midwich & the skull mask update: now available for free download

June 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

Now for the final phase of this project.  Almost all the physical copies found a home some time ago so we have decided to make it available for download.  Help yourself via the links above or on my discography page.  It can also be had via the Oracle Netlabel (where more stuff by The Skull Mask can be found for free) and Miguel is working on getting it up on that Bandcamp so we can pretend to be hipsters.  Thanks again to those who traded for the actual objects – your time and interest was much appreciated by both of us.  Should anyone still want a tangible thing then Miguel may have a couple of copies left.  Drop him a line at lamancha@rocketmail.com and do your bit for international relations.

The original post detailing this release can be read here, further puff plus a lovely review from Joe Posset can be found here and it is mentioned in a double-whammy combo review of this plus ‘running repairs’ on Idwal Fisher here.  Possibly of interest to those who have seen me perform recently: ‘That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold’ is the long, droney second track of the set that I played both in the snow in February and in Stoke last weekend.

midwich & the skull mask update: all uk copies gone!

March 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

OK, phase one of this project – give away my copies here in the UK – has now been completed.  The last few floating around Midwich HQ have all been promised.  For those of you who stumbled onto this late and would like a physical object then the parcel I sent to Mexico containing Miguel’s share is still ‘in the air’ and I’m sure he’d be delighted to organise an international trade once his copies arrive.  Drop him a line at: lamancha@rocketmail.com – and many thanks to those who have already done their bit for Anglo-Mexican relations.  We will eventually make this available for download but are going to wait a while so that those in possession of their unique object can enjoy a little exclusivity…

Much obliged also for the offers of trade and the kind words too.  All very appreciated – great to give something back to the no-audience underground gift economy.  Chief amongst the kind-word-providers was Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent, who felt moved to pen the following in review:

Wow.  This little tease popped onto the doormat of a Saturday.  I wasn’t expecting anything…it was from Rob Hayler…what could it contain?  Expectations were high.  Amid the postcards, bookmarks and other considered & loving ephemera of the hardcore tape trader out drops a cute little disc in brightly wrapped sleeve: Midwich & The Skull Mask.  Direct from Mexico The Skull Mask, Miguel Perez to his mother, plays a tinny, trebly acoustic guitar with tight steel strings wound up like a Spirograph drawing.   This is how I like my guitar: gritty, tangled and free-flowing.  Apart from a bit of some slight reverb this sounds like a pretty straight recording, no fancy effects or editing (Yes Fennesz I’m looking at you) that makes this as refreshing as a chilled glass of Chardonnay.  Mind you what do I know…it could be mashed through a galaxy of software.  It just sounds like a guitar and right now, right here that’s what I want.  The suddenly prolific Midwich drops another drone bomb on my noggin with ‘That which I believe, I wish to behold’ which sounds like something from a Sunday School sermon.  The mood is pretty dark on this lesson.  Throbbing tones bob up and down in the grey drone ocean until they are overturned by a doped up Narwhal.  Stoned, the beast roughs up the tone and like a virus it mutates dragging fishy mammal down to drown in heavy, heavy slush.  There’s a dubby quality to the latest tranche of Midwich releases which this one continues the trend, making space in the air, singling out single notes to emphasise, dragging themes back to ghost you.  Expectations were indeed high.  And I can report expectations were satisfied.

Cool, eh?  More musings from Joe can be found on the Posset blog here.  Further comments welcome.

Should you be a lucky recipient wishing to hear more, or an unfortunate wanting to know what you might have missed, then the majority of the midwich back catalogue can be had for free via the discography tab above.  New midwich releases on Zanntone and Memoirs of an Aesthete will surface at some point and other projects are forming in the primordial ooze…

There is also new stuff by The Skull Mask currently in preparation, which I will mention come the time, but for now the last four albums of Miguel’s shamanistic rites can be had for free via archive.org: Ritual of Purity, Casette 2007, The Old Spirit Of Maria Sabina and Casette Dic. 2010.

Go on, treat yourself.

new product! midwich & the skull mask split cd-r

February 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Midwich & The Skull Mask (self-released split 3″ CD-r, edition of 50)

  • The Skull Mask – Lloviendo Sangre (mp3 excerpt here.)
  • Midwich – That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold (mp3 excerpt here.)

Miguel Perez, RFM’s South American correspondent, is probably best known for the Culveresque drones of La Mancha Del Pecado but my favourite of his projects is The Skull Mask.  These improvised thrashes and ragas, performed solo on treated acoustic guitar, are mesmerizingly primal.  The Skull Mask takes the listener from contemplation, through ego-dissolution to, at its best, a kind of brute psychedelic delirium.  As with all improvised music, the journey is risky but, like trusting the shaman when he offers you a bowl of foul-smelling liquid and orders you to ‘Drink!’, the rewards can be cosmic.  I’ve quoted his explanation before but it is worth repeating:

The Skull Mask – is my acoustic improvisation project with no one else. This is influenced by Hindustani music, Arab, Jew and free improv. I am taking more and more a minimalistic approach and doing it solo guitar…. is something that I love doing…..will see more releases in the future to come.  This is mostly inspired on my trips to the Sierra de Chihuahua, to the mountains and valleys south Mexico, my visit is to mystic Indians in the desert, etc….is a sort of tribute to the wilderness in Mexico….

When he emailed me a brand new nine minute TSM track, suggested an affinity with midwich which seems obvious now but at the time struck me like a clanger in a church bell, and tentatively asked if I’d like to do a split release – well, I couldn’t resist.

‘Lloviendo Sangre’, Miguel’s track, fits the template described above and is terrific.  It could be five times as long as far as I’m concerned.  Check out the minute-long excerpt above for a tiny taster.  ‘That Which I Believe, I Wish to Behold’, my track, is a droning pulse in three movements and will be familiar to those who saw me perform it at the gig (or who received the ersatz set I recorded the following day for the snowbound).  However, this is a new version which is more focussed, slightly more compact (at ten minutes long) and harder-edged.  In order to compete with Miguel I turned the ‘psychedelic delirium’ knob up to ‘relentless’ and left it there until the dying seconds.  I am very proud of how this one turned out.  Again, there is a minute-long taster above for the curious.

Each of the 50 copies of this release has the same insert, obviously, but a unique cover allocated at random (see photo).  These covers have been cannibalized from the pages of a hipster illustration and graphic design magazine that I paid hipster money for years ago and am now recycling.  As such – little bonus – most of these covers are double reversible too, that is: the front can be the back and the inside can be the outside.  Cool, eh?

So how do you get your hands on such a covetable object?  Well, these are not ‘for sale’ as such.  In the spirit of the no audience underground gift economy we are making them available for trade, for review or in exchange for a sincere expression  of interest: just promise to drop us a line, and/or copy it for someone else if you dig it, and it is yours.

The point is to get the music heard by a decent selection of interesting people.  We are likely to post this as a free download – possibly as an Oracle/RFM co-release – when all the physical objects are gone but don’t let that put you off acquiring one.  They look (and sound, if I may be so bold) wicked awesome.

OK, contact me at r.w.hayler@leeds.ac.uk, contact Miguel at lamancha@rocketmail.com, more from midwich can be downloaded for free via the discography page (tab above), more from The Skull Mask can also be downloaded for free via Oracle Netlabel or by searching for The Skull Mask at archive.org.

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