changes at radio free midwich soundtracked with the full-throated huxx from: sdf, knives, phil maguire and charlie ulyatt

December 3, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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My dearest RFM stalwarts and most noble readers.  It’s with a heavy heart I announce that in January 2018 I will have to step away from the editor’s chair, close the laptop lid and hang up my headphones.

There’s nothing dramatic going on. It’s just that real life has rather rudely interrupted me over the last few months and will continue to do so for the majority of next year.  Put plainly I don’t have the time to listen as I would like, write as I feel and edit as I must.  Hours in the day innit?

As I’ve mentioned before nothing happens in the People’s Republic of Midwich without debate so me, Rob, Chrissie, Sky High Diamonds, Luke, Marlo, Sophie and Paul all juggled the options and agree we don’t want to let our collective half million words splutter out completely.  But, at the same time, none of us can commit to the weekly task of publishing Radio Free Midwich.

So…we plan to adopt the Idwal Fisher model.  RFM will continue, but as an occasional treat.  We all will write as and when the muse strikes and publish when possible.

But this must mean changes have to be made.  The most drastic will be, from this day forward, we can’t accept any more submissions.

Globally the No Audience Underground has been generous to a fault.  When I stood in for Rob at the start of 2017 he told me to expect a new and exciting relationship with my postman.  He wasn’t kidding!  Trev (we are on first name terms now) rings the doorbell almost daily with another heavily taped-up package in recycled jiffy bags.

“More tapes?” he says, “looks like they’ve come from Italy.”

“Aye…that’ll be the new batch from Tutore Burlato” says I.

It’s been a real honour to listen and a delight to try and capture the essence of this beautiful, inventive, clever, essential and often indescribable music into chunky, informative and entertaining posts for you but I’m afraid that from today the submissions box is now officially closed.

That’s it.  Please don’t send any more tapes, CD-Rs or downloads.

I’ll put a note on the ‘submissions’ page to back this up but I know most of you who kindly send us stuff to review are genuine readers so – you read it here first.

Right now the plan is to write up the last few items in our personal listening piles so expect a few more posts.  In early January we go list-crazy with the hotly-contested Zellaby awards and then we revert to an occasional journal. 

For me personally…I’m really going to miss the thrill of slotting a tape in the player that knocks me sideways.  I’m going to have to get used to the ache that not writing leaves. But most of all I’m going to miss telling new friends and old that RFM have written up your new release and it’s an absolute fucking belter.

At least I know Trev will breathe a sigh of relief.

But until then, let’s crack on with these beautiful organs…

SDF – Alana (Psykick Dancehall)

Knives – The Way People Are (Red Guard)

Phil Maguire – brak (Soft Error)

Charlie Ulyatt – Shifting (Self-Release)


SDF – Alana (Psykick Dancehall) Cassette and digital album

My goodness! Pure avant-pop from this collective of ruddy beet-makers.

My headphones don’t often get the chance to delve into such bass-heavy electronic frequencies.  And this is all ‘boom-tish’ and square-waved bass poke. Cor!

Recorded in a bamboo-themed nightclub in a Liverpool basement (circa 1987) these are real songs with real backing vocals and weighty lyrics.  ‘Stroke for Stroke’ seems to be about coke or wanking or perhaps coke and wanking.

The digital coughs that introduce ‘My Friend David Don’t Need Rubber’ and dry narration suggest a Storm Bugs vibe but this is as sleazy as casually shrugged off linen trousers.

The erratic tom-tom programming dominates ‘The Fight’, so the swaddled synth wash becomes a sulphurous base note.  It’s heavy without being metallic.  Yet compare this with the gum-popping airiness of ‘4 Men’ as sparkly as Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights’.  Two very different visions of the teenage disaster!

It’s not all senseless ecstatic joy though.  Closer ‘All Night Disco’ seems to ram Paul Young’s fretless bass sound into a pre-rave serotonin dump.  The heavily reverb-ed snare sounds echo round the abandoned dancehall.  The last few revellers slumped into human pyramids realise that cold daylight is breaking outside and the dream of temporary release is well and truly over.

The trick SDF pull of is to deal in a rare surface deepness – a delicate trick of the light when the glitterball’s beam hits the chipped Formica.


Knives – The Way People Are (Red Guard) CD-r and itunes

Fully enveloping darkness from Blyth-born, London-based Knives.

Opener ‘The Idea of Homes’ simple guitar figure repeats, repeats, repeats like a Papa M theme; building tension, creating worlds of simple herringbone.

The occasional field recording (a drip, instinct rattle, spoken words) and keyboard sizzle augment ‘A Fire That Never Goes Out’ that ever-so-gently nudges forward slowly, taking time to revel in each rich, deliberate note.  A beautiful musing that begins to answer itself on what might be a mouth organ.  Rural Post Rocking Chair Music.

The spook gets let loose on ‘Out of Touch’.  As dramatic as opening credits on some 70’s Cold War TV special.  The threat of reds-under-the-bed suggested with sly nods and Pinter-esque pauses.

The lengthy ‘Involving Others’ (an excellent song title – sounds like something from a school report card yeah) involves a powerful throb and a kind of long-spring-in-a-pipe rubberiness last heard on King Tubby’s most ingenious recordings.  The throb builds slowly over twelve minutes growing more and more grubby.  Proving you can take the boy outta Blyth but…

Closer ‘Favourite Friend’ works on the sort of chord progression Britpoppers would carve up their forearms for.  Ever descending notes circle above some late-night radio drek from Night Owls or something warping suddenly into a Star Wars conspiracy/warp drive malfunction.

phil maguire

Phil Maguire – brak (Soft Error) Cassette and digital album

Two intensive five-minute micro studies that contain a galaxy of carbon-rich details.

Side one is the stale breeze that wafts from a recently vacated taxi, the change in air pressure you feel before an electrical storm.  Phil carefully knits these concepts together into a deliberate smear.   Like the careful scrape of a palette knife sounds are revealed, presented and then smoothed over in decisive strokes.  Hum becomes thrum.

Side two plugs my ears with clear wax.  A curved sound (the inside of a porcelain basin perhaps) plays with reverse-thought and distant, high-level atmospheric hisses.

The sudden edits act like the reaction-shot in a slasher pic.  The victim’s eyes are wide and mouth flaps in a wordless scream.  The micro-second before the meathook is revealed an absence opens up in the grainy VHS.  Magnify this one thousand times to watch the red, blue and green pixels dance in random ecstasy.

One for inner-spacers and adventurous tape-heeds.

charlie ulyatt

Charlie Ulyatt – Shifting (Self-Release)  CD, Cassette and digital album

Marvellous solo guitar experi-werks from Nottingham’s Charlie Ulyatt.

The six-stringed workhorse is nothing if not versatile.  From stun-heavy power chords to gentle nylon fingering the guitar speaks loud and long in popular musical debates.

But folk who can take those half-dozen taut strings and do something useful seem to be getting few and far between.

Shifting takes care the boxy resonance of the wooden guitar body is explored as deeply as the shiny metal strings, caustic amplification and decaying effect pedals have making this a full-spectrum experience.

Charlie marries the flinty pluck of a Derek Bailey with the full-throated huxx of a Bridget Hayden in ‘Erasing Angels’ storing energy in dark coils for the bulk of the track to release them in a boiling blur.

‘Ah Moses’ is as fresh as the scrunch of newly fallen snow, pure and blank but with an eye-squinting brightness.   This winter theme is continued in ‘Honeycomb’ a brittle icicle drip and suspicious yellow puddles.

The bowed pieces, ‘Mannering’ being one vital example builds in tremulous clouds.  Think a quivering sample of acrid fog being sucked backwards into a test tube and firmly bunged.

Majestic closer ‘Daisy Chain Burns’ straddles the burnt-out corpse of Dead C with the busy, rolling fx-damage of fellow New Zealander Peter Wright.  Bubbling like a porridge pot; small geysers erupt with yeasty burps while the milk rushes up the side of the pan smelling like new babies.

Psykick Dancehall

Knives / Red Guard

Soft Error

Charlie Ulyatt Bandcamp


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…

 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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