remarkable plimsoll squeak: rfm on kostis kilymis, helictite and quisling meet

July 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki)

Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs)

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings)

 kosits kilymis

Kostis Kilymis – A Void (Organised Music from Thessaloniki) CD and digital album

As a rule I never read any press release or artist statements that come with the submissions to Midwich Mansions (Newcastle branch) before I settle down at my tripewriter.

Most importantly this is a desire to stay clear of internal word-bias.  For example…if I know your freek jam was recorded in the Brazilian rain forest with shards of broken glass my mind finds it hard to ignore the hot & wet, mirrored-silver-shard vibes.

But there’s also a part of me that shivers at an artist’s description (or worse – the label’s description) of the music I’m about to listen to.  The desire to sound highfalutin’ and worthy leads the best of us into bumbling, alienating art-speak and that makes my head rattle with incomprehension.

However I make an exception for Kostis Kilymis and his empire of OMFT whose brief, clear and informative notes perfectly set the context for my next half hour of listening.

As Kostis tells me these are recordings of ‘nothing.’  I guess your regular sound engineer would declare these tracks empty of music being as they are carefully stitched together field recordings laced with occasional micro-platinum electronics.  They are of course full of sound.

Crisp sound!

Vital sound!!

All-encompassing sound!!!

A rubber-mutter heralds the start to ‘The Commons’ and features some remarkable plimsoll squeak. Elsewhere the coiled rush of traffic roars like concrete waves and people, real people chatter below the threshold of my understanding.

‘Down there (la-bas)’ crackles with infectious clicks and whirrs, street noise and colourful birdsong. The tension is tugging at my ears, the old skin on my hands puckers-up in fleshy peaks.  This is body music without the tyranny of beats.

Memory gongs strike on ‘Stay the Year’ with that distinctive locked-groove click undercutting some domestic activity (brushing with a stiff broom perhaps) as the solitary door-hinge squeal plays like the tiniest horn.

The psychic space is tightened for atmospheric closer ‘Another Room’ with some really nice close-mic clutter and rattling of brittle plastics in the Pocket Jazz style pioneered by one Robert Ridley-Shackleton.

Oh yes…this piece is altogether more raffish liked the striped blouse of a gondolier.

Yet again the outside is brought in with swooshing traffic and distant birds filling my room while I glace sideways at the rain making clear dots and dashes on the window, a wet Morse.

As the piece fades to a close I realise the rich sound world we live in is tapping on the door asking for house room.

“If you got ears.  You gotta listen.”

(Van Vliet 1980)


Helictite – ‘Nicked’  Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead (Fuckin’ Amateurs) Recycled cassette

Real end-of-an-era junk this – two times!

‘Nicked’ marks the last ever Fuckin’ Amateurs release.  That’s right!  With over 100 indescribable, uncategorisable tapes/CD-rs and the rare vinyl offering F#A! have blown ragged holes in the North East N-AU for almost exactly a decade.

Whether these tapes were given away or shoved through letter boxes our friends in Blyth, Northumberland,  have finally decided enough is enough and shifted their chaotic energy into other areas.

So what are we left with?  Apart from a massive discography creating a document of what it meant to live, work and play in this Northern scene this tape cannily becomes a summary of all that came before.

Live to cassette recording (check), blistering chaotic performance (check), muchos crowd chatter and conversation (check) homemade sleeve, recycled tape and DIY as fuck (check).   The spirit of F#A! is pure to the last drop.

And that’s where the next body-blow arrives.  This tape documents what will most certainly be the last performance from Newcastle’s wildest, most unruly, most misunderstood noise/improv big band – Helictite.  Mirroring F#A! Helictite have played around the edges of a variety of scenes for the last 10 years led by their only constant – the cosmic joker – Yassen Roussev.  Under Yassen’s haphazard tutelage Helictite have scraped the edges of heaven with their no-rules improv shows, delighting, annoying and baffling audiences in equal amounts.


For an under-the-radar unit they have clocked up some impressive stats: a kinship with Faust led to an in-audience guerrilla style double-header in Edinburgh.   Yas talked his way into a slimmed down Helictite live soundtracking Wallace Shawn’s play ‘The Fever’ over 3 nights.   His close links to independent cinema resulted in oodles of futuristic film improv scores.  Helictite played in Yorkshire’s biggest cave, broke a huge pottery dwarf, worked with a bevy of dancers, set fire to all manner of things and disregarded noise restrictions wherever they went.

My personal favourite?  One outrageous fifteen-piece performance (including five goddamn kit drummers) alienating hundreds of indie-kids waiting patiently for The Dirty Projectors to play.

Such is the hubbub created around them they even spawned an unofficial tribute band – Phalictite – with a brief so stringent no member was allowed to play the same instrument twice.

But, ever the psychedelic explorer, Yassen has moved on and decamped to the USA to cause a star-spangled panic in his new home.  God bless ‘im.

This final version of Helictite (but of course the line-up changed for each performance) contains a mellower blend: solo bass drum and organ battle it out for a while.  Guitar noise gives way graciously to a sweet xylophone solo.   Yas’ sax –often consciously absent from performances – is on fine honking form.  The general bluster and energy is high in the mix and while the playing is free it’s also wild, untutored and unconscious.  Non-musicians and non-players were always welcomed with open arms making this group such a delight to witness and a joy to play with.

I get the impression groups of players were camped in different rooms and Martin (F#A! chief) is waltzing between them, or the band are wandering around the audience.  Whatever the plan this is a leg-remix.  Whatever is happening here it’s undeniably Helictite.

OK – time to dry them eyes and rewind.

I’ve no idea where you’ll find this tape – the last batch I saw were being handed out at random to drinkers in Newcastle’s Free Trade Inn.  Yassen distinctive laugh cackling as he forced his way through the comfortable middle-class clientele, “take this tape…it’s me playing with Tina Turner ” he yelped as confused fingers gripped the proffered cassettes nervously.

For more on F#A! be sure to check the Discogs  site but remember at least half of what you read is lies!

quisling meet

Quisling Meet – Last Quizzle (Friends Recordings) Cassette x2

Rich and luxuriant long-form drones/riff-scapes from guitar and bass that remind me of contemporary Dead C and/or/at-the-same-time the sort of stuff associated with Grim Humour fanzine (circa 1987).

Tape one: Volume levels are set for stun and each moment is FULL of FUZZ and RUMBLE.  The occasional let-up from the mayhem involves a Clanger’s style feedback howling – no doubt some machine is being tortured – until the RUMBLE continues like a bad tempered juggernaut.

Song structures are hinted at, even attempted for a few moments (the bit I’m listening to now sounds like Suicide or something – all pulse and throb) before being crushed under the weight of the frantic electronic squealing.

Tape two: Like Skullflower coughing through a watering can!  This is both fractured and all-pervasive –  which is a pretty odd mix when you think about it.  The feedback peals like tinnitus and never seems to stop (high end) while earth-moving bass gouges deep troughs out of granite (low end).

Some ferocious shredding lifts the final movements out of the grubby-grubby gutter pushing the sound skyward, higher and higher, circling dangerously close to the sun.

Julian Cope!  Where are you baby?  This one’s right up your street man.


omft Bandcamp

Kostis Kilymis site

F#A! Discogs Page

Quisling Meet Bandcamp


airside: sophie cooper on quisling meet, richard chamberlain, isnaj dui

October 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Quisling Meet – The Beginnings of an Discordian Audio Tarot sides A and B (abridged) (CD-r or download, self-released)

Richard Chamberlain – Songs (CD-r, self-released)

Isnaj Dui – Stone’s Throw (12″ vinyl, split with The Declining Winter, Rural Colours, RC071 & RC072, edition of 200 or download)

Isnaj Dui – Dioptrics (CD-r, self-released, FBOXCD009, edition of 200 or download)


The music reviewed in this article was listened to on a long flight over to the U.S. Traveling is my preferred state in which to listen to new music. My frame of mind becomes much better attuned to listening when in-between places with the added bonus of a soundtrack to the memories.

I’ve met a guy called Richard Chamberlain this year, a person who is no stranger to traveling himself. Both times I’ve met him he’s presented me with a self-released CD-r which ended up being two soundtracks for my trip.

Quisling Meet – The Beginnings of an Discordian Audio Tarot sides A and B (abridged)

Anything with tarot in the title will have me instantly intrigued and I suspect this is why we got talking. I’m assuming this is a solo project: thoughtful jams from an underground room in Lancaster. Each track is named after a tarot card so this and the title makes me think that the cards inform the music which is a neat idea.

The music is largely guitar based with the odd addition of vocals deep in the mix. The songs are made up of murky loops and, to me, the treble seems to be almost removed which gives them a sort of sub-aquatic vibe. This and the heavy phase usage makes me feel as though these tunes are being dragged along, not in a negative way, they just have this underwater weight to them. Music chucked off the boat and weighed down by an anchor.

I know I was told about the tarot-reading theme before but I wouldn’t need that to know there’s a strong musical narrative going on throughout this. There’s quite a lot of emphasis on notable melodies that point away from the overall sound and that works well. If asked, I’d struggle to pick out the best track to play individually because these songs definitely come as a whole package. It’s got a really honest, homemade feel (you can hear clicks of pedals and breathing at times) and there’s just something about this that makes it all so appealing and totally unpretentious.

Richard Chamberlain – Songs

This CD-r came in a white case with no titles or information at all. A sign of modesty? If so, there’s no need: these tunes are great. I actually prefer this one to the one I’ve just discussed largely because the songs seem to have a better sense of direction to them. I’m a big fan of Arthur Russell who I’m instantly reminded of on hearing Chamberlain’s vocals.

Occasionally the tunes go into a sort of ‘indie’ territory [Editor’s note: you’re fired] which I’m not that into but the weirder stuff works a treat [Editor’s note: you’re hired again]. Mostly electric guitar played through cleverly incorporated effects, more phase, reversed stuff, all nicely done. My favourite song is instrumentally different and simpler to the rest. Chamberlain moves to an acoustic guitar and a bit of piano playing, which reminds me of the homemade, honest quality I liked so much in the other disc. Very interested to hear more of this project.

stone's throw

Isnaj Dui – Stone’s Throw

Also on my sky high review pile is a new EP by Halifax based Katie English, aka Isnaj Dui, released by Rural Colours [Editor’s note: a 12″ vinyl split shared with The Declining Winter].  Just before I listened to this I put on a track by her I happened to have about my person from one of those free CDs you get with The Wire and it made me wonder if English has spent any time in Indonesia because I thought the melody had a Javanese feel to it. Particularly the traditional sound that all tourists to the island hear in certain parts there and become used to during their visit. This EP is really different to that track though – here the tracks have a lot going on in them and the production is just fantastic.

English’s great ability to move seamlessly through ideas is perfectly illustrated by the first of these two pieces. Over the course of 7 minutes three kinds of musical figures are explored, essentially through a method of repetition and progression. This is a very subtle kind of music because of the slow, progressive pace in-between concepts being considered.  However the musical figures themselves are really high impacting and anything but subtle. It’s so smart and the excellent production really makes this recording.

I’ve taken an interest recently in musicians who incorporate use of classical instruments into their electronic compositions and here English is using a cello as her main instrument. The second track makes this more obvious than the first. A beautiful layering of gently bowed and plucked strings, again: subtle is the word. Fantastic stuff!  After these two tracks I’m left wanting more. Thankfully I downloaded another record by her only last week…


Isnaj Dui – Dioptrics

This one immediately strikes me as not so subtle in approach. The opening track is short and to the point and then that track I mentioned at the start from The Wire CD pops up. I must find out if there is an Indonesian connection sometime because the scales played on a flute really remind me of Java.

The rest of the album exists in a minimalist, ambient place that had this listener quite relaxed after hearing it for the first time. Elements of musique concrete such as finger tapping, that sound your tongue can make when you’re trying to be a clock (I think that’s what these are!) etc are used to form lovely, natural rhythmic patterns that create meditative spaces. I could imagine falling asleep to this album.

My favourite track is one called ‘Previous Thoughts’ which starts up with breathy, low end flute patterns morphing to incorporate some spiky string plucking and that’s pretty much it for the track. What works about this is the energy of the piece that moves at a calming pace. I’ll definitely be revisiting this album in the future.


Quisling Meet

Isnaj Dui

Rural Colours

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