Tags: charles dexter ward, dr:wr, drone, electronica, fuckin' amateurs, improv, joe murray, karl mv waugh, libbe matz gang, libertatia overseas trading, loxley tapes, matching head, new music, no audience underground, noise, tapes, the new blockaders, tusk festival
The New Blockaders – Everything You Ever Needed (tape, Fuckin’ Amateurs, edition of 12, FA90)
The New Blockaders – A Beginner’s Guide to TNB (tape, Loxley Tapes, edition of 45)
Charles Dexter Ward – CDW 111014 (TUSK) (self-released download)
Charles Dexter Ward – Past Lives (tape, Matching Head, MH208)
Libbe Matz Gang – Infantilised Britain EP (7″ single, Libertatia Overseas Trading, LMG4S, edition of 150)
DR:WR – Trippin’ Daggers Inner Skull Metal Blade Musique (self-released CD-r with ‘original gonzo artwork’, edition of 20 or download)
The New Blockaders – Everything You Ever Needed and A Beginner’s Guide to TNB
A warning. Art-jokers The New Blockaders like to keep folks on their toes right? They’ve toyed with ‘blank’ tapes, live performances that contain no actual Blockading and recordings that never see the light of day. The question on many lips seems to be…
Will this be a real Blockaders recording or some grimy stunt?
The extra patina of yuks comes from the labels themselves, Fuckin’ Amateurs & Loxley Tapes. In Blyth parlance they are most definitely, ‘cheeky fond’. Translation – loveable rogues, with a long history of bootlegged, unofficial and deliberately misleading recordings dubbed quickly and distributed for free.
This time F#A! and Loxley have really nailed the presentation: A Beginner’s Guide… is encased in a rusty metal tin, dripping with foul-smelling bitumen. The tape itself smeared with grime and grit. Everything You Ever Needed is less dirty, the monochrome artwork sporting a spot-on-grim smeared photo of local graffiti, but more or less playable.
Both of these tapes were originally dealt out personally to folk at Newcastle’s TUSK fest by F#A! frontman Martin dressed as a police officer. The remainder were shoved in a bag and left near the bins behind the Star & Shadow cinema for people to stumble upon.
1. How does it sound? The title gives us a clue of sorts. Side A, ‘ACAB – Changez Les Blockeurs vs Live at Morden Tower’ sounds to my tin-ear like two live recordings jammed together. These kind of extended noise jams are always tricky to describe. Here goes…
SKKKEKKKEKK…approximately 30 minutes of mega-amplified squeaky plimsoll on hardwood gym floor…HHHHHUUUUMMmmmmm…moving furniture, painful feedback squeals…KUUMMSSKKkkkkkkSSSSS..broken-glass shatter, spurting electric springs…BuuuuuuummmmBBBB…rusty metal shearing all delivered with hectic energy.
It’s soooo frantic. Any pauses are brief oases and end sharply as things get broken and kicked with renewed vigour. Say what you like about this dark art: it’s really exciting. I can see my teenage self jamming this full-throttle alongside Suicidal Tendencies whilst disastrously skating the local parks.
Side B is labelled ‘Blank’ and seems to be really, like blank man. Totally silent without no background hiss or nothing to judder or hang on to. OK…given the TNB history that’s all very fitting. I’m fine with all that.
As I deconstruct The Beginner’s Guide I swoon for this is indeed a beautiful object. From the insert replicating the famous TNB manifesto to the detailed sleeve notes (hidden inside the tin) it just hums attention to detail. Shining a torch inside the thing suggests this is a TNB approved compilation of their greatest hits; a handy taster for any up-and-coming noise fan. The only problem is I can’t play it. Some of the blue grit (the sort of thing you find at the bottom of a fish tank) has gummed up the spools so my cheap-o-stereo just whirred uselessly and looked at me whispering…
Really? Are you sure?
…under it’s cheap-o breath.
So, dear reader, I’m no further forward with my original ponder: is this TNB or some stunt? I’m not sure – it seems genuine enough but I’m no expert. I reckon as long as everyone goes into things with their eyes open we’re all good. Yeah?
What are your chances of picking one of these up? Slim I’m afraid. But in true New Blockaders style… why would you? Reject the Art! Use the above blueprint to create your own. I’ve got a hot nut for some amplified baking tray action just right for this one.
Mamma…we’re all Blockaders now!
Charles Dexter Ward – CDW 111014 (TUSK) and Past Lives
Brace yourself for a clutch of psych/drone/kraut-tronics from the wonderful Charles Dexter Ward (the tweedy beast). First up this super-hectic live piece from CDW’s storming set at this year’s TUSK festival. Things start all relaxed alright: water bubbling, birds singing and Greensleeves style plucking afore…
The analogue synths start to mist up your eye mask with long-haired groaning lurchers. Slowly, so slowly, new textures (a two note keyboard hum) are added, like peeling an onion in reverse, with each papery skin folding up nicely over the next all neat n’ tight.
Content to let this scene build for over ten minutes the patient Mr Ward starts adding guitar riffs, each loaded with potent chemicals. The rhythmic strumming builds up and up into rapier-sharp soloing clearing the vapours like menthol. And it’s this electric soloing, ecstatic and optimistic that makes CDW my contender for the No Audience Crossover prize. I can picture this, in my giddy mind’s eye, going down in hearty gulps at shindigs like the Liverpool Psych Festival or Islington’s Union Chapel.
There’s a universal in the grain of that guitar sound…a forward motion that’s as unstoppable as evolution. Don’t believe me? Watch with those beady eyes!
The title of the Past Lives tape is a cheeky wink to the age of some of these recordings. Two of the four tracks are from circa 1996 but are in no way patchouli-scented juvenilia. Both dark and gloomy ‘Pathfinder’ is one of the back catalogue offerings; a brief but richly fertile drone building up into a drumlin – a soft-boiled egg in sound.
‘131213’ starts all Carlos Castaneda with that wide-open-spaces-desert sound; shimmering guitar and gritty synth as distant and insistent as the mid-day sun beating down on your naked pate.
But, as the analogue storm slowly blackens and brews, I’m transported to an alternate space. The sense of heat and desolation remains but it’s altogether more sinister now. An abandoned drive-in stands lonely as a poisoner. The tattered screen flickers and springs into life, washed-out colours are slightly unfocused as a Mexican version of Assault on Precinct 13 plays to its audience of one. The slowly shifting colours on screen smear out the violence behind.
Side B opens with ‘010612’; a synth-led warble and fritter. All the juddering warps the stereo-vision like a mirage in sound. Tones flit in and out of focus, showing a partial shape but content to tease until a pair of tamed sea-lions honk in harmony (errr…probably a guitar played with e-bow in reality but please grant me this indulgence). The mantra continues as a raga based on charred notes from Rugby’s space programme but by upping the noise quotient this moves beyond any stale rock music and closer into the tumbling chaos of Edgard Varese.
‘Stereo’, the final piece and another offering from the crypt, is a roughly psychedelic theme tune. Slowly descending chords wreathed in glistening effects remind me of that AR Kane lot when they spoke about remaking Bitches Brew but with guitar feedback. This is a questing sketch (at about 2 minutes long, it makes me want to hear more). An ode to yearning.
Libbe Matz Gang – Infantilised Britain EP
Raised as I was on the heady tripod of Jazz, Heavy Metal and US Hardcore I’ve always felt slightly uneasy around electronics. I mean, I dig all that kind of thing now; but I still have to take a deep breath when faced with anything resembling a plastic keyboard.
The Libbe Matz Gang have no such aversion as this neat little sevener is heavy on the ‘tronics right from the off. This back of the bus rave on a Blackberry Bold with a cracked screen vibe is both harsh and heavy. Each short track is a rap over the knuckles and cosh to the conscience with evocative titles like ‘Casualty to Custody’ and ‘Punterhunt 2’.
The sounds? Well, like I said it’s electronics that rule. What I hear in my ears is: bedpans emptied down a steel tube, concrete burrs over a rubber glove and guttering wobble. The ghost of Chrome hollas a tune…and even forms a rhythm for a few bars. Sonic bombs explode – a scurrying hustle of a contact mike dropped into a tin can, an elbow cracking a tender collarbone are all captured and served on brushed-steel platters.
While that takes care of your percussive needs be prepared for some snatches of speech that are World-in-Action grim/red-light district grotty. They add a dark heart to the bleak, fractured blasts of twisted noise rumbling under the surface.
Available now from their intriguing blog/news/update site.
DR:WR – Trippin’ Daggers Inner Skull Metal Blade Musique
This is one of them discs that doesn’t like to sit about too long. It’s itchy, it’s twitchy and keen to get up, pogo, lie down, roll on the floor and pretty much do everything in its power to grab your attention. This is just the sort of slap I need from time to time. Sure…I’ve got the patience for a 50 minute plus drone workout but I often favour the sugar-rich rush of folk who just want to jam an idea, stop, re-set their equipment, than jam another as quick as silver.
DR:WR have an attention solution. And so in that very spirit I’m going to write this as each track plays. No filler or bumf. No navel gazing or theorising. Just first impressions hammered home on the keys as quick as these folk make ‘em.
Mung Crow: Guitar scree played in forbidden harmonics. Lumping beatbox high with cowbell and handclaps.
Hyper Tile: Super-burnt-electrics ripple like hot water then turn to freezing Napalm.
Lumbargo Extraction: The sort of beat Basic Channel reject for being too out-there played in the dark…no lasers!
Blood Rental: Fizzing electric squid.
City Storms: Oi Eno? Is this what you’re up to these days? Ambient for the terminally uneasy. Seagulls solo. The cliffs crumble in slo-mo.
Sherbet Delay: Tubular Bells heard through the chill-out room door. A 4am vibe when my nerves are shredded by 16 hours or drum & bass and … I drift … slowly … … off.
There you go. An instant reaction to this frothy disc just champing to be played. You’ve got some time don’t ya? I urge you to click here for this and more speedy enlightenment.