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.]

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