slow as eels: rfm on various herhalen artists, mudguts, günter schlienz, hawlimann & stricktschek, nautapes #32

December 14, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Various Artists – Under The Concrete / The Field (Herhalen)

Mudguts – Granada Valley Flower Girl (Cruel Nature Records)

Günter Schlienz – Selbstportrait (Spam Tapes)

Hawlimann & Stricktschek – TEENSDREAMS (Spam Tapes)

Various Artists – NAUT #32 – Live at Northern Charter (NAU-Tapes)


Various Artists – Under The Concrete / The Field (Herhalen) Cassette and free digital album

A curious compilation that sits halfway between an all-star remix album and an old-fashioned call and response holla.

The backstory goes like this.  Mark (Concrete/Field) sends a bunch of unfinished, unused but much loved sounds out into the universe and waits for like-minded beards to respond with a reaction.  So what we get is a blur of interpretations and a shimmy of styles from a heady mix of collaborators.

The mood is cautiously optimistic with each collaborator (many new names to me) mining a seam of whistling iron; each piece separate in rusted glory but tied together with strong metallic links.

Cauterized bounce silver balloons with bright electric sparks.  It takes Descent to riff on the itchy scratch favoured by high priests Zoviet:France.  Air bubbles are released into the blood by Elricj with a turkey wishbone used as a funky clave.

What’s this?  A shimmering John Carpenter-style synth all trussed up in black leather? Ladies and gentlemen – introducing Amantra.

We go back in time with Wound’s piece sounding like it was composed on a Casio calculator watch (circa 1987) – a river of bleep.  Then race to the here-and-now for Matt Warren’s Styrofoam rummage and one finger keyboard bee-drone.

RFM fave Kek-W on the brilliantly titled ‘A Fax from Phillip Glass’ creates exactly that.  Four organs battle the inhuman squeal of redundant technology.  Libbe Matz Gang bring the gritty howl they are well known for in these parts.  But watch out! Scutopus’ almost 6 min drone is crispy pancake – not filled with boiling cheese and ham but gently sculpted and rough to touch. Wizards Tell Lies, another scorched earth outfit, juggle tangled loops and fine, filigree crackle.

The gloriously named artist Nude for Satan seem to be riffling through the Necronomicon while listening to copper pipes being clanged (on leaky headphones).

Classy Draaier ends the recording on a tasteful note.  A foamy sea drawing itself through smooth pebbles as the heavens dance overhead.

A perfect balm for this most abrasive of seasons.

mudguts flower girl

Mudguts – Granada Valley Flower Girl (Cruel Nature Records) Cassette and digital album

Ghostly power-duo Mudguts (Lee Culver on sounds and Scott McKeating on composition) haunt and howl their way through another impressive tape drenched in sticky black ectoplasm.

The opening two pieces ‘Original Mistake Growing Arms and Legs’ and ‘Constantly Slaughtering Something’ seem to exist beneath a level of human perception. Sure, churning voices are suggested and even become corporeal for moments but mostly these are echoes, lost murmurings and hints striving to pierce the veil of human static.

The altogether more boisterous ‘Bat’ is a multi-limbed car wash applying numerous squeegee squeals to your scalp.  The twelve minute ‘Every Single Edge’ truly made me jump with its needle-sharp intro cry.  Imagine a single string soprano violin bowed with fury cutting through an orchestra of damp tissue paper and comb artists.  Picture the clarity of intention over the glum voices of damage!

The balance is restored with the beautiful hum of ‘Carver’ a soul-scratching guitar noodle heard through heavy atmospheric interference.  And the prettiest of the lot ‘Moth’ a one minute mumble, makes me think this really could be the only surviving recording of a wet marimba covered in fragrant peat.

Mudguts once again daub the strange and the beautiful with primitive woad.


Günter Schlienz – Selbstportrait (Spam Tapes) Cassette

Totally beautiful synth wig-ins.

Marvellously introspective and slow as eels this tape massages my tired temples and places a warm oiled hand on my knotted shoulders.

Schlienz’ Self Portrait floats in the air faintly glowing all across side one.  The spare notes breathe into each other – a cinnamon-scented wind.

But this is in no way a dumb drift piece.  No Sir!  This is as deliberately approached as your end of year accounts.  The movements are smooth and calm.  A gentle shudder, a close cluster of harmonic moans as discrete as Eno’s Discreet Music.

Side two, ‘Campfire Suite’ takes the whole soft sheebeen outside and clusters around a real life crackling fire (just audible in the mix).  This time things are less obviously soothing and more mysterious – picture an electric loon-bird or stoned sperm whale.

Perfect and peaceful – more most welcome Spam!


Hawlimann & Stricktschek – TEENSDREAMS (Spam Tapes) Cassette

Phew!  This hectic duo couldn’t be further removed from Gunter’s plantagenet hoofs.

Side one opens with the mud-popping farts of a bass pipe getting lustily fingered. The wet slurp is part aboriginal dreamtime part steam-driven traction engine busting hot rivets.  Percussion comes in the form of crinked coffee cans, a fistful of dry reeds and shuffling grit under the soles of a clog.  It is truly magical to hear a crisp packet scrunched, up and close to the mic, as loud as Slayer in any given Enormo-dome.

Side two is an almost prehistoric take on Don Cherry’s masterpiece ‘Mu’.  These boyos drag around sacks of cloth, sigh politely and snore, setting the scene before breaking out an ivory horn and badass drum.

We are treated to a walking mix; various beaters and rattles picked up, explored and discarded.  It’s a pleasure, a delight, to hear the invention and thought weaving as voice melts into melodica or balloon squeak tackles a wooden bamboo flute.

Clear the picnic blanket – these scotch eggs are ripe and ready to pluck.


Various Artists – NAUT #32 – Live at Northern Charter (NAU-Tapes) Cassette

Gosh knows how many more NAU-Tapes Dave Howcroft has released in the last month but here’s the latest that found its way into my bulging stocking.

Admission corner – I’m breaking form here at RFM by reviewing a tape that I feature on but I don’t see why the other acts here should suffer because of my writing mumps.

And what a set of acts! Posset-Ruus Duo, Dawn Bothwell, Kleevex and Yoni Silver & Ram Gabay all braved five flights of stairs to take up residence in the sun-drenched plaza that is Newcastle’s Northern Charter Space.  Normally reserved for visual artists this wonderful space looks out over the main drag of Newcastle City Centre – a veritable eagle’s nest!

First up new duo – Posset-Ruus (soon to be re-branded The Russets but that’s a different story) take two acoustic guitars, two mouths, two Dictaphones and four speakers in a self-perpetuating loop squeezing scrambled string-action and slack tooth honks via their Dictas in what I believe they call a hot mess.  Described by some as ‘not really music’ imagined by others as Harry Pussy swapping their instruments at half time – WOOF!

Dawn Bothwell’s electronic poetry takes advantage of the view and describes the pre-Christmas rush; all mead quaff and sausage munch.  A looping module takes snatches of voice and spins a ring of bright fire making it sizzle.  Just when you thought you’d heard it all pitches are switched and a booming bottom-end heralds precise and hammering tech-noir squelch.

Keleevx pair up two of the hardest working folk in the Undergronk, Faye MacCalman and Gwilly Edmondez rasping on sax/clarinet and mouth/dicta respectively. Like a couple of daytime drinkers they read each other’s minds ready to place a new conversational nugget or curious honk on the table with practiced certainty. Seeing traditional instruments cozying up to what is basically outdated office equipment fills me with a wonderful sense of hope and I can wax lyrical if you want. But it’s all just breath at the end of the day innit?   The secret is its vital oxygen, life-giving air whistling from Kleevex into my hungry ears.  Dandy.

The brave headliners are polished metropolitan gentlemen Yoni Silver (Bass Clarinet & Violin) and Ram Gabay (half a Drum-set).  I’m not going to beat around the bush here – this is world class improv.  Yoni and Ram are inventive masters pushing each of their respective instruments though ten rounds delivering stylistic K.O’s with grace and regularity.  Yoni’s deep, deep honk is filtered through an enviable technique, rude tongue-slaps on the gummy reed, a foot in the brass bell and plastic filters clattering with the power of sculpted air.

Ram’s drums (a couple of snares, a rogue bass drum and a collection of cymbals and gee-gaws) are cosseted and stroked like old house cats. Skins are thrummed and thowked.  The mixture of texture and timing fill the air with gritty vibrations that are expertly controlled with the occasional sharp ‘crack’ brining us out of our misty reverie and back into the present.  Special mention must be made of the bass drum – a slack and sliding mobile unit skittering at the sight of Ram’s well-heeled boot.

And the interplay between the two is gob-dropping, jaw-smacking.  Nuance unwraps further nuance, in a cluttered Venn diagram alive with microscopic bristle.  This damn tape reminds me why I love improv so much – it just keeps on flowing and reforming until (one brief violin scrape later) it snips to a perfectly neat and tidy close.

As with all other NAU-tapes these are available only from the mighty Mr Dave Howcroft at for FREE!  *but bung him a few quid eh…it’s Christmas.



Cruel Nature Records

Spam Tapes


sunny murray’s right foot: rfm on brb>voicecoil, artwhore, no audience underground tapes, teatowels

October 7, 2017 at 8:12 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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brb>voicecoil – Reconfigure Moments (Muza Muza)

brb>voicecoil – Containment (Muza Muza)

Artwhore – Pasty Posture (Muza Muza)

Various Artists – No Audience Underground Tapes

Teatowels- We are the Deadness (Beartown Records & Tapes)

 reconfigure moments

brb>voicecoil – Reconfigure Moments (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

“Heavy manipulation of source material and resetting of audio time frames” says the ever informative Muza Muza website.

But even that clear warning couldn’t prepare me for the massiveness of these sonic-boulders or the grittiness of the resulting rumbling on Reconfigure Moments.

Totally elemental with that whole earth, fire, water and air gang being represented at the top of their game.  A full bandwidth vista is peeling open my reluctant eyes and saying:




…until I feel myself lurching for the ‘stop’ button on the booming stereo (and in an instant thinking – the old thing has never sounded quite so vicious as this before).


brb’s Kev Wilkinson has collected years worth of field recordings from across the UK and subjected them to the most punishing treatment turning minute taps into ocean-going groans and gossamer strokes into the poisoned lash of a stingray’s tail.   This really is ‘sound as weapon’ territory but at no moment does it ever succumb to ‘noise’ cliché.  Each sound-mugging is clear as a shiv in the moonlight and twice as sharp.  The crackles, rattles and pops are HUGE but placed with delicacy and a dark poetic logic.

The canvas is vast and as much attention is paid to the silences, the absences, as the abrasive implosions and gigantic reversed echoes like someone turned a borehole inside out.


FOOTNOTE: I took this down to Richer Sounds to test out a new tape deck and the smarty pants clerk looked fucking horrified when I cranked this up.  The assembled glut of customers looked round, gulped and left as one.  What more recommendation do you need comrades?


brb>voicecoil – Containment (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

A sister piece to the fearsome ‘Reconfigure Moments’, ‘Containment’ is made up of nine unprocessed field recordings with ears precisely trained on the resonant interior of huge concrete and steel structures (I’m guessing).

This being brb>voicecoil the locations are selected with great insider knowledge of the very mechanics of these materials and years of scientific precision.

What we hear are dislocated ‘clunks’ and ‘squeals’.  Sheered of their original context the howling winds whip up these thick steel cables to really sing an unnatural overture.  There is a cold ‘thwack’ of metal against cement that reverberates in these man-made canyons, decaying gradually into another whooping collapse.

These recordings being at the mercy of the weather/ambience make strange things happen to the timings.  A dry ‘crack’ or gravely ‘crunch’ pop at the most eccentric moments.  Like the earth became Sonny Murray’s right foot, this tape swings with an internal metronome that us mere mortals can barely comprehend.  Like the freest of all jazz soaring buttresses honk deeper than Ayler and become more ‘out’ than Sun Ra.

Use this tape as an essential stepping stone readers – plug into the industrial Gaia-beat outside your door that’s as syncopated as chrome Dixieland.


Artwhore – Pasty Posture (Muza Muza) Cassette and digital album

There was a time when you couldn’t pass a lamp post in Newcastle that wasn’t tagged with an Artwhore sticker.  They seemed to be everywhere at once: playing a thousand shows and dumping flyers to soak up spilled beer in the Barley Mow, Egypt Cottage and Broken Doll.

But while this mysterious crew had their street-art and promotion in the bag unfortunately I never caught them live.  Thankfully Muza Muza have released these lost 1996-97 recordings on a kicking and screaming public.

The issue with vintage recordings is pretty obvious – does it stand up today, right here, right now?  I’m delighted to say a firm yes to these curious electronic hummers.

The darkness is turned on for the majority of these pieces – dull thumps underscore sleet-coloured drone but an optimistic twinkle, a very Geordie characteristic if I may suggest, peppers these recordings.  What I think is ‘Vallis’ is a truly gorgeous rainbow and unicorns number, all pink sunsets and warm hugs.  By contrast ‘Hooverdub’ and ‘Electricity’ spit nails and rubber bullets.

The influence of rave culture is another signifier of the time.  It hit the toon hard and it wasn’t unusually to find dreads and skins swap their para-boots for flip flops on a Saturday night.  This strangely sounds fresh as daisies on ‘Shamm’ and ‘Horseloverfat’.

For younger readers…just think of it as the original vapour wave or something yeah?

louie and luciano

Various Artists – Live Series (No Audience Underground Tapes) Cassette with occasional inserts and detritus

And so it came to pass.

As I mentioned before on RFM  the much-loved NAU stalwarts Fucking Amateurs called it a day with their 100th release (give or take a few) earlier this year.  I’d hinted that the baton had been passed and I’m delighted to say their grubby, semi-legal but thoroughly heartfelt, true and D.I.Y corpse is being reanimated by David Howcroft (ex-Helter Skelter Records) and the impeccably named No Audience Underground Tapes.

A straight-outta-Gateshead thing NAU tapes are attending those shows that you can’t get to, jamming performances direct to tape and bundling them up in outrageous packaging.  Then dear reader they are being offered to the global underground FOR FREE!

Yup.  Keeping this real is important to Dave so he is just asking for postage right now.  But I know you are a generous bunch so an extra quid for tapes and stickers might be an idea eh?

So…what are NAU Tapes offering?  It’s an eccentric and ever-growing catalogue.

  • NAUT 01# brb>voicecoil / Vampyres / Spoils and Relics / Ali Robertson & Joyce Whitfield. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 23/07/17

  • NAUT 02# SMUT. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 13/05/17

  • NAUT 03# Watts / Fells / Church Burner. Live at Soundroom Gateshead 30/06/17

  • NAUT 04 # (Limited Edition Band Members Only) Church Burner.  30/06/17

  • NAUT 05# Trevor Wren / Proboscis / Eigengrau. Live at the Little Buildings, Byker 15/07/17 (Ed – Dave notes – quality of recordings compromised by tape recorder malfunctions)

  • NAUT 06# Sippy Cup / Ant Macari & Posset / Acrid Lactations. Live at The Old Police House 30/07/17

  • NAUT 07# Damo Suzuki’s Network. Live at Cluny2 04/08/17

  • NAUT 08# Louie Rice & Luciano Maggiore / Pinnel / Rust Ruus. Live at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead. 12/08/17


OK…that’s the infomercial.  What do the damn tapes sound like?

NAUT 01. Captures the dark shudder of brb>voicecoil and Vampyres in grim fidelity.  The boiling leaves a grey scum shot through with diamond streaks.  On the other side of the equation Ali Robertson & Joyce Whitfield gabber like geese in an old-timey hairdressers (the ones with huge machines you put your delicate head in).  Spoils and Relics fashioned their gruff-pumps through wires to hiss like an old factory of dreams. They are the equals sign, the fulcrum that balances a perfect evening.

life hacks

NAUT 06. Acrid Lactations swirl a hand round the gene pool and pick out several chromosome-jamz. Both skitter-dry and tape deep –the  first recording of the tiny AL with powerful lung!  Dullard Posset and real-live artist Ant Macari continue their world domination thru corporate hypnosis and evil vibes (spoken word).  The wonderful Sippy Cup (Drenching/Armitage) are as jazz as they come; each hand grabs an implement and drains it of sound-juice with expert timing.  Total clutter core!

NAUT 08. Rust Ruus presents his piece for solo snare drum, tapes and steel butter dish – KLAKA, KLACKA, KLACKA energy!  Pinnel loops soft voice and mouth pops on her Black & Decker Workmate. The crowd went wild after their vacation in these gentle hisses and slips.  The most Eno!  Rice & Maggiore are dressed in black and vibe out the audience with their regal focus and concentration.  Performance for modular synth, puckered lips, red hands and two sets of big stamping boots.  An outstanding show of control and timing.  Don’t believe me?  Order the damn tape yeah!

There’s no website comrades so please send questions, requests, stamps and good karma to :


Teatowels- We are the Deadness (Beartown Records & Tapes) Cassette

As the gardener must prune their prize roses with regular surgical snips the musician must occasionally take a hatchet to their craft.  Slicing out overused approaches, chopping back any excesses and burning the lazy ideas to truly grow.

The Teatowels have cut and cut and cut until all is left is one guitar/one drum/one voice. Even the idea of a song is sliced and diced in a semi-improvised blur. Sure, some pieces on this extraordinary tape are recognisable ‘songs’ (track 6) but others are fumbles, sketches and essences that make this like a long-lost practice tape found in the bottom of a shoebox.

The rehearsal room ambience is thick with amp fug and ideas blooming in the moment. It’s a secret shared in hot breathy gasps.  The shamanic use of repetition and lowest of all known ‘fi’s’ becomes a grey carnation shuddering in an autumn storm.

If you’re looking for less botanical references the mumbled vocal, spindly guitar and boxy drums take me back to the woollen-scratchy and indistinct world when the Dead C and The Fall and Sonic Youth had a lot more in common and seemed to answer a three-way conversation back and forth across the international freak-rock underground.

And like all three examples above the process of recording became part of the signature sound: cheap studios, busted amps and exhausting schedules gave this music a patina of sleep-deprived itchiness, a splitter van’s claustrophobia.

Teatowels have built this up into an impressive whirl where things abruptly jump-cut between half-remembered jams, free-rock (track 2), drum-led moaning (track 3 ) and more realised explorations.  A deft finger on the pause button (track 7) makes some of the more hectic jamz blur with distinctive tape smear and is the perfect hot sauce on this tasty wiener.

The closer (track 8) is a lengthy nine minutes and boils all these approaches into a thin gruel applied in erratic brush strokes over the bones of the type of speaking –song-dramatic-build that Slint favour.

But instead of the Louisville drama we get an unrelenting British chug – all tension and no release; drizzle sizzling forever on the vinyl roof of a Ford Cortina.

brb>voicecoil,  Teatowels are playing TUSK festival 13th – 15th October. 


Muza Muza Bandcamp

Beartown Records


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