everyone’s favourite uncle: joe murray on adam bohman (again)

June 25, 2014 at 11:09 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ADAM BOHMAN – Music and words 2 (CD, paradigm discs, PD 30)

Adam Bohman - Music and Words 2 aAdam Bohman - Music and Words 2 b

Like a classic mixtape you make for your good friend overseas this utterly charming record is less snapshot of ‘where it’s at’ and more time-travel device for the hyper-elastic mind.

Clive Graham from paradigm discs is the good-guy compiler here and all his source material comes from the personal chump-tapes and hen’s teeth releases from everyone’s favourite uncle – Adam Bohman. Some recordings stretch back to 1977 and it’s a trip to hear Adam as a young man all clipped and springy.

In Music and words (re-released 2013) the spotlight was on Adam’s tutored ping, verbal monologues and electric tape-jiggery. This time round (or before, or after) we get to hear some more linear sonic collage, extended ‘talking tapes’ and some real life songs!

You all know that the art of compiler lies in pacing and placement. Do you big-bang it at the start or drop a sleeper half way through side two? Well, dear reader, with material as rich as this you can afford to do both.

Things start with the world-wide mega-hit ‘When a man’; a viciously witty response to every meathead jock, alpha male and pumped-up Charles Atlas type swinging their (metaphorical) johnson in your (metaphorical) face. Delivered in the style of a gravelly action-film trailer arguing with itself we are treated to the world of what real men see, think and do. Real men (the interlocking voices of ‘Kenny’ & ‘Shane’ tell us) kill people, blow them away and have intercourse with horny chicks. And then it piles weirdness on weirdness with Rhodes Boyson and Steven Segal and Gore Vidal being referenced…

I saw someone blown away by Norman Lamont

…creeps out of one speaker building mental pictures of an evil-looking Spitting Image puppet getting freaky with the Bohman fist controlling.

And it’s these talking tapes (and variations thereof) that have captured the no-audience underground so much. Trips to London, Southend-on-Sea and Wiesbaden become enlightening travel guides of the curious-mundane. Adam’s daily fry-ups, train delays and listening habits are magnified through tape to enter a level of detail Nicholson Baker would be proud of. London & Wiesbaden are the build-up to gigs Adam is playing and the slow and measured psychedelic-domestic reveals a universe of connections; it becomes a precursor to the show, an essential route map of thought-processes that lead up to a tantalising blank, because, of course, the show itself is not represented.   His trip through customs on one of the Wiesbaden pieces is almost a live performance anyway with the airport security playing a supporting role to Adam’s youthful mutters.

The sonic-collage pieces seem to each take a different medium and apply the same signature blunt tape edits creating delightful variations. In ‘Interruptions’ an old chord organ chokes and coughs with dust. In ‘Screams of the Undead Earthworms’ vocal blips and bibber melt like spit and during   ‘Crimson Catfish’ Adam takes rogue radio recordings and chops them up with a rusty hacksaw.

The more song-oriented pieces: ‘Vicar with a Travel Bag’ or ‘Ordnance Survey’ or ‘Waterfall Song’ are as British as a cockle-scented general. His cheeks brick-red from massive Sherry consumption he wonders:

Why didn’t that Damon Albarn chappie use Bohman rather than Ray Davis to create his Hope & Glory template? Others would have followed. I can see Shed Seven ditch their feathercuts for Bohmanesque tonsures, muttering into Dictaphones as they search the aisles of Maplin’s for cheap batteries. The Verve taking their ricket-legged swagger down the allotment with a tartan flask, carefully comparing the differing resonance of scrap metal pipes. And of course Elastica copying every detail of a collage down to source material and then passing it off as their own work.

But never let it said these are naive recordings. If you are looking for cynical bite ‘My Wife’s going to have a Baby” is dripping with sarcasm and first-world-male-dread. The Southend-on-Sea talking tapes capture the darker side of Essex drinking culture and Adam acknowledges “I must sound like a terrible snob” as he avoids the thick-necked quaffers.   The ‘Jenkins Family’ is pretty much a sharp poke at cultural tourism and, as the sleeve notes proudly point out,

…was recorded the year before EastEnders was first broadcast.

At just over 79 minutes this is a long record…but never seems it. The pieces have a careful planning (as careful as any mixtape meant for wooing I’m guessing); the Talking Tapes come in convenient chunks and are interspersed with collage and song, making this more like an afternoon with a spectral Radio 4 taken hostage by the ordinary ghost. Essential.

Buy here.

the medicinal quality of northern noise, its alloys and compounds

May 13, 2014 at 10:16 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

posset – friction rivers (tape, Singing Knives Records)

sindre bjerga / posset – split (CD-r, gold soundz, gs#123, edition of 25)

star turbine / inseminoid / fordell research unit / xazzaz – nundungeon (CD-r, gold soundz, gs#122, edition of 25)

I, Torquemada – The Book, The Eye, The Scourge (download, Oracle Netlabel, ORE106)

Oppenheimer – Oppenheimer (CD-r, molotov, 26)

oppenheimer – js/ls/ms, js/ls/ms/mks (tape, Matching Head, mh202)

Inseminoid – Vanessa Howard’s Night Light (3” CD-r, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.022, edition of 50 or download)

posset - friction rivers

Surprisingly perhaps, given my status as long-term noise aficionado, I suffered my first ever migraine last week.  Silver worms squirmed into the top right of my peripheral vision, wriggling downwards until their glistening made it impossible to read the newspaper I was holding.  Then the left hand side of my face, upper jaw to receding hairline, seized up completely – as if a phantom of the opera mask was held clamped in place over the affected area.  The pain made me feel nauseous but, in denial about what might be occurring, I decided that a few painkillers and a lie down would be sufficient treatment.  The worst of it lasted about three hours.

During the following week my face and scalp remained ‘tight’ – the muscle under my left eye twitching like an oyster dripped with lemon juice.  Worse though was a near constant state of seasickness which had me imagining I was swaying from side to side and made it difficult to sleep, to stomach food or to concentrate on everyday tasks.  I took some time off work and visited my GP who was sufficiently concerned to prescribe some medication and insist that I saw her again if anything changed.  My Dad suffered a minor stroke when he was about my age so we all wanted to make sure my brain wasn’t exploding.

Unfortunately, things deteriorated over the weekend and I reported even more, even stranger symptoms – a sunburnt feeling on my arms and hands being the weirdest – to my GP yesterday morning and she referred me immediately to Accident and Emergency at Leeds General Infirmary for a neurological assessment.  I was at the hospital for six hours, four of which were spent waiting in A&E.  I’ve been before in the evening and seen the bloody, alcohol-soaked horrorshow but the daytime parade of elderly patients rubbing numb limbs whilst spouses laughed nervously, each trying not to let on how frightened they were, was even more upsetting.  Anyway, I eventually saw a bunch of doctors, had my noggin sliced with X-rays and got the all clear.  Nowt wrong with me that a few painkillers and a lie down won’t see to.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, it explains why I’m sat here typing instead of being out gallivanting.  Given that all has not been well between my ears, medical opinion (and common sense) suggests that I should probably not press ’em up against the speakers at Wharf Chambers.  The timing is heartbreaking as this week sees sets in Leeds from Neil Campbell, Popular Radiation, Spoils & Relics, BBBlood and RFM comrade Joe Murray as Posset.  It would, of course, be a glorious way to go out – to have my head literally explode at the peak of a Paul Watson racket-crescendo, say – but my worried wife would much rather I was around to, y’know, help with the baby n’ all that.  Thus here I am in Midwich Mansions, self-medicating my sulk with doses of noise from Tyneside, Edinburgh and Norway.

sindre and joe split

First then to my man Joe and his nom-de-gurgle Posset: a cassette monograph on the ever lovely Singing Knives and shared credit for a split with the ubiquitous Sindre Bjerga on the latter’s Gold Soundz imprint.  Between the pair of them we are treated to a symphony for spittle and poorly-lubricated door hinge, a Punch and Judy show as performed by the inmates of Charenton Asylum directed by the Marquis de Sade, a fleet of aquatic budgerigars trilling, gargling and discussing the price of kelp, trainers squeaking on a basketball court during a game played by the anthropomorphic animal croquet teams from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, a wheelie bin full of post-midnight, soggy gremlins plotting mischief and a chipped vinyl Oliver Postgate storybook LP playing forlornly on a faulty wind-up gramophone.  Occasionally in Sindre’s tracks some drone bleeds in as if his million other projects are leaking through a badly aligned tape head.  Tremendous stuff, full of verve, exuberance and humour as well as a surprising and touching emotional range.

nundungeon

Speaking of Sindre’s million other projects: Star Turbine, his excellent duo with Claus Poulsen, leads off a compilation that could well have been curated with me in mind as the ideal listener.  Four bands: Star Turbine, Inseminoid, Fordell Research Unit and Xazzaz – all favourites of mine – each donate a single 10(plus) minute track to a CD-r celebrating that line up playing the exquisitely named Nundungeon in Edinburgh earlier this year.  The Turbs are in a playful mood, bringing Sindre’s current solo style to stamp gleefully around in the space afforded by their usual spacey drone.  Inseminoid I will be coming onto shortly thus my later comments can be slotted in here: ‘______’.  Fraser Burnett of Fordell Research Unit simply cannot put a foot wrong and his confident, expressive drone work is as satisfying as remembering there is an uneaten Easter egg still in the cellar head.  Mike Simpson of Xazzaz is capable of exactly the same level of customer service but does it with added pedal-stomped, bristling loudness.  Sindre had this one for sale on his recent jaunt ’round the UK – you better drop him a line to see if it is still available.

i, torquemada - the book, the eye, the scourgeoppenheimer - molotov 26oppenheimer - mh202

Mike Simpson also plays a part, I think, in both I, Torquemada and Oppenheimer – the former being a duo of Frater J (Jamie of Wrest?  Jerome of Charles Dexter Ward?) and Frater M (Mike, probs), the latter being mainly a quartet of Jamie, Jerome, Mike and RFM heartthrob Lee Stokoe of Culver and Matching Head.  I’m sure the omniscient Scott McKeating will set me straight if I have the details wrong.  Both acts perform an industrial strength improv noise rock, or free punk, or doom skronk or harsh guitar wall or whatever – subgenre post-it notes won’t stick to this surface caked with filth.  There is a perverse relish in referencing the Spanish Inquisition or the Manhattan Project with your band name and a dark, hopeless abandonment is certainly celebrated with the music too.  It’s as morbidly beautiful as the glistening wings of a sea bird caught in an oil slick, as terrifyingly faceless as a coin eaten smooth by a corrosive fluid.  I am reminded, quite purposefully I suppose, of the famous quote from J. Robert Oppenheimer following the Trinity test:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

These Tyneside nihilists would have been amongst those laughing.  They see the big – the biggest – picture.

inseminoid - vanessa

Inseminoid, the duo of Lee Stokoe and George Proctor (of Mutant Ape and Turgid Animal), are connoisseurs of horror cinema, vintage porn and exploitative art in general but their heavy drone pieces are importantly different to the gore-splattered gusto of their colleagues above.  They curate a carefully sustained atmosphere of unease, understanding that true terror is often found not in the act but in its consequences, not in the situation but in its implications.  Repeat listens brought to mind haunting, half-remembered, dream-troubling passages from my own limited experience with horror fiction.  For example, I always found the reveal in Ringu 2 that Sadako was actually alive and sealed in the well for thirty years before dying to be as viscerally nauseating as any of the deaths portrayed.  Or how about a scene from one of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood stories where a guy foolishly pokes a seemingly dead monster and has his hand bitten off?  In a moment of genius, Barker steps back from the gore for a couple of sentences to let us in on the shock and dismay this moment of idiotic bravado has caused.  We see the awful, disproportionate consequences and are appalled.  This is what Inseminoid are up to: cool, considered, implacably hostile – absolutely compelling.

—ooOoo—

Singing Knives

Gold Soundz

(Editor’s note: there are various Gold Soundz resources revealed by a quick Google/Discogs search but none seem current.  As such, I’ve linked to Sindre’s own page and you can ask him about these releases directly.)

Sheepscar Light Industrial

Oracle Netlabel

Molotov

Matching Head

minty magma: joe murray on ezio piermattei, forest of eyes and sindre bjerga

May 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezio Piermattei – Turismodentale (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.284)

Forest of Eyes – Winter Wakeneth (CD-r, self-released)

Sindre Bjerga – Dig Your Own Hole (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.275)

ezio piermattei

Ezio Piermattei – Turismodentale

Our Dental Tourist, Ezio Piermattei presents sun-dappled sonic environments for all you butter and beer lovers.

At a brief 30 minutes in total these untitled pieces combine and divide like a string of fizzing sound-sausages.  The somewhat sparse details on the back cover cite the dexterous shuffling of ‘voice, objects, instruments, tapes, electronics etc’; but that doesn’t really give you a clue about what’s going on here.

The structure has become the star.  The sound of the sound itself is the Diva.  Sure the bricks and mortar recordings are just dandy (door bells, balloon scrape, guitar/piano dollop, Nonna & Mamma voices) but this disc is as much about editing and sound sculpture as it is about creating goofy noises.

This bunch of sounds is moulded into a Devil’s Tower pile of mashed-up spuds; each part occupying a unique space stuck together with starchy ‘baaah’ or church bells or humming zooks.  But (and here’s the trick) nothing trips over itself or peaks into the red.  Sounds are allowed to play out on their own; distortion and volume are seen as showy and unnecessary with such a clear and deliberate palette.

Environments are precisely described: a cool drawing room with beautiful parquet floors, the busy school science festival, a tense family gathering to celebrate an ill-advised wedding.  All these imagined places as real to me, the listener, as the poorly-ventilated bedroom in which I type these very words.

Ezio does that great Southern European thing of being fun, clever and serious in equal measure.  It’s the restraint in these pieces (subtly harking back to a l-o-n-g tradition of avant-garde music in Bologna) that staggers.  Maybe it’s coz they get more sun or something but there is a real lightness of touch to this… Nothing affected or clichéd – just a joy in turning simple sounds into something new and exciting.

the terrified horses

Forest of Eyes – Winter Wakeneth

I’ve known Mark Wardlaw as feature of the Newcastle sub-underground for a good few years.  With an encyclopaedic knowledge of Black Metal, Noise and Durty [sic (or sick?) – Ed] Southern Hip-Hop he’s always a great person to bump into and shoot the shit.  A new hat he can now add to that freshly shaven head is ‘traditional folk guru’ with his furtive Forest of Eyes project.

I’ve seen Mark’s create merry hell in bands Pills from America and Wasp Bombs and witnessed his countless collaborations (ranging from teeth-looseningly dangerous to loftily high-brow) but this one knocked me for six.

“Why’s that?” I hear you cry.  “Is it too much for you old man?  Too crazy and wild for your Guardian-reader’s cardigan and rheumy old blood?”

Not a bit of it…this is a beautiful record.  But, on first listen, it’s just about as removed from obnoxious noise rock as I can imagine.

There are two distinct threads going on here.  Very proper, yet darkly pagan, unaccompanied folk tunes (some from the 16th Century) which I am guessing skirt round the ideas of Sacred Hart singing.

I said pagan before but of course that’s tosh…these are Christmas songs.  Holidays are definitely not coming for Forest of Eyes.  These songs hang on the cruelty and indifference of the season for serf and yokel; the freezing wind howling over the sands, fingers frozen, food sparse and the terror of the long night.

Yet with a strange twist it’s utterly modern.  Recorded with a pragmatic innocence on mobile phone and sung in an unassuming Northumbrian burr these tunes are relentlessly lonely, with a sense of 21st Century anomie.  They are a willing rejection of values and aesthetics.  In their own slow way they are as firm a ‘No’ as one created from an overdriven effects box or shredding guitar solo.

Phew!

Between each dismal tune Mark teases out an abstract sketch on Appalachian Dulcimer or bowed Psaltery.  What could be an awkward palette-cleanser becomes a sound-picture of winter.  The thin string tones are sparse and crackling like frost.  They have a fragility matching the intricate fern patterns ice makes on wet windows.  Even the crunch of fresh snow makes an appearance on ’11’.

Make no mistake…Forest of Eyes is no backwoods luddite.  He’s all computered up with his Bandcamp page if you please.  Drop him a line and ask for a song.

(Editor’s note: the image above is not the cover – it has none that I know of – it’s just the first thing that Google Images came up with when asked to search for the band name and album title.  Cool, eh?)

sindre live

Sindre Bjerga – Dig Your Own Hole

On first spying this disc I felt a twinge of nostalgic excitement.  Could Sindre really be recreating the awful Gaye Bykers on Acid flick Drill Your Own Hole in some perverted tribute?  Gosh no.  But reputations remain intact as Sindre presents two very powerful sets from 2013.

Track one is recorded at Oslo’s Polyfokt Festival and starts off almost dubby or industrial or something with stabbed-up metal clank.  Soon a rough-ass drone takes over like seriously pissed bees erupting into whale blowhole hiss and skeech.  Citizen’s Band (CB) radio interjections ride the valuable ambergris floating on the ocean as waves turn to glass and rub harmonically, filling the world with fat bulbous tones.  Prawns and shrimp crackle beneath the reflective membrane, scratching quietly to freedom.

Track two is recorded in the historic Klinker Club a few days later.  Maybe it’s the London influence but this one seems a bit more sharp-elbowed. The deep-sea drone is choppier, the shrimps more restless.  Their polite crackles have become guttural ‘ch-luncks’ and ‘hupps’ lurching in a dangerously drunken manner.  Machines misfire and malfunction.  Levers and pistons jam in their cylinders making the whole engine judder and splutter leaving me high and dry at 7 minutes in.  Woah…I envy the punters what got to see this as it all erupted like minty magma.

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Forest of Eyes

Sindre Bjerga

kinetic poetry: joe murray on acrid lactations, yol, blood stereo and zn

April 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Acrid Lactations – The Rotten Opacity of it All (All This Rot) (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.280)

Yol – Metal Theft (C20 tapes, kiksbooks, edition of 20)

Blood Stereo – The Trachelin Huntiegowk (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.243)

ZN – ZN (C90 tape, Agoraphobia Tapes, 30)

yol - metal theft

Acrid Lactations – The Rotten Opacity of it All (All This Rot)

The Acrid Lactations introduce themselves with a keening, blackboard scrape of the mind.  Like when some juiced-up Beat described the howling pipes of Morocco as  ‘prehistoric rock n’ roll’  Glasgow’s finest ingest the Master Musicians of Joujouka and spit them back out as the black-sticky-tar of deepest mung.  There’s no doubt this has a scaly dinosaur vibe but it’s brought right up-to-date; like a Jurassic Park vacuum flask or something.

Three longish pieces make up (all this rot).  Individual tracks could be modestly un-named or included in the mysterious limerick emblazoned on the backside of the blinding white sheath.

What was dirt coils,

Vainglory peals the frothy blossom,

No peal but dull the solemnest ballast.

So track one, or in my mind what I’m calling ‘What was dirt coils’, twin violins are subject to agonisingly slow torture.  Trilling ‘bruuuuurrrrsss’ and abstract humming mesh the astringent scrape with careful tape manipulation, adding another layer of dislocation to the lonely lament.  My overactive imagination pictures wandering alone on a desolate heath, the wind whispering cruel curses,

‘stick t’path, keep off moors’.

At this point questions like, “What’s vibrating string and what’s accelerating black tape screee?” become pointless.  I neither know nor care.  I’m simply delighted to surrender to the every-growing lycanthropic paranoia.

‘Vainglory peals the frothy blossom’ is a remarkable Dicatphone construction.  A hyper-kinetic patchwork, busy with detail pinched from domestic recordings (red apple crunch) and intentioned playback (ukulele fiddy).  It flashes bright as flame.  Perfectly balanced, the blind-thumbed FFW screee and tape-knit bleats are measured against quieter ripping or an occasional shout or polystyrene scrunch or sewing box scrabble.  Like listening to two people at once telling their side of the same story salient facts collide and disassociate at speed, context becomes all.

The closer ‘No peal but dull the solemnest ballast’ is a right Mad Comix knockabout hash-crash-smash with super-speed rubber percussion picking the bones out a towering Babel.  More pipes (flesh and bamboo) slurp up against plucky banjo.  Sounds are mixed right-up-in-your-face and then bathroom-down-the-hall with an untypical unevenness making this listener stoop then stretch to catch the narrative.  This is a Jane Fonda workout of a listen…and my pale flabby midriff thanks you for it.

Again the distinctive fluid wretch of tape manipulation (in some grumbling form) take the language of improvisation and lactate it, milk it, not into sterile test tubes for the middle-brow arts crowd but into rude pottery jugs.  Creamy and nutritious it slops over goblets, rough to the touch.  And when I raise this white-gold to my lips and drink it down I’m refreshed in my body, head and heart.

Yol – Metal Theft

This smart little tape drops through the gloryhole with a familiar plastic crackle.  Tapes from Yol always seem to fast-track the listening pile and proceeded directly to the cheap-o hi-fi for immediate consumption.  Nom nom nom.

Squeak-clack, play, hiss… ‘There is no finish line’ starts the Yol ritual with a teensy, tiny bell solo, a gentle brassy tinkling played on the sort of souvenir cow bell you might have picked up from a school exchange trip to Switzerland in 1985.  Like the Swiss it’s sedate, low key, intimate…a nice little opener.

But hang about there.  What’s this rough, throttled and somewhat skanky tape glot?   It’s ‘Dock Noise’: a mucky wind-roar, a metallic crash.  What are those machines called?  The ones in a bowling alley that set up your pins with a clatter?  A Bowl-a-rama?  A Pin-matic?  Well, whatever their trade name ‘Dock Noise’ sounds like one of them going all Hijokaiden and then catching on fire.

‘Empty Flattened Tents’ sports a see-sawing hinge-creak; almost like a lost voice (ahhhh – a – huhhh) that runs through this piece creating a rubbery flexible backbone.  Layered over the skeleton an angle grinder moans away like a snapped clarinet.  Stressed metal squeaks underneath Yol’s kinetic-poetry (all pretty full and fluent…not the hiccoughing – stammering violence of yore) to yarble about  “angry broken wasp’s nests”.

Errrrr…side two opens with ‘Posset bite’ a very moist and unhinged random mouth-jam multiplied by several Dictaphones…gulp…a charming gesture from Yol that makes me blush like a red tomato.

‘Miniature dog live’ returns to one of Yol’s classic approaches – a rusty filing cabinet hauled across a rubber floor.  The offending office furniture gets thoroughly beaten and beasted as he ROARS ‘what is that noise…WHAT IS THAT NOISE?’ between gravelly chokes and strangulated ‘gahhhhhsss’.  As the name implies it’s a live piece and the influence of the audience coaxes a confrontational, no-instrument black metal performance from Yol; the bleakness of the Norwegian forest transplanted to freezing-cold factory units.

This whole tape is recorded in two distinct styles.  Lo-fi stinkers can curl up with gentle inner-ear fumblings; hi-fi bores can rejoice in the gloriously expansive live recordings.  But there is still that wonderfully claustrophobic greasiness to this tape, like being cooped up inside a whale.

As the Kiksbooks blog rightly points out.  This is a release ‘for the connoisseur’.  I love that nudge-nudge touch.

So, broadminded readers.  You’ll have to move quickly as this chap is limited to 20 copies.  And at a reasonable £4 plus is a budget-busting snip.

blood stereo - trachelin

Blood Stereo – The Trachelin Huntiegowk 

Two twenty minute pieces of gnarled-fux originally pressed into 50 pieces of wax and now burned onto polycarbonate plastic and aluminium for the hoi polloi!

Friends and neighbours of the no-audience underground (North & South) come together on ‘Side one’ in a collection of discrete recordings formed into a new whole.  This earth mother divides itself into 5 glorious parts:

  • Part one – It’s slow & low.  An ear to ear shuffle, domestic giffles and snatched school recordings run into vomit splosh or piss trickles.  It makes me stop and wonder how long it took to capture each snippet…it’s a labour intensive approach for sure.  The flowsy clarinet is introduced.
  • Part two – a deep-dub Residents territory: collapsing loops of piano and doors slamming.  Hiss and cornet again that reigns (in blood).
  • Part three – back to a darker domestic…gurgles and snotty in the right ear, truncated samples in the left “eh oh eh-eh” (into bubbling lap experiments).  A stray dog sniffing each lamp post moves in circles, testing and probing…straight lines are for squares man.
  • Part four – breath sighs, moon loops…no one does it quite like this.  Gasps.  Organic weaving.   But with a chaste cast, there is nothing sexual here.  It’s like the innocence of snoring in a sinus-like cathedral.
  • Part five – a pushy (and drunk) Canadian takes place of a come-down coda.

Phew…after that yeasty trip part two is going to have to live up to major expectation. With nowhere to go except true respect this second live piece is an honest, forming thing.  Huff and chump are played cautiously like feudal warlords moving cavalry over the common ground of The Shire.

With few peaks this is a guerrilla campaign; hit and run…a war of attrition.  The Blood Stereo show their mastery of the common ‘click’ and ‘clack’.  You thought glitch-core went out of fashion with Oval.  No way.  These south coast munsters clunk-click every trip, building a sound-world grumpy Gaudi would dig with different timbres and speeds interlocking and breaking free.  A thought erupts that I just can’t stop…

from this machinery hums come
oiled and whirling
fast, strong
tightness, meshing
meshing forever
(pert near)
steel gear inside gear
and smoothness
engaging, releasing
lapping and plunging

( – ‘Another Theory Shot to Shit’, fIREHOSE, 1986)

The boss has been talking of extraction music of late.  An acute and timely observation.  But what of the chaff left over from the mining process?  The Trachelin Huntiegowk probes the remaining slag, the detritus of sonic grief, and polishes up a shiny opal reflecting the sunlight as a rainbow of all your collective memory.

Delve deep, drink fully.  Dream dangerously.

zn - zn

ZN – ZN 

Direct from the ashes of Colectivo N ‘ZN’ is born; the new handle of Ciudad Juarez’s finest Gerardo ‘Picho’ and RFM favourite Miguel Perez.

This god damn C90 tape is blackly black and starts off with the sound of someone wrestling with the wrapper of a riveted toffee-apple…’crackle, crukkkk, kraaaaak.’

Sparse yells and hollas slice like wounds but the the urge to rush forever forward is rejected and space opens up, blackness descends and unholy worlds are born in silence.  At first power comes not from extreme volume and speed but the grey gravity that flows between gigantic bodies.

To an audience that’s grown accustomed to harsh walls of feedback and electronics the pairing of cornet and bass might seem a little light, pastoral even.  But make no mistake the cornet (at times dry and hoarse as whooping cough, at others wetly thick) is painfully brutal.  There is a military history to the brassy horn and it’s no wonder…this is making me edgy with its hot vibrating breath intent on conquest.

The bass sounds like it’s strung with industrial cable wrapped and stretched to dangerous high tension.  Yup…there is the occasional deep growling riff but in the main Miguel keeps things high in the register, scraping and plucking.  Not laying down any rhythm but leading you down blind alleys, deserted side-streets and into dangerous neighbourhoods.

The resulting oddness of side one (recognisable instruments doing unrecognisable things) frazzles my little brain and just about when synapses are about to snap a light-aircraft drone takes us above the clouds and into the merciless bronze sun.

Up here the gods clatter their impotent weapons, hurling abuse to the mortals below for failure to believe.  A lone minstrel plays on impeaching the gods to spare mankind.  Tears flow down ravaged faces but the cruel Sun God nods once, twice signifying displeasure, the minstrel is thrown down to earth to lay crushed on the rocks below.

Phew.  I take a little break and prepare for the next instalment.

Side two opens with ‘Bitches Brew’ era Miles echo-horn but this time Teo Macero is slugging it out with Romain Perrot in a tin bath while exotic aluminium parrots pelt them with ingots of coal tar soap.

Tape grot and the crackle of 1000 bonfires smother a distant beat.  And although at the same volume and intensity I get the feeling these are miniature, secret sounds amplified greatly.

Hoots echo round the concrete bunker and everything submits to this simple repetitive beat (and added fuzz combo) to form a sickly pitched nausea.  This feels like the cover story for something really nasty. The longer it goes on the more I’m reminded of some deep nagging unease.  It sounds like…

It sounds like corruption.

Once that thought is lodged in my noggin the scorched earth screech takes on a darker hue, layers of noise collapse on each other burying themselves…but still the beat remains.  As relentless and banal as true evil.

In the best possible way this is a deeply unpleasant listen.

For more industrial ear-damage and to discover the real sound of Ciudad Juarez, check out their Bandcamp.  This here live recording is a similarly outrageous trip.  Phew!

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Kiksbooks

Oracle Netlabel / Agorafobia Tapes

ZN on Bandcamp

rancid fridge imploding: joe murray on knives, osmiroid, pain jerk, justin marc lloyd, duncan harrison and hyster tapes

March 19, 2014 at 9:26 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Knives / Osmiroid – Stars, Dots and the “New” Junk (tape, Stars, Dots and the “New” Junk, starsdots007, edition of 50 or download)

Pain Jerk – Inflammable Material (CD-r, English as Apples)

Justin Marc Lloyd – I’m Sorry for the Thoughts Assigned to My Name (C29 tape, Wasted Capital Since 2013, WC6, edition of 50)

Various – FOUR LETTER WORLD COMPILATION (recycled tape, Hyster Tapes, HYSTER17, edition of 50)

Duncan Harrison – Ogre Neon (CD-r, Beartown Records)

knives - osmiroid

Knives/Osmiroid – Stars, Dots and the ‘New’ Junk

The little seaside town of Blyth UK has been churning out some of the murkiest noise that my little ears have ever feasted on.  So, it was with the grim anticipation of a solemn kicking I unwrapped this Blyth-related tape from the excellently named ‘Knives.’  I make the distinction of this being Blyth-related as the hipsters may know Knives as Blyth ex-pats, refugees who left their fabled mist-drenched home for the bright city lights of London.

These dark Knives take the guitar/drum/bass/tape set up you’ve shook your head to for all them years and set the controls for glistening tinnitus.  On ‘Days of ancients’ finesse is treated with distain…this is a ROCK recording and plods like an undiscovered Birthday Party sound check while Nick’s round the back kinging his wretched ink.  The unctuous rhythm leaves guitar free to dive-bomb, swooping and crashing into gasoline-scented balls of flame. Track two ‘Ancients of days’ starts off with the leaden bully-boy stomp of The Cosmic Psychos or Slub or something and disintegrates into a sheer hellish miasma of scorched electric gravy…steaming, dangerously fizzing.

Osmiroid sounds less like a band and more like a couple of heavily-bearded dudes with tapes, modulators and laptops playing evil dragging noise.  Imagine a splintered, heavy cable hauled over a gravel pit of broken bottles.  That’s the kind of abrasion pouring into my ears right now.  The modulators give a fowl hoot every now and again.  Another god-damn Australian makes an appearance but this time it’s Rolfy Rolfy Harris hawking his never-popular Stylophone.  Yup.  This makes no sense at all and is all the richer for it.

You can try before you buy at Bandcamp.

pain jerk - inflammable

Pain Jerk – Inflammable Material

Real life, honest to goodness, retro Japanese noise from Kohei Gomi aka – Pain Jerk.  But before we dive into this shiny beast there’s some back story.  Jamie Wrest takes it from here.

Initially this Pain Jerk album was meant to get issued as a cassette 18 years ago.  But it just never happened because of one thing or another.  I was handed the DAT by Steven Middleton who was first sent it by Pain Jerk in 1996.  Next I paid a visit to my friend M.P. Wood who runs the Soundroom studio in Gateshead.  He worked his MAGIK on the recordings and now here they are in all their nasty glory after all these years.  So enjoy whoever you are…

OK.  The scene is set…but what does it all sound like?  If you’ve never experienced Pain Jerk this is a pretty great place to start.  With the first piece ‘Spiral Dragon’ you get unhinged-blackened-noise whipped-up like the mother of all howling storms.  But there’s also some brief interludes of squelching electronic bird-song (possibly the base material for these improvisations) that sneak through the brutal tidal hammering.  The white noise hiss gets turned up beyond any levels of common decency and, in parts, become a static floating thing, a gauze cloud perhaps?  But any temporary prettiness is soon shouldered aside by the very physical jerks of metallic paintwork all scratched and peeled; wire wool in the tumble dryer, a rancid fridge imploding.

Track two ‘Right Angled Air’ is even more aggressive with less bass and more hi-fi harsh roar.  There’s very little let up from the caustic scouring except a herky-jerky knob twiddling towards the end that temporarily dulls the sharpness for a moment, but of course brings things back at double export-strength…and then it just ends without no fanfare or crescendo.  Phwoar!  What a listen.

No idea where you can get this.  English as Apples is the ultra-underground, hand-reared, barely legal bootleg label run by Blyth’s most beloved son Jamie Wrest.  You could try the man himself, a fixture at most North East noise shows.  For readers based outside Geordieland an email to the ever-helpful Turgid Animal label might help…possibly.

justin marc lloyd

Justin Marc Lloyd – I’m Sorry for the Thoughts Assigned to My Name

Described as ‘Globular Vocal Mass’ on the handy Wasted Capital site this neat looking tape from  Justin Marc Lloyd caused me a bit of a foggy-brained confusion.  I know, pretty much for certain, that Mr Lloyd is a born and bred American.  From over the pond and all that.  So why does this tape remind me so much of the late 1990s Essex-bwoy sound of  Ceefax Acid Crew or Chaos A.D.?

It could be the sound quality which is busy and precise but ragged as dogtooth check. It could be the speedy, buzzing energy; manic as a teenage oik on Frosty Jacks.  It could be the obnoxious clots of ‘globular vocal mass’; derived as easily from a rusty Commodore Amiga as a mucus-drenched throat.

“So much for the overall feel of the tape you hippy.”  I hear you snort.  “What about the edited highlights man?”  OK…I know you’re busy people.  Here’s the skinny version.

Side One contains the future-hit ‘Sub-dermal Thirst for Bland and Christian-like Suburbia’ and has a ‘wasp-in-a-crisp-packet’ buzz about it with some crunching ‘beats’ sounding like heavy mortar fire hitting the next village.  Real Apocalypse Now shit.  It ends with the superbly brief ‘Comfort of One’s Own Innocent Lover’ which appears to be some sticky-palmed sigh lasting for exactly 26 seconds.

Side Two starts with a see-sawing motion, and a Vocoder bleat like some ‘Rockit’ era outtake and segues into the sound lampposts make in a buffeting high wind (a kind of bruised and lonely temporal clicking) on ‘Perimeter Scan with Faulty the-world-is-shit Filter’ until a rise-of-the-robots synth alarm crushes other sounds beneath its primitive metallic chime.  The final piece is an homage to the Wasted Capital/Hideous Replica brothers where objects, things and stuff gradually get folded round the sort of gloriously limp guitar loop last heard on a Kemialliset Ystavat record.  Wow…that’s some ground covered; Chelmsford to Tampere via Chicago.  Booyaka! (Editor’s note: yes, Joe did really write ‘Booyaka’ – I shall deflate his bouncy castle immediately as penance.)

hyster comp tape

Various Artists – FOUR LETTER WORLD COMPILATION

Hyster is a Finnish label specialising in the more austere end of the no-audience underground.  Artwork is from the photocopied greyness & musty collage school.   The tape releases are recycled and lovingly battered.  The artists tend to be Northern European beans sweeping round the iron-filings factory.  So far it’s all pretty dope.  This simple little tape opens my ears to a few unfamiliar names and presents the ever-wonderful Yol in a new context.  Here goes…

Crap sampled horn and heavy dub effects over a skronky-ass scribble open the proceedings with a piece from LEITMOTIV LIMBO.  Then there’s a gap…and then the slum-horn strikes up again.  It’s all over in under 3 minutes and I love the off-handedness of this.  There’s a serious ‘I don’t give a fuck’ to the way it’s shaped and presented.  Like the slouching teenager outside the off-license…he doesn’t even want you to go in and buy some Special Brew for him…he just wants to see you squirm like a middle-class liberal.

GREY PARK are a perfectly named project for this kind of gristle.  There’s a bone-freezing dawn mist outside.  But, pulling on warm socks and boots, you crunch through the most beautiful field of silver-frosted grass; each blade a perfect pewter shard.  Looking back you see your own heavy footprints creating rhythmic dark patches like rough stitching on a blanket.

Breeze block rumble and the cough-glotty howls from cattle baron YOL opens side two.  This ‘disappointing human-head pulled out’ kinetic-poetry and furious violent honks are artfully tempered with some real subtle tin-tapping, stone grumble and an almost hissing scat coda from our man from Hull.  Six minutes long and over in a flash.

The mid-1980s synth tone mumble over record-player-run-out-groove ‘schhhhlip, schhhhlip’ and recorded babble make %20 come across like Tangerine Dream got a bonk on the head.  Recorded live in Chomsky Bar, Riga it says here.  I picture this played on Newcastle’s Diamond Strip at closing time.  Tottering heels and big-armed boys slow the dance from which all dances come, the hen-night quietens to silence and all take stock of bitter lives lived.  No one returns on Saturday.

Two Euros plus postage.  50 copies.  Trades welcome. Weirdness distro and ‘zines too… plaa@pcuf.fi

 duncan harrison ogre neon

Duncan Harrison – Ogre Neon

I’m over a year late reviewing this god-damn essential clutch of sonic-chuff from Brighton’s Duncan Harrison.

The general mood is confident.  Unhurried and relaxed; this is no sweating beard scrabbling at the lock.  And while Hanover Mist might open with close-miked domestic chutter it’s the kinda-blue bicycle-bell sample that makes this as refreshing as pink grapefruit.

Pretty much all approaches are fair game, so: loops, vocal jizz, noise interruptions, kraut-inspired repetition and crackling ambience all play a part in building up the lumpy canvas on ‘Rattles in the North’ with its heavy closing meditation on the three words…

Let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again, let’s try again…

…that becomes pregnant with hidden intention and meaning.

But again I keep coming back to the relaxed hand on the tiller.  There’s no hurry to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ at all.  A limp finger dangles in the water as the punt floats imperceptibly through the bull rushes.

A simple two-note bass riff creates the backdrop for ‘Dust from the Artists Quarter’, the building ‘sceeeeee’ sine wave thing giving this a medical vibe – music for dentists perhaps?   At any rate it’s starched and white for sure.  ‘The Shadows Cast by the Bottom of Photoframes hung on Gallery Walls’ is a fuzzy-logic vocal piece with that expressive Dictaphone smear all over the plosive and consonant knocks that goes something like this…

n..n..NN..Ssss…S’t..nN..ssh

…with the occasional blurt of dicta FFW klonk for three blissful minutes.

Now the the chasers are necked, and the hors d’oeuvres munched, the main event occurs.  A weighty 20 minutes, ‘Upstairs in Infinity’ squeezes the tubes marked Pierre Schaeffer depositing the chalky paste ready to spread.

Things gently toast with some concrete turntable frittering and intimate bottle breathing (this captured like some Mongolian shamanistic ritual, the low tones echo the desolation of the high plains via Cream Soda) until slo-mo, dicta in pocket reportage, takes us on a trip though the sort of antiques shop last seen on Tales of the Unexpected.  Stark lighting and swift edits make the stuffed birds all sinister and beaky.  The old busted violin squawks like a Harpy.  Single notes drift as dust motes in the pale afternoon sun.  But what’s that scratching come from the old tea chest?  It sounds like something’s try to GET OUT!  Cue credits and daft titles.

If this sounds like your kinda schizzle check out Duncan’s Bandcamp for this and a whole bunch of other essential releases (hint…2012’s Young Arms is his ‘On The Corner’).  As Rob always says, ‘give what you can.’

Afore ye go…check out the excellent Beartown Records site for more related mung.

Over and out comrades!

bellowing becomes bronze: joe murray trips on ludo mich and associates

February 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ludo Mich/Roman Nose/Blue Yodel/Ross Parfitt /Jennifer Iker – The Clurichaun’s Naked Cheat with Sour Wine & The Leprechaun’s Coins Numismatist (C40 cassette in gargoyle shaped holder, No Basement is Deep Enough).

ludo tape 1

Deep explorations of rancid mind-space beyond the outer limits from the truly radical No Basement is Deep Enough cassette library.

I have to admit it, I’d never come across this label before until gently nudged by the Roman Nose.  A quick Google search transported me to a day-glo negative zone that refreshed like a hot lemon-scented towel.

This Belgian/Serbian label is strapping on high-level, raw weirdness and pumping out load after load of creamy oddballs: Preggy Peggy and the Lazy Baby Makers, Hjuler & Frau and Cactus Truck (to name but a few).  It’s not all teenage slop and skronk though…they scratch both ass-cheeks by releasing some proper ‘old-gent sound art legends’ like, Valeri Scherstjanoi and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson.   Sheesh….that’s one hell of a demographic basement-heads.

So far you can see I’m impressed yeah?  But get a load of the packaging on display here.  I know there’s always that risk of making excuses for the mundane if it scrubs up all shiny but this is another level of presentation.   We’ve all got used to boxes, bags and inserts.  But this innocent little cassette comes in a hand-crafted gargoyle effigy.  A what you say?  I said gargoyle dear reader; or an imp or a gnome or something horrible, small and creepy that defies classification.

It’s evil little face is peering at me now.  Gulp.

ludo tape 3

And now a few words about Ludo Mich.  Ludo is one of them ‘old-gent sound art legends’ I was on about before.  His bristling roar and gummy leer has been mixing it up since Fluxus was a boy.  But no lichen grows on his cheesy soles…the Blood Stereos, Ultra Eczemas and Singing Knives of this world are queuing up to down a bottle of cheap red vino with him and enter the steamy gorgon zone to play.

For me Ludo is more in touch with his ‘inner shaman’ than any of any of his grey-beard peers.  His rites are funny for sure but seem to delve the deepest, and uncover the most uncomfortable truths with the pacing and rhythm of a natural born story teller in that classic Northern European tradition.  Basically…Ludo’s got the chops man.  All groovy…but what does this spectacularly packaged tape sound like?

Side one: THE CLURICHAUN’S NAKED CHEAT WITH SOUR WINE

Lord Bacchus brushes his beard thoughtfully and wipes his grape-stained mouth with the back of a gnarled hand.  Mumps overlay mumps with a ‘bath-too-hotness’ of fevered screams (reflected back into your ears via beautifully inlaid Moroccan tiles).   Low-throated groans are a bed of healthy spinach on which Ludo relaxes, slowly disrobing, cup overflowing.

As an accompaniment a wooden pinball machine plays on, flippers blurring with speed.  Dull thuds ‘ping’ as the machine lights up ‘TILT’ with cracked bells; cats fight under the floorboards in this dream-like vocabulary of interruption.

The mist clears to reveal a boy.  Rum-sodden, ruined and collapsed in Marseille.  The grim hoteliers and bird-like pimps look on, beaks as sharp as whips.  I rise.  The wind is scented with the harsh tang of opium and degenerate accordion music wafts from the brothel window.  A face appears from behind a filthy rag of curtain and speaks with two, four, six voices.  I can’t understand a word but follow the voice into the nearest bar.  “Absinthe?” the moustachioed waiter asks.  I nod, corrupted.

For fans of the Welshman Johnny Morris and his disturbing anthropomorphism.

(Production note – side one was born in postal pieces were sent from Ludo Mich to the antique dub-controller, Roman Nose, for full manipulation and foley-frottage then whipped creamy by squalls from ensemble Yodel, Parfitt and Iker.  Like Joe Meek right?)

Side Two: THE LEPRECHAUN’S COINS NUMISMATIST

More loam from the crypt recorded in a Hermit Crab shell (or Antwerp).  A coven of drunks (Ludo Mich, Jon Marshall, Fiona Kennedy, Ross Parfitt) leap willingly down the well of possessed souls.

There’s a powerful vocal shunting that forces them further down the moss-lined brickwork with increasing speed.  But the impact never arrives.  Descent becomes all and molasses heavy.  Sparks fly as friction makes the air bristle with violent electricity.

Floating in space the resulting bellowing becomes bronze, buffed to golden shine.  A Greek breastplate and helmet smash together producing clouds of hideous clashing and bilious fume.

The smell of hot metal wraps itself around your tongue, teeth and tonsils; coiling through the ear, nose and throat superhighway.   And then you know you are in trouble.  Your senses become confused; you see the sound of the foreign holler, you hear the circular rose-tint above your head.  Snakes plunge down your throat and cling to your feebly beating heart.

You might be choking but you’ve never felt so alive!

How do you find this Halfling?  I can’t see a ‘proper’ website so I suggest you search for this filthy beast on that discogs site or direct from ignacedb@hotmail.com.

ludo tape 2

all routes via drent: joe murray travels with gen ken montgomery, midwich, thf drenching and marc matter

February 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen Ken Montgomery – The Well Spliced Breath Volume 7: Voice Clippings (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.274, edition of 60)

Midwich – The Swift (CD-r, Altar of Waste, AOW 145, edition of 15)

Birchall / Drenching / Poot – Scottish Floating Charge (self-released download)

THF Drenching – Unnatural White Inventions (vol 1) (self-released download)

THF Drenching – Unnatural White Inventions (Vol 2) (self-released download)

Marc Matter / Voiceover – L’oeil Ecclatante (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.276)

marc matter

It’s 7.15am on a rainy Sunday morning.  Newcastle sleeps off its Saturday night as I board the National Express to London Victoria.  Seven hours forty minutes of travel stretches out in front of me…seven hours forty minutes of quality RFM listening time.  So here goes, settle down, headphones on…

gen ken montgomery

(Newcastle to Catterick Garrison)  First up is Gen Ken Montgomery – The Well Spliced Breath Volume 7: Voice Clippings.  I’m assuming the dizzying speech loops for this charming disc are culled from self help/instructional/educational tapes from GKM’s legendary sound library.

The tone set is wonderfully dated.  That Formica-slick 1950’s sound of gentle assurance and paternal wisdom (don’t worry about the bomb – it’s all going to be OK) nags at the brain stem like a fake memory.  GKM adds disquiet to these Bakelite loops with bee-waffle, Disney strings and random clatter as the repetition of the most innocent of phrases, ‘You’re as pretty as a picture’ become darkly sinister.  I’m reminded of those between-song collages from Bongwater, or the sharp, cultural poke-in-the-eye of Negativland.  None of this in a bad way – more like when you come across a Butthole Surfers interview in inky old Melody Maker and think, ‘Cor…they were great weren’t they.  Why don’t more folk do that?’  Only the track ‘If you need help’ bucks this trend and splices partial vocal snitches as tight as the wrapper on a chewy toffee penny.

“We don’t have to suffer, we’re the best batch yet”, croaked old Don Van.  And I’m thinking the same think about old Gen Ken here.  The Well Spliced Breath series on Chocolate Monk is damn essential listening for the student of vocal fuh.  You know that.  But, dear reader, this one is the creamy-doof, the Shia LaBoeuf!

midwich - the swift cover

(Wetherby to Woodhall Services) I’m hoping my terrible geography won’t let me down as I delve into The Swift by Midwich.  I want to be knee-deep in Midwich as we pass through Rob’s adoptive home town of Leeds; creating a feedback loop of musty drone from coach to city centre.

The Swift is a single hour long piece in three distinct movements.

Movement one: It starts like the soundtrack to ‘Evolution…The Movie’ as grey gloop is replaced by lazy cellular dividing and static, internal egg-memories. Things settle on Mothra’s mating ritual – long drawn-out breaths gradually moving out of synch as feathery lungs push huge volumes of air through Sperm Whale baleen.

Movement two: A rhythmic ticking and the clatter of ghostly forklift trucks start to creep in.  The Swifts chirrup, skittering in the air warmed by the horny Mothra.  Listeners note: this section accompanies the flock of stately wind turbines near Chesterfield spectacularly.

Movement three: The final five minutes heave like the tides, slowly encroaching on an abandoned city; washing through the deserted streets, clearing the human junk for a stronger, fitter civilisation floating slowly through the brine.

No question this is Rob’s most immersive and ambitious piece of Midwichery yet.  You gotta have it!

(Editorial aside: the more cynical amongst you may scoff but I’m satisfied that Joe’s praise for this album has nowt to do with it being recorded by me, his editor.  Nor will my praise for the Black Leather Cop tape in a future review have owt to do with the fact that it was recorded by the duo of Scott and Joe, my RFM comrades.  Can there be ‘conflict of interest’ down here in the no-audience underground?  I may tackle this question at length some other time but, spoiler alert, I suspect the short answer is: ‘no’.  At the time of writing there are still a couple of copies of The Swift left for sale – hop to it! – RH)

birchall drenching poot

(Hucknall to Whipsnade Zoo (including nap))  I came across Birchall / Drenching / Poot – Scottish Floating Charge while using Mrs Posset’s Facebook contraption…what joy these ‘likes’ bring!

This heavyweight trio treat the disc as very jazz with a muscular Drenching doing a moody Mingus on bull-Dictaphone.  His Clangersesque chops weave around Luke Poot’s patent furniture jam and Dave Birchall’s scribble-scrabble on guitar.

The ghost of Carl Stalling looms.  The busy peaks are a cartoon catfight in a sandpaper factory; the loser tarred and feathered.  Heavy weights get dropped on heads and Bluebirds tweet over a swiftly rising bruise.   But it’s not all three-way, slapstick action – No Sir!

‘Deed of Negative Pledge’, a duo between THF Drenching & Poot is a dense mung of collapsed electrics in a scum-filled pothole.  There’s something here that reminds me of Prince – a kind of affronted pomp.  It’s easy to picture The New Power Generation battle The Revolution with toys from an Argos Christmas cracker on this one.

‘Nano-tech Slave Canoe’ by Dave & Drenching is a double-D storm of fizz & gaseous cloud – behold the hot hail.  It gladdens me pans to hear some joyful ruler-twang nestling between dicta squirts and scree.

Lo…the energy never stops. ‘A Deer Walking on Some Cardboard’ is plumped up and caffeinated like early Adolescents wrecking that forgotten kitchen cabinet full of old parts for a pre-war blender until some gonzo moose-honking heralds our arrival in glorious Luton.

thf drenching - inventions 1

More tape-screw bounty accompanies me from Dunstable to Victoria with THF Drenching’s Unnatural White Inventions (vol 1) .  This solo disc showcases the Herbie Hancock of Dictaphones melting into a somewhat Ballardian mood.  The future is five minutes away and carved out of alienating concrete.  Drenching, thumbs as heavy as Stonehenge uprights, crushes micro-sounds out of the pinched brown tape with a steel-tension squeak.  Listeners note: Lovers of Raster Noton shit will dig the clean and clinical splatters of goof on display here – honest.

‘Live Acoustic Nail-Fetish’ has some button-pushing genius measured out in Samuel Morse’s code spelling out, ‘Overthrow the Ruling Classes.  Unite.  Rejoice!’ if I’m not much mistaken.   This decoding made me jumpy.  So it’s with a nervous titter I relish the electric horse sound (invented by little Jimmy Osmond) that closes this tasty piece.

Fans of balls-out skronk look away now.  ‘Postal Ballot Reflux’ is a dystopian Gamelan, heavy with loss, mourning the death of the Arts & Crafts movement.  It’s a lament for Brent Cross…it’s a silent scream in Halfords superstore.  Finally ‘Alternating Meat Wipes’ de-tunes a radio like a Victorian lady succumbing to Polystyrene ear-pressure.  That’s not something you hear everyday brothers and sister right?

thf drenching - inventions 2

I’ve arrived in the capital! And after I’ve slapped some blood back into my legs I relax into THF Drenching’s Unnatural White Inventions (Vol 2) as I make the cross-town jaunt Victoria to Stoke Newington on the number 73 Routemaster.

It’s a bold opening: the squeal of miniature figs in a foam of iron gravy that starts ‘Xmas TP-M110 Jammy Slobber’.  Presently the Christmas tree decorations are taken down and the resulting chatter recorded by noisy Krill.  Rice expands to fill a seeping wound…whoa man Drench!  Things get serious with ‘Jettisoned Inky Crags’, a music concrete composition (electric whisk in a Smash tin) that zip-scratches and Velcro-rips like Mixmaster Mike with crabs.

The erotic closer, ‘Something for a Stabproof Goose’ is a fumble in the hide.  An Owl’s haunted ‘twit-t’woo’ in strong sunlight.  My ears tell me it’s all composed in negative with the fowl sound redacted, the anti-echo of quack left to dissolve into the dusk.  Punishingly austere and perfectly suited to staring at the back of an old guy’s head for 50 minutes.

marc matter

The next day, my London business done, I tramp back to the train station and Marc Matter / Voiceover – L’oeil Ecclatante accompanies me from King’s Cross back home to Newcastle.

I chat to the poor bugger next to me.  She’s working on spreadsheets but I’m overcome with the urge to spout forth…

Hey lady!  Here’s more vocal shenanigans from your Cannonball Run chums Chocolate Monk.  This Mr Marc has already done his personal huffing and honking and scratched his mung into soft black vinyl if you please.  The vocal explosions are then mixed and mashed up via turntables, mixing desk and effects.  Neat eh?

Do you like history lady? Marc knows his onions and has been DJing with the ‘hoof and varble’ of ancient text compositions/sound poetry for a few years.  It’s no surprise then that L’oeil Ecclatante comes across like the late, great Henri Chopin; full of damp glottal slops and high-pitched steamy hisses.

Listeners note: at this point I offer her my earbuds.  She declines but continues to look interested.

At times it’s like being trapped in a vast jug: bub, bub, bubbing as liquid is poured out on to a blackened tree stump,

…I continue,

…other moments revisit the sonic texture of corduroy as my old school trousers, Bishop Barrington Comprehensive – year 8, are rubbed against sensitive fruit.  Do you think that the sleight-of-hand encouraged by turntables allow sounds to slip wetly between your ears and rough running-breath to be laid over internal lung-farts to patch up a rhythm, soon to be nixed by the pinched trachea of Ligeti’s angels?

Although she didn’t answer and quickly went back to her spreadsheets I could tell she was hooked, another convert to the no-audience underground.

Mind the gap!

Chocolate Monk

THF Drenching on Bandcamp

Council of Drent

Midwich on Altar of Waste

the 2013 zellaby awards

January 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

zellaby award envelope

Ladies and gentlemen, dear readers all, welcome to the hotly anticipated Zellaby Awards for 2013.  The show, in its third annual outing, is presented in association with Radio Free Midwich and hosted by the editor from his comfortably-appointed padded cell in the basement of Midwich Mansions.

In previous years the awards have formed part one of a two part round-up of cultural highlights.  However this year I can easily roll what would usually be part two into this preamble.  Why?  Three words: Thomas James Hayler.  The birth of our son in March was an epoch-defining, paradigm-shattering, life-forever-altering event for all of us – I’m sure you’ll remember the moon turning a fire red that evening – but looking after the kid (y’know: issuing orders to the nannies, sorting through the mountains of flowers, cards and teddy-bears left at the gate of the estate, that kind of thing) has rather cut into the time and energy afforded to culture in general.

It was interesting to experience how looking after a baby pares life down to the essentials.  I now do my bit to help with Thomas, I look after my wife Anne as best I can too, I keep up with my friends and family (more or less), I go to work (when healthy) and I think about music.  That’s all I have but, crucially, it is all I want.  Sure, we could do with more money and better health – who couldn’t? – but establishing this balance has been refreshing and revelatory.  I can sincerely state, all joking and archness to one side, that Thomas joining us has made 2013 the best year of my life so far.  By some distance.

Thomas at Xmas 2013

<stares wistfully into middle distance, wipes tear from stubbled cheek, returns to business at hand>

I did get to read a handful of books, of which HHhH by Laurent Binet, about a 1942 mission to assassinate Richard Heydrich, chief of the Gestapo, was the most compelling, original and intriguing.  I even stole a line from it to use in a review.  I think I read the entire of Museum Without Walls, a collection of essays and television scripts by polemicist, architecture critic and commentator Jonathan Meades.  I say ‘I think’ because it was mainly done in sleepy five page chunks in the middle of the night.  Otherwise I kept my membership of the bourgeoisie fresh by reading the London Review of Books and took my news mainly from Private Eye which, despite its many faults, holds power to account at least some of the time thus making it unique in the mainstream.  I pretty much gave up on film and television aside from using the boy as an excuse to watch Regular Show and Adventure Time on Cartoon Network.  Oh, and Game of Thrones series 3 was fun too if you like that sort of thing.

Down here in the no-audience underground I devoured, as ever, anything posted by Uncle Mark over at the essential Idwal Fisher blog and cover-to-covered the no-less essential Hiroshima Yeah! the moment it arrived in the mail.  Congratulations to the latter on reaching its 100th issue this year, no mean feat with one of its two editors in prison…  Also in the realm of the self-published, a pamphlet of poetry by my good friend and comrade Nick Allen has been on my bedside table since he surprised me with it at work one morning and has been well-thumbed and repeatedly enjoyed.

It has been another golden year for music, both live and recorded.  A couple of my all-time favourite gigs occurred in the last 12 months and my ‘long list’ for best album contained 34 contenders!  Never mind those bullshit ‘end of year’ polls you see in print magazines that you know were proofread over ice-creams in August, never mind those ‘best albums of the last fifteen minutes’ you see on internet based blogzine snore-fests.  This is the real deal: compiled whilst the New Year is still bellowing after being slapped into life.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we need to trot through a few methodological points, then the ceremony can commence.

Firstly, the music mentioned below may not have been released in 2013, although most of it was.  To qualify it had to be heard by RFM for the first time in the calendar year 2013.  Secondly, releases featuring the staff of RFM (me, Scott McKeating, Joe Murray) are excluded.  Modesty is not a virtue I can be accused of but awarding ourselves prizes is a bit much even for me.  Thirdly there are the same five award categories as last time (although one has had to be renamed…).  Should an artist win big in one of them they may appear overlooked in others.  This is deliberately done in the interests of plugging as much excellence as possible and thus no-one should get the hump.  Finally, I did invite the aforementioned Scott and Joe to contribute nominations but the final decisions are mine.  Think of me as a benign dictator listening carefully to his advisers before passing judgement.

OK, shush now – the house lights are dimming…  Time for the first category!

—ooOoo—

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

Lucy Johnson

smut - piano one

(with honourable mentions for Joe’s choice: WANDA GROUP, “the absolute master of steamy hiss and non-linear edit”)

Here’s a extract from the lengthy overview of Lucy’s back catalogue that I posted back in July:

One of the refreshing things about what I playfully refer to as the ‘no-audience underground’ is that it is not full of self-aggrandising blabbermouths.  There are a few – me, for example – and an acceptable level of self-absorption is common, but many artists quietly get on with producing excellent work mainly, it seems, for their own gratification and the pleasure of their circle.

This situation allows for the gradual discovery of that most mysterious of creatures: the unsung hero.  Names are pencilled in – an aside from the omniscient Scott McKeating, a credit on a Matching Head insert, say – then repeated until they become underlined in bold and further investigation becomes inevitable.  Such has been the case with Lucy Johnson.

I had, of course, already praised Space Victim, her duo with Mike Vest, to the hilt (they featured in RFM’s best of 2012 list) and more recently did the same for the Witchblood tape, her duo with Lee Stokoe, on Matching Head.  A comment from Miguel Perez led to me picking up her tapes as Smut and hearing those led to me finally paying some proper attention. Over the last few weeks I have been putting two and two together via Discogs, the Turgid Animal site and various other rune-casting activities and have been gathering up examples of her work.  She records solo as Smut and Esk, is half of the aforementioned duos, is the vocalist for black metal band Rife, and is also in the bands Obey and Dark Bargain (as reviewed by Scott below).  Her artwork adorns covers and T-shirts and has recently been made available to buy as prints.  Most of this stuff is available from the label and distributor Turgid Animal which (according to that same review by Scott) she co-runs.  Blimey, eh?

Can’t wait to hear what comes next.  There is at least one more Smut tape to pick up and the Obey album to look forward to as well…

Next is…

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 goes to…

Robert Ridley-Shackleton

r r-s - butterfly farm

(with honourable mentions for Kevin Sanders whose consistency proves awe-inspiring, Bjerga/Iversen’s album-per-month Bandcamp project, Joe’s choice Hapsburg Braganza and, of course, Lee Stokoe, who was also Scott’s choice)

Given that I went from not knowing who he is to hearing/seeing around 50 objects produced by him during the course of a few months Robbie was odds-on favourite in this category.  That said, I realise that it is a controversial choice as ‘quality control’ may not be an entirely appropriate concept to apply to this gushing, unstoppable flow.  I suppose one man’s drivel fountain is another man’s exuberant exploration of an outsider vision.  As I wrote in my first overview piece about his stuff:

Call it an ‘aesthetic’, a ‘vision’ if you like, but it becomes clear during the perusal of these artefacts that this is Robert’s world – a dimensionless jiffy bag containing a wonky, distorted universe – and that the rest of us are tourists within it.

For what it is worth, The Butterfly Farm, the tape pictured above released by Beartown Records, is as good a place to start as any.

On to…

3.  The Special Contribution to Radio Free Midwich Award goes to…

Joe Murray and Scott McKeating

posset - my hungry holesscott

(with honourable mentions for Dan Thomas and Miguel Perez who both understand what friendship is really about.  Cheers fellas.)

Obviously.  In May Scott offered to help out, I bit his hand off.  This gave me the idea of asking Joe, who bit my hand off.  Once these appendages had been sewn back on we shook them vigorously and got down to the typing.  I like to think that the house style at RFM sits somewhere between the jazzed exuberance of Joe and the more meticulous, journalistic work of Scott.  Thus between us we offer a comprehensive ‘three bears’ account of this remarkable scene.  Being able to lean on these guys has kept the porridge at a perfect temperature during some pretty distracted times, especially baby- and illness-related, and I am beyond grateful for their contributions.

Now we have…

2.  The Label of the Year Award which goes to…

Memoirs of an Aesthete

Half an Abortion - Drowsy Seepage

(with honourable mentions for, well, see below…)

This was a very, very hotly disputed category.  I was tempted to be perverse and, in the style of Time magazine’s mirror cover, proclaim label of the year to be ‘self-released’.  Certainly, in this Bandcamp enabled age the idea has to be considered seriously.  But that ain’t much fun is it?  Let’s have an argument instead!  Joe stepped up for Winebox Press:

Jon Collin’s labour of love has presented some amazing music this year (Vampire Blues, Lost Wax, and his own gorgeous schizzle)  all nailed to hand-sanded wooden chunks.  This extra detail might make things difficult to file but the soft hand-feel makes me return again and again to these loose spools of joy.

Scott proclaimed Matching Head, natch:

Same as every other year. Lee Stokoe keeps it prolific, adding new regulars to a strong cast of returning cassette-friendly noise/drone/wtf artists.

Both excellent choices, of course, but what of the Sheepscar Light Industrial, last year’s runner up, or Kirkstall Dark Matter – a blood feud between Leeds postcodes?  Or is the glorious return of Sanity Muffin gong-worthy?  Speaking of returns, was any more welcome or surprising than that of Union Pole which made a long-gone 76 item back catalogue available to download for the total of one dollar?  Or what about Hissing Frames or hairdryer excommunication, the content-pumps of Robbie and Kev respectively?

The choice seemed impossible so I left the scribbled lists and did a couple of those things that you only see people do in the movies: splashed my face with water then stared into the bathroom mirror, took a cold can out of the fridge and held it against my cheek etc.  Soon clarity was restored.  For not putting a foot wrong, for never having even a single hair our of place, it had to be Memoirs of an Aesthete.  Phil Todd’s label has released one belter after another this year and has probably clocked up more minutes playing time in Midwich Mansions than any rival.  If it has Phil’s seal of approval on it then you should buy it.  Simple really.

…and finally…

1.  The Album of the Year Award

Risking accusations of hyperbole, I have claimed once or twice over the course of 2013 that we were living in a golden age.  Revisiting the releases I heard during the year I feel absolutely vindicated.  Add my long list to the short lists provided by Scott and Joe and you have a total of over 40 titles without even counting much not-really-released-as-such-but-still-magnificent work such as the soundcloud presence of, say, ap martlet.  Scott mentioned…

Black Sun Roof4 Black Suns & A Sinister Rainbow (Handmade Birds) – Davies and Bower make noise ritual a rhythm thing.

Skullflower / MasterySplit (Cold Spring) – Black metal soundtracks.

Joe added:

Duff/Nyoukis/Robertson/ShawAcetate Robots (Giant Tank) – Soft Scottish mumble, sweet as tablet.

Poor MouthS/T (Total Vermin) – Stream of consciousness wonk-out in proud Estuary English.

Lost Wax – My Sore Daad Heap’d (Winebox Press) – Environmental sounds lashed into a bivouac as the sun rises.

ID M Theft AbleBabb’s Bridge (Veglia, King Fondue, Zeikzak, Taped Sounds) – Like Manson’s internal monologue as knives get knotty.

Blue Yodel & Lovely HonkeyPoppies & Cocks (Chocolate Monk) – Mooooggg, hummm…voosh. Boo-fffff.

Both lists pleasantly indicative of the interests of my comrades, I think.  Take note.  Right then, as I did last year I have whittled my choices down to twenty with the first half presented in no particular order, linked to the original RFM reviews.  Here we go:

Witchbloodspoils and relics - angelsplurals sli 018Ceramic Hobs - Spirit World Circle Jerkaqua dentata - ten thousand wooden faceshalf an abortion - quandarystarlite coffins - medicine eagleGalena - Buried Finchpeople-eaters - imprecate

Every one a winner.  Click on the above for further thoughts and for contact/purchasing info.  Now on with the top ten, in reverse order…

10. Xazzaz – Untitled (Molotov 20)

xazzaz - 'untitled' molotov 20

This was reviewed twice on RFM this year.  Firstly Joe said:

…a melodic pitch-shifting that recalls those tremolo-heavy vibes from MBV…except this time the jazz electricity comes via belt sanders, floor polishers and hammer-action drills rather than sappy guitars.  The crashing continues, churning up plankton and hurling it on the zinc-coated rocks until, at around the 11 minute mark a large rusty anchor is thrown overboard and is dragged nosily (sic – it was more fun to keep the typo than correct it – RH) across a rocky sea bed.  Grrrgrgggrgggrgghhhhhh!   After a while your ear hairs can bristle no more and I had to settle back to accept this Black Metal take on Frippertronics as an astringent lullaby…

…then I pitched in with:

Mike’s music causes my edges to crumble, then crevaces to open, then huge thoughtbergs to calve from my mental glaciers.  He isn’t averse to roar, of course, and can stamp on pedals if need be, but it is the subtleties and nuance that make it so compelling.  He listens patiently, he understands what is going on.  He knows what to do.

Check out the Molotov catalogue now distributed by Turgid Animal.

9. Shareholder – The Backwards Glance volumes 1, 2 and 3

shareholder 1

Joe turned me on to this one.  He wrote:

The Backwards Glance is ten god-damn years of recordings all wrapped up in beguiling drawings, elastic bands and creepy collage work.  Sandy has taken the Faust approach and jams are cut-up hard against each other so you lurch between approaches, styles, themes and moods … My advice is to block out a few hours in your schedule, settle yourself in your preferred listening area and drink this special brew in deep.  As in the dog-eat-dog world of high finance the Shareholder is always looking for a unique selling point.  This USP for these clever little tapes is their god-damn addictiveness!

8. Culver/Somália ‎– Split

culver-somalia

Joe also beat me to this one too and came up with the best simile of the year, damn him:

Culver is a master of the dark art of static movement.  In the same way smoke will fill a room to the corners, too thick to see thorough but fragile enough to part with the wave of a hand, Culver plays that hard/soft, full/empty, maximal/minimal dichotomy like Erich Von Daniken’s  ancient astronauts. Always working on the edge of being there and not being there this piece, this relatively brief drone called ‘seven human hairs’ is like watching ink boil … Somália is some mysterious Portuguese music maker who, on ‘das cordas’ takes a melancholic Satie riff (Gnossienne No. 1 I think) and loops it over and over again with a grimy patina of tape murk.  That’s it.  No speeding up or slowing down. No descent into beats or basslines.  Just a gradual fade into the muck collected round the capstans.  Super simple and super effective.  It works at times (and I have to point out here I have played this tape a lot!) like dark canvas, swallowing the light but freeing up the subconscious.  This is dreaming music.

7. Seth Cooke – Run For Cover

seth cooke - run for cover

The spec is simple enough, a single track of about fifteen minutes in length, but its ingredients are tricky to separate out.  I suspect the noise that sounds like a swarm of angry wasps flying into a juddering extractor fan may be a vibrating implement set upon a drum skin.  The buzz is malevolent – like tapping the glass of a giant tank full of insects only to have them all turn in unison, give you a hard stare and then start working together to get the tank’s lid off…  Some abrasive electronics are then set loose in order to scour and gouge the source noise whilst a bucket of low end catches the swarf.  The concluding crescendo is visceral, tough and as sparkling as your peripheral vision after a sharp smack to the back of the head.  Yeah: awesome.

6. Yol – Four Live Pieces

yol - four live pieces

Joe is a true believer:

I think it was the mighty Stan Lee/Jack Kirby axis that came up with the Incredible Hulk to explore the untamed, brutish side to mankind.  The trick Yol has turned is to take this Yahoo Hulk and transplant it into the damp and bland world of Northern Britain – 2013.  This is no Marvel Universe magic realism but the dark perverted land of a bent cop, conflicted priest or overworked teacher.  It’s a post-Saville world where celebrity corrupts and no one can really trust each other.  Yol gives a voice to the bitter and bleak, the misplaced righteousness and revenge that most of us keep buttoned up tight.  The inner struggle is played out in vivid crimson, choked out, spat into the gutter and stamped on with spite.

5. Shoganai –  ショウガナイ

shoganai

The fella behind this project, remaining semi-anonymous for his own reasons, has produced a piece of work so ambitious and accomplished that the fact that it is available to download on a pay-what-you-like basis from that Bandcamp left me stupefied … Some details: your download will contain nine tracks spanning 41 minutes.  These episodes are clearly the product of a single aesthetic but vary in construction.  There is computerborne surrealism, the programme code distorted by a horseshoe magnet ordered from the Acme catalogue, there is deep-fried tropical psychedelia the like of which wouldn’t be out of place on a Space Victim or AshNav album, and there is the cooing and squawking of an alien menagerie, recorded rooting and strutting about the forest floor on a distant, poisonous world.

4. Helicopter Quartet – Where have all the aliens gone?

helicopter quartet - where have all the aliens gone

Their sound (‘drone rock’? ‘dark ambient’? I don’t know) is dense and rich, each element absorbing in its own right, all contributing to a mysterious but coherent whole.  It is like finding an ornately inlaid wooden casket containing a collection of exquisitely handcrafted objects: what might be a bear, carved from obsidian, a female form cast in an unplaceable grey/green metal, an abstract pattern, possibly even unreadable script, scrimshawed onto yellowing bone.  All irresistibly tactile, all fascinating, all revealing aspects of the character of the unknown and long dead collector who gathered them together.

It is cliché to describe simplicity as ‘deceptive’ and efficiency as ‘ruthless’ but both phrases are perfectly apt in this case.  There is no waste, no let up, the emotional demands of this music are unmistakeable.  Despite the jokes about torturing aliens on its Bandcamp page, this is a deeply serious music but it is epic on a human scale.

3. Various – Knurr & Spell

knurr and spell

Four tracks, each about twenty minutes long, by four different solo artists.  First is veteran Leeds scenester Shem Sharples, recording as his robotic alter ego Shemboid, who kicks things off with ‘myths of the prehistoric future’ – a Ballardian pun well suited to this blistering, splintering track.  Shem is an aficionado of the garage psych sound and his skyscraping fuzz/wah guitar illuminates the rubble like harsh Californian sunshine.

Next is ‘bontempi bastet’ by Ocelocelot, Mel O’Dubhslaine’s noise/drone endeavour.  The track is remarkable: an ectoplasmic gumbo, a thick electronic soup spiced and seasoned to make the corners of your eyes twitch.  Or is it an evocation of heaven?  Mel is a serious artist quietly and brilliantly re-purposing music to serve her own mysterious ends.  She does this with good humour and modesty and I think she might be my hero.

Third is ‘no forks’ by Moral Holiday, Phil Todd’s affectionate homage to first wave industrial music. The backing is brittle, unforgiving, stark.  Phil has taken the bucolic feel of the most utopian electronic Krautrock, frogmarched it to a grimly urban setting and then recorded it amongst the glass and concrete, mutating to fit its new surroundings.

Finally, we have ‘taser delerium’ (sic) from Paul Walsh’s foldhead.  Perhaps you could imagine spiking the punch at a convention of shortwave radio enthusiasts then getting the fried participants to improvise a jam using nothing but the guttering warbles of atmospheric interference.  Life affirming stuff – joyful noise wall.  Like an intruder appearing at the foot of your bed, paralysing you with a swift injection to the sole of your foot, then draping his cock across your forehead as you lie prone and immobile, it is a perversely calming experience.

In summary: this album is damn near perfect.

2. Ashtray Navigations – Cloud Come Cadaver

cloud come cadaver

Previous winners come oh-so-close once more.  I wrote a lengthy psychedelic ramble accounting for each track in turn which you can read by clicking on the title above.  For now I need only quote the final remarks:

It’s like a ‘Comfortably Numb’ for the psych/noise underground but defiant, without a trace of self pity.  It could accompany the ‘ages of man’ sequence at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Did I mention that Ashtray Navigations are my favourite band?  This is why.

Absolutely magnificent.

…and finally, the RFM Zellaby Award for Album of the Year 2013 goes to…

1. The Piss Superstition – Vocal Learning

vocal learning front

Back in May I had a moment of prophetic clarity:

The music suggests systems gone wrong, like some guy pushed in a punch card upside down and then went to lunch leaving everything running.  Yet heavy, juddering electrics describe arcane symbols as they spiral through the iterations of this garbled instruction set.  Something truly wierd is being revealed.  The serrated buzzing suggests saw mill equipment escaping its moorings and consuming itself as one bladed machine vibrates into the path of another.  But again, there is nothing random about this movement.  All is being conducted by an unfamiliar intelligence for some unknowable purpose.  In the end though, all metaphors, similes, superlatives and whimsy just slide off this band or, at best, get caught in the gears and mashed – such is the beauty, mystery and power of their output.  They do not sound like anyone else and yet, somehow, it turns out that this sound is exactly what I wanted to hear.  Its value can only be calculated by fumbling with an alien currency, glinting strangely in my palm.

Thus: Vocal Learning is the best album of the year so far.  Why?  Because it is – I said so.

…and there we have it.  The End.  Well, not quite.  There is a prize should the winners wish to claim it: a release on the fabled fencing flatworm recordings.  Yes, in a tradition stretching all the way back to one year ago I decided to reanimate my legendary label to issue one release a year which could only be by the winner of the Best Album Zellaby Award.  So, JB & Paul, how about it?  Drop me a line if the idea tickles you both and we’ll talk turkey.

RFM’s ongoing account of the no-audience underground’s creative endeavour will continue shortly.  We wish you all a very happy New Year!

collapsing chair/civilisation: joe murray on yol, neck vs. throat on bandcamp

November 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Yol – Four Live Pieces (recycled tape, self-released, edition of 30 or download)

yol - four live pieces

On the day that Hull win the UK City of Culture bid it seems fitting to be listening to local lad Yol.  I can’t pretend he’s Hull’s most famous son but he’s certainly kicking the Larkin out of the gob-punk scene right now.

Presentation is an issue for Hull’s unofficial town-cryer: Four Live Pieces comes wrapped up in the distinctive Yol graphics featuring a stylised hammer blow to the skull on recycled tape; Yol’s DIY approach is no scenester posturing but an integral part of his no-audience underground footprint.

Things kick off violently with ‘Fire Blackened Fork’.  This is very live (dumb audience chatter audible throughout) as the title suggests, and it’s very liveness seems to have a feedback-loop impact on the incredible power-throating with its sudden glottal stops, lubricated with mucous as thick as Swarfega.   The gentle spanner tinkling in the background seems to add to the barely restrained aggression of the howls, not temper it with either prettiness or diversion.  But this is no formless screaming at a wall.  And it’s here the real theme seems to emerge.  Where earlier Yol releases appear to voice his own frustrations and daemons these brief pieces inhabit other fuming bodies: the opportunist vandal, the frustrated chippie and the black murderous jealousy of the cuckold. But more of that later…

‘Vocal Triptych’ leads us towards somewhat straighter poetry…albeit delivered via strangulated psychodrama.  Words are stumbled over, repeated or left hanging with ‘plosives showering sparks off the brickwork.  The line ‘long arms of a strangler’ is re-cycled from earlier Yol jams and rammed right up in the audience’s face.  A cough splutters into a trouser-staining strain, ‘ning, ging, dip’ as collapsible chairs are hurled around the room.

For meInternship’ is the key performance on this here tape…and possibly a skeleton key entry into the dark world of Yol.  The narrative has two conflicting voices; one deferential, even a little snivelling ‘excuse me’, the other a Mr Hyde of hatred, ‘DO YOU WANT TO SHARE A NEEDLE?’  I think it was the mighty Stan Lee/Jack Kirby axis that came up with the Incredible Hulk to explore the untamed, brutish side to mankind.  The trick Yol has turned is to take this Yahoo Hulk and transplant it into the damp and bland world of Northern Britain – 2013.  This is no Marvel Universe magic realism but the dark perverted land of a bent cop, conflicted priest or overworked teacher.  It’s a post-Saville world where celebrity corrupts and no one can really trust each other.  Yol gives a voice to the bitter and bleak, the misplaced righteousness and revenge that most of us keep buttoned up tight.  The inner struggle is played out in vivid crimson, choked out, spat into the gutter and stamped on with spite. (EDIT: watch this performance on YouTube. You really must.)

Blimey.  The darkness can really grab hold of you if you let it.  Phew…deep breath and turn the tape over.

Side two is taken up with the longer piece ‘Sarcastic Lager Cans’.  It sounds like Yol is breaking out of a wooden egg with rusty garden shears and sheaves of bubble wrap (?). Amplified objects melt into the snot-nosed screams as another character, displaying ‘neighbourhood watch logic’ takes up the story.  His raging against imagined foes strikes at the heart of the argument for the middle England Nazi.  It’s always someone else’s fault: the immigrants, the kids from the estate and in this case, the tourists.  Yol plays this loss of control perfectly moving from pleading to incandescent rage over the course of 11 minutes.  This tape is the perfect soundtrack to those fateful micro-moments when the mask of decency and civilisation slips and animalistic rage arrives slobbering into the light of day looking for a victim.

You can check this all out on Bandcamp, download it for nowt or, do the right thing and drop Yol £4 and get the tape. There’s not many left so be sure to get cracking…free hiss!

Editor’s note: here might be a good place to mention that Zellaby Award winning album of the year NECK VS. THROAT by Yol and Miguel Perez is now available for download on that Bandcamp along with its sequel, volume 2, which I resurrected fencing flatworm recordings in order to release.  Both are absolutely essential listening and I urge you to grab hold if you haven’t done so already.  Whilst you are at it, you should also download Miguel’s drone ritual The Three Cycles of the Incantation, recorded as The Will of Nin Girima, because it will alter your head.

neck vs throat

rfm attends colour out of space part two: pascal ansell remonstrates

November 23, 2013 at 10:47 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

COLOUR OUT OF SPACE / 6

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FESTIVAL

Performance Weekend: 8th – 10th November, 2013, Brighton, UK

coos_will 3

Editor’s note: Pascal’s turn.  He clearly wasn’t as impressed overall as Joe but has selected some highlights to grudgingly comply with RFM’s sternly enforced policy of being nice.  Well, mostly:

—ooOoo—

In a weekend bursting at the seams with irritating vocal improvisations, glossophonics, snarled and impertinent mouth crap, the likely trio of Gwilly Edmondez, Posset and THF Drenching chose the only option viable: ol’ time barbershop. Nah, we were of course subject to gurgle-core (is that Phil Todd’s term?) but this was of the finest pedigree. Bossy, snarled and darting; a real performance in that it propelled forwards towards you, opening itself up to the punters in an act of delicious spectacle and invitation. Gwilly Edmondez is a lumbering professor of something at the University of Newcastle. He is also in possession of a reverberant set of vocal chords of such rubbery depth to be, gasp, slimey, pure slime, the slime of old lady ass, under-sofa sweat dribbles, magnificent slime, everybody! A cassette voice slowed down, and that is garçon Gwilly, whose aural slugs competed with ex-Bailey bandmate THF Drenching, the latter wrestling his amp of its feedback possibilities. Posset on the third and final hand of this musical mutant nailed a splashing blend of static and mouth junk. See his mouth didn’t sound like mouth, or gargle, or in any way approach the being so-cerebral-it-gets-silly; it sounded good, ‘sound-in-itself’ good, inexhaustibly good, serious play and goodness.

coos_posset 2coos_drench

Enjoyable as Dylan Nyoukis & Greg Kelley’s set was, and admitting that Nyoukis never disappoints in his encyclopaedic vocal voyages, his control and mastery over continents of vocalics… and taking into account this mighty Scot twinned with an enormous trumpet imagination of Greg Kelley, what really is there to be said about free improv anymore? I’ve been guilty of using the term too frequently but this is bona fide, every man out for himself territory. The only markedly different aspect of this performance was the brief and inexplicable spurts of disco lights which interrupted the almost total darkness. Good drossophonic messabout improv no doubt, but achingly purist free improv. So free, so fraught with my fevered doubts and whiffs of ‘what the hell will they do next?’ that the potential of it potentially collapsing – which really is the silent riff of free improv – seemed almost welcome.

Tom White wore a pristine white shirt and has a pristine brown beard (well, almost, and I urge him to embrace the status of total barbarism) and to clatter this rhetorical bowling ball was also in serious danger of delivering a pristine white overperformance. Let’s admit it, Luke was heavily involved with that obscenely massive and adorable tape deck he played with, he might as well gone off and married it. Ha! You’ve been great! There seemed to be no space between his hands and his ears, not letting sounds be themselves without having to hey-everyone-I’m-performing perform it, histrionics over Cagian (that’s adjectival John Cage, right?) conveying, cold and impersonal just as I like it. Thankfully us floor dwellers enjoyed an earful of superb tape junk. Nicely done. I say ‘junk’ but this was the sexy middle-class green bin kind of noise junk. Tasteful streamlines of grey static were repeated with just enough of interim to evade falling into witheringly dull tape delay jerk-off marathons. How gratifying to witness such immaculate and wretched explorations and applaud with, forty, heck, sixty other sick heads! And there were real girls, with, y’know like real hair, more than three! That’s when you know you’re festivalling!

ccos_charlie collinscoos_jon marshall 2

Roman Nose provided welcome relief on Friday night with songs, actual songs! The free suspension and ‘what do they do next’ idea exchanging had its tension nicely diverted out of the room, past the very friendly venue staff of The Old Market and into the great Brighton night; that tension mentioned earlier of spontaneous performances was eroded by sudden halts, and proceeding to jolt without much delay into the next number. What I later learnt was a Chinese sheng (a strange organ-like contraption) was set upon and disturbed by Sarah McWatt. Charlie Collins clambered delicately over his drumkit shadowed by Jon Marshall (the Roman Nose wolf mother) on samples of scary tharqa and messy reeds.

I loved Black Dice for a long time but always knew there had to be a looser, non-hipster version that wasn’t Yellow Swans with their drizzling mush. Dinosaurs with Horns were a revelatory gesture towards this. Any band that can cram in experimental graft with joyful zest, with a semblance of a pulse, are due more than a little attention. What could otherwise slide into our memory bin instead transforms into joyful and constructful mucking about, my real and true nub rubber! These LA teamsters offered on a side-plate to this gigantically stale loaf of a weekend some morsel of delight, genuine swaying fairyground [sic] (Editor’s note: what a beautiful typo!) rollercoasting delight and rumble.

Editors note: a comprehensive selection of band bios and links can be found on the COOS website here.  Photos by Marc Teare.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.