Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lenka Lente




Félix Fénéon - Les Ventres et Autre Contes
Nurse With Wound - Lonely Poisonous Mushrooms

Lenka Lente. Book + 3”CD
ISBN : 979-10-94601-08-2


Another Lenka Lente book/CD combo where you get to discover that ‘Les Ventres et Autre Contes’ translates as ‘The Bellies and Other Stories’ and that Félix Fénéon was an Italian anarchist, art critic and literary stylist with a tremendous goatee beard who didn’t like the portrait that Paul Signac painted of him because he painted it in profile, not face on as requested, but he hung it on his wall anyway.

Pity the poor English monoglot though for as ever with Lenka Lente the text is all in French but look on the bright side, at least you get to know more about obscure figures in the world of European art. Five short stories here that first saw the light of day in various French literary magazines circa the late 19th century. I wish my French were better than it is. For English speakers wishing to explore Fénéon's work there's a book of his still in print called ‘Novels in Three Lines’. A collection of hundreds of his deadpan observations as published in various French newspapers of the day. It gives us a taste of Fénéon's work and his no doubt languid sense of humour:

Harold Bauer and Casals will give a concert today in San Sebastian. Besides that, they may fight a duel.

Seventy-year-old beggar Verniot, of Clichy, died of hunger. His pallet disgorged 2,000 francs. But no one should make generalizations.



There's more to Fénéon than this tho and I've included the link to his wiki page should you wish to learn more.


Previous Lenka Lente editions have seen Nurse With Wound coupled with outsider artist Adolf Wölfi, art critic and poet André Salmon and the author Charles-Louis Philippe. They should do one with Boris Vian. I once read Boris Vian’s, ‘I Shall Spit on their Graves, because I thought Vian, who also played trumpet and was involved in the 1950’s Paris jazz scene was Neil Campbell’s doppleganger and that there might be some kind of link between the jazz scene in Paris in the 1950’s and the noise scene in West Yorkshire in the mid 1990’s but there wasn’t.

The Nurse With Wound track is taken from 1989 comp ‘Automating Vol. II’ and is a nine minute compendium of quick edits that are barely recognisable bagpipes, coughs and dramatic church organ chord clusters that rear out of your speakers like lions trying to bite your head off.

I wonder what Fénéon would have thought of it?



http://www.lenkalente.com/


Félix Fénéon Wiki

Friday, August 12, 2016

BLJ+S&Q
















Black Leather Jesus/Smell & Quim - My Darling, Forever Dressed for Sex.
Petit Sole. PS80. CD




I think it was Simon Morris who compared Smell & Quim to the recently extracted finger from the anus of life. An index finger that from the second knuckle down has a slight musky odour, the nail something beneath of which we’d rather not speak. Its what you run under your nose as you listen to such as this. Just to get you in the mood.

Seeing as how this disc was the devil’s work to play I took to rooting around in my Smell & Quim box and then my noise boxes where I found the odd Ramirez release with obligatory gay porn cover. Ramirez and Black Leather Jesus go together like hairy men and ball gags. A man of many talents then, involved with more bands than you can shake a rubber sex fist at and still, after many years, disturbingly prolific.

In 2014 Black Leather Jesus and Smell & Quim appeared on the same bill at a never to be forgotten gig in Manchester. No doubt relishing the opportunity to go on last Smell & Quim erased any memory of what had gone previously with a performance that verged on physical and sexual abuse. Of course the band were shitfaced which made the wearing of some ridiculously heavy masks covered in razor blades and barbed wire as made by Dr. Steg all the harder, that’s Dr. Steg the man who found himself under threat of ejection from the premises after wielding a knife of his own construct and threatening to trash the place. Instead he took to the stage wearing one of his heavy, gold sprayed, barbed wire covered masks and screamed and shouted for the duration. The gig was made all the more bizarre by the appearance of a certain Callum Terras, his one and only appearance with the band and someone who not long after would be found floating in the Irish Sea. This release is dedicated to him. Simon Morris and Kate Fear were going through some kind of relationship breakdown at the time resulting in Morris having his back passage defiled by Fear who appeared to take great delight in roughly inserting the handle of a percussion instrument where percussion instruments shouldn’t go. Fear also hacked off most of Stewart Keith’s wild and not been cut for decades hair. There might have been some putrid Philadelphia cheese involved too. It was one of those nights. The sound they created was a hellish cross between the over-amplified heart beat of a recently jabbed smack head and the edited audio of every single Jimmy Savile Top of the Pops appearances.

Going through my Smell & Quim cardboard box I’m in constantly reminded of their use of gay sado-masochistic porn soundtrack samples. Something that Ramirez on the other side of the pond no doubt relishes. ‘The Transubstantiation of the Shit of Christ’ [split tape with Aube on the Fever Pitch label and still one of my all time favourites] contains the kind of gay porn samples its probably not wise to play at a volume your neighbours can hear, unless you have very liberal neighbours that is. And this in pre internet days when I can only imagine that sado-masochistic gay porn was much harder to come by.

Which brings us to ‘My Darling, Forever Dressed for Sex’ and a cover that features some stubbly faced gentlemen getting all up close and personal. The track titles couldn’t be anything other than Smell & Quim tho; ‘Big Cocks Flobbing Gristle’, ‘Now If You’re Into Anal …’ and ‘Heavy Spunkers’ with the sounds therein heading more towards early Smell & Quim industrial dirge than the more recent high powered noise as heard on Powerfuck and Lavatory. Black Leather Jesus, who are credited with having no less than ten people in their ranks other than Ramirez appear to contribute the death rattle roar with Smell & Quim throwing everything else into the mix. One sound that is easily identifiable is that of the hand drier as found in the Gents toilets in The Grove, Huddersfield. I know this because I recorded it and am credited on the inner sleeve as being part of the band. When I tell you that this is one of my proudest moments I’m not being glib in anyway, shape or form. 

‘Big Cocks Flobbing Gristle’ starts with the hand drier and some industrial clockwork clank before moving into noisier territory, ‘Now If You’re Into Anal …’ has some seriously slowed down slurry vocals and heavy breathing as recorded by an asthmatic deep sea welder with lead boots on, ‘Heavy Spunkers’ is your full on roar that eventually chips out in a sea of digital crackle and dust. Its early Smell & Quim coupled to some Black Leather Jesus flat out noise stun but where the gay porn samples are coming from is anybody’s guess.

   

http://blackleatherjesus.blogspot.co.uk/p/updates.html





 

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Regler






Regler - regel #8 [metal]
At War With False Noise. CD
300 copies.



Regler are the reductionist duo of drummer Anders Bryngelsson and guitarist Mattin. The last time we met on these pages I had failed to see how a release of theirs containing little but silence was anything other than a waste of plastic, card and valuable drinking time. The release in question was their interpretation of a Fluxus like instruction to set up their equipment before going to sleep under the powerful glare of an industrial lamp.

Being upstanding gentlemen Bryngelsson and Mattin got in touch to say that they were absolutely positive that if they sent me another expression of their work I would definitely, honest to God like it, double promise, fingers crossed with a cherry on top. Which is an attitude I admire in a person [or persons]. If only more people had such guts and were willing to give someone a second chance. So I said yeah go on then, send me something else. So they did and thus ‘Regel #8 [metal]’. A 'Metal' inspired release and there's me and 'Metal' being about as close as Donald Trump and the Brighton LGBT community. The omens weren't good.

I gave up on Heavy Metal after I realising the genre wasn't much more than the diminishing returns of Black Sabbath’s back catalogue. Its fans did nothing for me either; leather wristbands, t-shirts with unreadable band names, the undying devotion to the sound of an amplified electric guitar riff and they are like sooooo alternative man, like real outsiders, like we have upside down crosses and drink goats blood out of skulls and can listen to the loudest music ever and nobody likes Metal more than me. Once ‘Metal’ had morphed into bands playing nothing but the same chord for an hour I knew that the lunatics had taken over and that it was only a matter of time before we’d gone full circle and the kids were buying reissued Blue Cheer albums and scribbling band names on to the backs of their cut off denim jackets.

Regel #8 [Metal] contains three live tracks as recorded on a short tour at the back end of 2015, in which Regler asked the audience to play Metal tracks of varying genres through their personal devices [mobile phone, tablet, ghetto blaster the size of a suitcase, wind up gramophone housed in a Victorian bassinet] which Regler then improvised over with someone mixing the results into what we have here; ‘Heavy Metal’, 'Thrash Metal’ and ‘Black Metal’.

What happens next depends on how keen you are on 'Metal', music of an experimental nature and the mixing of the two. I get the feeling that Metal diehards may find Regler's work hard to digest seeing as how this is Metal in a hard to recognise form, shorn of structure, lyrics, recognisable riffs or eye squeezing solos. Seeing as how I’m leaning more towards the experimental side of things I did find myself coming away from the ensuing melee with an appreciative nod which on more liquid days could have turned in to a headbang. Especially during the last track ‘Black Metal’ which is basically half an hours worth of chugging drum pummel with everything from noise, disjointed riffs and those growly vocals so beloved of Norwegian church burners chucked in along its length. The way Regler and the mixer [in this instance Ivan Kocev] have transformed Black Metal by basically buggering about with it makes it more than listenable for me. A result of sorts. If I’d have been at the gig in Skopje I dare say I’d have hooked my thumbs in to my belt loops and swung my head from side to side in a no nonsense head down mindless boogie kind of way. Its what they would have wanted.

'Heavy Metal’ was mixed by Andy Bolus at a gig in Paris and is in the more traditional groove with an intro that just keeps on keeping on. ‘Thrash Metal’ at 25 minutes is a disjointed affair with bits of Thrash coming at you in rapid two and three second bursts, all this with high pitched squeals and random bursts of guitar noise and as such gets a Ceaser like non committal wavering sideways thumb gesture.

Still, the omens are good. There’s enough here to convince me that 'Metal' is ripe for experimentation and by that I don’t mean de-tuning your Les Paul a semitone and going ‘thrummmm’ for an hour. 



At War With False Noise


Bandcamp

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Butte County Free Music Society and the Chocolate Monk People.



























Blood Stereo - The Lure of Gurp
Chocolate Monk 320. CDR
50 Copies

Seymour Glass & Fleshtone Aura - Amplified Teacup
Chocolate Monk 316. CDR
50 Copies

Serious Problmz - Nervous Youth
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS38. CDR
100 Copies

Serious Problmz - 369 1/2
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS50. CDR
100 Copies

Felix Mace - Boundary Situation
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS51. CDR
50 Copies.

Idler Arms - Kubelik Unbugged
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS39. CDR
100 Copies

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Hard Molt
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS58. CDR
100 Copies

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Gloria
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS49. CDR
100 Copies

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - Rupture Piles
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS48. CDR
100 Copies

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble - The Thirteenth Century German Poet [And Who Can Forget Him]
Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS55. CDR
100 Copies






Christmas 2015 saw me and Mrs Fisher in the North Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. Unlike last year there were no bracing frosty morning walks along Marine Drive or cosy nights in in front of a three bar electric fire as the plumbing rattled and groaned around us. For this was the winter of 2015 where it rained every minute of every day for what seemed like forever. And I don’t just mean normal rain, this was Bible Rain. The sort of stuff driven by howling winds, rain that swept bridges, businesses, homes, pubs and people away with terrifying ease. The weather was so bad we left Scarborough a day early deciding that we’d had enough of listening to the windowpanes rattling and the downpipes gurgling so off we sped down a wet and slippeddy A64 past the flooded fields of Tadcaster and back to Cleckheaton where even here their’d been a flood warning issued.

Our stay, or should I say mine, was made slightly less miserable by the addition of these ten releases. Deep in a book, half way down my eighth glass of port and with the velvet curtains doing their best to keep the elements at bay I took myself off to the strange worlds inhabited by America’s Butte County Free Music Society and Brighton’s Chocolate Monk-ers. Once there I reminded myself that it is quite possible to forget that you are in a rain lashed guest house in Scarborough in the middle of winter and instead that you have somehow managed to stumble across a motherlode of weirdness that is six miles deep, four football pitches wide and more than capable of rendering the outside world meaningless. At least until the port runs out.

I thought this as I listened to these releases once more, this time in July 2016, where the climate is somewhat more amenable. At least the rain’s warmer. My notes of the first experience are a jumbled mess, mainly due to port consumption, containing as they do various references to cricket and the England v South Africa Boxing Day Test match and notes on the players taking part. I also wrote ‘Tories; soft downy cheeked arseholes’ something else that the port made me do. For Idler Arms I’d written ‘like the Sun City Girls warming up as captured on a dictaphone with the last track being an outtake from the Eraserhead soundtrack’. For Blood Stereo I had written ‘snoring’, ‘Chinese radio broadcasts’ and ‘In Toto’ which is Latin for ‘complete’ and must have been something to do with the crossword I was doing at the time. In other words I had written nothing of value or worth, except for the bit about Idler Arms which I still stand by.

So, seven months on I start again this time thinking I’ll try and be clever and attempt to compare the  obvious worlds that both BUFMS and Chocolate Monk both inhabit. But maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew here? On first listen a lot of what passes for aural entertainment in the worlds of BUMFSCHOC would appear to be nothing more than ‘people fucking about’. An uneasy term but one that I think people of a more base nature can connect with.

In this world there are people running around a school gymnasium picking up whatever instrumentation comes to hand, the shouting of silly words, typing sounds, drunken utterances ‘my chicken looks like you, my horse looks like you, my pig looks like you’, all in Redneck shit kicking accents, a rock band of sorts [Serious Problemz], a loop of the intro to ‘Up, Up and Away’ layered with demonic voices and heavy metal guitar [Felix Mace], straight to dictaphone SCG improv homages [Idler Arms]. So far so odd but then there’s the four Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble discs which is where we sink to the very bottom of those six deep, mad miles.

The Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble smear whatever musical boundaries exist into blurred meaningless nonsense. Spending a day with their sounds, with their music, is like slipping in to a dimension where your sense of hearing has been temporarily altered so as to make it perceptible to sounds its never heard before. BLE are the eyes and ears of a channel hopping care home resident pumped full of calming drugs. ‘The Thirteenth Century German Poet [And Who Can Forget Him]’ contains a five minute track pulled straight from the dialogue of a natural history programme on jelly fish, there’s a jaws harp convention meets erotic Satanic ritual, drunk people trying to form words as a jogger tries to warm up with bricks tied to their feet, there are slowed down voices, the slurring of words and Fozzy Bear shouting.  ‘Gloria’ has someone with a flat North of England accent matter-of-factly translating anti-American North Korean propaganda, someone reciting random words and a 12 minute track with lots of things to do with Gloria including the warbly bits from ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ and lots of people, lots and lots of people [some of them with Dalek like voices] repeating the letters G-L-O-R-I-A ad nauseum. And lets not forget the last track which is 42 seconds of almost silence at the end of which someone says ‘nice music buddy’. So far so good but then there's the CD inserts; gauze pads, flyers, tales of cannibalism, A&E horrors, spoof album covers and even though each release is, in most cases, but a 100 run they all have fold out covers and track listings and things to feast your eyes on. These are releases of unfettered joy.

I could go on of course. At the moment I’m listening to 'Hard Molt' which for the most part is mainly lo-fi rumblings, bits of Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtrack and shortwave meanderings. But I think you get the idea. 

If I had to pick one of the above to take with me on a desert island trip, or a wet winter week in Scarborough, it would be Blood Stereo’s ‘The Lure of Gurp’. That’s not to say that all that BLE and BUFMS do isn’t worth a second or third bite, it is,  but for me the ‘The Lure …’ has been the one that's won the repeat play of the year award. From ‘Gob & Soupy’ where Nyoukis recites words of unknown origin at the entrance to what sounds like a building site to the harmonium wheeze/Einstürzende Neubauten lite of ‘For Unk, from the two chord organ drone of ‘Fake Utensils Keep’ to the zonked out Dada nonsense of ‘The Troglodyte Jig’ all life is here. And then you look at the cover and crack a smile.

What Nyoukis and Constance are doing in England with Blood Stereo and their label Chocolate Monk and Seymour Glass [and probably lots of other people whose names I don’t know] are doing in America with BUFMS is making remarkable music out of the detritus of others. As I listen to the last of these releases, ‘Amplified Tea Cup’ a collaboration between Glass and Fleshtone Aura, I find its two twenty minute cuts are flooded with a seemingly never ending supply of everyday sounds edited together to form a new and thoroughly engaging whole. Now that's my kind of flood. 



http://chocolatemonk.co.uk/enter.htm

https://www.discogs.com/label/156381-BUFMS



















Thursday, July 21, 2016

While My Guitar Gently Rots







Gavin Prior - All Who Wander
Cambrian Records/Deserted Village CAM005/DV54. CD

David Somló - Movement
No label. CD



My guitar playing days are at a definite end. After years of gathering dust, the guitar I bought as a teenager, bent neck, dints, scratches and all has, as recently as last week, had its strings cut off and was unceremoniously taken down the cellar where come October it will serve as kindling. An unkind act you may think for a guitar that has served me well but the sight of it has pissed me off for years now, a reminder of someone who I used to be and sentimental creature that I am I’ve hung on to it even though I haven’t laid a finger on it in years. I wasn’t much good at it anyway with my piss poor attempts to sound like Neil Young and John Fahey, getting a few notes right here or a chord progression there, happy to get somewhere near without actually having the talent or the nous to go all the way. Its passing is a relief and I shan’t miss it.

Strangely enough Jim O’Rourke was the last guitarist to fire my cylinders. Not someone you’d associate with the guitar but evidence as to just how talented the guy is. It was his 1997 four song acoustic pluck fest ‘Bad Timing’ that did it for me, closely followed by his ‘Eureka’ LP and if you haven’t heard the title track [or Otomo Yoshihide’s 15 minute jazz quintet version featuring Matts Gustaffson] then do yourself a favour. There’s something basic and simple about his style of playing, something he took in big gulps from Fahey, simple but effective and that's something I can relate to. Jazz guitar genius Alan Holdsworth may come from up the road Bradford and be an influence on Zappa, Eddie Van Halen and a never ending list of other guitar twiddlers but after five minutes of his indecipherable frottings I have trouble fighting the urge to kill myself. Give me Jim O’Rourke any day.

All this because I don’t get that much guitar music to review here anymore. And then not one but two guitar based albums to mull over. Both of which include a guitarist recording in the open whilst taking in field recordings to act as counterpoint and ambience. The results couldn’t be further apart with Prior recording catchy fingerpicking tunes in the fields of Ireland while Somló wanders around various desolate places in Hungary, including the ruins of a vinyl factory and a hidden playground under Buda Castle.

I’ve been favoring Prior the more because he reminds me in places of Fahey and O’Rourke and Somló less because he reminds of Derek Bailey [yet another Yorkshire born guitarist with an ability to annoy]. The first few tracks of Prior’s ‘All Who Wander’ are bucolic and blissful with the birds and the bees accompanying the sound of Prior’s gentle strum and pluck. Second track ‘The Old Claddagh Swings’, with the swings themselves no doubt squeaking in the background, is so near to O’Rourke’s ‘Eureka’ that I had to pinch myself, the same simple motif on a descending scale to mounting fuzz noises and a blissful coda. For Prior takes these recordings into the studio and ‘treats’ them, which is I think what they call it these days. A pity the momentum cant be kept for the full eleven tracks as the quality descends into dangerous Bailey territory. Not something I’m sure I can fully endorse.

David Somló’s guitar goes from Bailey ding to African thumb piano twang and lots of things in-between but apart from a passage at its very end his playing never really complements any of the four choices of the crumbling Hungarian environments he chooses to play in. The last three minutes are the best on the disc which says something for my listening stamina and Somló’s ability to go 20 odd minutes without doing anything to stir my aural ardor. Those final few minutes where Somló’s guitar finally slows down and goes quiet enough for you to hear some trees being felled, or a body being dragged down some steps, or someone hurling an acoustic guitar down the stone cellar steps of a Victorian terrace are the best bar none. As ever the indirect nuances provide the brightest moments.



www.cambrianrecords.com

www.desrtedvillage.com

www.davidsomlo.com   





Monday, July 11, 2016

Dr Adolf Steg and the Foul Breath That is Blackpool Fresh Air.








A Rainbow Kiss by Dr. Steg
Spam Maps. 12pp A4 riso print comic/zine. 50 copies.



My Dr. Steg missives are no stranger to detritus: jaw bones, rusty razor blades, useless bits of plastic, old comics, rusty razor blades, new razor blades and more rusty razor blades. I wonder if Dr. Steg leaves his razor blades out on a windowsill for nature to take its course before gluing them to the front of his works and sending them to people like me.

Amongst the pages of ‘A Rainbow Kiss’ was a signed photograph by Wendy Richard the now deceased actress who I know as Miss Brahms, the character she played in the 70's BBC comedy 'Are You Being Served' for 50 years and da kids as Pauline Fowler, the character she played in the BBC soap opera East Enders for 75 years. I wonder what she was thinking as she penned the words ‘To Adolf, love Wendy Richard x’. Was it a momentary ‘Adolf? There can’t be anybody left in the western world left whose named Adolf? I mean even if your parents gave you the name at birth, surely you’d have the sense to change it once you got to an age when you were legally allowed to do so?’ Or did she get some BBC underling to sign it for her? I suppose we’ll never know. For whatever reason Dr. Steg has chosen me as the lucky recipient of this once treasured item and like all his work I shall find a place for it in the hallowed cardboard box of destiny.

All this as preamble to alert you to the fact that a short run riso print [whatever that is] of ‘A Rainbow Kiss’ is available to purchase from the man himself. I include a few scans for your delectation. Word has it that this is a German production by an outfit called Spam Maps which are available for €8 over there in that there Euroland via the link or from the good doctor himself via his home address which I shall refrain from posting here but shall pass on via myself should you care to get in touch.

Needless to say the riso-ing has given Steg’s work that ‘ooh doesn’t that feel nice’ quality and given me something to look back on in my care home years.



Europe we love you.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Stuart Chalmers, YOL and the Brexit Miasma of Confusion and Despair.





Stuart Chalmers - Imaginary Musicks Vol 5
Invisible City Records. ICR 22. Cassette

Stuart Chalmers - Poetry of Decay
Strange Rules. RULE-111. Single sided cassette.

Stuart Chalmers/YOL - Junk Seance
Quagga Curios Sounds - QCS_090. CDR
30 Copies

YOL - Is it Acceptable
LF Records. LF056. CDR





I’m in a bit of a slump what with all this Brexit shit flying about. After doing my best not to get involved and thinking I’d wake up on June the 24th with a ‘oh wasn’t all that waste of time’ thought before getting on with the rest of my life, I now find I live in a country where nothing makes much sense anymore. ‘Ever feel you’ve been cheated’ is a phrase that comes to mind. Three weeks in Japan followed by a couple of weeks of media avoidance meant I’d managed to miss the likes of Johnson and Farage spreading the kind of scare stories more normally reserved for children who wont eat their vegetables or go to bed when asked. I mean did people really think that the entire population of Turkey was going to come to the UK to sign on the dole/take all our jobs? The morning after the deed had been done I was asked at work ‘when do we start to get the money then?’ a reference to the £350 million we wouldn’t have to give to the EU on a weekly basis [I know, I know]. One clueless soul hadn’t even bothered to get any euros for his two weeks in Lanzarote, a holiday booked for the end of June. Another took a pen with him to vote because he’d believed the rumour going around that Government charged minions were rubbing penciled in Leave crosses out and changing them to Remain crosses. This same person likes Nigel Farage because ‘he likes a pint and a fag and he says what he likes’. I bet the fork lift truck driver and the privately educated stockbroker would no doubt get on like a house on fire should the opportunity arise. Except he’s quit. What a tosser. As did Boris, as did Cameron. Dodgy Dave without whom June the 24th 2016 would have been just another day. What an absolute fucking mess. May they all have blood in their stools for ever more.

Its at times like these that I find the review box a little taxing. Pretty much everything I get sent is of the ‘difficult nature’, or as some people like to say ‘unlistenable’. I work with people [Brexiters mainly] for whom Bryan Adams Greatest Hits is there go to apres pub CD of choice so what they’d think of YOL is something worth considering. What I need right now is something to take my mind of things not make it any worse.

Fortunately for me Stuart Chalmers is in a rich vein of form, in fact I don’t think he’s ever been out of form. His rapidly expanding Imaginary Musicks series is now up to volume five and each one has been a liquid morphine carpet ride through cotton wool clouds and blue skies. Well almost. We’re talking tape manipulations, decay and loops here which in some hands can be turned into maelstroms of confusion and in others temporal trips of delight [obligatory reference to William Basinski here]. Chalmers has the skills to transform mundane sound samples into things of absolute beauty. Field recordings of crowds are taped and then manipulated in such a way as to make you feel as if you’re listening to a crowd of slowly shuffling zombies, one track appears to be a keyboard solo mutated into an ethereal other with layered lowered organ keys slathered, one track is a honking sax solo a la Nurse With Wound complete with squeaky capstan fuzz and spin. A ritualistic Column One style loop rises out of a jungle clearing and with it the mournful sigh of a wounded beast, mumbled conversations and a cavalcade of spits, farts and buzzes.

Basinski and his decayed loops are more prominent in Poetry of Decay, seven tracks on a singled sided cassette that once again transform the mundane into the unearthly. It could be a brass band recording, Matt Monroe, or the Wurlitzer at Blackpool Tower but its been slowed down to such a lethargic Largactyl like speed that its nothing but a mournful lament, a wade through treacle, the wind lashed frozen tundra of an alien landscape.  Chalmers career in soundtracking sci-fi movies or the works of David Lynch should be assured.

Discovering that the sublime Chalmers had collaborated with the the din merchant YOL came as something of a shock. They’re an unlikely pairing to say the least and I was wondering if they were too far apart for it to make any sense. And then there was the post Brexit blues weighing down on me. And apart from a couple of tracks where its YOL barking and choking on his words it is a fair old mismatch. Of the seven tracks by far the standout was ‘Rusty-Rats’ where to a background of tape swirl YOL stutters and shouts such lines as ‘The lamp post is full of rats, that explains the squeaking’ and ‘Sausages made with meat from people who died at the fair’, lines are both absurd and disturbing at the same time. Of the rest only the last and more subdued ‘Best Shot’ leave any residue.

Putting on my bravest face and deciding that entering the post Brexit age had to be done at some time or other I placed ‘Is It Acceptable’ into the slot with a face like that of a man touching a bare electrical wire not knowing if its live or not. While it spun I admired YOL’s design work; a blazing car superimposed onto a Primark paper bag and knew that I was finally ready for it. I need not have worried. I knew I was in safe hands. Of the four tracks I reveled in the reversing lorry sounds, the now trademark strangulated delivery, the sound of YOL squeezing the life out of himself like no other I know. Its still a startling thing to hear even after so many releases. By far the strongest track on here though is also the quietest. ‘Soz Hard’ is a stripped down YOL; metal chains, an empty space, tin cans, YOL trying to spit out the words ‘The Winner of … ’ repeatedly, dribble running down his chin, exasperated exhalations of breath, the tinkle of nuts and bolts in a hub cap, shimmering bells. In its own strange way its rather beautiful. The last track is YOL at his visceral best.

And now I’m cured. Back on track. From Stuart Chalmers to YOL in one review. Whodathunkit?  



Invisible City

Stuart Chalmers Bandcamp

LF Records

YOL Bandcamp

Strange Rules

Quagga Curios Sound