insistent as history: rfm on dale cornish, yol, anorak

May 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dale Cornish – Aqal (Entr’acte)

Yol – Always Leave Them Wanting Less (Self Release/Bandcamp)

Yol – Cancelled Chicken Regatta (Self Release/Bandcamp)

Anorak – If they are OK, then it’s you / The Hum (Self Release/Soundcloud)

dale cornish

Dale Cornish – Aqal  (Entr’acte) CD and digital album

DC’s most recent works have documented the careful unravelling of structure and asked important questions of placement.  Why does that have to go there?  What happens when tension flows backwards into release?  When is too little too much?

And while these territorial grids are remapped the basic building blocks of sound have not been left un-considered.  Sparse blocks are modelled in plastic forms that flow like warm liquid; components are tweaked tightly or merged into unholy couplings.

And yet it all makes perfect sense. There’s nothing in this world that doesn’t sound as if it’s not in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

OK – that’s enough of the history lesson.  What about this modest disc eh?  On first listen Aqal is by far the most rhythmic session I’ve heard from Dale’s laboratory.  But repeated excavations suggest the whole idea of time is under the microscope here.

The inner sense of timing seems to resonate like a struck bell through each ‘Aqal Pattern’, lulling a lazy reviewer like me through a gradually decreasing sense of control.  The seconds stretch into minutes and that internal body clock (the nodding head, the tapping toe) that metronome our life gets reset on each and every intervention.

My notebook is full of sloping scribbles.

“(AP#1) Full, full, surprisingly full, saucily placed submarine pings and crisp machine-logic handclaps. Get them oars in sync! (AP#2) Ear-cuppingly intimate, a conversation between bass-crustacean, measured in bright bubbles and underwater static (if such a thing is possible). (AP#3 )Brutal dull thumps on slack flesh – a shotgun discharged – cartridges full of indigo snowflakes. (AP#4 )Tubular bells wrapped in downers and sticky bacon –Like something on the Philips label, catalogue number  4FE 8503 (1967).

(AP#5) Shuddering, soaked to the skin, a slow slipping away – drowning in an inch of water/or/ positive athleticism, chrome-plated hurdler, effortless leaping.”

You get the gist.

The final three patterns really seem to shrug themselves free of all that has gone before to emerge unblinking into a brave new world of un-time.  So…Aqal Pattern 6 introduces a succulent throb, a pulse without thought, generating waves like a stone lobbed into a lake.

Aqal Pattern 7 lopes in a graceful ellipse occasionally hurling ballast from the basket to rise ever higher.  Closer, the Aqal Pattern 8 steals a dream from Milt Jackson and replays it through unreliable nylon and bronze pipes: a slow and steady manifesto.

Are you ready for a new platform? Time 2.0?

Editors Note: If you’re tickled you’ve got to move quick.  The Entr’acte CD sold out at source – at time of posting only 7 left on Dale’s bandcamp.

yol wanting less

Yol – Always Leave Them Wanting Less (Self Release) recycled cassette and free digital album

Two exceptional 2016 live sets from Yol on this (now sold out) back-to-basics, DIY to the core, tape.

Picking Grit is a tight 11 minutes where vocal repetition ratchets up the urban hysteria to new levels of swivel-eyed tension.

I suspect Yol is using his patented, homemade ‘modual synth’ here.  Created from an aluminium mess tin, bowed yogurt pot and a viciously deployed metal fork it keeps the sound-movements smaller and friction, rather than gravity, focused.

More rubbing / less dropping.

The relatively sparse instrumentation is itchily uncomfortable and claustrophobic.  Couple this with the caustic word-pictures being painted and it’s no wonder the crowd are reverentially quiet. Either that or they’re bloody terrified.


The jovial crowd chatter that opens ‘Hi Vis’ is soon silenced with a gentle pattering of wooden blocks and then one almighty blood-curdling scream from a fizzing Yol in fine voice.

The ‘modular-synth’ is left in its canvas tote bag in favour of the more orchestral bin lids and balti bowls giving this side a flatter, wider sound.  The vocal’s are positively deranged in subject matter and delivery ragging on a consumerist sheep-mentality that end with us,

“sniffing marker pens and buying granite worktops.”

The ‘liveness’ just oozes out of this side with a clearly mobile Yol, stalking the venue as the audience mumble and gasp.  The carefully controlled mayhem, the steel toe-capped attack and shuddering decay sprints though the ten minute set.  But as the balti bowls are hurled about for one last time, and in the instant before the cheers begin, one set of booted feet swiftly exit stage left.  Their work cleanly and precisely done.


yol chicken

 Yol – Cancelled Chicken Regatta (Self Release) non-physical download witchcraft

Like Miles and Dylan before him – Yol goes electric!

But no fucker dare shout “Judas” you dig?

Heavily amplified percussion and feedback that’s only just held back from a total war situation colour this download-only non-physical release.

The dull ‘klongs’ and harmonic swoops of feedback melt into an abstract/urban diatribe, a kinetic poem as the recording seems to collapse and implode before your ears.  Yol mentions Gustav Metzger’s self-cancellation concept in the notes and of course he’s nailing this exactly between the eyes.

So the question must be asked.  Has any of this mysterious percussion instrument* survived the performance?  Will my ears ever be the same again?  And of course…who throws bags of dog shit up into a tree?

As ever Yol leaves us all with another bundle of awkward questions to contemplate as the world around us crumbles.

Angriest?  Oh yes – very much the angriest.

*And what exactly is this percussive noise maker?  As the track progresses I’ve moved away from my initial idea of an amplified ice-cream carton (2 litre of supermarket vanilla), to a bubble-wrapped baseball bat being thumped with increasing force against a circa 1985 smoked-glass coffee table (chrome frame still sparkling).  Am I right?  Does it matter?


Anorak – If they are OK, then it’s you / The Hum (No label/Soundcloud) streamed digital album

Anorak is the perfectly buttoned-up moniker for one dazzling Noah Roth.

Fans of solo guitar + (and more of that ‘+’ later) will totally goof on these plucky tunes that sweep down the heart-tugging chord progressions John Fahey used to such great effect.

What I’m saying is there’s a melancholy built into the DNA of the songs that adds an authentic dustbowl twang, a thirsty longing glance between the acoustic notes and noise interjections.

This Soundcloud stream is made up of two 10 minute songs. ‘ If They Are OK, Then It’s You’ cranks up like some vintage Jim O’Rourke outtake with pure electronic waves playing alongside a steel-string acoustic guitar exploring hillbilly tunings and tumbling over itself in an attempt to stand up straight.

Of course this haste and mess is a ruse to set you up for a cascading waterfall of descending cadenzas played in the delicate style of one Cian Nugent or Tom Scott until the whole thing slips beneath the digital waves.

The real gem is saved for last, ‘The Hum’ a clear stream of harmonic pings and rich-fingered plucking, as insistent as history, guides the listener into a Ed Crawford-style circular riff.  And damn! The story-telling, personal and ever-so slightly abstract, strikes such a fIREHOSE memory-gong I’m transported back to my teenage years: lovelorn and awkward in a single note.

But of course beautiful playing needs some ugliness to react against and the ending minutes – a computer-crashing crescendo, cleverly underlines the nine minutes of prettiness you have just enjoyed.

It’s a wonderful thing readers.

Dale Cornish Aqal

Yol Bandcamp

Anorak Soundcloud


leery sludge grunt: luke vollar on aqua dentata, cold sore/ libbe matz gang, infernal body and scott mckeating on skullflower

March 31, 2017 at 6:01 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Aqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press)

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading)

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records)

Skullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (Bandcamp Self Release)


AquadentataAqua Dentata – Before the Bearded Overflow (Tor Press) CD-R

RFM house favourite, Aqua Dentata returns (well returned last year) with a collection of five untitled pieces that gleam like pebbles on the beach, made smooth by unknown excursions.

A brief soothing hum on the first track carries us elegantly into the meatier fullness of the second track.  Duncan Harrison’s clarinet-gravy provides a delectable jus to the already rich stew of synth-violin and zither.  A nourishing entrée that had your reviewer slack-jawed on the sofa – fast asleep – RFM’s drowsiest writer baby.

Track 3 takes Nigel Tufnel’s ‘simple lines intertwining’ into inner space as hovering robot fireflies bounce around a single blue light in infinite confusion – creepy right?

Track 4 is a prism of light, picking up the dust floating in the air or a music box played backwards through a stained glass window to no-one. I can’t decide which!

Track 5 is the longest; a slow mutating ‘whub’ of blunted tone-smoke to rattle your fillings. A sinister vessel rotates slowly downwards into uncharted depths and shifting arcs of colour and light. The clarinet returns bugle-like as the vessel sinks out of sight.

To summarise –  ‘Oopht.’


libbe matz

Cold Sore/ Libbe Matz Gang – (0+0=0) (Libertatia Overseas Trading) C30 cassette

Themed around the medical treatment of juvenile delinquents these two artists share a side each on this gnarly tape, presenting some dark electronic meditations on sinister control and repression mechanisms through medication.

The only vocals evident are disturbingly delayed speech lifted from instructional tapes (?) discussing amongst other things Largactyl or Chlorpromazine – anti-psychotic medication with the ability to flatten and pacify with some unpleasant side effects: drooling stiffness and involuntary movements, commonly used to treat psychosis it was / is used in prisons to control aggression.

Libbe Matz Gang’s, ‘Under the Chemical Cosh’ makes explicit its theme as a bruised and persistent sustained tone deviates into the spiked and poisonous sting of a scorpion, crackling with ill intent.

We have moved from the cold-sweat-dread of a general anaesthetic administered by faceless medics with dead eyes and ended up at the wrong end of a sterile corridor in a Dead Ringers style body horror. The high-pitched whine that closes the storm is what you hear as the anaesthetic wears off – you wake alone in surgical gown, slowly sitting up to take-in your grotesquely transformed reflection.

Cold Sore’s track is a grey and eerie bombed-out fug of barbiturate hangover. ‘The Significance of Nothing’ limps into existence as a drowned air-raid alarm sounds forlornly while an impassive female voice rises from the murk, looping in sad resignation.

While the Libbe Matz Gang track seems to represent the panic and terror of a young person in over their head, no longer in control of their actions, the Cold Sore track is the cold sedation of a forced intramuscular injection.  Like being dropped into a restless sleep from which you may never wake.

You are alone, you don’t know where you are, who these people are or what they want.


infernal body

Infernal Body – Barren Land (Caligari Records) Tape

It was a gig at the Leeds Mecca of all No-Audience activity, Wharf Chambers, that I happened across Infernal Body, placed on the bill amongst some familiar names on these pages.

My curiosity had been roused as a pal mentioned they were a Black Metal band and as they took to the stage my black-heart began to sing a little. While not immediately identifiable as an unholy horde, with short hair and sensible jumpers and shirts, they conjured a very satisfying jagged and bitter Black Metal Punk fury.

The singer’s look of utter disgust as he prowled back and forth hawking up a tirade of indecipherable invective flanked by a blast of pounding negative energy had the cold brittle attack of early Darkthrone with episodes of leery sludge grunt.

Of course I picked up their tape, ‘Barren Land’ at the end of the night – feeling its icy grip in my pocket on the bus home felt reeeal good.

The format and less-than-perfect production lends itself to the kvlt vibe. A doomy, ‘Retempered Only in Blood’ sets a distinctly uneasy tone with the ghoulish vocals focusing on loneliness, isolation and self harm (a handy lyric sheet is included) as the rest of the group offer a graveyard ambience of sparse dread before lurching into the punkish ‘Red Impressions’.

There is enough dynamic and variation on offer to prevent it ever slipping into cliché or a tired rehashing of the greats. Indeed the fact that it was recorded in my old stomping ground Armley, a less than salubrious suburb of Leeds makes sense; the grim concrete inner-city smog coming through the pores of the songs like sweat.

I give dark hails to these gents and I hope to hear more work from them soon.


skullflowerSkullflower – Bayou Perfume Advert (self released – digital download)

Readers out there who don’t follow Matthew Bower’s every move (I mean, for fks sake…c’mon), may  be unaware that he and Samantha Davies are now pretty steadily hammering out the Skullflower / Voltigeurs /Black Sunroof releases via their bandcamp. Gone are the semi-regular CDR missives or black heraldic vinyl relics from the duo that would thankfully see a kind of blue-black bruised daylight through the lightning rod of Volcanic Tongue.

For something of a Skullflower cultist who has long mocked the fetishism of limited edition, fancy-ass physical releases, the lack of faith I’ve had in the duo’s increased digitalisation has been difficult to process. Their work has always been a thing of immersion, grandeur and time-transformative power.  And while I might end up listening to both, a ripped CD or a download, exactly the same way – on my phone – the fact one came from the physical world makes a kind of difference. In my addled reality the fact that it was once ‘solid’ means it has some sort of power over a download. Of course, all of this fancy format flapping is just another bullshit.

Spending time at Skullflower’s website and delving into their bandcamp release images, the ease with which they’ve settled into the use of this digital portal isn’t that surprising. If the images there are to be believed, the duo have constructed a world that merges totems, their own dragon obsessed art, bones, glyphs and their much loved familiars. It’s a world so clearly self-contained and idiosyncratic that the act of popping to Curry’s for some CDRs must seem like a transdimensional leap into the other.

Notwithstanding the ghastly title, Bayou Perfume Advert is a great waking whirl of guitar-bleeding that’s closer to gushing pitchshifted mechanics than fret board hysteria. There’s no reinvention of the wheel in this opening flow; it’s the instant launch of the abstract expanse – vistas revealed, minute details there for the taking.

If Davies and Bower have a trademark move it’s the swift draw-you-in –fade-up. Making the listener instantly Jonah to Skullflower’s whale/wail.  Marvel to the rattling grind of feedback and incense-detritus timbres, the Daddy-long-legs legs guitar lines. A gathering of loops without seams, of patterns that never had a start or finish in the first place, Bayou Perfume Advert is a fully formed thing that shifts like patterns of falling/fallen ash.

With a hallucinatory undertow of Astral Social Club / Sunroof!, the core elements of Bayou Perfume Advert are the free guitar sounds – the circling peregrine soloing. While there’s little clearly defined emotion in what Skullflower do, even when signposted by song titles, there’s definitely a living consciousness in this, more of a reach or a search without a goal.

Pared down to a snappy one liner: it’s a 27 minutes blast of blitzkrieg in stasis…elongated shards of. But how the duo make this sit consistently more entertaining than their peers remains a mystery.

Sure, it’s half an hour long, but it feels (in a good way) like it’s a abyssic gape of time, drawn out in wormhole  minutes. Vital – it’s alive and it draws (probably again for me) comparison to some great shifting wyrm.

Oubourous without end or beginning.


Tor Press

Libertatia Overseas Trading

Infernal Body

Skullflower Bandcamp


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