stretch out the ermine: joe murray on dan melchior, arturas bumsteinas, bas van huizen, jake blanchard

June 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dan Melchior – Seaslime (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.336)

Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica (CD, Intonema, int019, edition of 200)

Bas van Huizen – Waanzintraan (CD, Moving Furniture Records, MFR032, edition of 200)

Jake Blanchard – Shade (lathe-cut vinyl, Was Ist Das? / Tor Press, first edition of 30, second edition of 20 or download)

seaslime

Dan Melchior – Seaslime

Total goose-work and tape-munch.

In parts, it’s throbbing synth and cut-ups that are, in the best possible way, all over the fucking shop.  Grunt speech gets all wrapped and folded so the vowels come out backwards/sideways.  There’s some nice radio interference and guitar (?) played with cheesy feet.  Nuf said?

But the main thread seems to be ‘no thread’; logic takes a holiday and the unconscious mind takes over.  Dan talks of…

the ebb, flow and convergence of sound/noise/information that the human receptor experiences when passing through the urban (specifically) grotto

OK… I’ll take that signpost and waltz merrily through this bohemian neighbourhood.

It’s dandy of course with ripe colours and complex shapes vying for my mallow eyes.   But what I like most is the low-moaning-multiple-vocal-drone that peppers this steak and opens ‘Seaslime Part Two’.  Thick slices of

ohhhh

and

ahhhh

are piled high.  Conjure up a trio of backing singers on mogs trying to drown out Tin Turna or one of them turkeys.  Got it?  That’s wor Dan!

Not so much the dainty Faberge egg; more a Kinder Surprise stuffed with psychic confusions.

arturas

Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica

Three wonderfully rambling organ recordings that wander between full-blown religious ecstasy and porridge-fingered fumbles.

Previously it was Ligeti’s Volumina that set my personal benchmark for Organ-oddity.  I’m no organ aficionado, see, so I have to rely on the helpful sleeve notes to read that these haunting recordings are captured, field recording style, in a variety of Lithuanian locations.

But this doesn’t seem to be an act of UNESCO-sanctioned preservation.  It sounds more like, with the greatest respect, a group of goofs (like me… like you) getting their grotty mittens on the thick ivories and making up gaseous routines just for the jaxx of it.

It’s a truly glorious, immersive event.  At times I feel Arturas’ hand gently twisting in a shadow of reverb but mostly it’s the overlaying of short lyrical pieces played on variety of organs to create a much longer whole.

So, from steam powered fairground calliope to massive church-lungs; from street corner grinder to experimental pipe deconstruction my cloth ears are picking up ‘in the moment’ experiments and cul-de-sacs.  You’ll get a straight run at one idea (forearms on upper keyboard) single note squeals on the lower or a finger-jarring arpeggio; then deep boom and lyrical honk – the sustained drones with one hand and spidery exploration with the other.  At points the tones are working against each other howling at the edge of the wind, coupled with tiny metallic bells.

Lovely though this breathy miasma is you’d be right in asking,

Wot… just blessed organ jaxx for over an hour?  Count me out fella!

But what you’d be missing is the ‘lostness’ the feeling of being tossed into a sea of huff, powerless in the current.  Not to get too hot in these shimmering pages but it’s a submissive act of listening that I’m riffing on right now.

And… as an extra bonus fondle there’s an exquisite hiss and click to these recordings.  Frenzied organ-ing comes with the occasionally ‘clunk’ of a dropped prayer book or rubber plimsoll squeak; the cluttering mechanics of pulleys and foot pedals that make a brittle accompaniment.

There’s a story about Cecil Taylor (or Sunny Murray or Ornette Coleman) where some guy asks him to sit in on the bass during a smoky after-hours jam.  The dude says,

I don’t play bass, man

which is exactly the right approach when dealing with a jazz-colossus.  Yeah…compared to you I don’t ‘play’ anything.  But this was not just a cautious piece of self-depreciation.  The guy couldn’t play a note and bent Cecil/Sunny/Ornette’s form and chops up like a crushed stubbie.  Like Cecil/Sunny/Ornette said, this cat tested him in ways none of the ways a schooled player would [Editor’s note: yeah, this story sounds familiar – anyone got a citation?].

Listening to this ghostly honk is testing my improv-worn ears in the same way!

bas

Bas Van Huizen – Waanzintraan

My good gosh!  I’ve not heard a racket like this for years.  Never a clubber I took my rave-powders seated in a comfortable armchair, headphones on, twisting my DNA to Autechre and the like.

It seems like so long ago but Bas Van Huizen transported me back to that armchair (long since unstuffed and burned for firewood!) as quick as a wink.

Not saying this apes any of those hollow-cheeked rascals with their granular glitch.  But this has that similar heady rush, like a powerful jet of silicon/seawater mix, spraying over the dancefloor in a weighty arc and into the ruined back street behind the club.  It’s littered with rusty junk and piles of broken brick and that’s just fine by me.

These excursions are uneven in length adding further angularity.  You’ve just got your head round something like ‘Jichtjager’ (explosive contact-mics swimming in restaurant grease. I’m busting sick moves (in my head) as each concussive bolt whacks my ear drum) or ‘Stoppermot’ (smeared orchestra pit confined to petri dish, each bacterial horn and violin grows mutated limbs to blow and bow in erratic timings) when another jam comes along and buffers your fluffer.

Take ‘Veldverachter’ for example… the sonic equivalent of ripping off a manky plaster, bath-moulded to your ankle. Ouch!

The longer pieces (our title track for instance) are no place for napping though as ideas are burned through at dizzying speed.  Channelling my inner-Goolden I’m getting, iron ravens sarcastic caw-caw, the static fizz of turned milk and clouds alive with electric shrimp.  But the extra time gives Bas a chance to stretch out the ermine and get fucking regal man.  Opening credits of Blade Runner regal.

To put it another way this is the rice-shaped sliver of the Venn diagram where intense pressure meets slick humidity.

So get boiled brothers & sisters.

shade

Jake Blanchard – Shade

Watch out lightweights, there’s super-heavy intention on these five tunes.

Multi-talented Jake’s colourful designs have graced poster, book, beer bottle and even a skateboard or two.  But today the easel is packed down and beret thrown to one side as a musical outing is on the agenda.

Things start with the lengthy reed-breath-piece ‘Submerged’, all Conrad-esque drone shimmering like celestial orbs, gravity surfing in warp space.

‘Unmarked’ mimics Rodger Daltry’s speed-mod stutter with some chopped ‘thug guitar’ and gritty slide all taking off into the hard desert sky.  But despite the groaning blues this is truly music to build magnificent pyramids to.

Wobble-out a Saz vibe as ‘Pollination’ meshes several Middle Eastern cultures and runs them through a Copycat (or something) to create a wet-lipped smacking and the kind of unhinged fretboard gymnastics Richard Bishop would highlight in orange marker pen as Rem-fucking-betika.

This Greek 3rd Man theme continues on spy-thriller ‘Ill Advised’, kooky-keys rattle among plates of fresh octopus and we get brought back, full circle for ‘Stoney Nova’, a drone piece as soul-mirror.  Ghostly reflections make a flat glassy image repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, re peat, repea  t, re  pe at, repe   at, re peat, r epeat, rep eat, repea     t, rep   eat, r ep  eat, r e  p   ea   t, re     p       ea     t, r   e   p    e    a    t,            r       e          p             e                 a                    t                                                  and        r                                            e                                                 p                                                                    e

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Intonema

Moving Furniture Records

Jake Blanchard via Tor Press

Jake Blanchard via Bandcamp

falling over and over and over: joe murray on dale cornish, these feathers have plumes, isnaj dui, sarah hennies

May 4, 2016 at 11:25 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dale Cornish – Ulex (vinyl LP, Entr’acte, E190, edition of 200 or download)

These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split (tape, Was Ist Das?, edition of 75)

Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release (CD in hand sewn packaging, Category of manifestation, KIND_3)

190

Dale Cornish – Ulex

Ya fucker!  I had one of them Airfix models yeah.  Harrier Jump Jet and all that, it was the Falklands and shit and I pure built the fucker up from like about 200 parts.  Fucking V/STOL engines and undercarriage and the little fucker that flies it in his own little ejector seat.  It took me, like, hours and hours to glue the bastard together, smoothing off the excess glue, filing down the rough edges and shit.  Even longer to paint it all.  Navy colours yeah, as a result of it being part of the Task Force and what have you.

Consider that Harrier Jump Jet Dale Cornish’s Ulex; an evocative piece of miniature machinery.  Then, in a moment of glorious enlightenment, Dale strips off the paint, slices open the fuselage and lays each grey piece out all naked and alone.

This act of separation (pieces pinned like a butterfly under glass) lends a steely intensity and purpose to each sound, the distillation of thoughts and deeds become pure essence. It goes like this…

  • Ulex Pattern 1. The steel pan revenge plan; a falling over and over and over into endless insect Gamelan.  Donkey kick drum, once then twice… then that’s it.
  • Ulex Pattern 2. Bamboo rattles in a magnetic hole. Invisible forces snatch and grab at any vibrations causing a stretching of each dry, brittle note.  Sufi mystic collapse.
  • Ulex Pattern 3. She’s lurching, dragging a sandbag over bright pink coral. I tap the side of my canoe with an outstretched palm and bail out the overflowing rice with an old soup can.
  • Ulex Pattern 4. Fog demons breathe over mangrove roots to haunt the islanders with deep booming warnings. The earwigs glassy cascade becomes relaxed antiseptic counterpoint.
  • Ulex Pattern 5. I’m slightly shocked as the spare crackle of needle hitting vinyl is overwhelmed with a distorted voice all meshed up and jaxxed, rolling in three dimensions like some forgotten Fylkingen piece.  My inner Agatha Christie picks up a little something though.  I might be old but I’m crafty.  All I’m saying is Alright Duckie!
  • Ulex Pattern 6. Steelies penked off a copper plate.
  • Ulex Pattern 7. The longest rippling.  Distant fireworks ignition in slightly off-kilter realities, the original cucaracha stepping on echo-bugs ‘till each pops like dark ink.

Ulex is deconstructed so completely it’s almost empty.  Some of these tracks are so spare they make regular minimal look messy.  It’s so damn pure and yet, tied up in silver-plated knots.  Jagged and fresh but never sharp.

whatchyalookingat?

tfhp-id

These Feathers Have Plume / Isnaj Dui – untitled split

Oh.  The synchronicity!

Planning the previous Dale C piece I came upon a tweet from Andie Brown (AKA These Feathers Have Plumes) explaining her next tape would feature that Dale on spoken words.  That’d make a neat journalistic link I thought and contacted the most excellent Sophie Cooper, a known accomplice, to help me locate it.  Like clockwork a download code arrived (cheers Ned) and I plugged in my earphones all ready to get swept away in the foaming clouds of glassy tones.

These Feathers Have Plumes carry me to three specific places on those rusty wings.

For this is music of the sea.  The boom of the swell against the groyne; the ever-churning motion of salt-water loops.  The sneaky shifting creep of dunes, the ‘sshhhussshhh’ of shingle dragged across a beach.  ‘Return II’ moves from pregnant ringing blossoms, all rounded and warm, into the nightmare sound of ice cracking beneath your feet as you dash across the fiord.

This is music of the city.  The huge-wine-glass clang is as full and broad as Spitalfields’ Christ Church.  Field recordings slide into the mix: the chatter of taxi cabs and metallic shudder of shopping trolleys; the stark staccato clack of stiletto heels that chitter over cobbles.  Brandy balloons writhe and wobble on ‘Soho Living Room’ with Dale’s dry crackle striking teenage memory gongs while Joincey, the sinister ice cream man, packs something wicked into his 99’s xylophone dubs.

This is music of the sky. ‘You can’t burn my dreams’ swoons like lovesick chem-trails, a thousand feet above, streaking deep white scars across the palest Springtime blue.

The impeccable Isnaj Dui responds with ‘Answers at Dawn’ a noble and ancient wisdom.

I’m transported to a cloud kingdom.  The children are piped into the barren courtyard with ornate horns.  Curved downwards, the sound bounces from the terracotta tiles to echo around the courtyard setting up a matrix of slow breath. 

They dance in staccato movements, each limb stiff and mechanical.  At first in unison, then falling slowly out of phase, each arm, each leg fluttering in stroboscopic effect. 

From above miniature bronze bells are hung from prayer flags.  The gentle tinkle is accompanied by each child, now armed with reed-end sheng randomly puffing like the crickets they keep in tiny cages.

Silently the children are marched back to their solitary cells to sleep until the ritual is repeated tomorrow.

KIND_3-cover

Sarah Hennies – Gather & Release

I first came across Sarah’s work via a wonderfully head-tilting vibraphone piece Settle and did the usual bit of cyber-sleuthing to see what’s up. When I usually do this I find I’m so far behind the curve my ‘new’ discovery is wrapped up shroud-wise and I’ve been dozing 25 years too late (example: François Dufrêne – we could have made such sweet music together!). So I was super thrilled to find a new Hennies release was, like… imminent.  I paid my pal and waited…

This nifty package turned up a week or so later with a real needle and thread sewn into the cardboard sleeve (ha ha) evading customs (ho ho). The two lengthy tracks make up almost an hour’s worth of extraordinary music that left me giddy; brain fizzing and fingers tingling.

‘Gather’ is 27 minutes and 56 seconds of exquisite minimal hiss.  A real recording of a distant waterfall apes a prickly electronic cascade; a shy, wavering tone blends into a constant tide of warm and wooden.  It continues…

The sharp change at 21 minutes makes me sit bolt upright.  We are edging a corner and the salty gush is revealed.   The chromed larynxes of the Sirens are dancing across the wide stereo field – a psychic Doppler Effect.   Droplets of steel-gray water gather on stiff riverside grass.  They quiver, slowly recovering from their thunderous journey.

The final 30 seconds of HNW/H2O-NOISE is shatteringly complex and then bursts into hollow silence.  Oh…consider me gathered!

‘Release’, unrolls another half-hour or so of gentle movements… an eruption in slo-mo.

Felt, the most underused of elements, patters great pools of molten copper.  The swell and its decaying negative unlock the rhythm in simple sets – ( )  ( )  ( ) – brackets of time in which tension is folded.

Hard wood pitches between ears now softened up (creamy like butter) making my lanky frame a pendulum that swings (tick, tick); a nervous clock.

It seems like the air is trembling with glass beads.  And yet… forgotten memories of a music box, complete with plastic ballerina doomed to twirl forever, enter my skull clear and bright.  A gruesome poem is drowned in a racket as pure as the scar on my skinny wrist.  Justice’s violins are wrecked.

A soft canvas bell / a fudge clapper.  Both marking out a dusty life; school to work to retirement to death.  Brief shreds of joy peal gently.  But the rhythm never falters: byenn-boom, byenn-boom, byenn-boom.

(sotto voce) when it stops all things around me judder.

—ooOoo—

Entr’acte / download

Was Ist Das?

Category of manifestation

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