slurred morse: nameless city haiku compiled

September 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Culver – Prophecy Of The Black Spider (tape, Mantile Records, #027, edition of 50)

Culver – “Kitty” (tape, Agorafobia Tapes, #31)

ZN – Carniceria (CD-r or download, self-released)

The Dead End Street Band – Bombs Rain Down on Innsmouth (tape, Agorafobia Tapes, #29)

La Mancha Del Pecado – Witchskinner (tape, Agorafobia Tapes, #28)

Inseminoid – Gemma’s Sacred Waters (tape, Matching Head, MH204)

Xtul – Black Holes of Stellar Mass (CD-r, self-released, edition of 30)

Female Borstal / NIHL – Split (tape, matching head, mh206)

culver - prophecy

…and so for the second anthology of my recent haiku reviews. This time I’m addressing the Tyneside noise/drone scene and its transatlantic outpost in Juárez, Mexico. Picture Lee Stokoe (of Culver and Matching Head tapes) sitting in a dark grey throne room that giddies the senses with its non-Euclidean geometry. On the other side of the Atlantic Miguel Perez (of La Mancha Del Pecado and Agorafobia Tapes) sits cross-legged on the floor of his desert cave whistling along to the howling wind. Eschewing the internet, they commune via crystal balls each containing a burning eye…

I needn’t go into the sound or aesthetic of this music at any length here as thousands of words I’ve written previously are available at the click of a tag (see above). Suffice to say the gist can be garnered from the following exchange. Imagine Lee casting a withering look over two brightly coloured art-school types setting up their gear prior to a gig.

C’mon, Lee!

I say,

…it doesn’t have to be all doomy blackness does it?

The withering look is transferred to me, with a slight twinkle added to his eye:

Yes Rob, it does.

…he replies. Tongue in cheek, perhaps, but there you have it: the final word.  True story.

Initially the following poems were tossed into the overcrowded public swimming pool that is Twitter (@radiomidwich) but, knowing all that shouting and splashing is not conducive to contemplation, I’ve fished ’em out, dried ’em off and present this leather-bound blog post for your leisurely perusal.

It might seem disrespectful to reduce these releases to seventeen syllables apiece – the Xtul album is a whole hour of glorious psych noise, the La Mancha tape is one of Miguel’s best, the NIHL side of that split is possibly the best thing I’ve heard all year and so on – but I put a lot of thought into these compositions and I hope the impressions expressed are, in their own way, accurate and useful. The title I used for the series, ‘Nameless City’, is, of course, a nod to the Geordie scene’s obsession with Lovecraft but is also apt for Miguel due to the desert setting of the story.

Click on the band name/album title to be taken to an appropriate webpage.  Matching Head has no official internet presence as such but contact details can be found via the Discogs listings for the label – maintained (largely) by Scott McKeating of this parish.

—ooOoo—

No. 1:

Culver – Prophecy Of The Black Spider

Polished steel mirror

examined by microscope:

metallic tundra.

culver - kitty

No. 2:

Culver – “Kitty”

Gremlin on plane wing

observes sleeping passengers

leans into the roar…

zn - carniceria

No. 3:

ZN – Carniceria

Grisly truth unpicked:

Cannibal horror movie?

Documentary.

the dead end street band - bombs rain down

No. 4:

The Dead End Street Band – Bombs Rain Down On Innsmouth

Smothered radio,

ragged semaphore, slurred morse

lost to riot seas

la mancha - witchskinner

No. 5:

La Mancha Del Pecado – Witchskinner

Flesh machinery

processes blind consumption:

cattle eat cattle…

inseminoid - gemma's sacred waters

No. 6:

Inseminoid – Gemma’s Sacred Waters

Dunes bombed into glass.

Tank tracks shatter windowed earth.

Sand returned to sand.

xtul - black holes of stella mass

No. 7:

Xtul – Black Holes Of Stellar Mass

Existence confirmed:

selfhood undeniable

…when thrown from a ‘plane

female borstal nihl split

Female Borstal / NIHL – split

No. 8a: Female Borstal side

Dredging a channel

up silt fouled estuary mouth

takes brute, swinging force

No. 8b: NIHL side

Seduced by darkness

beyond guttering arc-light –

like moths, like dead souls.

—ooOoo—

EDIT: Matching Head Catalogue September 2014 as a pdf document.

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
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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

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