pure disco imbalance: rfm on karl m v waugh, storm bugs, midmight and panelak

May 2, 2017 at 6:24 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Karl M V Waugh – o light; a lightness (Emblems of Cosmic Disorder)

Storm Bugs – Certified Originals and Vintage Fakes (Snatch Tapes)

Midmight–Cut Cut Cut Bruise (Resipiscent)

Panelak – Sunsplat/Quatsch (Urubu)

karl mv waugh

Karl M V Waugh – o light; a lightness (Emblems of Cosmic Disorder) CD and digital album

A three-part homage to light – or to life?

Opener ‘dawn’ is a shy overture.  A gathering of electric-breath and glistening themes in a cloud of expectancy leading into the 30 minute bulk of ‘light’ – moving at the speed of morning.

The gentle yawn of night is giving up, once again, to budding and unfurling mauve tendrils stroking the un-blackening blue.

Yet this is a curious and optimistic light, the bucolic synth tones rising and falling like the warmth of the spring sunshine as it pokes yellow fingers into the places darkness prefers to lurk. The rolling nature of the soft-sound lolls between my sleepy ears carrying slight dissonant pitches and moans that build and decay, build and decay…

Somewhere in the background a gruff blustering slowly gathers pace in the same way a snowball picks up stones and leaves – mimicking the creation of a tiny world.  About 20 minutes in I feel the churning emergence start to leave traces of itself – miniscule waves that shift in graceful S-bends, travelling the twin meanders in deliciously greasy detail.

The closer, a brief tropical ‘dusk,’ is altogether more hectic as fuzzing and fritzing notes buzz in Brownian motion, shimmering like moon-birds.  It’s only in the closing seconds they jettison their fragile wings, ready to propel themselves in a steep suicidal ascent into the dead vacuum of space.

The circle remains unbroken.

storm bugs

Storm Bugs – Certified Originals and Vintage Fakes (Snatch Tapes) CD in hefty vacuum-formed case, booklet and digital album

The legendary Storm Bugs are respected old-timers residing, a bug apiece, on the South Coast and Deptford (Borough of Lewisham).  Somehow this shared maritime history, pebbled-dashed openness, wide skies and neat beaches seem to run through their infectious sound.

Certified Originals is a very helpful drawing together of recent ‘dingles’, downloadable singles that play with the seven inch format in a variety of delightful ways: the three-minute pop song, the dub version, the unexpectedly superior b-side all get shoved through the Storm Bugs’ intelligent blender.

For the uninitiated get ready for SONGS…catchy verse, chorus, verse songs with real words and underpinning ideas.  But like This Heat or something these songs all get twisted into new forms creating bold statements that weave through their deceptively dark synth-pop exterior.

Make no mistake – the sweet exterior always reveals a soft-centre of something unpleasant and darkly acrid.

Starting off gently there’s no nostalgia on ‘Hisstory of the Cassette Tape’ as it playfully pokes at both collector-scum and sepia-bores.  And of course there are bonus points for rhyming “Cassette Tape” with “Ferrous Oxide bake.”

A bewildered diary entry ‘New Resolutions’ marches like a Roman Legion with the type of buzzing synth-sound EL-P loved to chuck into CoFlow jamz.  The ghost of Esquivel squirms through ‘Up the Pylon and Down the Lane’ but in a sickly sinister nursery rhyme.

‘Pity the Small’ takes me right back to those minor-key symphonies perfected by New Zealand’s Tall Dwarves but here laced with suicidal thoughts.

And this darkness reaches a peak on ‘Take it to the Top’ a discombobulating mash-up of the ‘Are You Being Served?’ theme with a Class War manifesto.

Gosh!  I need a bit of a sit down after that.

The instrumentals are measured as carefully as posh cocktails – a snitch of vermouth, a splash of bitters  – so while tracks like ‘Storm of Bugs’ could have fallen out of an Art of Noise remix 12 inch way back when Morley was a mere annoyance, ‘Ordnance Survey’ is, without a doubt, a mosh-pit breakdown.

Wondering what 60’s corn-pop tune Popcorn would sound like full of acid squelches? Clear out your lugs for ‘MitWasser’.

These kindly Bugs don’t want you to leave this disc a wreck so they save the slick beats and hummus-rich atmosphere of ‘Triangulation’ until last; a strangely euphoric piece that started to claw-back my faith in human nature and throw a few shapes around the living room.

Consumers!  Satisfaction is yours to demand.  Order a Storm Bugs solution – NOW.


Midmight–Cut Cut Cut Bruise (Resipiscent) CDr and digital album that comes complete with another Midmight album ‘Almost Clear’

Midmight (be-masked and anonymous) offers a whole flotilla of mind-engorging short pieces on this unapologetically boisterous collection.

Some sort of electronic dissonance (hot-wired light sabre, explosive durian fruit?) takes centre stage buffing away at crumpled field recordings – often TV sound and domestic detritus – like a donkey’s tail swats bothersome flies.

The rhythm and timing of these swoops is both unknowable and difficult to categorise.  At one point they seem to batter the taped sounds into submission (‘Abdominal Cavity’), at others they accompany as delicate parsley sprinkled on fresh gazpacho – see ‘Springville Auction’ for details.

‘Make no Mistake’ seems to mould the spitting energy into a quick ska-beat; ‘Let’s Pretend’ is a slow rinser from the Wolf-dong camp.

Sucking on a pencil I decide it’s probably a mistake to over-think this set of JAMZ.

Just raise your fist and yell!


Panelak – Sunsplat/Quatsch (Urubu) Tape and digital album featuring 25 different J-cards?

A whirring, churning, ever transmogrifying mulch of lo-fi tape magic!

Phew – them’s powerful words eh?  What if I was to tell you young Pascal Ansell has created his very own Faust Tapes on this ecstatic Panelak release?

You’d read on with damp lips eh?

Huge, broad swoops of sound are moved with ease across a broad and ordered canvas.  The shudder of tape grot rubs shoulders with children singing and ukulele strums along to winged-eel keyboard.

Field recordings (a gondolier, a market place) are wrenched across a digital interface and looped, chopped and edited with fine cotton gloves.   You get the picture?

But it’s this fine sense of editing, a sure hand and a keen ear, that takes these colourful and varied sounds and turns them from dull bronze into a winner’s gold.

Each side holds a single 20 minute piece; one named Sunsplat and one named Quatsch and both contain more singular sound-moments than I can shake my walking stick at.  If your experience of this form of sound-collage/gonk montage has been ham-fisted or without any internal narrative fear not!   On this fine, fine tape Pascal has arranged each sound into a logical (un)sequence of deliberate/accidental, stressed/relaxed, acoustic/electronic.  As a result the damn thing flows like a soul-river; deep and clear and free.

Individual moments create a framework to hang your hat on; but be sure to listen out for…

Elongated moans

                 >>>vintage tape scritch & scratch

                                                                                                  >>>hi-pitch headphone feedback

Italian TV (backwards)

     >>>clunky egg-slicer manipulation>>>crab-hand guitar loop>>>Portuguese translation aid

                                                           >>>the dry plastic click of a cheap mic

Basic keyboard exercise played with three hands>>>

      unsuccessful radio tune-up>>>

                                                           old rehearsal tapes cut into pieces>>>pure disco imbalance


If you find joy in the miniature click your heavy fingers on the link and listen to the sweet action.

Dial up P.A.N.E.L.A.K for mighty change.


Emblems of Cosmic Disorder

Snatch Tapes / Storm Bugs


Urubu Tapes


saltwater lake: joe murray on michael morley, seymour glass & fleshtone aura, shepherds of cats & panelak

December 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Michael Morley – The Burning House (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.317, edition of 60)

Seymour Glass & Fleshtone Aura – Amplified Teacup (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.316, edition of 60)

SHEPHERDS OF CATS & PANELAK – Muscle atrophy in a squirrel’s left leg (CD-r, FANFARE)

morley teacup

Michael Morley – The Burning House

Excuse me if I get all ‘Classic Rock’ for a moment but Michael Morley has been part of that guitar legend category for like what?  Twenty years?  His distinctive scuffed and ultra-primitive shredding in The Dead C confounded, confused and delighted a generation of dysfunctional weirdos (like me).

That Morley sound, explored further in Gate and other duos/trios and collaborations, has remained fairly consistent.  The emphasis has been on the rotten, decay and the fine art of falling apart.  This glorious sound is singular to the degree that the actual method of creation, the humble guitar, becomes the least important part of the equation.  The sound is the thing man!

So what happens when this rotten, decayed and deconstructed approach is aimed at a poor old acoustic guitar?  What happens when amp-buzz, rich feedback overtones, volume and crushing distortion are painted out, shipped off and packed up for another day?

This conundrum is answered by Michael in a calm, reasonable and clear voice:

I’m gonna pick up this thing and just play.  Roll my fingers over the strings and let my head go blank and my heart pulse with pure unrefined love.

Or something

So… if you are expecting lame Fahey-isms look away now.  Sure, you get some finger-picking-dixie but this is more of a strummer – the ghost of punk can’t help but glimmer in the distance.

I’m not sure if these pieces were recorded in chronological order but they sure travel in the same direction.  ‘The Hills’ is a watershed moment.  You can hear the decisions being made in the Morley-mind… this chord/that chord, repeat or move on, hang a note and let it ring or plough on?

And that’s what makes this so darn charming.  It’s how I want to hear a guitar get played.  Not all cocksure strutting but more questioning, more searching.

FLASHBACK: I’m reminded of THE BEST SHOW EVER (29th October 2004) when Christina Carter played so free and so wild and so unconsciously unfettered we all (us the freezing audience) lost touch with reality for a moment or two.  We nudged our dimensional boundaries for a time and pushed ourselves collectively into a new altered state.  It was like a Close Encounter without the sunburn.  Phew. Back to business…

Shorter, tidy and neat tracks build to the 22 minute epic ‘The Living’ that takes the lessons of each pause, harmonic sigh and fret-board creak and lays them out, like a floodplain extending towards the horizon, perfectly flat and reflective – giving nothing away.

Themes bloom from the mirror-like lake: an arthritic flamenco and soft dub whispers.  Knotted straw is fashioned into a scratchy homunculus… but these are mere dreams on the bucolic journey.

The fingers crackle over the strings, moving with determination but at a baroque pace, letting a foot stomp occasionally.  But mainly?  I’ve got my elbow stuck out the window as I keep on trucking.

Just watch out for them sinister hitchhikers!

Seymour Glass & Fleshtone Aura – Amplified Teacup

Jaxx, JAXX, JAXX!! Goof-off jizz collage from gents old enough to know better.

Like-I-said, any old giffer can chuck a tape-machine in the blender and stand back, hands on hips looking fairly pleased.  But it takes a lifetime of weird to let things float a bit, to resist the easy temptation and play the hot denial card.

I like it best when everything crumples into a pile like a screwed up set of pyjamas.  All the energy is spent and collapsed, fagged-out, so all that’s left is a memory of a split second… and that’s rolling away like a greasy marble.

It’s a two track beast this.  Live (recorded like, live, man in San Francisco) plays with one hand tied behind the back and one eye closed.  Glass // Aura become a neat one-ness.  The sounds are clean and fresh, diced with a quick sharp knife but free of any residual gump or snot. A sense grenade redecorates your scrambled mind and non-sequiturs suddenly form allegiances and join hands singing like Cola-hippies.

The speedier Non-Live possum ramps up the tape-rottage… the sound snippets jitter between calamity and tragedy.  With Jaxx so heavy it’s as physical as hauling in a sodden trawl net.   There’s all sorts of briney sparkles caught up in the weft but some are squished beyond recognition.  TED talks cut up into alien syllables anyone?

Freaky like a flatfish.


SHEPHERDS OF CATS & PANELAK – Muscle atrophy in a squirrel’s left leg

This single piece of music, running for over 50 minutes once rang clanging alarm bells for me.  I was raised with Punk, Trad Jazz and Skiffle – four minutes constituted a major opus in them grimy-thumbed worlds; how am I going to cope with almost an hour of klattersome huffin’ and puffin’?  So, as a result of my small-minded defeatism this handsome looking disc stayed on the mountainous ‘to do’ pile for far too long.  For shame.

I should have had faith in my host’s skills.  Poland’s Shepherds of Cats and the Leeds/Lisbon wunderkind Pascal ‘Panelak’ Ansell have paid their dues man and ‘…squirrel’s … leg’ is a damn fine piece of collated jam, taking in free-freak-folk, company-style improv and Impulse-label ecstatic jazz.  Those 50 minutes I churlishly baulked at give this quartet the time to relax and stretch out, develop the narrative and bring each performers unique voice to life.  Obvious now, eh?

Earphones ready, I dive in.  The very proper percussion rubs shoulders with dirty electronics. Ritualistic vocal chants beat down cheap plastic pipes, cello drones interrupt spoken word instructions (“let me show you”) and we end with the sort of fusion keyboards Herbie Hancock would vamp back when he was good.

But of course it’s the careful and sensitive edit that makes each micro-element flower into life.  I have no background info but I’m guessing that individual solo, duo and trio recordings are woven together to create a meta-tapestry. Hey, if it’s good enough for Teo Macero…

Keeping such rich material in a collective form but still allowing it to breathe is no mean feat.  And especially as this doesn’t resort to any climax clichés.  In a world where peaks and troughs, to-you-to-me improv is busting my balls it’s delightful to hear such confidence just letting things flow.

There seems to be a two-layer thing going on here: interior, close sounds are crackling at pillow-talk volumes but the external, wider sounds carry everything along in a gritty wake.  You want comparisons?  I’m minded of some of the more sparse Vibracathedral  Orchestra pieces overloaded with Phill Niblock’s sandpaper electronic shapes with a snifter of ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ in its loose-limbed Wurlitzer flailing.

The combinations of keys, horns and percussion get tangled together and instinctively unravel at the exact point we’d welcome some electronic fizz.

That’s right.  International telepathy gets a new spokesperson!


Chocolate Monk


bouncing off the tuning pegs: joe murray on david somló, panelak and gold soundz all-stars

June 30, 2015 at 9:40 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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stuart chalmers/henry collins/sindre bjerga/claus poulsen – split (tape, gold soundz, gs#127, edition of 25)

David Somló – Movement (CD mounted on plate with hanger and booklet or download with pdf, self-released)

Panelak – The Om Tragichord (CD-r, LF Records, LF046)

gold soundz split

Stuart Chalmers/Henry Collins/Sindre Bjerga/Claus Poulsen

Side one of this groovy wrapped-up tape hosts tape goons and sonic adventurers Stuart Chalmers and Henry Collins.  This fine duo give excellent value for money by combining the riotous pop and snap of speed-of-thought tape manipulation with more considered glassy processing.  The seven poke-in-the-eye interjections are short (all under 3 mins except the slightly longer ‘tskimdo’) and as fresh and wriggly as a landed rainbow trout.

Things work as a wonderful whole, individual elements constantly forming and deconstructing, but with an overall purpose and flavour.  There’s a damp frittering to some of these sounds as they rush like a fleshy thumb over a plastic comb… frrriiiiiiipppppppp!  The energetic glitching is fancy like boiling mud; all thick clay-like plops and flubbers.  Stuart handles his Dictaphone with aplomb; FFW skipping some guitar improv, the Bailey-esque lurches in volume diving dramatically down a brown worm-hole.  A drum loosely appears between the squark and squelch.  This reminds me to mail David Sylvian with a pithy comment about his Manafon.  The whirling capstans get almost too much to bear until a singular tone calms the magnetic beast.  Friends of more relaxed pastimes will tune in to the especially jaxxed ending to this side – clockwork chimes and distorted reverberations making it all nice and irie.  Praise Jah!

Side two starts off with a live Sindre joint ‘choking on splinters’ and is a right messed-up tape culture statement.  Various soft rock/power ballad tunes are mangled with generous amounts of ironic sauce.  The sound then gradually coalesces (like sonic grease pudding) for a road-menders drone section, soon to be replaced by wet slapping and vocal jaxx, stiff hessian ripping, number station melodies and dry-twig crackle.

And things start to get serious.  The last few minutes of this set are dramatically violent with poor old tapes getting seriously duffed-up, warped, stretched and fondled so the base-sound becomes thickened and rubbery.  Blimey – with no applause to contextualise the sound this naked aggression sounds directed to me personally.  Eek!

Claus Poulsen ends the tape with a short Sindremix.  With thousands of hours of prime material to choose from Claus must have had quite a job settling down to this.  To my mind he’s chosen wisely, concentrating on Sindre’s drone works to come up with a curiously melancholic three minutes of tear-stained swoons and rusty croaks.   Beautiful like bruised fruit.


David Somló – Movement

Hungarian guitarist David Somló’s incredible debut album.  Strong in concept – it comes with a plate you can hang on the wall and strong in execution – David is a fucking KILLER guitarist, movement is a dusty 27 minute recording that’s positively crackling with tense, nervous energy.

Recorded in the open air things start off with the sloppy-slops of lazy footsteps on leaf litter then launches into an outrageous guitar solo.  Very much experimental but encased in desperate, haunting harmonies this takes on board the clear spaciousness of Jon Collins, the rusty twang of Bill Orcutt and the pitted grime of Manuel Mota.  Yeah I know comparisons are bullshit but painting an accurate picture of this flapping into my lugs is a tricky one. It’s all over the place.  Styles are spun on a penny.  My scrawled notes say,

soars and swoops like a swallow skimming over a pond/pensive like Tom Verlaine, edging towards an unknown something/smooth but brittle texture – Hapsburgian in its decay and posture/clouds of notes knot like bees or Loren Connors.

And this pattern is repeated:

·         Excellent, beautiful, twisted and shaken guitar solo

·         Sudden pause (a shift in the way David is sitting perhaps?) or the crackle of a bonfire, or the twitter of Hungarian birds

·         Another excellent, beautiful, twisted and shaken guitar solo.

These solos erupt out of the shimmer of nature only to fall back once all the trills and runs have been had… and they seem so natural and right.  Not precise and worked until all the blood is leached but as improvised as a stolen kiss, the late afternoon light bouncing off the tuning pegs as another slick idea is fingered out on the rosewood frets.

Finally – if you are thinking this sounds just a little too guitar hero remember the field recording feel, the cloudy ripple of background voices and feet crunching on gravel that make this feel even more homespun and relaxed.  I urge you readers to toast the official guitarist of the Psychedelic Domestic!  Hail Somló!

A ‘must have’ for all Hank Marvins.

omtragi frontcover final

Panelak – The Om Tragichord

ROAAOOOOORRRR!  This is a blisteringly intense record from Pascal Ansell’s Panelak.  Back in the old days they called this kind of rich, crunchy noise Computer Music.  And while I have no doubt Pascal is using a computer at some point in the process of making his music it would be doing this a disservice to label something so vibrant; so effusive and physical with a non-human tag.

‘Hikikomori’ grinds like Tony Hawk or something; all gritty granular shredding until a daytime TV voice adds a sobering touch.  ‘Sarcomere’ is a more thoughtful cousin, standing at the sidelines of the bowl watching the boys show off.  She’s thinking up minimal melodies beamed into the ether that charm their way into your skull.  Was that a brief snatch of strings there?  I’m not sure as the relentless alien squawk has started to recalibrate my hairy ear ‘oles.

The tooth-loosening ‘Quisqualate’ shimmers as separate lines of electric drone, fizzing glitch,  squashed cowbell and high-tension guitar string plait themselves together only to unwind slowly leaving you with no handhold or ledge.

It seems unusual to have a title track these days.  Are they supposed to be a potted-meat representation of the whole? I dunno man.  But, as it happens, ‘The Om Tragichord’ does sum up the approach and aesthetic let loose tonight.  Imagine some late 70’s video game (Tennis, Tank Commander, Pong etc) re-routed through a daisy chain of spluttering effects pedals.  A giant foot stomps down repeatedly and sets things off in an eccentric order, closing off and opening up signals in a juddering and aggressive manner.  Then mirror plate this and listen backwards.  You get the picture eh?

Closer ‘BactoGrail’ takes some of that sweet guitar and jams it through my speakers in varying degrees of fuckedness.  A Hammond does it shimmy, voices chatter like a mystery radio gone feral.  After a time of simple twittering the acoustic keeps things steady while an electric calliope blusters like a wound-up drunk preparing for a fight.

Like the old Queen says:

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening!

That’s for sure…plugging Panelak into your ears is like waiting for the dark cloud to hurl a killer stroke.  Guaranteed to blow your mind – anytime!


Gold Soundz

David Somló

LF Records

grot all get mangled: joe murray on panelak, f. ampism, david birchall, rogier small, rotten tables, golden meat, ckdh

July 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Panelak – Heimat (CD-r or download, Angurosakuson, AS#007)

F. Ampism – Chew Valley Moor Wardens  (CD-r, Poot Records)

David Birchall/Rogier Small Duo – S/T (C20 tape, Poot Records)

Rotten Tables, Golden Meat – My Nose is Broken (C20 tape, Total Vermin)

CKDH – Yr Putrid Eyeballs (CD-r, Poot Records)

rfm panelak frontrfm f ampismrfm chkd 1rfm chkd 2

Panelak – Heimat

Starting with electronics swimming in electric bile over a bunch of Korean zither pings all antiseptic and clean an antique ZX81 crashes.  KkKKkkqqQKkqKQKkk.  In the Congo ghosts play Mbira via shortwave lightning with sudden peaks in volume and intensity.  Phew! The first two songs (‘How I wrote Panelak’ & ‘Underfelt Silk Leaves’) are over and I’m sweating already.

‘Prayer Milk’ does that tunnel-vision thing for your ears making them tune inward as granular chuff curls like a graphite wave.  Watch out casual surfers…don’t get caught in the undertow.

My gosh, this is the Crossfit of noise; all muscular beefing and sweaty reps.  But…Panelak’s Pascal Ansell isn’t getting all Rollins on your ass.  No sir.  This is still pretty enough to make me blush pinky-red.  Especially with the glitch water-jug/chess beats/preset keys of ‘Slugs Salloon’ which is the kinda junk turning up on PAN at the minute.  Dance music mutated out the disco, round the corner and into the all night Deli serving chrome toaster-noise to anxious couples climbing out a collective K-hole.  Selector?  Re-rewind!

The 14 minute palette-cleanser ‘Nix Cornd Beef/Timesheet’ reminds me of the time I was locked in King Cross train station trying to avoid the security guards as semi-automated cleaning carts trundle the platforms snagging metal rails and sparking green in the darkness.  Just so you know.

This prepares the listener for ‘BBBlues’ with a guitar that’s the sort of thing to give Albini nightmares such is the sound ripped, processed and fucked.  The ever present waterfall vibe that bootleg software wafts becomes an undercurrent laying a liquid foundation.

The closer, ‘Largesse Projects’ is more Stingray-undersea-kingdom shit; follow the pressure waves of psychic-torpedoes as they zero in on their own personal Bismarck!  At a mile deep the nitrogen/oxygen mixture makes mush of your brain.  Half forgotten memories of Rave culture, Noise basements and night bus paranoia all curdle into a paste of grey-matter.

Thoughts intertwine and Jacques Cousteau leers at my wasted face under his gnarly woollen cap. “Get a grip” he yells (in French).  But I’m too far gone on Panelak and burst out laughing at the salty puddle collecting round his brogues.

Shit man…this is strong stuff.

F. Ampism – Chew Valley Moor Wardens

Brighton-based beard F. Ampism has been riffing it for years.  His set at Colour Out Of Space 2013 was one of the highlights of the weekend and this cheeky snapshot of mung is a earhole warmer par excellence.

The shingle-tape warping and snatched speech samples comes across all Chaotica and sits comfortably at the table with all that LAFMS shit; ‘cept there’s a handmade quality to this like wave-polished scrimshaw.

Let me explain.  Wooden batteries get replaced with felt.  Off-kilter percussion from Nairobi is laid over kitchen clatter (‘Bandoneon’).  A baking tray buckles and reed flute plays comforting Azathoth (‘Indian Head’).  Free-jazz workshops are rendered in miniature like the band are starting to arrive and the drummer practices exotic chops (‘Water from a Wooden Bowl’).  Grotty tabla ‘slaps’ are slowed down into the futuristic plastic ‘Boing’ posing a problem for Mega City One judges (‘Norma Supral’) as mercury is sluiced down a drainpipe.  There’s a fidget’s delight as KLF goof-on like ‘Chill Out’ (‘Comfrey Wazzo Shed Suite’).  Repetitive faux-ethic glock plonks, bronze owls t-wit and t-woo during ‘Hanging Litterbugs’ as Martin Denny finds the sweet-spot on his analogue synth.

To sum up: loops of recorder grot all get mangled. You sit and raise a glass.  The wind blows through your grass skirt.

And if god is a DJ, Amps sits at his right hand mixing all the uncomfortable sounds dropped at the pearly gates.

Check this mother out!

David Birchall/Rogier Small Duo

An eye-watering tape cover, all pink vibrations and Mexican skulls houses this crispy duck.

Warble-guitar rubberises snazzy drums all over side one with the clitter-clatter meshing like oilbeads.  Dave’s dextrous volume pedal work gives the six string a human voice…an open-mouthed gasp that speaks in a dialect from the lost land of Atlantis.  When the silvery bubbles of air float up they get well and truly popped by Rogier’s mini-trident as floppy skins (drum kit) pound like a war cry.  Up Helly-Ah!

Texture is explored for sure but it’s got a furry quality, like mould-ridden cheese, that makes me salivate grey goo down my shirt front.

I saw these two live recently and was blown away by their Crimsons.  Diggerty velocity and ultra-hard riffin’ that stopped on a dime leading to Pinteresque silence and uncomfortable stares.  And it’s good to hear those dip-outs, troughs and fallows on this pinky tape.  Too many beards just jam it without no contrasts…saps.  The chaps got chops!

Side two starts off all mellow and that with a ribbed ripple, a cluster of notes that dart and dive around Smal’s dropped grenades.  But these explosions become milestones, stately markers on a voyage over rough terrain before they gradually morph into the start of the Pink Panther show (circa 1979).

About halfway though coffin-opening squeaks and moans start coming from somewhere as Private Jazz gets the brushes out ‘schhhh, schhhh, schhhh’…a minute later we’re in Company Week territory with heavy improv chokes and giggles from drum and guitar.  This jollies me up and I’m sad, genuinely sad, dear reader when the extended grimble solo ends this tape.

Oh yeah…I know people like to know this kinda stuff:  Dave plays in Northern Loon-duo Chastity Potatoe, Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura, Stuckometer, Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra and Rogier does stuff with Jaap Blonk, Eugene Chadbourne, Sunburned Hand of The Man and one of Earth or something.  Both websites are chocked full of tapes, drawings and videos that make me wanna get up and do some shit!

Rotten Tables, Golden Meat – My Nose is Broken

My word: hunka-grunk-scrunt!  This is the kinda doof that gets me out of bed in the morning, lickerty-split!  Do not pass muesli.  Jive straight out the door and into the woods for loamy communion breathing in the ferns.

Rotten Tables, Golden Meat are a totally gonzo electronics/vocal mush duo jamming at the heart of the new Soviet weird and its long tradition of sound poetry and religious ecstasy.  Partly recorded on Jon Marshall’s travels in Russia with St Petersberg resident Anton Auster these two sides are sharp like pickles with a lasting tang.

Side one: A live excursion jammed in St Petersburg starts like an experiment with speech from an impossible archive, micro-sounds isolated, presented and turned inside out for a gaggle of tweed elbow-patches.  The lecture continues but moves into the chemistry lab; a pristine white coat mixing noxious chemicals all a’bubble and foamy.  Rhythm is important to RTGM and loops move in eccentric orbits around each other, meeting in points; farewells no doubt tearful as they forever pull themselves apart.  But it’s not all buttery beauty!  There’s enough ‘crunch’, ‘squark’ and ‘fonk’ for the gruffest gong-farmer. In fact about halfway through side one everything kinda disintegrates into a morass of electronic gunk, shortwave gabble and tape squeal.  A purgatory of choirs is summoned through the mire with a majestic sweep of the curtain, beckons in a new dawn of pained snivel.

Side two is mixed like a travelogue, switching from one place or mood to another but with a modesty and innocence.  Shy words and the crunch of boots on fresh electric-snow open the proceedings; a black-out rave for the diesel-clogged tugboats that thump across the frozen harbour.  This hums for a while then jack knives like This Heat’s Health & Efficiency with a propulsive yet lopsided whoozy sample driving a bright cavalcade of rips and shunts and liquid voice.  More snatches of Russian conversation tease, a mouse-organ and reed thin whistles…tin-plate clicks and damaged music box mechanisms crackle with hidden purpose.  Then to close the sampled speech, all lightly manipulated, turns into a charming thought piece and/or erotic lullaby ’ears, some gills mama cav-or’ that’s just as dishy as Steve Reich.

Sorry to get extra huggy-kissy but this is one god-damn essential experience.  Like a tin bath…you gotta get in to drop out!

CKDH – Yr Putrid Eyeballs

An exceptional Black Metal logo always draws me in and the singular art work in this oversized cardboard CD case makes this a hard disc to ignore.

Razor-sharp tones (a high C#?) open ‘Your Putrid Eyeballs’ sliding over each other like greased jade.  These thin green needles puncture the twilight (it’s getting dark as I type) and I notice that swinging my head from side-to-side makes them dance gently in the middle of the room.  A brown and granular wash (think coffee grounds) plays a twin-tone melodie as liquid hydrogen rushes down a spiral staircase leaving toxic steam in its wake.  The between-track silence is uncanny.

Beautiful austerity.

‘Fungal Air Creeping Adders’ jams on these strange radiophonic tones further, bunching them up to create a ripple, a rhythm and a steady bass-line crackle.  It all sounds strangely contemporary and the sort of thing I imagine is played in an inner-city night club shortly before kicking out time; the feeling of dread and alienation is real.  An occasional metallic scratching uncovers itself gradually, steadily becoming unnerving, unsettling…like something is about to shear off and screech out the stereo covered in nasty blisters.   And then…just before the end a beautiful thing happens and two sine-wave tones modulate in just the right way to create a third tone, a harmony that sings like an angel.  It only lasts a second but becomes the grit in the oyster, the seldom seen hint of violet in a rainbow.

All the more delicious for its rarity.


Angurosakuson WordPress (for physical objects)

Angurosakuson Bandcamp (for downloads)

Poot Records

Total Vermin

Editor’s note: don’t fret if you visit the Poot or Total Vermin sites and can find no mention of the releases reviewed.  Luke and Stuart both work within a jelly-like, highly-flexible notion of ‘time’ and should be contacted directly with enquiries as to availability.

rfm on lsr via uml: your editor speaks!

March 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Posted in musings, no audience underground | 6 Comments
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my lawyers listening to lsr

Last week I spent an enjoyable afternoon chatting with Tom Bench (of the wonderful Leeds University Union Music Library) and Pascal Ansell (of Panelak, Angurosakuson etc. – he’s a representative of the noise-tigger vanguard). They settled on the rug by the fire as I dozed in my wing-backed leather chair following a fine lunch. Tom tugged gently on the arm of my blazer and, as I woke, asked me for my thoughts on a fascinating series of noise related subjects. I was happy to hold forth. Pascal piped up on occasion too – I almost had him thrashed by my manservant for the impertinence of interrupting – but the scamp is so lovable that I just ruffled his hair and smiled indulgently as he babbled on. The folly of youth, eh?

To my surprise it turns out that Tom secretly recorded the conversation and has broadcast edited highlights, complete with illustrative musical excerpts, on Leeds Student Radio as this week’s edition of the hour hosted by UML (Monday 10-11pm). My lawyers and I listened closely on the night but were so impressed that we aren’t even going to ask for punitive damages when we launch legal proceedings against the boy! I’m surprised that any of Pascal’s contribution made the edit but I suppose that, like a dog that can bark the national anthem, it has a certain nonsensical charm.


Jesting aside, this was great fun to do and I’m very happy with how it turned out. Many thanks to Pascal for being an enthusiastic sparring partner and to Tom for the terrific editing job and for having the imagination to set it up. As well as our chatter the programme features music from midwich, Astral Social Club, Mel O’Dubhslaine, foldhead, Sophie Cooper, Yol (!) and much more besides. Well worth your time.

If you missed it you can download here.

“excuse me, can you show me where the ‘yorkshire experimental’ section is please?”

January 29, 2013 at 7:14 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 10 Comments
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Leeds University Union Music Library

Panelak – Arnica Eyebright (Cassette, Crater Lake Sound, CL#22, edition of 50)

untold excitement

I am not sentimental about the physical objects on which music can be stored.  I recognize that a CD or whatever has a crucial role as a ‘place holder’ for the music it contains, of course: an object demands contemplation and packaging and presentation can add a dimension to the experience of listening.  However, I’ve moved house too many times to be misty-eyed about shelves of vinyl.  The CD jewel case is one of the crappest pieces of design that decadent late period capitalism has come up with.  Tapes are cute – I’ll give you that – but, even after throwing hundreds of ‘em away in-between their last burst of popularity and this current phase, they still gather in drifts…

…and yet I have serious misgivings about download culture too (not regarding copyright or piracy of course – I couldn’t give a toss.  Those arguments are over.  You may as well discuss theories of phlogiston.) and I have written at length about how having what-might-as-well-be infinite access was actually detrimental to my organs of musical appreciation.  It led to the compulsive amassing of as much ‘archive’ as possible, almost all of it unloved, heard once if at all.  Discernment, connoisseurship both went out the window taking enjoyment with them and were replaced with a miserable frantic desire to ‘keep up’.  Ugh.  It took a concerted effort of will to discipline myself and re-establish a balance.

So what now?  Well, I am in the super-privileged position of having many lovely, talented friends and acquaintances happy to give me their work in return for the possibility of review on this blog or just because they are keen for me to hear it.  Recommendations come my way for the same reasons.  It is beautiful.  But what about stuff outside my areas of expertise?  Do I clog the hard drive with downloads, or fill the house with objects?

Well, perhaps neither because my luck extends to having a music library in the Students’ Union at the University where I work.  The Union Music Library (hereafter: UML) of the University of Leeds, a repository for some 7000 items, has been around for donkey’s years – indeed I was a member myself as an undergraduate back in the early 1990s.  I was recently reminded of its existence due to the evangelism of Pascal Ansell.

Pascal is well known within the Leeds ‘experimental’ ’music’ ’community’ for his tiggerish enthusiasm, his enviable youth and his limitless capacity for starting projects.  He occasionally bites off more that he can chew and one of us older, more jaded types has to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre but he is so personable that if a plan comes to nought it is hard to be annoyed.  You just want to ruffle his hair.

Still, he is notching up a few undeniable achievements: a tape of his solo project Panelak is available (see below), he is promoting a very interesting looking show and has his own label in the works too.  He also came to me before Christmas with an idea which is now reaching fruition.  What the UML needs, he suggested, is a new section dedicated to experimental music from Yorkshire.  After overcoming my amazement that such a thing as the UML still existed in these internet-enabled times, I agreed to give him a hand selling the idea to the people in charge and to donate a bunch of stuff to kick it off.  The idea of getting stuff out of the crates at home and into circulation has a strong appeal to me.  I baulked at his request to write a guide for it, instead offering up whatever bits of this blog he felt like appropriating.

So, a few weeks and a bunch of emails later I found myself with Pascal and Daniel Thomas (along for the ride) delivering a couple of carrier bags full of goodies to the charming people who run the enterprise.  We were met by Evelyn, Lorna and a third girl whose name I didn’t catch (please forgive this lapse, most unchivalrous) who were smiley, grateful and enthusiastic and made the experience totally life-affirming.  Here is some dynamic photo-journalism documenting the place and the ‘handover’:

lunchtime rush

A lunchtime delegation from the Leeds Noise Underground arrives at the Music Library.  Lorna of UML: left foreground, Evelyn of UML: behind Lorna, Daniel Thomas (Hagman, Sheepscar Light Industrial): right, mysterious third girl of UML: behind Dan, Pascal and me: out of shot.  Check out how fucking cool the Music Library room is.

but what to choose

Stock, glorious stock.

sensible cataloguing

“Excuse me, could you explain how the indie rock etc. section is organized?”

sun ra commands awe

Pascal pulls out a vinyl Sun Ra album and we all gawp in awe.

try before you borrow

Billy Joel guards the ‘try before you borrow’ turntable.  Vinyl only – doesn’t work for CDs.  Handwritten note implies these librarians like to party at work!

new acquisitions

New acquisitions board – I’ll be asking for more midwich, obviously.

the handover

The handover!  Evelyn and Rob enjoy the magical moment.

i explain that no-one will be interested

I explain that no-one will be interested but, frankly, it is so hard to say ‘no’ to Pascal that sometimes it is easier to just humour him.  Everyone else nods earnestly.  Pascal, too excited for words, takes photos and then…

pascal hands over his tape

…hands over his own tape thereby crowbarring himself into musical history.  Nice work!

Well that was all very exciting, eh? Some of the acts represented in the bundles I passed over include: Astral Social Club, Spoils and Relics, Early Hominids, etai keshiki, Half an Abortion, Inverted Nepal, Lanterns, Legion of Swine, Brown, Ocelocelot, Petals, Posset, Ashtray Navigations, Julian Bradley, Human Combustion Engine, Human Horses, Klunk, Neck vs. Throat, The Piss Superstition, prpGroup, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Aqua Dentata, Sindre Bjerga, Deadwood and Petrels, amongst others (and, yes, I know some of these have no Yorkshire connection but I was straight up with the librarians about any liberties taken). Dan dropped in the last copy of his collaboration with Kev Sanders and this weekend I bought a copy of the terrific Helicopter Quartet CD-r to add to the pile too.

So now we finally return to the themes of my opening paragraphs.  I appreciate the value of the physical object but don’t necessarily need (or even want) to own them.  I do want to take chances on more mainstream stuff, or rediscover back catalogue gems, but without testing my pathetic willpower by opening the download floodgates.  Thus the music library offers a lovely compromise solution.

The set-up encourages a healthy discipline in two ways.  Firstly, you must choose from a large but finite collection.  Secondly, your membership allows you to take out just one item at a time – a restriction as delightful as fur-lined handcuffs.  Better still, you get to mull over your decision in a friendly environment then engage in a genuine face-to-face social transaction with a fellow music fan – the librarian – before exiting with your booty.  Finally, there is a pleasing ‘survivalist’ aspect to all this.  When the aliens invade and destroy our server-based culture with one gigantic electro-magnetic pulse the objects herein, the vinyl at least, will still be usable.  I exaggerate for comic effect, of course, but as my Mexican cousin Miguel has sadly found out recently, the hard-drive is not a heritage medium.  In short then: it is all good and deserving of support.

Thus, if you are a student or member of staff at the University of Leeds you can, and should, join.  If you do not fall into either category but find yourself on campus now and again then you could ask about ‘guest’ membership.  I dunno if this is possible but no harm in asking.  To join there is a £10-per-academic-year fee and a returnable £10 deposit is required to make sure you don’t run off with anything.  Membership can be bought online via the Union website – you will have to create an account but that takes a matter of minutes.  See the Music Library page for details, contact info, opening hours and the like or go visit them in their secret turret.  I am told the new noise section (I’m presuming: a cardboard box with some tapes and CD-rs in it) could be up and running as soon as the end of this week.

For those of you unfortunate enough not to live in this fair city I suggest you frequent your council run libraries – always grateful for business in this desperate era of swinging cuts – where CDs can be hired and/or ordered for smallish fees or see if there are private or educational libraries, student-run or otherwise, that you could blag access too.  I’d be interested to hear about other such endeavours.  Keep up the inter-scene trades too.  Good circulation is necessary to keep the extremities healthy.

EDIT: UML membership open to all – see comments.

EDIT AGAIN: check out the Forgotten Vinyls blog – a one-woman alphabetical odyssey through UML’s LP archive.


 …and whilst Pascal is front and centre let’s round things off with a quick look at the Panelak tape:

panelak - arnica eyebright

Here are some snippets from the blurb that Pascal passed on to me:

…pass through scattered suffusions and billowing noise, detouring into heavy ambience, harsh mouth utterances and piercing mbiras scrapes … draws heavily from recordings made at the Bates Mill in Huddersfield which manufactures synthetic fur fabrics … Throbbing keyboards and squiggling mic feedback as well as scraping tremolos are bundled together with the aim to emulate the devotional nature of mandala gazing…

All in 28 minutes – blimey.  Note the use of samples from The Wire and, erm… Boney M (!) are not mentioned.  Now, I wouldn’t normally be so lazy as to quote promo material but the description above nicely illustrates both what is good and what is not so good about this tape.  Pros: it is ambitious, joyous and packed full of ideas that are occasionally realised in a great, rolling rush of fun.  Cons: it is all over the place which leaves some of the ideas, pretty good ones too, feeling sketchy and unfinished.  The chap does not lack imagination and talent, what is missing is patience.  I’m sure his work would benefit from doing fewer things at greater depth.  Kids, eh?  I am reminded of that ‘two bulls on a hill’ joke.  Anyway…

This cassette has apparently been released in an edition of fifty by Pete Cann’s Crater Lake Sound imprint, though no details have made it to the CLS blog as yet.  Get it direct from the Panelak Bandcamp site or, hey, borrow it from the record library and try it out!

pete cann’s noise+punk alldayer, wharf chambers, leeds, 24-03-2012

March 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | 5 Comments
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In belated celebration of his 20th birthday, Leeds noisester Pete Cann organized a day long carnival of punk and racket which took place last Saturday.  What vigour these young ‘uns have, eh?  I thought it would be convivial to wheel myself down there and suck up some of their lifeforce.  And so it proved.

It was originally booked to happen in The Fenton, a notorious shithole, but they got cold feet (apparently those guys are only interested in ‘proper’ music nowadays – don’t they realise what heavy drinkers the noise scene are?) and cancelled.  Pete was undeterred and, much to everyone’s relief, the gig was moved to the lovely Wharf Chambers which is run by hep-cats as a co-op and is therefore much more open minded.

I took a camera with me so instead of my usual arch wordiness there now follows some briefly annotated photo-journalism.  Apologies for the hard-lit pictures – my camera is only a little snappy one and it insisted on the harshest flash possible.  You’ll have to imagine the cool lighting and flashing LEDS.  I didn’t correct the red-eyes though because everyone really did have red eyes…

I arrived at about 3.15pm and the first act, Aimmar Cair, was already playing.  Alas, I heard nowt of his set as I was too busy chatting with Paul Walsh (foldhead), Mark Wharton (Idwal Fisher) and Andy Jarvis (Asymptotem) who was there to be part of Dogliveroil.  Andy is organising the next midwich gig (glamorous Stoke-on-Trent, June 9th – watch this space) and it was a treat to see him face-to-face for the first time in years.  Kieron Piercy (Spoils & Relics) was also an early arrival and handed me a few tapes to slip into my hand-tooled, Italian leather man-bag.  Our conversation was briefly interrupted by a lad puking in the doorway between bar-room and venue-room.  We couldn’t decide whether this showed a pitiful lack of pacing skills or an admirable dedication to making a day of it.  Probably both.  Anyway, the vom was cleared up and I took a look at the running order:

I was sceptical, but this was adhered to, pretty much.  Foldhead swapped with Etai due to the latter arriving late and Heroin Diet swapped with Dogliveroil at 9pm but otherwise all was as planned.  When I left 7 hours later the whole thing was only running 15 minutes late.  But I get ahead of myself.  Paul was on first:

With his strobe-activated squiggling and weevil-bashing crunchiness he was thought to have raised the bar pretty high, pretty early.  Check out these guys vibing on his technique and taking mental notes:

Etai Keshiki arrived during Paul’s set and followed with a bunch of high-octane marvellous.   I heart them so much.  Andy Jarvis and his charming friend Mike were similarly wowed and we dissected their greatness in the bar whilst waiting for Ocelocelot.

During Etai, Mel had been out buying baking soda so we were agog at what was going to occur.  Unfortunately, that part of her ‘kit’ – a bottle containing pop and baking soda contact-miked (‘miced’?) to amplify the fizz – didn’t work so well but the rest of her stuff – balloons, wind-up toys etc. – made a joyous din and playfully subverted the tabletop-electronics of the other acts.

In between Ocelocelot and Petals, Paul and I nipped out for chips.  You could tell it was a good chippy because the lass behind the counter called us ‘love’ and ‘darling’ about ten times whilst taking our order.  We were back in time to see none of Kev’s set-up work properly.  We didn’t know that until after his set, of course.  At the time it sounded great and we all enjoyed the bit at the end when he leapt up, took his knackered cymbal and length of bent metal and strode defiantly around the venue bashing the former with the latter.

I was flagging a bit during Hobo Sonn – post-chips lethargy, I think – so I sat back and let it wash over me.  This was well timed as it was one of the least abrasive of the table-top noise performances, almost electronica in places, and soulfully resonant.  I stared at the back of Ian’s head, wondered if the back of my own head looked like that, then got stuck in a very pleasant feedback loop until the applause at the end of his set brought me back.

Target Shoppers were fucking ace.  First gig in over a decade, and easily as much fun as this looks:

…then they were joined by Mel (also in bald wig/mask/condom thing) for a completely balls-out finale that was actually the loudest noise of the day so far.  Great guitar face from Phil there!

Duncan Harrison, known to me as a member of RFM-faves Plurals, performed a very entertaining solo set of cassette racket and gurglecore. He’s a charismatic guy with great comic timing and had the crowd grinning and laughing and grooving on a deceptively lo-fi din.  A standard lamp appeared at the side of his table too which gave it a magic show/séance feel.  I praised his showmanship when talking to him later and, interestingly, he admitted it was something he was tempted to hide behind because he lacked the confidence in his sound to just sit there and let the noise do it all.  I think it would be a shame if he did.

Next up was due to be Seth Cooke but he was rinsed out after a twelve hour performance in an art gallery in Bradford the previous day.  It was one of those high concept, ultra-long things that Bang the Bore likes to cook up.  See here for details – it’s about car parks, apparently.  So instead we had Pascal Ansell (Panelak) and event organiser Pete Cann (Half an Abortion) taking up the slack.  Confidence was not an issue here as, for reasons known only to themselves, the boys stripped to their boxer shorts for a bit of man-to-man weevil-bashing.  I only took one photo – partly because the flash was very unforgiving of partial nudity, partly because I feared being put on some kind of register.  Paul described it – unforgettably – as twinktronics.

Us oldsters were taken back to the good ol’ days of noise when you couldn’t go to an all-dayer of this sort without some cocks-out action…

I apologise to Heroin Diet, who were on next, as I spent their entire set outside recovering from the hot-flush provoked by boy flesh.  I chatted to Kieron about the health of the scene and hating The Wire magazine – a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.  I spoke to Ian (Murphy, Hobo Sonn) and Duncan at some length about Brighton, physicality in noise (versus laptops) and growing up down South.  Duncan was very gracious when I mistakenly attributed an album to him that he had nothing to do with (I later remembered it was by Eyeballs – It had been a long afternoon/evening).  I should also mention that I spent a lot of the day talking with Kev Sanders (Petals) – a charming and witty guy who is disarmingly enthusiastic and wears his obvious erudition and seriousness very lightly.  A gentleman.

And here we come to the way my evening finishes: Dogliveroil.  The joke during the day was that you were presumed to be in Dogliveroil unless you had opted out, but in the end it was a mere seven people that made up the band, arranged to surround the audience on three sides.  Amusingly, it was Joincey’s role to sit on the stage in the middle of this maelstrom and look as bored as possible.  He picked at a cuticle, he stared at his foot.  It was riveting.  The whole business was topped off by a guest appearance from Simon Morris (Ceramic Hobs) who’d come over for the day and was happy to add a little high-security-wing karaoke (a reel on the theme of Stupid Hoe by Nicki Minaj).

Apologies to Sump and Cementimental who were still to play but that was enough for me.  I left on a high and trotted out to my bus back to the leafy suburbs.  I hope everything ended well – I’ve heard no stories of police raids since – and thanks again to Pete for organizing such a consistently fun event.  Happy Birthday, man.

P.S.  If I haven’t linked your name and you’d like me to then send me a URL.  If I have but you’d prefer I use a different URL then just let me know and I’ll update matters.

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