fizzing blue stars: joe murray on ksds, acrid lactations, smear campaign & poulsen/harrison/watson/bjerga

February 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Claus Poulsen, Duncan Harrison, Paul Watson & Sindre Bjerga – Blind Dates (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.294, edition of 66)

KSDS – Black Abba (CD-r, T-Shirt and stickers, stars, dots and the “new” junk, Starsdots016, edition of 15 or download)

Acrid Lactations – Drizzling Quids A’ Crepuscule (tape, Total Vermin, #88)

Smear Campaign – Funky Cold Demeanour (tape, Total Vermin, #36)

blind dates

Claus Poulsen, Duncan Harrison, Paul Watson & Sindre Bjerga – Blind Dates

A note on construction: these two duos; Duncan and Claus, Paul and Sindre played live to an audience in single figures in London’s free and easy Olive restaurant last year. These remarkable first-time duos were recorded and expertly mixed by Claus Poulsen and released in an edition of 66.

Duncan and Claus serve up a hubbling, bubbling mixture of tension and texture.  Drawn-out scrapes and moans open the piece until loose cheeked ‘pops’ cut some slack and open up the landscape for Duncan’s concrete word-dub.  Meanwhile a rich acoustic ripping rolls out of Claus’ fingerless gloves as he jingles a vintage synth with his toes.  The button marked ‘sexy robot talk’ is fingered to start up a hot conversation that would make Louis and Bebe Barron blush beetroot red!  A satisfying climax is sculpted out of decaying polystyrene blocks and Viking horns – classy!

Paul and Sindre begin inside a peach, pulling out chunks of juicy flesh and dropping it noisily to the floor.  Sindre starts his onyx panther purring while Paul plays an egg-slice by caressing it with red Tudor brick.

Next they turn their attention to soundtracking a rowdy bout of Olympic wrestling.  I can clearly picture the slap of stinging-pink flesh on the crash mat and feel the astringent whiff of liniment in the nostrils.  A cub reporter gets in close with the Dictaphone but fluffs the buttons (screee…) and a disco plays, thump, thump, thump in one unfortunate head until you bail and cry ‘UNCLE!’  Chucky Cheese is hosting a sugar-frenzied birthday party for Sky Saxon and the electricity keeps cutting out like Norman Collier is controlling the Black Ark.

Then things get serious.  A sound like giant granite blocks being slowly moved around the chessboard is overtaken by Wu Tang Killer Bees (swarming) then descending into the insect-o-cutor to die spectacularly as fizzy blue stars.

All this furious invention makes me ponder the position of the improviser in 2015.  It used to be a point of pride for grey beards to master the jizzle, skin or hornpipe until they could play inside out.  Listening to a record like Blind Dates makes me remember that a collection of eggs, dried seaweed and a typewriter can transform just as spectacularly in the hands of a select goon.  Ears are of the highest importance.  Imagination is gold dust.  Courage is the epaulette earned through practice and concentration.

Hold up your heads gentlemen…you join the pantheon along with yr average Derek, Evan or Han on this blow-out piece.

black abba

KSDS – Black Abba

This is a cheeky one alright.  Mocked up to ape the Sabbath classic Master of Reality this disc by KSDS might be free of all inverted crosses but it’s still a heavy trip (man).

Fans of Kosmische-leaning keyboard action pay attention!  This is whirling like a day-glo electric galaxy.

In some places heaviness comes from clustered chords held down until grim fingers bleed.  In others (‘Cosmic Radiation’ for instance) crude beats lend weight and sound like the ghost of Jacob Marley took up the drums, rattling his rusty chains.  ‘Hammer of the North’ is as claustrophobic as an oft remembered family car journey with a similar sense of tension and restrained anger; the shifting banks of delay sculpting something almost dancefloor friendly that would sit neat and tidy in the Opal Tapes catalogue.

And just when you think you’ve got the measure of things a tune of pure loveliness (‘With Anger’) swirls like some green and pleasant church organ gone up the silk route for hash and adventure.

But it’s on ‘The Stack’ that things get totally sepia-tinted kraut.  Sounding like mid-period Cluster simple lines overlap building up layer upon layer until the tinniest beat (high hats spitting like a drowning man) keep strict tempo with a military bearing.

tv2

Acrid Lactations – Drizzling Quids A’ Crepuscule

More strung-out edge-of-consciousness skronk from that most singular of duos, Acrid Lactations.

Following in the footsteps of The Who, Iron Maiden, Kiss and Johnny Cash, Acrid Lactations release their version of that record industry classic – THE LIVE ALBUM.  For many bloated groups it was a stop-gap, a cynical filler to be snorted up between tour and studio.  But for some (hopefully the old beards named before) the live album becomes more than just a different version of the same old shit.  It’s a chance to stretch out and rediscover the energy and vim that brought you together in the first place.

This collection of jams recorded between 2012 and 2014 is so live you can chew on the humus breath of the audience.  You can sniff the peculiar brew in the air and feel the starchy knit of a woolly jumper necessary for the unheated venues of the no-audience underground.

But what do you get from the Lactations in a freewheeling live space?  I sense a willingness to push things even further in these recordings.  I mean…this is performance right?  Honest entertainment for cold hard cash yeah?  Stuart and Susan know the value of a dollar and play right up to punters letting new gasses fly.  There’s a strong brass presence with the familiar Arnot trumpet joined by a whole selection of metallic blowholes from Sue (pipe, whistle, ocarina perhaps).  An old accordion is humped and huffed with a lazy foot, tattered voices mesh, taped squalls blabber and a metallic shiny sheen shimmies.

Yet it’s the very dualism of a two piece group that makes the strongest impact here.  With only four hands between them there is a delightful limitation to what can be done.  You can only juggle with what you have eh?  Sonically there’s a ‘to-you-to-me’ that’s so much more than basic call and response…it’s an appreciation of what needs to be left out, rejected, un-attempted to concentrate on the pure reaction/expression/reaction that flows like warm milk.

Most of the recordings are high energy affairs, skipping slightly quicker than your beating heart, but on occasion a delightful interlocking calmness occurs making a high tide mark in the performance journey.

Someone draw a plimsoll line so we can see how high we all got!

Another fine Acrid tape on the goddamn essential Total Vermin.

tv1

Smear Campaign – Funky Cold Demeanour

The word on the street is that this ruby red tape is based on old hip hop vinyl found in Glasgow’s charity shops.  The Fly-girls and B-boys among you will perhaps notice the play on words in the title barfing up memories of your favourite gold rope wearing sexist Tone Loc.

So can you expect block rocking beats on your boombox?  Errrrrrr…not really.

Side one starts off with what sounds like a huge bath full of agricultural slurry being thoroughly mixed…a flexible hose runs from the bottom of the steaming vat to your ears so you can better hear the liquid brown churn.

Soon metallic voices start to spar and dart (could this be our Anthony?).  The distinctive ‘schliip’ and ‘f’wip’ of  turntable melts into the dull consonants like a seasoning, bringing out the highlights, shining the vowel.

Side two opens with some percussive bumming as rusty sponges are rubbed together.  A brief spurt with some human air is soon battered like a pork medallion with swathes of medieval feedback.  Yet still the lip, teeth and tongue flip and stutter like a malfunctioning mp3 file.

This minimal judder strolls seamlessly into an altogether more hellish movement of tightly bound-up humming and rubbery percussion, stretching out across all points of the compass before ‘snick’ the sound stops and the tape pops.

Having said all that (and yes I know I was starting to become really cryptically verbose before) this is all done with a sense of reverence to the source material.  This is certainly no ‘look at those people in the past, they stoopid cuz they clothes different’ schtick but a real act of honest sonic ecology.

Recycling done with no turntables nor a microphone.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

stars, dots and the “new” junk

Total Vermin (now nearly two years since a blogspot update but Stuart is clearly still active.  Be resourceful)

eject the tape: rfm moans about the format, champions the content

October 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 4 Comments
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Clive Henry / Joined By Wire – split (tape, Soundholes, #060, edition of 100)

Joined By Wire – ERA END and/or BAJM! (tape and 12 page A6 booklet, self-released as part of Bang the Bore Forum tape exchange, edition of 15)

BBBlood – Untitled (tape, Beartown Records)

Cestine – Other Half / Bright Encounter (tape, Rok Lok Records, #97, edition of 40 or download)

Dear Beloved Henry / Albert Materia – split (recycled tape, Hyster Tapes, HYSTER13)

Leitmotiv Limbo – LIMBO / WIND SWEPT (self-released tape)

Stamina Nudes – Discipline of Exploding Bridges (tape, Stolen Head)

harsh noise wall (of tapes)

Apologies for not writing more reviews over the last couple of months.  I’ve been waiting for two things to wear off: the effects of a nasty virus and the novelty of being on Twitter.  Both have rather dragged on.  Anyway…

As part of this year’s fabulous TUSK Festival Joe Murray agreed to curate a small exhibition of tape label art titled Everyone Loves Tapes These Days.  Looking for someone to write a brief wall text Joe reached out to his editor here at RFM and I replied with the following diatribe:

Interesting, and thanks for thinking of me – I’m flattered.  However, I wonder if I am exactly the right guy for the job.  Dare I say it?  OK, deep breath: I’ve pretty much fallen out of love with tapes.  I appreciate the determined anti-commercialism that they represent nowadays, and they are a good archive medium,  but the format is cumbersome, inconvenient, space consuming and has no sonic advantages over other formats.  Those beardies that talk about its ‘unique low end’ are talking out of their own low ends. I suppose I still do like the clacky sound of taking them in and out of their cases but if everything went download/CD-r tomorrow I wouldn’t care. Tapes = the price you pay for being a Culver fan.  I might even go a bit further: what used to be a democratic, punk (‘home taping is killing music!’ well, GOOD) format has mutated over the years into a symbol of hipster elitism – maybe not in the context of the no-audience underground but that is what anyone vaguely knowledgeable about music looking in from outside would see.  Tape walkmans aren’t as an awful an affectation as manual typewriters but, hey, matter of time…

Heh, heh – ain’t I naughty, eh?  So do I actually believe all that or did Joe just catch me in a mischievous, belligerent mood?  A bit of both, I think.  Some clarifications and addenda are necessary.

Firstly, that bit about being an archive medium is true enuff – they won’t play after the aliens come and destroy civilisation with a massive electro-magnetic pulse but they will last until then which is more than can be said for CD-rs etc.  Dude, my Mum has had that Billy Joel tape, like, for ever.

Secondly, I do really like the clacky sound of removing a tape from it’s box and sliding it into the deck.  I also think the Tabs Out Podcast twitter feed is really funny.  So that’s two tape related things that are good – fair as Solomon, me.

Thirdly, and more contentiously, the determined anti-commercialism/hipster elitism tension.  I haven’t closely followed the rise of tape ‘culture’ but I’m sure arguments must have raged/might still be raging about this subject on corners of the internet that I am blissfully unaware of.  I don’t have the energy or inclination to take a side.  However there is one aspect of the business that I’m tempted to take a hard line on.  Now, I have nothing but love for truly tape only noise labels (the ne plus ultra in the UK being Matching Head, of course – a label with no official internet presence, untouched by fashion, driven purely by the uncompromising vision of Lee ‘Culver’ Stokoe) but raise an eyebrow at self-described ‘tape labels’ that also offer downloads.  Personally I prefer this arrangement for reasons given above – 98% of my musical appreciation is done via mp3 player – but I would argue that by offering downloads you can ditch the word ‘tape’ because yours is just a… label.  Catch me in the same mischievous, belligerent mood that greeted Joe’s innocent request and I might say that you were actually a label providing music in the preferred, most convenient format of the day alongside unnecessary physical versions meant to tempt daft hipster object-fetishists – a demographic always keen to reify counter-cultural heft into something that can be neatly displayed on a shelf.

Heh, heh – more naughtiness – comments genuinely welcome.  I am open to being convinced otherwise.

So, with that all in mind, my eyes wander to the tape section of the RFM review pile and I decide that a round-up is long overdue.  Never mind my misgivings about the format, it’s the content that really matters right?  Let’s see.

jbw and clivejbw - era end

Clive Henry / Joined By Wire – split

Joined By Wire – ERA END and/or BAJM!

Boy, have I slept on these two tapes – Stephen of joinedbywire kindly sent me these months ago.  Mea culpa.

Clive Henry‘s side of the split tape is like waking from a blackout caused by a blow to the head and piecing together the events that led to the assault.  Bursts of vision-blurring pain, repeated verbal tics that refuse to resolve into coherent speech, stumbling.  Or maybe it is Ted Hughes’s The Iron Man reassembling itself the morning after falling off that cliff.  I like it very much.

Stephen’s side is perhaps not as nostrils-flaring, full-on psych as previous JBW releases admired on this blog but is no less terrific for being dialled down a notch.  Instead what we have are a group of multi-limbed clockwork toys of indeterminate form defying the laws of thermodynamics by winding each other up into a clicking, buzzing, writhing mass of mechanical energy.

Available from SoundHoles.

ERA END and/or BAJM! is Stephen’s contribution to a tape-swap project organised via the Bang the Bore forum.  I was not involved in this so am grateful to him for sending me this spare copy – the last of an edition of 15. As ever, I deeply impressed with Stephen’s graphic work and faultless attention to detail – see photo for all the elements that make up this package – especially as this was originally only to be seen by the dozen people signed up to take part.  The racket this time is up in the red.  Thick clouds of noise create an atmosphere of salty feverishness with occasional sinus clearing bursts of stomping distortobeatz.  That said, there are passages of relative calm too – imagine some brute devolved remnant of far-future humanity worshipping the one remaining artefact of our decadent age: a broken tape walkman.

bbblood - untitled - beartown

BBBlood – Untitled

Paul Watson is a current scene leader in what I’ve always thought of as ‘proper’ noise.  That is: a visceral racket created by rough-housing with physical objects, by combining field and domestic recordings and by filtering the lot through a rag-tag tabletop of battered and home-made electronics.  However, that is not to belittle the skill and care with which Paul puts these recordings together.  The sounds are not ends in themselves but chosen, ordered and edited as a means to establishing an atmosphere.  His latest recordings eschew ‘harshness’ almost entirely and the listener is led through a post-industrial landscape of broken glass and burning tyres with, dare I say it, delicacy and finesse.

I can sense the leather-jacket owning section of my readership twitching with unease but don’t worry – I’m not saying Paul has gone all Nick Drake on us.  He still get his balls out on occasion – and so magnificent are his plums that it is no wonder the crowd goes fucking apeshit when they are displayed.  What I’m saying is the flashes of nad are appropriate and proportionate to the larger task at hand.

Essential, of course.  Available from Beartown Records.

cestine

Cestine – Other Half / Bright Encounter

This recording by Cestine, the duo of Dominic Coppola and Theodore Schafer, hovers shimmering between the ‘nothing music’ of Karina ESP I described a few posts ago and the ‘extraction music‘ of Dan Thomas et al that I have been banging on about this year.  Two tracks, each lasting fifteen minutes exactly, contain slowly cycling electronics augmented with field recordings – birds, the sea maybe, children – and snatches of whispered conversation, perhaps partially overheard whilst daydreaming, perhaps snatches of radio broadcasts crackling between the stations.  It is constructed with a robust attention to detail that allows for deep, repeat listening but conveys a vulnerability, a brittleness too.  The contemplative reverie it induces is bitter-sweet and emotionally complicated, like turning over the memory of an important friendship, now long lost.  Recommended highly.

Available from Rok Lok Records.

dear beloved henry

Dear Beloved Henry / Albert Materia – split

Hyster Tapes are punk as all fuck – black and white J-card, recycled tapes, photocopied flier advertising their warez (pictured) – and I wholeheartedly approve.  Joe grokked the FOUR LETTER WORLD compilation back in March and as a result Heikki of the label kindly sent this too.  Gotta keep that goodwill circulating – keeps it fresh and vital.

The Dear Beloved Henry side of this split, one 24 minute track titled ‘Advent’, is one of the best things I’ve heard all year.  It is deceptively simple in execution: a flowing electronic drone groove with a vaguely East Asian feel – like 1970s Krautrock that has been listening to a bunch of gamelan LPs – works through the variations.  However, every so often a magnetic pull distorts it off course and adds an intriguing, complicating layer of discordance.  It’s like it was mastered to VHS and someone is now messing with the tracking.  Is this an artefact of duping it to an old recycled tape or is this woosiness wholly intended?  The result is magical either way.

Sadly the Albert Materia side, several tracks of fractured poetry with piano accompaniment, was not for me.  Can’t win ’em all, eh?

Available from Hyster Tapes – email: plaa@pcuf.fi

leitmotiv limbo

Leitmotiv Limbo – LIMBO / WIND SWEPT

Also sent as result of Joe’s FOUR LETTER WORLD review.  In ‘Limbo’ Elijah Vartto (umlauts over the vowels – apologies for the limitations of the WordPress editor) conjures an alien souk from the echoed honking of an unspecified wind instrument and stick-in-bucket metallic rhythms.  The point of view changes every few minutes and gradually a scene is set, protagonists introduced.  This comes together in a surprising burst of new wave pop before retreating to the abstract – a menacing bassy warble dragging us down to an underground bunker full of robot soldiers.

‘Wind Swept’ uses field recordings phased to sound like the fuelling of spacecaft over which mournful, austere jazz blowing accompanies growling, heavily filtered vocals.  It’s the blues played by a band whose home-world was destroyed as a display of power intended to tame a petulant rebel princess.  Guitar jangles like the rigging of boats.  All eventually peters out to a gargling throb.

Comparisons have been made elsewhere to early Cabaret Voltaire.  This is apt and, of course, a very good thing.

Available from Elijah himself.

stamina nudes

Stamina Nudes – Discipline of Exploding Bridges

Finally then, what might be my pick of the bunch.  Bryan (whose surname I suddenly realise I don’t know) operates in an adjoining laboratory to meta-musical collage-jockeys Spoils & Relics (indeed, I recently saw him play as a duo with that #KieronPiercy).  The shared working method involves isolating sounds, sanding off their contexts and reassembling them into new fragmentary narratives – a perversely delicious anti-archaeology.  Here Bryan invokes a dystopian, science fictional vibe but builds in a wry distance that stops it becoming self-important or parodic. The balance and compelling flow he maintains are both very impressive.  In summary: I dig this.

This album scores maximum ideological purity points too.  It was slipped to me, in person, by the artist, as we sat on a bench, under a tree, in a park, with Dan Thomas, one sunny lunchtime – a clandestine, samizdat-style handover.  Now that is tape only.

I’ve no idea in what sense this this might be ‘available’ but you can email Bryan and ask: dorh@hotmail.co.uk

—ooOoo—

the compass will always point north

June 24, 2013 at 11:13 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Sheepscar Light Industrial Presented:

‘The Compass Points North’

Petals, Aqua Dentata, Hagman, These Feathers Have Plumes, Midwich, BBBlood

Wharf Chambers, Leeds, Saturday 22nd June 2013

01 hagman hands

Dan Thomas is to be congratulated.  Again.  The latest of his biannual gigs, themed (more or less) around his microlabel Sheepscar Light Industrial, took place last Saturday and was, without quibble, a triumph.  Background and biographies of the acts that played can be found via the numerous links Dan worked into the original publicity so I’m not going into much context here.  All I want to do is give a brief and immediate impression of what was a terrific, life affirming evening (this will be accompanied by my usual terrible photojournalism, which this time gets all arty part way through when I decide to forego the flash).  The gig was also appropriated by Mark Wharton of RFM’s sister blog Idwal Fisher as part of his 50th birthday celebrations.  More on him in the section about my set.

Being the model of efficiency that he is, Dan has already edited, mastered and posted freely downloadable mp3s of each of the six performances.  These can be found zipped up in rar files on mediafire but you lot can’t be arsed with that can you?  Thus I’ve taken the liberty of hosting unzipped mp3s here in the cavernous RFM vaults too.  Listen by clicking on the little arrows you’ll see below or download by right clicking on the links and saving the digital goodness.

Due to childcare commitments I couldn’t be part of the committee welcoming our three guests from London: Andie Brown (These Feathers Have Plumes), Eddie Nuttall (Aqua Dentata) and Paul Watson (BBBlood) so I met up with them, Kev Sanders (Petals) and Dan at Wharf Chambers sometime just gone 6pm.  Setting up and soundchecking was in full swing and Dan had thoughtfully dragged my usual table and standard lamp into my preferred position.  Kibe (apologies – I don’t know the spelling, it was pronounced Key-Bee), our soundguy, was super helpful and accommodating and asked a question I have never heard someone doing his job ask in all my years of droning:

Would you like it to be louder?

I knew right there the evening was going to be a belter.

So here’s us setting up, tabletop electronics is a breeze, eh?

02 setting up

Once all was in hand we retired to the Wharf Chambers beer ‘garden’ to relax and listen to the gathering crowd of ecstatic noise-fans chanting our names as they waited outside to rush the doors as soon as they opened.  Here’s Andie and dapper Eddie rockin’ his trademark mod look.

04 and andie and eddie

… and here’s Paul and Kev, synchronising their Sam Smith intake.

03 chillin with paul and kev

That bit about the baying crowd was a joke obviously.  For some time the first and only paying punter was the mighty Pete Cann.  Looks well excited, eh?

05 premiere paying punter pete

So come 8pm a respectable crowd was gathering but many jaded regulars were alarmed to find that the gig was going to start (and run throughout the night) on time.  Dan needed to run a tight ship to keep it afloat.  He did.  First up was Petals.

06 petals prepares

Picture shows Kev indulging in a little liquid preparation.  The esteem in which I hold this guy’s work is second to none and the sheer quality of his set made me want to simultaneously a) lie face down on the floor, eyes closed, palms up and b) accost the general public, grab lapels and thrust Petals releases into the pockets of the bewildered.  Putting him on first is a crime really, but it set the bar almost comically high for the rest of us.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/01-petals.mp3]

Download Petals

Next was Eddie:

07 aqua dentata one08 aqua dentata two

After championing his release March Hare, Kraken Mare this time last year I have been following the Aqua Dentata story with an almost unhealthy interest.  Eddie’s music has a quiet but unswerving sense of purpose and is constructed with such patience and confidence that its simplicity becomes exhilarating.  Like a clear blue sky, like a perfectly sharp knife.  This guy knows what to leave out and, in so doing, makes anything other than rapt attention impossible.  Smart dresser too.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/02-aqua-dentata.mp3]

Download Aqua Dentata

Then Dan had to relinquish his organisational duties for half an hour and take to the stage…

09 the solo hag man

Hagman, the duo of Dan Thomas and Dave Thomas (no relation) was exactly 50% short as the latter was not in attendance.  Due to Dave enduring an attack of ‘real life’ type stuff Dan had to play solo.  An intriguing start of cross-clattering rhythms (field recordings from his recent travels to Hong Kong?) gave way to the pressurised roar of a sleepless night in an aircraft cabin, augmented by the pots and sliders of the kit jumble you see above.  It was muscular but delicate too.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/03-danielthomas.mp3]

Download Hagman/Daniel Thomas

…and then something really magical happened:

10 andie's giant wine glasses11 andie in action

To my shame, I wasn’t up to speed with Andie’s work as These Feathers Have Plumes before.  Suffice to say I am now a fan.  She used the three giant glasses (vases? punchbowls?) pictured above, part filled with water, to produce gorgeous, haunting, tones by rubbing a moistened thumb around their rims (titter ye not).  This augmented a carefully underplayed selection of field recordings – birds, weather, water – to create an effect that was, in short, perfect.  Usually, the act before I go on is a blur as I pace around retching and coughing with nerves but Andie’s music held me transfixed.  The artist Joan Miro once described his life’s project as to ‘conquer simplicity’.  I’ve always been quite taken by that notion, despite the machismo of ‘conquer’, and was envious of Andie’s obvious and natural understanding of the idea.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/04-these-feathers-have-plumes.mp3]

Download These Feathers Have Plumes

My turn.  I didn’t take any photos of me performing, for the obvious reason, and my attempts to photograph the crowd at the beginning of my set were too rubbish to be used.  No matter, you can see my set-up at the back of the photo of Dan – sparkly scarf used as glamour table cloth, standard lamp, grumpy old mc-303.  The first of my two tracks was a version of the title track from inertia crocodile, my soon-to-released CD-r on WGGFDTB, and is mainly constructed from a rave stab noise filtered until it gets seasick and starts tripping over itself.  The second track is a new piece, as yet unnamed, in which a recording of Thomas the Baby drinking his bottle of milk is used as a rhythm track under a dense drone ‘lullaby’.  I was very pleased at how it turned out – good and loud and thick.  Now, I am a vain, self-regarding man and will shamelessly fish for compliments after a set but, to my delight, people I didn’t even know wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me.  My spoken intro got a laugh and most seemed charmed by my indulgent use of Thomas recordings.

I dedicated the set to Mark Wharton who, as mentioned, was there celebrating his birthday.  As well as being a friend, a comrade and an all round good egg, Mark has been an important influence on me over the years.  In a sense he taught me noise – no Idwal Fisher (and its predecessors) = no radiofreemidwich.  I’ve written about this before so I’ll just wipe the tear from the corner of my eye and leave it there.  He seemed touched by the gesture, which was my intention.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/05-midwich.mp3]

Download midwich

OK, time for Paul Watson to step up and obliterate this soppiness…

12 bbblood13 bbbloodier

Finally: BBBlood.  A performance by Paul is always a treat and an eager throng gathered, vibrating in anticipation, as he kicked off.  The first section was all scabrous electro-mechanical rhythms, building in intensity until the appearance of his handheld noise-o-tron (a tobacco tin with a mic in it) indicated that the point of no return had been reached.  Paul then flung himself into it, clattering his sound source onto/under the long suffering furniture and fiddling viciously with the pots and sliders of his patch lead orchestra.  Totally joyous: we all went fucking crazy and when the noise dropped for a burst of pop funk many audience members, notable Kev, couldn’t resist busting a move.  There was even an encore of sorts as a ‘highly refreshed’ Andie wanted to shout into the microphone.  A dizzying, nostrils-flaring, grin-inducing end to a great night.

[audio https://radiofreemidwich.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/06-bbblood.mp3]

Download BBBlood

Post-gig, the atmosphere of drunken revelry was such that leaving the venue was like leaving a wedding party: all hugs and promises.  The rain didn’t dare touch me as I ran for the last bus.

More on Sheepscar Light Industrial

More on Idwal Fisher

reminder!! midwich live this weekend at ‘the compass points north’

June 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Posted in live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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compass

Yes, on Saturday I have the pleasure of performing as part of the terrific line-up above.  I’ve no doubt the date has been circled in red in your diaries for some time but I thought it best to post a reminder just in case.  This unmissable gig, assembled by the tireless Dan Thomas of the peerless Sheepscar Light Industrial, has also been co-opted by Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher as the end point of a Leeds-based pub crawl to celebrate his 50th Birthday.  You are all invited.

Full details of the gig here.

Facebook event page for the gig here.

Facebook event page for Mark’s debauchery here.

Huzzah!

midwich live at ‘the compass points north’, 22-06-2013

April 29, 2013 at 7:55 am | Posted in live music, midwich, new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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compass points at a cow

I will no doubt plug this again nearer the date but for those readers who have busy lives and, y’know, ‘keep diaries’ here’s a chance to get an unmissable gig scribbled on the kitchen calendar.

I have been tempted out of fatherhood-induced-semi-retirement by Dan of Sheepscar Light Industrial with the simple lure of a curry dinner and the prestige of playing with such a monumentally talented line-up.  My set will be the usual 20-25 minutes in length but will be entirely new, possibly based around tracks created for my upcoming release on We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys, possibly featuring ‘field’ recordings of a snuffling infant.  Who knows?  All I can guarantee at this early stage is that by the night itself my performance will be finely honed, rigorously rehearsed and solid gold.

Anyway, add the fact that Uncle Mark Wharton of RFM’s sister blog Idwal Fisher has appropriated this as his birthday party and there is simply no reason not to come.  Over to Dan for the links, details and whatnot:

Sheepscar Light Industrial presents an evening of celebration, with things to watch and listen to. Featuring performances from;

Aqua Dentata | BBBlood | Hagman | Midwich | Petals | These Feathers Have Plumes

£4 | 7-11pm | Saturday 22nd June 2013 | Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Facebook Event Page

Aqua Dentata |

As Aqua Dentata, Eddie Nuttall has been garnering some well deserved praise of late. Some great releases on Beartown Records, SLI & Feral Tapes, complimented by gigs where the audience “just shuts the fuck up and listens” (Rob Hayler), has meant that an invite back to Leeds was always on the cards. Expect to be consumed by sounds conjured from synths, tapes and bowed miscellany; shimmering, beautiful, throbbing and fizzing…

http://www.aquadentata.org/
soundcloud.com/aquadentata
Aqua Dentata live in Leeds, September 2012
SLI.008 – Aqua Dentata – A Staircase Missing

BBBlood |

Paul Watson, aka BBBlood, is a maestro of noise. Predominantly operating at the harsher end of the spectrum, the depth and consideration in Paul’s approach will have warming to the embrace of even his harshest roar. Following on from a stand-out performance at Pete Cann’s excellent Crater Lake Festival, I’m delighted it won’t be too long until he’s back up in Leeds…

BBBlood
soundcloud.com/bbblood
BBBlood live in Leeds, September 2012
SLI.010 – BBBlood – N 51°33′ 0” / W 0°7′ 0”

Hagman |

Daniel & David Thomas (no relation) are two men with lots of wire. The wire connects pedals, short-wave radios, oscillators, drum machines, synths and home-made Tupperware-tronics. Debut album on Striate Cortex coming in the Spring. “Hagman drift sublimely along a path of beautifully nuanced drone” (Idwal Fisher).

soundcloud.com/hagmanhagmanhagman
Hagman live in Leeds, November 2012
SLI.005 – Hagman – Wormwood

Midwich |

Midwich is Rob Hayler: head honcho of Fencing Flatworm Recordings and Radio Free Midwich‘s longest serving blog-jockey. Having (only very) recently entered fatherhood (congratulations!), Rob is claiming to have re-entered semi-retirement but, after the cracking live sets of the last twelve months and new releases on Kirkstall Dark Matter and We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys (the latter coming soon!), I can only imagine that he’ll be itching to return. Augmented field recordings, deep electronic drone, head-banging.

Radio Free Midwich
Midwich – Single Figures (live in Leeds, January 2013)
SLI.006 – Midwich – Eaves

Petals |

PetalsKevin SandersHairdryer Excommunication. Former Sheepscar neighbour. Nice, shiny shoes. Library operative. Prolific, ebullient, drone-charmer. Deep, warm, crispy, electro-fuzz. Super!

Hairdryer Excommunication
Petals live in Sheffield, February 2013
SLI.009 – Petals – Whether to Drown

These Feathers Have Plumes |

I’ve been attempting to get Andie Brown, who performs as These Feathers Have Plumes, to record something for SLI or play in Leeds since the label began to function. Hence, it goes without saying how pleased I am that she’s joined the line up for this gig. Look forward to deep, textured drones, with contact mic accompaniment and occasional field recording forays. Oh, and wine glasses.

These Feathers Have Plumes
soundcloud.com/thesefeathers
These Feathers Have Plumes live in Nottingham, March 2012
SLI.0?? – These Feathers Have Plumes – ???

Oh, and here’s the usual bumpf about Wharf Chambers:

Wharf Chambers is a members’ club; you need to be a member, or the guest of a member, in order to attend. To join, please visit wharfchambers.org. Membership costs £1 and requires a minimum of 48 hours to take effect.

Awesome.  See you there.

wired for sound part 35: tapes from pete cann

December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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BBBlood / Half an Abortion (C30, no label, edition of 100)

J Lexso / Half an Abortion (C20, TNR Tapes, edition of 40)

Inverted Nepal – Unverted (C40, Waterpower, WP030, edition of 50)

half an abortion split tapesinverted nepal

For a bloke who sometimes gives the impression that he’d shatter into pieces if you tapped his elbow with a toffee hammer, Pete Cann is proving remarkably robust.  Don’t be fooled by his slight, angular frame or his self-deprecating manner – he’s been getting stuff done.

Pete has had – by our terms – a busy and successful 2012.  He organised one of my favourite gigs of the year, played live solo under the charming moniker Half an Abortion, as half of the ‘May to December’ noise duo Inverted Nepal with Paul Walsh (of foldhead and early hominids) and as one of the trio Carcinogenic Hooligans which is him, Paul and Kieron Piercy (of Spoils and Relics) amongst other projects.  He started his own tape label, Crater Lake Sound, and used it to release his own second album – praised here.  Various splits and collaborations have also started to appear on micro-labels world-wide.   Allow me to call your attention to a few.

Unverted by Inverted Nepal (I know, I know – that name), released by American label Waterpower is 40 minutes of what I believe is referred to as ‘harsh noise wall’ (EDIT: this is a joke, as I hoped the sentence following describing textures and movement would make clear.  No need for any more ‘clarifying’ emails or forum posts, thanks.  I know that ‘HNW’ is a term of abuse for any guy whose noise is more boring than yours.  Ha!  Joke again!). You get toaster-in-the-bath crackle, gravel truck speeding down pot-holed dirt track, bent circuits howling as their solder melts and palsied gabba shudder and you get it all at once in a series of overlapping crescendos.  If you dig this kind of thing you should really get hold of it.  I find it joyful, hilarious, cathartic. If you aren’t sure then I reckon this could convert the undecided.  Give it a blast.

The J Lexso / Half an Abortion split, released in an edition of 40 by Triangle and Rhino offshoot TNR Tapes, is a C20 that comes in a cute fold out brown cardboard sleeve, hand-printed with minimal details.  Smart little object.  The J Lexso side is, y’know, perfectly fine if a little polite but I’m afraid that Pete’s track, ‘That’s The One That Often Comes To Mind’, wipes the floor with it.  It has a greased up, spinning blades velocity that is well cool.  Next time you walk past one of those little shops that cut keys and repair shoes stick your head around the door and take a deep sniff.  Now imagine converting that smell – hot glue, leather, grime, metal filings, melted plastic – into a ten minute long noise track.  That is what Pete has created here.

And now the best, saved until last.  The BBBlood / Half an Abortion split, self released by the pair of them in an edition of 100, is a magnificent half hour that may be the best ‘hard’ noise release I’ve heard this year.  Both tracks are composed entirely from glass – yeah, think on that for a second – but this is not just a trip to the bottle bank (although Pete’s side does feature such recordings – his younger brother can be heard gleefully enjoying that officially sanctioned destruction).  The dedication of Paul’s track to ‘Lowe and Lanz’ gives you some idea of the context this slots into and the tradition of warped humour and physical performance that it is part of.

It is, as you’d expect from these two, artfully constructed, nuanced and textured as well being totally balls-out gonzo in places.  Clinking-plinking-tinkling, smashing, grinding, crunching, squeaking, that kind of ‘pouring sharps’ noise as the pieces settle – like the apocryphal Eskimo having 40 words for snow, a specialist vocabulary is needed to describe the effects these chaps pull from their single sound source.  They play with the psychological implications of breaking glass too: veering from the amusing (as when someone drops a pint glass in a pub) to the unnerving (a quiet cracking downstairs in the middle of the night).  Eerie little rhythms are created by looping clinks, white noise roars by layered scrunching.  As with the BBBlood disc on SLI the artifice is occasionally foregrounded such that you can’t mistake it for bare field recordings and have to approach it as ‘music’ or ‘performance’.  Thus figuring out the choices these two have made draws you further and further in with each rewind.  Fascinating, funny and, depending on your mood, troubling or weirdly soothing.  A fucking triumph.

See the BBBlood blog for purchasing details, or contact Pete directly via pete_cann@hotmail.co.uk.  Make sure you do.

artifacts of the no-audience underground: new from sheepscar light industrial

December 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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BBBlood – N 51°33′ 0” / W 0°7′ 0” (3″ CD-r, edition of 50 and download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.010)

Core of the Coalman – 12 Lines (3″ CD-r, edition of 50 and download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.011)

Ap Martlet – Pyrite (3″ CD-r, edition of 50 and download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.012)

bbblood - n 51 33 0 w 0 7 0core of the coalman - 12 linesap martlet - pyrite

Right then, regular readers will be familiar with Leeds-based label-du-jour Sheepscar Light Industrial and its charming head honcho Daniel Thomas.  Launched mere months ago, its collector-attracting homogeneous packaging has led to fistfights in the overnight queue that forms outside SLIHQ whenever new releases are announced.  Its ruthless quality control has guaranteed plaudits from all the commentators that matter.  Irregular readers can start here and then catch up by clicking one of the SLI links to be found inches from this current sentence.

Although Paul Watson, him of BBBlood, has been rightly praised for the physicality of his noise music, less is said about the artfulness of its construction.  Perhaps the obliterating racket obscures this skill.  Not so with this typographically challenging release, however.   N 51°33′ 0” / W 0°7′ 0″ finds him in a less combative, more contemplative mood than you may have heard before.  It contains passages of dense, high-volume cacophony, of course, but this isn’t simply HNW.  For the most part it doesn’t feel that H at all.

In allowing some room Paul foregrounds the interesting conflicts that occur when you push the concepts of noise and music together, like the invisible struggle between matching poles of two magnets.  His source material is clearly as ‘authentic’ as it gets – recordings of noise-generating activity and the good ol’ fashioned fucking up of innocent objects – but the breathing space allows you to hear the ‘artificial’ loops, reverb and other elements from which it is built.  You can hear the working out and it is fascinating.  Unlike lesser noise (which, given the quality of this release, is a very large set indeed) this fair demands repeat listens and rewards them by opening up a little more with each.

12 Lines by Core of the Coalman is twenty minutes of deliciously spiced drone. It’s as earthily satisfying as a well seasoned lentil dhal, as cleansing as chopped coriander and contains enough texture and flavour to distract even the fussiest, most skittish diner. Food metaphor not working for you? OK, let’s get practical and see how a track like this can be used…

Last Wednesday morning I found myself at my place of work, the University of Leeds, a full hour before I needed to be.  It doesn’t matter why.  On a whim, I took a lift to the top floor of the Parkinson Building (the imposing Art Deco pile that acts as gateway to campus), found a window with a radiator underneath it, leaned on the sill and looked out over the frosted rooftops of my city.  The rising sun coloured the freezing fog: smoggy ochre at street level, raspberry milkshake above.  All the while this track was playing on my mp3 player and was a perfect soundtrack to the scene.  Glorious.

Finally we have Pyrite by Ap Martlet, a solo project from Dave Thomas also known round here as half of Hagman.  It is an eerie 20 minutes of ominous fuzz.  Like the BBBlood disc it is full of space but this space feels somehow denied.  Like the hum of an electric fence surrounding an enormous and newly created hole in the ground, impossibly deep, something glowing at the bottom, guarded by armed men in hazmat suits.  Or the wind whipping through razor wire on the perimeter of a long abandoned military base.

This is of a piece with The Black in the Wood, apparently inspired by ‘The Whisperer in Darkness’ by H.P. Lovecraft and freely downloadable from the Ap Martlet SoundCloud page.  It sounds exactly like waking to find your brain has been removed and placed in a metal cylinder for the journey to Yuggoth and for that reason comes highly recommended.  You should get ’em both.

For purchases of physical objects and/or downloads visit the SLI Bandcamp page.  Should releases be sold out at source it is always worth asking the artist – Dan is almost nonsensically generous with freebies to his roster.

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