remarkable plimsoll squeak: rfm on kostis kilymis, helictite and quisling meet

July 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki)

Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs)

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings)

 kosits kilymis

Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki) CD and digital album

As a rule I never read any press release or artist statements that come with the submissions to Midwich Mansions (Newcastle branch) before I settle down at my tripewriter.

Most importantly this is a desire to stay clear of internal word-bias.  For example…if I know your freek jam was recorded in the Brazilian rain forest with shards of broken glass my mind finds it hard to ignore the hot & wet, mirrored-silver-shard vibes.

But there’s also a part of me that shivers at an artist’s description (or worse – the label’s description) of the music I’m about to listen to.  The desire to sound highfalutin’ and worthy leads the best of us into bumbling, alienating art-speak and that makes my head rattle with incomprehension.

However I make an exception for Kostis Kilymis and his empire of OMFT whose brief, clear and informative notes perfectly set the context for my next half hour of listening.

As Kostis tells me these are recordings of ‘nothing.’  I guess your regular sound engineer would declare these tracks empty of music being as they are carefully stitched together field recordings laced with occasional micro-platinum electronics.  They are of course full of sound.

Crisp sound!

Vital sound!!

All-encompassing sound!!!

A rubber-mutter heralds the start to ‘The Commons’ and features some remarkable plimsoll squeak. Elsewhere the coiled rush of traffic roars like concrete waves and people, real people chatter below the threshold of my understanding.

‘Down there (la-bas)’ crackles with infectious clicks and whirrs, street noise and colourful birdsong. The tension is tugging at my ears, the old skin on my hands puckers-up in fleshy peaks.  This is body music without the tyranny of beats.

Memory gongs strike on ‘Stay the Year’ with that distinctive locked-groove click undercutting some domestic activity (brushing with a stiff broom perhaps) as the solitary door-hinge squeal plays like the tiniest horn.

The psychic space is tightened for atmospheric closer ‘Another Room’ with some really nice close-mic clutter and rattling of brittle plastics in the Pocket Jazz style pioneered by one Robert Ridley-Shackleton.

Oh yes…this piece is altogether more raffish liked the striped blouse of a gondolier.

Yet again the outside is brought in with swooshing traffic and distant birds filling my room while I glace sideways at the rain making clear dots and dashes on the window, a wet Morse.

As the piece fades to a close I realise the rich sound world we live in is tapping on the door asking for house room.

“If you got ears.  You gotta listen.”

(Van Vliet 1980)


Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs) Recycled cassette

Real end-of-an-era junk this – two times!

‘Nicked’ marks the last ever Fuckin’ Amateurs release.  That’s right!  With over 100 indescribable, uncategorisable tapes/CD-rs and the rare vinyl offering F#A! have blown ragged holes in the North East N-AU for almost exactly a decade.

Whether these tapes were given away or shoved through letter boxes our friends in Blyth, Northumberland,  have finally decided enough is enough and shifted their chaotic energy into other areas.

So what are we left with?  Apart from a massive discography creating a document of what it meant to live, work and play in this Northern scene this tape cannily becomes a summary of all that came before.

Live to cassette recording (check), blistering chaotic performance (check), muchos crowd chatter and conversation (check) homemade sleeve, recycled tape and DIY as fuck (check).   The spirit of F#A! is pure to the last drop.

And that’s where the next body-blow arrives.  This tape documents what will most certainly be the last performance from Newcastle’s wildest, most unruly, most misunderstood noise/improv big band – Helictite.  Mirroring F#A! Helictite have played around the edges of a variety of scenes for the last 10 years led by their only constant – the cosmic joker – Yassen Roussev.  Under Yassen’s haphazard tutelage Helictite have scraped the edges of heaven with their no-rules improv shows, delighting, annoying and baffling audiences in equal amounts.


For an under-the-radar unit they have clocked up some impressive stats: a kinship with Faust led to an in-audience guerrilla style double-header in Edinburgh.   Yas talked his way into a slimmed down Helictite live soundtracking Wallace Shawn’s play ‘The Fever’ over 3 nights.   His close links to independent cinema resulted in oodles of futuristic film improv scores.  Helictite played in Yorkshire’s biggest cave, broke a huge pottery dwarf, worked with a bevy of dancers, set fire to all manner of things and disregarded noise restrictions wherever they went.

My personal favourite?  One outrageous fifteen-piece performance (including five goddamn kit drummers) alienating hundreds of indie-kids waiting patiently for The Dirty Projectors to play.

Such is the hubbub created around them they even spawned an unofficial tribute band – Phalictite – with a brief so stringent no member was allowed to play the same instrument twice.

But, ever the psychedelic explorer, Yassen has moved on and decamped to the USA to cause a star-spangled panic in his new home.  God bless ‘im.

This final version of Helictite (but of course the line-up changed for each performance) contains a mellower blend: solo bass drum and organ battle it out for a while.  Guitar noise gives way graciously to a sweet xylophone solo.   Yas’ sax –often consciously absent from performances – is on fine honking form.  The general bluster and energy is high in the mix and while the playing is free it’s also wild, untutored and unconscious.  Non-musicians and non-players were always welcomed with open arms making this group such a delight to witness and a joy to play with.

I get the impression groups of players were camped in different rooms and Martin (F#A! chief) is waltzing between them, or the band are wandering around the audience.  Whatever the plan this is a leg-remix.  Whatever is happening here it’s undeniably Helictite.

OK – time to dry them eyes and rewind.

I’ve no idea where you’ll find this tape – the last batch I saw were being handed out at random to drinkers in Newcastle’s Free Trade Inn.  Yassen distinctive laugh cackling as he forced his way through the comfortable middle-class clientele, “take this tape…it’s me playing with Tina Turner ” he yelped as confused fingers gripped the proffered cassettes nervously.

For more on F#A! be sure to check the Discogs  site but remember at least half of what you read is lies!

quisling meet

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings) Cassette x2

Rich and luxuriant long-form drones/riff-scapes from guitar and bass that remind me of contemporary Dead C and/or/at-the-same-time the sort of stuff associated with Grim Humour fanzine (circa 1987).

Tape one: Volume levels are set for stun and each moment is FULL of FUZZ and RUMBLE.  The occasional let-up from the mayhem involves a Clanger’s style feedback howling – no doubt some machine is being tortured – until the RUMBLE continues like a bad tempered juggernaut.

Song structures are hinted at, even attempted for a few moments (the bit I’m listening to now sounds like Suicide or something – all pulse and throb) before being crushed under the weight of the frantic electronic squealing.

Tape two: Like Skullflower coughing through a watering can!  This is both fractured and all-pervasive –  which is a pretty odd mix when you think about it.  The feedback peals like tinnitus and never seems to stop (high end) while earth-moving bass gouges deep troughs out of granite (low end).

Some ferocious shredding lifts the final movements out of the grubby-grubby gutter pushing the sound skyward, higher and higher, circling dangerously close to the sun.

Julian Cope!  Where are you baby?  This one’s right up your street man.


omft Bandcamp

Kostis Kilymis site

F#A! Discogs Page

Quisling Meet Bandcamp


more yomp than stroll: socrates martinis, enrique r. palma, richard kamerman, louie rice & daniel bennett

April 4, 2017 at 6:13 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Socrates Martinis – Under the arches of her voice (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Enrique R. Palma – Contenance (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Richard Kamerman – Music for Glassblower’s Studio and Broken Toy Piano (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Louie Rice- 33/45 (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

Daniel Bennett – Roil (Organized Music From Thessaloniki)

socrates martinis Socrates Martinis – Under the arches of her voice (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) CD and digital album

Richly textured recordings of rumbling mic damage.  Abstract in the extreme, this symphony of hiss and clicks, gritty-roar and deflated muss are edited cruelly with a straight razor.

The quick, decisive cuts that dart between dry hessian rough and oily slipperiness are arresting to say the least.  No sooner does my heart-rate settle into a particular gruff hum then I’m thrown by a high-end squeal or inflatable ping.


Track 3, ‘Under the arches of her voice, words explode in blue sparks like gunpowder spilled on candles’ gradually reveals a slender hand dropping plastic cups, the echo of the cloister thick and clouded as mediaeval glass.

To my cloth ears track 4, ‘Under the arches of her voice, horses carry the milk of dawn’  seems the most worked on: an imagination of typists clicking away on MacBook keys, inside the Laundromat, singing bowls rubbed with warm Vaseline.

But its track 6, ‘Under the arches of her voice, the air of summer whistles over the headless statues of the hours’ that stretches out a battered alarm bell’s (?) tinny ring into the most gorgeous fade out you’ll hear today.

But any way you want to slice this dusty fig the power of the scrubbed and polished sonic palate is palpable.

Like stepping down the ladder of the landing vehicle to emerge blinking into the harsh white light of Mars.

enrique palma

Enrique R. Palma – Contenance (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) 3 inch CD

Enrique offers us lucky listeners a passport to an imagined future via the murmurings of some giant data engine.  The sound of one million calculations bouncing from damp connectors and making the valves glow a warm sunset orange.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  The process is important and in this case the process involves Javier Beci on melodica huffing over Enrique’s bowed cymbal and computer morass – the electronic 10101010’s merging seamlessly with that dry breath bruising a vibrating reed.  Simple enough I guess but the resulting bluster can throb wildly like a stubbed toe or smear itself as hot tar covers a pock-marked road.  Gosh…either approach is good for me and I find myself rocking gently to this 20 minute piece never quite relaxing but riding the changes in intensity and clarity…we’re weaving between clearly recorded melodica/cymbal and abstracted NOIZE flickering like a stick pulled across a chain-link fence /or/ a rusty jet taking off /or/ a scrap-yard dog dragging an iron bone across black rivets.

The only un-rawkus moments are the final 3 mins.  Of course this only serves to remind us of the technique and brains behind this operation.  As slack as a Jazzfinger jam, this brief pause in the splintering noise digs deep into the engineering of sound, pulling leavers and oiling the blunt teeth of the many cogs making up this contraption.

File under: magnifying-raindrops-to-better-understand-the-hurricane music.

richard kamerman

Richard Kamerman – Music for Glassblower’s Studio and Broken Toy Piano (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) Cassette and digital album

Blimey!  Ultra-minimal rattle and site specific munge; a real scratcher that makes me go ‘wha?’  And I like it.

Side one – This may well be a glassblowers studio with the fiery ‘husss’ of the blast furnace underpinning some rusty hinges, various droppage and steel-rod clangs along with an almost Lucier-like radio chattering in a room (in a room).  There’s an easy momentum as things get plunged into stuff, utensils are washed and tools are replaced noisily to the tool box.

Side two – The flipside makes me think of a miniature Big Ben, small enough to fit in John Cage’s top pocket along with the pens.  Delicately placed pings humbly peal through a glorious riot of cassette grot.  Ever heavier manners are laid upon the scene until dread is the only emotion vibrating out the stereo.  A happy finish of deeper drone, slow slaps and the faint impression that you’ve left the iron on.

Layers of enigmatic rustle; plateaus of barren shell-noise whistle – this cassette pushes boundaries.

louie riceLouie Rice- 33/45 (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) 7 inch single and digital album


Right-to-left dry brillo scours out your ears, bouncing

A slow glutinous train advances from Osaka directly into your weak skull

Onward black snake, advance dark worm!

This hiss that shuffles the shadows, the finger that smears grease on soft bacon

A fumble for tickets means you drop your felt hat


More pop than mope, more yomp than stroll

The interior dialogue of a boulder (containing quartz and seams of basalt)

The soft rubber leavings from an erased life-drawing collected in tiny pyramids

Metal Guru? Iron Man?

There’s a great Wurlitzer in the sky hungry for the 3:23 of this perfect un-beat


daniel bennett roilDaniel Bennett – Roil (Organized Music From Thessaloniki) CD

This sharp palette of breathtaking sourness makes me realise how sweet and cloying much of today’s music is, as our Daniel is relishing in the zesty and tangy on this quartet of electronic pieces.

The first two tracks ‘Pain’ and ‘Mint’ are forged of elements ranging from thin magnesium to bright electric scissor-kicks.  They unfold like the endless belt on an escalator, gnashing interlocking steel teeth with a relentless energy.  But there is enough black avalanche to please a grim-faced noise fan. For me though the sweet spot comes in the quieter moments: a reflective squeal, an introverted circuit snap, all placed with unknowable logic.

The second pair of tracks take a clubbable twist with the scent of salty bodies writhing on ‘Tennenbaum’ and ‘We’.  The first is a superbly warped beat and bass rumble that’s boiled down until it is almost liquid.  The approach to rhythm is choppy as the Solent with static breakers crashing on a crisp digital shore…

…and on my deckchair I fantasise about FKA Twigs humming over the top of the bit-splicing, waving a tiny foot in a bruised ballet pump.

The closer ‘We’ is a bacchanal; a no-holds-barred ritual in losing one’s shit at 6am in the morning after fourteen hours of hard partying and then ending up in a chill out room with a cyborg Sunn O))) providing the vibes.

Or do you disagree?




twenty-eight inches, twice: joe murray on roger stella, lea bertucci, krube, kostis kilymis

March 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

Roger Stella – The Final Programme (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB005, edition of 200)

Lea Bertucci – Light Silence, Dark Speech (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB003, edition of 200)

Krube – Untitled (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB006, edition of 200)

Kostis Kilymis – Crystal Drops/Ground Loops (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB004, edition of 200)


Roger Stella – The Final Programme

Extremely fucked-up noise jam.   Imagine a waterfall of malfunctioning electronics falling several miles down an icy crevasse.  The sharp static crackles and low-frequency rumble are shot through with an almost space-rock noodling on a modular synth (or something else distinctly bubbling).

There are some leering rhythms; all slack jawed with glistening chops hinting darkly behind the hubbub on sides A and B.  I’m tickled greatly by the Satanic goat that adorns this handsome single and picture him with his shiny hooves up at the mixing desk, kicking the pots and huffing on his diesel pipe.  A noise Lee Perry?

One thing’s for sure: Roger will make the perfect support act when Wolf Eyes eventually gobble up Hawkwind and take that shit on the road.


Lea Bertucci – Light Silence, Dark Speech

The hail has turned to gentle snow as I play each side of this wonderful disc again and again.

An Unbroken Plan: Beautifully thin and delicate saxophone lines breathe misty like frozen elk and roll glossy around your ears.  Then these coppery whispers are gradually woven together to form a brittle Terry Riley-like sculpture.  It’s light as air but with an irresistible sour edge; the sonic equivalent of bad milk.  And I can’t help myself but have one more sniff.

Faces in the Shadows: Horn solo in Asgard!  Without no skronk or over-blown gimmicks Lea teases a feathery tongue out the warm brassy bowl that flutters like the heart of a finch.  The balance to this lightness is a full-fat tone, rich as figs, that curls at the edges of memory and silent longing.  I feel the moisture on my cheeks and bark abruptly,

I must have got something in my eye!

The snow continues to fall, each flake a damaged star.


Krube – Untitled

Dark home recordings of floorboards, rocking chairs and gently burning hair are passed though a magnetic sieve.  This particular processing has the power to repel all ‘regular’ sound until only the slag and grit are left.  On this side the sonic property of the ‘creak’ is explored in extraordinary detail, equivalent to a fully illustrated 300 page memo.

Flipping this disc my lugs are massaged by salty drizzle and the swish of heavy traffic.  Like the wake of a trawler, a churn seems to follow the leading edge of crackle and hiss.  This sound-tail (apply the dirty snowball of a comet analogy if you prefer) becomes the focus in a canny reverse listening exercise.  The resulting granite spluttering makes me check out the stereo… I swear the rotating vinyl is buckling!


Kostis Kilymis – Crystal Drops/Ground Loops

A seriously rubbery proposal!

‘Crystal Drops’ bounces steel ball bearings off a taut ram-skin. Each projectile is traced with phosphorus trails and describe erratic arcs across the sky.  Electricity, the most unnatural of energies, keeps things aloft until all is shagged out and spent and each silver sphere drops and lies gently fizzing in the fragrant lavender.

When things cool down I turn this baby over and slurp up ‘Ground Loops (a line, obscured)’.  My skull becomes a ringing bell as I realise I’m listening to this at the wrong speed – it’s a stately 33 rpm not the youthfully speedy 45 I’d assumed.  My notes readjusted I can report the languid electro opener is trailer for a more domestic earful.  The field recorder’s greatest enemy – a dumb wind – plays blurry bass notes as London folk dodge jumbo jets, helicopters and old, clickerty bikes rendered in the most delicate of detail.  A game of street cricket is interrupted and a lovely remonstration,


stands out as the most engaging earworm.

A lazy reviewer might couch this snapshot as a Hogarthian print.  But I think that would be missing the point.  The warmth of the recording and the freshness of the edits put Kostis right in the heart of the action.  This is no voyeur-eye view or parachuting tourist, this is a poem to the everyday tig-taggle of life’s connections.  It’s the huss of a city lived.


I Dischi Del Barone

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.