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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

fruit smoke: joe murray’s tutore burlato special: acrid lactations & jointhee, flocculi, final seed, dylan nyoukis, i placca

June 9, 2016 at 11:11 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Acrid Lactations & Jointhee – Chest (tape, Tutore Burlato, #10)

Flocculi – Gara delle facce (tape, Tutore Burlato, #09)

Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis – split (tape, Tutore Burlato, #08)

I PLACCA – la la vitea (tape, Tutore Burlato, #11)


O sweet Bologna! That most beautiful and learned of jewels; famous for world-renowned sauces and stunningly practical porticos.

But Bologna is swiftly becoming the epicentre of new movement, some audacious No Audience activity; a nerve centre of excellence named TUTORE BURLATO. And when this sticky spider’s web converges it does so onto a man.  A man strong of arm and handsome of chin.

His name?  Signore e signori… allow me to introduce Ezio Piermattei.

Ezio’s tape label has been documenting the N-AU as it stands and as it hopes to be.  Giving airtime to the old faithfuls and thrusting new gushers alike.  And this recent batch of tapes from BURLATO mixes the new and the old, the Anglo and the Italian, the after-dinner cigarillo and the hastily burned spice mix.


My old hands go snatch up the Acrid Lactations & Jointhee jams to play first.  Spying the body positive title, Chest, my mind spins back to their 2013 (?) release Toe where I honked on about: semi-improv, pre jazz hornings and Joincey dueting with coyotes.

And some of this would still float.  Yeah… it’s ‘song’ based for sure, but these three pulsating brains have stretched the idea of what a song can be and on Chest serve up unconscious narratives with brittle dream accompaniment.

Brittle?  Yeah… brittle is most definitely the word as there is a delicious fragility to these tunes; a fluttering of three tiny hearts in a cage of hollow bones.  They stand up (only just) on stick-thin Bambi legs, all a quiver and vulnerable.

But stand they shall, for there is some other force that holds this three-ness with powerful limb-locked poise.  Study the archaeo-acoustic cranks and they will tell you the ancients moved giant blocks with similar tones and chants.  The trick is (I propose) to melt the ego, to drain it out of your heel, and relent.

And because the general speed is set to stately (there’s not any of that ‘itch & scratch’ haste to the improvisations) Chest presents some red-hot moments:

  • Bubbling synth/keys, birdsong bubbles, mung-voice choirs and frankly horny Dictaphonics.
  • “How do you identify lazily?” The unknowable mumbles in a rare moment of call and response.  An underlying ur-tone of jaxx-babble frames the question.
  • Depeche Mode B-Side moogs paired with drunkenly whispered threats into a green parrot’s ear (or whatever it is parrots have)
  • Short mbira plunks as Jointhee sings like a cactus would – free of convention, pure with antiseptic pulp.
  • The Free Jazz is dealt like a wildcard, at the optimum moment of strategic value.  And these chops are paper-cut sharp and drone precise.
  • Crossed frequencies on radio-weird.  Damp-eyed with pride, accented words and phrases patter like fresh baby feet.

It’s so precious I’m holding my breath as I listen – a glorious submission – I tap out.



It’s the next day.  I’m up early, guiltily hungover while the house still sleeps.  I slap on Flocculi’s Gara Delle Facce to help re-build my soul.

Like a broth strong with lentils and kale this kind of junk really nourishes me good.

Another trio: Devid Ciamplini, David Lucchesi and Ezio Piermattei take a bunch of ‘objects’, vocoder, percussive fixings and rattle on like those old guys swigging their tiny coffees.

It’s all about the gesture and aplomb.  Rustles and dry clicks snap me back into last night’s tamed debauchery.

A stone floor is brushed with a stiff brush, copper bowls are wiped out with a sponge.  Once tight strings are slackened till they flap like a clown’s waistband. Sloppy electronics hum and splutter over graven images.  The pace is the busy, busy, busy of a market stall; conversations are started with a warm meatiness and broken off in chaotic order.  Is that a fumble for loose change or a heavy finger on the scales?  A half-dozen blood oranges get popped in a paper bag, the ends twisted with a practiced flourish.

Then a creaking of door-hinges bookends Ezio’s patented pigeon impression and punctuates the rubbery throbbing.  A glassy glissandi on prepared guitar shimmers like the ice in my Campari.  My only critique would be these jams are too damn short!



On a bit of a roll I un-wrap the Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis tape; a shy, blushing pink it brightens my wobbly mood further.

First some biog-jizz.  Final Seed is the very Jameson Sweiger from mysterious US-based folk Maths Balance Volumes.  I talk like I know all this shit but, truth to tell, this is all new information for me that I just Googled [Editor’s note: good man, exactly the kind of journalistic thoroughness our readers have come to expect].  But boy… have I been napping!  Investigations reveal some sweet-weird going on in Minnesota.

Seed’s untitled side is a match-head; bulbous and explosive with all that energy fizzing and bright phosphorus boiling from the very first strike.

Ukulele plucks/strums and reconstructed vocal-hawks & blither (aka cunk-singing!) are layered like thick acoustic plasters creating a Rauschenberg sound-collage.  And for a while it veers between this flexible ‘boing’ and gristly rattle.

But it’s the long drawn-out synth coda that’s the soothing balm my aching neck craves.  A two note ‘ooohh…ahhhh’ tolling like soft bells.  A gentle relentlessness, a rolling muscle stretch that slides easily over damaged cartilage.   I can.  I can feel.  I can feel myself slipping under…


Achem!  Dylan Nyoukis has kindly recycled elements of his hen’s-teeth Encephalon Cracks series to create a mega-mix for retirement homes.

Surprisingly electronic

one of the kids mutters as they roll out of bed and cram with cereal.  Of course the innocence of youth belies cosmic wisdom.  There really is an electric-tang to this side.  I imagine the guts of an old casio-tronic are ripped out and refilled with warm candy.  So, pressing the keys now releases rainbow-scented blurs and fruit smoke.

Voices and domestic tape interjections keep things frisky but about halfway through this piece a seam of organ meditations begins to glitter distantly like coal dust.  It has a melancholic non-congruent shine, like a shrugged shoulder coupled with eye-contact held for a fraction too long; never less than lovely, deeper than delightful.

But oldey-timey listeners need not fear!  The Nyoukis jaxx-vocals still warp and stutter, freeing strict-language from its unnecessary shackles.

In short… it’s a trip and your ticket is well and truly clipped pal!



It’s much later now.  The sun has done its work and snuck back leaving all surfaces pleasantly warm.  I type into the fading light as I PLACCA’s offering, the mysterious la la vitea plays massaging my tired old brain.

A classic tape collage work, this beast moves from knockabout to spooky in super-quick time.  There is a wonderful joy at play here.  The sounds/recordings/interventions are really allowed to breathe, to grow and sprout wings.

Side one starts with leaky plumbing and ends in a JUNK MASS with golden voices going all ‘halleluiah’ while mountain goats bleat.  It’s a tingler for sure!  On the way though this knotty terrain we’re served up buzzing flies like some eccentric lord in a sauce of wobbling naughtiness.  The double-loop reverb of a strain-station [Editor’s note: I think ‘strain-station’ may be a typo but it is too glorious to correct] Tannoy goes all tape-ga-ga across a Stooges-esque riff.  Result?  It’s like being stuck on fast forward for a year and a day.

Side two guffs the voice track with a mouthful of slow pebbles – it’s a Babel tower baby with ramps for Davros.  Soon a static blanket is draped over a clarinet and guitar in a cheeky seaside manner; a nudge and a wink if you will.  But the movement is forward, ever forward… plastic buttons may get pressed and un-pressed but it’s the lusty crying that keeps me riveted to the spot.

More wonderful wet-coffs for the Dental Tourist; a gem of a sensible tape resourcing!


Tutore Burlato

the 2015 zellaby awards

January 8, 2016 at 11:24 am | Posted in blog info, musings, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

zellaby award envelope

Hello friends and welcome to the 2015 Zellaby Awards and Radio Free Midwich end-of-year round-up.  I’m very glad to see you.  My apologies in advance to those long term readers expecting the usual introduction full of whimsical nonsense.  There will be some of that, of course, but this year needs to be taken seriously and I’m going to start dark.  Don’t worry though – spoiler alert – there will be joy and life-affirming redemption by the end: this piece is my It’s a Wonderful Life.

Firstly, it is not the job of this blog to comment on the wider world but aside from the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, our glorious future prime minister, 2015 was largely without hope. I wish you all good luck in navigating the coming End Times.

Personally, away from music, my year can be split into three four month long segments.  For the first of these I was ill with non-stop, run-of-the-mill viruses.  Nowt serious on its own but the cumulative effect of so many strung together – a necklace of snot – left me in a parlous state.  My depression played cards with its fidgety cousin anxiety, waited until I was defenceless and then kicked in the door.  The second four months were spent off work attempting to shift these unwelcome guests whilst maintaining a functioning family life.  I’ve written about this debilitating effort elsewhere, no need for further details here.  The final four months of 2015 were the tale of my recuperation and slow recovery following a change in medication and a breakthrough in both the treatment of my illness and my attitude towards it.  After much grief, I left 2015 exhausted and resentful but hopeful that new ways of muzzling the black dog will allow me a lengthy period of peace and sanity.

When I was down in it, days, weeks even, passed when music seemed more trouble than it was worth.  The list of releases submitted to RFM for review, plus other stuff that caught my bloodshot eye, became an untended vine cracking the panes of its greenhouse and desiccating the soil in its giant terracotta pot. I’d try to ignore it, slumped in my deckchair, but would be tickled awake by a tendril and look up to see something like Audrey II grinning down at me:

Fleshtone Aura

Or maybe one my colleagues – Joe, Chrissie, Sof, Luke, marlo – would arrive with a ladder, new glass, plant food, exotic orchids or intricate alpines to distract me, gawd bless ‘em. Looking back, I’m surprised at how often I actually did pick up the trowel – if only to wave hello, or whack Luke on the nose with it when I found him digging in the flower beds – and I’m quietly proud of maintaining this garden despite the inclement mental weather. During 2015 radiofreemidwich received approximately 32,000 visits – a new record. 93 posts were published, including the blog’s 500th, by half a dozen different authors. The most popular of which were last year’s Zellaby Awards and my no-audience underground ‘state of the notion’ address – most gratifying as both are heartfelt celebrations of the scene. Not bad, eh?

Now, at this point in the introduction I was going to get catty about my usual scratching posts, hit a few sacred cow arses with a banjo etc. but, looking down at the silted pavement and up at the grey sky, it’s clear that what the world needs now is love, sweet love – not smart alec remarks and passive-aggressive score settling. So let’s get the party started instead.

Here’s the rules: to be eligible in one of the following five categories this music needs to have been heard by one of us for the first time in 2015.  It does not need to have been released in 2015.  As the purpose of these awards is to spread the good news about as many quality releases as possible, should an artist win in one category they will not be placed in any of the others.  I do not vote for my own stuff as midwich, nor any releases that I had a hand in (thus no Aqua Dentata on fencing flatworm – sorry Eddie). The team will avoid touting each others’ projects too – not because we care about conflict of interest (there isn’t any down here) but we do like to maintain at least a veneer of decorum. Aside from marlo, who has been nostril deep in PhD crap all year and thus didn’t feel qualified to contribute, the whole team has chipped in and I will be pasting their responses below. This year I am at least nodding in the direction of democracy when compiling the lists but, as editor, I am reserving final say.  Don’t worry though – my dictatorship is benevolent and progressive.

Right then, time to pop some fucking corks…

sof's pina colada


Radio Free Midwich presents the 2015 Zellaby Awards

5. The “I’d never heard of you 10 minutes ago but now desperately need your whole back catalogue” New-to-RFM Award

Chrissie expresses doubts about the whole process then nails a perfect nomination:

I’m not much of a one for end of year retrospectives, forward is my preferred direction. Also I find it hard to compare music and place it in any sort of order. One day a particular piece or artist will be exactly what I need, another day it will have me screaming for the STOP button.  Add to which I haven’t actually reviewed very much this year. Even when I found a (rather large, rich) niche to occupy I still take longer to complete a review than I’d really like.  Still, I hate to disappoint, and I never miss a deadline so…

Sabrina Peña Young

Even while reviewing one album, I couldn’t help mentioning tracks on other albums!

[Editor’s note: an extract from Chrissie’s review of Science Fiction & Horror Movie Soundtrack Collection: Strange Films of Sabrina Peña Young:]

‘Singularity’ is a whole Star Trek episode in miniature. It opens as an almost conventional, if nicely constructed piece of theme music, and gradually becomes something very much more. Going from the journey out, discovery of a possibly inhabited planet, then meeting an alien, trying to escape and the closing theme music again – a novella in seven minutes forty-three seconds! To be honest I’m pretty sure that that isn’t the actual narrative of ‘Singularity’ but I like to make things up as I’m listening and that idea seemed plausible at the time [Editor’s note: it’s the RFM way…]. What it’s really about is the rise of machine intelligence, of course; which is equally scary, possibly.


Joe speaks in italics:

Not for the first time, Serbia’s No Basement is Deep Enough label has pinned my lugs back and hotly tongued my ear.  But this time it slipped a note in my pocket that read ‘G.J de Rook’ (but no phone number I notice!). 

Gerrit’s considered gobble-de-gook on a and bla is the metallic-gravy I’m craving right now.  The calm and pleasant gibber hits that sweet-spot of babies gurgling, a hummingbird’s gaudy thrum and the plastic pop of wrenched bubble-wrap.  These are universal sounds; sounds enjoyed from the Mongolian deserts to the Seattle coffee-house scene. These are the sort of sounds we need to send into space – gaffer tape a CD-r to Voyager or something- for them bug-eyed overlords to ponder.    

Although Gerrit’s wider discography is relatively thin and achingly expensive don’t worry readers, I have a plan in place to slurp slowly in discreet ‘o,o,o,o,o,oa,oa,oa,oa,eh,eh,eh,o,ooo,o-like’ sips.  Think on.


Sof’s joy in discovery:

I heard and reviewed the album 3 by Sonotanotanpenz at the start of my Midwich employment and have since heard everything I can by them because, for me, they just tick all the right boxes. Cheers to Kirigirisu Records for pointing me in the right direction finding this stuff!

sonotanotanpenz - 3

Luke forward/slashes:

Ben Hallatt – Kay Hill, scke//, KIKS/GFR – the sinister/minimal man, eerie urban horror with muted synth/tape work.


…and I say:

…that I haven’t had the wherewithal for the obsessive curiosity that usually makes it so easy and obvious to decide the winner of this category.  I have a few interests bubbling under – that lovely, young Graham Dunning seems like an intriguing chap so maybe I’ll stalk him once I have the energy – but in the meantime I’m happy to to go along with Chrissie’s nomination of Sabrina Peña Young.


4. The “Stokoe Cup”, given for maintaining quality control over a huge body of work making it impossible to pick individual releases in an end of year round up

Sof ponders:

I don’t think I have an answer for this one, I can only think of Delphine Dora who released four albums this year which to me seems a huge amount! I’m not really into musicians who put out so much stuff that I can’t keep up. It puts me off if I’m honest, I like small and considered bodies of work. [Editor’s note: a very practical attitude – and Delphine should definitely be on everyone’s list anyway.]


Chrissie scratches her head too:

I’ve not really reviewed enough to come up with a suitable nomination for this. Similarly for the label award. I was tempted to nominate Steve Lawson for the Stokoe cup but he might be rather too ‘big’ for that to be sensible now and also I don’t believe he’s ever been reviewed here [Editor’s note: he is and he hasn’t but, hey, s’up to you – it’s an indication of where you are coming from too]. However he does release a considerable amount of material and it is of quite an amazingly high standard.

No doubts from Joe:

We’re all renaissance men and women now eh?  Fingers in various pies yeah?  You’re a composer/performer, a curator, a thinker, an archivist, a broadcaster, a hard-assed critic and goofy listener, a publisher and promoter?  Scratch the N-AU and we bleed like colourful skittles. 

This is all vital and impressive for sure.  But the real trick is to weave all those various roles together with a broader sense of ‘who you are’, a central-unifying-theme and aesthetic that’s as real as Westeros fantasy shizzle. So with the powers invested in me by the fabled ‘Stokoe Cup’ I hereby recommend Andy Wild, the Crow versus Crow guy guy, as an upstanding exemplar of unified vision, industry and purpose.

Not only is Andy releasing beautifully packaged CDs on the CvC label, he’s keeping us up-to-date with a set of paintings and photography.  He’s had a one-man exhibition, “You’re Gonna Need That Pure Religion, Halleloo” in his native Halifax.  He’s researched, presented and broadcast almost 100 radio shows and curated a bunch of special one-off sessions (like John Peel yeah).  And all this strikes me with a look and a feel that’s unmistakably CvC and unified.  Here’s an example: as Andy dug deeper into old blues records spindly hiss and burr appeared on the paintings (and in the exhibition title).  The smeared photos mirrored the abstract sound of worn vinyl.  The shows became looser, the voice deeper and the mood darker.  Do people still do mission statements?  If so, is ‘be beautiful’ taken?


Luke starts on a theme:

A tough one this year with the above mentioned Ben Hallatt and the incredible Stuart Chalmers.  My vote, however, has to go to Robert Ridley-Shackleton: the Oxfam prince, the cardboard king.  He keeps on peaking, inhabiting his own corner. In a just universe he would be on the X Factor panel: he IS pop.


…and I say:

Well, Joe makes a compelling case for Andy Crow there and since being born from an egg on a mountaintop the nature of Shackleton is irrepressible, but I’m handing the trophy to a familiar name and previous Zellaby award winner: Kev Sanders.

Whilst not quite reaching the Stakhanovite release rate displayed in 2014, his productivity remains alarming high, as does the quality of his work. I’ve not reviewed a great deal of it, nor much else released on his label hairdryer excommunication (this collection of haiku from September being my main engagement) but it has been an ever-present background radiation.

If you picture the year as an autobahn, one which I have been stalled beside, hood up, engine steaming, then Kev’s music is a series of electricity pylons running alongside carrying cables buzzing with an intensity that is somehow both bleak and comforting. I wish him well with his coming move to that London and look forward to a chance to catch up whilst he is otherwise engaged. Now, like a casino bouncer chucking out a professional gambler, I’m banning him from winning anything else for a while. House rules.


3. The Special Contribution to Radio Free Midwich Award

Sof and Chrissie have a playground tussle over who gets to be teacher’s pet:

SofIt’s no secret that Rob Hayler has had a rough year with his depression but his drive and passion for underground music has meant he’s kept up with this blog which I’m sure a lot of folks wouldn’t do under the same circumstances – fair play and respect to you!

Chrissie: At the risk of sounding like a spoilt kid sucking up to the boss, I’d like to nominate Rob for this award. In what has been a difficult year for him he’s hired three new writers, no small risk in itself, trusting our ability to actually deliver readable prose (well, in my case anyway) in usable quantities, not to mention editing it onto the blog in good shape and good time. He’s also put up with my erratic writing schedule and lack of enthusiasm to take anything off the review pile – preferring to go off on my own in a crusade to bring more female artists to the notice of our good and loyal readers.

[Editor’s note: it might appear shameless to include the above, and I admit it kinda is, but, as I’ve pointed out, it has been a tough year and I was touched.  Let me have a little sugar, yeah?]

Luke picks an outlier:

Sorry gonna have to be Robert Ridley-Shackleton again [sings: “Return of the Shack!  Here it is…!”].  A little quote from Robbie following a chat about tedious porn/bondage themes in noise:

To me noise is a positive thing, it fills my brain full of the joys. I don’t understand all the negative themes presented, to me it’s life affirming

Yeah baby!!!

[Editor’s note: R-Shack’s physical contribution to RFM is indeed notable as he sent copies of all his releases plus extra examples of his womble-on-ketamine junk art not just to RFMHQ but also personally to Joe and Luke too – a Knight of the Post.]

Joe rallies the troops:

As ever, I reckon this one belongs to everybody.  Anyone that sent in a tape, clicked on a link, wrote a review, listened with intent, left a comment or gave a god-damn fuck.  This one’s for you.  It’s all of us that make this: writers, readers, editors…even you cynics (coz debate is good, yeah?).  We’re all part of the oneness.  No one hears a tree fall in an empty forest right?

…and I say:

Tempting as it is to fall into step and punch the air, nostrils flaring, there is an objectively true answer to the question and that is: Anne, my wife.  Without her love, care and truly unbelievable strength this blog would not have continued to exist.

However, if we limit the word ‘contribution’ to meaning actual hands-on graft accounting for the endeavours of the no-audience underground then only one name can be engraved on this medal: Joe Murray.

Of the 93 posts published this year a huge proportion were by Joe and each of those usually contained reviews of numerous items sourced from far-flung corners of the outer reaches.  Despite his hep prose poetry being the best music writing currently available – Richard Youngs himself described Joe’s review of his epic No Fans seven CD box set as ‘the definitive account’ – he is completely selfless in his unpretentious enthusiasm.  He embodies the ethos of this blog.


[Editor’s note: hmmm… getting a bit lovey and self-congratulatory this isn’t it?  Maybe I’ll rethink this category for next year <takes deep breath, dabs corner of eye> OK, on with the big gongs!]

2. The Label of the Year Award

Sof sticks to the point:

I’ve really enjoyed every release I’ve heard from Fort Evil Fruit this year, and most years, I think we must have the same taste in music.


Luke whittles on the porch:

Another tough one with old favourites like Chocolate Monk continuing to deliver the goods.  However at a push it’d be Winebox Press, a fairly laid back work rate but always something to look forward to, can’t think of another label as aesthetically as well as sonically pleasing to me at least. Objects of cosmic power that’ll warm you from the inside out.


Joe’s takes a turn:

Let’s hear it for Cardboard Club.  Why?  For the dogged determination and other worldly logic of course.  I have no idea what is going on in the disco/noise shire of Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  All I know is that I like it, I like it a lot. 

Robert’s singular vision is not so much outsider as out-rigger; a ghost on the pillion.  The label spreads itself across media so the scrabbly zines, tape artwork and ‘pocket-jazz’ sound can only contain the RR-S, nothing else.  But what made me giggle, what made me really smile was the recent move to vinyl.  Some lame-o’s see the hallowed seven inch as a step up; a career move if you please!  With that kind of attitude the battle is already lost and all ideals get mushed in ‘rock school’ production.  None of this for our Cardboard Club… it sounds exactly the same!  A hero for our troubled times.


…and I say:

Yep, all excellent selections deserving of your attention but, with hairdryer excommunication out of the way, I’m going to use editor’s privilege to share this year’s prize between two exemplary catalogues: Invisible City Records and Power Moves Label.  Both are tape-plus-download labels based on Bandcamp, both have strong individual identities – in ethos and aesthetic – despite presenting diverse, intriguing rosters and both share impeccable no-audience underground credentials (PML’s slogan: ‘true bedroom recordings with delusions of grandeur’).  It don’t hurt that the gents running each – Craig and Kev respectively – are polite, efficient and enthusiastic in their correspondence too.  Anyone looking for a model as to how it should be done could do worse than sit at the front of their class and take careful notes.

[Editor’s note on the Editor’s note: yes, yes, I know that ICR re-released my epic masterpiece The Swift, thus making it the label of the year by default but I felt duty bound to mention it anyway.  Shame on Tabs Out Podcast, by the way, for filling the first 135 places of their 2015 Top 200 with hype and industry payola.  Glad to see sanity and integrity restored with #136.]


1. The Album of the Year Award

Chrissie kicks us off:

1. R.A.N

My first female:pressure review and the one I still listen to the most.

…not only are the individual tracks on this album good, but the ordering of them is exquisite. They follow on from each other in a wonderful, spooky narrative that runs smoothly and expertly from start to finish – the gaps between them allowing you to pause for breath before being dragged into the next hellmouth.


2. FAKE Mistress – entertainted

The opening track, ‘Appreciate the moment’s security’, will pull you in with its drama, heavy noise-based beats, spooky voicing and very punkish shouting but you’ll stay for the gentler opening of ‘You better trust’, intrigued by where it’s going. There’s harsh noise in the middle of this track and in lots of places on this album, but it’s never over-used. It’s here as a structural device to take you by surprise and drag you out of your complacency.


Luke casts his net wide:

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Charlotte Braun – Happy Being Sad

Absurde, Chier – Absurde VS Chier

Skatgobs – Pointless

Blood Stereo – The Lure of Gurp

Alec Cheer – Autumn

Ali Robertson & His Conversations

Guttersnipe – Demo

xazzaz – descent / the crusher

VA AA LR – Ping Cone

Stuart Chalmers – Imaginary Musicks 3/4

Anla Courtis – B-Rain Folklore

S C K E / Kay Hill – Disclosure, TESSELLATION A/B, IN-GRAIN, Cold Title

Jon Collin – Wrong Moves / Dream Recall

Whole Voyald Infinite Light – Uncollected Recordings

Ashtray Navigations – Lemon Blossom Gently Pixelating In The Breeze

Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels

yol / posset – a watched pot never (no link – ask yol or Joe, they’ll sort you out)

half an abortion / yol – the designated driver

Shareholder – Jimmy Shan

[Editor’s note: blimey, eh?  Luke also provided a ‘year in metal’ list too!  Available on request.]


Sof’s impeccable taste displayed:

I’m going with Steven Ball’s Collected Local Songs which I reviewed earlier this year because it’s the one I’ve gone back to over and over, each listen revealing more to me. It’s such an original piece of work.

Originality is the theme of my list –

Saboteuse – Death, Of Course (this maaaaaaay, have come out last year!)

Bridget Hayden and Claire Potter – Mother To No Swimming Laughing Child

Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God

Guttersnipe – Demo

Rosemary Krust – Rosemary Krust

Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton Barker – Show Your Sketches

Delphine Dora – L’au-delà

steven ball - collected local songs

Joe selects:

I fucking guarantee your serious music critics will moan and denounce 2015 as a fallow year for sounds.  Fools!  If you look around there’s an embarrassment of riches spilling out of the tape drawer, CD-r pile and download..er…folder? 

I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable hurling my opinion of ‘what’s best’ around so, in the spirit of “non-competition and praise”, here’s what I’d play you right now if you were to pop round for sherry.

  • yol – everyday rituals. When a record makes you run giddy for the Spanish/English dictionary you know something extraordinary is at work.  You’re familiar with yol yeah? You’re not?  Get a-fucking cracking pal.  This is a truly explosive & genuine performance that makes your insipid rebellion look safe as milk.
  • Duncan Harrison – Others Delete God. A super-subtle voice and tape work.  What I love is the ‘too studio-fucked to be field recordings and too much punk-ass rush for fluxus’ approach.  Natural and wonderfully blunted domestic, ‘Others…’ inhabits its own space – like a boil in the bag something served piping hot.
  • Midnight Doctors – Through a Screen and Into a Hole. The merciless despot with a harmonium!  Phil Begg’s steady hand guides a cavalcade of rough North East gonks through their paces to produce a timeless noir classic.  It is equal parts soundtrack, accurate cop-show homage and mysterious new direction for tight-meshed ensemble.  C’mon Hollywood… make that damn call.
  • Shareholder – Jimmy Shan. Rock und Roll songs collapse in sharp slaggy heaps. Dirty explosions replace instruments (the guitar x 2 and drums) leaving us dazed in a no-man’s-land of stunning, blinding light and electricity.  Ferocious and don’t-give-a-fuck all at once.
  • Tom White – Reconstruction is tied, even-stevens, with Sindre Bjerga’s – Attractive Amplification. The world of violent tape abuse is one I follow avidly. But there’s nothing to separate these two outstanding tapes (of tapes, of tapes, of tapes).  Both Tom and Sindre have the muscle memory and total mastery of their mediums (reel to reel and compact cassette) to wrench brown, sticky moans from the vintage equipment.  It sounds belligerent, punch drunk and rum-sloppy to my ears.  A perfect night out chaps!

yol - er

…and finally, your humble editor:

Bubbling under: here are the releases that made my long list but not the countdown. Every one a cracker, presented here in alphabetical order to avoid squabbles breaking out in the car park:

Culver – Saps 76

David Somló – Movement

Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper – Distance, Future

Dominic Coppola – Vogue Meditations

Hagman – Inundation

Hardworking Families – Happy Days

Ian Watson – Caermaen

joined by wire – universe allstars

Luminous Monsters – The Sun Tree

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – Self-Titled EP

Saturn Form Essence – Stratospheric Tower

Shredderghost – Golden Cell

yol – everyday rituals

[Editor’s note: I also have to make special mention of Askild Haugland and his peerless recordings as Taming Power. I’ve received two (I think, possibly three) parcels from him this year containing his work, all the way from Norway, and these recordings always have a profound and meditative effect. Some of it, for instance the 7” single Fragments of the Name of God, could quite possibly be perfect.]

OK, right – ooo! exciting! – here’s the top ten, presented in traditional reverse order:

10. E.Y.E – MD2015


…and what a joy it has been to have Paul Harrison back in the fray!  Yes, after over a decade new material from Paul’s Expose Your Eyes project was finally made available via his new Bandcamp label Eye Fiend – a repository for much missed Fiend Recordings back catalogue (Mrs Cakehead has to be heard to be believed) and digital versions of the new stuff which is otherwise only available in tiny hand-splattered physical editions.

MD2015 is a four CD-r, four hour and twenty minute set comprising discordant synth clatters, decontextualized chanting (familiar to anyone into first wave industrial music), beats: pitter, patter – galloping hooves – factory presses, intoxicating loops, delirium (remember that footage of animals drunk on fermented fruit?  This is the OST to a bootleg version of The Lion King that features those orgiastic scenes), repetition beyond human endurance / irresistible motoric groove, ‘proper’ noise – all primary sexual characteristics out and flapping in the breeze, and sorbet-refreshing shortwave-radio-ish pulse.  It is a lot of fun.

9. AAS – Balancing Ritual


Y’know when your favourite stoner rock band lay down a super heavy, half-hour long, ego-obliterating, tethered crescendo but it isn’t quite enough so you and a hardy group of the suspicious break into one of the spaceships of a seemingly benevolent alien race currently visiting Earth and discover this playing inside?  Yeah?  A version of the above but clinical, steely, a step up from our humble efforts.  It’s like that and I, for one, welcome our new drone overlords…

Graham Dunning offered to send me a tape of this, I visited Bandcamp for a sneaky preview and ended up so impressed that I’d bought the download and fallen in love before my exhausted postie even delivered the jiffy bag.  I can count on the fingers of no fingers the other times that has happened recently.

8. Duncan Harrison, BBBlood, Aqua Dentata – “Ineluctable modality of the visible”


What an excellent three-fer.  Not only occupying a wholly justified place in the chart but giving me the opportunity to praise Paul Watson (BBBlood), Duncan Harrison (who’s Others Delete God tape, so highly praised earlier, shamefully passed me by.  Did I ever own it?  Did I send it to Joe in a moment of madness?  Ah, who knows?) and Eddie Nuttall (who, as Aqua Dentata, is producing amongst the finest work on my radar).  Here’s some extracts from marlo’s review:

…But, damn you, Duncan Harrison! The first track immediately gets me back in my academic head! ‘(Je suis) La Loi’ makes me think of psychoanalytical linguist theorist Julia Kristeva and deconstructionist scholar Jacques Derrida. The use of breath and physiological sounds makes the listening an embodied experience. The listener feels present. It is hard not to notice if one’s lips are dry or if you possibly had too many coffees…

…In ‘Nexistence of Vividence’, BBBlood returns to more of the crunchy reeling and wheeling and dealing. It is a typhoon that builds and waits. Never fully collapsing, the sounds peters out like attempting to catch water running through fingers. Yet there is an ethereal resolution to the struggle and the listeners are laid to rest, an aural wiping of the brow. Time to rest after the long haul…

…Eddie Nuttall, a.k.a Aqua Dentata, is not from this planet. I honestly don’t think he is. His music feels like extraterrestrial communication from outside our universe. Like binaural beats and subconscious interfering hypnosis, his untitled track sounds like it is made of laser beams. As a listener, you feel like you merge with the frequency and question your ability to make cognitive sense. It isn’t because of a reliance in bombarding one with several sounds but rather a direct cerebral invasion…

7. The Piss Superstition – Garage Squall

garage squall

Joe reviewed this one in the shape of a UFO. No, I don’t know why either but it is absolutely bang on:

Mag-lev trains.

The very best form of bluster.

As gentle as breath on a mirror,

Predator’s Answerphone message

The Velvet Underground trapped in a matchbox.

A map! Hectares of featureless crystalline crackle – zoom into mountains,

A corduroy vibe; not geography teacher clichés but that ribbed softness – a tickle on the fingernail.

Ride the world’s slowest roller-coaster taking 1000 years, cranking the incline.

Forbidden Planet strained with nourishing iron-rich greens,

A dream-tractor changing gear on the endless road.

Immense power restrained by gravity

A hit of strong, clean anaesthetic,

I’m counting backwards.

10, 9, 8…

6. Stuart Chalmers – Loop Phantasy No. 1, No. 2, No. 3


Joe again, not sparing the superlatives:

…But this time I throw my regular Northern caution and cynicism out the window and claim these three recordings THE MOST IMPORTANT SALVAGED TAPE LOOP RECORDINGS EVER YEAH.

What?  Like…ever?

I hear you ask.


I answer with a calm, clear voice.

Like in the whole 100 year history of recorded music?

You probe,

even including the oft- mentioned high- water mark of looping Tom Recchion’s Chaotica?

You add.  I merely smile and press play on the device of your choice.

You must listen, you must listen to truly understand

I chant with glassy eyes.

Anyway… fuck yeah!  That’s what I’m saying.  If you want to know where looping is right now in 2015/2016: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you are looking for an instructional map of what’s possible with simple tape loops, a couple of pedals and some hot ears: PLAY THESE RECORDS.  If you want to open up that valve in your stomach that helps you release gaseous tension: PLAY THESE RECORDS…

…Students of tape culture – your set-text has arrived.  Screw in those earbuds and get seriously twisted.

5. Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica


A beautiful album in every respect and an entirely life-affirming experience.  Terrific to see Phil and Mel get such a high-profile, flagship release in what was a high-profile, flagship year for the band.  I will have more to say on this in a long-planned article which will be published around the eventual release date of the long-planned best of Ashtray Navigations 4CD box set.  Coming soon!  In the meantime: buy this.

4. Melanie O’Dubhshlaine – Deformed Vowels


Likewise, Mel’s remarkable solo venture deserves a much more detailed account than it is going to get here.  Via a kind of meta-semi-improv (or something?) she continues on her utterly compelling, largely unheralded project to reinvent music on her own terms.

I imagine a Dr. Moreau style musical laboratory in which Mel cares for her cross bred instruments, incunabula parping their first notes, joyfully interacting with the sentient automata Mel has created to entertain them with.  She dangles a microphone over the giant aquarium tank in which they all live and conducts this unique performance.

Unlike anything else I’ve heard this year, or maybe ever.

3. Helicopter Quartet – Ghost Machine

ghost machine

A peerless work, even within the band’s own faultless back catalogue.  From my review:

It is difficult to write about Helicopter Quartet, the duo of RFM staffer Chrissie Caulfield (violin, synths) and Michael Capstick (guitars), because their music is so enveloping, so attention seizing, that when I’m listening the part of my brain I use to put words in a row is too awestruck to function.  However, following many hours with it, I am certain this is their best album yet.  That a work of such mature beauty, sculpted over months, is freely downloadable is surely further evidence that we are living in a golden age for self released music.  It has the austere and magisterial presence of a glacier edge, the drama of that glacier calving into the sea.

If you ever act on anything I say then act on this: go get it.

2. Guttersnipe – Demo


Wow, this kicked the fucking doors in.  With this CD-r and a series of explosive live performances Guttersnipe owned 2015 – they were either your new favourite band or you just hadn’t heard of them yet.  Luke got to review this one, here’s an extract:

Guttersnipe whip up a frightening noise on drums, guitars, electronics and howled vocals that will have you reaching for the light switch. The cassette fidelity smudges the freejazzmetalhaze into a fog of terror from which emerges the fangs of a gaping gob ready to bite you. I’ve been listening to a lot of black metal recently and these vocals could have the corpse painted hordes crying for their mama.  However, they are not the guttural grunts of the alpha male but more a feminine screech of desperation and disgust which the other two respond to by conjuring a blackened and unsettled miasma.  Calling this disc demo leads me to believe that Guttersnipe are selling themselves short.  This is impressively original material that comes over like a Xasthur/Skullflower hybrid with a hefty slug of secret ingredient.  Marvellous job.

Amusingly, and presumably because he hadn’t seen them live at the time, he seems to imply this duo is a trio – a testament to their ferocity (and my skills as an editor…).

1. namke communications – 365/2015

namke - 365-2015

Finally then, the winner of the Zellaby Award for album of the year presented by Radio Free Midwich is, in an unusually literal sense, the album of the year: 365/2015 by namke communications.  Here’s some context from a piece I wrote in March:

…old-friend-of-RFM John Tuffen, in a project which recalls the conceptual bloodymindedness of Bill Drummond (who has raised ‘seeing it through’ to the level of art form), is recording a track every day throughout the whole of 2015 and adding them to the album [on Bandcamp] as the calendar marches on … each track is freshly produced on the day in question and, as might be expected, vary enormously in style, execution and instrumentation – there is guitar improv, electronica in various hues and field recording amongst other genres welcome ’round here…

Indeed, added to various forms of (usually light and expansive) improv and field and domestic recordings of life’s ebb and flow were many forays into sub-genres of electronica, techno as she is written, actual *ahem* songs, drones of many textures, experimental sketches with software and new toys, callbacks, the odd joke (all tracks in February had the duration 4’33” following a twitter exchange with me) and so on and so, unbelievably, on.  I can’t claim to have heard all of it – of course I haven’t – and there are misfires – of course there are – but the level of quality maintained is gobsmacking given the scope of the exercise.

Each track was accompanied by notes, most with a picture and then a tweet announced its presence too.  John was no slacker on the admin – I approve.  In March I suggested:

This one I have no qualms about dipping into, in fact I would recommend constructing your own dipping strategies. As the year progresses you could build an album from the birthdays of your family, or never forget an anniversary again with a self-constructed namke communications love-bundle. Won a tenner on the lottery? Create your own three track EP with the numbers and paypal John a couple of quid. Or perhaps a five CD boxset called ‘Thursday Afternoon’, in homage to Brian Eno, containing everything released on that day of the week? Or condense the occult magic with a set comprising every 23rd track? Ah, the fun to be had. Or you could just listen to it on a daily basis until it becomes a welcome part of your routine…

I was at least half-joking at the time but engaging with 365/2015 has proved a unique way of experiencing an album.  During the worst of my illness, as I spent nights trawling Twitter unable to sleep, it did become a valuable part of my daily routine.  Literally a light in the darkness – Bandcamp page shining on the tablet as I lay in bed – John’s project, existing due to nothing but his crazy drive to create (the whole thing, 40+ hours, available as a ‘name your price’ download!), truly helped me through.  A clear and worthy winner.

In conclusion…

So, that is that for another year.  John’s prize, should he wish to take me up on it, is for namke communications to have the one and only release on the otherwise dormant fencing flatworm recordings some time in 2016.  A surprise baby sister, perhaps, for his lovely available from namke communications released by me back in the day and now (I think) a teenager itself.

Many thanks to my fellow writers and to all who support us – for your time, patience and enthusiasm – it is much appreciated.  Heartfelt best wishes for the New Year, comrades.

All is love.

Rob Hayler, January 2016.


black raindrop collage: joe murray on eugenio sanna, lovely honkey, dan melchior, sindre bjerga

November 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Eugenio Sanna – La porta stretta (tape, Tutore Burlato, #04)

Lovely Honkey – Sharp Intake of Breadth (tape, Tutore Burlato, #07)

Dan Melchior – Human of Stow (tape, Tutore Burlato, #05)

Sindre Bjerga – Attractive Amplification (tape, Tutore Burlato, #06)


When Alexander Graham Bell released The Noble Four, his treatise on early electronic sounds, he could not have imagined how electricity and sound would become ubiquitously meshed to a point where one is almost unimaginable without the other.

How he’d pinkly-blush at Luke Poot’s menacing audience participation and twirl his beard to Sindre Bjerga’s Technicolor throat spasms.  I can picture a neatly-booted foot tapping to Eugenio Sanna’s trustworthy improvisations and the watercolours cracked out to better capture Dan Melchior’s solo rumblings.

In the spirit of electronic experimentations Ezio Piermattei has released his own Noble Four on the charming Tutore Burlato tape label straight-outta-Bologna.  Packaged in smart plastic cases with intelligent and sensitive artwork the dreich professor could easily slip all four into his waistcoat without bothering his pocket watch.

For you, my dearest of all known and possible readers, you get a head full of gonzo-text and a couple of blue links to send you on your voyage of discovery.   God speed gentle ones!

Eugenio Sanna – La Porta Stretta

Konked-out solo-guitar rottings from Italy.

Side One presents a suite of tight head-stock ‘pings’ aping the sarcastic hizz of cold milk dripped on glowing barbeque coals.  These metallic pickles (reassuringly sour) rattle my pegs real good especially when the few good moo-cow moans let loose.  It’s a sparse affair but full of Charles Atlas’ DYNAMIC TENSION therefore giving me and the whole family assembled space to throw in a stray cough.

When things get a bit more hectic in ‘Agosto in campagna (parte prima)’ Eugenio’s 5 supple fingers ripple unconsciously over 6 strings and a fine distortive mist descends reminding my old brain of mice pattering quickly across amplified tinfoil.  You dig?  A zinc rustling that’s both pacey and pink-footed.

I’m sucking on some Kendal Mint Cake when Side Two slots into place and the thin metallic scratching merges perfectly with my mouthful of sharp menthol.  My nose-hairs stand to attention as similarly stiff strings are plucked with a leathery thumb. It’s simply beautiful.

Then all at once the improvisation feels less improvised and more like a slowly revealing pattern I was just too dull to recognise.  If you could complete a crossword with simple silvery tones it might, after forty minutes or so of head-scratching, lock into this bedazzled lotus flower.

The final short track ‘Agosto in campagna (parte seconda)’ leaves us in no doubt of Eugenio’s experience and skill – he’s been playing improvised stuff since the 70’s  with beards as grey as Phil Minton, Eddie Prevost, Derek Bailey and Roger Turner – by making his guitar sound exactly like clam shells rustling in a salt-encrusted keep net.


Lovely Honkey – Sharp Intake of Breadth

For such an active collaborator and vital live jaxxon them Lovely Honkey solo tapes are thin on the ground, eh?  But Huzzah!  Ezio Piermattei’s clear eye spotted Luke Poot’s theatre-whoop all the way from Bologna to let us in on this felt-tipped ritual.

Sound-wize the fidelity is fairly non-existent making this feel like you’ve carefully inserted a hosepipe into Poot’s ear and you can hear the festival of whirs and clunks direct from the old-grey-thistle.

Squeaky toys, rubber dogs, old tape glutch and office stationery get used to whip up a gentle Intonarumori.  In fact you could bring a smarty-pants Futurist round for tea, jab this tape on and they could check off the officially required…

  • Roars, Thunderings, Explosions, Bangs and Booms
  • Whistling, Hissing, Farting, Puffing
  • Whispers, Murmurs, Mumbling, Muttered Hip-Hop Oaths, Gurgling
  • Screeching, Skanking, Creaking, Rustling, Humming, Crackling
  • Noises obtained by beating on metals, woods, skins, stones, pottery and half-melted Sindy Dolls etc.
  • Voices of animals and people, Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails, Hoots, Howls, Death rattles, Sobs. Oh yes, especially the sobs.

That is of course until it all degenerates into Superman (and I don’t mean the Laurie Anderson version) which I don’t think no Russolo would ever, ever approve of.  Sweet.

Poot’s Circus of Shame rolls lustily into side two in a sad convoy, wheels dropping off the primary coloured cart.  We bear witness to a hidden ritual.  A music box plays, a small appreciative crowd moan like ghosts and Poot’s seemingly loose hand on the helm belies the firm fingertip control.  He’s got us trussed up and basted in hot butter, baby.

As the ritual continues he huffs up: tape grot, Stereophonics, (more) dog toys and frenzied choking.  All component parts slide together like currents meeting round a sooty headland.  Sure they gash and churn but the fluid mechanics could be scribbled on a blackboard and studied by grey beards and goofs all night.  He’s got the math right you dig?

So don’t listen to the chaos, listen to the patterns beyond the chaos.  Leave your expectations at home and tune in deeply and surrender.  Wake the town and tell the people…there’s an inventiveness and joyful release shattering that snotty ego on this tape; a freedom that few ‘plinkerty-plonk’ merchants dare to reveal.


Dan Melchior – Human of Stow

The bottom-dwelling mud flapper attaches itself to my face and starts to pump creamy fluid into eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  I’m surprised I’m not choking as pints of liquid fill up my head-holes but I’m too distracted by the fanciful visuals and audio-hallucinations.

Soft boulders shuffle slowly across a ploughed field leaving zen-streaks in their wake.  The Town Mayor proclaims the moral victory in an Obese Antiques Roadshow.  I blow the dust from a pair of old sneakers and hop backwards at the sight of an HO-scale field hospital nestled inside.  The plane I’m on descends, descends, descends but the ground fails to appear.  Super-lamb-banana melts into a shallow yellow lake – the La’s lick it into the shape of Chad. 

Loaves of bread are kept in gilded cages.  My once beautiful nails are chipped and grimy.  Elastic muscles snap back into place more slowly now.  I wake up suddenly remembering why the magic markers were left in the outhouse.  A slow frog begins his chorus.

All these thoughts and more float across my soft-human-cinema as Dan’s new tape wriggles out of the stereo.  The working method is important.  Dan randomly fills a tape full of these evocative sounds which, in fairness, are probably sourced from field recordings, accidental damage, damp organ and domestic tape huss.  They are layered and woven together without no mastering hand making it clear “that the whole idea of form is pretty elastic.”

Hey…that’s in direct contrast to the Honkey tape above.  Don’t we just cover the whole field of dreams readers?

To my tin-ears this all sounds pretty dandy as drones start up then stop suddenly, dismal beats lose the will to live and conversations become one-eared affairs.  It’s well documented that our brains love order and strive to overlay a regular grid on anything haphazard or irregular.  The connections on Human of Stow are no-less random than a fat, black raindrop collage on a dry pavement but seem ordered like the suits in a pack of cards.  The bully-boy clubs versus bleeding hearts, the razor sharp diamonds outfoxing the slow spades.  And like cards this tape gives me side-eyes, never quite letting me relax.

After a flutter of sonic dry heaves things unsettle further like an early Fucking Amateurs CD-r where it’s unclear what is performance, what it added random mayhem (or in-joke) and if that regular ‘whomp’ is the sound of the broken recording equipment?

The folk next door, possibly alerted by my frantic ‘clickerty-clack’ typing, have just put their bin out and I’m convinced this is Dan’s master-stoke.  Unconscious collaboration hits our collective driveway… Melchior versus Newcastle City Council!


Sindre Bjerga – Attractive Amplification

Regular readers know Sindre Bjerga’s modus operandi by now; ‘prolific-as-fuck’ yeah?  And this wonderful release delivers superbly on his other well-known calling card: super-dense tape work.

Structurally we’ve got two live performances from both of the Dams – Amster and Rotter, recorded in 2015 and preserved in fine rubbery clarity.

Things start with ‘Flicker and Burst’ and it fairly slaps me across the noggin quick sharp.  Jeezus…this is very, very heavy tape manipulation that thumbs a lift from Henri Chopin playing Henry Rollins.

The splutters are thick with phlegm; glottis-deep and curdled.  After a time of fairly violent honks a deep perfumed-drone sets up while Sindre clatters shit-smeared chicken cages with a naked foot.  You can relax into grey calm for a moment or two but don’t get too comfy because that distinctive condenser-mic jaxx starts to build and build into a full-spittin’ and bitin’ tantrum.  Oof!

After a little lie down I gingerly press play on ‘Reverse Energy’.  Where Sindre went wet and wild on side one this is dry, measured and sparse.  In places I’m picturing the maudlin decay of Gilbert & George’s Dusty Corners, all abandoned hope and unfinished business.  Sure, the tapes get mangled and strangled with that erotic ‘whurrr’ but it’s more of an internal sound, like the last sickly pulse of a tension headache.

When the volume and complexity is pitched down (a symptom of the reverse energy perhaps) it encourages a welcome introversion.  The super-sad ending (some 70’s AM classic sung in pure innocent sunlight) rattles among the hiss-canyon like a lost Lambkin jam.  Amber-glass perfection.


Tutore Burlato

the act of lift, drop, secure: joe murray on ezio piermattei, grip casino, va aa lr

July 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita (tape, Tutore Burlato, #02, edition of 50)

 VA AA LR – Polis (CD, Intonema, int014, edition of 200)

piermattei grip casino

Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita

Lighter than air music-collage/focus-group jam from residents of those fine city jewels Bologna and Rome!

Tweaked to the pitch of a moth’s wing, this is a delightfully delicate murmur.  The equipment list, as ever, gives us a clue.  I’ve grouped the guff-orchestra for ease:

  • mouth-puff – ocarina, saxophone, flute, voice, trumpet and harmonica
  • wrist-twist – viola, Dictaphone, xylophone, guitar, accordion, percussions, piano and viola
  • brain-crinkle – electronics, editing, tapes, turntable and field recordings

There’s a whole bunch more channels opened but I’m sticking to this deft weaving of mouth/wrist/brain responsible for the guttering flicker of sounds, neatly folding along worn logic-lines like a large map of Easter Island.

But what does it sound like?  Looking closely you can see the micro-view through your gimlet eyes:

Dusty reeds draw gritty smog across their hungry mouth parts, ducks smacking bills excitedly, frenzied sucking, distant fireworks/fluff removed from cardigan (amplified), goats doing goaty business, UFO take off, ubiquitous birds, hissing of door-frames.

Chinese electronics/traffic in Bologna cut-up via Dictaphone, bamboo pipe ritual induce Gnostic trance (but aping them ducks!).

Exorcist out-take on thin copper wire and congealed music box.  A Joycean setting: the Dublin pub, the craic gets out of hand when the old boys drag out a modular synth and castrated violin.  Old songs are sung, the seals join in on radio interference and novelty glass bells.

Dented gong attacks dolphin, its CIA brain implant tuning into world radio.  The undersea kingdom kinks under great pressure and the steel domes buckle with a deafening ‘ping’.  As bubbles rush upwards mermen struggle in the fizzing maelstrom.

Ruler p-w-o-n-g.  A Boards of Canada-style rusty  ident.

Standing back, up a ladder, it all falls into a wonderful pattern.  The monkey with a spiral tail!

va aa lr polis

 VA AA LR – Polis

Super-classy trio of movements designed for nervous boy racers with those massive sub-woofer systems in their peach fiestas (probably)*

I’ve always had a soft spot for VA AA LR.  Some of it must be their sound palette.  Like Martin Klapper or Voice Crack they are taking non-musical objects and breathing sweet sound into them.  Where VA AA LR differ is with the range of non-musical instruments used. Some of this is well documented (the flares of Newhaven for example) but here we have a mystery set of oddments from the past, present and future: aerosols, scaffolding, de-tuned wood and things unknown and unknowable.  Add to this the occasional voice and this warms up the effect like bubbling soda – less cold machine slick and more pink, rosy glow.

In movement one gritty loops of escaping gas click into place neatly with an ice-cube crackle and a louche, off-hand bass tone.  It’s like sonic lego; small units that are cute enough on their own but transformed when snapped tightly together to create a blocky Taj Mahal.  What could be terribly austere becomes playful as field recordings of voices, seagulls and windows rattling add an emotional heft to the crackle and pop of this strictly downtown funk.  Yeah…watch out Ronson!

Movement two continues with the bass science as a 2 x 4 plank is twanged all flubbery.  The builders are in next door banging away on pig iron with meaty pork mallets.  The nail-bar whirr of micro-dryers pepper the proceedings like correct grammar, making perfect sense but unseen (or heard) until you tune in.  The voices, this time a trifle menacing, are sometimes front and centre in the mix but occasionally sneak left and right with crude Portuguese curses.

Movement three is like a man or woman patiently undertaking a tough physical job, fence-posting for instance.  The rhythm of the task gets into your bones; you become the act of lift, drop, secure.  Ropes are bound tightly round this track adding a nylon bounce above the fly-tippers percussion and dry Perspex rattle.

Strangely enough the overall effect of listening to Polis is that I feel a little smarter than I did 33 minutes ago.  Like when anxious parents play baby Mozart to pump up their grey matter.  VA AA LR are the official brain gym for the mid-life dropout.


*if you are a details freak you can read about the real genesis of Polis here.  Until then… you can imagine what you want!


Tutore Burlato


the radiofreemidwich random tape grab-bag experiment, or: joe murray empties his bulging sack

March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

joe's bulging sack

[Editor’s note: Joe Murray, our resident beat prophet, has convinced his skeptical editor to temporarily abandon the usual formatting for reasons that will soon be apparent.  Thus there are no release details up front, pictures will follow reviews and links will be found where they lay.]

Like all my RFM comrades I have a teetering bunch of tapes to review.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  It’s a privilege and an honour to hear so many dispatches from the No-Audience Underground.

But sometimes I feel I’m doing you a disservice my friends.  It’s the same old, same old format: slot tape in, listen thrice, make notes, look at any other internet gubbins, write up final copy, post to Rob and await his judgement a’ tremble.

But today I want to spice things up baby.   I’m going 50 shades on this shit.

So, in  order to make things (hopefully) more entertaining and experimental in spirit for you, my dear reader, I chucked all my review tapes into a drawstring bag and will pull them out, randomly, sight-unseen ready to slap into the cheap-o hi-fi.  No prior knowledge, no prejudice etc.

Mystery Tape One.  The first thing I notice is an ambient hiss, growing and forming, covering all the other electronic ‘chunk-ka-kuh’ like Spanish moss.  Things get less rhythmic and more drawn out (elongated gong strikes / trapdoor creak) creating a soundtrack feel with some floating voices chattering.  There’s a synth or something humming giving this a very European feel… a dark Froese perhaps?  Now there’s electricity in the air as the test tubes fizz and pop; a scientist twitches and mugs singing snatches of opera in a cracked voice.  Somehow the radio picks up their brain waves: forgotten memories of the seaside and music hall?  An Anthony Caro sculpture comes to life with deep space moans.  Blimey.  Who’s this?  I pop out the tape and check it.   Bless my soul.  It’s the ever lovely Claus Poulsen with Collected Dreams on Skrat Records.

claus poulsen - collected dreams

Mystery Tape Two.  OK…so far so good.   I fumble in my bag and pluck out the next offering.  It drops neatly into the wide-mouth slot and kicks off some dark rubbery knockings, slurm residue and spurks-thumb.  Oh yeah man…this is tremendous stuff!  There’s a treacle-like bubbling and whomping, like some living salt-water lake throbbing dangerously, searching out new tributaries with its briny fingers.  This is pure sound abstraction that builds layers of thick, dark sound-paint until a giant glove smears the oily pickle.   The noxious mixture spreads thin, lightening the hue and spreading the sticky mixture over frame, wall, floor and ceiling until we are all covered with the stuff – a burnt Rothko orange.  Side two opens up with a fling of ducks all ecstatically hawking and honking.  These sounds are passed though some electronic doo-hickery that seems to split and repeat certain quacking frequencies so sections of the greasy reverberations get plucked for presentation with a sheen and glimmer.  The water fowl retreat to roost as we dip our ears below the slick surface of water to luxuriate in music for rowing boat hulls; wooden creak and swollen pop.  Gosh, this tape is really hitting the spot.  Who do I have to thank?  I should have known…it’s ‘The Ambassador’ Tom White with his Reconstruction on Alien Passengers.

tom white - reconstruction

Mystery Tape Three.  This tape starts off with some nice tape gunk that moves unhurriedly between half-tunes played on fuzzed-out organ.  A female voice with the smoky cadence of William Burroughs tells a tale about some sci-fi travel (or something) while Working Men’s Club beats (tiss-be-be-bon-tiss…) flit in and out of the organ tunes.  And then found sound and field recordings get thrown into the mix.  Not in a haphazard manner, no sir, this is finely tuned and tweaked like the exact halfway point between a Radiophonic performance scored by the late great Broadcast and waking up from a particularly vivid dream.  I have to be honest with you readers… I’m stumped here; I have no idea what or who or when this is.  It’s certainly more lyrical than the usual shimmy but the narrative and structure are all over the shop giving this a delightfully Victorian psychedelic edge.  I can’t wait any longer; I crack under the pressure of not knowing and check the cover.  Ahhhhh….it’s that beautiful and wonderfully eccentric duo Winter Family who are playing here with their How Does Time tape on Psychic Mule Records.  It is indeed a play, a play designed to be listened to on a very particular train journey between Besançon in France and  La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland for very particular watch makers.  The ultimate commuter listen.

winter family - how does time

Mystery Tape Four.  Your typical Northern pub chatter sets the scene with clattering bottles and knowing laughter.  An on-stage introduction welcomes you and says, ‘This is for d boon’ before a proper guitar riff chugga-chuggas.   OK…that’s a reference to the wonderful Minutemen  – I get that; are we jamming econo?  Is this gonna be some tour spiel dude? But, at the same time I’m expecting some tape collage work to start up, a wonk-move or gurgled gob etc.  Some music concrete shit and all that doings.  But no…this is pure UK hardcore, recorded very, very  live, possibly from some archive with guitar/bass/drums and an angry attitude.  Think Heresy or something but with a bit more of ‘baseball bat to the face and neck’ feel.  The songs come in short, sharp blasts.  Three or four in a row – chunka – chunka – cheer – crowd babble – chunka- chunka.  It’s invigorating stuff and seems to get looser and more chaotic as the tape goes on (always a bonus for me).  I’m totally lost here.  No idea who it is or even how it crept into my review pile. Shall we look readers?  OK…it all comes flooding back.  This is Battery Humans on Fuckin’ Amateurs with their For D Boon tape.  It is recorded live and recently: 6th September 2014 to be precise and features one Guy Warnes AKA Waz Hoola, the unsung hero of the northern drone scene, on drums.  The usual F#A! standards of presentation apply with anarchy inserts, random gaffer tape sculpture and art fliched from Viz Comic.  Side B is another live recording but this time from Scurge in 1991.  You want rage?   You got it.

battery humans

Mystery Tape Five.  I press ‘play’ and an undulating, chemically insistent, flute trills with the sort of chaotic abandon that pins Old God MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI into a restful slumber.  A thousand chaffed lips puff noxious gas through human thighbone pipes while the jester dances merrily on (like he’s posing for a Marillion album or something).  Gosh…this is pretty intense.  The next track saunters by sounding like that crap ‘pre-computer’ computer game Simon hooking up to Terminator’s Skynet and crashing civilisation as we know it into a frosty digital sludge. Blimey…there’s a hard stop as I turn the tape over but as soon as I click things into life the holy racket starts again.  This time I’m getting something like a rouge Funkadelic jam; real cosmic slop rejected by Mr Clinton for being too out-there as layers of keyboard fuzz and squealing huff pile up and up and up.  A brief moment of calm (the keys ape Vangelis in blade runner tights) lets me breathe again before I’m pushed out a 30 storey window (metaphorically, dude – don’t panic, man) and, as I tumble, I catch snippets of Mexican TV, Concrete Noise, psychic experiments and terrible quiz shows as I hurtle past the apartments spinning dangerously out of control.  An uneven gravity pocket spares me a sticky end and I land, gracefully and precisely, into a pair of oxblood Doctor Martins – the world’s kindest bootboy.  Crows cackle around me, applauding with electric beaks.  I check the details, no wiser of this tapes provenance but washed clean by its synesthetic high, to find out it’s my old Papal Bull buddy Jon Marshall and noise-nudist Pascal Ansell cavorting under the No Thumbs banner.  This beauty’s called Slug Birth and is available from the brand-spanking-new Tutore Burlato label.  If TB is a new name on your radar the quality hallmark of its founder, one Ezio Piermattei, should seal the deal.

no thumbs - slug birth

Mystery Tape Six.  A hawking ceilidh – all X-ray gingham and a skilful cheek-slapping solo.  Reet…now there’s some ‘brum-t-t-tuh’ ursonating richly, fupping my sonics.  Gosh…this is a tasty oyster to be gulped down whole.  A general Scottishness takes hold with gristle and blum; stiff wire wool scraping and beautifully played Dictaphone garble.  I almost trip over my big feet in my rush to turn it over as I’m aching for side two.  And that’s where my experiment has to end.  No system is perfect.  It’s darn near impossible to ignore the fact a voice immediately states…

I’m Ali Robertson

…in Ali Robertson’s voice, soon to be joined by a variety of other familiar burrs. This side is one long ‘game’ of read personal biographies all overlapping (stop-starting) set to strict rules that our cuddly despot is keen to enforce.  Waves of casual voice and chatter settle into strange rhythms – probably some mathematical fractal shit, interlocking as neat as a Rubik’s satisfying ‘click’.  So yeah…durrrr…it’s Ali Robertson and his handily titled Ali Robertson & Friends tape on the always brilliant Giant Tank label.

ali and friends

So my excellent friends, I hope that worked for you?  Me?  I’m refreshed and re-born!  My ears are prickling with cleansing static and expectation.

But tell me: how are you doing?


Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.