the barrel nut #6 and #7: double barrelled!

February 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 4 Comments
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tbn #6 covertbn #7 cover

The more zine-hungry amongst you will have noticed that during my recent illness I was, sadly, only able to publish one issue of The Barrel Nut microzine.  However, I’m glad to say that despite this unavoidable slowdown the plaudits kept coming in.  It was voted ‘The North’s most charming noise/art delivery system’ by Members Aflame! – the newsletter of the Campaign for Civility in Power Electronics and was awarded an unprecedented 4.5 star-shaped sensory appendages out of 5 by Tago Mi-Go – the journal of Lovecraftian Krautrock studies (heh, heh – lolz – that nugget of comedy gold dedicated to Paul Walsh who celebrated his 50th birthday last week – happy belated returns!).  This approbation has spurred me on to publish issues #6 and #7 simultaneously, thus recovering some of the lost ground.

Newbies might be wondering what I’m on about.  Well here’s me self-quoting some explanatory blurb (those in the know can skip it):

A microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be all internet-enabled n’ that then you are very welcome to download and print out your own.  It’s well salt-and-shake!  Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you’ll need to trim the print-out a bit down one edge to make it fold properly).  Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on the Nut’s own page (tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Please get in touch.

So there you have it…

Some really terrific contributions this time around.  We have gnomic poetry and lollipop toting ghost children from Julian Bradley of Zellaby Award winners The Piss Superstion – a chap who should be better known for his exceptional graphic work.  We have the monarch of the glen being prepared to become ‘value’ lasagne and a comment on the moustachioed breed of hipsterism by Yol, master of the starkly black and white and a TBN regular.  We are celebrating the release from prison of Hiroshima Yeah!’s Gary Simmons with a bleak sketch of a cell window and a collage made during his time incarcerated (the smears are toothpaste – he wasn’t allowed glue).  His fellow HY! editor Mark Ritchie contributes a poem-ish cut-up as does RFM’s very own Joe Murray, of Posset infamy. We have Michael Clough to thank for donating a double-page spread of elegant minimalism built from offcuts created whilst constructing one of his photocopier experiments (of which more anon).  Hard stares for Dex Wright of Tapenoise who lays down some paranoia-inducing, exuberantly worked, outsider Cubism.  Finally, we are treated to an unnerving sketch by Lucia Foster, a Mexican based illustrator affiliated to Miguel Perez’s Oracle Netlabel/Agorafobia Tapes axis.  Her work is new to me and I hope to see more of it in future.

I’m proud to bring this lot to your attention.  Contributors and subscribers will be receiving copies in the post in due course.  Links to downloadable versions below, as promised.  A plea: leaving aside a rainy day stockpile of stuff by the regulars I am in need of submissions for future issues.  If you’ve ever fancied giving it a go then now is the time to get the crayons out…

The Barrel Nut #6 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut #6 as a jpeg file

The Barrel Nut #7 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut #7 as a jpeg file

the barrel nut #5: hyper-signage, gargle-score, saturated doodle

January 18, 2014 at 9:22 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 2 Comments
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barrel nut 5 cover

Attentive readers will know that I have recently been ill, enduring an episode of the depression that fouls my life every so often.  Sadly, I remain knacked though some progress has been made.  I have, in part at least, been attempting to fight it off with creative endeavour – discovering that getting busy with the glue-stick then folding tiny zines can be a meditative, therapeutic exercise…

Hence the return of North Leeds’s premier oddness-aggregator: The Barrel Nut.  The latest issue, #5, is something of a showcase for regulars.  Check out the pan-dimensional, hyper-signage – pointing god knows where – by Stephen Woolley of joinedbywire and the text score (feel free to send recordings of your interpretation) and line drawing by Yol, champion art-growler.  Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon contributes a page of ballpoint mental cacophony and Dex Wright of Tape Noise concludes matters with a mysterious portrait in the naive style.  Cover collage, ‘migrating birds’, is by yours truly, as is the freestyle sudoku on the back.

For those new to this type of silliness, a microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be all internet-enabled n’ that then you are very welcome to download and print out your own.  It’s well salt-and-shake!  Links to the latest issue in jpg and pdf formats (in colour!) are below.  Assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on the Nut’s own page (tabbed above).  You’ll need to trim the print-out a bit down one edge to make it fold properly.  Apologies for the size of the pdf this time – I managed to save it in an unnecessarily ultra-high quality setting.

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Please get in touch.

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as jpeg file

sorting the lego part one: soundtracks for graded tasks

November 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Tape Noise – Journey to the Centre of the Worth (tape, self-released, edition of 1?)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton & David Barton – Surge (30 page pamphlet with card covers, ISBN 978-1-907546-52-5)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Nov 8th 2013 (C15 tape, hissing frames)

Ashtray Navigations – axe attack in 3D / unfuck you (tape, Crater Lake Sound, CL004)

Posset – Goose Shat Silver Dollars (tape in hand-stamped cover, Mantile Records, #024 or download)

Posset – the teenage virus (CD-r, chump tapes, chump #6 or bootleg below)

Stuart Chalmers/Nick Edwards – split (tape, Feral Tapes, C60, edition of 80)

tapenoise - journey

As regular readers and correspondents will already know, I am currently off work enduring a nasty bout of depression.  In the past I have written about my history with the illness, its symptoms and its effects on my life – click on the ‘depression’ tag above should you be interested – but not today.  Instead I wish to briefly mention two coping strategies – exercise and the ‘graded task’ – explain how the music of the no-audience underground is helping me with both and offer a few brief accounts of my listening in that context.

Firstly, exercise needs no explanation.  Much as we potatoes are loathe to admit it, getting moving helps with pretty much everything, especially depression.  To adapt Funkadelic: free your ass and your mind will follow.  For me this means walking, mainly around the neighbourhood.  Secondly, the idea of the ‘graded task’ might need a little clarification.  Originating, I think, from the cognitive behavioural therapy side of counselling, ‘graded task’ is used to describe a physical activity that can be completed in discrete, manageable but notable chunks.  The idea being that the job takes you out of yourself for a while, can be scaled according to your energy levels and can be looked back upon when completed with a sense of undeniable achievement: I did that.  For example, when I kept an allotment I dug it over one square metre at a time, currently I am cleaning Midwich Mansions (a series of chores sadly neglected since the baby arrived) and during one particularly debilitating episode a few years ago I ordered a vast collection of second hand Lego from eBay and spent days sorting it all out and bagging it up according to categories of brick.  Whatever, man – it helped.

At the moment my energy levels are such that I cannot rely on physical activity alone to lighten the darkness.  I simply can’t work up the sweat needed to turn my brain off entirely.  Thus I need some help and that is where you lot come in.  Whilst out walking, or doing a chore, I have been accompanied unswervingly by my mp3 player and/or tape walkman and music from the review pile has been keeping me company.  However, it wouldn’t be fair to use your art just as elaborate wallpaper to cover the cracks in my psyche so I have been trying to consider it too.  This has the added benefit of flexing mental muscles that the depression has sat on.  Forming an opinion heaves the fucking thing off me for a second and fans away the fug.  So, in the first of what I hope will be several similar articles, here are some short pieces (with what I was doing whilst listening in parentheses, in italics) about stuff picked more or less at random over the last few days.

OK, firstly I have to apologise to Dex Wright of Tape Noise for sleeping on Journey to the Centre of the Worth (heard as I walked through Gledhow Woods) for months.  It is no reflection on its quality, it just slipped down the back of everything else for a while.  Dex is the outsider’s outsider.  His preferred method of distribution – hand-decorating tapes and recycled inlay cards and selling his warez in editions of (apparently) one on eBay is unique amongst those artists celebrated on this blog.  He seems perfectly content to groove his own way utterly independent of any concern other than the production of his art.  The music herein is his usual mix of first-wave-industrial-style echoing vocals and pattering noise-tronics and all-embracing collage.  There is hard-puffed jazzy flute, chugging rock guitar, snatches of conversation – children playing in the background, squalling electrics, an episode of bass that will balloon your ear canals and a break for some Current 93ish folk/psyche prose poetry.  This might sound garbled but I assure you it is perfectly coherent.  It is all clearly the product of that singular mind to be found shielded by that polka-dot bowler hat.


Next, two items picked at random from the latest wildly generous parcel received from RFM’s other favourite oddity-generator Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  Surge (meditated on in an attempt to clear my head and go to sleep) is a 30 (approx) page A5 booklet containing drawings by Robert and collaborator David Barton.  The former’s pages are like Joan Miró’s Hope of a Condemned Man endlessly reworked in crayon and masking tape, drawn on pages pulled from a recluse’s empty scrapbook.  The latter’s pages contain line drawings of the human form, agitated to the brink of collapse.  Incompleteness and uncertainty are depicted with definite and furious energy.  The honours are shared.

Nov 8th 2013 (heard whilst hoovering the stairs) is a brief noise tape. Side A is mechanical peristalsis with alarms sounding whenever an indigestible lump is passed from duct to duct.  Side B is electrical scouring, like an R2D2 class droid frantically trying to reconstruct its memory after an EMP attack.

ashnav - axe attack

Two live sets (walking in Gledhow Woods again, trip to the pharmacy) by Ashtray Navigations (here mysteriously billed as ‘Ashtray Navigations (l.a.m.f.)’ – I don’t know why) from Autumn of last year.  The first is dominated by an exquisite psyche guitar indulgence that devolves into a deeply satisfying scything drone: whirling blades, molten silver.  The second is a curious beast.  Phil and Mel are joined by Daria Ramone of peerless punksters Etai Keshiki on guitar and by Pete Cann of Half an Abortion and Crater Lake (the label putting this out – buy here) on noise.  Despite beginning with a bellowed ‘1,2,3,4’ this takes quite a while to gel.  In fact it doesn’t really cohere until they give up on cohering and instead surrender themselves to a group freak-out and non-linear crescendo which makes up most of the second half.  Love the underpinning robo-warble.

posset - goose

Goose Shat Silver Dollars by Posset (heard whilst cleaning the bathroom) was a fitting accompaniment to my chores as it appears to be constructed largely from domestic recordings made around the Posset household.  Slow-motion vocals mirror my own strained attempts to follow conversation whilst my brain swirls in the fug.  The plinkplonkiness elsewhere has the same indecipherable feel (to the untutored western ear) as traditional Japanese music.  Indeed, in that context the sounds of liquid – pans being filled?  Teeth brushed? – could well be the lanquid tricklings of a water feature in an oriental garden.

Someone (Derek Bailey?) once complained that the turntable-as-musical-instrument has as limited a range as the bagpipes.  I always thought that this focus on the ‘wick-wick-wack’ scratch noise was missing the point entirely.  The turntablist has a century of recorded music to play with – try matching that by waggling your fingers in the sound box of your guitar, dumb ass.  A similarly incorrect complaint could be made about the dictaphone, Joe’s weapon of choice.  Yes, the skwee and scrubble of pressing-more-than-one-button-at-once is its signature sound, but the dictaphonist also has all audible noise within range of the device potentially in their saddlebag.  Beat that.  You think you are just hearing Joe’s kids chuckle but actually these humble, clever, funny recordings are intimations of infinite possibility!

Hmmm… or maybe I’m just a bit mad at the moment.  One or the other.  Or both.

Anyway, Joe also sent a copy of his CD-r the teenage virus which he created to be given away at the Colour Out Of Space festival (li’l networker, eh?).  It is great stuff and on the insert he insists we are free to bootleg it as desired so, in that punk spirit, here are the four tracks in good quality mp3 format for you to download as you wish.  Help yourselves (descriptions are mine):

  1. the carriage of spirits (possetronic dictamatics)
  2. at the end of the day (snatched recording of pub piano, possified)
  3. learning the restaurant trade (full flowing posset, live set from Bar Loco)
  4. he loves me so (riff on that tear-jerking endurance test by Gavin Bryars)

I’ll not be assessing the split tape from Stuart Chalmers / Nick Edwards (trip to Co-Op for Sunny Start Baby Porridge, Banana flavour, hanging out laundry) as I find myself in word-for-word agreement with Uncle Mark over at Idwal Fisher and you can read his review here.  Though, unlike that shirker, I did at least listen to all of it.  Tut.  In short: Chalmers = terrific, Edwards = not so much.

OK, more as my energy levels allow.

‘art by noise’: radiofreemidwich presents ‘the barrel nut’ microzine

July 26, 2013 at 7:32 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 5 Comments
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The Barrel Nut issue 1 cover

Hey people!  Radio Free Midwich is proud to present the first issue of The Barrel Nut microzine.

Having been inspired by various small press, ‘artist book’ and zine(ish) activities, I have decided to create a little something on paper myself.  Keeping it as simple as possible, each issue will be one single sided sheet of A4 paper folded into an A7, 8-panel microzine (picture above is way larger than life).  The six internal pages will be filled with contributions invited from stalwarts of the no-audience underground and other affiliated parties, hence the clever tag-line: ‘art by noise’.  Cool, eh?  The intention is to produce issues on a monthly(ish) basis but we’ll see how that goes.  Physical copies will be created to pass on to contributors, leave in gig venues and give to distros/zines to send out with their orders/correspondence.  Subscriptions available.  I will also put up a pdf and jpeg of each issue on RFM so anyone can print out their own (see below for Blue-Peter-style assembly instructions).

Why am I doing this?  Well, this kind of thing is a lot of fun to put together and reminds me of happy hours spent making small-press comics in my teens.  I’m also into the idea of showcasing the graphic talents of this pool of artists – perhaps an underrated aspect of our endeavour.  Links will be given on the back page, so picking this up might encourage the curious to check out a Bandcamp site or whatnot too.

The first issue starts strong with artwork from Stephen Woolley of Joined By Wire, Dex Wright of Tape Noise, Yol of, err…, Yol and, *ahem*, Rob Hayler of midwich.  More line drawings and typewriten text (intended as scores for performance – ‘like La Monte Young with ADHD’) to come from Yol.  Some great upset typography from RFM staffer and dictaphonic maestro Joe Murray to look forward to in future issues.


A UK subscription can be had in return for stamps or trade – enquiries welcome.  Due to silly postal prices I suggest overseas readers follow the instructions for creating their own copies.


Contributions of artwork welcome.  It can be anything you like but should a) reproduce OK as a black and white photocopy and b) be 7cm by 10cm (which ain’t big).  Anyone can submit as many pages as they like – I’ll juggle ’em up.  Originals posted to Midwich Mansions preferred but good quality scans attached to an email also fine.

Issues in digital format

The Barrel Nut issue #1 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut Issue #1 as a jpeg file

Assembly instructions

Should you wish to construct your own copy of The Barrel Nut you will need the following: a print out of one of the files above and a craft knife or pair of scissors.

tbn assembly 1

Don’t be intimidated by the incredible fanzine creator kit in the photo above – I’m a professional.  First fold in half like this:

tbn assembly 2

Then in half lengthways too:

tbn assembly 3

Then open out and fold the ends in to meet the middle like this:

tbn assembly 4

Open it out again and use your sharp instrument to cut along the long fold in-between where the two middle segments of each side meet (indicated by ruler, blade point placement):

tbn assembly 5

Fold over along the long fold with the artwork facing outwards:

tbn assembly 6

This is the spatial awareness stretching bit.  Fiddle with it and refold a couple of lines until it looks like this:

tbn assembly 7

Then squash into booklet form thus:

tbn assembly 8

…and you are done.  Peruse, enjoy then get to work on your contribution or, now you know how it is done, rival publication.

tbn assembly 9

wired for sound part 27: tapenoise, mothers of the third reich, petals

August 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Tapenoise – Cobblers (self-released, approx C10 cassette, hand decorated packaging)

Mothers of the Third Reich (self-released cassette, no details provided)

petals – preconcerted (hairdryer excommunication, approx C25 cassette, appropriated packaging with decoration and found objects)

Here’s a collection of objects all exhibiting the quality of true tapeness.  Each, in its own way, revels in the physicality of the cassette as a format and employs a level of hand-assembled craft that respects the lo-fi, high-tech magicality of the medium (it’s all done with magnetism?!).  Much appealing oddness, no download codes included.

Firstly we have Cobblers by Tape Noise.  I’d not heard from Dex Wright for a while and was wondering what he was up to when this arrived as a housewarming present.  This cassette case has been opened (I’m guessing) and the tape clipped and rehoused at a length of about five minutes per side.  The case and inlay card have then been decorated with metallic ink pens and felt tips in the usual ebullient Tape Noise manner creating a literally unique object.

One side starts with the muffled popping of late 70s/early 80s industro-style drum machine which is soon replaced with a more emphatic bashing over which a wild synth solo dances until the end of its brief running time.  On the other side similar electronics act as a backing track for a daft, improvised (I’m guessing again) song sung by Dex about his despair at how things aren’t built to last anymore.  Hence the title: ‘cobblers’ as in everything is crap, but it also refers to his literal need to find someone who can fix his leaky boots.

There’s a nostalgia to Dex’s outlook but no luddism.  He is into the idea of recycling technology considered obsolete and appalled at the waste of our throwaway culture.  His work is created generally in editions of one (or more or less one), sometimes given away, sometimes auctioned to collectors of the odd on eBay.  Visit the Tape Noise website for details.

Next is the golden tape by Mothers of the Third Reich.  I only know it is by them because it was given to me by the band at the gig in Stoke where we shared a bill, the object itself is completely anonymous.  The cassette and inlay are sprayed gold and contain no information, no text at all.  I only recognise the ‘T’-with-four-bars logo as theirs too because I was given a patch (more patches in noise!) featuring the same thing at the same time.  I suppose I could look it all up on the internet but where is the fun in that?  It’s cool to add a mysterious layer of intrigue…

The music is a skronking mixture of jazz noise and free rock.  Gargling electronics do battle with a sometimes rolling, sometimes skittering drum kit whilst throaty, gravelly honks are forced from a saxophone and/or the guitar kicks over tables.  This isn’t super-saturated bombast though; there is plenty of shading and room to gulp air in-between molestations.  Ace.

I don’t know where to get hold of this but these cats are on facebook so I guess you could head in that direction.  I see a second tape is available on Bandcamp too – download is free and you are encouraged to dupe it to a C60.

Finally there is an extraordinary object from Kev Sanders.  preconcerted is by Kev’s main musical concern petals and is released via his own omnicorp hairdryer excommunication.  It comes as a one-track-per-side C25ish cassette and my copy is housed in a roughly chopped half of the packaging that once contained some kind of tape-and-booklet set about interview technique.  Remaining stamps, stickers and classmarks suggest this was appropriated from the University of Huddersfield library which I think is Kev’s place of employment.  The original cover is obscured with a black and white photo of masonry detail and the half-a-booklet remaining inside shares its pouch with two unrelated photographic slides.

The music is from the noisier end of Kev’s output.  ‘A’ is a glorious drone as viscous, gritty and as tempting to poke with a stick as tar on a beach.  It roars, gutters into noise, rises, then loses the fight again.  Terrific.  ‘B’ is a right racket of stuttering, fizzing and warbling with some proper finger-on-the-spindle messing with the space-time continuum.  Also terrific.  The answer to the question ‘petals?’, is ‘yes, as much as can be spared please.’

Object fetishists can contact Kev via hairdryer excommunication here, impurists and latecomers can download the sound via Bandcamp.

wired for sound part 11: tapenoise, mutant ape, culver

June 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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TapeNoise – Commodity Master Barter

A package from Dex, known to a select coterie as TapeNoise, is always a pleasure to receive.  The characteristic decoration indicates a parcel probably containing an intriguing object, hand-crafted, often unique.  TapeNoise productions document this outsider artist’s struggle to retain a hands-on, human connection to this slippery world of alienating mass consumption.

It is no coincidence that his sound palate relies heavily on the forlorn, failed, futurism of first-wave industrial music.  There are occasional bursts of percussion, or vocal cut-ups, or garage guitar, but mainly this music is made up of pulsing synth lines phased, looped and distorted.  It has the spacious, lo-fi feel of a Throbbing Gristle rehearsal tape, or of some preliminary sketches by the Radiophonic Workshop.  I have found previous TapeNoise releases quite difficult to get into, and this is a lengthy and occasionally exhausting listen too.  However, the length does give you the time needed to tune in to Dex’s station and by the end I was happy letting it wash over me.

I have no idea if this recording is ‘available’ in any usual sense of the word.  The cover of my copy (above) seems to be a hand-painted one-off.  I guess if you are interested, the thing to do is email Dex at:

Culver – Omon (Matching Head 173)

Mutant Ape – Deforestation (Matching Head 172)

Two recent releases on the indefatigable Lee Stokoe’s tape label Matching Head.

The Mutant Ape tape, cover above – reproduced smaller to save your blushes at work, contains three tracks of satisfyingly muscular noise and nostril-flaring catharsis.  It provoked much nodding in approval here at RFM HQ and comes highly recommended.  That is all.

The Culver tape, limited to 32 copies and featuring a cover photo even more suspect than the one above, is a single piece of sombre atmospherics, haunted and claustrophobic.  Lee’s Culver project is, to me, like the wood facing my house: so big as to fill the whole of my window, yet so familiar that it is possible to forget it is there.  How a series of 50 foot high beech trees could ever escape my notice is an embarrassing mystery, but there you go.  Anyway, when the trees do catch my attention I can be hypnotized by the beauty of their movement in the wind and the ever changing depth of field it creates.  My response to Culver is eerily similar.  My advice is not only to buy this tape but to buy a pile of others too then settle down to some serious staring out of the window.

Matching Head remains defiantly postal.  For ordering details click on the picture of the charming young lady below and this will take you to a pdf of the latest, barely legible, catalogue.  Again, mildy NSFW.

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