nostradamus, quill in hand: rfm on street beers, ali robertson, dopaminos, feghoots, wizards of oi and richard youngs

November 1, 2017 at 9:15 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Street Beers – Seriously Hot (Chocolate Monk)

Ali Robertson & Guests (Giant Tank)

Dopaminos – Occam’s Hairbrush (Ourodisc)

Feghoots – Dwindling Correspondence (Chocolate Monk)

Wizards of Oi – Wot it is Not (Chocolate Monk)

Richard Youngs – For Shortwave Radio and Voice Text Converter (Chocolate Monk)

 street beers

Street Beers – Seriously Hot (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

Newish jaxx from conceptualist, comic-lover and one half of the mighty Usurper – it’s Ali Robertson’s Street Beers.

A brief two-parter featuring a host of voices (Karen Constance [whose 100-page eye gouge ‘Optic Rabble Arouses’ is currently ripping my retina – search for copies sucka], Tina Krekels, Elkka Nyoukis, Dylan Nyoukis, Collette Robertson and one silent and unnamed Ice Cream seller) this disc meditates on the very British notion of a summer hit by recording a vicious wind blowing into a condenser mic and adding repetitive spoken word riffs via the synthetic marimba parts in Frank Zappa’s Jazz from Hell?  Just like Whigfield did.

A German-speaking / English language  / Scottish dialect text piece takes in mentions of Castle Greyskull and the Eurovision Song Contest in a stream of everyday observations glimpsed from beneath a heavy curly fringe.  Powerful images are run through a clutch of mouths adding the particular emphasis and personal inflection that makes us all individual humans.  It ain’t what you do eh?

In equal parts baffling yet academically vital this cleverly orchestrated confection is interrupted by one of the world’s greatest sounds – a ruler twanging off a desk – that somehow apes the massive and bassy reverberations of Sunn O))) or something.

It’s looped into abstraction.  Captured chatter and accidental singing whirl through the massed ‘bbbbrrrrrrrrr’ in a dense fog.

Who needs dry ice with sounds so gaseous?

ali robeertson and friends

Ali Robertson & Guests (Giant Tank) CD-r in a greetings card-style package and free digital album

Three no-star jamz in exotic locations with erotic personnel.

First up it’s a sixteen minute table-top affair from Ali with heavy-hitting guests Alex Drool and Eran Sachs.  Various gentle clutter-movements, simple tape-gasps and the presence of little mouths make this an almost ASMR-style listen.  The crinkly crackle, busy pace and full-spectrum scrape are filling my tiny ears with tiny sounds but top-up my tiny brain with big, big pictures.  Like staring at the Grand Canyon through a polo mint – the detail exists around the fragrant edges.

The cream in the sponge comes courtesy of our host with Manuel Padding and Collette Robertson.   Without any of the oddball yuks this is a beautiful tape/performance piece of gentle clicks and solitary word play.  The whirr of the tape engines adds a 100 tog warmth to the creaks, recorded footsteps and groans.  Each word (Dutch possibly? I dunno) are spoken with the world-weariness of a sleep-deprived parent.  Kindly but devastatingly hollow.  Exactly the sort of thing slow radio was made for.  CLASSIC!

The final hectic jam is a marvel of chunter and small talk.  Pub bantz, motor racing raspberries and inane local newspaper junk is run through some form of goosey phone app by either Mr A Robertson or Mr Drew Wright (take your pick) to create a 5 min melange attempting to answer – ‘what are men actually for?’

dopeaminos

Dopaminos – Occam’s Hairbrush (Ourodisc) CD and wee booklet and digital album

This mysterious disc was slipped into my hand at TUSK festival by a furtive shadow.

Warned, “It’s a bit of a one off.” I dropped this one into the playing slot as soon as was decent.

These eleven brief tracks of sketchy synth pop are pretty much all formed on some vintage YAMAHA PSS-570 machine found in the back of a leaky cupboard.  This disc takes pre-sets to a new level of ‘fuh’. Digital noise clouds intrude on the bop-a-long rhythm settings, a ‘tiss…tiss…tiss’ snare sound and the ravaged mumble of some laid-back ‘singing.’

But what’s clear is the vision.  A singular approach to wringing all that is good and great out of crappy equipment.  Pushing at the boundaries of what is possible, probable and generally tasteful.

Examples?  ‘Bosch in Crayola’ is a 9 speed-metal pianola on digital time.  ‘Esoteric Voice Research’ could be the ultra-unknown Co Durham bedroom-band Guns R Great, ‘Primordial Soup  Exotica’ the weed-drenched wobble of a teenage Ween.  ‘VWL RMVR’ is undeniably attention-deficit rumba.  But things become perfectly formed on ‘More Confident’ as it gets down and dark with hypnotic self-help tapes battling a twig-dry beat and the sound of men crying.   The ludicrous melody quivers like tangerine jelly melting over hot chips.

File directly between Robert Ridley-Shackleton and Keyboard Money Mark.

feghoots

Feghoots – Dwindling Correspondence (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

New booty from horror film aficionado and noise-music abbot Pete Cann.

For those expecting dramatic fuzz and explosive squeal you need to re-calibrate your lugs as Feghoots trades in small-scale weird.

Opener ‘Alif Showcase’ features the microscopic wrench of rubber gloves.  Elsewhere a peanut is dropped into a decorative Turkish beaker as Pete opens and reseals one of those stiff Amazon cardboard envelopes (Let Down Hair).

A shifting polystyrene crunch forms the base layer of ‘Shy Vein’ making this the noisiest offer but with owls hooting in harmony over the top any fist-pumping gets strictly Autumn Watch… it’s as mesmerising as lumpy frogspawn sculptures.

Analogue breath clicks through dry lungs on ‘Stirrup Residue’ while your roommate cleans the toaster of congealed cheese slices.  The ill-tempered scrape soon melts into antique electronics and domestic field recordings.

The penultimate piece ‘Tenderloiner’ features the lightsaber sparkle of Atsuhiro Ito with the timing of a bird in the hand.  The flickering and flighty splutters mimic a barista’s recurring dreams of hot steamed milk.  At one point I swear a double bass makes an entrance and I realise I’m getting randy for Feghoots and John Edwards to collaborate. We gotta make this happen my well-connected readers!

A finality is reached on ‘Adze Rotor’ which may or may not be the digital processing of foul water sounds captured in both Leeds and Bradford.  The gently swinging coda sweeps away any unpleasantness to focus on the slow rush of oncoming sleep.

Add a notch – Feghoots makes me nod like a Moorhen.

wizards of oi

Wizards of Oi – Wot it is Not (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

There’s something about this disc that makes me think of the much-missed kings of otherness Reynols.

Possibly they share the murkiness and free, looseness of that mind-bending crew but what do I know?  It just sounds wonderfully slack to me.

While it is important to mention W.O.O are only two small bears (who ably manage to handle drums, trumpet, swanee-whistle, dirt-guitar, Wurlitzer and gloomy vocals between their four little paws) the songs are studio-enriched with foul chicken drippings.

Effects are fully ladled on to these jams landing exactly between Teo Macero and King Tubby so even the straightest opening ends up in a double valley of rainbow-reverb.  Just try ‘#Trumpets of Jericho’ or ‘#Metal Gardening’ if you doubt me.

But delicious difference is the order of the day with the too-brief ‘#Cool Pizza and a Beer’ sounding like the birth of Ska replayed by Renaldo and The Loaf in a grain silo.

It’s immediately followed by ‘#Thunderbird Glossalia’; a study for squeezed rodent and the Wurlitzer in the sort of time signature that would make Moondog honk.  When the dust clears super-distorted voices chant insistent curses while the boys sharpen their knives on sopping calf’s liver.

There’s no mercy! When stripped back to basics (guitar and drums) like on ‘#Crayolish Oisters’ it kicks no less brittle.  As if 10 Years After lost their fingers in a blues-related accident – this is the sound of the milkman ruefully cleaning up.

Closer, the intricate ‘#Free Jatz’, couples carefully controlled amp-fritz/saxophone bink with a snare-less drum snatch.  All the better for the boom!

Possibly contains a Volcano da’ Bunk or something placing this firmly on the creaking essential pile.

richard youngs

Richard Youngs – For Shortwave Radio and Voice Text Converter (Chocolate Monk) CD-r

Richard Young’s work has been a kind of shadow that’s floated around my head for about 25 years.  Every time I think – that’s it – that’s the definitive Youngs he comes out with another idea to top the last.  A chocolate fountain of a man he’s spewed out another rich brown mess too tasty to resist.

I guess this is what some beards would call a process piece.  So RY follows his own instructions…

  1. Record a shortwave radio. I used anywhere on the dial that sounded pleasing.
    2. Imitate the sound of the shortwave radio into a voice to text converter.
    3. Cut and paste the resulting text into a text to speech converter.
    4. Press play and record the result alongside original shortwave. Stretch to fit.
    5. Repeat.

A clever approach for sure but snazzy brains don’t always make great music yeah? (see Brian Eno).

This is of course marvellous.  Like the freakiest number stations or creepiest Electronic Voice Phenomena this exists in the limbo between found sound and dream logic.

Disembodied voices speak an almost-language, part-words form some yet-to-be-unencrypted dialect they pinch a brain node but leave any meaning wanting.  Sweeping from ear to ear they sound like they are warning me of something and make me scratch my pate like Nostradamus, quill in hand, hot to translate.

The shortwave pulses flutter as a jammed signal – pitchy whoops and spelks high in my hearing range.

Imagine a ghost captured on camera but then you find out the ghost that’s been deliberately summoned.

How does that make you feel?  How does that make you really feel?

Chocolate Monk

Giant Tank / Duff & Robertson

Ourodisc

-ooOOoo-

crater lake festival 2015

March 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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crater lake poster

Whoo, boy – where to start with Crater Lake? Maybe with the simple and declarative: Crater Lake Festival is a day-long celebration of experimental music held annually in March at Wharf Chambers in Leeds and is organised by Pete Cann. Them’s the facts. However, over the four years of its existence it has grown into something over and above a display of the curator’s unimpeachable taste and ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ approach to time keeping: it has become a gathering of the clan. As well as being an unrivalled opportunity to see the risen cream of ‘noise’ (some in combos suggested by Pete himself) perform to a large and appreciative crowd, you also get the equally important social side. Names are put to smiling faces, hand are shaken, warez exchanged, plots hatched – all taking place in a general air of slightly delirious enthusiasm fuelled by the constant flow of decent, fairly-priced alcohol.

This blog is known for a phrase coined as shorthand description of the scene it documents but I am steering clear of that for now.  I don’t want to co-opt something that is clearly greater than the sum of its parts and can’t be pigeonholed. I will say this though: when I noticed that Pete had hooked some relatively big fish for the bill, and saw the Arts Council logo had snuck onto the corner of his poster, I asked him how he’d managed to successfully tap ’em for funding. He replied, to my delight, that he’d used my write up of last year’s festival as the blurb for his application and they couldn’t wait to shower him with cash. Despite knowing that the Arts Council has recently taken an almighty bollocking for being Londoncentric and that any application from Winterfell was going to be seriously considered, it was still a very proud moment. There you go, people: this stuff matters. Hang on a second, I seem to have something in my eye…

<sniffs, turns to window, regains composure, harumphs manfully>

OK, a word about the below. Due to family commitments – a visit from my parents to celebrate the second birthday of my son Thomas – I could only attend for the three hours from 8pm to 11pm. To be honest, given the stinking cold I had, that is probably all I could manage anyway. So, having spent the afternoon chasing the kid around Home Farm at Temple Newsam (and marveling at turkeys that looked like monsters from Doctor Who, or an illustration by Ian Watson) I arrived flustered and discombobulated into an already pretty drunken milieu. Suspecting this would be the case I had already tasked the other four RFM staffers attending (alas, Chrissie had to be elsewhere recording an orchestra) with documenting the day so all I had to organize was a group photo.

In the piece that follows the author of the paragraph is indicated in bold like this – Luke: – and interjections about non-musical aspects of the day are (bracketed and in italics). Photographs of the workshop were taken by Sof (using the ‘nice’ camera) and the awesome pictures of the performers were taken by Agata Urbaniak and kindly donated to RFM for use in this piece. I am hugely grateful to her – and to marlo for having the presence of mind to ask – and recommend that you all visit her flickr site too.

Right then, let’s go!

—ooOoo—

(Joe: Too early! We – one half of the Newcastle delegation – arrive too early at Wharf Chambers. We spot an Evil Moisture prepare for his evil workshop through the crack in the door but take the old army maxim on board – eat when you can – and scoff a scrumptious Persian meal at the place round the corner. A brief sojourn to Leeds market is broken by a call from YOL. We can sound check so I make my way back to base camp. Pete’s relaxed event management skills pay dividends. Everyone knows/does their job. Things tick like Swiss time. The super-patient sound guy balances our 10 second sound check, we nod satisfied with the racket and slope off to meet ace faces Ben Hallatt & Dale Cornish cackling in the Wharf Chambers sun trap.)

workshop 1 workshop 2 workshop 3 workshop 4 workshop 5

The workshop

Sof: I fought my way through Saturday afternoon Leeds crowds to make it to Wharf Chambers just in time for the Evil Moisture / Andy Bolus Ghost Hunting Detector workshop. We had been instructed to bring along a non-metallic cylindrical object, basic soldering skills and undead ancestors.  I’m sure I had the first two with me at least.

We all gathered round a table in the middle of the bar on which we found various items I came to know as ‘cells’, wires and other dangerous looking bits. I’m generally quite scared of electronics (old residual fear of metal work at school no doubt) and so always sign up for activities like this to try and get over this issue. Andy’s approach to the workshop was really relaxed with his main instruction being a hand drawn diagram that he placed in front of 4 of us before letting us get on with it. He was available to answer questions and sort out our various mistakes – great teaching style. This helped to kerb my concerns, I mean, if he could be so chilled holding a wand that can melt metal then why shouldn’t I be too?

There were a lot of confused and frustrated faces around the table during the process but these all turned into massive grins when the detectors finally worked out. It took me nearly 2 hours to attach the cells to a battery and a long wire wrapped around a giant pencil but you know what, it bloody worked. I mean, I’m not sure if the loud squealing noises that were produced from this thing were communications from the other side but when I stuck it into an amp through a bit of reverb at home some use was envisaged. In retrospect I shouldn’t have drank a really strong black coffee during the process because the shaky hands did become a bit of an issue but I got there in the end!

Tom and Jerry, I mean Dale

(Joe: While the laboratory is an evil hive of evil activity the wonderful folk of the N-AU turn up, firstly in ones and twos, then huddles, then mobs. I meet Sophie for the first time and gasp in awe at the purple camera she’s sporting so rakishly. The N-AU are prompt, alert and full of relaxed bonhomie. Crater Lake has started!)

Mel 1  Mel 3 Mel 4  Mel 6 Mel 7

Mel O’Dubshlaine

Joe: fractured electronics garbled and yarbled straight outta Mel’s mini-mouth – possibly reading out what she was doing (I’m lowering the volume on this tape, I’m adding more reverb on this channel) – via a Dutch translation aid and robot clarinet.  The vocal musings were calmly paced, relaxed and with an electronic softening that tickled the tiled floor all nice.  Phil Navigations joined in on cyber-Taiko drum to muss things proper towards the end.  Ke-tung!

Luke: droll Yorkshire instructions fed through robot vocoder.  About five minutes in it dawned on me that I could listen to this quite happily for hours.  My mate thought I’d left because Phil turned up and it was in danger of going ‘all musical’ not so: my chalice had run dry.

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Yol & Posset

Joe: (view from the floor) dunno about this, lots of knees and boots, getting awful hot awful quick, Yol clatters…HIT IT!

Boof/~~~scree/HAWKS////zingzingzing/~~II~~:~~BAU~~~~/CLANK.  The end.

Cor.  That felt good.

Luke: yowser this was fun like visceral high energy free gumph played with the contents of a skip, lots of gurning growling and testifying.

Marlo: the interesting element of this performance is that opposed to some electronic noise acts that seem distanced or detached from actual live performing, these two were very alive, very awake and fully present in a visceral and physical way.  Yol, as usual, used his body as his instrument to full capacity.  Apparent in his performance were both his sensitivity to environment and his physiological response to Mr. Posset’s intuitive electronic gestures. Both, not shy to show some presence, expressed a reciprocal appreciation of live art.

(Joe: Later… the food comes out full to bursting with Pascal’s grapes… I’m too keyed up to eat but notice it gets a thumbs up from Lee Culver who, no shit readers, is a proper gourmet/baking behemoth. Top Marks.)

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Stuart Chalmers

Joe: top drawer Dictaphone thumb-nastics from Stuart.  The whirr and ‘scree’ of fast forwarding tape was a joy to hear as it bounced from one hand to another; Stuart flinging his luscious black locks like a metalhead and shaking like a nervous cicada.  Even my tin ear picked up the subtle tape preparations and timings as skronk melted effortlessly into ethnic-plink with industrial overtones.  Of course no one knows what Stuart really looks like…he threw his Kim Thayil wig into the crowd and disappeared into the balmy Leeds afternoon.

Luke: about three beers in this was lush green elephant tea. I dig the candles, the wig, the ritual maaan. Led to an interesting conversation outside.  Seems in the N-AU you got your tapes lovers and your tapes haters (known as ‘taters’)

I’d rather watch him play the sounds than play a tape of it

…one geezer remarked.

He was playing a zither thing!

I retorted in his defense. I myself am pro tapes: the wow, the flutter, the plastic encased mystery.

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Kay Hill

Joe: Ben Hallatt set up an impressive reel-to-reel machine and facilitated the sound of a monkey opening a recalcitrant jar of peanut butter through the fragile, disintegrating brown tape.  A play in two parts, this simian housekeeping was taken over by a more keening, knock-kneed hubble-style.  All glorious drippings to clear out me waxy tabs.

Luke: my highlight of the day. Tape music with lots of pop and hiss but with, if not a tune, then a beguiling pattern. I struggled to verbalize how impressed I was to the man himself and was astounded that he had no merchandise to pass on (you haven’t heard the last of Kay Hill, readers).

Marlo: Ben Hallatt performed a nuanced, textured and atmospheric tape art set. Despite the surging, celebratory atmosphere of Crater Lake, he held a patient and meditative space. Starting from a minimal structure, he added an elaborate architecture that was sturdy and mindful. The performance was a sound journey that led the audience through this construction and left them in a different place.

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Dale Cornish

Joe: Canary Yellow computer splutter. Spitting and frothing like a thousand tiny tummy kicks from the blue shrimps inside.  Marie said to me,

It sounded like the 90’s.

I said,

What.  All of it?

She said,

Sure, in Belgium.

I’m no flat pancake!

Marlo: I had previously seen Dale the week before in Nottingham. His mood was quite different this time. With alert attention, he proceeded to command his laptop to amuse, irritate, and tickle the audience. If I were to have a party, I would invite Dale. Always enjoyable, instead of baking him a birthday cake to compliment last week’s set, based on this performance I would make him profiteroles.  Thus instead of a treat that is made for pure enjoyment, celebration, and taste, a pastry as work of art which takes many steps prior to presentation (and I like profiteroles a lot).

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Dylan Nyoukis & Kieron Piercy

Joe: Soundtrack to Night of the Living Squelch that somehow managed to dissect Dylan & Kieron so one duo played breathing noises: hisses, coughs and sighs and the other ‘ghost’ duo played the sound of the first duo running their outputs through resinous pinecones.  By gently slapping their foreheads bubbles of gas birthed from parted lips adding a metallic sheen. Please stop me if I’m getting too technical.

(Joe: Later…. booze is consumed, hands shook and booty exchanged. Among the hugs plans are hatched and reputations blackened! Later… we meet the boss. In what must look like a comical gesture to onlookers we both reach out one hand to shake and another to pass cdr/tapes/notes to each other.)

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Charles Dexter Ward

Joe: Erotic Jerome is the most focused man in the N-AU.  Every twitch and tremor of his hands opened another subtle filter, let out a deceptive synth note or texturised the canvas with his painterly guitar thribbings.  Guess what?  Watching CDW reminded me of that Keef.

What do you think about when you’re playing?

Asked the handsome young Vee-jay.

I don’t think on stage.  I feel,

came the raspy reply.  Nuff Said.

Marlo: I had the immense pleasure of being acquainted with Jerome after his stellar set at Tusk Festival. This time, the layers and processing felt more dense. Every time I felt as though I had embraced a new element of his guitar mosaic, I was being introduced to yet another level of intensity that abandoned yet built upon the previous input. It was a rich and powerful piece.

Rob: I got my non-euclidean groove on and shimmied like a tentacle.  It was cyclopean.  Who would have thought such a nice guy could be an Old One in human form?

(Joe: Later…a fart in front of Elkka Reign Nyoukis makes her laugh so hard it drowns out the nearby trains.  Later…it’s a Warhol of confusion. The heat and the noise and the crowd means conversations start, stop, merge and scatter. I’m bending ears all over.  Later…The RFM photo op. I never realised our erstwhile photographer was the legendary Idwal himself! Our handsome group is propped up by my screamingly odd face.)

5-6ths of RFM take 1

Rob: The evidence!  Five sixths of RFM: me, Sof, Luke, Joe, Marlo – Chrissie sadly couldn’t make it as she was recording an orchestra.  Cheers to Uncle Mark for taking the picture.

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Stephen Cornford

Marlo: As they said in Videodrome (1983),

Long live the New Flesh!

I say this because I felt like Cornford was battling with the mind melting controlling of vertical and horizontal holds, in a telekinetic struggle with amplitude and frequency, he went head-to-head with his multiple television screens. He was absorbed. I was absorbed. I think the visuals that seemed to translate his audio concoctions were pretty. I would love to see more of his work.

Rob: I felt like the little girl in Poltergeist (1982) but I wasn’t communing with the dead, rather a race of electric creatures attempting to re-programme my bonce with strobing logic.  They may have succeeded.  I await the trigger word from Mr. Cornford.

(Rob: Sof, Sof!  Where are you?  I think Sof and Jake’s last train beckoned around this point)

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Culver

Joe: Rich sarcophagus music.  Prostrated like a monk with a Casio, Culver played the sound of the tides spiced with deep orange paprika.  Ebb and flow washes over you easily for sure but remember Culver’s dark gravity pins you to the planet like a moth in a cabinet.

Luke: whilst Charles Dexter Ward embraced the crowd with his pink love drone in a highly pleasing manner, Culver extended the black tentacles of Cthulu and left us powerless facing the ghastly pit of torment. I am inebriated at this point and only roused from my Culver trance by my pal clinking glasses, it’s a fine moment: we are ridiculously close to the high priest himself. There can be only one.

Marlo: Culver is remarkable in that he uses similar gear and techniques to others whilst adding something completely signature and unique. I would say that Culver is one of the best drone artists in the UK. His monastic and constant involvement with his gear makes for a compelling performance. Despite the darkness that he chooses to invoke with sound, there is a clear joy interspersed amongst the high frequencies.

Rob: I make a mental note of all in the crowd who talk during Lee’s set.  There will be a reckoning.  A RECKONING!

(Luke: sad to say I had to miss Evil Moisture and Rudolf Eb.Er but I was successful in navigating my way home. Cheers Pete, see you next year!)

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Evil Moisture

Joe: A Very Wonderful Fucking Sloppy Mess (AVWFSM).   Long, long loops of disgruntled squirm get run through the Bolus-zone to come out triple-strength odd.  With nothing to hold on to the free fall becomes increasing delicious.

Marlo: When watching Andy Bolus, one wishes that they had superpowers like photographic memory or the ability to time travel. The issue is that normal human capacities do not allow for full visual comprehension of the devices across his two tables and to simultaneously be absorbed by the sounds. There is just so much going on! From the crazy inventor’s lab of his set up to the enveloping waves of sound, my body was compelled to move. Pushed up close to the stage with several other victims of unintentional movement, I held onto a monitor to make sure I didn’t collapse from my undulations. These movements are, by far, my favourite response to good noise. His detailed dynamics had a light touch. Well paced yet not predictable in his shifts, Andy seemed to be using his whole body, even his feet to make the monster chewing sounds. But there were purposeful and understated details placed delicately through sound blasts and running engines. Not sonic saturated and definitely not shy, Evil Moisture’s intuitive performance was well worth the wait.

(Rob: at this point I bow out myself and trot off for the second-to-last bus home very happy with how the day has gone.  I’m in such a good mood that when I discover the New Blockaders tape Joe gave me earlier is leaking oil onto the other merch in my bag all I do is chuckle.  Ahh, occupational hazard.)

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Rudolf Eb.Er

Marlo: One of the best things about seeing noise and improvisational music played live is the feeling that what one witnessed is unique and unrepeatable.  Experience a performance by a sound artist like Ruldolph Eb.Er, for example, and you know immediately that what you saw and heard will never occur again the same way.  In this case, it might be the fact that several Crater Lakers had lost their marbles on booze and kept hollering throughout the set. That was a bit unfortunate but his professionalism didn’t allow one moment of lack of concentration. I use the word ‘dynamic’ a lot when I talk about noise and sound art, often using it to describe movement.  However, in this case, Rudolf’s use of tension and silence is signature to his style. Silences punctuated the set and left the audience irritable and anticipating each aural stimulation. Personally, I was enthralled by the spectacle – I felt prone to his ‘psychoaccoustic’ gestures and was dizzy with confusion.  My favorite part of his set was when he placed some nodes covered with a black, inky sound conductive substance on his face and head whilst appearing startled and trembling. I like to think he was slightly losing his mind with the audience but by the end he was fully composed and I felt freaking grateful I had stayed cognizant enough to appreciate all the different acts contained within the piece.

Joe: It had been a very long day.  Whist I don’t approve of public drunkenness I am charmed by the tipsy.  All my notes say is:

good oaky noise but possible Harkonnen spy.

I think it’s about this point that my brain packed up…

—ooOoo—

…which is an appropriately wonky note on which to end.  Alas, that is that for another year.  Many thanks to all involved – performers, venue and attendees – with special back-slapping to Pete Cann for making it happen.  It was a terrific day.  See y’all next time.

—ooOoo—

Photo credits:

Agata Urbaniak: performers

Sophie Cooper: workshop

Mark Wharton: Team RFM

turkey

unique gleaming surface: fumio kosakai and spoils & relics on vinyl

February 19, 2014 at 8:49 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fumio Kosakai – Earth Calling (vinyl LP, Memoirs of a Crater Lake, MCL LP 1, edition of 250)

Spoils & Relics – Sins of Omission (vinyl LP, Harbinger Sound, HARBINGER113)

fumio kosakaispoils and relics - sins of omission

I have moved house too many times to be sentimental about vinyl.  Anyone who has lugged boxes of records (inevitably labelled ‘HEAVY!!’ in jaunty marker pen) on and off a van will see the appeal of download culture.  That said, it is hard not to appreciate the mystique of the format when presented with releases like the two above.  One has white on black packaging with extensive annotations regarding its provenance, one has black on white packaging providing us with the bare minimum.  Intriguing.  Time to make an appointment with my sorely neglected turntable, slip the discs out, admire the unique gleam that grooved vinyl produces when held at an angle to the light, blow the miniature grey sheep from the needle, then let it drop…

Firstly, we have Earth Calling by Fumio Kosakai.  I know it’s lazy of me to quote blurb but, for the sake of efficiency, I hope you’ll forgive me doing so in this instance.  From the album’s Bandcamp page:

Fumio Kosakai is best known as one half of Japanese Noise legends INCAPACITANTS and latterly HIJOKAIDAN. However, he has a long history in the Japanese psychedelic/electronic underground and we must also evoke lesser known projects such as TANGERINE DREAM SYNDICATE, GU-N, C.C.C.C., CLUB SKULL, BUSTMONSTERS etc etc.

And then there’s his elusive solo work. In 1987 and 1993, he self-released two very limited cassettes of sublime solo electronic minimalism, inspired by Terry Riley, Hawkwind and Taj Mahal Travellers. There were no more than 30 copies of each cassette sent out into the world.

MEMOIRS OF AN AESTHETE have teamed up with CRATER LAKE RECORDS to reissue these cassettes as limited edition LPs. Here’s the first one, from 1987, entitled “Earth Calling”, straight from Mr. Kosakai’s original masters and sounding far better than the mp3 version which was doing the rounds a few years ago. A limited edition of 250 copies in a beautiful screenprint approximation of the original cover art expertly printed by Sir Michael Flower.

And theres an official digital download version available for the turntaburly-deprived.

Very helpful.  On the same page you will also find some enlightening notes in which Fumio Kosakai explains the context of the recordings himself.

I’m happy to say that the three tracks presented fully justify this lavish reissue treatment. ‘Absent Water’ and ‘Drive To Universe’ (side one) are beautiful, melancholy, airy constructions made from strung-out electronics, held together lightly by a web of echo.  Imagine a pod of immense Zeppelin-shaped creatures swimming/flying through the soupy mid-level atmosphere of a gas giant planet.  Even the papery youngsters are skyscraper sized leviathans, the leathery elders are life on an unimaginable scale.  As they travel they sing a lament, passing the calls and responses amongst them.  This song is picked up and relayed to us by satellite, compressed and distorted by the electro-magnetic field of the world below.

‘Look To The Light’ (side two) is a minimal synth pulse allowed, with great patience and discipline, to figure itself out over the course of a whole side of the record.  It sounds like a room full of audio-seismographs documenting the vibrations caused by an enormous tunnel drilling machine operating far beneath the surface of the Earth.  The pulse eases briefly half way through to reveal that the sound of the machine idling is surprisingly melodic then, as it revs up again, we are caught once more in an unlikely lullaby that could, in my humble, opinion be twice as long and just as good.  A wonderful record.

Next we have Sins of Omission (great title) by Spoils & Relics released by Steve Underwood’s borderline uncontactable Harbinger Sound label.  Steve’s disinterest in promoting his releases is admirably, hilariously perverse (‘be resourceful’ was the advice given to hopefuls wishing to buy the last Spoils & Relics 7″ single) and, of course, by holding the prize just out of reach he only makes it more desirable.  Thus, and with the greatest respect to the other labels carrying their work, I consider Harbinger Sound to be the perfect home for this band.

The album comprises two untitled side long tracks of semi-improvised sound collage.  Which is A and which is B can be determined by examining the scratchings in the run out grooves of the vinyl but it doesn’t really matter.  Their music denies narrative.  Allow me a slightly academic moment to explain what I mean.  This is not post-modern pop art – there is nothing glib or kitsch about it, nor does it ‘refer out’ for easy laffs or nods of recognition.  The palette used is a largely abstract selection of found, domestic and field recordings as well as sound produced by the various electronic implements that make up their ‘kit’.  The source of any given element is usually (and presumably deliberately) unclear.  They are examining the innards of everything, poking around where noise happens and taking notes.  It is more akin to the meta-musical experiments of AMM and their progeny.

Don’t be scared off by this – you may by now be imagining the sort of woeful, earnest, Arts Council funded, improv key-rattlers we used to see at Termite Club but not a bit of it.  This music is not dry and scratchy, it is layered with humour (ranging from the wry raised eyebrow to banana skin slapstick), tension and a whip-smart self-awareness that speaks of the telepathic relationship between the band members when performing.  A piece by Spoils & Relics is about sound in the same way a piece by Jackson Pollock is about paint.  In summary: mightily impressive.

Buy Earth Calling.

Buy Sins of Omission.

sorting the lego part one: soundtracks for graded tasks

November 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Tape Noise – Journey to the Centre of the Worth (tape, self-released, edition of 1?)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton & David Barton – Surge (30 page pamphlet with card covers, ISBN 978-1-907546-52-5)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Nov 8th 2013 (C15 tape, hissing frames)

Ashtray Navigations – axe attack in 3D / unfuck you (tape, Crater Lake Sound, CL004)

Posset – Goose Shat Silver Dollars (tape in hand-stamped cover, Mantile Records, #024 or download)

Posset – the teenage virus (CD-r, chump tapes, chump #6 or bootleg below)

Stuart Chalmers/Nick Edwards – split (tape, Feral Tapes, C60, edition of 80)

tapenoise - journey

As regular readers and correspondents will already know, I am currently off work enduring a nasty bout of depression.  In the past I have written about my history with the illness, its symptoms and its effects on my life – click on the ‘depression’ tag above should you be interested – but not today.  Instead I wish to briefly mention two coping strategies – exercise and the ‘graded task’ – explain how the music of the no-audience underground is helping me with both and offer a few brief accounts of my listening in that context.

Firstly, exercise needs no explanation.  Much as we potatoes are loathe to admit it, getting moving helps with pretty much everything, especially depression.  To adapt Funkadelic: free your ass and your mind will follow.  For me this means walking, mainly around the neighbourhood.  Secondly, the idea of the ‘graded task’ might need a little clarification.  Originating, I think, from the cognitive behavioural therapy side of counselling, ‘graded task’ is used to describe a physical activity that can be completed in discrete, manageable but notable chunks.  The idea being that the job takes you out of yourself for a while, can be scaled according to your energy levels and can be looked back upon when completed with a sense of undeniable achievement: I did that.  For example, when I kept an allotment I dug it over one square metre at a time, currently I am cleaning Midwich Mansions (a series of chores sadly neglected since the baby arrived) and during one particularly debilitating episode a few years ago I ordered a vast collection of second hand Lego from eBay and spent days sorting it all out and bagging it up according to categories of brick.  Whatever, man – it helped.

At the moment my energy levels are such that I cannot rely on physical activity alone to lighten the darkness.  I simply can’t work up the sweat needed to turn my brain off entirely.  Thus I need some help and that is where you lot come in.  Whilst out walking, or doing a chore, I have been accompanied unswervingly by my mp3 player and/or tape walkman and music from the review pile has been keeping me company.  However, it wouldn’t be fair to use your art just as elaborate wallpaper to cover the cracks in my psyche so I have been trying to consider it too.  This has the added benefit of flexing mental muscles that the depression has sat on.  Forming an opinion heaves the fucking thing off me for a second and fans away the fug.  So, in the first of what I hope will be several similar articles, here are some short pieces (with what I was doing whilst listening in parentheses, in italics) about stuff picked more or less at random over the last few days.

OK, firstly I have to apologise to Dex Wright of Tape Noise for sleeping on Journey to the Centre of the Worth (heard as I walked through Gledhow Woods) for months.  It is no reflection on its quality, it just slipped down the back of everything else for a while.  Dex is the outsider’s outsider.  His preferred method of distribution – hand-decorating tapes and recycled inlay cards and selling his warez in editions of (apparently) one on eBay is unique amongst those artists celebrated on this blog.  He seems perfectly content to groove his own way utterly independent of any concern other than the production of his art.  The music herein is his usual mix of first-wave-industrial-style echoing vocals and pattering noise-tronics and all-embracing collage.  There is hard-puffed jazzy flute, chugging rock guitar, snatches of conversation – children playing in the background, squalling electrics, an episode of bass that will balloon your ear canals and a break for some Current 93ish folk/psyche prose poetry.  This might sound garbled but I assure you it is perfectly coherent.  It is all clearly the product of that singular mind to be found shielded by that polka-dot bowler hat.

surge

Next, two items picked at random from the latest wildly generous parcel received from RFM’s other favourite oddity-generator Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  Surge (meditated on in an attempt to clear my head and go to sleep) is a 30 (approx) page A5 booklet containing drawings by Robert and collaborator David Barton.  The former’s pages are like Joan Miró’s Hope of a Condemned Man endlessly reworked in crayon and masking tape, drawn on pages pulled from a recluse’s empty scrapbook.  The latter’s pages contain line drawings of the human form, agitated to the brink of collapse.  Incompleteness and uncertainty are depicted with definite and furious energy.  The honours are shared.

Nov 8th 2013 (heard whilst hoovering the stairs) is a brief noise tape. Side A is mechanical peristalsis with alarms sounding whenever an indigestible lump is passed from duct to duct.  Side B is electrical scouring, like an R2D2 class droid frantically trying to reconstruct its memory after an EMP attack.

ashnav - axe attack

Two live sets (walking in Gledhow Woods again, trip to the pharmacy) by Ashtray Navigations (here mysteriously billed as ‘Ashtray Navigations (l.a.m.f.)’ – I don’t know why) from Autumn of last year.  The first is dominated by an exquisite psyche guitar indulgence that devolves into a deeply satisfying scything drone: whirling blades, molten silver.  The second is a curious beast.  Phil and Mel are joined by Daria Ramone of peerless punksters Etai Keshiki on guitar and by Pete Cann of Half an Abortion and Crater Lake (the label putting this out – buy here) on noise.  Despite beginning with a bellowed ‘1,2,3,4’ this takes quite a while to gel.  In fact it doesn’t really cohere until they give up on cohering and instead surrender themselves to a group freak-out and non-linear crescendo which makes up most of the second half.  Love the underpinning robo-warble.

posset - goose

Goose Shat Silver Dollars by Posset (heard whilst cleaning the bathroom) was a fitting accompaniment to my chores as it appears to be constructed largely from domestic recordings made around the Posset household.  Slow-motion vocals mirror my own strained attempts to follow conversation whilst my brain swirls in the fug.  The plinkplonkiness elsewhere has the same indecipherable feel (to the untutored western ear) as traditional Japanese music.  Indeed, in that context the sounds of liquid – pans being filled?  Teeth brushed? – could well be the lanquid tricklings of a water feature in an oriental garden.

Someone (Derek Bailey?) once complained that the turntable-as-musical-instrument has as limited a range as the bagpipes.  I always thought that this focus on the ‘wick-wick-wack’ scratch noise was missing the point entirely.  The turntablist has a century of recorded music to play with – try matching that by waggling your fingers in the sound box of your guitar, dumb ass.  A similarly incorrect complaint could be made about the dictaphone, Joe’s weapon of choice.  Yes, the skwee and scrubble of pressing-more-than-one-button-at-once is its signature sound, but the dictaphonist also has all audible noise within range of the device potentially in their saddlebag.  Beat that.  You think you are just hearing Joe’s kids chuckle but actually these humble, clever, funny recordings are intimations of infinite possibility!

Hmmm… or maybe I’m just a bit mad at the moment.  One or the other.  Or both.

Anyway, Joe also sent a copy of his CD-r the teenage virus which he created to be given away at the Colour Out Of Space festival (li’l networker, eh?).  It is great stuff and on the insert he insists we are free to bootleg it as desired so, in that punk spirit, here are the four tracks in good quality mp3 format for you to download as you wish.  Help yourselves (descriptions are mine):

  1. the carriage of spirits (possetronic dictamatics)
  2. at the end of the day (snatched recording of pub piano, possified)
  3. learning the restaurant trade (full flowing posset, live set from Bar Loco)
  4. he loves me so (riff on that tear-jerking endurance test by Gavin Bryars)

I’ll not be assessing the split tape from Stuart Chalmers / Nick Edwards (trip to Co-Op for Sunny Start Baby Porridge, Banana flavour, hanging out laundry) as I find myself in word-for-word agreement with Uncle Mark over at Idwal Fisher and you can read his review here.  Though, unlike that shirker, I did at least listen to all of it.  Tut.  In short: Chalmers = terrific, Edwards = not so much.

OK, more as my energy levels allow.

the barrel nut #4: punk rock, richard gere, vegetarian black pudding

October 26, 2013 at 9:01 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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The Barrel Nut issue 4 cover

Ladies and gentlemen,  RFM is delighted to announce the publication of the fourth issue of the North’s cutest noise/art microzine: The Barrel Nut.  This latest number has something of a theme as most (all?) of the contributions were created semi-automatically during blank or stolen time.  ‘Doodles’ I believe they are called.  Hence the dense, cartoony feel created by the scrawling ids of RFM’s own Joe Murray (Posset), Pete Cann (Half an Abortion) and Dr Adolf Steg (Spon) and the wry list of work distractions admitted to by Mark Ritchie (Hiroshima Yeah!) in the poem that closes the issue.

Coincidentally, the latest issue of Spon, Steg’s alternate-world-describing zine/mail art project, is titled ‘#35: The Doodle Issue’ and comprises many more fully worked up examples of his febrile, scatological and multi-dimensional imagination.  Thus I’ve taken the liberty of twinning the two publications.  Please consider TBN#4 to be a vestigial outgrowth sprouting from the side of Steg’s more substantial mutant offspring.  Contact him to get on his mailing list.

For those coming to this raw, a microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to any gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you wish to get all 21st Century about it then you are very welcome to print out and create your own.  It’s well DIY-techno-punk, innit?  Links to the latest issue in jpg and pdf formats (in full colour!) are below.  Assembly instructions and previous issues also in downloadable formats can be found on the Nut’s own page (also tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Get in touch.

The Barrel Nut #4 as a jpg

The Barrel Nut #4 as a pdf

eat local part two: rfm tucks in to ashtray navigations, half an abortion and helicopter quartet

September 18, 2013 at 7:42 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 4 Comments
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Ashtray Navigations – spray (CD-r, memoirs of an aesthete, moa cd 1-800-55555, edition of 100)

Half and Abortion – Small Scale Demystification Quandary (tape, Angurosakuson, AS#008)

Helicopter Quartet – Refuge (self-released download)

ashtray navigations - sprayhalf an abortion - quandaryhelicopter quartet - refuge

The cover of the latest CD-r from blog faves Ashtray Navigations (this time being Phil Todd solo) sports a noteworthy boast: aside from ‘false starts with the percussion’ everything else therein is a first take.  It is an interesting prospect.  Despite being an accomplished improviser, Phil’s recorded output tends to be the result of much deliberation, overdubbing and editing.  The guy puts the hours in and the result is a consistency unique amongst those similarly prolific.  The slapdash should take note: no that won’t do, be more like Phil instead.

Anyway, in keeping with the vibe of the project I decided to review it in one take too.  During a lunch break I found an unused basement teaching room in the university where I work, spread my kit across a table – food, pencil, three sheets of A4 paper, mp3 player – pushed the buds deep into my long-suffering ear canals, pressed play and wrote the following.  Aside from some false starts on the punctuation, and some reconstruction following the disintegration of my sandwich and resultant beetroot stains, this is also a first take.

‘bubba o’meiser’: chimes, bells, calling the fairies to a gathering?  A wedding?  Getting heavier, maybe a mushroom vision of the forest, maybe the soundtrack to a 1970s documentary about jellyfish.  Hang on – here come the space bongos (obviously this release does contain overdubs – presumably Phil means each element was recorded in one take.  Some assembly was required)!  Now there is an epic swishing hiss – reptiles in sunglasses are eating the wedding party! ‘the awful backlash’: ah, the guitar.  A super-cool rhythmic shimmer underscores a sky-scraping psyche-rock wig-out.  Phil’s ornithopter flaps lazily over the dunes (at this point I stared at the wall for a minute, lost in the solo.  Nearby building work was making the floor vibrate nicely).  This is Phil at his most free and, ironically, perhaps at his most accessible.  I can imagine anyone whose tastes are guitar-led being won over by this to the shining path of AshNav,  Fun ending as one of the hip lizards from earlier croaks along to the dying seconds. ‘spray’: Business!  Initial bobbling sounds like an interlude in a modernist composition symbolising the rush of urban existence.  Picture ballet dancers artfully avoiding each other as they hail cabs, meet their dates, go about a stylised version of city life.  I’m expecting this to resolve, to clarify but the layers continue to slide over each other, breathless.  OK, now percussion is stapling it together and a low end is packing it away.  Second movement, change of scene.  Now the electrobibble seems like the chittering of nocturnal creatures, the wob-wob of the synth giving the impression of a tropical night that just won’t cool.  Act three sees the return our reptile friends.  As the engine of their super-yacht idles in the background, ready to depart, they enjoy a quayside performance of Miles Davis style vibraphonic space jazz then, ha!, that is it.  Blimey, for a 20 minute track that sure passed quickly.

Great stuff.

Next we have the first appearance on RFM for another Leeds based label, Pascal Ansell’s Angurosakuson.  Click through to find effervescent collage nonsense from the man himself and a couple of noteworthy releases by the (relatively speaking) ‘bankable’ names he wisely chose to kick off proceedings with (reviewed elsewhere).

My favourite item from the roster so far is Small Scale Demystification Quandary by Pete Cann’s solo project Half an Abortion.  Yes, I know the choice of band name is contemptibly gonzo but, as with all ‘extreme’ music, familiarity has made me weary/wary of complaint.  Anyway, I know he’s keeping it mainly because it annoys Pascal which amuses me as much as it does Pete.  The content is noise of the tabletop electronics variety but it is no mere exercise in meathead excess.  Pete’s work is artfully constructed, even when he is clearly making it up as he goes along, and contains levels of nuance and humour that reward repeat listens.

It sounds like this.  Imagine arriving on the space station orbiting Solaris.  Any attempt at communicating with home is scuppered by the roar of magnetic interference emitted by the planet below.  Following a racket down a corridor you find yourself outside Dr. Pete’s laboratory.  You need to pound on the door to get an answer and when Pete does come out – sweaty, preoccupied – he holds the door shut behind him.  His planet-created id creatures (track two is called Iddy and Jutt, so I’m presuming there are two) continue to crash about the lab.  Cut to inside.  They aren’t, apparently, just trashing the place but appear to be conducting their own clumsy experiments.  By the final track their project – to invent music from scratch – has been revealed.  A scribbly, uncertain refrain is dragged from their home-made stringed instrument, accompanied by the clatter of retort stands being kicked about.  The whole thing, then, could be heard as ‘tuning up’ for the one and only truly musical moment: one note, blown for a couple of seconds on (what sounds like) a melodica.  And then that is that – it’s the final noise of the album and an hilarious conclusion.  I like this very much.

Finally, a brief mention of ‘Refuge’ by Helicopter Quartet.  Regular readers will remember my unstinting praise for the two albums currently available by this fine band (for the uninitiated see here and here).  The track, a lately completed off cut from the Where Have All The Aliens Gone? sessions, is seven and one half minutes of melancholic beauty.  Nothing drippy or indulgent about this lament though.  It is coloured with the yellow-grey tones of weather-worn Yorkshire sandstone and has the soul-calming grace of a slate grey sky over Swaledale.  Highly recommended.

Ashtray Navigations

Half an Abortion

Helicopter Quartet

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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