a yeasty upstairs room: rfm on blood stereo, stuart chalmers & neil campbell, rlw & dylan nyoukis and the custodians

July 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk)

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (No Label)

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk)

The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk)

choc monk

Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk) CDr

The wet-slippage of malfunctioning MP3 files or possibly a functional electronic sound – say the alarm in an overloaded lift – starts this single 37 minute grunt.

Over the course of the next half hour there are more than a few moments to treasure…

  • Cannibalised spoken word overlaps a low moaning (licked forefinger rubbed over smoked glass coffee table?) in perfect sympathy…a ghostly parrot chatters the syllables in strict timing.
  • 10cc’s tape loops hijacked for the ‘oooooooo’s’ and pulled through Kolkata in a handcart.
  • “What is this shadow in which we come?”asks an inquisitive voice.
  • A brief movement scored for plastic packaging materials, ring modulator and rain on a tin roof.
  • The matrix recording of coins dropped into hot syrup is re-mastered with a Joe Meek mind.

The sink gurgles and psychedelic reportage are kept to a minimum though to concentrate on rhythm in all its forms, for this is Blood Stereo’s most spacious record yet.

Dry, echoing ‘clonks’ and ‘squarks’ are placed carefully into the mix – but not with a dictator’s swagger stick.  Rather the gardener’s crisp carrot!  These, sounds are encouraged to grow, swell and bloom.  The fullness of the harvest is a testament to this pair of green-thumbs, nipping and tweaking, composting and watering their bumper crop.

But fear not goofs! It’s not all serious trousers – there are still yuks in this mix.  The family (sound) portraits and the occasional snot-nosed sniff make an appearance before the truly beautiful, final movement of antique telephone engaged-tones and exotic hot breath-waffles.

Blood Stereo’s statement is clear…from the trash I create diamonds, from the unheard and unloved I fashion unique listening flaps.

Aye.  That’s the grace all right.

chalmers Campbell

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (no label) CDr and digital album

Two monarchs ruling together in the kingdom of the Reversing Pool.

This super-sick collaboration takes the idea of loops and propels it into the negative zone where all laws of physics are crudely tippexed out.

That’s not to imply it’s lumpen.  No way! There’s a real delicacy to these swooping spirals, like a collection of rare ceramics spinning in a vortex.  You catch the occasional blurred pattern, a hint of Royal Doulton perhaps, that you can hang your hat on but your brain is mostly taken up with the sheer majesty of complex, cyclical movement (deep in the reversing pool).

‘Star Camera’ must be a J-Pop K-Hole.  The baffled drum loop, a soft beat, slipping in and out of reality as our avatar (probably dressed as Sailor Moon) squawks an electric fudge.

The whirling, swirling miasma doesn’t let up quickly.  Even the slurred vocal starting ‘Slipping Slipping’ is part of a greater orbit.  A sort of cosmic churning taking in smears of electric guitar and fizziling keyboard washes.

A reprieve is served on ‘Detitrus on Old Bank’ and ‘Migrating Dirge’.  They are looser for sure but spinning just as fast creating sparks that ‘zip’ off my xylophone and makes me ring my bicycle bell with abandon.  By the final minute ‘Detritus…’ has turned into solid jam.  ‘…Dirge’ jingles like pennies in a sock; a curious bank or preparation for the borstal breakout?

A joyful noise unto the creator – you bettchya sweet cakes.

rlw and dylan

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Stone-cold classic tape-werks from wonk-central: Chocolate Monk.

(adopts HBO voiceover pose)

“Previously on Chocolate Monk

Dee Nyoukis shifts his spittle at the Nefertiti Jazz Club, Gothenburg six or seven years ago and pledges the live tapes to one Ralf Wehowsky, legendary thinker and doer who unleashes several gallons of whup, whup all over them.

The result is an interchangeable reality sauce, or something. “

The Nyoukis-vox tapes are a shadowy presence and tend to inhabit the corners and dado rails of this mix while RLW slathers on huge scoops of itchy sound.  At times it’s a fine violin, a recognisable sound fragment that adds a kind of sign-post, indicating the way.

At others it’s a deep abstract scribble.  Like an IRCAM-heavy squall the sheets of sound are utterly alien and yet comfortably retro-fitted.  Before you can polish your specs a granulated ripping peppers things, spicing lengthy tracks ‘Left Shoe’ and ‘Right Shoe’ up hot!

Sounds tend to whizz more than I am used to filling up my room with blank swoops or popping-mud farts.  Dylan’s strangulated vox get pinched further via squealing Ralf-manoeuvres; pitched up through your appendix scar and out via your nostril.  A silver thread seems pulled through me aching Gulliver scrambling my mind eggs.

Can I mention Varèse in this punk-ass blog?  Eek! I guess I did.  Well some of the ‘Right Shoe’ movements are percussive clatter-boxes – part Ionisation part Goldie’s Metalheadz crew but all bookended with damp squelching like a thick milkshake being sucked.

A disc for damn voyagers and heroes.


The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Top-quality brain-scrape from double-saxed trio with added Bohman power!

If you were to do a google image search for ‘Englishness’ I’m sure the old clichés of well-oiled cricket pitches and fluffy cream teas get fetched up before long*.

But for me…nothing seems more English than a ragged mess of electronics/objects balanced on a pub table in a yeasty upstairs room.

Imagine the very polite anticipation as we stand around waiting for some beard (Adam Bohman) to rummage about in the confusion and wrench out an antique-shop clattering.  Picture the sympathetic tones coaxed out of some saxophones (Adrian Northover & Sue Lynch) – but not too loud mind!

And in this way The Custodians are the most English of groups.  Perhaps it’s the practice habitual orderly queuing creates that explains the space each player leaves making this an altogether charming listen.

But how do these Toby Jugs come together, what’s the chatter yeah?

A double-barrelled approach divides performances into either:

  • thin sax tones floating over industrious sawing and dry chitter / picture Ronnie Scott’s after closing time with the roaches skittering around brass holes or…
  • bi-narratives/tri-narratives weaving sense in, out and around both my pink ears like the dusty graveyard where radio plays go to die.  These talking pieces make the tired old brain work HARD.  It’s almost like there is a loop of text that keeps getting manipulated live between Adam, Adrian and Sue as painterly touches of soft-round brass spread buttery glee.  No mercy!

The audacious tri-narrative; ‘King and Queen-Traction and Wine’ squeezes my head-sponge good with its three-fold reading text-loops, pitched squeal and wonderful steam train noises making it all tip-top and tally ho!

A real Babel is unleashed on ‘Tlotm variations’ where our three friends are joined by linguaphone tapes running backwards / forwards / sideways pressing all sense though a reality sieve until all that remains is a flapping jaw and soft wet tongue.

*don’t bother to check the validity of this – in reality a Google Image search for Englishness is predictably awful


Neil Campbell Big Cartel / Stuart Chalmers Bandcamp

Chocolate Monk


leather duck, baklava bullet, wrecked snail: joe murray on tapes from tutore burlato

November 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Triple Heater – Aurochs (tape, Tutore Burlato, #15)

Tom White – Commemoratives (tape, Tutore Burlato, #14)

TR/ – Amici di Filippo (tape, Tutore Burlato, #13)

The Custodians – Moribund Mules and Musket Fire (tape, Tutore Burlato, #12)

Usurper with Alex Drool, Maya Dunietz, Eran Sachs and Ilan Volkov – untitled (tape, Tutore Burlato, #16)


Triple Heater – Aurochs

Not a three-o but a two-oh!  This new pairing from Tutore Burlato High Priest, Ezio Piermattei and the supple-limbed-totem-pole F Ampism flaps at the ears like a leather duck.

Students of the WTF scene can already imagine the smooth Tiki-delic jungle vibes and Red City grit yeah?  But what this charming tape does so well is place the scribble-scrabble gently in a perfumed mango’s peppery slickness.

So a bagpipe meshes seamlessly with egg-slicer, a warped tape workout wetly dribbles into a pink sponge.  Those robot-voice toys are underpinned with a twisted groaning and wrenched knot work.

Voices; children’s voices, male and female voices are a recurring warble that change the emotional resonance of every rattle and honk.  Each piece remains human as a result, the occasional frenetic crackle an umlaut or other such punctuation.  YEAH… I’m picking up a master’s hand in the edit suite ensuring each piece is a perfect mix of wet and dry, organic and man-made.

But it’s not all high-octane, fingers-on-triggers yucks.  These gents are not afraid to whip out a haunting beauty-jam.  ‘Telamoni Curiosi’ has a rich drawn-out slowness; the kind that floods through your body like hot opium immediately before you have an accident.  You’re powerless to stop the door crunch the finger, the heel slip on the banana peel but in that moment of submission you taste the bitter tang of true happiness.

The perfect music to accompany images of Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia dream.


Tom White – Commemoratives

As 2016 continues to be that damn Tom White’s year this cassette might just be the best one yet readers.

The nosey will know the drill already; a reel-to-reel tape recorder is used to manually manipulate a loop of innocent brown tape; possibly a few pedals get pressed.  Sounds easy enough, eh?

But on Commemoratives Tom’s gritty palms are transferring some kind of magnetic-manna to the slowly looping sound resulting in remarkable acrobatic leaps and whorls absolutely RIPPING out of the speakers like a sweet baklava bullet.

There’s a depth, a real colon-churning depth, to how these sounds roll bilious and tight.  And just when you’re feeling fit to burst a cow-bell ‘K-LUNG’ bouncing between the speakers rattles you back into the world of flat stomachs and healthy greens.

The excellent side-long ‘Evoke a Yes’ drives Alpine cattle from their lush pasture through granular hair-pin bends; a single brassy ‘donk’ becomes the repeated motif lurching drunkenly on the local firewater until a chrome trebuchet hurls great gassy grenades into the steaming tar pits . But at the same time I’m minded of an early tape music boffin, wrapped up in labcoat and thick Clark Kents, dancing to this in his cluttered broom cupboard.

Performance-wise there is nothing held back and at times I’m pretty sure a block of particularly hectic loopery has sent me back in time a couple of seconds… a couple of seconds… a…

A powerful and heady brew that even when it’s doing nothing in particular is re-calibrating your brain-pod with subtly shifting patterns – a sly parquet interlocking those lazy synapses.


TR/ – Amici di Filippo

A right beanfeast this one – comforting and creamy.

‘Sabato’ starts with thick slapback-echo riffles over electronic-sand, creating waves of


Pietro La Rocca’s lumpy canvas to paint up with Patrycja Stefaneck’s wonderful smeared voices.

Things progress at a wrecked snail’s pace: the canvas becomes laced ribbons of liquorice empowered with a mystic charge; the voice gobbles and mutters, wriggles and stutters slathered like golden butter.

Side two opens with something akin to a song but in this instance the campfire we are sitting around has been built of oleander creating choking, hallucinogenic fumes.  Urgently strummed guitars stretch their steel strings to the horizon, shimmering like a Fripp-mirage while gentle disembodied voices float overhead.

The closer, ‘Digitale Terrestre’ pulls all these elements together in a light sketch, an open doodle of huffing and mithering.  Innocent squeaks escape and fly between the massed mouth-chunter. This time it’s the guitar that floats overhead, darting in and out of the weft like a stickleback – silvery but sharp enough to draw blood.  These enhanced throat and lips have a Residents-style quality and I’m half expecting to launch into an Infant Tango before long.

You want some sweet to go with that gravy?  Look no further than duo TR/.


The Custodians – Moribund Mules and Musket Fire

Radio 4.

Radio-o-o fo-o-or.

R’aid-eeeeee-oh oh oh oh oh            fuh, fuh, fuh                          Or?

Forgive my brief extrapolation but these Custodians (just plain Custodians on this tape – not ‘of the Realm’ as on the previous outings I’ve heard) serve up a classy dish that breaks apart that British institution of cosy improv and spoken word like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, leaving 12 dense segments splayed and easily snackable.

Their M.O. involves occasional multi-tracked speaking parts weaving between Adam Bohman’s carefully curated sonic-detritus, Adrian Northover’s saxes and synth and Sue Lynch’s tenor sax and lyrical reeds.

It’s a truly wonderful listen; light, airy and unhurried.  You just can’t fake the love and respect in this playing.  It’s clearly defined yet ego-less, economical but happy to gild the occasional corner.

Each player, a standout in their own right, dons the collective cap with aplomb so shimmering brass sings and croons, often swooping in the wake of a wagtail’s gentle undulations.  The ‘objects’ (large glasses bowed and combs teeth pinged with a thumb for example) add just exactly the right level of clutter and stroking to keep things tasty.

The text pieces seem to follow Adam Bohman’s ‘instructional/institutional’ approach with medical terms dropping from three mouths like ripe plumbs.

It couldn’t be more English if it wore a bowler hat.


Usurper with Alex Drool, Maya Dunietz, Eran Sachs and Ilan Volkov – untitled

Here the brothers Duff & Robertson are joined by Tel Aviv’s finest for some surprisingly tender hap, grapple and schooshh.

I guess the temptation with such a big-band is go the full Ellington and honk it up outta each loud hole.  But on this occasion, and I’m not sure if it’s the brothers instructions or our host’s impeccable manners, these side-long pieces balloon like parachute silk and float with nowt but a gentle ripple.

Side one.  I’m getting a tingle in my loins that suggests method.  Old bronze coins dropped with arthritic fingers, cold marbles rolled across the wooden floor, straw flutes blown listlessly, burbling electric soup (sans batteries), rocking chairs rough squall, soft mouths chanting under flannel vests and knitting needles wrapped in sellotape tapped against the kitchen table.  These bare-bones are constantly reinvented and realigned.

I’m getting signals in my lugs that indicate structure.  A gentle moraine, its gritty interconnectedness based on Turkish carpet patterns.  Twelve hands reaching out and six brains sparking with damp electricity.   A bustling village of gossip coming to rest at the end of a particularly busy day.

The nervous rustle of bodies and fingers has an ingrained tension, of course, because (SPOILER ALERT) the moneyshot never arrives!  If you’re waiting to see who’s going to crack first and ‘blah’ out forget it Bub, this is one saucy tease yeah?

Side two is hardly any more physical but wears its influences proudly in a collective throat-jam.

Dry coughs and sighs and huffs are double-bubbled to form a bivalve experience: left and right unite in slurpy kisses on stubbly cheeks.  I picture our sacred six stretched out on roman loungers dripping sweet grape cheek-parps and wet gonzo hawks.  The odd spare hand languorously rattling a tin fig or ripping off an elastoplast completes a decadent sound-image.

I riff on the chorus of grunts.  I goof on the collective harmonic gasp. We follow the da-dada-dada-da-da conversation; until ‘uh uh errr…’ it descends into laugher as a Pangolin snuffles for truffles.

The real true joy yeah!


Tutore Burlato

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