forcing the entire world thru the ghost of a worn-out shredded nail thread: joe henderson on an eiderdown records easter special – the year of the rabbitApril 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: a story of rats, bent pyramid trio, bird people, easter, eiderdown records, gonzalez & steenkiste, gregg skloff, hellvette, hound dog taylor's hand, jake blanchard, joe henderson, prana crafter, rabbits, somesuprises, tales from the street, the shouts from the sea, woven skull
A Story of Rats / Hellvette – Split (Eiderdown Records)
Gonzalez & Steenkiste – Stuffed With The Down Of The Eider (Eiderdown Records)
Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand- Live at the Comet (Eiderdown Records)
Woven Skull – Emissions from Sun Bleached Brains (Eiderdown Records)
Bird People – Down of the Hasma (Eiderdown Records)
Gregg Skloff – The Glacial Enclosure (Eiderdown Records)
Jake Blanchard – Colour Discolour (Eiderdown Records)
Bent Pyramid Trio/ The Shouts From the Sea – Split (Eiderdown Records)
Prana Crafter – Mindstreamblessing (Eiderdown Records 2017)
Somesurprises – Serious Dreams (Eiderdown Records)
I have in front of me three cassettes. I also have Bandcamp links and a number of mp3s. They are all from Eiderdown Records, in Seattle. I chose ‘em. I consult Discog’s for information.
The releases span roughly five years. I feel a puzzle is to be solved. I am looking down the open grove of trees, at a path yet taken. The urge to contact my editor for a quick resolve is there. But for now I will resist it and admire the dates as if they were counting down to some future event, all partnered up in artwork duos, twin-sets of thick printed double colours. That’s the Eiderdown Way. All releases on cassette tape, some available, some sold out. But all put together they remind me of a comic book strip, that goes like this:
A Story of Rats / Hellvette – Split (Eiderdown Records 2012) Split tape and digital album
Track one: The ‘deep vibes scene’ of the Pacific Northwest, Garek Druss & James Woodhead: AKA A Story of Rats & other. 19 min’s wandering thru the last route taken by Laura Palmer. Deep swells, UFO’s, tremolo sap greening bright fluorescent, and a few ghostly voices. Melody breaks the inhuman sphere. The clearing. A tongue comes in. It’s backwards looking. Opens up into protocol. The humans are coming.. .
A soft plod. Menagerie of grey-tailed parrots applying pressure to their own necks. Reminds me.
Tracks two – five: Before I know it we have skipped a few miles. It is SYLVESTER ANFANG ‘s Glen Steenkist. The accordion swells. If it is that at all. It is an air organ. Swirling. Hypnotic. Cathedral.
You’ve just got to slow down, space your letters, don’t dash your punctuation, don’t join up, half-it.
It stops, for once. It’s retrospect. Harvest-like. Shuttered backwards through a field of maize. Sunshine. Leaving tracks in the floor. A newly formed memory. Slightly disintegrating. Moving downwards. To the place of forgotten dreams. And sly bubbles. And synths. And something in between the air gland again & the well-rounded little option on a keyboard (I miss those). Hermes continues to smile from the wall out there. As always, but this time craning low. A bunch of fairytales beside him. Half broken, half working; illuminating. By a battery box. – TIME – bowed banjo, harmonium, tampura, and Casio. There you go.
Cassette SOLD OUT. Super limited “bootleg” version cassette: All tracks dubbed on one side of a 100 min cassette. Side B left blank for you to dub your own music on it.
Gonzalez & Steenkiste – Stuffed With The Down Of The Eider (Eiderdown Records 2012) Tape and digital album
Three tracks. Track one; bowed metal and air. The sense of circular gestures, I imagine it to be calming. Physical. Tactile. Not synthetic. Not synthesized. But in volume. Loopified. Pulling at two threads. Stop.
A tune in the dried up grass. Gentle. Concerned for each other, in a non-charitable way. Like brothers. Striving to make things better, in a tiny microcosm on a field. Surrounded by houses. Displaced. Cancelling out the manufactured skyline.
The breathing exercises continue. Made public. Like a cut in time. I get to thinking about how we are not free. That free-will and potentiality are just different words for chance and chaos. Walking the line, as if being tested by a police officer. The bright blue strand of lineage. The cat-eyes that light up the road.
Closing the window for a while because it is my right, or option. To be in the world or to halt. And world a place right here, right now. Worlding the moment you retreat from “them”. And encounter “them” in another place. The transportation of music has made it possible for us to be with others. With their dreams. Their fantasies. Their drives. I am listening to the sound of a man scrape the walls of a metal cave, I can even hear the monkeys outside in the jungle. Is it a ritual?
I look at the vent half plastered over in the far side of the wall. Is it an attempt to cover up the vent? In wavy lines. An ornate pattern of holes that I had never noticed before.
I become aware of my pace. My punctuation. My breath. Picking up tiny mounds of wisdom along the way. That I rattle imperceptibly in my hand. My fingers aware of the air. Correcting myself. I like how this music compresses the air, as if it were being played as an accordion itself. Pleated time and space crumpling and expanding in designed concertinas.
They are Belgians, these too. The Anfang guy again with Ernesto Gonzalez. Released in 2012 and all SOLD OUT. Makes you think of the bliss of the ‘original’, that we all, seemingly unwitting or not, follow. The glow of the most bitter and finest. Tinsel like. This is an attempt at redemption. I mean to say an attempt to speak thru the Distorian. Through the hand that muffles your snout. The internet soon breaks. We’re all left alone on a cloud. Unable to talk. Unable to speak to each other. In Australia. Bites hard, the fingers tapping down. Predicting the past. A bend in the pipe. And then a hard finish. Which makes me impressed with that. Like an orphaned duckling.
Bootleg version still available: All tracks dubbed on one side of a 100 min cassette. Side B left blank for you to dub your own music on it.
Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand – Live at the Comet (Eiderdown Records 2014) Tape and digital album
Hound Dog Taylor throws a rusty old bike into a lake of river water that’s swept into town (see, we can play with time – it’s guitar and drums). I’ve become anxious.
What is this non-existent howling coming from the courtyard outside?
Good, I’ve become sentient again. Climax Golden Twins man Jeffery Taylor has been jamming with Ostrowski & Seman. There’s double bass.
“First ever release by Seattle’s secret weapon against the tech squares and yuppie droolers! . . “Live At The Comet” is a document from a town that doesn’t even know what’s good for it” – says Eiderdown Records.
Windows open and close quite energetically upstairs. Pain fecks (or paint flecks) rain down. The hairdryer or likewise is activated. No, it’s definitely a deliberate hoover. Aggressively cleaning the hallways upstairs. I am confronted and close huddled to these kinds of sonic events that ring down thru the courtyard that amplifies micro-details like the squawking of the birds and that same mans laughter. Just breath in time with the words, said to the cleaner. And slam the brakes down on these old walls. Everyone is in silence.
Cassette available (with perhaps the coolest artwork of them all)
Woven Skull – Emissions from Sun Bleached Brains (Eiderdown Records 2015) Tape and digital album
(Aonghus: Guitar, bells, field recordings, Gamelan, wooden flute. Natalia: Mandola, Gamelan, Scrap metal, wooden flute. Willie: Percussion, Gamelan, Wooden flute. With others. Recorded between 2013 & 2014 in Drumnadubber. Antwerpp. Occii. Amsterdam. Queens University. Belfast)
This is one of the tapes I have between my fingers. I begin down this twisted path. The trees make tunnels. Rain. Sudden and reliable. The most soothing of all waters. The mystery remains. They are Irish. I begin to satisfy my laziness. The day becomes an option. We have entered sacred territory now. Time is better. It is not so frightening. The walls become a healthy option. Like some decision made centuries ago. I turn the corner slightly. The course of the future. It’s all a game now. With no winners, only players. I zone in on the voice now and it startles me. Something has entered the realm, or I have left. This is magical realism. An invocation of the artistry. The artisans of past. The Old Ones. Who knew how to operate the forest. And the seas. The Old Ones who have come to look at their children. And what they have done. It’s the smoke from waste incinerators that seems to make our environs clean and pleasant to be around and in. I live for those drums. That synchronisation. Something faintly emerging from it. That sounds like a voice. And then it gracefully ends. Somehow we have entered the last third of the second track. I wonder if this is numeric. There’s moss growing where it shouldn’t be. We should not hack this of life. The earth is an emerging artwork. Only seen by our worlded eyes.
- The Uncertain Shuffle / A Sweeping Minion And A Man-Made Goat / A Toad Till Now.
- First Three, Then Seven / Stoned Teenage, Listening To Tangerine Dream (part 2) The Quivering Few.
Bird People – Down of the Hasma (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album
‘The bird-hipped group’. Is the first thing I wrote of this. Whilst I was reading about T-Rex & Britain (that fictional island). Working in the sewers. Having a genuine holiday whilst listening to this release. That’s from 2016.
Our future in the sun. Hanging off the edge. Dangling. The dam synchronicity. The bell taunts from a newly formed occasional windows message. At precisely the same time. We have taken some few steps towards the opening of another dimension. And we walk thru it confidently. We make a quick promise to take it with us wherever we go. And that is a little one of the magic’s of musical ‘stuff’. We kinda touch fingers, and everything becomes a little bit shorter. A little bit more.
(I will talk about artist Jake Blanchard, who’s made the imagery for the tape, later.)
Bird People are from Vienna. Turns out there is myth-istry in the duck and the Eider. Something about the Hamsa. Someone wants to go back.
Lap steel guitar, electric bass, voice, cello, fiddle, sitar, shruti box, gong, percussion, bansuri, alto sax, harmonica, oscillator, and bells. From 14/15. Winter. Uli Rois, Roy Culbertson III, Réka Kutas, Steffi Neuhuber and Lucas Henao Serna.
It’s still bellowing. With string and air. It’s like a wooden Nintendo-65.
There’s some sitar now. And the soothing bellows. The drone again. Who would have known that a sub-genre would become equated with these creepy little entities that we’ll have to become acquainted with very soon. Or else live in the shadow of a shadow world.
Chewed up India. Mixed up with America. Something rustic about this introspection. It’s still whirling. On a pleasant Easter afternoon.
It’s all gone Jungle Book, one of the best. We’re still here. I feel as though I am looking backwards at a marathon I have just run. I put on the shawl of India. And sit here, in Brighton. As the music has ended. And the seagulls talk in increasingly complex fashion.
Gregg Skloff – The Glacial Enclosure (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album
Cryptic contrabass, ‘objects’ and ‘effects’. Olympia WA. 2014. Nehring on artwork. Weathers on the Master. At the Little Blue House by Kevin Doria.
What is this? And who are you? Are questions bought to mind when I’m tapping. Gregg Skloff. The time flies by right throughout the day. I pay close attention to the keys, as they are always present: dangling. Puts me in the oeuvre of ‘Miasmah Records’ in Scandinavia, Norway.
I feel the lineage, a rope in the blizzard. Pipes, wooden pipes with reverb stuck on them. WITHIN. BENEATH. OVER. AFTER. THE GLACIAL ENCLOSURE. The scoop calls closure. They go on. They’ve got echoes to catch up with.
Decriminalise human behaviour. We will continue on. It is drone. It is a discipline. It is to see into the future. It is all about time. And the stretching of time. Somehow thru sound. The making of sound physical. As it has always been. Imperceptiblebeginnings to track three that lush into a private and introspective hum, one that’s just for yourself. Not the kind of music, as has been said before, to play with companions. This is private music. For you, and you only. It’s all gone silent.
Jake Blanchard – Colour Discolour (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album
Scissor snaps. Sundays blur into Sundays. And then the rain shifts, he’s doing something mathematically wet. They’ve stolen the duck tunes. It’s of no use to them. Intermittent.
Quite relaxing for this supposed Brighton Beach scenario, where I’m all holed up in a basement. That’s the way it is.
It’s pretty, this. Like jewelry. Where are they when you need them? A reddish ecstatic.
Intermittent: joyous snake. Digitized. Searching the horizon for home.
The line blinks. We’re still here. I am watching ‘Arrival’. Long drones let us know we are here. The eyes set downwards. “You can do this”.
Released in 2016 with some nice pink and green screen-print of a mammal on a tree.
Pigment // The Witches horse-Block // Distant Migration
“Electrifying shahi baaja and other contraptions”
Bent Pyramid Trio/ The Shouts From the Sea – Split (Eiderdown Records 2016) Tape and digital album
(BPT. Ambrosia Bartosek. Voice & Electricity. James McClellan. Reed & Floor work. Adam Svenson. String & Metal. Recorded live at Hollow Earth radio for Magmafest Eiderdown Sound Salon. 3 – 2015 / TSFTS. Patrik Cain & Phong Tran. Recorded “live” at Richmond House. January 2016)
A twitch. It’s sounding right now. I check to see if the world is still closed off. I will continue as long as you have my hands bound behind my back. Conducting my business as usual. Tinkering. The bells. A stroke of genius. Wistful. Because they cannot make noises. It’s two tracks. One from Bent Pyramid called “Three points”, one from The Shouts From The Sea called “Untitled. Swinging, jostling. These are faint and warbling. Lots of little sounds.
A device in your hand. Some kind of Walkman. Encouraging. Enthusiasm, tempered by the physical properties of metal. And clapping hands.
Tinkering about in loops. And beating. Breaks into my kind of rhythm. The one you dread to describe, or pin down. It’s nice now that there are voices travelling backwards. A siren winding down. At night. Something squeezing past the alleyway. The bits of rubber. Elongated waste. Quite erratically whirling around. Gurgling. Ascending. I leave it be. There is a siren. It cannot be! Plucks us into ‘The Breathing’.
Blue & purple artwork of a three faced naked Cyclops-persona.
Prana Crafter – Mindstreamblessing (Eiderdown Records 2017) Tape and digital album
Very beautiful, sounds live at the start. Reminds me of Mayonnaise. The day belongs pretty much to us. Let’s walk along the path of honesty. Find out what music can do to you. Softly softly. Whilst cutting a filthy figure. Digits roll down. You’ve burnt your tongue. Like a cloud, splintering at the seam. Always looking a little bit further past the rift. Each track distinct. A new mood. Impressed upon you. I’d forgotten what a good nights sleep felt like. My limbs, like Luminous Clouds. It’s a bright and chilly Easter Monday morning in this part of the world. I forget it is The Year of the Rabbit, mist rolling in over The Downs. Joined with me is Prana Crafter aka Will Soll, gusting by my left, but your right shoulder (an enduring riddle). I leave the rest up to fate…
At Agartha’s Gate // As The Weather Commands // Praina Pines // MindStreamBlessing // Luminous Clouds // Bardo Nectar
Purple and green picture of a four-poster bed with a tree in it and a lizard on top in some fantastical volcanic landscape.
Somesurprises – Serious Dreams (Eiderdown Records 2017) Tape and digital album
The guitar plucks intro is reminiscent of Hope Sandoval (yes, Joe – I told you I wouldn’t use comparisons) – but whilst we’re at it, Marissa Nadler too. The peach guttural of Cat Power. That phonic embrace, the mouthing of the words.
Now, for a certain disposition at times, I would say that this constellation of invocations may actually serve a purpose for people like me. If you are like me. And like Cat Power et al. All standing in a circle holding hands. Sisterhood.
Noun: a quasilegendary nymph of the Rhine who lured sailors to shipwreck on her rock by singing: a creation of Clemens Brentano in a poem of 1800.
Strumming my arteries, this is a nice sensation. I feel as though I could welcome anyone in right now, to tea & cake & some surprises. I look like shit, I feel like shit, but this is civilized. No-one will suspect me.
It is beautiful, and past-tense, and hurrying back in time. Infinitely sad. In a retrograde way that you will recognize when you see it. Like this sadness has always been around; I only just noticed it. I only just read the news today. I*just* didn’t have the time to think about it. Somesurprises here are trying to think of things that make me sad. And introverted. But I blame it on the news and turn away. ‘Cause I know I’ll be coming back to this one solely because of my disposition. It is undeniably beautiful. [A past commentary].
Part two of the aforementioned landscape mini series. This time it’s a pile of alphabetty-style bone things with a chimney bit ontop that is smoking and a river in the foreground. El-Sergany & Medina w. Luelle. Washington.
Eiderdown says: “late night sound epitomized…true hypnagogic odes to the spaces in between dreams and reality, form and fiction”
mayor skipped town / srs drms // late july // all my failures // low on sleep // 21st century cigarette.
Thanx Eiderdown Records in Seattle for occupying my mind for the last month or so with spiraled curly audio-forms and carefully chosen relics from the distant present-era.
Next up is an ECLAT (Every Contact Leaves A Trace) special for May: ‘The Year of the Waking Machine’.
We leave you with this month’s installment of pavement topics:
THE APRIL STREETS EPISODE
“You’ve fooled me time and time again, Brer Rabbit, but now it’s my turn to pay you back. I’m going to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget and when I’ve finished we’re going to eat you for supper.” With that Mr Man called his daughter to guard Brer Rabbit and stamped off angrily up the garden path. Brer Rabbit stayed very quiet until Mr Man was out of earshot. Then, to the little girl’s surprise he began to sing. In those days Brer Rabbit was a very good singer, though not many people were aware of the fact. The little girl was delighted and as soon as he had finished she begged him to sing some more. Brer Rabbit coughed harshly. “Oh I don’t think I can sing any more, little girl. You know I haven’t been well at all and I don’t want to damage my chest. “ “Oh please, Brer Rabbit. Just one more.” “Impossible, I’m afraid. I could dance for you instead of course. There’s nothing wrong with my legs and you may not believe it but I dance even better than I sing.” “Yes please, Brer Rabbit. Oh yes, do dance, I’d like that.” “Not possible, unfortunately.” “Oh please,” said the little girl. “Just look at me. How do you think I can dance trussed up like this? I can hardly waggle my ears let alone move my legs.” “Let me untie you then,” said the little girl. “You can if you like,” said Brer Rabbit coolly. The little girl bent down and untied all the knots in the fishing line – and Brer Rabbit was free again. He looked around cautiously for any sign of Mr Man, but he was still busy in the house. Brer Rabbit did a rapid pirouette. “Just watch me dance, little girl,” he shouted as he raced for the garden gate. And Brer Rabbit danced all the way home.
stretch out the ermine: joe murray on dan melchior, arturas bumsteinas, bas van huizen, jake blanchardJune 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: arturas bumsteinas, bas van huizen, chocolate monk, dan melchior, intonema, jake blanchard, joe murray, moving furniture records, tor press, was ist das?
Dan Melchior – Seaslime (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.336)
Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica (CD, Intonema, int019, edition of 200)
Bas van Huizen – Waanzintraan (CD, Moving Furniture Records, MFR032, edition of 200)
Jake Blanchard – Shade (lathe-cut vinyl, Was Ist Das? / Tor Press, first edition of 30, second edition of 20 or download)
Dan Melchior – Seaslime
Total goose-work and tape-munch.
In parts, it’s throbbing synth and cut-ups that are, in the best possible way, all over the fucking shop. Grunt speech gets all wrapped and folded so the vowels come out backwards/sideways. There’s some nice radio interference and guitar (?) played with cheesy feet. Nuf said?
But the main thread seems to be ‘no thread’; logic takes a holiday and the unconscious mind takes over. Dan talks of…
the ebb, flow and convergence of sound/noise/information that the human receptor experiences when passing through the urban (specifically) grotto
OK… I’ll take that signpost and waltz merrily through this bohemian neighbourhood.
It’s dandy of course with ripe colours and complex shapes vying for my mallow eyes. But what I like most is the low-moaning-multiple-vocal-drone that peppers this steak and opens ‘Seaslime Part Two’. Thick slices of
are piled high. Conjure up a trio of backing singers on mogs trying to drown out Tin Turna or one of them turkeys. Got it? That’s wor Dan!
Not so much the dainty Faberge egg; more a Kinder Surprise stuffed with psychic confusions.
Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica
Three wonderfully rambling organ recordings that wander between full-blown religious ecstasy and porridge-fingered fumbles.
Previously it was Ligeti’s Volumina that set my personal benchmark for Organ-oddity. I’m no organ aficionado, see, so I have to rely on the helpful sleeve notes to read that these haunting recordings are captured, field recording style, in a variety of Lithuanian locations.
But this doesn’t seem to be an act of UNESCO-sanctioned preservation. It sounds more like, with the greatest respect, a group of goofs (like me… like you) getting their grotty mittens on the thick ivories and making up gaseous routines just for the jaxx of it.
It’s a truly glorious, immersive event. At times I feel Arturas’ hand gently twisting in a shadow of reverb but mostly it’s the overlaying of short lyrical pieces played on variety of organs to create a much longer whole.
So, from steam powered fairground calliope to massive church-lungs; from street corner grinder to experimental pipe deconstruction my cloth ears are picking up ‘in the moment’ experiments and cul-de-sacs. You’ll get a straight run at one idea (forearms on upper keyboard) single note squeals on the lower or a finger-jarring arpeggio; then deep boom and lyrical honk – the sustained drones with one hand and spidery exploration with the other. At points the tones are working against each other howling at the edge of the wind, coupled with tiny metallic bells.
Lovely though this breathy miasma is you’d be right in asking,
Wot… just blessed organ jaxx for over an hour? Count me out fella!
But what you’d be missing is the ‘lostness’ the feeling of being tossed into a sea of huff, powerless in the current. Not to get too hot in these shimmering pages but it’s a submissive act of listening that I’m riffing on right now.
And… as an extra bonus fondle there’s an exquisite hiss and click to these recordings. Frenzied organ-ing comes with the occasionally ‘clunk’ of a dropped prayer book or rubber plimsoll squeak; the cluttering mechanics of pulleys and foot pedals that make a brittle accompaniment.
There’s a story about Cecil Taylor (or Sunny Murray or Ornette Coleman) where some guy asks him to sit in on the bass during a smoky after-hours jam. The dude says,
I don’t play bass, man
which is exactly the right approach when dealing with a jazz-colossus. Yeah…compared to you I don’t ‘play’ anything. But this was not just a cautious piece of self-depreciation. The guy couldn’t play a note and bent Cecil/Sunny/Ornette’s form and chops up like a crushed stubbie. Like Cecil/Sunny/Ornette said, this cat tested him in ways none of the ways a schooled player would [Editor’s note: yeah, this story sounds familiar – anyone got a citation?].
Listening to this ghostly honk is testing my improv-worn ears in the same way!
Bas Van Huizen – Waanzintraan
My good gosh! I’ve not heard a racket like this for years. Never a clubber I took my rave-powders seated in a comfortable armchair, headphones on, twisting my DNA to Autechre and the like.
It seems like so long ago but Bas Van Huizen transported me back to that armchair (long since unstuffed and burned for firewood!) as quick as a wink.
Not saying this apes any of those hollow-cheeked rascals with their granular glitch. But this has that similar heady rush, like a powerful jet of silicon/seawater mix, spraying over the dancefloor in a weighty arc and into the ruined back street behind the club. It’s littered with rusty junk and piles of broken brick and that’s just fine by me.
These excursions are uneven in length adding further angularity. You’ve just got your head round something like ‘Jichtjager’ (explosive contact-mics swimming in restaurant grease. I’m busting sick moves (in my head) as each concussive bolt whacks my ear drum) or ‘Stoppermot’ (smeared orchestra pit confined to petri dish, each bacterial horn and violin grows mutated limbs to blow and bow in erratic timings) when another jam comes along and buffers your fluffer.
Take ‘Veldverachter’ for example… the sonic equivalent of ripping off a manky plaster, bath-moulded to your ankle. Ouch!
The longer pieces (our title track for instance) are no place for napping though as ideas are burned through at dizzying speed. Channelling my inner-Goolden I’m getting, iron ravens sarcastic caw-caw, the static fizz of turned milk and clouds alive with electric shrimp. But the extra time gives Bas a chance to stretch out the ermine and get fucking regal man. Opening credits of Blade Runner regal.
To put it another way this is the rice-shaped sliver of the Venn diagram where intense pressure meets slick humidity.
So get boiled brothers & sisters.
Jake Blanchard – Shade
Watch out lightweights, there’s super-heavy intention on these five tunes.
Multi-talented Jake’s colourful designs have graced poster, book, beer bottle and even a skateboard or two. But today the easel is packed down and beret thrown to one side as a musical outing is on the agenda.
Things start with the lengthy reed-breath-piece ‘Submerged’, all Conrad-esque drone shimmering like celestial orbs, gravity surfing in warp space.
‘Unmarked’ mimics Rodger Daltry’s speed-mod stutter with some chopped ‘thug guitar’ and gritty slide all taking off into the hard desert sky. But despite the groaning blues this is truly music to build magnificent pyramids to.
Wobble-out a Saz vibe as ‘Pollination’ meshes several Middle Eastern cultures and runs them through a Copycat (or something) to create a wet-lipped smacking and the kind of unhinged fretboard gymnastics Richard Bishop would highlight in orange marker pen as Rem-fucking-betika.
This Greek 3rd Man theme continues on spy-thriller ‘Ill Advised’, kooky-keys rattle among plates of fresh octopus and we get brought back, full circle for ‘Stoney Nova’, a drone piece as soul-mirror. Ghostly reflections make a flat glassy image repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, re peat, repea t, re pe at, repe at, re peat, r epeat, rep eat, repea t, rep eat, r ep eat, r e p ea t, re p ea t, r e p e a t, r e p e a t and r e p e
Tags: collage, cut-ups, dada, dr. adolf steg, foldhead, gary simmons, hiroshima yeah!, illustration, jake blanchard, mark ritchie, midwich cuckoos, paul walsh, posset, spon, village of the damned, visual art, zanntone, zines
Fellow travellers, pilgrims, pray sit and give thanks for the latest issue of The Barrel Nut. It appears from nowhere today, like manna from heaven, and offers a morsel of psychic sustenance in this desert of unsatisfying blandness.
Yep, the microzine voted ‘most likely to go through a spin cycle’ by The Agitator (samizdat journal of the anarcho-launderette network) is back to blow your mind for an instant, then be stuck in the back pocket of your jeans, then forgotten about, then washed, shredded and ruefully picked out of your soggy undies whilst sat on the kitchen floor. Life affirming stuff!
In lucky #13 you will find beaked appliances on the cover by me, a digi-kaleidoscope view of The Barrel Nun by zanntone‘s Paul Walsh (a fat-fingered Google search mistake treated as artistic opportunity), a hyperkinetic collage of speed and muscle by Dr. Adolf Steg culled (mainly) from the 2000AD comic strip Nemesis the Warlock – an ever relevant satire on intolerance and xenophobia, and and art/collage double-whammy combo cheerfully reminding us that life is full of pain by the Hiroshima Yeah! brothers Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie. On the reverse, I am delighted to present a full-page poster by ace illustrator Jake Blanchard of Tor Press inspired by John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (a key text for RFM, of course) and the film version Village of the Damned.
For those who might be new to this publishing phenomenon. Here’s the standard blurb:
The Barrel Nut is a single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel (per side), A7 pamphlet. Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past. I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.
Should you be so inclined then you are very welcome to download and print out your own. Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you may need to trim the print-out down one edge to make it fold properly). Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on The Barrel Nut’s own page (tabbed above).
Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed. Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions). Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal. Please get in touch.
Contributor and subscriber copies will be in the post ‘in due course’. For those who can’t wait, or don’t mind a bit of salt-and-shake style DIY, then print out your own from the links below:
Artwork for future issues always welcome – please feel free to drop me a line.
Tags: bram devens, chloe wallace, drone, glen steenkiste, hellvete, ignatz, jake blanchard, karl mv waugh, new music, no audience underground, noise, plurals, sophie cooper, tapes, the zero map, tor press, visual art
The Zero Map – Cerebrum Paté (CD-r, Tor Press, TORCD04, edition of 60, lino print cover)
Plurals – Debasement (CD-r, Tor Press, TORCD03, edition of 100 with three lino prints)
Ignatz / Sophie Cooper – Split (tape, Tor Press, TORCAS005, edition of 75)
Hellvete / Jake Blanchard – Split (tape, Tor Press, TORCAS006, edition of 75)
Blimey, you lot have woken from your winter hibernation pretty sharpish, eh? After throwing off the bear skins and shaking out the grass matting the first thought in the groggy collective mind of the no-audience underground seems to have been ‘must… send… parcel… to… Rob…’ or ‘nnnghhhh – download code for RFM!!’ Thus a review pile that had been diligently reduced to single figures during a hyperactive December has, by the end of January, been re-swollen to over forty items. I ain’t complaining, comrades – far from it. A skim through the new stuff reveals a level of quality and invention that is noggin-baking. My only concern is how to do it all justice. What a glorious bind to be in, eh readers? What a privilege to be a creative partner in this collective endeavour! Anyway, enuff swooning – I better get to work: a few posts to put 2013 to rest, the spring greens of 2014 to follow shortly after.
Today we’ll be looking at four releases on Tor Press, the Todmorden-based record label, zine publisher and gig promoter, run by illustrator Jake Blanchard. The first of these is Cerebrum Paté (cover above) a thirty-two minute, two track CD-r by The Zero Map, the Brighton based duo of Chloe Wallace and Karl M V Waugh.
I consider this band to be underrated – meaning that Uncle Mark of Idwal Fisher doesn’t like ’em as much as I’d like ‘im to like ’em – but not, of course, here at RFM HQ where they are firm favourites. On several enjoyable occasions I have pretzelled myself attempting to classify the meditative anarchy of their vibe. On the surface there is nothing gonzo or discordant apparent. An augmented drone, or electronic collage, carries you along like a pooh stick on a slow moving stream, flowing over and around some interesting obstacles. However, the closer you look the more peculiar it gets. One of those obstructions might be, say, the arm of a shop window mannequin sticking up out of the current, or perhaps some unknown hand has rearranged the pebbles of the stream bed into a mosaic depicting the face of Philip K. Dick, or maybe some biological agent in the water has turned the orchids in that tree stump blue (aside: Upstream Colour – best film of 2013) and so on…
Suffice to say that the first track, ‘Neutrino Detector’, begins with some nicely intestinal bass and that the second track, ‘A Python’, ends with a visceral crescendo that makes me want to drink blood from the skulls of my vanquished enemies. In-between times you’ll find plenty of whatthefuckery to flavour your reverie. Recommended.
Next is Debasement, a CD-r by the three (or four?) member ‘scattered collective’ Plurals. The disc is accompanied by three beautiful lino prints, one each by Ben Jones, Tom J Newell and Jake Blanchard, each an interpretation of one of the three tracks that make up the album. I consider this band to one of the frontrunners in this sport. Their sound has, for me, a subtle narrative quality that is compelling, exciting and rewarding of repeat listens. It draws stories out of me. Like this one:
The first track, ‘Modal Nodes’ is a glorious drone piece, a model of adulterated perfection. Picture a conical, many-limbed alien creature, nestled comfortably in an indentation on a sandy beach. Scattered around it are a number of terracotta coloured objects, each of which is picked up and, with a whip of a tentacle, set spinning. Some of these tops contain whistles, others beads and carved stones, all of which hum or rattle as they rotate. Luxuriating in the buzz it has created the creature uses half its mouths to join in with ululations and the other half to grin with.
‘Ape Skull Photography’ begins with more insistence – the urgent throb of a distress signal triggered by the captain of an exploration vessel sent to map this new world. The cause of his alarm is the frightening speed at which his crew have ‘gone native’ since arriving. The majority can be found scooping out their own hollows and joining in with the alien groove, only to be dragged away by the few left unaffected. This gathering siren sound begins to blot out the sound of the siren. Cut to the bridge of a rescue ship sent to investigate. The crew shift in their seats, uneasily listening.
‘Glowing Generic Diety’ is the final sublimation. Primed by the smeared-out distress signal the rescuers didn’t stand a chance and succumbed immediately. The captain can now be found on a nearby riverside, covered in red muck, fashioning his own spinning pots from the clay. Dozens are drying on the bank behind him. The rest of the crew are entwined in tentacles, consciousness liquefied in a grotesquely beautiful parody of nirvana.
Heh, heh – how’s that? Tremendous stuff.
..and finally the two split tapes. Sadly, they are already sold out and do not appear to have a digital afterlife. However, I am compelled to mention ’em at least because they are marvellous.
Ignatz, a guitarist from Belgium called Bram Devens, contributes five tracks of outsider blues with an archaeological crust to the recording that suggests Daniel Johnston transported back to the Mississippi Delta of the 1920s. His playing is raw and immediate but contains passages of disarming subtlety. His voice is fragile but his delivery has plenty of personality and push. I have been charmed by these haunting, humorous pieces and invigorated by the lifeforce they exhibit. One track, ‘Liquorice’, is named for my favourite confectionery too!
Sophie Cooper’s songs here concern absence and displacement and are half submerged in fuzz, echo and lapping ripples of liquid noise. The atmosphere is maintained beautifully, the medium conveying the message. ‘Dreamlike’ is an adjective easy to reach for when faced with anything at all diaphanous but, despite an explicit rejection of the notion by Sophie: track four is titled ‘I Never Associate Dreams With Anything’, I think the description fits. The tidal to and fro between here and distant, me and you, inside and outside has the sort of discombobulating internal logic you might struggle with on waking at 3am. I recently had the pleasure of seeing her perform live. Her voice and guitar were accompanied by a filtered flow of taped audio detritus which gave the impression her songs were emerging from a kind of shared, consensual hallucination. Also, by filling the gaps between songs and thus not providing the usual silence for applause her set was placed firmly in the context of the noise performances that preceded it. Very smart and very engaging.
The tape shared by Jake Blanchard himself and Hellvete, a guy called Glen Steenkiste, is a meeting of mighty, magical dronezillas. However, instead of tearing chunks out of each other whilst stamping on the unsuspecting burghers of Todmorden, Jake invites Glen to a campfire party at a beauty spot up on the Pennine tops. After roasting a few cattle the monsters take turns casting spells to entertain each other. This isn’t lazy, elbow-on-the-keyboard drone but a glowing, crackling, rolling presence built from ‘real’, sometimes handmade, instruments. It is beautifully layered and textured and animated by a sparkling and complex soul. Vibracathedral Orchestra comes to mind, of course, as does Jazzfinger, but replace the incense with the sinus clearing tang of pine resin. It ain’t all epic, though. The Hellvete side ends with a charming, tiny, banjo-plucking coda called ‘Op Linkeroever’ (Dutch for ‘On the Left Bank’). This return to a human scale serves the same take-a-deep-breath purpose as, say, ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’ at the end of Neil Young’s death-of-the-hippy-dream masterpiece After the Goldrush. If I hadn’t taken so long to get around to this release it would have surely figured in the 2013 Zellaby Awards, so sincere apologies for that.
To conclude: Tor Press is boss. The attitude exhibited by this outfit is impeccable. Every aspect of the operation exudes an understated but unmistakeable class. The content and choice of acts, whilst not always to my exact taste, show an adventurous but coherent vision for the label. Attention to detail is rigorous and quality control strictly enforced whilst retaining a loose, friendly and collaborative vibe. The packaging is exceptional – covers and inserts are hand-printed where feasible and beautifully designed with an eye for the aesthetically satisfying. Jake is, and I do not bandy this term about lightly, an artist.
Should you know anyone unconvinced as to the achievements possible here in the no-audience underground, any fool who uses the term ‘hobbyism’ as an insult, or insists on clutching tatty security blankets like The Wire to their bosom, then point them at labels like this and tell them to shut the fuck up. Tough love, yeah, but they’ll thank you for it eventually.