leery sludge grunt: luke vollar on aqua dentata, cold sore/ libbe matz gang, infernal body and scott mckeating on skullflower

March 31, 2017 at 6:01 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Aqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press)

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading)

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records)

Skullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (Bandcamp Self Release)

 

AquadentataAqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press) CD-R

RFM house favourite, Aqua Dentata returns (well returned last year) with a collection of five untitled pieces that gleam like pebbles on the beach, made smooth by unknown excursions.

A brief soothing hum on the first track carries us elegantly into the meatier fullness of the second track.  Duncan Harrison’s clarinet-gravy provides a delectable jus to the already rich stew of synth-violin and zither.  A nourishing entrée that had your reviewer slack-jawed on the sofa – fast asleep – RFM’s drowsiest writer baby.

Track 3 takes Nigel Tufnel’s ‘simple lines intertwining’ into inner space as hovering robot fireflies bounce around a single blue light in infinite confusion – creepy right?

Track 4 is a prism of light, picking up the dust floating in the air or a music box played backwards through a stained glass window to no-one. I can’t decide which!

Track 5 is the longest; a slow mutating ‘whub’ of blunted tone-smoke to rattle your fillings. A sinister vessel rotates slowly downwards into uncharted depths and shifting arcs of colour and light. The clarinet returns bugle-like as the vessel sinks out of sight.

To summarise –  ‘Oopht.’

 

libbe matz

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading) C30 cassette

Themed around the medical treatment of juvenile delinquents these two artists share a side each on this gnarly tape, presenting some dark electronic meditations on sinister control and repression mechanisms through medication.

The only vocals evident are disturbingly delayed speech lifted from instructional tapes (?) discussing amongst other things Largactyl or Chlorpromazine – anti-psychotic medication with the ability to flatten and pacify with some unpleasant side effects: drooling stiffness and involuntary movements, commonly used to treat psychosis it was / is used in prisons to control aggression.

Libbe Matz Gang’s, ‘Under the Chemical Cosh’ makes explicit its theme as a bruised and persistent sustained tone deviates into the spiked and poisonous sting of a scorpion, crackling with ill intent.

We have moved from the cold-sweat-dread of a general anaesthetic administered by faceless medics with dead eyes and ended up at the wrong end of a sterile corridor in a Dead Ringers style body horror. The high-pitched whine that closes the storm is what you hear as the anaesthetic wears off – you wake alone in surgical gown, slowly sitting up to take-in your grotesquely transformed reflection.

Cold Sore’s track is a grey and eerie bombed-out fug of barbiturate hangover. ‘The Significance of Nothing’ limps into existence as a drowned air-raid alarm sounds forlornly while an impassive female voice rises from the murk, looping in sad resignation.

While the Libbe Matz Gang track seems to represent the panic and terror of a young person in over their head, no longer in control of their actions, the Cold Sore track is the cold sedation of a forced intramuscular injection.  Like being dropped into a restless sleep from which you may never wake.

You are alone, you don’t know where you are, who these people are or what they want.

 

infernal body

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records) Tape

It was a gig at the Leeds Mecca of all No-Audience activity, Wharf Chambers, that I happened across Infernal Body, placed on the bill amongst some familiar names on these pages.

My curiosity had been roused as a pal mentioned they were a Black Metal band and as they took to the stage my black-heart began to sing a little. While not immediately identifiable as an unholy horde, with short hair and sensible jumpers and shirts, they conjured a very satisfying jagged and bitter Black Metal Punk fury.

The singer’s look of utter disgust as he prowled back and forth hawking up a tirade of indecipherable invective flanked by a blast of pounding negative energy had the cold brittle attack of early Darkthrone with episodes of leery sludge grunt.

Of course I picked up their tape, ‘Barren Land’ at the end of the night – feeling its icy grip in my pocket on the bus home felt reeeal good.

The format and less-than-perfect production lends itself to the kvlt vibe. A doomy, ‘Retempered Only in Blood’ sets a distinctly uneasy tone with the ghoulish vocals focusing on loneliness, isolation and self harm (a handy lyric sheet is included) as the rest of the group offer a graveyard ambience of sparse dread before lurching into the punkish ‘Red Impressions’.

There is enough dynamic and variation on offer to prevent it ever slipping into cliché or a tired rehashing of the greats. Indeed the fact that it was recorded in my old stomping ground Armley, a less than salubrious suburb of Leeds makes sense; the grim concrete inner-city smog coming through the pores of the songs like sweat.

I give dark hails to these gents and I hope to hear more work from them soon.

 

skullflowerSkullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (self released – digital download)

Readers out there who don’t follow Matthew Bower’s every move (I mean, for fks sake…c’mon), may  be unaware that he and Samantha Davies are now pretty steadily hammering out the Skullflower / Voltigeurs /Black Sunroof releases via their bandcamp. Gone are the semi-regular CDR missives or black heraldic vinyl relics from the duo that would thankfully see a kind of blue-black bruised daylight through the lightning rod of Volcanic Tongue.

For something of a Skullflower cultist who has long mocked the fetishism of limited edition, fancy-ass physical releases, the lack of faith I’ve had in the duo’s increased digitalisation has been difficult to process. Their work has always been a thing of immersion, grandeur and time-transformative power.  And while I might end up listening to both, a ripped CD or a download, exactly the same way – on my phone – the fact one came from the physical world makes a kind of difference. In my addled reality the fact that it was once ‘solid’ means it has some sort of power over a download. Of course, all of this fancy format flapping is just another bullshit.

Spending time at Skullflower’s website and delving into their bandcamp release images, the ease with which they’ve settled into the use of this digital portal isn’t that surprising. If the images there are to be believed, the duo have constructed a world that merges totems, their own dragon obsessed art, bones, glyphs and their much loved familiars. It’s a world so clearly self-contained and idiosyncratic that the act of popping to Curry’s for some CDRs must seem like a transdimensional leap into the other.

Notwithstanding the ghastly title, Bayou Perfume Advert is a great waking whirl of guitar-bleeding that’s closer to gushing pitchshifted mechanics than fret board hysteria. There’s no reinvention of the wheel in this opening flow; it’s the instant launch of the abstract expanse – vistas revealed, minute details there for the taking.

If Davies and Bower have a trademark move it’s the swift draw-you-in –fade-up. Making the listener instantly Jonah to Skullflower’s whale/wail.  Marvel to the rattling grind of feedback and incense-detritus timbres, the Daddy-long-legs legs guitar lines. A gathering of loops without seams, of patterns that never had a start or finish in the first place, Bayou Perfume Advert is a fully formed thing that shifts like patterns of falling/fallen ash.

With a hallucinatory undertow of Astral Social Club / Sunroof!, the core elements of Bayou Perfume Advert are the free guitar sounds – the circling peregrine soloing. While there’s little clearly defined emotion in what Skullflower do, even when signposted by song titles, there’s definitely a living consciousness in this, more of a reach or a search without a goal.

Pared down to a snappy one liner: it’s a 27 minutes blast of blitzkrieg in stasis…elongated shards of. But how the duo make this sit consistently more entertaining than their peers remains a mystery.

Sure, it’s half an hour long, but it feels (in a good way) like it’s a abyssic gape of time, drawn out in wormhole  minutes. Vital – it’s alive and it draws (probably again for me) comparison to some great shifting wyrm.

Oubourous without end or beginning.

 

Tor Press

Libertatia Overseas Trading

Infernal Body

Skullflower Bandcamp

-ooOOOoo-

patina of yuks: joe murray on the new blockaders, charles dexter ward, libbe matz gang, dr:wr

December 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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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)

TNB beginners 3TNB beginners 1TNB beginners 2TNB beginners 4TNB everything

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!

CDWcdw tusk

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…

Yonder!

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

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'

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.

—ooOoo—

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