nostradamus, quill in hand: rfm on street beers, ali robertson, dopaminos, feghoots, wizards of oi and richard youngs

November 1, 2017 at 9:15 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Street Beers – Seriously Hot (Chocolate Monk)

Ali Robertson & Guests (Giant Tank)

Dopaminos – Occam’s Hairbrush (Ourodisc)

Feghoots – Dwindling Correspondence (Chocolate Monk)

Wizards of Oi – Wot it is Not (Chocolate Monk)

Richard Youngs – For Shortwave Radio and Voice Text Converter (Chocolate Monk)

 street beers

Street Beers – Seriously Hot (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

Newish jaxx from conceptualist, comic-lover and one half of the mighty Usurper – it’s Ali Robertson’s Street Beers.

A brief two-parter featuring a host of voices (Karen Constance [whose 100-page eye gouge ‘Optic Rabble Arouses’ is currently ripping my retina – search for copies sucka], Tina Krekels, Elkka Nyoukis, Dylan Nyoukis, Collette Robertson and one silent and unnamed Ice Cream seller) this disc meditates on the very British notion of a summer hit by recording a vicious wind blowing into a condenser mic and adding repetitive spoken word riffs via the synthetic marimba parts in Frank Zappa’s Jazz from Hell?  Just like Whigfield did.

A German-speaking / English language  / Scottish dialect text piece takes in mentions of Castle Greyskull and the Eurovision Song Contest in a stream of everyday observations glimpsed from beneath a heavy curly fringe.  Powerful images are run through a clutch of mouths adding the particular emphasis and personal inflection that makes us all individual humans.  It ain’t what you do eh?

In equal parts baffling yet academically vital this cleverly orchestrated confection is interrupted by one of the world’s greatest sounds – a ruler twanging off a desk – that somehow apes the massive and bassy reverberations of Sunn O))) or something.

It’s looped into abstraction.  Captured chatter and accidental singing whirl through the massed ‘bbbbrrrrrrrrr’ in a dense fog.

Who needs dry ice with sounds so gaseous?

ali robeertson and friends

Ali Robertson & Guests (Giant Tank) CD-r in a greetings card-style package and free digital album

Three no-star jamz in exotic locations with erotic personnel.

First up it’s a sixteen minute table-top affair from Ali with heavy-hitting guests Alex Drool and Eran Sachs.  Various gentle clutter-movements, simple tape-gasps and the presence of little mouths make this an almost ASMR-style listen.  The crinkly crackle, busy pace and full-spectrum scrape are filling my tiny ears with tiny sounds but top-up my tiny brain with big, big pictures.  Like staring at the Grand Canyon through a polo mint – the detail exists around the fragrant edges.

The cream in the sponge comes courtesy of our host with Manuel Padding and Collette Robertson.   Without any of the oddball yuks this is a beautiful tape/performance piece of gentle clicks and solitary word play.  The whirr of the tape engines adds a 100 tog warmth to the creaks, recorded footsteps and groans.  Each word (Dutch possibly? I dunno) are spoken with the world-weariness of a sleep-deprived parent.  Kindly but devastatingly hollow.  Exactly the sort of thing slow radio was made for.  CLASSIC!

The final hectic jam is a marvel of chunter and small talk.  Pub bantz, motor racing raspberries and inane local newspaper junk is run through some form of goosey phone app by either Mr A Robertson or Mr Drew Wright (take your pick) to create a 5 min melange attempting to answer – ‘what are men actually for?’


Dopaminos – Occam’s Hairbrush (Ourodisc) CD and wee booklet and digital album

This mysterious disc was slipped into my hand at TUSK festival by a furtive shadow.

Warned, “It’s a bit of a one off.” I dropped this one into the playing slot as soon as was decent.

These eleven brief tracks of sketchy synth pop are pretty much all formed on some vintage YAMAHA PSS-570 machine found in the back of a leaky cupboard.  This disc takes pre-sets to a new level of ‘fuh’. Digital noise clouds intrude on the bop-a-long rhythm settings, a ‘tiss…tiss…tiss’ snare sound and the ravaged mumble of some laid-back ‘singing.’

But what’s clear is the vision.  A singular approach to wringing all that is good and great out of crappy equipment.  Pushing at the boundaries of what is possible, probable and generally tasteful.

Examples?  ‘Bosch in Crayola’ is a 9 speed-metal pianola on digital time.  ‘Esoteric Voice Research’ could be the ultra-unknown Co Durham bedroom-band Guns R Great, ‘Primordial Soup  Exotica’ the weed-drenched wobble of a teenage Ween.  ‘VWL RMVR’ is undeniably attention-deficit rumba.  But things become perfectly formed on ‘More Confident’ as it gets down and dark with hypnotic self-help tapes battling a twig-dry beat and the sound of men crying.   The ludicrous melody quivers like tangerine jelly melting over hot chips.

File directly between Robert Ridley-Shackleton and Keyboard Money Mark.


Feghoots – Dwindling Correspondence (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

New booty from horror film aficionado and noise-music abbot Pete Cann.

For those expecting dramatic fuzz and explosive squeal you need to re-calibrate your lugs as Feghoots trades in small-scale weird.

Opener ‘Alif Showcase’ features the microscopic wrench of rubber gloves.  Elsewhere a peanut is dropped into a decorative Turkish beaker as Pete opens and reseals one of those stiff Amazon cardboard envelopes (Let Down Hair).

A shifting polystyrene crunch forms the base layer of ‘Shy Vein’ making this the noisiest offer but with owls hooting in harmony over the top any fist-pumping gets strictly Autumn Watch… it’s as mesmerising as lumpy frogspawn sculptures.

Analogue breath clicks through dry lungs on ‘Stirrup Residue’ while your roommate cleans the toaster of congealed cheese slices.  The ill-tempered scrape soon melts into antique electronics and domestic field recordings.

The penultimate piece ‘Tenderloiner’ features the lightsaber sparkle of Atsuhiro Ito with the timing of a bird in the hand.  The flickering and flighty splutters mimic a barista’s recurring dreams of hot steamed milk.  At one point I swear a double bass makes an entrance and I realise I’m getting randy for Feghoots and John Edwards to collaborate. We gotta make this happen my well-connected readers!

A finality is reached on ‘Adze Rotor’ which may or may not be the digital processing of foul water sounds captured in both Leeds and Bradford.  The gently swinging coda sweeps away any unpleasantness to focus on the slow rush of oncoming sleep.

Add a notch – Feghoots makes me nod like a Moorhen.

wizards of oi

Wizards of Oi – Wot it is Not (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

There’s something about this disc that makes me think of the much-missed kings of otherness Reynols.

Possibly they share the murkiness and free, looseness of that mind-bending crew but what do I know?  It just sounds wonderfully slack to me.

While it is important to mention W.O.O are only two small bears (who ably manage to handle drums, trumpet, swanee-whistle, dirt-guitar, Wurlitzer and gloomy vocals between their four little paws) the songs are studio-enriched with foul chicken drippings.

Effects are fully ladled on to these jams landing exactly between Teo Macero and King Tubby so even the straightest opening ends up in a double valley of rainbow-reverb.  Just try ‘#Trumpets of Jericho’ or ‘#Metal Gardening’ if you doubt me.

But delicious difference is the order of the day with the too-brief ‘#Cool Pizza and a Beer’ sounding like the birth of Ska replayed by Renaldo and The Loaf in a grain silo.

It’s immediately followed by ‘#Thunderbird Glossalia’; a study for squeezed rodent and the Wurlitzer in the sort of time signature that would make Moondog honk.  When the dust clears super-distorted voices chant insistent curses while the boys sharpen their knives on sopping calf’s liver.

There’s no mercy! When stripped back to basics (guitar and drums) like on ‘#Crayolish Oisters’ it kicks no less brittle.  As if 10 Years After lost their fingers in a blues-related accident – this is the sound of the milkman ruefully cleaning up.

Closer, the intricate ‘#Free Jatz’, couples carefully controlled amp-fritz/saxophone bink with a snare-less drum snatch.  All the better for the boom!

Possibly contains a Volcano da’ Bunk or something placing this firmly on the creaking essential pile.

richard youngs

Richard Youngs – For Shortwave Radio and Voice Text Converter (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

Richard Young’s work has been a kind of shadow that’s floated around my head for about 25 years.  Every time I think – that’s it – that’s the definitive Youngs he comes out with another idea to top the last.  A chocolate fountain of a man he’s spewed out another rich brown mess too tasty to resist.

I guess this is what some beards would call a process piece.  So RY follows his own instructions…

  1. Record a shortwave radio. I used anywhere on the dial that sounded pleasing.
    2. Imitate the sound of the shortwave radio into a voice to text converter.
    3. Cut and paste the resulting text into a text to speech converter.
    4. Press play and record the result alongside original shortwave. Stretch to fit.
    5. Repeat.

A clever approach for sure but snazzy brains don’t always make great music yeah? (see Brian Eno).

This is of course marvellous.  Like the freakiest number stations or creepiest Electronic Voice Phenomena this exists in the limbo between found sound and dream logic.

Disembodied voices speak an almost-language, part-words form some yet-to-be-unencrypted dialect they pinch a brain node but leave any meaning wanting.  Sweeping from ear to ear they sound like they are warning me of something and make me scratch my pate like Nostradamus, quill in hand, hot to translate.

The shortwave pulses flutter as a jammed signal – pitchy whoops and spelks high in my hearing range.

Imagine a ghost captured on camera but then you find out the ghost that’s been deliberately summoned.

How does that make you feel?  How does that make you really feel?

Chocolate Monk

Giant Tank / Duff & Robertson



gruff-smog-rackets: joe murray on leif elggren, daniel padden, fritz welch, drew wright

March 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Leif Elggren – Das Baank (vinyl LP, Rekem Records / Fragment Factory, rekem 09 / [FRAG36], edition of 300)

Daniel Padden, Fritz Welch & Drew Wright – The Forgotten Voices of Unclean Men (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 50)


Leif Elggren – Das Baank

Spooky bald-head Leif is one of the most out-est of coots around.  While your chin-strokers would call this Sound Art I’d wrinkle up my nose, spit out the retort

gruff-smog-rackets, mate

and dribble into a labelled test tube.

The insert that comes with Das Baank talks about the sin of Usury and various other clues point the concept towards finance and the giant mess it makes of the world.  Hey… why not?  We’re all being fucked by Das Baank… why not meter out some sonic revenge?

I press play eagerly.  I once watched Leif stalk around Brighton a few years ago with his Guds Soner boots on and this cat is smooth like greased milk.

And, while this is more rawkus than I was expecting it’s still a well-composed and measured gift.  The intro sounds like a fat kid sitting on a church organ, struggling to get comfortable; huffing out duck-egg farts while angels with wide pores let lazy breath hover between slack mouths.  The battle of the airs (massive complex man-made pipes versus weak and corrupt humans) is fought out for five minutes or so, each block of sound hauled up like those Stonehenge Bluestones, until (spoiler alert) it’s the machines that win.  Like terminator or something? (A1)

The remainder of side one is made up of meditations on deep iceberg groans (A2) or the sound of my old electric razor uselessly trying to shave potatoes (A3).  Yeah.  This is one intriguing mix.

Flipping this like a damp pancake I find myself in an altogether more hostile environment.  I need to don the goggles for (B1), hastily re-titled in my yeast-bound brain to ‘Flash Gordon’s Rocket Ship’, spitting black lightning from a tin arse.   The ambient breather (B2) is the exact sound a ping-pong ball makes when balanced on taut electrified strings.  But this time all the electrics happen in a long copper pipe.  You dig?!

We get smaller still on (B3), the inside of a lovely leathery accordion where you are a dust-mite battered by the stale whoosh of pressure – very holy and that.  Expecting more sound art smears I’m taken aback to hear, on the closer (B4), a field recording of Shane Embury’s bass amp on extreme overload blustering and blistering form before the other chaps kick in.  You suffer!


Daniel Padden, Fritz Welch & Drew Wright – The Forgotten Voices of Unclean Men

This is the god-damn BOMB man!

Imagine all your favourite vocal-jaxx styles & stars: Rhythmic Balinese Kecak , Wounded Knee’s oatcake gob-loops, Blue Yodel’s witchy funk and… errr… The Flying Pickets.

Imagine all this lung-pop and distil it into a Power Trio glass beaker.  We’ll ask that Clapton, Bruce and Baker to hang up their psychedelic rags for a minute and embrace the lips, teeth, throat and tongue as you bubble with the Bunsen.

But wait-on.  The style is no-way-Jose jowly-flubber!  No wet-mouth farts here boss.  It’s more of a composed ting with ‘sung’ parts and a manly chorus backing up like goofy Jordanaires.

You want examples eh?  Get this… a sick-doofus refrain is launched into the sky and picked up and used as a beach ball while a revolving door of chaps embellish with a wack-wack solo.  It’s gloriously entertaining and (dare I say it) fun!  In fact… I‘m smiling as wide as a smug old goat while all three cake-holes gibber and hoddle, flap and waddle.

The range of hissing, whooping, ch-ch-ch-ching, yelps and scat sounds is remarkable.  It covers the holy shaman in her yurt to the hysterical commuter on the monorail; Laurie Anderson’s ‘ooooooo’ riff to the self-conscious bluffer blowing hot air into a disinterested marketing conference.

All-in-all it’s an all consuming ritual.   Both sidelong pieces are wrapped up tight like a Quality Street but a careful listen (and I’ve hoofed this time & time again) makes me think Mr D Padden has been busy with the shears going ‘snip snip’.

You puritans… relax!

The edit is as sensitive and slick as a Nile Rodgers lick. Each voice is perfectly symmetrical to its breathy comrades.  Taking a leaf outta the big book D Boon & his Minutemen wrote there is a pure equality; each vocal part is balanced and essential to its partner building up like a tripod… a human pyramid as the babble is kicked like a limp Hacky Sack between each soul in their 60 degree corner.

Can you live another day without knowing what happened when doo-wop sucked a Righteous Oxide cream puff?

You know what to do.


Rekem Records

Beartown Records

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