune, then a beguiling pattern. I struggled to verbalize how impressed I was to the man himself and was astounded that he had no merchandise to pass on (you haven’t heard the last of Kay Hill, readers).

Marlo: Ben Hallatt performed a nuanced, textured and atmospheric tape art set. Despite the surging, celebratory atmosphere of Crater Lake, he held a patient and meditative space. Starting from a minimal structure, he added an elaborate architecture that was sturdy and mindful. The performance was a sound journey that led the audience through this construction and left them in a different place.

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Dale Cornish

Joe: Canary Yellow computer splutter. Spitting and frothing like a thousand tiny tummy kicks from the blue shrimps inside.  Marie said to me,

It sounded like the 90’s.

I said,

What.  All of it?

She said,

Sure, in Belgium.

I’m no flat pancake!

Marlo: I had previously seen Dale the week before in Nottingham. His mood was quite different this time. With alert attention, he proceeded to command his laptop to amuse, irritate, and tickle the audience. If I were to have a party, I would invite Dale. Always enjoyable, instead of baking him a birthday cake to compliment last week’s set, based on this performance I would make him profiteroles.  Thus instead of a treat that is made for pure enjoyment, celebration, and taste, a pastry as work of art which takes many steps prior to presentation (and I like profiteroles a lot).

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Dylan Nyoukis & Kieron Piercy

Joe: Soundtrack to Night of the Living Squelch that somehow managed to dissect Dylan & Kieron so one duo played breathing noises: hisses, coughs and sighs and the other ‘ghost’ duo played the sound of the first duo running their outputs through resinous pinecones.  By gently slapping their foreheads bubbles of gas birthed from parted lips adding a metallic sheen. Please stop me if I’m getting too technical.

(Joe: Later…. booze is consumed, hands shook and booty exchanged. Among the hugs plans are hatched and reputations blackened! Later… we meet the boss. In what must look like a comical gesture to onlookers we both reach out one hand to shake and another to pass cdr/tapes/notes to each other.)

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Charles Dexter Ward

Joe: Erotic Jerome is the most focused man in the N-AU.  Every twitch and tremor of his hands opened another subtle filter, let out a deceptive synth note or texturised the canvas with his painterly guitar thribbings.  Guess what?  Watching CDW reminded me of that Keef.

What do you think about when you’re playing?

Asked the handsome young Vee-jay.

I don’t think on stage.  I feel,

came the raspy reply.  Nuff Said.

Marlo: I had the immense pleasure of being acquainted with Jerome after his stellar set at Tusk Festival. This time, the layers and processing felt more dense. Every time I felt as though I had embraced a new element of his guitar mosaic, I was being introduced to yet another level of intensity that abandoned yet built upon the previous input. It was a rich and powerful piece.

Rob: I got my non-euclidean groove on and shimmied like a tentacle.  It was cyclopean.  Who would have thought such a nice guy could be an Old One in human form?

(Joe: Later…a fart in front of Elkka Reign Nyoukis makes her laugh so hard it drowns out the nearby trains.  Later…it’s a Warhol of confusion. The heat and the noise and the crowd means conversations start, stop, merge and scatter. I’m bending ears all over.  Later…The RFM photo op. I never realised our erstwhile photographer was the legendary Idwal himself! Our handsome group is propped up by my screamingly odd face.)

5-6ths of RFM take 1

Rob: The evidence!  Five sixths of RFM: me, Sof, Luke, Joe, Marlo – Chrissie sadly couldn’t make it as she was recording an orchestra.  Cheers to Uncle Mark for taking the picture.

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Stephen Cornford

Marlo: As they said in Videodrome (1983),

Long live the New Flesh!

I say this because I felt like Cornford was battling with the mind melting controlling of vertical and horizontal holds, in a telekinetic struggle with amplitude and frequency, he went head-to-head with his multiple television screens. He was absorbed. I was absorbed. I think the visuals that seemed to translate his audio concoctions were pretty. I would love to see more of his work.

Rob: I felt like the little girl in Poltergeist (1982) but I wasn’t communing with the dead, rather a race of electric creatures attempting to re-programme my bonce with strobing logic.  They may have succeeded.  I await the trigger word from Mr. Cornford.

(Rob: Sof, Sof!  Where are you?  I think Sof and Jake’s last train beckoned around this point)

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Joe: Rich sarcophagus music.  Prostrated like a monk with a Casio, Culver played the sound of the tides spiced with deep orange paprika.  Ebb and flow washes over you easily for sure but remember Culver’s dark gravity pins you to the planet like a moth in a cabinet.

Luke: whilst Charles Dexter Ward embraced the crowd with his pink love drone in a highly pleasing manner, Culver extended the black tentacles of Cthulu and left us powerless facing the ghastly pit of torment. I am inebriated at this point and only roused from my Culver trance by my pal clinking glasses, it’s a fine moment: we are ridiculously close to the high priest himself. There can be only one.

Marlo: Culver is remarkable in that he uses similar gear and techniques to others whilst adding something completely signature and unique. I would say that Culver is one of the best drone artists in the UK. His monastic and constant involvement with his gear makes for a compelling performance. Despite the darkness that he chooses to invoke with sound, there is a clear joy interspersed amongst the high frequencies.

Rob: I make a mental note of all in the crowd who talk during Lee’s set.  There will be a reckoning.  A RECKONING!

(Luke: sad to say I had to miss Evil Moisture and Rudolf Eb.Er but I was successful in navigating my way home. Cheers Pete, see you next year!)

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Evil Moisture

Joe: A Very Wonderful Fucking Sloppy Mess (AVWFSM).   Long, long loops of disgruntled squirm get run through the Bolus-zone to come out triple-strength odd.  With nothing to hold on to the free fall becomes increasing delicious.

Marlo: When watching Andy Bolus, one wishes that they had superpowers like photographic memory or the ability to time travel. The issue is that normal human capacities do not allow for full visual comprehension of the devices across his two tables and to simultaneously be absorbed by the sounds. There is just so much going on! From the crazy inventor’s lab of his set up to the enveloping waves of sound, my body was compelled to move. Pushed up close to the stage with several other victims of unintentional movement, I held onto a monitor to make sure I didn’t collapse from my undulations. These movements are, by far, my favourite response to good noise. His detailed dynamics had a light touch. Well paced yet not predictable in his shifts, Andy seemed to be using his whole body, even his feet to make the monster chewing sounds. But there were purposeful and understated details placed delicately through sound blasts and running engines. Not sonic saturated and definitely not shy, Evil Moisture’s intuitive performance was well worth the wait.

(Rob: at this point I bow out myself and trot off for the second-to-last bus home very happy with how the day has gone.  I’m in such a good mood that when I discover the New Blockaders tape Joe gave me earlier is leaking oil onto the other merch in my bag all I do is chuckle.  Ahh, occupational hazard.)

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Rudolf Eb.Er

Marlo: One of the best things about seeing noise and improvisational music played live is the feeling that what one witnessed is unique and unrepeatable.  Experience a performance by a sound artist like Ruldolph Eb.Er, for example, and you know immediately that what you saw and heard will never occur again the same way.  In this case, it might be the fact that several Crater Lakers had lost their marbles on booze and kept hollering throughout the set. That was a bit unfortunate but his professionalism didn’t allow one moment of lack of concentration. I use the word ‘dynamic’ a lot when I talk about noise and sound art, often using it to describe movement.  However, in this case, Rudolf’s use of tension and silence is signature to his style. Silences punctuated the set and left the audience irritable and anticipating each aural stimulation. Personally, I was enthralled by the spectacle – I felt prone to his ‘psychoaccoustic’ gestures and was dizzy with confusion.  My favorite part of his set was when he placed some nodes covered with a black, inky sound conductive substance on his face and head whilst appearing startled and trembling. I like to think he was slightly losing his mind with the audience but by the end he was fully composed and I felt freaking grateful I had stayed cognizant enough to appreciate all the different acts contained within the piece.

Joe: It had been a very long day.  Whist I don’t approve of public drunkenness I am charmed by the tipsy.  All my notes say is:

good oaky noise but possible Harkonnen spy.

I think it’s about this point that my brain packed up…


…which is an appropriately wonky note on which to end.  Alas, that is that for another year.  Many thanks to all involved – performers, venue and attendees – with special back-slapping to Pete Cann for making it happen.  It was a terrific day.  See y’all next time.


Photo credits:

Agata Urbaniak: performers

Sophie Cooper: workshop

Mark Wharton: Team RFM


the heady scent of courage: joe murray on greta buitkute, alan wilkinson, thf drenching, seth cooke, nick hoffman, va aa lr

February 12, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Greta Buitkute & THF Drenching – Contribution to a Discussion on Tic (download, Plush Wattle)

Alan Wilkinson & THF Drenching – Night of the Flaming Meatus (download, Council of Drent)

Seth Cooke – Eternal World Engines Of The Demiurge (3” CD-r, LF Records, LF044)

Seth Cooke / Dominic Lash – PACT (3” CD-r, 1000füssler, 025, edition of 60)

Nick Hoffman – Necropolis (CD, organized music from Thessaloniki, t26, edition of 200)

VA AA LR – Newhaven (3” CD-r, organized music from Thessaloniki, t27, edition of 100)

greta - tic

Greta Buitkute & THF Drenching – Contribution to a Discussion on Tic

An under-the-radar, sneaked-out recording from two of the out-est heads around.

I came across this one by accident via that You Tube.  This led to a series of embedded links, a journey through the dark web to the home of the Plush Wattle Corporation, where this very generous free download sits.

Taking callused thumbs, fingers and twin gob-holes to act as our orchestra these two have charmed their way into my very bones.  This is an intimate listen, full of clicks, creaking and rustling; it’s an interior sound world that’s perfect for headphones and tedious train journeys.

So (drum roll please)…introducing Greta Buitkute! Greta might be a new name to Radio Free Midwich but she has been wowing Northern audiences with her fresh take on vocal jaxx/nu-scat for the last couple of years.  A recent move to Manchester, a light ale quaffed and connections made via The Human Heads means Greta and the great THF Drenching have teamed up – their individual super powers amplified by the presence of similar corduroy mutants.

You already know THF Drenching and you’re thinking Dictaphones yeah?  Sure, the Dictas make an appearance but over half of this collection is vocal-based doof, hurling two well-lubricated throats together to dance merrily like bacteria in a Petri dish.

Yet keen Drenching watchers will note the Dictaphone tone is drier – less squelch; more rattle and hink/rustle and clatter.  The bombs are deftly dropped and the feedback ‘heek’ soars like a rectangular alto.

‘Bach Bathed in Bathos, Full Illustration’ is an important cornerstone.  An Hawaiian motel room is wrapped up in garish litmus paper, reacts pinkly and then is noisily unwrapped.  You can’t beat them apples!

But it’s the twin-vocal pieces that froth me over like excited milk.  The twin ‘Portrait of Baize Wattle’ pieces (large and small) make me recall those European Public Information films that would show up on That’s Life!  The humorous animation would be followed by a vaguely chucklesome punchline…’Winner’s drink piss’ or something like that.  The pace is furious but uncluttered; live with no overdubs (I think).  This almost puritan and old oaty approach really pays off.  The clean living certainly lends itself to Amish-style efforts.

This is in and out, reflexive and agile music.  It slips happily between hi-brow and goose-honk, pearly notes and granddad mumble.  As the closing seconds of the recording state:

Greta Buitkute:

Oh my God, it’s exhausting

THF Drenching (sniffs with a chuckle):

I know.

alan thf - night

Alan Wilkinson & THF Drenching – Night of the Flaming Meatus

This is an altogether more Jazz recording.  Two pieces; live, live, live at Sconny Rotts (2014) or something.

Welcome, reader a fine pair of foils: thin breath pushed through brass and the quivering whine of sculptured feedback.  Damn, that’s good!


(i)                  Like snakes making out in the back of an old Audi until they make a mess of the upholstery; their coppery tones get all twisted and spoony.

(ii)                Old doods reminiscing about the days in their wartime dance band – sounds leak all gummy from their ears.

(iii)               The alarm on our oven telling me the bread’s ready…oh wait.  That is the oven.  Give me a minute…

…but it’s not all top-end tomfoolery.  A real satisfying base layer of hissing creak (Dictas) and watery saliva- garbles (Saxes) give this a weighty gravity that pulls on the rocketing undulations (a flight of a condor).

And if you’re still asking questions about what free music is doing right now jam your ear up against these two beauties and huff up the heady scent of courage.

This is music for heroes!

PUBLIC APOLOGY:  This review also functions as an apology to Mr A Wilkinson for my cheeky and childish ripping of his sound check sounds on my Correct Come tape.  Sorry mate – can I buy you a pint or something?

seth cooke - eternal

Seth Cooke – Eternal World Engines of the Demiurge

These two pieces of electronic gumbo take what we might call process recordings and apply the extraction method adding calm and deliberate shadings to a real-world sound scenario.

In the first of two offerings Seth ransacks an insurance office circa 1978 whilst the office party averts prying eyes.  The unmistakable sound of a dot matrix printer (duh…I was mistaken.  Research shows it’s one of them stupid 3D doo-hickies) going all akka over a slowly emerging picture (in this case a 3D  bust) of Benjamin Disraeli – or some similarly bearded goof – as it appears line by dotty line.

Said printer is jammed with cocktail sticks and discarded business cards – in reality electronic shadows – as he hits the print button and lets nature take its course.  The frantic slide, shuffle and whirr is hypnotic and lulled me like a fat wren zonked by bright red berries until it snaps off into disturbing silence.

The calm is suddenly fractured by track number two, a gliding, sliding and silvery cascade; a perfect sound track to ice skating that would make Torvill & Dean throw greasy shapes ending up as sooty smears on the ice.

Gear heads will be pleased to note that the machinery on this disc was pioneered by Paul Lomere for his Infinite Jukebox that “endlessly extends and reconfigures MP3s by calculating probabilistic routes through the sound file based on pitch, timbre and metric position.”

Seth says he’s channelling Jack Kirby but for the romantics out there this is Bolero 2015 and a perfect 10 for artistic interpretation.

cooke - lash - pact

Seth Cooke/Dominic Lash – PACT

The quicksilver tones versus Pront-a-Print kerfuffle that starts this disc (‘PA’) are a waterslide into a world of grimy groan.

Massive and ungainly ‘things’ are rubbed with tweed gloves.  Moist and sweating ‘objects’ are painfully squeezed to release sticky ichors.  Soft and flexible ‘parts’ are cruelly bent into unholy shapes resembling the Goat of Mendes.

A close-up inspection reveals canyons of scrape and gummy friction.  And while the pace remains stately for a time layers of rub and tug bring forth some slippery excitements.  Oh Matron!

Track two (‘CT’) is a darker affair.  The double bass bowing (Lash) and kitchen sink manipulation (Cooke) as uncooperative as a sullen teenager.  Black storm clouds gather over my cheap-o high-fi and I feel my brows knit.

Gosh.  This is brooding stuff.

The simple bass riff is not happy with me or you and doesn’t care who knows about it; electronics twinkle but with the black light of sea coal from Redcar beach.  I love this sombre and funereal pace and can feel my mood merge into full-on sulk.

So, what you looking at eh?  Clear off and leave me with Lash & Cooke.  You don’t understand me anyway.

I hate everything!

More details here if you can be bothered.

nick hoffman - necropolis

Nick Hoffman – Necropolis

Microscopic attention to microscopic detail turns my hammer, anvil and stirrup into marshmallow fluff.

This is a record of extreme extremes: from hosepipe-full-on-gush to tiny cooling-metal-tik.  These five pieces of sieved electronics lurch from Black Metal through the Gristleizer (The Rotten Core) to the ivory click of miniature pool balls intensifying until my speakers are fizzing and flipping-out like a model railway going straight to hell (Eros).

But what I like most about this disc are the abrupt edits, the inter-track halts and about turns that keep this grizzled noise monkey twisting to check that a fuse hasn’t blown.  While I enjoy a heads-down, no-nonsense, continuous blast of fetid sludge as much as the next pair of ears being wrong-footed and fooled is a joy.  What’s next?  Is this build up going to explode or whimper out?  It’s as slippery as Be-Bop from Minton’s Playhouse.

Nick pulls out all the stops for the lengthy closer, ‘The Scent of Ground Teeth’, a 16 minute monster of glitching signal, spluttering like a coffee percolator spiked with cobra venom.

va aa lr - newhaven

If this blog was a radio show I would segue seamlessly from this blustery fizzing into the white-hot spitting of VA AA LR’s Newhaven.  Recorded at last year’s fascinating Fort Process festival VA AA LR drop their usual prepared electronics and objects and carve out a landscape from the sound of distress flares alone.  Taking away the literally explosive visual element you are left with a wonderfully peculiar 20 minutes of sparkling hiss and frazzle.  Every permutation of splutter and crackle is worked through like Coltrane on Giant Steps, probing and searching; pushing forward and wringing all possible combinations from this electric spitball.

After a time the busy and frantic schizzle seems to fine-tune my old ear ‘ole letting me pick out tone and textural changes.  There is a whole world in here as the planes of fuzzing gimble regroup like a forgotten language.  Be sure to make a beeline for this vibrant crackle readers; a worthy bookend to that other splutter classic, Lee Patterson’s Egg Fry #2.


Plush Wattle

THF Drenching

LF Records


organized music from thessaloniki

reverse baboon, hooded epiphany: luke vollar on robert ridley-shackleton and friends

December 14, 2014 at 10:27 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Posset / Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Untitled Split (CD-r, Hissing Frames, edition of 12)

Werewolf Jerusalem / Robert Ridley-Shackleton / She Walks Crooked – April Fools (CD-r, Hissing Frames, edition of 22)

posset, r r-s - splitwerewolf jerusalem - r r-s

‘Robert Ridley-Shackleton’ – a name for the stage if ever I heard one.  It conjures up images of a dandy striding purposefully about town: a bounder, a cad, maybe even a rogue!  A quick search on that internet reveals him to be nothing of the sort; rather a hirsute, occasionally shirtless, fella with a red bass guitar. I have been curious about his work for a while mostly due to coverage on this very blog. I had read about the large and expanding back catalogue of insanely limited discs and tapes on his Hissing Frames label, his wild veering between micro genres and even genres that he’s stumbled upon by himself (‘no audience funk’ anyone?) but I had not stuck any Robert in my ear until a little box arrived recently containing, amongst other delights, a split between Robert and RFM’s very own posset a.k.a Joe Murray.

So: posset first. A small wobbly tape hum gives way to full on mouth gubber and it seems that for this session Joe has given his dictathumb the night off.  Instead, on tracks one and two Joe sounds like he’s using the dictaphone to brush his teeth, doing a reverse baboon impression and flapping his wet cheeks into a demented frenzy like Dylan Nyoukis singing Van Halen after a bottle of Buckfast. On track three he goes for ‘Tibetan gong ritual on pan lids’, the singing metal feeding back nicely into the portable recording device while background life occurs. I really like Joe’s music: it’s fun, inventive and unpredictable.  This is another beauty for my collection.

The ‘what is happening?’ vibe continues with Robert’s tracks, his studied junk rattling most immediately reminiscent of those usurper lads but with some disobedient electronics included. A deeply curious and weird atmosphere pervades these recordings.  I found my brow furrowed in deep concentration trying to figure out what the heck it is that he is up to. It sounds very serious, whether he’s wrapping his kitchen in cellophane, constructing a testicle scratching device from forks, teaspoons and elastic bands or plugging an old radio into his microwave while sawing the ironing board in half.  And roller skating on gravel.

Suitably impressed I dropped Robert a line wanting more Shackleton in my life. Along with the Melting All My Years In2 Tears tape reviewed earlier in these pages [Editor’s note: terrific self-selected ‘best of…’ and great place to start with RRS] I obtained the split disc with Werewolf Jerusalem and She Walks Crooked.  An aside on Harsh Noise Wall…

[Editor’s note: imagine screen wobbles and fades to Luke recollecting…]

…a few years ago when I found myself in a small cold church in Skipton with a black bag over my head having a bit of an epiphany as the coruscating blast from French man VOMIR filled my head. There was no change, no development just a a dense static roar. It was loud, inhuman, weirdly beautiful and intensely psychedelic.  Afterwards I felt cleansed – as if my brain had been rebooted – noise was exciting again.  It seemed to me like a logical progression from the anti-everything rhetoric of The New Blockaders; a stubborn and unrelenting two fingers up to everyone and everything.  Also a motionless man with a black bag on his head stood in front of his noise box but never touching it is pretty chuffing hilarious if you ask me. Thus started my vomir obsession, I amassed a ton of recordings all of which sounded the same but different and enthused about his noise to anyone ‘prepared to listen’ (meaning smile politely whilst edging towards the nearest exit)…

[Editor’s note: *clicks fingers* aaaand… back in the room]

…here I am welcoming another HNW disc into my life.  To start we have Werewolf Jerusalem whom I hold in as much awe as vomir. Records like Black Chapel and the box set- Confessions of a Sex Maniac are stone cold classics. Richard Ramirez has been bringing the noise for donkeys years now in the equally brilliant Black Leather Jesus and a slew of other projects. On the first track he gives us around nine minutes of popping crackling noise as crisp and clean as a mountain stream.  To crank it up is to discover an alien sound world teeming with a wealth of detail.  His mastery of his gear ( antique sports radio and a few pedals) is evident as subtle touches guide the tracks progression.

Next up is Robert who gives us a fine chunk of high end scree overlaying a bass whubbawhubba.  Some of these HNW types prefer to sit back and let the kit do the talking but Robert reaches for his gear throughout the track giving it a nice tactile quality, as if the noise is a wild stallion that he is trying to control.

We end with the curiously monikered She Walks Crooked who unleashes (sorry boss [Editor’s note: s’ok]) a blackened torrent of dense noise overload, strongly reminiscent of vomir but with its own personality and just really really good.

I’ve had some shitty times at work recently and this little disc has done wonders on the drive home in helping me forget my worries and embrace the abyss.  In conclusion, I hope that Robert Ridley-Shackleton will continue on his strange journey and continue to share it with the world. I will certainly be paying attention from now on.


Hissing Frames

haunted oxide: luke vollar on culver / posset

November 18, 2014 at 8:49 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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culver & posset – black gash (tape, matching head, mh 207)

culver and posset j cardculver and posset tape and insert

[Editor’s note: ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm radiofreemidwich welcome to our latest guest writer and potential new team member: Luke Vollar.  Mr. V – family man, Jazzfinger obsessive, member of Lanterns and Castrato Attack Group – has apparently been itching to get involved for some time and when the tape above materialised he couldn’t help but lick his nib and get scrawling.  As this release involves RFM staffer Joe Murray it seemed appropriate that it should be accounted for by someone ‘outside the fold’ so I’m delighted for this piece to be Luke’s calling card.  He speaks thus…]

When I first heard of this collaboration between culver and posset I was naturally as curious as any self respecting no audience head would be.

Could go either way…

…I thought, smirking to myself as I imagined culver’s stern drones going up against posset’s ADHD dictaphone frottage.  Well, I’m happy to report that it’s a resounding success, neither artist dominates proceedings and the end result is something wholly other: it ain’t culver and it ain’t posset, dig?

The first side (that I put on): wave interference, crunch of static, distress calls from haunted oxide.  A water damaged micro tape of the final words of the captain from a long submerged ship describing something ghastly coming into view through the freezing fog. In my mind culver and posset think it would be seriously hep to jam in that creepy abandoned house that is rumoured to be built on an ancient Indian burial ground and has been empty and decaying since anyone can remember.  Thing is they both get seriously spooked and make a bolt for the door, too terrified even to pack up their gear.  What is left behind begins to slowly unspool into a heaving mass of black goop – pulsing, sparking, spreading.  From this ectoplasm rises a figure, at first indistinguishable, slowly becoming human shaped – head bowed, arms outstretched, eyes begin to glow fiendishly.  Its lips slowly draw to a grin revealing incisors that snap and crackle with electric menace.  As the gelatinous figure takes its first steps forward the hiss, BUZZ and clank rises to a fevered pitch but the panic then ebbs away and I remind myself to cut back on the horror movies. The side fades out with a young girls voice, distorted and foggy.  The mutant has come out from under the bed, the people are scared but really it’s nice.

The flip starts with what sounds like buried piano loops under undulating hiss, the slightly off-kilter-ness maintaining the disquiet of the previous side.  I see a lighthouse, its light flashing rhythmically onto an indifferent ocean in the darkest night.  This is followed by glassy, luminous heroin drone that morphs into a more complex rising and falling pattern: all musical, like.  The pulse slows to a steady thump and all the unease seems to dissipate like smoke in the air. We’re now in drone nirvana heavenly nod out music that is over too quickly. Quite an exit gentlemen and quite a journey.

More please.


Matching Head

scatty and clotted the rattling: joe murray gets hep to schrein, melchior & piermattei, dylan nyoukis

November 10, 2014 at 8:20 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Schrein – EinsZweinSchrein (vinyl LP, Meudiademorte Records, edition of 500 or download)

Dan Melchior & Ezio Piermattei (tape, My Dance The Skull, MDTS 10)

Dylan Nyoukis – Yellow Belly (tape, Chocolate Monk, choc.292, edition of 21 in individual collage slipcases)



I’m just going to let that word sit there for a while and shimmer.


There it is again.  The ‘J’ word.  That’s right.  I’m talking about Jazz right now.

Ask anyone:

Does Joe like his Jazz?

…and they’d say:

Joe?  Jazz?  He is Jazz.  He loves it inside out fella.  MilesDizzyColtraneOrnetteRaMonkArmstrong.  He lives for that crazy-ass Jass music.

And of course they would be right.  Jazz is the cornerstone of my listening habits.  So it’s with great anticipation I sit down to rap with Schrein  – a real Jazz group from Germany.  Ruth-Maria Adam (violin) , Bastian Hagedorn (drums) and Ronnie Oliveras (clarinet) take their three very jazz implements and imbue them with no-audience underground chops rather than beardy Trad swing.  This makes for a strung-out and exhilarating listen.

‘Llullaillaco’ is particularly medicated with Ritalin drums pushing and rushing everything forward at breakneck speed until three dark voices join in profane chorus like a mini-Popol Vuh complete with dank Kecak koff.

You spot something on the horizon.

In ‘Emi Koussi’ the creaks and scratches lay beneath keening clarinet gasps (similar to PEEESSEYE kinda) and dark fractured electronics.  The drums clump and skit across your field of listening as brittle as slates on a roof.

You venture deeper into the woods.

During ‘Fogo’ the horns/violin/something gets processed into the austere tones you’d expect on an Editions Mego record as the bristling hubbub clears the forest floor below.  The night draws in on ‘Shinmoedake’ covering you and your party with heavy black murk, liquid bumps and waxy scratches making your neck hairs stand to attention.  ‘Eyjafjallajokull’ is the finisher.  Scatty and clotted the rattling of prayer bowls adds no comfort to you now.  Trapped in dark magic the metallic tones ‘k-u-n-g’ and ‘c-h-u-n-g’ all wobbly.  Just at the limits of your hearing a toad licks its lips hungrily. Wet slobbery anticipation?

At times the sound is as hectic as worker bees.  At others it’s as mellow as a fat caterpillar basking in the mid-afternoon sun.  But it’s in the bringing together of all these sounds and textures: wet and dry, soft and hard, clear and occluded that keeps this disc filed next to Alexander von Schlippenbach in the dusty racks.

DM_EP Untitled

Dan Melchior/Ezio Piermattei

Exquisite tape collage collaboration between two crackling bonfires of good ideas.  Voice, tapes, guitar, organ, synth, percussion etc get chucked into a pot and ladled out into rough clay bowls.  The soup is a steaming but cleansing broth full of herbs and piquant with fine vinegar dressing.

I think what I am trying to say is there is no confusion here.  Sounds and structure are distinct and clear.

The casio-tone rhythm of ‘Bad Gateway’ may be emboldened by rubbery ripping but it’s very deliberate.  As if to prove the point a simple piano sparkles in 3D above the misty sounding mung below.  ‘Lurch’, a micro song, betrays Dan’s Medway roots and acts like a punky sorbet before the prog-tastic ‘A Corner of the Forest’ in which the sound of Cluster artfully collapsing in a doorway, folding way into nothingness, is channelled through psych-guitar and no-audience vocal hink.  The sung coda, picking up the guitar part, is pure genius and worth the price of the tape alone.

‘Two Tiny Kingdoms’, the longest piece on the tape, is an epic construction.  Through whirling sound-strobes and dainty vocal recordings a humble theme emerges.  Over, under and between this central frame echoes of Italian and American voice the bilingual, the act of listening to another language jabbing my pleasure centres just like a Phil Minton jam.  Subtle tape skizz adds some sonic grit and gets cautiously heavier with some occasional fretboard fuggery until the creaking of old ropes leads us out the maze.

The final song makes me smile the widest, because ‘A Teacher Star’ sounds exactly like Portishead jacked-up on Dictaphone Jazz and filthy vocal Jizz.   Can you imagine that?  Of course you can.  And I have to tell you it sounds bloody right and bloody great.

Dylan Nyoukis Yellow Belly

Dylan Nyoukis – Yellow Belly

Another cracking tape from Chocolate Monk.  This time it’s Dylan doing the gumming on this peachy, peachy release.  The website said ‘dictaphone, voice, organ, delay’ and was recorded a few days after my birthday…the omens were good so I slipped a fiver in an envelope and waited.

A scant week later the postie plopped this beauty through the door and we all gathered round the cheap-o stereo to listen.

If you’re expecting hi-jinks and ear-tuggery look away now for this is a beautiful gush.  A gentle warming, an egg-shaped fondle.

A brief introduction of Dictaphone voice ‘glurrr’ is exact and well placed.  You can hear the rush of cars somewhere and the delightful button-click between takes as thoughts form and a plan emerges.

Here’s the real world in all its domestic charm

…it seems to say…

remember this and remember this well for we are going on a voyage long and arduous.

With a breathy chuff the organ begins to takes centre stage.  A simple one-handed motif rises through the gently churning windpipes.  It is spotted left, then right then centre stage; ever changing and growing – a misty grey dream world pulsing gently to the end of the side.

Side two opens tentatively but soon revisits the multi-layered world of rushing amber tones.  Things are more clotted here, like a bust-out church organ with small dogs sleeping on the keys.  Dank notes tumble down through a well of souls.  The Dictaphone adds its trademark gristle and grime (rain falling, plastic crackling?) as the organ is fingered bluntly by the parishioners.

I’m writing gently in bed to the seemingly random fug of notes, all placed next to each other with ever-so-slight overlap and digging this scene immensely until the Dictaphone trills like a funky Oboe.  Vocal snatches are FFWed across the church roof from Nave to Transept in a soft Suffolk burrrrrrrrr bringing things to a crystalline climax.  Whoooshhh.

Individual artwork and super limited (21 copies only).  Sold out but sure to surface again  – keep your eyes peeled.


Meudiademorte Records

My Dance The Skull

Chocolate Monk

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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