hot mayo: rfm on flamingo creatures, lambs gamble and ezio piermattei

June 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Flamingo Creatures – Fisch Versucht das Sprechenlernen (Discombobulate)

Lambs Gamble – Farewell Body Bags (Discombobulate)

Ezio Piermattei – Tre Madri Ludopatiche (Discombobulate)

 Flamingo Creatures cassette inlay dimensions 181016 copy MUSTARD WITH MASK

Flamingo Creatures – Fisch Versucht das Sprechenlernen (Discombobulate) C40 Cassette

The International Dictionary of Gonzo gets a new foreword from Cologne’s finest – Flamingo Creatures.

Each section of this lithe and saucy tape is a miniature moment of prime wonk-o-lah.  Be it gloomy bouncing balls, crackling snickets or mashed-up tape werks the Flamingo Creatures breathe new life between their thumbs to hoot like a couple of funky owls.

WARNING: All direct points of contact are skilfully erased to build a new map of the territory.

So…side one features some brave violin scratching, floating trumpet and human voice – a known/known if you’d like.  But this nestles up (sometimes in the same movement, the same musical sequence) against free-gibbering and bowling-shoe-bass/electronic-shadowing to create a most definite unknown/unknown.  The results hark back to the time Miles ditched his beards after the Plugged Nickel and recruited pure hobos, gardeners and short-order cooks to jazz it up on Thunderbird, lawnmower and blackened skillet.

Side two is a weirder listen. Yeah? Oh yeah! Call and response was never so whacked-out and spluttered.  Each squeal of viola/tape is a Half-Nelson. I’m incapable of movement, pinned to the floor by the otherness, poise and audacity.  Fans of bass are sated once more as this jam flaps all loose and goosy, like Harry Secombe (with Spike’s understated piano playing).

Just when you think things are going to descend into a well of gushing-saliva an oasis opens…yellow sunlight brightens the corners to reveal a well-classy set of final movements; all cuckoo clock, xylophone and shimmering vocal intervals.

Delicate as a china cup, the tinkles and baroque pace transport the listener to a genteel occasion.  You outwardly do all the right things, smile politely and munch a biscuit safe in the knowledge you’ve got a flick knife in your pocket and odd socks.

cover-lambs-gamble

Lambs Gamble – Farewell Body Bags (Discombobulate) Pus-yellow Vinyl LP

The LAMBS GAMBLE TRIO huff and moan like Shaolin Monks on a day off (lounging about, smoking tabs) but can leap into tight fighting stance in a blink of an eye.

The three of them: Eric Boros (guitarz, electronics, mouth), George Cremaschi (bass, electronics, mouth) and Fritz Welch (percussion, electronics, mouth) are uniquely fabulous. Moving between free jazz/jaxx, the inverted space of ‘rock’ and the spooky absence of bagel holes with aplomb (or a plum!) no mood, texture or direction is left un-poked.

Picture the little amigos cramped in a studio, all manner of pot and pan, plank and trap piled up in front of the Marshalls.  Each ant grabs a pile of clutter, hugs it tight and then sets off on a musical journey starting deep in rural China but ending up somewhere distinctly volcanic.  Readers of a nervous disposition may wonder.

“So is this a free-for-all?  An everyone-louder-than-everyone-else blank-jam?”

My answer to you friend is a firm but understanding, “No”.

With beards as grey as these you can count on experience, quality and musical-kindness.  Sonic spaces are tugged and fretted but that all-important space is left, like a eye in a clam hurricane to give folk a toehold.

I’ll go further…the lost art of the gentleman-improviser who (quite ingeniously) has built up a vocabulary and grammar that is communicated with a raised eyebrow, a tugged earlobe and discreet sniff reigns supreme on this disc.

[no matter how damp the squelch, high the squeal and wide the holla]

Sho’ nuff these three bears clatter and hawk, whinge-moan and patter the skins in abstract patterns but for maybe 20 seconds an alien Link Wray riff starts up, soon to end up melted cheese over the fog of electronic huffing and rattlin’ chains.  So you see…it’s not all jerk chicken but some deep, deep rock-a-billy.

40 minutes of classical fuh and improv-noir.

P1080087

 

Ezio Piermattei – Tre Madri Ludopatiche (Discombobulate) C40 Cassette

Our friend Ezio Piermattei is fast-becoming the unapproachable tape-duke.  The solo-egg who can’t be beat!

This collection is a dizzying prospect – sonic vertigo – set in a concrete world.  Each whiff and klonk, tape-jaxx segment or secret field recording is patched together with a craftsman’s hand and a painter’s eye.  Secret worlds are unveiled as you peel back the onion skins: wooden skittles rocking woodenly, an Italian street scene or distant chimes sunk backwards into the mix.

Each moment becomes a theatre set for the ears with actors stepping onto an imposing stage; some armed with Dictaphone grot, others with cheap plastic toys.  As each actor overlaps (following dainty and discrete footprints carved into the parquet floor) their sound offering slips right to left, left to right, upstage and downstage.  This gentle movement launches Piermattei’s work into a category beyond mere collage and into the rarefied world of highfalutin sound-design.

Side one moves on a journey from ‘the street’ and all that entails across a highly polished desert into a foundry of Bakelite and Lucite.  Costume jewellery is dropped from various heights to create a dull pattering while Ezio gibbers on in his own ‘language of birds’.  Shade is provided in the form of more dark mumbles and the wrenching of a recalcitrant cork from an unyielding bottle.  One deft finger on the pitch wheel sends this off into outer space; my tiny brain wrinkling as if it’s pickled in ginger as I try and keep up with the pace.

Side two starts with a Babel of voices duet-ing with a practical Vespa and fondled gravel – the sound of young Bologna!

The leaps in fidelity keep a smile on my greasy chops – for one moment we’re wrapped in soft comforting Dicta-fuzz, then we’re scrubbed-up clean for a studio or computer-manipulated movement.   The changes in texture add a further dimension; like listening to the on-stage banter at a Fall gig, the truth lies somewhere between the plainly stated and deliberately provocative.

A brief kidney-flush of hiss and scrabble aside things are kept purposefully beautiful and wobbling: voice crackle in fake-stereo, tape jizz squirts it’s hot mayo, TV gossip chatters to no one except the caged songbirds.  Listen out at the 15 minute mark for a brace of sublime hamfist – the dry recording capturing not only perfect tape juggling koffs but that honest click of finger on button.

With the smallest of details and the most humble of approaches Exio PiXrmXxxei launches solo tape gonk into a new orbit.

Are you ready for your space walk captain?

 

Discombobulate

-ooOOoo-

 

leather duck, baklava bullet, wrecked snail: joe murray on tapes from tutore burlato

November 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Triple Heater – Aurochs (tape, Tutore Burlato, #15)

Tom White – Commemoratives (tape, Tutore Burlato, #14)

TR/ – Amici di Filippo (tape, Tutore Burlato, #13)

The Custodians – Moribund Mules and Musket Fire (tape, Tutore Burlato, #12)

Usurper with Alex Drool, Maya Dunietz, Eran Sachs and Ilan Volkov – untitled (tape, Tutore Burlato, #16)

tb15

Triple Heater – Aurochs

Not a three-o but a two-oh!  This new pairing from Tutore Burlato High Priest, Ezio Piermattei and the supple-limbed-totem-pole F Ampism flaps at the ears like a leather duck.

Students of the WTF scene can already imagine the smooth Tiki-delic jungle vibes and Red City grit yeah?  But what this charming tape does so well is place the scribble-scrabble gently in a perfumed mango’s peppery slickness.

So a bagpipe meshes seamlessly with egg-slicer, a warped tape workout wetly dribbles into a pink sponge.  Those robot-voice toys are underpinned with a twisted groaning and wrenched knot work.

Voices; children’s voices, male and female voices are a recurring warble that change the emotional resonance of every rattle and honk.  Each piece remains human as a result, the occasional frenetic crackle an umlaut or other such punctuation.  YEAH… I’m picking up a master’s hand in the edit suite ensuring each piece is a perfect mix of wet and dry, organic and man-made.

But it’s not all high-octane, fingers-on-triggers yucks.  These gents are not afraid to whip out a haunting beauty-jam.  ‘Telamoni Curiosi’ has a rich drawn-out slowness; the kind that floods through your body like hot opium immediately before you have an accident.  You’re powerless to stop the door crunch the finger, the heel slip on the banana peel but in that moment of submission you taste the bitter tang of true happiness.

The perfect music to accompany images of Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia dream.

tb14

Tom White – Commemoratives

As 2016 continues to be that damn Tom White’s year this cassette might just be the best one yet readers.

The nosey will know the drill already; a reel-to-reel tape recorder is used to manually manipulate a loop of innocent brown tape; possibly a few pedals get pressed.  Sounds easy enough, eh?

But on Commemoratives Tom’s gritty palms are transferring some kind of magnetic-manna to the slowly looping sound resulting in remarkable acrobatic leaps and whorls absolutely RIPPING out of the speakers like a sweet baklava bullet.

There’s a depth, a real colon-churning depth, to how these sounds roll bilious and tight.  And just when you’re feeling fit to burst a cow-bell ‘K-LUNG’ bouncing between the speakers rattles you back into the world of flat stomachs and healthy greens.

The excellent side-long ‘Evoke a Yes’ drives Alpine cattle from their lush pasture through granular hair-pin bends; a single brassy ‘donk’ becomes the repeated motif lurching drunkenly on the local firewater until a chrome trebuchet hurls great gassy grenades into the steaming tar pits . But at the same time I’m minded of an early tape music boffin, wrapped up in labcoat and thick Clark Kents, dancing to this in his cluttered broom cupboard.

Performance-wise there is nothing held back and at times I’m pretty sure a block of particularly hectic loopery has sent me back in time a couple of seconds… a couple of seconds… a…

A powerful and heady brew that even when it’s doing nothing in particular is re-calibrating your brain-pod with subtly shifting patterns – a sly parquet interlocking those lazy synapses.

tb13

TR/ – Amici di Filippo

A right beanfeast this one – comforting and creamy.

‘Sabato’ starts with thick slapback-echo riffles over electronic-sand, creating waves of

wuhhuhuhuuhu…

Pietro La Rocca’s lumpy canvas to paint up with Patrycja Stefaneck’s wonderful smeared voices.

Things progress at a wrecked snail’s pace: the canvas becomes laced ribbons of liquorice empowered with a mystic charge; the voice gobbles and mutters, wriggles and stutters slathered like golden butter.

Side two opens with something akin to a song but in this instance the campfire we are sitting around has been built of oleander creating choking, hallucinogenic fumes.  Urgently strummed guitars stretch their steel strings to the horizon, shimmering like a Fripp-mirage while gentle disembodied voices float overhead.

The closer, ‘Digitale Terrestre’ pulls all these elements together in a light sketch, an open doodle of huffing and mithering.  Innocent squeaks escape and fly between the massed mouth-chunter. This time it’s the guitar that floats overhead, darting in and out of the weft like a stickleback – silvery but sharp enough to draw blood.  These enhanced throat and lips have a Residents-style quality and I’m half expecting to launch into an Infant Tango before long.

You want some sweet to go with that gravy?  Look no further than duo TR/.

tb12

The Custodians – Moribund Mules and Musket Fire

Radio 4.

Radio-o-o fo-o-or.

R’aid-eeeeee-oh oh oh oh oh            fuh, fuh, fuh                          Or?

Forgive my brief extrapolation but these Custodians (just plain Custodians on this tape – not ‘of the Realm’ as on the previous outings I’ve heard) serve up a classy dish that breaks apart that British institution of cosy improv and spoken word like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, leaving 12 dense segments splayed and easily snackable.

Their M.O. involves occasional multi-tracked speaking parts weaving between Adam Bohman’s carefully curated sonic-detritus, Adrian Northover’s saxes and synth and Sue Lynch’s tenor sax and lyrical reeds.

It’s a truly wonderful listen; light, airy and unhurried.  You just can’t fake the love and respect in this playing.  It’s clearly defined yet ego-less, economical but happy to gild the occasional corner.

Each player, a standout in their own right, dons the collective cap with aplomb so shimmering brass sings and croons, often swooping in the wake of a wagtail’s gentle undulations.  The ‘objects’ (large glasses bowed and combs teeth pinged with a thumb for example) add just exactly the right level of clutter and stroking to keep things tasty.

The text pieces seem to follow Adam Bohman’s ‘instructional/institutional’ approach with medical terms dropping from three mouths like ripe plumbs.

It couldn’t be more English if it wore a bowler hat.

tb16

Usurper with Alex Drool, Maya Dunietz, Eran Sachs and Ilan Volkov – untitled

Here the brothers Duff & Robertson are joined by Tel Aviv’s finest for some surprisingly tender hap, grapple and schooshh.

I guess the temptation with such a big-band is go the full Ellington and honk it up outta each loud hole.  But on this occasion, and I’m not sure if it’s the brothers instructions or our host’s impeccable manners, these side-long pieces balloon like parachute silk and float with nowt but a gentle ripple.

Side one.  I’m getting a tingle in my loins that suggests method.  Old bronze coins dropped with arthritic fingers, cold marbles rolled across the wooden floor, straw flutes blown listlessly, burbling electric soup (sans batteries), rocking chairs rough squall, soft mouths chanting under flannel vests and knitting needles wrapped in sellotape tapped against the kitchen table.  These bare-bones are constantly reinvented and realigned.

I’m getting signals in my lugs that indicate structure.  A gentle moraine, its gritty interconnectedness based on Turkish carpet patterns.  Twelve hands reaching out and six brains sparking with damp electricity.   A bustling village of gossip coming to rest at the end of a particularly busy day.

The nervous rustle of bodies and fingers has an ingrained tension, of course, because (SPOILER ALERT) the moneyshot never arrives!  If you’re waiting to see who’s going to crack first and ‘blah’ out forget it Bub, this is one saucy tease yeah?

Side two is hardly any more physical but wears its influences proudly in a collective throat-jam.

Dry coughs and sighs and huffs are double-bubbled to form a bivalve experience: left and right unite in slurpy kisses on stubbly cheeks.  I picture our sacred six stretched out on roman loungers dripping sweet grape cheek-parps and wet gonzo hawks.  The odd spare hand languorously rattling a tin fig or ripping off an elastoplast completes a decadent sound-image.

I riff on the chorus of grunts.  I goof on the collective harmonic gasp. We follow the da-dada-dada-da-da conversation; until ‘uh uh errr…’ it descends into laugher as a Pangolin snuffles for truffles.

The real true joy yeah!

—ooOoo—

Tutore Burlato

fruit smoke: joe murray’s tutore burlato special: acrid lactations & jointhee, flocculi, final seed, dylan nyoukis, i placca

June 9, 2016 at 11:11 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Acrid Lactations & Jointhee – Chest (tape, Tutore Burlato, #10)

Flocculi – Gara delle facce (tape, Tutore Burlato, #09)

Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis – split (tape, Tutore Burlato, #08)

I PLACCA – la la vitea (tape, Tutore Burlato, #11)

acridj

O sweet Bologna! That most beautiful and learned of jewels; famous for world-renowned sauces and stunningly practical porticos.

But Bologna is swiftly becoming the epicentre of new movement, some audacious No Audience activity; a nerve centre of excellence named TUTORE BURLATO. And when this sticky spider’s web converges it does so onto a man.  A man strong of arm and handsome of chin.

His name?  Signore e signori… allow me to introduce Ezio Piermattei.

Ezio’s tape label has been documenting the N-AU as it stands and as it hopes to be.  Giving airtime to the old faithfuls and thrusting new gushers alike.  And this recent batch of tapes from BURLATO mixes the new and the old, the Anglo and the Italian, the after-dinner cigarillo and the hastily burned spice mix.

oOo

My old hands go snatch up the Acrid Lactations & Jointhee jams to play first.  Spying the body positive title, Chest, my mind spins back to their 2013 (?) release Toe where I honked on about: semi-improv, pre jazz hornings and Joincey dueting with coyotes.

And some of this would still float.  Yeah… it’s ‘song’ based for sure, but these three pulsating brains have stretched the idea of what a song can be and on Chest serve up unconscious narratives with brittle dream accompaniment.

Brittle?  Yeah… brittle is most definitely the word as there is a delicious fragility to these tunes; a fluttering of three tiny hearts in a cage of hollow bones.  They stand up (only just) on stick-thin Bambi legs, all a quiver and vulnerable.

But stand they shall, for there is some other force that holds this three-ness with powerful limb-locked poise.  Study the archaeo-acoustic cranks and they will tell you the ancients moved giant blocks with similar tones and chants.  The trick is (I propose) to melt the ego, to drain it out of your heel, and relent.

And because the general speed is set to stately (there’s not any of that ‘itch & scratch’ haste to the improvisations) Chest presents some red-hot moments:

  • Bubbling synth/keys, birdsong bubbles, mung-voice choirs and frankly horny Dictaphonics.
  • “How do you identify lazily?” The unknowable mumbles in a rare moment of call and response.  An underlying ur-tone of jaxx-babble frames the question.
  • Depeche Mode B-Side moogs paired with drunkenly whispered threats into a green parrot’s ear (or whatever it is parrots have)
  • Short mbira plunks as Jointhee sings like a cactus would – free of convention, pure with antiseptic pulp.
  • The Free Jazz is dealt like a wildcard, at the optimum moment of strategic value.  And these chops are paper-cut sharp and drone precise.
  • Crossed frequencies on radio-weird.  Damp-eyed with pride, accented words and phrases patter like fresh baby feet.

It’s so precious I’m holding my breath as I listen – a glorious submission – I tap out.

oOo

floc

It’s the next day.  I’m up early, guiltily hungover while the house still sleeps.  I slap on Flocculi’s Gara Delle Facce to help re-build my soul.

Like a broth strong with lentils and kale this kind of junk really nourishes me good.

Another trio: Devid Ciamplini, David Lucchesi and Ezio Piermattei take a bunch of ‘objects’, vocoder, percussive fixings and rattle on like those old guys swigging their tiny coffees.

It’s all about the gesture and aplomb.  Rustles and dry clicks snap me back into last night’s tamed debauchery.

A stone floor is brushed with a stiff brush, copper bowls are wiped out with a sponge.  Once tight strings are slackened till they flap like a clown’s waistband. Sloppy electronics hum and splutter over graven images.  The pace is the busy, busy, busy of a market stall; conversations are started with a warm meatiness and broken off in chaotic order.  Is that a fumble for loose change or a heavy finger on the scales?  A half-dozen blood oranges get popped in a paper bag, the ends twisted with a practiced flourish.

Then a creaking of door-hinges bookends Ezio’s patented pigeon impression and punctuates the rubbery throbbing.  A glassy glissandi on prepared guitar shimmers like the ice in my Campari.  My only critique would be these jams are too damn short!

oOo

fsdyl

On a bit of a roll I un-wrap the Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis tape; a shy, blushing pink it brightens my wobbly mood further.

First some biog-jizz.  Final Seed is the very Jameson Sweiger from mysterious US-based folk Maths Balance Volumes.  I talk like I know all this shit but, truth to tell, this is all new information for me that I just Googled [Editor’s note: good man, exactly the kind of journalistic thoroughness our readers have come to expect].  But boy… have I been napping!  Investigations reveal some sweet-weird going on in Minnesota.

Seed’s untitled side is a match-head; bulbous and explosive with all that energy fizzing and bright phosphorus boiling from the very first strike.

Ukulele plucks/strums and reconstructed vocal-hawks & blither (aka cunk-singing!) are layered like thick acoustic plasters creating a Rauschenberg sound-collage.  And for a while it veers between this flexible ‘boing’ and gristly rattle.

But it’s the long drawn-out synth coda that’s the soothing balm my aching neck craves.  A two note ‘ooohh…ahhhh’ tolling like soft bells.  A gentle relentlessness, a rolling muscle stretch that slides easily over damaged cartilage.   I can.  I can feel.  I can feel myself slipping under…

*GASP* <EYES BLINK OPEN WIDE, DROOL WIPED ON BACK OF HAND> *GASP*

Achem!  Dylan Nyoukis has kindly recycled elements of his hen’s-teeth Encephalon Cracks series to create a mega-mix for retirement homes.

Surprisingly electronic

one of the kids mutters as they roll out of bed and cram with cereal.  Of course the innocence of youth belies cosmic wisdom.  There really is an electric-tang to this side.  I imagine the guts of an old casio-tronic are ripped out and refilled with warm candy.  So, pressing the keys now releases rainbow-scented blurs and fruit smoke.

Voices and domestic tape interjections keep things frisky but about halfway through this piece a seam of organ meditations begins to glitter distantly like coal dust.  It has a melancholic non-congruent shine, like a shrugged shoulder coupled with eye-contact held for a fraction too long; never less than lovely, deeper than delightful.

But oldey-timey listeners need not fear!  The Nyoukis jaxx-vocals still warp and stutter, freeing strict-language from its unnecessary shackles.

In short… it’s a trip and your ticket is well and truly clipped pal!

oOo

Placca

It’s much later now.  The sun has done its work and snuck back leaving all surfaces pleasantly warm.  I type into the fading light as I PLACCA’s offering, the mysterious la la vitea plays massaging my tired old brain.

A classic tape collage work, this beast moves from knockabout to spooky in super-quick time.  There is a wonderful joy at play here.  The sounds/recordings/interventions are really allowed to breathe, to grow and sprout wings.

Side one starts with leaky plumbing and ends in a JUNK MASS with golden voices going all ‘halleluiah’ while mountain goats bleat.  It’s a tingler for sure!  On the way though this knotty terrain we’re served up buzzing flies like some eccentric lord in a sauce of wobbling naughtiness.  The double-loop reverb of a strain-station [Editor’s note: I think ‘strain-station’ may be a typo but it is too glorious to correct] Tannoy goes all tape-ga-ga across a Stooges-esque riff.  Result?  It’s like being stuck on fast forward for a year and a day.

Side two guffs the voice track with a mouthful of slow pebbles – it’s a Babel tower baby with ramps for Davros.  Soon a static blanket is draped over a clarinet and guitar in a cheeky seaside manner; a nudge and a wink if you will.  But the movement is forward, ever forward… plastic buttons may get pressed and un-pressed but it’s the lusty crying that keeps me riveted to the spot.

More wonderful wet-coffs for the Dental Tourist; a gem of a sensible tape resourcing!

—ooOoo—

Tutore Burlato

black raindrop collage: joe murray on eugenio sanna, lovely honkey, dan melchior, sindre bjerga

November 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Eugenio Sanna – La porta stretta (tape, Tutore Burlato, #04)

Lovely Honkey – Sharp Intake of Breadth (tape, Tutore Burlato, #07)

Dan Melchior – Human of Stow (tape, Tutore Burlato, #05)

Sindre Bjerga – Attractive Amplification (tape, Tutore Burlato, #06)

eugsito

When Alexander Graham Bell released The Noble Four, his treatise on early electronic sounds, he could not have imagined how electricity and sound would become ubiquitously meshed to a point where one is almost unimaginable without the other.

How he’d pinkly-blush at Luke Poot’s menacing audience participation and twirl his beard to Sindre Bjerga’s Technicolor throat spasms.  I can picture a neatly-booted foot tapping to Eugenio Sanna’s trustworthy improvisations and the watercolours cracked out to better capture Dan Melchior’s solo rumblings.

In the spirit of electronic experimentations Ezio Piermattei has released his own Noble Four on the charming Tutore Burlato tape label straight-outta-Bologna.  Packaged in smart plastic cases with intelligent and sensitive artwork the dreich professor could easily slip all four into his waistcoat without bothering his pocket watch.

For you, my dearest of all known and possible readers, you get a head full of gonzo-text and a couple of blue links to send you on your voyage of discovery.   God speed gentle ones!

Eugenio Sanna – La Porta Stretta

Konked-out solo-guitar rottings from Italy.

Side One presents a suite of tight head-stock ‘pings’ aping the sarcastic hizz of cold milk dripped on glowing barbeque coals.  These metallic pickles (reassuringly sour) rattle my pegs real good especially when the few good moo-cow moans let loose.  It’s a sparse affair but full of Charles Atlas’ DYNAMIC TENSION therefore giving me and the whole family assembled space to throw in a stray cough.

When things get a bit more hectic in ‘Agosto in campagna (parte prima)’ Eugenio’s 5 supple fingers ripple unconsciously over 6 strings and a fine distortive mist descends reminding my old brain of mice pattering quickly across amplified tinfoil.  You dig?  A zinc rustling that’s both pacey and pink-footed.

I’m sucking on some Kendal Mint Cake when Side Two slots into place and the thin metallic scratching merges perfectly with my mouthful of sharp menthol.  My nose-hairs stand to attention as similarly stiff strings are plucked with a leathery thumb. It’s simply beautiful.

Then all at once the improvisation feels less improvised and more like a slowly revealing pattern I was just too dull to recognise.  If you could complete a crossword with simple silvery tones it might, after forty minutes or so of head-scratching, lock into this bedazzled lotus flower.

The final short track ‘Agosto in campagna (parte seconda)’ leaves us in no doubt of Eugenio’s experience and skill – he’s been playing improvised stuff since the 70’s  with beards as grey as Phil Minton, Eddie Prevost, Derek Bailey and Roger Turner – by making his guitar sound exactly like clam shells rustling in a salt-encrusted keep net.

lovelysito2

Lovely Honkey – Sharp Intake of Breadth

For such an active collaborator and vital live jaxxon them Lovely Honkey solo tapes are thin on the ground, eh?  But Huzzah!  Ezio Piermattei’s clear eye spotted Luke Poot’s theatre-whoop all the way from Bologna to let us in on this felt-tipped ritual.

Sound-wize the fidelity is fairly non-existent making this feel like you’ve carefully inserted a hosepipe into Poot’s ear and you can hear the festival of whirs and clunks direct from the old-grey-thistle.

Squeaky toys, rubber dogs, old tape glutch and office stationery get used to whip up a gentle Intonarumori.  In fact you could bring a smarty-pants Futurist round for tea, jab this tape on and they could check off the officially required…

  • Roars, Thunderings, Explosions, Bangs and Booms
  • Whistling, Hissing, Farting, Puffing
  • Whispers, Murmurs, Mumbling, Muttered Hip-Hop Oaths, Gurgling
  • Screeching, Skanking, Creaking, Rustling, Humming, Crackling
  • Noises obtained by beating on metals, woods, skins, stones, pottery and half-melted Sindy Dolls etc.
  • Voices of animals and people, Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails, Hoots, Howls, Death rattles, Sobs. Oh yes, especially the sobs.

That is of course until it all degenerates into Superman (and I don’t mean the Laurie Anderson version) which I don’t think no Russolo would ever, ever approve of.  Sweet.

Poot’s Circus of Shame rolls lustily into side two in a sad convoy, wheels dropping off the primary coloured cart.  We bear witness to a hidden ritual.  A music box plays, a small appreciative crowd moan like ghosts and Poot’s seemingly loose hand on the helm belies the firm fingertip control.  He’s got us trussed up and basted in hot butter, baby.

As the ritual continues he huffs up: tape grot, Stereophonics, (more) dog toys and frenzied choking.  All component parts slide together like currents meeting round a sooty headland.  Sure they gash and churn but the fluid mechanics could be scribbled on a blackboard and studied by grey beards and goofs all night.  He’s got the math right you dig?

So don’t listen to the chaos, listen to the patterns beyond the chaos.  Leave your expectations at home and tune in deeply and surrender.  Wake the town and tell the people…there’s an inventiveness and joyful release shattering that snotty ego on this tape; a freedom that few ‘plinkerty-plonk’ merchants dare to reveal.

dansitobuono

Dan Melchior – Human of Stow

The bottom-dwelling mud flapper attaches itself to my face and starts to pump creamy fluid into eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  I’m surprised I’m not choking as pints of liquid fill up my head-holes but I’m too distracted by the fanciful visuals and audio-hallucinations.

Soft boulders shuffle slowly across a ploughed field leaving zen-streaks in their wake.  The Town Mayor proclaims the moral victory in an Obese Antiques Roadshow.  I blow the dust from a pair of old sneakers and hop backwards at the sight of an HO-scale field hospital nestled inside.  The plane I’m on descends, descends, descends but the ground fails to appear.  Super-lamb-banana melts into a shallow yellow lake – the La’s lick it into the shape of Chad. 

Loaves of bread are kept in gilded cages.  My once beautiful nails are chipped and grimy.  Elastic muscles snap back into place more slowly now.  I wake up suddenly remembering why the magic markers were left in the outhouse.  A slow frog begins his chorus.

All these thoughts and more float across my soft-human-cinema as Dan’s new tape wriggles out of the stereo.  The working method is important.  Dan randomly fills a tape full of these evocative sounds which, in fairness, are probably sourced from field recordings, accidental damage, damp organ and domestic tape huss.  They are layered and woven together without no mastering hand making it clear “that the whole idea of form is pretty elastic.”

Hey…that’s in direct contrast to the Honkey tape above.  Don’t we just cover the whole field of dreams readers?

To my tin-ears this all sounds pretty dandy as drones start up then stop suddenly, dismal beats lose the will to live and conversations become one-eared affairs.  It’s well documented that our brains love order and strive to overlay a regular grid on anything haphazard or irregular.  The connections on Human of Stow are no-less random than a fat, black raindrop collage on a dry pavement but seem ordered like the suits in a pack of cards.  The bully-boy clubs versus bleeding hearts, the razor sharp diamonds outfoxing the slow spades.  And like cards this tape gives me side-eyes, never quite letting me relax.

After a flutter of sonic dry heaves things unsettle further like an early Fucking Amateurs CD-r where it’s unclear what is performance, what it added random mayhem (or in-joke) and if that regular ‘whomp’ is the sound of the broken recording equipment?

The folk next door, possibly alerted by my frantic ‘clickerty-clack’ typing, have just put their bin out and I’m convinced this is Dan’s master-stoke.  Unconscious collaboration hits our collective driveway… Melchior versus Newcastle City Council!

sindresito2

Sindre Bjerga – Attractive Amplification

Regular readers know Sindre Bjerga’s modus operandi by now; ‘prolific-as-fuck’ yeah?  And this wonderful release delivers superbly on his other well-known calling card: super-dense tape work.

Structurally we’ve got two live performances from both of the Dams – Amster and Rotter, recorded in 2015 and preserved in fine rubbery clarity.

Things start with ‘Flicker and Burst’ and it fairly slaps me across the noggin quick sharp.  Jeezus…this is very, very heavy tape manipulation that thumbs a lift from Henri Chopin playing Henry Rollins.

The splutters are thick with phlegm; glottis-deep and curdled.  After a time of fairly violent honks a deep perfumed-drone sets up while Sindre clatters shit-smeared chicken cages with a naked foot.  You can relax into grey calm for a moment or two but don’t get too comfy because that distinctive condenser-mic jaxx starts to build and build into a full-spittin’ and bitin’ tantrum.  Oof!

After a little lie down I gingerly press play on ‘Reverse Energy’.  Where Sindre went wet and wild on side one this is dry, measured and sparse.  In places I’m picturing the maudlin decay of Gilbert & George’s Dusty Corners, all abandoned hope and unfinished business.  Sure, the tapes get mangled and strangled with that erotic ‘whurrr’ but it’s more of an internal sound, like the last sickly pulse of a tension headache.

When the volume and complexity is pitched down (a symptom of the reverse energy perhaps) it encourages a welcome introversion.  The super-sad ending (some 70’s AM classic sung in pure innocent sunlight) rattles among the hiss-canyon like a lost Lambkin jam.  Amber-glass perfection.

—ooOoo—

Tutore Burlato

the act of lift, drop, secure: joe murray on ezio piermattei, grip casino, va aa lr

July 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita (tape, Tutore Burlato, #02, edition of 50)

 VA AA LR – Polis (CD, Intonema, int014, edition of 200)

piermattei grip casino

Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita

Lighter than air music-collage/focus-group jam from residents of those fine city jewels Bologna and Rome!

Tweaked to the pitch of a moth’s wing, this is a delightfully delicate murmur.  The equipment list, as ever, gives us a clue.  I’ve grouped the guff-orchestra for ease:

  • mouth-puff – ocarina, saxophone, flute, voice, trumpet and harmonica
  • wrist-twist – viola, Dictaphone, xylophone, guitar, accordion, percussions, piano and viola
  • brain-crinkle – electronics, editing, tapes, turntable and field recordings

There’s a whole bunch more channels opened but I’m sticking to this deft weaving of mouth/wrist/brain responsible for the guttering flicker of sounds, neatly folding along worn logic-lines like a large map of Easter Island.

But what does it sound like?  Looking closely you can see the micro-view through your gimlet eyes:

Dusty reeds draw gritty smog across their hungry mouth parts, ducks smacking bills excitedly, frenzied sucking, distant fireworks/fluff removed from cardigan (amplified), goats doing goaty business, UFO take off, ubiquitous birds, hissing of door-frames.

Chinese electronics/traffic in Bologna cut-up via Dictaphone, bamboo pipe ritual induce Gnostic trance (but aping them ducks!).

Exorcist out-take on thin copper wire and congealed music box.  A Joycean setting: the Dublin pub, the craic gets out of hand when the old boys drag out a modular synth and castrated violin.  Old songs are sung, the seals join in on radio interference and novelty glass bells.

Dented gong attacks dolphin, its CIA brain implant tuning into world radio.  The undersea kingdom kinks under great pressure and the steel domes buckle with a deafening ‘ping’.  As bubbles rush upwards mermen struggle in the fizzing maelstrom.

Ruler p-w-o-n-g.  A Boards of Canada-style rusty  ident.

Standing back, up a ladder, it all falls into a wonderful pattern.  The monkey with a spiral tail!

va aa lr polis

 VA AA LR – Polis

Super-classy trio of movements designed for nervous boy racers with those massive sub-woofer systems in their peach fiestas (probably)*

I’ve always had a soft spot for VA AA LR.  Some of it must be their sound palette.  Like Martin Klapper or Voice Crack they are taking non-musical objects and breathing sweet sound into them.  Where VA AA LR differ is with the range of non-musical instruments used. Some of this is well documented (the flares of Newhaven for example) but here we have a mystery set of oddments from the past, present and future: aerosols, scaffolding, de-tuned wood and things unknown and unknowable.  Add to this the occasional voice and this warms up the effect like bubbling soda – less cold machine slick and more pink, rosy glow.

In movement one gritty loops of escaping gas click into place neatly with an ice-cube crackle and a louche, off-hand bass tone.  It’s like sonic lego; small units that are cute enough on their own but transformed when snapped tightly together to create a blocky Taj Mahal.  What could be terribly austere becomes playful as field recordings of voices, seagulls and windows rattling add an emotional heft to the crackle and pop of this strictly downtown funk.  Yeah…watch out Ronson!

Movement two continues with the bass science as a 2 x 4 plank is twanged all flubbery.  The builders are in next door banging away on pig iron with meaty pork mallets.  The nail-bar whirr of micro-dryers pepper the proceedings like correct grammar, making perfect sense but unseen (or heard) until you tune in.  The voices, this time a trifle menacing, are sometimes front and centre in the mix but occasionally sneak left and right with crude Portuguese curses.

Movement three is like a man or woman patiently undertaking a tough physical job, fence-posting for instance.  The rhythm of the task gets into your bones; you become the act of lift, drop, secure.  Ropes are bound tightly round this track adding a nylon bounce above the fly-tippers percussion and dry Perspex rattle.

Strangely enough the overall effect of listening to Polis is that I feel a little smarter than I did 33 minutes ago.  Like when anxious parents play baby Mozart to pump up their grey matter.  VA AA LR are the official brain gym for the mid-life dropout.

—ooOoo—

*if you are a details freak you can read about the real genesis of Polis here.  Until then… you can imagine what you want!

—ooOoo—

Tutore Burlato

Intonema

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?

—ooOoo—

the 2014 zellaby awards

January 4, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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zellaby award envelope

The deliberations are over, the ballots are burning.  White smoke billows from the chimney here at Midwich Mansions.  Ignore the salty wave of ‘best of 2014’ lists you saw prematurely ejaculated over an appalled December – here is the real thing. ‘Never finalised prior to January 1st’ – that’s the Zellaby pledge.

And what a conclave it has been!  Scott turned up early and presented his nominations as a hyperlinked series of Discogs listings – he spoke using a vocoder throughout and would only answer our questions if we assigned them catalogue numbers.  Joe’s effervescent enthusiasm remained undimmed despite a trip to Accident and Emergency following a foolhardy attempt to gargle Christmas tree baubles.  New kid Luke seemed happy to fetch and carry despite our hazing pranks – oh, how we laughed sending him to Wilko’s for a tub of left handed CD-rs!  All I had to do was sit in my wing-backed leather chair, fingers steepled, and pass Solomon-style judgement.  My beautiful Turkish manservant took copious notes during procedures, of course, and whilst those are being transcribed I’m afraid I must begin with some sombre news: the underground is dead.

An article making this claim by David Keenan was published in the December issue of The Wire magazine and caused adverse weather in the crockery.  Having finally read it I can confirm that it is, by and large, laughable.  The friend who sent me a copy included this note:

Here it is.  I will look forward to reading your response as it would be great to see his flimsy, self-obsessed nonsense getting torn apart.

Hmm, yeah, tempting as it is to to embark on a comprehensive rebuttal what does it really matter?  I hate to disappoint but engaging with the wilful fucknuttery to be found in publications like The Wire is like arguing about the properties of phlogiston – it might be of vague historical or semantic interest to those with too much time on their hands but is ultimately pointless.  My favourite response has been Tom Bench‘s (@TJDizzle) satirical summary of Keenan’s disdain, tweeted in reply to some genuine outrage from Duncan Harrison (@Young_Arms):

yr not tru underground because u have friends and sometimes talk to them about music

Lolz.

Some of the fallout has been quite interesting though.  Just before Christmas, RFM started getting hits from an Italian language music site that was, on investigation, carrying an interview with Keenan in which he is asked specifically about the idea of the ‘no-audience underground’ as popularised by this blog.  In his short response he manages to invent a barely recognizable straw man version of the notion, take a swing at it, miss, then step back as if he’d actually landed a punch.  Admittedly, Google Translate may have knocked some nuance out of his answer but, as I was able to read it, it was good for a hearty chuckle and fuck all else.

Phil Smith, currently researching the history of Termite Club for a book chapter, wrote a thoughtful piece largely agreeing with Keenan that contained the following tragicomic scene:

One of the saddest moments of the year for me (on a lovely day) was Neil Campbell & John Tree talking about whether there was ever in our lifetime likely to be a music revolution like (say) punk again (one which Keenan seems to want), & shaking their heads in total ‘of course not’ resignation, the required kidz soaked in computer games & all manner of other entertainment drips & (I suppose) music, whatever it signifies to people, only ever welling up in such a way as part of a business move anyway.

I laughed out loud reading this.  Not only have these rueful old geezers forgotten at least one revolution we’ve already had since punk (rave culture – musically game changing, actual laws passed to disrupt it) but the internet enabled golden age is orders of magnitude more significant than punk.  Here’s a piece from yonks ago which begins to explain why and, for good measure, here’s another from double-yonks ago about why The Wire is hopeless too.

Neil Campbell, emboldened by Keenan’s piece and nostalgic memories of poorly received gigs unearthed in response to Phil’s Termite research, ramped up his usual silliness.  On Twitter he lamented the lack of confrontation nowadays and took the piss with his #realnoaudienceunderground hashtag.  I was interested to find out if there was any substance behind his bravado so devised an experiment.  After waiting for Twitter to move on, I called Neil out on some random nonsense in a deliberately antagonistic manner.  As expected, fight came there none.  Indeed, after explaining what I was up to both publicly and via direct message (the latter, I admit, did contain the phrases ‘full of shit’ and ‘you ol’ fraud!’) I found myself unfollowed.  Ah well, so much for confrontation.

(Aside: Neil has form for practice/preach discrepancy.  After hearing him proclaim several times that he’d rather read a bad review than a good one I took him at his word and minced three Astral Social Club releases including the album Electric Yep.  I did this with heavy heart and even ran it past Neil before posting.  He replied with a jaunty ‘hey you know me, go ahead’ but after I did he deleted the RFM link from the list of friends on his Astral Social Club blog and has not submitted anything at all since.  I was amused to find myself excommunicated for heresy.  Ah well, so much for bad reviews.)

I get the impression that Neil might be a bit uneasy with his current status as universally loved sacred cow.  Or maybe he digs it and is frustrated not to be a Wire mag cover star?  Who knows?  I love the guy, have done for about fifteen years, and hate to jeopardise a friendship with a shameless ad hominem attack over something so inconsequential but… dude has clearly forgotten how to take a kick to the udders.

So, in summary: those that say they want confrontation don’t, or rather only want it on their own terms or at a safe distance, those that lament the lack of revolution need only to open their eyes to what is happening around them and those that proclaim the underground dead are talking pish.

Before moving on a word about terms of engagement.  Whilst I’ve enjoyed a few physical fights in the past (yeah, I may be short and out of shape but I’m fucking mental), I find this kind of swaggering jaw-jaw to be boring, childish and unproductive.  Comment if you like but unless what is posted is novel, substantial and engaging I am unlikely to respond.  I won’t be tweeting about it under any circumstances.  I have washed my hands and will need an irresistible reason to get ’em dirty again.

—ooOoo—

BOY!  WHERE ARE THOSE NOTES?  Oh, thank you.  Have a shortbread biscuit.  Right then, shall we crack on with the fun bit?

—ooOoo—

Radio Free Midwich presents The Zellaby Awards 2014

Thank you for bearing with us.  Firstly, an apology: due to, y’know, austerity n’ that, this year’s ceremony will be taking place on the swings in the playground at the muddy end of the estate.  Nominations will be scratched into the paint of the railings and refreshments will be whatever cider Luke can prise from the grip of local vagrants.

Secondly, the rules: to be eligible in one of the following five categories this music needs to have been heard by one of us for the first time in 2014.  It does not need to have been released in 2014.  As the purpose of these awards is to spread the good news about as many quality releases as possible, should an artist win in one category they will not be placed in any of the others.  I do not vote for any of my own releases, nor any releases that I had a hand in, er…, releasing (with one notable exception this year).  My three comrades are free to ignore these rules and write about what they like.  The price paid for this freedom is that I, as editor, have final say.  Thus the awards are the product of the idiosyncratic taste of yours truly with input from my co-writers along the way.

A couple of omissions explained.  Long term readers may be shocked to find no mention of previous winners Ashtray Navigations or the piss superstition.  Phil and Mel have been preoccupied this year with moving house, full time unenjoyment and various celebrations of the AshNav 20th anniversary and have not been as prolific as nutcase fans such as myself would like.  There has been one cassette of new material, Aero Infinite, which, to my shame, I only became aware of recently and do not yet own.  Believe me, the pain is fierce.  Bookies have already stopped taking bets on their planned four-disc retrospective winning everything next time out.

Julian and Paul have shared a split live tape with Broken Arm and had a CD-r, The Dialled Number, The Bone-Breaker, The Heavenly Sword, out on Sheepscar Light Industrial but, in my humble opinion, their defining release of 2014 was getting nothing to appear on the developed film, a mighty album which is sadly ineligible for this year’s awards because it was released by me on fencing flatworm recordings as their ‘prize’ for winning album of the year last time.  See, complicated isn’t it?

There are also many releases on the guilt-inducing review pile that I suspect could have been contenders had I found time to digest them properly: apologies to Ian Watson, Prolonged Version, Troy Schafer, Seth Cooke etc. and thanks for your continued patience.  For the first time, two entries in this year’s poptastic final chart are previously unreviewed on RFM.  Mysterious, eh?

OK, enuff with the preamble.  The first category is…

5. The “I’d never heard of you 10 minutes ago but now desperately need your whole back catalogue” New-to-RFM Award

Joe votes for Yoni Silver:

I heard Yoni Silver play a solo bass clarinet set on November 1st this year. Over the course of 20 minutes I blinked repeatedly and snapped my fingers; my mouth hung open like a codfish and eventually my eyes filled with hot tears. I’d emerged from a jazz-hole that ranged from barely-there, reductionist ‘hummmm’, to wet-chop dribble/spittle outta the brassy pipes, to full-bore Ayler-esque gospel skronk. It was so good I didn’t just clap and holla…I vowed to start a record label to immediately box this shit up. Yoni’s discs are thin on the ground but live shows with proper jazz cats and beards like PWHMOBS are gathering pace. Watch out!

Luke goes for Botanist:

Ever fantasized about a forest dwelling black metal troll singing songs about plant life on drums and hammered dulcimer only?  Me too.  Well, fantasize no longer: he exists. Just when your jaded ears smugly tell you they’ve heard it all along comes the Botanist.

taming power - twenty-one pieces - cover

…but anyone paying attention will have already guessed that the winner this year is Taming Power.

I might have indulged in some ill advised Campbell-baiting above but I am profoundly grateful to Neil for taking the time to introduce me to the world of Askild Haugland.  This quiet Norwegian has amassed a sizeable back catalogue of tape and vinyl releases on his own Early Morning Records, most of which were recorded, edited and annotated around the turn of the century and have remained largely unheralded since.  His work – created using tape recorders, cassette players, shortwave radios, electric guitars and the like – is perfection viewed from shifting angles, filtered through prisms.  His patience and dedication to uncovering every nuance of his processes are truly inspiring.  It has been an enormous pleasure to promote his music to a (slightly) wider audience – exactly what this blog is all about.  The chap himself seems lovely too.  Read more: Neil’s accidental guest post, reviews, more reviews, Early Morning Records catalogue.

…and when you return we can move on to…

4. The “Stokoe Cup”, given for maintaining quality control over a huge body of work making it impossible to pick individual releases in an end of year round up

Joe makes a compelling case for the Peak Signal 2 Noise broadcasts:

If Cathy Soreny and her Sheffield-based gladiators had released ten 25 minute compilation tapes in a year featuring the creamy froth of the N-AU we’d stand to attention and sing a rousing song. To create ‘visual cassettes’ for your telly and computer screen and navigate the machinations of the community TV industry and come up with such a thoroughly curated, imaginatively shot and god-damn funny series is just the bee’s knees. PS2N has opened another glossy window into the N-AU.

Luke keeps it pithy:

The Stokoe Cup should clearly go to Lee Stokoe.  ‘The underground is dead ‘ announces David Keenan in The Wire this month ‘shut up you prat’ is the reply from Radio Free Midwich.

Scott agrees:

Predictable enough, I HAVE to say Lee Stokoe. Browsing my discogs list for 2014 acquisitions it’s virtually all Matching Head tapes – either the new ones or tapes from the 90s that I didn’t already have. Its consistent to the point of sheer ridiculousness.

daniel thomas - that which

However, the editor has other ideas.  This year’s winner is Daniel Thomas.

Dan’s output in 2014 has been prodigious.  He even wins in two categories that don’t exist: ‘1016’ the opener on Enemy Territory is my track of the year (go on, play it whilst reading the rest of this article) and the ‘flower press’ edition of That Which Sometimes Falls Between Us / As Light Fades put together by Dave Thomas (no relation) for its release on Kirkstall Dark Matter wins packaging of the year too.  The latter album is perhaps the definitive expression of ‘extraction music‘ – the sub-genre I defined as a way of herding the work of Dan, Dave, Kev Sanders and other fellow travellers into a manageable fold of headspace – and one of at least three projects involving Dan that could have been album of the year.  For the record, the other two are Hagman’s Number Mask on LF Records and the remarkable Dub Variations by The Thomas Family in another beautiful package hand crafted by Crow Versus Crow:

It is the bead of sweat on the brow of the tightrope walker. It is a time-lapse film of dew condensing onto a cobweb.

Dan shows no signs of slowing, nor of relinquishing his choke-tight quality control.  I cannot wait to hear what he has for us in 2015.

…and now a favourite moment for the editor:

3. The Special Contribution to Radio Free Midwich Award

Scott goes for a far-flung ambassador:

It has to be Miguel Pérez.  For making RFM a global concern, and being full of passion, he’s the man.

Joe, as ever, finds this a tough one to pin down.  He suggests…

…we should say a thank you to all the readers and contributors … to everyone who has waited patiently for a review/carried on reading without sending us hate mail…

…which is a sentiment I share, of course, but this year I think one particular set of contributors has to be recognized in this category.  God knows how 27 different acts are going to share the gong though because the winners are…

Michael Clough - eye for detail cover

The artists who submitted tracks to eye for detail – the midwich remixes album:

Andy Jarvis (Vile Plumage, NIHL), ap martlet, Aqua Dentata, Breather, Brian Lavelle, Chrissie Caulfield (of RFM faves Helicopter Quartet), Clive Henry, Dale Cornish, Daniel Thomas, devotionalhallucinatic, DR:WR (Karl of The Zero Map), dsic, foldhead (Paul Walsh – who accidentally started it all), Hardworking Families (Tom Bench), In Fog (Scott McKeating of this parish), John Tuffen (of Orlando Ferguson), Michael Clough (who also provided cover art), Michael Gillham, Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club), Panelak, Paul Watson (BBBlood), posset (Joe Murray also of RFM), Simon Aulman (pyongyang plastics), the piss superstition, Van Appears, Yol, and ZN.

This year I finally joined Twitter which, as a wise-cracking, smart-arse, mentally unstable narcissist with self-esteem issues, turned out to be a perfect platform for me (though for those exact same reasons I think I’ll have to exercise a bit more caution with it in future).  One of the first things that happened was a throwaway comment about a midwich remix project ballooning into an actual album that had to be retroactively called into existence.  The final release six weeks later contained 27 re-workings of tracks from my back catalogue and lasted a total of 3 hours 40 minutes.  The process was humbling, exhilarating, joyful and unprecedented in my personal experience.

The album remains available here (along with more detail as to its construction).  If you don’t already have it, I recommend you treat yourself with that Christmas money from Gran.  I’m charging a fiver for the download and all dough raised is being given to The Red Cross.  The total donated so far, after PayPal and Bandcamp fees, is something like £180.  When I reached a ton I had a giant-cheque-handing-over-ceremony, again following whims blurted out on Twitter.

Many, many thanks to all involved – you are elite members of the pantheon of the righteous.

—ooOoo—

BOY!!  DIM THE LIGHTS.  What?  Oh yes, we’re outside aren’t we.  Fetch me a shortbread biscuit then.  What do you mean there are none left?  Well, just give me the one you are holding.  Gah!  The impertinence!  Anyway, finally we come to the two main categories…

—ooOoo—

2. The Label of the Year Award

Joe goes for No Basement is Deep Enough:

You could easily mistake No Basement is Deep Enough’s tape goof for a zany Zappa-esque prank. But peel away the layers; brush the fringe to one side, open that single plush tit and you are rewarded with some amazing music. Almost like a wonky Finders Keepers NBIDE have unveiled some new ghouls and re-released some remarkable old gizzards (Alvaro – The Chilean with the Singing Nose, Ludo Mich and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson) in frankly outrageous packaging. Old or new, experimental classicists or gutter-dwelling hobo these gonks are pure trippin’ for ears.

Yeah, I’ve been involved as a one of these gonks this year but I think that means I can give you an extra bit of insight into how curator Ignace De Bruyn and designer Milja Radovanović are such wonderful human beings. I told them about getting some mentions in The Wire (Ed – you’ll love this) and they didn’t give a shit. “Ha, we always get mentioned in The Wire without any clue how, what, where, when” said Ignace, “and let’s keep it like that” he chortled into his waffle.

Luke narrows it down to two:

Beartown Records.  A consistent champion of no audience sounds and nice and cheap, they sent me a parcel addressed to Luke ‘ the sick’ Vollar which contained a postcard with ‘sorry just sorry’ written on it.  For this reason they are my label of the year.

Also a mention for Altar of Waste.  I find it comforting to know that somewhere in North America there is a guy called Cory Strand transforming his favourite films / TV programmes / music into insanely limited and lovingly presented sets. Twenty disc drone interpretation of Harry Potter limited to five copies!? He also releases loads of drone/HNW discs that are lovely items to look at and listen to including my album of the year [SPOILER REMOVED – Ed]

Scott apologises:

Sorry, Matching Head again.

Luminous worthies, for sure, but I reckon my choice has been phosphorescent:

kevin sanders - ascension through apathy

The winner is hairdryer excommunication.

The solo venture of Kevin Sanders has released, I believe, 26 items in the calendar year 2014.  Unbelievably, during the same time, he has also had his creations released by other labels, has played live, has moved house and job along a lengthy diagonal line from North to South and has let fly with a gazillion opaque tweets.  This guy’s heart must beat like a fucking sparrow’s.

But never mind the girth, feel the quality.  Kev’s hairdryer excommunication sits alongside Lee Stokoe’s Matching Head as an absolute exemplar of the no-audience underground micro-label as expression of personal vision.  Each release is a new page in the atlas mapping the world he is presenting to us; each trembling drone, each nihilistic/ecstatic scything fuzz is a contour line.  Like all great labels, hXe is greater than the sum of its parts and only gets more compelling as those parts collect and combine.  I appreciate that this might appear daunting for the newbie so here’s five to be starting with – you’ll thank me for it.

Now you see why I have to strictly enforce my ‘win allowable in only one category’ rule.  I could have created a top 40 (!) that just contained releases by, or involving, Askild, Dan and Kev.  Astonishing.  So, leaving those guys sat chatting under the climbing frame, we finally come to the blue riband, best in show, gold medal event:

1. The Album of the Year Award

Woo!  Lists!  Click on the album title and you will be taken to the original RFM review (if such a thing exists) or another applicable page (if not) where you will find details of the release (label, whatnot) and, most importantly, how to go about hearing/purchasing these marvels.

First to the lectern is Mighty Joe Murray:

It’s taken a real effort to whittle this down but here’s my top 5 in order:

faint people

1. The New Band of the Faint People – The Man Who Looked at the Moon

Keep yr Wounded Nurse. These micro-pieces are stitched together with a domestic hand juggling fly agaric.

2. Rotten Tables, Golden Meat – My Nose is Broken

This cheeky release opened a new stomach pouch and gassed itself in…yeasty and fruity. Biggest smiles of the year.

3. Pascal – Nihilist Chakai House

It goes, “tk tk tk tk tk …. po/po/po – ping.” Blistering like hot metal pipes; fragile like seaweed.

4. Spoils & Relics – Embed and then Forget

Stream-of-consciousness becomes conscious itself…a living, breathing music as fresh as green parsley.

5. CKDH – Yr Putrid Eyeballs/Fungal Air Creeping Adders

The most violently restrained listen of the year by a long shot. Needle sharp. Music to break radios.

Scott briefly interjects:

skullflower - draconis

Skullflower – Draconis

As sylph-like a heavyweight as you’re ever likely to hear.

Now over to the office junior Luke:

Album of the year…

midwich - the swift cover

Midwich – The Swift

Utterly sublime floating tones, get your cranky toddler off to sleep in minutes, limited to 15 copies only?!  Madness. [Editor’s note: ha! What is more shameful? Luke sucking up to his editor or me for publishing it?  Yes, I know its me – shut up.]

The rest:

Spoils & Relics – Embed and then Forget
culver & posset – black gash
Skullflower – Draconis
Aqua Dentata – The Cygnet Procambarus
Robert Ridley Shackleton / Werewolf Jerusalem / She Walks Crooked – April Fools
Ashtray Navigations  – Aero Infinite
Yol – Headless Chicken Shits out Skull Shaped Egg
Dylan Nyoukis – Yellow Belly
Ezio Piermattei – Turismodentale

..and last of all, to your faithful editor.  I have chosen twenty items (well, twenty three including cheats).  The first half are presented in no particular order, the second set in the traditional ‘top ten run down’ ending with the actual, objectively verified best album of the year.  In my opinion.

10. NIHL / Female Borstal / Dear Beloved Henry / Albert Materia

female borstal nihl splitdear beloved henry

The perils of the split tape, eh?  I dug the Female Borstal side of the former, sadly didn’t get on with Albert Materia on the latter.  However the sides by NIHL and Dear Beloved Henry were bloody marvellous and, if they’d appeared on the same object would have rocketed up these rankings.  So I’m imagining an ideal world in which they did.  NIHL got a haiku:

Seduced by darkness

beyond guttering arc-light –

like moths, like dead souls.

Praise for Dear Beloved Henry – equally heartfelt, less formatting:

…deceptively simple in execution: a flowing electronic drone groove with a vaguely East Asian feel – like 1970s Krautrock that has been listening to a bunch of gamelan LPs – works through the variations.  However, every so often a magnetic pull distorts it off course and adds an intriguing, complicating layer of discordance.  It’s like it was mastered to VHS and someone is now messing with the tracking.  Is this an artefact of duping it to an old recycled tape or is this woosiness wholly intended?  The result is magical either way.

9. Helicopter Quartet – Leading Edges

helicopter quartet - leading edges

 …the album expresses a profound vision with an austere but soulful beauty.  Imagine a slate-blue version of Ashtray Navigations psychedelics or a restrained take on the intensity of, say, Swans without the self-loathing bombast. The band may jokingly self-describe as ‘semi-melodic mournfulness’ but this is a deeply serious music with, I think, plenty to say about the difficult, forlorn, wonderful, awe-inspiring condition we find ourselves in.

…Helicopter Quartet are, to my tired ears, a near-perfect example of how musicianship can be harnessed in a noise context.  Chrissie and Mike balance their considerable skills with an understanding of how to use noise to pluck the soul of the listener and have it vibrate with a slightly discordant, emotionally complicated, seriously intended, profoundly satisfying resonance.

8. Sophie Cooper – Our Aquarius

sophie cooper - our aquarius

 

When I wrote in the RFM Christmas message to the nation…

To be transported by a work of art – to be lifted from yourself, your surroundings and placed elsewhere for the duration – is a profound experience and, as someone who has trouble with self-sabotaging mental illness, one that I greatly appreciate. Catch me right and the bus to work is swapped for a magic carpet skimming the treetops. Find me in a susceptible mood and waiting at a pedestrian crossing becomes standing at the bedside of an elderly relative, brimful with a mixture of love and trepidation. Listening to music pans the muddy water sloshing inside my head, nuggets of gold and squirming, glistening creatures are uncovered. It – thus: you – is a constant source of revelation, of insight and of inspiration.

…it was no coincidence that I had been listening to this album a lot.  My apologies to Sof for not getting around to reviewing it but, hey, Uncle Mark did over at Idwal Fishers.  The cad suggests that it is ‘by no means a flawless release’ but if he dare repeat that in my vicinity I shall strike his cheek with my glove.

7. Stuart Chalmers – imaginary musicks vol. 1

stuart chalmers - imaginary musiks vol 1

The world his music describes is fully formed and the listener’s experience of it is immersive and ego-dissolving but carefully placed ticks – a filter echo, a moment of dictaphonic skwee – bring you back to the surface by foregrounding its artificiality. It’s like a South Sea Islands version of Philip K. Dick’s Time out of Joint. Imagine walking on the golden beach, admiring the dancing palms, looking out over the glassy ocean to the setting sun only for it all to suddenly disappear and be replaced with a featureless white room and a scrap of paper at your feet with the words ‘tropical paradise’ typed on it. As with all the very best stuff: the more I listen to it, the more I want to listen to it.

6. The Skull Mask – Nocturno Mar / Sunburn

skull mask - nocturno marskull mask - sunburn

Another terrific year for the prolific Miguel Pérez, RFM’s Mexican cousin.  From the bloody-minded free noise of his improv duo ZN to the incense-and-bitumen ritual drone of The Will of Nin Girima (released on new label-to-watch Invisible City Records), I doubt a week has passed without me spending some time in his company.

My favourite of his projects is The Skull Mask and these two recordings were released either side of Miguel’s return to acoustic guitar.  The former is made of enveloping, tidal drones containing half-submerged reversed vocals.  It can prove oppressively menacing or hypnotically soothing depending on your mood as you encounter it.  Just like the night sea it is named for.  The latter is ravaged, desert psychedelia improvised with raw acoustic guitar.  There is no shade under which Miguel, or the listener, can hide – this is completely exposed music and is riveting.

5. Yol – Headless Chicken Shits out Skull Shaped Egg

yol - headless chicken

From the preamble to a review by Joe:

For the uninitiated Yol has carefully and modestly created his own footnote in the frantic world of kinetic poetry.  Imagine tiny fragile words battered with broken bottles.  Innocent syllables and posh sibilance swashes getting clotted and clumped together.  Those classy phonics all chopped up and smashed; ground out like spent fags and stuttered wetly in a barely controlled rage…

Musical accompaniment is of the most primitive and brutal kind.  Forget the chest-beating Harsh Noise dullards, this is frighteningly naked and exposed.  Short blasts of destruction come from broken machinery, sheared plastic shards, bits of old hoover and burnt cutlery.  A more dicky commentator would say recordings are made in carefully selected site specific locations.  The truth?  Yol’s breaking into empty factory units and shouting his rusty head off.

4. Spoils & Relics – Sins of OmissionEmbed and then Forget

spoils and relics - sins of omissionembedandthenforget

The closest the RFM staff come to ‘critical consensus’.  I can’t decide which of these releases I prefer so you are getting ’em both.  From my review of the former:

Their music denies narrative … The palette used is a largely abstract selection of found, domestic and field recordings as well as sound produced by the various electronic implements that make up their ‘kit’.  The source of any given element is usually (and presumably deliberately) unclear.  They are examining the innards of everything, poking around where noise happens and taking notes.  It is more akin to the meta-musical experiments of AMM and their progeny.

Don’t be scared off – this music is not dry and scratchy, it is layered with humour (ranging from the wry raised eyebrow to banana skin slapstick), tension and a whip-smart self-awareness that speaks of the telepathic relationship between the band members when performing.  A piece by Spoils & Relics is about sound in the same way a piece by Jackson Pollock is about paint.

From Joe’s review of the latter:

There is a constant flow of ideas all itchy with life; reminding me of a similar feeling – running your finger over a gravestone, nails gouging the names.  I’m caught up in a multi-sensory melting of meaning into a constant ‘now’ … Listeners who favour that hi-fidelity will be delighted.  Beards who dwell in the no-fi world of clanking tape jizz are going to be entranced.  Skronk fans will be be-calmed.  Zen droners will wake up refreshed and sharp.

3. Ap Martlet – Analog Computer

ap martlet - analog computer

The title is perfect – it calls to mind a room-sized, valve-run difference engine humming with contented menace.  These three tracks seem less compositions than iterations of an algorithm set in motion by a wonky punchcard being slotted into the machine upside-down.  ‘Comdyna’ and ‘Thurlby’ are both rhythmic in an abstract sense – the latter being a low impact step aerobics class for retired ABC Warriors, the former an exercise in patience and discipline as a series of low-slung tones are held until they start to feedback, then released, then repeated.  The final track, ‘Heathkit’, is a coruscating, brain-scouring, fuzz-drone.  It is the kind of sound that in a workshop you would wear ear protectors to dampen but here it is presented for our contemplation and admiration.

2. culver – plague hand

culver - plague hand tapes

[Editor’s note: a sudden attack of prudishness has stopped me from reproducing the covers of this release.  Scans can be found accompanying the original review.]

I need to account for Matching Head catalogue number 200: plague hand by culver, a twin tape set containing four side-long tracks totalling, you guessed it, 200 minutes.  Each of these four untitled pieces (the sides are labelled a,b,c, and d and that’s all you get) is a sombre Culvanian documentary: a long, wordless panoramic camera sweep taking in the scenery with an unblinking 360 degree turn.  Each is different from the last, all are wholly involving and will have the attentive listener crowing ‘aww… man, I was digging that!’ and reaching to flip or rewind as soon as the track ends.  I say ‘attentive listener’ but really there is no other kind because you have no choice in the matter.  This isn’t background music – allow yourself to get caught and your ego will be dissolved like a fly in a pitcher plant.  It is a masterwork and a fitting celebration of the numerically notable point it represents.

[Editor’s second note: Lee later told me that this is in fact all one track with various movements.  Just so as you know.]

…and the winner of the Zellaby Award for Album of the Year 2014 is:

1. Aqua Dentata – The Cygnet Procambarus

aqua dentata - cygnet procambarus

My review took the form of a science fiction (very) short story.  Eddie’s music does that kind of thing to your head.  Here it is:

In some future hospital you are recovering from a horrible accident. Within a giant glass vitrine, you are suspended in a thick, healing gel – an amniotic fluid rich in bioengineered enzymes and nanotech bots all busy patching you up. From the waist down you are enmeshed in metal, a scaffold of stainless steel pins keeping your shape whilst the work continues. The first twenty minutes of Eddie’s half hour describes your semi-conscious state of prelapsarian bliss, played out over dark undertones of bitter irony: every moment spent healing is, of course, a moment closer to confronting the terrible event that put you there.

During the final ten minutes the tank empties, bizarrely, from the bottom up. Pins are pushed from healing wounds and tinkle and clatter as they collect below you. Attending staff shuffle nervously but maintain a respectful distance and near silence. As the gel clears your head, your eyes slowly peel open, the corners of your mouth twitch. You look out through the glass at the fishbowled figures in the room. You weakly test the restraints you suddenly feel holding you in place, and with a sickening flash it all comes back and you rememb———

No-one in what this blog lovingly refers to as the ‘no-audience underground’ is producing work as consistently brilliant as Eddie Nuttall. The back catalogue of his project Aqua Dentata – growing with the alien beauty and frustrating slowness of a coral reef – contains not a wasted moment. His work – quiet, long-form dronetronics with metallic punctuation – is executed with the patience and discipline of a zen monk watching a spider construct a cobweb.  Best dressed man to feature on this blog too.

—ooOoo—

So, that is that.  Eddie’s prize, should he wish to take me up on it, is for Aqua Dentata to have the one and only release on the otherwise dormant fencing flatworm recordings some time in 2015.  I’ll keep you posted on negotiations.

Oh, and should any of you be interested in how this blog does – y’know, number of hits and all that – I’ve made the annual report provided by WordPress public and you can see it here.

Heartfelt best wishes for the New Year, comrades.  All is love.

Rob Hayler, January 2015.

 

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

einszweinschrein

Jazz.

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

Jazz.

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.

—ooOoo—

Meudiademorte Records

My Dance The Skull

Chocolate Monk

minty magma: joe murray on ezio piermattei, forest of eyes and sindre bjerga

May 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezio Piermattei – Turismodentale (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.284)

Forest of Eyes – Winter Wakeneth (CD-r, self-released)

Sindre Bjerga – Dig Your Own Hole (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.275)

ezio piermattei

Ezio Piermattei – Turismodentale

Our Dental Tourist, Ezio Piermattei presents sun-dappled sonic environments for all you butter and beer lovers.

At a brief 30 minutes in total these untitled pieces combine and divide like a string of fizzing sound-sausages.  The somewhat sparse details on the back cover cite the dexterous shuffling of ‘voice, objects, instruments, tapes, electronics etc’; but that doesn’t really give you a clue about what’s going on here.

The structure has become the star.  The sound of the sound itself is the Diva.  Sure the bricks and mortar recordings are just dandy (door bells, balloon scrape, guitar/piano dollop, Nonna & Mamma voices) but this disc is as much about editing and sound sculpture as it is about creating goofy noises.

This bunch of sounds is moulded into a Devil’s Tower pile of mashed-up spuds; each part occupying a unique space stuck together with starchy ‘baaah’ or church bells or humming zooks.  But (and here’s the trick) nothing trips over itself or peaks into the red.  Sounds are allowed to play out on their own; distortion and volume are seen as showy and unnecessary with such a clear and deliberate palette.

Environments are precisely described: a cool drawing room with beautiful parquet floors, the busy school science festival, a tense family gathering to celebrate an ill-advised wedding.  All these imagined places as real to me, the listener, as the poorly-ventilated bedroom in which I type these very words.

Ezio does that great Southern European thing of being fun, clever and serious in equal measure.  It’s the restraint in these pieces (subtly harking back to a l-o-n-g tradition of avant-garde music in Bologna) that staggers.  Maybe it’s coz they get more sun or something but there is a real lightness of touch to this… Nothing affected or clichéd – just a joy in turning simple sounds into something new and exciting.

the terrified horses

Forest of Eyes – Winter Wakeneth

I’ve known Mark Wardlaw as feature of the Newcastle sub-underground for a good few years.  With an encyclopaedic knowledge of Black Metal, Noise and Durty [sic (or sick?) – Ed] Southern Hip-Hop he’s always a great person to bump into and shoot the shit.  A new hat he can now add to that freshly shaven head is ‘traditional folk guru’ with his furtive Forest of Eyes project.

I’ve seen Mark’s create merry hell in bands Pills from America and Wasp Bombs and witnessed his countless collaborations (ranging from teeth-looseningly dangerous to loftily high-brow) but this one knocked me for six.

“Why’s that?” I hear you cry.  “Is it too much for you old man?  Too crazy and wild for your Guardian-reader’s cardigan and rheumy old blood?”

Not a bit of it…this is a beautiful record.  But, on first listen, it’s just about as removed from obnoxious noise rock as I can imagine.

There are two distinct threads going on here.  Very proper, yet darkly pagan, unaccompanied folk tunes (some from the 16th Century) which I am guessing skirt round the ideas of Sacred Hart singing.

I said pagan before but of course that’s tosh…these are Christmas songs.  Holidays are definitely not coming for Forest of Eyes.  These songs hang on the cruelty and indifference of the season for serf and yokel; the freezing wind howling over the sands, fingers frozen, food sparse and the terror of the long night.

Yet with a strange twist it’s utterly modern.  Recorded with a pragmatic innocence on mobile phone and sung in an unassuming Northumbrian burr these tunes are relentlessly lonely, with a sense of 21st Century anomie.  They are a willing rejection of values and aesthetics.  In their own slow way they are as firm a ‘No’ as one created from an overdriven effects box or shredding guitar solo.

Phew!

Between each dismal tune Mark teases out an abstract sketch on Appalachian Dulcimer or bowed Psaltery.  What could be an awkward palette-cleanser becomes a sound-picture of winter.  The thin string tones are sparse and crackling like frost.  They have a fragility matching the intricate fern patterns ice makes on wet windows.  Even the crunch of fresh snow makes an appearance on ’11’.

Make no mistake…Forest of Eyes is no backwoods luddite.  He’s all computered up with his Bandcamp page if you please.  Drop him a line and ask for a song.

(Editor’s note: the image above is not the cover – it has none that I know of – it’s just the first thing that Google Images came up with when asked to search for the band name and album title.  Cool, eh?)

sindre live

Sindre Bjerga – Dig Your Own Hole

On first spying this disc I felt a twinge of nostalgic excitement.  Could Sindre really be recreating the awful Gaye Bykers on Acid flick Drill Your Own Hole in some perverted tribute?  Gosh no.  But reputations remain intact as Sindre presents two very powerful sets from 2013.

Track one is recorded at Oslo’s Polyfokt Festival and starts off almost dubby or industrial or something with stabbed-up metal clank.  Soon a rough-ass drone takes over like seriously pissed bees erupting into whale blowhole hiss and skeech.  Citizen’s Band (CB) radio interjections ride the valuable ambergris floating on the ocean as waves turn to glass and rub harmonically, filling the world with fat bulbous tones.  Prawns and shrimp crackle beneath the reflective membrane, scratching quietly to freedom.

Track two is recorded in the historic Klinker Club a few days later.  Maybe it’s the London influence but this one seems a bit more sharp-elbowed. The deep-sea drone is choppier, the shrimps more restless.  Their polite crackles have become guttural ‘ch-luncks’ and ‘hupps’ lurching in a dangerously drunken manner.  Machines misfire and malfunction.  Levers and pistons jam in their cylinders making the whole engine judder and splutter leaving me high and dry at 7 minutes in.  Woah…I envy the punters what got to see this as it all erupted like minty magma.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Forest of Eyes

Sindre Bjerga

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