Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Julian Bradley & Neil Campbell - For Lila O
CDR/DL. No label.
Stuart Chalmers and Neil Campbell - In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool.
CDR/DL. No Label.
Have you heard the Scott Walker/Sunn O))) collaboration? Did they do it just do it to fuck everybody off? Did any serious Sunn O))) fan think Scott Walker was the man to take the band in a different direction, give them a new lease of life? Was there a Sunn O))) fan who’d ever heard of Scott Walker? Is Scott Walker a Sunn O))) fan? Maybe he likes nothing more than listening to Sunn O))) thinking to himself, ‘you know what I’d love to make an album with these guys ... and if they’re not available I’m going to ask Boris or Diamanda Galas or Robert Wyatt’. Maybe Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson are big Scott Walker fans? Fans of warbling in a ridiculous voice that makes no sense? Maybe they wanted to do an album with Truman Capote but he was dead so they went for the next best thing.
Collaborations [or ‘feat’ as they call them in the singles chart these days] can be hit and miss affairs and not just in singles land. Stuart Chalmers recent collaboration with YOL
didn’t exactly run through the gears; a one man Tourettes machine hitting and clanging things coupled to someone more at home with loops, samples and swarmandals. But you kind of new that the destined to happen Campbell/Chalmers collaboration was going to be a far more settled affair.
My only fear with collaborations is that one artist occludes the other or the styles don’t mix [see above] an oil and water situation. Instead of an emulsion you have bits floating about and nobody likes bits.
There are moments on SC/NC when you get the feeling that SC is doing his best to be heard but thats a small complaint from whats a stonking meeting of minds. Chalmers use of looping samples [Reversing Pool. Gedditt?] are to the fore on second track ‘Deep in the Reversing Pool’ with Campbell’s clattering beats holding together the cacophonous reverse loop of a sample of snatched vocal. Think Nurse with Wounds ‘Rockette Morton’ given a blast with the Kircher. Pick of the bunch is ‘Slipping Slipping’ with Campbell’s trademark electric guitar going backwards forming lumps of molten lava that trickle all the way down the mountain of Chalmers looping loop of someone singing ‘slip, slipping away’. The fit is perfect, the mood one of being wrapped in a morphine drenched blanket. Next track ‘Detritus of an Old Bank’ clangs along like a Joe Jones machine, a-clapping and a-flapping and a-banging, an out of control fight to the death between people armed with teaspoons, knitting needles and finger cymbals. ‘Migrating Dirge’ is just that, wheezy Melodica, coughing, clanking, someone speaking in voices. A match made in heaven or Leeds or Bradford.
Bradley and Campbell have collaborated before but its so long ago I cant remember what it sounded like. I have one of them here, buried in a box somewhere. No doubt recorded in Leeds or Brighton after too many beers when the peak was peaking and the mood was just right.
Apparently commissioned by John Olson who was heard to comment that there wasn’t enough Campbell/Bradley collaborations on the planet ‘For Lila O’ weaves between full on two chord organ swirl jams to early sunrise beatific orgasms to gentle guitar strum. The two key tracks lie in the middle of the thing; ‘Giants in the Electric Nativity’ and ‘How to Wear a New Watch’ are ten minute drifts, sonorous and deep away with the fairies music, heady vibes. The first a loose warp on the chip out to the Stones ‘Sympathy’ as played by Sun Ra with his hands tied behind his back, Richards wonky guitar solo replaced with key clusters and wooing sounds. The latter, an eternal lift off, an ebbing tide of softly strummed electric guitar, the gentle burble of electronic streams. I doubt there’ll be any complaints from Olson. The rest aint too shabby either with ‘Budget Fashion Holiday’ sounding like the credits to a 60’s BBC programme about electronic music and ‘Cosmic Looking Twin’ two minutes of random fizz. Chip out track ‘Now and Future Drenchings’ is the calmest of waters, a bucolic English countryside with birds and breezes and more gentle strumming and burbles. The perfect antidote to anything Scott Walker get his hands on.
Friday, July 14, 2017
The New Movement - Theory of Nothing
White vinyl LP. 100 copies.
TNM019. CD. 50 Copies.
The New Movement and Bookwar - Antipati
Bookwar Records BK52. 7” lathe cut clear vinyl.
The New Blockaders & Kommissar Hjuler - Karawane I & II
Obskyr Records OB008. Picture disc. 100 copies.
Hate Poem & Depletion/Audiorcist
Hate Poem Self-Released Split Series LP. HPS012
Demons That Drove - Pigpusher
Obskyr Records. OB006 2 X CD. 36 copies.
Step Further Away - A Distortion of the Senses.
Obskyr Records. OB004 CD. 50 copies.
The New Blockaders. The New Movement. The former; Dada inspired sonic nihilists for whom the destruction of everything and the rejection of everything is just a starting point. The latter … are ... what? acolytes, side project, covers band?
Exhibit A; The New Movement LP/12” ‘Theory of Nothing’. As an artistic statement its as good as you will find; heavy duty white vinyl, cream labels, heavy duty sleeve, minimalist lowercase text, one side plays 45 the other 33. It has class written all over it. Then theres that male figure with the word ‘ANTI’ writ huge across the midriff. A figure dressed in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, balaclava ... hang on a minute ... When you play it the sounds are pure TNB. Things being broken, things being smashed. All in glorious sensuround stereo. It sounds good. It feels good. I like the sound of things being broken. But can I tell The New Movement and The New Blockaders apart? No. On a blind listen I’d say that even the keen ears of a quality noise producer would struggle to tell the difference. Perhaps there is no difference. Perhaps they just swap each others material around. Just for the laughs. Then again.
Do we need two TNB’s? Probably not. I dare say that one TNB is enough for some and too much for many. Well we haven’t got two TNB’s. We’ve got one and they live in Newcastle while The New Movement live in Sweden. Where the cross pollination comes in I know not but there it is, it does exist. The New Movement are Kenny Johansson and Tony Eriksson. Johansson runs Obskyr Reords. Its him I have to thank for this huge pile of noise and my confused state of mind.
They’ve collaborated of course. At least once to my knowledge on a hand made release that contained a cassette inside a toy piano, in an edition of one that went for an eye watering amount of money on eBay to a no doubt totally insane TNB completeist. But that's not in this package. ‘Theory of Nothing’ is THE release here though. The pick of the bunch. Any TNB fan will cream their pants upon hearing it. The A side is a studio workout, all squeaky metal, constant crashing, biscuit tins full of rusty nails getting chucked about. Not TNB’s first LP but not far off either. The flip is two live tracks as recorded recently in Sweden. Maybe a tad faster than a TNB recording. Put it down to nerves. The results are pretty much the same. Especially on the first track. On the second a wind up gramophone needle finds itself stuck in the run off groove of an old shellac disc as further lumps of metal and electronic gadgetry are bashed in to different shapes.
TNB do appear on an eyeboggling picture disc with fellow absurdist Kommissar Hjuler. An epic release and not just because it seems to last for as long as the limits of the vinyl will allow it. A live recording of a piano being destroyed. There’s wood snapping, keys being hit, someone singing a ridiculous falsetto [Hjuler?] and clucking like a chicken, wheezy accordions, bottles being rattled, electric drills, mad cackling laughter, the sound of a distraught participant. People can be heard talking in between the hammer blows and laughing at the absurdity of it it all. The whole piece seems to rise to a crescendo at one point before slowly making its way back to those first, solitary hammer blows. A symphony of the absurd. The joyous sound of things being smashed to bits. Released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dada and dedicated to Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara. I’m sure they’d be immensely proud.
So what of the rest? The collaboration between TNM and Russian synth trio Bookwar on the 7” lathe, had me checking whether my needle had been collecting dust for the last two weeks. Nothing but murk, buried Russian vocals and things being hit. The split CD at least gives you a chance to hear them and sometimes it works but mostly it doesn’t. I’m all for ranting in Russian, especially when there’s lots of synths around but synth drums? If anything dates a record its synth drums and this was recorded last year. All live tracks, the best being the longer 11 minute work out where you can really get your head in to the zone. The two TNM tracks are good too, piercing feedback, high pressure water hose hitting the bottom of a galvanized bucket. Yeah but synth drums?
Kenny Johansson turns up as one half of Hate Poem & Depletion on the split with Audiorcist and an instantly forgettable slice of workmanlike noise it is too. A lo-fi live recording containing a wordless cover of TG’s Discipline. A lo-fi recording that you cant help thinking would have been better left on the master tapes. Unless you’re in to lo-fi poor quality noise gigs that is, where everything is in the middle and all the dynamics have been shrunk to tiny testicles. The split does introduce us to Krister Bergman who is both Audiocrist, Demons That Drove and Step Further Away. Audiocrist, Demons That Drove displaying quality Power Electronics while Step Further Away moves more into Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works II territory. The two Audiocrist tracks are full on hypnotic churning noise, wailing vocals, early Smell & Quim muck buried in a leaky nightsoil bucket. Pigpusher, originally released on the American Black Noise label and here getting the 10th Anniversary treatment [with the addition of five tracks of, I’m assuming, new stuff], is solid too with Bergman not afraid to leave behind the noise in favour of more Industrial Ambient workouts as on the soundtrack-esque Cadaver Carnival. His PE work is terrific though, ‘Showtime’ is the madman’s confession delivered through a blizzard of noise and the kind of track, that when encountered out of the blue, makes it all the more delicious. Of course Step Further Away isn’t in the same league as Aphex Twin but that doesn’t mean that this hour long ambient trip through empty factories isn’t without merit. Its low key mood, its randomly struck scaffolding poles, dripping water and feeling of dank, dark places is enough to turn any comfortable living space into a chilling dystopian landscape.
Obskyr is Swedish for obscure which is what Krister Bergman is. I found four tracks of Cocteau-ish acoustic tracks on Bandcamp and that was it. Maybe that's him in the balaclava?
Sunday, July 09, 2017
D. Coelacanth - Tony Eats Screws
CDR - No label.
Me and Mrs. Fisher were in Paxos doing our best to help out the Greek economy. Bleeding euros everywhere we went, trying to stay cool in the 40C afternoons. Its a small island, 2,500 people and about the same number of cats. Most of them are lazy and skinny with the heat. The cats of course.
We eat every meal al fresco and drink too much white wine and three star Metaxa. The Retsina's four euros a bucket but you don’t want to go there. The foods pretty good too; spanokopita, fresh fish, Greek salads, great bread. Then there’s the buns and and the cakes. We come back light on euros but heavy on the pounds.
One lunchtime, still early, the hot coals rising from a charcoal pit of the Taka Taka Taverna we’re sat under a shady tree ordering food and drinking wine when someone shoves a clear plastic bag in my hand.
‘You write about noise. I know’.
The face is half familiar but the reflective sunglasses aren’t helping. Five foot something, Ramones T-shirt. Strange accent. Nice tan. Must’ve been here for a while. Maybe a resident? An exile? An expat maybe? Maybe the bass player out of Dire Straits?
I look down at the CD’s. A plain cover with D. COELACANTH on one side and TONY EATS SCREWS on the other.
When I look up he’s gone.
‘Which way did he go?’ I ask but Mrs. Fisher’s been feeding a cat.
‘What are those?’ she says.
‘CD’s’ I say ‘ D. Coelacanth’.
‘I have no idea’.
We’re in a villa on the edge of Gaios. Ionian Sea, ships masts, Parga in the distance. The villa’s on two floors, sleeping downstairs, all the rest up. Its big and virtually empty. The cheap shit music system blasts out D. COELACANTH and fills the empty space with random Dictaphone musings, words, scuzz, American 50’s radio plays, a half familiar voice, a menacing voice saying ‘Tony Eats Screws’.
I wish I could rip it to the iPod so I could wander the crumbling metalled roads and olive groves with it. A bottle of ouzo and water, mixed and chilled, me sweating and delirious, lost, getting bitten by mosquitoes, late at night, disorientated, unable to compose thoughts or stagger in a straight line. Until a local finds me and sits me by the side of an ancient cistern and pours strong Greek coffee down my neck, grounds and all.
He takes me back to the villa. D. Coelacanth is still playing. Maybe its looped? No, Mrs. Fisher has been playing it non-stop since I left. I’ve been gone four hours. It’s 2 a.m. The air temperature is perfect at this time of day. Outside cicadas grate away. Inside Tony eats screws.
Whats it like I ask her? She starts gibbering. I thought she’d been on the Metaxa but no, she’d been stood stock still since I left. Hardly moved from spot. The spot where the sounds, these sounds, this voice echoes around the empty space.
‘Its like being trapped in the mind of a madman’ she says ‘he’s talking to me all the time, he never shuts up’.
We stand side by side and listened together more closely. There’s burping, coughing, the speaking of lines from horror films, words, more and more words, words, lots of them, a never ending stream of them, short sentences, ‘desperate eyes at the funeral’, ‘strange perversions of boppers corner’, ‘with his hand in his sisters pocket’, ‘what a horrible pickle to be in’, ‘listen to the steroids’. Some words are cut off mid sentence, ‘Tony eats’, ‘destruction of’, everything covered in scuzz, drowned in mud, smeared in dirt and chopped in to three second fragments, fragments of songs and classical music but always, always that voice. Menacing, rambling, never stopping, sucking words in and spitting them out with lips close to the condenser mic of a Dictaphone. Poetry of the mad. Prose of the perverted.
I did some digging around. I had to dig deep. Turns out there’s a Greek Dictaphone scene. Whodathunkit. Top of the tree is a guy called Tony Moto. Must have been him that gave me the CD’s. Maybe its him that eats the screws? I guess it couldn’t have been anybody else. But how did he know I was here? On Paxos. In Greece itself? As far as I know I hadn’t left any social media traces. A few close associates in the West Riding knew I was here. Maybe theres a link to that Posset/Chalmers/BBBlood gig in Bradford? A slender thread that links the Dictaphone machinations of Posset and Tony Moto? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never know. I have better thing to do right now. Salad to toss. Leaves to tear. Wine to uncork. The Greeks make some rather good wine on the quiet. It needs seeking out though. Just like Tony Moto.
Monday, June 19, 2017
Bradford Fuse Arts Space
17th June 2017
At the gigs end I’m talking to Campbell when Stuart Chalmers comes up and hands each of us a small slip of paper. We looked at each other nonplussed. ‘Its tonights gig’ says Chalmers. We looked at each other nonplussed again. ‘You’ll be able to download it in the morning’ says Chalmers. We look at each other nonplussed for the final time as it dawns on us that we can download the gig we’ve just attended. I look at Campbell and he looks at me and our jaws drop slightly. Kin hell.
Maybe its an age thing. Once upon a time you’d come across shabbily recorded cassettes of gigs you’d been to and bought them dutifully and if you were lucky they’d contain some semblance of musical fidelity but in most instance they sounded like they’d been recorded using iron filings, nails and a biscuit tin. Some people even went to the trouble of putting them on to vinyl but the results were pretty much the same, a decent gig with a shitty sound.
Its a hot and sultry night in Bradford and theres more people outside the Sparrow Cafe than in so I find a quiet seat where a gentle breeze coming in through the door wafts my paper, a pint and the paper and the crossword that I cant fathom and there’s ladies wandering about covered in half a square meter of netting, huge wobbly lines of them up and down Hustlergate, gangs of them pre loaded and ready to roll.
The Fuse Artspace is but one room with two windows facing the outside world. The last time I was here was to see Stuart Chalmers, then winter and blowing with rain, coats kept on to keep the warmth in and the wet out. Now its the fag end of the first day of a heatwave and inside its a temperature conducive to drinking beer which, judging by some of the bright red faces on show seems to be the case. Its a mainly male affair [‘almost a sausage fest’ says the Bearded Wonder] and a group of about 25 and we’re here to celebrate Crow Versus Crow’s ‘Delirium Cutlet Impaste’ of which the three artists appearing tonight were all a part of and of which I waxed lyrical not so many moons ago.
Delirium Cutlet Impaste brought together three people who for want of a better acronym wander around under the brolly that is the RFM NAU, thats the Radio Free Midwich No Audience Underground to give it its full title. That crawlspace that exists beneath the house that is all the rest of the music in the world. It is a small audience but that doesn’t mean the sounds produced tonight aren’t deserving of a wider audience.
Posset, a.k.a. Joe Murray has a poem he wants to recite but has instead committed it to tape which is fine by me and no doubt everybody else in the room. His well enunciated poem is a stream of seemingly unconnected words soon the subject of half pressed fast forward and reverse buttons. Posset works plenty of tapes around his set up, small ones and big ones creating a distinct Posettian sound, that is half formed words, coughs, throat clearings, whispers of tape whizzed forward and back, the nighttime mutterings of the bedridden, EVP culled from the magnetic dust on crumbling cassette tape, the ghostly chains of wandering spirits. I’m quite certain I can hear Murray calling a cat called ‘Chum’ as a fatally wounded dinosaur breathes its last. Enigmatic, delicate, mysterious and and deserving of Dictaphone sponsorship.
Stuart Chalmers gives the night its longest set. Swapping his swarmandal for plenty of boxes and some pretty fairy lights he soon has the room locked in a bout of synchronized head nodding. I’m assuming. I’m sat on the front row right next to the Bearded Wonder who, as his is wont, is deep within his own, away with the lights as Chalmers fractures a loop that reverbs itself into its own kind of summers night fractal. Twenty five minutes of it and maybe a taster of that collaboration with Campbell thats just hit the ether [and my hand].The deeper it goes the more complex it becomes, building ever more unstable structures until it plateaus and settles in to a series of chiming out of synch church bells and sawing scaffold poles. Clangourous, head ringing, bells and cacophony and drone and harmony.
Paul Watson [a.k.a. BBBlood] has dragged himself up from London with a Fidget Spinner in his pocket which he tries to incorporate in to his twenty minute set of noise roars with, so I’m later told, limited success. Fidget Spinner Noise. Keep the ADHD noise jerk in your house occupied as they continue to fill the hard drive of an iMac with ear splatter.
I’ve never been disappointed with a live BBBlood set and tonight is no exception. Listening back to it now [yes, I know, exciting isn’t it] in the discomfort of my humid man cave I find sounds that on first hearing passed me by; amid the crumbling edifices and sea bed explosions lie frequencies taken from the upper reaches of Jodrell Bank, transmissions from Mars and maybe a Fidget Spinner hitting an old baccy tin containing a contact mic and a few Japanese coins.
Its still hot. I’m still thinking about Saturday night. It was a good night for the sausages.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Franz Kafka - Rapport À Une Académie
Nurse With Wound - Kafka’s Parachute
Lenka Lente. Book + 3”CD
ISBN - 979-10-94601-15-0
A few weeks ago I came across Satoshi Takeishi and his compositions for a soundtrack to a film version of Kafka’s extraordinary novel 'The Trial'. Its a pretty good soundtrack too in a low oscillating synthwaves kind of way. I dare say it’ll work well with the film and in some respects it wouldn’t go amiss as music to listen to whilst reading the book. I read The Trial while on holiday in Goa years ago when I should have been reading it sat in a Prague cafe drinking absinthe. Such is the power of the book I soon forgot that it was 35C with 95% humidity and I was in that dark, claustrophobic place that Kafka conjures like no other. The Trial is a remarkable novel and Kafka a remarkable writer, all this made all the more remarkable for the fact that he published next to nothing during his lifetime and left in his will demands that all his work be destroyed.
Then last week I watched The Insurance Man. Alan Bennett’s play about Kafka’s position in the seemingly surreal and incomprehensible insurance company for which he worked and the companies determination not to pay out at any cost. Daniel Day-Lewis played Kafka and Bernard Wrigley played a workman. The one and only time those two names will ever appear on the screen together. His work will live on forever. But probably not Wrigley's.
Rapport À Une Académie arrives with a PDF of an English translation courtesy of Lenka Lente as the text here is once again in French. Its the story of an ape who escapes his captors by adopting human traits and becomes so successful that it makes a living in music halls. An analogy for the assimilation of Jews in to society or something deeper perhaps? Typical Kafka.
Not that all his books are as easy to read as The Trial. Last year I picked up The Castle and after a hundred pages I felt as if I’d been sent into a dark maze from which there was no escape. Which is exactly what Kafka would have wanted. Once my stamina is back to where I want it I’m going to give it another crack.
On the CD we have an exclusive track by Nurse with Wound. Here as a six piece and a line up that includes Stapleton, Potter, Liles, Waldron, Quentin Rollet and on ‘words’ the enigmatic It Could Be Worse. Those words being Lewis Carroll Jabberwoccky-esque nonsense words as spoken by an overenthusiastic spell-casting Catweazle. Its such a good track it had me disappearing down the Nurse worm hole for a week reliving all those classic albums and shaking your head in wonderment as to just how good Nurse With Wound can be. Eventually It Could Be Worse’s words end up in a loop as bats fly and owls screech and goblins groan before it all goes surreal New Orleans trad band gone wrong with messy tape and toy squeaks and duck calls and shaved guitar strings.
I did eventually make it to Prague and of course, the Franz Kafka Museum. My memories of it are of a room full of Bakelite telephones that rang randomly and a bizarre water fountain consisting of two male figures, face on in a pool, swiveling at the hips, streams of water issuing forth from their members and landing at their feet. What Kafka would make of such things we can only guess at.
Monday, June 05, 2017
Dieter Müh - Feeling a Little Horse
EE Tapes. EE35. CD in 7” sleeve w/4 cards. 150 copies.
Dieter Müh - Eponymous
Sentimental Productions LP. White vinyl. 150 copies.
Sometime in the late 90’s I received a cassette from Dieter Müh’s Steve Cammack that contained within it unreleased Panasonic recordings. As they were known before the Japanese electrical giant got all upset the result being the dropping of the ‘a’ and thus Pan Sonic, [a case of corporate bullying that probably worked in their favour]. I’d not had a letter from Steve Cammack before but knew that he was one half of Dieter Müh whose release ‘Feeling a Little Horse’ I’d recently bought from Mick McDaid, the man behind Lincoln’s The Mouth Label. Panasonic were signed to Finnish label Sähkö, Mick knew I was a fan and passed on my details to Steve. Thanks to a recent edition of Steve’s excellent Radio Muhmur show I discovered that the then other half of Dieter Müh, Dave Uden, had got to know Mika Vainio, one half of Panasonic, via the Bill Nelson Fan Club and had been given the cassette of unreleased recordings by Vainio. This was the cassette I now had in my possession. I think at the time I squealed like a little girl and danced about until my legs hurt. About three years ago the tape went the way of all tapes in what has become known as the ‘Great Tape Cull of 2014’ where a huge box containing about 500 of the things disappeared in to the boot of Andy Jarvis’s car at a gig and thence to the Filthy Turd who no doubt smeared his muck all over them.
Mika Vainio didn’t survive 2017. He died in April aged 53. The same age as me and to say I was saddened doesn’t really cover it.
Panasonic and Vainio’s solo project ‘∅’ and most of the Sähkö catalogue at that time contained sounds created purely from analogue equipment. There’s was a sound austere, controlled, bleak, outer space empty, with woofer popping blats of seriously stark, surgically clean rhythms that grabbed your attention and made you fear for your speakers. Turn it up loud enough and you could make your curtains flutter. The perfect kind of music to emerge from a frozen Finnish landscape.
After what feels like a very long time its good to hear ‘Feeling a Little Horse’ again. It takes me back to those days of getting blind drunk in Lincoln after thinking it was a good idea to start drinking straight off the train at 11.30 in the morning. After Mick’s initial fifteen copies of ‘Feeling …’ disappeared it went to a French label who for reasons we’ll never know did nothing with it and thence to EE Tapes in Belgium who have done a sterling job of recreating the original artwork and putting it within a seven inch sleeve.
Regular readers will know that Dieter Müh are firm favourites here. I don’t know if Industrial Ambient is a certified genre or whether I made it up or I read it somewhere but its the term that I always use in conjunction with them. A heady stew of samples culled from porn films, atrocity videos and Ingmar Bergman films cut into noise loops, drones and crunching ritual rhythms. All this to the fore on the 37 minute long titular track that is a live improvised performance as laid down at the the Nottingham Old Vic in 1998. It passes by like the Death Star blasting Column One from deep within its bowels; crumbling noise, soaring diva like climaxes and those unsettling vocal samples. Being an early Dieter Müh release it lacks the finesse of the pairs later workouts where bowl rings, ethnic rhythms and Enochian invocations were incorporated but that rough sound certainly carries a punch. Around the halfway mark everything runs to almost silence and the words ‘God is dead’ are ominously spoken, a portentous moment and one that left me cowering behind the sofa. Not many bands have the power to do this.
EE have added a further three tracks, ; ‘Mühz’, ‘s.o.l.a.s.’, and the twelve minute long ‘Whorle’ all pulled from obscure comps, all from the same era and all fine additions with the twelve minute Whorle standing proudest with a full on head buzzing drone roar.
When ‘Eponymous’ eventually appeared four years later on the French label Naninani Recordings [103 hand numbered copies] their sound had refined itself somewhat; from rough noise loops to a denser more claustrophobic sound. The loops are still there but they’re sedate, unhurried, the grinding of bones into a tin funnel. We start with intermittent sunspot activity before the crack of a whip and an infants wail. ‘Monika Has a Throat’ has tortured moans and male orgasms, ominous drones, whispered demons. ‘Dumhome' proceeds at a slug like pace, a slowed-down ethnic drum rhythm while ‘R.I.P. 5’, ‘E.Coli Tsar and ‘Sebel’ are the degrading hum of dark machinery, last track ‘Anhosta’ is the emphysemic scrapings of slowly spun ridged pipe, its hollow whistle met with short blurts of static noise.
Ukrainian label Sentimental Productions have done an excellent job of making Eponymous a worthy reissue but its a pity that the limits of vinyl means a 14 minute track on the original has to be lost. No doubt to make up for this loss Sentimental have made 20 copies of Eponymous available in a black wooden box, each one containing an ‘elixir’. I’ll drink to that.
[A few copies of Eponymous still reside at Cammack Towers. Get in touch via the email below should you feel the need]
muhmur.radio [at] gmail.com
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Casino Sordide
Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Occupy Infantry
Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Cavoli Riscaldati
Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - The Armless Marvel
Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Harvester of Eyes
Lawrence Crane - Craniostomy 1981-1987 Vol One.
The Viper - Art For Pain’s Sake
The Tenses + Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Daughter of the Boot
Chocolate Monk. CHOC352. CD 80 copies.
Stefan Jaworzyn, Dylan Nyoukis & S. Glass - My Disgusting Heart
Chocolate Monk. CHOC353. CD 80 copies.
Receiving a well stuffed jiffy bag containing these head lifting potions makes me feel like I’ve signed up to one of those funky new subscription services whereby every so often a package appears on your doorstep containing a brand spanking new LP except that instead of a reissue of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory I’m getting eight and a half hours worth of total mind melt. Forget Life on Mars and Changes how about we put everything in a felt bag and smash it to pieces with the round end of a ball pein hammer until there’s nothing left but a million bits which we mix with glue and slather all over a Boots own brand ferric C120 blindfolded until we’ve got something that’s halfway between the five minute period after the big bang and the day John Lee Hooker bust his strings on the Oprah show.
The Butte County Free Music Society stands shoulder to lopsided shoulder with The Los Angeles Free Music Society as the standard bearers for all that is odd, wonky and ill fitting in the United States of America. Put a pen on a map and draw a line between the two and you’ll find it crosses boundaries that include primitive noise, junk yard improv, toy shop clatter, surf twang, tape abuse, music concrẻte, found sounds, pure experimentation … its an endless list. Don’t even bother trying. There’s plenty of gloop this side of the pond too but the port of entry is Chocolate Monk through whom, every so often, these jiffy bags appear.
The last gathering of BUFMS and Chocolate Monk saw me through a particularly miserable and wet Christmas period. Long term immersion in to such worlds is blessed relief from whatever is going on outdoors and its an approach I can wholeheartedly recommend. I did the same with this particular bunch, jotting down the occasional note but in the main being blissfully unaware that another hour had passed in the company of people making music like no others.
The BUFMS approach is, as ever, a meticulous one; each CD arrives in a wrap around sleeves, there’s usually some kind of ‘present’ inside; a bandage, a photograph, the unused centers from an LP pressing. The artwork is top drawer too [Karen Constance if you're lucky] all looking like its had hours rather than minutes spent on it. And then you put one in to a CD player. Which is where your head starts to go all funny.
According to the press release, the three Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble releases that are Casino Sordide, Occupy Infantry and Cavoli Riscaldati are all part of an interconnected trilogy, which means there must be some kind of link between self help cassettes and a squeaky kettle lid. When they say that the 26 minute long ‘Erika’s Last Day’ [the central track from Occupy Infantry] was recorded in a closet with the help of a credit card machine with newest member ‘Count Darkula raking a window to nowhere’ you have to believe them. That Bren’t Lewiis aren’t afraid to stretch their work out to and past the half hour mark is to their credit too. Each of these and The Armless Marvel contain works that do that effortlessly. Cavoli Riscaldati contains two tracks each a heady half hours worth of tape wobble, the sounds of revving motorbikes, plastic squeak, hum, murk and boiling fizz. The 56 tracks that make up Harvester Eyes [cannibalism a seemingly favourite BUFMS trope] are collection of spoof TV ads [Monoxidown - ‘I was enjoying my life but that had to stop’], a group of kids playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy very badly, TV show samples, multiple voices, furniture moving and approximately eight million quick edits that make this the aural equivalent of channel hopping in America while playing multiple records and cassettes. I think I even detected a snippet of Michael Aspel who must have been on holiday at the time. The half hour improv track on The Armless Marvel is ‘Panicked Alligator Gagging on a Canoe Paddle’. The last track is a collection of symbols from the character map and [Subcutaneous Mix] all recorded by The City Councilman, Lucian Tielens, The Viper, Lindy Lettuce, Tim Smyth and Gnarlos at the Residence Inn, Room 114 on the 15th of December. BLE are of course, a loose collective. Harvester Eyes sees all of the aforementioned joined by Tom Simpson, Joan of Art, Asskicker Bob, Silvia Kastel, Limphoma, Leroy Tick, Lily, Emmy Sofa, Sarah Doctor, Rob E, Babuna Virus, Lenore, Rocco, Emiko, Scott Williams and plain old Bryce.
Lawrence Crane and The Viper are trips into the archives that are shoeboxes under beds containing cassettes that nobody has heard in a very long time. Crane is particularly interesting; discovering the delights of overdubbing while amassing an array of instrumentation such as a keyboard-less analog synth, oscillator, delay, mixer, shortwave radio, toy piano, cop scanner and the audio input of his Commodore computer [and a shed load of other stuff judging from the inner sleeve] he created a kind of unclassifiable series of melodies that by 1983 had morphed in to the sort of synth tunes as found on early Kraftwerk albums. The man became a one man cassette factory, trading and shipping his work to like minded souls until one day he decided that was enough and junked everything into a skip. A decision he still regrets to this day.
The Viper [aka Richard Sterling Streeter] goes back even further, to 1978 and an untitled track where he hits things while growling and squeaking. Sort of like busking gone wrong but in a good way. ‘Ollidamra’ is indeed armadillo spelt backward and intoned by Streeter as some kind of invocation between snippets of Bach’s organ works, reversed tapes and records spun with index fingers to ridiculous speeds. ‘Dream of Glipnorf’ is an improvised duo effort featuring violin and electric guitar that develops into a 12 bar blues because they ran out of ideas.
So far, so far out. Its a feeling that never leaves you with BUFMS. Those Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble releases have such depth to them, such a life of their own, that you feel as if you could live in them. Play them again in a weeks time and a sort of recognition comes over you and a kind of familiarity but its as if they’ve grown new limbs, morphed in to something else whilst you’ve been away. Maybe the sleeves are tainted with spores that change the zeros and ones under the CD’s plastic layers. Maybe there’s invisible ink on the sleeves that only becomes apparent when you spit gut rot whisky on to them? Maybe they do have lives of their own. And what’s with the four slightly out of shape black squares? I guess we’ll never know.
On this side of the pond we find Chocolate Monk in the mid 300’s and two releases, one of which is a ‘it had to happen’ pairing of the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble and The Tenses. That means you get the delightful Oblivia and Ju Suk Reet Meate sitting down and standing up and moving about with Tielens, Kastel, Leroy Tick, Gnarlos and The City Councilman. Two thirty minute-ish tracks of very low key improv with trademark Oblivia vocal samples from records, wind up toys, shakers and someone pissing in to a galvanized bucket from ten paces. Bugle parps from Meate meet tinkles from tiny bells, lonesome horns, creaking furniture, tiny sounds that come here and go there all of it creating an atmosphere that fits in somewhere between a field recording made on the Congo Delta and the lost property department of Amtrak. The second track ‘Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance’ is if anything even lower key, gentle mutterings, someone hitting a xylophone with balls of cotton wool, snatches of theremin, air escaping from the bottom of a demijohn, bicycle chains going through the gears, cymbals stroked with pieces of wire and under most of it the gentle wheeze of the lower keys of a fairground organ. All very muted and inits own strange way utterly compelling.
Seymour Glass’s hands waver over all of this like Uri Geller trying to finds the film canister with the marble in but its not until the last release here that we find his name. On paper it all sounds rather incongruous, guitar thraper/raper Jaworzyn, gob botherer Nyoukis and the ethereal Glass but rather than the mush I was expecting this is yet another fine low key slice of improv. The familiar Nyoukis brogue appears on On Dirty Owl Teat and with it some sliding about Jaworzyn twangs, we shall assume that Glass is the one mixing the pot like a witch stood at a cauldron chucking in the bats eyes and the newts tails. Last track ‘Gang Related Sneezing’ is silence/noise ying/yang the noise being snippets of reversed vocals and fuzz blurts the silence making for an odd juxtaposition. Its leaving makes for sadness. Opener ‘Frozen Tombs of Siberia’, the longest track by far of the four is Jaworzyn recorded in the room next door making a racket while fire bombs go off outside. When the Jaworzyn guitar does emerge its like Godzilla clearing his throat. When voices appear its through the haze of a UFO landing, strangled cries, muffled shouts, cows that need milking, the very faintest hint of rhythm as Jaworzyn hits a few strings that echo into the ether. These guys know what they’re doing. We should pay attention.
My time spent in Butte County has been a most profitable one. As has my time in Chocolate Monk land. Which I now see has sold out of both these items. I’m pretty sure they don’t do Bandcamp either. Adding to the mystery is the BUFMS Bandcamp page that offers its wares for stream and download but not all on yee physical format. They’re usually in 100 runs so maybe they’ve all sold out too. What price some kind of subscription service?