artifacts of the no-audience underground: infinite exchange label review part two

May 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Three more reviews of releases on Waz Hoola’s Infinite Exchange Records.  No reservations this time, instead radiofreemidwich somehow holds three thumbs aloft.  Neat trick, eh?  As before, if you want to get hold of this stuff then please email Waz at theinfiniteexchange@hotmail.co.uk for details.

Eyeballs – Thief of Men (IECDR019)

This starts with rain.  Cold, unforgiving, battering the moss covered stones of an ancient castle.  As we drift through the impossibly thick walls, the pounding of the rain is subsumed into the noise of fires, machinery.  Possibly we are now in some hellish corner of a gargantuan kitchen.  Far above, in the opulent living quarters, a rite, a wake perhaps, is in progress.  Snatches of the sombre processional music can occasionally be heard over the roar.

I wasn’t sure about this release at first but it has grown in stature with repeat listens.  I am now quietly impressed.  The music, a single track of 32 minutes, has coherence, a narrative drive and the commitment to work through its ideas at an appropriate pace.  I like it.

Posset – Mump Grumpy (IECDR017)

Another half-hour of dictaphone-improv and brown ale fueled musique concrète from blog fave Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent.  Compared to other Posset releases I’ve reviewed, these seven tracks present a slightly edgier, more ambitious take on Joe’s the-world-is-my-fisher-price-activity-centre modus operandi.

There are, inevitably, laugh out loud moments – for example the priceless elastic band solo in ‘coleslaw surfeit’ – but, dare I say it, some of this comes close to expressing a Posset philosophy.  In the 13 minute epic ‘verunk bluaghh’ a tape of mournful strings gets increasingly nobbled until it gives out and is replaced by a field recording of birds singing.  How’s that for a critique of ‘proper’ music?  Like the beatnik outsider hep-cat that he is, Joe champions spontaneity, possibility, humour and enthusiasm.  That the cover features a mess of destroyed magnetic tape, a gleeful surrender to chaos, could not be more perfect.  I bloody love Posset, me.

The Zero Map – Felis Cattus Domesticus (IECDR021)

And something special for dessert.  You may have noticed that several of IE’s releases induced a narrative reverie in me and that I’ve been tempted to call on various wierd tales in order to explain the effect.  Well, now it is time to reference the master…

Immediately prior to listening to this disc for the first time I had been enjoying a reading of At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.  The fit with ‘Sentience’, the first track, could not be more snug.  This feels like a field recording of the relentless Arctic wind whistling and groaning as it whips around the non-euclidean angles of a long-abandoned alien city.  Or is it deserted?  There are strange vibrations emanating from far beneath the snow…

The second track, ‘Giving Birth’, is a cool drone piece suggesting the experience is far more placid and meditative than I had been led to believe.

The third and final track, ‘The Voices In My Head’, is a remarkable 20 minutes of layered, shifting textures that is as beguiling and unnerving as, well, having voices in your head.

Last night I woke from a nightmare and found myself trapped in that panic-inducing moment between sleep and consciousness.  The universe was inexplicable and malevolent.  Reduced, in fact, to Lovecraftian cosmic horror.  As this is a regular occurence, I keep my mp3 player handy in order that I may distract myself back to sleep by listening to some music.  Last night this track happened to be cued up and I found it strangely soothing.  Not because it is at all soporific, it isn’t, but because it acknowledged the truth of my fears.  Yes, it said to me, we get it

What the music has to do with the title of the release, or the sweet snapshots of cats on the cover, is beyond me – perhaps they are The Cats of Ulthar? – but who cares?  This is one of the best releases I’ve heard this year so far – the equal of the Jazzfinger disc reviewed in part one.

Buy from Waz (email address above) and/or visit The Zero Map’s WordPress blog.

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