happy new year humans: it’s the rfm zellaby list for two thousand and eighteen

January 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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That 2018 was a hard year for many eh?

The impact of recent seismic political and cultural change has reached its grubby hands into our lovely underground and started poking and prodding.  In 2018 I witnessed an underground scene fractured, where tempers were frayed and short.  Reasonable people and reasonable debate had given way to, barely disguised jealously, name-calling and shaming.  Social media, that onetime ally of the powerless, became a toxic swamp of subtweeting, humble bragging, opinion presented as fact and relentless negativity.

It’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  And yet…

There’s something so powerful about the ideas that accompany NAU/DIY music.  With little commercial expectation it still remains truthful and pure.  With no piper to pay we are free to pursue our own directions, explore strange cul-de-sacs and settle into comfortable dead ends.  Our music is often, literally, a gift.  Either between two real-life people connecting in any manner of means or, if using the ‘pay what you like’ option, a gift for the many we are yet to meet.

While it may be true that a DIY lifestyle rarely offers solutions, I feel it offers something approaching equal value.  It offers hope.  Hope that we can prevail in a toxic world, hope that invention, kindness and humility are still highly valued by some. Hope that we can create a safe space in a world that seems to be careering into a period of sustained traumatic shock.

For these reasons I feel, this year, it’s all the more important to celebrate this hope.

As you will know RFM spent most of 2018 hibernating and not all the RFM writers have had time to contribute so you are stuck with Rob, Luke and myself.

In a spirit of what Kathleen Hannah calls “non-competition and praise” we humbly present you the Zelleby lists 2018.

Rob Hayler

Happy New Year folks!  I wish you a peaceful 2019 and hope that 2018 left you smiling.  I realise that might be a vain hope given that the world is hurtling towards Armageddon but, hey, let’s leave the existential terror to one side for a few minutes and distract ourselves with talk of music.  It’s fine.  This is fine.  I SAID IT’S FINE.

*Ahem*

RFM being on hiatus for the majority of the year has been refreshing.  It hasn’t stopped me writing – add up my account of TUSK (below), my pieces for TQ Zine, various unfinished articles and a frankly embarrassing number of tweets and it totals around 15 thousand words – but the absence of pressure has invigorated my listening habits and left me untethered from critical consensus.  I’ve also found time for see monsd, my post-midwich recording project, and two albums of gurgling tweakage and heavy loopism have been followed by more high concept shenanigans with Posset and yol.  A collaboration with Stuart Chalmers will follow in due course.  I’m proud of how this has worked out and must give thanks again to Chrissie and Ross for donating the kit I am now hunched over.  Angels both.

Right then: lists, sort of.  I’ll mention a ‘proper label’, a ‘not really a label’ and then gesture towards recordings made by 27 acts that had me hovering two inches above the floor during 2018.

OFOCL

My ‘proper’ label of the year is Other Forms of Consecrated Life.  I’m currently halfway through an account of its many qualities which I hope to publish in the New Year so, for now, here are the bare facts of the matter.  Based in Scotland, OFOCL has released four albums since its inauguration in January of 2016.  It appears to have no online presence other than its Bandcamp page and these releases are only available digitally.  There are bare bones Discogslistings and a Twitter account, also set up in January 2016, which has sent a mere handful of tweets.  Each release is accompanied by a black and white photograph of an historical artefact, a museum piece, presented unreferenced and closely cropped on a plain background, thus shorn of context.  The aesthetic is both neatly coherent and pleasingly enigmatic.  Great logo too.  The tag-line on both Bandcamp and in the Twitter bio is as follows:

“Auditory excavations.  Eremetic Music.  Pareidolia.”

I will say more in due course.  I insist you check it out.

The ‘not really a label’ is ‘self-released on Bandcamp’.  My routine is well established: during the day I follow recommendations, mainly garnered from twitter, dutifully keeping a browser tab open for each.  On retiring to bed those that are ‘name your price’ are dozily downloaded to my ‘phone, either paying nowt or an amount depending on proximity to payday or whether my paypal account contains anything I can pass on.  Those that require a specific fee are placed on my wish list, triaged and either discarded or purchased according to taste and resources.  Releases acquired this way are listened to mainly via (surprisingly good) wireless headphones as I nod off, walk to and from work or busy myself around the house.  The huge majority of my life in music is now comprised of this process and I find it magical.  The efficiency, the frugality with which I can navigate an unimaginable catalogue, dizzying myself with novelty, whilst offering direct support to artists (who are sometimes also friends) is borderline miraculous.  I guess I can almost still understand preferring the physical exercise of crate digging – the rush of discovery, the thwap of sleeve on sleeve, the smell, the crackle of a run-in groove – but I’ve no time for anyone who scoffs at my alternative.  There are problems of course – some big – but that doesn’t stop Bandcamp being the most interesting thing to happen to music distribution since the mainstreaming of digital piracy in the 90s.

OK, my 27 recording artists of 2018 are below.  One or two of those mentioned might stretch the usual remit of this blog but, y’kno, fuck it.  Where a particular release has stood out, the link will take you directly to it but many of the artists featured have been prolific and are included in recognition of all the new pages in their own strange atlases. Given the ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ method by which I amassed most of this year’s highlights (“Gee Willikers! ‘Yesterday Rob’ has purchased a most fanciful download for ‘Today Rob’ to enjoy!”) the idea of a monolithic, numbered list seemed even more illegitimate than usual.  As such, may I present a new way of arranging my year’s favourites?  Everything that falls within the circles is bloody marvellous and absolutely worthy of your careful attention.  The closer it comes to the centre the more it chimed with me.  The alphabetical list of links is also a key to the graphic.  I think the solid red outermost circle might signify ‘the North East noise scene’ or ‘pastoral psych drone’.  Or maybe Kate Bush…

A             Adrian Shenton

B             Bridget Hayden

C             caroline mckenzie

D             chlorine

E              Chrissie

F              Clemency

G             Dale Cornish

H             Daniel John Williams

I               Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper

J              Depletion

K             Guttersnipe

L              Hawthonn

M            Helicopter Quartet

N             Ivonne Van Cleef

O             Kieran Mahon

P             Marlo Eggplant

Q             Naido

R             Penance Stare

S              Robert Ridley Shackleton

T              Saboteuse

U             Sectioned

V             SLEEPMASSK

W            SOPHIE

X             Spelk

Y              Stuart Chalmers

Z              Wizards Tell Lies

ZZ           Xqui

Concentric Circles

Some notes:

SOPHIE

UN-INSIDES

Firstly, the release that falls furthest from the usual ‘no-audience’ remit of this blog: OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES by SOPHIE.  In some nearby but alternate universe this has been the best selling album of the year by orders of magnitude.  It has a quality, in spades, that I value above almost any other when it comes to ‘pop’ music: it sounds like it has been beamed back to us from the future.  From the glorious permission of ‘It’s OK to Cry’ – a velvet crowbar opening your rib cage – to the industrial strength, mentholated joy of ‘Whole New World/Pretend World’ this is a triumph.  I didn’t pay much attention to the ‘end’ of year lists prematurely spunked over an appalled November and December but I assume this topped most of them.  How could it not, right?

MOST PLAYED

Let’s return to a scuzzy, black-painted upstairs room.  Possibly my most played single track of the year is a recording of a gig by Clemency at The Fenton pub in Leeds and which was made available afterwards to interested attendees (such as myself) via Dropbox.  How’s that for no-audience underground, fuckers!?  I don’t know if this piece – a cross-genre skittering collage of unplaceable emotions, clattering beats and sliding bass – is emblematic of her work in general but a resolution for 2019 is to check out her Soundcloud archive and her ongoing radio show.

Saboteuse

ONE OFFS

How about the indefinable masterwork X by Saboteuse on Crow Versus Crow, eh?  A tape that evoked a kind of eye-bugging wild-take, like the listener was a Warner Brothers toon that had wandered into a David Attenborough documentary edited by Herschell Gordon Lewis.  Or the all-conquering Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing) by Hawthonn?  A profoundly magical album that floats from the fecundity of the valley floor to the ageless moorland tops.  It’s been great to see Phil and Layla playing out – each version of ‘Lady of the Flood’ I see further securing its status as track of the year.  Scrying by Penance Stare was a revelation too – a model of deliberation in the face of rage and confusion, a head-clearing walk through a frozen dusk.

caroline mckenzie

PROLIFICISM

As already mentioned, several of the artists listed have taken advantage of the ease offered by Bandcamp and have been busy filling chests with treasure.  Chief amongst these is caroline mckenzie whose thoughtful, beautiful, longform albums are, on the surface, as welcome and restoring as warm sand underfoot but always have an emotional complexity revealed by close listening.  Kieron Mahon has had it good too.  My favourite of several equally excellent releases is Big Wheel – a kosmische journey with a utopian groove that reminds me at times of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights’, which is the highest praise of course.  chlorine also filled a swimming pool with fluid, odd tasting, eye-stinging (sorry, that’s enough chlorine jokes) albums.  I had Grassi pegged as a (very talented) drone artist having just heard Silk Trees and Solace but listened with increasing interest as later releases started to more resemble the aesthetic of his terrific photographic collages.  Special mention must also be made of Matt Dalby who has been tirelessly cataloguing his life and artistic endeavours with YouTube and other social media.  A small band of followers, myself included, have enjoyed his vocal improvisations, his accounts of lengthy walks, his comics about autism and his videos about eating insects as snack food.  A hefty body of work is gathering, documenting a unique worldview.  Finally for this section I’m going to shamelessly lump together A WHOLE COUNTRY, like a giant fistful of multi-coloured playdoh in the hands of a naughty toddler, and proclaim this ‘The Year of the Dragon’.  2018 revealed to me a bunch of Welsh underground music pulled together by Ash Cooke (a.k.a. Chow Mwng) and the Dukes of Scuba zine.  Possibly my favourite of these artists was Xqui who worked tirelessly to get approximately nine million tracks up on Bandcamp and, amazingly, kept the quality control needle wavering around ‘superb’ for the whole year.

Adrian Shenton

DRONE/NOISE

Now a paragraph on the genres I am perhaps most closely associated with.  Should you wish your noise to be as bleak, desolate and hostile as a nuclear winter then brace yourself for Final Exit by the extraordinary Depletion.  If your nihilism is of a more cosmic strain – At the Mountains of Madness rather than The Road, say – then I recommend The Transmission by Naido which is a deep dive into turbid waters with an entertaining Lovecraftian back-story.  The soul music continues with the self-titled SLEEPMASSK, which provides an unnerving subcutaneous vibration which somehow feels corrective.  head/rush(ed) by Marlo Eggplant is a collection of curios, miniatures, sketches and exploratory procedures given coherence by a formidable aesthetic, irresistible charisma and dry humour.  Adrian Shenton’s The House That Jack Built is constructed from the cawing of jackdaws, my favourite of the mighty corvids, and thus wins this year’s ‘fuck, I wish I’d thought of that myself’ prize.  Spelk has the great fortune to sound exactly like an inspired collaboration between Neil Campbell and Daniel Thomas.  Possibly because it is.

Wizards Tell Lies

UNACCOUNTABLES

Over the holiday period some of us may have spent time with rarely seen relatives and been in an awkward spot when they’ve said something politically unsavoury or made daft claims like ‘nobody ever discovered anything via a shared Spotify playlist’.  I mean, what can you say?  Probably best just to help them to a chair, put 6Music on for them and slowly back out of the room smiling.  Serendipity remains, of course, rife.  For example, one of my favourite albums of the year came to my attention indirectly when Daniel John Williams joined in with a twitter conversation I was having about a mild fetish I confessed to (peeling the protective film from a gloss surface).  I checked out his work and the spacious, carefully constructed collages of Meet me on the corner became an instant staple.  I literally have no idea how I got to Ivonne Van Cleef as I sleep-downloaded the work, but I was intrigued immediately by the lack of information (“Ivonne Van Cleef is a one person band from San Jose, California.”), the numbered releases, the unifying aesthetic of the photography and, of course, the music itself which is a subtle mixture of desert guitar and technological elements which make it almost unplaceable [STOP PRESS: via IVC I’ve just stumbled over Caleb R.K. Williams and Selected Works is playing as I type – bloody hell, it’s great!].  The fantastic Bad Nature by Wizards Tell Lies landed via that most glorious of promotional tactics – a tweet full of download codes and an invitation to help yourself.  Mate, my scrabble to take advantage is always unseemly.  This album fucking rocks.  I described it at the time as ‘steely industro-punk two thirds sunk into tar-pit metal’ and ain’t going to better that today.

Guttersnipe

Chrissie

FINALLY

Despite being known nowadays mainly as a middle-aged, dronetronika beardy I’ve kept tabs on punk and metal since I was a thrash-teen in the grindcore/grunge boom of the late 80s.  2018 has seen one of my periodic upticks in interest, possibly due to the political shitstorm forcing slurry into every cranny of our existence, and you’ll be glad to know that I still like both kinds: fast and slow.  Of the stuff new to me this year the album I return to, like a tongue wobbling a tooth loosened whilst ‘resisting arrest’, is Annihilated by Sectioned.  I don’t know how to breakdown the genres and microgenres it belongs to, just that it is incredibly fast and brutal but played with such fluidity and space that the experience of listening is all consuming.  It’s hardcore.

My most hotly anticipated release of 2018 was My Mother The Vent by Guttersnipe and I know that feeling was widely shared.  Some also expressed an uneasiness as to whether the record would capture the screaming ferocity of the band’s incomparable live assault, but I would (I think) have been disappointed if they’d just ‘bootlegged’ themselves.  I wanted to see what the duo, both whip-fucking-smart of course, would do with a new medium and, much to my great delight, it is as accomplished as I expected it to be.  The noise is barely describable – an ecstatic rage, a seriousness of intent that teeters on the edge of hilarity, an amazing musicianship in the service of chaos – however the best, most eye opening track is the least similar to the tsunami of the live show.  The closer, ‘God’s Will To Gain Access’, begins as snipey as you like but, over its nearly 11 minute run dubs out into a magic carpet ride over a Hieronymous Bosch hellscape.  Neil Campbell described this as the album ‘grinding to a halt’, which made me laugh and is as good a take as any, but I read into it an almost entirely opposite meaning.  I saw this as a statement of intent – a way of using recording to escape what has already become their expected ‘sound’ and a way of linking it to the other projects – like Blood Claat Orange, say – that Gretchen and/or Rob are involved with.  The options this approach frees up are boggling.  They’ve practised with Hawthonn, for example – think on that without fidgeting with anticipation!  I imagine this album was second on everyone’s list after SOPHIE.  Well, it’s second on mine too.

The very last artist I wish to mention is Chrissie Caulfield.  As one half of Helicopter Quartet (the other being Michael Capstick) she has produced two albums of exceptional quality this year: Last Death of the Phoenix and Revisited (the latter being reconfigurations of eight highlights from the HQ back catalogue) but it is a solo release under her own name that I wish to discuss.  It’s not a Game is a four track EP totalling 20 minutes and in that short run time Chrissie pulls off something near-miraculous.  Via a bank of synths, her piano and violins she conveys something true and meaningful about what it is to be us.  The cover photo looks like a mountain rescue team trudging across a moor on their way to rescue some hapless, ill-prepared accident victim (an amusing counterpoint to the windswept, magick romanticism of the Hawthonn cover).  It complements the title and the vibe of the music perfectly – the exasperation, the frustration bordering on rage, but also the solemn knowledge that someone needs to take responsibility for salvaging the situation.  It’s grown up, serious music but at its core it has kindness, not ‘ruffle-your-hair, don’t-spend-it-all-at-once’ kindness but the foundational type borne of love and respect.  It’s humbling and beautiful.  If I had to pick a favourite release of 2018 I think it would be this.

So, with apologies to those not mentioned (especially many lovely RFM regulars usurped by all these newcomers) that is your lot.  Here’s looking forward.  Take care, people, and be kind.  All is love.

Rob x

Luke Vollar

“In 41 years I’ve drunk 50,000 beers, and they just wash against me like the sea into a pier.”

Not my words sadly, but the words of David Berman, slightly modified to make a point, although I’m not sure what my point is?

Perhaps it’s the years getting more blurred with advancing years. To confidently announce that Sheffield punks Rat Cage wrote the anthem for 2018 with their phlegm-saturated masterpiece ‘Pressure Pot’ from the superb seven inch Caged like Rats only to realise that it was actually released in 2017!  No matter as the equally awesome Blood on your Boots was released this year.

blood on your boots

The raw surge of excitement that is harsh noise, courtesy of Limbs Bin, does that insect-warfare-through-a-primitive-rig thing.  LB’s Josh Landes is a one-man noise grinder from the USA happy to occasionally chuck in a Steely Dan cover for the heck of it.  His One Happy World record is a brief but thrilling ride.
Werewolf Jerusalem released a ‘proper’ CD of dark brooding electronic minimalism called The Nightmares and old faves Usurper (along with Jelle Crama) released ‘Booby Prize’ – a fine release who’s handsome packaging matches the wondrous sounds within. Still beguiling in 2018!

usurper booby

And a late contender for album of the year is the self-titled debut from Notts based, UK metal duo Shrykull (released on CD in a run of 100).  This tasty disc displays a fine vintage of motorcycle huffing excellence. Dig it!

Joe Posset

This has been the year when I’ve listened to more ‘mainsteam’ stuff than ever before.  So, 2018 has seen me cue up new and old sounds from: Big Brave, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Kamasi Washington, Joni Mitchell, Gore, Toshi Ichiyangi, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Autechre, Alice Coltrane, Earth, Old Dirty Brubeck, Julia Holter, Tal National, Soft Machine & The Shrubs.  Thanks to all of you who knocked the rough edges off a rough year.

NAU Records and tapes

caught in the wake forever

  • Sheer beauty love-bite swoon from Caught in the Wake Forever & glacis on Version & Delineation (Crow Versus Crow)
  • Sophisticated coffee-table head noodle from Rodrigo Tavares on Congo (Hive Mind)
  • Fever-dream night-sweat funk from Robert Ridley-Shackleton on Stone Cold Crazy (Crow Versus Crow)
  • Un-translatable earth songs from the strongest spirit imaginable by Jean-Marie Massou on Sodorome Vol 1 (Vert Pituite La Belle)

ROMAN-NOSE-LP-front

  • Blood-red kif-smoke & mind rickets from Roman Nose on Roman Nose (Singing Knives/Humane Pyramid)
  • Inward spiralling fingerprint jass from Blood Stereo on Tape Loop Meditations (Chocolate Monk)
  • Regional top-of-the class weirdos. All the Various Artists on The Harrowing of the North (End of The Alphabet Records)
  • Workbench experiments to gnarly fingers plucking ripe air from Chow Mwng on Stuttering Hand (Self Release)
  • Slick brain-fold of Lear-esque proportions from Gwilly Edmondez on Trouble Number (Slip Imprint)
  • Quick-blubber-vocal-blabber from Fritz Welch on A Desire to Push Forward Without Gaining Access to Anything (Radical Documents)
  • Painful jaw-twang and cavity vibrations from Chik White on Their Faces Closed (Chocolate Monk)

tom and stuart

  • And the THF Drenching prize for exceptional tapewerk goes to Stuart Chalmers and Tom White for Awkward Objects (Fractal Meat)

Live shows

shunyata

Records and tapes are great and all but no scene would survive without real-life interaction.  Gigs are a vital part of the NAU so I say a huge ‘yeah man’ for the regular lunchtime shows at Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery featuring celebrated dark artists: Culver , Xazzaz and the super spaced-out Shunyata Improvisation Group among others.

There was more lunchtime fun at The Newcastle University’s Kings Hall, this time with the exceptional Joe McPhee/John Pope/Paul Hession first-time trio as part of Newcastle’s Jazz & Improvised Music festival.  Two hundred swinging OAPs can’t be wrong!

Bradford’s FUSE was one of my favourite places to play this year (in a trio with the mighty Yol and Toby Lloyd) combining supremely relaxed venue folk (Hi Chris) with great, reasonably priced, locally-sourced drinks all presented at travel-friendly times.  After the show pretty much everyone who didn’t have a bus or train to catch decamped to a nearby pub to keep the conversation going.  Splendid stuff.

Miya_Masaoka_-_photo_by_Heike_Liss-517x355

2018 marks the year I saw my first ever ‘proper’ full-on orchestra with the super-beautiful, super-minimal piece The Movement of Things composed by Miya Masaoka and conducted by Ilan Volkov at Tectonics Glasgow.  The whole thing floored me with as much impact as Black Flag did when I was a spotty teen.

The Old Police House in Gateshead hosted many, many exceptional nights; the standout for me being Ali Robertson & Joyce Whitchurch’s drama/improv/morality tale that held me in a zonked trance throughout its brilliant duration.

20181015_105923

And in a TUSK festival crammed full of highs (Hameed Bros, Dale Cornish, Saboteuse, Pinnel, our very own Marlo Eggplant, Limpe Fuchs, Adam Bohman & Lee Patterson were all beautiful) the wonderful ink-haired Robert Ridley-Shackleton won the hearts of my whole damn family with his utterly charming, whip-smart funky and brain-boggling performance.  The Cardboard Prince reigns supreme.

And talking of reigning…although the ice-hockey venue was rubbish and they were a bit tired and sloppy, I finally got a chance to see another teen favourite – bloody SLAYER with my teenage kids.  And things don’t get any more metal than that.

\m/  \m/

The increasing importance of MP3 Blogs and Internet Radio cannot be denied; creating another platform for DIY artists to inhabit, I give a New Year Blog Cheer to the super classy Slow Goes the Goose, outrageously niche Bulletproof Socks, DIE or D.I.Y and Bleak Bliss (again).

As for Internet Radio I’ve goofed on the clever selections and dulcet tones of: Free Form Freakout, Ramshackle Sunrise, Sindre Bjerga & Claus Poulsen’s history of Danish & Norwegian Experimental Music, Tor FM, Fae Ma Bit Tae Ur Bit, QT and the much missed Crow Versus Crow.

And finally.  Here is my special shout out to everyone who made me a mixtape, sent me a link or a CD-r.  These kindnesses are always appreciated and cherished.  For every zine written, lent or sent; to every gig bootlegger, interviewer, blogger and promoter.  Thank you.  Jx

-ooOOoo-

we are not back. a low apricot sun: rfm on fritz welch, shots, caught in the wake forever & glacis

October 1, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fritz Welch – A Desire to Push Forward Without Gaining Access to Anything (Radical Documents)

Shots – Can We Win (Regional Bears)

Caught in the Wake Forever & glacis – Version & Delineation (Crow Versus Crow)

We are not back.

Blimey!  This recent flurry of RFM activity has caught us all a bit by surprise eh?  Murray Royston-Ward’s A.I. experiments and this recent human-text have been delightfully momentary for sure but it’s only fair to say RFM is still not accepting submissions.

There may be a conversation “discussing revised terms of engagement and subtle, unannounced changes” but, for the foreseeable future, we are not back.

fritz welch

Fritz Welch – A Desire to Push Forward Without Gaining Access to Anything (Radical Documents) Vinyl LP

Who is the man who breathes art out his blowhole, dance from his tiny tootsies and releases musical guff as powerful scent? You guessed it.  It’s Fritz Welch. The Glasgow-based multi-tasker, a pencil in each mitt and contact mic taped to his nipple.  You dig?

On this tremulous disc (a deeply satisfying turquoise vinyl slab) he leaves his usual drum kit and goggles at home to concentrate on the purest vocal jaxx and quick mental hi-jinks.

Checking the sleeve and laying this platter on the turntable you realise long text-sound workouts dominate each side of slippery wax.  “Am I ready?” you may mumble.

This occasion starts with Square Teeth Non-Linear Conference Room a multi-tracked jam for rough voice, orphaned text and sing-song croon.  Quite a cocktail eh?  Our man Welch swoons with himself via squeals and brackish inhalations.  Having multiple voices in each speaker is not the least bit BohRap if you’re wondering.  It’s more like sitting between two well-oiled drinkers, each one slobbering at the shoulder singing ‘you’re my best fucking pal’ in broken Verdurian.

I ponder as I listen and reach for a notebook to clarify, make sense, take stock.  After a few minutes I look at what’s appeared on the lined foolscap.  A crude graph; it says Sammy Davis Jr smoothness (x axis), Konnakol drum chatter (y axis).  Does that help?

The short, side one, closer is the sobering Tamio’s Prison Song.  The back cover says, “A poetic response to a song often performed by Tamio Shiraishi” which indeed it is but with a handful of glitter thrown over the despicable prison-for-profit movement.

The Donald Judd vs Elmer Fudd Inner Space Crisis is seventeen minutes of pre-language warbles and spit-riffs.  Lips slap and wobble, deep-throated hollas crow like a ghostly jackdaw.  Garbled routines are built up from reptile memory and hissed out between the teeth.  Whatever shrieks and howls occur breathing space and sound placement is paramount with each vox chop.

So while Fritz delivers in real time (I’m guessing) his hawks are lightly frosted with the subtle electronics of Andrew Barker.  This gentle delay and comfy hiss act like a Middle Eastern spice – cumin I guess – lending an essence of warmth, a hint of heat, a rumour of esoteric wisdom.

Ever the gentleman, rather than go for the big obvious finale Fritz favours a classy plughole suck…a slurping finality to play us out.

Then I realise, the cold dark inevitable was a constant feature of my time with this disc, the joy of expression and life and love casually lifts the veil to the timeless beyond.

Fuxxing heavy!

Shots

Shots – Can We Win (Regional Bears) Cassette and digital album

More remarkable un-music from New York ear-surgeons Shots.

These mysterious Shots inhabit the world of domestic field recordings, slow tabletop improvisation and tape manipulation but in the most subtle, lowercase way imaginable – somehow making Spoils & Relics sound as rawkus as 80’s louts Drunks with Guns or something.

Imagine the sound of cutlery drawer rummage, a slow pace around the garden shed, the heavy in/out of your own breathing adding a scrumptious layer you wear as you would a fleshy gilet.  You’re getting close to the non-linear ‘clunks’ and ‘pops’ that inhabit this delightful tape that bristles like frantic bedbugs scrabbling over tinfoil.

Side A is the more measured of the two, and may even feature a dripping drainpipe, as individual Shots flex creaky knees, fondle suede gloves and rustle chunky knit cardigans in front of a barrage of vintage microphones.

Side B is marginally more energetic with clunks and friction smears almost falling into some sort of rhythmic pattern.  A metallic bowl in rattled, a greasy trumpet strains to hit a note, the dry click of plastic cups makes a bakelite crackle creating (for a moment) that brief kindling crescendo you get when you build a fire in the woods.

Perfect deep-listening for the urban wild walker.

caught in the wake forever

Caught In The Wake Forever & glacis – Version & Delineation (Crow Versus Crow) Cassette and digital album

I’ve started this review a dozen times with flippant scribbles about lost loves, autumn leaves and dust motes caught in the beams of a low apricot sun.   But this poetic piffle would be a clumsy crowbar, a suspicious stain when compared to this wonderful, wonderful tape.

A first time collaboration, Fraser McGowan (CITWF) and Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken (glacis) have created a heart-stopping work of beautiful longing.

The simple, haunting piano sketches (played by Euan direct to iphone) sound both fresh and as deeply rooted in memory as your first kiss.  The floating familiarity of those ivory tones shimmer, rich and fragrant as fine olive oil, until they drop in fat succulent drips.  Each golden patter erupts with scent and the giddy hope of the young in love.

Fraser’s ego-less sound manipulation keeps the melodies front and centre but fogs and smears the edges ever-so-slightly with perfectly judged echoes and additions.  At times you hear the slight ghosting of the piano itself, the mechanics of the depressed keys, the creak of the lacquered lid.  At others a child’s voice or the distinctive ‘whump’ as a heavy book closes its pages.  Each sonic insertion is finely balanced and carefully, lovingly considered.

And of course, this all comes together in a perfect soft cloud, as comforting as saffron dissolved into warmed milk.  It’s fucking marvelous.

As ever Crow Versus Crow’s Andy Wild clothes his tapes in handsome gowns and trappings.  This glittering tape comes housed in an opaque J card printed with rambling roses and psychedelic brocade.   The ‘O’ card is both heavily recycled and lovingly printed.  It’s a beaut.

The best Crow Versus Crow tape ever I’ve asked myself?  You absolutely bet reader.  The very highest recommendations!

–oOOo–

human knotty complexity : joe murray on katz mulk, daniel carter/george lyle/fritz welch, downer canada and brb>voicecoil

March 27, 2017 at 6:04 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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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

Katz Mulk – Katzenungen (Sacred Tapes) C30 Cassette

(i)Introduction

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.

 

(ii)Inputs

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…

katz mulk 2

(iii)Outputs

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!

carter lyle welch

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.

Bop it!

downer canada full

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!

brbvoicecoil

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!

Sacred Tapes

Iorram Records

Power Moves Library

Muza Muza

-ooOOOoo-

sliver lizards: joe murray on olivier di placido, fritz welch, kelly jayne jones, ross parfitt, jon collin, yol, culver

October 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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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)

placido

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.

Goosh… ya!

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.

kjj

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.

munster

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

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!

soup

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…

—ooOoo—

Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch

Early Music

Beartown Records

Matching Head

gruff-smog-rackets: joe murray on leif elggren, daniel padden, fritz welch, drew wright

March 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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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)

rekem09_frag36

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

gruff-smog-rackets, mate

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!

padden

Daniel Padden, Fritz Welch & Drew Wright – The Forgotten Voices of Unclean Men

This is the god-damn BOMB man!

Imagine all your favourite vocal-jaxx styles & stars: Rhythmic Balinese Kecak , Wounded Knee’s oatcake gob-loops, Blue Yodel’s witchy funk and… errr… The Flying Pickets.

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.

—ooOoo—

Rekem Records

Beartown Records

fub stumps: joe murray and luke vollar on fritz welch

August 17, 2015 at 11:13 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Fritz Welch – Nothing to offer (tape, Singing Knives, SK024)

Fritz Welch tape for RFM

[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?]

Joe:

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.

Scratchy, scratchiness,

Fritz speaks deeply.

Indeed,

we all cry doing the Richard, dragging our legs so feet twist into miniature snow shovels.  Damn!

Luke:

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).

—ooOoo—

Singing Knives

choir of pelicans: joe murray on kieron piercy & dylan nyoukis, f.ampism & fritz welch

April 5, 2015 at 9:40 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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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)

piercynyoukis

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.

pattern interruptancient wingcosmogonic

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!

—ooOoo—

*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?

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

IKUISUUS

humansacrifice

a camera pointed at us: joe on peak signal 2 noise

November 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Peak Signal 2 Noise (TV show, Sheffield Live Community TV and Vimeo)

PS2N logo (1)

[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…

Virginia_JookloJooklo Duo

·         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 VenturesHumbolt Ventures_hands in the airSellotape Mung

·         Humbolt Ventures– Glorious Sellotape jam.  Rubbing and stroking are the order of the day with thin vibrations.  Bullroarers in pt 2 induce coma.

Bill OrcuttBill Orcuttttt

·         Bill Orcutt – Winged Eel finger-licking, blues shalom with naked foot.

Knitted Poot70s Poot

·         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 Vine Gurn

·         Dylan Nyoukis – Multiple Vines flicker like cat’s eyes –the hottest tip yet from the dark monk.

Jon Marshall_Papal Bull

·         Papal Bull – Maplin shoplifters curse the day tape was invented.  Slow torture of the C30.

Chris H_Family ElanHarry Wheeler_Family Elan

·         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.

Pouting FritzSinister Fritz

·         Fritz Welch – Mental crenulations and high metallic  wavering; clikerty fingerings and squeak in two glorious parts

Pascal Nichols_Stuckometer

·         Stuckometer – Free Jizz overdrive for the ‘fuh’ generation from these boy legends.

JunkoJunko 3Junko 2

·         Junko – “Atttttahhhh-atttttaaahh.  Ktchhttaaaaa.  Tch-aaaaaahhhhh.”

Sharon Gal

·         Sharon Gal – Granite-hard birdvoice dreamtime.  Geysers scored for hot-ash hiss.

Nyoukis_HonkeyNyoukis Honkey 2

·         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.

YOLs Shirt

·         YOL – Without a face he chants (gggrrrrrrrr) leaving few traces but ghastly thoughts.

·         Belied Gunaiko – Silver cloud noise.  The sound of pilots dozing off…

Julian PSPiss SuperstitionPiss Fingers

·         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 CollinJon Collin taps a footJon Collin makes a chord

·         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

·         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

·         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.

Bloody Fingers

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
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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.

vomit pink: joe murray on with lumps, neil davidson, fritz welch

May 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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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)

lumps 1lumps 2fritz 1fritz 2neil 1

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 neil.j.davidson@gmail.com.  Fritz’ hootenanny is jealously guarded by the order of Chocolate Monks.

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