new product! tj cuckoo sings yol: vox-object on hairdryer excommunication

February 17, 2014 at 9:54 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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tj cuckoo – vox-object (3″ CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 15 or download)

tj cuckoo - vox-object

Ladies and gentlemen, RFM is delighted to announce the second release by tj cuckoo –  vox-object – now available from hairdryer excommunication, the impeccable label run by Kevin Sanders.

Following the runaway success of too tired to eat, too hungry to sleep (the first tj cuckoo release, a C10 on Matching Head – literally some people were interested) I’ve decided to keep this alias for any non-midwichian noise emanating from these parts, especially that featuring and/or inspired by my baby son Thomas.

Tom does not feature this time but his pre-verbal jabbering, chuntering, shouting and bibbling inspired me to attempt a couple of things I’ve never done before.  Firstly: perform a score and secondly: use my voice in a recording.

The score is the third of three text pieces by Yol that I have published in The Barrel Nut, the RFM microzine.  Anyone unfamiliar with Yol’s work as artist or performer is missing something unique and I recommend clicking on the links below or the tag above and setting time aside to catch up.  Anyone unfamiliar with The Barrel Nut can click on the link to #5 below, or its page tab above, and get the skinny there – free treats for anyone interested in zines, graphics and the DIY aesthetic.  Anyway, this is the piece I’m referring to:

yol's text score

The more I looked at it and the more I heard Thomas chattering to himself, the more I fancied giving it a go.  Tracks one, two and four are performances of the ‘vox’ column.  The first is an intimate rendition having been woken in the middle of the night by the boy yelping in his sleep.  In the second I mimic his shuffling by kicking the dictaphone about as I record.  The final version is accompanied by a percussive rummage in the toy box.  The third track is an interpretation of the ‘object’ column.  Unlike Yol, I am far too timid to contemplate actually destroying something, so my conflagration (or not) is a 16 minute drone track built from heavily filtered domestic recordings.

Here’s Kev’s account:

vox-object features three tracks of pre-linguistic attempts at communication with a longer, more caustic track to boot. The guttural numbers are invariably more successful, communicatively speaking, then any hitherto fully formed words (or sentences), images or semaphore that have been used to communicate…er…erm… anything. Seriously. I have no ‘idea’, but a very deep understanding of why.

Fired in the kiln alongside the shorter throatings is a wonderous track featuring Hayler’s deft droning abilities. Detailed, grainy, dark drones crackle through thine ears until thee be burned out and ready to tackle one more explication of being. Prepare to have your skull seriously bent around this beast.

A mere fifteen copies exist on 3″ cdr with simple black and white photocopies of Yol’s score and the usual hXe stamps and typewritten accoutrement.

Cool, eh?  I’ll have a few for trade shortly, Kev is selling the remainder for a token, cost-covering amount.  Otherwise available to freely download from the hXe site (which is a very high quality resource that you should frequent frequently) alongside its sister release Clusters, clutter and other ephemera by the man Kevin himself.

Released, by the way, with Yol’s blessing – why not have a go at it yourself?

vox-object on the hairdryer excommunication blog

vox-object on the hairdryer excommunication Bandcamp site

Yol on YouTube

Yol on Bandcamp

The Barrel Nut #5

tj cuckoo: home-grown baby shaman’s psychedelic ululations

October 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
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tj cuckoo – too tired to eat, too hungry to sleep (C10 tape, Matching Head, mh 198)

tj cuckoo

I find it amusing nowadays to see noise releases described as ‘extreme’ or ‘challenging’ or ‘harsh’.  Compared to what?  I think, defined by whom?  It’s like contemporary visual art fancying itself all transgressive and shocking when the type of high concept guff described as such has been the dominant paradigm for more than a generation.  It couldn’t be more established.  Likewise ‘harshness’.  Thankfully, over the years noise has spiralled out and away from these industrial fetishes and yet the same old vocabulary is still used approvingly on forums, in distribution catalogues and the like.  I’ve nowt against this in principle, of course, but find myself less and less likely to partake.  Who, aside from the most box-fresh newbie, remains impressed by the middle-aged, leather-clad paunch of power electronics?  Or monolithic slabs of ‘harsh noise wall’ which are enthusiastically described using the same language – texture, grain, tone – you’d see on a website supplying kitchen worktops.

Parenthood has only increased my impatience with this silliness.  Becoming a father has taught me a great deal in a very short time.  The main lesson has been about my apparently unbounded capacity for love and joy – who would have thought, eh? – but one of the many secondary lessons is this: once you’ve endured an infant screaming in your face for hours on end certain definitional goalposts get shifted.  Tell me that your music is ‘harsh’ and I shall ruefully disagree.  No mate, your music is entertainment.  I’ve heard harsh, Sunny Jim, and your crap is birdsong in comparison.

…and yet…

Mulling all this over caused a train of thought to pull slowly away from the station platform.  Whilst some of the short, spiky tracks you’ll find on midwich albums are deliberately abrasive I’ve never set out to create something truly difficult to listen to.  However, now that I find myself with the perfect sound source to hand – a noise we are biologically hardwired to find unbearable – I found myself tempted to make my definitive statement on the matter.  It isn’t an original idea – I can think of examples of baby sounds being used from Stevie Wonder to Whitehouse – but I hadn’t heard it done in the way I intended to put it together.  I mentioned the idea to Lee Stokoe as a possible release on Matching Head, ideally on one of those super-short computer tapes.  He was interested and mentioned he had a pile of C10s knocking about.  Ideal.

Using my recently purchased dictaphone I recorded two pre-bedtime tantrums – pretty much the only time he does cry nowadays, being a generally happy little fella – cut out the ‘good’ bits and layered each four times.  Thus ending up with a chorus of 8 x Thomas screaming, coughing and wailing for ten minutes chopped into two five minute halves, topped with a charming gurgle and tailed with a punchline to reward those that get through it.  I felt very cold that evening as I spent hours listening to my son howl through my headphones and coolly adjusted the levels in Audacity.  Art, eh?  Anyway, I am delighted at how it has turned out.  Yes, it is a tough listen – truly nightmarish in places – but get past the, ahem, ‘harshness’, and I think you’ll find something profoundly psychedelic and ego-shredding.  I describe it in the title of this piece as shamanistic ululation and I’m only half joking.  At only ten minutes long it is also a lot less time consuming and dangerous than a ketamine overdose.

OK, no sound samples, no Bandcamp.  This is a strictly physical, tape only release.  Contact details for Lee and the label can be found on the Matching  Head Discogs page.  Check it out.

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