bronze bones hammered: joe murray on peeesseye and lost wax

June 28, 2014 at 10:24 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peeesseye – SCI FI DEATH MASK (LP, or as Joe would have it: ‘God damn heavyweight 180 gram vinyl’, humansacrifice, HS008, edition of 300)

Lost Wax – Gongzhufen Breath (tape, Psykick Dancehall)

Peeesseye coverPeeesseye - SCI FI DEATH MASK - LPinsert_backlost wax colourlost wax black and white

Peeesseye – SCI FI DEATH MASK

Cryptic headline: Behold the power of threee.  The pyramid triumphant: the tripod exultant!

Record Collector style blurb: The Pee/Ess/Eye – Peeesseye – P.S.I – band have been jamming with conjoined frontal lobes since 2002.  Instrumentally they present the standard set up with Chris Forsyth on guitar, Jaime Fennelly pumping between harmonium & electronics and Fritz Welch rapping the percussion and the vocals (incorporating his patent fritz-o-size panting).

But beware…this three-o have recorded nothing approaching trad jazz over a whole bunch of heady 8-tracks and wax cylinders.  The slow-drawn water-colour and pressurized ‘hisss’ of sneaky graff make more comfortable bedfellows for these beards.

This Sci Fi Death Mask is their last ever recording.  That’s it.  PEEESSEYE have left the building.  But thankfully some bright spark snatched this ritual (a live performance from Antwerp) from the arms of unreliable memory via thick magnetic tape thereby basting the resulting soundwaves in rich symbolism and occult power.

Head-music gonzo stream: This whole performance is chunked into three tasty pieces.

Mouthful one, ‘Let the Hate Flow’ is a growing thing.  Starting from mere microbes a leggy beast emerges from the ooze.  The shimmering harmonium drone is introduced; a metallic shriek (furniture moved slowly) punctuates.  The static-yet-moving palette is like sea viewed from a low-flying aeroplane; you know barely-restrained power lurches behind those cold, grey waves.

Yet when landed this ritual of purification has the same shimmering magik I last heard in the smack-gongs of Vietnam.  All pause and release; bronze bones hammered and aching as tears of pure joy and gratitude rolled down my sunburnt cheeks.

Chew the gristle on mouthful two, ‘Legs Without Feet’.   Heavy ticking balls and angry holla spit rough Rice Wine in gaseous cloud above your head.  The offerings and prayer flags still flutter but are now soaked in foul, flammable liquid.  Below, below, below the speed-junk-trash-can, like a coffee-nervous Phill Calvert, spasms in response.  Guitar starts to peal, as twisted as the spire of Chesterfield, and Harmonium wildly laughs. Things are getting serious.

Swallow a final long draft with the side-long jam ’What is the value, what is the purpose?’  Tone clusters reproduce at speed to spawn one of them 1960’s goose-bands, freaking-out the UFO club crowd with a come down for an ultra-high society.  They call themselves The Grateful Dong, Punk Floyd or something and let it all hang out, balancing reality on an eyelid.

And in that sweaty basement, just off Tottenham Court Road, the band finally locks minds with the audience.  Together they soar the skies, pushing through the membrane of atmosphere and the old black vacuum to breach the un-breachable.  A place where the senses are amplified a thousand fold; eyes become attuned to taste, ears fondle the colour of sound (all orange, pinks and blood-reds here) and we lose ourselves for eons in the pure joy of sweet slow-explosions.

Reader re-connect and economic conclusion:  Even Bacchus took a day off.  This ritual has to end sometime.  So, spent and dripping, PEEESSEYE limp home.

Beaten?  Never.

Heroes?  To a man.

Available in physical and astral forms from humansacrifice.

Lost Wax – Gongzhufen Breath

Lost Wax is the one Ben Morris (also of Chora, fact fans) who released one of my favourite tapes from last year, the superb My Sore Daad Heap’d.  So it’s with anticipation I jam this one into the stereo, refresh my glass with Pimms and settle back in front of the typewriter.

Right from the off with the title track ‘Gongzhufen Breath’ it’s clear Ben is adding his clear and strong voice to the chatterings concerning field recordings in the avant garde.   This is no New Age whale song bullshit.  This is no ‘jam a mike in yr face and hope for the best’ tourism.  This is a beautifully placed, memory-gong.  A tug on the collective sound-DNA we all share.

We’re in Beijing for at least part of this first piece with the busy Gongzhufen Bus Station taking a starring role.  Smoky traffic roars by over a plucked string (a spare and solem Pipa possibly) and Blade Runner-style adverts.  The detail in the editing roasts these sounds gently….never scorching and letting you drift in and out the soundscape, picking up a persimmon here, clumsily folding a newspaper there.  My ears pensively glowed as I tuned-in deeper and deeper into this recording revelling in the non-congruence of what I could see out the window (a damp garden) and what I could hear.  The instructions on the bus timetable pretty much sum this up…

Figure it reasonable transfer bus to remind you when to travel. Figure it also provides you with Beijing bus routes, sites, maps, and other information surrounding the query. Stock ride the bus with you, I wish you a pleasant journey!

‘Scragged and Stuttered’ starts with the low-glotty sounds of deep water.  The innocent chitter of children talking in the distance makes this dark lake faintly unnerving.  Percussive rasps (A manic woodpecker?  Polite fireworks?) pepper the mix that seems to be concerning  itself solely with building up a sense of foreboding and unease.  Yeah…this is horror film stuff.  Not that slasher, spam-in-a-cabin nonsense but adult Don’t Look Now nightmares, this time all dubbed up with Jah Shaka at the controls.

Clotted pops greet me in ‘Myfan Snare’ as 74 layers of ethno-percussion get filtered through the sound of galloping horses, each hoof fall a thunderous dunch.  Shortwave static and the squeal of un-lubricated wheels wraps and warps the art of the overblown tannoy announcement.   A brief taster, sonic-tapas.

Closer ‘Open Kraken’ is a sick creeper.  Things start innocently enough with straining brass rods being bent and warped.   All very nice I think.  But, before I know it I’m bopping my head to the sound of rubber gongs beat with rubber mallets; and then slowly, stealthily the strings emerge.

A single folk fiddle is joined by its deeper cousin the Cello.  More and more family arrive until the rosined strings vibrate powerfully and churn up the air like a giant spoon.  Before long an orchestra as heavy as any György Ligeti commanded is bowing sea-sick lurches that crash and flood the plain.

This is sheer dislocation and rapture!

I look at the tiny tape with wonder…this sounds like it was recorded at Abbey Road; Scott Walker conducting (with a boner) such is the rousing ferment.

But eventually the sea of strings is becalmed and with a brief coda of pocket fuffle and polite throat clearing we are done.  My gosh…I need a little lie down after that.

The Lost Wax do it again…surely a contender for tape of the year.

—ooOoo—

Editor’s note: Joe is a tease isn’t he? At the time of posting this tape appears to still be ‘forthcoming’. Keep an eye on the Psykick Dancehall Facebook page and website so you can snap one up when it becomes available. Sound clip available here.

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

March 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Michael Clough – Untitled (CD-r, self-released, edition of 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and Andy Crow said this:

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

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

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

Michael Clough on Soundcloud

Michael Clough on Tumblr

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

Crow Versus Crow Blogspot

Crow Versus Crow Bandcamp

Seth Cooke

Every Contact Leaves A Trace

spirals and waves: product from kiks/gfr

July 17, 2013 at 10:38 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

W>A>S>P>S / nacht und nebel – Split (7” single, NUNWSP001, edition of 250)

SCKE// – (ornaments) (7” single, KIKS/GFR, MEIR/KIKSGFR, edition of 300)

Daphine and Lyndsey – Seascape number one (CD-r and foldout pamphlet, KIKS/GFR, KIKSGFR004, edition of 50)

scke - ornamentswasps - nacht und nebel - splitdaphine and lyndsey front

Older readers will recall the trend in noise, especially harsh noise, for ‘challenging’ packaging.  Many is the time that I had to resort to a craft knife or pair of scissors to free up the entombed release.  On one notable occasion a damp cloth and one of those handheld vacuum things were needed to get something into a playable state, on another a soldering iron was required to get the bloody thing open.  I never had much time for this nonsense myself but can’t help be entertained by the objects created by artists like Con-Dom packaged in slate, or, amazingly, in a genuine lectern.  And we all know the story of the Noisembryo Merzcar, don’t we?

It still happens, to a lesser extent, and opening a jiffy bag at Midwich Mansions can reveal something that needs to be unstitched and disentangled from its accompanying detritus.  But this is increasingly rare – the bar has been lowered by the times we live in.  In the download era, an age of instant and infinite access, the slightest whiff of inconvenience is enough to make the ‘average’ punter think twice.  Never mind baking your magnum opus into a clay brick then wrapping it in barbed wire, most people today will sigh and contemplate giving up if you just stick it on vinyl.

Yes, the format itself has become the challenge. As opposed to downloadable or rippable (or even taped) media which can accompany me at various points during the day I have to make an appointment to listen to vinyl and, to be brutally frank, I can rarely be bothered.  7″ singles are especially galling.  I’ll admit that the object itself – its size, its shiny blackness – is a button-pusher but by the time my beautiful Turkish manservant has helped me into to my wing-backed listening chair the bloody thing is finished and requires flipping over.  I am too old for such furious activity.  Luckily for the releases above, a generous gift from Benjamin of KIKS/GFR, my faithful valet dodged the cane I was attempting to thrash him with, slipped me my evening laudanum and took charge of the turntable himself.  Thus I was left to compose my opinions in a more contemplative mood.

The W>A>S>P>S side of the split 7″, self-described as ‘flat-plate noise’, is angrily uneventful.  It is like walking into your living room to find a giant, bulbous and oily-looking frog sat on the coffee table scowling at you.  Motionless and unshiftable – its eyes follow you around the room.  Sometimes I think trying to formulate a critical reaction to slabs of noise like this is missing the point.  It doesn’t exist, it does exist, then it doesn’t again a few minutes later.  That’s it.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  In contrast the nacht und nebel side manages to pack an impressive amount of drama and momentum into three tiny noise vignettes.  A compressed history of the rise, rule and fall of an empire of insect warriors told in deceptively simple but information-rich sketches.  I’ve written about Henry’s work below – I’ll be looking out for more.

The SCKE// single, (ornaments), reissues two tracks of crunchy, glitchy electronica from 2004 the like of which I haven’t paid much attention to since, well, 2004 I suppose.  I’m not sure how well they have dated, or otherwise, because I’m not up on that scene but repeated listens (on my walkman, having taped it) reveal a satisfying charm.  An aspect of note is that a ‘KIKS’ sticker had been placed over the centre label of the record thus obscuring the hole.  This meant that in order to play it I needed to puncture it or carefully remove the offending section with a craft knife (I did the latter).  A minor, 21st Century inconvenience to remind us old folk how lucky we are not to need soldering irons to hear our noise these days?  Or is this just a rebrand of the remainder of the original edition?  I dunno.  Anyway: the content is perfectly fine and the heft of the heavyweight vinyl is most pleasing.

Finally we have Seascape number one by Daphine and Lyndsey on the rippable format of CD-r.  The irreducible physicality of this release is the packaging: a hybrid object of the genus sometimes referred to as ‘artist book’.  The disc, printed with sea shells, is housed within in its own plastic sleeve which is in turn wrapped with a folded A3 pamphlet featuring some lovely beach photography and the release details.  This is all held together with a chunky elastic band and kept neat by a plastic bag with KIKS logo sticker.

The content comprises four tracks, the first three of which are short field recordings of Lincolnshire ‘seascapes’, the forth being a two-minute treated remix.  These are not high def, check-the-mic-spec, fidelity fetishist documents, rather they are trustworthy recollections of the day in question (4th July 2012, apparently) detailed enough to give the impression of sitting next to the rock on which the recording device was balanced.  Just right.  Having grown up on the coast then spent my adult life in landlocked Leeds I am a sucker for this stuff and could listen to it all day long.  It blew a welcome offshore breeze through my head as I walked home along the traffic-strewn, sun-baked streets.

KIKS/GFR

W>A>S>P>S

nacht und nebel

rfm attends to recent downloads: cthulhu detonator, deceiver, orange annihilator, seth cooke, petals

March 8, 2013 at 10:41 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cthulhu Detonator – Infernal Machines (self-released)

Deceiver – I Will Always Be Dead Inside (Bells Hill Digital)

Orange Annihilator – Scrub (Bells Hill Digital)

Seth Cooke – Intercession (Impulsive Habitat, IHab065)

Kevin Saunders / Petals – various back catalogue items (Hairdryer Excommunication)

cthulhu detonatordeceiverorange annihilator - scrubseth cooke - intercessionpetals - nautical almanac

My lack of willpower regarding downloads has been extensively documented on this blog before and explains my general attitude of wariness towards this most tempting aspect of modern musical appreciation.  Not all music stored on physical objects is good, of course, but to present it as such does indicate a faith in the work and acts as an initial filter to limit an otherwise unprocessable torrent.  My preference is to sit with my back to the firmly secured floodgates and listen to them creak as I open my post.

However, what is a boy to do when approached by charming artists touting interesting sounding projects that are only available on that Bandcamp or via netlabels?  Or if a known favourites make experiments or long forgotten back catalogue available via the same means?  I would hardly be a conscientious editor if I just ignored these leads, now would I?  In that spirit there now follows a series of ‘in brief’ accounts of some clickable goodness recently brought to my attention.  *Sigh*, one thing no-one dares mention when warning you of a slippery slope is just how much fun it can be to slide down it…

First is Infernal Machines by Cthulhu Detonator.  I know what you are thinking: “how dare this impertinent rascal imply that our master, Lord Cthulhu, is the sort of thing that can be detonated?!”, right?  Well, I’ve sent this disrespectful heretic an oddly cut purple crystal in an anonymous package and if he looks into it he is fucked.  That’ll teach him!  Ai, Ai!

Anyway, blasphemy aside, this album is very entertaining.  Perhaps, like a lot of debut albums, it is a little over full – RFM recommends keeping it to a tight 40ish minutes and saving the offcuts for an accompanying EP – but who am I to fault exuberance?  This is from the computer-constructed/electronica end of noise: ten distinct tracks working through aspects of a coherently defined sound.  There is a momentum, a squelching bounce, that is gleefully pummelling interspersed with quieter moments spent exploring cyclopean ruins with faulty batteries in your torch.  Nicely balanced and engaging throughout.  Ideal background music for an evening spent flicking through your dog-eared copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

Second are two cuts from the recently formed Bells Hill Digital.  I Will Always Be Dead Inside by Deceiver is as grim as its title suggests.  Part I is a three minute harsh noise blow-out, a planet wide, corrosive hailstorm pitting the black surface of an inhospitable world.  Part II is an almighty eleven minute conflagration.  About halfway through a mournful tone attempts to rise above the roar – like the one building miraculously left standing in an area otherwise devastated by carpet-bombing – but is soon vandalised, deliberately destroyed by the same spiteful fire.  It is utterly without hope and, in my humble opinion, remarkable.  Please investigate.

Scrub by Orange Annihilator is so irresistible that I listened to it ten times in a row the other day, non-stop, on my commute to work.  No, my bus wasn’t stuck in a snow drift, nor have I been seconded to Aberdeen.  The reason this feat was possible is that this five track album is in total three and a half minutes long!

It is electronic noise, best heard at ear-splitting volume for maximum nostril-flaring effect.  Plenty happens but this is not a frantic gonzo cut up.  Segments are allowed a toehold, are established fleetingly, then tumble into the void and are instantly replaced.  Its efficiency and brevity are refreshingly classy.

I think this is a clever example of what imaginative types can do with the Bandcamp model.  I’d argue that this really is an album – it is coherent, complete, self contained – but its length makes it very difficult to present physically.  A 7” single maybe?  Expensive to produce, difficult to distribute.  A credit card CD-r?  A fiddly format that has never really caught on.  Neither of these formats suggest ‘real’ album anyway.  However, on Bandcamp its format is just the same as for everybody else.  Brilliant.

Next is Intercession by Seth Cooke released on intriguing netlabel Impulsive Habitat.  This is one 21 minute track constructed with Seth’s customary attention to detail from sound sources found ‘singing in the wires’ at his place of work.  It starts with a frantic chirruping and buzzing – an orchestra of locusts conducted by Steve Reich – before settling into a shifting pattern of hums, ticks, throbs and gentle feedback tones.  It suggests the micro-climate of self-storage warehouses, server farms, aluminium tubing, ducts in the crawlspace.  In the last five minutes birdsong and traffic can be heard alongside a scything overload in the cables, reminding us of the natural world replicated by the landscaping of the science park outside.  I find this intensely absorbing.  It has a kind of fractal geometry that pulls the listener into the recording.  Despite being as cool as air conditioning and as alienating as fluorescent light I’m sure I can hear a very human yearning behind the machine buzz too.  Exemplary.

Finally, I need to mention the archival project ongoing at the hairdryer excommunication Bandcamp page.  Kev is making as much of the Kevin Sanders / Petals back catalogue as he can find freely available via this resource.  I guarantee that any fruit you pick from this vine will be delicious.  The more I hear of Kev’s work, the more I want to hear and there is no higher praise than that.

All this stuff is freely downloadable:

Cthulhu Detonator

Bells Hill Digital

Impulsive Habitat

hairdryer excommunication

ants, ice, eggs, oscillations

May 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alas, I remain ill.  No need for further details or more moaning.  Suffice to say I’ve been signed off work by my doctor for another week and little vials of my blood have been taken for some occult purpose.  Ugh.

Naughtily, I went out to the Ceramic Hobs gig on Saturday night but used up all my available energy in so doing and had to leave early.  Still, it was a great night.  Two car loads of people came down from Newcastle so I got to talk to Hasan and Ben Jazzfinger, Lee Culver and Mike Vest (Bong, Basillica etc.) as well as the usual Leeds crowd.  The music was all terrific with Jazzfinger being properly awesome: half an hour of super-dense drone. Hasan literally had his head inside the speaker.  A more detailed review of the night, with photos, can be found over at Idwal Fisher.

One of the non-musical highlights of my brief time out of the house was a conversation with Seth Cooke (co-curator of Bang the Bore) in which we talked about the sort of hyper-detailed oddities and field recordings he currently finds himself listening to.  The following day I restoked the conversation via email and Seth kindly sent a bunch of recommendations.  This list of links has provided me with such a lot of pleasure over the last couple of days that I found myself cut-and-pasting it into other personal emails.  Once I started doing that, it’s appearance as the centrepiece of a blog post was crushingly inevitable…

Seth sez:

As to artists who utilise ingenious methods to record microscopic sound events (usually completely unprocessed), or who frame the commonplace in a manner that makes you wake up and pay attention, or who put microphones in positions impossible for the human ear…

The ants eating an apricot recording (editor’s note: this one was mentioned in conversation and led to the email exchange) is by Jez Riley French, which I think is self released on his own label Engraved Glass (he’s vaguely local, resides in Hull). But for convenience’ sake, it’s on his Soundcloud.

This is one I reckon you’ll love (it’s from one of my favourite albums of this year so far) – an excerpt from Stephen Cornford’s Binatone Galaxy exhibition (released on Senufo Editions, I think), in which he fitted tape decks with self-amplifying cassettes so that the turning of the cassette motor is amplified. Very beautiful, very musical (editor’s note: I do love it, you may too).

Lee Patterson is also great – he got a lot of unexpected mainstream attention when he released Egg Fry on Richard Pinnell’s Cathnor label. Egg Fry is fantastic, highly recommended – teeming with detail, the frying/cooling egg sounds like an army of insects and unexpectedly synth-like. And here’s a few streams that are also pretty damn good.

Here’s some unbelievably beautiful recordings of ice cracking on a frozen lake, from Andreas Bick’s website. Fucking amazing stuff (editor’s note: I concur.  Sounds so ‘radiophonic’ it is hard to believe it is a natural phenomenon).

I quite like Wire-writer Will Montgomery’s stuff, too (editor’s note: ‘Wire writer’?!?  Heh, heh – how quickly we forgive, eh?). Some lovely frogs he’s recorded here.   His Thames recordings available from the Compost and Height blog.  Bill Fontana has also done some fun stuff around the Thames.  Eric La Casa also excellent in the water recording stakes.

Here’s a modestly successful one of my own, difficult to capture accurately because of the massive difference in dynamic range between the wash cycle and the spin cycle.  Length, on this occasion, due to preserving the narrative of the machine’s process and presenting the recording for what it was – plus it seemed patronising to assume that a listener couldn’t handle listening to the process unfold in its own time. If you want to skip out the detailed, hypnotic but highly repetitive riff section then you can see where the action starts on the Soundcloud wave form. The final oscillations are epic (editor’s note: indeed they are, Seth’s washing machine puts many noise artists to shame).

Hope you get a kick out of at least some of that. What a beautiful sounding world we live in!

I couldn’t agree more.

—ooOoo—

P.S. The version of the classic Adam and the Ants logo above is by jakeford.

« Previous Page

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.