can’t feel my toes: joe murray on faniel dord, shareholder, stuart chalmers, yol, jazzfinger

September 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw (CD-r or download, Dante’s Ashtray)

Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns (self-released tape or download)

Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance (CD-r & collage in decorated envelope, Quagga Curious Sounds, QCS_090, edition of 30)

Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix) (7″ vinyl in screenprinted cover, Distraction Records, DIST23, edition of 100)


…and here’s another thing.  Cock-punks talk about ‘meaning it’ but the NA-U are well used to full-immersion in their practice.  No-one dials this shit in.  You’re either totally committed or you may as well settle back to watch Oranges Are Not The Only New Black.  Or something.

Here are four examples of total commitment.  Are you sitting uncomfortably?

Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw

Faniel Dord kills the song, deletes the long-form drone and brings back the radio play with his utterly bonkers, psychedelic horror noir – THE CURSE OF THE DRIPPING JAW.

It’s a story as old as storytelling itself; the mortal narrator lifts the veil between the two worlds, receives an ancient and evil wisdom and is then cruelly punished for his trouble.  The gods are such dicks yeah?

It’s totally base, crude and infantile, as Dord swoops through a cast of barely comprehensible characters each revealing a grim (and usually dripping) secret.

So far, so Spike Milligan, but what sets Dord firmly in the wonk-camp is his eccentric timing and ‘rude kid’ narrative. Voices speak over each other, interrupt, argue and go off onto muttered tangents.  They lose their script and adopt different accents mid-sentence.  These characters are not so much unreliable as actively confusing and devilishly impish.

And like all good radio plays the incidentals lend an extra layer of gosh.  This being a Faniel-joint, fings get rambunctious and frenzied quickly; the foley work stands proud but with deranged intention, like planting a fresh turd in a gravy boat.  The musical numbers have a twist of the Alan Bishop about them as the spaghetti-western-meets-his-Uncle-Jim vibe informs a couple of tunes or even the warbling of (deep breath) Wings!

If you’re looking for the perfect antidote to po-faced rumble and plinks dial ‘F’ for Faniel and get in touch with your inner-Rawlinson (NSFW).


Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns







Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance

An almost indescribably excellent collaboration from the King of the Loops and the Master of Kinetic Poetry.

The frantic pace and electricity of opener ‘World on Fire’ shakes my varmints like Kid 606 did back in the day when it was acceptable to wear Hi-Tops.  It’s a hyper-real explosion fizzing with extra-strength gristle taking Yol’s scorched-earth screams and Stuart’s Dictaphone frot into strange new territories.

A stunning symbiosis starts to take place.  I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of collaborations; who gives and who takes, where the total becomes more than the sum of its parts, how compromise can open up new avenues of grot.  And here you have two artists seriously leaning-in to each other; the methods start to bind in a ferric DNA with the hoarse throat and metallic tinkle meshing perfectly with the sophisticated Dictaphonics.  Check out the liquid tape-scree (sodium burning bright) and desperate industrial voodoo cures [Editor’s note: typo for ‘curses’?  Don’t care – I’m leaving it in.] of shattered lung on Rusty Rats.

Did you?  Recovered yet?

And those moments just keep coming and coming; ‘Pop Eats Itself’ and ‘Secret EVP Door’ [Editor’s note: my favourite track, astounding] crackle and fizz like blistering paint.  The sound bubbles up with malevolence, rippling and roaring with an evil turpentine stink.  Small moments catch my magpie eyes… is that Leonard Cohen, a castanet, a dropped coin?  Has Yol keeled over and fainted?  Why can’t I feel my toes?

Closer ‘Best Shot’ is like a peak into a fantasy dimension.  Puppet-master Stuart controls a rogue Yol and pits him against the real thing using the in-built slurring qualities of the Dictaphone to mimic and provoke.  It’s a pointed statement, with added whirr… the muscular text smudged into granular sound poetry.


Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix)

Jazzfinger drill deep into the earth on ‘Beachy Head’.  Smudged groans overlap each other like large terracotta tiles.  The high-tension pings pepper things up.  A forever-murk of old tape gunk, air-to-air recording techniques and telepathic improvisation grease the wheels in ways only Jazzfinger can.

As ever, listening to a Jazzfinger jam, equal and conflicting forces tear at your brain; the urge to submit and go under, drown in the pregnant fullness or treat this with an archaeological bent and carefully sift through the multiple layers, up to the armpits in rubble and soft red dust.

As reviewer I had to flick between approaches to bring you back this missive and found myself spending hours, possibly days putting the needle on and off, on and off, never quite sure if it was night or day, making astral travel a distinct possibility.

The flipside,’Moroccan Car Park’, is an eccentric remix, bold in terms of scope that shimmers from barely-there gossamer tones to full-on horn blasts perfectly echoing the ‘whale talk’ vibe of side A.

With such rich material to work with D Harwood is wise to craft a self-standing structure, distinctly recognisable as Jazzfinger, yet strangely unfamiliar and distant.  This wonderful blend swirls like pungent spice or choking incense, filling the room with deep memory.

Packaging detail: This seven-incher comes in a deluxe package… an eccentric fold out sleeve that nestles the precious wax like a lotus flower.  The dark image is, essentially, blacker than black with a delicious tackiness [Editor’s note: presumably Joe means ‘to the touch’, not ‘cheesiness of design’] and sulphur whiff.  Includes download code too for the ultimate customer service experience.


Dante’s Ashtray


Quagga Curious Sounds

Distraction Records

guest post! extracts from the joe posset end-of-year round up! part two of two: conference of gurgles

December 12, 2012 at 7:11 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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OK, for preamble from both me and from Joe Murray, guest author of this post, see part one below.  No need to repeat ourselves here – on with part two:

(with continued apologies to those whose pictures I’ve stolen.  Click on the linked bits for further info and/or purchasing details)


hapsburg braganza - recurring dreams

Hapsburg Braganza – Recurring Dreams LP x 2 (Alt Vinyl)

Guitar reigns supreme here.  A faded, scrubbed, scuffed guitar sound that seems to slink along the skirting boards.  Sombre chordings and plucks play with time, swinging in places (‘Dolomite 98’ is almost jolly; like a weary parent’s forced smile) adding space like Dub.  To keep it all frosty Phil introduces the occasional fear piano (hear ‘In Holland Cloth’ brother and tremble) and dervish organ (mainline ‘Golding’s Eclipse’) with fog grey electronics smeared carefully over a few of the tracks.  The biggest Hapsburg surprise is the addition of super subtle drums every now and again; courtesy of Bong’s Mike Smith.  A lazy journalist would point to the drums and shout “A-Ha.  Slow drums and slow guitar…that’s post-rock that is!”  And of course they would be wrong.  There’s an older tradition here.  The tradition of the saga, the legend, the epic story shared between glowing faces over a roaring fire.  Recurring Dreams is a lengthy wallowing in the Kingdom of Hapsburg…and this is a place where you need to take your time, pull up a stool, bathe your feet in the stream. Recorded mostly in the early hours, on the edge of sleep, gives Recurring Dreams a definite feel…we often talk of peripheral vision…could this claim to be the first example of peripheral listening?

cabbage rosette with phil minton

Cabbage Rosette with Phil Minton – Ran out of breath licking elegy nipple, cough and fall to bits, tight chest as achievement? CD-R (Total Vermin)

Balls out skronk from Messers Poot & Vermin abetted by Mr ‘jazzface’ Minton on swelling tubes.  Over-blown kitchen electronics huff each and every cough and splutter so the inward sigh becomes symphonic, the lip smack a thunderbolt.  Squeaky doors or plastic tape cover are rattled to destruction (screeechhh, scraaaaaw) and the only recognisable ‘instrument’; a phat keyboard, blebs in dopey chimes, once, twice then not at all.  Sounds are fairly poured over each over with abandon and mixed up with a hot spoon.  There’s little structure or reason to this making it all the more fun and engaging.  The frenzied jerk and Tourette’s tick keep the energy up.  You can almost picture them, shoulders up to earholes, spazzing out on spittle warp.  Things get more crimped towards the end when what sounds like some remedial turntable abuse plays up against mouth babble and the whole thing ends in a conference of gurgles and wet-fart lippings.  13 mins in total…the perfect length.

blue spectrum - i almost drowned

No Artist – Untitled aka Blue Spectrum – I Almost Drowned MC (Blue Spectrum Tapes)

Sorry about the mystery surrounding the name here.  It’s all very confusing…if you’re trying to check it out it’s got a Pegasus on the cover.  Released in a huge edition of 3!  Flipping open the case and slapping this into the deck starts a strange claustrophobic trip.  Recorded in the lowest of all know fidelities this sounds like a penguin colony getting their hands on some sharpened sticks and menacing the keepers.  The bars of the enclosure are wired up to the mains and blasted apart using slow dynamite.  Sparks fly, low crunching fills the air and before long blubber and blood lap up against the sides of the pool.  Things get pretty nasty towards the end of side one with granite hammers being thrown at a giant insect-o-cutor.  High tape strangeness in the mould of an early Prick Decay or pre-school Cock ESP or something.  Side two couples its buffers to classic dark noise territory and sounds like massively amplified rolling stock slamming on the breaks and keeping them there for 25 mins.  Metal on metal screech and heavy rumbling fuss make this a steam powered listen, all oily and soot covered sideburns.  Refreshing as a Irn-Bru enema.

(Editor’s note: in the spirit of investigative journalism Joe contacted Simon of Blue Spectrum for further information and got the following response:

As far as the title and artist goes there wasn’t any, although I credited myself on discogs just to say who made it. I didn’t want it to have a name or title. On the spine there is ripped paper in place of where the artist and title would usually go. I think how you referred to it was perfect no artist – untitled aka blue spectrum ‘I almost drowned’ because it gives it an identity. The official label name is Blue Spectrum Tapes. This is the discogs page.  I will be making another batch of these soon, maybe 10 or so copies.

…so now you know.)

jazzfinger - destroyed form

Jazzfinger – Destroyed Form MC (Handmade Birds)

One sided cassette that opens the door to forbidden times.  At some level all Jazzfinger records are an exercise in archaeology.  Although I have a brand new tape in my hands the actual recordings could have been made 20 years ago and only now have filtered through the arcane and secret Jazzfinger process known only to Has, Ben and Sarah.  As it happens this does invoke ‘early’ Jazzfinger when cymbals and organ played a much bigger part in the ritual.  ‘Ocean is free’ sounds like my earliest memories of Jazzfinger with the singing-grainy organ, tape wobble and sickly cymbal tapping.  ‘Sun Punishment’ lurches forward in time to the white-out-guitar-squall period blowing static clouds of electric fuss all over.  This one is more badly behaved than most JF jams delving into metallic tantrum through to a come down of goblin hammers tinkling.  The final jam ‘blown cotton woodland’ sounds like the soundtrack to some terrible conspiracy theory documentary on cable.  A doomy horsefly buzzing in your ear, some backmasking sound manipulation drawing to a close of throbbed out organ bliss.

acrid lactations - presidential

The Acrid Lactations – The Presidential cow is bound to the maypole MC (Total Vermin)

This tape pretty much takes every gob-punk cliché and bombs them back to year zero.  Very fucking warped skronk and then some extra double girl on boy skronk are the order of the day.  Things seem to be in both real time and then manipulated via bad-electronics at random, making for a discombobulating listen.  Moaning and groaning is fighting with pinched throat gurgles, drawn out mouth drones stray to the fore with a more high pitched keening just at the edge of my (admittedly damaged) hearing.  Regular instruments are jettisoned as being bourgeois in favour of the more democratic domestic rattles of: bird-pipes, concrete sacs being dragged, ice chinks in a glass of Dandelion & Burdock, ripped cardboard, amplified plastic bags, violently bubbled milk and yogurt pots etc.  Helium high screes march over tape loops of ‘vurrrum-raaaam’ with indistinct clumsy DJ scratching like Grandmaster Flash’s first session on him moms hi-fi slipping a ‘high on crack’ sample against falling down the stairs drum machine.  There’s a bluesy quality to some of this…god know how that got into here…and then, just before you can dismiss this as aimless fucking about I’m reminded this is just a fag paper away from James Tenny’s classic tape piece  ‘Blue Suede’ from 1961.  The Lactations know their history man!  For today and today only this tape has the distinction of being the exact end point of what music is and what it can achieve.  Awright!

dylan - acrylic widow

Dylan Nyoukis – The Acrylic Widow Vinyl (Discombobulate)

As of writing this is still unreleased but early 2013 will see this burst forth like pus.  There are four measured tracks here.

  1. Dry coughs and outta-wack piano chords play into Boy Scout bike repairs, ‘test the bell, spin the wheel!’  Hot air leaks from a perished rubber hose.  With knuckles like hazelnuts, these sounds shine like delicately laid cobblestones, laid end-to-end without no fuss or haste, they are tram tracks.  Late night thumps, ‘boof, baff’ and a lousy Soft Machine organ solo talks a Brighton raver down from gritted jaw oblivion.
  2. Ideas are put through the wringer in stereo effect.  The domestic bric-a-brac builds up: a motorcycle revving, the dry crunch of gravel underfoot…a jumble sale of sweaty woollens, singing out through pinched throat to make un-sense of the phrase ‘iss, sum bear-lae-um’.  An unexpected kitchen sink gamelan makes for a feverish listen. Tension is introduced via leathery lunged accordion but there’s no crass crescendo.  Fading out like pinched guts.
  3. Euro voices abound in tangled syntax.  Verbs sounds & nouns renamed.  Sure, there’s blubber and chunder…’you, you, you and me’ that’s slam-up-bang to babby titter-chat for starters.  Then the downs come in, re-directed by taut tape loops making the ecstatic, grooving on the surface of bubble.   The proclamation, ‘I’m right here’ leaves us in no doubt who you are sharing your damp bedsit with tonight, slurping up the old wine as red as pooled blood.
  4. Another take on the stretched ritual.  A parrot squawks underwater struggling for fresh O2.  Furious eraser scurrying action is met with the stony silence of a 14 year old girl while apples crunch between strong white teeth.  Our old friends, words, are worried and fretted in a dark experiment; turned over looking for new seams and valves to shuck and prise open like ripe clams until mucus-like muscle slips free and falls to the flagstones below.

This is a living séance with The Acrylic Widow.  Wisdom from the Old Ones, the thin Venn diagram slice between frantic scuttling & sweet Miskatonic stoned.


…and so we end the extract with a fittingly festive Lovecraft reference.  Many thanks again to Joe for his kind permission to post these great reviews.  His complete 2012 round-up will be available at the end of the month over at the Posset myspace blog.  Reading it, and chasing up the goodies that it describes, will give you something to do in that null week between Christmas and New Year after you’ve broken all your new toys…

wired for sound part 31: reports from the fordell research unit

November 8, 2012 at 7:05 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Fordell Research Unit – Heavy Petting (C30 cassette, Krapp Tapes, Krapp2)

Various Artists – Songs About Dying (CD-r, Pjorn72, pjorncd0023)

Now, that Fraser Burnett – who records as Fordell Research Unit and runs the micro-label Pjorn 72 – is a guy who grooves his own way.  In the past he has said some very kind things about the influence of midwich and fencing flatworm recordings on his endeavours, but I suspect an independent spirit such as his didn’t need to be set an example.  His wit is dry, self-deprecating, mordant.  His attitude is somehow uncompromisingly cynical and open-eyed with loving enthusiasm at one and the same time.  I’m envious of this neat trick.  Scene-savvy, culturally literate and joyously foul-mouthed he obviously cares deeply about the things that are important and couldn’t give a shit about the rest.

Here’s his contribution to a recent facebook thread about the ‘Simon Reynolds mentions no-audience underground’ thing:

Fraser Burnett really enjoyed reading these threads without reading either reynolds’ pish or hayler’s probably astute and erudite riposte.  the wire magazine is happy to suckle at mammon, fuck ’em and their scunty kin.

Heh, heh.  His vote of confidence, blithely made in ignorance, was most heart-warming.

So, as you might expect, hearing from the guy is always a pleasure but it is also a sadly rare experience.  The guy works slow and runs deep.  Pjorn 72 awakes like a dormant volcano every now and again to belch forth nutrient rich noise-lava over the immediate vicinity then returns to smoky silence.  Reports from the Fordell Research Unit appear irregularly on labels such as Matching Head and Total Vermin causing much excitement amongst the handful of laymen who depend on their findings.  The last package I received from the man himself contained a couple of important gap-plugging additions to my FRU library.

First is the cassette Heavy Petting on the wonderfully named Krapp Tapes (which is, of course, a well funny hi-culture/lo-culture Samuel Beckett joke – s’postmodern innit?).  Side one is filled by a single track titled ‘Under The Black Church (fucking blatant Lee Stokoe rip off)’.  Well, yeah, man, but it’s not like I consider that a bad thing.  I’m picturing a small wooden church atop some Nordic fjord, black because it is made of tar-stained timber washed ashore and salvaged from shipwrecks.  Underneath this building is a jumble of tunnels originally used by smugglers but now occupied by Dagon worshipping townsfolk with staring, lidless eyes.  The same wood has been used to build a roaring, crackling beacon fire nearby and sitting next to it is a lone sailor picking out a mournful lament on a battered guitar for his drowned comrades.  The light of the fire glints off the bloodied anklet and chain attaching him to a substantial nearby rock.

Side two presents three variations on the throb. ‘Schmeisser’ is insistent, jagged and underscored with an audible but unintelligible recording of some kind of human endeavour.  This clever tactic draws in the listener’s attention until the pulse is all encompassing. ‘Hot Chocolate Eucharist’ uses loops of machinery, clanking and snorting to set up a rolling, lurching motion.  It’s like a broken down armoured car being dragged through the market by a team of camels.  In between these two tracks is a short collage of clips from film and TV of people discussing their aspirations, passions and employment.  Some of it is banal, formulaic (‘I’m ready for the question, Noel!’) but some seems heartfelt, touching.  Tonally it is quite tricky to get a handle on and thus remains interesting on repeat listens.  The final track ‘(Aw)kward’ is a spacey fuzz that lets us down gently and returns us to the world massaged.  This tape is great.

Also worthy of note is the full length CD-r compilation Songs About Dying curated by Fraser for Pjorn 72.  Housed in the hypnotically unsettling cover painting reproduced above you will find fifteen tracks totalling a whopping 80 minutes.  As with most noise comps some bits are sketchy, some bits are fully realised, some bits are maddening, some bits are compelling and the tracks that fall into each of these categories can change depending on your mood during repeat listens.

The comically distorted grotesque-o-metal ‘dead burning black empire’ by the charmingly named Incest Whore is the first track and acts as a gatekeeper to scare off all but the true believers.  Muscle past this brute though and there is much distraction to be found within.  Check out the hermetically sealed, ominous rumbling of Culver’s ‘sepia sirens’ or the heat haze drone/fuzz of Nackt Insecten or FRU or a beautiful variant from Andy Jarvis featuring some very Phil Toddish slow picked guitar.  Maybe Blood Stereo getting squeaky will do it for you or Sindre Bjerga and Meredith Hunter’s field recording of an asteroid mining operation?  Jazzfinger’s ‘hateful empire vs. the blazing sun’ is a remarkable 14 minutes documenting the low-end throb of a giant vibrating ball of black rubber which is being clawed, hacked at and subject to bursts of dentist drill squeee.  And so on.  It’s a good set.

The tape may be a tricky to get because it was released a couple of years ago but the compilation should be findable.  Why not drop Fraser a line at and see what he can do for you?

EDIT: See comments for link to Krapp Tapes Bandcamp site!

artifacts of the no-audience underground: recent jazzfinger

August 7, 2012 at 7:57 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Jazzfinger – Poem of Stones (Bells Hill, BH010, CD-r, edition of 50)

Jazzfinger – Night Fall At Borrowed World (Sonic Oyster Cassettes 009, edition of 50)

OK, what we have here is a nicely presented CD-r on Scott McKeating’s ever reliable label Bells Hill.  It contains one track which documents about 45 minutes of a Jazzfinger rehearsal from 2004.  The recording is inexpensive, unedited – rumble at the bottom, harsh at the top, meandering throughout – however as it progresses it becomes clear that this is no mere ephemera of interest only to Jazzfinger obsessives.  I can’t get enough of it.  The liner notes provide some context:

Recorded at Morden Tower, this was a rehearsal for a gig we were going to play at a Weekender at the abandoned Aldwych Tube station back in November 2004. As it turns out the event was cancelled at the last minute and coincided with John Peel’s funeral on the Friday, and Jhonn Balance‘s death that Sunday. What a shit weekend.

Presumably the band did not foresee this shitness but the melancholy air to much of the piece suggests a hint of what was to come may have been in the room.

There are changes of direction, as you would expect from a rehearsal tape, but these are far from aimless.  As with all good improv, the transitions are as interesting as the periods of ‘steady state’ noise.  It shifts with the unknowable purpose of a nocturnal marine predator swimming over what in the daytime is a multi-coloured reef rinsed to grey-scale by the moonlight.  Is it looking for food, a mate, shelter?  Or is it a Lovecraftian ‘Deep One’/human hybrid, fully adapted to the life aquatic and shaking off the last vestiges of its humanity?  Irresistible.

The tape is a more manageable, relatively slick affair with properly edited and titled tracks released in the generic neon packaging of the collectable Sonic Oyster cassette series.  Would it be perverse of me to describe this as ‘urban pastoral’?  What I mean is that Jazzfinger’s psychedelic noise is no hippy delirium, no prelapsarian bliss.  Instead it seems pulled up from the streets of the city, like strange flowers growing through cracks in the pavement, in a place where urban foxes knocking over bins have the same totemic power as the coyotes of the Mexican desert.

For more on Bells Hill see their discogs page or email Scott via  Details of how to get hold of the the Sonic Oyster tape can be seen here.

popular radiation post popular, radiating

July 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Ah, it is good to be back!  My beloved and I have just returned from a less than satisfactory holiday in Devon.  The weather was atrocious throughout, the accommodation acceptable at best and what little relaxation we could manage when our teeth finally unclenched was unavoidably interrupted by terrible news about the serious illness of a close friend.  Grim.  I won’t miss those roads either.  The journey from the local village to our cottage was like a hedged-in rollercoaster.  With sheep on it.

Oh well.  Back in civilisation I have been taking solace in a skim through the pile of correspondence that built up in our absence.  My eye was naturally drawn to a lengthy email by the lovely Hasan Gaylani of Jazzfinger whose solo project Popular Radiation was the subject of my last post before going away.  He makes a bunch of interesting and explanatory points adding to my own comments and I thought you lot might be interested to read ‘em for yourselves.  Over to Hasan (with one more note from me):

I’m so glad that you heard this as one thing divided into 5 – did you notice that some of the outros are actually the intros to the following gig/CDR?

(Editor’s note: I DID notice the outros/intros thing, and now I wish I had mentioned it, but I thought it was my overactive imagination.  My mp3 player shuffled the tracks into alphabetical order so at first I didn’t hear them in chronological order yet STILL heard intro/outro links between them. Hasan is obviously a massive genius because his skills make sure the tracks appear linked no matter what order they are listened to in!)

Yes, Space Argument is a reference to the fantastic Modern Toss cartoon, but it’s also a reference to that cat on the sleeve. She was called Patti Smith (!) and died in Jan 2011 at the grand old age of 18. The photo was taken in the early 90’s – at that time she didn’t like living with me and the other cat I had at the time and tried to keep away as much as possible: in the photo she’d finally found a bit of privacy – on top of the kitchen door!!

A while back I was reading a lot about Merzbow and discovered that an alternate title for Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau was The Cathedral Of Erotic Misery……and the term Erotic Misery really fitted into my feelings about the bits of Kes I used – the scenes where the headmaster is berating and caning those boys, and also when Billy is hitting and cursing his inebriated older brother all seem highly charged in a totally wrong way. The bit from Paris Texas (I knew these people…) is the scene where Travis is talking to his ex through a one way peep show mirror: at once beautiful and desolate, he can only talk to her and love her as long as she can’t see him…….etc……two of my all time best movies.

Ariel Bender is a reference to the Mott The Hoople guitarist of the same name and also a reference to a lot of the sounds being lifted from the radio. The second half of the track is me mashing up the beat from the Strangulated Beatoffs ‘(Theme From) Fart Inhaler’ (mixed with a faulty Bong live tape) – it’s recognisable if you know the original track so it’s a cover version!

I thought your comparison of PR to the girl in Poltergeist was spot on and great. Kraftwerk’s Radio Activity’s allusion to radio waves and radioactivity says that it’s ‘in the air for you and me’ and so it follows with that in mind I’m nicking/soaking up/recycling stuff from the radio (presumably it’s popular if it’s on the radio, right?), TV, DVDs, other people’s records etc…….you know what I’m getting at, right?

I think the humourous side of things comes through more in my stuff than in JF as it’s more personal to me, and I love my twisted comedy as much as my favourite music – my favourite band ever is Sun City Girls which probably explains a lot. JF is more about a collective pursuit of beauty, and a manifestation of our friendship.

So now you know, eh?  Thanks again to Hasan for taking the time to reply so comprehensively.  I can only repeat my recommendation that you get hold of this stuff.  Contact Hasan directly via and ask how.

artifacts of the no-audience underground: popular radiation

July 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Popular Radiation – PR1 to PR5 (self-released CD-rs)

  • PR1 Space Argument
  • PR2 Magnum Hopeless
  • PR3 Ariel Bender/Fart Inhaler
  • PR4 Erotic Misery
  • PR5 I Remember Every Day Of My Life

I’ve heard it said that you should never meet your heroes and I suppose that if your idol is, say, a Premiership footballer or a big name contemporary artist then this is probably true.  The experience is unlikely to be edifying.  However, down here in the no-audience underground the notion is total bollocks.  I am in the enviable position of being friends with many of my heroes and can report on their qualities as human beings as well as their creative talents (see here for an explanation of why we are all so wicked awesome).  Always good to meet a new one too…

…And so it came to pass that before the recent Ceramic Hobs/Jazzfinger gig in Leeds I received an email from Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent, telling me that I HAD TO GO because Hasan Gaylani of Jazzfinger had been asking after me.  That was very flattering.  Imagine if the subject of my humble blog was poker and Chris Moneymaker had requested an audience – a legendarily down to Earth and approachable guy but still a world champion.  I was, as our American cousins might say, stoked.

The gig was great (see the write-up at Idwal Fisher) and I managed not to make a twat of myself in conversation with Hasan, Ben (Jazzfinger) and Mike Vest (of Bong, Space Victim etc.) who had all travelled down.  The ‘social’ was well good that evening.  Hasan was very appreciative of the coverage this blog gives to the North East noise scene and flattered me even further by handing over the first two in this series of CD-rs by Popular Radiation, with a promise to send on the others.  He’d been pleased with my review of the 3″ CD-r by PR on Bells Hill and wanted me to flap my ears at his solo project’s more long-form incarnation.  This I have been happy to do.

The specifications: a series of five CD-rs packaged in minimal wrappers featuring found illustrations (at least I hope they are found given the subject of the piccy on PR3 – yes, that one you stopped and had a good look at on your scroll down to the text).  All are recordings of live performances which took place between June 2010 to July 2011 in various venues around Newcastle.  To keep it all in the no-audience family: PR3, 4 and 5 were recorded by the indefatigable Joe Posset.  Each contains a single track and vary in length from one quarter to three quarters of an hour, though I’m inclined to think of it as one piece in five parts with a total running time of about two hours and twenty minutes.

These recordings have three main ingredients: a) noise, mainly strata of distortion, b) drone, mainly swarms of fuzz and c) lengthy samples appropriated from other musical sources or dialogue taken from film or ‘field recorded’ conversations.

The tone is some distance from the expansive, psychedelic delirium of Jazzfinger.  This is demanding stuff, occasionally claustrophobic, darkly humorous to the point of nihilism.  For example, Space Argument (PR1) is presumably titled for the series of cartoons by Modern Toss which features a pair of bickering astronauts oblivious to the majesty of the cosmos due to their annoyance with each other (“Stick the flag in over there”, “You fucking do it”).  Erotic Misery (PR4) features a lengthy excerpt from the film Kes of a teacher berating some school boys, exasperated at their intransigence and enraged at his impotence in the face of it: the whole system is fucked, always has been, always will.  Cheery thought, eh?

Or am I imagining it?  The ecstatic reaction of the small but appreciative crowd at the end of each set suggests the audience was not pummelled into submission by despairing bleakness.  There are plenty of lighter moments and some proper laffs too.  The bit from Kes is followed by an entertainingly squashed extract from In the Hall of the Mountain King, its inherent campness enhanced by a little industrial distortion.  Ariel Bender/Fart Inhaler (PR3) cannot be taken entirely seriously either, as you might expect from its title, cover picture and the grin-inducing exotic croon-pop that kicks it off.

I did use the word ‘claustrophobic’ earlier, and so it can feel, but it isn’t oppressive – plenty of headspace for interpretation remains.  My thoughts drift in and out of focus as these pieces progress, becoming more or less plausible.  To attempt to think hard about Popular Radiation is to put yourself in the position of the little girl in the film Poltergeist: her hand on the television screen, face flush to the static, chatting with voices only she can hear…

Recommended, of course, though I can find no indication that any of this is commercially available.  I suggest contacting Hasan directly – – and asking him nicely.

artifacts of the no-audience underground: rfm catches up, part two

July 28, 2011 at 7:46 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Jazzfinger – les enfants jazzfinger dans.. (Fuckin’ Amateurs)

What we have here is a fat DVD case with a colour cover containing 4 CD-rs (well, ideally – mine is missing disc 3 – fuckin’ amateurs, eh?), a one-page discography, a pamphlet/fanzine reprinting a Jazzfinger interview conducted by Neil Campbell yonks ago for Bananafish with added marginalia and a cool badge!  It is a terrific set – made me feel like I’d joined the Jazzfinger fan club and that this was the membership pack.  It is also as much an homage to the Toon as it is to the band and locates Jazzfinger firmly within the Newcastle scene.

Three of the discs contain raw recordings of Jazzfinger gigs spanning a number of years and disc four contains a career-retrospective collage created from mouthfuls of back-catalogue.  That’s all I’m saying though as, again, I’m not sure whether this is available to buy.  The insert in my box is labelled 90 of 90 so I apologise if I’ve got your juices flowing only for them to be staunched.  I know no-one likes to have their juices staunched.  Typical of Fuckin’ Amateurs it seems like they spent three years getting this together then just gave away the initial run at a Jazzfinger gig at Morden Tower in April.  Admirably perverse.  Anyway, my copy was a present from Scott of Bells Hill but I think your best bet would be to contact Martin of Fuckin’ Amateurs directly at:

An aside: the first gig, recorded in Burton-on-Trent in 2004, appears to have taken place at some kind of indie night (‘Schizophrenia’ by Sonic Youth is the track faded out as the band start playing).  As the set comes to a close a vocal contingent in the audience starts booing and mouthing off.  Indie rockers can be such boring little children, can’t they?  They think they are so hip and alternative, yet present them with something genuinely extraordinary and they start crying.  Their insistence on the ‘song’ makes them indistinguishable from the least-discerning fan of the crassest pop music.  In fact, the latter is far more honest and at least won’t get the hump if you’ve heard of their favourite band.  OK, that’s enough ranting – I’m in a funny mood today.

Shy Rights Movement – The Defeat Sublime

…and talking of bloody songs (don’t worry Mark, I jest) here is something unusual on my ‘to hear’ pile: an album full of ’em.  Mark Ritchie is better known to me as editor-in-chief at the Hiroshima Yeah! Glasgow office.  When not running a publishing empire, eating egg mayo rolls or listening to The Gourds, Mark is a singer-songwriter in a sort of Mark Eitzel mode and his band is called Shy Rights Movement.

Now, I find myself in the perverse position of being better qualified to talk about screaming racket than I am to talk about tunes but, for what it is worth, I dig this.  It starts a little sketchy but from the 90 second snarl of ‘Haloperidol Blues’ (“I take some pills and go to bed, am I asleep or am I dead?”) onwards there is a run of quality and the two songs bang in the middle of the album – ‘All Roads Lead to Here’ and ‘Holding On’ – are crackers.  This is sincere and heartfelt, without being at all mawkish, and has an occasionally nice turn of phrase.  There is a bitter accuracy to the best of it that I enjoyed very much.

Contact Mark via the HY! email address:

Ceramic Hobs – Live – 8/11/87, 21/11/09, 13/2/88, 15/10/09

Ceramic Hobs – Summer Hob Days 2 (Smith Research)

Two CD-rs of ‘second-stream’ Hobs material kindly provided by Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon comic/fanzine (more on which to come).  The ‘Summer Hob Days 2’ CD-r, released in 2010 in a now sold-out run of only 25 copies, is a kind of ‘Hobs Unplugged’ where our heroes gamely attempt to be warriors of the garage-psych underground using only rubber bands, cardboard boxes, a recorder, a stylophone and other acoustic detritus.  Occasionally very funny (“23 years ago, I saw Psychic TV, they were crap”), mostly perplexing.  This will appeal to those who are already fans (thus: me) and will be of no interest whatsoever to anyone else.  Explained on the Smith Research blog as follows: 

“Twenty-five years after the first recordings the original Phase One line-up reconvened to reinterpret them in an act of truly grandiose perversity.”

‘Live – 8/11/87, 21/11/09, 13/2/88, 15/10/09’ is more accessible, relatively speaking.  You should just be able to read Simon’s rationale for the release on the scan above.  He is right to foreground the Hob’s commitment to entertainment.  The ‘proper’ albums contain plenty of humour, of course, but it is there leavening the dark psychonautical exploration and the documenting of life on the borderlines.  However, when I’ve seen the Hobs live the emphasis is definitely on balls-out, punk-rock, fun.  On the evidence of these recordings the approach has remained pretty consistent over the years but I have to say I prefer the later accounts as a) they are better recorded and b) they contain tracks – ‘Irish Jew’, the butchering of Toto’s ‘Africa’, etc. – that made it onto the masterwork ‘Oz Oz Alice’.

I suspect a bit of harmless bootlegging here as only one of the CD-rs scanned above resembles the picture in its Discogs listing.  Still, there is no harm in contacting Simon via Smith Research or the Hobs livejournal page.

artifacts of the no-audience underground: bells hill label review part one

June 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Almost everything I’ve been listening to of late has had some connection to the North East.  From the seething metropolis of Newcastle to the windswept beauty of the Heritage Coast, the kids are skronking and droning.  There must be something in the Craster Kippers – a breakfast foodstuff made compulsory for everyone North of Durham by medieval edict of the Percys.

As he shares the telepathic link which connects all members of the North-East no-audience underground, Scott McKeating, head honcho of Whitley Bay’s Bells Hill imprint, awoke one morning suddenly aware that radiofreemidwich was mining his scene.  He choked down his smoked fish and rushed me a parcel.

As with Infinite Exchange, a label with which Bells Hill shares some of its roster, I’ll be presenting six reviews over two posts.  The first will detail the qualities of three single artist releases, the second will be concerned with three various artist compilations.

culver – can you read my mind? (bells hill 06)

Double sided tape in photocopied sleeve pictured above.  I have mentioned Culver several times in recent posts.  This is because Lee Stokoe’s ever-present rumbling provides a kind of baseline for all the other noise I listen to.  Like the background radiation that has been humming since the Big Bang, Culver is ubiquitous yet mysterious and indicative of something ominously apocalyptic.

To say this release is similar to other Culver releases is true but misses the point.  To all but the hardcore fan Lee’s tapes may appear perplexingly alike.  However, this doesn’t really matter for two reasons.  Firstly, Lee is painstakingly, obsessively, documenting every possible nuance of his project, exploring each barely perceptible shift in a heavy atmosphere.  Secondly, he doesn’t give a shit what you think – if you can’t tell the difference between these various shades of dark then that is your problem, not his.

This particular tape starts with a simple, mournful acoustic guitar.  The final lament of a hapless trekker out of their depth in a hostile wildnerness.  This cuts to the sound of a light aircraft overhead, possibly searching for this very missing person, who is now too injured, dehydrated or starving to attract its attention.  On the second side this unlucky individual wakes from their delirium to find themselves hooded and with their hands and feet bound, straining to hear the muffled and echoing sounds of a blood rite happening somewhere nearby.  Apologies for the troubling image, dear reader, but given Lee’s comprehensive appreciation of horror, this may be exactly the picture he intends to paint.

Popular Radiation – ‘Saitana Sarkasa’ (Bells Hill BH 023)

Single track by that Hasan Gaylani of Jazzfinger on a 3″ CD-r featuring a collage cover by Kevin Anderson – the guy who did the great trilobite cover for Infinite Exchange’s otherwise sub-par Mechanical Children album.

This is a really enjoyable oddity.  What you get is about 12 minutes of epic, non-verbal choral music overlaid with almost unintelligible snippets of, apparently, everyday conversation and music radio.  Thus: the human voice at its most noble and impressive interrupted by the human voice at its most banal and functional.  The snippets are so poorly recorded as to be little more than distorted bursts of trebly static, though the odd word is occasionally decipherable.  ‘Blood’ someone might say at one point, ‘footstool’ (?!) at another.

It’s like settling down to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey on your massive telly with super-surround speakers only for interference from a mini-cab dispatcher’s radio to crash in whenever the soundtrack features a tasty bit of Ligeti.  I admit this might sound irritating but there is something strangely soothing about the whole package.  I’ve listened to it over and over again.

Eyeballs – The Quest (Bells Hill BH017)

As is customary I have saved the best until last.  Scott isn’t one for formulaic, er…, formats so this time we have a full size CD-r printed with a picture of a many-eyed, beaked, tentacle creature (Kraken?  Spawn of Cthulhu?) housed in a 12” cardboard sleeve.  The sleeve features the tremendous, if gruesome, illustration above.  Also included is a print, hand signed and numbered by artist Ant Macari, of a drawing of Odysseus tied to the mast of his ship whilst the Sirens attempt his seduction.  However, the bird-women of this famous scene have been re-imagined as the personification of Google and Facebook.  “Circe tagged you in a photo,” says one.  “For we know all that happens on the fruitful Earth…” says another, the line taking on an amusing (or perhaps ominous) spin in this contemporary context.  A cheeky cursor arrow-point hovers discretely in one corner…

The music is similarly intelligent, wryly humourous and unashamedly ambitious.  It could be read as the soundtrack to a fantasy adventure though don’t start rolling those D20s – this is not a Tolkienesque quest.  Instead we are in a surreal, colour-saturated place more akin to the Yellow Submarine than to Middle Earth.  Maybe a little darker than that – if you can imagine a world where Babs Santini is considered to be a dryly realistic painter of landscapes then you’ve got it.

The first track, ‘Invisible Horses Drink Giant Water’, sets the scene with church bells, some Nurse With Wound-ish groaning, running water, the whinnying of the invisible horses and a gentle motorik groove to get us underway.  ‘A Silver Pea in Every Nostril’ is an ignorable two minutes of bibbling then it is on to the two tracks which form the main event.  ‘The Secret Volcano/The Alien Village’ is 22 minutes of pulsating rhythm overlaid with a deliciously fuzzy drone which shatters into a shimmering, tumbling mass of splinters.  If this was one side of a tape by Astral Social Club I would not be at all surprised or disappointed.  Very high quality and, if the release finished there it would already be a triumph.  However the next track, ‘Galleon of Leaf’ might be even better.  A strangely hypnotic loop of wonkytronics is dissected; each of the component parts hums and squeals on its own, then the lot recombines to play us out with renewed vigour.  Simple, elegant.  The final track could be a noisy single-prop aircraft returning our adventurers home, it could be the static from their abandoned radios, batteries fading…

Eyeballs are fast becoming a RFM blog fave.  That everything about this release is so high-end, so considered and so much fun shows just what can be achieved with a budget of bugger-all down here in the no-audience underground.  A scene in rude health, eh?

To get hold of this stuff contact Scott at or visit Bells Hill at Blogspot.

artifacts of the no-audience underground: infinite exchange label review part one

May 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Infinite Exchange Records, run by the improbably named Waz Hoola out of sunny Blyth, has spent the last five years or so handcrafting an intriguing catalogue of drones, improv and stoner rock.  All releases come on black playstation style discs, which is a clever unifying touch, and are housed in nicely designed sleeves.  The overall impression is of an enterprise with class and purpose.  In an attempt to assuage my shame at not having heard of ’em before I hereby present a short label overview in two parts, three reviews in each.  My punishment for not being more attentive is that I have missed out on all the early releases, an impressive number of which have sold out.

To buy this stuff drop Waz a line at and he will cut you a deal.

Jazzfinger – The Metal Eggs (IECDR016)

Let’s start with a something a bit special.  Imagine a decaying, apparently abandoned, 18th Century tall ship, becalmed and lolling drunkenly in the lagoon of a rocky atoll.  Lying sun-scorched and spread-eagled on the deck is the last remaining sailor.  Now we are in his head, staring sightlessly upwards and listening to a hypnotic drone, roaring then lulling.  It has no external source – it is a dehydration-induced figment of his delirium.  The drone is augmented by flutes, by cymbals – an imaginative reconstruction from the sound of torn rigging and broken equipment slowly moving around the deck.  This release is an audio diary of the ship’s last few days afloat.  If you like, it is the precursor to the final hour documented by Nurse With Wound’s Salt Marie Celeste.  Or perhaps it’s a soundtrack to the creepy wierd tale Voice in the Night by William Hope Hodgson (try it out: here’s an excellent reading courtesy of Librivox).

OK, so the sample from Lost Highway in the final track bursts my nautical bubble but the effect remains unnervingly sublime…

Mechanical Children – Convictual Tongue (IECDR020)

…to the ridiculous.  More from Ben Jones and Sarah Sullivan of Jazzfinger.  I know I said in the submission guidelines post that I wasn’t going to write about stuff I didn’t like but this release angried up the blood.

However, I will first praise the lovely package.  This is a double disc set, housed in a mini-gatefold sleeve, with each disc snug within its own matt black inner sleeve.  The artwork, by Kevin E Anderson, features exquisite drawings of trilobites or rather, I suspect, portmanteau creatures constructed from segments of several species.  Intriguing and beautiful, it sets the expectation level to ‘very high indeed’.

Unfortunately, the content doesn’t do it justice.  First a technical point: several of these tracks are considerably louder in one stereo channel than the other.  I did a bit of troubleshooting and the problem is definitely with the recording.  Fah, you might think, who cares?  Well, if, like me, you do most of your noise appreciation via headphones it makes the music unlistenable.  To have the business end screaming in one ear whilst a distant kitten farts gently in the other is discombobulating.  What’s infuriating is that it is so easily rectified: a track can be dropped into Audacity and the channels balanced in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.  Humph…

And what of the music?  Mainly lumpy, undifferentiated, unedifying noise.  What changes of pace we are treated to appear at random whenever someone finds a new preset to play with.  This has the feel of a demo tape of someone tinkering with unfamiliar kit.  It isn’t all bad though: the Children finally hit their stride in the final twenty minutes of the final track, ‘Joined by Shine’.  If the whole release had been trimmed down to a 3″ CD-r containing just this bit then I would be urging you to buy.  As it is: nah.

Bong – Bethmoora (IECDR015)

…and a quick one to finish.  Check out the band name, the cover, the inverted cross that forms part of the logo.  What do you think this is going to sound like?  How about if I tell you the album comprises two twenty minute long tracks and a bonus disc includes an even longer cover of ‘set the controls for the heart of the sun’?  C’mon man!  The title is taken from a Lord Dunsany story!  Yes, without hearing a note you know this is gonna be doom/sludge/stoner metal – basically very slow and very heavy.  Being a single-minded exercise in replicating the genre tropes, it doesn’t disappoint on either count.  If you dig this sort of thing, which luckily I do very much, then you are going to dig this.  Not brimming with crossover appeal though.

Posset, The Zero Map and Eyeballs to come in part two…

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