a crooner and a loomer, st valentine’s day special: joe murray on id m theft able

February 14, 2017 at 11:04 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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ID M THEFT ABLE – A Heart Named Spooky (Download from Skot’s profile on the OK Cupid Dating Site /or/ limited cassette available from (Mang Disc))

“Love! I can’t get enough of it” says that Jay-Z fella in Kanye’s Monster (2010) and I have a feeling that this THEFT ABLE, a similar giant of a man for sure, is of the same fluffy opinion.

He’s both crooner and loomer on ‘A Heart Named Spooky’, an album of piano-led ballads (yes really) released as a download on a genuine dating site – OK Cupid.

Gosh…that’s the facts ma’am.  But what about all this damn lovin’ and a kissin’?

Skot-ABLE’s world has always been fluid and this collection is as hard to pin down as cherry vape smoke.  It’s as diverse as love is broad so forgive me if I skip between warm hugs and a little gentle spanking.

The drift of ‘Blue and Yellow and Different Blue’ pitches a Burberry-soft voice over rolling piano, aching like Phil Collins always wanted you to.  ‘Faded Sign’ a lamentation on memory is exactly halfway to becoming a player-piano tune in a Western brothel but with the clipped diction of Human Head’s Ben Knight.

The pieces ‘My Clothes They Never Fit Right’ and ‘A Heart That’s Gasp GASPING for Blood’ could be the middle-sections from vintage THEFT ABLE jams with goof-goof-grub schlurps and snickers; super wet and inviting.  It’s stretching at the very limits of understanding and attention ya’hear!

A thin drone sets the tone for ABLE to practice his keening castrato over digital rubble making ‘I’ll Bet’ a bridge of a track.  The ideal entry point for THEFT-watchers I’d wager; but slippery?  You bet!

But it’s ‘A Bit of Trash, An Unspilled Flower’ that makes me mist-up and blub.  This is a truly handsome nonsense, as forgiving as true love and therefore as blind as a bat.  Each slurp and tinkle, each howl and arpeggio takes me make to a very, very specific stolen glance; an imperceptible nod from beneath sharp dark bangs that made my heart go ‘pop-pop-popeye’ back, way back, when I was loveable.  (Sigh!)

Things end on the very damn poignant ‘A Valentine Late’, one minute fifty eight seconds of pure piano, guff-less, and concentrating on fingers totally.  Beautiful anxiety.


ID M THEFT ABLE & Flandrew Fleisenberg – Paying $10/an Hour to Dig a Hole in Monroe (Bandcamp Download and cassette on Mang Disc)

With THEF_T on voice-moan, snap-judgments and sloppers only, a clear space is marked out for percussionist FLANDRE_W on collected steel detritus and novelty plastic beaters.  I’m listening out for a regular trap set but just keep getting these junk-mechanic flowcharts appearing before my eyes.  So be it.

From both gentlemen the watchword is reckless speed and demonic accuracy.  ‘Beats’ are dropped like clumsy spoons going all ‘schlang-schalng’ as they wobble comically to rest on their fat bellies.

Rosy-cheeked squawks rumble like a rusty tenor blowing Fela Kuti horn charts deep in The Shrine!  It’s a well-mixed match; a garment woven with care for sure but also a jittering confidence that puff-shoulders are making a dramatic comeback.

The pivotal track ‘My Life in a Bush of Ghosts. New Paltz. New York. 05.20.16’ made me really go ‘youk-youk’.  I imagine ENO and that Talking Heads guy spraffing on about psychedelic Africa while THEFT and FLAND almost take off at the 4.23 mark paying homage to the Yoruba spirits. The skies open wide and safari fumes vibrate of the land in game-y crescents.  For fans of the real here and now – don’t despair! This track is bookended with violent furniture-moving scrapes.

A student of DOUBLE DUTCH?  Check out ‘The Lodge, Chester, New York 05.21.16’ for helix-skipping rhythms and rhymes hymned perfecto!

In fact the energy doesn’t even begin to drop until the thoughtful, melancholic closer ‘553 Warren Street, New York 05.22.16’.  As benefits a final artistic statement it goes in heavy on the water-filled baking tray, mournful bell ring and asthmatic goose-honks.  Perfectly balanced…light and shade innit?

But…whatever the political climate it’s worth checking out IDM’s bottom drawer for any junk you might have missed.  You could do worse that HINT HINT, plant your feet on Babb’s Bridge, for example NUDGE NUDGE.

This communication ends baby!




Mang Disc

Theft Able Bandcamp


rolling gums, stiffening whiskers: joe murray on id m theft able

November 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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i’d m thfft able – Werther’s Original/Bruised Apple (tape, mangdisc, #69)

I’d m thfft able – BLOOD BLOOD / HER BLOOD (2 x 3” CD-r, Orl, orl16, edition of 100)

Le 6eme Doight de Dwayne (tape, mangdisc, #70)

Id M Theft Able – Babb’s Bridge

her blood-blood blood oneher blood-blood blood twoRFM IDM

Hark!  Let’s have a cheer for IDM Theftable.  Or is that a shout out for IDM Theft Able? Or possibly we need to make some noise for I DM Theft Able?  Whatever way you spell it, whatever way you say it, Skot Spear is a man of multiple characters, approaches and many, many tapes (editor’s note: since the time of writing Joe has done some journalism and asked Skot about this.  According to the man himself there are two ‘official’ spellings: id m theft able or i’d m thfft able.  No hint as to appropriate use of capital letters so we’ll just wing it.).  A recent trawl through the internet slurps up at least 50 but I’m pretty sure that’s just the tip of this particular ferric iceberg.   I first came across Skot in a very real, physical form.  I pretty much tripped over his enormous rucksack at Newcastle’s historic Morden Tower (sadly now decommissioned) and amid the apologies and grovelling we started to chat and it turned out…this guy was the band.  OK.  Fast forward a hour or two and the whole room is glowing with rum, wearing witches hats and moaning and groaning under the instructions of the giant ginger instructor.  It was a great night, a live spectacle, a shaking of hands across the Atlantic and all that.

In a plot hatched between Skot and Jonah Jameson (editor’s note: heh heh, very funny.) here I’ve scored a whole swag bag of ID M Theft Able goodies to talk/spraff/go wild about.  OK…time to dig in and see what comes out first.

There’s a whole bunch of approaches across these releases.  But Werthers Original/Bruised Apple are what some cats are calling sound poetry these days.  Yeah….I kinda go with that description but there’s none of that academic frigidity in ID M’s voice.  The psychedelic domestic is explored and probed with an adventurous tongue as word bombs light up the gloomy interior of my skull.  The phrase “she slipped a Werther’s Original into my mouth and my eyes rolled round like a slot machine” is teased and taxed with no electronics or nothing.  Just lips, teeth and throat flapping the gas out into my ear.  The B-side (ID M describes this as a ‘kinda like a single’) is more overlapped with various ID Ms inhabiting different levels of time & space intoning his Bruised Apple schtick.  The words, phrasing, inhalations of breath all stir together in a creepy kind of way making nonsense of sense and leading your lurching down the path mossy with glossalia.  We need more of this mung in the top 40 you pop pickers.

The double CD-R package (HER BLOOD / BLOOD BLOOD) comes in the kind of triple folded pop-art collage folk like Richard Hamilton used to paste up and makes me happyjolly right from the off.  Inside the delicate envelopes are two live discs; ‘HER BLOOD’ is pure vocal, feral choir chops, with an audience of youngsters and hipsters.  ID M makes the process easy, explaining his cues to the assembled choir, then launches into a giant hissing and sighing piece that sounds like the world’s largest Whoopee Cushion deflating as Yoda settles his bony buttocks into the rubbery folds letting out a goose-honk ‘bronx cheer’.  Phonetic consonants are rolled round moist gobs and spat into a crackling fire as some Chip, Chet or Chuck wonders ‘Why did he put that in? It’s plastic.’  There is an occasional bell ring from an old fashioned telephone to punctuate but, in the main it’s all live hiss conducted for the BBQ crowd.  Wow.  This is a hell of a heavy document.

‘BLOOD BLOOD’ (very confusingly) starts with The Verve then Florence and the Machine’s corporate indie rock, and what sounds like psycho-beard Matt Berry (from the IT Crowd fame) as some hapless XFM Jockey…until I realised I had knocked on the radio my mistake.  Sheet!  I listened for about 5 mins before realising my mistake.  I think this serves as a salutary reminder of how diverse ID M’s chunks can be.  I guessed it was some anglo-indie-tape piece.  No dice!

Right…back to work, here’s the real deal.  ‘BLOOD BLOOD’ starts with some speed rapping “I Want It” and breaks into brief verses from TLC’s classic ‘Waterfalls’ to spice things up.  The infamous ‘box o’ things’ makes an appearance like some Harry Partch equipment hot-wired by the mice out of Bagpuss and cranked up tight by angry worker bees to sculpt the minimal poem ‘The Hole’; soft twanging tones rumble gently reminding me of a foam gamelan.  ‘Encore!’ Chuck, Chet or Chip calls out squeakily and, ever the gent, Theft-san rolls his gums up round more tape-collage fuss to spit and slobber ‘I’m Swimming in Blood, Blood, Blood’ mixing gob-punk techno-squelch with random radio blather and feedback tweaks.  A heavily amplified hamster cage is rattled for a bit like another Harry, this time of the Bertoia persuasion, was kidnapped and thrown in the boot seguing into the most primitive sampling this side of the Dave Howard Singers, ‘boof, Burrrfff….clunk!’  Wow.  The audience babble and chat and laughter only makes this all the more dixy.  As a beginners guide to the ID M universe this is a mightily good place to start.

So far there has been a knockabout, laff-a-minute thread to many of these ID M releases.  Me, I love this.  Does humour belong in music?  If you don’t know the answer, pack up and go home man.  But, ya’ know, we’re all different and I appreciate not everyone likes to listen to the band playing for yuks.  OK…now that’s settled, the stern-gobs can be safe in the knowledge that Le 6eme Doight de Dwayne is pretty much a serious piece of group improv recorded in a basement so low ID M couldn’t even stand up in it.  Instrumentation seems to be sporadic with metal percussion, keys, voice and occasional bass making a rich broth of hive-mind.  For a tape recorded in Quebec in 2011 it has a very late 1980’s Eastern European quality (perhaps one of Martin Klapper’s shindigs?) with deliberate placement resulting in busy-brittle-rustling meshed up with junk/toy clatter.  ‘Ching, ching…wurrrupp’ says a musical see-saw answered with polite restraint from the players.  Things really take off when the voices babble in unison, the electronic bird caller warbles in the background, and throats coalesce into a single snort and honk chorus.   Again… I’m a sucker for this approach and it takes me back to huddling under the bed covers listening to Mixing It on the verge of sleep; all the signals getting scrambled in my dozing brain.

Babb’s Bridge (on recycled Max Bygraves tape…I didn’t know Max had ‘broke’ America) channels a totally different approach to everything else I have heard up to now from Thefty (editors note: apparently originally released on vinyl in 2009 via a four-way label collaboration involving Veglia, King Fondue, Zeikzak and Taped Sounds).

Side one totally wrong foots me as it starts with a field recording/stream-of-consciousness poem that rambles politely across time, tense and sense to come up with demented couplets, “loves Kurt Cobain…forever, italiano cheek, 1980…Mike Gray is gay.  Bleed rat bleed.” which the occasional knotty thump that I suspect is tapped out on Babb’s Bridge itself.  Slowly it turns back into field recording as cars drive on and revellers shout.  It’s all drawing to a close I think but, amid the sparse background chatter ID M continues with more precisely timed loves and losses, “the sexy ass beast” and most unusually, the occasional Wu Tang Clan quote.  Then it dawns on me…he’s reading from the bridge itself, or rather from the accumulated graffiti that must be scrawled across it; picking up themes, repeating them, turning words and phrases inside out.  What makes this all the more haunting and worthwhile is the calm and relaxed way it’s all delivered.  There’s no am-dram shouting or over-enunciated performance poetry theatrics.  It’s all matter-of-fact and chatty, like overhearing one half of a conversation between an anxious God and his disciples. A beautiful piece of music to add to the ever-growing no-audience underground sound poetry cannon.

Side two picks up the honky electronics, wires, tapes and samples approach.  Flustered mouthings and fizzy lippings are laid out over Morse Code spurts while the wheels of a matchbox car are mashed into bright blue Play Doh.  It’s all speed-of-thought chaffings and pips, rolling and lurching (bishp…booop.  FZZZZZZZzzzz) that raises the pulse rate and stiffens the whiskers.  The logic of the collage is taken to extremes with one sonic idea laying over its partner to create a herringbone pattern of interlocked brickwork.  As one sound fades it’s cousin takes over, holding the construction tight, making it safe to walk over…just about perfect for a bridge yeah?

For a far more in depth understanding of this mysterious record (also available on vinyl) check out this vintage interview with the man himself.  For more general intelligence on IDM look no further than his propaganda page: KRAAG.

I reckon I’ve listened to about 3 hours of IDM Theft Able straight this morning and it’s been a right tasty trip for my ears.  I’ll listen to goof-off mouthing all day but it’s Babb’s Bridge that’s stolen my heart with it’s pure otherness.  Use Google…check ‘em out Midwichers!

garlicky pillow talk: joe murray on thf drenching and i dm theft able

July 24, 2013 at 7:52 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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THF Drenching – Cup Penis Open Penis Cup (CD-r, Council of Drent Recordings, edition of 50)

I’DM Thfftable – Popsicles, Icicles, Baseball And Fancy Clothes (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.260)

thf drenching - cup openi'dm thfftable - popsicles

THF Drenching – Cup Penis Open Penis Cup

The great THF Drenching needs no introduction to the keen student of shifty Dictaphone shenanigans.  However, I realise not everyone is as obsessed as me so here is a potted history culled from the Observer Book of Dictaphones (1988):

THF (slave name Stuart Carlton) formed East Anglian Pop Sensation Pence Eleven in 1999 with some other bloke and got played on the radio loads.  Pence Eleven were all very clever and that but were still relying on songs with verse-chorus-verse leanings.  Stardom beckoned but Drench chucked all that lot in to create Limescale with everyone’s favourite grumpy old uncle Derek Bailey in 2002.   Drench dropped the guitarbassdrumpiano and now played a mean Dictaphone along with Sonic Pleasure on bricks, Derek on the usual guitar with Tony Bevan (sax) and Alex Ward (clarinet) to boot!  Hey – things were looking up!  Before, after and around this time THF rocked the mighty Pleasure Drenching Improvers with Sonic Pleasure again on common house bricks.

I caught their fizzy volcano full in the face at a rather impressionable age, this melted my head somewhat and things have never been the same since.

Thanks for the history lesson Pops but what’s this got to do with this here record?

…I hear you cry.  I’m trying (probably with a ham-fist) to build up a sense of history, a journey and all that, because our boy’s come a long way.  Cup Penis Open Penis Cup is a fully realised music concrete piece, with intent and purpose and a god-damn score and all that jazz.  The voluminous sleeve notes and inserts take you on a carefully planned trek around ‘Seven Kinder Dach Lieder’, ‘Sixty-Nine Fat-Stock Brevaries’ and ‘A Hundred Stirrup-Spout  Pots’.  The sound is classic English improv with a ‘chuck it all in’ approach.  Micro-recordings of belch, keyboard hump, domestic warning, tin percussion etc are carefully arranged in several dimensions at once.  Drench-o must have had a tidy editors head on so what might come out a mess sounds delightful Spartan and breezy.  Like me old muckers, Usurper, the thin line between just enough/too much is artfully balanced.  Listening to this on headphones is a real trip with that outside/inside thing really making me work it.  I have to keep taking my earphones out to see if that rolling marble/milkshake slurp is really inside my head or without.  And of course this discombobulation is all part of the experience with ‘Seven Kinder Dach Lieder’ going through several movements – increasing in complexity, colour and texture until you find yourself trilling and hissing in response to this Bakelite sound world.  ‘Sixty-Nine Fat-Stock Brevaries’ slows the pace with measured swells of electronics and bruised clouds of butter to make the kinda thing you hear on Radio 3, late at night with a cough-syrup jones.  Things continue in this vein for the lengthy ‘A Hundred Stirrup-Spout  Pots’ until THF takes things to the street with an un-holy Hip Hop sound; wrestling dumbbells, sweating profusely…drenched as it were!  I tried listening to this disc doing the normal domestic jizzle; packed lunch construction, cat-hair tumbleweed removal etc and realised I was doing Drench and myself a disservice…I was half stroking it.  Go the whole hog, dive in, Cup Penis Open Penis Cup demands your attention!

I’DM Thfftable – Popsicles, Icicles, Baseball And Fancy Clothes

All bow down to the rightful heir to Carl Stalling’s jump-cut, cartoon sound violence! 

ID M Theft able has been ploughing his fertile furrow of trash-culture, sound-sculptures for an age.  This bear of a man has a gentle touch with the ‘pings’ and ‘pops’ of non-idiomatic improv and honk-core jollies.  OK, so just listening on disc does miss out the visual aspect of the live ID M experience (catch a bus or train to catch this chap live Midwichers) but this is no less vinegary as super-frantic jump cuts and Donald Duck quacks assault my tender ear buds. 

But it’s not all fast forward scrimming, ID M places domestic snitches confidently to give this warmth and keep it all outta the avant-academy.  Was it that dullard Zappa that asked the question, does humour belong in music?  Well buddy I think Theftable has pretty much proved the argument, hands down, that you can play for yuks and still bristle a professors beard. 

Examples?   The lullaby of ‘Browning, Cooling’ melts over a glass hexagon making too much sound not enough.  ‘Leaving the awkward cook out only to find myself at another awkward cook out’ measures the cheap pre-set dog woof sounds (pretty much the worst manmade sound ever) and places them right next to real dog growls and barks (pretty much one of the best natural sounds ever) giving your nip a playful tweak and a wink that says ‘I know exactly how to ride this wave Chief’ all the while hurling chunky glops of mustard in your eye. Track 3, the mysteriously titled ‘A (lord or c)ie or y in the snow’ sounds like The Residents got hold of cLOUDDDEAD’s tape library and had a go at making a perfume advert.  Just when you think your poor old nervous system can’t take no more a simple loop (andoverandoverandover…) and wood block ‘click’ remind you of what true beauty is on the fade of ‘Vanishing Memories.’  Surprisingly, for this kinda jazz, ID M milks the cover version with a very secret and intimate version of Heart’s, ’These Dreams’.  No need for Spandex and hairspray this cuts right to the heart of the sentiment…garlicky pillow talk whistled through ginger whiskers.

Council of Drent (editors note: this site is hilarious. RH)

THF Drenching on Bandcamp

Chocolate Monk

I DM Theft Able

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