remarkable plimsoll squeak: rfm on kostis kilymis, helictite and quisling meet

July 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki)

Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs)

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings)

 kosits kilymis

Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki) CD and digital album

As a rule I never read any press release or artist statements that come with the submissions to Midwich Mansions (Newcastle branch) before I settle down at my tripewriter.

Most importantly this is a desire to stay clear of internal word-bias.  For example…if I know your freek jam was recorded in the Brazilian rain forest with shards of broken glass my mind finds it hard to ignore the hot & wet, mirrored-silver-shard vibes.

But there’s also a part of me that shivers at an artist’s description (or worse – the label’s description) of the music I’m about to listen to.  The desire to sound highfalutin’ and worthy leads the best of us into bumbling, alienating art-speak and that makes my head rattle with incomprehension.

However I make an exception for Kostis Kilymis and his empire of OMFT whose brief, clear and informative notes perfectly set the context for my next half hour of listening.

As Kostis tells me these are recordings of ‘nothing.’  I guess your regular sound engineer would declare these tracks empty of music being as they are carefully stitched together field recordings laced with occasional micro-platinum electronics.  They are of course full of sound.

Crisp sound!

Vital sound!!

All-encompassing sound!!!

A rubber-mutter heralds the start to ‘The Commons’ and features some remarkable plimsoll squeak. Elsewhere the coiled rush of traffic roars like concrete waves and people, real people chatter below the threshold of my understanding.

‘Down there (la-bas)’ crackles with infectious clicks and whirrs, street noise and colourful birdsong. The tension is tugging at my ears, the old skin on my hands puckers-up in fleshy peaks.  This is body music without the tyranny of beats.

Memory gongs strike on ‘Stay the Year’ with that distinctive locked-groove click undercutting some domestic activity (brushing with a stiff broom perhaps) as the solitary door-hinge squeal plays like the tiniest horn.

The psychic space is tightened for atmospheric closer ‘Another Room’ with some really nice close-mic clutter and rattling of brittle plastics in the Pocket Jazz style pioneered by one Robert Ridley-Shackleton.

Oh yes…this piece is altogether more raffish liked the striped blouse of a gondolier.

Yet again the outside is brought in with swooshing traffic and distant birds filling my room while I glace sideways at the rain making clear dots and dashes on the window, a wet Morse.

As the piece fades to a close I realise the rich sound world we live in is tapping on the door asking for house room.

“If you got ears.  You gotta listen.”

(Van Vliet 1980)


Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs) Recycled cassette

Real end-of-an-era junk this – two times!

‘Nicked’ marks the last ever Fuckin’ Amateurs release.  That’s right!  With over 100 indescribable, uncategorisable tapes/CD-rs and the rare vinyl offering F#A! have blown ragged holes in the North East N-AU for almost exactly a decade.

Whether these tapes were given away or shoved through letter boxes our friends in Blyth, Northumberland,  have finally decided enough is enough and shifted their chaotic energy into other areas.

So what are we left with?  Apart from a massive discography creating a document of what it meant to live, work and play in this Northern scene this tape cannily becomes a summary of all that came before.

Live to cassette recording (check), blistering chaotic performance (check), muchos crowd chatter and conversation (check) homemade sleeve, recycled tape and DIY as fuck (check).   The spirit of F#A! is pure to the last drop.

And that’s where the next body-blow arrives.  This tape documents what will most certainly be the last performance from Newcastle’s wildest, most unruly, most misunderstood noise/improv big band – Helictite.  Mirroring F#A! Helictite have played around the edges of a variety of scenes for the last 10 years led by their only constant – the cosmic joker – Yassen Roussev.  Under Yassen’s haphazard tutelage Helictite have scraped the edges of heaven with their no-rules improv shows, delighting, annoying and baffling audiences in equal amounts.


For an under-the-radar unit they have clocked up some impressive stats: a kinship with Faust led to an in-audience guerrilla style double-header in Edinburgh.   Yas talked his way into a slimmed down Helictite live soundtracking Wallace Shawn’s play ‘The Fever’ over 3 nights.   His close links to independent cinema resulted in oodles of futuristic film improv scores.  Helictite played in Yorkshire’s biggest cave, broke a huge pottery dwarf, worked with a bevy of dancers, set fire to all manner of things and disregarded noise restrictions wherever they went.

My personal favourite?  One outrageous fifteen-piece performance (including five goddamn kit drummers) alienating hundreds of indie-kids waiting patiently for The Dirty Projectors to play.

Such is the hubbub created around them they even spawned an unofficial tribute band – Phalictite – with a brief so stringent no member was allowed to play the same instrument twice.

But, ever the psychedelic explorer, Yassen has moved on and decamped to the USA to cause a star-spangled panic in his new home.  God bless ‘im.

This final version of Helictite (but of course the line-up changed for each performance) contains a mellower blend: solo bass drum and organ battle it out for a while.  Guitar noise gives way graciously to a sweet xylophone solo.   Yas’ sax –often consciously absent from performances – is on fine honking form.  The general bluster and energy is high in the mix and while the playing is free it’s also wild, untutored and unconscious.  Non-musicians and non-players were always welcomed with open arms making this group such a delight to witness and a joy to play with.

I get the impression groups of players were camped in different rooms and Martin (F#A! chief) is waltzing between them, or the band are wandering around the audience.  Whatever the plan this is a leg-remix.  Whatever is happening here it’s undeniably Helictite.

OK – time to dry them eyes and rewind.

I’ve no idea where you’ll find this tape – the last batch I saw were being handed out at random to drinkers in Newcastle’s Free Trade Inn.  Yassen distinctive laugh cackling as he forced his way through the comfortable middle-class clientele, “take this tape…it’s me playing with Tina Turner ” he yelped as confused fingers gripped the proffered cassettes nervously.

For more on F#A! be sure to check the Discogs  site but remember at least half of what you read is lies!

quisling meet

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings) Cassette x2

Rich and luxuriant long-form drones/riff-scapes from guitar and bass that remind me of contemporary Dead C and/or/at-the-same-time the sort of stuff associated with Grim Humour fanzine (circa 1987).

Tape one: Volume levels are set for stun and each moment is FULL of FUZZ and RUMBLE.  The occasional let-up from the mayhem involves a Clanger’s style feedback howling – no doubt some machine is being tortured – until the RUMBLE continues like a bad tempered juggernaut.

Song structures are hinted at, even attempted for a few moments (the bit I’m listening to now sounds like Suicide or something – all pulse and throb) before being crushed under the weight of the frantic electronic squealing.

Tape two: Like Skullflower coughing through a watering can!  This is both fractured and all-pervasive –  which is a pretty odd mix when you think about it.  The feedback peals like tinnitus and never seems to stop (high end) while earth-moving bass gouges deep troughs out of granite (low end).

Some ferocious shredding lifts the final movements out of the grubby-grubby gutter pushing the sound skyward, higher and higher, circling dangerously close to the sun.

Julian Cope!  Where are you baby?  This one’s right up your street man.


omft Bandcamp

Kostis Kilymis site

F#A! Discogs Page

Quisling Meet Bandcamp


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