Saturday, December 03, 2016

Totes Format













Libbe Matz Gang/Coldsore
Totform18
Cassette. 50 copies.

Kemia/Ollijohanna
Totform21
Cassette. 15 copies

RST - Haikus
Totform22
Cassette. 15 copies.

Cold Sore - Pollutant

Totform23
Cassette. 30 copies.



Tapes come and go in the room where I type out these words and when I’m done with them I put them in a box. Sometimes I pass them on or, if I’m feeling devilish, I take them down the chazza where no doubt ladies of a certain age pick them up and look at them with a curious squint before asking a colleague if they still sell cassettes or not.

For the last few weeks and months these four cassettes from the Finnish label Totes Format have been whirring away in the background, clicking over from one cassette to the other via the wonders of a trusty twin cassette deck. If I’m concentrating on something computer wise I can often hear the same two sides of the same two cassettes all evening and when I’m hearing sounds as enigmatic and captivating as these I sometimes feel as if I’ve been held in some kind of a trance. Some people have streaming media players and suggestion algorithms, I have recycled cassettes from Finland and a JVC twin cassette deck.

What makes this all the more compelling is that I have no idea who any of these people are. I’ve had Totes Format releases through these hands before and excellent they were too with GRMMSK [I have a feeling the label head here] running around bald, naked and painted white within bridge structures making along the way some amazing sounds with a homemade string instrument and a drill. That was about three years ago now which judging from their website makes for a very steady release program. Editions don’t run to many numbers and as you see we’re in hand made recycled territory here with hand stitched, reclaimed material sleeves and the use of old circuit diagrams as seen in previous TF releases. Its a stance to be applauded.

Out of this dark sea of ambience and dark electronic sounds the last track of three by German artist Kemia got to me the most. It might have been artistic judgement, kismet or a recording made on an inspiring day when the sun just about rises over the horizon and the temperature barely budges above zero but ‘untitled 3’ [never has a track of such beauty been given such a mundane title] did for me like a Novocain shot in a dentist’s chair. A dreamy and blissful decay wrung from an only dreamt about Basinski/Prince collaboration where a series of underwater detonations reverb out to coda on bed of dreamy muffled voices and celestial treated harp. Hypnogogic pop eat your heart out. The preceding two are bleak low hertz blasts and nocturnal ritualistic electronics and something I need to investigate further but track three … let me play it just one more time.
On the flip comes Ollijohanna and two tracks of stunning black industrial ambience. Here is all cavernous drones and desolate electronic skree, hollow roars and stripped wastelands, the sounds of distant explosions and their aftermath. 

Coldsore appear twice each time creating dark and foreboding atmospheres that focus on both depression and pollution. On the Libbe Matz Gang split ‘0+0=0’ there’s mention of Largactyl and a quote by Wittgenstein and it is of course suitably wrist slitting. Pollutant’s four tracks contain various synth atmospheres accompanied by sampled dialogue, the odd disguised PE vocal and air raid sirens all leading me to think that these tracks were recorded by someone who hadn’t been listening to disco for a while. Depressing, sombre works no doubt recorded in the depths of a Finnish winter at three in the morning.    

‘Under the Chemical Cosh’ is where we find Libbe Matz Gang and a short side of swirling flanges and lower key synth blurp that would no doubt pop the woofers on cheap paper cones. A fitting flip to the Coldsore track. While RST’s ‘Haikus’ consists of two live tracks as recorded this year, the first a constant stream of low end flutter and tundra storms perforated with granular crumble, dark, random pulses and eerie ritualistic melodies, the second an empty room filled with angular resonating electronics. 

Putting these releases in a box seems criminal and the chazza is definitely out. Perhaps I’ll leave them on display for a while before giving them another outing on the JVC.

http://totes-format.weebly.com/
      





   


Friday, November 25, 2016

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Daniel Löwenbrück & Marcellvs L Löwenbrück



Colour Out of Space - Brighton 18th, 19th, 20th November 2016.

Friday:
W Mark Sutherland
Matthew P Hopkins
Esther Strauss
Anghard Davies & Lina Lapelyte
Clappy Shandy Dads
Cassis Cornuta
Matt Krefting

Saturday:
Anne Pajunen
Wol
KOEFF
Kent Tankred
Marja-leena Sillanpää
Johannes Bergmark
Daniel Rozenhall & Sten Backman

Sunday:
Daniel Löwenbrück & Marcellvs L Löwenbrück
Birgit Ulher
Olympic Shit Man
Phantom Chips
Steve Beresford, Tania Chen & Stewart Lee
Iancu Dumitrescu, Ana-Maria Avram w/ Yoni Silver, Alex Drool Yonovic, Cosmin Postolache


Can this be the only festival on the planet where the acts are announced by the ringing of a bell? A big hand clapper bell that scares the bejesus out of you if you're within five foot of it and all the more surreal for it being rung by one of several children who could be the offspring of the Nyoukis’s or the Langan’s. At one point the bell rings and its for a performance by the kids themselves who stick their heads up inside a display cabinet much to the amusement of those who thought they were on their way to see some Swedish performance art. Never have I seen kids so happy. I haven’t seen kids so happy outside a sweet shop with tenners in their hands. Something special must be happening.


Where to start with a three night bill that covers everything from Cage to avant noise to cassette muck to modern vocal composition? People ask me ‘are you writing this up’ and I say ‘do you see me taking notes?’ I don’t take notes. I’m not a reporter. I’m the one in the kebab shop at one in the morning, the one around the table on Sunday evening with Tyfus, Kreffting and Younger with his cellophaned arm and the Australian girl whose name I struggled with. I’m the one up the i360, that most recent piece of tourist engineering that allows you to rise 500ft in the air in a huge steel donut so that you can see Storm Angus making its way across the channel. And then up the road and quite by chance a midday performance art cum Fluxus action in Oxfam courtesy of Plastic Containers of Nothing where they’ve taken some boxes of donations destined for the skip and made something out of them. The pair of them don’t play records very well and tear up newspapers while cutting lumps out of their clothing. Their strange masks are masks of themselves, the stiff movements all too much for my recently just got down from 500 foot brain. And then to the Komedia for a film about Tony Conrad and when we get outside its dark and Storm Angus is upon us so to the pub for wine and beer and then eventually to the Sally Bennis and the days go like this and there’s a good crowd on Sunday people crammed into the Old Church to hear yodeling courtesy of Doreen Kutzke and Myriam Van Imschoot and theres Nick Cave in a pastel blue cashmere sweater down the front. Aine O’Dwyer starts off behind a blanket on the church organ and tumbles her way down until she’s hitting a piano and twirling around until she falls into one of the assembled and isn’t it hot for a church on a Sunday afternoon in November.



To be honest I hadn’t heard of around 80% of the line up and two of those on it that I really wanted to see were no longer playing. But I did see it all barring one act on Sunday night when for once the bell did not toll. You kind of got the feeling things were going in the right direction after the very first act in which W Mark Sutherland ended his short set with some Russian Futurist nonsense words which he carried on shouting until he was well outside the auditorium and probably at the bar ordering a drink. Of the five COOS I’ve attended this was by far the best and the Northern League of Kebab Konsumers, with whom I traveled down with, declared it their best too.


A lot of Friday was people sat at tables, which may not be the most exciting sight in the world but the Sally Bennis has chairs with which you can lounge on. Some people choose to flake out on the floor. One particularly keen attendee, who turned out to be Cassis Cornuta, stood stage front for everything until he got on stage himself and stood in front of his eight, yes eight, Korg synths which did burble and bobble and make sounds that for eight synths made you wonder if all of them were plugged in. Clappy Shandy Dads was a one off collaboration between Dylan Nyoukis, Julian Bradley, Luke Poot and Alex Drool all of them doing things with small things and making more noises than one of them on their own would have done. Anghard Davies and Lina Lapelyte stand back to back like shy swans making Pärt like noises out of violins, slowly turning around to face each other and then back to back again and if you know Arvo Pärt this is bliss, huge sweeps of the bow in cracked scraping arcs. Matt Krefting sends us all back to our penthouse suites with half an hour of sublime tape mulch produced on a pair of cassette players, one a cheap looking twin side by side job the other a 70’s flip top affair, one hand constantly on the twin concentrating, feeding tapes, the results a dreamy, decaying thirty minutes worth.



Saturday morning arrives and with it blue skies and a brisk wind. All this before Storm Angus hits. A particularly virulent kind of Scottish storm by the sounds of it which I can see from the top of the i360. It doesn’t look good and the takings are going to be down in steel donut land. There’s time for food and a glass of something before the Tony Conrad film at the Komedia which if you haven’t seen it I strongly recommend. The roofs leaking in which doesn’t augur well and sure enough its hammering it down upon exit. At the Sally Bennis there are brave groups of smokers embracing the elements and rumour has it that Leif Elggren has taped a corner off and claimed it as his own.

Saturday night is Fylkingen night and Kent Tankred manages to fry the bottom end of the much improved Sally Bennis PA with his homemade circuitry. Tankred looks around from his small table in search of the PA guy, he has a look that must be the nearest thing that Sweden has to panic but it still sounds good to these ears and from one Bald Head of Noise the accolade of the best performance so far. There’s noises and computer generated images that make you feel like you’re disappearing down an never ending tunnel courtesy of Daniel Rozenhall and Stan Backman. KOEFF is Johanna Rosenqvist with her Henry vacuum cleaner and masked vocals, nearly PE but with a much softer edge. WOL are Wenche Tankred and Lovisa Johansson who enter the Bennis floor with armfuls of two inch [50cm Sweden] Sellotape which they carefully build towers with before forming a circle and making bunches of flowers with them, miles and miles of the stuff peeled off. Marja-leena Sillanpää sets up a boxy looking multi channel radio, flicks it to shortwave and lets go a mighty bottom end roar that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a noise gig. She stands stage back and admires her work letting the equipment perform unaided. For sheer theatrics Johannes Bergmark has us all open jawed, firstly by swallowing a contact mic and shortly after it popping candy and a can of fizzy drink and then remarkably, by strapping himself into a rig of his own making that sees him suspended from the ceiling by two taught wires with two other coming from his contraption to his legs which he rides like stirrups, flexing his knees to get them tight and then slack, then stroking them with bows and then hitting them with sticks, first his leg wires and then his ceiling wires letting go huge DONGS and then high pitched scrapes. Tonight we leave for Sweden.




Johannes Bergmark


Sunday morning brings with it an exhibition by Stephen Cornford at the Phoenix and after it a climb up the north face of the Eiger or Southover Street, as the locals call it, for Sunday lunch and more wine, about twenty of us in some kind of two sided last supper in the upstairs room of the Southover itself. Cornford as last seen down the Wharf Chambers with some TV set cross channel feedback abuse, here with a wall of half empty PC frames from which optical drives spit out three inch CDR’s and spirals of copper wire. An array of CD Walkman’s have misfiring shards of CD disc spinning in them, some have cameras  peering down on them which show whats happening in close up on a series of ceiling mounted monitors. In the back there’s a Blood Stereo exhibit but the monitors busted so we trail off instead.

After the pub we tumble down the hill and into the Old Church for the yodeling and piano bashing and then to another pub and then for the last time to the Sally Bennis where Daniel Löwenbrück & Marcellvs L terrify us with deafening pig squeals, strobe lightning and hand powered air raid sirens before they finally fill the venue with dry ice setting off the smoke alarm in the process. Phantom Chips has the audience pulling her strings and making sounds with them, I’m sure they’re not strings and I’m sure she had a word for them [Tara Pattenden that is] but they make wonderful electronic zinging sounds. She tries to get on stage but loses her connections. She’s wearing what looks like a Technicolor octopus around her waist and when she squeezes its legs it makes a sound. Or sounds. Lots of sounds. All of them beetling and buzzing. Stewart Lee, Tania Chen and Steve Beresford perform Cage’s ‘Indeterminacy’ with Lee making sure Chen gets her own round of applause seeing as how she’s come all the way from San Fransisco. Its the first time I’ve heard Indeterminacy and Lee’s mundane talking voice is perfectly suited to the task of reading out the fourty [randomly picked by an audience member] cards that contain Cage’s sometimes banal observations. Beresford plays his novelty electric guitar toys, drops things on a huge drum, Chen knocks ping pong balls off the table. A piano is hammered. Cage would no doubt have approved. Sitting between the high art of Cage and Dumitrescu lies the murky world of Olympic Shit Man. A rare outing for the now cross channel project and to cries of ‘smile’ the pair take us on a thirty minute electro-acoustic improv session built around Andy Bolus’s tampered with EMS synth boxes and Mark Durgan’s well oiled noise gadgets. Those who were expecting a knock about noise fest were disappointed but not me. Then at around 11pm comes Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram and the Hyperion Ensemble and after a short piece featuring huge drums and a the longest wind instrument I’ve ever seen Avram sits at the side of the stage, legs crossed in thigh high boots singing, or to be more precise vocalising while Dumitrescu alters her output from the mixing desk, leaning over it like he’s trying to keep it all for himself, concentration levels on max, peering out of the top of his eyes on Avram. There was something that followed but my concentration levels were waning.   




Constant Linear Velocity / Stephen Cornford

 
At the nights end I ventured for the final time into the cold and rain lashed November night. A familiar kebab shop across the flooded road became a beacon of light and life. Then up and past the Prince Albert, turn left at the top by the train station and bed. I left some behind to dine once more on that slowly revolving column of forced meats, to once more rest their weary bottoms on the busted furniture that passes for indoor eating area, to say their goodbyes to two now familiar fast food vendors. Turning up the temperature in my hotel room I flaked out. I’d not read my paper, not done the crosser, my hangover was singular and slight and I’d seen everything at the Bennis except Birgit Ulher. A memorable weekend all round.


Plastic Containers of Nothing
Storm Angus



Many thanks to @zanntone for the Bergmark image.




  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Limbs Bin




Limbs Bin - Bliss Tech
Follow Me Into The Laser Eye/Moon Machination. MMR009
7” flexi/DL.  275 copies


$13.50 to post a felix disc from America to the UK? $13.50? If ever an exclamation mark were needed. What’s going on over there? Have they had a revolution? Thats almost £13.50 in proper money. To send a slither of plastic and some paper over a bit of water, when the music it contains is up on Bandcamp to listen to for nothing? So I become an instant Limbs Bin fan even before I put the square of flexi on the turntable [or click on the link on Bandcamp which I sometimes do out of laziness because I have to alter the turntable speed manually now which seemed suitably Luddite when I bought the thing but now turns out to be a pain in the arse]. Or I could just play it at 33rpm which is the turntables default speed? Maybe it does play at 33rpm? Goes away to check Bandcamp link. Actually it does play at 33rpm. Its hard to tell on first listen such is the rapid delivery of these blisteringly short 15 songs. That could in certain circles pass for Power Electronics, think plenty of screaming distorted electronic machine gun blasts of crude noise delivered in a manic style by a young male of American birth. Fifteen tracks though. Fifteen and all of them with lyrics too, proper songs except ‘S.U.V.I.R.I.A.L. [sic] which is an instrumental, all of them done and dusted in less than a minute, in fact all of them done and dusted in less than 20 seconds, each track blurring in to the other with no respite until you’re spat out at the end feeling like you’ve been cornered by a madman in a shabby launderette at the wrong end of town.

Nearest approximations would be the 1,2,3,4 hell for leather madman skree of Tokyo Anal Dynamite era Gerogerigegege except this is America not Japan and 2016 not 1990 whatever, and Limbs Bin are yet another American noise band that I know nothing about. Thats if they are a noise band. Such is the way noise mutates these days I dare say people of a young age, teenagers perhaps would chuck this in with a hardcore sub-genre say or Noisecore, which is what it says on the Youtube showing of Bliss Tech.

I’m not going to get involved in the whole download/stream versus artifact mode here. You know where my heart lies. Each has its advocates but I feel for those who aren’t drawn to such magnificent objects. Well worth that $13.50 Mr Bin.



https://limbsbin.bandcamp.com/




Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Fight Your Own War




Fight Your Own War  - Power Electronics and Noise Culture
Editor: Jennifer Wallis.
PB/HB + exclusive download
Headpress.


It was at Birmingham’s Shards of Ordinance gig a few years back that I saw Jennifer Wallis handing out flyers asking for contributors to write articles for a book about Noise and Power Electronics. I did my bit and passed some around, did the Twitter thing and finally a couple of years down the line a book has appeared. There’s not that many books about Noise and Power Electronics doing the rounds so anything that adds to the printed canon has to be welcomed. But with caveats. 

Headpress big cheese David Kerekes must be a fan of Noise and Power Electronics, or one of them, or both. I saw him at the same gig but not down the front when Smell & Quim were on. Kerekes and Wallis had already got their heads together and decided that a book needed to had. With certain criteria and stipulations in place perhaps? These being that the book had to mirror zine style [which it does] that it had to use multiple authors [it does] that it had to capture what makes Noise and Power Electronics tick [it does], and that the transgressive nature of Power Electronics and to some extent Noise, be discussed [it does].  Fight Your Own War does lots of these things and large parts of it are worth your time but like plenty of Noise compilation albums there’s the ones you go back to and the ones you skip. Nick Nihilist’s [I kid you not] puff piece for his own band Deathtripping should have been spiked at birth and as much as I agree with what Sonia Dietrich writes and her feminist stance, reading her nine page skreed felt like I’d been shouted down for ten minutes. Maybe that was the point.

Some readers may be surprised to discover that Fight Your Own War isn't all Noise and Power Electronics either although vast chunks of it are; d foists chapter on the still missed Leeds Termite Club has enough jazz & improv anecdotes in it to scare off many a jazzophobe [but not me, I found it one of the best chapters, mainly for the humour, mainly because it reminded me of some great gigs I attended years ago] and The Bongoleeros aren’t exactly a noise band either even if they often appear on bills with noise acts.

The book is divided into three parts; ‘Scenes’, ‘Experiences and Performance’ and ‘Readings’ and contains articles from about twenty contributors. Some are familiar to me and some are new. More notable contributions come from Ulex Xane and Mikko Aspa who give detailed accounts on the rise of Noise/PE in Australia and Finland respectively, Phillip Taylor and Scott E. Candey do the same for the UK and the US. Clive Henry’s detailed report on the state of Harsh Noise Walls was worth reading just to discover that HNW’s have themes, a fact that had passed me by what with me being about a much a fan of Harsh Noise Walls as I am of poking myself in the eye. Richard Stevenson gets himself a whopping six inclusions including a decent one regarding zine culture within the genres.  

Littered amongst these chapters are one off homages to albums that changed peoples lives; Tom Bench’s appreciation of The Bongoleeros Fat Arse’d Report album is magnificent as is Clive Henry’s [him again] dissection of Dave Philips ‘6’, Hijokaidan, The Grey Wolves, Maurizio Bianchi and Consumer Electronics all get the waxed lyrical treatment and these small chapters/reviews/homages do a good job of breaking up the text as well as planting signposts to the curious. If a book appears containing nothing but such work I’d buy it.

The best writing comes from those who really can write though: Spencer Grady’s rumination on humour in noise [or to be exact, the lack of it]  and Jennifer Wallis’s learned look at the hoary subject of the transgressive nature of Power Electronics and certain Noise elements are both standout pieces as are Stephenson’s and Jack Sargeant's contributions.

The book certainly looks good, it even feels good [I have the paperback version here], the cover’s in keeping with the feel of the genre, white noise static cum de-tuned TV, and its zine like lay out lifts this from mere humdrummery.

Am I the only one wishing that William Bennett or Phillip Best would write their autobiographies though? Which makes me think that's its not going to be until these early pioneers start putting their fingers to the keys that we’ll get the book these genres deserve.


www.worldheadpress.com

Friday, November 04, 2016

Sleaford Mods













Sleaford Mods - T.C.R.
Rough Trade. CD/12” EP/DL

Sleaford Mods - Live at SO36
Harbinger USA 001. LP

Sleaford Mods - S.P.E.C.T.R.E
No label. CD.

Sleaford Mods - The Mekon
No label. CD.



I nearly didn’t bother getting T.C.R. A five track e.p. on their new label Mister Rough Trade. Bye bye Harbinger Sound hello Rough Trade. Five tracks? Whats the matter? Not enough material for an LP then? Muse left behind in a pub in Notts. Can’t write about the shitty job no more cos he ain’t got one and the stuffs bound to be watered down what with Geoff Travis running a beady eye over proceedings.

I went to see them twice last week. Leeds and Liverpool with the Scousers being by far the more voluble probably with it being a Friday, parabolas of beer carving the air as the dregs of plastic pint pots splattered the backs and heads of those who dared to creep forward to see what trainers Jason was wearing. I stood back, as a gentleman of my years should, in awe and with a big stupid grin on my face. It’d been over a year since I’d seen them last but they still had it. No, they had even more of it. Whatever ‘it’ is. That indefinable essence that makes a band what it is: the gestures, the lyrics, the beats, the sleeve art, the tats and the coughs and rasps, the wanking gestures, the constant ear cuffs, the head wobbles, the screams into the mic and the little walks between songs, a small circle where we end up back in front of the mic and heres a new one ‘BHS’ with which they end the set. They should put Phillip Green [minus his ‘sir’ thank you very much] on the next album cover because there’s no Tory voters in here tonight. Highly unlikely that we’ll get a Tory leader picking Jobseeker as one of their eight on Desert Island Discs now is it? I was singing TCR for a week after Liverpool.

Somewhere, something clicked and in the last couple of years two blokes with a lap top no longer means half a Kraftwerk gig. Instead there’s an hours worth of killer tunes and a sweaty Jason Williamson barking and burping and ner ner-ing his way through the new ep and an increasing number of crowd pleasers. On this particular shortish tour they finish up with the triple hit of Jobseeker, Tied up in Notts and Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. Fearn sucks on a beer for the last time before shutting his laptop while Williamson goes to change his sweat soaked t-shirt. Last time I saw them they were chipping out with the slow beat of Tarantula Deadly Cargo, a personal favourite, someone said it was about unwanted smells on the tour bus but it could be about economic migrants, I could be wrong on both parts but such are their riches now it doesn’t even make the set. Neither does ‘I’m Shit At It’ which has become something of a works anthem down the old baked bean factory.

Forgive me my presumptuousness but I thought the bubble would have popped by now. I like being wrong here though. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the bubble is still very much intact and that the duo of Fearn and Williamson have now furnished upon the surface of the earth more songs of note that, after first hearing Austerity Dogs a few years back, I could have ever hoped for. The pair are supping from a deep well and if their muse is fleeting then so be it but lets not beat about the proverbial here because they have already done more for my own, and no doubt plenty of others personal well being, than any band in the last thirty years. For all I know they may be shitting this stuff out in their sleep but I very much doubt it. Williamson’s lyrics are deep, comical, obnoxious, daft, clever, topical and his delivery is that of a drunk on the bus with a voice designed to be noticed. Fearns beats are simplistic dance Martin Rev minimalist funk punk drilled into your skull where they make some kind of connection with your feet and your knees and then your shoulders start going and before you know it your gurning along like a good un.

Listening to the old stuff on Live at SO36, as recorded in Berlin in June 2015, I still get a tingle up the trouser leg at the intro to No One’s Bothered or when you think Jason’s going to lose it on Fizzy. The intro to Routine Dean contains a rant about health and safety in the workplace which must have had some of the Germans in the audience completely baffled or maybe they were still picking each other up off the floor after Fizzy. Similar when Jase has a pop at someone smoking stage front ‘I’m not fucking Roy Castle’. Who the fuck is Roy Castle goes a room full of Germans. ‘Thank you very much, keep the money rolling in’. 

‘Its all so fucking boring’

‘I woke up with shit in my sock outside the Polish off license’.

Live albums come and go, contractual fillers, something to tide the fans over while the real work goes on behind the scenes. And a live album seemed inevitable with Harbinger Sound no doubt now under some kind of Rough Trade fatwa. A new label and hence a live album. It was all worth it fellas. Added cheering and ad-libs do it for me. Now all you need to do is pour beer over your head and barge the missus off the settee for that Sleaford Mod gig atmos.

The new stuff took a while to impregnate my somewhat reticent skull but now when I hear the tinny beat intro to TCR I know its good. TCR is Total Control Racing, a kids track racing kit from the 70’s, Scalextric’s sworn enemy and a bloke whose life is going round in circles and he goes down the pub to have a good time only to realise the pub is shit and he's going nowhere their either. It could be autobiographical. I don't really know. So you write this dark song about existentialism and you put a jaunty beat to it and a promo video of you both playing racing cars. Excuse me while I go and sit down a while. ‘You’re a Notts Head’ presumably taking the piss out of the locals and no doubt getting played tonight at Rock City. ‘I Can Tell’ with its faltering chorus. The rest is decent too. Deece if you like.

Of interest to those that made it to the gigs [and Sleaford Mod’s fans in general obvs] are a couple of pre Fearn releases that for obvious copyright reasons will never be commercially available [although some of that early work made a brief appearance on the now much sought after double album ‘Retweeted’]. This is down to every song being built around loops nicked from the work of other artists hence Jobseeker has the intro to the Yardbirds ‘For Your Love’ running its length, The Mekon is built around the intro to the Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’ and I’ve no idea what loop High Noon uses but its the only Sleaford Mods track I’ve heard that has Williamson actually singing in a way that Steve Wright in the Afternoon might recognise.  You also get to hear Williamson giving a rendition of ‘The Stripper’ on ‘Trixie’ but what these two releases really are is Williamson half way there. It took a chance meeting with Andrew Fearn to get to where we are on TCR. I’m glad I bought it. I'm glad I went to the gigs. I'm glad Geoff Travis didn't pull it for the swearing, instead he gave it a big rubber stamp seal of approval and released it in to the world so that we could all enjoy it. See you at the back behind the mixing desk.


Rough Trade




Harbinger Sound






Wednesday, November 02, 2016

CAM




CAM - True or False?
Skrat Records.
LP/DL SKR-021.



There was a time in my life when the words ‘Danish Improv’ meant a shiver down the spine and a flick of the page and I get the feeling that there may be those amongst you who are feeling that same way right now but don’t go, please, this is special. Very special.

CAM is an acronym made from the first letter of the Christian name of each member of the group; Claus Poulsen, Anders Børup and the magnificently monikered Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau. Yes they are Danish, yes they have a background in noise, experimentation, field recordings [and in Børup’s case with ‘rocket launch orchestras’ - you learn something new everyday] and yes they know their way around a studio.

Which is where these eleven tracks were recorded between November 2014 and January 2015. Now remember it gets very cold in Denmark during the winter months and although these gentlemen are no doubt used to the drop in temperature there may have been something that kept them in that studio those three months and it may have been the cold outside or it may have been that they knew that they were on to something for these are remarkable recordings and not of the kind I come across too often.

Maybe this is because CAM are blurring the boundaries between improv and composition? If I didn’t know any better I’d say that these tracks weren’t improv at all which makes the results all the more remarkable and no they’re not using a drum, piano, sax set up: Poulsen is credited with samples, controller, guitar, trumpet, records, bass, Børup with vocals, computer, drums, harmonica, Paluszewski-Hau with bass, clarinet, electronic feedback, sampler and kalimba [thumb piano] and when they put all this together you get tracks that weave the work of Brighton dance absurdists Wevie Stonder, cut up merchants Broken Penis Orchestra, Jap synth god Tomita, Jim O’Rourke, Smegma and late era Kraftwerk.

The mood is definitely European in its sensibilities. The sheer swathe of samples and the cool air of ‘yeah we know what we’re doing’ couldn’t have come from anywhere but. On ‘Mirror Confrontations’ a languid bass guitar and the electric whip of the wind outside are the framework upon which Børup intones vocoder like, a sea of burbles and bleeps meandering through and around, a track that feels like a confession made from the bottom of a well crammed with studio gear. Drum & Bass samples are littered throughout, ‘Ghost’ has some turntable scratching, a wonky sax solo and a lolloping rhythm that is part Bonzo’s. The title track carries all manner of American 50’s samples relating to sex, ‘Coming to America’ is where they show off their noise credentials with guitar feedback and wild drums, ‘Jean Palle’ the track that follows it has that floating in space feel, Tomita swooshes, Space Invader kills, an empty milk bottle getting knocked off the doorstep and Neil Armstrong’s most famous quote. The KLF couldn’t have done it any better.

And this is all improv of course. This is what you have to keep reminding yourself.

Every time I revisited ‘True of False?’, mainly on the LP, because, y’know, just because, I felt both recognition and delight in the welcome of something new. Such is the myriad of samples and nuances you could listen to this for hours, days, weeks and only then would you have worn it out. Who could resist a band that puts out an album of delicious improv, with a great sleeve art and a track called ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’? [‘rock n roll is popular with the teenagers’ said in English by a lady from Japan against some skittery, doomy d&b]. Not me.


http://skratrecords.com/

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Venusian Death Cell





Venusian Death Cell - Collection of Horror
No label CDR.


If there is such a thing as Death Metal Improv it lives within the confines of Venusian Death Cell and its one man creator David Vora. For whatever mental image you have in your head when you think of Heavy Metal it would not be like this. This is Metal played by a junked up Derek Bailey, a Tony Oxley with one arm tied behind his back and only Quality Street tins for percussion, a Samuel Beckett on croaky vocals [sorry ‘Vokills’].

David Vora is the man and the only man, behind Irish Metal project/band Venusian Death Cell. He’s been sending me his work on and off for years, always with the same hand drawn covers on lined notepaper, all with track titles like ‘Choking’ and ‘Solid’, all of it sounding like it was recorded straight to condenser mic on a 1970’s Hitachi radio/cassette player. He’s been quiet of late. Not heard from him in nearly ten years. And then this turns up and its just like every other Venusian Death Cell release I’ve received which in case you were wondering, is a good thing. Just as I rate the Bongoleeros as the worlds best Rock ‘n’ Roll band I rate Venusian Death Cell the worlds greatest Heavy Metal band. Or Death Metal band, or Death Metal Improv band or whatever it is. This isn’t easy you see. There’s nobody else sounds like Venusian Death Cell. The man is unique.

Previous VDC outings has seen Vora sing the word Halloween over and over again on the a cappella track ‘Halloween’, he’s been known to use samples from horror films and failed to edit out the stop/start sounds that the tape player he was using makes. He sings in a mournful Irish accent usually against a clatter of jagged sounding rough guitars and drums that contain but the merest hint of rhythm. It is wonderful.

Top tracks here are ‘Hearty’ in which a discordant battle takes place between instrument and vokills, ‘Suffocation’ in which a discordant battle takes place between instrument and vokills and ‘Squander’ in which a discordant battle takes place between instrument and vokills. Not every track is a discordant battle between instrument and vokills though, the track ‘Schizo’ sees Vora read out the various synonyms relating to schizophrenia straight in to the microphone with just a hint of echo. His lyrics are quite touching too and not something you’d normally associate with Metal. There are but eight tracks though and its all over in twenty minutes.

Vora credits himself with: ‘LYRICS, VOKILLS, HELLBEATS, AXE, PRODUCTION’ before telling us to ‘BEWARE OF THIS COLLECTION OF HORROR!!! It was Halloween yesterday after all and with that thought lingering I search Youtube for rare Venusian Death Cell outings and hope that the next release isn't as long in arriving.



Contact: davidvora10 [at] hotmail.com