slow as eels: rfm on various herhalen artists, mudguts, günter schlienz, hawlimann & stricktschek, nautapes #32

December 14, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Various Artists – Under The Concrete / The Field (Herhalen)

Mudguts – Granada Valley Flower Girl (Cruel Nature Records)

Günter Schlienz – Selbstportrait (Spam Tapes)

Hawlimann & Stricktschek – TEENSDREAMS (Spam Tapes)

Various Artists – NAUT #32 – Live at Northern Charter (NAU-Tapes)


Various Artists – Under The Concrete / The Field (Herhalen) Cassette and free digital album

A curious compilation that sits halfway between an all-star remix album and an old-fashioned call and response holla.

The backstory goes like this.  Mark (Concrete/Field) sends a bunch of unfinished, unused but much loved sounds out into the universe and waits for like-minded beards to respond with a reaction.  So what we get is a blur of interpretations and a shimmy of styles from a heady mix of collaborators.

The mood is cautiously optimistic with each collaborator (many new names to me) mining a seam of whistling iron; each piece separate in rusted glory but tied together with strong metallic links.

Cauterized bounce silver balloons with bright electric sparks.  It takes Descent to riff on the itchy scratch favoured by high priests Zoviet:France.  Air bubbles are released into the blood by Elricj with a turkey wishbone used as a funky clave.

What’s this?  A shimmering John Carpenter-style synth all trussed up in black leather? Ladies and gentlemen – introducing Amantra.

We go back in time with Wound’s piece sounding like it was composed on a Casio calculator watch (circa 1987) – a river of bleep.  Then race to the here-and-now for Matt Warren’s Styrofoam rummage and one finger keyboard bee-drone.

RFM fave Kek-W on the brilliantly titled ‘A Fax from Phillip Glass’ creates exactly that.  Four organs battle the inhuman squeal of redundant technology.  Libbe Matz Gang bring the gritty howl they are well known for in these parts.  But watch out! Scutopus’ almost 6 min drone is crispy pancake – not filled with boiling cheese and ham but gently sculpted and rough to touch. Wizards Tell Lies, another scorched earth outfit, juggle tangled loops and fine, filigree crackle.

The gloriously named artist Nude for Satan seem to be riffling through the Necronomicon while listening to copper pipes being clanged (on leaky headphones).

Classy Draaier ends the recording on a tasteful note.  A foamy sea drawing itself through smooth pebbles as the heavens dance overhead.

A perfect balm for this most abrasive of seasons.

mudguts flower girl

Mudguts – Granada Valley Flower Girl (Cruel Nature Records) Cassette and digital album

Ghostly power-duo Mudguts (Lee Culver on sounds and Scott McKeating on composition) haunt and howl their way through another impressive tape drenched in sticky black ectoplasm.

The opening two pieces ‘Original Mistake Growing Arms and Legs’ and ‘Constantly Slaughtering Something’ seem to exist beneath a level of human perception. Sure, churning voices are suggested and even become corporeal for moments but mostly these are echoes, lost murmurings and hints striving to pierce the veil of human static.

The altogether more boisterous ‘Bat’ is a multi-limbed car wash applying numerous squeegee squeals to your scalp.  The twelve minute ‘Every Single Edge’ truly made me jump with its needle-sharp intro cry.  Imagine a single string soprano violin bowed with fury cutting through an orchestra of damp tissue paper and comb artists.  Picture the clarity of intention over the glum voices of damage!

The balance is restored with the beautiful hum of ‘Carver’ a soul-scratching guitar noodle heard through heavy atmospheric interference.  And the prettiest of the lot ‘Moth’ a one minute mumble, makes me think this really could be the only surviving recording of a wet marimba covered in fragrant peat.

Mudguts once again daub the strange and the beautiful with primitive woad.


Günter Schlienz – Selbstportrait (Spam Tapes) Cassette

Totally beautiful synth wig-ins.

Marvellously introspective and slow as eels this tape massages my tired temples and places a warm oiled hand on my knotted shoulders.

Schlienz’ Self Portrait floats in the air faintly glowing all across side one.  The spare notes breathe into each other – a cinnamon-scented wind.

But this is in no way a dumb drift piece.  No Sir!  This is as deliberately approached as your end of year accounts.  The movements are smooth and calm.  A gentle shudder, a close cluster of harmonic moans as discrete as Eno’s Discreet Music.

Side two, ‘Campfire Suite’ takes the whole soft sheebeen outside and clusters around a real life crackling fire (just audible in the mix).  This time things are less obviously soothing and more mysterious – picture an electric loon-bird or stoned sperm whale.

Perfect and peaceful – more most welcome Spam!


Hawlimann & Stricktschek – TEENSDREAMS (Spam Tapes) Cassette

Phew!  This hectic duo couldn’t be further removed from Gunter’s plantagenet hoofs.

Side one opens with the mud-popping farts of a bass pipe getting lustily fingered. The wet slurp is part aboriginal dreamtime part steam-driven traction engine busting hot rivets.  Percussion comes in the form of crinked coffee cans, a fistful of dry reeds and shuffling grit under the soles of a clog.  It is truly magical to hear a crisp packet scrunched, up and close to the mic, as loud as Slayer in any given Enormo-dome.

Side two is an almost prehistoric take on Don Cherry’s masterpiece ‘Mu’.  These boyos drag around sacks of cloth, sigh politely and snore, setting the scene before breaking out an ivory horn and badass drum.

We are treated to a walking mix; various beaters and rattles picked up, explored and discarded.  It’s a pleasure, a delight, to hear the invention and thought weaving as voice melts into melodica or balloon squeak tackles a wooden bamboo flute.

Clear the picnic blanket – these scotch eggs are ripe and ready to pluck.


Various Artists – NAUT #32 – Live at Northern Charter (NAU-Tapes) Cassette

Gosh knows how many more NAU-Tapes Dave Howcroft has released in the last month but here’s the latest that found its way into my bulging stocking.

Admission corner – I’m breaking form here at RFM by reviewing a tape that I feature on but I don’t see why the other acts here should suffer because of my writing mumps.

And what a set of acts! Posset-Ruus Duo, Dawn Bothwell, Kleevex and Yoni Silver & Ram Gabay all braved five flights of stairs to take up residence in the sun-drenched plaza that is Newcastle’s Northern Charter Space.  Normally reserved for visual artists this wonderful space looks out over the main drag of Newcastle City Centre – a veritable eagle’s nest!

First up new duo – Posset-Ruus (soon to be re-branded The Russets but that’s a different story) take two acoustic guitars, two mouths, two Dictaphones and four speakers in a self-perpetuating loop squeezing scrambled string-action and slack tooth honks via their Dictas in what I believe they call a hot mess.  Described by some as ‘not really music’ imagined by others as Harry Pussy swapping their instruments at half time – WOOF!

Dawn Bothwell’s electronic poetry takes advantage of the view and describes the pre-Christmas rush; all mead quaff and sausage munch.  A looping module takes snatches of voice and spins a ring of bright fire making it sizzle.  Just when you thought you’d heard it all pitches are switched and a booming bottom-end heralds precise and hammering tech-noir squelch.

Keleevx pair up two of the hardest working folk in the Undergronk, Faye MacCalman and Gwilly Edmondez rasping on sax/clarinet and mouth/dicta respectively. Like a couple of daytime drinkers they read each other’s minds ready to place a new conversational nugget or curious honk on the table with practiced certainty. Seeing traditional instruments cozying up to what is basically outdated office equipment fills me with a wonderful sense of hope and I can wax lyrical if you want. But it’s all just breath at the end of the day innit?   The secret is its vital oxygen, life-giving air whistling from Kleevex into my hungry ears.  Dandy.

The brave headliners are polished metropolitan gentlemen Yoni Silver (Bass Clarinet & Violin) and Ram Gabay (half a Drum-set).  I’m not going to beat around the bush here – this is world class improv.  Yoni and Ram are inventive masters pushing each of their respective instruments though ten rounds delivering stylistic K.O’s with grace and regularity.  Yoni’s deep, deep honk is filtered through an enviable technique, rude tongue-slaps on the gummy reed, a foot in the brass bell and plastic filters clattering with the power of sculpted air.

Ram’s drums (a couple of snares, a rogue bass drum and a collection of cymbals and gee-gaws) are cosseted and stroked like old house cats. Skins are thrummed and thowked.  The mixture of texture and timing fill the air with gritty vibrations that are expertly controlled with the occasional sharp ‘crack’ brining us out of our misty reverie and back into the present.  Special mention must be made of the bass drum – a slack and sliding mobile unit skittering at the sight of Ram’s well-heeled boot.

And the interplay between the two is gob-dropping, jaw-smacking.  Nuance unwraps further nuance, in a cluttered Venn diagram alive with microscopic bristle.  This damn tape reminds me why I love improv so much – it just keeps on flowing and reforming until (one brief violin scrape later) it snips to a perfectly neat and tidy close.

As with all other NAU-tapes these are available only from the mighty Mr Dave Howcroft at for FREE!  *but bung him a few quid eh…it’s Christmas.



Cruel Nature Records

Spam Tapes


the science of dropping things: joe murray on 23 minutes, mudguts, hardworking families

October 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

Various Artists – 23 Minutes – 23 Tracks – 23 Artists (3″ CD-r, Eastville Vending, edition of 60 or download)

Mudguts – Locque Atmir Kodai (3″ CD-r, Bells Hill, BH 013, edition of 30)

Hardworking Families – BA/LS/BN (CD-r, Beartown Records, edition of 50)


Various Artists – 23 Minutes – 23 Tracks – 23 Artists

How I love a micro-compilation.  Those labours of love that gather together large numbers of wonky artists and put them in a restrictive jacket.  They say,

Do your thing… but keep it quick.

Of course this is excellent advice – the forethought and discipline creating a series of unrelated but often complimentary micro-moments coughing and spluttering outta your earbuds.

As ever there is a bit of personal history here.  Homemade Grindcore tape-trades and the RRR-500 locked-groove monster (with its 500 individual artists) first alerted me to this fascinating stubby-nub of the ‘various artists’ family tree.  Then I found the slightly more breathy Martin Archer Network series with over 100 people playing short pieces over two discs.  More recently Sindre Bjerga took up the mantle with his Gold Soundz compilation of 99 international-gonks on the marvelous and irreverent Pissing in the Wind.

But this time the seed was planted by one Neil Campbell to use up all those old 3 inch CD-Rs out there.  He reckons 23 minutes is around the maximum amount of music you can cram on one of these little silver discs so 23 x 1 minute pieces makes perfect sense.  The Marketing and Research branch of the Eastville Vending Corporation agreed and ‘ta-dah!’ – a new micro-comp is born.

You can slice these things several ways but my favourite tactic is to dive straight in and dig this as a single piece; an ever-changing narrative of moods and themes.  Then I realise that it is actually presented as a single 23 min piece so that does help things somewhat and I settle back and l.i.s.t.e.n.

So, where did my 23 minute journey take me?

Laica – Electric dodgems collapse into magnetic tessellations // Kemper Norton – brass rubbing slowed down via architectural trauma // Concrete_Field – watching a séance from inside a wax piano // Revbjelde – slopped balloons, dry spaghetti cracks // Band of Holy Joy – machine code dirty-talk between distant servers // Farmer Glitch – scary news ident // Howlround – confessions from the bristles of a shoe-shine machine // Neil Campbell – the science of dropping things at various angles // Gusset – answerphone message melancholicx – the stilted delivery making this one of the 21st Century’s saddest sounds // IX Tab – no pussyfooting with high-vis jackets // Noise Research Institute – bumplestiltskin – hands in the air! // Runningonair – public enema dub : surprisingly relaxing // Graham Dunning – radiates as multi-coloured auras // Ekoplekz – “A rare moment of calm. The bombs fall on the Eastern District so all I can see is dust.” // Elisabeth Veldon – loop-tronics raid Esquivel to bring a new clarity to damp cardboard // Decadnids – serious bowed-metal-sax reverberations  border on the erotic // Xylitol – a clear autumn morning, alone in Kendal // Robin Foster – selective tones filtered by sympathetic shimmering feedback // Foldhead – mighty & dark theatrics // FM3V – chestnut seller hacks oven to play Bollywood themes // Tim Hill – tanned seabirds rejoice the new birth // Assembled Minds – I dropped my water pistol down an echo chamber (smeared surprise coda) // Sarah Angliss – Twins joint memories? Phantom limb pluck and solemn-compression electronics.


Mudguts – Locque Atmir Kodai

The original Death Eater musik – as banned from the Slytherin Common Room!

Bilious clouds of distemper billow from his holiness Lee Culver and are muddied further by dark mistral Scott McKeating… that’s how Mudguts roll.  True believers take note – this cheeky 3 inch is a semi-official offering so even more occluded and forbidden than it’s dark predecessor.*

This disc gets down to business straight away so there is no reason for me not to either.

‘Widowvine’ crashed through a cloud of bad intention and night tremors to become a meditative prescription of bitter herbs and rancid smoke.  Parts are reversed Santana, parts are bar room pre-brawl.  As a map of psychic disturbances this marks the truly terrifying blank spots with an inky smear.

A one minute masterpiece ‘Split Gorgon’ re-lives the dispiriting experience of tuning into another person’s dream.  It’s all falling, falling, falling until the brain juice squirts a different solution and you find yourself becoming Leonard Cohen (or something).  Then ‘snap’ it’s over and you are awake.

Then finally, with the most evocative track title of the year, ‘First my Body, Now my Corpse’ sparkles and shudders with an almost glam-rock brightness.  But this spotlight is so harsh and revealing it blisters the skin and cooks soft rubbery eyes.  At times I’m minded of that Sonic Boom fella if he dug the Darkthrone.  But soon enough I shake my head hard enough for them scales to fall from my peepers and I realise I’m on my knees… Mudguts glory has laid waste to my corner of civilisation and rags and half bricks are all that remains.

Phew!  You dig it?

*What I’m saying is hit up Scott for a copy at the Bells Hill address!


Hardworking Families – BA/LS/BN

HWF approaches this record in pieces: abstracted sauces, performance as code, gristle, electronic manipulation and tape glitch. Forgive me.  I’m gunna gush, but Tom (HWF) Bench is a master of the thought and edit school for sure.

This release solves sound problems like a damn dancer would; the old soft-shoe shuffle provides texture while clean accuracy is rustled from the percussive rudiments of tap.  All built on sexy muscles the accents are a silvery jet that slips between ear and frames.

This is what I hear…

  • Glutch & fromer! A displaced chord organ melts into black-flecked slush.  The distant whooping crane places his beak into the shellac grooves on the Victrola.
  • “Buff-uddle.” Microphone shuggle in a hair shirt. Constant motion gaffs like an okra bud over Velcro. The hobo orchestra ‘thwack’ old tins and wrestle an egg-slicer back and forth.  The ripple of thin metal dances right in my forehead – things coalesce – merge – re-form into steps cut out of bright paper – Matisse becomes instruction.  The code is to be cracked but a fair advantage is favoured on the light of ankle.  Un-led rhythms shuffle out of this desert storm, moving against each other like lovers, all slither and explore.  Tin & rin & rin & tin & tin pop-out plastic eardrums to faint electro influences?  The gradual sigh of a bus coming to rest and opening up the wheelchair ramp.   Dry energy – like plunging your hand into a bag of uncooked rice – each grain perfect, each cousin similar but individual.  Wheat echoes; a fork balances, it’s twines interlaced with a spoon’s surly lip.
  • Buttons of rubber depressed by pudgy fingers. They sing in harmonies un-dreamt by Clive Sinclair – each mercurial tone a slack-arsed fart. The washer vibe snips out via polo mint.
  • Wooden planks mumble as heavy hands slap until they find a resonant pitch/probing fingers dislodge the lid and keys (the white teeth of shame) are slackened with a tone-wrench/the taught strings are teased and top and sides rubbed with soft beads/a variety of fidelities, each proper in it’s own dissonance becomes partially embedded so rich echo-parlour switches between hi-fi buff and pre-teen noise goofball. I read Miles’ BIG FUN was cobbled together outta oddments.  Tom takes a similar stance but each floor-cutting here is as wonderful as an unexpected smooch.
  • The opening salvo of dysentery bombs that smoke over the battlefield! It clogs hair and exposed pores – the Angel of Mons offers scant sanctuary.
  • An ice-cream headache from Steve Albini’s brow. THAT THE THINK guitar sound shredded through electric fan in a pissing bad mood.  Shaking frozen peas out of a Tupperware box, drilling holes into broken glass.  Or, if you’d prefer, the barista’s revenge – hot milk battered through dirty filters.
  • Free-text box opened up and all the pixels clump together into vague geometric shapes with impudent languor.

All in all, this disc brings an essential vitality into my soft pampered life.  It’s wormed into my lugs now.  I’m saved ya’ll.

Can you afford to miss this one dear reader? Can your children?? Can your immortal soul???


Eastville Vending

Bells Hill

Beartown Records

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.