wrenching brittle, litmus dub, tron’s sleeping cock: joe murray on the orbit of blue spectrum

March 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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The Blue Spectrum – Trash Sculpture Desert Skull EP (CD-r or download, Savant Tard Records, STR001)

Blue Spectrum – Live Phosphenes aka Never Again! (CD-r, Blue Spectrum, edition of 4)

Various Artists – Minimalism & Juxtaposition Vol 2 (download, Swamp Circle, SW-034)

Peer Group – Pubic Cubism (CD-r or download, Blue Spectrum)

blue spectrum - desert skull

The Blue Spectrum – Trash Sculpture Desert Skull EP

Plug this shit in … a broken digital dump of out-takes from Simon Spectrum’s enormous back catalogue.

Now I love the idea of a Spring Clean, me – “out with the old, in with the new” and all that – and yet, despite rumblings from some quarters of the underground that there’s too much stuff out there, I say a sturdy…


…I wholeheartedly disagree.  I think it’s good and right and proper to get your stuff out from yr respective bedsits and in to that big old world.  Do you make music to sit as dumb ‘ones’ and  ‘zeros’ on a hard drive?  Or are you going to give that Frankenstein shit LIFE?!

And Simon Wilson’s Blue Spectrum is pretty life affirming stuff – high pitched squeals and glassy rips; circuit-bent nonsense and the occasional environmental recording.  There’s loads of colours from  the Spectrum rainbow to delve into here but for me the stuff from ‘Glass and Bells’ and ‘Candid Tape Splicing’ is particularly immersive with a rich and clunky aftertaste that’s hard not to love.

Jad Fair’s seminal rock band Half Japanese would boast,

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like our songs or not coz another one will be along in less than a minute.

Blue Spectrum applies this ‘less is more’ philosophy with some tracks bristling with static-electrik power despite being a mere 18 seconds long. Amid the skronk and blackened noise, however, honks a moment of whimsy which arrives on the final track ‘Accidental Tape Loop’, sounds like some 7 second snatch of in-store Christmas music and becomes naggingly oppressive over its 9 minute career.  Ho Ho Ho Spectrum Go Go GO!

blue spectrum - live phosphenes never again

Blue Spectrum – Live Phosphenes aka Never Again!

Underground fabulous!  This twitchy disc is 16 minutes of classic tape loop, metallic scraping and darkly oppressive vibes with the unchanging grind being a real piece of art in itself.

Apart from slight changes in tone, tape wobble and hiss it takes over ten minutes to add any more gravy to these particular spuds.  By that time I’ve calmly finished my tax returns, washed the dog and meditated awhile so the Wu-Tang-style ‘triiiiing’ – so unexpected and polished! – that ‘sore-thumbs it’ makes my ears peak instantly into the red.

This sonic landmark ushers in more wrenching of brittle plastic and door-hinge squeak busying those bristles into the gentle fade out.  Cor … a master class in No Audience Loop-tronics.

min juxt

Various Artists – Minimalism & Juxtaposition Vol 2

A brave and clever compilation of well-medicated tracks that are not afraid to slap on the blusher and pretty it up like an underground Tigertailz.  You certainly can’t accuse this bunch of hiding behind veils of ‘none-more-black’ distortion; these electric sounds come out smelling of Snakebite and cheap hairspray.

The working method here is well worth noting.

Artists were asked to submit pieces of original minimalist experimental compositions, subjecting them to being layered with others’ submissions at someone else’s discretion. The mixing and matching, done by the label, results in new, multi-brained pieces. These pieces could not have come together in the way they did without each piece being composed in it’s own place, at it’s own time, without the knowledge of the others.

And who is the guiding hand behind this venture?  Why, it’s our old friend Justin Marc Lloyd from his Rainbow Bridge empire that’s running things proper here.  This is a real ‘must listen’ readers, you can find it on the old Bandcamp for free and it’s totally suitable for work.  Goof off!  Go on…stick it to the man.

Here’s your handy Radio Free Midwich track-by-track guide:

  1. (AN) Eel & Caucasians & Mark Bradley & Rest in Satin Silence: One channel of ambient swooning another of metallic ‘clink’ and the unmistakeable sound of bottling up (a cheeky reference for all you bar staff out there).  A spooky whisper in my right ear says “Everything is fine”…I’m not altogether convinced they are truthin’.
  2. Nyhos & Scraple Flock & August Traeger: The inner workings of those 2p machines you find at the seaside that push mountains of pennies over the edge of a drop.  No one ever wins but you don’t really care as this is soooo zonked out.
  3. Pines & Jonathon Cash & Ross Baker: Like some lost This Mortal Coil outtake.  It’s lovely as honey yet heaped with an aching loneliness as dreamt by zinc-plated grasshoppers.  Extremely classy shit!
  4. Salad with Ganesh & S.C.O.A.N: Tron’s sleeping cock!
  5. Caaldrunn & Blood Rhythms: AM Radio DJ talks over 80’s Metal compilation Leather & Lace through spiky solar interference.
  6. Fyarl & Chefkirk & Simon Magus: Coffee Table Electronics.  Heavy whiskey tumblers get all wired up and vibrated.  The glass-on-glass tinkle almost overwhelms the jumping frog toy…but not quite.
  7. Carl Kruger & Dr Mmm & Lackthrow: That episode of The Jetson’s where Martin Denny makes a guest appearance…as a xylophone-playing living gas!  With no digits to handle the beaters Judy & Elroy become unwitting puppets for digital exotica.
  8. Zebra Mu & Loopool & World of White Ice: Jammin’ Unit crossed with Hot Butter’s Popcorn.  The deep squelch of an 808 [Editor’s note: yes, I know that 808s don’t squelch – leave Joe alone: he’s jazz.] is tweaked to an intense degree; translation services for breeds unknown.
  9. Zalheitzli & Arvo Zylo & Granite Dolphins: Seafloor rumbling with pressure waves compressed into lactic explosions, pitched as high as a seal’s sneeze.  Evokes the desolation of an A1 service station at 3a.m. – perfectly.
  10. Silver Moult & Blue Spectrum: More maritime frolics but this time we’re closer to the shore.  Waves are breaking over seagull skulls…but wait.  The whole beach is constructed of bleached bones.  Holiday makers crunch over the brittle shore.  No one notices except you.
  11. Big Sad & Bedwetter & Rag Lore: Hardanger Fiddle played down a long thin wire.  The occasional ‘pop’ and ‘kooof’ pepper the busy drone like fine sensimilla.

ARTWATCH – I’m assuming our esteemed Editor will cut n’ paste a picture of the cover over this here review [Editor’s note: of course, see above].  As you can see for yourself it’s a colourful confection for sure.  Me?  I think there’s something of the Church of the Sub-Genius baiting the Watchtower about this one; it managing to be both creepy and antiseptic at the same time.  Nice work Justin!

peer group - pubic cubism

Peer Group – Pubic Cubism

My original hand-written notes for this disc said…

Untitled – Unknown (?) (Blue Spectrum?) Fucked up dub??

…as I can’t decipher anything on this very lovely and professionally packaged disc from Blue Spectrum (the label).

This rubbish description made old J. Jonah Jameson laugh out loud with its unreadable underground credentials so I thought I better do some digging to find out who in the blazes made this odd little disc once and for all.

Professor Google confirms that those responsible are Mr Justin Marc Lloyd (again) and Mr Carl Kruger at the helm here for some sonic sound collage, loopage and floaty wooziness that I’m now calling ‘litmus-dub’.

It’s all very…well…nice with partial tunes engaging and releasing, building up and falling over with an almost calming-with-an-edge of sweet digital discharge.  Picture a Macbook on fire spouting lavender smoke or something.  It’s truly pretty stuff and I’m loving it…it’s just come as such a surprise to be listening to pleasant and lovely music that I’m a trifle discombobulated.

I know it’s only March but this has to win the ‘RFM – music most likely to turn up in a Perfume Advert’ Award that I have just this second invented.  Get your nostrils to twitch!

Oh yeah…here’s an early tip for Christmas.  Simon turned me on to this festive compilation from DJ Insect Repellent.  I played the arse out of this over the festive season but have a strict seasonal Xmas song policy, ‘let no bells be jingled unless it’s December.’  Of course there is the possibility that you are not as furiously uptight as me with these kinda things so here’s the link to a Bandcamp version.  Just thought I’d pass this on.


Blue Spectrum Tapes

Swamp Circle

Peer Group

rancid fridge imploding: joe murray on knives, osmiroid, pain jerk, justin marc lloyd, duncan harrison and hyster tapes

March 19, 2014 at 9:26 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Knives / Osmiroid – Stars, Dots and the “New” Junk (tape, Stars, Dots and the “New” Junk, starsdots007, edition of 50 or download)

Pain Jerk – Inflammable Material (CD-r, English as Apples)

Justin Marc Lloyd – I’m Sorry for the Thoughts Assigned to My Name (C29 tape, Wasted Capital Since 2013, WC6, edition of 50)

Various – FOUR LETTER WORLD COMPILATION (recycled tape, Hyster Tapes, HYSTER17, edition of 50)

Duncan Harrison – Ogre Neon (CD-r, Beartown Records)

knives - osmiroid

Knives/Osmiroid – Stars, Dots and the ‘New’ Junk

The little seaside town of Blyth UK has been churning out some of the murkiest noise that my little ears have ever feasted on.  So, it was with the grim anticipation of a solemn kicking I unwrapped this Blyth-related tape from the excellently named ‘Knives.’  I make the distinction of this being Blyth-related as the hipsters may know Knives as Blyth ex-pats, refugees who left their fabled mist-drenched home for the bright city lights of London.

These dark Knives take the guitar/drum/bass/tape set up you’ve shook your head to for all them years and set the controls for glistening tinnitus.  On ‘Days of ancients’ finesse is treated with distain…this is a ROCK recording and plods like an undiscovered Birthday Party sound check while Nick’s round the back kinging his wretched ink.  The unctuous rhythm leaves guitar free to dive-bomb, swooping and crashing into gasoline-scented balls of flame. Track two ‘Ancients of days’ starts off with the leaden bully-boy stomp of The Cosmic Psychos or Slub or something and disintegrates into a sheer hellish miasma of scorched electric gravy…steaming, dangerously fizzing.

Osmiroid sounds less like a band and more like a couple of heavily-bearded dudes with tapes, modulators and laptops playing evil dragging noise.  Imagine a splintered, heavy cable hauled over a gravel pit of broken bottles.  That’s the kind of abrasion pouring into my ears right now.  The modulators give a fowl hoot every now and again.  Another god-damn Australian makes an appearance but this time it’s Rolfy Rolfy Harris hawking his never-popular Stylophone.  Yup.  This makes no sense at all and is all the richer for it.

You can try before you buy at Bandcamp.

pain jerk - inflammable

Pain Jerk – Inflammable Material

Real life, honest to goodness, retro Japanese noise from Kohei Gomi aka – Pain Jerk.  But before we dive into this shiny beast there’s some back story.  Jamie Wrest takes it from here.

Initially this Pain Jerk album was meant to get issued as a cassette 18 years ago.  But it just never happened because of one thing or another.  I was handed the DAT by Steven Middleton who was first sent it by Pain Jerk in 1996.  Next I paid a visit to my friend M.P. Wood who runs the Soundroom studio in Gateshead.  He worked his MAGIK on the recordings and now here they are in all their nasty glory after all these years.  So enjoy whoever you are…

OK.  The scene is set…but what does it all sound like?  If you’ve never experienced Pain Jerk this is a pretty great place to start.  With the first piece ‘Spiral Dragon’ you get unhinged-blackened-noise whipped-up like the mother of all howling storms.  But there’s also some brief interludes of squelching electronic bird-song (possibly the base material for these improvisations) that sneak through the brutal tidal hammering.  The white noise hiss gets turned up beyond any levels of common decency and, in parts, become a static floating thing, a gauze cloud perhaps?  But any temporary prettiness is soon shouldered aside by the very physical jerks of metallic paintwork all scratched and peeled; wire wool in the tumble dryer, a rancid fridge imploding.

Track two ‘Right Angled Air’ is even more aggressive with less bass and more hi-fi harsh roar.  There’s very little let up from the caustic scouring except a herky-jerky knob twiddling towards the end that temporarily dulls the sharpness for a moment, but of course brings things back at double export-strength…and then it just ends without no fanfare or crescendo.  Phwoar!  What a listen.

No idea where you can get this.  English as Apples is the ultra-underground, hand-reared, barely legal bootleg label run by Blyth’s most beloved son Jamie Wrest.  You could try the man himself, a fixture at most North East noise shows.  For readers based outside Geordieland an email to the ever-helpful Turgid Animal label might help…possibly.

justin marc lloyd

Justin Marc Lloyd – I’m Sorry for the Thoughts Assigned to My Name

Described as ‘Globular Vocal Mass’ on the handy Wasted Capital site this neat looking tape from  Justin Marc Lloyd caused me a bit of a foggy-brained confusion.  I know, pretty much for certain, that Mr Lloyd is a born and bred American.  From over the pond and all that.  So why does this tape remind me so much of the late 1990s Essex-bwoy sound of  Ceefax Acid Crew or Chaos A.D.?

It could be the sound quality which is busy and precise but ragged as dogtooth check. It could be the speedy, buzzing energy; manic as a teenage oik on Frosty Jacks.  It could be the obnoxious clots of ‘globular vocal mass’; derived as easily from a rusty Commodore Amiga as a mucus-drenched throat.

“So much for the overall feel of the tape you hippy.”  I hear you snort.  “What about the edited highlights man?”  OK…I know you’re busy people.  Here’s the skinny version.

Side One contains the future-hit ‘Sub-dermal Thirst for Bland and Christian-like Suburbia’ and has a ‘wasp-in-a-crisp-packet’ buzz about it with some crunching ‘beats’ sounding like heavy mortar fire hitting the next village.  Real Apocalypse Now shit.  It ends with the superbly brief ‘Comfort of One’s Own Innocent Lover’ which appears to be some sticky-palmed sigh lasting for exactly 26 seconds.

Side Two starts with a see-sawing motion, and a Vocoder bleat like some ‘Rockit’ era outtake and segues into the sound lampposts make in a buffeting high wind (a kind of bruised and lonely temporal clicking) on ‘Perimeter Scan with Faulty the-world-is-shit Filter’ until a rise-of-the-robots synth alarm crushes other sounds beneath its primitive metallic chime.  The final piece is an homage to the Wasted Capital/Hideous Replica brothers where objects, things and stuff gradually get folded round the sort of gloriously limp guitar loop last heard on a Kemialliset Ystavat record.  Wow…that’s some ground covered; Chelmsford to Tampere via Chicago.  Booyaka! (Editor’s note: yes, Joe did really write ‘Booyaka’ – I shall deflate his bouncy castle immediately as penance.)

hyster comp tape


Hyster is a Finnish label specialising in the more austere end of the no-audience underground.  Artwork is from the photocopied greyness & musty collage school.   The tape releases are recycled and lovingly battered.  The artists tend to be Northern European beans sweeping round the iron-filings factory.  So far it’s all pretty dope.  This simple little tape opens my ears to a few unfamiliar names and presents the ever-wonderful Yol in a new context.  Here goes…

Crap sampled horn and heavy dub effects over a skronky-ass scribble open the proceedings with a piece from LEITMOTIV LIMBO.  Then there’s a gap…and then the slum-horn strikes up again.  It’s all over in under 3 minutes and I love the off-handedness of this.  There’s a serious ‘I don’t give a fuck’ to the way it’s shaped and presented.  Like the slouching teenager outside the off-license…he doesn’t even want you to go in and buy some Special Brew for him…he just wants to see you squirm like a middle-class liberal.

GREY PARK are a perfectly named project for this kind of gristle.  There’s a bone-freezing dawn mist outside.  But, pulling on warm socks and boots, you crunch through the most beautiful field of silver-frosted grass; each blade a perfect pewter shard.  Looking back you see your own heavy footprints creating rhythmic dark patches like rough stitching on a blanket.

Breeze block rumble and the cough-glotty howls from cattle baron YOL opens side two.  This ‘disappointing human-head pulled out’ kinetic-poetry and furious violent honks are artfully tempered with some real subtle tin-tapping, stone grumble and an almost hissing scat coda from our man from Hull.  Six minutes long and over in a flash.

The mid-1980s synth tone mumble over record-player-run-out-groove ‘schhhhlip, schhhhlip’ and recorded babble make %20 come across like Tangerine Dream got a bonk on the head.  Recorded live in Chomsky Bar, Riga it says here.  I picture this played on Newcastle’s Diamond Strip at closing time.  Tottering heels and big-armed boys slow the dance from which all dances come, the hen-night quietens to silence and all take stock of bitter lives lived.  No one returns on Saturday.

Two Euros plus postage.  50 copies.  Trades welcome. Weirdness distro and ‘zines too… plaa@pcuf.fi

 duncan harrison ogre neon

Duncan Harrison – Ogre Neon

I’m over a year late reviewing this god-damn essential clutch of sonic-chuff from Brighton’s Duncan Harrison.

The general mood is confident.  Unhurried and relaxed; this is no sweating beard scrabbling at the lock.  And while Hanover Mist might open with close-miked domestic chutter it’s the kinda-blue bicycle-bell sample that makes this as refreshing as pink grapefruit.

Pretty much all approaches are fair game, so: loops, vocal jizz, noise interruptions, kraut-inspired repetition and crackling ambience all play a part in building up the lumpy canvas on ‘Rattles in the North’ with its heavy closing meditation on the three words…

Let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again…

…that becomes pregnant with hidden intention and meaning.

But again I keep coming back to the relaxed hand on the tiller.  There’s no hurry to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ at all.  A limp finger dangles in the water as the punt floats imperceptibly through the bull rushes.

A simple two-note bass riff creates the backdrop for ‘Dust from the Artists Quarter’, the building ‘sceeeeee’ sine wave thing giving this a medical vibe – music for dentists perhaps?   At any rate it’s starched and white for sure.  ‘The Shadows Cast by the Bottom of Photoframes hung on Gallery Walls’ is a fuzzy-logic vocal piece with that expressive Dictaphone smear all over the plosive and consonant knocks that goes something like this…


…with the occasional blurt of dicta FFW klonk for three blissful minutes.

Now the the chasers are necked, and the hors d’oeuvres munched, the main event occurs.  A weighty 20 minutes, ‘Upstairs in Infinity’ squeezes the tubes marked Pierre Schaeffer depositing the chalky paste ready to spread.

Things gently toast with some concrete turntable frittering and intimate bottle breathing (this captured like some Mongolian shamanistic ritual, the low tones echo the desolation of the high plains via Cream Soda) until slo-mo, dicta in pocket reportage, takes us on a trip though the sort of antiques shop last seen on Tales of the Unexpected.  Stark lighting and swift edits make the stuffed birds all sinister and beaky.  The old busted violin squawks like a Harpy.  Single notes drift as dust motes in the pale afternoon sun.  But what’s that scratching come from the old tea chest?  It sounds like something’s try to GET OUT!  Cue credits and daft titles.

If this sounds like your kinda schizzle check out Duncan’s Bandcamp for this and a whole bunch of other essential releases (hint…2012’s Young Arms is his ‘On The Corner’).  As Rob always says, ‘give what you can.’

Afore ye go…check out the excellent Beartown Records site for more related mung.

Over and out comrades!

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