hymns clog up the internet of things : joe henderson on every contact leaves a trace

September 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Helen White – Solar Wind Chime (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

Simon Whetham – Drowning Electret (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 Marvin Tate & Joseph Clayton Mills – The Process (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 Bang the Bore Artists – Twelve Tapes (Every Contact Leave a Trace)

 Henry Collins – The Masters (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 

The day is Thorsday the Fifth of September. I am going to start anywhere.  And I am not going to tell you he’s running thru a field.

 This is The Bardo. The Brighton Bardo, that he was born into and that I now return. I’m not wiping away the liquid that my eyes are producing. I want him to feel a little light rain on his luminous coat that reflects and absorbs the sky like a Pegasus half horse half angel. Captain Blue Bear, is what I call him, to describe as accurately in pig-English his unique sky-tones and grizzly nobility. I tear away a piece of the outbound ticket to construct my smoke. Funny how the return was taken away. Funny how we entrust our intimacy to so-called beasts.

Robo-cop has to decide whether he’s human or a machine. It’s a lot easier to be cold and sociopathic. You don’t need to suffer anymore. But sometimes some Thing gets under your skin that forces you to feel. What a heartless bastard you would be to take a different road otherwise.

These are the sounds of The Brighton Bardo (Locational. AKA: Seven Lies. Where all roads lead back in and there is no escape). A place for the mad and the sick and the walking dead. A transient place where no one lives, just passing thru. An annex of Londinium, the Greatest City on Earth, connected by artery and blood.

I am sitting on the soiled, rat-stained carpet at The Asylum Hotel trying to figure out which rune is blood branded on a wad of beard I have stashed in my ear-phone pouch. I have connected the listening apparatus to the music transmitter and am attempting to connect the listening apparatus to my own ear so that I can join all the dots and roll with the reality. My listening ear is clogged up from high volumes but it’s okay ‘cause the earphones are broken too. I use my one good ear together with the one good earphone and now we’re dialing him in. That’s how we roll. He loves the radio. Keeps him company. He loves our soft husky girl voices too. Let’s bring him home gently. Let’s turn on the sounds of The Brighton Bardo, finally. ‘Cause it’s been about seven years already. Why is it so painful to connekt?

Is it the black lodge?

Solar-Wind-Chime

Helen White – Solar Wind Chime (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

It is the solar wind chimes that burn my ear. I tone it down; at any moment someone could come in and disturb these natural instruments and this placid balance. Must be some fast-paced currents in there. I keep forgetting, I’m in there. It’s an effect on the ear. I know that the ear is the last to go, but I didn’t realize that memory worked this way. I keep forgetting I’m here already. In The Bardo. Probably ‘cause it’s too painful to remember. Which is why we have burial rites and why you should never utter a curse in to the dead. The solar storms. That’s interesting. You can pause in The Bardo and check your oracle or library.

The solar storms. He was like a beached whale. Large solar storms. Trapped and lost on European beaches (insert no other, tell the truth). Autopsies showed they were disease-free (I am no longer talking to you, but him). There are climactic changes ‘round here. They drive prey into the North Sea. We need to eat at some point, Boy. The Mariners follow to their doom. That’s not where we’re going, Buoy. Although we are attracted to the huge quantities of squid found in those colder waters, we can’t get stranded. We’ll be lost in the desert forever. We are eight-armed and forever. We are blue. We will eat you. Young males like us head North. We are Snow-Wolves with loyalty to our Master. We learn to read anomalies like you learn to read the contours on maps.

This is The Bardo.

Dominated from midnight by large-scale solar storms, like the ones we flew thru. I take you everywhere with me. The persistence of memory is the true suffering of us. Storms full of charged particles and radiation is the air we breathe in The Bardo. A wasteland of cold, distorted, powerful lights. We are in the sea now. We are lost. Communications and satellites have been damaged. I don’t think anyone can hear us back home. But if there’s anyone I would rather be with on the edge of the world – it’s you. It’s raining again, and I’m sorry if it’s toxic. I said that I was Artemis, long ago, and that you are forgiven. I take that back. The rain is toxic and it’s burning our eyes. We want to find these magnetic mountains, because you and me both are wrong, and that’s why I love you and I’ll go with you. They call it the ‘Guard-rail’ and we are curious about that because you are a bouncer and no-body puts baby in the corner. He howls all night. We’ve been given advice that the mountain range is rendered invisible now in 2017 and that means that we are allowed to swim into the North Sea. So, that’s where we’re heading. Stranded after the storm. We swim into a desert. The gate has been left open. For the first time in Seven or so years. In fact, the gate has been dismantled. And left by the front door. There is no need to close it anymore. All is empty. All is quiet. A longing for intimacy that will pile upon itself until I am removed from this place and put out of my misery. No more suffering. A quiet death. No more pain. Swirling colours stop. There’s no sound. Or Chaos. The Northern Lights Stop.

You see it keeps going back ‘round again if you do not shout STOP

Drowning-Electret

Simon Whetham – Drowning Electret (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

We pause for a moment. He is thirsty, so I hydrate him with my eye waters. I’m not turning the tap off for anybody. Not when we need it. His black lips and eyes pay the wages of Avon ladies with black lip-gloss and eyeliner. He is the black-faced annihilator.

It’s relatively quiet at The Asylum Hotel when I abandon him. Only planes overhead and a crack from a girl a few minutes ago. Time doesn’t work the way you think it does. But you already know that.

So let’s go back.

Chanting. We don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes it’s overtaken by cars. But somehow it persists. Could be music. Could be the beach. I’m coming back, don’t woof.

How do you do it? How do you kill?

I ask quite clearly with no expectation of an answer.

They say I’m cold ‘cause I bonded with a machine. Down here we try not to dwell on it. But when I return to The Bardo it is memory that is the air we breathe. I’m not allowed to put my heart on the line except for in The Bardo. Here, we talk. We say you’ve lost your intimacy-machine. Let me massage you.

I hesitate to Drown.

I’m going back when the present is still, present. She talks of the calm and the peak. It’s too late, as usual. We are now together again talking about drowning and we seem to know more about that than we like to admit. We are water-creatures. Water-creatures don’t talk about drowning. That’s like a fish saying to his buddy “I’m sorry mate, but I just wet myself”.

We are passing thru a place where people leave us alone. That is good. The trains sound like trees and the trees jangle. We are moving. That is good. The Drowning Electret hurries into some metal shape forms and builds railroads and pylons for us to move in. That’s where you will find us, ultimately. In the tin can rolling down the street. Amplified by some lonely guy. Transmitted to aliens on earth. Aliens, like flies, and dogs. And Octopi. And Earth. And Things that just ain’t human. Like cars, and bits of metal. And plastic. And dead-mans blood.

The transmission breaks up. Which is usually a sign for me to go. I’ll stay with you tho. You are passing thru The Bardo. Alone. And you will come back to me, but chances are I will be so world-weary-stressed that I will not recognize my Brother. And we shall pass by each other not even knowing. Whilst caressing twigs, like kids.

I am now alone. We have become separated. This break-up is aesthetically interesting. But, what is more interesting to me is finding you. I know it could take years. But I don’t want to draw it out that long and I’d rather have you by my side NOW. Your senses are superior to mine, and I need you to survive. It’s a break-up. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information. Describe it for you all? It sounds like a radio transmission. Breaking up. By an individual who calls themselves “Simon Whetham”. It sure is wet. We are drowning and lost.

We are starving. Or so that is how you always feel.

I’ll eat for you Brother.

And accidently tread on flies for you.

To help you sleep.

 

We are in The Bardo again.

Things are breaking up. Transmission flimsy.

It’s cold. But I think that’s normal. You are a Snow-Wolf. I laid two blankets upon you. It’s not the height of human accomplishment to be warm.

We are gonna find it tricky to navigate in these conditions. You are wild.

Your yelp grew softer. I was rarely frightened of you. Now we walk side by side, together. The only thing that can make me leave you is fear of death. And how can I fear loving what is dead.

There’s nothing really on the airwaves. It’s an absence. A static persistence. Pleasurable for some reason. Reasons such as 1) That it holds a deeper meaning that can be accessed thru deviant means. 2) That it is so devoid of meaning that the listener can transpose whatever they like into it and literally make these sounds their own. 3) That there is nothing there, which gives a lot of space to create worlds.

I guess it’s the sound of him disintegrating into the void whilst I heat a probably rotten meal in the oven to nourish myself. It has to be done, but you can’t help but think of alternatives. It’s breaking up. There’s nothing there. Has Question Time started again? (To go into another). I’ll come back. [I’m getting lost again – The maps are fizzling]

[TIME]

The-Process

Marvin Tate & Joseph Clayton Mills – The Process (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

I’ve woken up. My thumb and my bed are on fire. The seagulls are screaming. The only problem is the siren.

It’s breaking up again. Feedback & noise. Lashing. THE PROCESS.

Voices. Memories tryna find a groove, a channel, a vessel. Radio.

Vacuum. Storm shutters down. I think we’ve been here before, the other night of fire. It’s a different day, a different reality. Different feet plodding thru the fog and filthy air. Senile and pleasant. Glitches, samples. I think we have come to the memory space. Processors. Fragments. Cyber-edited. Internal. No acoustics. Layers of Cycles. Regret. Hymnal. Cut grass. Whistling doppelgangers melting into a suburb. Erased. Memos. Night terrors of not recognizing this new room. Can’t reconcile. Archival. Snippets. Kreng-like. Cotton wool, dirty brainspace. Slowly snapping spine. Head tipped backwards, waking up mid-lobotomy. Is this the place where we forget. Eternal sunshine. Intruders, unknown presences, scrubbed out and shadows sanded down from the door frames. Mechanically dysfunctional neuroses. Backed into a corner, a collage of hyper-auditory-impressions. Distilled into a time-frame before silence and snow crunch. We are in the radio-space now. Meddled by winds and far-away gusts. Distant commune. Transmissions clearer. Pounding, haunted, rippling. Deep, depth tones emerging like liquid spirits. Total disorientation. Sweet little motives rising up from time to time like butterflies with the same colour as your loved one – something beautiful to catch a glimpse of before utter disintegration. Always fleeting. Paused dialogues and rain. Wet again. My rain soaked skin has its own memory. All the times we’ve been here before. We look for something outside. Particularly voices are soothing and we are listening out in this rain battered territory. Hymns clog up the Internet of Things. We can’t see the bigger picture, we are in fly-mode. Bondaged. Unfinished sentiments. Flecks of semantic recognition. Smashing a piano. A Time Machine. Argument. Nothing is rubbed out. Nothing is not heard. Running up and down the stairs. Walking thru the snow. Everything you’ve ever heard. Everything you’ve ever said. Everything you’ve ever heard said. Documented. In a cloud. When the cloud comes near – noise. The betrayal of coherence. You are longing for them. The things you have lost. Walking thru the snow. The sounds of the Northern Lights low enough that they touch your ears. You become a rowboat. Paddling thru serenely. With your wolf at your side. Watching out across a horizon that wants no end. Strangers now. Playing pool in a church hall. The ground has turned solid and you are alone. Watching from the other side. Unable to remember when you were here before. A gnawing deja vu. Stumbling often. Looking thru to some scene you can’t understand. Acoustic engulfment. STOP.

Twelve-Tapes

Bang the Bore Artists – Twelve Tapes (Every Contact Leave a Trace) CD and digital album

Whiskey nights over we wake up to this new storm. Buildings swaying like chewing gum and a sense of evacuation before the Leviathan.

I take my hat and shades off. Wipe my eyes. And focus on the Outside again. This fresh apocalypse. Check my seismometer.

I’m going to take Twelve steps forward and no more.

  1. Everything stopped.
  2. The eye was blue
  3. I smell my finger. It smells of burnt flesh.
  4. Opiate
  5. The power is cut to my respirator
  6. Images of red circles flowing outwards
  7. The mangled cars at the feet of Beachy Head
  8. Flowing under the ocean floor
  9. Jerk
  10. Angels swaying violently
  11. A calm television
  12. I can hear screaming through the walls. The room becomes a boat.

I’m turning you on now. I’m flipping my memory-switch to ‘Forget” for a moment to take this Thirteenth step.

I put my coat on, dig in. My one good ear. It’s 7am. Passing the underground car-park at the foot of Bear Road, where that old railway line used to hover above, now hovering in memory ‘cause it’s gone and things move so fast these days you gotta watch your back for the speed. Click ON. There’s no auditory simulation round here, this is the best we’re gonna get. No perfection. Raw perception, whether you like it or not. Too hot, take it off, too cold, put it on. Revolving door Brighton Bardo. There’s something about car-parks at this time of the morning. The silence and seagulls and high-pitched coins and bankcards and exhaustion. Transient scores to settle. We’ll go anywhere to get the business done. Facial recognition tells me that this one is coastal and that tells me it comes with its own cacophony. The noise of the sea. A constant thread that links these places. And out-sources others. It’s a time capsule in here. The outside world has toned itself down and made quick. A vault. An arena. This prolonged anxiety on a thread. An electric beam. I’m so upset, for no reason. I claw back at the rope. The snow-blizzard exercise at the Antarctic. A crude drawing of a face scribbled on to my bucket-head. The sine-wave safety line. Burning up. Persisting. The constant persistence of grit. Molded into vaults and safety chambers. To store yer car. And keep ‘em out. And move you. And kill you. Is it a saber. To drive into the heart of the void. An empty car-park. With all those homicide outlines of cars that died ages ago. Only one victim per bay. Each victim pays the toll. And the toll paves the way. Is it a purification. To make strange the mundane. A true Lynchian shape. Exotic birds come out for a sec. Escaped birds. The horrible sound of a person’s voice, so buried that it could be machine. It’s burning up. The voices. Black metal and noise and nihilism at dawn. The problem is these birds hide out here. Things don’t work the way they should do. You just hear the burning blistering breakfast symphony of the transience. No one lives here, no one lives here, just passing thru. I am amplifying dust. The constant stream of a singularity. Cutting thru the waste. Lending a hand to consistency AKA: TIME. Installing some statue with its finger pointed at you or away from you like a sundial. Depending on how deep the cellar goes. I’m fucking up tremendously and there’s only so many hours in the day I can squeeze all these errors in. When the landscape become black I kinda feel like there’s either no one playing or the greatest player on earth has just taken the stage. Either way. The silence has just reverse fizzled. And gone. Cheerz Seth, that’s truly masterful werk from the contact sheet. (Lucier bound)

The-Masters-Cover-Possibility-1

Henry Collins – The Masters (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

Four days in. Reminiscent of something sinister. And loss.

Thwang.

Repeatedly.

Impersonalized.

Watching someone else do something you don’t understand.

Searching for the next rabbit-hole.

Phazer.

Shifting.

Plates of terrain. Flat-lined.

Micro.

Tetris blankness.

At the end of the driveway.

You are supposed to be here.

Thwang.

On the day we feed your young fellas.

Drinking water with Ice Valley

Iron clink.

Lawn-mower thorax miniature bird thing

I can see this plain is one of many

Quite a long way to go

We must stop time

Thwacking soft wet grass

Digital Robin

Mar-A-Largo is flattened

He emerges from a bunker in the Virgin Islands.

This smacking between zones, flittered. Chopped.

Humid butchery.

Sigh aviation

Dead man walking

Trace in the reflection

Flicker.

Chopped up bird & grass mixture

All the moments that flank and escape commentary

Knocked out of range

You’ve got to slow down.

You’ve missed them.

Shift some more snow.

This was an account of our movements thru The Bardo whilst the world collapses. Sound tracked by the sound, text & images of ‘Every Contact Leaves a Trace’ artists.

Street Editions (August/September)

SUNFLOWERS

 

 Every Contact Leaves a Trace

 -ooOOoo-

 

 

framing devices: packaged by michael clough, crow versus crow and every contact leaves a trace

March 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Michael Clough – Untitled (CD-r, self-released, edition of 5)

Michael Clough – SKRBL (16 page, A6 booklet, self-published, edition of 10, all unique)

Michael Clough – miniMA (Tumblr account and A7 booklet, self-published) 

Caught In The Wake Forever and Crow Versus Crow – Excommunicado (3” CD-r and booklet, Crow Versus Crow, initial edition of 50, second run of 25) 

Dominic Lash / Will Montgomery – Real As Any Place You’ve Been / Thames Water Live (CD-r, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, edition of 100 or download)

Henry Collins – Music of Sound (CD-r, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, edition of 100 or download)

Ignacio Agrimbau – Anatomy of the Self Vol. 2 – Decay, Corrosion and Dust (CD-r, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, edition of 100 or download)

Seth Cooke – Four No-Input Field Recordings (CD-r, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, edition of 100 or download)

clough - untitled cd-rminiMA inner pagesskrbl coverskrbl inner pagesexcommunicado booklet coverexcommunicado booklet inner pagesevery contact leaves a trace outersevery contact leaves a trace picsevery contact leaves a trace inners

Listen hard, dear readers, can you hear it?  A faint, beguiling, rhythmic patter.  It is the sound of the no-audience underground, in particular those that have submitted material for review, drumming their fingers on the collective kitchen table waiting as patiently as possible for comment on their endeavours.  I jest of course, I can’t imagine anyone really giving a monkey’s about delays and deadlines around here, but occasionally I do feel bad about the length of time it takes me to get around to everything.  In my defence I have been totally bewilderated by the demands of returning to work following a long period of illness.  Also, whilst unable to write much, I have instead made the fifty tapes of the oTo back catalogue available as a (massively successful, I’m happy to say) distraction.  Never mind that CD-r you sent me in January – look over there! – rare Phil Todd stuff!!

Anyway, the muse has poked her head around the door to see how I’m doing and is now helping me uncork the whimsy spout.  Inspired by Joe’s account of a tape that comes packaged in a gnome I have been thinking a bit about the stuff we wrap stuff in and am bundling together some exquisitely presented releases that have recently come my way.

Firstly three objects by the incomparable Michael Clough.  I know the guy is amused and flattered when I start bandying terms around like ‘aesthetic’ but, having been delighted by his work for fifteen years, I can think of few artists more consistent.  His achievements are all the more remarkable for being produced in tiny editions, or hidden on Soundcloud, created in moments snatched from family life.  His erudite and self-deprecating humour disguises a homespun but hardcore conceptual rigour and a Savile Row tailor’s eye for quality of finish.

Take SKRBL for example – sixteen pages of exactly that, photocopied, layered, recopied, stapled into a neat card cover.  The presentation gives these scribbles the air of architectural drawings by a madman, the blueprints of an impossible, nine-dimensional suspension bridge.  The enlargements provoke a ludicrous desire to attend to detail that just isn’t there.  Or is it?  How serious is this nonsense?

miniMA, a very neat A7 booklet with card cover containing 8 photographic plates, is the first physical manifestation of the Miniature Museum of Art, curated by M. Clough.  Presented as a tiny exhibition catalogue with knowing puns and allusions for artist names and picture titles, this is, of course, all his own work.  His Tumblr account contains many more fascinating examples of ‘found art’ framed by his discerning eye and documented with his camera phone.  I’d be happy transferring dozens of these pieces to RFM but they are best viewed in situ and the effect of scrolling through them is cumulative.  Makes me want to get recording purely so I can nab his best for album covers.

The third of these objects is a CD-r packaged in a card, handmade, fold-out sleeve held together by the type of paper sash patented by Andy Robinson for his much-missed label Striate Cortex.  No identifying information is included, no text of any kind, just photographs of light refracted through, I’m not sure, maybe some kind of corrugated plastic then cut into a waveform shape of the sort you might see via some sound-editing software.  It is a genius piece of design – an almost completely abstracted city scape portrayed as nothing but pulse and it fits the music perfectly.  The CD-r contains one untitled track lasting 33 minutes built entirely from layers of electronic throb.  It is as sinuous, mindless and viscerally sensual as an interspecies orgy on a cold, tiled floor following a mass breakout at the reptile house.  Indeed, in reviews I often use the term ‘meditative’ in the appreciative but not wholly accurate sense of ‘thought provoking’.  This piece is ‘meditative’ in the Buddhist sense of aiding in the dissolution of ego.  It is, to put it bluntly, fucking obliterating – marvellously so.

This stuff can be had direct from Clough himself.  Email him at mriclough@aol.com for availability and prices.

Next we have Excommunicado by Caught In The Wake Forever (an alias of Fraser McGowan) and Crow Versus Crow.  The package feels simple, coherent and appropriate but a list of its elements is overwhelming.  I’ll let Andy Crow explain:

‘Excommunicado’ comprises a 10.5 x 10.5 cm 16 page mini art book, containing black and white inkjet prints of Crow Versus Crow’s minimal ink and pencil drawings printed on matte white paper within a 170gsm recycled card cover; four instrumental tracks from Caught In The Wake Forever, on a white-faced 3″ CDr housed within an 8.5 x 8.5 cm 100 gsm recycled paper envelope; an insert sheet containing recording and production information; a 35 mm photographic negative; and a dried rose petal, all housed within a 12.5 x 12.5 cm 100 gsm recycled paper envelope, sealed with a full colour ‘Excommunicado’ sticker.

OK, perhaps that level of description is bordering on the fetishistic but you get the idea: this is a package.  In a letter to me Andy was coy about the informing idea behind the project as he wanted me to come to it fresh.  Unfortunately, however, he clearly forgot that I was on his mailing list and had received a plug for the first edition of this release in which he told the world that it deals with…

…loss.  Or, more specifically, it deals with the process of coming to terms with loss. I’m sure most people reading this will have got to a point in your life, post-trauma, where you’re confronted with the question, ‘What now?’. Sadness, bitterness, alienation, isolation, loss, nostalgia, hope, glimmers of happiness… all of these come together in a non-linear mess, as you attempt to ‘pull yourself together’, ‘get yourself back on track’ etc etc.

…which is a tough idea to jettison once you know it is there.  I like to think I would have guessed anyhow.  The project as a whole seems defined by absence: the blown pigment outlining a hand shape on a cave wall.  Fraser’s music is a delicately balanced mix of electronics – dragging a cumbersome weight from the past behind it, unsettled in its present, grasping for the future.  It’s like not quite remembering something.  Andy’s drawings are perfectly complementary.  Again, here is art reaching for something no longer there.  The booklet ‘reads’ like the marginalia surrounding an entirely redacted text.

The initial run of 50 copies for this release sold out in a day.  A second edition of 25 is planned.  Please visit the Crow Versus Crow blog for updates and/or to sign up for the newsletter.

Finally then, I am delighted to offer a warm RFM welcome to new label Every Contact Leaves a Trace.  My admiration for the luxuriantly bearded polymath Seth Cooke is well documented to the point of being borderline creepy.  Suffice to say the news that he was starting his own label was gladdening and that these objects were hotly anticipated.

I’d like to get the less positive stuff out of the way first: I’m afraid the split album shared by Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery was not for me, despite some very satisfying passages of subterranean electro-gurgle in ‘Thames Water Live’ by the latter.  Moving swiftly on…

Music of Sound by Henry Collins is an edit of family favourite film The Sound of Music removing all dialogue and music from the soundtrack.  We are left with half an hour (that much!) of footsteps, weather, birdsong, doors slamming, whistles and the like – a celebration of the work of the foley artist.  The worry with this kind of high concept stuff is that the cleverness will come at the expense of engagement, or to put it another way: that the technical accomplishment can be admired without being much, y’know, enjoyed.  However, no need to fret here because Henry has created a surprisingly powerful and emotionally resonant piece.  Subtracting the ‘content’ has also drained away the Technicolor of the original and we are left with a tense black-and-white atmosphere in which the dread of the approaching Nazis is fore-grounded.  If you’d told me it was a version of say, The Third Man, I’d have no trouble believing you.  Also, the insert picturing the alpine meadow from the film’s iconic poster image sans Julie Andrews is genius.

You might, given the amusing title, expect Seth’s own Four No-Input Field Recordings to be very, very quiet indeed.  Instead what we have is twenty minutes of electrostatic roar uplit with digi-squiggles.  I imagine Seth shrunk, with his boom mic and recording equipment, Fantastic Voyage style, and squirted into his kit in order to become the Chris Watson of the sub-atomic.  Listen as herds of crackling electrons stampede along the canyon floor of his mixer’s circuitry.  Marvel at the call-and-response of a quantum-level dawn chorus before us clumsy humans start collapsing the wave function all over the place with our observations.  Very sharp and very entertaining.

Lastly, we have the ominously titled Anatomy of the Self Vol. 2 – Decay, Corrosion and Dust by Ignacio Agrimbau.  It has taken me a while to appreciate just how good this one is.  The first couple of listens left me skating on the meniscus feeling weightless and foiled by the music’s surface tension.  As with After the Rain, the terrific but musicologically intimidating band of which he is one third, I am largely ignorant of the instrumentation used or the traditions and influences from whence it sprung.  This is, apparently, broken music constructed with broken instruments but without Seth telling me this I’d be none the wiser.  Imagine Ignacio as an expert marine biologist explaining his novel theories about the life of a coral reef over video taken during  a scuba dive.  I’m the guy at the back not really taking it in because I’m distracted by the strobing colours and alien patterns.

So, with that in mind, here’s an attempt at a description.  A breathy, muted sound palette suggests the struggles of a pupa within its chrysalis – fluid life reforming into something new.  This is underscored with a near constant percussive urgency that occasionally topples over into a Dada, clattering slapstick – like hieroglyphs sprung to life and leaping from the tomb walls in order to hit each other over the head with grave goods.  Highly compelling stuff which rewards close attention.

The packaging for these four releases is as diverting as the contents.  Before getting to the CD-r the listener needs to remove a bulldog clip, put the embossed card outer sleeve to one side, unfold a paper inner sleeve and note the details handily contained on a separate insert.  Following their appearance on a blog hosted by The Wire magazine (pics above stolen from that source – I don’t like the publication but credit where it’s due: nice work) Seth offered the following explanation on the Bang the Bore Forum:

The idea is that the listener has to reassemble each release every time it’s played. There are lots of possible configurations, each outer cover is a square tile that can be positioned in any direction, or reversed. Each is embossed with a found object rather than embossing plate.

Which brings me neatly to the final point I’d like to make.  Seth also said this:

You can figure most of the ideas behind the packaging out for yourselves, but Ignacio’s might take a little explaining. Iggy’s Anatomy of the Self Volume II is about breakdown – of instruments, of working methods, of relationships, of family, of organisations, of society. He wanted an image of a broken machine, and I initially got hold of some cogs to emboss, but it felt far too mechanistic for the sound of the record. So I got the chance to collect up some 3d printer misprints… the hexagonal hive-style pattern is the exposed inner structure, made that way to save plastic. As it went through the embossing press the piece started deteriorating in fibrous strands or splintering altogether, and some of the relief was so deep that it ruptured the greyboard. So in essence, you’re looking at the product of one broken machine creating another broken machine, a product that’s breaking as it’s repeatedly run through another machine two hundred times, a process that’s also rupturing the medium itself.

…and Andy Crow said this:

‘Excommunicado’ is a collaborative project from Caught In The Wake Forever and Crow Versus Crow that brings together work in the respective medium of both artists revolving around each artist’s interpretation of a single conceptual theme. The works within were produced as a continuous dialogue over a number of months, with various stages of development and articulation being sent back and forth between the artists, until both felt that their contribution was complete.

…making explicit, as if it were needed, that there is another level on which all these objects need unpacking.  At the risk of sounding pretentious, the packaging also involves a metaphysical or conceptual element which acts as a further framing device for the content.  This can be more or less obvious or implicit, more or less important to the listener or viewer’s experience but it is there and it is there because these artists wanted it there.

I am, as ever, in awe of the graft, the seriousness of intent, the lightness of touch, the quality of finish, the expert use of meagre resources, the intellectual rigour and the coherent and fascinating aesthetics that our scene is capable of exhibiting.  You’d think I’d have lost the ability to be amazed, wouldn’t you?  Not a bit of it.

Michael Clough on Soundcloud

Michael Clough on Tumblr

(contact him via the email address in the article above)

Crow Versus Crow Blogspot

Crow Versus Crow Bandcamp

Seth Cooke

Every Contact Leaves A Trace

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