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

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

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

Resipiscent

Urubu Tapes

-ooOOoo-

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.

somlo

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!

—ooOoo—

Gold Soundz

David Somló

LF Records

the radiofreemidwich random tape grab-bag experiment, or: joe murray empties his bulging sack

March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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joe's bulging sack

[Editor’s note: Joe Murray, our resident beat prophet, has convinced his skeptical editor to temporarily abandon the usual formatting for reasons that will soon be apparent.  Thus there are no release details up front, pictures will follow reviews and links will be found where they lay.]

Like all my RFM comrades I have a teetering bunch of tapes to review.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  It’s a privilege and an honour to hear so many dispatches from the No-Audience Underground.

But sometimes I feel I’m doing you a disservice my friends.  It’s the same old, same old format: slot tape in, listen thrice, make notes, look at any other internet gubbins, write up final copy, post to Rob and await his judgement a’ tremble.

But today I want to spice things up baby.   I’m going 50 shades on this shit.

So, in  order to make things (hopefully) more entertaining and experimental in spirit for you, my dear reader, I chucked all my review tapes into a drawstring bag and will pull them out, randomly, sight-unseen ready to slap into the cheap-o hi-fi.  No prior knowledge, no prejudice etc.

Mystery Tape One.  The first thing I notice is an ambient hiss, growing and forming, covering all the other electronic ‘chunk-ka-kuh’ like Spanish moss.  Things get less rhythmic and more drawn out (elongated gong strikes / trapdoor creak) creating a soundtrack feel with some floating voices chattering.  There’s a synth or something humming giving this a very European feel… a dark Froese perhaps?  Now there’s electricity in the air as the test tubes fizz and pop; a scientist twitches and mugs singing snatches of opera in a cracked voice.  Somehow the radio picks up their brain waves: forgotten memories of the seaside and music hall?  An Anthony Caro sculpture comes to life with deep space moans.  Blimey.  Who’s this?  I pop out the tape and check it.   Bless my soul.  It’s the ever lovely Claus Poulsen with Collected Dreams on Skrat Records.

claus poulsen - collected dreams

Mystery Tape Two.  OK…so far so good.   I fumble in my bag and pluck out the next offering.  It drops neatly into the wide-mouth slot and kicks off some dark rubbery knockings, slurm residue and spurks-thumb.  Oh yeah man…this is tremendous stuff!  There’s a treacle-like bubbling and whomping, like some living salt-water lake throbbing dangerously, searching out new tributaries with its briny fingers.  This is pure sound abstraction that builds layers of thick, dark sound-paint until a giant glove smears the oily pickle.   The noxious mixture spreads thin, lightening the hue and spreading the sticky mixture over frame, wall, floor and ceiling until we are all covered with the stuff – a burnt Rothko orange.  Side two opens up with a fling of ducks all ecstatically hawking and honking.  These sounds are passed though some electronic doo-hickery that seems to split and repeat certain quacking frequencies so sections of the greasy reverberations get plucked for presentation with a sheen and glimmer.  The water fowl retreat to roost as we dip our ears below the slick surface of water to luxuriate in music for rowing boat hulls; wooden creak and swollen pop.  Gosh, this tape is really hitting the spot.  Who do I have to thank?  I should have known…it’s ‘The Ambassador’ Tom White with his Reconstruction on Alien Passengers.

tom white - reconstruction

Mystery Tape Three.  This tape starts off with some nice tape gunk that moves unhurriedly between half-tunes played on fuzzed-out organ.  A female voice with the smoky cadence of William Burroughs tells a tale about some sci-fi travel (or something) while Working Men’s Club beats (tiss-be-be-bon-tiss…) flit in and out of the organ tunes.  And then found sound and field recordings get thrown into the mix.  Not in a haphazard manner, no sir, this is finely tuned and tweaked like the exact halfway point between a Radiophonic performance scored by the late great Broadcast and waking up from a particularly vivid dream.  I have to be honest with you readers… I’m stumped here; I have no idea what or who or when this is.  It’s certainly more lyrical than the usual shimmy but the narrative and structure are all over the shop giving this a delightfully Victorian psychedelic edge.  I can’t wait any longer; I crack under the pressure of not knowing and check the cover.  Ahhhhh….it’s that beautiful and wonderfully eccentric duo Winter Family who are playing here with their How Does Time tape on Psychic Mule Records.  It is indeed a play, a play designed to be listened to on a very particular train journey between Besançon in France and  La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland for very particular watch makers.  The ultimate commuter listen.

winter family - how does time

Mystery Tape Four.  Your typical Northern pub chatter sets the scene with clattering bottles and knowing laughter.  An on-stage introduction welcomes you and says, ‘This is for d boon’ before a proper guitar riff chugga-chuggas.   OK…that’s a reference to the wonderful Minutemen  – I get that; are we jamming econo?  Is this gonna be some tour spiel dude? But, at the same time I’m expecting some tape collage work to start up, a wonk-move or gurgled gob etc.  Some music concrete shit and all that doings.  But no…this is pure UK hardcore, recorded very, very  live, possibly from some archive with guitar/bass/drums and an angry attitude.  Think Heresy or something but with a bit more of ‘baseball bat to the face and neck’ feel.  The songs come in short, sharp blasts.  Three or four in a row – chunka – chunka – cheer – crowd babble – chunka- chunka.  It’s invigorating stuff and seems to get looser and more chaotic as the tape goes on (always a bonus for me).  I’m totally lost here.  No idea who it is or even how it crept into my review pile. Shall we look readers?  OK…it all comes flooding back.  This is Battery Humans on Fuckin’ Amateurs with their For D Boon tape.  It is recorded live and recently: 6th September 2014 to be precise and features one Guy Warnes AKA Waz Hoola, the unsung hero of the northern drone scene, on drums.  The usual F#A! standards of presentation apply with anarchy inserts, random gaffer tape sculpture and art fliched from Viz Comic.  Side B is another live recording but this time from Scurge in 1991.  You want rage?   You got it.

battery humans

Mystery Tape Five.  I press ‘play’ and an undulating, chemically insistent, flute trills with the sort of chaotic abandon that pins Old God MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI into a restful slumber.  A thousand chaffed lips puff noxious gas through human thighbone pipes while the jester dances merrily on (like he’s posing for a Marillion album or something).  Gosh…this is pretty intense.  The next track saunters by sounding like that crap ‘pre-computer’ computer game Simon hooking up to Terminator’s Skynet and crashing civilisation as we know it into a frosty digital sludge. Blimey…there’s a hard stop as I turn the tape over but as soon as I click things into life the holy racket starts again.  This time I’m getting something like a rouge Funkadelic jam; real cosmic slop rejected by Mr Clinton for being too out-there as layers of keyboard fuzz and squealing huff pile up and up and up.  A brief moment of calm (the keys ape Vangelis in blade runner tights) lets me breathe again before I’m pushed out a 30 storey window (metaphorically, dude – don’t panic, man) and, as I tumble, I catch snippets of Mexican TV, Concrete Noise, psychic experiments and terrible quiz shows as I hurtle past the apartments spinning dangerously out of control.  An uneven gravity pocket spares me a sticky end and I land, gracefully and precisely, into a pair of oxblood Doctor Martins – the world’s kindest bootboy.  Crows cackle around me, applauding with electric beaks.  I check the details, no wiser of this tapes provenance but washed clean by its synesthetic high, to find out it’s my old Papal Bull buddy Jon Marshall and noise-nudist Pascal Ansell cavorting under the No Thumbs banner.  This beauty’s called Slug Birth and is available from the brand-spanking-new Tutore Burlato label.  If TB is a new name on your radar the quality hallmark of its founder, one Ezio Piermattei, should seal the deal.

no thumbs - slug birth

Mystery Tape Six.  A hawking ceilidh – all X-ray gingham and a skilful cheek-slapping solo.  Reet…now there’s some ‘brum-t-t-tuh’ ursonating richly, fupping my sonics.  Gosh…this is a tasty oyster to be gulped down whole.  A general Scottishness takes hold with gristle and blum; stiff wire wool scraping and beautifully played Dictaphone garble.  I almost trip over my big feet in my rush to turn it over as I’m aching for side two.  And that’s where my experiment has to end.  No system is perfect.  It’s darn near impossible to ignore the fact a voice immediately states…

I’m Ali Robertson

…in Ali Robertson’s voice, soon to be joined by a variety of other familiar burrs. This side is one long ‘game’ of read personal biographies all overlapping (stop-starting) set to strict rules that our cuddly despot is keen to enforce.  Waves of casual voice and chatter settle into strange rhythms – probably some mathematical fractal shit, interlocking as neat as a Rubik’s satisfying ‘click’.  So yeah…durrrr…it’s Ali Robertson and his handily titled Ali Robertson & Friends tape on the always brilliant Giant Tank label.

ali and friends

So my excellent friends, I hope that worked for you?  Me?  I’m refreshed and re-born!  My ears are prickling with cleansing static and expectation.

But tell me: how are you doing?

—ooOoo—

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.

—ooOoo—

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.

—ooOoo—

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.

rfm attends colour out of space part two: pascal ansell remonstrates

November 23, 2013 at 10:47 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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COLOUR OUT OF SPACE / 6

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FESTIVAL

Performance Weekend: 8th – 10th November, 2013, Brighton, UK

coos_will 3

Editor’s note: Pascal’s turn.  He clearly wasn’t as impressed overall as Joe but has selected some highlights to grudgingly comply with RFM’s sternly enforced policy of being nice.  Well, mostly:

—ooOoo—

In a weekend bursting at the seams with irritating vocal improvisations, glossophonics, snarled and impertinent mouth crap, the likely trio of Gwilly Edmondez, Posset and THF Drenching chose the only option viable: ol’ time barbershop. Nah, we were of course subject to gurgle-core (is that Phil Todd’s term?) but this was of the finest pedigree. Bossy, snarled and darting; a real performance in that it propelled forwards towards you, opening itself up to the punters in an act of delicious spectacle and invitation. Gwilly Edmondez is a lumbering professor of something at the University of Newcastle. He is also in possession of a reverberant set of vocal chords of such rubbery depth to be, gasp, slimey, pure slime, the slime of old lady ass, under-sofa sweat dribbles, magnificent slime, everybody! A cassette voice slowed down, and that is garçon Gwilly, whose aural slugs competed with ex-Bailey bandmate THF Drenching, the latter wrestling his amp of its feedback possibilities. Posset on the third and final hand of this musical mutant nailed a splashing blend of static and mouth junk. See his mouth didn’t sound like mouth, or gargle, or in any way approach the being so-cerebral-it-gets-silly; it sounded good, ‘sound-in-itself’ good, inexhaustibly good, serious play and goodness.

coos_posset 2coos_drench

Enjoyable as Dylan Nyoukis & Greg Kelley’s set was, and admitting that Nyoukis never disappoints in his encyclopaedic vocal voyages, his control and mastery over continents of vocalics… and taking into account this mighty Scot twinned with an enormous trumpet imagination of Greg Kelley, what really is there to be said about free improv anymore? I’ve been guilty of using the term too frequently but this is bona fide, every man out for himself territory. The only markedly different aspect of this performance was the brief and inexplicable spurts of disco lights which interrupted the almost total darkness. Good drossophonic messabout improv no doubt, but achingly purist free improv. So free, so fraught with my fevered doubts and whiffs of ‘what the hell will they do next?’ that the potential of it potentially collapsing – which really is the silent riff of free improv – seemed almost welcome.

Tom White wore a pristine white shirt and has a pristine brown beard (well, almost, and I urge him to embrace the status of total barbarism) and to clatter this rhetorical bowling ball was also in serious danger of delivering a pristine white overperformance. Let’s admit it, Luke was heavily involved with that obscenely massive and adorable tape deck he played with, he might as well gone off and married it. Ha! You’ve been great! There seemed to be no space between his hands and his ears, not letting sounds be themselves without having to hey-everyone-I’m-performing perform it, histrionics over Cagian (that’s adjectival John Cage, right?) conveying, cold and impersonal just as I like it. Thankfully us floor dwellers enjoyed an earful of superb tape junk. Nicely done. I say ‘junk’ but this was the sexy middle-class green bin kind of noise junk. Tasteful streamlines of grey static were repeated with just enough of interim to evade falling into witheringly dull tape delay jerk-off marathons. How gratifying to witness such immaculate and wretched explorations and applaud with, forty, heck, sixty other sick heads! And there were real girls, with, y’know like real hair, more than three! That’s when you know you’re festivalling!

ccos_charlie collinscoos_jon marshall 2

Roman Nose provided welcome relief on Friday night with songs, actual songs! The free suspension and ‘what do they do next’ idea exchanging had its tension nicely diverted out of the room, past the very friendly venue staff of The Old Market and into the great Brighton night; that tension mentioned earlier of spontaneous performances was eroded by sudden halts, and proceeding to jolt without much delay into the next number. What I later learnt was a Chinese sheng (a strange organ-like contraption) was set upon and disturbed by Sarah McWatt. Charlie Collins clambered delicately over his drumkit shadowed by Jon Marshall (the Roman Nose wolf mother) on samples of scary tharqa and messy reeds.

I loved Black Dice for a long time but always knew there had to be a looser, non-hipster version that wasn’t Yellow Swans with their drizzling mush. Dinosaurs with Horns were a revelatory gesture towards this. Any band that can cram in experimental graft with joyful zest, with a semblance of a pulse, are due more than a little attention. What could otherwise slide into our memory bin instead transforms into joyful and constructful mucking about, my real and true nub rubber! These LA teamsters offered on a side-plate to this gigantically stale loaf of a weekend some morsel of delight, genuine swaying fairyground [sic] (Editor’s note: what a beautiful typo!) rollercoasting delight and rumble.

Editors note: a comprehensive selection of band bios and links can be found on the COOS website here.  Photos by Marc Teare.

rfm attends colour out of space part one: joe murray ruminates

November 22, 2013 at 8:38 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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COLOUR OUT OF SPACE / 6

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FESTIVAL

Performance Weekend: 8th – 10th November, 2013, Brighton, UK

COOS poster

Editor’s note: RFM had two roving reporters present at this year’s Colour Out Of Space festival down in that Brighton. Regular contributor Joe Murray, who also performed, enjoyed himself enormously.  Pascal Ansell, whippersnapper and occasional guest of RFM, ahh… not so much.  Copious enthusiasm from Joe first, a more exacting response from Pascal to follow.  Over to Joe:

—ooOoo—

Ahhhh Brighton…the sun, the sea, the squalor!  I’ve had a soft spot for Brighton ever since I was a wee kiddie with a vivid imagination, trying to piece together the violent Mods & Rockers legend with the twin-set & pearls crowd that strolled slowly down the pier huffing camphor-scented liniments.

These days of course it’s all about the hipsters and Bubble Tea but I’m not complaining; I’ve got my freak on as I meet my gracious host Bod for a pint or two before we lurch expectantly to the main venue, The Old Market.  Immediately adopting ‘Brighton time’ I missed the mysterious Occult Hand and outrageous Acrid Lactations who I both really wanted to see – please accept my apologies Occult Lactations, I was with you in spirit.

It was sometime around pint four I met up with my co-reporter Pascal Ansell and we immediately set ourselves up in a Hunter S Thompson style press-pack; silver-eyed Tuna darting purposefully through the flitting shoal.  We rejected the usual journalistic conventions to move straight from gentle ‘forming’ to chaotic ‘storming’ within minutes, swapping war-zone anecdotes, snippets of esoteric record knowledge and the loudly proclaiming the relevance of Sammy Davis Jr.  The result of such firm-calved bonding and reckless drinking resulted in a beery bonhomie for sure but also meant I pretty much missed every act to play on Friday.  Oops…I did it again!  The one that got away was the Enzo Minarelli.  Dressed in dark jeans and tight black T shirt, his hair scraped back, there was an air of the ninja in his vocal guffings.  Assisted with backing tracks of further mouth-chaff the precise and deadly Enzo sliced the air with steel-edged hissing and lippy smacks.  This was no po-faced sound poetry lark but a right old hootenanny with his piece ‘Poem’ being turned into ‘PoemMacaroni’ in the curdled air.  The rest of the bill was crammed with exceptional acts of legendary avant-gardary but to my shame dear reader I spent the remnants of Friday propping up the bar catching up with old friends and making new ones.  I’ve never been a good mixer Midwichers but I made up for 43 years of insecurity and introversion with full-strength good cheer and love for my fellow travellers.  You’re (hic) my best pal (hic)!

Saturday morning was an exercise in sickness, pain and remorse as I sheepishly ate brunch with family Bod and took the drizzly bus in disgrace to witness Gen Ken Montgomery in a Hove Oxfam shop.  The steamy windows of the Oxfam obscured the ‘standing room only’ crowd as I inched in and stood, stomach lurching, for this exploration of the 8-track tomfoolery.  Gen Ken, dapper in vintage Op Art shirt and tie manipulated old portable 8-tracks filling the damp air with warped 70’s AM rock all mashed and rotting.  The warbles and trembles on the tape gave the Bee Gees et al a sepia fuzzed-out logic as loops were found and layered up into the consistency of dusty blancmange.  He was a right card too, playing it up for the steaming crowd, making asides and throwing out hula-hoops of pulsating ‘waaahhhhoooosssshhhhh-voooshhhhhh’.  After Gen Ken’s performance I wandered round Brighton for a bit, drank some peppermint tea (swearing off the demon drink for the rest of the weekend) and soundchecked with the great Gwilly Edmondez & THF Drenching.

coos_dylan nyoukisCoos_maya dunietz

At about teatime I found myself outside the very proper St Andrew’s church for some right high culture. Old-guy Produktionsprozesse composer-guy Dieter Schnebel was interviewed by Ilan Volkov about his approach to music and personal history.  Dieter seems a game old bird, humble and gracious but with a sharp sense of humour…he somehow manages to call the audience stupid and make them love him for it…dude!  A bunch of doofs play some Schnebel pieces: Maya Dunietz world premieres the ass off a beautiful and catchy piece for piano, voice and tambourine.  Ilan and Maya throw some shapes in a gestural piece where composer and pianist struggle for supremacy like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.  Then Maya and Dylan Nyoukis get all serious and tackle a vocal piece for restricted mouthshapes and we end up with the most spellbinding piece of the afternoon.  Like air hissing through naked ribs, dry and crackly.  The pair, dressed in formal black, embrace at the end of the show, cracking hearts at CooS and letting pure love flow.  The only way to follow such an intense and refined performance is of course with some chips so I headed to Bankers (Brighton’s best Fish & Chip shop) for sustenance.

Energised by hot potato and grease I walk into the Old Market to see the friendly and familiar face of Sindre Bjerga coaxing gentle tape loops out of his mess of wires and objects, polishing them up and floating them on the breeze like water-filled balloons pulling gruff-clouds out the air.   Stepping round his desk he carefully wraps up a few people in abandoned cassette tape, hurls a miniature cymbal onto the deck and politely waves marking the end of a neat little set.  Next up were a bunch of A-Band/Ceramic Hobs/Zero Map/Smell & Quim refugees calling themselves The Y Bend.  The programme describes ‘no-mind sounds’ which pretty much sums up the Hawkwind out-takes vibe.  Personally I’m transported back to the days of Anti-Poll Tax benefits as this jam band takes a note and jiggles it proper between guitar, keyboard, violin and eccentric hand percussion making incidental music for the revolution.

coos_jon marshallcoos_charlie collins 2

Roman Nose take the stage behind them and win the rosette for ‘best band of Saturday’.  These days Roman Nose are very much a ‘band’ bridging the gap between rock’s looseness and tape/noise/jam’s love of overload. It’s almost funky with a pushing and pulling, a wrapping and un-wrapping of tape-fuff mittens across fluttering drums and breathy intrusions via flute and black-bamboo sheng.  Throw some horns for the Nose!

coos_sharon galcoos_sharon gal 2

Huge wineglasses are set up amid electronic doo-hickery for Sharon Gal and Andie Brown.  These glasses are Jeroboam massive, pregnantly full; delicate but comprising a thousand potential shivs.  Like an inverse Justice Yeldham the glass is thumbed to produce deep rasping drones.  It’s great to watch the deft hand movement turn into such singing and bassy mulch.  Gal uses her voice like some terror-choir re-enacting a trauma.  Electronic squash makes a Black Metal grunt adding to the dungeon gloom.  Wow…a Carpathian Forest sprouts from the floor as the thin rays of a dismal sun rise slowly in the East.  The bald guy with all the pedals is M. Stactor; his mask is a composite of Her Majesty Betty II and Saddam Hussein.  Slowed down speech goes ‘burrrrrrr’ and get shoved through a variety of whizz-bangs to come out ‘BURRRRRR’ anointed with contact-mic crackle and hand-palming crunch.  Brand new CooS trio Edmondez/Posset/THF Drenching adopt the dual Dictaphone position like a crouching Judas Priest. Gwilly bangs his head like Halford.  And seeing as I’m involved modesty prevents me for saying too much about this fine-legged beast.

coos_will 2coos_possetcoos_drench 2

I caught about 20 seconds of Bridget Hayden’s set but within that 20 seconds I heard the entire history of overblown fuzz-guitar from the Sonics to the Velvet Underground to the Dead C.  Rusty chainmail began clanking out the walls; rolling thunder crashed from the ceiling.  The very gods showed their pleasure in ancient, animalistic ways.  Oh boy!  I was still kicking myself when Greg Kelley & Dylan Nyoukis sat erect and purposeful on a pitch black stage.  Side by side they were, with Greg’s tubes augmented with cold brass and Dylan’s with moist flesh.  Snide hiss and scything tones crept almost guiltily from trumpet and gob, playing merrily between wet-mouth slappings and full jowl squelch.  This was no dramatic, overwrought, performance piece nor academically apologetic. The “my voice, your voice” mantra summed up a lot of the days sessions in a simple repetitive phrase.  Some jokers joined in on coughing and started a response group reflex (koff-KOFF-koff).  The optimist in me thought the spontaneous outpouring would lead to a scratch feral choir but no…it was a piss take…yet troupers Kelley & Nyoukis toughed it out cackling and blowing the third eye till it blinked all yeasty.  Lovers Ritual (Maya Dunietz & Ilan Volkov) used voice and violin to beguile, encouraging minimal and thin tones out the cracks in the light fittings. Not content with sticking to the stage both Maya & Ilan ended up on the floor, among the punters, stroking and keening their flexible bones in a tangled tableaux.

It’s Sunday.  The Lords day.  And me & Bod celebrate with a visit to a typical Brightonian Car Boot sale; he picks up some Colombian tapes, I nab a Fantasy Island fridge magnet and we both head happily to the Sallis Benney Theatre for the famous CooS film screenings.  I really loved what I saw but I soon discovered it’s hard to take notes in the dark so am relying on musty recall only.  Standouts…the bonkers The Handeye (Bone Ghosts) by Anja Dornieden & Juan David Gonzalez Monroy which coupled 19th Century taxidermy with digitized commands and the bumbling chunter from Patrick Goddard’s charming Free Radicals.  As the films ended, us gaggle of cinema-goers milled around, checking maps and GPS systems to find the next venue, giggling over being able to genuinely say, ‘See you in church later man.’  A walk along the cold, crisp sea-front takes us back to St Andrew’s Church for a session of spooky Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) from CM von Hausswolff & Michael Esposito.  I’m really excited about this one.  Since I was a kid I’ve been in love with that flexi disc that came with the first edition of ‘The Unexplained’.  Of course I never knew these supposed ghost voices were EVP but I totally dug the hissy weirdness.  The two gents open with about 15 minutes of static tape hiss with the occasionally clunky ‘chump’ like ghosts dropping wooden marbles in a bucket.  The fuff was pretty damn immersive and had some of the flagging hordes crashed out on the pews.  CM and Michael then took us through some of their EVP recordings (cue demonic chuckle) made in this very church.  What could have been (possibly should have been) spectral and creepy turned into a bit of a laugh as the particularly chirpy Michael introduced second-long sound-clips of the dead calling us ‘assholes’, urging us to ‘get out’, that they ‘are in love with married men’ and…to much hilarity…‘it’s all shite’.  Wow the ghosts sound like angry jakeys!

COOS Jooklo Duo 1COOS Jooklo Duo 2

Back in the Old Market I strained limbs to find my comrade Pascal.  It was Jooklo Duo next and I was pretty sure he’d be right up the front for this.  Some lazy sleuthing revealed Pascal had packed up and gone.  He’d had enough and trekked back to Leeds earlier in the day.  Oh Pascal…you would have loved what came next!  Jooklo Duo were absolutely amazing.  Now I know that’s trite, lazy journalism but I was too busy picking my eyeballs up off the floor to concentrate on clever words.  This was a 100% lung-bursting blowout with drumming as agile as a crack-fuelled squirrel.  I’m no jazz buff but I like my brassy honks and squeals.  Jooklo one, Virginia Genta, plays like Pharaoh Sanders with some nifty Arabic scales quickly releasing that cheeky kundalini from the base of my spine.  Woah boy, I said Woah!  Not one or two but three casual acquaintances said this was ‘better than Brotzmann’. Heard that?  Promoters…book ‘em now.

COOS f ampism

Brighton local f.Ampism loops and loops and loops domestic clunk, mbira tones and gentle sighing all engaging and releasing softly like the briny blue sea just 100 meters down the street.  A film is projected behind his hat and beard; cut-up collage sourced from what seems to be the family Nyoukis archive and Martha Colburn’s paint splattered horror-core.  I have to admit I’m a total fan-boy of Amp’s choogle-leech-warp but this was a whole new saltine!  Fordell Research Unit sat like a couple of chess masters and manipulated a pretty damn heavy drone with micro-movements.  So far, so good.  In tiny, tiny increments the drone gets grunty and somehow slower and fuller until we’re faced with a monolith – a black slab, playing the theme tune for the world’s most evil super villain.  There’s a growing feeling of excitement for the next set from noise-monkeys Spoils & Relics with Karen Constance.  Faced with a table full of gizmos and wires the quartet sat in quiet contemplation building a Jenga house of quivering tones and darkly-twinkling steam.  Like some giant engineering puzzle, pieces are interlocked; a spark starts a fire and is extinguished ruthlessly by the hobo fire brigade.  After a time the factory klaxon calls and the workers down tools and melt into grease.

COOS Usurper

It’s no secret; I’m a little in love with Usurper. Ali Robertson and Malcy Duff have been making the most singular no-input music for half a decade at least.  Writing about Usurper is always a tough gig; their total lack of any of the regular handholds makes the amateur pamphleteer work hard, busting chops to describe their occasional cutlery pings and tales of Auld Reekie.  Tonight they are joined by Dora Doll, one half of the legendary Prick Decay, on scissors as a circular story unfolds on twin tape recorders.  Narratives intertwine as a regular haircut turns into a meditation on the seaside and seaside ritual.  A grumpy Ali gets wrapped in ribbon like a maypole, Malcy crawling on the floor streaming the red and white tapes behind him.  Hairy objects are presented to Ali & Dora for snipping.  A guitar FX pedal, a pair of glasses, a descant recorder are shorn of hair and (in some cases) indecently rubbed beneath the barber’s shawl.  Apart from the taped stories, folding in and out of phase there is a rare skronk-interruption on contact-miked yard brush ‘Shussssh, shusssh, shussssh’ as Malcy coughs up hairballs.  Any traditional ideas of what performance is are dashed.  Any preconceptions of what underground art should be are delightfully roasted.  Usurper are right out on a limb, doing their very own thing and making up a whole new set of parameters.  What on the page seems like random vignettes has a strong sense of direction and pace…and most importantly fun.  I’m laughing like a drain and looking round to see a crescent of bemused yet joyful faces.  No one is really sure what they have witnessed but pretty much everyone agrees it was damn fine.

The tapes spool to an end, Usurper and Dora bow and grin, and my CooS adventure comes to an end.  It’s been a trip and a half Midwichers.  Brighton itself is a beautiful backdrop to this very psychedelic weekend, the bands/acts/performers have all brought their own slice of oddness with a spice and professionalism the naysayers often miss.  But for me it’s all been about the people…the floating and transient chats, the laughs and the in-depth conversations.  There’s that quote about the Velvet Underground isn’t there?  They didn’t sell loads of records but everyone who bought one formed their own band.  Well this weekend might have been an intimate affair but I wonder how many projects and plans were hatched, how many ideas were sparked and alliances formed.  CooS brings the no-audience underground together like a giant think-tank…but what’s gonna occur?  I can’t wait to find out.

Editors note: a comprehensive selection of band bios and links can be found on the COOS website here.  Photos by Joe or Marc Teare.

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