similarly introverted/greasy feathers: joe murray on final seed, troy schafer, termite acropolis, michael barthel, kent tankred, body morph, matt krefting, jon collin, f ampism and final seed again!

March 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Final Seed – S/T (Round Bale Recordings)

Troy Schafer – Untitled No4 (Round Bale Recordings)

Termite Acropolis – Dedication in Vinegar (Round Bale Recordings)

Michael Barthel – Randradau (Chocolate Monk)

Kent Tankred – Organ 1 (Chocolate Monk)

Body Morph – Keep Still and be Devoured (Soundholes)

Matt Krefting – Danger (Chocolate Monk)

Jon Collin – Sky Writings (Early Music)

F Ampism – The Resolution Phase (Beartown Records)

Final Seed – Untitled (Chocolate Monk)

 final seed round bale

Final Seed – S/T (Round Bale Recordings) Very rare tape or download

Rejoice in this super-subtle tape nothingness.

Side A is a perfectly timed 10 minutes that weaves the sound of background hiss-radiation with brief leather-necked gulpings and pre-language garrotte.  The sound of the sound of the recorder whirring dumbly is captured in startling clarity.  A round off in the cavern of the delay bounces a single blank tone off the squash court wall.

Side B is similarly introverted.  What was once a throaty wolf-man roar is pitched right down and super low into a substratum of broken sea-foam.  It warbles quietly, paying no mind and, like pouring thick glue over an uneven floor, the sound pools in places making deep ripples, skims the surface in others as light as a pond skipper.

The sense of purpose and dedication to a dream makes this a supremely confident release and an important exercise in listening to the sort of chuff we often ignore, gloss over and palm off.

Read no further and click here for evidence.

troy schafer round bale

Troy Schafer – Untitled No4 (Round Bale Recordings) Ultra rare lathe cut 7inch or download

Round Bale describe this as a ‘brain-scrambler’. After listening I’m feeling poached and fried to boot!

Side A. Sepia piano recordings run through a wood-chipper.

Troy’s fingers may nudge the occasional keys gently but his feet hit the pedals with force sending those white and black notes ricocheting through tin and bronze filters that wreak the pretty and gasp with giant violence.  What else am I getting (like a wine taster – that’s me!) a lung-rattling wheeze, half-song and memory.  You know what? I’m just a sucker for a solo piano.  The final 11 seconds promise a new beginning with that build up of blocked, harried notes that rudely snip off.  Oh yeah…distinctly classy.

Side B starts with a grunt and then something orchestral is wrenched back and forth through a pinhole.  The dry wooden click of a cello (perhaps) mimics a poultry convention; angry clucks and gobbles, that red wattle vibrating with the rough string attack.  I hear a woman’s laughter and then Troy launches into more grappling with the horsehair.  A dramatic friction.  Like looking down a sound-microscope that magnifies each textured sound-bundle a thousand times until it bursts like a turgid cell – spouting information into your lucky earhole.

Crikey Troy!

termite acropolis round bale

Termite Acropolis – Dedication in Vinegar (Round Bale Recordings) sold out tape and download

What an apt name for this ant-city investigation. Miniature tunnels are bored through the hard red earth and filled with dark cardboard clunks and billiard hall knockings.

Powerfully restrained recordings of process with little ornamentation. This is: a bell, a dropped coin, a handful of pocket fluff.

But that’s not to say these are overly simple.  Sounds are doused with a gentle condiment (or indeed pickled) until they slush about like a rotting medical exhibit (see: Caricature of the garden) in the bottom of a demijohn.

While massive machines are imagined in ‘Lardworks’, brass pistons pumping and levers floundering in a polished wooden way, it is left to ‘Extinguish the light’ to hurl us into the modern age; a symphony of gates opening and shutting to the beat of the Bontempi.

Title tracks often tell us a little about the intention and drive behind a record or artist.  In this case I’m guessing the closer, a nine-minute brining, is a powerful psychic calling card. It’s subtle and refined, relaxed but with a steady guiding hand on the reigns.  Delicate and simple tones and clunks rattle around the bagatelle that mirrors your own dainty cochlear.  It’s easy to get lost in such dwarf loops as they occur again and again, melting over each other in polite collapse.  At around the four-minute mark a constant high-lonely-moan is redoubled turning that sweet milk into smoked cheese marking the start of a watery, pale beauty.

Waiting room music for the hep, hep cats.

michaelbarthel choc monk

Michael Barthel – Randradau (Chocolate Monk) C20 Cassette

Insider bone scrapings and economic scribble.

Side A runs for about 9 minutes and places micro-pieces of clean and energetic German-sounding spoken goof with psychotic milkman-whistle and hissy-Dictaphone-grottage.  Oh yes! Michael barks stern his instructions. These blocks of meaning lock as tight as Duplo bricks but instead of the obvious primary colours this is an altogether mistier proposal.

You what?

So…rather than tan the glitches Mr Barthel exercises all the edges of his palette.  The lion indeed lies down with the lamb with the final few minutes mimicking aching layers of lazy sediment.

Side B starts with off-radio, wrong-phonics and some glorious sepia glossolalia.  A hum and whirr of the taping device is left to whittle away adding a tambour-like drone for an amateur age.  Gloriously smeared sound leaks like straw-coloured plasma from a bad burn.  Oily as balm; dressings are changed for the finale of woollen moans and an almost vaudeville reading of sparse and strangulated word blooms.

It’s a hectic world for sure, but listening to this made me dawdle like a child. Damn…listening to this tape made me a better person. You NEED some!

kent tankred choc monk

Kent Tankred – Organ 1 (Chocolate Monk) C40 Cassette

These ultra-heavy organ manipulations weigh as much a chubby whale loafing about in the viscous and dark brine.

A presence piece that you can, and should, project your reality on to: this is perfect travelling music.

Each organ foldback-loop and full –throated gas-roar is like a cold sun flickering through autumn leaves or watching the savage juxtaposition of a ripped billboard layered with contrasting messages.

Other observations?

  • Large pumice boulders skin your elbows and the dead skin falls like dry sleet.
  • A microphone is lowered into a crimson oubliette.
  • Running into the wind with your mouth open wide until your breath gets caught behind chilly teeth.

This hissing bustle plays well obnoxiously loud and pasty-necked quiet.



Body Morph- Keep Still and be Devoured (Soundholes) C60 cassette 

This tape is an exercise in long-form rustage.

True!  Tones from a dying crab get hoofed through the murky, mystic mix at points but mostly it’s a 1000 yard stare of slowly crashing gears.

On side one I’m picking up cheap-casio keys gummed down under years of tape-varnish & mould-hiss.  I’m hearing a smeared gossamer touch akin to greasy feathers.

Side two gets all lo-maxxed on a horn of some sort; mournful and cool as the night air.  Armenian Jazz Sorrow?  The sound of occasional suffocation?

A true listeners tape, this is no ‘slap it on and do the ironing’ cassette.  It demands full attention and for this thorough investment you are amply rewarded with layer upon layer of ear –silt clogging yr golden wax deposits.

mattkrefting danger

Matt Krefting – Danger (Chocolate Monk) C15 Cassette

Ultra-core tape jaxx.

Super-indefinite and lost imaginings.

It’s the softest breath kissing carbon paper; that most delicate and faint purple image as tender as an early morning bruise.

Memory slides smooth as a trombone made of smog and brass fittings.

Half-formed but fully realised.  The magic happens in that grey blancmange as you use natural electricity to link the un-linkable, paint the un-paintable.

Matt leaves us mortals a few clues – popping candy in a giant’s gob and infrared tinfoil.  Apart from that you’re on your own pal!

Polite yet essential.

Jon Collin

Jon Collin – Sky Writings (Early Music) C15 Tape

If I’d got my finger out this tape would have made the 2016 ‘best of’ lists for sure and will no doubt be top 10 material in sunny 2017.

Fahey, Rose and Nugent fan boys/girls must listen…this tape is so charming I coughed up a cream tea and a cheeky goodnight kiss. This tape made me a damn loving fool!

In the old definition this is a fucking splendid tape (shine, be bright) that warms up my cold heart and makes me smile like reading Nicholson Baker details and footnotes.

A real human-sounding solo acoustic guitar probe the damn nostalgia nodes to conjure up an imagined picnic in a cornfield.  The colours are vivid.  The corn is the creamiest yellow, the sky the brightest blue.  Our blanket the deepest red.

The melodies trip some switch that bursts crisp cornflowers out my chest and replace my blood with silver helium bubbles.

Spiritualised? Do me a favour eh?  I’m really floating in space here mate.  The strums and pickles are complex as spiderwebs but simple as nursery rhymes.  The untitled tunes are as familiar as pins and needles and get under my skin in a similar restless and itchy way; it’s like I’ve always known them as they slip out of reach skidding like a deer on ice.

Oh my!  Such elegance with chipped nails and calloused hands.  The perfect beautiful happiness of aching heart.


F Ampism – The Resolution Phase (Beartown Records) CD

A tasty CD that I’m now re-imagining as a vinyl EP pressed onto seven inches.

“But why format transfer boy? You may ask.”

Because this is a disc of two halves, that’s why doubter.  An ‘A’ and a ‘B’.  My ‘This Side’ twinned to your ‘That Side’ is strongly suggested to my oatmeal mind.

Let me explain…

A jungle lushness drips through the recent work of Mr F Ampism.  Thick and green, waxy and water-resistant each micro-collage is rich beyond our feeble senses; ethnic percussive loops wobbly like belly fat, environmental recordings gurgle as algae-thick rivers, electronic squirts gush tessellated digital foof.  It’s a sound you can smell and that smell is pregnant and full.

The first three tracks, ‘Monaestry and Math’ to ‘Straight Brains’ are alive with exotic Toucan ‘caws’ and Howler hoots.  The middler ‘The Joint Capsule’ replays Balinese rhythms among the creaking boats, the lapping waves and call of villagers selling shrimp-based snacks.  Gradually a soft tone bubbling erupts in my pocket.  Copper pans are dropped overboard and ‘boaab’ drunkenly in the mud-coloured water as they slowly fill, sway, and sink beneath the waves.

All of a piece these three realised constructions suggest organic life with a face tilted towards a red, red sun.

‘Shabada Transmission’ bucks the trend by laying down heavily in the rumpled bed belonging to Detroit Techno – the synthetic strings and xylophone tones as future facing as jet boots and holidays on Mars.   And in doing so Ampism revels a new destination and we are already deep in ‘Side Two’ territory.

‘Inner Eyelid’ is made up of spare parts, a lone creak, a dropped calliope yet is patched up in the most un-Frankenstein manner.  No flat head no sir! Bolts through the neck?  Forget-about-it. Think more like a slim ankle glimpsed or thick auburn curls just begging to be tousled.

The jazz, in all its hot boiling majesty, infests ‘Thrown Jam 1 and 2 ‘ with Pazuzu sitting in on traps while Regan hams on the vintage synth.  This duo/solo gets ripe!

And, as all things must, this disc ends.  But with a juddering, flustering loop so perfectly placed those plunderphonic dingbats blush crimson and sweat.

finalseed chocolate monk

Final Seed – Untitled (Chocolate Monk) C30 Cassette

Witness the drunken bowling alley vibe on this damp-chiller from Final Seed.

Like a diary opened at random one passage might reveal children squeaking, another, the fumbling fingers of a defective chord-organ.

Dark percussive knocks form a rhythm interuptus ladled on thick like broth. Slack-mouthed and slurry, a voice gnarls on with steaming feet. Wonked-out keyboard extrapolations all bothered with hot-electric butter.  Broken cassette ghost-capture.

Neat eh?  But all the while this is undoubtedly gush from the same mush.  Oh my!

This is serious stuff…like the abstract soundtrack to the sound of making a soundtrack each perfect formula of tones, field recordings and manipulations delight by being both utterly novel and head-scratchingly familiar. So while the diary analogy still holds I’m darting from love-sick boy-teen to worried mother to toddler rocking on their plump heels.  It’s got charm in punnets, invention in spades!

The best album that chump Eno never made.  DEMAND A RESSIUE!!!

Round Bale Recordings

Chocolate Monkey


Early Music

Beartown Records


sliver lizards: joe murray on olivier di placido, fritz welch, kelly jayne jones, ross parfitt, jon collin, yol, culver

October 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch – untitled cassette (tape, humansacrifice, HS0010, edition of 75 or download)

Kelly Jayne Jones & Jon Collin – Sheffield, 9 August 2015 (tape, Early Music)

Jon Collin with Ross Parfitt – Münster, 10 April 2016 (tape, Early Music)

Yol – This Item Has Little Or No Scrap Value (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 48)

Culver – Gateshead Soup (tape, Matching Head, MH213)


Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch – Untitled

Absolutely no nonsense Technicolor squall and dramatic brokenness from that most hectic of fluffer duos: Di Placido/Welch.

Like stitches in yr lip this stings a little as it wrenches new shapes outta junk-drums and garrotted-guitar.  Frantically itchy as scabies it is… the scabby metre has you shuffling on and off the hot foot never quite sure where to hang your hat.  But I’m diggin’ it… diggin’ it bad.

I’m listening with an abstracted grin now.  I just can’t help it; the reptile part of my brain fair goofs on the hard/soft, fast/slow choices being presented to my dense grey lumps.  But at the same time my debonair city-slicker love-node is lapping up the lightening-fast interactions and improvisations between flapping pig skin and eviscerated coiled steel.  The perfect music for the metrosexual caveman perhaps?  Shit… let’s throw a party to find out.  I’m on nibbles.

Is that some post-production fingering I can hear in the backmasked vox that plays us out of this side?  Wonderful, wonderful… let’s get some electronics soaking up this gravy to deglaze the nuggets.

Goosh… ya!

The other side* made me squirt like Slaine in full-on berzerker mode such is the slap and clatter, the fizzing rip and hi-hat chit-chit-chit-bash.  Like an erotic jazz experience it manages to create that brassy plateau of living a constant high… then stops on a teasing sixpence.

It’s not all hi-NRG jizz-riffles though.  One small section’s a right downer of industrial ‘booms’ and ‘crashes’ played out next to a juddering (bass) washing machine that segues neatly into a promise of friction and anatomically crude charcoal drawings.  Phewy.

The art of the improviser occasionally gets ladled with faux academic nonsense from highfaluting bodies, boards and authorities.  A pox on them.  This is vital as hydrogen and alive as a fresh pig because it’s free from any grey-beard permission.

Play this at your next lecture and watch Prof implode!

*I’ve used the rather unhelpful ‘this side’ and ‘other side’ descriptors because there’s nothing as bourgeois as track titles or side demarcations on this babycake.  Total Hardcore yeah.


Kelly Jayne Jones & Jon Collin – Sheffield, 9 August 2015

On seeing the title a ripple of excitement forced me to check last year’s journal and I can see I was right there, in Sheffield, when this piece was recorded.

…firmly camped upstairs for the rest of the show Jon Collin & Kelly Jones played guitar & flute but nary a note was plucked or blown.  99% of the sound came from feedback tones as fresh as a handful of snow down the trousers.  Thin and minty… menthol smoke sprouting from the fingers.  Control was the watch word and even a dropped e-bow couldn’t interrupt the stately ‘hhiiiimmmmm’…

Listening back to this, in a domestic setting, seems to downplay the austerity and dial up the astringent complexity.  The sharp guitar tones (sliver [Editor’s note: I suspect a typo but am leaving it in for the sake of poetry] lizards shimmer across cool marble) mesh perfectly with the breathy feedback/flute (crystallised ginger crushed into powder and applied to the forehead) and create a ritual of pure transcendent beauty.

I’m often lost in the fog of metal or jazz (crashing and slashing) but the paleness and gentle simmering of these mercurial sounds has tickled my mind forever with its frosty bliss.


Jon Collin with Ross Parfitt – Münster, 10 April 2016

It starts with twin guitar plucking, wild and free as a Manx cat, but stretching out time into an almost cosmic nothingness.

However sparse and spectral this recording is though there’s a right-in-your-face attitude with some heavy clarity.  Those brushed-steel sounds emerge from the plucks adding an odd gamelan ‘kong’ to the twisting strings, reminding us we are on a journey.  From here to where doesn’t really matter but the steady pad of the foot and swing of the arm propels this music constantly forward.

Don’t look back.

A lake of clear water lays still and calm.  Birds (too far away to distinguish species) swoop lazily overhead.  All is peaceful until the standing stones begin to quiver, small pebbles roll down to the lake sending ripples across the surface drawing patterns that weave and double cross.

A watery maze appears.  The walls clear enough to see through but refractions set up a prism effect showing the landscape with a rainbow light.  Glorious colours indeed… but what’s that smoke on the horizon?


Yol – This Item Has Little Or No Scrap Value

Ever wondered what JAZZ would sound like after Yol had had a fair go at it?  Wonder no more as ‘Finley Crafted’ kicks like a Sidney Bechet joint with bruised ribs.  Yakety-Sax and Ten-to-Two drums are pushed out a porthole but the pulse… the all important swing remains.  It’s all syncopated beats and bomb-detonation throat, man.  Gosh! This is heady, heady head-est schizz right from the get-go.  These ‘live’ recordings are juddering with malevolence and stark contrast.   ‘Bleed Mouth Parts’ and ‘Trapped in Portland Works’ are two of the most violent and brutal recordings I think I’ve ever heard.  Sorry Extreme Noise Terror.  Yol has beaten your usually exceptional ROOAAOOORRROR  trump with a single (but scientifically focused) gob, cheap spanner set and polystyrene block.

Real rubble is thrown about for ‘Bird Feathers’ a rare decent into bass with (what sounds like) a fully pressurised deep sea diving suit dragged down a spiral staircase – as you listen, ear cocked against the air tube, it pulses ‘Vuphhhh-chk-hhhoooofff’.

The final boof , ‘A Medium Experience’ brings the hooligan noise back into home territory with the warmness and (dare I say it) comfort of interlocking manacles.  Again my jass-ears are focused on the clattering percussion; the tinka-link of scrap metal that divides time like a punk Dejohnette.  Do I have to say it? Essential.  Essential and life affirming motherfuckers!


Culver – Gateshead Soup

What is there left to say about Culver?  The most singular of artists he does his thing with no regard for fashion or favour.  You’re into it or you’re not.

This tape (same as the last and same as the next) was picked up at a live show and apparently not available via more ‘official’ channels.  What?  Less official than a regular Matching Head release… that’s like trying to copyright snowflakes, man.

But what’s it sound like?  A slowly emerging landscape of loops that I’ve tried to scientifically represent (a) to (g):

(a) a foul machine heating up and  (b) three solitary acoustic guitar notes

(a) with (c) brown organ smear

(c) and (d) foreboding doom rumble

(d) incorporating (e) bleak metallic thunder

(e) gives way to (f) plumes of black smoke rising over the battlefield

(f) gently diminishes for (g) Valium earthquake

(g) x 2 fades out incredibly slowly leaving you praying for a start to the endless nothingness…


Olivier Di Placido & Fritz Welch

Early Music

Beartown Records

Matching Head

the 2015 zellaby awards

January 8, 2016 at 11:24 am | Posted in blog info, musings, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

zellaby award envelope

Hello friends and welcome to the 2015 Zellaby Awards and Radio Free Midwich end-of-year round-up.  I’m very glad to see you.  My apologies in advance to those long term readers expecting the usual introduction full of whimsical nonsense.  There will be some of that, of course, but this year needs to be taken seriously and I’m going to start dark.  Don’t worry though – spoiler alert – there will be joy and life-affirming redemption by the end: this piece is my It’s a Wonderful Life.

Firstly, it is not the job of this blog to comment on the wider world but aside from the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, our glorious future prime minister, 2015 was largely without hope. I wish you all good luck in navigating the coming End Times.

Personally, away from music, my year can be split into three four month long segments.  For the first of these I was ill with non-stop, run-of-the-mill viruses.  Nowt serious on its own but the cumulative effect of so many strung together – a necklace of snot – left me in a parlous state.  My depression played cards with its fidgety cousin anxiety, waited until I was defenceless and then kicked in the door.  The second four months were spent off work attempting to shift these unwelcome guests whilst maintaining a functioning family life.  I’ve written about this debilitating effort elsewhere, no need for further details here.  The final four months of 2015 were the tale of my recuperation and slow recovery following a change in medication and a breakthrough in both the treatment of my illness and my attitude towards it.  After much grief, I left 2015 exhausted and resentful but hopeful that new ways of muzzling the black dog will allow me a lengthy period of peace and sanity.

When I was down in it, days, weeks even, passed when music seemed more trouble than it was worth.  The list of releases submitted to RFM for review, plus other stuff that caught my bloodshot eye, became an untended vine cracking the panes of its greenhouse and desiccating the soil in its giant terracotta pot. I’d try to ignore it, slumped in my deckchair, but would be tickled awake by a tendril and look up to see something like Audrey II grinning down at me:

Fleshtone Aura

Or maybe one my colleagues – Joe, Chrissie, Sof, Luke, marlo – would arrive with a ladder, new glass, plant food, exotic orchids or intricate alpines to distract me, gawd bless ‘em. Looking back, I’m surprised at how often I actually did pick up the trowel – if only to wave hello, or whack Luke on the nose with it when I found him digging in the flower beds – and I’m quietly proud of maintaining this garden despite the inclement mental weather. During 2015 radiofreemidwich received approximately 32,000 visits – a new record. 93 posts were published, including the blog’s 500th, by half a dozen different authors. The most popular of which were last year’s Zellaby Awards and my no-audience underground ‘state of the notion’ address – most gratifying as both are heartfelt celebrations of the scene. Not bad, eh?

Now, at this point in the introduction I was going to get catty about my usual scratching posts, hit a few sacred cow arses with a banjo etc. but, looking down at the silted pavement and up at the grey sky, it’s clear that what the world needs now is love, sweet love – not smart alec remarks and passive-aggressive score settling. So let’s get the party started instead.

Here’s the rules: to be eligible in one of the following five categories this music needs to have been heard by one of us for the first time in 2015.  It does not need to have been released in 2015.  As the purpose of these awards is to spread the good news about as many quality releases as possible, should an artist win in one category they will not be placed in any of the others.  I do not vote for my own stuff as midwich, nor any releases that I had a hand in (thus no Aqua Dentata on fencing flatworm – sorry Eddie). The team will avoid touting each others’ projects too – not because we care about conflict of interest (there isn’t any down here) but we do like to maintain at least a veneer of decorum. Aside from marlo, who has been nostril deep in PhD crap all year and thus didn’t feel qualified to contribute, the whole team has chipped in and I will be pasting their responses below. This year I am at least nodding in the direction of democracy when compiling the lists but, as editor, I am reserving final say.  Don’t worry though – my dictatorship is benevolent and progressive.

Right then, time to pop some fucking corks…

sof's pina colada


Radio Free Midwich presents the 2015 Zellaby Awards

5. The “I’d never heard of you 10 minutes ago but now desperately need your whole back catalogue” New-to-RFM Award

Chrissie expresses doubts about the whole process then nails a perfect nomination:

I’m not much of a one for end of year retrospectives, forward is my preferred direction. Also I find it hard to compare music and place it in any sort of order. One day a particular piece or artist will be exactly what I need, another day it will have me screaming for the STOP button.  Add to which I haven’t actually reviewed very much this year. Even when I found a (rather large, rich) niche to occupy I still take longer to complete a review than I’d really like.  Still, I hate to disappoint, and I never miss a deadline so…

Sabrina Peña Young

Even while reviewing one album, I couldn’t help mentioning tracks on other albums!

[Editor’s note: an extract from Chrissie’s review of Science Fiction & Horror Movie Soundtrack Collection: Strange Films of Sabrina Peña Young:]

‘Singularity’ is a whole Star Trek episode in miniature. It opens as an almost conventional, if nicely constructed piece of theme music, and gradually becomes something very much more. Going from the journey out, discovery of a possibly inhabited planet, then meeting an alien, trying to escape and the closing theme music again – a novella in seven minutes forty-three seconds! To be honest I’m pretty sure that that isn’t the actual narrative of ‘Singularity’ but I like to make things up as I’m listening and that idea seemed plausible at the time [Editor’s note: it’s the RFM way…]. What it’s really about is the rise of machine intelligence, of course; which is equally scary, possibly.


Joe speaks in italics:

Not for the first time, Serbia’s No Basement is Deep Enough label has pinned my lugs back and hotly tongued my ear.  But this time it slipped a note in my pocket that read ‘G.J de Rook’ (but no phone number I notice!). 

Gerrit’s considered gobble-de-gook on a and bla is the metallic-gravy I’m craving right now.  The calm and pleasant gibber hits that sweet-spot of babies gurgling, a hummingbird’s gaudy thrum and the plastic pop of wrenched bubble-wrap.  These are universal sounds; sounds enjoyed from the Mongolian deserts to the Seattle coffee-house scene. These are the sort of sounds we need to send into space – gaffer tape a CD-r to Voyager or something- for them bug-eyed overlords to ponder.    

Although Gerrit’s wider discography is relatively thin and achingly expensive don’t worry readers, I have a plan in place to slurp slowly in discreet ‘o,o,o,o,o,oa,oa,oa,oa,eh,eh,eh,o,ooo,o-like’ sips.  Think on.


Sof’s joy in discovery:

I heard and reviewed the album 3 by Sonotanotanpenz at the start of my Midwich employment and have since heard everything I can by them because, for me, they just tick all the right boxes. Cheers to Kirigirisu Records for pointing me in the right direction finding this stuff!

sonotanotanpenz - 3

Luke forward/slashes:

Ben Hallatt – Kay Hill, scke//, KIKS/GFR – the sinister/minimal man, eerie urban horror with muted synth/tape work.


…and I say:

…that I haven’t had the wherewithal for the obsessive curiosity that usually makes it so easy and obvious to decide the winner of this category.  I have a few interests bubbling under – that lovely, young Graham Dunning seems like an intriguing chap so maybe I’ll stalk him once I have the energy – but in the meantime I’m happy to to go along with Chrissie’s nomination of Sabrina Peña Young.


4. The “Stokoe Cup”, given for maintaining quality control over a huge body of work making it impossible to pick individual releases in an end of year round up

Sof ponders:

I don’t think I have an answer for this one, I can only think of Delphine Dora who released four albums this year which to me seems a huge amount! I’m not really into musicians who put out so much stuff that I can’t keep up. It puts me off if I’m honest, I like small and considered bodies of work. [Editor’s note: a very practical attitude – and Delphine should definitely be on everyone’s list anyway.]


Chrissie scratches her head too:

I’ve not really reviewed enough to come up with a suitable nomination for this. Similarly for the label award. I was tempted to nominate Steve Lawson for the Stokoe cup but he might be rather too ‘big’ for that to be sensible now and also I don’t believe he’s ever been reviewed here [Editor’s note: he is and he hasn’t but, hey, s’up to you – it’s an indication of where you are coming from too]. However he does release a considerable amount of material and it is of quite an amazingly high standard.

No doubts from Joe:

We’re all renaissance men and women now eh?  Fingers in various pies yeah?  You’re a composer/performer, a curator, a thinker, an archivist, a broadcaster, a hard-assed critic and goofy listener, a publisher and promoter?  Scratch the N-AU and we bleed like colourful skittles. 

This is all vital and impressive for sure.  But the real trick is to weave all those various roles together with a broader sense of ‘who you are’, a central-unifying-theme and aesthetic that’s as real as Westeros fantasy shizzle. So with the powers invested in me by the fabled ‘Stokoe Cup’ I hereby recommend Andy Wild, the Crow versus Crow guy guy, as an upstanding exemplar of unified vision, industry and purpose.

Not only is Andy releasing beautifully packaged CDs on the CvC label, he’s keeping us up-to-date with a set of paintings and photography.  He’s had a one-man exhibition, “You’re Gonna Need That Pure Religion, Halleloo” in his native Halifax.  He’s researched, presented and broadcast almost 100 radio shows and curated a bunch of special one-off sessions (like John Peel yeah).  And all this strikes me with a look and a feel that’s unmistakably CvC and unified.  Here’s an example: as Andy dug deeper into old blues records spindly hiss and burr appeared on the paintings (and in the exhibition title).  The smeared photos mirrored the abstract sound of worn vinyl.  The shows became looser, the voice deeper and the mood darker.  Do people still do mission statements?  If so, is ‘be beautiful’ taken?


Luke starts on a theme:

A tough one this year with the above mentioned Ben Hallatt and the incredible Stuart Chalmers.  My vote, however, has to go to Robert Ridley-Shackleton: the Oxfam prince, the cardboard king.  He keeps on peaking, inhabiting his own corner. In a just universe he would be on the X Factor panel: he IS pop.


…and I say:

Well, Joe makes a compelling case for Andy Crow there and since being born from an egg on a mountaintop the nature of Shackleton is irrepressible, but I’m handing the trophy to a familiar name and previous Zellaby award winner: Kev Sanders.

Whilst not quite reaching the Stakhanovite release rate displayed in 2014, his productivity remains alarming high, as does the quality of his work. I’ve not reviewed a great deal of it, nor much else released on his label hairdryer excommunication (this collection of haiku from September being my main engagement) but it has been an ever-present background radiation.

If you picture the year as an autobahn, one which I have been stalled beside, hood up, engine steaming, then Kev’s music is a series of electricity pylons running alongside carrying cables buzzing with an intensity that is somehow both bleak and comforting. I wish him well with his coming move to that London and look forward to a chance to catch up whilst he is otherwise engaged. Now, like a casino bouncer chucking out a professional gambler, I’m banning him from winning anything else for a while. House rules.


3. The Special Contribution to Radio Free Midwich Award

Sof and Chrissie have a playground tussle over who gets to be teacher’s pet:

SofIt’s no secret that Rob Hayler has had a rough year with his depression but his drive and passion for underground music has meant he’s kept up with this blog which I’m sure a lot of folks wouldn’t do under the same circumstances – fair play and respect to you!

Chrissie: At the risk of sounding like a spoilt kid sucking up to the boss, I’d like to nominate Rob for this award. In what has been a difficult year for him he’s hired three new writers, no small risk in itself, trusting our ability to actually deliver readable prose (well, in my case anyway) in usable quantities, not to mention editing it onto the blog in good shape and good time. He’s also put up with my erratic writing schedule and lack of enthusiasm to take anything off the review pile – preferring to go off on my own in a crusade to bring more female artists to the notice of our good and loyal readers.

[Editor’s note: it might appear shameless to include the above, and I admit it kinda is, but, as I’ve pointed out, it has been a tough year and I was touched.  Let me have a little sugar, yeah?]

Luke picks an outlier:

Sorry gonna have to be Robert Ridley-Shackleton again [sings: “Return of the Shack!  Here it is…!”].  A little quote from Robbie following a chat about tedious porn/bondage themes in noise:

To me noise is a positive thing, it fills my brain full of the joys. I don’t understand all the negative themes presented, to me it’s life affirming

Yeah baby!!!

[Editor’s note: R-Shack’s physical contribution to RFM is indeed notable as he sent copies of all his releases plus extra examples of his womble-on-ketamine junk art not just to RFMHQ but also personally to Joe and Luke too – a Knight of the Post.]

Joe rallies the troops:

As ever, I reckon this one belongs to everybody.  Anyone that sent in a tape, clicked on a link, wrote a review, listened with intent, left a comment or gave a god-damn fuck.  This one’s for you.  It’s all of us that make this: writers, readers, editors…even you cynics (coz debate is good, yeah?).  We’re all part of the oneness.  No one hears a tree fall in an empty forest right?

…and I say:

Tempting as it is to fall into step and punch the air, nostrils flaring, there is an objectively true answer to the question and that is: Anne, my wife.  Without her love, care and truly unbelievable strength this blog would not have continued to exist.

However, if we limit the word ‘contribution’ to meaning actual hands-on graft accounting for the endeavours of the no-audience underground then only one name can be engraved on this medal: Joe Murray.

Of the 93 posts published this year a huge proportion were by Joe and each of those usually contained reviews of numerous items sourced from far-flung corners of the outer reaches.  Despite his hep prose poetry being the best music writing currently available – Richard Youngs himself described Joe’s review of his epic No Fans seven CD box set as ‘the definitive account’ – he is completely selfless in his unpretentious enthusiasm.  He embodies the ethos of this blog.


[Editor’s note: hmmm… getting a bit lovey and self-congratulatory this isn’t it?  Maybe I’ll rethink this category for next year <takes deep breath, dabs corner of eye> OK, on with the big gongs!]

2. The Label of the Year Award

Sof sticks to the point:

I’ve really enjoyed every release I’ve heard from Fort Evil Fruit this year, and most years, I think we must have the same taste in music.


Luke whittles on the porch:

Another tough one with old favourites like Chocolate Monk continuing to deliver the goods.  However at a push it’d be Winebox Press, a fairly laid back work rate but always something to look forward to, can’t think of another label as aesthetically as well as sonically pleasing to me at least. Objects of cosmic power that’ll warm you from the inside out.


Joe’s takes a turn:

Let’s hear it for Cardboard Club.  Why?  For the dogged determination and other worldly logic of course.  I have no idea what is going on in the disco/noise shire of Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  All I know is that I like it, I like it a lot. 

Robert’s singular vision is not so much outsider as out-rigger; a ghost on the pillion.  The label spreads itself across media so the scrabbly zines, tape artwork and ‘pocket-jazz’ sound can only contain the RR-S, nothing else.  But what made me giggle, what made me really smile was the recent move to vinyl.  Some lame-o’s see the hallowed seven inch as a step up; a career move if you please!  With that kind of attitude the battle is already lost and all ideals get mushed in ‘rock school’ production.  None of this for our Cardboard Club… it sounds exactly the same!  A hero for our troubled times.


…and I say:

Yep, all excellent selections deserving of your attention but, with hairdryer excommunication out of the way, I’m going to use editor’s privilege to share this year’s prize between two exemplary catalogues: Invisible City Records and Power Moves Label.  Both are tape-plus-download labels based on Bandcamp, both have strong individual identities – in ethos and aesthetic – despite presenting diverse, intriguing rosters and both share impeccable no-audience underground credentials (PML’s slogan: ‘true bedroom recordings with delusions of grandeur’).  It don’t hurt that the gents running each – Craig and Kev respectively – are polite, efficient and enthusiastic in their correspondence too.  Anyone looking for a model as to how it should be done could do worse than sit at the front of their class and take careful notes.

[Editor’s note on the Editor’s note: yes, yes, I know that ICR re-released my epic masterpiece The Swift, thus making it the label of the year by default but I felt duty bound to mention it anyway.  Shame on Tabs Out Podcast, by the way, for filling the first 135 places of their 2015 Top 200 with hype and industry payola.  Glad to see sanity and integrity restored with #136.]


1. The Album of the Year Award

Chrissie kicks us off:

1. R.A.N

My first female:pressure review and the one I still listen to the most.

…not only are the individual tracks on this album good, but the ordering of them is exquisite. They follow on from each other in a wonderful, spooky narrative that runs smoothly and expertly from start to finish – the gaps between them allowing you to pause for breath before being dragged into the next hellmouth.


2. FAKE Mistress – entertainted

The opening track, ‘Appreciate the moment’s security’, will pull you in with its drama, heavy noise-based beats, spooky voicing and very punkish shouting but you’ll stay for the gentler opening of ‘You better trust’, intrigued by where it’s going. There’s harsh noise in the middle of this track and in lots of places on this album, but it’s never over-used. It’s here as a structural device to take you by surprise and drag you out of your complacency.


Luke casts his net wide:

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Charlotte Braun – Happy Being Sad

Absurde, Chier – Absurde VS Chier

Skatgobs – Pointless

Blood Stereo – The Lure of Gurp

Alec Cheer – Autumn

Ali Robertson & His Conversations

Guttersnipe – Demo

xazzaz – descent / the crusher

VA AA LR – Ping Cone

Stuart Chalmers – Imaginary Musicks 3/4

Anla Courtis – B-Rain Folklore

S C K E / Kay Hill – Disclosure, TESSELLATION A/B, IN-GRAIN, Cold Title

Jon Collin – Wrong Moves / Dream Recall

Whole Voyald Infinite Light – Uncollected Recordings

Ashtray Navigations – Lemon Blossom Gently Pixelating In The Breeze

Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels

yol / posset – a watched pot never (no link – ask yol or Joe, they’ll sort you out)

half an abortion / yol – the designated driver

Shareholder – Jimmy Shan

[Editor’s note: blimey, eh?  Luke also provided a ‘year in metal’ list too!  Available on request.]


Sof’s impeccable taste displayed:

I’m going with Steven Ball’s Collected Local Songs which I reviewed earlier this year because it’s the one I’ve gone back to over and over, each listen revealing more to me. It’s such an original piece of work.

Originality is the theme of my list –

Saboteuse – Death, Of Course (this maaaaaaay, have come out last year!)

Bridget Hayden and Claire Potter – Mother To No Swimming Laughing Child

Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God

Guttersnipe – Demo

Rosemary Krust – Rosemary Krust

Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton Barker – Show Your Sketches

Delphine Dora – L’au-delà

steven ball - collected local songs

Joe selects:

I fucking guarantee your serious music critics will moan and denounce 2015 as a fallow year for sounds.  Fools!  If you look around there’s an embarrassment of riches spilling out of the tape drawer, CD-r pile and…folder? 

I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable hurling my opinion of ‘what’s best’ around so, in the spirit of “non-competition and praise”, here’s what I’d play you right now if you were to pop round for sherry.

  • yol – everyday rituals. When a record makes you run giddy for the Spanish/English dictionary you know something extraordinary is at work.  You’re familiar with yol yeah? You’re not?  Get a-fucking cracking pal.  This is a truly explosive & genuine performance that makes your insipid rebellion look safe as milk.
  • Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God. A super-subtle voice and tape work.  What I love is the ‘too studio-fucked to be field recordings and too much punk-ass rush for fluxus’ approach.  Natural and wonderfully blunted domestic, ‘Others…’ inhabits its own space – like a boil in the bag something served piping hot.
  • Midnight Doctors – Through a Screen and Into a Hole. The merciless despot with a harmonium!  Phil Begg’s steady hand guides a cavalcade of rough North East gonks through their paces to produce a timeless noir classic.  It is equal parts soundtrack, accurate cop-show homage and mysterious new direction for tight-meshed ensemble.  C’mon Hollywood… make that damn call.
  • Shareholder – Jimmy Shan. Rock und Roll songs collapse in sharp slaggy heaps. Dirty explosions replace instruments (the guitar x 2 and drums) leaving us dazed in a no-man’s-land of stunning, blinding light and electricity.  Ferocious and don’t-give-a-fuck all at once.
  • Tom White – Reconstruction is tied, even-stevens, with Sindre Bjerga’s – Attractive Amplification. The world of violent tape abuse is one I follow avidly. But there’s nothing to separate these two outstanding tapes (of tapes, of tapes, of tapes).  Both Tom and Sindre have the muscle memory and total mastery of their mediums (reel to reel and compact cassette) to wrench brown, sticky moans from the vintage equipment.  It sounds belligerent, punch drunk and rum-sloppy to my ears.  A perfect night out chaps!

yol - er

…and finally, your humble editor:

Bubbling under: here are the releases that made my long list but not the countdown. Every one a cracker, presented here in alphabetical order to avoid squabbles breaking out in the car park:

Culver – Saps 76

David Somló – Movement

Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper – Distance, Future

Dominic Coppola – Vogue Meditations

Hagman – Inundation

Hardworking Families – Happy Days

Ian Watson – Caermaen

joined by wire – universe allstars

Luminous Monsters – The Sun Tree

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Saturn Form Essence – Stratospheric Tower

Shredderghost – Golden Cell

yol – everyday rituals

[Editor’s note: I also have to make special mention of Askild Haugland and his peerless recordings as Taming Power. I’ve received two (I think, possibly three) parcels from him this year containing his work, all the way from Norway, and these recordings always have a profound and meditative effect. Some of it, for instance the 7” single Fragments of the Name of God, could quite possibly be perfect.]

OK, right – ooo! exciting! – here’s the top ten, presented in traditional reverse order:

10. E.Y.E – MD2015


…and what a joy it has been to have Paul Harrison back in the fray!  Yes, after over a decade new material from Paul’s Expose Your Eyes project was finally made available via his new Bandcamp label Eye Fiend – a repository for much missed Fiend Recordings back catalogue (Mrs Cakehead has to be heard to be believed) and digital versions of the new stuff which is otherwise only available in tiny hand-splattered physical editions.

MD2015 is a four CD-r, four hour and twenty minute set comprising discordant synth clatters, decontextualized chanting (familiar to anyone into first wave industrial music), beats: pitter, patter – galloping hooves – factory presses, intoxicating loops, delirium (remember that footage of animals drunk on fermented fruit?  This is the OST to a bootleg version of The Lion King that features those orgiastic scenes), repetition beyond human endurance / irresistible motoric groove, ‘proper’ noise – all primary sexual characteristics out and flapping in the breeze, and sorbet-refreshing shortwave-radio-ish pulse.  It is a lot of fun.

9. AAS – Balancing Ritual


Y’know when your favourite stoner rock band lay down a super heavy, half-hour long, ego-obliterating, tethered crescendo but it isn’t quite enough so you and a hardy group of the suspicious break into one of the spaceships of a seemingly benevolent alien race currently visiting Earth and discover this playing inside?  Yeah?  A version of the above but clinical, steely, a step up from our humble efforts.  It’s like that and I, for one, welcome our new drone overlords…

Graham Dunning offered to send me a tape of this, I visited Bandcamp for a sneaky preview and ended up so impressed that I’d bought the download and fallen in love before my exhausted postie even delivered the jiffy bag.  I can count on the fingers of no fingers the other times that has happened recently.

8. Duncan Harrison, BBBlood, Aqua Dentata – “Ineluctable modality of the visible”


What an excellent three-fer.  Not only occupying a wholly justified place in the chart but giving me the opportunity to praise Paul Watson (BBBlood), Duncan Harrison (who’s Others Delete God tape, so highly praised earlier, shamefully passed me by.  Did I ever own it?  Did I send it to Joe in a moment of madness?  Ah, who knows?) and Eddie Nuttall (who, as Aqua Dentata, is producing amongst the finest work on my radar).  Here’s some extracts from marlo’s review:

…But, damn you, Duncan Harrison! The first track immediately gets me back in my academic head! ‘(Je suis) La Loi’ makes me think of psychoanalytical linguist theorist Julia Kristeva and deconstructionist scholar Jacques Derrida. The use of breath and physiological sounds makes the listening an embodied experience. The listener feels present. It is hard not to notice if one’s lips are dry or if you possibly had too many coffees…

…In ‘Nexistence of Vividence’, BBBlood returns to more of the crunchy reeling and wheeling and dealing. It is a typhoon that builds and waits. Never fully collapsing, the sounds peters out like attempting to catch water running through fingers. Yet there is an ethereal resolution to the struggle and the listeners are laid to rest, an aural wiping of the brow. Time to rest after the long haul…

…Eddie Nuttall, a.k.a Aqua Dentata, is not from this planet. I honestly don’t think he is. His music feels like extraterrestrial communication from outside our universe. Like binaural beats and subconscious interfering hypnosis, his untitled track sounds like it is made of laser beams. As a listener, you feel like you merge with the frequency and question your ability to make cognitive sense. It isn’t because of a reliance in bombarding one with several sounds but rather a direct cerebral invasion…

7. The Piss Superstition – Garage Squall

garage squall

Joe reviewed this one in the shape of a UFO. No, I don’t know why either but it is absolutely bang on:

Mag-lev trains.

The very best form of bluster.

As gentle as breath on a mirror,

Predator’s Answerphone message

The Velvet Underground trapped in a matchbox.

A map! Hectares of featureless crystalline crackle – zoom into mountains,

A corduroy vibe; not geography teacher clichés but that ribbed softness – a tickle on the fingernail.

Ride the world’s slowest roller-coaster taking 1000 years, cranking the incline.

Forbidden Planet strained with nourishing iron-rich greens,

A dream-tractor changing gear on the endless road.

Immense power restrained by gravity

A hit of strong, clean anaesthetic,

I’m counting backwards.

10, 9, 8…

6. Stuart Chalmers – Loop Phantasy No. 1, No. 2, No. 3


Joe again, not sparing the superlatives:

…But this time I throw my regular Northern caution and cynicism out the window and claim these three recordings THE MOST IMPORTANT SALVAGED TAPE LOOP RECORDINGS EVER YEAH.

What?  Like…ever?

I hear you ask.


I answer with a calm, clear voice.

Like in the whole 100 year history of recorded music?

You probe,

even including the oft- mentioned high- water mark of looping Tom Recchion’s Chaotica?

You add.  I merely smile and press play on the device of your choice.

You must listen, you must listen to truly understand

I chant with glassy eyes.

Anyway… fuck yeah!  That’s what I’m saying.  If you want to know where looping is right now in 2015/2016: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you are looking for an instructional map of what’s possible with simple tape loops, a couple of pedals and some hot ears: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you want to open up that valve in your stomach that helps you release gaseous tension: PLAY THESE RECORDS…

…Students of tape culture – your set-text has arrived.  Screw in those earbuds and get seriously twisted.

5. Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica


A beautiful album in every respect and an entirely life-affirming experience.  Terrific to see Phil and Mel get such a high-profile, flagship release in what was a high-profile, flagship year for the band.  I will have more to say on this in a long-planned article which will be published around the eventual release date of the long-planned best of Ashtray Navigations 4CD box set.  Coming soon!  In the meantime: buy this.

4. Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels


Likewise, Mel’s remarkable solo venture deserves a much more detailed account than it is going to get here.  Via a kind of meta-semi-improv (or something?) she continues on her utterly compelling, largely unheralded project to reinvent music on her own terms.

I imagine a Dr. Moreau style musical laboratory in which Mel cares for her cross bred instruments, incunabula parping their first notes, joyfully interacting with the sentient automata Mel has created to entertain them with.  She dangles a microphone over the giant aquarium tank in which they all live and conducts this unique performance.

Unlike anything else I’ve heard this year, or maybe ever.

3. Helicopter Quartet – Ghost Machine

ghost machine

A peerless work, even within the band’s own faultless back catalogue.  From my review:

It is difficult to write about Helicopter Quartet, the duo of RFM staffer Chrissie Caulfield (violin, synths) and Michael Capstick (guitars), because their music is so enveloping, so attention seizing, that when I’m listening the part of my brain I use to put words in a row is too awestruck to function.  However, following many hours with it, I am certain this is their best album yet.  That a work of such mature beauty, sculpted over months, is freely downloadable is surely further evidence that we are living in a golden age for self released music.  It has the austere and magisterial presence of a glacier edge, the drama of that glacier calving into the sea.

If you ever act on anything I say then act on this: go get it.

2. Guttersnipe – Demo


Wow, this kicked the fucking doors in.  With this CD-r and a series of explosive live performances Guttersnipe owned 2015 – they were either your new favourite band or you just hadn’t heard of them yet.  Luke got to review this one, here’s an extract:

Guttersnipe whip up a frightening noise on drums, guitars, electronics and howled vocals that will have you reaching for the light switch. The cassette fidelity smudges the freejazzmetalhaze into a fog of terror from which emerges the fangs of a gaping gob ready to bite you. I’ve been listening to a lot of black metal recently and these vocals could have the corpse painted hordes crying for their mama.  However, they are not the guttural grunts of the alpha male but more a feminine screech of desperation and disgust which the other two respond to by conjuring a blackened and unsettled miasma.  Calling this disc demo leads me to believe that Guttersnipe are selling themselves short.  This is impressively original material that comes over like a Xasthur/Skullflower hybrid with a hefty slug of secret ingredient.  Marvellous job.

Amusingly, and presumably because he hadn’t seen them live at the time, he seems to imply this duo is a trio – a testament to their ferocity (and my skills as an editor…).

1. namke communications – 365/2015

namke - 365-2015

Finally then, the winner of the Zellaby Award for album of the year presented by Radio Free Midwich is, in an unusually literal sense, the album of the year: 365/2015 by namke communications.  Here’s some context from a piece I wrote in March:

…old-friend-of-RFM John Tuffen, in a project which recalls the conceptual bloodymindedness of Bill Drummond (who has raised ‘seeing it through’ to the level of art form), is recording a track every day throughout the whole of 2015 and adding them to the album [on Bandcamp] as the calendar marches on … each track is freshly produced on the day in question and, as might be expected, vary enormously in style, execution and instrumentation – there is guitar improv, electronica in various hues and field recording amongst other genres welcome ’round here…

Indeed, added to various forms of (usually light and expansive) improv and field and domestic recordings of life’s ebb and flow were many forays into sub-genres of electronica, techno as she is written, actual *ahem* songs, drones of many textures, experimental sketches with software and new toys, callbacks, the odd joke (all tracks in February had the duration 4’33” following a twitter exchange with me) and so on and so, unbelievably, on.  I can’t claim to have heard all of it – of course I haven’t – and there are misfires – of course there are – but the level of quality maintained is gobsmacking given the scope of the exercise.

Each track was accompanied by notes, most with a picture and then a tweet announced its presence too.  John was no slacker on the admin – I approve.  In March I suggested:

This one I have no qualms about dipping into, in fact I would recommend constructing your own dipping strategies. As the year progresses you could build an album from the birthdays of your family, or never forget an anniversary again with a self-constructed namke communications love-bundle. Won a tenner on the lottery? Create your own three track EP with the numbers and paypal John a couple of quid. Or perhaps a five CD boxset called ‘Thursday Afternoon’, in homage to Brian Eno, containing everything released on that day of the week? Or condense the occult magic with a set comprising every 23rd track? Ah, the fun to be had. Or you could just listen to it on a daily basis until it becomes a welcome part of your routine…

I was at least half-joking at the time but engaging with 365/2015 has proved a unique way of experiencing an album.  During the worst of my illness, as I spent nights trawling Twitter unable to sleep, it did become a valuable part of my daily routine.  Literally a light in the darkness – Bandcamp page shining on the tablet as I lay in bed – John’s project, existing due to nothing but his crazy drive to create (the whole thing, 40+ hours, available as a ‘name your price’ download!), truly helped me through.  A clear and worthy winner.

In conclusion…

So, that is that for another year.  John’s prize, should he wish to take me up on it, is for namke communications to have the one and only release on the otherwise dormant fencing flatworm recordings some time in 2016.  A surprise baby sister, perhaps, for his lovely available from namke communications released by me back in the day and now (I think) a teenager itself.

Many thanks to my fellow writers and to all who support us – for your time, patience and enthusiasm – it is much appreciated.  Heartfelt best wishes for the New Year, comrades.

All is love.

Rob Hayler, January 2016.


drink up the vapours: luke vollar on winebox press

April 1, 2015 at 11:37 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jon Collin – Wrong Moves / Dream Recall (tape, Winebox Press, winebox26, edition of 72 ‘from the door of the below wardrobe’)

Whole Voyald Infinite Light – Uncollected Recordings (2 x tape, Winebox Press, winebox25, edition of 82 ‘in a double tape case constructed from the broken down frame of a wardrobe’)

wrong movesuncollected

Winebox Press is something special.  Thus when an e-mail appeared in my inbox advertising two new releases I didn’t hesitate to order them immediately. Jon Collin seems to occupy his own little pasture of contemplative music untroubled by the futile excesses of modern life. The fact that most releases are on the cassette format and attached to lumps of wood fashioned from old wardrobes, boxes and whatnot adds a charm that really emphasizes the aesthetic at work. Whether it’s Jon’s music or that of like minded artists which gets released, there is a common theme: a primitive folk music that’s been nourished with a knowledge of underground forms and approaches. A scan of the Winebox Press blog will show an impressive list of highly desirable objects put together with love and devotion, most now long gone. I cannot think of another label with such a heartfelt dedication to presenting their cherished sounds in a way that makes them feel possessed with cosmic force.  It’ll warm you from the inside out.

Wrong Moves / Dream Recall is straight up lovely.  An unfortunate habit of the male music scribe is to show off his knowledge when discussing artists in order to make unnecessary comparisons:

blah blah John Fahey, blah blah Robbie Basho

…ad nauseum. Well I’m not going to do that [Editor’s note: heh, heh – you kinda already did! Sneaky].  I will say that his guitar playing on Side A is languid, reflective and beautiful.  Notes are shrugged off like drops of water falling onto the surface of a lake, while the creak of his bottle neck confuses his playing and the cassette format keeps the listener cradled in ‘cotton wool arms’ (copyright: Joe Murray). There is no purpose or forward motion to these short pieces, rather it sounds like Jon is out on the porch, daydreaming his fingers across the strings.  He manages to combine a hesitant probing approach to playing with a profound serenity that is as deep and green as the forest that adorns his High Peak Selections album. The picture attached to the box is a scene of coastal idyll: a beach, some trees and a blurry patina that reminds me of flicking through my grandparents’ photo album as a kid.  Shit, I’m already choking up and I haven’t even flipped it yet.

Side B sees some piano and ebow action.  The tactile feeling conveyed is supremely seductive – the kinda opiated creek you could swim in for hours.  Pure piano for the second piece and Jon’s playing is as unhurried as his guitar playing. I LOVE this sound and if this brief foray into piano is new for Jon then I hope we get to hear more.

Uncollected Recordings by Whole Voyald Infinite Light sees Jon joined by some guitar slinging buddies, a quartet on the first tape and a duo on the second. Tape One sees some loose and heady psych jams with Tom Settle and Edwin Stevens on bass and drums and the ethereal vocals and guitar of Barry Dean (Infinite Light) coming over like Tim Buckley via Kate Bush. If you, like me, can dig baggy, exploratory wig outs that roam around like crazy horse then this will most certainly stoke the coal in your fire.  Jon shows another side of his chops and goddam if that boy can’t play the shit out of his geetar.  Grizzled leads carry the rest of the group over the horizon into the sunset with enough conviction to make the most seasoned of heavy psych collectors nod solemnly in approval.  Side B is a slow burner, the collective instruments and ‘that voice’ glowing like stars in the sky – hell, there’s even a harmonica – and some truly stupendous string blurt going on.

Jon and Barry go it alone for the next tape and the guitars coalesce into thick streams of fuzz tone, showering sparks like a six stringed flame thrower.  Things slow down to more nuanced interplay with swelling feedback, off kilter spontaneous riffing and the vibe of a tape left to roll capturing ‘the moment’.

Side D starts with an almost Japanese feel of desolate, wasted melancholy.  Barry’s vocals are at their most nuts here (seriously how does he sing that high? I wonder if he talks like an ordinary guy?) and we bow out with more harmonica and drunken guitars crying into their beers.  I’ve no idea if this configuration is an ongoing concern but I certainly hope so.  The wild and the free, the prairie dwellers who howl at the moon and drink up the vapours, are always welcome in my kingdom.


Winebox Press:



In print

Out of print

a camera pointed at us: joe on peak signal 2 noise

November 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peak Signal 2 Noise (TV show, Sheffield Live Community TV and Vimeo)

PS2N logo (1)

[Editor’s note: amused by the impressionistic ‘off the TV’ snaps that Joe sometimes tweets I encouraged him to use the same technique in illustrating this article.  Thus what you are seeing has more to do with the workings of Joe’s phone camera (and fevered bonce) than the clear, sharp, properly lit and framed images you can expect from this excellent television programme.  OK, over to Joe…]

It’s seems to be a truism in broadcasting that music TV has to suck really, really bad.

Cast your mind back to the mashed potato blandness of The White Room, the jokey yoof-arse of The Tube and the god-awful sweaty slobbering  from Jools Holland (which is apparently still on).

What should be so simple, folk playing music with a camera aimed at them, turns into an excuse for zany camera angles, ill-thought out concepts and paedophile presenters.  Ugh.  It’s grim.  I rest my case m’lud. [Editor’s note: hey, SnubTV had its moments!]

Thankfully Peak Signal 2 Noise is different fishy kettle.  There’s no presenter to foul things up, no false stage antics or miming fools.  It’s just a camera in face of the no-audience underground.

Cut up like a mix tape, the show moves swiftly between a whole buncha beards in a whole bunch of situations (live show footage, specially recorded pieces, installation performances) keeping the energy up and creating spaces to dream.  Although edits are hard some interruptions blur the edges: a cheap kaleidoscope, raw fennel seeds bouncing on a speaker, frozen wasps, Yodel/Honkey and the Bubble Wrap man.  On the seven episodes broadcast already you can expect to see…

Virginia_JookloJooklo Duo

·         Jooklo Duo – Tender solo sax squall like free-jazz insects.  Drums clatter in fur mittens.  A sound so wonderfully clear and fresh it’s like a clear mountain stream running over polished cobbles.

·         Human Heads – A real Dr Who vibe.  That’s not saying this is Radiophonic; more like Ben & Hannah are playing parts of a broken Tardis for kicks.

Humbolt VenturesHumbolt Ventures_hands in the airSellotape Mung

·         Humbolt Ventures– Glorious Sellotape jam.  Rubbing and stroking are the order of the day with thin vibrations.  Bullroarers in pt 2 induce coma.

Bill OrcuttBill Orcuttttt

·         Bill Orcutt – Winged Eel finger-licking, blues shalom with naked foot.

Knitted Poot70s Poot

·         Luke Poot – No one does shame quite like Poot.  Performance, the pink end of noise, a burst orange ball is honked like a rubber sax, lights pulled out flies, plastic toast. Lead us Luke!

Dylan Vine Gurn

·         Dylan Nyoukis – Multiple Vines flicker like cat’s eyes –the hottest tip yet from the dark monk.

Jon Marshall_Papal Bull

·         Papal Bull – Maplin shoplifters curse the day tape was invented.  Slow torture of the C30.

Chris H_Family ElanHarry Wheeler_Family Elan

·         The Family Elan – Off-kilter yarbles from Transylvania (or something).  A proper band!

·         Sweat Tongue – No Wave roots with new (blue) boots.  Treble cranked high like it should.

·         Harappian Night Recordings – Those familiar stretched ferric sounds clash off Bali bonce with wide eyes.

·         Roman Nose – Layers and layers of Cardiff chalk blown up (Roman) nose, hopping from frame to frame capturing the mauve kinetic holla.   PLUS some bagpipe animation creep hidden elsewhere!

·         Marvo Men – Free gong-poetry on a dusty floor in a freezing space.  Every opportunity taken to push things beyond ‘here’ and into ‘there’ with head-folding results.  A brave and true duo.

Pouting FritzSinister Fritz

·         Fritz Welch – Mental crenulations and high metallic  wavering; clikerty fingerings and squeak in two glorious parts

Pascal Nichols_Stuckometer

·         Stuckometer – Free Jizz overdrive for the ‘fuh’ generation from these boy legends.

JunkoJunko 3Junko 2

·         Junko – “Atttttahhhh-atttttaaahh.  Ktchhttaaaaa.  Tch-aaaaaahhhhh.”

Sharon Gal

·         Sharon Gal – Granite-hard birdvoice dreamtime.  Geysers scored for hot-ash hiss.

Nyoukis_HonkeyNyoukis Honkey 2

·         Dylan Nyoukis/Luke Poot – This time together.  In conversation via khat-o-phone.  Explosive sinus and remorseful tutting like all the world’s Geography teachers at once.

·         Turk Geko – Found footage, frowned frottage, grown pottage, hewn montage.

YOLs Shirt

·         YOL – Without a face he chants (gggrrrrrrrr) leaving few traces but ghastly thoughts.

·         Belied Gunaiko – Silver cloud noise.  The sound of pilots dozing off…

Julian PSPiss SuperstitionPiss Fingers

·         The Piss Superstition – Transparent methods.  A ‘how to’ guide if you will.  But ingestion of foul liquids may, just may, play a part in the visceral rusty bliss-tronics.

Jon CollinJon Collin taps a footJon Collin makes a chord

·         Jon Collin – Naked guitar (finger then slide) of ultimate sorrow.  Salty harmonics from slack, bitter strings cry. Two-fer-one.

·         Trans/Human – Mystery Machine hi-jinks full of fuzz, fizz and fixx.  Taking pale ‘scree’ to the people like hotdogs.


·         Joincey Jointhee – Word poems to a frosted tit.  Superb fractured sentences folded together with abrupt and sudden breath.  Curse the rain that stops the f-l-o-w.


·         Crank Sturgeon – Electric Portraiture.  Oh my Crank!

OK friends…I tried me hardest with those descriptions (for some reason this is so much harder than talking about records) so it’s probably best just to tune in really.  If you are Sheffield based you can get this on the proper telly (9.00pm/Saturday/Channel 159).  Jokers living in other locales can check out Vimeo for an identical web version and an archive of everything broadcast so far building up to an encyclopaedia of No Audience shenanigans.  The series plans to run for 10 episodes which should take us almost up to Christmas.  But, be warned, the busy bees behind the venture are looking to bust out in all different directions in 2015.

Stop reading.  Start watching.

Bloody Fingers

woollen arms cradling: joe murray on vampire blues, culver, somália, yavgnu and roman nose

November 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vampire Blues – Recorded Live at Les Voûtes, Paris, France, 24th November 2012 (C36 tape, Winebox Press, winebox22)

Culver/Somália ‎– Untitled (tape, Matching Head, 197)

yavgnu/Roman Nose – Split (tape, исподволь)

RFM Vampire BluesRFM Vampire Blues 2 culver-somaliaRFM Roman Nose Split

Vampire Blues – Recorded Live at Les Voûtes, Paris, France, 24th November 2012

Vampire Blues is the natural-organic duo of Jon Marshall (Harmonium) and Jon Collin (Electric Guitar) feverishly stroking and a’ huffing live in the City of Light.

Side one is super-heavy on the harmonium, wheezy like an asthmatic pony as the guitar gently rests, calmly ‘pinging’ every so often.  This is a boozy sedative with absolutely no intention of rushing.  Waves of heavy vibration are pushed and pulled through the battered reeds and amplified with the slightest hint of over-distortion making everything quiver like it’s heard through a heat haze.  As ever, with Winebox releases, the sound of the tape itself becomes a third player with its woollen arms cradling the sounds making it all fuzzy-eared and alive.  After a while guitar rouses itself with prepared plucks performed with gnarled, wooden fingers, new leaves sprouting in place of nails.

Side two rips pretty much from the click of the play button.  The gravy-brown harmonium picks up pace (huff-huff-huff) as a Sonny Sharrock style guitar solo falls heavy like electric sleet.  Nifty playing makes the guitar sound backwards/forwards, background/foreground all at the same time with a thin keening edge…the sound of loss and yearning.  The harmonium pumps on and on reaching some candle-lit nirvana; reaching the peaks of ecstasy like some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sculpted from geranium-scented air.  After the dizzying heights are reached there’s the slow trek down into the foothills to drink deeply in the crystal-clear brook that runs swiftly across the valley floor.

Bavardage assez, voici le boeuf. Edition limitée de 70 ans. 7 £ pour acheter de  thewholevoyald.blogspot Pour votre argent, non seulement en êtes-vous présent document extatique mais cette petite bande vient cloué sur un morceau de peinture de table éclaboussé!

Culver/Somália ‎– Untitled

Culver is a master of the dark art of static movement.  In the same way smoke will fill a room to the corners, too thick to see thorough but fragile enough to part with the wave of a hand, Culver plays that hard/soft, full/empty, maximal/minimal dichotomy like Erich Von Daniken’s  ancient astronauts. Always working on the edge of being there and not being there this piece, this relatively brief drone called ‘seven human hairs’ is like watching ink boil.  The darkness is mesmerising and minutes lurch past, my fingers poised claw-like over the keyboard, when I sort of forget what I’m doing, so drawn into the loamy and fertile sound rolling out the speakers.  I’m lucky enough to get to see Culver play a couple of times a year so I have a window into his working methods.  I reckon this is a keyboard derived drone made with simple pieces of kit (Casio, Dictaphone, Sticky Tape) but that doesn’t stop the coiling tentacles probing out all soft tissues; leaching the essence of me out my living skin, as Nyarlathotep looks on delighting in the exquisite cruelty.

Somália is some mysterious Portuguese music maker who, on ‘das cordas’ takes a melancholic Satie riff (Gnossienne No. 1 I think) and loops it over and over again with a grimy patina of tape murk.  That’s it.  No speeding up or slowing down. No descent into beats or basslines.  Just a gradual fade into the muck collected round the capstans.  Super simple and super effective.  It works at times (and I have to point out here I have played this tape a lot!) like dark canvas, swallowing the light but freeing up the subconscious.  This is dreaming music. With my amateur musicologists hat on this whole idea of macro-samples could be traced back to hip hop I guess and people seemed to get their knickers in a twist when that hipster Oneohtrix Point Never did the same with a Chris De Burgh sample (‘Nobody Here‘).  This is twice as cool and double the fun.  It also became Mrs Posset’s favourite tape of the year which I think says a lot.  Keen to learn more a quick Google search reveals little about Somália apart from an up-and-coming split tape with the with bonkers Portuguese duo Yong Yong.  Wow…sounds like another essential release.

Sparse info here.

yavgnu/Roman Nose – Split

Direct from Jon Marshall’s duffel coat pocket this tape has travelled back from Russia on friendly sleeper trains following his visit deep behind the Iron Curtain (editors note: Scott chips in to tell us the tape is on a Russian label called ‘ispodvol’. According to Jon it’s a Russian word ‘исподволь’, meaning something like ‘gradually’.)

yavgnu are a ‘New Weird Moscow’ collective of bowed strings, flute, effects, vocal, guitar and percussion yet they speak the universal language of folk-group improvisation like any Chora or Hunter Gracchus would back in Blighty.  Whacked out violin and percussion jangles crack the frozen earth as river-smooth pebbles of ‘echo’ are lobbed down any grike.  Rusty bows are rubbed up against guitar and cymbal until the horsehair splinters and rips while previously recorded experiments jump through time-holes making the very ‘then’ now.  Whilst the methods and vernacular are common to improvisers the world over (and this is no place for my extraordinary pamphlet linking the desolate Tuvan plains to Hull’s abandoned factories) the overall feel is very different.  The balances we grow accustomed to in western improv are skewed and jammed.  The weight of instrumentation feels different in the hand and demands careful consideration. There’s no desire to fill each space with sound; the restraint in the playing and decision making is apparent and welcome.  There’s a calm confidence to this work that many an improv collective could learn from.

On this tape Jon’s Roman Nose is a collage of solo jams on ‘bicycle breaks, effects pedals, junk, metal food bowls, harmonica reeds, harmonium, sheng, tabla, tharqua, xaphoon & vocals’ and is as ecstatic and mixed up as that all sounds.  Notes, tones and breaths tumble over each other in a frantic rush with tightly coiled punk energy.  Metal bowls are bashed rhythmically until the tinny echoes fold in and the reverberations become diamond sharp.  A sheng is blown with such lung-bursting power bamboo splinters and rips, tabla’s are amped up and twonked until skin can resound no more.  This is a pretty violent melange and a world away from the more composed (but no less frantic) three-piece Roman Nose I saw live recently.  This is all about the forward motion, propulsion, riding the peaks and soaring the ionosphere.  Bliss.  You might be able to get this from singing knives but I’d move fast if I was you.  A birdy tells me there are fewer than 10 in the whole world!

the creases on a hand: joe murray on jon collin

June 6, 2013 at 7:31 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

J Collin – Follow The Great Road (High Peak Vibrations Vol 1) (download, Giant Hell)

Jon Collin – High Peak Selections (vinyl LP, Winebox Press, edition of 250)

j collin - follow the great roadjon collin - high peak selections

J Collin – Follow the Great Road (High Peak Vibrations Vol 1)

Jon Collin plays the guitar.  Mostly the electric kind with magnetic slides and sheer-faced shingle; but with a tint of acoustic woodiness from time to time too.  And, as with every solo guitarist playing in the 21st Century, the spectre of John Fahey has to be addressed at some point.  I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t hip to Fahey until fairly recently.  I’d love to say I’d been collecting all the early albums since I plied my trade as a teenage blues scholar but it wouldn’t be the truth dear reader.  As a teen I was steeping myself in the blues…shit I didn’t even pick up a record unless it had an old wizened geezer on the cover but the local Our Price only ran as far Robert Johnson, and once I’d supped with the devil my first exposure to Fahey was a little underwhelming.  It was all a bit… pretty & lyrical.  I didn’t get it…the fan boy gleam I’d seen reflected in so many fan boy eyes never caught a spark.  But, my excellent friends, I persevered, played dusty & scratched sides late into the night; listened to the mixtapes fellow travellers had made me and after a few years the silver dollar did indeed drop.  I was a fully fledged Fahey fanatic.  But what’s all this got to do with Jon’s work?   Well…I’d like to say, right from the off, I get this.  I get it, I want it, I need it.   This is a vital, vicious sound that needs no introduction or interpretation.  Jon plays with a palate as dry as a fine Fino sherry.  Tunes are coaxed, not just from plucking and picking but from rattles and slices against the uptight steel strings.  This has been out for a while and, as a physical object, it is sold out.  But the honest & mighty Giant Hell organisation, via the indie-pop graveyard, Bandcamp have made it available for free download to all.  These sound like improvised pieces to me that ghost in and out of consciousness, but with some honest grit beneath the nails too.  Silvery, rolling fingering makes a raga of ‘Virgin Soil’ with a nagging, insistent tug at the edges of sleep that fades to sun-drenched dreams.  ‘A La Sainte Terre’ has a hint of Hapsburg Braganza’s tear-jerking explorations of sepia-toned space and foggy memory; tumbling the blues out of a wire-wool cloud of soft kittenish scratch as it threatens to shake itself to death falling though our cluttered knife drawer.  I’ve said this before, but tape comes into it’s own with Jon’s soundworld, the blowsy hiss building warmly and covering me with beautiful crochet. It’s only with the closer ‘Westward I Go Free’ you get anything approaching a traditional song, nixed with occasional scrabbling, like many hands are trying to turn Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ inside out and back to front.  A right proper stunner that’s perfect flu-recovery music.

Free download from the Giant Hell Bandcamp site. (editor’s note: I took advantage of this after reading the above and concur – it is beautiful stuff.  RH)

Jon  Collin – High Peak Selections

The beautifully packaged, reassuringly heavy album is a child wise before it’s time; generous and a little bit mysterious.  Things kick off in an almost industrial vein with the spooky ‘Prelude to CK Junior Blues’ in which nary a note is plucked.  Thin, tinny, feedback drones croak over heavy amp ‘fuh’ and inner-spring ‘clack’.  Strings are sliced, with a knife perhaps, or certainly menaced in some way, until the ghost gives up and returns to the ether leaving a warm humid scent like pine forests after rain.    ‘Furniture Makers Moan’ collects pockets of headstock ‘ping’ and knuckle reddening ‘clunk’ as hot and cleansing as horseradish sauce and models them into tiny chess pieces ready to be displayed in an antique box.    Even the blind idiot gods of the elements doth their cap as it starts to rain outside the instant ‘High Water’ starts, mirroring the downpour caught as a duet with the salty guitar.  This time things aren’t quite as abstract and, as a Chinese blues hopes of happier times, there’s digging deep into some dark corners of the soul, the overseer looks on, cane in hand.  After so many variations of steel and wood and thumb and finger it’s hard to imagine where else there is to go but ‘For the Road No’s 1 & 2’ adds aggression to the mix with each note violently plucked and spawning a slight shadow in this knotted tone poem.  Complex as the creases on a hand, a pleading tone weeps (man I tried to keep weeps outta this…guitar/gently/weeping etc is a blogging no no) like a boy with a skinned knee.  It’s relentless, like illness, until what I’m guessing is part 2, kicks in with a hopeful riff of golden buttery sunlight peaking over the trees helping you scramble out of the darkness towards home.  Phew…this is emotional stuff, not afraid to be beautiful and not bullied by trends. Essential to my 16 year old self and any other blues scholars out there…oh yeah.

Only 250 issues of High Peak Selections are available in this world and can be located via Winebox Press for £10 plus p&p.

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.