Wednesday, August 16, 2017

John Wall & Mark Durgan





John Wall & Mark Durgan - Contrapt
Harbinger Sound CD. Harbinger164.


I had to wait for the ears to clear before entering once more the world of Wall & Durgan. Its a world where Durgan mans the synths and Wall the computer. Durgan I’m familiar with. He doesn’t seem to release that much these days so any release with his name on that come this way is warmly welcome. John Wall not so, but according to the sleeve notes he’s credited with ‘computer/editing/arrangement and composition’, Durgan with ‘modular synthesiser and signal processing’. Contrapt being the distillation of three years worth of free improvisation between the two. Wall is, by all accounts, known for the severity of his editing. A man for whom the words ‘spare seconds’ have been eradicated from his vocabulary. Thus the results between the two are what you might call action packed. Action packed computer edited modular synthesizer signaled processed sounds. It's the only place to be.

Not having perfect hearing in both lug holes makes listening to the likes of this a waste of time. Its like walking around an art gallery with shades on, like reading only the even pages of Gravitys Rainbow, you kind of get the idea in both instances but not the true picture. Or sound. You might as well put your head in a washing machine and have someone hit it with hammers. Which is something that Durgan might well have done at some point but not on here. I realised things were going south hearing wise while listening to The Fall track ‘Bombast’, Hanley’s bass reduced to an impatient foot tap, weak and meagre gruel where once stood a stand pie and pickle. And then there was improvement. Did I tell you my ears were fucked? Oh yes. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. To use an optical metaphor. At first a light crackling inside the skull. Like eating popping candy with your mouth shut, sounds traveling up through the head. Light relief. Air escaping. A bit like Contrapt.

So I’m not going deaf after all. A slight tinnitus that becomes apparent when I sit in total silence. I’ve Jazkamer to thank for that. Its something I can live with.

I can live with Contrapt too. Each track a slowly dwindling set of letters ending in ‘Pt’ that are of a whole. Each track seeming to move on organically, one from the other. No large shift in sound from ‘Ntrapt’ to ‘Apt’. Tracks that are filled with the flutter of tiny bubbles, digital chatter, the processed sound of bicycle chain being dropped in to a Quality Street tin. ‘Trapt’ leans towards the noisier end of the scale with digital tape rapidly spooling by, exploding flash bulbs pops and the squiggle squirt of almost rhythm.

Being familiar with Durgan and not with Wall stands me in good stead, I can hear what Durgan’s doing and what Wall is doing to Durgan. If you pardon the expression. Durgan’s brushing of springs and coils signal processed and then no doubt processed again by Wall. All this processing means that most tracks flit by in a flurry of micro sounds. On ‘Rapt’ nothing sits for more than a second, whizzes, burrs, chirrups and electronic groans, with only last track [and longest at 12 minutes] ‘Pt’ finding some space and with it the most reflective, contemplative outing.

This convergence of modular synth and computer generated sounds has me rapt. An endlessly fascinating, revealing and rewarding listen. Especially if you have good ears.


  

http://harbingersound.bigcartel.com/

https://johnwall.bandcamp.com/album/contrapt

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Mostly Awful.










The Warp/The Weft - Mapping an Absence
Admirable Trait Records


I have friends who are fans of a band called Mostly Autumn. They play a kind of proggy folky sway in the breeze female singer never ending guitar solo rock that is the bastard offspring of Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd. Depending on which side of the fence you sit on its either inspiring, uplifting, soulful, dreamy folk rock, or the most turgid, soul destroying cliched crap ever recorded by human beings. Guess which side I sit on. Those in the know  call them Mostly Awful. I pray I never hear them again. Each to their own though. If we all liked the same thing blah blah blah blah blah blah. But still, it has to be said, there's plenty of shit out there in the big wide world.

For some reason vast megabits of it makes its way in to my inbox. Should the mood take me I investigate and if the label or the outfit sounds interesting or its of a style or genre that appeals I’ll take a cursory listen. If it has the words ‘rock’ or ‘folk’ or Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd in it I delete it instantly.

This week I got an email from The Warp/The Weft and in their press release were the words ‘chamber folk rock’. What the fuck, went my musically overloaded brain, could ‘chamber folk rock’ sound like? I couldn’t begin to make sense of it. So I did something I now regret. I followed the link in the email.

I saw a recent Twitter conversation in which Campbell [amongst others] bemoaned the lack of negative music reviews. Examples of excoriating reviews that were much the norm in the weekly music press back in the 80’s were given as evidence. The music press in the 80’s having a reputation of building bands up only to slag them off mercilessly should they dare to do anything other than play pubs to audiences of thirty people in provincial towns you were only vaguely aware of. Most of it was personal and unnecessary but it made good reading. The example given by Johnny Cigarettes was typical of the time and its something that not just me still misses.

The Bearded Wonder over at RFM has long since given up with the negative review, arguing that his creative energies are better employed extolling the virtues of all that is good in the world. Leave the rubbish to die its own natural death. Why waste time sticking it to the crappy noise CDR when you can be waxing lyrical about that gorgeous drone cassette that comes wrapped in a dried maple leaf, tied up with string, wax seal, ten copies only, filled with love and warmth. He has a very good point but then I clicked on that link and thought why the fuck not. Bands should think carefully before sending promotional emails to those they don’t know very well.    

I’ve not written a negative review for as long as I can remember. Along with the Bearded Wonder I gave them up too. Plenty of good stuff to be writing about. Why waste my time. But then I clicked on the link in that email.

So for the most part I ignore emails that begin with the words ‘Hey Idwal check out my new album. It contains ten songs that I wrote on the steps of a brownstone in Williamsburg on a battered guitar that I got in a thrift store for ten dollars and its classic singer songwriting songs with a Northern Cambodian twist’.

The email from The Warp/The Weft began with these words:

‘We write to introduce you to “Mapping an Absence,” a new album by The Warp/The Weft, a Poughkeepsie, NY-based band. The songs range from chamber folk rock to dark, haunted ballads, to sparkling psychedelia—all led by the riveting vocals of singer-songwriter Shane Murphy.’

So I went to the Bandcamp page where you can listen to Mapping an Absence and after about five seconds of a guitar picking intro a voice appeared the like of which I’ve never heard before nor ever wish to hear again. It sounded like someone reciting 16th century Italian poetry in a falsetto faux Irish accent. Imagine such a thing? The track in question was the opening track ‘A Welcoming of Owls’. Imagine such a track title. Can you even believe such a thing exists? As much as I hate Mostly Awful I’d rather sit through their entire discography on headphones with the volume on full, strapped in to a chair with no means of escape or toilet facilities than to suffer ever again the hideous thing that is the song about owls. I’m still not sure if this was the chamber folk rock song though. It was definitely not the sparkling psychedelia one. I’m guessing it was the haunted ballad. Its haunted me ever since.

What makes this all the more sad is that it is quite obvious that I have never and will never review such material. A cursory glance at the pages of Idwal Fisher will reveal to the casual reader a leaning towards the outer edges of our musical planet. The noisy bits that fall down the back of the settee if you will. Nowhere does it say ‘chamber folk rock reviewed here’. Its why The Warp/The Weft will probably never see this review. And yes I did listen to it all the way through, mostly with my jaw on my chest, shaking and jibbering like an idiot. Writing it all down and dissecting it may tip me into a foul mood the escape from which may take weeks. So I'm not even going there. I need to listen to something loud and hard and fast. Each to their own. Blah blah blah blah blah.



 

https://thewarptheweft.bandcamp.com/album/mapping-an-absence

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Mutton











Vampyres - Century Scars
Invisible City Records. ICR 34. Cassette/DL. 50 copies.

Death in Scarsdale - Ruminations
Invisible City Records. ICR 33. Cassette/DL. 43 copies.

Three Eyed Makara - Moonmilk Roof
Crow Versus Crow. CVC06. Cassette/DL. 100 copies.

Colony - Alocasia gardens
Crow Versus Crow. CVC05. Cassette/DL. 50 copies.

Stef Ketteringham - More Guitar Arrangements
Crow Versus Crow. Cassette/DL. 50 copies





I’ve just returned from the doctors having being told that I’m partially deaf in both ears. Which goes a long way to explaining why everything’s been sounding shit for the last month or so. The deafness is temporary.  An accumulation of hardened earwax, a thin veneer of catnip accumulated after being given some bad advice r.e. ear wax and aural canal hygiene. Don’t put anything bigger than your thumb in your ear I got told. Ears are self cleaning. The wax is there to protect your ear drum. And then I woke up one morning and couldn’t hear anything at all out of my left lug. A disorientating feeling. Like someones  banjoed you round the head and your face has gone all numb. Two years ago I got an abscess in my left ear. I’m ear cursed. For someone who likes listening to music I fear that my dotage will be filled with ear trumpets and large print books. The eyesights going too. Television with subtitles. All my music on eBay to help fund a bath chair. Don’t get old. Don’t get ill. 

Some would say that having a thin veneer of hardened wax snug to your eardrum would be of benefit when listening to noise. Especially on cassettes. And it is. A medium not known for its fidelity [though the digitally copied mass produced cassettes that appeared just as cassettes were dying out are an exception] is one of the best for listening to noise. So long as that noise had no fidelity to start with. Immersing yourself in a C90 of bad noise can have its benefits but that noise still has to have something about it. Something that passes for no-fi hippy noise trippy head mong psych noise. Something that you can travel with. Smell the Stench released lots of noise cassettes in this manner and though I hated most of them at the time [cheap covers, poorly dubbed, dozens arriving all at once, all total dumb noise overkill] you cant help but think that this approach has its merits. A certain punk-ness that a lot of todays noise orientated labels lack. Now its all 200gsm screen printed J-card inserts using four colour natural vegetable dyes and an instant link to the labels Discogs page. Mind you, all those shitty old Smell the Stench cassettes have long since gone the way of all flesh [except the Emil Beaulieau one] and the cassettes I get now have a certain uniform appeal. You can line them up on your shelf and in some instance you can even read the bands/project name on the spine. There’s something to be said for the clean lines of a bog standard two piece cassette box.

Vampyres are all lo-fi noise. Either that or the medical grade olive oil running around inside my head is ruining things. I doubt that Vampyres would benefit from higher fidelity. This works just fine. Old Skool Noise with a bit of drone thrown in for good measure. Four tracks, some of which are of the polar storm variety, some of which are of the screeching gadget box variety. I have no idea who Vampyres are but I’d stand in front of their table at one of their gigs with my thumbs in my belt loops and nod my head vigorously with no thought for my hearing at all.

Death in Scarsdale is the perfect moniker for a band/project making no-fi murk where nothing much happens in two times twenty minute bites. I imagine Scarsdale to be like it sounds; taps dripping, people talking in a barely audible mutter over murky crumbling drones that, on one side at least, appear as if they’re continually on the brink of collapsing into a mess of magnetic cassette crumbs. Birds are heard on side two, or a budgie in a cage, the domestic living room rendered dying room. Everything dead, breaking twigs, the crackle of a bonfire, damp leaf mulch underfoot. I swear I felt an involuntary shudder across my shoulders once each side. Perfect for that soggy October evening when the thought occurs to you that the weathers going to be shit for the next six months at least.

Those two releases were from Invisible City Records which is based in Newcastle and has given us the likes of Culver and Stuart Chalmers and Anla Courtis. All cassettes too if I’m not mistaken. Crow Versus Crow are based in Sowerby Bridge which isn’t too far from where I type this, its also the same place where Smell & Quim used to live and record. Must be something in the air round these parts. Crow Versus Crow is also a radio show and a podcast and a design studio and a place where you go to buy a dog on a string. Or maybe not. Some of their releases take time to put together are not of the Smell the Stench xeroxed bit of paper with rubber band around them variety. Its the reason I don’t see any of them. I cant blame them. Instead I listen to the download which as you know, is not my preferred mode of listening pleasure but with these ears will it make any difference? A lo-fi cassette tape, a download through dodgy ears? Whats the difference?

So we have Alocasia Gardens which is leaning towards electronic compositions with one track full of portentous keyboard swirl and dramatic noise bursts like the end credits of an Italian horror film. Best track is also the last and one like nothing thats gone before, ‘Last Light’ is something out of the Froese songbook, a two chord ebbing and flowing synth movement. Suitably drift like and all too short.   

Deaf ears are good for improv too. Three Eyed Makara come on down. With your scraping and frotting and fiddling you make scratchy sounds and take an age to get going but when you do its not too bad at all in a lets hit everything at once kind of way. I have to admit that I don’t know that many people who get anything out of this kind of music. They must have beards though, long beards and they probably live in holes and wear odd hand knitted jumpers and mismatched shoes, they must eat nothing but mushrooms and live in houses with grass on the roof. Its my least favourite kind of music when its in this mode. I’m not improv averse per se but there’s nothing happening here to make me want to listen to it again. I don’t want my ears to get better. I like it like this. Track one eventually picks itself up off the floor but I’d already gone looking for the olive oil by then.

Stef Ketteringham’s ‘More Guitar Arrangements’ is nine tracks of improv guitar with an odd track of guitar noise stuck on its end. Its not all Derek Bailey grumpy Yorkshireman fingers stuck in f holes crap either. Ketteringham moves in sweeter arcs especially on tracks like ‘Killing Flaw’ which have more in common with Jim O’Rourke’s guitar work than Baileys. There’s more melody than Keith Rowe too but not its still not quite straightforward enough to ring like Leo Kottke. His improvisations around melody are where he works best and not having listened to any guitar improv for quite a while I found myself coming back to this. There’s something within these ten shortish tracks [30 minutes running time] that lifts them from the ordinary. Kreffting uses a battered Stratocaster, bits dropping off it, bridge built up high, busted strings, his guitars aren’t objects to be polished or worshipped, they’re there to be played and knocked about and even with these mutton ears it sounds like something rather special.

Invisible City Records


Crow Versus Crow




  
  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Stuart Chalmers/Neil Campbell/Julian Bradley








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.





https://julianbradleyandneilcampbell.bandcamp.com/

https://stuartchalmers.bandcamp.com/



Friday, July 14, 2017

Obskyr Records









The New Movement - Theory of Nothing
White vinyl LP. 100 copies.

The New Movement and Bookwar - War Lives, War Dead
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? 


http://obskyrrecords.tictail.com/

https://kristerbergman.bandcamp.com/

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Tony Moto and the Greek Dictaphone Scene










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’.

‘Whose he?’

‘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

Saturday Night at The Fuse with Posset, Stuart Chalmers and BBBlood.


Stuart Chalmers


Posset

BBBlood



BBBlood
Stuart Chalmers
Posset


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.       



https://stuartchalmers.bandcamp.com/

https://posset.bandcamp.com/

https://bbblood.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearefuse.co/