acting sane: panic dispelled by técieu, prolonged version, troy schafer and foldhead

January 29, 2015 at 11:59 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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técieu – Miłość EP (3” CD-r, fyh!records, edition of 44 or download)

Prolonged Version – All watched over by machines with neurotic disorders (CD-r or download, thejunkyardprocession)

Troy Schafer – Untitled No. 1 (7″ single, Signal Dreams, edition of 300 or download)

foldhead – for William Burroughs (download, zanntone)

técieu - Miłość

Throughout January I have been enduring a near-constant state of panic with fluctuating levels of intensity. During the holiday period I made the grave error of relaxing and my depression, seeing a soft (and substantial) underbelly exposed, decided to have a right good poke. There are physical symptoms: queasiness, light head, short breath but the really exhausting aspect is the constant inner repetition of three phrases: ‘I hate myself’, ‘when will this end?’ and ‘how will I cope?’. Like lampreys, these parasitic notions suck onto any thought or action no matter how sleek or fast moving it may be. In summary: depression is insisting that nothing matters, panic is screaming that everything matters and my sane middle, increasingly squeezed, sighs:

Will the pair of you just FUCK OFF.

Ugh. I mention it for two reasons. Firstly, talking about it robs it of (some of) its power – it withdraws its feeding tube like a blood-engorged tick touched with the tip of a lit cigarette.  Secondly, this is part of a deliberate ‘no platform’ policy adopted to deny my illness the head-space it needs to operate.  Trading blows with these thoughts rarely works – the panic loves a pagga as it puts me in a state susceptible to self-loathing.  Instead, I’m learning that a sharper tactic is to crowd it out by accentuating the positive, by ‘counting my blessings’, by consciously attending to things that I know that I would enjoy when healthy.  I am, in a sense, acting sane in order to counter what stops me from really being sane.  Head spinning thought, eh?  These are the games I have to play sometimes.  It is very, very tiring.

The plus side, however, is that a consequence of trying to do things that I can be proud of and enjoy is that I occasionally actually do things that I can be proud of and enjoy.  Here is where I have to thank music and its attendant distractions – yet again – for being such a restorative tonic.  For example: the ‘hiring’ of RFM’s new writers was a joyful experience and, in its own humble way, politically positive.  The practical upshot was that I was then able to farm out half of the review pile to my extended crew.  This allowed me to listen to those recordings purely as a fan rather than as a, *ahem*, ‘writer’ and the experience has been so refreshing that I return to my own review ‘work’ invigorated.

In that spirit I now offer a bunch of short reviews of exceptional and entertaining work that was brought to my attention last year but has only been properly digested in the last month or so.  My apologies to the artists for unconscionable delays.  Better crack on, eh?


técieu – Miłość EP

técieu is the solo project of Polish lawyer, journalist, musician and gig promoter Tekla Mrozowicka.  Miłość, which means ‘Love’ in English, is a 3″ CD-r or download from Polish label fyh!records comprising three tracks and totalling something over 15 minutes.

Despite apparently being created with nothing but software these three tracks have the rasp and roar of North East noise/drone and carry a substantial emotional heft.  Indeed, grounding the fuzz and static in (what I perceive to be) synth line foundations lends a cinematic scope whilst short running times and attention to detail suggest admirable discipline.

This is nuance and restraint blown up to Imax scale.  This is the inner conflict suggested by the flicker of a telling glance.  This is the thousands of tons of rock and dirt implied by the thin stream of dust falling from a crack in the ceiling of the mine.  When the throttle finally opens on the short last track the catharsis found in the squall is entirely earned and is deeply satisfying.

I recommend this very highly and fyh!records fully deserve your support – Piotr runs the outfit with soul, enthusiasm and an attitude that is bang-on.

prolonged version

Prolonged Version – All watched over by machines with neurotic disorders

One of four CD-rs in hand-made packaging that were hand-delivered by Karl Whiting of thejunkyardprocession – Leeds based label, zine publisher and gig promoter. Who doesn’t love the personal touch, eh? The album comprises four tracks and lasts about an hour in total.

What you get is a series of grinding, mechanical rhythms and arcing, shorting electronics that work to obliterate conscious thought by submerging it in sump oil. Processes vibrate free of their moorings and pulse with unreadable alien purpose. Listening is a duck/rabbit experience, a flickering gestalt switch: ecstatic ego-dissolving delirium / drowning panic. I realise this review is short but I don’t feel the need to overembelish this one: I found it remarkable. The closest comparison I can make is to the unmusic of the piss superstition which is, of course, high praise.

troy schafer - untitled

Troy Schafer – Untitled No. 1

Two tracks, totalling 11 minutes, to be found on various colours of 7″ vinyl or as a download for those thinking of moving house soon and despairing at the number of physical objects underfoot.

Side A is six minutes apparently culled from 36 hours of recording and I can only marvel at this superhuman feat of editorial rigour. In the circumstances you might expect a cartoonish strobing of splinter cuts but nope, instead you get drama, depth and invention with room for transitional flourishes and even the odd moment of near silence. Highlights include: scribbled violin interpreting a shredded Berhard Herrmann score, the groaning of a Lovecraftian Old One woken by volcanic activity raising its sunken city, dawn in a SF dystopia as directed by John Carpenter and a genuinely moving threnody for strings and junkyard scramble which builds to an ego-piercing, liquid silver climax.

Side B is a mournful performance by a lovelorn suitor on an unwieldy metal instrument he’s dragged into place under the balcony of his disinterested Juliet. As he bows, scrapes and rattles she is nowhere to be seen. For the final minute we cut to inside her apartment and find her attention darting between every screened device and radio in the place – all barking reports on an unprecedented electromagnetic storm engulfing more and more of the planet until…

I’ve listened to this a dozen times at least and feel there are still corners to poke into, densities to unravel. In some alternate universe this is the perfect pop single.

foldead - fwb

foldhead – for William Burroughs

Picture me as a 10 ten year old rummaging in a box on a market stall labelled ‘Science Fiction 20p’ and picking out a copy of The Naked Lunch that was nestled amongst the Asimovs and Bradburys.

What about this, Dad?

…I asked. My Dad – a librarian and well aware of its contents – chuckled and replied:

Better ask your Mum if you should read that one.

I didn’t, of course, and as soon as backs were turned I handed over my pocket money. Thus Burroughs, alongside albums like Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret – which my long-suffering Mum bought for me well before I knew what the word ‘erotic’ really meant – and the B(DSM)-sides of Adam and the Ants singles (‘Beat My Guest‘ etc.) introduced me to some ‘interesting’ aspects of the adult world. Explains a lot, eh?

Anyway, years later I finally heard Burroughs’s voice and everything fell into place – its dry crackle lighting a forest fire in my head. For many readers of radiofreemidwich it must be one of the most recognisable sounds of the Twentieth Century. Thus when I saw that Paul Walsh had used this unique source in a foldhead recording I was intrigued. The result is something of a shock, however, as it contains not a syllable of recognizable speech. Paul has instead dragged a snippet (I like to think it is one word – ‘sphincter’ maybe) through various patches and filters until what remains is a 23 (of course) minute long unnerving, dronetronic landscape of snow drifts shifted and reshaped by the wind. Perhaps this is what it feels like to overdose on mugwump jizz, metabolism slowing to an irreversible stop. On one listen I got so deep into this that I nearly walked under a car.  What more do I need to say?



Signal Dreams

fyh! records


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