similarly introverted/greasy feathers: joe murray on final seed, troy schafer, termite acropolis, michael barthel, kent tankred, body morph, matt krefting, jon collin, f ampism and final seed again!

March 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Final Seed – S/T (Round Bale Recordings)

Troy Schafer – Untitled No4 (Round Bale Recordings)

Termite Acropolis – Dedication in Vinegar (Round Bale Recordings)

Michael Barthel – Randradau (Chocolate Monk)

Kent Tankred – Organ 1 (Chocolate Monk)

Body Morph – Keep Still and be Devoured (Soundholes)

Matt Krefting – Danger (Chocolate Monk)

Jon Collin – Sky Writings (Early Music)

F Ampism – The Resolution Phase (Beartown Records)

Final Seed – Untitled (Chocolate Monk)

 final seed round bale

Final Seed – S/T (Round Bale Recordings) Very rare tape or download

Rejoice in this super-subtle tape nothingness.

Side A is a perfectly timed 10 minutes that weaves the sound of background hiss-radiation with brief leather-necked gulpings and pre-language garrotte.  The sound of the sound of the recorder whirring dumbly is captured in startling clarity.  A round off in the cavern of the delay bounces a single blank tone off the squash court wall.

Side B is similarly introverted.  What was once a throaty wolf-man roar is pitched right down and super low into a substratum of broken sea-foam.  It warbles quietly, paying no mind and, like pouring thick glue over an uneven floor, the sound pools in places making deep ripples, skims the surface in others as light as a pond skipper.

The sense of purpose and dedication to a dream makes this a supremely confident release and an important exercise in listening to the sort of chuff we often ignore, gloss over and palm off.

Read no further and click here for evidence.

troy schafer round bale

Troy Schafer – Untitled No4 (Round Bale Recordings) Ultra rare lathe cut 7inch or download

Round Bale describe this as a ‘brain-scrambler’. After listening I’m feeling poached and fried to boot!

Side A. Sepia piano recordings run through a wood-chipper.

Troy’s fingers may nudge the occasional keys gently but his feet hit the pedals with force sending those white and black notes ricocheting through tin and bronze filters that wreak the pretty and gasp with giant violence.  What else am I getting (like a wine taster – that’s me!) a lung-rattling wheeze, half-song and memory.  You know what? I’m just a sucker for a solo piano.  The final 11 seconds promise a new beginning with that build up of blocked, harried notes that rudely snip off.  Oh yeah…distinctly classy.

Side B starts with a grunt and then something orchestral is wrenched back and forth through a pinhole.  The dry wooden click of a cello (perhaps) mimics a poultry convention; angry clucks and gobbles, that red wattle vibrating with the rough string attack.  I hear a woman’s laughter and then Troy launches into more grappling with the horsehair.  A dramatic friction.  Like looking down a sound-microscope that magnifies each textured sound-bundle a thousand times until it bursts like a turgid cell – spouting information into your lucky earhole.

Crikey Troy!

termite acropolis round bale

Termite Acropolis – Dedication in Vinegar (Round Bale Recordings) sold out tape and download

What an apt name for this ant-city investigation. Miniature tunnels are bored through the hard red earth and filled with dark cardboard clunks and billiard hall knockings.

Powerfully restrained recordings of process with little ornamentation. This is: a bell, a dropped coin, a handful of pocket fluff.

But that’s not to say these are overly simple.  Sounds are doused with a gentle condiment (or indeed pickled) until they slush about like a rotting medical exhibit (see: Caricature of the garden) in the bottom of a demijohn.

While massive machines are imagined in ‘Lardworks’, brass pistons pumping and levers floundering in a polished wooden way, it is left to ‘Extinguish the light’ to hurl us into the modern age; a symphony of gates opening and shutting to the beat of the Bontempi.

Title tracks often tell us a little about the intention and drive behind a record or artist.  In this case I’m guessing the closer, a nine-minute brining, is a powerful psychic calling card. It’s subtle and refined, relaxed but with a steady guiding hand on the reigns.  Delicate and simple tones and clunks rattle around the bagatelle that mirrors your own dainty cochlear.  It’s easy to get lost in such dwarf loops as they occur again and again, melting over each other in polite collapse.  At around the four-minute mark a constant high-lonely-moan is redoubled turning that sweet milk into smoked cheese marking the start of a watery, pale beauty.

Waiting room music for the hep, hep cats.

michaelbarthel choc monk

Michael Barthel – Randradau (Chocolate Monk) C20 Cassette

Insider bone scrapings and economic scribble.

Side A runs for about 9 minutes and places micro-pieces of clean and energetic German-sounding spoken goof with psychotic milkman-whistle and hissy-Dictaphone-grottage.  Oh yes! Michael barks stern his instructions. These blocks of meaning lock as tight as Duplo bricks but instead of the obvious primary colours this is an altogether mistier proposal.

You what?

So…rather than tan the glitches Mr Barthel exercises all the edges of his palette.  The lion indeed lies down with the lamb with the final few minutes mimicking aching layers of lazy sediment.

Side B starts with off-radio, wrong-phonics and some glorious sepia glossolalia.  A hum and whirr of the taping device is left to whittle away adding a tambour-like drone for an amateur age.  Gloriously smeared sound leaks like straw-coloured plasma from a bad burn.  Oily as balm; dressings are changed for the finale of woollen moans and an almost vaudeville reading of sparse and strangulated word blooms.

It’s a hectic world for sure, but listening to this made me dawdle like a child. Damn…listening to this tape made me a better person. You NEED some!

kent tankred choc monk

Kent Tankred – Organ 1 (Chocolate Monk) C40 Cassette

These ultra-heavy organ manipulations weigh as much a chubby whale loafing about in the viscous and dark brine.

A presence piece that you can, and should, project your reality on to: this is perfect travelling music.

Each organ foldback-loop and full –throated gas-roar is like a cold sun flickering through autumn leaves or watching the savage juxtaposition of a ripped billboard layered with contrasting messages.

Other observations?

  • Large pumice boulders skin your elbows and the dead skin falls like dry sleet.
  • A microphone is lowered into a crimson oubliette.
  • Running into the wind with your mouth open wide until your breath gets caught behind chilly teeth.

This hissing bustle plays well obnoxiously loud and pasty-necked quiet.



Body Morph- Keep Still and be Devoured (Soundholes) C60 cassette 

This tape is an exercise in long-form rustage.

True!  Tones from a dying crab get hoofed through the murky, mystic mix at points but mostly it’s a 1000 yard stare of slowly crashing gears.

On side one I’m picking up cheap-casio keys gummed down under years of tape-varnish & mould-hiss.  I’m hearing a smeared gossamer touch akin to greasy feathers.

Side two gets all lo-maxxed on a horn of some sort; mournful and cool as the night air.  Armenian Jazz Sorrow?  The sound of occasional suffocation?

A true listeners tape, this is no ‘slap it on and do the ironing’ cassette.  It demands full attention and for this thorough investment you are amply rewarded with layer upon layer of ear –silt clogging yr golden wax deposits.

mattkrefting danger

Matt Krefting – Danger (Chocolate Monk) C15 Cassette

Ultra-core tape jaxx.

Super-indefinite and lost imaginings.

It’s the softest breath kissing carbon paper; that most delicate and faint purple image as tender as an early morning bruise.

Memory slides smooth as a trombone made of smog and brass fittings.

Half-formed but fully realised.  The magic happens in that grey blancmange as you use natural electricity to link the un-linkable, paint the un-paintable.

Matt leaves us mortals a few clues – popping candy in a giant’s gob and infrared tinfoil.  Apart from that you’re on your own pal!

Polite yet essential.

Jon Collin

Jon Collin – Sky Writings (Early Music) C15 Tape

If I’d got my finger out this tape would have made the 2016 ‘best of’ lists for sure and will no doubt be top 10 material in sunny 2017.

Fahey, Rose and Nugent fan boys/girls must listen…this tape is so charming I coughed up a cream tea and a cheeky goodnight kiss. This tape made me a damn loving fool!

In the old definition this is a fucking splendid tape (shine, be bright) that warms up my cold heart and makes me smile like reading Nicholson Baker details and footnotes.

A real human-sounding solo acoustic guitar probe the damn nostalgia nodes to conjure up an imagined picnic in a cornfield.  The colours are vivid.  The corn is the creamiest yellow, the sky the brightest blue.  Our blanket the deepest red.

The melodies trip some switch that bursts crisp cornflowers out my chest and replace my blood with silver helium bubbles.

Spiritualised? Do me a favour eh?  I’m really floating in space here mate.  The strums and pickles are complex as spiderwebs but simple as nursery rhymes.  The untitled tunes are as familiar as pins and needles and get under my skin in a similar restless and itchy way; it’s like I’ve always known them as they slip out of reach skidding like a deer on ice.

Oh my!  Such elegance with chipped nails and calloused hands.  The perfect beautiful happiness of aching heart.


F Ampism – The Resolution Phase (Beartown Records) CD

A tasty CD that I’m now re-imagining as a vinyl EP pressed onto seven inches.

“But why format transfer boy? You may ask.”

Because this is a disc of two halves, that’s why doubter.  An ‘A’ and a ‘B’.  My ‘This Side’ twinned to your ‘That Side’ is strongly suggested to my oatmeal mind.

Let me explain…

A jungle lushness drips through the recent work of Mr F Ampism.  Thick and green, waxy and water-resistant each micro-collage is rich beyond our feeble senses; ethnic percussive loops wobbly like belly fat, environmental recordings gurgle as algae-thick rivers, electronic squirts gush tessellated digital foof.  It’s a sound you can smell and that smell is pregnant and full.

The first three tracks, ‘Monaestry and Math’ to ‘Straight Brains’ are alive with exotic Toucan ‘caws’ and Howler hoots.  The middler ‘The Joint Capsule’ replays Balinese rhythms among the creaking boats, the lapping waves and call of villagers selling shrimp-based snacks.  Gradually a soft tone bubbling erupts in my pocket.  Copper pans are dropped overboard and ‘boaab’ drunkenly in the mud-coloured water as they slowly fill, sway, and sink beneath the waves.

All of a piece these three realised constructions suggest organic life with a face tilted towards a red, red sun.

‘Shabada Transmission’ bucks the trend by laying down heavily in the rumpled bed belonging to Detroit Techno – the synthetic strings and xylophone tones as future facing as jet boots and holidays on Mars.   And in doing so Ampism revels a new destination and we are already deep in ‘Side Two’ territory.

‘Inner Eyelid’ is made up of spare parts, a lone creak, a dropped calliope yet is patched up in the most un-Frankenstein manner.  No flat head no sir! Bolts through the neck?  Forget-about-it. Think more like a slim ankle glimpsed or thick auburn curls just begging to be tousled.

The jazz, in all its hot boiling majesty, infests ‘Thrown Jam 1 and 2 ‘ with Pazuzu sitting in on traps while Regan hams on the vintage synth.  This duo/solo gets ripe!

And, as all things must, this disc ends.  But with a juddering, flustering loop so perfectly placed those plunderphonic dingbats blush crimson and sweat.

finalseed chocolate monk

Final Seed – Untitled (Chocolate Monk) C30 Cassette

Witness the drunken bowling alley vibe on this damp-chiller from Final Seed.

Like a diary opened at random one passage might reveal children squeaking, another, the fumbling fingers of a defective chord-organ.

Dark percussive knocks form a rhythm interuptus ladled on thick like broth. Slack-mouthed and slurry, a voice gnarls on with steaming feet. Wonked-out keyboard extrapolations all bothered with hot-electric butter.  Broken cassette ghost-capture.

Neat eh?  But all the while this is undoubtedly gush from the same mush.  Oh my!

This is serious stuff…like the abstract soundtrack to the sound of making a soundtrack each perfect formula of tones, field recordings and manipulations delight by being both utterly novel and head-scratchingly familiar. So while the diary analogy still holds I’m darting from love-sick boy-teen to worried mother to toddler rocking on their plump heels.  It’s got charm in punnets, invention in spades!

The best album that chump Eno never made.  DEMAND A RESSIUE!!!

Round Bale Recordings

Chocolate Monkey


Early Music

Beartown Records


close to the pylons: joe murray on robin foster, henry collins, leda, arv & miljö, tear fet, troy schafer

August 5, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Henry Collins / Robin Foster – Spill Lynch Corrosiveness / Frostlike Neighbourly Aversion (CD-r, LF Records, LF050)

Leda – City/Clear (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB010, edition of 200)

Arv & Miljö – untitled (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB008, edition of 200)

Tear Fet – Blabber (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.333, edition of 40)

Troy Schafer – Amplified Double Fiddle (3″ CD-r and pin badge or download, aetheric records)


Henry Collins / Robin Foster – Spill Lynch Corrosiveness / Frostlike Neighbourly Aversion  

These two ‘non-guitarists’ play something approaching Kaiser-mash with some extremely damaged fingers.

Two tracks.  One mind/ten fingers a-piece.  You dig?

Spill Lynch yeah!  Guitar-as-you-trucking-lump-it. Totally wrecked non-playing as strings are hammered on and hammered off.  Steel is plucked and pulled and shredded hard with foam mallets.  Rubbery metal is found bounced in the reverse making this a righteous dental dam for pearly whites.

Tiny fists, like Joe Pesci’s ‘pow…ping…pow’, jab into your soft temple raising a bruise and yet… this would be a wonderfully zesty cocktail!  But you add the mangled FX-BOX and goof-timing and you are looking at a particularly sexy beach.  Memory gong ripples out a Daxophone reference but it’s slung as low as a Kev Hopper bassline so figure that captain!

Frostlike yeah! One man spitting canned peas out a tight, puckered gob-hole dribbles cold green bile.  OR has Eddie Van taken the vapours so his ERUPTION is all STAR SPANGLED out a tiny HIWATT about to burst into flames.  It’s like a pissy Morse; a constant chatter of on/off/on/off rattling up through my ribcage and whispering into my fontanel.  It’s machine code on the jibber-jabber somehow rocking a ska rhythm.  It’s barium voodoo and it’s aiming for any hole going.

We Roll tonight to the guitar bite


Leda – City/Clear

Crispy bouncing beats sound like they crept out of Sheffield circa 1979.  A wheexing synth plays a one note melody and twists the pitch up, out of waxy remains, until the thing squeals like a pinched nut.  One dimensional in the best possible way; focused and determined Leda sings a line that blends soft as Egyptian eye shadow.  It does its thing at a totally brisk pace: skip, skip, skipping like a hockey puck over dull scuffed ice.

The flipside proper songs it; imagine shoving a Woodbine into that Vape pen and huffing hard.  Misty organ vamps float like a kite flapping drastically close to the pylons.  Leda sighs as if bad news is arriving soon in a manila envelope.  I’m thinking of Barbara Manning in her total waif days if you’re looking for a mind-crutch.

Wonderfully brief, totally Nu Wave.  Where’s my piano tie dude?


Arv & Miljö – Untitled

The mysterious Arv & Miljö are quite possibly the equally mysterious Matthias Andersson who has jammed a high-quality mic out his neat apartment window to record the big wide world going about its business.

Side A picks up those pesky seabirds all going


in fine white clarity.  If this was Whitby they’d be fighting over chips but Matthias’ location is totally smorgasbord, all gherkin fresh and sauna-clean toes.

Side B revels in a Swedish downpour. The trebly ‘hiss’ of the rain fills my ears almost whole but gradually subsides into more bassy individual drips (off your peaked cap perhaps) and ends on a fragile bowl ringing making this a super-fucking-classy ride on the vinyl.


Tear Fet – Blabber

As serious as your life.

This meditation on disease and ultimate loss is pure honest gibber that surfs straight from tragedy.  It’s a pretty unsettling raw disc of vocal jaxx, jammed to tape direct with no discernable dubs or edits.  The 20 minute piece was scored by Fet himself (a Matt Dalby apparently) and then, as the moorings loosen, it breaks free of all reason.

My first few listens marvel at the sheer range of guff coming outta two lips, two lungs and one tongue.

Me?  I’ll carry this like Wisdens… a goddamn almanac of honk.  A how-to guide!

Over the course of the spinning shiney I count the following techniques: slack mouth farts, gulps, wheezing roars, tactile yawns, owl squeaks, slibby gibbers, lip-smacks, jaw creaks, warble and weft, dry huff/wet huff, moans, scones and drones, deep sighs, ribbet-lite, mucus croak, deft saliva manipulation, pinched inhalations, seal barks, wet sucking, coughs (phlegm and tickle), rude burps, careless whispers, dirty slurps, humms, ululation, snivel and whimpers, throat rasp, snivels (without whimpers), throat shred, large cheek inflation, nasal gargles, proper singing, mithering, call and response (solo), repetition and imitation, vibration of fleshy jowls, cavity popping, fake Russian bantz, sinus snort, irregular mucus work, jakey muttering, horse blowing and common or garden slobber. [Editor’s note: Bravo Joe! *claps meatily in approval*]

For students of vocal jizz in all its glorious forms; consider this one essential.


Troy Schafer – Amplified Double Fiddle

A tremendous hot spurting event of a record that moves from God-rattling fists to microscopic blossoms bursting.

Mr Troy here has built his own double fiddle, inspired by Aussie out-violinist Jon Rose, and rammed it through all manner of cheap distortion sawing away raising merrie hell.

The horsehair rips up a storm (x 2), the dragging and pushing astringent as a spilled gin ‘n tonic but still fatly full and all encompassing.  Occasionally things fall apart into an elegant digital-ditch or rusty tape hole; all the better to keep things human and sprightly I say!

Oh my sweet Lord!  There’s something wonderfully elemental about the frenzied bowing, the constant car-crash of sound that’s as bright as a spotlight; a pure unfettered stream of energy and information.

The overtones really play nice with my pink ears, especially on the less noisy moments.  The double movement is shaped like slow geography, a gradual denudation of the bristling sonics turning the abrasive into smooth gold teeth.

Hey!  Conventional wisdom loves a crescendo eh?  A simple narrative that leads to the big pay off, the money shot.  But Troy baffles by moving from Piss Superstition-levels of fuckedness to a no-more-than slightly water-damaged scrape over the course of this beautifully direct record.  The arc in reverse.

I’m so keen you hear this I checked with aetheric and blimey… it’s sold out at source.  Click the download my beauties!


LF Records

I Dischi Del Barone

Chocolate Monk

aetheric records

many at their windows: marlo eggplant on ‘an electrical storm’

February 19, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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various artists – an electrical storm (CD-r and badge or download, aetheric records)


The 1968 album An Electric Storm by White Noise is a sound classic, inspiring avant garde/experimental pop bands such as Silver Apples and Stereolab who aimed to approximate the primitive, vestigial sound experiments curated by American electronic engineer David Vorhaus.

Having attended a lecture given by Delia Derbyshire, Vorhaus joined forces with her and fellow Radiophonic Workshop composer Brian Hodgson and the result of locking themselves away together is this classic psychedelic pop album.  An Electric Storm is playful and cinematic, filled with altered samples and tape spliced salads of circus melodies, special effects, French dialogue, sexual exploits, and screams of hell. The aetheric records 2015 compilation, an electrical storm is a ‘tribute to the experimental spirit’ of White Noise’s masterpiece.


All artists were given a field recording of an electrical storm made by aetheric records’ Alistair Thaw (a.k.a slowthaw.) They could use the track as they wished to create their own compositions. One could reason that conceptually inspired by the White Noise album, this compilation is a celebration of the technique: repurposing sound or ‘tape splicing’. And it isn’t just a bunch of musicians using the sample in similar ways or even using similar procedures. Each track has its own flavour and approach to the initial recording, resulting in a true tribute to ‘how-and-why’ the White Noise album was born.

With a collection of international musicians rolling the dice with the storm, the result is an enjoyable and dramatic film journey accompanied by an unconscious familiarity with the source material.  The tracks are well ordered, leaving the listener enjoying the rain.


The compilation opens with So There’s xylophones and nuanced, quiet beckonings. White Feather’s Nocturnal Storm leads us into the glowing, pretty space where the listener opens their eyes refreshed. Kek-W‘s STRm walks us on to the train tracks into a dance party, climbing past metal riveters and pulsations. Troy Schafer’s fixed emission makes me seriously homesick for shows back in the States in sweaty spaces filled with unexpected distorted shouts and dark human stimuli. The Revenant Sea’s charge separation cluster is the static that makes the baby hair on arms stand at attention, possibly receiving transmissions from the galaxy. The Heartwood Institute’s aetheric recursion did not remind me of the massage school with the same namesake in Northern California. Rather it reminded me of the The Repo Man soundtrack [Editor’s note: high praise indeed!], the listener being pursued by chain smoking UFO hunters. le pleasure beach by Benjamin Shaw washes one with watery ascending piano ripples.


April Larson’s decaying dream (electric storm mix) delivers yet another cinematic track, this time with escalating David Lynch eerie suspense. as clouds accumulate by stapperton bounces a rubber ball intermittently walking through rain storms and swarms of whispering cicadas, inducing ketamine flashbacks. black_ops pushes one through a monochromatic static void, repetitive waves of great gravity surround. Echoes …. Leytonstone concretizes one’s senses again putting them into order with shushing reassurance to move through the gap. BURL attaches you to the outer space debris floating through ancient unknown civilizations, all being swallowed slowly into a black hole. One enters another dimension on a single sound. two cars passing by Hollows is a misty-eyed moment of mortality, organs and piano keyboards reminding us that we all grow old. Broken Shoulder’s holiday’s ruined is honing in on almost nautical transmissions and resonance, the ship is brought into port after a long voyage. Coming back to the source, and nature, with the clean, sharp field recording made by slowthaw.

The compilation comes with a badge with the same disturbing, beautiful album art. I recommend listening to an electrical storm late at night with a jug of red wine, lying on a Persian rug and duvet for emotional comfort.


aetheric records

invisible dance for violin: chrissie caulfield on troy schafer

March 31, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Troy Schafer – Action for Solo Violin (tape, Dusty Grass Imprint, edition of 100 or download)

troy schafer - action

I’m a sucker for a solo violin piece.  It’s not the purity of the single instrument, oh no. I have no time for purity in music, for me hybridity is the way, but I love the idea of taking a single instrument and stretching it as far as it will go, or combining it with something unexpected. Like dance. Or, in this case, an invisible dance!

For that is what Troy Schafer has done here. It’s a dance for a violinist, but you don’t see the movement – just four tantalising photos giving a mere hint of what is going on in the course of this album. The reviews quoted on the download site lament that there is no video available of the performance but I think this is actually a feature and not a bug (as we say in software). By leaving the movements up to your imagination, Shafer is making you imagine what might be happening rather than giving it to you on a plate. If I’d seen the performance live I’m sure I would have been transfixed, but at home I’d rather listen to a recording and make my own pictures than watch them on a screen, at least where music is concerned.

Where the release does fall down, in my opinion, is that it seems to have been recorded with a single microphone so there is no stereo image to help you with your internal visualisations. A spaced pair would have added hugely to the interest in the sound here and given us a few clues, at least, as to what might be going on. Another thing I feel I would have quite liked him to do would be to detune the strings occasionally to give us more variety in the notes that come through.

And what is going on? Well audibly it’s mostly a lot of clicks, pops and scrapes, there’s quite a lot of scratching of the bow on the strings, plucking them behind the bridge. These are done with much variety, intensity and variety of intensity – he goes from barely audible scratches to sounding like he’s in a small aircraft about to take off. What you won’t find are any ‘normal’ notes. The few times the bow is drawn across a string it’s with such pressure or at such an angle that any semblance of a note is almost a figment of your imagination.

And imagination is key to this recording, I think. Both in Schafer’s idea to make it in the first place, and in your own mind as you listen. As I experience this piece I can imagine all sorts of contortions that the performer gets up to, with both violin and bow, and every time I listen to it those movements change depending on my mood. Of course all music sounds different each time you listen depending on mood, but here you have the four visual starting points to get you going with the dance each time too, and I do strongly recommend looking at the photos before beginning a session with this album.

Surprisingly (well, it surprised me) there really is enough going on to keep you hooked for the full 40 minutes. Just. The interest comes from the subtlety of differences between the effects and the juxtaposition of them. As soon as you begin to wonder whether a particular gesture is going to go on forever, Schafer moves on to something else – sometimes literally as you hear his feet shuffling on the floor. It’s a hard listen at times, there are no long sounds here at all, it’s sparse and percussive for all of it’s duration. I got this as a download rather than the cassette but I think you still need the time between movements to rest your ears and, metaphorically or physically, turn the tape over. In my case I load the album one file at a time into my player software rather than using a playlist.

This album might be mainly a work for violin-nerds, I think I know how all the sounds here were produced and can visualise what is happening at least at the micro level of the performance – e.g. what the bow is doing on the strings – but maybe some ignorance or less detailed knowledge of the instrument and its extended techniques might actually help [Editor’s note: if you want ignorance of technique then I’m your man!]. Perhaps not knowing what on earth is going on adds even more to the mystery dance.  Have a listen and let me know!


Dusty Grass Imprint

Troy Schafer on Bandcamp

acting sane: panic dispelled by técieu, prolonged version, troy schafer and foldhead

January 29, 2015 at 11:59 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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técieu – Miłość EP (3” CD-r, fyh!records, edition of 44 or download)

Prolonged Version – All watched over by machines with neurotic disorders (CD-r or download, thejunkyardprocession)

Troy Schafer – Untitled No. 1 (7″ single, Signal Dreams, edition of 300 or download)

foldhead – for William Burroughs (download, zanntone)

técieu - Miłość

Throughout January I have been enduring a near-constant state of panic with fluctuating levels of intensity. During the holiday period I made the grave error of relaxing and my depression, seeing a soft (and substantial) underbelly exposed, decided to have a right good poke. There are physical symptoms: queasiness, light head, short breath but the really exhausting aspect is the constant inner repetition of three phrases: ‘I hate myself’, ‘when will this end?’ and ‘how will I cope?’. Like lampreys, these parasitic notions suck onto any thought or action no matter how sleek or fast moving it may be. In summary: depression is insisting that nothing matters, panic is screaming that everything matters and my sane middle, increasingly squeezed, sighs:

Will the pair of you just FUCK OFF.

Ugh. I mention it for two reasons. Firstly, talking about it robs it of (some of) its power – it withdraws its feeding tube like a blood-engorged tick touched with the tip of a lit cigarette.  Secondly, this is part of a deliberate ‘no platform’ policy adopted to deny my illness the head-space it needs to operate.  Trading blows with these thoughts rarely works – the panic loves a pagga as it puts me in a state susceptible to self-loathing.  Instead, I’m learning that a sharper tactic is to crowd it out by accentuating the positive, by ‘counting my blessings’, by consciously attending to things that I know that I would enjoy when healthy.  I am, in a sense, acting sane in order to counter what stops me from really being sane.  Head spinning thought, eh?  These are the games I have to play sometimes.  It is very, very tiring.

The plus side, however, is that a consequence of trying to do things that I can be proud of and enjoy is that I occasionally actually do things that I can be proud of and enjoy.  Here is where I have to thank music and its attendant distractions – yet again – for being such a restorative tonic.  For example: the ‘hiring’ of RFM’s new writers was a joyful experience and, in its own humble way, politically positive.  The practical upshot was that I was then able to farm out half of the review pile to my extended crew.  This allowed me to listen to those recordings purely as a fan rather than as a, *ahem*, ‘writer’ and the experience has been so refreshing that I return to my own review ‘work’ invigorated.

In that spirit I now offer a bunch of short reviews of exceptional and entertaining work that was brought to my attention last year but has only been properly digested in the last month or so.  My apologies to the artists for unconscionable delays.  Better crack on, eh?


técieu – Miłość EP

técieu is the solo project of Polish lawyer, journalist, musician and gig promoter Tekla Mrozowicka.  Miłość, which means ‘Love’ in English, is a 3″ CD-r or download from Polish label fyh!records comprising three tracks and totalling something over 15 minutes.

Despite apparently being created with nothing but software these three tracks have the rasp and roar of North East noise/drone and carry a substantial emotional heft.  Indeed, grounding the fuzz and static in (what I perceive to be) synth line foundations lends a cinematic scope whilst short running times and attention to detail suggest admirable discipline.

This is nuance and restraint blown up to Imax scale.  This is the inner conflict suggested by the flicker of a telling glance.  This is the thousands of tons of rock and dirt implied by the thin stream of dust falling from a crack in the ceiling of the mine.  When the throttle finally opens on the short last track the catharsis found in the squall is entirely earned and is deeply satisfying.

I recommend this very highly and fyh!records fully deserve your support – Piotr runs the outfit with soul, enthusiasm and an attitude that is bang-on.

prolonged version

Prolonged Version – All watched over by machines with neurotic disorders

One of four CD-rs in hand-made packaging that were hand-delivered by Karl Whiting of thejunkyardprocession – Leeds based label, zine publisher and gig promoter. Who doesn’t love the personal touch, eh? The album comprises four tracks and lasts about an hour in total.

What you get is a series of grinding, mechanical rhythms and arcing, shorting electronics that work to obliterate conscious thought by submerging it in sump oil. Processes vibrate free of their moorings and pulse with unreadable alien purpose. Listening is a duck/rabbit experience, a flickering gestalt switch: ecstatic ego-dissolving delirium / drowning panic. I realise this review is short but I don’t feel the need to overembelish this one: I found it remarkable. The closest comparison I can make is to the unmusic of the piss superstition which is, of course, high praise.

troy schafer - untitled

Troy Schafer – Untitled No. 1

Two tracks, totalling 11 minutes, to be found on various colours of 7″ vinyl or as a download for those thinking of moving house soon and despairing at the number of physical objects underfoot.

Side A is six minutes apparently culled from 36 hours of recording and I can only marvel at this superhuman feat of editorial rigour. In the circumstances you might expect a cartoonish strobing of splinter cuts but nope, instead you get drama, depth and invention with room for transitional flourishes and even the odd moment of near silence. Highlights include: scribbled violin interpreting a shredded Berhard Herrmann score, the groaning of a Lovecraftian Old One woken by volcanic activity raising its sunken city, dawn in a SF dystopia as directed by John Carpenter and a genuinely moving threnody for strings and junkyard scramble which builds to an ego-piercing, liquid silver climax.

Side B is a mournful performance by a lovelorn suitor on an unwieldy metal instrument he’s dragged into place under the balcony of his disinterested Juliet. As he bows, scrapes and rattles she is nowhere to be seen. For the final minute we cut to inside her apartment and find her attention darting between every screened device and radio in the place – all barking reports on an unprecedented electromagnetic storm engulfing more and more of the planet until…

I’ve listened to this a dozen times at least and feel there are still corners to poke into, densities to unravel. In some alternate universe this is the perfect pop single.

foldead - fwb

foldhead – for William Burroughs

Picture me as a 10 ten year old rummaging in a box on a market stall labelled ‘Science Fiction 20p’ and picking out a copy of The Naked Lunch that was nestled amongst the Asimovs and Bradburys.

What about this, Dad?

…I asked. My Dad – a librarian and well aware of its contents – chuckled and replied:

Better ask your Mum if you should read that one.

I didn’t, of course, and as soon as backs were turned I handed over my pocket money. Thus Burroughs, alongside albums like Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret – which my long-suffering Mum bought for me well before I knew what the word ‘erotic’ really meant – and the B(DSM)-sides of Adam and the Ants singles (‘Beat My Guest‘ etc.) introduced me to some ‘interesting’ aspects of the adult world. Explains a lot, eh?

Anyway, years later I finally heard Burroughs’s voice and everything fell into place – its dry crackle lighting a forest fire in my head. For many readers of radiofreemidwich it must be one of the most recognisable sounds of the Twentieth Century. Thus when I saw that Paul Walsh had used this unique source in a foldhead recording I was intrigued. The result is something of a shock, however, as it contains not a syllable of recognizable speech. Paul has instead dragged a snippet (I like to think it is one word – ‘sphincter’ maybe) through various patches and filters until what remains is a 23 (of course) minute long unnerving, dronetronic landscape of snow drifts shifted and reshaped by the wind. Perhaps this is what it feels like to overdose on mugwump jizz, metabolism slowing to an irreversible stop. On one listen I got so deep into this that I nearly walked under a car.  What more do I need to say?



Signal Dreams

fyh! records


the severed tongue, the haunted fog, the family crypt: new from aetheric records

August 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Troy Schafer – Rigid Oppression (business card CD-r with pin badge, aetheric records, edition of 23)

more black then god – 1964 ZEN IN THE DRONES (3” CD-r, aetheric records, edition of 20)

people-eaters – disincarnate (CD-r with stickers and pin badge, aetheric records, edition of 20)

 troy schafermore black then godpeople-eaters - disincarnate

My love of the post is obsessive, bordering on fetishistic. The fact that in exchange for a small(ish) amount of money you can make an object disappear from your presence and reappear elsewhere in the world sometime later is magical to me. Despite grumbling about the continuing ubiquity of ‘stuff’ in these sleek, downloadable times the novelty never seems to wear off.

As you can imagine, running a blog in celebration of a fringe art form created by a taskforce of the unco-opted invites odd correspondence. Many’s the time that the contents of a parcel have caused a raised eyebrow. Always notable, for example, are packages from Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon – the painting/collage encrusted with toenail clippings being especially alarming – but a couple of weeks ago he was momentarily outdone: Alistair of aetheric records sent me a severed tongue.

It wasn’t real, thankfully, just a squishy, sticky, joke-shop toy – the sort of thing a ghoulish pre-teen might throw at his classroom window to gross-out his contemporaries – but it made me jump, then made me laugh. It fit right in with the goth/horror aesthetic of the label too. Sadly, it had leaked a foul, petrol-smelling, oily substance over everything in the envelope but, hey, it’s the thought that counts. It also reminded me that I’d had a couple of his releases on the pile for months now and that I should really dig them out. Now, I don’t want the lesson you take away from this to be ‘send Rob body parts = jump the queue’ but I have to admit it was a diverting tactic…

I mentioned the goth/horror aesthetic. This isn’t the backwoods/back alley grindcore of, say, certain Matching Head/Oracle atmospheres, more a sort of Victorian gothic: dimly lit séances, air thick with incense, charlatans fooling the gullible with fake ectoplasm and stigmata only to be dragged under themselves by offended spirits. Occasionally it reaches a tentacle into the cosmic horror of Lovecraftian weird tales or, in moments of full-on noise, to the tongue-severing schlock of EC Comics. The packaging is artfully realised – sharing a Pennine-corridor affiliation with Crow Versus Crow – and the releases are, by and large, conveniently short.

Presented on a dinky business card CD-r and clocking in at a mere five minutes, Rigid Oppression by Troy Schafer delivers a right kicking. This is the visceral clattering of actual physical objects being violently rearranged. I often find this kind of noise comical at first – like a floppy-fringed teenager ordered to sort the recycling and making as much racket as possible because it’s just not fair – but repeat listens reveal the chaos is contained within a bowed rise and fall. I imagine the breathing of a junkyard Smaug, his heaving chest – lungs ragged from years of smoking – dislodging detritus from the mountain of crap he is splayed across.

more black then god [sic], nom de plume of Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt, stretches his three tracks to a relatively epic total of 20 minutes. This is the stuff of seafaring nightmare – sodden souls gripping the slippery rail of their ghost ship as it glides into harbour. There is a formal, shot-in-black-and-white, austerity to it too though, as if the haunted fog is rolling in over the manicured lawns of L’Année dernière à Marienbad. Bourgeois hotel guests shift uneasily as they play the matchstick game and order another cocktail. There is a tapping at the window…

disincarnate is the latest from aetheric house band people-eaters and is the longest of the trio at just under half an hour. On the album’s Bandcamp page it is noted that…

This album contains eight threnodies for my late father (1942-2013).

…which I found rather numbed my critical response. There is a passage in Martin Amis’s autobiography in which, to paraphrase, he describes reaching a point in middle age when the only things that have any real importance are births and deaths. I am (un)comfortably within that zone myself now and, as such, my reaction to a dedication like that is to listen to the music in a solemn and contemplative mood. It isn’t conducive to flights of descriptive fancy but I see that, as ever, I am late to the party and reviews rich in the figurative can already be read at heathenharvest, riverrockreviews, forestpunk and musicuratum – all written by talents less psychologically squeamish than me.

What I can say is that I was impressed that the band’s usual atmosphere of dread has not been dialled back in the slightest. This is a wake as desolate as could be described by Poe and, shockingly, the sixth track, ‘me mokutu vakamatea’, contains a poem written by fellow aetheric label mate slowthaw reminiscent of Poe’s translator Baudelaire or maybe something from a ritual hallucinated in a Lovecraftian fever-dream. Given the declared context it is bold stuff. I listened to this album whilst sat in a sun trap created by the concrete geometries of the campus where I work and was transported to a windswept, hillside graveyard where a group of horrified mourners wonder what the hell could have torn the doors from the family crypt…


aetheric records

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