distillations: extraction music haiku compiled

August 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders – “I am a moment illuminating eternity… I am affirmation… I am ecstacy.” (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 25 or download)

TST – Tsim Sha Tsui (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.026, edition of 50 or download)

Kevin Sanders – A purification of space (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 20 or download)

Petals – upon receiving the ultraviolet light (CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)

Hagman – Number Mask (CD-r, LF Records, LF037)

Petals – I’ve never been very good at retorting narrative tales as I always get lost along the way. So I lie (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 33)

TST – The Spoken Truth (CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)

Daniel Thomas – Enemy Territory (CD-r, cherry row recordings, CRR005, edition of 25 or download)

Daniel Thomas – That Which Sometimes Falls Between Us / As Light Fades (2 x CD-r in wooden flower press, edition of 9, 2 x CD-r, edition of 39, or download, Kirkstall Dark Matter)

thomas and sanders - i am a moment

That Twitter is alright, innit? After stalling for years I finally signed up a couple of weeks ago and can be found @radiomidwich should you be inclined to go looking. Knowing that I was entering a lengthy period of hectic work activity, and that my energy levels are low, I was looking for a way of staying current that was effortless to pick up and just as easy to put down. With apologies to my regular email correspondents, Twitter fits the bill real nice. I have the odd gripe with twittery behaviour already but by and large I’ve been enjoying the shouty-pub-with-six-jukeboxes-and-four-televisions-on atmosphere and the opportunity to crack wise and arse smart. It also gave me an idea of how to scythe through a crop of review items.

Some context: the leading exponents of the sub-genre I’ve defined as ‘extraction music‘ are very busy guys indeed – check out the heaving parentheses in the following sentence. Dave Thomas (solo as ap martlet, half of Hagman, one third of TST, label boss of Kirkstall Dark Matter), Daniel Thomas (solo under his own name, the other half of Hagman, a further third of TST, as a duo with Kevin and label boss of Sheepscar Light Industrial and Cherry Row Recordings) and Kevin Sanders (solo under his own name and as petals, as a duo with Dan, the final third of TST, label boss of hairdryer excommunication) are enjoying a hit rate unrivaled since the glory days of Stock, Aitken and Waterman – the 1980s production trio they have modeled their work ethic on.

What’s a conscientious reviewer to do? Given the exacting quality control, staggering over such a fast growing body of work, the music is deserving of serious contemplation. However, who has time to write the usual 1000+ words about items arriving on a near-weekly basis? Not me. Instead I will turn (again) to haiku, a traditional variety of Japanese poetry in which the idea expressed is distilled to 17 syllables arranged in a five-seven-five formation. Thus, mental energy expended is roughly equivalent to normal but writing time is cut to the bone. It is also an eminently tweetable format – something the spirits of long-deceased masters of this most delicate and disciplined art must be thrilled by – so Twitter is where they got their initial airing.

Below is a compilation of the first nine, properly formatted and illustrated. I’m pleased with these, especially the last two, which are, I hope, impressionistic but accurate – like a portrait by Frank Auerbach. Click on the band name/album title to be taken to appropriate blog post or Bandcamp page. Amazingly, all of this can be had dirt cheap or for free. I recommend the lot very highly – there are potential Zellaby Award winners here – and also recommend you explore the catalogues of these gentlemen on either side of this snapshot.

No. 1:

Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders – “I am a moment illuminating eternity… I am affirmation… I am ecstacy.”

Terminal thought of

fatally injured robot:

“my blood is on fire”

tst - tsim sha tsui

No. 2:

TST – Tsim Sha Tsui

Ornithopter flaps

above the spice refinery.

Inhale: the future!

kev sanders - a purification of space

No. 3:

Kevin Sanders – A purification of space

Yellowed grass, cut paper

– consolations of order –

cut grass, yellowed paper.

petals - upon receiving

No. 4:

Petals – upon receiving the ultraviolet light

Absenceispresent

griefcollapseswavefunction

bookmarkshakenloose

hagman - number mask

No. 5:

Hagman – Number Mask

Vignettes illustrate

fierce entropic beauty,

pebble becomes sand

petals - so i lie

No. 6:

Petals – I’ve never been very good at retorting narrative tales as I always get lost along the way. So I lie

Fine machinery

in an era of magic:

cogs versus witchcraft

tst - the spoken truth

No. 7:

TST – The Spoken Truth

Arterial pulse,

self lost to alien flow,

hive mind emerges

daniel thomas - enemy territory

No. 8:

Daniel Thomas – Enemy Territory

Adjust tracking for

artefacts of video:

hot snow, concrete blur…

daniel thomas - that which

No. 9:

Daniel Thomas – That Which Sometimes Falls Between Us / As Light Fades

Sharp, bristled morning

through circadian filters

to uterine fug

—ooOoo—

extraction music: dave thomas, daniel thomas, kevin sanders

March 30, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 4 Comments
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Ap-Martlet – Analog Computer (CD-r, Kirkstall Dark Matter, edition of 16)

Daniel Thomas – Codeine (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.023, edition of 50 or download)

Daniel Thomas – Revolution#21 (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CR002, or download)

Kevin Sanders – Clusters, clutter and other ephemera (3” CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 8 or download)

Kevin Sanders – Ascension through apathy (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 9 or download)

petals – magnates agus drochthoradh (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 20 or download)

petals – scamaill le focail (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 20 or download)

ap martlet - analog computerdaniel thomas - revolution#21daniel thomas - codeinekevin sanders - clusterskevin sanders - ascension through apathypetals - magnate

There’s this type of music that I like. In fact, I think I might attempt to invent a new sub-genre to account for it.  Cool, eh?  What music obsessive doesn’t love that game? I’m going to call it extraction and here are some notes towards a definition.

Extraction music contains a large measure of drone spiced with a helping of throbbing, psychedelic noise and other ingredients I am about to list. It can be heavy, urgent and demanding but it is not, as a rule, harsh or aggressive. Instead the sound is enveloping, fluctuating – fully engaged. I’m sure the discerning listener could list influences from dub techno to austere modern composition to The Radiophonic Workshop but I’m painting with a broad brush for now and will leave the detail for future musicological arguments.

This music is created using mainly analogue electronics. The kit typically comprises vintage synths, their modern clones and homemade counterparts, other self assembled objects and daisy chains of effects pedals patched and looped through long suffering mixers. At any one time it is unlikely that all of it will be working properly.

The buzz and pulse is often accented with a mixture of ‘field’ and ‘domestic’ recordings. Birdsong adds flutter to the high end, rain a percussive patter, traffic a satisfying rumble and so on. The hum of big ticket appliances like fridges proves irresistible as does the fuzz and clatter of mechanical fixtures such as air conditioning units. Smaller one off noises, agreeable and/or attention grabbing, like the ‘tik-fwup’ of the central heating coming on, or a snatch of conversation, or the battering of a battered cymbal can be dropped in for emphasis or light relief.

It is largely built from ideas figured out during lengthy sessions of experimentation. Editorial tinkering appears minimal, keeping a ‘live’ feel to the recording, but I suspect a lot of hard work is hidden within those transitions. The build up of detail suggests much disciplined hovering over the pots and sliders of some brute electronics, tweaked to within a hair’s breadth of their tipping points. The method of construction and ‘in the room’ recording gives this music a sense of place, a geography, that much free-floating diginoise lacks. It feels grounded, located in a new but oddly familiar place that you visit and cohabit whilst listening. That maps have been used in its packaging and place names in album, label and track titles strikes me as non-coincidental.

So why ‘extraction’? Well, partly it is a tongue in cheek joke referencing the perceived source material – an untreated recording of the extractor fan in the left-hand toilet cubicle at my place of work would make a pretty solid extraction album – but it is more to do with the feeling that this music is pulled out of the kit, that it is mined from the available resources and then refined: like minerals extracted from ore or a life-saving pharmaceutical compound extracted from a rare Amazonian orchid. If this was a film it would be Upstream Color, a deliberately under-determined story of the biological, psychological and criminal processes used to extract a mysterious drug from the multi-stepped, symbiotic life-cycle of the organisms involved in its production. That this remarkable film also features sequences in which some very extractionist sound is recorded (albeit by a shady villain) and played back at enormous volume could not be more perfect.

Finally then, before we get onto some examples, I suppose you are wondering what it smells like. I’m glad you asked: hot solder, grass wet with dew, ozone and chana dall.

The leading proponents of this hot new sound that all the kids are now furiously hyping are Dave Thomas (solo as ap martlet, half of Hagman, label boss of Kirkstall Dark Matter), Daniel Thomas (solo under his own name, the other half of Hagman, as a duo with Kevin and label boss of Sheepscar Light Industrial and Cherry Row Recordings) and Kevin Sanders (solo under his own name and as petals, as a duo with Dan, label boss of hairdryer excommunication). The Thomas boys are not blood relations but there is a musketeer level of all-for-oneness in their interconnected projects. I suppose the three of them can argue as to who gets to be, err…, Dogtanian(?!).

My praise for their previous work is strewn across this blog, much of which can be used as retroactive confirmation of this sub-genre definition. Click on the tags above to investigate (go on – just to amuse me – no one ever clicks on tags). Today we are going to focus on some recent(ish) releases, all of which are freely downloadable from that Bandcamp.

Firstly, Analog Computer by Ap-Martlet. Dave handmade a tiny initial run of this which was given away to interested parties. For a while he refrained from granting it a digital afterlife but I’m delighted to announce it is now up on Bandcamp (alongside a second printing of the CD-r).  The title is perfect – it calls to mind a room-sized, valve-run difference engine humming with contented menace.  These three tracks seem less compositions than iterations of an algorithm set in motion by a wonky punchcard being slotted into the machine upside-down.  ‘Comdyna’ and ‘Thurlby’ are both rhythmic in an abstract sense – the latter being a low impact step aerobics class for retired ABC Warriors, the former an exercise in patience and discipline as a series of low-slung tones are held until they start to feedback, then released, then repeated.  The final track, ‘Heathkit’, is a coruscating, brain-scouring, fuzz-drone.  It is the kind of sound that in a workshop you would wear ear protectors to dampen but here it is presented for our contemplation and admiration.  It’s like being walked down a production line by a proud factory designer.  There is a little false ending too – a stuttering flourish following a conveyor belt jam – which made me laff.  I recommend also checking out the wonders he has hidden on Soundcloud.

There is a fun little guessing game to be played when listening to work by Daniel Thomas.  Is this a) the sound of the kit playing itself, everything plugged into everything else, as Dan sits back and enjoys a chilli buzz from his takeaway curry or b) the sound of the kit being micromanaged through a carefully orchestrated composition as Dan obsesses over every tiny transition and barely perceptible variation in nuance?  There are several terrific examples of the former on his Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages (check out this exercise in super-distilled minimalism) but the two items up for review here are firmly in the latter camp.

Codeine is stepped using a similar mechanical arpeggio to Dave’s ‘Thurlby’.  The impression is of a wind powered kinetic sculpture abandoned by its maker years ago and now almost rusted to a standstill.  There is a tragic beauty to this process, a merciful release, and, as such, the fade out – which seems preposterously long on first listen – feels more appropriate with each repeat.  Oddly moving too.

Revolution#21 is a quintessential example of extraction music and possibly my favourite of Dan’s releases, despite a back catalogue already studded with jewels.  As for what it sounds like you need only re-read my opening paragraphs adding a layer of throb to account for a young man in receipt of some new goodies from Korg.  Imagine a battalion of semi-sentient, clockwork samurai buried as grave goods in the immense tomb of a world-conquering general.  There, in the pitch black, they use their remaining energy keeping each other wound up in a final, unwinnable battle against entropy.  The nobility of it is in equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking.

Next are four pieces by Kevin Sanders but first a word about his exhausting release schedule.  He tells me that he intends to birth two new products a month for the whole of 2014.  Indeed, whilst writing this review I have heard from another label with new warez by petals for sale and had an email from Kev asking if I fancy a sneaky preview of the next batch.  The chap is unstoppable.  In order to keep up I’ve decided to treat the flow of his work as if it were a paper publication that I have subscribed to (“The Psychogeographical Journal of Musicological Interpretive Cartography- a fortnightly digest” perhaps).  I’ll devour each issue, cover to cover, as it arrives then shelve or discard it when the next number flops onto the digi-doormat.  Thus I won’t be writing thousands of words on individual releases.  As with Culver, each piece is a section of an atlas, beautiful on its own terms but part of a larger whole.  Some summaries:

The two discs by petals are dark, angry, claustrophobic affairs.  scamaill le focail (Irish for ‘clouds with words’) and magnates agus drochthoradh (‘magnates and responsibilities’) both feature scything fuzz drone akin to that found in ‘Heathkit’ but in both cases it is considerably less self-assured.  It’s as if the proud factory designer is now having second thoughts about selling his production line to those guys in the sharp leather uniforms.  Y’know – the guy in glasses with the expensive suit and the IMF logo clipboard seemed very reassuring but…  Ah, too late now!  An unsettling, dystopian vibe permeates both tracks.  There is no let up (well, there is a brief break halfway through magnates… for the ominous rumbling of distant explosions), no release – just a gradual paring away.  Moments of despair, fury are allowed to bubble to the surface only to be fished out like impurities from an otherwise pure distillate.  The heaviness is serious and brilliantly sustained.

Clusters, clutter and other ephemera by Kev under his own name is a remarkable twenty minutes leaning, as it appears to, on the human voice as its major sound source.  It starts all garage punk Ligeti – like the professorial neighbour of a rockabilly band attempting to school ’em in modernism by by playing the tough bits from the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack through the band’s own slashed practice amps.  The groans and clatters eventually take a more haunting turn suggesting the limbo inhabited by Marley’s ghost before his yuletide turn clanking chains to shit up his former business partner.  Uniquely odd.

Ascension through apathy, also as Kev, is perhaps the pick of this bunch and a beautiful example of the more organic, psychedelic side of extraction music.  The opening movement of this half hour long travelogue is bleak: starting at the rim of a still smugly smoking volcano we walk down the cooled, charcoal grey lava flows.  Nothing grows here yet, the undulations speak of unimaginable force and heat.  Yet as we approach the fertile valleys that begin in the lower slopes the music pushes its shoulders back and becomes uplifting, quietly joyous.  The latter two thirds are a serene walk through the dappled sunlight reaching the forest floor as we return to the cove where our yacht is moored.  No one in our party feels the need to speak, all are at one with each other and the surroundings.  An understanding passes amongst us: life has changed.  This caught me in a funny mood the other day and effortlessly moved me to tears.

—ooOoo—

…and that is a fine place to end for now.  Comments most welcome as are suggestions as to other recordings or artists that might fit within this ragged template.  My own The Swift is one, I think – it was certainly influenced by these fellas.  Anything else that I might dig?

Sheepscar Light Industrial

Cherry Row Recordings

hairdryer excommunication

Kirkstall Dark Matter

sorting the lego part three: further soundtracks for graded tasks

December 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders – Four More Cosmic Jams from Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CRR001, edition of 50 or download)

Xazzaz – Kin (CD-r, Molotov, 23)
Xazzaz – Untitled (CD-r, Molotov, 20)

Crowhurst – Memory / Loss (self-released download)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – The Butterfly Farm (C30 tape, Beartown Records, edition of 31)

cosmic jams

We’re all huge Tour de France fans here, right?  Good.  Then you’ll share my excitement in watching the build up to a sprint finish at the end of a flat stage.  With about five kilometres to go the teams of the star sprinters pull into formation and chains of identically jerseyed links draw the peloton forward, protecting and positioning their man, reeling in any group of breakaway riders with a heartless, machine-like efficiency.  Under the flamme rouge (a red flag indicating one kilometre to go) and the tactical jockeying is largely complete.  Now it is a matter of timing and anticipation.  A train of the strongest, fastest riders sacrifice themselves one at a time to maintain a superhuman pace for their potential stage winner until, with the line in sight, the last peels away and the bullet is fired from his slipstream.  Bikes are thrown from side to side as pedals are mashed and a day-long, hundred kilometre race is boiled down to 100 metres of pure athleticism, competition in its most distilled form.  In terms of tactical teamwork, heroic sacrifice and sheer fucking muscle it is, in my humble but correct opinion, the most exhilarating spectacle in sport.  I’m embarrassed to admit how much it moves me.

Now imagine this glorious sight utterly perverted and ruined.  The frontrunners are clearly drugged, hunched, steroid-addled monsters, barely recognizable as human, slobbering and growling as they approach the finish line at speeds no earthly creature could match.  No one is watching but me, appalled, no one cares any more.  The lead out train of two riders protect their sprinter by kicking over competitors to cause pile-ups as they pass.  “Three months of viruses” finally peels out leaving “Utter self-hatred” as the trigger man who launches “Bottomless depression” to thrash for the finishing line.

When this analogy for my current mental predicament occurred to me it struck me as powerful and telling (if a bit overwrought perhaps).  It does feel like Team Depression have been preparing for the attack of their star performer, and that preparation has been ruthless and unstoppable.  Over the last couple of years I have been starting to understand my relationship to the illness in terms of a fight, a confrontation, a war of attrition, an ebb and flow of insurgency and counter-insurgency, a Spy vs. Spy cartoon etc.  Thus this cycling analogy, in which I just look on helplessly, is a disappointing throwback to a more passive time when I thought all I could do was batten down the hatches.  I daren’t even think about what ‘the finish line’ might symbolise.

Whoo boy.  Suffice to say: I am down in it this week.

Thus my abilities to both complete graded tasks and think to some purpose have been cruelly curtailed.  However, I’d still like to get some reviews down, for morale purposes if nothing else.  For what it is worth, the stuff you have all sent me has been of incredible help during what continues to be a very difficult time.

—ooOoo—

Firstly, then, I bring you glad tidings of great joy for, lo, a new Leeds-based microlabel is born!  Yes, Cherry Row Recordings has been created by a moonlighting Daniel Thomas as a home for releases too long to be comfortably housed on 3″ CD-r – the format of choice in his day-job at Sheepscar Light Industrial.  The inaugural release is… well, the title is self-explanatory but it may be worth spending a moment defining what Dan and Kev (of Petals and hairdryer excommunication renown) mean by ‘cosmic’ here.  We aren’t talking long hair and body paint, nor is this retro-futuro-utopio-dystopio Krautrockish cosmicheness.  Rather, this is ‘cosmic’ in the existential sense Lovecraft uses it – to refer to an unfathomable and indifferent universe.  This is like exploring some suspiciously intact Cyclopean ‘ruins’ armed with only a guttering flash-light, a clenched jaw and a profound sense of foreboding.  The angles are all wrong.  The birdsong that appears at the end of ‘three’ and reappears in ‘four’ is a cruel joke, a last gasp of fresh air before a gnarled claw draws you back into the throbbing occult machinery of the ritual.  This is, as Nietzsche might put it, some heavy shit, bro’: stare into this and it stares right back, unblinking.  Really terrific and a superb way to kick off the label.

xazzaz - kinxazzaz - 'untitled' molotov 20

With a lack of fanfare typical of his brethren in the North East scene, Mike Simpson of Molotov Records is quietly producing the finest in ego-shredding, guitar-led noise.  The two releases above by Xazzaz, his (mainly?) solo project are not so much attention-grabbing as everything-else-obliterating.  For example, I tried to listen to Kin again as I wrote the preamble to this piece but had to turn it off after a few minutes because Mike’s music causes my edges to crumble, then crevaces to open, then huge thoughtbergs to calve from my mental glaciers.  He isn’t averse to roar, of course, and can stamp on pedals if need be, but it is the subtleties and nuance that make it so compelling.  He listens patiently, he understands what is going on.  He knows what to do.

Check out the Molotov catalogue now distributed by Turgid Animal.

crowhurst - memory-loss

Here’s another release I have been sleeping on unfairly.  Crowhurst (which I dearly hope is named for Donald Crowhurst, subject of my all-time favourite non-fiction book The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall) is American artist Jay Gambit.  Notably, this six track album downloadable from Bandcamp, has been stitched together by him using contributions from no less than 24 collaborators.  This approach – lone mad scientist assembles monster from numerous sources – is not unprecedented (indeed I was among 27 credited on the Birchville Cat Motel album With Maples Ablaze.  Beat that!) but is very unusual and deserves high praise for its ambition.

Presumably those invited to submit were given a remit because this does not feel like a collage.  A consistent mood is maintained throughout via a magnificent feat of editing.  Jay has realised a clear-headed and focussed vision: this reads as a six part meditation on the finality of death and the shadowy impermanence of everything else.  That the final track in this sequence is called ‘No Visitors’ could not be more perfect.

The noise here is mainly electronic, deep-set and, as you’d expect given the source material, multi-layered, but room is left in which to think.  Even in the roar the surprise augmentations – a slow piano line, the trilling of a robotic aviary simulation – tint the vibe like a beam from a lighthouse outlining treacherous rocks at the mouth of a bay.

I realise that I am making this sound bleak, which it is, but it is also compelling.  “I wonder if I like this?” I thought as I pressed play for the eighth or ninth time, my actions answering my own question…

r r-s - butterfly farm

…and finally, as has become the custom in these pieces, a selection from Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  This will be the last of his work that I mention this year because, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.  The Butterfly Farm (a C30 tape available from Beartown) is, I reckon, my favourite of the innumerable RR-S releases I’ve heard so far.  On first listen with notebook in hand I managed to write down two words: ‘motherfucked pop’ and many repeats later I’m not sure I can improve on that.

It sounds like nothing else: ultra lo-fi clatter-pop, largely indecipherable lyrics sung with the lip curl of a fourteen year old Elvis impersonator through Suicide’s echo pedal. ‘La, la, la’s gargled into whatever recording device is to hand then looped – that’s your backing track.  It’s like a mongrel pup produced by the unlikely union of two wildly different breeds of dog.  Fuck knows the mechanics of it but the odd shaped yappy offspring is cute as all hell…

eat local part one: rfm gorges on new produce from sheepscar light industrial

September 16, 2013 at 11:07 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Hagman – TKT and TMS (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.019, edition of 50 and download)

Seth Cooke – Run For Cover (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.020, edition of 50 and download)

These Feathers Have Plumes – Untitled (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.021, edition of 50 and download)

seth cooke - run for coverhagman - tkt and tmsthese feathers have plumes - untitled

The 22nd anniversary of my move to Leeds is fast approaching.  Numbers such as these mean less and less as I get older – my nipple piercings reached the age of majority in 2011, for example – but occasionally the change in the seasons, the ripening of the blackberries or the pressing of releases like the above into my sweaty palm make me look with renewed appreciation at my adopted home city.

I don’t need to sing its praises at length – it ain’t that type of place.  Leeds supports a dedicated, self-sufficient noise scene brimming with talent, good-humoured respect and a thoroughly punk-rock suspicion of hype.  Unlike our hipper big brother over on the wrong side of the Pennines the Leeds scene does not need the approbation of the wider world (though it is nice when we get it occasionally).  No-one has any money; the only motivation is satisfaction in the work.  Knuckle down – put the hours in – keep the quality control tight – have fun.

Leeds based microlabel Sheepscar Light Industrial is run very much in this spirit.  In fact, despite its roster being drawn from all over the place, it could be said to represent this spirit distilled to its essence, as it were.  Whilst I can’t agree with Uncle Mark over at Idwal Fisher that SLI has never dropped a stinker, I have nothing but respect for the refined and definite taste of label boss Daniel Thomas.  His ears are golden.  So what of the latest trio of releases?

First up is Untitled by These Feather Have Plumes.  These two tracks by Andie Brown (of that London), totalling about 16 minutes, have already garnered plenty of super-superlatives from my peers who write about these things.  Allow me to add my own: this work is clearly informed by a profound respect for and connection to the human condition.  Andie uses an organically sourced sound palette – bells, gongs, singing glass, (possibly) field recordings (I hear the sea at one point, I may be imaging it) – discretely looped and treated.  The whole created manages to be both earthy and ethereal at once.  She has harnessed the kami of these objects to draw forth a music with the homespun grace and human-scale emotional pull of a roadside hokura.  Amazingly though, I’m afraid this release only wins the bronze medal today.

In second place is TKT and TMS by Hagman, the duo of Dave Thomas (ap martlet) and Daniel Thomas (no relation).  When Dan handed this over he proudly claimed it to be the best Hagman recording yet.  I humoured him much as I might a toddler displaying a crayon scribble and added it to the playlist that accompanies my daily chores.  During the first couple of listens I didn’t grok this at all – 20 minutes of industro-drone, change of scene halfway through, some nice crescendo management – but choosing it as a lullaby one night and listening to it closely in a state of otherwise sensory deprivation revealed what a dolt I’d been.  There is a lot going on.  Their daisy chain of pedals, synths and homemade tuppertronics emits a satisfyingly grainy low end throb.  Into this field recordings are sunk and suspended.  These augmentations give the vibe a sense of location, albeit intriguingly unanchored and vaporous.  This factor – place – really lifts work of this kind to the next level (see, for example, the cartographic back catalogues of Petals and Culver) and with this recording Hagman join the ranks of those explorers who have figured out that ‘X’ marks the spot.

Finally then, we have Run For Cover by Seth Cooke (lately of that Bristol) which ‘bolts’ (Ha! ‘Bolt’!  Like that guy who is good at running!) past the competition so comprehensively that he is already being photographed cheekily biting his gold medal whilst the rest of us are taking off our tracksuits.  I have, like, totally, a crush on Seth.  Not only is he the owner of the most strokable beard in improv (a hotly fought category, as you can imagine) but he is a family man, musician and improviser of rare talent, writer, thinker and co-curator of essential web-resource Bang the Bore.  I know: swoon, right?

An example: Seth realises that the BtB forum has been a bit quiet recently and wants to chivvy up a little activity.  However, instead of kicking off a bunch of obviously crowd-pleasing threads he starts this – a fascinating account of his upbringing in the charismatic Christian community, neuro-linguistic programming, the missing person report process that forms part of his employment, the television series Neon Genesis Evangelion and how he may try and link it all that together in a piece of creative endeavour.  I’d have just been rude about The Wire magazine or something.  He thinks differently.

The real cool thing though is that, unlike most theorists, his music rocks too.  Whilst it is wrong to call Run For Cover unprecedented (I know a bit about Seth’s influences and working methods) it is certainly, and gloriously, refreshing.  The spec is simple enough, a single track of about fifteen minutes in length, but its ingredients are tricky to separate out.  I suspect the noise that sounds like a swarm of angry wasps flying into a juddering extractor fan may be a vibrating implement set upon a drum skin.  The buzz is malevolent – like tapping the glass of a giant tank full of insects only to have them all turn in unison, give you a hard stare and then start working together to get the tank’s lid off…  Some abrasive electronics are then set loose in order to scour and gouge the source noise whilst a bucket of low end catches the swarf.  The concluding crescendo is visceral, tough and as sparkling as your peripheral vision after a sharp smack to the back of the head.  Yeah: awesome.

Sheepscar Light Industrial

the compass will always point north

June 24, 2013 at 11:13 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Sheepscar Light Industrial Presented:

‘The Compass Points North’

Petals, Aqua Dentata, Hagman, These Feathers Have Plumes, Midwich, BBBlood

Wharf Chambers, Leeds, Saturday 22nd June 2013

01 hagman hands

Dan Thomas is to be congratulated.  Again.  The latest of his biannual gigs, themed (more or less) around his microlabel Sheepscar Light Industrial, took place last Saturday and was, without quibble, a triumph.  Background and biographies of the acts that played can be found via the numerous links Dan worked into the original publicity so I’m not going into much context here.  All I want to do is give a brief and immediate impression of what was a terrific, life affirming evening (this will be accompanied by my usual terrible photojournalism, which this time gets all arty part way through when I decide to forego the flash).  The gig was also appropriated by Mark Wharton of RFM’s sister blog Idwal Fisher as part of his 50th birthday celebrations.  More on him in the section about my set.

Being the model of efficiency that he is, Dan has already edited, mastered and posted freely downloadable mp3s of each of the six performances.  These can be found zipped up in rar files on mediafire but you lot can’t be arsed with that can you?  Thus I’ve taken the liberty of hosting unzipped mp3s here in the cavernous RFM vaults too.  Listen by clicking on the little arrows you’ll see below or download by right clicking on the links and saving the digital goodness.

Due to childcare commitments I couldn’t be part of the committee welcoming our three guests from London: Andie Brown (These Feathers Have Plumes), Eddie Nuttall (Aqua Dentata) and Paul Watson (BBBlood) so I met up with them, Kev Sanders (Petals) and Dan at Wharf Chambers sometime just gone 6pm.  Setting up and soundchecking was in full swing and Dan had thoughtfully dragged my usual table and standard lamp into my preferred position.  Kibe (apologies – I don’t know the spelling, it was pronounced Key-Bee), our soundguy, was super helpful and accommodating and asked a question I have never heard someone doing his job ask in all my years of droning:

Would you like it to be louder?

I knew right there the evening was going to be a belter.

So here’s us setting up, tabletop electronics is a breeze, eh?

02 setting up

Once all was in hand we retired to the Wharf Chambers beer ‘garden’ to relax and listen to the gathering crowd of ecstatic noise-fans chanting our names as they waited outside to rush the doors as soon as they opened.  Here’s Andie and dapper Eddie rockin’ his trademark mod look.

04 and andie and eddie

… and here’s Paul and Kev, synchronising their Sam Smith intake.

03 chillin with paul and kev

That bit about the baying crowd was a joke obviously.  For some time the first and only paying punter was the mighty Pete Cann.  Looks well excited, eh?

05 premiere paying punter pete

So come 8pm a respectable crowd was gathering but many jaded regulars were alarmed to find that the gig was going to start (and run throughout the night) on time.  Dan needed to run a tight ship to keep it afloat.  He did.  First up was Petals.

06 petals prepares

Picture shows Kev indulging in a little liquid preparation.  The esteem in which I hold this guy’s work is second to none and the sheer quality of his set made me want to simultaneously a) lie face down on the floor, eyes closed, palms up and b) accost the general public, grab lapels and thrust Petals releases into the pockets of the bewildered.  Putting him on first is a crime really, but it set the bar almost comically high for the rest of us.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/01-petals.mp3]

Download Petals

Next was Eddie:

07 aqua dentata one08 aqua dentata two

After championing his release March Hare, Kraken Mare this time last year I have been following the Aqua Dentata story with an almost unhealthy interest.  Eddie’s music has a quiet but unswerving sense of purpose and is constructed with such patience and confidence that its simplicity becomes exhilarating.  Like a clear blue sky, like a perfectly sharp knife.  This guy knows what to leave out and, in so doing, makes anything other than rapt attention impossible.  Smart dresser too.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/02-aqua-dentata.mp3]

Download Aqua Dentata

Then Dan had to relinquish his organisational duties for half an hour and take to the stage…

09 the solo hag man

Hagman, the duo of Dan Thomas and Dave Thomas (no relation) was exactly 50% short as the latter was not in attendance.  Due to Dave enduring an attack of ‘real life’ type stuff Dan had to play solo.  An intriguing start of cross-clattering rhythms (field recordings from his recent travels to Hong Kong?) gave way to the pressurised roar of a sleepless night in an aircraft cabin, augmented by the pots and sliders of the kit jumble you see above.  It was muscular but delicate too.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/03-danielthomas.mp3]

Download Hagman/Daniel Thomas

…and then something really magical happened:

10 andie's giant wine glasses11 andie in action

To my shame, I wasn’t up to speed with Andie’s work as These Feathers Have Plumes before.  Suffice to say I am now a fan.  She used the three giant glasses (vases? punchbowls?) pictured above, part filled with water, to produce gorgeous, haunting, tones by rubbing a moistened thumb around their rims (titter ye not).  This augmented a carefully underplayed selection of field recordings – birds, weather, water – to create an effect that was, in short, perfect.  Usually, the act before I go on is a blur as I pace around retching and coughing with nerves but Andie’s music held me transfixed.  The artist Joan Miro once described his life’s project as to ‘conquer simplicity’.  I’ve always been quite taken by that notion, despite the machismo of ‘conquer’, and was envious of Andie’s obvious and natural understanding of the idea.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/04-these-feathers-have-plumes.mp3]

Download These Feathers Have Plumes

My turn.  I didn’t take any photos of me performing, for the obvious reason, and my attempts to photograph the crowd at the beginning of my set were too rubbish to be used.  No matter, you can see my set-up at the back of the photo of Dan – sparkly scarf used as glamour table cloth, standard lamp, grumpy old mc-303.  The first of my two tracks was a version of the title track from inertia crocodile, my soon-to-released CD-r on WGGFDTB, and is mainly constructed from a rave stab noise filtered until it gets seasick and starts tripping over itself.  The second track is a new piece, as yet unnamed, in which a recording of Thomas the Baby drinking his bottle of milk is used as a rhythm track under a dense drone ‘lullaby’.  I was very pleased at how it turned out – good and loud and thick.  Now, I am a vain, self-regarding man and will shamelessly fish for compliments after a set but, to my delight, people I didn’t even know wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me.  My spoken intro got a laugh and most seemed charmed by my indulgent use of Thomas recordings.

I dedicated the set to Mark Wharton who, as mentioned, was there celebrating his birthday.  As well as being a friend, a comrade and an all round good egg, Mark has been an important influence on me over the years.  In a sense he taught me noise – no Idwal Fisher (and its predecessors) = no radiofreemidwich.  I’ve written about this before so I’ll just wipe the tear from the corner of my eye and leave it there.  He seemed touched by the gesture, which was my intention.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/05-midwich.mp3]

Download midwich

OK, time for Paul Watson to step up and obliterate this soppiness…

12 bbblood13 bbbloodier

Finally: BBBlood.  A performance by Paul is always a treat and an eager throng gathered, vibrating in anticipation, as he kicked off.  The first section was all scabrous electro-mechanical rhythms, building in intensity until the appearance of his handheld noise-o-tron (a tobacco tin with a mic in it) indicated that the point of no return had been reached.  Paul then flung himself into it, clattering his sound source onto/under the long suffering furniture and fiddling viciously with the pots and sliders of his patch lead orchestra.  Totally joyous: we all went fucking crazy and when the noise dropped for a burst of pop funk many audience members, notable Kev, couldn’t resist busting a move.  There was even an encore of sorts as a ‘highly refreshed’ Andie wanted to shout into the microphone.  A dizzying, nostrils-flaring, grin-inducing end to a great night.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/06-bbblood.mp3]

Download BBBlood

Post-gig, the atmosphere of drunken revelry was such that leaving the venue was like leaving a wedding party: all hugs and promises.  The rain didn’t dare touch me as I ran for the last bus.

More on Sheepscar Light Industrial

More on Idwal Fisher

reminder!! midwich live this weekend at ‘the compass points north’

June 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Posted in live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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compass

Yes, on Saturday I have the pleasure of performing as part of the terrific line-up above.  I’ve no doubt the date has been circled in red in your diaries for some time but I thought it best to post a reminder just in case.  This unmissable gig, assembled by the tireless Dan Thomas of the peerless Sheepscar Light Industrial, has also been co-opted by Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher as the end point of a Leeds-based pub crawl to celebrate his 50th Birthday.  You are all invited.

Full details of the gig here.

Facebook event page for the gig here.

Facebook event page for Mark’s debauchery here.

Huzzah!

as tweeted by nasa: tuluum shimmering, daniel thomas, kevin sanders and plurals on sheepscar light industrial

June 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Tuluum Shimmering – Inside the Mountain (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.016)

Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders – Transit Timing Variations (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.017)

Plurals – Gland Extraction (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.018)

tuluum shimmering sli 016dan and kev sli 017plurals sli 018soundsfromdistantworlds

The more science-literate amongst you will be familiar both with the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler (if not, may I recommend The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler, an enthralling history of cosmology) and are likely to be aware that NASA are currently using a spacecraft named for him to search for planets orbiting other stars.  It is fascinating, mind-blowing work and I recommend you check out the mission team’s website for news of their discoveries.  Just recently there was heart-in-mouth excitement as the mechanism that keeps it pointing in the right direction broke and had to be fixed from the ground using other systems aboard the craft – an amazing achievement.

Last year Daniel Thomas (of Hagman and Sheepscar Light Industrial) and Kevin Sanders (of Petals and hairdryer excommunication) titled their collaborative album Transit timing observations from Kepler, partly in homage to this scientific marvel and partly as a nod to their history as near-neighbours in the ‘Keplers’, a series of terraced streets to be found in salubrious, downtown Sheepscar.  A short, glowing review of this cardamom-scented loveliness can be found here.

Around the time the Kepler team were planning the rescue of their stricken equipment Dan released another twenty minutes of his work with Kev as one of the three new SLI discs pictured above.  He took to twitter to congratulate them on their success, mentioning Transit Timing Variations in passing, and to his amused delight found himself retweeted by NASA!  Nerdgasm!  See screenshot!  This is possibly the coolest claim to fame I have heard since my old mate Graham declared that his great-aunt invented Soreen malt loaf.

So what of the track?  The first half of ‘Architectures of Multiple Planet Systems (Parts One & Two)’ feels like the grinding gears of a monstrous, gymnasium-sized orrery, illustrating the motions of an alien solar system, powered by the sweaty exertions of three creatures strapped into more-or-less human-sized hamster wheels.  Amidst the whirling bodies a robed professor directs his students’ attention to a terracotta globe.  For the second half we cut to the real surface of the planet represented and follow a probe as it funnels dust with its proboscis.  Alighting on a rocky outcrop, the snout is replaced with a diamond tipped drill and the low throb and swarming buzz of the tool blots out the ambient soundscape.  Soon it reaches a conclusion satisfactory to its programme and in a spacecraft orbiting above sleeping miners are roused from suspended animation…

Inside the Mountain by Tuluum Shimmering is a far more bucolic affair.  Picture the village the day after the Sultan’s visit.  It would usually be far too small a place to warrant royal patronage but the Sultan has warm memories of childhood vacations nearby and surprised his entourage by insisting it be placed on the schedule.  Anyway, the visit was a great success.  All were charmed by the generosity of the villagers and informality of the setting.  The performance given by the local gamelan orchestra had been faultless, the extra musicians roped in from around the area were just as accomplished and the wayang kulit theatre was exquisite.  Now the dalang dozes under a tree as children play irreverently with his shadow puppets.  The musicians gather to congratulate each other and laugh at the memory of hitting on high borne women at the fringes of the party.  Someone sits at an instrument and starts up a gentle rhythm, others join in with whatever kit is to hand.  Soon a sunny, slightly hung-over groove settles in and the villagers smile and nod their heads to it as they tidy up and return to normality.  Lovely.

Finally, we come to Gland Extraction by Plurals.  I consider securing this release to be something of a coup for SLI because, in my mind at least, these guys (a quartet I think) are superstars.  Their work – an evolving, mutating, (semi-)improvised, multi-sourced noise – is impressively difficult to write whimsical stories about because it already contains a very strong narrative drive.  It is like being told a tale in a foreign language and trying to figure it out from the tone of voice and body language of the storyteller.  Fascinating, inscrutable.  Oh, what the hell, I’ll give it a go.  How about this: a team of scientists are developing a new weapon designed to terrorize the battlefield: sentient barbed wire.  Scary thought, eh?  The first part of the track documents the gradual awakening of this biomechanical creature.  Finding itself in a sealed, thick walled concrete room, it maps out its environment with sinuous, whipping lengths of razorwire, sliding hooked feelers into the corners.  With mounting claustrophobia it works itself into a frenzy, a billowing cloud of angry sharps.  At this point (around the 13 minute mark) the scientists open a previously hidden hatch and the thing squeezes itself through like an octopus.  Now outside its AI circuits are flooded with information and the scientists monitoring its response soon realise their mistake – they’ve given it too much.  This giant silver tumbleweed races through consciousness and its implications and, over a five minute crescendo which is possibly the most invigorating passage of music I’ve heard all year, pushes out the other side into nirvana.  Genius.

At the time of writing, the physical object versions of these releases are more or less sold out but downloads can be had on a pay-what-you-like basis from the Sheepscar Light Industrial Bandcamp site.

midwich live at ‘the compass points north’, 22-06-2013

April 29, 2013 at 7:55 am | Posted in live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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compass points at a cow

I will no doubt plug this again nearer the date but for those readers who have busy lives and, y’know, ‘keep diaries’ here’s a chance to get an unmissable gig scribbled on the kitchen calendar.

I have been tempted out of fatherhood-induced-semi-retirement by Dan of Sheepscar Light Industrial with the simple lure of a curry dinner and the prestige of playing with such a monumentally talented line-up.  My set will be the usual 20-25 minutes in length but will be entirely new, possibly based around tracks created for my upcoming release on We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys, possibly featuring ‘field’ recordings of a snuffling infant.  Who knows?  All I can guarantee at this early stage is that by the night itself my performance will be finely honed, rigorously rehearsed and solid gold.

Anyway, add the fact that Uncle Mark Wharton of RFM’s sister blog Idwal Fisher has appropriated this as his birthday party and there is simply no reason not to come.  Over to Dan for the links, details and whatnot:

Sheepscar Light Industrial presents an evening of celebration, with things to watch and listen to. Featuring performances from;

Aqua Dentata | BBBlood | Hagman | Midwich | Petals | These Feathers Have Plumes

£4 | 7-11pm | Saturday 22nd June 2013 | Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Facebook Event Page

Aqua Dentata |

As Aqua Dentata, Eddie Nuttall has been garnering some well deserved praise of late. Some great releases on Beartown Records, SLI & Feral Tapes, complimented by gigs where the audience “just shuts the fuck up and listens” (Rob Hayler), has meant that an invite back to Leeds was always on the cards. Expect to be consumed by sounds conjured from synths, tapes and bowed miscellany; shimmering, beautiful, throbbing and fizzing…

http://www.aquadentata.org/
soundcloud.com/aquadentata
Aqua Dentata live in Leeds, September 2012
SLI.008 – Aqua Dentata – A Staircase Missing

BBBlood |

Paul Watson, aka BBBlood, is a maestro of noise. Predominantly operating at the harsher end of the spectrum, the depth and consideration in Paul’s approach will have warming to the embrace of even his harshest roar. Following on from a stand-out performance at Pete Cann’s excellent Crater Lake Festival, I’m delighted it won’t be too long until he’s back up in Leeds…

BBBlood
soundcloud.com/bbblood
BBBlood live in Leeds, September 2012
SLI.010 – BBBlood – N 51°33′ 0” / W 0°7′ 0”

Hagman |

Daniel & David Thomas (no relation) are two men with lots of wire. The wire connects pedals, short-wave radios, oscillators, drum machines, synths and home-made Tupperware-tronics. Debut album on Striate Cortex coming in the Spring. “Hagman drift sublimely along a path of beautifully nuanced drone” (Idwal Fisher).

soundcloud.com/hagmanhagmanhagman
Hagman live in Leeds, November 2012
SLI.005 – Hagman – Wormwood

Midwich |

Midwich is Rob Hayler: head honcho of Fencing Flatworm Recordings and Radio Free Midwich‘s longest serving blog-jockey. Having (only very) recently entered fatherhood (congratulations!), Rob is claiming to have re-entered semi-retirement but, after the cracking live sets of the last twelve months and new releases on Kirkstall Dark Matter and We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys (the latter coming soon!), I can only imagine that he’ll be itching to return. Augmented field recordings, deep electronic drone, head-banging.

Radio Free Midwich
Midwich – Single Figures (live in Leeds, January 2013)
SLI.006 – Midwich – Eaves

Petals |

PetalsKevin SandersHairdryer Excommunication. Former Sheepscar neighbour. Nice, shiny shoes. Library operative. Prolific, ebullient, drone-charmer. Deep, warm, crispy, electro-fuzz. Super!

Hairdryer Excommunication
Petals live in Sheffield, February 2013
SLI.009 – Petals – Whether to Drown

These Feathers Have Plumes |

I’ve been attempting to get Andie Brown, who performs as These Feathers Have Plumes, to record something for SLI or play in Leeds since the label began to function. Hence, it goes without saying how pleased I am that she’s joined the line up for this gig. Look forward to deep, textured drones, with contact mic accompaniment and occasional field recording forays. Oh, and wine glasses.

These Feathers Have Plumes
soundcloud.com/thesefeathers
These Feathers Have Plumes live in Nottingham, March 2012
SLI.0?? – These Feathers Have Plumes – ???

Oh, and here’s the usual bumpf about Wharf Chambers:

Wharf Chambers is a members’ club; you need to be a member, or the guest of a member, in order to attend. To join, please visit wharfchambers.org. Membership costs £1 and requires a minimum of 48 hours to take effect.

Awesome.  See you there.

midwich live! with hagman, matt robson and quip, wharf chambers, leeds, wednesday 19th december, 2012

December 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Posted in live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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quip hagman robson midwich poster

Yes folks, the last chance to see midwich live in 2012 and the premiere outing for a new ‘Winter’ set takes place on Wednesday 19th December in the salubrious surrounds of everyone’s favourite Leeds venue: Wharf Chambers.  Only a quid to get in!  Here’s the write up from S.O.I. HQ:

Quip

Not content with wrenching out new and exciting shapes from indie-rock and post-hardcore in his three-piece The Diamond Sea, Ben Eyes has a prolific history as a hard-touring laptop performer.

Still one of the hardest working men in digital music, Ben Eyes is truly one of the scene’s genuine all-rounders, able to operate in many of electronic music’s diverse disciplines. Always fresh and never in danger of falling into an Apple Mac-shaped cakehole, Eyes reminds us why we love electronic music so much and why it is still vital.

Equally able to conjure up abstract fields of Post-Fennesz dream noise as direct to cranium dance music, with all points of wistful and romantic post-Boards of Canada tropes thrown in in-between, Ben’s intimate knowledge of how to perform electronic music on stage has been honed over years and scores of performances from London to Berlin and Stockholm to Paris, soaking up multifarious influences from the digital itinerants of the continent.

Within the free-thinking walls of Wharf Chambers, expect anything and everything from one of Leeds’ finest laptop troubadours. Be sure to prepare you dancing loafers.

Matt Robson

Robson’s complete inability to judge the public mood and play the industry game has rendered him a peripheral character well below the footnotes or rock n’roll, but from this lowly position, a curious and wayward talent has nonetheless emerged.

Most will know him for his work as an electronica producer, trading under the name of randomNumber, generating large amounts of wonky and vastly unpopular music for the likes of Rock Action, Catmobile, Moamoo and HighpointLowlife during the earlier 2000s, whilst others may be aware of his work on drums, engineering and production in bands such as Ailsa Craig and The Blanche Hudson Weekend.

Tonight will be a rare opportunity to see one of Matt’s electronic sets, taking in unreleased solo work and re-workings and remixes of Ailsa Craig and Blanche Hudson Weekend material. Fans of Flying Lotus, Mount Kimbie, J Dilla, Third Eye Foundation and Autechre may find pleasure from his set…but probably not.

Midwich (Striate Cortex, Matching Head, Sheepscar Light Industrial)

Rob Hayler has also been knocking around for a while. After a highly productive few years at the turn of the century during which he co-ran the influential micro-label Fencing Flatworm Recordings and helped promote (sadly missed) Leeds experimental music institution The Termite Club, he realised that the way to garner serious praise, mystique and ‘elder statesman’ status was to disappear for five years then make a triumphant return. So he did. It worked!

Since 2009 he has been tirelessly documenting the noise underground via his blog Radiofreemidwich and, always tempted by the limelight, has returned to the fray himself with his solo project, Midwich. Well-reviewed releases on Striate Cortex, Matching Head, Phil Todd’s Memoirs of an Aesthete and Leeds label-du-jour Sheepscar Light Industrial have accompanied a smattering of live appearances. Crowds have been charmed by the sight of a 40 year old man rocking out to seemingly beatless drones. Currently pioneering the ‘furry javelin’ sound – a psychedelic, bubbling, ego-dissolving, fuzz augmented occasionally with field recordings – any performance from Midwich is sure to be a grin-inducing treat. Unless he is plagued with technical difficulties in which case the set will be replaced by industrial strength swearing.

Hagman (Sheepscar Light Industrial)

Daniel & David Thomas (no relation) are two men with a variety of noise making devices and lots of wires. As Lord Hayler of Midwich once wrote; “Hagman present a hard-won equilibrium teetering between power line hum and the rhythmic clatter of early 80s electro-industrial. As sinuously alien as a millipede clambering over tree bark, yet as warm as a cat asleep on your chest.” Expect shortwave radios, oscillators, drum machines and more effect pedals than a band famous for having lots of effects pedals.

Wednesday, 19th December, 2012
7.30 PM
Wharf Chambers
Leeds

…and here is the inevitable facebook gig page.  As you can see, the line-up is less, shall we say, ‘demanding’ than some of the bills I have been on this year so perhaps this is the perfect opportunity for you to bring along noise-curious colleagues, friends and lovers.  Factor in the laughable entry fee and the dirt cheap bar and you have the perfect excuse for a naughty midweek mash.  Go on – turn up to work knackered and hungover on the Thursday morning.  Who cares?  Not me.

rfm attends to recent downloads: ap martlet and black leather cop

October 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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ap martlet – Flags (download)

Black Leather Cop – Kindaguy (Grindcore Karaoke, GK#271, download)

A new track from ap martlet is a thing to be savoured and celebrated.  Dave Thomas – 50% of Hagman, constructor of home-made musical apparatus, family man – makes his work available by unobtrusively placing it on Soundcloud, coughing politely on facebook, then standing back, job done.  Flags validates, yet again, his meticulous working methods and ruthlessly discerning quality control.  Really, this is essential listening and that it can be downloaded for free two clicks from here is a life-affirming thought.

The piece is about fifteen minutes long and this is what it sounds like.  Imagine electricity was sold in tins.  Levering off the lid would reveal a neon blue syrup which would need to be scooped out into a saucepan and gently heated before it could be poured into your appliances.  Now imagine being distracted whist warming your electricity by something you see outside through the kitchen window.  A gloriously fluid flying ‘V’ of migrating geese, say, or a squirrel bounding triumphantly across the back yard holding an entire slice of burnt toast between its clenched teeth.  During this moment the unwatched electricity boils over the side of the pan and sizzles on the surface of the hob.  An audio description of this whole process is offered by Flags.

Download here.

Kindaguy by Black Leather Cop is a very different fish.  This is a collaboration between Scott McKeating of the mighty Bells Hill and Joe Posset: maestro of the dictaphone and RFM’s North East correspondent.  It has been released by the magnificently named Grindcore Karaoke (“tonight Matthew I’m going to be… Carcass!”) and is freely downloadable from that Bandcamp.

This piece is also about 15 minutes long and this is what it sounds like.  Imagine a prolonged and severe aerial bombardment as heard permeating through the concrete walls of an underground command bunker.  The creatures working in this HQ look and sound like a cross between gremlins (the cool, evil version, not the fluffy kind) and a scaly breed of those green things that worship ‘the claw’ in Toy Story.  The mood is wretched because they are losing the war.  The time for pushing model tanks around a map with sticks is long over and evacuation is the only option.  As they trudge wearily through the vibrating corridors they bicker with squabbling gurgles.  A brief attempt to raise the spirits with some music is instantly (and literally) squashed flat by a harmonica-activated booby trap.  The atmosphere is both comic and dire.  It is grimly compelling.

It might seem obvious that underpinning Posset’s squirming racket with some seriously ominous rumble would be a winning idea (bass is not the dictaphone’s strong point, after all) but nevertheless it still took me a while to warm to this.  Its charms are not immediately evident but repeated exposure can lead to addictive behaviour.  I’m currently taking it at least twice a day.  It’s good medicine.

Download here.

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