falling over and over and over: joe murray on dale cornish, these feathers have plumes, isnaj dui, sarah hennies

May 4, 2016 at 11:25 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dale Cornish – Ulex (vinyl LP, Entr’acte, E190, edition of 200 or download)

These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split (tape, Was Ist Das?, edition of 75)

Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release (CD in hand sewn packaging, Category of manifestation, KIND_3)


Dale Cornish – Ulex

Ya fucker!  I had one of them Airfix models yeah.  Harrier Jump Jet and all that, it was the Falklands and shit and I pure built the fucker up from like about 200 parts.  Fucking V/STOL engines and undercarriage and the little fucker that flies it in his own little ejector seat.  It took me, like, hours and hours to glue the bastard together, smoothing off the excess glue, filing down the rough edges and shit.  Even longer to paint it all.  Navy colours yeah, as a result of it being part of the Task Force and what have you.

Consider that Harrier Jump Jet Dale Cornish’s Ulex; an evocative piece of miniature machinery.  Then, in a moment of glorious enlightenment, Dale strips off the paint, slices open the fuselage and lays each grey piece out all naked and alone.

This act of separation (pieces pinned like a butterfly under glass) lends a steely intensity and purpose to each sound, the distillation of thoughts and deeds become pure essence. It goes like this…

  • Ulex Pattern 1. The steel pan revenge plan; a falling over and over and over into endless insect Gamelan.  Donkey kick drum, once then twice… then that’s it.
  • Ulex Pattern 2. Bamboo rattles in a magnetic hole. Invisible forces snatch and grab at any vibrations causing a stretching of each dry, brittle note.  Sufi mystic collapse.
  • Ulex Pattern 3. She’s lurching, dragging a sandbag over bright pink coral. I tap the side of my canoe with an outstretched palm and bail out the overflowing rice with an old soup can.
  • Ulex Pattern 4. Fog demons breathe over mangrove roots to haunt the islanders with deep booming warnings. The earwigs glassy cascade becomes relaxed antiseptic counterpoint.
  • Ulex Pattern 5. I’m slightly shocked as the spare crackle of needle hitting vinyl is overwhelmed with a distorted voice all meshed up and jaxxed, rolling in three dimensions like some forgotten Fylkingen piece.  My inner Agatha Christie picks up a little something though.  I might be old but I’m crafty.  All I’m saying is Alright Duckie!
  • Ulex Pattern 6. Steelies penked off a copper plate.
  • Ulex Pattern 7. The longest rippling.  Distant fireworks ignition in slightly off-kilter realities, the original cucaracha stepping on echo-bugs ‘till each pops like dark ink.

Ulex is deconstructed so completely it’s almost empty.  Some of these tracks are so spare they make regular minimal look messy.  It’s so damn pure and yet, tied up in silver-plated knots.  Jagged and fresh but never sharp.



These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split

Oh.  The synchronicity!

Planning the previous Dale C piece I came upon a tweet from Andie Brown (AKA These Feathers Have Plumes) explaining her next tape would feature that Dale on spoken words.  That’d make a neat journalistic link I thought and contacted the most excellent Sophie Cooper, a known accomplice, to help me locate it.  Like clockwork a download code arrived (cheers Ned) and I plugged in my earphones all ready to get swept away in the foaming clouds of glassy tones.

These Feathers Have Plumes carry me to three specific places on those rusty wings.

For this is music of the sea.  The boom of the swell against the groyne; the ever-churning motion of salt-water loops.  The sneaky shifting creep of dunes, the ‘sshhhussshhh’ of shingle dragged across a beach.  ‘Return II’ moves from pregnant ringing blossoms, all rounded and warm, into the nightmare sound of ice cracking beneath your feet as you dash across the fiord.

This is music of the city.  The huge-wine-glass clang is as full and broad as Spitalfields’ Christ Church.  Field recordings slide into the mix: the chatter of taxi cabs and metallic shudder of shopping trolleys; the stark staccato clack of stiletto heels that chitter over cobbles.  Brandy balloons writhe and wobble on ‘Soho Living Room’ with Dale’s dry crackle striking teenage memory gongs while Joincey, the sinister ice cream man, packs something wicked into his 99’s xylophone dubs.

This is music of the sky. ‘You can’t burn my dreams’ swoons like lovesick chem-trails, a thousand feet above, streaking deep white scars across the palest Springtime blue.

The impeccable Isnaj Dui responds with ‘Answers at Dawn’ a noble and ancient wisdom.

I’m transported to a cloud kingdom.  The children are piped into the barren courtyard with ornate horns.  Curved downwards, the sound bounces from the terracotta tiles to echo around the courtyard setting up a matrix of slow breath. 

They dance in staccato movements, each limb stiff and mechanical.  At first in unison, then falling slowly out of phase, each arm, each leg fluttering in stroboscopic effect. 

From above miniature bronze bells are hung from prayer flags.  The gentle tinkle is accompanied by each child, now armed with reed-end sheng randomly puffing like the crickets they keep in tiny cages.

Silently the children are marched back to their solitary cells to sleep until the ritual is repeated tomorrow.


Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release

I first came across Sarah’s work via a wonderfully head-tilting vibraphone piece Settle and did the usual bit of cyber-sleuthing to see what’s up. When I usually do this I find I’m so far behind the curve my ‘new’ discovery is wrapped up shroud-wise and I’ve been dozing 25 years too late (example: François Dufrêne – we could have made such sweet music together!). So I was super thrilled to find a new Hennies release was, like… imminent.  I paid my pal and waited…

This nifty package turned up a week or so later with a real needle and thread sewn into the cardboard sleeve (ha ha) evading customs (ho ho). The two lengthy tracks make up almost an hour’s worth of extraordinary music that left me giddy; brain fizzing and fingers tingling.

‘Gather’ is 27 minutes and 56 seconds of exquisite minimal hiss.  A real recording of a distant waterfall apes a prickly electronic cascade; a shy, wavering tone blends into a constant tide of warm and wooden.  It continues…

The sharp change at 21 minutes makes me sit bolt upright.  We are edging a corner and the salty gush is revealed.   The chromed larynxes of the Sirens are dancing across the wide stereo field – a psychic Doppler Effect.   Droplets of steel-gray water gather on stiff riverside grass.  They quiver, slowly recovering from their thunderous journey.

The final 30 seconds of HNW/H2O-NOISE is shatteringly complex and then bursts into hollow silence.  Oh…consider me gathered!

‘Release’, unrolls another half-hour or so of gentle movements… an eruption in slo-mo.

Felt, the most underused of elements, patters great pools of molten copper.  The swell and its decaying negative unlock the rhythm in simple sets – ( )  ( )  ( ) – brackets of time in which tension is folded.

Hard wood pitches between ears now softened up (creamy like butter) making my lanky frame a pendulum that swings (tick, tick); a nervous clock.

It seems like the air is trembling with glass beads.  And yet… forgotten memories of a music box, complete with plastic ballerina doomed to twirl forever, enter my skull clear and bright.  A gruesome poem is drowned in a racket as pure as the scar on my skinny wrist.  Justice’s violins are wrecked.

A soft canvas bell / a fudge clapper.  Both marking out a dusty life; school to work to retirement to death.  Brief shreds of joy peal gently.  But the rhythm never falters: byenn-boom, byenn-boom, byenn-boom.

(sotto voce) when it stops all things around me judder.


Entr’acte / download

Was Ist Das?

Category of manifestation

airside: sophie cooper on quisling meet, richard chamberlain, isnaj dui

October 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Quisling Meet – The Beginnings of an Discordian Audio Tarot sides A and B (abridged) (CD-r or download, self-released)

Richard Chamberlain – Songs (CD-r, self-released)

Isnaj Dui – Stone’s Throw (12″ vinyl, split with The Declining Winter, Rural Colours, RC071 & RC072, edition of 200 or download)

Isnaj Dui – Dioptrics (CD-r, self-released, FBOXCD009, edition of 200 or download)


The music reviewed in this article was listened to on a long flight over to the U.S. Traveling is my preferred state in which to listen to new music. My frame of mind becomes much better attuned to listening when in-between places with the added bonus of a soundtrack to the memories.

I’ve met a guy called Richard Chamberlain this year, a person who is no stranger to traveling himself. Both times I’ve met him he’s presented me with a self-released CD-r which ended up being two soundtracks for my trip.

Quisling Meet – The Beginnings of an Discordian Audio Tarot sides A and B (abridged)

Anything with tarot in the title will have me instantly intrigued and I suspect this is why we got talking. I’m assuming this is a solo project: thoughtful jams from an underground room in Lancaster. Each track is named after a tarot card so this and the title makes me think that the cards inform the music which is a neat idea.

The music is largely guitar based with the odd addition of vocals deep in the mix. The songs are made up of murky loops and, to me, the treble seems to be almost removed which gives them a sort of sub-aquatic vibe. This and the heavy phase usage makes me feel as though these tunes are being dragged along, not in a negative way, they just have this underwater weight to them. Music chucked off the boat and weighed down by an anchor.

I know I was told about the tarot-reading theme before but I wouldn’t need that to know there’s a strong musical narrative going on throughout this. There’s quite a lot of emphasis on notable melodies that point away from the overall sound and that works well. If asked, I’d struggle to pick out the best track to play individually because these songs definitely come as a whole package. It’s got a really honest, homemade feel (you can hear clicks of pedals and breathing at times) and there’s just something about this that makes it all so appealing and totally unpretentious.

Richard Chamberlain – Songs

This CD-r came in a white case with no titles or information at all. A sign of modesty? If so, there’s no need: these tunes are great. I actually prefer this one to the one I’ve just discussed largely because the songs seem to have a better sense of direction to them. I’m a big fan of Arthur Russell who I’m instantly reminded of on hearing Chamberlain’s vocals.

Occasionally the tunes go into a sort of ‘indie’ territory [Editor’s note: you’re fired] which I’m not that into but the weirder stuff works a treat [Editor’s note: you’re hired again]. Mostly electric guitar played through cleverly incorporated effects, more phase, reversed stuff, all nicely done. My favourite song is instrumentally different and simpler to the rest. Chamberlain moves to an acoustic guitar and a bit of piano playing, which reminds me of the homemade, honest quality I liked so much in the other disc. Very interested to hear more of this project.

stone's throw

Isnaj Dui – Stone’s Throw

Also on my sky high review pile is a new EP by Halifax based Katie English, aka Isnaj Dui, released by Rural Colours [Editor’s note: a 12″ vinyl split shared with The Declining Winter].  Just before I listened to this I put on a track by her I happened to have about my person from one of those free CDs you get with The Wire and it made me wonder if English has spent any time in Indonesia because I thought the melody had a Javanese feel to it. Particularly the traditional sound that all tourists to the island hear in certain parts there and become used to during their visit. This EP is really different to that track though – here the tracks have a lot going on in them and the production is just fantastic.

English’s great ability to move seamlessly through ideas is perfectly illustrated by the first of these two pieces. Over the course of 7 minutes three kinds of musical figures are explored, essentially through a method of repetition and progression. This is a very subtle kind of music because of the slow, progressive pace in-between concepts being considered.  However the musical figures themselves are really high impacting and anything but subtle. It’s so smart and the excellent production really makes this recording.

I’ve taken an interest recently in musicians who incorporate use of classical instruments into their electronic compositions and here English is using a cello as her main instrument. The second track makes this more obvious than the first. A beautiful layering of gently bowed and plucked strings, again: subtle is the word. Fantastic stuff!  After these two tracks I’m left wanting more. Thankfully I downloaded another record by her only last week…


Isnaj Dui – Dioptrics

This one immediately strikes me as not so subtle in approach. The opening track is short and to the point and then that track I mentioned at the start from The Wire CD pops up. I must find out if there is an Indonesian connection sometime because the scales played on a flute really remind me of Java.

The rest of the album exists in a minimalist, ambient place that had this listener quite relaxed after hearing it for the first time. Elements of musique concrete such as finger tapping, that sound your tongue can make when you’re trying to be a clock (I think that’s what these are!) etc are used to form lovely, natural rhythmic patterns that create meditative spaces. I could imagine falling asleep to this album.

My favourite track is one called ‘Previous Thoughts’ which starts up with breathy, low end flute patterns morphing to incorporate some spiky string plucking and that’s pretty much it for the track. What works about this is the energy of the piece that moves at a calming pace. I’ll definitely be revisiting this album in the future.


Quisling Meet

Isnaj Dui

Rural Colours

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