from ibiza to samalayuca: new by midwich/the skull mask/midwich

June 11, 2014 at 11:09 am | Posted in midwich, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Midwich – Inertia Crocodile (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CRR003, edition of 50 or download)

The skull mask and Midwich – Six angles (CD-r, hairdryer excommunication, edition of 25 or download)

Midwich & The Skull Mask – Six Angles (CD-r, Cherry Row Recordings, CRR004, edition of 25 or download)

midwich - inertia crocodilesix angles - kevsix angles - dan

Returning from a refreshing break I am delighted to find the garden in full bloom.  New reviews from Joe kick a ball about whilst awaiting my editorial attention, intriguing parcels and emails squabble about whose turn it is to go to the off license and, most excitingly, two new midwich releases bask in the sunshine.

I will account for these shortly but first a brief word of thanks regarding the brunt. I self-released this half hour long, single track midwich album about a month ago via Bandcamp charging a minimum of £1 for the download.  The idea was to raise a few quid to help cover the minimal costs of this stupid hobby and, as ever, I have been touched by your generosity.  Cheers comrades.  Much to my great satisfaction, I also heard that its vibrations helped loosen a stubborn bout of writer’s block over at Idwal Fisher.  OK, on with the new stuff…

inertia crocodile was recorded at the request of Andrew Perry, noise-tigger and label boss of We’re gonna get fucking drunk tonight boys.  I was aware that Andrew has a pretty fluid notion of ‘time’, thus delay would be inevitable, but I couldn’t resist the lure of having a CD-r out on a label with that name.  Well, not at first.

There then followed a year during which I would occasionally send passive/aggressive, elbow-nudging emails trying to chivvy the dude along.  Response came there none.  I worried for his health but having been assured by a mutual friend that he was OK my uptightness got the better of me.  An ultimatum was issued.  On the due date RFM’s ninja squadron broke into Andrew’s central London penthouse, liberated the master tapes, passed them to a waiting courier and melted into the night.

Daniel Thomas of Sheepscar Light Industrial was aware of these shenanigans and had expressed an interest in releasing the album on Cherry Row Recordings, his SLI offshoot label for releases longer than 22 minutes.  Thus within what seemed like half an hour of the courier unzipping her black leather catsuit inertia crocodile was a Bandcamp sensation.

The album is unlike my more recent stuff.  It is not extraction music – not overly dronish, no field recording and the only sound source is my Roland MC-303.  I guess these three tracks comprise a sort of love letter to that increasingly worn and temperamental machine.

The title track is clattering, clockwork rave – neon stabs trip and pile up over a central throb in an atmosphere choked with dry ice.  It is a badly smeared fax of a photocopy of a fax of the type of music the 303 was designed to produce.  ‘Piped’ is one of those short, mood-puncturing bibbles that I used to insist on peppering midwich releases with.  An analog squelch is allowed to run its course through the filters and that is about it.  As satisfying as the viscous ripples formed when pouring honey onto porridge.  The main event is ‘The Sure’: fifteen minutes of juicy pulses sliding over each other in a perversely fleshy, amply lubricated manner.  It has a swaggering bounce that I hope will have you nodding your head.  Dan coined the term ‘abstract Balearic’ to describe this which is amusingly apt.  To borrow a phrase that Neil Campbell used to use to describe everything he released: ‘this is my disco album’.

No need to take my word for it though.  Another opinion can be found here, as friend of RFM Forestpunk put together a terrifically flattering account of my music (and further musings about my writing and the underground in general) within a day of the album’s release.  Much obliged to you, man.

Six Angles is a thoroughly collaborative affair involving myself and Miguel Perez (doing the music) and Daniel Thomas and Kevin Sanders (doing the releasing).  I’m very proud to be part of it.  As might be expected with a transatlantic effort like this, the process has already been documented in email correspondence, blog posts and Bandcamp blurbs so I’m going to tell the story with a bunch of quotes.  Shameless, yeah, but efficient.  To start, here’s me from an email on recording and editing the two tracks:

‘five angles’ – This is made up of five components: two guitar pieces and an organ drone by Miguel, two synth drones by me. Originally I wanted to layer these all together but it didn’t work so I have stretched them out end to end, one after the other, so now they can be examined in turn and tell a little story.

‘written in sand’ – This is the sixth angle and is made up of four components – guitar and organ drone from Miguel and two more synth drones from me. The guitar and organ are in alternate layers with a crescendo of synth running for twenty minutes underneath, everything comes together a few minutes from the end then gradually drops out. I wanted it to be an overwhelming, psychedelic alarm. It works.

Here’s Miguel expressing his satisfaction on the Oracle Netlabel blog:

This is totally special :
a) Is my first collaborative effort with my good friend Rob Hayler (Midwich) a total supporter and kick to get the name around UK
b) Is my first release to be out not in one, but TWO labels at the same time!
c) These labels are no other than Dan Thomas’ own Cherry Row Recordings that is starting to get fire with some AMAZING drones and is dedicated to more long form releases aside from his totally successful Sheepscar Light Industrial
d) The other label is Hairdryer Excommunication, providing some of the best drones of the world via Kev Sanders and his own Petals project and lately under his own name.
e) This is the return of The Skull Mask after a somewhat unwanted hiatus.
Featuring Midwich on electronics and The Skull Mask on organ and guitar work, this took LONG to be finished. It was like an idea on the air. There was a planned release with Smut (that hopefully will see the light one day) and the tracks remain unused. Some emails back and forth and the proposition was made to work with Rob Hayler. After our successful split (that you can find HERE) this is the first time we collaborate together.

He sent me the work finished and just can say that this is nothing short but AMAZING…please taste the sand and let yourself fly out there!!!!

…and now Kev on the unusual decision to release it on two labels at once, from the hairdryer excommunication blog:

This is the sort of thing that happens in the no audience underground. Rob and Miguel will offer you some material to release which is amazing. So amazing, in fact, you want to more people to share in the fun of being involved in the release and getting more people to hear it.

This being the case, who could have been more perfect than Dan over at Sheepscar Light Industrial/Cherry Row Recordings? We’ve all pretty much worked together in some way in this game o’ sound and community… it was just too good of an opportunity to miss.

Dan’s put 25 copies out through his Cherry Row Recordings imprint and hairdryer excommunication have done the same thing, with us both hosting it electronically: No modes of exclusivity here.

Yeah, there’s a charge for the physical version, but we’re doing our best to refute capital, exclusivity and all that shit. Low cost, handmade releases (£3 plus p&p) and free electronic access: You , dear participatory listeners, can’t go too far wrong  with our collective ways of organising this sort of thing, right?

In homage to the People’s Republic of DIY, the hXe physical version is adorned with a rather miserable looking Yorkshire Terrier with a crown on.

This is an international release of manipulated acoustics, synth and electronics. It is one of my favourite listens of the year and has come together in no time. Perfect stuff.

…and finally Dan explains, in an email to me, the joss paper that features in his packaging of the piece (Tatum is his Cantonese teacher):

…it’s an offering paper; something that you would burn to send good wishes etc to family, friends, ancestors etc … As expected, the text works very well: Tatum just sent me this;

“The overview of the text is “after life” (reincarnation) money; these texts were repeated several times with the five elements: Gold, wood, water, fire, earth and others such as Heaven and moon etc.”

Fits very well with the vibe and atmosphere of the pieces.

Don’t it just? In summary: Miguel sent me two lengthy improv pieces, an organ drone and a desert guitar shimmer, I edited and augmented these to create the album’s two tracks and Dan and Kev decided, in an act of mischievous, exuberant novelty, to each release half the run with two sets of entirely different packaging containing identical music. Contemplating the wonderful absurdity of all this is giving me goosebumps. As Kev says: this is the sort of thing that happens in the no audience underground. Cool, eh?

—ooOoo—

Inertia Crocodile on Cherry Row Recordings

Six angles on hairdryer excommunication

Six Angles on Cherry Row Recordings

artifacts of the no-audience underground: recent petals

January 21, 2013 at 8:52 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Petals – where textus became textus, and how I operated within (CD-r, WGGFDTB)

PETALS – Aposiopesis (3″ CD-r, LF Records, LF026)

petals – silvered alumnus (C22 cassette, Armed Within Movement, AWM006)

petals - where textuspetals - aposiopesispetals - silvered alumnus

Fresh from his category-winning triumph at the 2012 Zellaby Awards Kev Sanders, recording as Petals, has marched directly into 2013 and thrown down some glorious warez thereby consolidating his position at the top.

How does he do it?  What’s the secret to the irresistible Petals ‘vibe’?  My latest guess is that it may be something to do with the way it is recorded.  Anything recorded ‘clean’ or straight-to-hard-drive is difficult to place. It just exists, in your head, as you are listening to it. However, Kev’s stuff seems to be recorded ‘live’ with a microphone somewhere in the room/space where the noise is happening. This gives it a definite physical location but one which is, ironically, mysterious and unplaceable. I suspect this is why I have reached for the metaphor of cartography so often when talking about his work – he produces maps of invisible coastlines, unreachable foothills.  By way of example, here are three releases gracing labels other than his own (the ever-fascinating hairdryer excommunication).

where textus became textus and how I operated within is a single track spanning 40 minutes and thus is one of the lengthier volumes in the Petals cannon.  You don’t feel it though – it whistles past – and so persuasive are its arguments that I was entirely distracted from the blizzard I happened to be walking through when I first heard it end to end.

The track begins with a short, steep incline.  What follows appears at first to be a plateau but soon reveals its own subtle gradients.  All is crescendo here.  We battle through an increasingly bosky thicket as unseen wildlife twitters nervously, sensing that we are traipsing in a dangerous direction.  Eventually, shockingly, we come to a clearing and are met with the fizzing, crackling clatter of an angry troll testing the electrified fence that is keeping him captive.  Kev busies himself with the stuff he had us lug up the hill – it turns out to be some kind of troll monitoring equipment.  The monster, now knackered and scorched but amused by our presence, sits down and listens to the amplified findings of the machinery along with the rest of us.  Really great.

Available dirt cheap from Andrew Perry’s label We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys and packaged in his functional, effective, black and white text-based graphics.

Buy here.

(…interlude: welcome to ‘jokes about obscure terms from literary analysis’ corner!  This week: ‘aposiopesis’.  Me: “I say, I say, I say, Kev – what does aposiopesis mean?” Kev: “well, Rob, I could tell you but then I would have to….”  He trails off.  Silence.  We both stare mournfully at the setting sun and think about death.  Join us next week for another laff riot!  OK, back to the advertised programme…)

Aposiopesis is half the length, filling a 3” CD-r, but seems equal to the above as it is pitched at much higher level of intensity.  The track has a bassy, dense, subterranean feel.  The rumbling throb is ominous and pleasantly uncomfortable at silly volume.  Kev is shining his powerful torch at features of note in a giant underground cavern: here is a rock formation that looks like a rasher of bacon, here is a Palaeolithic painting of a horse, here is his left hand resting lightly on your shoulder, gently steering you away from the suspiciously fresh blood stains on an altar-shaped boulder…

Again this is available for not much from Greg at the (shamefully) new-to-RFM LF Records.  Packaged in a very neat full colour sleeve.  More to come from LF in future reviews but for now…

Buy here.

Finally for today there is silvered alumnus a C22 tape on the much fancied Armed Within Movement label (see here for previous praise).  This was slipped to me, samizdat style, by Kev tucking it into my hot pants as we danced euphorically to Tubeway Army in the Fox and Newt bar.

Side A features an angry buzz augmented by a slow rolling pulse: the former presumably the noise made by units of a hive population as they carry out their pheromonally determined tasks, the latter being the hive mind’s ‘brain’ wave as consciousness appears, an emergent property of the system as a whole.  The rest of the track is this new unified presence developing self-awareness and deciding on a plan for the destruction of all life outside the hive.  Luckily a family of hungry anteaters are in the area and we are saved.  Side B features the kind of alarums! that might accompany the Id monster from Forbidden Planet escaping out into a stormy night on Altair IV.  The rain crackles as it strikes the invisible creature, tracing its outline in steam.  Also great.

This tape can be had for inconsequential loose change and is packaged in a standard cassette box with a stylish and pleasantly minimal black and white J-card.

Buy here.

architects of the no-audience underground: andrew perry knows what he is doing

November 12, 2011 at 10:31 am | Posted in live music, musings, new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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  • Andrew Perry / Dead Wood – The Sweetest Meat (Striate Cortex, S.C.04, CD-r, 80 copies)
  • Andrew Perry / King Rib – Split (We’re gonna get fucking drunk tonight boys, CD-r)

As with so many other quality acts, Andrew Perry first came to my attention via Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent.  Joe forwarded a copy of their split CD-r on Fuckin’ Amateurs, which turned out to be literally unlistenable (grumpiness here) then triumphant (happy ending here).  After the party, Andrew wrapped a large creamy slice of his back catalogue in coloured tissue and I carried it home, still feeling giddy from drinking too much pop.

Over the intervening months I have become a fan and was delighted both to meet the man and see him perform at that gig in October I keep banging on about.  Seeing his shtick live really helped coalesce a bunch of previously nebulous thoughts, as did hearing a couple more CD-rs of his that I blagged on the night.

Andrew is a prolific creator of music in his own name, with others – either in collaboration or as part of split releases, and has a label of his own too: the gloriously named ‘We’re gonna get fucking drunk tonight boys’.  The stuff released as ‘Andrew Perry’ is a mix of fuzzed-out 18-tog drone, balls-out noise, guitarish shimmer, lo-fi field recordings featuring snatches of conversation and tickly contact-mic closeness that makes you pull out your earphone and wiggle a finger in your aural cavity.  Indeed, you may get all of this within the same track.

Don’t expect a smoothly stirred cocktail, however, as this is more like a glass lighthouse filled with layers of different coloured sand by a distracted child thinking about ice-cream.  Some of the transitions between styles jar, and sometimes I wish he’d have a little more patience with a groove or blissed-out fuzz that he’s established only to dismiss, but on the other hand nothing outstays its welcome, nothing is allowed to bore, the ‘jukebox’ quality makes it good for repeat listens and the hit and miss ratio of the segments is weighted heavily in favour of the former.  It is really good walkman music and often accompanies me on the route to work, augmented by the sub-bass rumble of the bus idling at junctions.

When in collaboration with others, or under other names, Andrew reins in some of his tiggerish impulses and, whilst painting from a similar palette, long-form tracks are allowed to grow and mutate in a more leisurely fashion.  I am unsure of the personnel involved in Gish, King Rib, Dead Wood etc. but a fairly consistent aesthetic is at work throughout all the stuff I’ve heard and I suspect the diagram of their overlap could be drawn on a page torn from an exercise book.

Meeting the guy helped explain and flesh out his solo approach.  He was bouncily enthused, entertainingly sweary, wary of producing anything longer than 15 minutes for fear of boredom, and seemingly able to tweet on his ‘phone whilst nodding in vigorous agreement and remaining engaged with the conversation.  The performance was likewise: three different segments picked from the list in paragraph three, all performed with equal verve, which left the audience grinning madly.  His instructions to the sound guy: ‘loud as you like’.  The following day he met us for lunch and was wearing the same t-shirt.  Some years ago you might have worried that they guy had ADHD, now he just looks well adapted for life in the modern world…

So, why not cop hold of the two CD-rs above?  The one on Striate Cortex is of a quality and consistency you’d expect from that impeccable label.  Three tracks: 1/a guitar quiver similar to the opening seconds of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ stretched out into a lilting, climbing shimmer, 2/fire blankets of fuzz thrown over the flames, 3/crackling noise that is both spacey (as in open) and increasingly spacey (as in cosmic).  The other one is brand new and can be had dirt cheap via WGGFDTB.  Andrew’s half is an excellent example of the genre hopping I describe above and is balanced nicely by the uncomplicated dronetronics of King Rib.

Musing on the wilfully no-fi, punk-as-fuck packaging for the King Rib split – a photocopy of hand-written scrawl – leads inevitably back to a thought which has occurred to me several times whilst listening to Andrew’s work: “wow, he couldn’t give a monkey’s…”  This is not to say that Andrew dislikes our simian cousins – he may volunteer at a gibbon sanctuary for all I know – I am referring to the well worn idiom meaning ‘he doesn’t care’.  This may seem an odd thing to think as Mr Perry is obviously deeply passionate about his music, his performance, about the network of similar artists that he finds himself a part of, about engaging with the world via his drive to create, and about getting those creations heard – so allow me to explain.

Andrew appears to be refreshingly unconcerned with the twiddly peripherals of ‘finishing’ (meant in a sense akin to how the word is used in interior design) that others like to waste their time on.  The recording is lo-fi and I doubt any of the instruments used cost a fat lot either – I imagine travel to gigs involves backpacks, bubble-wrap and carrier bags, not flight cases lined with wavy grey foam.  Songs occasionally have beginnings but endings are usually arbitrary snips.  Many of Andrew’s track titles are throwaway funny or Dadaist goofy…

(Aside: nowt wrong with that, I suppose, but I can’t help thinking that it sometimes undermines the seriousness, beauty or quality of the music they refer to.  Does it show a lack of faith in the material or an energizing irreverence?  I’m not suggesting that being po-faced would be better – god forbid everything was called ‘Composition No. 112’ or ‘Lament for the Oppressed’ – just that, well, oh I dunno…)

…The biography on his wordpress site reads, in its entirety: “Andrew Perry has had no idea what he’s doing for a very long time.”  Amusingly, at the time I write this, all the events listed in the ‘Future’ section are now in the past.  And so on.  It is an attitude I’ve come to see a lot in what I lovingly refer to as the no-audience underground and it is personified by people like Andrew, like Fuckin’ Amateurs, like Hiroshima Yeah!, like Dex TapeNoise etc.  It’s the idea that the central pursuit – the MUSIC, the WRITING, the ART – is all that really matters and the rest can look after itself.  I don’t share it completely – I’m way too uptight for that – but I love it when I see it.

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