scrap(p)ing the barrel (nut)

February 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Posted in art, blog info, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 - 1 - cover - small - Rob H

Oh well,

[Editor sighs, picks at bits of glu-stik and newsprint stuck to his palms, sucks blood from site of paper cut]

…that was fun, eh?

It is with sadness that I announce that the new, long delayed, issue #14 of The Barrel Nut will be the last and, aside from a handful of paper copies for contributors, will be distributed in digital formats only. This is a drag but a triple whammy death blow has been dealt by a) time poverty b) my access to ‘free’ photocopying being curtailed by, *ahem*, circumstances and c) silly postal charges.

Regarding this final point, it is profoundly depressing to see the offline world of mail art, zine culture and other barter economies being constricted by the prohibitive cost of shifting physical objects. Plenty of fun remains to be had, of course, and I salute those still at it, but I am joining the retreat. Living with a privatised postal service sucks major donkey balls and if you reside in a country where your national service is being run down/softened up to make its flesh palatable to those vultures then I suggest you fight against it.

OK, freed from the obligations of its usual microzine format this issue is presented as a series of full page pdfs/jpegs to be downloaded and/or printed out by the reader. Featured artwork is a representative sample of remaining submissions and the names will be familiar to regular readers – I hope you are entertained. This, and all previous issues, will be available via the The Barrel Nut page (tabbed above) until the coming alien invasion unleashes its server-destroying electro-magnetic pulse. Roll call:

  • The cover is by me,
  • page two is more scanner/photocopier EVP phenomena filtered by Michael Clough,
  • Dex Wright, a.k.a. Tape Noise, mauls ferric oxide on page three,
  • weird symmetries by Zanntone’s Paul Walsh slide across page four,
  • page five presents the collaged thoughts of Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie of the print-only Hiroshima Yeah! zine (donbirnam@hotmail.com),
  • Stephen Woolley of Joined By Wire leaves tire tracks across page six,
  • deep-fried brainwaves crackle up and down page seven, courtesy of Adolf Steg
  • …and lastly we have typographical and cut-up dada from Julian Bradley and RFM’s own Joe Murray to play over the credits.

It’s a belting finale, that’s for sure. Here’s the files – individual page scans are of better quality but the ‘whole thing as one pdf file’ is handier for those busy zine readers on the go:

Individual pages as jpegs:

14 - 1 - cover - Rob H14 - 2 - Clough14 - 3 - Dex14 - 4 - Paul W14 - 5 - Gary and Mark14 - 6 - Stephen W14 - 7 - Steg14 - 8 - Julian, Joe, credits

Individual pages as pdfs:

14 – 1 – Rob Hayler

14 – 2 – Michael Clough

14 – 3 – Dex Wright

14 – 4 – Paul Walsh

14 – 5 – Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie

14 – 6 – Stephen Woolley

14 – 7 – Dr Adolf Steg

14 – 8 – Julian Bradley and Joe Murray, credits

The whole thing as a pdf:

The Barrel Nut #14

Many thanks to all those who have been involved – it’s been a right laugh.

—ooOoo—

unplayed, unheard, unfinished: michael clough, joseph curwen, namke communications

March 25, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Posted in art, musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Michael Clough – unplayable 7” vinyl art object in cardboard sleeve (plus various miniMA publications)

Joseph Curwen – Lurking Fear (self-released download)

namke communications – 365/2015 (ongoing self-released download)

clough - unplayable 2clough - unplayable 1

Up in my well-appointed office I sink into a white leather sofa and swirl the ice in my whisky glass in time to the racket emanating from downstairs. My underlings are joyously singing along to the latest Stuart Chalmers tape whilst chipping away at the cultural coalface. I want to join them but you know how it is when the boss sits in… Hmmm… maybe I’ll do some work on the long-promised aetheric/Invisible City round-up, I say to myself, then jump as a polite cough from my beautiful Turkish manservant (how long has he been standing there?!) directs my attention to several releases from both labels that have joined the pile since I last picked up the pen. Ah, next week perhaps… How about some editing then? Strewn across the marble desktop is the latest submission from Joe – a series of potato prints in primary colours apparently inspired by Jazzfinger – accompanied by an expenses claim for 40 litres of latex glue. I asked him about this earlier and he just looked up from his Spirograph, beamed that irresistible grin, shouted:

IT WAS NEEDED!

…and bounced into the grounds on his space hopper, high-fiving a startled Chrissie on his way. Perhaps I should look at this later…

It is a sadly inevitable trajectory: lone genius embarks on a project of enormous worth and significance, is overwhelmed by the love and success it attracts, hires staff happy to be paid in karma to help with the workload then is shunted, slowly but inexorably, into an administrative role. What should I do when I want to write but have little time to adequately listen to the object of that writing? The answer, of course, is to review three releases that are (almost) literally unlistenable.

Objects by Michael Clough

Pictured above is an intriguing object received from old friend and extraordinary artist Michael Clough. My love for this man and his work does not need repeating – I simply urge you visit his Soundcloud page, his tumblr account and to track down his every release. Your life will be enriched as a result. OK, what we have here is an anonymized and repackaged vinyl 7″ single onto which Clough has inked a narrative with silver pen, thus rendering it unplayable. Both sides have been decorated in this manner, two different stories. Clough offered his own explanation in some accompanying notes:

The first in a series I’m planning of altered records.  The ‘concept’ is alluding to rare records (remember way back, when some items attained legendary status, and second-hand shops were scoured in the hope of spotting one?).  Also reviews in mags raving about things, only to lead to disappointment when actually hearing said item.  Sometimes what one imagined the record to be like outshone the article itself – the power of words to evoke a sense of what music may sound like.  Object fetishism: this is a record you can have, imagine, but never hear – produced in such limited runs that the chance of obtaining one is almost zero.

It’s a wry take on the obsessions of the collector, an ironic (and nostalgic) nod to pre-internet scarcity and a subtle, entertaining and personal take on the odd relationship between music and the reams of text written about it.  Like much of Clough’s art, macro-simplicity masks micro-complexity (try saying that after a few) meaning that under a cool, minimal surface the attentive will find an undulating mesh of smart, rigorous thinking and absorbing detail.

As further illustration, a handful of beautifully produced ‘zines’ containing Clough’s art came in the same package, self-published by his miniMA imprint. These document his ‘totems’ series for scanner and photocopier in which jiggling the source material as these technologies do their thing creates strange alien symmetries and haunting instances of pareidolia (yes, I was so impressed I went and looked up the proper word). Further examples can be seen reproduced in recent issues of The Barrel Nut here and here.  Essential stuff.

joseph curwen - lurking fear

Joseph Curwen – Lurking Fear

Next we have an album that is perfectly listenable in principle but practically unlistenable in my current circumstances due to it being twelve fucking hours long.

Back when I could often be found standing on an allotment, leaning on a spade and staring contemplatively at redcurrant bushes I reviewed an album a mere nine hours long, having listened to every second of it over a few days. Now: forget it. I have not the time, energy or attention span to make such a commitment. This is a shame as what I’ve heard of Joseph Curwen’s previous output is cosmic (see, for example, Scott’s review of a tape on Cruel Nature Records here). Their H.P. Lovecraft obsession is more than window dressing – these cats (of ulthar?) can really lay down a cyclopean drone, twelve hours of which would be more than sufficient to soundtrack, say, the raising of a sunken nightmare corpse-city from the depths of the Pacific.

I wondered whether ‘dipping in’ would suffice for purposes of review but decided that would be shamefully half-arsed. This had to be all or nothing, I decided, thus: nothing. I offer a wholehearted recommendation of this album whilst admitting to not hearing a moment of its 720 minutes. Perverse, I know, but then…

What language can describe the spectacle of a man lost in infinitely abysmal earth; pawing, twisting, wheezing; scrambling madly through sunken convolutions of immemorial blackness without an idea of time, safety, direction, or definite object?

Indeed.

There is perhaps a discussion to be had about how the internet and, in particular, gateway services like that of Bandcamp have refashioned what can be considered an ‘album’.  What seemed like the ‘natural’ length for a piece of recorded music whilst I was growing up has been shown to be nothing but an artifact of the media used to contain it.  I wonder what pioneers of the hypnotic groove like Morton Feldman and La Monte Young would have done with the opportunity.

namke - 365-2015

namke communications – 365/2015

Finally we have another album which exploits Bandcamp’s fluidity.   365/2015, by old-friend-of-RFM John Tuffen in his namke communications guise, is unlistenable in the sense that it cannot be heard in its entirety as it is still being recorded and won’t be finished for another nine months. However – get this – it is already available for download. What John is doing, in a project which recalls the conceptual bloodymindedness of Bill Drummond (who has raised ‘seeing it through’ to the level of art form), is recording a track every day throughout the whole of 2015 and adding them to the album as the calendar marches on.

This isn’t an Aphex Twin style dumping of offcuts, each track is freshly produced on the day in question and, as might be expected, vary enormously in style, execution and instrumentation – there is guitar improv, electronica in various hues and field recording amongst other genres welcome ’round here. I suspect by the end of the year John will have had to reinvent music just to keep himself sane. He has taken to tweeting a brief description of the day’s work and one of the pleasures of this project is the opportunity that affords for the curious bystander to poke it with a stick. For example, in response to John copying me into a tweet about a guitar drone track he thought might appeal to me, I replied:

@namke_ heard this now, good and chewy. Thinking of writing up yr project alongside an unplayable 7″ single I’ve been sent. Two extremes…

…and added, with regards to the project as a whole:

@namke_ it’s insane but I wish you luck. Looking forward to months where each track is a version of 4’33” with you sobbing in background…

…which tickled John and led to all of February’s tracks being field recordings with the duration 4 minutes and 33 seconds. In an era of desperate, endless hi-fi reissues of any album revered as a sacred text it is ice-bath-refreshing to be able to alter the course of a recording with a joke.

This one I have no qualms about dipping into, in fact I would recommend constructing your own dipping strategies. As the year progresses you could build an album from the birthdays of your family, or never forget an anniversary again with a self-constructed namke communications love-bundle. Won a tenner on the lottery? Create your own three track EP with the numbers and paypal John a couple of quid. Or perhaps a five CD boxset called ‘Thursday Afternoon’, in homage to Brian Eno, containing everything released on that day of the week? Or condense the occult magic with a set comprising every 23rd track? Ah, the fun to be had. Or you could just listen to it on a daily basis until it becomes a welcome part of your routine – more fun than The Archers, guaranteed.

—ooOoo—

Michael Clough

Joseph Curwen

namke communications

a craft ale with the bald heads of noise! the barrel nut issue #12!

February 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Barrel Nut issue 12 cover

Never one to miss an opportunity for collage fun, I spent the afternoon of a recent sick day coughing phlegm all over my cutting board (hey, at least I didn’t need a glue stick!) whilst assembling the dozenth issue of RFM’s atomic microzine.  Glowingly described as a…

…momentary distraction from the hellish nothingness of the vortex…

…by Pyrrhic Victories magazine, previous editions of The Barrel Nut adorn the finest notice boards, untidy bedside zine piles and dustbins of the worldwide no-audience underground.

Should you not know what I’m barking about, or be overwhelmed by the self-indulgent whimsy of the preceding paragraph, here is a repeat of the usual explanatory bumpf:

The Barrel Nut is a single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel (per side), A7 pamphlet. Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past. I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be so inclined then you are very welcome to download and print out your own. Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you may need to trim the print-out down one edge to make it fold properly). Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on The Barrel Nut’s own page (tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed. Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions). Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal. Please get in touch.

So now you know.  #12, the second DOUBLE-SIDED issue, features cover dada idiocy from yours truly (reproduced way larger than life and in glorious colour above), more of Michael Clough’s eerie ‘totem’ works – the scanner art equivalent of EVP recordings, a photo-memory of Summer boozing from everyone’s favourite drunken uncle Paul Walsh, some Zennish cut up hoodoo from RFM’s own Joe Murray and a pair of pieces by Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie, the brothers responsible for Hiroshima Yeah! Gary gives us a microbial starscape of indeterminate origin and Mark entertains with an uplifting ophthalmic DIY collage. Unfold and turn over for a full page ‘Bald Heads of Noise’ cartoon by Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher in which the notion of the no-audience underground is skewered hilariously in six panels. Unmissable.

Contributor and subscriber copies will be in the post ‘in due course’.  For those who can’t wait, or don’t mind a bit of salt-and-shake style DIY, then print out your own from the links below:

The Barrel Nut issue #12 FRONT as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #12 BACK as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #12 FRONT as a jpeg file

The Barrel Nut issue #12 BACK as a jpeg file

Artwork for future issues always welcome – please feel free to drop me a line.

T reads TBN12 1T reads TBN12 2T reads TBN12 4

christmas card from a blogger in chapel allerton: finally, the barrel nut #11!

December 4, 2014 at 10:49 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

the barrel nut 11 cover

Bloody hell, it has been nearly six months since the last issue dropped! Bet you thought I’d discretely shoved this barmy little project down the back of the sofa. Well, I could make up a whimsical nonsense story to account for the delay (erm… lost on a yeti hunt? Nope – used that one) but the sad fact is that I’ve just been busy with other things. Still, who can resist the zen calm to be found in folding a bunch of these zines at the kitchen table? Not me. Also, I thought it might be nice to do something special seeing as it is the fifth anniversary of RFM this month so not only does a shiny new issue appear but, for the first time, it is DOUBLE SIDED. Woo!

Wrapped in the usual dada silliness by your truly you will find cut-up collage by RFM’s own Joe Murray and Hiroshima Yeah!’s Mark Ritchie (big themes: space, god, death, n’ that) and proper art that looks like a Bauhaus photographic experiment by Mark’s co-writer Gary Simmons, plus an indication of his financial situation and a terminal film still from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barrel Nut regular Yol praises King Coffee on the tomb wall and offers sage personal advice in the form of one of his rolling text scores/typewriter screeds. Dr. Adolf Steg of (the already much missed) Spon offers some vaguely dermatological doodling with newspaper headline addenda and finally Michael Clough gets an unheard of four-panel spread for an example of his unnerving scanner art ‘totems’ series. It is top notch stuff.

Should you be a recent convert to this blog and thus have no idea what I am talking about, here’s a repeat of the basics:

The Barrel Nut is a microzine – a single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel (per side), A7 pamphlet. Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past. I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be so inclined then you are very welcome to download and print out your own. Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you’ll need to trim the print-out down one edge to make it fold properly). Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on The Barrel Nut’s own page (tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed. Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions). Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal. Please get in touch.

All contributors should have their copies by now, it was available to pick up at the gig last week and a bunch more will have been distributed with the latest issue of Hiroshima Yeah! Subscriber copies will be in the post soonish – consider it a Christmas card from the RFM family. Contributions still always welcome – if you like this little distraction then please feel free to send me something. More will follow in the fresh New Year.

The Barrel Nut issue #11 FRONT as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #11 BACK as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #11 FRONT as a jpeg file

The Barrel Nut issue #11 BACK as a jpeg file

eye for detail: the midwich remixes album

August 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Posted in midwich, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

the archive

The idea of a midwich remix project goes back a fair distance (indeed, the missing-in-action Trademark TM created a version of the second midwich album life underwater – called ‘life underwater in space‘ – back when we were still laughing at bewildered millenarians) but now, finally, its time has come and I am inviting you, dear reader, to be involved.

The story so far is simple: Paul Walsh (foldhead, early hominids) sent me ‘glacier’, a version of ‘stomach lining’ from october in yorkshire that had been knocking about his hard-drive for yonks and discovered in a clear-out.  I liked it very much, mentioned it in passing on Twitter and within minutes had volunteers queuing up to submit their own remixes for an album I had to retroactively call into existence.  That’s what Twitter is like, innit?

So here’s the plan: the album will be called  ‘eye for detail’.  The entire midwich back catalogue is up for grabs, much of which is freely downloadable via the midwich bandcamp page.   Take what you want, do what you want with it and return the results to me ideally in wav format, ideally via WeTransfer (my email address can be found on the ‘about us…’ page).  The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 30th September and it will be released in October as soon as I get it all sorted.  To keep distribution simple and proceeds high the album will be download only via Bandcamp.  The reason for wanting to keep proceeds high is that all money raised will be donated to the Red Cross.

(An aside: this organisation was chosen as it provides immediate medical help to those most in need around this shitty world that we live in.  It has been brought to my attention that some may have issues with the Red Cross.  I’m afraid I’m ignorant of the politics I might be accidentally wading into here, so if you have concerns please email me privately so I can address those concerns or make sure your donation is sent elsewhere)

So far the project has only existed on Twitter and in a few emails but already I couldn’t be more delighted with the response. As well as the foldhead track mentioned above and garnering permission to use existing tracks by Daniel Thomas, ap martlet and Andy Jarvis, brand new work by dsic, Clive Henry, the piss superstition, Yol and Brian Lavelle is jostling in a hard-drive folder.  Others are hard at work.  It’s very exciting and updates are being tweeted on the arrival of each new jewel for the treasure chest.  Of particular note is Joe Murray’s Posset remix of this blog.  Yes, instead of choosing a midwich track to molest he has clipped favourite passages from my more whimsical and/or threatening moments and has created a shadow narrative that sounds like Adam Bohman cutting up H.P. Lovecraft.  Has to be heard to be believed. ‘Cover art’ will be provided by Michael Clough, who may be persuaded to submit some music too.

So: fancy being a part of this?  I flatter myself (as always) but perhaps there seems to be something about the wide open spaces, the jokey bibbling or the simple pulses of my, *ahem*, ‘music’ that invites augmentation or reinterpretation.  You’d be in terrific company and the cause is righteous so why not, eh?  All submissions gratefully received.

urban organic morphologies: publications by michael clough

July 2, 2014 at 9:32 am | Posted in art | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Clough – Urban Organic Morphologies (A7 booklet, card covers, 8 colour plates, miniMA)

Michael Clough – For Alvin Lucier (1969) (A5 booklet, 16 pages, card covers, miniMA)

Michael Clough – Private XXX Magazines Soho London (A6 booklet in paper bag, 16 fold-out double-size pages, card covers, miniMA, edition of 5)

clough coversclough urban inner 2clough urban inner 1clough urban inner 3clough lucier introclough lucier interiorclough private coverclough private fold out 2clough private fold out 1clough private inner

Sample extracts concluded.  No words needed from me.  Contact Clough directly via mriclough@aol.com to secure copies of these intriguing objects.

For more photography see his magnificent tumblr stream here.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.