woke up with a frog on my tongue: rfm on aftawerks, sophie cooper, yol, ocean floor, anla courtis, robert ridley-shackleton, the slowest lift & f.ampism

November 23, 2017 at 7:15 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Aftawerks – Isle of Dogs (Acid Waxa)

Sophie Cooper – The Curfew Tower Recordings (Crow Versus Crow Editions)

Yol –On/Off (Soundholes)

Ocean Floor – Four Shadows (Aphelion)

Anla Courtis – Concept Bongo (Coherent States)

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – A Thin Slice of Sexie Funk (Cardboard Club)

The Slowest Lift – The Slowest Lift (VHF)

F.Ampism – The Unstruck Sound Centre (Ikuisuus)

 acid waxa

Aftawerks – Isle of Dogs (Acid Waxa) Sold Out Cassette and digital album

Now I may not know my 808 from my 303 but what I can tell you is that this tape is what I’ve been reaching for when I need to get shit done.

Putting the bins out?  Check.

Going to argue with the teachers at the kids open day? Check.

Completing that application for planning permission?  Check.

For each domestic stretching task I’ve found Aftawerks’ no-nonsense squelch, jaunty computerised bass and pinprick precise beats the perfect mental and physical workout.

I’m in no way qualified to review this with any sense of where it fits into things historically.  Some of it sounds like incidental music on Miami Vice, some of it sounds like the tunes kids blast at the back of the bus with extremely complicated hi-hat and clave patterns.

But whatever it is I’m bouncing and moving.

So…am I cool now?

sophie cooper solo

Sophie Cooper – The Curfew Tower Recordings (Crow Versus Crow Editions) Sold Out Cassette and digital album

How low can you go?

On this tape Sophie Cooper goes Mariana Trench deep into the wild and weird world of the orchestra’s most misunderstood instrument – the trombone.

Sophie’s ‘bone is not played for yuks.  No sir.  Her Avant Garde drone credentials are writ large on a ‘Tribute to LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela’s OCEANS’.  But at the same time the farting bluster that comes naturally from hot brass is not shied away from.  In fact it is welcomed in a series of breathy improvisations that notch up extra points for unknown textures and intense control.

At times the brass guffs are joined with real-life human breath totally getting that ‘soft and intense’ vibe Miles perfected on Kind of Blue.  On ‘What the fuck was he thinking?’ trumps turn to growls and growls turn to gasps and I’m transported into a world of leather lungs and wax paper aioli, gently expanding and contracting – the rasping hiss as rich in life in a succulent rock pool.

Delicate sound manipulation enters the frame occasionally with ‘Push the Button’s’ double-tracked horns locking together into some hefty warble tone.  A pot is twisted and it gets fuzzier and hissier until it reaches Michio Kurihara’s mythical bliss-out proportions.

As it stands, with its site specific jams and improvisations, this tape would be a winner.  But add to this the sweet narrative charm and you’ve got a keeper, a real put-on-the-top-of-the-pile-er.

The fabled dial-a-bone sessions link recordings together and are presented unedited and raw…the phone rings, Sophie answers, she asks what kind of jam the caller wants (loud/soft, short/long) and, BBBBUUURRRRRRRRRRMMMMM, she delivers.  Classic trombone action.

Who you gonna call?

yol on off

Yol –On/Off (Soundholes) Cassette

SIDE ON: JUST FIRE. JUST FIRE NOTHING ELSE. FEEDBACK SCOURS CLEAN. YOU DID A CRAP WHEELIE IN THE PARK. GIBBER G-G-GIBBER. ROAR AND RUUR AND RAAR. THROAT IS SORE BUT CAN’T STOP. JUST FIRE NOTHING ELSE.  SSSSSSSSQUEAL – BURN IT CLEAN / CUT IT OUT.  FIRE, FIRE, FIRE ON A LORRY. SCRATCH/BUFFFFFFGGG. SILENCE. TWO DOGS. BACKGROUND CHUNTER ON A TAPE OR SOMETHING. TWO FAKE PLASTIC ROTTWEILERS.  BUMMMMGGGGG—AWWWWWWWWW WHAT THE FUCK IS IN THERE?  EEEEEEEEEEE…SILENCE-CLICK.

SIDE OFF. PROTEST WIG. UGHHH. SCRAPE/SCRAPE. UHHH-GHUUUR. DISEMBODIED WIG HEAD ON THE BALCONY OF THE LUXURY FLATS. SCRATCH. CREEEE—WAAAJ WAAAJ. I SWEAR DOWN IT WAS LOOKING AT ME. HAH-HAH-HER. FADED GHOST LETTERS. GUNG-KIDDLE-TOING. SAY SOMETHING ABOUT. BOING. PAINT, SHOES, GLOVES. PING…CRUNCH. IS IT A WARNING? CHUDDLE-RATTLE-HING. CRAZY PAVING. SCRATCH-UG UG UG MADE FROM BROKEN GRAVESTONES ROARRR-R-RAAAH.  SQUEAL-EEL. ALWAYS KEEP A SPARK PLUG IN YOUR POCKET.  UHG UHG CRASH. SILENCE-CLICK.

ocean floor

Ocean Floor – Four Shadows (Aphelion) CD, Cassette and digital album

These four sublimely beautiful modular synth pieces from one Mr Aonghus Reidy simply ooze out of the speakers like a ripple of ripe camembert.

Opener ‘Airglow’ reverberates round our domestic front room with a poise that turns our little lounge into some ebony-tiled basilica.  A devastating presence wearing the monk’s cowl of humility.  ‘Shadows’ follows with gentle runs of oscillation that wouldn’t be out of place in a schools and colleges broadcast from 1983.

Things wind down a little with ‘Night’ – shimmering like moonlight on a vast lake the melody moving so slowly it almost collapses.  And things are finally put to bed (Ed – groan!) on ‘Slumber’ a real-life lullaby; in equal parts sweetness and sinister.

It’s pretty.  It’s lovely.  What’s your problem punk?

anla courtis

Anla Courtis – Concept Bongo (Coherent States) Cassette and download

Clipped and ribbed thribblings.

Yes it’s the bongo drum – beloved of the beatnik and unwelcome midnight-jammer.  But here Alan/Anla Courtis takes the hippie staple and drowns it in several pints of ‘chunng-fhhfhhung’ stretching each dull thud into a warm tropical front.  Elastic thumps collect in wildly unstable clouds; popping and clicking like plastic thunder.

Waxy rolls and smears. 

Two fifteen minute pieces focus on different approaches.  ‘Concept Bongo I’ concentrates on the short-lived resonance that exists in the negative space these drums are designed to hold.  Vibration is carefully controlled and limited to strict, neat parameters.  The tables are turned on ‘Concept Bongo II” a freer, looser jam, sloshed with reverb sounding exactly halfway between an afternoon with Steve Reich and Faust’s most blunted tapes experiments.

The sound of a million blunt fingertips gently striking pigskin. 

The palette of sounds is, understandably, quite limited to these thrilling pops and clicks but this familiarity make me smile nostalgically, like uncovering a well-earned scar when it’s warm enough to wear shorts.

Can I say Bongo Fury?  Guess I just did.

Robert Ridley

Robert Ridley-Shackleton – A Thin Slice of Sexie Funk (Cardboard Club) 3”CD-r

The Cardboard Prince is pretty much unstoppable on this brief funk workout.  I’m guessing there’s some new kit involved here as RRS sounds deep, heavier and more, well…sexie on this release.

Enough of the preamble – where’s the beef?

  • ‘Eye Just Want 2’ – Chart-ready Brit-funk with indistinct vocals (such a shame I can’t make them out) and an irrepressible squid-beat spurting electric ink.
  • ‘Dancing Under the Table’ – A classic RRS instant composition with a riff on jam sandwiches and death(e), the coiling bass line gradually tweaked till it cries Uncle.
  • ‘Cheater’ –This one is the cream of a particular creamy crop. Lyrics sound like Cheap Trick!  Lyrics sound totally RRS!!  The squelching bass line needs to be wrung out it’s so darn wet.  Many pots are twisted and drum-fills are added with wild abandon as RRS opens his heart to curse all the cheaters out there.

 slowest lift lp

The Slowest Lift – The Slowest Lift (VHF) Vinyl LP

This knock-out tag team: Sophie Cooper and Julian Bradley (AKA The Slowest Lift) find their spiritual home on veteran freek-retreat VHS for their debut long-player.

Let’s recap.  The Slowest Lift excels in duality.  Their coupling of (on one side) shocking distortion, tape noise and blistering huff with (on the other) soft slow voices and gentle unhurried compositions make the act of listening like dreaming through an electrical storm.

The prospect their heaving and groaning fuzz will descend into splintered chaos is always hinted at but generally inches back from the brink guided by a warm sonic-sirocco rebalancing the actors like perfectly carved chess pieces.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this is classy but still a psychic bruiser yeah?

Opener ‘Crystal Fracture’ re-imagines something like TOTO’s Africa decamped to the Devil’s Causeway and played by colourful walkers on sharp sticks.

I’m always intrigued by that songs-named-after-the-band/album-titles-named-after-the-band type of thing. Am I to assume that this song ‘The Slowest Lift’ is a mission statement?  A brief track to distil the essence of Cooper/Bradley? If so I can report back T.S.L. are a devastating cocktail of the fizzy and the smeared – think carbonated grease!

Strung-out lines of gruffly-tempered fluff skittering in a beam of yellow sunlight next…it’s ‘Bank Holiday Tuesday’ – a slow boil.  The birth of casserole-core if you will.  ‘Preset’ has the swagger of some undiscovered Ulver back-catalogue gem; cascades of VU-guitar strummage while Transylvanian horns duck and parry.

A lazy hiss of a harmonium fidgets with those darn tachyons shimmering in and out of phase on ‘Hi from the Skyline Swim’. The voice, relatively en clair is delivering a warning of sorts.  Watch out for the grandfather paradox perhaps?

Taking a breather I think what I like most is the unpolished air to this remarkable record.  The ever-so-slightly discernable patina of tape hiss when another instrument adds to the mix, it’s the sound of unfinished business.  ‘EV Plus’ is a great case in point – like two found recordings laid over each other.  T.S.L. make like archaeologists digging for treasure that their painstaking research assures them is just beneath their feet.

Song title of the month, ‘Extreme Cops’ is a sculpted meringue, chemically complex but light as air, ‘The Chauffer’ similarly buoyant   Compare and contrast to closer ‘Punched’.  A concrete overcoat, worn as you sink beneath the dock of the bay.

The Slowest Lift dog-ear a new chapter in ye olde booke of English free-mind collectives.

“SHhvvvHHHuuuhhHHHHHSshsshSShshsSH”

ampism_sleeve

F.Ampism – The Unstruck Sound Centre (Ikuisuus) Vinyl LP

A lovingly prepared Petri dish of ripe exotic beans sprouting quivering tendrils that wrap round my pink toes.

A slushy bubbling and melting ripple permeate each of these nine itchy pieces.  Each song a study in Technicolor; detail hanging heavy with Nag Champa and waxy banana leaves.

‘The Loosest Caduceus’ shudders like muscle spasms while ‘Sand/Blood/Glass’ makes me shave my head and begin a Bic-pen trepanation.  An over-reaction from an excited listener you think?  I challenge you not to seep between these vinyl grooves in search of forbidden knowledge. Me?  I napped and woke up with a frog on my tongue.  There’s no escape from the cramps!

But lovers of gritty drama and kitchen sink realism will not be disappointed by ‘Absolute Beyond Ill’ as fucking real as ‘tripping’ down the steps of the police station.

Get merry and totally bronzed with AMPISM!   Essential.

STOP PRESS: Dwellers of Sheffield ! You can watch f.ampism and a whole host of other RFM faves LIVE on Saturday 2nd December at  Regather  57-59 Club Garden Road, Sheffield, S11 8BUThis all-dayer contains Dylan Nyoukis & Kieron Piercey, Historically Fucked, Katz Mulk, Sippy Cup, Giblet Gusset, Acrid Lactations & Joincey, Luke Poot & Duncan Harrison and some joker named Posset.  Doors open at 3.30pm and the howling starts at 4pm.  Kids welcome.  More info here.

Acid Waxa

Crow versus Crow Bandcamp

Soundholes

Aphelion Editions

Coherent States

Cardboard Club / Hissing Frames

VHF Records

Ikuisuus

-ooOOoo-

speechless: on not writing about taming power and ashtray navigations

June 21, 2016 at 11:55 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Taming Power – Selected Works 1996-97 (7” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 7” – 001, edition of 100)

Taming Power – Three Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 015, edition of 111)

Taming Power – Six Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 016, edition of 110)

Taming Power – Twelve Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 017, edition of 525)

Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica (12” vinyl LP plus CD, VHF, vhf#138)

Ashtray Navigations – Ashtray Navigations presents The Mechanical Abrasions Of (volume one) (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, moa1-2016, edition of 100)

Ashtray Navigations – Ashtray Navigations presents The Mechanical Abrasions Of (volume two) (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, moa2-2016, edition of 100)

Ashtray Navigations – Lemon Blossom Gently Pixelating In The Breeze (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, edition of 100)

a shimmering replicathree

Regular readers will know of the respect I have for the work of Askild Haugland.  Click on the ‘taming power’ tag above and you will find a guest post by Neil Campbell introducing him to me and thus, inadvertently, to radiofreemidwich, a catalogue annotated by Askild himself (with ordering details – Taming Power and his label Early Morning Records have virtually no online presence) and a bunch of reviews in which my usual tools of swagger and whimsy fail to express just how special this music is. The world described is unique, the methods used are simple but unfathomable, the results achieved are various angles on perfection.

Regular readers will also know of the swooning love I have for the music of Ashtray Navigations. Click on the ‘ashtray navigations’ tag above and you will find thousands of words telling stories of the deep blue interstellar Buddha, of edible sound, of military machinations, of 1960s gangsters yachting off the Amalfi coast – my usual tools of swagger and whimsy singing like a wind chime made of knives. The reason I write is, to a large extent, to describe the kind of life-affirming, psychedelic synaesthesia evoked by Phil Todd and Mel O’Dubhshlaine. No one does it better.

So why have these releases been languishing undescribed, many months after being received here at Midwich Mansions? Partly for the same reason a tweet is easier to write than an email, which in turn is easier to write than a letter, which in turn is easier to write than a proclamation painted in foot high letters with hand-ground pigment on a chalk-white cliff-face. When something feels important and it is clear I don’t have the time or energy to do it justice, it is easy to put it to one side and wait for the ‘perfect time’ which, of course, never comes.

My silence on the matter is partly fear of failure too. I realise that writing about music is, ultimately, a futile business (‘dancing about architecture’ and all that) which is why I’ve never done it. What I do is write about the response I have when listening to music – that ‘once removed’ step acknowledging the subjectivity of the exercise and freeing me from the obligation of ‘judgement’. Ugh, nothing more tiresome than some bollock awarding marks out of ten on Pitchfork is there? Still, I appreciate this ‘have cake/eat it’ stance has its limitations and the artifice tends to collapse entirely when confronted with music that I love so sincerely, that I engage with so wholeheartedly. I have to patch my burst ego and re-inflate it with a foot-pump before my wittering seems anything other than utterly unnecessary. In short: faced with the releases listed above what the hell am I going to say?

Thus this time I’ve decided against wittering and I’ve put swagger and whimsy to one side. Instead you’re getting an illustrative anecdote at second hand. The other day I was listening to the episode of Adam Buxton’s podcast in which he interviews Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. They chat and stroll around Lyon the afternoon before the band play a show in the Roman amphitheatre there…

(an aside on Radiohead: I was dismayed to see the outburst of snarkery on social media that accompanied the release of their recent album. I’m not a huge fan but recognise they are an important band and have created some very fine music indeed. Plenty of their output is strange and interesting but is also engaging enough to have acted as a ‘gateway drug’, ushering thousands of kids into more esoteric galleries. I also admire the ‘have cake/eat it’ relationship they have with corporate music: being part of it but largely, it seems, on their own terms. To those who feel the urge to take the piss I say: fuck off. There must be some Velvet Underground box set you could wank over instead. Go peel your banana.)

…and at one point their conversation is interrupted by a fan. The guy is a perhaps a little earnest, but not at all creepy, and wishes to express how important the music of Jonny’s band is to him. He says the same thing several times, phrased slightly differently each time, like we do when excited and tongue tied and Jonny thanks him. Adam takes a picture of the two of them together after the inevitable struggle to make the camera work. I was touched by Jonny’s graciousness but found the slight catch, the slight warble in the fan’s voice instantly recognizable and, to my surprise, profoundly moving. I found myself welling up. Yes, I thought, yes – that is what it is like. To be so taken with something, for something to mean so much to you, that its presence makes rational expression almost impossible. So, with respect to that Radiohead fan in France, here is my complete review of four releases by Taming Power and another four by Ashtray Navigations:

This music is so, so important to me.

I’m not being flippant. What I’m saying – arms outspread, nervous (but huge) grin on my face – is that if you have any interest at all in the stuff covered by this blog then you must investigate Taming Power and Ashtray Navigations. It’s wonderful.  This music, and the reaction it provokes, is the reason this blog exists. Seriously, how can you not be intrigued by something that leaves a notorious blabbermouth like me speechless?

—ooOoo—

RFM post containing Early Morning Records catalogue with ordering details – please email Askild before sending money.

Ashtray Navigations

(Taming Power picture nicked from Uncle Mark’s proper review over at the ever-wonderful Idwal Fisher blog.)

domestic strangeness: joe murray on richard youngs

July 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Richard Youngs – NO FANS COMPENDIUM (7 x CD, VHF, vhf#137)

no fans boxno fans contents

Note: Written over a series of long-long-long train journeys from Newcastle to London over the course of about 12 hours.  It’s a big box, I wanted to give it time to seep into my lazy DNA.

Not a Rick, Rich or Dick.  The brown-paper plainness of the moniker Richard Youngs seems to suggest an everyday everyman.  The punk philosophy said everyone can do it.  The No-Audience Underground proposes that everyone is doing it.   And Richard is a patron saint, a twenty-year kinda guy releasing a shed load of N-A U essentials and the stone cold classics Lake and Advent that get regular, almost weekly, airings in Posset Mansions.

What I love about RY’s sound is its domestic strangeness.  There’s none of the clichés.  And, as much as I love demonic screaming, ritual slaughter and abandoned blotter-acid munching, the day-to-day oddness of libraries, baking and the sweet psychedelic of swirling tea leaves is so much more satisfying.

But so far I’ve only gulped down RY in relatively small doses.  This seven-disc monster takes up a whole working day to swallow.  So, like Man versus Food’s Adam Richman I starve myself of music for a while and dive into this beast in four enormous sittings.

Disc 1.  20th Century Jams

  • 19 Used Postage Stamps – A crystal-clear recording of a guitar and smeared vocal mung set.  The stretched out, elongated repetitions build like waves spilling over the levee.  A very good start from 1987 St Albans.
  • Inner Sky – Coloured sand from the Isle of Wight tumbling through an eggy-timer; sirens chant through yellow plastic drainage pipes.
  • May Verses – European-style text piece or deconstructed madrigal?  Hey man, why not both…at once.  Two RY’s face-to-face dropping single, clear words into a perpetual motion machine.  It revolves, frictionless, word balloons collecting in dense sound clouds.  As pagan as you like without a cock ring in sight!
  • Live in my Head. 19 minutes of cheap keyboards morphing into the tube/tunnel/barrel sounds Goldie and his Metalheads would use to evoke holes being punched though solid air.  But better.

Disc 2.  21st Century Jams

  • Live in Glasgow 2000 – Nu Feral Trax.  Feeding time at the Owl Sanctuary while a wooden crate is wrenched apart – quite a spectacle in Sauciehall!
  • Easter 2001 – The glass celestia pre-set on a knocked-off Casio fully flummoxed.  A true experimental spirit as autoharp collapses in the boughs of electronic twinkle.  It’s irresistible to the faeire folk but, unfortunately, deadly on consumption.
  • This Life Gives Force – A scant 9 mins.  This single note song has the barest bones allowing you to climb inside.  RY asks us to ‘lay aside navigation’.  Sure thing.  I’m pinning my compass to this poem of emptiness.
  • Sun Lay Lay – Pre-birth/post-opera.  Star Trek door ‘visssh’ swarmed and scrumped.  Hey Dani Filth – you need to get into this to properly scare the Home Counties.

Disc 3.  Multi-tracked Shakuhachi/Live in Salford

  • Multi-tracked Shakuhachi 1, 2 & 3 – Devastating Exotica that makes Martin Denny sound like an underground car park.  The tones quiver like fat drops of cum.  It is really super simple: breathy tubes, tumbling fibres and gentle sighing get carefully overlaid building up a pencil-line drawing all curves and slopes.
  • Live in Salford – Swanee whistle masquerading as Shakuhachi perhaps? Twenty Eight minutes is a long time for a whistle solo!  But brass balls for the uneasy silent patches making this like ASCII art in sound.  The sea-blues shanty coda snaps everything back into sharp focus with the ghost of M.E.S living in the ‘Ah’s!’

Disc 4.  Somerled/No Place Like Home

  • Glasgow Device – Tortured Poundland organ fed through Hawkwind’s set-up (minus Stacia).  The hammer-ons crack the brittle plastic keys and there’s some pitch knob twiddling to be sure.  A benchmark for the home recording mafia.
  • Mixolydian Sea Tone – A Bulgarian Choir, all with RY’s face (like Windowlicker yeah).  Wordless sound arranged as tightly as a Roman tortoise, no room for a spear…fully armoured mate.  Real World would poop to release this.
  • Revolution Again – Re-creating the aimless drones of an organist warming up in a Methodist chapel.  Single deep tones repeating and un-coiling as mosquitoes ‘sing’ above your ear flaps.  Sleepy like nutmeg – count me in/out!
  • Alarms 1 & 2 – Exactly the same as ‘Revolution Again’ but replace the Methodists with a shiny metal golf ball sprouting robot arms and hands.
  • No Place Like Home – A mesmerising electric organ piece, the lag accumulator hijacked to marvellous effect.  But you know what I’m hearing readers?   The vacuum-inducing ‘whump’ of a beat from Astral Social Club fading in at about the 5 min mark and then Vast Aire spitting some grim verse.  Blimey!  I’m falling into the Youngs-hole.

Disc 5. Three Handed Star/Garden of Stones

  • Three Handed Star – As different as you can imagine from anything else that’s happened before.  RY leads a trembling chant – “Soul-Math-Mammoth-Soul” or something – with an accordion accompaniment.  This is an ambitious piece with several distinct movements; from jaunty sing-a-long to wah-hah concertina, repetitive call and response to broken down leathery lungs.  Gritty electronics gradually take over the air’s powdered huffing and the fractured voices get folded in.  It’s all a bit festive, a wassail if you fancy it.
  • Garden of Stones 1 – As heavy as Alice Coltrane gone Eddie Hazel.  The N-A U Maggot Brain!
  • Garden of Stones 2 – Just as effortlessly cosmic with none of the wah-wah.  Sun worship through Dr Strange incantations (i.e. this is exactly what Dr Strange probably sounds like)
  • Garden of Stones 3 – Marvellously slow and sedate, drawn-out like flu symptoms; Fushitsusha loops on the Buddha Box.
  • Garden of Stones 4 – A sorbet of Dulcimer tones sharpened like a razorblade beneath a pyramid, nixed Nantucket Sleighride for a current affairs vibe!
  • Garden of Stones 5 – A cousin to GoS 3 but with added dark rubber burns and sadness lines.  Borstal dots weep.

Note: if you are looking for a place to dive into this massive boxed set I’d strongly suggest this here disc 5.

Disc 6.  Harpenden!

  • Green Milk – As skewiff as the Residents.  An off-kilter waltz unhinged like the Overlook’s carpet.  Django Reinhardt twiddles on the nylon strings whilst Danny Torrence slaps the xylophone as exact as a metronome.
  • To the Hills – Oh my.  This one takes the funeral pace of ‘Goat’ and the sound of 1000 cocktail sticks being dropped over and over again; Danny keeps his end up on the xylophone.  An interruption on the vocal track at the 3 minute mark…

    What?  OK.  Thank you.

    …reminds you this was actually made in the, you know, real world.  Not some odd zone at a slight tangent to the Earth.  “Take me to the hills” is chanted over and over until I’m just about to snap and then a blissful violin scrape breaks the spell.  It seems as natural as a brass hinge being bent back and forth.  First one way, then the other: herrrr…huwwrrrr… herrrr…huwwrrrr…

  • The Dead Fly – Recorded down a mossy tunnel with a hairy-trousered Pan, lonesome ‘ahhhhs’ bouncing off the dripping brickwork.  Clip-clop goes our fleecy friend whispering in Gesualdo’s ear, “I’ve got an idea for you mate.”
  • Setting for Voices – This is the proper Thomas Tallis shit.  All holy rafters and gristly sibilance.  The ‘chooo-chooo’ echo adding a delightful rhythm to the wordless choir of RY complete with round bellies, curly locks and apple cheeks.  Quite, quite beautiful.

Disc 7. Thought Plane

  • Thought Plane – The first thought that pops into my exhausted skull as I’m listening to this is ‘Blimey, I bet Chris Sage would love this.’  Chris, my unfeasibly tall friend, left Newcastle about 20 years ago.  Just before he left he gave me a bunch of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno records, No Pussyfooting being one.  I’d never heard of Fripp at the time and these records pretty much blew my tubes.  Well Chris…if you are reading this I can confidently predict you’d love every minute of this hour-long granulated sparkle/crystal-tips workout.  Dang it Chris…you’ll dig this whole boxed set man!  The swooning loops change real slow, a gentle swirling of stars.  Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look out the leftside portal you’ll see the Horsehead Nebula.

And in a funny sort of way ‘Thought Plane’ is a perfect ending to this No Fans behemoth, it being made up of all the different approaches on the 6 other discs: ritual repetition, acoustic patterning, wordless vocal jaxx, saw-tooth loops etc . For sure there’s some trepanning-strength psych effect in this box but it’s all balanced with the edge-of-the-bed recording techniques and Oliver Postgate cranks and ratchet.

But as this final disc gently fades out Richard digs deeper than ever before and opens his heart with a few clear and confident words.  What does he say?  Well, you’ll just have to travel the way of the No Fans Compendium.  The journey’s long, readers, but jeepers… it’s worth every minute.

—ooOoo—

via VHF in USA

via NO FANS in UK

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