human knotty complexity : joe murray on katz mulk, daniel carter/george lyle/fritz welch, downer canada and brb>voicecoilMarch 27, 2017 at 6:04 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: andrea kearney, ben knight, ben morris, brb>voicecoil, daniel carter, dictaphone, downer canada, drone, fritz welch, george lyle, graphic score, improv, iorram records, jazz, joe murray, katz mulk, muza muza, noise, power moves library, sacred tapes
Katz Mulk – Katzenungen (Sacred Tapes)
Daniel Carter, George Lyle, Fritz Welch – So Long Farewell Repair live at The Glad Cafe (Iorram Records)
Downer Canada – Snarl like a Poem (Power Moves Library)
brb>voicecoil – Cloth White Skin (Muza Muza)
Katz Mulk – Katzenungen (Sacred Tapes) C30 Cassette
A new project from N-AU stalwarts Ben Knight, Ben Morris and Andrea Kearney* should make the most cynical of listeners burp – but I can report back from my comfortable trench that Pepto Bismol is not, repeat not needed. This Mulk slips down easy as sherry trifle.
Knight continues his imagineer work for a darker-Disney building a domestic palace of half-song and chant. He adds delicate plonks with increasing grace and moves the air with a palm, then a knee. And Morris knits these materials into a thread-bare tapestry that celebrates the tiny, the small and the microscopic. Kearney provides the graphic score…
Side one: truth bandits, engaging rumble of an outboard motor, the squished goose honk of decaying electronics and wet hiss of traffic. A voice says ‘squeal, squeal’, a bell rings and tinfoil gets crushed underfoot, a plate spins. Alligator goodbyes!
Side two: roar of a space heater, hectic metallic scrape, a voice battles sense against ripped rubber electronics, taped blister pack wrench overlaid by gentle footsteps. The plumber’s mate fouls up the pipes leading to complex knocking (at the7 min 30 second mark) that is both wet and dry, hard and soft, immediate yet attached to memory.
The end is heralded with the kind of repetition pin-ball/gong-strike/marble rolling I could listen to forever.
(iv)Outcome & Impact
The rare art of listening is engaged in this most rewarding of tapes. I’m guessing this is a patchwork of ‘live’ and ‘studio’ jamz with the idea of sparse pushed through a nozzle, so the language bacteria grows in a dish; the rattles of accompaniment become as real as altitude ear-pop.
One to catch in a butterfly net no matter what!
*a most fortuitous bumping into Andrea enlightens me that her presence on this tape is purely graphic score construction rather than future-ghost player. But FFW to the planned Katz Mulk disc on Singing Knives coz itsa trio of all-three-players-playing!
Daniel Carter, George Lyle, Fritz Welch – So Long Farewell Repair live at The Glad Cafe (Iorram Records) CD
Real-proper JAZZ chips from this sax/piano, double bass, percussion trio and sadly the last ever recording from Glasgow bass-face George Lyle.
The dials are set for human knotty complexity rather than eviscerating fire and that is all super-smashing-great for me.
It’s like this. My simple mind is pulled in several directions at once. George saws an undercurrent of resin-soaked wood so it glows like a fire biding its time. Fritz supplies the sizzle of gentle rain on the griddle – a liquid bada-bing! Sax sings for the brassy siren then Daniel moves to a dusty piano playing all the in-notes outwards.
But each piece tightens the jewels further, like when you find the bite on an old socket set and each bolt and nut clicks an extra few revolutions. This is true open-jaw music that plays the lush valleys between the craggy peaks.
Even the most casual listen reveals ear-gems and brain worms: the guilt marimba, felt ravioli all come seeping out a blowhole and begin rolling around my feet.
But weirdest of all, the closing minutes of ‘News Loom’ seem to suck god-save-the-queen backwards over all the rippled sonic scree. That can’t be right eh?
Shit! What more do you want me to say? This threesome are impressive enough as lone gadgies but the sum is most definitely more when all those ears and fingers (and feet) get warm and busy.
Downer Canada – Snarl like a Poem (Power Moves Library) CD-r in classy envelope and free digital download
This slim CD-r is packaged between two pieces of thick card and makes me think that the music is being coddled in some way – like it’s a delicate thing that needs protection from my fat, greasy fingers.
But when played ‘Snarl like a Poem’ is surprisingly robust – a full frequency exploration of brushed steel flux and hissing radiators. It knocks like the ancient plumbing attached to your old head (a gaseous ghost in the pipes, hurtling through copper joints , whipping right and left) until you are not quite sure what’s going on.
And then…a feedback suite; a feeble keening smooth as marble. Limp Morse that rolls as a cylinder would over a deep ice puddle yet fuzzy at the edges like someone just smeared my glasses with Vaseline – most agreeable!
Tones on the edge of collapse send oily ripples through my ear canal, a lo-tech Eliane Radigue, until things blister, bubble and pop.
Dry mouth sounds… ‘kah’ and ‘schah’ and ‘khow’ reveal dusty language roots. Is this the lost speech of the sand-encrusted pharaohs? Or perhaps a sound poet’s secret library hiss?
What was once ultra-minimal collects the grit of a classic Dictaphone approach with each surface filled and smoothed-over with fizzing huss.
It fills my head with sweet drizzle!
brb>voicecoil – Cloth White Skin (Muza Muza) C25 Cassette and digital download
The perfectly dank sound that joins the dots between classic long-form drone, field recording and musique concrete.
Kev Wilkinson’s bands Drill, Big Road Breaker and the more recent brb>voicecoil, have been stalwarts of the Newcastle noise/drone scene for as long as I can remember. After years of steady, underground activity his brb>voicecoil delighted a whole new generation in a triumphant performance at last year’s TUSK festival.
This cool-looking tape is the next instalment in an epic story.
Using source material recorded over an 8 year period the side-long title track ‘Cloth White Skin’ weaves an arcane industrial process (cast-iron rollers flattening bone fragments / blast furnace being stoked with terrible energy / huge tumbling spikes) with the spluttering of cold liquid metal and the distant thunder of Xipe Totec .
But it’s not all spitting-bluster. The final short movement is an introspective shudder, a ‘someone’s-just-walked-over-my-grave’ uneasiness of rusty tin slowly coming to rest.
The itchy rhythm of ‘Crack Vessel’ mimics exactly the enamel rattling of a child’s tooth in a jam jar. The accompanying offset, slopped-shunts of sound remind me of dancers limping after brutal rehearsals, all sore toes, ripped calves and swollen ankles.
The closer, an aptly named ‘Vent 2’ treats us to a Heath-Robinson industrial scene. Grey gas escapes under enormous pressure from cracked terracotta pipes. The hullabaloo flips a series of leather coated buttons to perform an organic, irregular beat. The surrounding soundscape is crisp with busy electric crackles and fades into one lone drummer drumming.
A taste of the grim future? Automation gone loco?
Regard the prophetic warnings of brb>voicecoil!
sliver lizards: joe murray on olivier di placido, fritz welch, kelly jayne jones, ross parfitt, jon collin, yol, culverOctober 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: beartown records, culver, early music, fritz welch, joe murray, jon collin, kelly jayne jones, matching head, olivier di placido, ross parfitt, winebox press, yol
Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch – untitled cassette (tape, humansacrifice, HS0010, edition of 75 or download)
Kelly Jayne Jones & Jon Collin – Sheffield, 9 August 2015 (tape, Early Music)
Jon Collin with Ross Parfitt – Münster, 10 April 2016 (tape, Early Music)
Yol – This Item Has Little Or No Scrap Value (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 48)
Culver – Gateshead Soup (tape, Matching Head, MH213)
Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch – Untitled
Absolutely no nonsense Technicolor squall and dramatic brokenness from that most hectic of fluffer duos: Di Placido/Welch.
Like stitches in yr lip this stings a little as it wrenches new shapes outta junk-drums and garrotted-guitar. Frantically itchy as scabies it is… the scabby metre has you shuffling on and off the hot foot never quite sure where to hang your hat. But I’m diggin’ it… diggin’ it bad.
I’m listening with an abstracted grin now. I just can’t help it; the reptile part of my brain fair goofs on the hard/soft, fast/slow choices being presented to my dense grey lumps. But at the same time my debonair city-slicker love-node is lapping up the lightening-fast interactions and improvisations between flapping pig skin and eviscerated coiled steel. The perfect music for the metrosexual caveman perhaps? Shit… let’s throw a party to find out. I’m on nibbles.
Is that some post-production fingering I can hear in the backmasked vox that plays us out of this side? Wonderful, wonderful… let’s get some electronics soaking up this gravy to deglaze the nuggets.
The other side* made me squirt like Slaine in full-on berzerker mode such is the slap and clatter, the fizzing rip and hi-hat chit-chit-chit-bash. Like an erotic jazz experience it manages to create that brassy plateau of living a constant high… then stops on a teasing sixpence.
It’s not all hi-NRG jizz-riffles though. One small section’s a right downer of industrial ‘booms’ and ‘crashes’ played out next to a juddering (bass) washing machine that segues neatly into a promise of friction and anatomically crude charcoal drawings. Phewy.
The art of the improviser occasionally gets ladled with faux academic nonsense from highfaluting bodies, boards and authorities. A pox on them. This is vital as hydrogen and alive as a fresh pig because it’s free from any grey-beard permission.
Play this at your next lecture and watch Prof implode!
*I’ve used the rather unhelpful ‘this side’ and ‘other side’ descriptors because there’s nothing as bourgeois as track titles or side demarcations on this babycake. Total Hardcore yeah.
Kelly Jayne Jones & Jon Collin – Sheffield, 9 August 2015
On seeing the title a ripple of excitement forced me to check last year’s journal and I can see I was right there, in Sheffield, when this piece was recorded.
…firmly camped upstairs for the rest of the show Jon Collin & Kelly Jones played guitar & flute but nary a note was plucked or blown. 99% of the sound came from feedback tones as fresh as a handful of snow down the trousers. Thin and minty… menthol smoke sprouting from the fingers. Control was the watch word and even a dropped e-bow couldn’t interrupt the stately ‘hhiiiimmmmm’…
Listening back to this, in a domestic setting, seems to downplay the austerity and dial up the astringent complexity. The sharp guitar tones (sliver [Editor’s note: I suspect a typo but am leaving it in for the sake of poetry] lizards shimmer across cool marble) mesh perfectly with the breathy feedback/flute (crystallised ginger crushed into powder and applied to the forehead) and create a ritual of pure transcendent beauty.
I’m often lost in the fog of metal or jazz (crashing and slashing) but the paleness and gentle simmering of these mercurial sounds has tickled my mind forever with its frosty bliss.
Jon Collin with Ross Parfitt – Münster, 10 April 2016
It starts with twin guitar plucking, wild and free as a Manx cat, but stretching out time into an almost cosmic nothingness.
However sparse and spectral this recording is though there’s a right-in-your-face attitude with some heavy clarity. Those brushed-steel sounds emerge from the plucks adding an odd gamelan ‘kong’ to the twisting strings, reminding us we are on a journey. From here to where doesn’t really matter but the steady pad of the foot and swing of the arm propels this music constantly forward.
Don’t look back.
A lake of clear water lays still and calm. Birds (too far away to distinguish species) swoop lazily overhead. All is peaceful until the standing stones begin to quiver, small pebbles roll down to the lake sending ripples across the surface drawing patterns that weave and double cross.
A watery maze appears. The walls clear enough to see through but refractions set up a prism effect showing the landscape with a rainbow light. Glorious colours indeed… but what’s that smoke on the horizon?
Yol – This Item Has Little Or No Scrap Value
Ever wondered what JAZZ would sound like after Yol had had a fair go at it? Wonder no more as ‘Finley Crafted’ kicks like a Sidney Bechet joint with bruised ribs. Yakety-Sax and Ten-to-Two drums are pushed out a porthole but the pulse… the all important swing remains. It’s all syncopated beats and bomb-detonation throat, man. Gosh! This is heady, heady head-est schizz right from the get-go. These ‘live’ recordings are juddering with malevolence and stark contrast. ‘Bleed Mouth Parts’ and ‘Trapped in Portland Works’ are two of the most violent and brutal recordings I think I’ve ever heard. Sorry Extreme Noise Terror. Yol has beaten your usually exceptional ROOAAOOORRROR trump with a single (but scientifically focused) gob, cheap spanner set and polystyrene block.
Real rubble is thrown about for ‘Bird Feathers’ a rare decent into bass with (what sounds like) a fully pressurised deep sea diving suit dragged down a spiral staircase – as you listen, ear cocked against the air tube, it pulses ‘Vuphhhh-chk-hhhoooofff’.
The final boof , ‘A Medium Experience’ brings the hooligan noise back into home territory with the warmness and (dare I say it) comfort of interlocking manacles. Again my jass-ears are focused on the clattering percussion; the tinka-link of scrap metal that divides time like a punk Dejohnette. Do I have to say it? Essential. Essential and life affirming motherfuckers!
Culver – Gateshead Soup
What is there left to say about Culver? The most singular of artists he does his thing with no regard for fashion or favour. You’re into it or you’re not.
This tape (same as the last and same as the next) was picked up at a live show and apparently not available via more ‘official’ channels. What? Less official than a regular Matching Head release… that’s like trying to copyright snowflakes, man.
But what’s it sound like? A slowly emerging landscape of loops that I’ve tried to scientifically represent (a) to (g):
(a) a foul machine heating up and (b) three solitary acoustic guitar notes
(a) with (c) brown organ smear
(c) and (d) foreboding doom rumble
(d) incorporating (e) bleak metallic thunder
(e) gives way to (f) plumes of black smoke rising over the battlefield
(f) gently diminishes for (g) Valium earthquake
(g) x 2 fades out incredibly slowly leaving you praying for a start to the endless nothingness…
Tags: beartown records, daniel padden, drew wright, fragment factory, fritz welch, joe murray, leif elggren, rekem records
Leif Elggren – Das Baank (vinyl LP, Rekem Records / Fragment Factory, rekem 09 / [FRAG36], edition of 300)
Daniel Padden, Fritz Welch & Drew Wright – The Forgotten Voices of Unclean Men (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 50)
Leif Elggren – Das Baank
Spooky bald-head Leif is one of the most out-est of coots around. While your chin-strokers would call this Sound Art I’d wrinkle up my nose, spit out the retort
and dribble into a labelled test tube.
The insert that comes with Das Baank talks about the sin of Usury and various other clues point the concept towards finance and the giant mess it makes of the world. Hey… why not? We’re all being fucked by Das Baank… why not meter out some sonic revenge?
I press play eagerly. I once watched Leif stalk around Brighton a few years ago with his Guds Soner boots on and this cat is smooth like greased milk.
And, while this is more rawkus than I was expecting it’s still a well-composed and measured gift. The intro sounds like a fat kid sitting on a church organ, struggling to get comfortable; huffing out duck-egg farts while angels with wide pores let lazy breath hover between slack mouths. The battle of the airs (massive complex man-made pipes versus weak and corrupt humans) is fought out for five minutes or so, each block of sound hauled up like those Stonehenge Bluestones, until (spoiler alert) it’s the machines that win. Like terminator or something? (A1)
The remainder of side one is made up of meditations on deep iceberg groans (A2) or the sound of my old electric razor uselessly trying to shave potatoes (A3). Yeah. This is one intriguing mix.
Flipping this like a damp pancake I find myself in an altogether more hostile environment. I need to don the goggles for (B1), hastily re-titled in my yeast-bound brain to ‘Flash Gordon’s Rocket Ship’, spitting black lightning from a tin arse. The ambient breather (B2) is the exact sound a ping-pong ball makes when balanced on taut electrified strings. But this time all the electrics happen in a long copper pipe. You dig?!
We get smaller still on (B3), the inside of a lovely leathery accordion where you are a dust-mite battered by the stale whoosh of pressure – very holy and that. Expecting more sound art smears I’m taken aback to hear, on the closer (B4), a field recording of Shane Embury’s bass amp on extreme overload blustering and blistering form before the other chaps kick in. You suffer!
Daniel Padden, Fritz Welch & Drew Wright – The Forgotten Voices of Unclean Men
This is the god-damn BOMB man!
Imagine all this lung-pop and distil it into a Power Trio glass beaker. We’ll ask that Clapton, Bruce and Baker to hang up their psychedelic rags for a minute and embrace the lips, teeth, throat and tongue as you bubble with the Bunsen.
But wait-on. The style is no-way-Jose jowly-flubber! No wet-mouth farts here boss. It’s more of a composed ting with ‘sung’ parts and a manly chorus backing up like goofy Jordanaires.
You want examples eh? Get this… a sick-doofus refrain is launched into the sky and picked up and used as a beach ball while a revolving door of chaps embellish with a wack-wack solo. It’s gloriously entertaining and (dare I say it) fun! In fact… I‘m smiling as wide as a smug old goat while all three cake-holes gibber and hoddle, flap and waddle.
The range of hissing, whooping, ch-ch-ch-ching, yelps and scat sounds is remarkable. It covers the holy shaman in her yurt to the hysterical commuter on the monorail; Laurie Anderson’s ‘ooooooo’ riff to the self-conscious bluffer blowing hot air into a disinterested marketing conference.
All-in-all it’s an all consuming ritual. Both sidelong pieces are wrapped up tight like a Quality Street but a careful listen (and I’ve hoofed this time & time again) makes me think Mr D Padden has been busy with the shears going ‘snip snip’.
You puritans… relax!
The edit is as sensitive and slick as a Nile Rodgers lick. Each voice is perfectly symmetrical to its breathy comrades. Taking a leaf outta the big book D Boon & his Minutemen wrote there is a pure equality; each vocal part is balanced and essential to its partner building up like a tripod… a human pyramid as the babble is kicked like a limp Hacky Sack between each soul in their 60 degree corner.
Can you live another day without knowing what happened when doo-wop sucked a Righteous Oxide cream puff?
You know what to do.
Tags: fritz welch, joe murray, jon marshall, luke vollar, singing knives
Fritz Welch – Nothing to offer (tape, Singing Knives, SK024)
[Editor’s note: both Joe and Luke got hold of pre-release copies of this tape and decided, independently of each other, that this glorious racket needed documenting. As each account is brief and rigorous (fast and bulbous?) I decided to publish the pair. Any investigative journalists suspicious that this positivity may be enhanced by Joe and Jon Marshall of Singing Knives being in cahoots can cool it. ‘Conflict of interest’ means fuck all ‘down’ here in the no-audience underground. If we don’t blow our own trumpets, who will?]
In our end of Newcastle there’s a special dance we do to welcome a drummer’s solo album up the hill, past the motorcycle shops and down Westgate Road; sort of a step-slide-shuffle (with a Richard III lurch) to pay homage to one of our favourite sub-genres.
Fritz Welch, noted drummer, vocal jaxx-man, pen-artist and collaborator beds down in an Italian Synagogue to deliver a super-tight drum performance par excellence. While many a stick man takes the blank canvas as a licence to bada-boom-bada-bing all over the shop (and there’s nothing wrong with that) Fritz is playing a longer game by introducing metallic scrape, sarcastic hooting, chain rattle and bomb-like membranous explosions to the un-named affair. Taken as a whole 20 minute piece this percussive interference has as much in common with the movie soundtrack than non-idiomatic improv.
Tension builds as the creature rattles the rusty shackles pinning him to the dungeon wall. Overpowering the guard with a single blow to his unguarded temple he unhitches the ornate key and ancient locks squeal open. Slowly, menacingly he lopes up the stairs, each heavy foot plodding with violent purpose on the worn stone steps. Finding the master aslumber he wraps stubby fingers round the exposed pale throat and grins through a ruined mouth as the life hisses out of his pampered tormentor.
The soft-lob of the drum warms my cockles and melts my shoulder-knots like cheap butter in the sun. Black Yoga?
Side two is recorded in a cleansing sauna and as sharp as a hit of authentic kimchi. Fritz is a huffing and puffing (even pulling off a Rat Pack croon) as slaps are administered to assembled red arse-cheeks.
The soft mechanics (neurons firing, brain fizzing like sherbet) that take place between manicured fingers and groomed gob-hole make the percussive clatter fit oh-so neatly into spluttering mouth-jaxx splatter.
We take it for granted that kidneys, liver and spleen go about their business unnoticed, just efficiently chugging away 24/7. But here the improvisation gland has been tweaked with spice until it fucking glows; spurting out hot routines, classic scrape n’ pop and the close-ear hiss that make this a gloriously inclusive listen.
Fritz speaks deeply.
we all cry doing the Richard, dragging our legs so feet twist into miniature snow shovels. Damn!
Percussion side: Our man does some brain boom bap interface of the more subtle and measured variety, using the space to illuminate his initially hesitant probing of the kit. A sudden ‘kaboom!!’ jumps out of the silence and has me worrying about giving the kids nightmares. No need for sweat bands or constipated gurning – let’s see which bit does what, yes? There are brief flurries of rapitty rap which soon get discarded for epiglottal pivotal fumbles in the back seat. Brave for a first date? Undoubtedly.
Vocal side: Close up recording with none of the cavernous reverb from the previous side. There is percussion of some sort, pretty hep dragging and cranking noises that Fritz drools over with slobbering fub stumps, creaking a rainbow in the damn sediment. Soft murmers like a love sick vessel calling for me (swims out to sea in moonlight).
Tags: blood stereo, chocolate monk, collage, dictaphonics, dylan nyoukis, f. ampism, fritz welch, humansacrifice, ikuisuus, improv, joe murray, kieron piercy, no audience underground, noise, spoils & relics, tapes
Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.305, edition of 50)
F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.286)
F.Ampism – The Ancient Wing (tape, IKUISUUS, ikasus-046)
f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole (CD-r, humansacrifice, HS009)
Kieron Piercy & Dylan Nyoukis – An Unripe Preoccupation with Nonagenarian Moroseness
Mr Kieron and Mr Dylan present a 27 minute odyssey – a minute for every year of Kurt Cobain’s life on this coppery beast.
Just in case you’ve stumbled on RFM from Cuba or something here’s the back story. KP hails from inland Megalopolis Leeds and plays tapes and devices in the hypnotic-power trio Spoils & Relics. DN plays similar tapes and devices but this time from the damp coast of Brighton with memory-scrub duo Blood Stereo. Together these gently glowing men methodically flip the switches in my head marked ‘fump’, ‘whirr’ and, most importantly ‘squelch’. Right on!
Kurt’s early years are depicted as a gentle hissing – a rising of the sap through hollow young legs no doubt! Cheeky. But by Junior High the AM Radio starts to fill his blonde little head with snatches of ‘The Mac’ stripped of everything apart from Stevie Nick’s breathy acrobatics (she sighs like a pro), each expulsion of C02 piped through an intricate system of fur-lined loops.
Our man comes of age. And while much ink is spilled over his punk rock credentials (the Flipper jean jacket patches, the Scratch Acid mixtapes) little time is spent studying his Linguaphone experiments, playing Greek Progressive Rock through that new Walkman contraption, gurning along while dropping potatoes into a ceramic bowl. But of course Piercey & Nyoukis nail this moment perfectly. History is rewritten – check your facts Charles R Cross!
The move from Fecal Matter to Nirvana is a small one, but still important to note. With eyes firmly fixed on the prize of rock explosion, a series of stretched-out faux frog calls batter my poor eardrums… but all rippled and slushed. Some said the decision to open that infamous Reading Festival set with a choir of Pelicans was a career-limiting move (and some still blame the drummer) but those brazen sea-birds honk with a mournful timbre – a cosmic disaffection rather than a cry for raw herring that says more about The Stooges and the taxonomy of ‘alternative rock’ than any limp chord or riff.
The birth of a child and a marriage takes a psychic toll as serious as Geffen contracts so it’s no wonder the mood turns darker with a comfortable helplessness – skittering pops and shuffles leaking out of my tiny earbuds mirroring the sound of grazed knees.
Now it’s near the end; the final moments amplify the torment of ‘the Rome incident’ and track the disembodied voices of the medical staff and the cardio vascular crack of the ribs. It’s not comfortable listening, but then again what is? You want comfortable? Drop some Mantovani. You want real? Plug into this delightful moroseness and let those silent tears well up and spill from your fat eyelids.
F.Ampism – Pattern Interrupt, The Ancient Wing, f.ampism & f.welch – shouting a hymn down the cosmogonic dream hole
All hail F.Ampism, king of the Quiet Village and noisy jungle!
Pattern Interrupt creates a sweaty negative zone where swollen lacewings fripp by at ear level and recycled bicycle bells become a spooked gamelan.
If you peak from under your oversized pith helmet you can watch the noble tribes holding a soft revolt, a velvet coup by waving their iPhones at the gawking tourists, SIM cards full of classic Ubuweb downloads. The cultural incongruence is too much for some holiday makers and they run screaming through the sinister Swiss Cheese plants. Those that remain hawk it up for pregnant yuks.
But it’s not all Hugh Tracey tropical offerings. The frosty steppes get a look in too. Picture a landing site for a burned-out cosmonaut; thousands of miles of desolation stretch out in all directions with only the unthinking wind for company and a boner in your spacesuit.
Mark my words. There’s a yearning quality to these recordings. A longing for a retrofitted future where Margaret Mead pursued foul-electronics rather than Anthropology and Blind Lemon Jefferson composed for the frost Calliope. This alternate future/past is best played out on ‘The Infinite Inward’ a wormhole through NYC docks (circa 1946) via Moondog’s fully open third eye.
No-Audience Exorcists take note: ‘Did you mean Wasabi’ features some of the most evil wonk-muttering, like the wolves that live in the wall of our haunted house. ‘X’ marks the spot me hearties!
The Ancient Wing tape has found a home on the awesome Ikiuisuus label* and folds the incidental music from Ulysses 31 into World in Action Technicolor. The separate tracks, peppered with ‘bloops’ and ‘bleeps’, work as a perfect whole and sound like a beautiful analogue lava-lamp slowly melting in a head shop.
And, overall the mood is funky; damn funky. I don’t get the opportunity to use the ‘F-word’ much on these here pages, but as any funkateer knows, it’s all about an appreciation of space, of slipping your timing and mining the absence. What you leave out determines what the listener has to put in whether it’s on the god-damn one or not. You gotta work for your funk and F.Ampism makes my pulse rate flitter.
But, apart from getting me a hot foot this collection is giving my memory centre a good old going over. The partial, ever mutating tunes and rippling, bubbling synths that lick like a sauce kick off a series of half-remembered sensory dreams: the toilet smell of Whitby, this hiss of an opening vacuum flask, the feel of vinyl car seats in July. I feel like a dormant part of my brain is flickering into life, the lights are starting to glow. An aid to meditation and psychic recovery!
On the quite beautifully packaged Shouting a Hymn Down the Cosmogonic Dream Hole our very own F.Ampism is joined by my favourite transplanted Texan – Fritz Welch. The theme is jazz-tinged industry with a busy, busy earful of tinkering taps, bells, squawks and diddles moving across eight untitled micro-moments. I’m delighted to hear Fritz is back behind the drum kit again with super-sharp scattering as dry as twigs vibrating the piggy membranes. F.Ampism is majoring on Dictaphones and I have to say, one Dicta fan to another, this playing is nothing short of astonishing: witty, quick of thumb and lyrical.
Although the energy level is cracked up to Jolt Cola levels that doesn’t mean any detail is lost in the delightful kerfuffle. ‘Recorded in Brighton & Glasgow’ proudly proclaims the label and I’m guessing this is no clinical studio jam but a warm-up, pre-audience knock-about that captures all the spontaneity of a show without the beer-fug and crowd noise.
The first couple of tracks hit that pretty classic drum/Dicta duo bullseye, and after a while voices, and longer snatches of tape get fed into the audio-mincer. My bristly ear picks up some of Fritz’s Crumbs on the Dumpster tales of youthful indulgence amid the clatter and flummox. But nothing stands still. The subtle sound of coughs and whistles slide into the brain-pan and add an intimacy sadly lacking in your Incus-wannabe releases. Wibbley-wobbly mbira tones get plucked and tea cups jitter on bone china saucers; it’s all grist to the collective sound-mill but never feels slapped on with a trowel. That old balancing act – being free in spirit but precise in intent is easily soft-shoed across Niagara. The double-headed Fritz-ism wants you to listen and ENJOY listening.
So Enjoy. Do it!
*Hey cheap skates! Ikiuisuus not only brought us F.Ampism on this very day but you have to check out these free downloads from a whole bunch of beards and forest folk on their colourful website. The label that keeps on giving eh?
Tags: belied gunaiko, bill orcutt, crank sturgeon, dylan nyoukis, electronica, fritz welch, harappian night recordings, human heads, humbolt ventures, improv, joe murray, joincey, jointhee, jon collin, jooklo duo, julian bradley, junko, luke poot, marvo men, new music, no audience underground, noise, papal bull, paul steere, peak signal 2 noise, ps2n, roman nose, sharon gal, sheffield live community television, stuckometer, sweat tongue, television, the family elan, the piss superstition, trans/human, turk geko, vimeo, vocal improvisation, yol
Peak Signal 2 Noise (TV show, Sheffield Live Community TV and Vimeo)
[Editor’s note: amused by the impressionistic ‘off the TV’ snaps that Joe sometimes tweets I encouraged him to use the same technique in illustrating this article. Thus what you are seeing has more to do with the workings of Joe’s phone camera (and fevered bonce) than the clear, sharp, properly lit and framed images you can expect from this excellent television programme. OK, over to Joe…]
It’s seems to be a truism in broadcasting that music TV has to suck really, really bad.
Cast your mind back to the mashed potato blandness of The White Room, the jokey yoof-arse of The Tube and the god-awful sweaty slobbering from Jools Holland (which is apparently still on).
What should be so simple, folk playing music with a camera aimed at them, turns into an excuse for zany camera angles, ill-thought out concepts and paedophile presenters. Ugh. It’s grim. I rest my case m’lud. [Editor’s note: hey, SnubTV had its moments!]
Thankfully Peak Signal 2 Noise is different fishy kettle. There’s no presenter to foul things up, no false stage antics or miming fools. It’s just a camera in face of the no-audience underground.
Cut up like a mix tape, the show moves swiftly between a whole buncha beards in a whole bunch of situations (live show footage, specially recorded pieces, installation performances) keeping the energy up and creating spaces to dream. Although edits are hard some interruptions blur the edges: a cheap kaleidoscope, raw fennel seeds bouncing on a speaker, frozen wasps, Yodel/Honkey and the Bubble Wrap man. On the seven episodes broadcast already you can expect to see…
· Jooklo Duo – Tender solo sax squall like free-jazz insects. Drums clatter in fur mittens. A sound so wonderfully clear and fresh it’s like a clear mountain stream running over polished cobbles.
· Human Heads – A real Dr Who vibe. That’s not saying this is Radiophonic; more like Ben & Hannah are playing parts of a broken Tardis for kicks.
· Humbolt Ventures– Glorious Sellotape jam. Rubbing and stroking are the order of the day with thin vibrations. Bullroarers in pt 2 induce coma.
· Bill Orcutt – Winged Eel finger-licking, blues shalom with naked foot.
· Luke Poot – No one does shame quite like Poot. Performance, the pink end of noise, a burst orange ball is honked like a rubber sax, lights pulled out flies, plastic toast. Lead us Luke!
· Dylan Nyoukis – Multiple Vines flicker like cat’s eyes –the hottest tip yet from the dark monk.
· Papal Bull – Maplin shoplifters curse the day tape was invented. Slow torture of the C30.
· The Family Elan – Off-kilter yarbles from Transylvania (or something). A proper band!
· Sweat Tongue – No Wave roots with new (blue) boots. Treble cranked high like it should.
· Harappian Night Recordings – Those familiar stretched ferric sounds clash off Bali bonce with wide eyes.
· Roman Nose – Layers and layers of Cardiff chalk blown up (Roman) nose, hopping from frame to frame capturing the mauve kinetic holla. PLUS some bagpipe animation creep hidden elsewhere!
· Marvo Men – Free gong-poetry on a dusty floor in a freezing space. Every opportunity taken to push things beyond ‘here’ and into ‘there’ with head-folding results. A brave and true duo.
· Fritz Welch – Mental crenulations and high metallic wavering; clikerty fingerings and squeak in two glorious parts
· Stuckometer – Free Jizz overdrive for the ‘fuh’ generation from these boy legends.
· Junko – “Atttttahhhh-atttttaaahh. Ktchhttaaaaa. Tch-aaaaaahhhhh.”
· Sharon Gal – Granite-hard birdvoice dreamtime. Geysers scored for hot-ash hiss.
· Dylan Nyoukis/Luke Poot – This time together. In conversation via khat-o-phone. Explosive sinus and remorseful tutting like all the world’s Geography teachers at once.
· Turk Geko – Found footage, frowned frottage, grown pottage, hewn montage.
· YOL – Without a face he chants (gggrrrrrrrr) leaving few traces but ghastly thoughts.
· Belied Gunaiko – Silver cloud noise. The sound of pilots dozing off…
· The Piss Superstition – Transparent methods. A ‘how to’ guide if you will. But ingestion of foul liquids may, just may, play a part in the visceral rusty bliss-tronics.
· Jon Collin – Naked guitar (finger then slide) of ultimate sorrow. Salty harmonics from slack, bitter strings cry. Two-fer-one.
· Trans/Human – Mystery Machine hi-jinks full of fuzz, fizz and fixx. Taking pale ‘scree’ to the people like hotdogs.
· Joincey Jointhee – Word poems to a frosted tit. Superb fractured sentences folded together with abrupt and sudden breath. Curse the rain that stops the f-l-o-w.
· Crank Sturgeon – Electric Portraiture. Oh my Crank!
OK friends…I tried me hardest with those descriptions (for some reason this is so much harder than talking about records) so it’s probably best just to tune in really. If you are Sheffield based you can get this on the proper telly (9.00pm/Saturday/Channel 159). Jokers living in other locales can check out Vimeo for an identical web version and an archive of everything broadcast so far building up to an encyclopaedia of No Audience shenanigans. The series plans to run for 10 episodes which should take us almost up to Christmas. But, be warned, the busy bees behind the venture are looking to bust out in all different directions in 2015.
Stop reading. Start watching.
Tags: ben morris, chora, chris forsyth, collage, field recording, fritz welch, humansacrifice, improv, jaime fennelly, joe murray, lost wax, new music, no audience underground, noise, peeesseye, psykick dancehall, tapes
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 – 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.
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.
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.
Tags: chocolate monk, electronica, fritz welch, improv, joe murray, neil davidson, never come ashore, new music, no audience underground, noise, tapes, with lumps
With Lumps – Lumps for Lovin’ (CD, Never Come Ashore)
Neil Davidson – Stupid Techno (tape, self released)
Fritz Welch – Crumbs On a Dumpster (CD-R, Chocolate Monk, choc.257)
Ladies and gentlemen, RFM’s box-fresh co-conspirator lashes out for the second time. Loosen any tight clothing before proceeding. Over to Joe:
With Lumps – Lumps for Lovin’. This tasty duo come in two shapes, Fritz-shaped and Neil-shaped. Both residents of the mighty metropolis – Glasgow; both up to the elbows in side-projects and other groups, both blowin’ it mighty for the Northern free, free, free vibe. This is a brain-scrambler from the off with vomit-pink lettering on a calm sage-green cover adding to an illegibility index the Black Metaller would dig. With CD plucked from its mount and slopped into the cheap-o hi-fi I’m assaulted by some pitchy scrapes that shake my hangover loose. Furtive clattering enters the mix and everything ratchets up (more scrape, more clatter) making my eyeballs bulge a little. I take a quick break to study the sleeve notes, just to make sure. Yup – this is Neil Davidson on guitar (and amplifier) and Fritz Welch on percussion and electronics. That’s it. Two dudes rubbing and a’ scratching on fairly pedestrian instruments to make a most singular racket. What marks this out from a lot of improv clatter is the dynamics…a lot of this chuff stays in the midzone, keeping itself level, fearing the Mariana Trench of bass. But this platter is lurching from reductionist quiet to deep-throbbing membrane action in a jiffy. I can see why the amplifiers get a star billing because the deep amp hum adds a solid base to flick these sonic-bogeys about the precise and professional studio tracks. The lengthy live piece ‘National Bird of England’ has a very different presence. The in-the-momentness is magnified and scrutinised by many pairs of eyes with a greater emphasis on tension and drama. Presently, geometric waffle shapes snap into vision forming a grid over the music allowing me to plot coordinates on the twin axes ‘metallic’ and ‘gaseous bulb’. Such ‘pick and drop’ playing has developed a vocabulary of its own over the last decade so it’s juicy and refreshing to hear a group reject the tired timing clichés the auld boys clutch so dear. For the Lumps, textures are twanged in an organic and clotted way; more like a churning cream than a call and response exercise. In fact ‘Plinth Glass Nebula’ melds in such an atom-tight way it’s impossible to hear the edges to each player – they have become a Studio Ghibli-style amorphic blob…a lump. Hey! Job done fellas!
Like I said, both lumps have a whole bunch of extra curricula shit going on, so in the spirit of going to the far end of a fart for the sub-underground, here’s some more manic humps.
Neil Davidson – Stupid Techno. A nice recycled tape belches forth a grumbling glitch-scape; like a malfunctioning machine, a skipping CD and most strangely, a rubber glove squeaked on a draining board. I don’t claim to know much about this kind of scene. I’ve got a Pan Sonic album that’s groovy but apart from that – nothing. So it’s with clear ears I’m a listening to this little tape so forgive me if I lapse into the obvious! My first thought is language based – is this stupid techno or stupid techno? I’ll plump for the latter because there is a rhythmic pull to this as outrageously camp as the Trans-Europe Express. Side one concentrates on the dying machine with a bunch of short vignettes, each exploring a facet of ‘blip, blip, blip’ as the circuits spazz out, collapse and huff their last hot, electric breath. There’s some very nifty speaker to speaker action that makes me stand and stare at the stereo, head moving, like I’m recalling a particularly vigorous badminton final. Side two starts with genetically modified fireworks and a menacing silty roar. In fact this is downright surly with a lip curl and ‘watchyalookinat’ slouch that means business. The pieces here are longer too and stretch out, revelling in gray and grimy fur. Soft to the touch…but it leaves smears.
Fritz Welch – Crumbs On a Dumpster. Here’s another scene report from Chocolate Monk’s ‘Well Sliced Breath’ series, dedicated to capturing essential vocal-based compositions from some of this world’s most fancy cats. Fritz delivers a confident volume 5 made up of two squelched tracks; ‘The Triangulated Stumps’ and ‘Open the door Doctor West!’ OK…’Stumps’ first. This is a well mixed mousse (with lumps!). Kinda like finding popping candy in your sweet n’ sour sauce but not complaining…it all goes down the same hole right? For your crisp fiver you’re getting a very deliberate mix of strung out chimes with vocal chirrups all folded over into themselves to form stiff peaks of ‘wassat?’ A narrative is whipped together for a few seconds then a swift rug-pull leaves you flailing for hand holds or other points of reference. The dry mouth prevails so don’t expect any sloppy lippings here; it’s all about the hiss and the sigh, the grain of breath in miniature rather than cheek-popping gob-farts. Unmistakably a drummer’s album, this propels itself forward briskly with tight focus, neat edits and clear crisp resolution. ‘Doctor West’ is a more live-sounding affair with warm and clunky rolling tape-thunder merging into more glottal schlops and skinks. The paranoid whispering continues with sanity edges rubbed clear until I can see something moving inside. By the 8 minute mark there seems to be a malfunction in the occult space behind my ear, lodged like a curse. A backwards vomiting sound upsets the forest dwellers within who seek to appease me by blowing bubbles through black milk. Mists clear with the familiar Dictaphone burble, jagged jump-cuts, radio chatter about UFOs and my next-door-neighbour beating a dull tattoo against my eyelids. Not to mention the Triffid cock-knocking! Of course it’s all about the composition…sure the elements are fine and dandy but the placement and timing turn this from random Crayola scribble into Eva Hesse master-stokes. There is a submissive element to this kind of listening; you have to offer up some time and brain space to let the clotted sounds wander at random, picking up lint between stubby fingers and glaring accusingly at you. Another essential release on the Well Spliced Breath series…like Pokemon…you gotta catch ‘em all.
The With Lumps humps can be found at nevercomeashore.com. Neil’s tidy little tape is best located via the man himself firstname.lastname@example.org. Fritz’ hootenanny is jealously guarded by the order of Chocolate Monks.