Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Namke Communications - One Year; Two Days.
Fencing Flatworm Recordings. CDR/DL. 40 Copies
Synchre - Requiem.
Attenuation Circuit. ACU 1009. CD
Two releases of electronic origin with a chasm between them that not even the likes of Eddie Kid could bridge. One a grandiloquent requiem the other the work of someone who works quick. So quick they took it upon themselves to record something new everyday for a year. A pursuit in which I hear they were entirely successful. If the four tracks on One Year; Two Days are representative of this crazed mission then we need to be hearing more.
Namke Communications is John Tuffen. On 'One Year; Two Days' he makes the kind of simple, repetitive, head nodding oscillations that Fencing Flatworm go all ga-ga for. No wonder they made it their only release of the year. The backdrop to the live action would be one of a continual upshot of fluffy white clouds drifting across an azure summer sky, your head laid back on a plump pillow as your punt is punted down the Cam, a picnic hamper from Fortnum and Mason’s awaiting your arrival on the shore. The four tracks are all given a date and a time which we are to presume are the time and date of recording and the file names they were saved to PC as. According to the Bearded Wonder these were created using a PC. Me not being what you would call an expert on computer composed music I wouldn’t know but the results are nothing short of wonderful; rung bowls of electronica and oscillating vibes that with very little effort find a common purpose. There’s the occasional muffled depth charge and at one instance a school playground but always the feeling of complete control and with it immense aural satisfaction.
Requiem, on the other hand, is a much more pompous release. As you’d expect from something so grandly named you get the feeling they were going for the magnum opus. Three movements each broken down into further sections so we get 00.00 Articulation, 05.35 Transition, 9.50 Abandon right up to 34.20 and Immanency and its eventual and not untimely end. Its the work of Luca Canciello and Lorenzo Brusci both of whom have CV’s the length of your arm and are involved in everything from electronic music composition to speaker manufacture to the ‘music robot start up MusicFit’, something which matches the BPM’s of some horrid sounding beat music to your work out rate and which would appear to be the winner of ‘The Thing I’m Least Likely to Purchase This Year’ award.
After enjoying the simple flavour’s of Namke Communications Japanese ramen bowl this is like sitting down to a ten course tasting menu [with matching wines] courtesy of Heston Blumenbollocks. There’s so much going on its all a little bit overwhelming. A shiny disc filled with a mass of sounds and noises that appear to be there not with the aim of producing a coherent whole, but to show off the talents of the composers.Thus you move from rapidly advancing drum and bass sounds [with added droning trumpet] to vocal treatments to portentous keyboards to a mouse’s fart and the wild screams of the reviewer at number 17 who having listened to this over-complicated mush of excess decided to move to India so he could experience the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 Rupee notes all for himself.
There are moments on Requiem that do gel especially on the last movement ‘Transfiguration’ where arc welders do battle with Survival Research contraptions and men in rubber monster costumes fight it out in cheap 60’s Japanese TV shows. The choirboy like vocals on the second movement is one of the rare moving moments of the entire suite but these are small crumbs at a table where you cant see the food for the cruet.
Maybe I’m being a tad unkind here and I shouldn't be comparing banquets with beans on toast but my mind is made up. There will be those who seek out such weighty electronic scores, the concept album for the dead, the three hour Jean Michel Jarre concert with flashing lights and arrival on stage by boat but it isn’t me.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
A5 zine + CDR
Mark Wynn - Singles - But They're not Really Singles, I Just Sent Them to the Screen and Said They Were Singles. Volume II
Harbinger Sound LP. Release date March 2017.
We left Mark Wynn on stage at the Leeds Irish Centre supporting Sleaford Mods. He danced around with a child’s tiara on his head and ate grapes from a plastic punnet. As ever he was stripped to the waist revealing ribs and a physique that is no doubt the results of a roll ups and Seabrook’s prawn cocktail diet. He had a small table stage right which had either a cassette or a CD player on it which he occasionally glanced at, no guitars, no drums thus making it easier to roam the stage eating grapes performing as if for himself, noticing the audience when they made a noise, as if they’re a distraction to what he’s doing which is eating grapes and singing his songs which are more like existential cum observational monologues sung in a flat voice to punkish three chord acoustic guitar riffs. A more like-able Jake Bugg only with better songs and a finer punk aesthetic, a young man’s John Ottoway, Patrick Fitzgerald for 2017 with knobs on.
I like Mark Wynn because I once saw him piss off an audience at a less than salubrious Working Mens Club in Heckmondwike and because he has a song that mentions Batley and that he channels the kind of punkish attitude last seen being delivered from the lips of oh so innocent, peculiarly English eccentric types as mentioned above. He’s from York but leads a peripatetic lifestyle meaning ‘Achin’ at the Prospect’ arrives with a Largs postmark. What the Largs folks think of this gangly, million words an album, no off switch, troubadour is open to debate. I have visions of him busking on a drizzly Largs high street much to the bemusement of the tourists and the locals except for one sad and lonely goth teenager who clings to Wynn’s legs like he’s the incarnation of Pete Murphy.
‘Achin’ at the Prospect [A Racket [That One] by Mark Wynn and his Knack-Kneed Or-Kes-Strar] the zine is Wynn’s mind as written down during long journeys that take him to and from Largs including an interview conducted by his girlfriend who reminds him that he’s living rent free at her expense. Its a proper zine crammed with tiny handwritten thoughts and musings, ephemera, cartoons and cut out pictures of himself, Elvis and a panda. The accompanying CD contains eight tracks of Wynn at his more thoughtful and less rackety including the opener ‘Doom’ where he enunciates the word ‘Attenborough’ rather peculiarly and spends thirty seconds adding overdubs of him talking to himself. During ‘Heart of Stone’ he berates himself for screwing the song up ‘You fucked that right up dint ya?’ ‘Impossible’ is a song capable of arousing the interest of Apple, Samsung and, more probably Seabrooks, such is its whimsical gentility.
Wynn’s charm lies in his basic recording technique [acoustic guitar overdubbed with fuzzy electric guitar, shouts, asides, keyboards, snare drum] his flat, deadpan delivery and his ability to knock out ridiculously catchy punk enthused tunes alongside reflective love songs. The catchy tunes are there in abundance on the eighteen tracks that vary in width along ‘Singles ...Volume II’. Starting with the glorious ‘Dave Went Mental’ where, apparently, his mate Dave went mental and ‘I Am John’ which manages to achieve the impossible and has me jumping around in front of the hi-fi with imaginary guitar. That Wynn can pen songs that are paeans to William Burroughs and Kes and tip the hat to Link Wray shows you that he's not only number one in a field of one but that he's so far out to sea his head is only just visible to those who are really looking. That's me, you and most people who've seen him live [except for those in the Comrades that night]. That he can then make a trip to the shops, a fall out with the check out staff in Tesco’s and bemoan the absent Woolworths in songs that rarely nudge the three minute mark is nothing less than life affirming.
On ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry [Massive Turn On]' he admits that he doesn't want to go to Filey, on ‘Orange’ he recounts not being able to buy oranges in a shop because he isn’t old enough [all this to a background mumblings and handclaps]. ‘I Once Fingered A Girl Who Rejected Rick Witter in Glasgow’s Art Bar - The Song’ isn’t a personal boast but a reflection on a Tweet and how he sounds like the Fall. Songs that are worth mentioning because they have great song titles and are great songs as well are ‘Day Trip to Heckmondwicke’ [sic], ‘The Beatles Hate Me’, and ‘George Formby Breakdown’. The final mad chorus from ‘I’m Mint Man Me Man Yeah Yeah’ was the first thing that came in to my head when I woke up in the middle of Sunday night. Its still with me now. I think it’ll be with me for a while yet.
Since Geoff Travis lured Sleaford Mods away with the promise of diamond encrusted Lamborghini's and gold topped canes there’s been a definite lack of top ten chart action for Harbinger Sound. Enter Mark Wynn. With his trusty cassette recorder, punnet of grapes and songs about whatever came in to his head ten minutes ago he's making 2017 just that bit more bearable. If you see him in Largs say hello.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Dennis Tyfus & Kris Maes
Meeuw Muzak 047. 7”
Phillip Sanderson - No No No No
Christmas Bonus CD/DL
So how was your Christmas? Oh lovely thank you. I managed to avoid anything that was to do with Xmas altogether which is pretty much the best way to go about it. Fortunately for me Mrs. Fisher loves the festive season [Christmas twig, nativity scene, baubles, cards up etc ...] she takes care of everything except the purchase of food, alcohol and second class stamps. She even has a favourite Christmas CD which has lots of 50's stuff on it and nothing by Slade, Wham, Wizzard, Shakey, Paul McCartney, John and Yoko, Chris Rea, Jona Lewie and Mariah Carey which is fine by me. Once upon a time I used to look forward to the odd Christmas song especially Greg Lake's 'I Believe in Father Christmas' with its anti Christmas theme and its purloined bits of Prokofiev, usually first heard while dawdling down a shopping aisle wondering how many bottles of port would see me through a week of cold nights and giving me that nostalgic feel for when I first heard it as a child back in the 70’s, 'They sold me a dream of Christmas …’ but to be honest even that bores me now. Give me snow and frost and clear blue skies, a week off work where I can do nothing but the crosser and get slightly pissed on port on every night but all that mixed up pagan/Christian bollocks that's all but forgotten about by Boxing Day morning? No ta.
Two Christmas related items landed just as I was about to put my foot through the TV at the first sight of the festive John Lewis advert. Two releases that gave the 50's Christmas CD a run for its money and the sight of which provided me with much needed succor. The first is 'No No No No' by Phillip Sanderson of Snatch Tapes/Storm Bugs fame which arrives in a homemade Christmas card and on first sight appears to be not Christmas related at all but there it is at the very end of the very last track 'Holding Little Hands' a lolling little ditty whose last words are 'Merry Christmas'. Ahh. Sanderson is of course well known amongst vintage synth aficionados because hes been around for ever. At least since the mid 80’s. The sound is a basic one, Resident-y for want of comparison with echo-y synth melodies sometimes accompanied by reverbed and delayed vocals which make Sanderson sound like Genesis P Orridge in TG mode. Transported I was. Transported away from John Lewis ads and Jona Lewis I mean Lewie The title track is a full on losing your head no no no no no no no no no no no which is what I think when I see a Christmas advertisement for Iceland or TK Maxx. There are jarring instrumentals like Scream Test Extra and extra points for the homemade card and the Woolworths ‘single sided’ CDR. For those less fortunate this is available as a download and is excellent.
Kris Maes and Dennis Tyfus are two separate entities on either side of a seven inch single with a large hole in the middle. A comforting sight. Tyfus stretches his vocal chords over a looping/sticking slightly cheesy Sun City Girls take on Silent Night while on the flip there's a blink and it's gone ditty called De Kerstdagen [Christmas Day] which is sung in East or West Flemish or Limburgian. Belgians eh? Meeuw Muzaks is a [well since its very beginning anyway] a seven inch only label and releases a Christmas single most years. Previous incumbents being RLW and Tom Recchion amongst a roster of unknown’s. A belated Merry Kris Maes.
Sunday, January 01, 2017
|Smell & Quim - Manchester December 2016|
Smell & Quim - Jesus Christ/The Jissom Killers
Old Captain. OCCD25 2XCD
250 copies. First 50 come with five postcards.
Once upon a time in 1987 two men with a shared interest in drink, serial killers, Charles Bukowski, pornography, Throbbing Gristle, Ken Dodd, rockabilly, weepy country and western bands, William Burroughs, decent prog and Gary Glitter entered a studio in a fading industrial town in West Yorkshire to record an album called The English Method. The name they chose to record under was a corruption of a then popular female singing duo: 'Mel and Kim'. The two men went by the name of Milovan Srdenovic and Paul Nonnnen and the town was Batley. Its about five miles away from where I write this and where I’ve lived most of my life. Ever since I discovered noise Smell & Quim were there and that they were making some of the most remarkable industrial noise dirge but a short bus ride away seemed almost implausible. My mind was well and truly boggled. They've been with me ever since. 2017 is their 30th anniversary.
The original line up lasted three albums and while The English Method may have been their first release its the two that followed that still linger like a mammoth curled turd in a decrepit toilet. ‘Jesus Christ’, their second album, was apparently so called because its what most people said after seeing the cover. Story goes that such is its provocative nature [a naked female child having corrective hip treatment as culled from a medical volume] that the band had to go to the continent in order to find a printer willing to take the job on. The finished sleeves then had to be smuggled back in to the country under cover of darkness so as to avoid the interests of HM customs who, one can only assume, would have taken great delight in making such individuals available to the tabloid press [PERVERT MUSICIANS IN PAEDO SLEEVE ART SHOCKER - QUESTIONS RAISED IN HOUSE]. Its why my scan of it is so small and why you’ll never see a copy of it on shelf without a brown paper bag over it. After it's release on their own Stinky Horse Fuckers label 'Jesus Christ' attracted the attention of Tesco who were no doubt in no way surprised when 'The Jissom Killers' arrived and with it a sidelong 25 minute track entitled ‘Sucking a Dead Man’s Cock’.
Both releases contain music that can only be described as claustrophobic, unsettling and disturbing with ‘Sucking a Dead Man’s Cock’ epitomising the Smell & Quim sound for this period with its torture chamber wail, clanking machinery, battered crumhorns and rattling homemade percussion. When you factor in track titles and imagery designed to cause maximum offense it has the required effect: 'Old Enough to Bleed, Old Enough Butcher', 'Beaver Full of Spunk', images of the stigmatic Therese Neumann, the gutted remains of an Ed Gein victim and close ups of gentian surgery on the record centers. End result is a pair of classic industrial noise albums that will forever be relevant and even now, after almost 25 plus years, still contain and reach levels of depravity that are deeply shocking.
The stand out track on 'Jesus Christ' is the the twenty minute long 'Eight Fuckers' with its two chord keyboard wheeze spiraling into a maelstrom of guitar abuse, the pair of them moaning and shouting insults at each other as if in some moronic call and response ritual. A flagellation session in which they flog themselves to a standstill with loose chains and an out of shape cymbal. "Skunk Pussy' kicks off with gargling, a looped vocal tic and masses of dirty guitar, it ends with a bizarre vibes like melody that sounds as if it was pulled from the start credits to a Hithcock film. Everywhere there is discomfort, shouting, nonsense, disorganisation, confusion, dark corners from where there is no light or life that you would recognise.
Nonnen and Srdenovic went their separate ways after The Jissom Killers performing live only once in a spectacularly drunken Duchess of York performance where Nonnen played the guitar with a dildo and the pair of them fell over paralytic through drink. In the audience was someone who would take the name of d. foist and find himself taking Nonnen's place in a soon to be ever more out of control, fluxing Smell & Quim whose releases would get noisier and stranger and whose live shows would be the absolute paradigm in drunken debauched noise revelry.
Last man standing is Srdenovic. Now growing old disgracefully and purveying his back catalogue like a proud father. I doubt he's done yet. Smell & Quim recently played shows in Portugal and Manchester. Nobody knows but him whether their 30th year will be their last.
Ukrainian label Old Captain have gone back to the original Ampex reel to reel tapes for this release and it's to their credit that they've resisted the temptation to record direct from the LP's. Classics in every sense and now in need of only a smaller brown paper bag.
[Please forgive me but I don't know who to credit for the live picture - If you get in touch I'll let the world know. Cheers.]
Thursday, December 08, 2016
Bagatellen de Martin Küchen/CIFRA 01 - 08 de Johannes Heuer
Lenka Lente. LKL - EB3
CD in debossed box w/ five sheets of poetry by Martin Küchen + eight visual objects by Johannes Heuer.
Lenka Lente are the French publishing house with a penchant for poetry, philosophy, jazz and Nurse With Wound. Their little books of poetry, philosophy and short stories are sometimes accompanied with 3" CD’s that contain the sounds of Bill Nace and Nurse With Wound. I think Lenak Lente are big Nurse With Wound fans and have of late branched out into Andrew Liles territory. Those Nurse With Wound tentacles are still spreading. These small and delightful books are avenues of discovery where Italian anarchists rub shoulders with obscure Portuguese sound poets, outsider artists, Moondog and William Wordsworth.
The Portuguese sound poet was Alberto Costa Monteiro. His ‘Anima’ release for Lenka Lente came in an debossed box with 37 individual cards on to which was printed his poetry, words of short syllables in French slaloming their way down the page. It was a thing of beauty and a beguiling to listen boot. And he’s not just a poet but that's another story.
As with Monteiro so with Küchen and Heuer except I don’t have the full release here just odd bits that Lenka Lente have sent me knowing that such material would cheer my day. And I’m glad they did as I now have two more names to conjure with. One being Martin Küchen, a Swedish sax player with a penchant for improvisation and the other the artist Johannes Heuer. The forty three tracks on Bagatellen each run to around the minute mark all of them having track titles like ‘M.U. Entrepreneur’ and ‘O.H. Factory Owner’ which make me think we may have some kind of concept album here. But aren’t concepts just ideas anyway? Joseph Beuys would know. Küchen plays his sax in conjunction with a radio and an electric toothbrush and appears to be taking has sax apart and putting it back together again while eating a fish supper, a creative act I’ve applauded ever since I saw Alan Tomlinson do something similar with a trombone in the upstairs room of The Adelphi. This makes it sound like Küchen’s sax is actually a Henry vacuum cleaner or a distant train or fourty one other sounds that you’d probably not think were emanating from the end of a saxophone. Track sixteen [L.J. Entrepreneur] is a matchbox full of needles being shaken about, track thirty five [picked at random and running to twenty three seconds natch] is Küchen blowing down a reed free sax and taking deep breaths in between, track thirty nine has bird whistles, the track that follows it sounds like Küchen giving up his last breath.
The word ‘bagatelle’ can be translated as 'a frothy or light piece of music', not something you’d normally associate with improv but it does exist and this is further proof. I saw Steve Beresford the other week, I’ve seen Alan Tomlinson they both prove improv doesn’t have to be hard work. Küchen does the same. Don’t ask me about his poetry though as it’s all in Swedish.
Johannes Heuer is an Austrian artist. That’s all I know.
This combining of the arts in Lenka Lente releases continues to be a rewarding one. Long may they continue.
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Taming Power: Selected Works 1996-97
EMR 7” - 001. 100 copies.
Taming Power: Selected Works 1995-97
EMR 12” - 002. 150 copies.
Taming Power: Selected Works 1989-98
EMR 12” - 003. 150 copies.
Taming Power: Selected Works & Fragments 1987-97
EMR 12” - 004. 100 copies.
It seems perverse that we should end our relationship with Taming Power where Taming Power began. With the first four Early Morning Record releases that despite me Campbell and Hayler raving about them still exist. Or do they? Askild Haugland sent these through a few months back where they’ve been receiving ready spins ever since. Maybe the glowing reviews have worked and Mr. Haugland has now, eventually, after years of sitting on these treasured platters finally found a home for them all. I hope he has.
For those still not familiar we have in Taming Power the ultimate motherlode of outsider drone experimentation. For years Haugland has been self releasing his work from his home in Norway into a void of virtual indifference. Until Campbell mentioned him to me and Hayler who in unison, though miles apart, both wept tears of unfettered joy. His music has that effect on people. Those of a nature who appreciate drones and sounds that can be achingly beautiful, austere, atonal, harsh and charming all within the same same release. His later work created using guitar and reel to reel feedback have a devastating simplicity to them. Its not something you come across often and to discover that someone had been creating all this in total isolation made the discovery all the more remarkable.
And so it goes with these much earlier releases. Which as Haugland points out, are lo-fi and fragmentary in nature but none the less as beguiling and compelling as any of his work.
Selected Works & Fragments 1987-97 has no less than fifteen tracks on it, most of which are short interludes [August 96 being just eight seconds in duration] all of them primitive constructions recorded using a Casiotone MT-36, acoustic guitar, harmonica, recorder, voice, percussion and a tape recorder. Wheezy and distant melodies of a whimsical nature, each track imbued with a covering of back of the cathode ray TV tube dust. Delightful in their innocence, crude but joyous.
Haugland’s most challenging work comes with the arrival of the Tandberg tape recorder. A piece of equipment with which he creates feedback and with it a test of endurance for even his most ardent fans. On Selected Works 1989-98 he utilises the Tandberg in conjunction with an electric guitar the results swinging between mellifluous and terrifying. Barring two minutes of radio on the final track of Selected Works 1995-97 the whole of the album is given over the Tandberg and as with the previously reviewed Selected Works 2000 this proves to be his harshest work. At times its not pretty with certain tracks containing nothing but the screaming of subjugated circuitry but its austereness does have its own perverse appeal.
The very first Early Morning Records release gives us no clue as to its instrumentation but from its ghostly grooves we can assume that those Tandbergs weren’t far away. Feedback plays its part on side A again building in volume over a background of scorched earth while the flip contains some bowl ring and reversed tape sounds. All very basic, all very welcome.
Above all Early Morning Record releases are very personal recordings, not only do they contain Haugland’s own compositions they also contain his artwork, the labels are in his hand as are the glued on track listings. Whether this is the last we shall see of him or his label remains to be seen but all is not doom and gloom, videos have recently appeared on his Youtube channel and Winebox Press have recently released a twin cassette collection of his work. Watch this space as they used to say.
Taming Power Youtube Channel
EMR Web Presence
Saturday, December 03, 2016
Libbe Matz Gang/Coldsore
Cassette. 50 copies.
Cassette. 15 copies
RST - Haikus
Cassette. 15 copies.
Cold Sore - Pollutant
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.