Tags: amateur shoegaze, cam, constellation tatsu, crow versus crow, dictaphonics, emblems of cosmic disorder, feedback, grey guides, improvisation, joe murray, karl mv waugh, noise, skrat records, slayer, stuart chalmers, tape loops
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!
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.
Tags: binnsclagg, chloe wallace, discombobulate, dogeeseseegod, emblems of cosmic disorder, improv, joe murray, karl mv waugh, kosmos 954, krautrock, new music, no audience underground, noise, pascal nichols, poetry, prosody, the zero map
Karl M V Waugh – 5 Alarm Systems / Songs About Choir Boys (CD-r and text prosody poems in document file, Emblems of Cosmic Disorder)
dogeeseseegod / The Zero Map – Split (tape, Emblems of Cosmic Disorder, unspecified limited edition)
Kosmos 954 – IX V IV (CD-r in hand made cover, Emblems of Cosmic Disorder)
Binnsclagg – 23 (CD-r, no label)
Pascal – Nihilist Chakai House (LP, Discombobulate, BOB003, edition of 250, ‘on frozen puddle coloured vinyl’ as Joe would have it)
Karl M V Waugh – Songs About Choir Boys / 5 Alarm Systems
Like many folk I’m slightly aroused by office stationery [Editor’s note: too right – I’m still banned from Rymans]. There’s something about the clear usefulness of envelopes, pens, polyvinyl packets that’s so darn satisfying. So it was with trembling hands I slice open the latest package from our esteemed editor; a selection of goods from new ‘boutique’ label Emblems of Cosmic Disorder.
A slim document file, the kind of thing you’d find in any dusty HR department, houses a neat CD-R in a clam case and several pages of closely typed text.
I check out the disc (‘songs about choir boys’) first. This 20 minute piece has three distinct sections:
- Cluttered junk noise collage – echoed pings, guitar scratch knitting itself tighter and tighter. Balloon squeak adds a slivery ripple.
- Domestic vocal psychedelic – “What valley?” Bus-travel-noise, digital avalanche, granular fractals etc. “I’m gonna go out now.”
- Electric Balalaika heard through the fog of war, Austrian glitch and heavy pastries.
The editing is sharp, each distinctive piece flows nicely like egg yolk through new copper pipes. Not a leak in sight!
I take out the poems (‘5 alarm systems’) and give them a bash. On a first reading these short pieces come across like some fractured stream-of-consciousness narrative…
“Diamond scratching on the inside of my scalp.”
“Duncan Harrison refuses to fight Johnny Liron and everyone’s oxygen supply is depleted.”
Pretty heady stuff, ya dig? Like reading old Bananafish magazines through a gin hangover or something. But closer inspection of the handy press release states these are prosody poems; a term I have never come across before. A quick google search tells me…
Prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance (statement, question, or command); the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or by choice of vocabulary.
OK…I get it. It’s all about how the poem is read. So I heave myself from the comfortable armchair and gracelessly unfold to my full (and rarely realised) six foot three and read these darn things loud and proud.
The neighbours curtains twitch, the kids giggle, Mrs Posset asks if I am feeling well. The answer is a boisterous ‘YES’. In fact I feel better than ever. The act of reading is a tonic, a shot in the arm, just the very thing. And I read on; in trembling baritone. The intensity and vigour leaves me glowing like a Victorian lady.
I wonder if these excellent poems are to be read along with the music? There are no instructions in the envelope to the contrary so I take matters into my own hands and rig up the gramophone to record and play and hawk out money scam intake collection [Editor’s note: click to hear a one minute rendition – self-embedding journalism, that] for kicks.
Even if this was never K.M.V. Waugh’s intention the interactive nature of abstract sound and spoken word is a great one: ham & eggs, strawberries & cream.
I urge you to check this one out and popularise as a parlour game for all the family.
dogeeseseegod / The Zero Map – Split Tape
There’s some real right brain/left brain stuff going on here on this pocket guide to cosmic disorder.
dogeeseseegod take the knotted tangled path with raw ganglions swaying. Junked up domestic field recordings get clotted and rubbed up rough with the sound of water (a unifying fixture with dripping tapes, gushing pipes and the steady trickle of piss) running through this whole piece, ‘Tappin ‘Ard O Phiernahe On Rye’. As I settle in my listening chair I’m picturing some Futurist Opera, the men of dogeeseseegod wrapped in itchy suits as they arrange scrap metal structures to a newspaper score. Occasionally there’s the rare fizz of melody. A guitar or keyboard makes a dash out the door with a tune stashed up a tight cuff. But mainly the sounds are free to roam within the strict structure of the edit. You’ve seen One Man and his Dog right? Sort of like that but with sheep being replaced with rude tape blarts and hawking tremors. Thankfully the electronic effects are kept to a minimum so the pure mung rises to the top of the beaker, ready to be scooped off and fermented; brewed into zingy espresso.
This kinda porridge pot can be hit or miss but I am delighted to say this is breakfast gets a Goldilocks ‘just right’ from me.
The Zero Map set their dune buggy down a smoother, less hectic, route. The modestly titled ‘Z’ is a meditation. Pale blue tones float out my cheap-o hi-fi clearly. They arrange themselves in regular symmetrical patterns that turn in on themselves, forever folding and unfolding across a hidden axis to reveal a thousand-leaved Chrysanthemum glowing with an inner light. The sound warms up to a pinky-red hue and the slight ‘tap, tok, tap’ of a recurring theme (the decaying ring of a bell with all the attack digitally snipped off perhaps?) rubs my shoulders as I settle deeper into the Chesterfield. My eyelids droop and I find my 14 year old self perched in front of the TV trying to keep up with Horizon or something. I’m scrunching my brow over some really complex but beautifully original maths, the slight chemical tang of lemon squash leaving a bright yellow smile on my lips. The almost spiritual neatness of a Venn diagram, intersecting arcs creating enclosed spaces calms my teenage self into a Zen stillness that rockets through the years anointing my old-guy bristles with Nag Champa.
Kosmos 954 –IX V IV
What’s this? A live in the studio jam all cut up with a monkey claw? Yeah man yeah. It starts with odd honks and the sort of space echo Joe Meek would have pawned his Ouija board for. And then a scissor cuts and Kosmos 954 draw us into the gloom for some heeds down pub-kraut-rock. Zoinks! The edits keep on coming: a rhythmically blocky soundtrack to 80’s handheld game ‘Scramble’ (Kink, kink, kink!) slides into slurring crabs leaving tracks in the sand of mystic Hebrew script ending the ritual with a heaviness worthy of Haikai No Ku. I love to be confused by a record and Kosmos 954 are cheeky mystic monks Ra-Ra-ing like a funky Rasputin.
Binnsclagg – 23
More poetry and ‘natural malfunction’ from the South coast. I’ve been told this is not an emblems release but it bears all the hallmarks; handmade sleeve, ambitious scope and grievous cluttered sound etc. The lazy blogger would drop names like Graham Lambkin but this is a far more robust beast. Sure enough, there are browned-off words that melt like dripping but some of the accompanying sound is sharp and glitchy enough to share self space with those Editions Mego jokers.
Things get pretty dark about 14 mins in. The crystal plumage noise is replaced with matter-of-fact reportage and amplified gibber/gong workshop. The natural energy of a live improvisation takes over and an end of the pier sample wraps things up nicely in under 25 minutes.
Pascal – Nihilist Chakai House
Whooosh. I’m on my way to mighty Manchester with an earbud full of Mancunian musicians making the Megabus the most happening bus on the M62.
Rob has beat me to it, covering the excellent, Getting Nothing to Appear on the Developed Film by The Piss Superstition already. So, all that I can add to the no-audience dialogue is a breathless “CHECK OUT THE SUICIDEFUZZOUTLIVEATTHEBUDOKANMIGRANE ON THIS SHIT MAN!” to the poor bloke sitting next to me. He snores on…
The next record in my brace of Manc offerings comes from Pascal Nichols, one half of the wonderful Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides (often abbreviated to tongue-straining acronym PWHMOBS) who are stealthily playing their way into the hearts of the underground.
Here Pascal wallops hollow gourds until they clank and click like a Moondog army marching menacingly through a dark Mardi Gras.
And then…a bagatelle? Rubber marbles? The sound of impact folded inward.
In my cloth ears a theme reveals itself. Cacophony is introduced then tamed…the gradual removal of syncopation reveals the human heartbeat within. ACTION POINT: A Grandfather Clock is taken apart piece-by-piece – a military ‘tick / tok’ resolutely strict and stiff-upper-lipped morphs seamlessly into an allotment shuffle; muddy tools being hung in racks by knotted hands.
A dry ‘thwock’ repeats. Micro spaces click sticks. Did I just hear a sneaky ‘Moonlight on Vermont’ snare ripple? The stick clicks continue and seem to say ‘hatchback’ in the language of the trees. Bees are waxed for sure…you can smell the yellow howl of varnish all over the ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing.
Soon a knitting machine of Patrick Woodroffe proportions rattles pennies in a jar. Each bronze disc placed with a trajectory planned by a master’s hands.
This is a glorious and life-affirming record. The joy of playing is evident in every snare swish and cymbal brush. Share the spirit of adventure…let the love in!