uncommon words: joe murray on james watts, ovary friendly and a mystery from wasted capital

July 2, 2015 at 7:31 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Alright Duckie (tape, ‘Wasted Capital Since 2013’, WC9, edition of 50)

James Watts – Glass Cascade (tape, self-released, edition of 25 or download)

[untitled] – farthing wood yeah? (tape or download, Ovary Friendly, OVF001)

Ashplant / Midnight Mass – split (tape, Ovary Friendly, OVF002, edition of 15 or download)

alright duckie

Alright Duckie

This most curious tape comes from the London home of electric-performance guerrillas Hideous Replica [Editor’s note: via their sub-label Wasted Capital].

Being a simple dolt I judge-this-book-by-it’s-cover and jam it in the cheapo-o hi-fi assuming I’ll soon be deep in a world of subtle ‘hiss’ and pleasant silvery ‘vish’.  But, as the saying goes, to ‘assume’ makes an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’.  Well reader, my ass is a red tomato; this is an altogether different beast spitting weird words out of the speakers.  Cryptic words. Uncommon words that go like this…

Alright Duckie. Are you after a something something?

That’s it.  These few words are the sole musical sound on this tape.  The phrase tumbles repeatedly and wobbles slimily from all four points of the compass at once.  Each time the words wriggle they do so in differing gravelly pitches and from several smoky mouths.  The last four syllables (the something, something bit) are lost to me in a mangled warping that crackles with electric intelligence.  They are almost turned inside out and become abstract smears so heavy, heavy, heavy is the knob-twiddling.

I can tell they are English words, and with a refreshing regional lilt.  The accented burr and use of the word duck as a greeting makes me think of beautiful Nottingham City.  It’s as if that Jason Williamson started preparing something for Chocolate Monk’s Well Spliced Breath series then couldn’t be fagged to finish it off.

As I listen further (spoiler alert – it doesn’t change, no extra words pop out for a rounding off or neat conclusion) the tone of the phrase (both menacing and rhetorical) and the added ‘ie’ to ‘duck’ turn this from endearment to leverage for actual violence – a beery leering face at closing time.

But who is the mastermind behind this oddly addictive tape?  You will have spied already that there is no clue at the top of this honest scribble.  There’s nothing on the tape box or the tape itself.  Hummm….always ready to go that extra mile for you handsome reader I contacted Mr Hideous Replica himself to ask, who’s responsible for this singular text-gash?   Did he spill the beans?  I’m afraid not.  Mr Hideous explained he is bound by a code of secrecy to keep mum about this one.  Such dedication.

Click here to hear a snippet.  Have a ponder and give us your thoughts ya crazy Kojacks!

glass cascade

James Watts – Glass Cascade

Touch me.  I’m a fan of the single-source-recording.  You take your one thing (damp sod/Fender Telecaster/slick rubber membrane) and hit it, strum it, stroke it to explore each texture, tone and timbre in unhurried bliss.  It’s an approach that requires patience and dedication in both operator and listener.  It’s not as simple as saying things become meditative for the listener, no sir.  There’s deep involvement in the easily ‘got’ as things become a guessing game, musical ‘chicken’, a round-about journey from there to here.

The first piece on James Watts Glass Cascade is a great single-source-recording, ‘Avalanche’, 24 minutes of single bell action.  It’s not the tinkle but the ghostly reverberations that are the star here – they wriggle sexily, golden and soft as churned butter.

Things are wonderfully sparse for about 10 minutes, yellow tongues of sound rolling lazily in your ears until subtle manipulations of the bell leads to a wonderful swoon and overlapping tones, blunting the brass attack and concentrating on the amber diminuendo.

‘Rebuild’, the second shorter drone piece, is more complex in approach.  Vintage Sopwith Pup recordings rumble under a backwards grandfather clock (adding a sucking vik vuk / vik vuk) acting like caterpillar tracks slowly grinding forward bearing an immense weight.  A gas giant swells to engulf its lazy moon.  You are powerless and submit willingly to oblivion.

…and if that all sounds a bit to gentle to you fork-beards be sure to check out Plague Rider and Blind Spite James’ Death and Black Metal bands.  Maximalist throat gravel – get five ‘K’s at least!

farthing woodashplant

[untitled] – Farthing Wood Yeah? and Ashplant / Midnight Mass – split

Back to the future dudes!  Both these crackly downloads, in approach and sound-quality, take me back to the early 1990s and the warm enveloping sounds lurching out of labels like Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers or Union Pole.

The puny drum beats all slack and listless, lame violins held with yellow fingers.  Guitar fumbled and porridged.  The peals of feedback, the kitchen sink.  All these elements take me back to a time of unadulterated tape worship.  I’d squeal with joy when the grubby package flopped through the letterbox and would regularly turn my world upside down.  Friends didn’t understand my obsession with that bass-less, boxy sound.  But for me these poorly recorded tapes were as warm and narcotic as any dub b-side; but this time the versioning was darkly psychic.

Farthing Wood Yeah? is, somewhat unsurprisingly, the most rural of the two.  The brightness of dawn is yet to break fully but you can feel a gentle warming in the air.  What sounds like keyboard presets overlapping each other with a harsh static click are manipulated slowly leading to a post-rave feel. ‘Winchester’ continues the come-down party as tea is brewed and soft thumping comes from beneath the floorboards.  Sounds gush like the boiling milk. ‘Rochester’ comes across like Rhys Chatham’s dreams; ear damage creating a one-Guitar-Trio-too-many madness echo or The Cure tuning up.  Yeah…definitely one of them two.

Ashplant specialise in that late-night, Kraut-folk 3-chord jam.  The first untitled piece is played easy and off hand, a comforting loosener before the main event of untitled piece two…a messier, freer jam with satisfying cold chisel percussion.  The hazy mash and electronic bustle are perfect condiments, knocking on the door of FSA or something.

On ‘Haze March’ Midnight Mass become a one man Dead C, humping and pumping those loose static clouds via an overdriven guitar amp, kicking a drum, cymbals tied to their knees.  The rhythm flows like a wonky Sunny Murray. ‘Jungle of Cannibal Mountain’ describes mondo drum patterns as several violins are being tortured in a school canteen, forks, knives and spoons being flung about by naughty diners.  But it’s the stroppy closing chug of ‘locked burn’ that takes me back to those halcyon days with a sepia-tinted clarity.  A fuzzed-out, blown-out brown fizz from those gloriously sweaty amps.


Wasted Capital Since 2013

James Watts

Ovary Friendly [Editor’s note: do not adjust your set, it is supposed to look like that.]

‘\/\/\/\/\/\/\/’: joe murray on louie rice, adam asnan, vasco alves

February 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Louie Rice – Degenerates (C25 tape, Wasted Capital Since 2013, WC1, edition of 50)

Adam Asnan – Veil after Veil (C30 tape, Wasted Capital Since 2013, WC4, edition of 50)

Vasco Alves – Volume 1 (C32 tape, Wasted Capital Since 2013, WC3, edition of 50)

VA AA LR – It Just Ain’t Flapping (CD, Consumer Waste, cw09)

 louis rice

The other week Rob was kind enough to publish my homage to the speedy National Express, their stalwart service and the hours of pleasant listening my recent trip to London gave me.

I was surprised (and a little flattered) to learn that my motorway movements caused a commotion.  RFM readers have been whispering in their garrets, ‘What was Joe doing in London?’  ‘What business can a doof like him have in our nation’s proud capital?’

My first reaction was of course to play this mystery up; ‘hum’, ‘hah’ and possibly drop a few coy clues blushing rosily as a Southern Belle.  But it’s the internet age innit and you can probably tag my footsteps as easily as folding your arms…so no mystery there.  Bloody technology.

TRUTH: I was in London to play a show at the latest Stoke Newington hotspot – Ryan’s Bar.  This unassuming Irish-themed tavern has seen the likes of Phil Minton, Spoils & Relics, Wanda Group, THF Drenching and Temperatures cross its threshold to honk, sqwark and hiss.  Jesus mang…Thurston Moore lives down the road…it’s that god damn on-point.

The night was carefully organised by the dynamic HIDEOUS PORTA duo of Louie Rice and Vasco Alves; two strapping gents full of bonhomie and spotless no-audience underground credentials.  The gig was a peach: Pablo Sanz opened with demonic soundscapes, I did my tape/gob thing and Tom Mudd and John Wall breathed fresh new life into computer glitch fizz and bubble.  I met up with old friends (Foxy, Johnny, Ed) and made a couple of new ones (Nicky, Marie), we drank beer, chatted about records and generally stayed up far too late.  As the night wore on tapes and CD-Rs were passed under the table, inspected and wrapped up safe.  The handshake of the underground had taken place…close as a tango.   Here’s my lucky bag.

Louie Rice’s Degenerate mines a sea of crystalline electronics; each ‘pip’ and ‘phaff’ is clearly birthed from some silica gel, wet and frictionless.  The five shortish tracks manage to be both austere and jolly as an apple-cheeked yokel at the same time.  Opener ’06:45′ has a grumbling appendix bassline, low as hipster pants, and a drunkard’s roll to its smear of eclectic fez.  Micro track ’01:29′ revisits Pong like a dubby ghost.  ’03:42′ reminds me of the sound our sickliest cat makes when it’s about to throw up.  A kind of deep ‘blurrrp’ that repeats in diminishing contractions until the inevitable fishy yash.  A static ripping floats over the ‘blurrrp’ and catches in any available hangnail or crevice dragging with a delicious tug.

Blimey…time for side two already.

It’s with a triumphant buzz ’05:25′ lurches out the cheap-o stereo.  That static tugging is there again but it’s pink and warm giving you exactly same sensation as letting a prawn cracker dissolve slowly on the tongue.  The buzz trumps on, majestic and unhurried; an oozing camembert.   The cat returns for ’06:13′ with soft ginger purring coupled with the clatter of them joke dentures you used to be able to buy from joke shops until an oppressive throb (sourced from project Blue Book perhaps) does that Olympic wrestle thing and pins you to the mat…Ah one-ah.  Ah two-ahhh.  Ahhh,three!

vasco alves

For Vasco Alves on Volume 1 it’s the battered portable cassette recorder that’s the star.  The dear old thing adds a patina of rust to the airy field recordings and grimy electronics found on this one-sided beauty.

Totally non-linear sounds are presented simply and with sharp edits as play/record is pressed and, on playback, a faulty motor or loose capstan make the captured sound wibbly-wobbly like you’re listening through textured brine.  Imagine a hearing test of abstract domestic and psychedelic tones, each one syringed into your ear…bop-bop-bop. You can?  Congratulations…you’re getting close to the oddness of this tiny marvel.

Sonic content?  Tissue thin drones nestle next to elephant calls.  Heavy rain and commuter chunter.  A tape-warped Tangerine Dream.  The distinctive sound of wind bothering a condenser mike, kettle whistle, tape whirr, pissing into a bucket, pirate radio interference, cement mixers and gentle, spacious ‘\/\/\/\/\/\/\/’ exhibited in the stream-of-consciousness, brown-sauce genius style of Blyth’s Cidershed brigade.

Things move from abstract to concrete, accidental to composed, domestic to industrial at a brisk pace.  Not too fast to see the join but almost revelling in the ‘wax on wax off’ discipline of carefully collected sounds.

At times I take this for an exercise in extreme listening (like that reductionist bunch), it’s that intense.   I’m glued so tight to my speakers, waiting to make sense of the next wave of giger-counter babble or market garden chatter, that I’m starting to (audio) hallucinate.  My teeth clench as I ride the waves of oh-so-subtle distortion that play out this tape until I realise this is no elaborate construction of pico-waves but common-or-garden tape hiss run-out.  Punked!

If you are looking for music to lift you out of your school-work-death pothole this is the very thing.  A singular listen!

adam asnan

Talking of school…when I was at secondary school I was forced to take metal work for a year.  Metal work.  Sounds incongruous enough eh?  Do you reckon I was any good at working metal dear readers?  You guessed right.  I was bloody hopeless.  The metalwork room (or shop as they called it) was a temple to masculinity; greasy, hot and loud with deep-throated swearing.  As a youth more content in the library I expected to find this a lesson a bore and chore.  But what I hadn’t counted on was the sound of metal working; the screech of bandsaw ripping through tin, the rough-bark of the file against steel coathooks.  And best of all…the reverberant clanking ‘doiiinnnnnggg’  of a dropped spanner.

It’s this memory-laden metallic KO that Adam Ansan unearths with his Veil after Veil cassette.  It’s a beautiful din of metal-on-metal drone, long drawn-out tones like molecular choirs hymning the great eventual.  Brass-plated boilers hiss and pump out grey gas, a blackened hand strokes the riveted tub like a lover.  On side two a soft juddering motif,  like a marshmallow steam train running over points of warm liquorice, draws us into a world where the heating engineer is also a sonic artist; each fan blade and ventilation shaft throbs with a different tone turning your humble abode into a Pompidou breathing-machine of pork-scented gasps and asparagus guffs.

If you stare long enough at a cloud it starts to disappear.  I’m convinced if I listen to Veil on Veil long enough all that will be left will be the plastic whirr of scrubbed tape running silently through the spools.  This is the sound of temporary music!

va aa lr

OK.  Put this all together and what have you got?  What would normally be a ‘what if’ becomes a ‘look see’ as these three chaps have put a tasty smorgasbord together as VA AA LR on their very professional looking CD It Just Ain’t Flapping.  Mission statement: whiffle-bud earphone action finds tiny scrunching in one lug and machine-like fripping in the other.

Over eight brief and untitled tracks magnified metal and environmental recordings rub up against rubbery electronic loucheness as insect radios get de-tuned and hauled behind a smog-trawler.  As ever, the art in this kind of group collage is the way it’s all put together.  These carefully minced sounds melt and drip like a finger-painting picture traced on the window of a condensation drenched bus window.  While the reels turn you get a gentle phasing; a smidge of clarity and then a jammy smear of opaque ‘wooahhh’ in that lopsided 1000-year-egg kind of way.

You want examples, yeah?

  • Dr Who’s coffee pot splutters on ‘8’ almost drowning out the slo-mo rave synth.
  • Text book examples of close-miked clicks, rattles and raps played alongside Heath Robinson cackles all over ‘2’ and ‘3’.
  • Little Stevie Wonder gets a look in on ‘6’ with a malfunctioning videodisc cracking through Chariots of Fire as he solders bad-tempered joints (badly).
  • The tugboat/trawler chugs out the harbour vibrating the dock and smaller vessels dangerously on ‘5’ while Silver Beatles jidder the mandibles.

…but it’s ‘4’ that pumps me up hard; a scant 1 min 56 seconds of percussive black hiss…slow steam escaping from a Tudor chimney.

Hey Nonny Nonny!

Wasted Capital Since 2013

VA AA LR on Consumer Waste

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