holding our treasure aloft: thoughts on facebook, rfm and the d.i.y. underground compiled by rob haylerMarch 21, 2017 at 7:42 am | Posted in musings, not bloody music | 3 Comments
Tags: chrissie caulfield, d.i.y, DIY, ethics, facebook, joe henderson, joe murray, luke vollar, marlo eggplant, no audience underground, rob hayler, sky high diamonds, sophie cooper, twitter
On Friday 3rd March, as I was enjoying the opening of the Crow Versus Crow/Malorymaki art exhibition in Bradford, Joe Murray (who had been invited down to play at the event) mentioned to me that new RFM staffer Sarah Gatter (known ‘round these parts as Sky High Diamonds) had offered to create a Facebook page for RFM.
Without thinking too hard about it I gave my blessing. By lunchtime on Monday 6th March the thing existed. Blimey. As the dust settled there began a lengthy and involved discussion amongst RFM colleagues about the merits, or otherwise, of Facebook and other social media. This has proved so interesting that I have returned briefly from my sabbatical to compile these thoughts (edited to remove repetition, small talk and logistical stuff) and add some of my own.
Let’s start with Sarah and the rationale:
A brief online chat with Rob and Joe over the weekend suggested that an RFM Facebook page would be a good idea as it would exist as a ‘go to’ site for interested parties to get a rundown on RFM and the latest blog reviews. I am happy to manage this page but if any of you are Facebook users and would like to be added as admin (meaning you can then also upload the RFM blogs, add photos, monitor, add and remove posts, including posts or comments from other people etc.) then find me on FB and I can add you as admin.
As agreed with Rob & Joe this page will be a ‘copy’ of the RFM WordPress blog in its use of words and images, both of which will simply be an echo of the already published blog info. No new material or personal posting to exist here as it then gets confusing.
All business, right? Nowt to worry about, eh? Well… Marlo kicks it off:
Woah, really?! I think Luke, Chrissie, and I use it. Both Joes, Rob, and Sophie don’t.
I was thinking RFM was purposely avoiding that platform…. Times are a-changing…
Rob and Joe, can I ask why? I mean, it isn’t really harmonious with what I though RFM mission statement? Or is it?
Chrissie is pragmatic:
I’m very much a semi-detached user of Facebook these days but I think the idea of a page is OK provided it doesn’t distract from the blog.
Is the plan just to post links to the RFM reviews when they appear on the Facebook page? This seems like the best way of doing it to me and allows for people to possibly discuss the reviews and share them easily on FB.
Sof then voices unease:
Know what you mean Marlo. I came off FB because I got so sick of everyone relying on such a massively corporate website to find out about underground DIY gigs etc (including Tor Fest – winds me up so much). Don’t see why everything needs to have a FB presence to exist these days.
…which allows Marlo to expand her point:
Thanks Sophie for understanding. I feel torn myself constantly cause I cornered myself into the FB for Ladyz in Noyz back in the day and am stuck now or take the risk of losing the international audience. I should have just done a proper page in the past. Myspace to FB…sheesh…
I know it isn’t a collective and whatever Rob and Joe feel is right, I go with [Editor’s note – heh, heh]. Just wanted to see why the shift?
I will be here either way!
Time for me to weigh in:
I wasn’t involved in any discussion as such but Joe M did mention at the show on Friday that Sarah had offered to mirror RFM on Facebook and I said sure, if she’s willing to do the work then let’s try it.
I have never had any personal desire to be on FB, nor have I ever had an account, but since the blog’s inception the majority of referrals have been from FB links (twitter is catching up but FB still in front) so, like it or not, a lot of our traffic has come from that direction. Thinking about the ubiquity and omniscience of FB makes my stomach flip but it is only one aspect of the corporate global evil that we are using for our purposes. PayPal, Google, Apple, Twitter – bleurgh – even Bandcamp takes a hefty rake and WordPress charges me more for keeping the site ad-free than it does for hosting our actual content! We wade waist-deep through the shit holding our little box of treasure aloft so that it doesn’t get caked in crap too. ‘Twas ever thus.
Also, should you be concerned about such things, the numbers are down. Mostly, I think, due to the breaks in regular posting last year caused by my burn-out/’real life’ issues, 2016 was the first year since RFM’s birth that number of visits didn’t increase. I’m not fussed about a plateau – this is a niche concern after all – but this was quite a dramatic drop (2015 = 32k, 2016 = 23k) and I’m not above a bit of rattling the stick in the bucket. Calling attention to your fine work is noble, and can be even if the format is grisly.
That said – some suggestions/requests. Firstly, I’m not sure I want that photo of (some of) us from Crater Lake to be so prominent. Makes me a little uncomfortable. Secondly, I don’t want the text of posts just reproduced on the FB page – pictures, lists of artists featured, little summaries like those we tweet are fine but I want people to visit RFM to do their reading (or subscribe to the blog and get each post emailed to them directly – currently over a 100 people do this). I don’t want the FB page to replace the blog. I see that posts are being made as I type [Editor’s note: Sarah was cracking on]! The format is fine like that I think.
Over two emails Sarah doubles down for practical reasons and stresses it can be a collaborative effort:
The page is easy to delete if having second thoughts. I personally think it is a good idea as FB really is the ‘go to’ site for getting information. Also, those of us on FB can like and repost the blogs (as we do on Twitter) giving each blog a bit more of a following and a bit more oomph and clout. Also, when blogs are just in a newsfeed (as on both Twitter & FB) they are easily lost and many people (myself included) don’t have the time to fully read a review, or even scan through it, when leisurely (or frantically) scrolling through a news feed.
However, if people are aware that there is a permanent page storing these blogs with a link to a whole heap of other blogs, then that instantly makes all of the blog posts more accessible.
I’m happy that everyone gets a say about layout and content and happier that there are many admin involved, also to make sure that everyone’s happy!
At this point Joe Henderson offers a forthright, brain-stirring intervention:
Will briefly say my piece. I think that, for me, the magic is instantly lost when Facebook gets involved in anything – to be honest. Given my own experience of it and the flow of research surrounding well being & social media I make a concerted effort to stay away.
I don’t mind using the word ‘poisonous’ to describe my attitude towards Facebook, however, I’ve seemed to deal a little better with Twitter, although I still have yet to use it myself (I went on there to get another News source other than the BBC, turns out I can’t get the app anyways on my old iPhone, so I haven’t ended up using it anyway).
Can I make a request that none of my articles are re-posted to Facebook? And on a far stronger note – I do not want any of my writing to be subject to Facebooks content codes and control.
Part of the charm of things like Radio Free Midwich is their unwavering principles in the face of peer pressure.
Sophie, I know what you mean about lazy promotion. I came to think of Facebook promotion as really exclusionary – like, that you could miss out on so much by not being in a link or social loop. I have no solutions, but I think in general… good old hand-made posters and nerdy art stuff like that appeals to my DIY, punk sensibilities more. Things shouldn’t be eazy..
I’m happy to hang back for a bit and maybe see how things pan out. Very sceptical right now, but open minded for y’all. My first article should be out this week (given a little tweaking in the mean-time). Am happy for it to go out on the website but please don’t put it on FB – I hate that place and it’s toxic, damaging glare. But, of course am happy for you guys to go ahead and frollick (in the dust & mirrors)
Oh, is that Sarah wavering a little? <winking emoji>
I also think that hitting the delete button on the FB page would be weirdly very satisfying, and quite anarchic, at this early stage of gaining a few ‘likes’ and ‘followers.’
“Now you see us, now you don’t.”
Not sure what else to say!
Joe Murray shouts encouragement from the window of a moving train:
For me this is all about spreading the word. No more. I think we are a valuable piece in the no audience crossword so a few more clues (like FB) help folk connect.
But still…we all have to be comfortable with it. I guess we can self-destruct this channel whenever we feel the need.
It’s always good to debate and have different views. Let’s keep an eye on things and review in a month or so.
All our viewpoints matter.
Speak soon, and if I may gush for a second…we goddamn rule!
Respect as always…
Sarah, like all good academics recognizes grist for the mill when she sees it:
I’m loving this debate, currently attempting to put a PhD proposal together on this very stuff- the relevance of social media to DIY, so the varying perspectives on how we use and control/are used and controlled by social media platforms is intriguing. Many of the artists I know go through long/short periods of deactivating profiles and deleting entire pages of personal data and then coming back to social media on their own terms and for their own agenda when it suits them, I like that.
Sof, bit now firmly between teeth, questions the stated purpose:
Slightly related / aside – I saw this band in London last week and at the end of their show they made a massive statement that “clicks get gigs” find us on Facebook! If we have loads of likes then we’ll get more shows! What a load of bollocks. Talent gets gigs not some website. People who work hard at what they are doing get gigs. It doesn’t make any personal difference to me if RFM has a FB page or not I’m just saddened that this is the way people think you have to be nowadays. I know it is the go-to for loads of people, the company I work for get loads of work via it but what a lazy state of affairs. As if the Internet doesn’t make it easy enough for people already why not condense the info in to one accessible website ? Twitter is just as bad – argh! Please meet me down the pub or the library / send me a letter for further ranting opportunity!
I’m actually in talks with a web developer to create a sort of Cops n’ Robbers website [Editor’s note: for non-UK readers Cops n’ Robbers is a legendary Yorkshire-based listings zine with oodles of DIY and N-AU swagger]that would cover West Yorkshire (and maybe nationally) gigs as an alternative ‘go-to’ site instead of FB. For this gig I did on Sunday just gone I really wanted to just advertise without FB but actually got a complaint! Forced Jake to make a page – made it more legit I guess. Fairly confident that most people who showed up were at Pelt a couple of weeks before and picked up a flyer but perhaps that’s wishful thinking.
Clearly a Luddite technophobe over here, where are my DDDD copies?
P.S. I really like Twitter btw. Not as personal.
In her typically quiet but laser-sharp fashion Chrissie makes the point that…
Contacts get gigs mainly – in my experience at least. It doesn’t matter how talented or brilliant you are, if no-one has heard of you then you don’t get gigs*. Facebook is just one of many places that can possibly be a help there. Ignoring it is a choice, of course, but you are cutting off a potential source of people. The platform on its own may, or may not, be evil. But the people on it mostly aren’t (with some exceptions).
* I’m not saying my band Helicopter Quartet are either talented or brilliant [Editor’s note: they are, both, in spades], but we don’t get any gigs because we don’t have any contacts and both of us are so painfully shy we never make any.
At this point Marlo and I both start thinking ‘there’s an article in this’ and ask if anyone wants to make a more formal contribution. Marlo suggests:
Perhaps we could all string something together around the question:
How do different social media platforms feed or weaken the ‘underground’? What associations do different social websites bring to the table? What is lost or gained in ‘opening the floodgates’?
Chrissie responds first:
One of the nice things about social media is that it can bring together people of niche interests together – it’s largely what I do on twitter – in a way that’s almost impossible or very difficult to do in other ways.
Yes – you can start your own website but how do you get people to use it in the first place: twitter/Facebook etc. are the funnel through which you can get access to people who might want to go there. Of course, there are all the arguments about centralisation and monopolies and I’m not happy about those things either. But principally I’m a pragmatist and that’s how these things are structured at the moment. To some extent they always have been, it’s just that the ownerships change over time.
As to ‘opening the floodgates’ – it doesn’t happen. Despite what I just said above, adding RFM to Facebook isn’t going to triple or even double viewing figures (if it does, please buy me a hat to eat). It’ll bring in some new readers, yes. But it’s not a magic potion and it doesn’t make you popular overnight or even ever – it’s a small help. I have Facebook pages for my two main bands, nothing has ever happened because of them. That’s partly down (as I said in a previous email) to the need to be ‘present’ to chat with people on there and make contacts, and partly down to having contacts on the IN THE FIRST PLACE to bring in others.
For my personal opinion, I hate Facebook (for non-political reasons), and I only use it to publicise (unsuccessfully) band things and chat in some obscure synth groups where it feels more cosy and safe. I don’t post personal things on my timeline any more, but plenty of people still do and I have chatted with lots of interesting people there.
Luke puts his head around the door to add:
Hey folks – well for what it’s worth I use Facebook every day. It has its drawbacks and I’ve sworn off it a few times. Having said that it does allow you to keep in contact with groovy people chat about music, films, books, gigs etc. I guess it’s about making it work for you and keeping it real. I can’t be doing with Twitter. So I guess I’m saying if RFM hits face-ache. I’m cool with it.
…then Sarah offers a more fleshed out statement of her position
My continued interest in the electronic DIY underground/no audience culture stems from the DIY rave movement of the mid 80s and early 90s.
I see the current No Audience Underground, as an extension of this movement and I am still fascinated by how it was documented through film footage, photography, music, art and printed/published writings by those who protested for the right to squat empty buildings, resist fox hunting, gather for music events etc. etc. I did attend some events back then however, it was always pot luck to get to those events due to no social networking and reduced publicity (for obvious reasons) except for well organised word of mouth-those guys were good!
Those DIY activists made thorough use of the tools that were available to them at that time to promote their beliefs, ideas, celebrations and defeats into a wider consciousness and I believe that without those wonderfully documented processes (e.g. the wibbly-wobbly film footage of squats being raided, dancers in the street protesting the CJA etc.) this representation, and therefore a current understanding and contextualisation of that scene, would not be available to us today. I see this as a cultural mapping of those times and I see social media as a contemporary tool available to us now to continue that cultural mapping.
Social Media is a site of production and reproduction but in many ways it responds to the DIY ethos in that it is free (most of the time), accessible (to the majority) and can be used to promote the individual, it is not entirely corporate like other sites of production and reproduction. However, I like to think that at some point DIY will turn away from social media and re- ground itself into a less available scene, but I would be happier with this only once much documenting has been achieved and exists in some kind of accessible form.
Things that nag me are: Does the DIY underground movement become less ‘exclusive’ and therefore less underground when its documentary style footage is available to all to access online? How do the ideas of audience/participation/spectacle/active and passive viewing fit in with this? We are all passive audiences when viewing footage/sound/writing of the underground through social media. I also ponder how an attraction to a much larger and wider audience may well undo the emblematic DIY underground counter culture status, such as witnessed in the growth of the Glastonbury Festival, as well as contribute to a more general and overwhelming saturation of the arts.
In summary: For me, social media is currently a way of culturally mapping the continued growth of the DIY movement and is a tool available for us to use (and abuse) right now, but I am not entirely sure that it should or will have a monopoly on documenting the DIY movements for the long term.
I propose that we find a way to occupy the dark web!
…and that was that until over the weekend of the 11th and 12th when Joe and I received the following volte-face from Sarah:
Hi, I was in two minds about RFM on Facebook.
- It seemed like a good idea to make use of it as a tool and to support the artists, whom I think want reviews about their work publicised.
- It might be free, it might be accessible but it is a limiting platform and I am beginning to agree with Joe H, it makes us lazy and passive.
This has been echoed within another group that I am involved with [Editor’s note: The Unexplained Sounds Network] who have today proposed ‘silence’ in order to find new ways to communicate and collaborate other than Facebook. I am in agreement with them. DIY must mean DIY and Facebook takes that away through its controlled use of data, amongst other things. I did say in my last email that we need to find new ways and jokingly suggested the dark web but I am starting to feel that more needs to be done with searching for new and less lazy & passive ways. Sorry for the complete 100% U turn!!!
Heh, heh – the irony that this doubt as to the appropriateness of one form of social media was sent via a twitter DM was not lost on me.
So, where are we now? Firstly, let me just comment on the loveliness of my colleagues – a multiway discussion carried out over the internet that remained civil and useful for an entire week. Have you ever heard the like? Secondly, it strikes me that there are three questions to consider with answers to the first two informing the answer to the third. I’ll begin with a stab at the moral/political question: is Facebook evil? Next, the pragmatic question: does it actually work as promotional tool? And finally, the overarching question of whether it is ‘appropriate’ for our slice of the DIY underground to use it.
Despite not holding an account I have, of course, spent plenty of time dodging the demands to sign up in order to see gig info or otherwise lurk. If RFM is being discussed then the hits coming from FB feel like a partially heard conversation happening in a room with the door ajar. I’ve never been tempted to walk in, however, because what I hear about Facebook outside of Facebook is predominately negative. I don’t doubt that there are lovely people using it (like those members of Chrissie’s synth discussion groups) but friends talk about it with exasperation, torn as to whether to cut ties as you might with a needy and bullying family member. The final straw for a mate of mine was when he was disinvited from a stag do following a row caused by him daring to confirm his attendance with, y’know, his actual voice and not via Facebook. It’s become like shopping in a supermarket, or reading The Wire – something none of us actually enjoy but which we grudgingly accept as part of modern life. Imagine spending the evening in a gigantic, soulless, city-centre chain pub, one which has an unsmiling bouncer on the door demanding ID before letting you in. The beer is crap, the décor unpleasant, neighbouring tables are full of braying idiots but, hey, it’s here that we have agreed to meet. Evil – on a personal, individual level? Probably not. Fuck that shit? On balance, yes.
That’s not to say that the information you provide to Facebook can’t be used for straight-up evil though. As these thoughts were congealing in my head I read this article, published on The Guardian website on February 26th. I’m genuinely concerned that if I name names bots will be released, like flying monkeys, to come and destroy us but the gist is that an off-the-radar software company is busy analysing hundreds of millions of FB accounts and using that data to target propaganda furthering the hard-right agenda of their billionaire backer:
These Facebook profiles – especially people’s “likes” – could be correlated across millions of others to produce uncannily accurate results. […], the centre’s lead scientist, found that with knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someone’s personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself. “Computers see us in a more robust way than we see ourselves,” says […].
This team worked both with the Leave campaign and with Trump. Was it enough to swing both elections? Maybe us complacent liberals wouldn’t have laughed so hard at those ‘dumpster fire’ campaigns if we’d known this Black Mirror style PSY ops was occurring in the background. Evil – on a worldwide, political level? Yeah, I’d say so. Fuck that shit? Absolutely.
But, the pragmatist asks, does it work? Leaving aside the moral qualms and given that everyone is in the crap pub, what happens if we put our poster up on the noticeboard? I think I’m with Chrissie on this one – the answer is: nowt much. The reason is, I think, to do with the size and structure of the scene and not where the noticeboard is located. In an article I wrote five years ago about the, *ahem* ‘economics’ of the no-audience underground I said:
OK, leaving London to one side as it has its own rules, experience has shown me that most UK conurbations of city-ish size can rustle up 20 people interested enough in the type of experimental music RFM covers to turn up to gigs. 10 or less if you are unfortunate, 30 plus if your scene is thriving. Should you wish to perform in this ‘arena’ then these people are your audience: the subset of this crowd who can turn up on that evening.
Marketing and promotion do little to alter these numbers. This is because music of this type will always be a fringe interest (ignoring little blooms of hipster popularity every now and again) but that fringe is well-informed and inquisitive. As long as the gig is plugged in whatever the usual places are (for example in Leeds we have the essential Cops and Robbers) then the cognoscenti will find out about it and do their best to roll up.
…and, despite the Facebook gig listing becoming ubiquitous in the meantime, I still think this is about right. Had I been stood next to Sof when that band made their ‘clicks mean gigs’ announcement I would have groaned but at some level I guess it might make a difference nowadays – just not at our level. Chrissie is right about contacts to a certain extent too – those who hustle for shows do generally get more shows – but within the no-audience underground any attempt at hype or unwarranted self-promotion is usually met with at least a raised eyebrow if not all-out hilarity. Given the absence of money, the unit of currency ‘down’ here is goodwill and it is earned, exchanged and repaid through being active in the scene. Perhaps this is our equivalent of <dry boke> ‘networking’ <coughing retch> and it strikes me that this can make more of a difference than any particular means of spreading the word – look, for example, at the love showered on Crater Lake or Tor Fest (“Call something a festival,” says Jake Blanchard, mystified, “and people just turn up.”).
For us, Facebook is now one of the ‘usual places’ where we find stuff out but its prominence has not noticeably affected attendance numbers either way. When not specifically concerned with discussing Facebook itself I think most people consider the format transparent and ‘see through it’ to the information itself in the same way you don’t consciously think ‘this is a poster’ but instead just register the date, venue etc. To be honest, I’d have been grateful to have it back in the Termite Club days when I was stuffing envelopes with flyers (<Noel Fielding voice> Imagine that!) to send to a postal mailing list or badgering magazines knowing full well that their attention was far less important than whether or not it rained on the night of the show.
To the last question then: given that we are at least justified in having misgivings about using Facebook and that as a promotional tool it is little better than other means (necessarily so given the nature of the scene we are part of) how appropriate is it to use it at all?
Firstly I’m going to dismiss a couple of related concerns more or less out of hand – that it is inappropriate because it is ubiquitous or ‘mainstream’ and that it is inappropriate because it ‘makes things easy’ – then I’m going to end the whole thing really abruptly.
If something so nebulous and subjective as ‘mainstream’ culture can be usefully defined (I’m not sure it can, but that is for another day) then Facebook is unarguably part of it. Your mum is on Facebook right now, discussing her favourite tracks from the Stormzy album. I don’t care. One of the great strengths of the no-audience underground is that is does not define itself in opposition to ‘mainstream’ culture but largely just turns its back to it and cracks on with the work. The belief that DIY culture needs to be antagonistic to popular culture is a quaint stained-glass window surviving in the Church of Punk – very pretty, but I can’t help thinking it is orders of magnitude more radical to not engage with popular culture at all. I’ve rehearsed these arguments several times over several years (starting here) so I needn’t say any more right now.
I also have absolutely no time for the argument that Facebook, or any other form of social media, ‘makes it easy’ or ‘lumps it all together’ as if that were a bad thing. I’d be delighted if access to everything we do was made as easy as possible so that anyone who is interested could find it at their fingertips. When I think of the golden age we live in now and compare it to the time and resources I had to spend as a teenager getting even part-way sound-literate I could cry at the waste.
For example: I grew up in a small seaside town called Littlehampton on the South Coast of England, near enough to Brighton for me to misspend much of my youth there. As a teenage fan of Spacemen 3 and Loop, Can loomed large in legend. My fellow heads and I did what we could to track down stuff from libraries, second hand shops and borrowed stuff from the rich kid whose dad bought him the first batch of CD reissues. In that way we built up a patchy knowledge of the band and their context. Contrast this to the situation in January of this year when Jaki Liebezeit sadly passed away. In celebration of the man and his unique achievements links to YouTube clips went flying around twitter and anyone could listen to hours of the band’s music for free whilst reading exhaustive accounts of its history and influence via Wikipedia and innumerable blogs. May I respectfully suggest that anyone who thinks the former situation is preferable to the latter (not with regard to Jaki’s passing, of course, I’m talking about access to the material) is, at best, misguided. There is a tendency, especially amongst middle aged beardies, to cry-wank over their box-sets and pristine collection of Melody Makers from the late 1980s whilst whimpering nostalgically about finding a copy of Fun House under a hedge and ‘discovering’ The Stooges. Jesus wept. I could go on but I presume my feelings about anything that could be perceived as ‘gatekeeping’, or the raising of artificial barriers, are perfectly clear.
But what about RFM? Reading through the above I see much of what I’ve written is fairly abstract or from the perspective of gig promotion. Does it help answer the question as to whether a blog dedicated to documenting weird music produced by a fiercely independent d.i.y. scene should have a presence on Facebook? Well, much as I understand Sof’s frustrations, Joe H’s reticence and the personally negative feelings shared by me, Chrissie and others I’d hesitate to say, as Joe H does, that Facebook drains the magic from everything it touches. I don’t find it fun, for sure, but I’d like to think that the magic of the art we cover (and, let’s not be too modest, our descriptions of it – we are part of all this) shines through the murkiness of the medium. If we proceed with caution then …nnnnggghhh… OK.
We are camped way uphill from the floodgates, a few signposts can’t hurt.
Tags: bowditch, dtub, fractal meat cuts, joe henderson, marlo eggplant, post-valentine
Marlo Eggplant – Callosity (Fractal Meat Cuts)
Dtub – Midi-Drum Compositions-1 (Fractal Meat Cuts)
Bowditch – Southend Objectified (Fractal Meat Cuts)
(Ed’s mumble…buckle up, buckle up readers for this first dizzying and deconstructed ear-report from our new bean Joe Henderson.)
FRACTAL MEAT POST-VALENTINE SPECIAL/Jan-March Streets Edition (Marlo Eggplant, Dtub & Bowditch)
First post. It’s a cold & drizzly Sunday afternoon. Listening to the radio.
The industrious Graham Dunning, head-honcho of Fractal Meat Cuts label, delivers a small-packaged bomb of audio pleasures (including his own limited edition, custom made, generation-loss cassette – which exists in another Universe as of now, and to be reviewed when time catches up with me – but can be perused via his catalogue).
First up, Marlo Eggplant. Baltimore-born, Midwich reporter & SPA. Title: Callosity. Edition of 40 cassettes.
The world turns in the right direction. Valentines Day. The most fucked up day of the year. It’s grim. It’s cold. It’s loveless. I’m dialing in Dr. Eggplant.
The ashy clearing; she strums it whilst the birds go low. Animals pitch in. Marked by their slow heavy breathing. Unseen but heard. It’s always cold, but in her warm cocoon. I get so introverted, listening to music like this. Opening drawers in corners of my psyche. I’m in a stupor. Dusty softly done. Expanse throbbing. Ray-gun echoes. Like a solemn hymn to a mutant future generation (what’s wrong with X-Men?). Moving the man-hole cover away. The street lamps are a way to see at night – don’t ever forget that. She snores from another life. The quality of being led with ones hands tied behind their backs down a corridor of gloom. Footsteps all around you. Music flickering in your memories, all around you – like crowds. Fake ghosts turned off and on. Hounding by a beated rhythm. Iron curtains coming down, repeatedly. Running into the horizon without a care in the world. A white bag flapping around you. You’ve lost your memories. You riffle thru them. Like old car tapes. Chewed and sticky. But enchanted. You just never quite know for sure what the Universe says of you. It’s your little old self and the entire realm of possibility. The end coming again, and again, and again. Dusting off a little time piece, found in the dirt. A microcosm of tiny delights. Ticking down the days. Moving the man hole again. Those adverts played on me. The ones for ghost writers. Lulling those. It’s fake news. Make you question your reality. Backwards rolling tongue thru two rolling pins. Imagine waking up to a forest. All the world is twisting like a rope. Glitching small primates handle mechanized wooden mallets. “Is it normal to lie there and cry?”
What’s your favourite brand of light bulb?
Fake candle bulbs
How often do you regret your future?
Constantly and with insistence
What’s black and blue & red all over?
I believe the answer is a newspaper but arguably several tropical fish
Helicopter drifting with a broken wing thru the jungle
Love is not a tomb
The sky has been that torn yellow colour
For so long now, like alleys that never change
What burns hotter than the sun?
Where do the birds go?
To the moon and back
What is your favourite colour blue?
What’s your favourite penny-sweet?
Format: Cassette & Download SOLD OUT
Want some more? Click on this beautiful beauty to watch Joe’s stunning video interpretation of Marlo’s track Embers.
And then, Dtub. Electric drummer. Live album. Title: Midi-Drum Compositions-1. Edition of 60 tapes
Love this. I was lucky to see Dtub play at the Cowley Club in February on tour with Dunning & Eggplant. A self-contained motorized human-man, riding the unstoppable cycles of his beats, focussed on propelling the rhythms. Snippets of vocals samples woven into wooden timbre. A man engulfed in his unfolding creation. A train. Can’t stop, Can’t get off. Was reminded a week later of standing in the middle of London Road with Tom Roberts of Bolide & Aeolipile – cars driving ‘round us. The bar-maid offering me the choice of a pint or a jug of Cowley beer. Missed work again the next morning. Can’t remember what was on the news that day..
- 2. Newbark
- Faucet Dub
- Bubble Freak
- Hi-Tec House
- Warehouse Jam
- Music By Numbers
- 16-Bit Funk Machine
Format: Cassette & Download SOLD OUT
Bowditch. Likes to explore the mysterious and conflate it to highlight our cognition of place, experience, space. Prolific human. Title: Southend Objectified. Edition of 60 cassettes.
Sounds like thumbing a live cable. Juttery, jongery, galloping horses disintegrating, distinctly metallic in regions.
Stuart Bowditch appears inside his website wearing his field recording gear, in front of some stately home. There is horse, a man in armour and a man who has thrown his arms in the air and is hollering, dressed in medieval garb.
I begin to tap my fingers in time to ‘Bear pit’, unaware of myself doing this until I begin to write about it: “found some different tools and got to work on objects and recordings from my home town.”
What’s your favourite breed of pig?
1. Town Crier’s Bell
2. The Railway Hotel Gents’ Toilet Hand Dryer (Broken)
3. Kenco Coffee Tub
4. Flooded House
5. Bear Pit (Point B)
(Sewage Outlet Under Thames Hides Even Nastier Discharge)
Format: Cassette & Download
Jan- Mars Streets Mix is as follows:
Ndolwane Super sounds ‘Umph’ahambe’, Steely Dan ‘Steely Dan God’, Amr Diab ‘Tamally Maak’, Radical Dance Faction ‘Borderline Cases’, The Fall ‘I am Kurious Oranj’.
Put yer listening devices here
Egyptian Dream Book says: “It is the duty of the kidneys to see that the blood keeps pure. Not to make pure blood – the food we do not eat does that – but to remove from the blood all the impurities it has gathered up during its circuit of the body”
“I know, Ben mumbled. “But I didn’t have a motive” – Pg. 17. Mystery Detective.
Over an’ Out Com’s xx
Tags: aetheric records, april larson, benjamin shaw, black_ops, brian hodgson, broken shoulder, burl, david vorhaus, delia derbyshire, echoes leytonstone, hollows, kek-w, marlo eggplant, slowthaw, so there, stapperton, the heartwood institute, the revenant sea, troy schafer, white feather, white noise
various artists – an electrical storm (CD-r and badge or download, aetheric records)
The 1968 album An Electric Storm by White Noise is a sound classic, inspiring avant garde/experimental pop bands such as Silver Apples and Stereolab who aimed to approximate the primitive, vestigial sound experiments curated by American electronic engineer David Vorhaus.
Having attended a lecture given by Delia Derbyshire, Vorhaus joined forces with her and fellow Radiophonic Workshop composer Brian Hodgson and the result of locking themselves away together is this classic psychedelic pop album. An Electric Storm is playful and cinematic, filled with altered samples and tape spliced salads of circus melodies, special effects, French dialogue, sexual exploits, and screams of hell. The aetheric records 2015 compilation, an electrical storm is a ‘tribute to the experimental spirit’ of White Noise’s masterpiece.
All artists were given a field recording of an electrical storm made by aetheric records’ Alistair Thaw (a.k.a slowthaw.) They could use the track as they wished to create their own compositions. One could reason that conceptually inspired by the White Noise album, this compilation is a celebration of the technique: repurposing sound or ‘tape splicing’. And it isn’t just a bunch of musicians using the sample in similar ways or even using similar procedures. Each track has its own flavour and approach to the initial recording, resulting in a true tribute to ‘how-and-why’ the White Noise album was born.
With a collection of international musicians rolling the dice with the storm, the result is an enjoyable and dramatic film journey accompanied by an unconscious familiarity with the source material. The tracks are well ordered, leaving the listener enjoying the rain.
The compilation opens with So There’s xylophones and nuanced, quiet beckonings. White Feather’s Nocturnal Storm leads us into the glowing, pretty space where the listener opens their eyes refreshed. Kek-W‘s STRm walks us on to the train tracks into a dance party, climbing past metal riveters and pulsations. Troy Schafer’s fixed emission makes me seriously homesick for shows back in the States in sweaty spaces filled with unexpected distorted shouts and dark human stimuli. The Revenant Sea’s charge separation cluster is the static that makes the baby hair on arms stand at attention, possibly receiving transmissions from the galaxy. The Heartwood Institute’s aetheric recursion did not remind me of the massage school with the same namesake in Northern California. Rather it reminded me of the The Repo Man soundtrack [Editor’s note: high praise indeed!], the listener being pursued by chain smoking UFO hunters. le pleasure beach by Benjamin Shaw washes one with watery ascending piano ripples.
April Larson’s decaying dream (electric storm mix) delivers yet another cinematic track, this time with escalating David Lynch eerie suspense. as clouds accumulate by stapperton bounces a rubber ball intermittently walking through rain storms and swarms of whispering cicadas, inducing ketamine flashbacks. black_ops pushes one through a monochromatic static void, repetitive waves of great gravity surround. Echoes …. Leytonstone concretizes one’s senses again putting them into order with shushing reassurance to move through the gap. BURL attaches you to the outer space debris floating through ancient unknown civilizations, all being swallowed slowly into a black hole. One enters another dimension on a single sound. two cars passing by Hollows is a misty-eyed moment of mortality, organs and piano keyboards reminding us that we all grow old. Broken Shoulder’s holiday’s ruined is honing in on almost nautical transmissions and resonance, the ship is brought into port after a long voyage. Coming back to the source, and nature, with the clean, sharp field recording made by slowthaw.
The compilation comes with a badge with the same disturbing, beautiful album art. I recommend listening to an electrical storm late at night with a jug of red wine, lying on a Persian rug and duvet for emotional comfort.
Tags: alodi, berberine, chic gala, chica x, concrete diva, corpus callosum distro, foxdye, future ex-wives, guggenheim doppleganger, hobbyknife, jane dapain, joe murray, l soulio, lady of situations, ladyjam, ladyz in noyz, lucy bonk, lyrels, marlo eggplant, mass ornament, milch de la maquina, minim, motion sickness of time travel, multifungi, panoptic cyst, phantom chips, pony slut, poundland, s lee, secrets, sekret dyke, sharkiface, tahnzz, via, wolfesule, yohimbe
Various Artists – Ladyz in Noyz 3 (2 x CD-r, corpus callosum distro)
Various Artists – Ladyz in Noyz 3.5 (CD-r, corpus callosum distro)
These three discs, split across two releases, form part of the cutting-edge Ladyz in Noyz series – a long-running, on-going, world-wide celebration of female experimental and fringe musicians – and pretty marvellous it is too. Series 3 is compiled by our very own marlo eggplant and is an explosive introduction to Twenty Eight exceptional artists.
Regular readers will know I love a compilation; and for me the more varied the better. I’m very happy, in fact I’m delighted, to be thrown from one hermetic sound environment to another – letting sense collapse around my ears as (for example) cool, gritty reductionist harp is angrily shattered by hissing-pissy Black Metal.
First up on the cheap-o stereo is the double pack LiN 3. It’s a fairly weighty tome and as wonderfully varied as I dreamt, shifting the rug from bleak harsh noise to psychedelic guitar-picking to hydrant-rousing rhyming all with the crisp distinctive pop of a jar of fresh pickled onions being prised open. Ready? Sit back, pick up a fork and dig in…
- Wolfesule – Sabbath-strength groan. Like deep ridges and howling canyons. I’m clinging to a secluded mountain ledge.
- Lyrels – Dub yomp through marsh-land with heavy boots and backpack leaking nitric acid. In triplicate, uphill.
- Ladyjam – Spooked sheep gut and horsehair; a simple waltz round a gasping sink-hole.
- Lucy Bonk – Gin-soaked electronics and tape cacophony. Then the organ grinder puts the monkey in the blender!
- MINIM– Stainless steel poetry. Short vibrations set up a chain reaction of lonely pluck and subterranean ripple that take us to pre-revolutionary Russia.
- Alodi – Ear-shattering in the way Einstürzende Neubauten would crack the brittle brown plastic of my Fisher Price tape player.
- Sekret Dyke – Heavy and wobbling with one foot in the club and the other jammed into a malfunctioning leaf blower.
- Lady of Situations – A reefer rolled with Godflesh. A Hammond toke (Jimmy Smith) – and the walls close in like prehistoric ferns.
- VIA – Glass Harmonica full of silverfish flipping backwards in a wriggling cascade down the table and across the floor turning bare concrete to a shallow bristling sea.
- Yohimbe – Backed up potato-exhaust nightmare. Creeping rumbles set to stun. Chances of survival?
- Guggenheim Doppleganger – Radio waves bounced off a gritty satellite; the original signals are scrambled but marbled into a wonderful chaos. The band plays on (naturally). KISS covers I think?
- Pony Slut – Pure boiling hell. Absolutely no-nonsense harsh noise delivered like a fist-full of wet clay.
- Multifungi – Thin needles ‘ping’ against other needles of infinite length. The tin reverb drowns out the ocean.
- L Soulio/S Lee – Classy guitar pluckage becomes a million points of light. Eventually the sound of a rosy shadow is smeared into wet grass.
- Chica X– Super innocent and joyful and gosh-darn F.R.E.S.H. The Double Dutch revival starts right now!
- Panoptic Cyst – Obnoxious tunnelling noise. Rocks and debris rush past ‘the mole’ as it descends into shale gas deposits.
- Berberine – A skilfully erased song. Wide swipes with a damp cloth make the chalky equations melt into a grey paste. Beautifully vague.
- Milch De La Maquina – Owls cast in bronze! The Sirens join in on thigh-bone cello and cloaked vocal jaxx. Soundtrack to The Secret History?
- Hobbyknife – A very live sounding Noise Aktion piece paced as carefully as a chess match. Checkmate!
- Poundland – Shimmering exotica, an orchestra of lucky trinkets and gee-gaws. Like those novelty birthday cards that play a tune…but re-programmed to The Twilight Zone theme.
- Secrets – Hum-bubbling beats that just don’t quit become the Burundi under clear digital ripping and vocal harmonies really saying something.
- Motion Sickness of Time Travel – Ritual electronics using repetitive lurching like a shaman with a palmed frame drum. The full-on perfumed smoke makes my eyes water and nostril sting…but what’s that shape moving in the corner of the yurt?
- Future Ex-Wives – Solo guitar bounces between twin peaks of heavy reverb into marmalade gloopiness.
- Mass Ornament – The insistent glockenspiel and gently running water make me think about the glamour of 1950’s Air Travel and Bongwater backing tracks (circa Double Bummer). Both wonderful reveries.
- Chic Gala – Electro-punk or something that rocks the Casio ‘tom’ sound like German Disco. Condenser Mics make the voices compressed as slick carbon and powerful beyond measure.
- Jane DaPain –What is it about the deadly unpredictability of electricity that draws us like fleshy moths? Just over two minutes of perfect overhead-cable-drone
- Foxdye – An unbalancing music to knock your gravitational centre. The glitch is well and truly the star as bass ‘whoooms’ detonate in each ear making me physically limp as I try to walk to Superdrug.
- Concrete Diva – a beautiful recording that seems to capture the action going on in another room. Heavily processed guitar; part hi-life jitter, part psych-pond ripple makes time an oily slick.
- Poundland – A darker side to the abstract is mined with a bass-line thrum. Above ground the feedback squeals as gulls do.
I take a day or two to recover from this mung-barrage and then slip in LiN 3.5, which I am guessing is a stop-gap until LiN 4 hits the shores. This mix is pulled together in bunches so we get a couple of depth-charges from Sharkiface, Phantom Chips, our marlo eggplant and one from TAHNZZ. OK… let’s roll.
Phantom Chips favours a crisp sizzled interface; like an electrocuted typewriter. In fact I can do no better than hurl the title ‘buzzoidcircling’ at you as a resume for this particular micro-style. Crinkle cut!
Sharkiface looms with a slow and low bass throb that comes across like spooky Penderecki on ‘Down the Mountain’ and moves into deep-fat-fryer territory with a wicked bubbling and dust-bin drum solo on ‘Blood Transfusion’ reminding me of something on that Cosmic Kurushi Monsters comp from donkeys ago.
The single track from TAHNZZ is an intense 15 minute (harsh) wall of rubbery fluctuations and bass-heavy rumble. So… hot gravel gets shovelled into large house-sized piles only to get knocked down by giant lobster claws. Both peachy and pneumatic in heavy doses.
marlo ramps up the Cthulu on her pieces ‘Shursh’ and ‘Buzz Spling’. These two pieces sound like something ‘unnatural’ escaping from a cage and poison gas bubbling through a phosphorescent marsh respectively. An undersea kingdom is discovered by rusty bathysphere (springing a hull breach) in ‘Theadle’ and then the stunned survivors join in with the dripping-wet Old Ones booming a bass-choir of massive conch shells on the ‘Sous’. Best of all is the all-too-brief ‘Martial’, 1 minute 42 seconds of warped tattoo and bowed golden keys.
All these sounds (and more, more, more) available at the corpus callosum distro Bandcamp site.
Tags: aqua dentata, bbblood, duncan harrison, marlo eggplant
Duncan Harrison, BBBlood, Aqua Dentata – “Ineluctable modality of the visible”
(self-released tour CD-r, edition of 60)
INELUCTABLE MODALITY OF THE VISIBLE: AT LEAST THAT IF NO MORE, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs.
The title of the compilation, “Ineluctable modality of the visible” is a direct quotation in which the protagonist has just free associated, eventually entering into the subjective/objective questionable space. Perhaps that would be the best way to describe this convergence of the works of Duncan Harrison, BBBlood, and Aqua Dentata. Despite thinking that all three are righteous talented dudes, I think this title is a very clever framework in which to curate a collection. The title demands a questioning of the senses: what is the visible, or rather, what are the boundaries of the experience of vision? When an object is observed/witnessed, it exists outside of that experience. There is the form, what we experience in seeing, and the substance, what is actually sitting in front of us. This is an extrapolation of Aristotle who felt sound was different than vision: in the process of hearing and making sounds, a mixing of substance and form are more entwined and mutually reliant [Editor’s note: errm… blimey… if you say so]. Although I may be going a little bit off on a tangent here and letting my academic brain interrupt my appreciation of just a freaking good comp [Editor’s note: ah! Gotcha].
But, damn you, Duncan Harrison! The first track immediately gets me back in my academic head! ‘(Je suis) La Loi’ makes me think of psychoanalytical linguist theorist Julia Kristeva and deconstructionist scholar Jacques Derrida. The use of breath and physiological sounds makes the listening an embodied experience. The listener feels present. It is hard not to notice if one’s lips are dry or if you possibly had too many coffees. The repetition of the words ‘la loi’ meaning ‘the law’ provides the only semi-structure. It is loosely yet intentionally reapplied throughout the piece. I once saw Harrison do a performance at Splitting the Atom down in Brighton in which he stood uttering words barefoot on broken dishes. The tension of harm and presence was so intense. That’s what it is about the track. It has an immediacy to it. Almost like if Houdini were trapped in a room, struggling with a word puzzle. Using recorded voice and live improvisation, the piece feels historical like an old lecture. Maybe the whole thing is a nod to Trevor Wishart or Ellen Moffatt. Or maybe Duncan is losing his mind. Either way, I am sold on this track.
With the second track, ‘The Rye’, there is an experiment in what sounds like tape manipulation and mouth sounds. Great mini-silences and pace. What Harrison demonstrates here is a patience unafraid to allow disconcerted emissions. Metallic whirring transmissions, water flowing, movement sounds, shushing, scratching on surfaces, wind/inhale/exhale… layers and whistles. It is a great follow up to the text-sound playfulness of his first track.
Next up: BBBlood. Paul Watson, like Harrison, has explored different methods and techniques over the years and one can clearly hear his mixed genres spilling and building. I associate BBBlood with capital ‘N’ noise due to his early work or perhaps because of his epic 2013 Crater Lake set. In ‘Xinbad Rapid’, he erupts and flows into processes. You can see his love of patterns and repetition playing with more fully embraced samples. Despite the constant layering, it is not saturated. It still gave me the low ends and rumbles that this old grrl is a sucker for but with measured application. The track feels live yet framed. In ‘Nexistence of Vividence’, BBBlood returns to more of the crunchy reeling and wheeling and dealing. It is a typhoon that builds and waits. Never fully collapsing, the sounds peters out like attempting to catch water running through fingers. Yet there is an ethereal resolution to the struggle and the listeners are laid to rest, an aural wiping of the brow. Time to rest after the long haul.
Eddie Nuttall, a.k.a Aqua Dentata, is not from this planet. I honestly don’t think he is. His music feels like extraterrestrial communication from outside our universe. Like binaural beats and subconscious interfering hypnosis, his untitled track sounds like it is made of laser beams. As a listener, you feel like you merge with the frequency and question your ability to make cognitive sense. It isn’t because of a reliance in bombarding one with several sounds but rather a direct cerebral invasion. To call it a drone would be a disservice because it is mechanistically minimal in texture but complicated in its building. I cannot tell if the sounds are all intentional but my mind hears a widening of sensation and a pleasant obliteration. Nuttall does not back away from higher frequencies but does not accentuate their presence within the composition. I really like the way he uses volume in slight shifts. Sometimes the resonance makes my teeth hurt in the best way possible.
“Ineluctable modality of the visible” is an excellent comp with smart tracks. If one of my friends back home in the States were to ask me for a contemporary recommendation of an album of my favorite sounds in the UK, this would definitely be on the top of my list.
[Editor’s note: this CD-r was produced by the contributors to be sold at a trio of Northern dates last September. The run was mainly snagged by attendees. Perhaps you could try Electric Knife? Or did I hear Duncs say he had a copy or two still?]
Tags: asuna, broken shoulder, kirigirisu recordings, marlo eggplant, sonotanotanpenz
Asuna, Sonotanotanpenz, Broken Shoulder – Kirigirisu Recordings Tour Compilation
(CD-r, Kirigirisu Recordings, edition of 100 or download)
Winter in the Yorkshires is a pensive, slow, moody time with weather shifting, all in the direction of foreboding downtime [Editor’s note: yes! Glorious isn’t it?]. Musical interludes are greatly appreciated in order to avoid the abrupt shortening of daylight and growing durations of pure darkness. Captain Hayler made a call out for reviews and in my usual fashion, I clamoured for the opportunity to hear compilations from labels which I had little familiarity with. I like to think of compilations as curated soundtracks from strangers, intended to take one away from daily living into the logic and minds of others.
Kirigirisu Recordings Tour Compilation released in October of 2015 is an excellent example of such a voyage. I had never heard of the Tokyo based label before nor any of the projects [Editor’s note: though it isn’t entirely new to RFM – see Sof’s piece here]. A precursory enquiry into the label revealed that it was assembled by Neil Debnam, dealt in limited edition CD-rs and had previously released the work of Core of the Coalman. This four track mini-album is an audio archive of the first day of a tour featuring label-mates Asuna, Sonotanotanpenz, and Broken Shoulder.
Sound artist Asuna’s track ‘South Pine School’ opens with a melodic train of folk-like quality. The organ sounds mix with recordings of a crowd and church bells, blending into a musical toy exploration. The toy sounds are articulated into a sonic arcade game where the player struggles to move to the next level. Saved by glitches and a guiding musical line with slight percussive bells, the listener is taken safely across. Progressing with slight electronic accents, the crowd recordings, and symphonic elements, Asuna disrupts and guides with song. Sonically it forces the listener to imagine visualizations of distance and varied ecospheres. Samples and instrumentation hold hands as one is safely delivered to another land.
Sonotanotanpenz is made up of Hitomi Moriwaki & Hitomi Itamura, two women who banded together in 2012 in Fukouka, Japan. Their performances are playfully theatrical. The project has fluency and connectedness, demonstrating their practice/experience as consistent collaborators. The two tracks are instrumental travel layers. The first has stringed instruments and small percussions, a slightly psychedelic improvisationally free space . The unclear spoken voice in the second track takes us into an astral plane with low electrical melodies. There is an insistence of movement in the use of rhythm and a sense of wandering. I most certainly want to see this project play live.
Broken Shoulder is the project of Neil Debnam (Fighting Kites) who describes his origin as “Holloway to Tokyo”. I know I should probably be familiar with this artist. The track opens with an urgent pulse. An electronic message must be delivered. It reminds me of old time ticker tape and early computers. A descant of trio of notes builds across the top of machine sounds becoming more complex as it progresses into harmonies. Like a swelling orchestra, the melody is warming and enclosing the listener. Yet the electronic pulse does not die away till what sounds like an electric guitar washes us on the shore.
Maybe this review is more just me wanting to go on a holiday or get away from this dreary weather [Editor’s note: you mean bracing weather, of course]. This compilation though is cheaper than a flight and a dreamy way to feel hopeful in this grey climate. Three more compilations to come…
Tags: benjamin hallatt, haiku, hairdryer excommunication, hardworking families, kay hill, kevin sanders, marlo eggplant, seth cooke, tom bench
kevin sanders – reducing ideas to words (CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)
kevin sanders – the physical resonance of attraction (a.m.) (3” CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)
Marlo Eggplant – Jutted (3” CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)
kevin sanders – Sounds of separation (3” CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 11 or download)
Kay Hill & Kevin Sanders (tape or download, hairdryer excommunication)
Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss (business card CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 100 or download)
Hardworking Families – Happy Days (CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)
Kevin Sanders – hyperhypercritical (3” CD-r or download, hairdryer excommunication)
1. reducing ideas to words
Scratching the paper,
we trade precision smears
for hard company.
2. the physical resonance of attraction (a.m.)
lick the air – cavers approach!
A feast of tanned flesh…
Brine, creosote, blood –
stir with rusting screwdriver.
Cut tethers, start work.
4. Sounds of separation
like it had never been said.
Then we remember.
5. Kay Hill & Kevin Sanders
From edge of tar pit
to aeon-bled exhibit –
6. Christ of the Abyss
Petri dish culture
of tainted agar reveals
face of the prophet.
7. Happy Days
‘Sit on it, Winnie!’
says Fonz, buried to his neck.
Sammy feeds the shark.
Each tide’s rasping breath
a fraction of Moon’s release,
or: “saying goodbye.”
teeth, gears grinding
– reflected in silver bullets.
Tags: benjamin hallatt, charles dexter ward, crater lake festival, culver, dale cornish, dictaphonics, drone, dylan nyoukis, electronica, evil moisture, improv, jerome smith, joe murray, kay hill, kieron piercy, lee stokoe, live music, luke vollar, marlo eggplant, matching head, mel o'dubhslaine, new music, no audience underground, noise, pete cann, phil todd, posset, psychedelia, rudolf eb.er, shameless self-congratulation, sof, sophie cooper, stephen cornford, stuart chalmers, tapes, vocal improvisation, yol
Whoo, boy – where to start with Crater Lake? Maybe with the simple and declarative: Crater Lake Festival is a day-long celebration of experimental music held annually in March at Wharf Chambers in Leeds and is organised by Pete Cann. Them’s the facts. However, over the four years of its existence it has grown into something over and above a display of the curator’s unimpeachable taste and ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ approach to time keeping: it has become a gathering of the clan. As well as being an unrivalled opportunity to see the risen cream of ‘noise’ (some in combos suggested by Pete himself) perform to a large and appreciative crowd, you also get the equally important social side. Names are put to smiling faces, hand are shaken, warez exchanged, plots hatched – all taking place in a general air of slightly delirious enthusiasm fuelled by the constant flow of decent, fairly-priced alcohol.
This blog is known for a phrase coined as shorthand description of the scene it documents but I am steering clear of that for now. I don’t want to co-opt something that is clearly greater than the sum of its parts and can’t be pigeonholed. I will say this though: when I noticed that Pete had hooked some relatively big fish for the bill, and saw the Arts Council logo had snuck onto the corner of his poster, I asked him how he’d managed to successfully tap ’em for funding. He replied, to my delight, that he’d used my write up of last year’s festival as the blurb for his application and they couldn’t wait to shower him with cash. Despite knowing that the Arts Council has recently taken an almighty bollocking for being Londoncentric and that any application from Winterfell was going to be seriously considered, it was still a very proud moment. There you go, people: this stuff matters. Hang on a second, I seem to have something in my eye…
<sniffs, turns to window, regains composure, harumphs manfully>
OK, a word about the below. Due to family commitments – a visit from my parents to celebrate the second birthday of my son Thomas – I could only attend for the three hours from 8pm to 11pm. To be honest, given the stinking cold I had, that is probably all I could manage anyway. So, having spent the afternoon chasing the kid around Home Farm at Temple Newsam (and marveling at turkeys that looked like monsters from Doctor Who, or an illustration by Ian Watson) I arrived flustered and discombobulated into an already pretty drunken milieu. Suspecting this would be the case I had already tasked the other four RFM staffers attending (alas, Chrissie had to be elsewhere recording an orchestra) with documenting the day so all I had to organize was a group photo.
In the piece that follows the author of the paragraph is indicated in bold like this – Luke: – and interjections about non-musical aspects of the day are (bracketed and in italics). Photographs of the workshop were taken by Sof (using the ‘nice’ camera) and the awesome pictures of the performers were taken by Agata Urbaniak and kindly donated to RFM for use in this piece. I am hugely grateful to her – and to marlo for having the presence of mind to ask – and recommend that you all visit her flickr site too.
Right then, let’s go!
(Joe: Too early! We – one half of the Newcastle delegation – arrive too early at Wharf Chambers. We spot an Evil Moisture prepare for his evil workshop through the crack in the door but take the old army maxim on board – eat when you can – and scoff a scrumptious Persian meal at the place round the corner. A brief sojourn to Leeds market is broken by a call from YOL. We can sound check so I make my way back to base camp. Pete’s relaxed event management skills pay dividends. Everyone knows/does their job. Things tick like Swiss time. The super-patient sound guy balances our 10 second sound check, we nod satisfied with the racket and slope off to meet ace faces Ben Hallatt & Dale Cornish cackling in the Wharf Chambers sun trap.)
Sof: I fought my way through Saturday afternoon Leeds crowds to make it to Wharf Chambers just in time for the Evil Moisture / Andy Bolus Ghost Hunting Detector workshop. We had been instructed to bring along a non-metallic cylindrical object, basic soldering skills and undead ancestors. I’m sure I had the first two with me at least.
We all gathered round a table in the middle of the bar on which we found various items I came to know as ‘cells’, wires and other dangerous looking bits. I’m generally quite scared of electronics (old residual fear of metal work at school no doubt) and so always sign up for activities like this to try and get over this issue. Andy’s approach to the workshop was really relaxed with his main instruction being a hand drawn diagram that he placed in front of 4 of us before letting us get on with it. He was available to answer questions and sort out our various mistakes – great teaching style. This helped to kerb my concerns, I mean, if he could be so chilled holding a wand that can melt metal then why shouldn’t I be too?
There were a lot of confused and frustrated faces around the table during the process but these all turned into massive grins when the detectors finally worked out. It took me nearly 2 hours to attach the cells to a battery and a long wire wrapped around a giant pencil but you know what, it bloody worked. I mean, I’m not sure if the loud squealing noises that were produced from this thing were communications from the other side but when I stuck it into an amp through a bit of reverb at home some use was envisaged. In retrospect I shouldn’t have drank a really strong black coffee during the process because the shaky hands did become a bit of an issue but I got there in the end!
(Joe: While the laboratory is an evil hive of evil activity the wonderful folk of the N-AU turn up, firstly in ones and twos, then huddles, then mobs. I meet Sophie for the first time and gasp in awe at the purple camera she’s sporting so rakishly. The N-AU are prompt, alert and full of relaxed bonhomie. Crater Lake has started!)
Joe: fractured electronics garbled and yarbled straight outta Mel’s mini-mouth – possibly reading out what she was doing (I’m lowering the volume on this tape, I’m adding more reverb on this channel) – via a Dutch translation aid and robot clarinet. The vocal musings were calmly paced, relaxed and with an electronic softening that tickled the tiled floor all nice. Phil Navigations joined in on cyber-Taiko drum to muss things proper towards the end. Ke-tung!
Luke: droll Yorkshire instructions fed through robot vocoder. About five minutes in it dawned on me that I could listen to this quite happily for hours. My mate thought I’d left because Phil turned up and it was in danger of going ‘all musical’ not so: my chalice had run dry.
Joe: (view from the floor) dunno about this, lots of knees and boots, getting awful hot awful quick, Yol clatters…HIT IT!
Boof/~~~scree/HAWKS////zingzingzing/~~II~~:~~BAU~~~~/CLANK. The end.
Cor. That felt good.
Luke: yowser this was fun like visceral high energy free gumph played with the contents of a skip, lots of gurning growling and testifying.
Marlo: the interesting element of this performance is that opposed to some electronic noise acts that seem distanced or detached from actual live performing, these two were very alive, very awake and fully present in a visceral and physical way. Yol, as usual, used his body as his instrument to full capacity. Apparent in his performance were both his sensitivity to environment and his physiological response to Mr. Posset’s intuitive electronic gestures. Both, not shy to show some presence, expressed a reciprocal appreciation of live art.
(Joe: Later… the food comes out full to bursting with Pascal’s grapes… I’m too keyed up to eat but notice it gets a thumbs up from Lee Culver who, no shit readers, is a proper gourmet/baking behemoth. Top Marks.)
Joe: top drawer Dictaphone thumb-nastics from Stuart. The whirr and ‘scree’ of fast forwarding tape was a joy to hear as it bounced from one hand to another; Stuart flinging his luscious black locks like a metalhead and shaking like a nervous cicada. Even my tin ear picked up the subtle tape preparations and timings as skronk melted effortlessly into ethnic-plink with industrial overtones. Of course no one knows what Stuart really looks like…he threw his Kim Thayil wig into the crowd and disappeared into the balmy Leeds afternoon.
Luke: about three beers in this was lush green elephant tea. I dig the candles, the wig, the ritual maaan. Led to an interesting conversation outside. Seems in the N-AU you got your tapes lovers and your tapes haters (known as ‘taters’)
I’d rather watch him play the sounds than play a tape of it
…one geezer remarked.
He was playing a zither thing!
I retorted in his defense. I myself am pro tapes: the wow, the flutter, the plastic encased mystery.
Joe: Ben Hallatt set up an impressive reel-to-reel machine and facilitated the sound of a monkey opening a recalcitrant jar of peanut butter through the fragile, disintegrating brown tape. A play in two parts, this simian housekeeping was taken over by a more keening, knock-kneed hubble-style. All glorious drippings to clear out me waxy tabs.
Luke: my highlight of the day. Tape music with lots of pop and hiss but with, if not a tune, then a beguiling pattern. I struggled to verbalize how impressed I was to the man himself and was astounded that he had no merchandise to pass on (you haven’t heard the last of Kay Hill, readers).
Marlo: Ben Hallatt performed a nuanced, textured and atmospheric tape art set. Despite the surging, celebratory atmosphere of Crater Lake, he held a patient and meditative space. Starting from a minimal structure, he added an elaborate architecture that was sturdy and mindful. The performance was a sound journey that led the audience through this construction and left them in a different place.
Joe: Canary Yellow computer splutter. Spitting and frothing like a thousand tiny tummy kicks from the blue shrimps inside. Marie said to me,
It sounded like the 90’s.
What. All of it?
Sure, in Belgium.
I’m no flat pancake!
Marlo: I had previously seen Dale the week before in Nottingham. His mood was quite different this time. With alert attention, he proceeded to command his laptop to amuse, irritate, and tickle the audience. If I were to have a party, I would invite Dale. Always enjoyable, instead of baking him a birthday cake to compliment last week’s set, based on this performance I would make him profiteroles. Thus instead of a treat that is made for pure enjoyment, celebration, and taste, a pastry as work of art which takes many steps prior to presentation (and I like profiteroles a lot).
Joe: Soundtrack to Night of the Living Squelch that somehow managed to dissect Dylan & Kieron so one duo played breathing noises: hisses, coughs and sighs and the other ‘ghost’ duo played the sound of the first duo running their outputs through resinous pinecones. By gently slapping their foreheads bubbles of gas birthed from parted lips adding a metallic sheen. Please stop me if I’m getting too technical.
(Joe: Later…. booze is consumed, hands shook and booty exchanged. Among the hugs plans are hatched and reputations blackened! Later… we meet the boss. In what must look like a comical gesture to onlookers we both reach out one hand to shake and another to pass cdr/tapes/notes to each other.)
Joe: Erotic Jerome is the most focused man in the N-AU. Every twitch and tremor of his hands opened another subtle filter, let out a deceptive synth note or texturised the canvas with his painterly guitar thribbings. Guess what? Watching CDW reminded me of that Keef.
What do you think about when you’re playing?
Asked the handsome young Vee-jay.
I don’t think on stage. I feel,
came the raspy reply. Nuff Said.
Marlo: I had the immense pleasure of being acquainted with Jerome after his stellar set at Tusk Festival. This time, the layers and processing felt more dense. Every time I felt as though I had embraced a new element of his guitar mosaic, I was being introduced to yet another level of intensity that abandoned yet built upon the previous input. It was a rich and powerful piece.
Rob: I got my non-euclidean groove on and shimmied like a tentacle. It was cyclopean. Who would have thought such a nice guy could be an Old One in human form?
(Joe: Later…a fart in front of Elkka Reign Nyoukis makes her laugh so hard it drowns out the nearby trains. Later…it’s a Warhol of confusion. The heat and the noise and the crowd means conversations start, stop, merge and scatter. I’m bending ears all over. Later…The RFM photo op. I never realised our erstwhile photographer was the legendary Idwal himself! Our handsome group is propped up by my screamingly odd face.)
Rob: The evidence! Five sixths of RFM: me, Sof, Luke, Joe, Marlo – Chrissie sadly couldn’t make it as she was recording an orchestra. Cheers to Uncle Mark for taking the picture.
Marlo: As they said in Videodrome (1983),
Long live the New Flesh!
I say this because I felt like Cornford was battling with the mind melting controlling of vertical and horizontal holds, in a telekinetic struggle with amplitude and frequency, he went head-to-head with his multiple television screens. He was absorbed. I was absorbed. I think the visuals that seemed to translate his audio concoctions were pretty. I would love to see more of his work.
Rob: I felt like the little girl in Poltergeist (1982) but I wasn’t communing with the dead, rather a race of electric creatures attempting to re-programme my bonce with strobing logic. They may have succeeded. I await the trigger word from Mr. Cornford.
(Rob: Sof, Sof! Where are you? I think Sof and Jake’s last train beckoned around this point)
Joe: Rich sarcophagus music. Prostrated like a monk with a Casio, Culver played the sound of the tides spiced with deep orange paprika. Ebb and flow washes over you easily for sure but remember Culver’s dark gravity pins you to the planet like a moth in a cabinet.
Luke: whilst Charles Dexter Ward embraced the crowd with his pink love drone in a highly pleasing manner, Culver extended the black tentacles of Cthulu and left us powerless facing the ghastly pit of torment. I am inebriated at this point and only roused from my Culver trance by my pal clinking glasses, it’s a fine moment: we are ridiculously close to the high priest himself. There can be only one.
Marlo: Culver is remarkable in that he uses similar gear and techniques to others whilst adding something completely signature and unique. I would say that Culver is one of the best drone artists in the UK. His monastic and constant involvement with his gear makes for a compelling performance. Despite the darkness that he chooses to invoke with sound, there is a clear joy interspersed amongst the high frequencies.
Rob: I make a mental note of all in the crowd who talk during Lee’s set. There will be a reckoning. A RECKONING!
(Luke: sad to say I had to miss Evil Moisture and Rudolf Eb.Er but I was successful in navigating my way home. Cheers Pete, see you next year!)
Joe: A Very Wonderful Fucking Sloppy Mess (AVWFSM). Long, long loops of disgruntled squirm get run through the Bolus-zone to come out triple-strength odd. With nothing to hold on to the free fall becomes increasing delicious.
Marlo: When watching Andy Bolus, one wishes that they had superpowers like photographic memory or the ability to time travel. The issue is that normal human capacities do not allow for full visual comprehension of the devices across his two tables and to simultaneously be absorbed by the sounds. There is just so much going on! From the crazy inventor’s lab of his set up to the enveloping waves of sound, my body was compelled to move. Pushed up close to the stage with several other victims of unintentional movement, I held onto a monitor to make sure I didn’t collapse from my undulations. These movements are, by far, my favourite response to good noise. His detailed dynamics had a light touch. Well paced yet not predictable in his shifts, Andy seemed to be using his whole body, even his feet to make the monster chewing sounds. But there were purposeful and understated details placed delicately through sound blasts and running engines. Not sonic saturated and definitely not shy, Evil Moisture’s intuitive performance was well worth the wait.
(Rob: at this point I bow out myself and trot off for the second-to-last bus home very happy with how the day has gone. I’m in such a good mood that when I discover the New Blockaders tape Joe gave me earlier is leaking oil onto the other merch in my bag all I do is chuckle. Ahh, occupational hazard.)
Marlo: One of the best things about seeing noise and improvisational music played live is the feeling that what one witnessed is unique and unrepeatable. Experience a performance by a sound artist like Ruldolph Eb.Er, for example, and you know immediately that what you saw and heard will never occur again the same way. In this case, it might be the fact that several Crater Lakers had lost their marbles on booze and kept hollering throughout the set. That was a bit unfortunate but his professionalism didn’t allow one moment of lack of concentration. I use the word ‘dynamic’ a lot when I talk about noise and sound art, often using it to describe movement. However, in this case, Rudolf’s use of tension and silence is signature to his style. Silences punctuated the set and left the audience irritable and anticipating each aural stimulation. Personally, I was enthralled by the spectacle – I felt prone to his ‘psychoaccoustic’ gestures and was dizzy with confusion. My favorite part of his set was when he placed some nodes covered with a black, inky sound conductive substance on his face and head whilst appearing startled and trembling. I like to think he was slightly losing his mind with the audience but by the end he was fully composed and I felt freaking grateful I had stayed cognizant enough to appreciate all the different acts contained within the piece.
Joe: It had been a very long day. Whist I don’t approve of public drunkenness I am charmed by the tipsy. All my notes say is:
good oaky noise but possible Harkonnen spy.
I think it’s about this point that my brain packed up…
…which is an appropriately wonky note on which to end. Alas, that is that for another year. Many thanks to all involved – performers, venue and attendees – with special back-slapping to Pete Cann for making it happen. It was a terrific day. See y’all next time.
Agata Urbaniak: performers
Sophie Cooper: workshop
Mark Wharton: Team RFM
Tags: a.n.t. attack, benjamin hallatt, cables festival, dale cornish, drone, electronica, experimental sonic machines, ian watson, improv, kiks/gfr, live music, marlo eggplant, melanie o'dubhslaine, mormor den rejsende, murray royston-ward, new music, no audience underground, noise, nottingham, peter rollings, phantom chips, phil julian, pieter last, rammel club, reactor halls, trans/human, [d-c]
[Editor’s note: roving reporter marlo eggplant performed at this event and offers the following insider account. Having more humility than her self-aggrandising editor she has chosen not to write about her own set, instead enlisting the help of Mr. Benjamin Hallat (of the excellent KIKS/GFR label, performs as Kay Hill) to cover whilst she was otherwise engaged. Over to M & B:]
All day events are tricky. In my personal experience of attending and performing at these long days, it sadly tends to be a crapshoot. Even if you are enthusiastic about the performances, one can’t help but remember events that lacked hospitality, a cohesive vision, or even clean bathrooms. Sometimes you end up feeling corralled into a tight space with poor ventilation and bad sound systems; elbow to elbow amongst the once excited, now hungry and tired audience members. By the end of the night, you escape outside as soon as possible in order to recover both your hearing and your sanity.
Simply put – in order to sustain the attention of an audience, participants/attendees must be well fed. I say ‘well-fed’ in the sense that one should not need to go elsewhere for sustenance. Memorable events need several elements in place: good curation around interesting concepts and ideas, an appropriate space that is suitable and comfortable, a framework for the happenings of the day, and – importantly – refreshments to keep the hypoglycaemia at bay.
Two Nottingham organizations, the Rammel Club and Reactor Halls, got together to create an event that provided just such a balanced diet of aural and visual stimulations and the result, Cables, succeeded in being well planned, thought provoking, and fun.
Celebrating the definitions and uses of ‘the cable’, the organizers provided this text:
A cable is more than a mere length of wire. It is a trail to be followed, tracing a line between two points, or a meshwork of interwoven threads. The cable carries the pulse of electricity or light in response to a trigger. Cables are bookended by ‘plugs’, affording an abundance of possible connections. Some connections will be recommended for you in the user guide. But why stop there?…
Indeed a collaborative and connective spirit flowed through the day. From the availability of open improvisational spaces led by Abstract Noise Ting, to Murray Royston-Ward’s contact mic workshop, to the sound/performance kinetic installation by Experimental Sonic Machines, the audience was nourished.
The event took place at Primary, a former schoolhouse converted into several artist studios and exhibition spaces. Workshops, installations, and performances were placed throughout the building, keeping one from feeling claustrophobic by the full programme. The overall aesthetic of the day was well curated and was followed by an evening of provocative performances that played with sound, intention, and improvisation.
The first performance was [D-C], comprising two local musicians: analogue improviser Jez Creek [Modulator ESP] and Benjamin Hallatt [Kay Hill] providing tape loops. I heard a racket in the performance space as I entered the building and threw my gear aside. I love a good racket but that is too simplistic a description for the dynamics of their improvisation. They played together, reacting and interacting with each others’ sounds. There was an overall meteorological sensation to the collaboration – I felt tribal drums leading to low rumbles. Punctuated at times by high whistle emissions, the accompanying visuals enhanced the feeling of being in a silo, lifted by the brutal whimsy of a storm [Editor’s note: not in Kansas anymore?]. The performance ended with trailing robotic sounds…
John Macedo followed. I do love looking at set ups that appear more like a rummage sale then actual preparation for sound art. The arrangement of small transmitters, drinking glasses, and speaker heads looked like the workbench in a hi-fi repair shop. His laptop seemed a bit out of place on the table, yet Macedo does not confine himself to his seat. Exploring spaces and placement, he circled and travelled the performance area playing with resonance and tone. Glass tapping and static transmissions, volume played with value. Silence had its place. At no point did the sounds feel saturated. It felt focused and intentional with a light touch across a minimalist acoustic playground. I enjoyed watching objects vibrate in cones. One comes away with the feeling of being witness to something ritual or holy.
[Editor’s note: Ben takes over at this point…]
Well, to follow Marlo America’s lead, I have to say that I am happy to be able to review these sets as they were two highlights for me, but this needs a bit of context which I shall elaborate on in due course. It is true that these all day events can be long and arduous but in this case the ingredients made for a fun buzz long into the night.
I wandered into Ian Watson’s set just after I had finished packing up after my own collaboration, so it was a welcome first chance to sit down just when I needed it. Ian played in a separate large, darkened hall. The light outside had almost completely faded by this point leaving a dull purple glow in the high windows. I walked into the room and thought
hmm, ok, a sort of tinny drone, sounds ‘ok’-ish!
But as I sat down and began to settle into the room and the darkness I found myself settling into the sound too. Ian’s set up was a really nice two turntable affair, playing his own custom resin 7” drone recordings. These vibrated a pair of cymbals that were further amplified with a couple of guitar amps. As the records spin they catch on the various imperfections, creating accidental loops and details. Within five minutes I was not exactly absorbed but simply letting my mind wander, calmly taking in the room, space and details of the sound, feeling quietly present with the fellow listeners dotted about the place! This was a lovely set for me and just what I needed.
As I remember, Ian’s set signalled the brief dinner break and up first after this was Marlo Eggplant, who also caught me, I guess, at a good time. All the sound checks I had been keeping an eye on were over and pizza had been scoffed on the fly, so I settled in for the first evening performance and opened up a beer. I was taken by surprise by this set immediately, as I had not heard Marlo before and I was expecting something more ‘crazy’ or ‘playful’, let’s say. However this was a really peaceful emotive set utilising an autoharp and subtle building of delays and drones. Being not too drunk at this stage to appreciate the subtleties of sound I was totally immersed, gently floating about in the well orchestrated ebbs and flows of the set as a whole. I was really impressed with how well paced out this set was and its evolution, building to subtle voice expression later, coming to a timely conclusion and leaving me absolutely content! Yeah, it was good!
I just got drunk after that!
[Editor’s note: and on that happy note, back to marlo…]
Dinner break was an artisan pizza party – amazing smells erupting from the multiple pizzas topped with caramelized onions and butternut squash. The kitchen did a magnificent job of feeding everyone cake as well. I put this in the review of the event because that was a total pro move. Well played, organizers!
After I put my gear away, I prepared myself to watch Dale Cornish’s set. I was looking forward to seeing him play as I had previously only heard his recordings. The only note I took during the set was:
With a laptop on stage, you pretty much only have two choices. You can try to deny that you look like you are checking your social media or you can own it. Cornish made no qualms about standing behind a laptop, often hamming it up with eye contact and charming face. The music, in its own right, was fun, rhythmic, and dynamic. And I really wanted to dance. Amen to the set that makes you want to shake it.
Phantom Chips is the visionary project of Tara Pattenden. Her passion for noise and hand-crafted electronics is well matched with her gleeful expression as she skronks through the performance. Her set was well chosen for the event. Pattenden, using fabric lines with transducers, corded off the audience. Throwing sound conductive dinosaur parts [Editor’s note: wait, what?!?] into the audience, we were forced to have a taste of the sonic madness. Audience participation is integral to her playful aesthetic. I think at this point my notes may been delirious. Regardless, I wrote this in response to her circus:
Goofballs. I am trapped in an arcade. Squished sounds. Crunchiest sounds of the night. Throws meatballs at the pasta crunk collective. Beta bites of crunch. Decimated manual noise. Serious overdrive.
My fellow Leeds-ian was up next. Watching Melanie O’Dubhshlaine’s [Editor’s note: not sure about that spelling, but that is how it is on the poster] performances is like having the privilege of watching a scientist in a sound laboratory. One would not be able to tell that the source material of her sounds was spoken text if you were not sitting there watching her speak into her whacked out dictaphone/microphone processors, appearing to be reading aloud to herself. Her minimal movements work well with the sound. Using an electronic wind instrument, she plays the strangest clarinet solo set ever. Actually, it doesn’t sound like a clarinet but it doesn’t even really sound like an instrument. The overall experience is of sounds working themselves out in front of you; your brain’s attempt to recognize and categorize the inputs hampered by insufficient associations. It is interesting work that makes you think.
I am not sure if the curators intended this but Phil Julian proceeded to keep the audience pensive. Sitting in this dark room, he steps behind a laptop and begins to play with notable focus. Julian’s work is well paced. Even without any visuals, his music feels like a soundtrack. Both recorded and in live performances, there is a cinematic quality to his work and a patience that comes with confidence and knowledge. His face does not reflect the tension of being a performer. Perhaps his experience of playing in different spaces allows for an exploration of his own notions of process and result. Regardless, his focus and overall performance energy is noteworthy.
Trans/Human had the pleasure of performing the final set – perhaps the most difficult slot to fill. I, personally, find it quite difficult to be the last on the bill. How does one do something memorable when one has had to sit and watch every act? Have you had too much to drink? Do you need food? Adam Denton and Luke Twyman did not seem to have any of these issues as they went old school. In my favourite duo positioning – facing off across tables filled with electronics – they went full throttle. It felt like they were trying to release the demons from their gear out through the speakers. Their set was a celebration of volume and provided much needed catharsis for a day filled with creative questionings. A perfectly good way to end the evening.
With thanks to Pieter Last and Peter Rollings for photographs – much obliged to you both.