complete your midwich sticker album: improved for sale page

April 2, 2012 at 7:52 am | Posted in blog info, fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Thanks to the generous assistance of the Radio Free Midwich Historical Society and L’Institute de Hayleriana (Geneva) the bulk of my back catalogue is freely downloadable from the discography page of this blog.  Tab above – please help yourself.  Should you require guidance then the pieces linked to in the Bang the Bore interview with me form a useful ‘greatest hits’ selection of the long-form stuff.

There are gaps, however, where a release remains commercially available (given the strange and flexible definitions of both ‘commercial’ and ‘available’ that we use here in the no-audience underground).  With this in mind, I have revamped the ‘for sale’ page of this blog (tab also above) to provide ‘buy here’ details for all the midwich completists out there.  You know who you are.  Both of you.

Anyway, now there will be sections.  A tantalising coming soon list will whet the appetite before new stuff accounts for recently released archive material and genuinely new recordings made during the current midwich renaissance.  Following this, still available will include ‘classic’ material from the first wave of midwich recordings made a decade(ish) ago.  Forever fresh, of course.  Finally, self-released and fencing flatworm related will contain the various things I have chosen to make available myself.  All sections will include details of who to approach in order to secure these items and, where possible, cover scans and/or mp3 clips for preview purposes.

Form an orderly queue.  No jostling.

midwich & the skull mask update: all uk copies gone!

March 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

OK, phase one of this project – give away my copies here in the UK – has now been completed.  The last few floating around Midwich HQ have all been promised.  For those of you who stumbled onto this late and would like a physical object then the parcel I sent to Mexico containing Miguel’s share is still ‘in the air’ and I’m sure he’d be delighted to organise an international trade once his copies arrive.  Drop him a line at: – and many thanks to those who have already done their bit for Anglo-Mexican relations.  We will eventually make this available for download but are going to wait a while so that those in possession of their unique object can enjoy a little exclusivity…

Much obliged also for the offers of trade and the kind words too.  All very appreciated – great to give something back to the no-audience underground gift economy.  Chief amongst the kind-word-providers was Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent, who felt moved to pen the following in review:

Wow.  This little tease popped onto the doormat of a Saturday.  I wasn’t expecting anything…it was from Rob Hayler…what could it contain?  Expectations were high.  Amid the postcards, bookmarks and other considered & loving ephemera of the hardcore tape trader out drops a cute little disc in brightly wrapped sleeve: Midwich & The Skull Mask.  Direct from Mexico The Skull Mask, Miguel Perez to his mother, plays a tinny, trebly acoustic guitar with tight steel strings wound up like a Spirograph drawing.   This is how I like my guitar: gritty, tangled and free-flowing.  Apart from a bit of some slight reverb this sounds like a pretty straight recording, no fancy effects or editing (Yes Fennesz I’m looking at you) that makes this as refreshing as a chilled glass of Chardonnay.  Mind you what do I know…it could be mashed through a galaxy of software.  It just sounds like a guitar and right now, right here that’s what I want.  The suddenly prolific Midwich drops another drone bomb on my noggin with ‘That which I believe, I wish to behold’ which sounds like something from a Sunday School sermon.  The mood is pretty dark on this lesson.  Throbbing tones bob up and down in the grey drone ocean until they are overturned by a doped up Narwhal.  Stoned, the beast roughs up the tone and like a virus it mutates dragging fishy mammal down to drown in heavy, heavy slush.  There’s a dubby quality to the latest tranche of Midwich releases which this one continues the trend, making space in the air, singling out single notes to emphasise, dragging themes back to ghost you.  Expectations were indeed high.  And I can report expectations were satisfied.

Cool, eh?  More musings from Joe can be found on the Posset blog here.  Further comments welcome.

Should you be a lucky recipient wishing to hear more, or an unfortunate wanting to know what you might have missed, then the majority of the midwich back catalogue can be had for free via the discography tab above.  New midwich releases on Zanntone and Memoirs of an Aesthete will surface at some point and other projects are forming in the primordial ooze…

There is also new stuff by The Skull Mask currently in preparation, which I will mention come the time, but for now the last four albums of Miguel’s shamanistic rites can be had for free via Ritual of Purity, Casette 2007, The Old Spirit Of Maria Sabina and Casette Dic. 2010.

Go on, treat yourself.

new product! midwich & the skull mask split cd-r

February 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

  • The Skull Mask – Lloviendo Sangre (mp3 excerpt here.)
  • Midwich – That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold (mp3 excerpt here.)

Miguel Perez, RFM’s South American correspondent, is probably best known for the Culveresque drones of La Mancha Del Pecado but my favourite of his projects is The Skull Mask.  These improvised thrashes and ragas, performed solo on treated acoustic guitar, are mesmerizingly primal.  The Skull Mask takes the listener from contemplation, through ego-dissolution to, at its best, a kind of brute psychedelic delirium.  As with all improvised music, the journey is risky but, like trusting the shaman when he offers you a bowl of foul-smelling liquid and orders you to ‘Drink!’, the rewards can be cosmic.  I’ve quoted his explanation before but it is worth repeating:

The Skull Mask – is my acoustic improvisation project with no one else. This is influenced by Hindustani music, Arab, Jew and free improv. I am taking more and more a minimalistic approach and doing it solo guitar…. is something that I love doing…..will see more releases in the future to come.  This is mostly inspired on my trips to the Sierra de Chihuahua, to the mountains and valleys south Mexico, my visit is to mystic Indians in the desert, etc….is a sort of tribute to the wilderness in Mexico….

When he emailed me a brand new nine minute TSM track, suggested an affinity with midwich which seems obvious now but at the time struck me like a clanger in a church bell, and tentatively asked if I’d like to do a split release – well, I couldn’t resist.

‘Lloviendo Sangre’, Miguel’s track, fits the template described above and is terrific.  It could be five times as long as far as I’m concerned.  Check out the minute-long excerpt above for a tiny taster.  ‘That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold’, my track, is a droning pulse in three movements and will be familiar to those who saw me perform it at the gig (or who received the ersatz set I recorded the following day for the snowbound).  However, this is a new version which is more focussed, slightly more compact (at ten minutes long) and harder-edged.  In order to compete with Miguel I turned the ‘psychedelic delirium’ knob up to ‘relentless’ and left it there until the dying seconds.  I am very proud of how this one turned out.  Again, there is a minute-long taster above for the curious.

Each of the 50 copies of this release has the same insert, obviously, but a unique cover allocated at random (see photo).  These covers have been cannibalized from the pages of a hipster illustration and graphic design magazine that I paid hipster money for years ago and am now recycling.  As such – little bonus – most of these covers are double reversible too, that is: the front can be the back and the inside can be the outside.  Cool, eh?

So how do you get your hands on such a covetable object?  Well, these are not ‘for sale’ as such.  In the spirit of the no audience underground gift economy we are making them available for trade, for review or in exchange for a sincere expression  of interest: just promise to drop us a line, and/or copy it for someone else if you dig it, and it is yours.

The point is to get the music heard by a decent selection of interesting people.  We are likely to post this as a free download – possibly as an Oracle/RFM co-release – when all the physical objects are gone but don’t let that put you off acquiring one.  They look (and sound, if I may be so bold) wicked awesome.

OK, contact me at, contact Miguel at, more from midwich can be downloaded for free via the discography page (tab above), more from The Skull Mask can also be downloaded for free via Oracle Netlabel or by searching for The Skull Mask at

idwal fisher says nice things, radiofreemidwich gets all choked up

February 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Posted in blog info, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Mark Wharton, of the indispensible blog Idwal Fisher, has said some very kind things about me, this blog and my latest releases as midwich.  As I am not without vanity, it was perhaps inevitable that I would point you in their direction.  However, his comments have an added resonance for me.

Back at the turn of century, when I initially got involved with Termite Club and started fencing flatworm recordings, one of the first trades I did with Phil Todd’s sadly-missed distro Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers was a swap of my CD-rs for fanzines.  I reasoned that I needed to bone up on this underground that I now seemed to be part off.  A package containing several issues of Just Glittering (the precursor to Idwal) arrived and pretty much taught me how to listen to/write about this stuff.  I joke about ‘slavishly following’ Idwal Fisher but there is more than a grain of truth to it.

One of the simple comforts in this cruel world is an encouraging word from someone whose opinion you trust.  Cheers Mark!

Right then, <sniffs, wipes corner of eye, stares manfully out of the window for a second to regain composure>, I better get on with my work…

Gliding swanlike and serene on the surface, paddling furiously below…

January 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Posted in blog info, live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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So: four posts in first two weeks of January, nothing in the following two weeks – what gives, eh?  Well, leaving aside the incursions of real life and focussing on music-related pursuits, the reasons for my distraction are as follows:

The gig.  I am very excited about the upcoming midwich performance on the 4th (with Astral Social Club, Culver and The Piss Superstition – details here) and delighted, whilst somewhat concerned, by the number of people who have said that they are coming.  As such, I am spending time ‘in rehearsal’ which translates as leaning on the keyboard for long periods whilst tweaking filters, jiggling leads and dealing with retching nerves.  There will, of course, be a write-up on this blog to follow.

New releases.  Two midwich releases made up of all-new material should be available at said gig: ‘Cut Flowers’ on Phil Todd’s label Memoirs of an Aesthete and ‘October in Yorkshire’ on Paul Walsh’s brand-new label Zanntone (pictured above).  One of the tracks I will be playing is a version of a track included on the latter.  There will, of course, be write-ups of both with ‘buy here’ details on this blog to follow.

Collaborations.  There are another two midwich related recordings in the works as two collaborations I have contributed too – one from the archives, one ongoing – may soon see the light of day.  As my collaborators, who shall remain nameless for now, are both incredibly talented artists who have seen fit to work their magic on my prosaic sound sources I am looking forward to basking in their reflected glory.  There is also the possibility of contributing to a fascinating new venture and webzine being formulated across the Channel in France and being launched in February.  There will, of course, be write-ups on this blog to follow.

The absence of a review pile.  I hesitate to say this, as I hear the creak of the floodgates being opened, but I haven’t been sent or been pointed at very much new stuff since Christmas.  The no-audience underground seems to be taking its time to come ’round from its New Year hangover.  I am not incapable of doing my own research, of course, but should any of you think I am missing something then do feel free to alert me to it.  There will then, should I like it of course, be write-ups on this blog to follow.

Right then, see you at the Fox and Newt!

STOP PRESS!  As I was writing this an email from Miguel arrived containing a link to a drone/doom epic lasting eight hours.  Holy shit!  Be careful what you wish for, eh?  Check this out: La Última Frontera – The Last Border.

new midwich product! ‘faraday cage’ on matching head

January 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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midwich – faraday cage (matching head 176)

Hello again, dear reader, and a happy New Year to you.  I trust that you had a splendid Christmas and that you proved sufficiently nice throughout 2011 to warrant a visit from Santa.  All was lovely here at RFM Towers.  The internet was put away in a cupboard and shameful acts of gluttony were followed by equally delicious periods of languorous torpor.  I waddled back to my desk today satisfied, content and humming ‘Damage Case’ from the best of Motörhead double CD I found in my stocking.

Quite a pile has gathered during my absence and I am enjoying the latest Ashtray Navigations LP (and their Cosmetic Penguin mixtape), grooving on downloads originating in New York, looking forward to others from Texas and Ciudad Juárez, tapes and CD-rs from that same Mexican location and something rather special from Striate Cortex, RFM’s 2011 label of the year.  I will write more about some/all of the above once the seasonal brain-fug has cleared.  But first some shameless self-congratulation and promotion…

RFM is delighted to announce that, following last year’s archive releases, the first wholly new midwich recordings for years are now available.  Faraday Cage comprises three tracks totalling 44 minutes presented on one side of a C90 cassette.  This punk-as-fuck release is issued by Lee Stokoe’s legendary tape label Matching Head.  It is packaged in the house style: minimal lettering typed on a manual typewriter then pasted onto a monochrome photocopied image – this time a disconcerting film still.  It’s perfect.

The music was recorded with Matching Head in mind and is thus dirtier, noisier and perhaps darker than the crystalline and (I hope) humorous and life-affirming fare to be found on my other soon-to-be-revealed efforts.  The three tracks in short: ‘part one: magnets’ is an industrial folk drone, corrosive for a refreshing brain-scouring effect, ‘part two: f4jb’ is a bristling, high voltage asymmetric throb that smells of ozone and ‘part three: feathered machinery’ is a 20 minute epic of digestive rumbling and guttering arc lights.  At the time of writing all five people who have heard it agree that it is (and I quote) “fucking great”.  Short clips can be heard by clicking here.

So how to get hold of it?  A word about Matching Head.  There is a partial (“65 submissions pending” – one of which presumably being #81, my first MH midwich tape) discogs page but otherwise Lee’s label has no significant web presence at all.  His catalogue is an A4 sheet of paper distributed samizdat style with orders and amongst those in the know (pdf of latest version I have to hand here – consider yourself one of the elite).  I’d suggest dropping him a line at and entering into correspondence about paypal etc.

And here is a little bonus for readers of this blog.  I realise that tape has been enjoying a renaissance over recent years but, for all its charms, the format is no longer convenient for some.  If you find yourself in that sorry category then do not fret.  When you buy the new midwich tape from Lee just ask him to forward your email address to me and I will then use the magic of WeTransfer or mediafire or the like to provide you with a high quality mp3 version of the album.  Thus for your few quid you will get a physical object and files playable on less romantic devices.  What service, eh?

ladies and gentlemen: the truant accord

August 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Truant – The Truant Accord (Memoirs of a Flatworm)

Radio Free Midwich is delighted to announce the release of the long lost second album by Truant.  Yes, Phil Todd’s Memoirs of an Aesthete dug up the decaying remains of fencing flatworm recordings and a terrible act of deviant union took place.  The resulting unholy hybrid – Memoirs of a Flatworm – exists only to present this forgotten masterwork in a strictly limited run of 100 CD-rs. 

The Truant Accord was recorded ten years ago by Michael Clough of prog legends Rancid Poultry and PRP Group, the aforementioned Phil Todd of Ashtray Navigations and myself of midwich ‘fame’.  An extended history of the Truant phenomenon can be read here whilst you listen to an mp3 of our first album, released on FFR.  The post includes an entertainingly misremembered account (from me) of why such a high quality recording was left to gather dust, followed by corrections from the less brain-damaged members of the group (Phil and Cloughy).

Anyway, no matter, for it is here now.  What you get for your money is a short, squawky noise intro to confuse the casual listener (hey, it worked for Oneohtrix Point Never) then we launch into… well, I’ll let Joe Posset, RFM’s North-East correspondent, take it from here:

But then all of a sudden the guitar, bass explore, electronics and keyboard all settle into a summer afternoon vibe (‘New river apple’)…it’s all jasmine scented air and warm cobbles.  It puts me in mind of groups like ‘Stars of the Lid’.  All about exploring the drone but with a Ravi Shankar record in their back pocket at the same time.  ‘Mollusca’ is like one of those boiling mud pits in some Forbidden Planet scenario…or even a Bleep & Booster tribute.  The absence of drums lifts these tracks pretty damn high without no anchor to weigh things down.  The real gravy comes with the 10 min plus of ‘Animal Kingdom’ featuring some wacked-out guitar slalom bending and stretching all over itself; ever questing, never peaking.  I’m guessing this is Mr Phil Todd throwing the crazy shapes here…why on earth people make such a fuss of all that Pink Floyd shit when you have faded-empire whimsy and mind-expanding string worrying right here on yr door step I’ll never know.  This is a fine example of English psychedelia and no mistake.

Why, thank you Joe, much appreciated (more can be read at his blog too – look out for Posset on tour in October)!  This CD-r, packaged in a space-saving plastic wallet with Phil’s brain-frying full-colour cover, can be had for the bargain price of £6 from Ashtray HQ.  Also available (finally!) is Ashtray Navigation’s amazing Cinderella Stamps which was highly praised recently on this very blog.  G’wan – buy both because they will make you happy.

archive ransacked, discography complete

April 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Posted in blog info, fencing flatworm, midwich, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Radiofreemidwich is delighted to announce that the crack team of archivists engaged in the task of compiling catalogue raisonné de Hayler have finally published their work.  The previously ramshackle discography page is now sharply formatted and as comprehensive as it is ever going to get.  Aside from a few gaps to be accounted for below, every release is represented with a cover pic, catalogue details and freely downloadable mp3s.  Some notes:

The gaps

Mp3s are not available for three days in, four to go as, amazingly, it is still available to buy.  Please go to Carbon Records and surprise Joe with an order – this really is a good one and the silk-screened cover is lovely.  Similarly, the two culver vs midwich tapes can be had via Lee at the ever-inspirational Matching Head.  I’m also holding off on months, years (both original and reissue) and raised ironworks in the hope that more units of these cdrs can be shifted.  Finally, With Maples Ablaze is not my release to post.

Noteworthy additions

Amongst the newly available stuff are all my appearances on compilations.  This is a mixed bag, I have to admit, but why not dip your toe in by trying an excerpt from a very drunken gig Neil Campbell and I did back in the hazy days of Summer 2002?

Talking of live stuff, there is a shonky but historic recording of the ffrkestra – basically everyone who played on the evening of a ffr themed gig in the year 2000 plus members of Vibracathedral Orchestra and a bit of audience participation.  I may write more about this in future.

I will definitely be writing more about Truant: the kraut/noise power trio of me, Michael Clough and Phil Todd.  The first rehearsal recording, featuring Clough/Hayler as a duo, can be found in the listing for in brine.  The first album, zellaby’s beautiful sacrifice – recorded after we’d been joined by Phil, is also now downloadable.

Finally, I’ll mention ‘this whole process’ which probably merits a post of its own as well.  This 25 minutes of relentless throbbing, best enjoyed at ridiculous volume, was released as my half of a split cdr with Moon.  This was not what I originally planned for what was to be my magnum opus, my ‘strings of life’, my step up to the next level.  Instead it turned out to be the beginning of the end for midwich v1.0.  Buy me a ginger beer and I’ll tell you the story…

All of these tracks can be heard via links on the ‘rob hayler discography’ page – please click on the tab above.

well of superlatives runs dry as critics swoon over return of midwich

March 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Posted in midwich, musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Please forgive the following trumpet-blowing critical round-up.  I’m afraid I’m even less likely to tone down this blog’s shameless narcissism now that I have product to shift…

At the time of writing, the run of 50 copies each of the two recent archival midwich cdrs is more than half gone.  I can’t say as I’ve sold a bunch – almost all have been given away and/or sent on the promise of future trades.  I made the schoolboy error of offering freebies to almost everyone who might be interested, thus mugging myself.  Childishly over enthusiastic I am, a ruthlessly market-oriented capitalist I am not.

Still, I’ve been delighted at the response so far.  As well as much email comment, these releases have been the subject of two full length reviews: one on the Idwal Fisher blog, which also contains a flattering Mark’s-eye account of his dealings with me and my music over the years, and one by Simon of DDDD which can be found at the bottom of the epic issue 106 or, for impatient non-luddites, clipped and quoted below as an appendix to this post.  Both pay me the compliment of retaining some critical distance, whilst expressing pleasure at the rebooting of my creative endeavours.

OK, so what has been said?  ‘Months, years’ has been greeted by much head-nodding and mutterings of ‘yep, that’s midwich alright – I’d know it anywhere’.  Phil Todd (Ashtray Navigations) said: “good late night phase-out material for sure.”, Clough (Klunk, Truant, PRP Group) adds: “drifted right off to ‘months, years’ (in a good way!)”, Joe (Possett) reckons it is “a nice breezy drone like I remember from the ‘wich”, Rob Maycock (long time midwich supporter and drone aficionado) tops the lot saying this track “has to be one if not my favourite Midwich piece of music.”

The reaction to ‘Raised ironworks’ has been more mixed.  Neil Cambell (Astral Social Club) declares it “hits the spot”, Fraser (of Pjorn and Fordell Research Unit) raves “I freakin’ dig it mate, I dig! … quality stuff.”  However it is obvious that some of the tracks are going down better than others.  ‘Everything Sideways’ has been described as “piercing” (Rob M again) and caused John Tuffen (Namke) “to turn it down a touch!”  On playing it at home, an anonymous co-worker thought their PC was broken.  Whilst it is hardly Government Alpha, I’m not mystified that it might grate.  On the other hand we have ‘weather to be under’, the last track, which is turning into my greatest hit.  Joe Possett exclaims:

But I love, love, love raised ironworks, weather to be under.  Is this an old one?  Sounds like some sort of chillwave/hypnagogic/whatever it’s called this week squewerd pop.  That’s great man.

…or this from Rob M:

“Weather To Be Under” is absolutely brilliant. I wish it went on longer than it does.

…or this from Mark’s piece on Idwal Fisher:

…I like the last track on ‘raised ironworks’ a perfect piece of two phase drone with the one playing off the other, each coming back to reinforce its beginnings like some clever piece of work by Steve Reich, it could go on much, much longer and I doubt I would tire of it.

I used to play this live so it sometimes got stretched to 10/15 minutes and I remember once just getting the loop going at home and leaving it on all afternoon as I did the housework.  I’ve no idea why the recorded version is only 5 minutes.  Inspired, I dusted off the MC-303 (literally) last weekend – which still works but is far too erratic for playing live now, I think – and installed Audacity on my lap-top.  If I can find the original loop my first proper new recording may be a half hour long version of the above which I will make available to the elite as a top-secret download.

Thanks again to everyone for the kind words, especially to those who have unwittingly provided pull-quotes from what they thought were private emails.  Copies still available to buy – see ‘for sale’ page – to cadge or to swap.

Appendix: review from DDDD #106

new ‘for sale’ page and first new midwich product in six years

February 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Raise your eye slightly, dear reader, and you will notice a new page tab labelled ‘for sale’.  Tap on this to visit the rfm mall, so recently opened that I still have the scissors in my hand and the ribbon at my feet.  The main purpose of this venture is to make available the new midwich releases below.  Yes, my vanity has finally got the better of my common sense and midwich, idling on ‘standby’ for six years, has been reactivated.  I may also use the for sale page to sell rarities, ffr oddities and secondhand goodies with a view to funding this foolishness.

So, without further preamble, poetic debris editions is proud to announce:

midwich – raised ironworks

8cm CD-r, 4 tracks, 18 and a half minutes, edition of 50, poetic debris 01

Four tracks originally recorded for various projects which then failed to surface.  One track appeared in a different form on the long sold-out Pjorn (0)72 compilation but over 17 minutes of this music is previously unreleased.  Expect: shards of broken mirror, grinding robo-rhythms, sunlight on the river – golden apples bobbing, emotionally overloaded clockwork rave…

(aside: with thanks to Matt Robson)

midwich – months, years

8cm CD-r, 1 track, 21 minutes, edition of 50, poetic debris 02

Originally released ten years ago as one half of a split CD-r with the lovely Karina ESP on the defunct label Trademarked Industries.  This epic of Yorkshire Nothing Music is two parts immersive, solvent fuzz to one part soul-coddling womb-throb.  A must-have for the aficionado of ego-dissolving drone.

(aside: if anyone out there has contact details for Nick Davey of TM Ind I’d be grateful if you’d pass them on)

Visit the for sale page for details of costs and how to order.  Value, quality and convenience are our watchwords…

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