Tags: bells hill, midwich, scott mckeating
midwich – blisterpack (3″ CD-r, Bells Hill, BH 012, edition of 50 or download)
Yes, yes, I know there is an unwritten rule that nowadays radiofreemidwich does not cover the work of its contributors or editor (a great shame as we are a pride of geniuses but, y’know, ‘integrity’ and all that) HOWEVER a new midwich ‘side’ is a rare occurrence and no money is being requested so: fuck it let’s go…
Your tireless editor is proud to announce the release of blisterpack by midwich on Scott McKeating’s Bells Hill label. In a development that might raise eyebrows amongst long-term midwich watchers this, err…, ‘mini-album’ comprises 12 tracks totalling a mere 18 minutes. There is a little of the drone I am usually associated with but, in the main, this is a collection of fun, spiky sketches in the mode of the short interludes you’d often find on earlier midwich recordings. Scott requested short tracks and it is an aspect of midwich I really enjoyed returning to. I’ve joked that this is my punk album but it is more like a ‘loops and breaks’ type thing, I guess. If any of you out there do remixes, create radio jingles or whatnot then feel free to use it for that purpose. Hope you dig it.
There is a Bandcamp link below but Scott also created 50 copies of this on 3″ CD-r and got Lee ‘Culver’ Stokoe to design some cover art (which is free of his usual prurience – see above). As we are both true, hardcore, no-audience underground 4EVA these physical objects are not for sale, instead they are offered up as gifts or in trade. If you’d like one get in touch with me or Scott (try @scottmckeating).
Tags: alexander roberts, benway, cruel nature records, deceiver, drone, fuckin' amateurs, h.p. lovecraft, human beard records, improv, john kerny, joseph curwen, matt goodrich, new music, no audience underground, noise, scott mckeating, steve savage, tapes
Joseph Curwen – From Beyond (tape, Cruel Nature Records, CN008, edition of 30 or download)
Benway – Surfs Up (tape, Fuckin’ Amateurs, Fa 79, limited edition)
Deceiver – Tour 2013 (3” CD-r, Human Beard Records, limited edition)
Dictated via whisper-ma-phone from his undersea lair, Scott McKeating – RFM’s mysterious third voice – opines thus:
Joseph Curwen – From Beyond
My initial thought on the way that this tape’s opener, ‘From Beyond (Part One)’, begins is that it might actually make a great intro for an industrial metal song – its stasis drone crawl could well portend some epic pounder setting the goth club dance floor alight. However, Joseph Curwen (aka Newcastle resident, Alexander Roberts) is drone through and through thus no easy catharsis here. Instead the track fills the mind with a drowned church stillness, the silt disturbed by a loping pattern of notes, a mouldering noise toying with melody. ‘From Beyond (Part Two)’ is another low-visibility water piece, currents pushing the tones a little higher up the scale this time. It’s the most markedly Lovecraftian of the tracks: a distant but approaching din hints at chaos crawling through the deadening ambient fug.
The three parts – two short, one long – that comprise Side B are a little less inspiring. The relative lightness is not unwelcome following Side A’s murky grey but allows the listener’s attention to wander to the less cosmic chaos of everyday reality. Whilst the initial tracks have the hypnotizing creepiness of a time-lapse film of verdigris creeping across a forgotten bronze statue, this second side allowed me the headspace to worry about the car’s MOT.
A word about the cover art which is surprisingly ‘new agey’ given the content. I presume it is meant to depict the ultraviolet alternate reality revealed by the occult machinery in Lovecraft’s short story. Unfortunately, what it reminded me of was the opening scenes of that steaming-curled-dog-egg Prometheus.
Benway – Surfs Up
After all that droning sometimes it’s good to get your head kicked in by a bit of noiserocknroll. Here’s Martin of Fuckin’ Amateurs fame to set the scene:
Benway was the group put together by Steve Savage aka Steve The Goon aka Steve Pierce the week after I interviewed him for a forthcoming the punk book. He was in Dementia Praecox and a local character at the time. After the interview he mentioned getting a band together so I introduced him to some mates.
Benway (presumably named for Burroughs’s dubious doctor) is the sound of the assembled players orbiting the very aptly named Savage’s scuzzily serrated guitar. There are various jams available on cassette with a revolving line-up of players like Wrest, One Wobbly Egg, Noisebastard / Noisebear / Mark and our very own Posset who backed and enveloped Steve in venues like the legendary Morden Tower (R.I.P., alas).
The main track on Side A of this one is a great howling thing. A loose feedback fouls everything (even the poorly recorded radio forecast attempting to butt its way in) mixing up a sonic morass. Riffs are ragged chugs, pounded on an anvil as bass turns steely cold. This piece is a one instrument show with a band sound; the Moe-Tucker/krautrock rhythm of Jamie’s drums is the next loudest thing but still a flickering match in the pitch black train tunnel of guitar. Of course, it’s a Fuckin’ Amateurs release so there’s the ubiquitous dicto-surveilled audience chat and, as a bonus, Side A also offers some solo drum work (not a drum solo) from Wrest.
Side B is a different thing altogether, Savage offers up four tracks of reverb friendly instrumental and crystal-tipped electric guitar work. Melodic and reminiscent of Robby Krieger’s playing on ‘The End’ (something another punter also mentions in the recorded chatter after the show), it’s a good counterpart to Side A’s roughness.
Deceiver – Tour 2013
Having already berated Matt Goodrich, Human Beard Records label boss, for not giving this disc a catalogue number, there’s little point in me grumbling on RFM about it too [Editor’s note – yes, if you weren’t already locked in the cellar, I’d lock you in the cellar for excessive nerdiness]. Anyway, when not thwarting my Discogs obsession, Matt is a member of the mighty powerviolence band Water Torture and is also the fellow behind the noise project Deceiver, now based in Rochester, NY.
Deceiver do a great line in fierce, boiling noise, in lo-fi audio recordings of disintegrating city scapes. Bass is used to underline certain passages, but Tour 2013’s single ten minute track is formed mainly from layers fading in then being disintegrated by the knotted razor-wire sound. The track could be digitally sourced, but as it moves organically – clouds of scuffed metal consume each other – I prefer to imagine a string of effects pedals, each throttling the next in a macabre, red-faced, eye-bulging daisy chain. There are hardcore vocals here too, courtesy of noisemaker John Kerny (aka Dead Weight) who red-raws his throat by screaming like a wrong ‘un at someone/something. Absolutely no idea what’s he’s saying, but it’s clear that he’s pissed off.
Tags: drone, matthew bower, michael flower, nashazphone, neil campbell, new music, no audience underground, noise, psychedelia, rural electrification program, scott mckeating, sunroof!, vinyl
Sunroof! – Rock Power (vinyl LP, Nashazphone, np-13, edition of 500)
(Editor’s note: emerging from his undersea lair for just long enough to hand me a brass tube containing the manuscript of the below, Scott McKeating – RFM’s mysterious third voice – returns to an old obsession. Over to Scott…)
Having been lost in a wilderness of real life, I’d like to offer up a long overdue rumination on a recentish rerelease of Sunroof!’s Rock Power. Originally a European tour CD-r from way back in 2003 via the Rural Electrification Program label, it is now available on the inconvenient as fuck format known as vinyl. Egyptian label Nashazphone have provided the opportunity to support Sunroof! (in)directly rather than tussle with the ebay/discogs crowd.
Those that can recall the distant past of RFM will perhaps remember my devotee status at the altar of all things Bower and Sunroof! has always been one of his more eclectic variations. Sometimes studio solo, other times bolstered by ‘members’ like Neil Campbell (more of whom later) or Jazzfinger’s Has Gaylani and Ben Jones, this has often been the project that the man turns to when he’s of a mind to use a (relatively) brighter palette.
These seven untitled live tracks, in collaboration with Vibracathedral Orchestra’s Mick Flower and using loopage supplied pre-tour by Neil Campbell, feature far less emphasis on the blackened, crushing, coruscating whiteout of senses familiar from his other work but they still surprise – perhaps even subverting the usual template for a Sunroof! record.
It begins with a basic rock riff, something from a lo-fi garage jam, but there’s Bower filigree around it. Feedback like Martian vines snake in, around and through the (again: relatively) comprehensible sound of electric guitar. Imagine an elastic fingered Crazy Horse with Young’s solos played through a live socket dowsed in blade-sharp bleach, piss and vinegar. With Flower on guitar, Bower is (we presume) assaulting his own set of strings, along with masking taped keys and various pedals, tempering them into a feedback assault. The programmed patterns and more familiar electronic drones throughout have been identified by Neil Campbell as featuring some of his own loopy contributions.
‘2’ leaps back into more familiar Sunroof! territory, concentrating on the flutter-by bleeps and squelching E-rushes that open out in other weirder, wider melodic arteries. Train rhythms cast from the outpourings of fried mind synths provide grounding for the track, whilst around it wrangled knots of guitar are lassoed and channelled into rivulets of burbling notes and soft battery splutters. While Rock Power has plenty of evolving/revolving tripped sounds and fried guitar moments, it can still throw an oddball. There’s the glam break beat riff of ‘5’ giving the record the feel of gnarly stasis stomper, locked in a dusty record groove. Or the shiny VU chime of guitars on ‘6’ that are cut into ribbons by the high frequency furious scratch of metal filaments.
So, this is a Sunroof! record that features sounds that are as close to ‘rock music’ as any used by Bower before. Don’t fret though: under the muscled, cyclical riffs the album’s guts are still churning noise and intestinal loops.
(Editor’s final note: what’s that popping noise? My beautiful Turkish manservant appears to be opening a bottle of champagne! What’s the occasion? Radio Free Midwich’s 400th post?! Well, I never! Chin, chin!)
Tags: joe murray, scott mckeating, shameless self-congratulation, the shape of blogs to come
Status report: despite the number of people interested in this stuff being statistically indistinguishable from zero, the micro-climate that this blog reports on could not be sunnier. RFM’s lifetime hit count sits at 72,000, increasing at a rate of 2-3000 a month. The ‘to review’ list is over fifty items deep and a shaming *ahem* ‘several’ months long. It is very exciting, if a bit daunting. Evidence that we are living in a golden age for experimental music is literally piling up around me.
I’m delighted to say that our own endeavours have been proving as welcome as a full English breakfast the morning after a day’s yomp too.
Joe Murray’s recent mid-life crisis tour was a blast and his numerous releases as Posset fizz exuberantly in the catalogues of discerning and forward-thinking microlabels everywhere. Not only that but he is now broadcasting alongside Hasan Gaylani (of Jazzfinger and Popular Radiation) on the lovely Basic FM. Check that out.
Scott ‘Gru’ McKeating has been quiet of late, true, but he is no doubt hatching an evil plan to harness obsessive Matthew Bower fandom for despicable purposes. In the meantime, why not catch up with everything he has released on the dormant-but-smoking Bells Hill and its digital counterpart. Then treat yourself to the unique doomphonics of Black Leather Cop, his duo collaboration with Joe.
My releases this year as midwich have attracted some humbling praise and a couple have sold out their small runs as physical objects. An uncharacteristic modesty forbids me from saying more. Anyway, a piece composed for Joe’s radio show is in its larval stage and a gig at the far end of the year beckons. The Barrel Nut #10 has been compiled and copied and awaits folding and distributing. Contributions to fill numbers #11 and #12 are in hand.
Enormous fun, eh? Indeed. However, seasoned readers are probably expecting a ‘but’. How perceptive of them, here it is:
But… three aspects of ‘real’ life need to be accounted for and will lead to some tweaking of current procedure.
Firstly, home life and parenthood are both terrific but the boy is in a highly mobile developmental stage, needing hawk-like attention on a near-constant basis. It is surprising just how many lethal objects and substances we keep at a knee high level in the house, is it not? And why does bleach come in such brightly coloured and attractive bottles?
Secondly, work life has stepped up several gears. I work in undergraduate university admissions and the exam results and visa application seasons are well under way. This will last until the end of September.
Third and finally, sensing that I am vulnerable my illness has positioned itself on my back wheel and is glaring at me whenever I look over my shoulder. ‘You hate yourself’, the part of my brain that wants to sabotage the rest repeatedly shouts, ‘you want to die’. This tactic is a ridiculous blunt instrument and can usually be swatted aside with the counter-thought: ‘fuck off, I’m universally loved due to being awesome.’ However, sometimes the endless, grinding repetition of the same ugly thought is enough to provoke a weary moment of doubt, even assent.
In summary then: I have very little spare time and that which I do grab is usually spent hallucinating with tiredness and/or batting off the inner demons.
So, what to do? I’d hate for anything as magical and life-affirming as the work I put into music and this blog to become a chore, or something to stress about, so some reining in has to be done. Nothing yells ‘time management’ like an alpha list bullet points:
a) Firstly some apologies: I applaud the patience of those who have submitted material for review and I am afraid that I have to ask for more. Likewise, my email correspondents will have to put up with tardy and short replies for at least a couple of months. Soz.
b) There may have to be a discrete cull of the material that has piled up. I’ve sounded out my comrades about taking some of this stuff on themselves but they have their own commitments and I don’t really want to staunch Joe’s flow as he is doing a bang-up job covering the kinetic poetry/vocal improv beat that mainly leaves your editor befuddled.
c) I will no longer be mentioning zines or the printed word (at least until the backlog is cleared) focussing on recorded music (almost) exclusively. Thus my apologies to Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon, the final issues of which arrived at Midwich Mansions this week. May I call your attention to Uncle Mark’s write-up here instead? Likewise Noness: for thinking people beyond the pale which is a fascinating read and was kind enough to mention The Barrel Nut in passing. Fans of Ceramic Hobs, Lobster magazine and the like will find much of interest, I’m sure, and it is notable for being one of very few fanzines I’ve seen to feature extensive footnotes. It’s mother blog, Nobody’s Business is worth regular visits.
d) Some changes in submission guidelines shall be made to streamline matters. If your release is download only, feel free to send the download link (with a code to dodge payment if applicable). If your release is download and a physical object, again download link (and code if needed) is fine. If your release is physical object only then best to send the physical object. If for reasons of efficiency or poverty you would prefer to sneak me a download then please include a scan of the cover I can use. I’d prefer you not to send wav files as my walkman is fussy about playing them. Likewise, I will only use dropbox under duress because, for technical reasons, I fucking hate it. Preferred methods of getting files to me are via Bandcamp or good quality mp3 files sent via WeTransfer.
e) Adopting a time-management strategy I’ve used before, I may publish more short and group reviews and some more ‘first impressions’ type stuff. Don’t worry – it will be properly thought out and based on the same close listening as ever, just not as meandering. I suspect a bit of discipline might be good for me anyway. I may even crack out some no-audience haiku again, especially for those blog-faves who have been heavily reviewed already. Here’s the first:
Dan, Kev, Lee, Miguel:
these seventeen syllables
may be all you get…
Snigger. OK, onwards! Slowly! Next up: The Barrel Nut #10, soon: The Piss Superstition on fencing flatworm recordings, after: loads of reviews of heart-stoppingly beautiful, rapture-inducing noise wonders.
Love to you all,