Tags: fencing flatworm recordings, john tuffen, namke communications, zellaby awards
namke communications – one year; two days. (CD-r, fencing flatworm recordings, edition of 40 or download)
Seems a very, very long time since January 8th, eh readers? A mere two days before the death of Bowie officially kicked off the most mind-boggling year in recent history I posted the 2015 Zellaby Awards – our annual shindig celebrating the finest of the no-audience underground. In the introduction I commented that, aside from the rise of Corbyn, 2015 was largely without hope and that…
I wish you all good luck in navigating the coming End Times.
I meant it as a joke, of course, but I find myself becoming more frantically sincere in that wish as the days go by. Seriously, everything from the most personal and intimate (e.g. a spot on my nose became a cancer scare and has now been removed leaving a tiny crater) to the immense and geopolitical (e.g. President <makes dry boke noises> Trump <groans, mops brow>) seems primed to do us harm.
What can we do? Organize? I guess (my political views are heartfelt and hard left but only semi-coherent – better thinkers than me will need to carry the torch on that one). Love each other? Of course. Try not to forget what’s important? For sure. Carry on getting shit done? Definitely. So, in that spirit please allow me to present a treat, a product of 2016 to actually gladden the heart:
one year; two days. by namke communications, released by fencing flatworm recordings.
By way of context, let me take you back to the innocent, halcyon days of the first week in January and remind you who was staggering down the red carpet clutching the most important golden-eyed statuette. Apologies for quoting myself:
Finally then, the winner of the Zellaby Award for album of the year presented by Radio Free Midwich is, in an unusually literal sense, the album of the year: 365/2015 by namke communications. From a piece I wrote in March:
…old-friend-of-RFM John Tuffen, in a project which recalls the conceptual bloodymindedness of Bill Drummond (who has raised ‘seeing it through’ to the level of art form), is recording a track every day throughout the whole of 2015 and adding them to the album [on Bandcamp] as the calendar marches on … each track is freshly produced on the day in question and, as might be expected, vary enormously in style, execution and instrumentation – there is guitar improv, electronica in various hues and field recording amongst other genres welcome ’round here…
This one I have no qualms about dipping into, in fact I would recommend constructing your own dipping strategies. As the year progresses you could build an album from the birthdays of your family, or never forget an anniversary again with a self-constructed namke communications love-bundle. Won a tenner on the lottery? Create your own three track EP with the numbers and paypal John a couple of quid. Or perhaps a five CD boxset called ‘Thursday Afternoon’, in homage to Brian Eno, containing everything released on that day of the week? Or condense the occult magic with a set comprising every 23rd track? Ah, the fun to be had. Or you could just listen to it on a daily basis until it becomes a welcome part of your routine…
I was at least half-joking at the time but engaging with 365/2015 has proved a unique way of experiencing an album. During the worst of my illness [Editor’s note: I had a lengthy period of depression in 2015], as I spent nights trawling Twitter unable to sleep, it did become a valuable part of my daily routine. Literally a light in the darkness – Bandcamp page shining on the tablet as I lay in bed – John’s project, existing due to nothing but his crazy drive to create (the whole thing, 40+ hours, available as a ‘name your price’ download!), truly helped me through. A clear and worthy winner.
John’s prize, should he wish to take me up on it, is for namke communications to have the one and only release on the otherwise dormant fencing flatworm recordings some time in 2016. A surprise baby sister, perhaps, for his lovely available from namke communications released by me back in the day and now (I think) a teenager itself.
Heh, heh – the very idea still makes me shake my head in delighted disbelief. Well, fortunately, after a suitable period of recuperation, John did wish to take me up on it and here, in mid-November, we have it. Better late than never, eh?
one year; two days. – named, presumably, in homage to its award winning predecessor and the contrasting time it took to record – is a four track, 35 minute album of detailed, emotive and ambitious computer music. Tracks are titled solely with a file protocol based on date of composition – like a digital Taming Power – the rest is for the listener to piece together. Perhaps you are now expecting clicks, pops and tooth-loosening scree but thankfully those genre tropes are largely absent, replaced instead with expansive, meteorological drones and disorientating pulsing. Repeat listens are richly rewarded. The beautiful cover photo, also by John, is bang on – we look up from swiping our black mirrors to find that it is now night and the car park is empty, a scene that is clean, modern and urban but also charged and primal. It’s an image that illustrates the music perfectly. I’ll say no more for now – it’s there for you to discover.
The physical version of this release is presented on artisan, bespoke CD-rs – the true underground format – lovingly hand-bought on the internet then exquisitely hand-burned on the RFM HQ laptop, hand-numbered with an authentically shonky permanent marker and hand-packaged in robust, plastic wallets made from 100% recycled dinosaur. Colour covers were printed illicitly and hand-cut on the RFM HQ kitchen table for maximum punkosity. The edition is of a mere 40 copies – 20 for sale via fencing flatworm, John will have the rest – and prices are so low that I think I’ve just sorted out your Christmas present worries: £2.50 including postage in the UK, £3 for Europe and £3.50 for the rest of the world. This amazing bargain is available to order via the fencing flatworm Bandcamp site where you can also find a glistening, pay-what-you-want download if you’d prefer. We don’t mind how you consume this album just as long as you do. I hope you dig it.
Take care, people.
With love, Rob H x
Tags: aqua dentata, eddie nuttall, fencing flatworm recordings, zellaby awards
Aqua Dentata – ‘Neko Baader-Meinhof’ (CD-r, fencing flatworm recordings, edition of 50)
Ladies and gentlemen, fencing flatworm recordings, via radiofreemidwich, is delighted to announce the release of Neko Baader-Meinhof by Aqua Dentata.
Less damaged readers may recall that the prize for winning the RFM Zellaby Award for album of the year is the offer of a release on my legendary, but otherwise dormant, micro-label. Last time around the worthy recipient of the gong was Eddie Nuttall, recording as Aqua Dentata, and here he is taking me up on it.
The Aqua Dentata back catalogue is a slow growing coral of exceptional beauty. A seemingly restricted palette of (home constructed) synth drones and unplaceable metal-on-metal skittering is used to create abstract expressionist work of such depth and subtlety that the hold it commands has an almost occult power. See here for my opinions of Eddie’s previous output, see his own website to keep up with his activities. You really should – his patience, control and dedication to expressing a rigorously thought through aesthetic are unrivalled.
Neko Baader-Meinhof comprises three untitled tracks totalling just over 45 minutes. The packaging is functional – silver CD-r in plastic wallet, white paper inserts with black text, no illustration – but with a pleasingly mysterious aspect. The cover features a numbered list of 23 points provided by Eddie which bear no obvious relation to the contents (three tracks, untitled) and are otherwise unexplained. Listeners are invited to unpack the connections and allusions contained or, indeed, to make up their own. Attempts to form a narrative, or to plug these seemingly dada juxtapositions into a conspiracy theory of some kind would be most welcome.
The music itself is exquisite. I needn’t double-down on the superlatives – you simply need to hear it.
So here’s how. Aside from promotional blurb, a Discogs listing and (hopefully) any reviews it might garner, at Eddie’s request this release will have no internet presence. No soundclips anywhere, not a whiff of Bandcamp. It will only exist as these CD-rs and, when they are gone, the release will go with them. There are 50 in total – 20 have gone to Eddie for him to distribute as he sees fit, 10 have been sent or set aside as freebies for various RFM staffers and friends of the blog and the remaining 20 I have for sale…
EDIT: NOW SOLD OUT AT SOURCE! Eddie may have copies himself but the cupboard has been ransacked here at RFMHQ. Many thanks to those trusting souls who handed over money without even being able to preview the contents of this album. I’d be interested to hear what you think of it. OK, *phew* that’s enough business for one year – fencing flatworm returns to its comfortable slumber…
Y’know, sometimes running this blog is an uncomplicated joy. This is one of those times.
Tags: fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, julian bradley, new music, no audience underground, noise, paul steere, the piss superstition, zellaby awards
The most hotly awaited date in the no-audience underground calendar is, of course, the publication of radiofreemidwich’s annual Zellaby Awards. I know the anticipation ruins Christmas for a lot of you, and that spats on the red carpet have ended up in the tabloids, but our duty to promote the finest available music trumps all concerns about public order.
Once the puddles of champagne vomit have been mopped away, all that remains is an ancient tradition that can be dated back as far as 2013. The winner of the yellow jersey for Album of the Year is, *ahem*, ‘rewarded’ with a release on my otherwise dormant microlabel fencing flatworm recordings. This time the annual reactivation was postponed for a few months to allow for the project to mature but the wait has proved justified: the result is perfect.
getting nothing to appear on the developed film by the piss superstition, the duo of Julian Bradley and Paul Steere, comprises three tracks lasting a total of 30 minutes and is presented on CD-r (and/or download) in a cover designed by Julian. It is accompanied by an eight page, A7 pamphlet containing details of the release and some oblique poetry also by Julian. These pamphlets were hand-typed on one of those ol’ fashioned typewriters (see photo above) with hand-written track listings and edition numbers by guess who? Yep: Julian. That’s the nice thing about working with self-sufficient artists with confidence in their own vision – all I need do is the administration. The physical edition is strictly limited to the customary 50 copies, a download is available on a pay-what-you-like basis.
The music is, as ever with these guys: mystifying, brilliant, peerless. I’m not going to say any more because I want you to come to it fresh and untainted by my own interpretation. However, for those of you new to this band here’s a little of what I have said about them in the past:
…heavy, juddering electrics describe arcane symbols as they spiral through the iterations of this garbled instruction set. Something truly weird is being revealed. The serrated buzzing suggests saw mill equipment escaping its moorings and consuming itself as one bladed machine vibrates into the path of another. But again, there is nothing random about this movement. All is being conducted by an unfamiliar intelligence for some unknowable purpose…
…or to put it more succinctly:
…this music is detuned – not discordant as such, just eroded, smeared, until its original content is lost or, at best, obliquely hinted at. That is what makes it so endlessly fascinating…
Intriguing, eh? I’m very, very proud to have been involved in making this available. Now don’t be sleeping – this is sure to sell out double-quick.
Tags: drone, electronica, fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, julian bradley, midwich, mp3, no audience underground, noise, ordnance tape only, oTo, shameless self-congratulation, tapes
(oTo) – Ordnance, Tape Only
About a fortnight ago I announced the launch of the oTo tape archive project. Today, much to my surprise, I am delighted to declare it complete. That is: all fifty tapes that comprise the oTo catalogue, originally released in limited numbers more than a decade ago, have been digitized and are available to listen to and/or download for free here on this blog. Haven’t I been a busy bee, eh? Actually, hooking up a decent tape deck, via my little midwich mixer, to the laptop has made the task a breeze. I’ve enjoyed chugging through it very much.
For further information about what this tape label was all about see the preamble on the archive’s own page. This page is also where you’ll find all the links. There are many gems hidden amongst the names you’ll recognize so please take the opportunity to dip your toes. How about a terrific hiss-drone by The Dead Body? Or the mutation of recordings made during the refurbishment of Leeds Railway Station into a Basic Channel-ish jackhammer dub by TK94? I could go on: noise, electronics, folk-psych, dada collage – it’s all there for the taking.
May I ask a favour? I’m usually loathe to ‘promote’ RFM, figuring that the right people will find it eventually, but I’m quite proud of the work done in presenting this bounty. So… if you find something you like would you mind passing the link on to someone else you think might be interested, or doing one of them tweets or a facebooking? Many thanks to those that did so following the initial announcement – your support is, as always, much appreciated.
The normal reviews based service you’ve come to expect from RFM will resume shortly with some great stuff dictated by Joe Murray to his children from the bouncy castle he uses as his office. Scott is up to something calculated and evil in his mysterious undersea lair. Me? Well, having begun a phased return to work following my recent bout of depression I find myself in a near-constant state of bewilderment. The muse is finding this most unattractive. Hopefully inspiration will return as my energy levels increase as I am looking forward to doing justice to some exceptional releases on the review pile.
Tags: drone, electronica, fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, julian bradley, midwich, mp3, no audience underground, noise, ordnance tape only, oTo, shameless self-congratulation, tapes
(oTo) – Ordnance, Tape Only
‘Ordnance, Tape Only’, or oTo to its friends, was a sound-art off-shoot project from fencing flatworm recordings, the micro-label I co-ran with Sean Keeble in the early years of this century. There were fifty oTo releases, with each release limited to a numbered fifty copies, all on one-sided cassette tapes. Apart from the artist name and the catalogue number no other information was included. Inlay cards were made by chopping up various Ordnance Survey maps of this fair country. Thus you got a random square of Britain, five miles on a side, to look at whilst listening to your near-anonymous tape. Oh, and it is nowt to do with London’s Cafe OTO, which it predates by several years.
To my surprise, this insane enterprise caught the collective imagination and I had no trouble filling up the 50 slots. It became a cross section of the UK noise underground at the time (2001-ish) and even attracted the attention of the international experimental jet-set with, for example, Thurston Moore donating some skronking. Julian Bradley, who encouraged me to get started with the project, had tape number T01 and I took last one. Whilst chopping up maps I was often left with some wholly blue squares containing just sea. I kept those to one side and the 50 inlay cards for the midwich tape each cover 25 square miles of water.
In a lengthy interview with me conducted by Bang the Bore (read the whole thing here) I was asked a bunch of questions about oTo including this one:
Are you planning on giving oTo a digital after-life? It seems more suited to that format than the ffr releases, possibly… for one thing you can construct the eternally looping playlist implied by how the original releases were structured. It’s also easy to give it that “check it out then move on” response that you mention.
…and I replied:
Well, I can see the appeal for the reasons you mention but, no, I am not planning a digital reanimation for oTo. Difficulty in finding the time would be a major hindrance – many of the masters are on tape themselves and would therefore need recording onto my laptop and mastering before acceptable mp3 versions could be created. The bigger problem though is that I no longer have all the masters. When ffr/oTo was wound up I offered to return masters to artists so they could reissue their work elsewhere and a few took me up on it. Phil reissued the Zen Nuns tape (a collaboration he did with Lasse Marhaug) on BWCD, for example. I realise that most of these reissues are now themselves unavailable but still… I returned this stuff on the understanding that oTo was over. I’d also not feel happy about releasing mp3s of this stuff without the permission of the artists themselves and I’ve completely lost touch with quite a few of them. No, reanimating oTo would be a logistical nightmare. Best just to accept that the moment has passed.
Solid reasoning, I’m sure you’ll agree, but then I found myself shifting a stereo upstairs to the RFM offices here at Midwich Mansions and my thinking began to change… My current opinion is as follows:
Ahh… fuck it!
So, with that in mind, please see the oTo tape archive page (also tabbed above) for a list of the fifty tapes. The blurbs are from the original FFR website. I thought about putting it on Bandcamp or doing something like Jeff did at Union Pole but neither of those options felt quite right. Let’s keep it a private affair for readers of this blog.
The page is being launched containing a random selection of about half of the catalogue (mainly those I had CD-r masters for) in best quality mp3 format. In due course I will add more until all, or as close to all as I can manage, are archived here. Your patience requested – this archive is a work in progress and progress may be glacial.
Apologies in advance if some of the sound quality isn’t crystal sharp – such is the nature of the exercise. Amazingly, I am digitizing tapes via the Pioneer tape deck that I originally duped these tapes on. It is still working fine – <appreciative whistle> – they don’t make ’em like that anymore, eh? Where I’ve created mp3s from a CD-r master there may be multiple tracks, mp3s from tapes will be in one lump. Playing and/or downloading options are both available.
Comments welcome. Much more to come…
Tags: bandcamp, carbon records, drone, electronica, fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, live music, midwich, midwich for sale, new music, no audience underground, noise, shameless self-congratulation, sheepscar light industrial, striate cortex, wharf chambers
Ladies and gentlemen, may I call your attention to a further three releases cooling on the windowsill over at the midwich Bandcamp site. There is much for the discerning dronester to get their teeth into.
First is three days in, four to go, originally released in 2003 on CD-r in an edition of 75 with a lovely screen printed cover by Carbon Records of Rochester, New York. This is a rarity in that it has not been available digitally before and is one of my favourites of the first-wave midwich albums. Forward looking, creamy. ‘snows’ is an orchestra of hairclipper fuzz, the title track is a deeply penetrating 20 minute cardiothrob (at the time of writing a few of the original physical objects are also still available).
Next is a brand new live album, light industry, featuring recordings of my performances at the two Sheepscar Light Industrial summer shows, both of which took place at Wharf Chambers in Leeds. The 2012 piece is a unique combo of the field recording from Eaves and the drone from ‘verdigris’. The 2013 set is two tracks: a version of the title track from inertia crocodile and an as yet untitled track of heavy drone featuring a recording of Thomas the Baby gulping his milk as rhythm. The latter set was dedicated to Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher in honour of his 50th birthday. Links to more about these shows, and to a ten minute YouTube video immortalising part of the former, can be found over at Bandcamp.
Finally we have flint soul beach – a favourite from the back catalogue. This 18 minute track is full of hope that the broken can be mended and is perfect for the current heatwave. Originally released in 2003 by fencing flatworm recordings on a 3″ CD-r in an edition of 50 (ffr-e). For the cover picture the band name and title were chalked on the end of Littlehampton pier at low tide. It was washed away a few hours later…
I hope you enjoy what you hear.
Tags: bandcamp, drone, electronica, fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, midwich, midwich for sale, new music, no audience underground, noise, shameless self-congratulation, striate cortex, zanntone
Ladies and gentlemen, your faithful editor returns from his holiday week refreshed and bearing good news: RFM is proud to announce the launch of the midwich Bandcamp site. The initial offering is of nine releases. Featured among them are running repairs and ‘verdigris’, my contribution to the Victorian Electronics box, both originally released by Striate Cortex and both long sold out. Also airing is the perpetually-coming-soon october in yorkshire, fished from the wreckage of the scuppered Zanntone label. More will follow in due course.
As well as new releases, live recordings and rarities previously unavailable in a digital form, I will copy across some back catalogue items that can already be found in mp3 format on this blog’s discography page. I think this is worth doing because via Bandcamp you’ll be able to get it in any format you like (the wavs sound well nice) and download whole albums at once. Your convenience is my motivation.
Everything will be offered on a ‘pay what you like’ basis so visitors are able to use the ‘support’ and ‘collection’ functions within Bandcamp (whatever they are. I’m told those functions get turned off I just select ‘free download’). Don’t worry though as entering ‘£0’ is fine if you have ‘£0’ to spend. I won’t be using this as a way of harvesting your email address either. Donations are welcome, of course, and I pledge that 100% of any money raised will be spent within the no-audience underground either purchasing music by others or diffusing the cost of releasing physical editions of future releases, thus helping keep the flow of goodwill circulating.
Speaking of which, may I cash in a little goodwill in exchange for some quid pro quo? If you are a reader and/or had your work featured on this blog could I ask that you return the favour by checking this site out and maybe nudge a friend or two in the same direction? Those more connected than myself – I remain self-excluded from Twitter/Facebook – may wish to alert others via those means.
I would be very much obliged to you all. I hope you enjoy what you hear.
P.S. This is the 300th post on RFM. Woo!
Tags: fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, improv, la mancha del pecado, miguel perez, neck vs throat, new music, no audience underground, noise, the skull mask, vocal improvisation, yol, zines
NECK VS. THROAT volume 2
(3″ CD-r mounted in booklet, fencing flatworm recordings, edition of 50)
Ladies and gentlemen, Radio Free Midwich is delighted to announce the reanimation of the influential and fondly remembered microlabel fencing flatworm recordings. This endeavour, which I co-ran with comrade Sean Keeble back at the turn of the century (defunct original website archived here, an account of our exploits here), has been jolted back into life for the one-off release pictured above.
Following their success at the Zellaby Awards, where the first NECK VS. THROAT CD-r scooped Album of the Year, I offered to help with the second release. It seemed like a sensible use of the customary prize money (hey, £20 goes a long way down here) and since the self-released Midwich/Skull Mask split last year I’ve been itching to get the craft knife and cutting mat out again…
So what we have here is an A6 sized booklet with grey card cover and eight internal pages all featuring either Yol’s lyrics or amazing Saul-Bass-of-Skid-Row graphics. His stark, monochrome cut-outs and sketches mirror the content and fit the format perfectly. A 3″ CD-r contained in a plastic wallet is mounted on the inside back cover. It is a very cool object: minimal yet substantial, the clean design restraining the frothing craziness of its contents. Hand-constructed in a numbered edition of 50.
On the CD-r you will find five remarkable tracks, totalling 13 spittle-flecked minutes. Perhaps I should back up a little here and describe the sound for the benefit of newcomers. The transatlantic duo of Miguel Pérez (“guitar neck, electricity, string damage” – Ciudad Juárez, Mexico) and Yol (“throat, discarded objects” – Hull, UK) hammer out a unique racket. Having found each other via radiofreemidwich’s matchmaking service they used the magic of the internet to swap audio files – improvising along on first listen in order to keep the feel fresh and immediate. It’s as raw, salty and appallingly delicious as an oyster that twitches when you squeeze lemon juice on it. Forgive me the indulgence of quoting myself from a previous review:
Yol’s … vocalisations range from the almost conversational to horrifying bellowing to teeth-clenched groaning. It is remarkable – unlike anything else I’ve been sent. His utter commitment to the physicality of the performance is awesome. Scraping, crashing, the dropping of metal objects augment and divide the stuttering tirade, like punctuation.
Miguel’s style here is similar to that on recent recordings released under his own name. No effects, no overdubs, rarely even sustain, hard picked, unforgiving in its discipline yet nuanced, subtle and compelling. There is no ornament to it because none is needed.
The collaboration is a success, meaning the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Miguel underscores the rhythms and cadence of Yol’s glossolalia. Yol’s furious delivery both bounces off of and is contained by Miguel’s guitar, like the steel ball bearing on a pinball table.
…sentiments that remain accurate and appropriate with regard to volume 2. An mp3 of the first track, ‘meaningless fence’, can be downloaded here to give you a taste. We are unapologetic about the brutality of the recording.
EDIT: no copies left here at Midwich Mansions! The artists were sent half the run between them so I’m sure they would be glad to hear from you should you wish to discuss fair exchange. Yol may even have some left when he plays in Leeds at Pete Cann’s Crater Lake Festival in March (an unmissable gig that, sadly, I will be missing). Contact Yol: firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Miguel: email@example.com. We may make it available to download sometime in the future. Thank you all for the gratifying interest in this release.
Tags: drone, fencing flatworm recordings, ffr, midwich, midwich for sale, new music, no audience underground, noise
Thanks to the generous assistance of the Radio Free Midwich Historical Society and L’Institute de Hayleriana (Geneva) the bulk of my back catalogue is freely downloadable from the discography page of this blog. Tab above – please help yourself. Should you require guidance then the pieces linked to in the Bang the Bore interview with me form a useful ‘greatest hits’ selection of the long-form stuff.
There are gaps, however, where a release remains commercially available (given the strange and flexible definitions of both ‘commercial’ and ‘available’ that we use here in the no-audience underground). With this in mind, I have revamped the ‘for sale’ page of this blog (tab also above) to provide ‘buy here’ details for all the midwich completists out there. You know who you are. Both of you.
Anyway, now there will be sections. A tantalising coming soon list will whet the appetite before new stuff accounts for recently released archive material and genuinely new recordings made during the current midwich renaissance. Following this, still available will include ‘classic’ material from the first wave of midwich recordings made a decade(ish) ago. Forever fresh, of course. Finally, self-released and fencing flatworm related will contain the various things I have chosen to make available myself. All sections will include details of who to approach in order to secure these items and, where possible, cover scans and/or mp3 clips for preview purposes.
Form an orderly queue. No jostling.