Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chocolate Monk

Richard Youngs - Bad Words
Chocolate Monk. Choc 436

Blood Stereo - Two Drams
Chocolate Monk. Choc 437

Dan Fröberg - The Common Error of Ordinary
Chocolate Monk. Choc 438

Mike Dilloway - Any Old Time Tastes
Chocolate Monk. Choc 439

Todd W. Emmert - A Serpentine Summer [2019]
Chocolate Monk. Choc 440

Laugh Stains - Gaze Into The Drain
Chocolate Monk. Choc 441

Mr. Duke Pinch - Mud Hen, Prick And Green Belt
Chocolate Monk. Choc 442

Music comes in lumps these days. Like rice in Japanese restaurants. Seven albums from Chocolate Monk that once transferred to playable form got so jumbled I became a tad confused. And some people say that it makes things easier for them. At least the Richard Youngs tracks were easy to spot seeing as how the titles all came in caps and had swear words in them: FUCK IT, HE’S A BASTARD, PISS_FUCK_WONK [and no thats not a spelling error] and my favourite GOBSHITE [EXTENDED VERSION]. A track that goes on for what seems like three days but is in fact a tad shy of the twenty five minute mark. Whats happening here is that Mr. Youngs, a man whose penchant for testing the limits of his listening publics patience has recorded himself swearing. ‘Bad Words’, should you have the stomach for it, is a constant pitch tweaked multi-tracked babble of profanity that should not be played within hearing distance of a vicarage or sheltered accommodation. Smell & Quim fans will love it.

Chocolate Monk has been one of the most eclectic, out there UK labels for many years now, constantly pressing out ur skronk of a standard that makes other labels look like they aren’t even trying. Plenty of it defies categorization. How to describe five tracks of Easy Listening Pop classics knocked out on what sounds like either a tiny player piano or a zither courtesy of Mr. Duke Pinch? I have no idea. When Mr. Duke’s imperious version of The Last Waltz started it was all I could do to stop myself getting to my feet and cod waltz an imaginary partner. These schmaltzy classics [Crazy, Quando Quando Quando are my other faves] are the last thing I’d expect to hear from Chocolate Monk but that makes me like the label even more. And there’s only five tracks which leaves us all [well me at any rate] begging for more. Todd W. Emmert meanwhile has eleven tracks of far out repetitive, ramshackle, mainly acoustic guitar, keyboard instrumentals that are some kind of crazed Amon Düül outtakes. Work that one out.

From here on in you get the impression that we’re back in Kansas or at least somewhere near Brighton. It goes without saying that there’s some twisted tape manipulations in here, thats Blood Stereo’s name you see up there ain’t it? But first Laugh Stains who swing from electronic gabba to all out Faust with a stunning track called ‘Scanning Bulbous Ruminations’, think tortured howling vocals over slave boat thump and howling sax. ‘The Rhubarb Man’ is someone telling the story of The Rhubarb Man, a local weirdo by the sounds of it, to a background of a wind-up street organ and someone hitting empty milk bottles with a stick.

Dan Fröbergs composition ‘The Common Error of Ordinary’ steers us towards calmer waters with a gentle 47 minute long melding of collaged drones that weaves into its weft a gentle piano and a recurring organ blast that sounds like Keith Emerson’s been at it with a carving knife. Tapes go in reverse, loops are built from stuck records and the mood, despite the stabbed organ is one of serene melancholy.

Further in we find Mike Dilloway and two ten minute tracks of similarly edited sound collages. One track is a weird Eraserhead like loop of muted, oscillating tubular bells, cymbals crashing in reverse and plasterboard being riven from walls with a claw hammer. The next is all ultra lo-fi res underwater burble and lonely piano with taped vocals going v v v v slowly backwards, a decomposing tape fest of sizeable proportions. Mike Dilloway is a collaboration between Aaron Dilloway and Mike Collino. So now you know.

Blood Stereo’s release ‘Two Drams’ is, in another world, a cassette. And a badge. The Richard Youngs release has a badge too. It has the words ‘Fuck It’ on it but then it would wouldn’t it? The Dan Fröberg release comes with a book. I only know all this because I’ve been looking at the Chocolate Monk website which is where I should have been at the start of this trip. I also now know that some of these are sold out. Tough busters baby. I don’t see no Bandcamp page. ‘Two Drams’ is two ten minute truffle hunting tracks of rattle, parp, squidge and moan. This is a squeak. This is a firework display. That is a sneeze. Those are two empty milk bottles getting knocked together. There’s the walk home from the pub at midnight and all the voices and scrapes and shuffles. This is a an alter boy recoding his heavenly voice in an underpass. This did happen. This is weird even by Blood Stereo standards.

All that remains now is for you all to buy a £6 pint of Brighton beer and raise it aloft intoning the words; ‘without Chocolate Monk this world would be a sadder place’. Repeat ad nauseum, record it and send it to them. You never know.

Chocolate Monk



Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lenka Lente

Pierre Loti - La Chanson des Vieux Époux
Quentin Rollet & Vomir - Vengance

Lenka Lente. Book + CD.

ISBN : 979-10-94601-30-3

Describing Pierre Loti as obscure author may be doing him a disservice. The French government did afford him a state funeral after all. He was born in the 1850’s and joined the navy as an officer. No doubt to pass the long hours at sea he began to write novels, short stories and essays on his travels. He married in to wealth and had opulent tastes. His house in Rochefort [now a museum should you ever be in town] was decorated in the style of the many places he’d travelled and contained a fountain surrounded by the coffins of five desiccated corpses. You don’t see that in Laura Ashley do you?

His most famous work his Madame Chrysanthème which pre-cursed Madame Butterfly and Miss Siagon as a novel regarding Japanese relationships and manners. La Chanson des Vieux Époux [The Song of the Old Couple] is a short story about an elderly vagabond Japanese couple called Toto-San and Kaka-San. He’s blind and she cant walk so he pulls her along behind him on a small cart that holds all their possessions while silently begging for food. My schoolboy French isn’t needed to interpret the moral of the story but [spoiler alert] it doesn’t end well.

How this relates to Quentin Rollet and Vomir you’ll have to ask Lenka Lente. All you need to know for now is that Vengance is an eleven minute Apollo 5 take off noise blast that mutates in to a shamanic honk and howl session courtesy of Rollet’s not inconsiderable honking skills. The way he flays those notes around suggests that he struggled to keep both feet on the floor at the same time while recording this and that he was knackered afterwards, Rollet having done all the lung busting hard work while Vomir [Romain Perrot - known for making walls of noise with a black bin liner over his head] stooped over a table belting the shit out of some noise boxes.

Its perhaps only through Lenka Lente that you will find an obscure French author, a Wall Noise artist and someone who has blown sax with the likes of Nurse With Wound and Eugene Chadbourne all in one small CD and book combo. Its this kind of juxtaposition I like. It keeps Loti’s name alive and gives curious readers the chance to indulge in some all out avant skronk noise that they would otherwise be unaware of. Win win.


Friday, August 09, 2019

Goan Chill Out.

Anne-F Jacques & Tim Olive - Tooth Car
Intomena. int020. CD
200 copies.

Doreen Girard/Tim Olive - Boro
845 Audio. 845-12 CD.
100 copies.

Tim Olive/Martin Tétreault - Faune
845 Audio. 845-11 CD.
100 copies

I like to think of listening to electro-acoustic sounds as the aural equivalent of looking down a powerful microscope, the revelatory detail becoming more apparent the deeper you go. But this is the important bit, you have to pay attention. I know I’ve banged on about this before but what we have here is the perfect antidote to too much commercial radio and inane DJ blather this is your go to genre for escaping from the chaos of the modern world. Arvo Pärt, John Tavener and Montiverdian vespers have their part to play just forget all that Goan Chill Out Volume 6 the Panjim Mix shite and Classic FM Relaxing Moods CD's, get yourself some improvised experimental electro-acoustic sounds. Its the place to be.

The beauty of it only becomes apparent with much concentration. With extraneous sounds banished. I prefer headphones and a little above normal volume settings. I’m not advocating booking an hour at your local universities anechoic chamber, just pick a quiet time of day when your mood should suit and prepare to have your ear channels filled with all manner of fascinating sounds. I’m not advocating full on Fransisco López immersion here either [though maybe that would be no bad thing] just stick your head in the bag and inhale deeply now and again. Its good for the soul.

The Anne-F Jacques/Tim Olive collaboration came courtesy of a kindly soul who realised I didn’t have enough Tim Olive collaborations in my life. Tooth Car arrives on a Russian label that's new to me and comes in a splendid fold out slip case designed by St Petersburgh noise maker Ilia Belorukov that's covered in the striking black and white lines of the notorious/infamous Canadian comic artist Julie Doucet. Anne-F Jacques is credited with ‘rotating surfaces, objects and mastering while Olive is of course on his ever present magnetic pickups. Its two tracks are taken from live performances as recorded in 2015 in Washington and Boston, its where magnetic pickups working with rotating surfaces and objects makes for an ever revealing listen, its like having an army of ants crawl all over you as slowly melting glaciers grind up giant granite boulders. Gentle loops of degradation weave in and out of the grime and there's tension and within that tension calm and if that sounds like a contradiction then so be it. The second outing is much more subdued with tiny scratching and scraping though this is no less gripping and there’s gaps, yes actual gaps, silence that slowly becomes filled with the looping sounds  …. of what? Who knows? Thats a major part of the appeal.

Tooth Car was released a couple of years back but according to the Intomena website is still available. Please feel free.

The two releases on Tim Olives 845 Audio label are more recent and still available via Bandcamp and hopefully in hard copy. I urge you to investigate but only if you have the time and patience. Yes, yes, yes, I know, shut up with the patience thing. We know we’re not here for a beery sing-a-long. This time around Olive collaborates with Martin Tétreault and Doreen Girard, or vice-versa if you prefer. Tétreault working with turntables and electronics and Girard on prepared tsymbaly, that's a dulcimer in case you were wondering [I was].

On Boro’s single 26 minute track this results in a wash of scraping, droning, twanging, frotting, tink and howl as Girard tugs, shoves and maybe for all I know breathes across her strings creating a crumbling world of zings and crashes. Faune [recorded in 2013] is full of skree, tiny machine sounds, throbbing drone. Loops from Tétreault’s turntables speed up and slow down, gentle knocks and rumbles and through all this Olive works his magnetic pickups, strings are pulled through guitar strings, tiny wire brushes are deployed, coils, violin bows, tuning forks maybe circuit boards from dusty PC towers were crushed between weighted palms? All marvelous.

So why the collaborations? Why not fly solo? I suppose the answer to that is to see what happens when two [or three or more] get together and start making sounds that have never been heard before. These are collaborations of pure improvisation of course. Its alchemy on the hoof and extremely rewarding.


845 Audio

Friday, August 02, 2019

Royal Hungarian Noisemakers & Fixateur Externe - Split
Unsignedlabel US060. Enhanced CDR.
50 copies.

Dai Coelacanth - A Condemned Debtor Does Not Recognise The Horse
Staaltape. Cassette.

Crow Versus Crow. CVC013. Cassette/DL
50 copies.

Art That Came From The Artist Chandor Glöomy Who Runs The Coma Kultur Label.

Venusian Death Cell - Holycaust

Attila Vlad is a portmanteau name that like Marylin Manson and Fred Boycott sounds better than the names it was derived from. Sort of. I imagine Attila Vlad to be the sort of person who signs fan autographs with a quill dipped in red ink. Maybe he signs important documents in the same way? Ah Mr Vlad so pleased to see you, we have a few papers for you to sign, I see you’ve brought your own quill how marvelous. Maybe Attila has another name, a name that he was born with that doesn’t fit within the framework of a noise project and he decided to change it to make himself sound harder? Maybe his real name is László Moholy-Nagy and he didn’t want to be confused with the Hungarian artist of the same name. These things happen.

Attila Vlad is all over the Royal Hungarian Noisemakers & Fixateur Externe release as is Rovar17 [real name Marcel Lajos Breuer]. This being a multimedia release we have an MP4 video showing a reel to reel deck and lots of ants doing what ants do to a soundtrack of noise and vocals that may well sound like Fred Dors doing what Fred Dors does best, or was it Diana West? I forget. What these mangled vocals and searing noise blasts do sound like is Costes. A Hungarian Costes then. Sort of. The first three tracks are all versions of ‘Anyu: kád = ki-o-káá’ and these are the three noisiest tracks on the disc. Not bad either with that lunatic vocal getting stretched, looped, slowed down and Daleked over various elements that include clanging metal and machine gun noise. For whatever reason the last three tracks take a detour into more sinister territory ‘Der Hund’ has a low volume thump covered in distant voices, radio comms delivered at a barely audible level, ‘Elég Volt A Látomásból’ passes in a similar style and sounds like the conversations heard in the control room at Chernobyl just as all the dials started going full melt. Last track ‘Isten Szeme’ is almost Faust-ian with a distant honking sax and Hungarian voices slurred into one big Goulash. All tracks recorded live. Unicum may have been involved.

Dai Coelacanth. Half Welshman, half prehistoric fish. The last time we met was on a Greek Island. It all seems so long ago now. I found the tape at the side of my pillow in the morning. A delivery from the Milk Tray man of Dicta-noise. There was a piece of paper inside the cassette box that said ‘greasy space’, the words were written in pen twice over and then again with orange highlighter. A piece of paper inside the box said ‘don’t lick it’. Glued to the inside of the insert were scraps of a found shopping list [swoon], the cassette itself had once belonged to Earl Hines but had been recycled which is a must for Dai or Canthy as he’s known to his mates. It was indeed a greasy space. But is it a he? Or a She? Or a them? We have a thousand dodgy Dictaphone edits each one half a second long and culled from outdoor situations where the bleed through of buffeting wind sounds like a fireman's hose directed straight in to your ear canal. Snatches of words appear and budgies and announcements in foreign tongues, radio broadcasts are destroyed, conversations between people with middle England accents come and go, whistles and oh the madness. On yet another piece of paper there comes a type written story in which Nancy at Wiggly Green gets a ray gun or something. My brain was fried by now. That Radio 4 New Weird Britain programme never called at Dai Coelacanth’s door. A missed opportunity for both parties. Maybe they just couldn’t find him. Her. Them.

Gallooner I like to think of as a mild form of derision, as in ‘you gallooner’ something you get called when you’ve spilt egg down your shirt, a little bit like ‘you fucking gloyt’ which is the one I use at work. Gallooner is Gateshead based Graeme Hopper and is charged with constructing ‘heavily layered and complex sonic evocations and excavations’, words, which after listening to Chlorine, I agree with wholeheartedly while simultaneoulsy nodding my head ever so slowly. Where to begin? There’s Industrial Techno Noise and wide open spaces filled with dry strummed electric guitar, delightful tape squelch, Nurse With Wound creaky oddness, dogs barking and me trying to think up words to describe this disparate release. Apart from the rather abrupt ending of track one which made me think that this was edited with a machete to fit this is an engaging and eclectic gathering of sounds that leads me to believe that Mr Hopper has yet to find the groove he feels most comfortable with. This is no complaint. The long honking repetition of ‘Confessions of a Broken Temperament’ had me returning many times.

What of Chandor Glöomy [would that be one umlaut or two sir?] who sends me paper from the Netherlands that includes a little A5 black and white art book full of treated photographs, a small plastic bag with an all-seeing eye and a two inch button badge containing a geometric image that looks like Bridgette Riley’s take on the Stars and Stripes and decals [stickers to you] but no music so I go searching his Bandcamp page and find a Glöomy/Paul Harrison project called Hairs Abyss and an ep called ESP which is the first thing I’ve heard from Paul Harrison in quite some time [and if you’re reading this Paul I still have ALL those CD’s you bunged me that time in Dirty Dicks in Halifax that time and I swear to god I’ll listen to them all one day]. Mr Glöomy is an artist, a net label and a zine printer. He’s a busy Netherlanders by the looks of things and has collaborated with all manner of people including Adam Bohman, Andy Jarvis, Smell & Quim and lots of people I’ve never heard of. The Hairs Abyss ep is all subatomic electronica with patients in American hospitals being interviewed by their doctors which is no doubt taken from a disturbing 1950’s documentary about the effects of LSD. A definite retro noise feel which is no bad thing.

Last but definitely not least comes David Vora with Venusian Death Cell’s latest pean to all that is black and ungodly; ‘Holycaust’. This is where Irish Heavy Metal meets Hasil Adkins meets Wild Man Fischer meets whichever outsider one man project you care to mention. David’s been releasing his idiosyncratic brand of Heavy Metal for what seems like a very long time now (twenty five years at least) and I’m honored to have been there all the way and to witness how little his sound has altered during that period. VDC is David and a drum machine and sometimes real drums and samples from horror films, David’s vocals which are sometimes ‘vokills’ and David’s electric guitar which for the most part thrashes about like a mad thing but on ‘Holycaust’ appears to have taken on an almost Derek Bailey-esque turn. Heavy Metal Derek Bailey style played directly into the condenser mic of a 1970’s Hitachi cassette/radio and on to a wafer thin Boots C120. I’m quite sure that David hasn’t been dipping in to the Incus back catalogue but there it is at the back end of the opening track ‘Curse’ a song written in response to an unkind email, all twanging and wanging and sounding like no other guitar I know. He puts himself into his lyrics too, you can read them on the hand written insert. ‘Revenge of the Witches’ almost goes full on experimental as the drum machine goes drunken Robby the Robot as Vora’s guitar goes all tremolo-y and out of control. ‘Popeslaughter’ leaves me thinking I need not add anymore ditto ‘The Inverted Cross’. ‘No Human Cross’ is a mini classic of existential angst and a search for inner peace. They tend to be over and done with rather quickly these VDC releases and this is no different, eight songs all done and devil dusted crusted inside twenty church hating minutes. The covers are hand drawn as they always have been as are the lyrics. This time around I even got a hand written press release. I feel honored. This is the 32nd Venusian Death Cell album.



Crow Versus Crow

Coma Kultur

davidvora10 [at]

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The New Blockaders

Various Artists - Changez Retravaillé
Ricerca Sonora. RS7. 3 x CD

The New Blockaders - The Pulp Sessions
Menstrual Recordings. LH17. LP on clear vinyl.
250 copies.

Changez Retravaillé is the three CD, thirty track compilation that pays homage to The New Blockaders first and most influential 1982 album ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’. Its also the one that Howard Stelzer took displeasure with in a review that appeared via Vital Weekly. Stelzer’s unhappiness stemming from the fact that we’ve had enough TNB tributes already and that some of the contributions either sound too much like the original source material or too much like themselves, Nurse With Wound being the biggest culprit for offering up a contribution, hot on the heels of an an entire LP’s worth of the same, that to his ears sounds exactly like the original.  Stelzer has a point but only up to a point and this is certainly not a ‘pointless’ release. I’m not sure what the remit was here, maybe it was just to ‘retravaillé’ that being to rework or maybe there wasn’t a remit at all but we all know why we’re here, even if it doesn’t mention it on the sleeve, this is a tribute.

Then you have to remember that some of those contributing can punch their weight; Merzbow, Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, GX Jupitter-Larsen, this isn’t ‘My Best Mates and his Best Mates Knocked Together in Three Weeks Tribute to Changez Les Blockeurs 3 x cdr Wrapped in a Beethoven Symphony Manuscript Box Set Limited to 50 copies Chucked Together Piece of Shite’ and while not everybody has a slot on a shelf in Tower Records Shibuya all are respected artists. Talking of which I quite like the fact that Thurston Moore’s five minutes of string scraping and musical box twanging is one of the best tracks on here but that doesn’t mean I don’t like Nurse With Wounds track any the less for it not being a mind bending slice of outré sonics thats the best thing they’ve done in thirty years. Chances are that if you like any of the 30 artists/bands appearing here then there’ll be very little that disagrees with you.

For my own amusement and self satisfaction I divided these 30 tracks into four loose categories:

1 - Those that sound like the original recording.

2 - Those that sound nothing like the original recording.

3 - Those that sound like the original recording has been worked in to the contribution.

4 - Those that try to recreate the original recording.

That means that The Prestidigitators offer up a haunting track of leather oar strap twisting, groaning and contracting materials that would be a ‘4’ on the list. The New Movement [obvious TNB acolytes and a shoo in for this comp] who I reckon had thee most wonderful time trying to recreate the sounds of ‘Changez ..’  in their own inimitable style, i.e. lots of junk getting chucked around. Another ‘4’. [That nobody has yet to ascertain the true ‘instrumentation’ used on ‘Changez …’  and that nobody has yet managed to recreate its disturbing, fearsome sounds is something to ponder here]. K2, Toshiji Mikawa, Veltz and Merzbow are all saved for an ear splitting finale that sounds just fine and dandy to these ears. Daisuke Suzuki sifts through a wooden box full of knitting needles while those weird howling sounds from ‘Changez’ are heard in the distant background. Veltz’s contribution of atonal scraping and noise is undeniably Changez ...’ like but its been percolated through a few decades of Japanese noise and whats wrong with that? And where would noise in Japan be without ‘Changez …?’  We’ve just come to pay tribute maaan. Arigato gosaimasu.

A tri-fold out sleeve on textured card with an insert full of glowing reviews and praise, info on TNB and an interview that first appeared in C/U/N/T magazine a couple of years back in which it is revealed that ‘Changez …’ was indeed recorded in a garden shed may go some way as to explain why Italian label Ricerca Sonora had difficulty in getting this out there. For this reviewer at least it was well worth the wait.

Derek Jackman is a name sadly missing from ‘Changez Retravaillé’ but through Organum and his label Aeroplane Recordings we have a single that has become almost, if not ‘as’ influential as ‘Changez’. A collaboration between Organum and TNB the 1984 single ‘Pulp’ is a more mystifying slice of what was going on back then. I don’t have a copy of course. No surprise there and what they’re asking on Discogs for copies it seems it will remain that way but I was once in a room where a copy was produced and as Tristan Tzara is my witness I swear that people drew breath at the sight of it.

‘The Pulp Sessions’ are the extended workings from which ‘Pulp’ was realised. The results being not that far removed from ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’, in that we have two sides of constant churning, clanging, squeaking, stamping, shuffling and destroying sounds of an indeterminate nature that could have been recorded with various items of metal junk in a shed in the North East of England during a rain shower some time in the early 1980’s. Though whether Jackman ever made the trip to that shed in the North East or TNB visited Jackman’s shed is unknown to me. These are more austere recordings, denser with Organum filling out the sound. But with what? Who knows. Maybe whats missing is the shed itself. ‘The Pulp Sessions’ wont carry the same gravitas as ‘Pulp’ which we can put down to the passage of time but these two twenty minute tracks are still a reminder that way back in the early 80’s a brave few were making noises that’s still reverberate today. 

Menstrual Recordings

Ricerca-Sonora on Discogs


Friday, June 28, 2019


Posset/Ulyatt - A Jar Full
Crow Versus Crow. CVC012.
Cassette/DL. 70 copies.

Back in the 18th century the bleak moors that run out of Halifax along the Calder Valley were home to the Crag Vale Clippers. A group of men who ‘clipped’ coins of their gold to mint new ones. A bit like an 18th century version of Bitcoin carried out by hardened men in remote, windswept cottages with one big exception, back in those days you could expect to get your head in a noose for your troubles. These moors are the bleakest of the bleak, the kind where grass struggles to grow, inhospitable places where according to legend even Satan feared to tread. An area then populated by people who saw themselves as living apart from the rest of society and who chose to ignore the laws of the land when it suited them. Coiners cottages were deliberately set apart on the very tops of the moors the better to spy unwanted arrivals, farm animals would disappear into their soggy black bogs, people got lost never to be seen again and bags of shiny, newly minted coins were secretly buried.

Benjamin Myers novel Gallows Pole is as bleak as the moors its set on and tells the story of King David Hartley, a rough and ready Robin Hood like character, the leader of the Crag Vale Coiners, a hardened drinker, a man of the land who needs no clock or learning book. His descendants still live in the area and may even use ApplePay or contactless. How times change. The moors themselves are just as inhospitable but now there’s restaurants with tasting menus up there, holiday cottages to rent, along the valley bottom lies Hebden Bridge, a veritable tourist destination with one of the best live venues in the country, up the road in Todmorden you cant help but trip over vegan cafes and people making things out of dried sticks, Heptonstall attracts those wishing to find Sylvia Plath's gravestone while decrying Ted Hughes birthplace just down the road in Mytholmroyd while in Sowerby Bridge we find Crow Versus Crow.

And Joe Posset and Charlie Ulyatt. Posset works with Dictaphone and tapes but you knew that already. Charlie Ulyatt is new to me. He improvises on the cello. They did something crazy and met up two hours before a gig to collaborate in the live situation having never previously met or collaborated before. This meeting took place at The Angel pub in Nottingham and is what you can hear on side two of this most excellent release. Its like Keith Jarrett at Cologne when he turns up knackered and the gigs late in starting because the venues being used for another performance and the pianos not the one he’s been promised but some out of tune workaday thing and despite the adversity something magical happens. I’m not saying that ‘A Jar Full’ will go down as the improv Jarret live in Köln but its not far off. A seemingly unworkable coming together of two disparate entities makes for an absorbing listen. Ulyatt’s frotting, shaking and rubbing of the cello and Posset’s deft tape manipulations are suitably at ease with each other. A little like an austere Webern string composition into which someone has sneaked the gargling ultra squeak of tape voices and tape squelch. It last but a mere fifteen minutes but is tense and rewarding and no doubt seen by all involved as an unqualified success.

What surprises me is the depth. You’d think that two people, one working a Dictaphone and the other a cello would run out of ideas pretty quickly but that isn’t the case. On side one you find three tracks that were recorded after the event with each improvising over the others work without further editing. Here Posset slathers on the tape wobble as his fingers deftly feather the Dictaphone keys producing an ever changing vista of interrupted voices and tape squiggle, Ulyatt draws long drones, random raspy staccato attacks and at times there’s silence, each letting the others work stand alone for your delectation.         

Tape labels releasing tape/cello improv don’t feature in Gallows Pole. I suppose Myers found it hard to work it in, especially seeing as how only the cello bit had been invented. Still, its a gripping read. Crow Versus Crow meanwhile have once again chosen wisely. A quality release all round. Find it on the moors. Or through Bandcamp.


Crow Versus Crow

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Arme Nüss Volume 1
Bladder Flask / Kommissar Hjuler
Psych.KG 477. LP

Arme Nüss Volume 2
Bladder Flask & Broken Penis Orchestra / Kommissar Hjuler & Family Fodder
Psych.KG 485. LP

Arme Dornröschen
Bladder Flask & Broken Penis Orchestra / Wolfgang Kindermann & Magda Starwarska-Beaven, Dino Felipe & Kommissar Hjuler und Frau.
Psych.KG 483. LP

Three LP’s of mind boggling Fluxus, Dada, Improv, Sound Art and cut up queasy lunacy as culled from anywhere between the early 80’s and the present day has just landed and its like nothing else matters anymore. Put down your puny instruments of normality and breath in the frenzied fungal spores of Bladder Flask of Family Fodder of Kommissar Hjuler, of Broken Penis Orchestra of Wolfgang Kindermann & Magda Starwarska-Beaven where one speaks in German while the other translates into English to a soundtrack of found sounds recorded from a busy street window.

This gets complicated but bear with me: ‘Arme Nüss Volume 1’ is Bladder Flask’s ‘The Groping Fingers Of This Vulgar Intruder Have Strummed The Toppling Byzantine Organ Of His Mind’ which was a track that never made it as a United Dairies release [long story]. On ‘Arme Nüss Volume 2’ you have a reworking of ‘The Groping Fingers Of This Vulgar Intruder Have Strummed The Toppling Byzantine Organ Of His Mind’ by Broken Penis Orchestra and on ‘Arme Dornröschen’ a Broken Penis Orchestra reworking of Bladder Flask's ‘One Day I Was So Sad That The Corners Of My Mouth Met & Everybody Thought I Was Whistling’ [originally issued as an LP by Orgel Fesper Music in 1981]. Got that? I think I have. Just. My mind is fried after all this. You try descending into this world and leaving it with your senses intact.

What works for me is the coupling of Dada-esque Bladder Flask cut ups with the Fluxus improv of Kommissar Hjuler. The Kommissar has been off my radar for a while but appears to have spent the intervening years releasing material at a rate that makes Merzbow look a slouch. Hjuler, whether solo or mit frau are artists, multi-media artist and by that I don’t mean they use crayons and watercolours on the same bit of paper. Performance artists, sculptors, makers of anti-turntables, improvisers, provocateurs. Just look at those covers, looks like Hjluer’s work, Lego people watching a Kiss cassette concert, dismembered Barbie dolls [Arme Dornröschen translates as ‘poor sleeping beauty] covered in melted candle wax, Arme Nüss [poor nut] and cashew nuts strewn among the Barbie limbs. I once saw Hjuler und Frau play Colour Out of Space with a performance that made  most of everything else that weekend seem like stale ready salted crisps in comparison.
This is the world of German label Psych.KG where Fluxus meets Dada meets Anti-Art on a Hans Belmer landscape shaped from bits of twig and frayed bits of string. Take the coughing fits of ‘Groping Fingers …’ here we have the mysterious sound of out of tune pianos, French dialogue and from Broken Penis Orchestra the introduction of American spoken word samples and with it an intensifying of the general weirdness that the work generates. Listening back to back to the original for comparison what we now have is a far heavier, much weirder drug trip, an old zinc top Parisian bar where the punters are stoned and slumped, where the gaslights emit ether fumes and the accordion wheezes a sad lament, an unsettling atmosphere cut and edited to achieve remarkable levels of unease. Out of tune pianos are a common theme here appearing as they do on ‘One Day I Was So Sad …’ along with snatches of dialogue, fierce kazoos, clackety-clack machines, parping trombones, spooling tapes and uncontrollable bagpipes.

On side two of ‘Arme Nüss Volume 1’ Kommissar Hjluer thrashes around on a forest floor while trying to cut his binds with a junior hacksaw, reducing himself to sobbing piteous tears as he does so. On ‘Das Streben Nach Aberkennung’ it sounds like he’s taking his kitchen out using a lump hammer. Rhythmically. ‘Blue Orchid’ is a White Stripes cover banged out on an upright piano with two voices one of which is a deranged Pee Wee Herman the other being an officious German. All recorded to condenser mic. ‘Jazz Stuck’ is improv of the rawest kind, piano and sax with cut edits of the same put to tape and squelched to death. When collaborating with 70’s freaks Family Fodder we get six tracks of piano tinkling while someone chops up wood, pipes are clanged down deep mines, theres female French spoken word to the accompaniment of electronics, traditional French folk tunes squeezed out of accordions and on ‘The Kommissar Will see You Now’ a track that has an almost Residents feel.

Unfamiliar to me are Wolfgang Kindermann & Magda Starwarska-Beaven. Starwarska-Beaven describes herself as a ‘multi-disciplinary artist’ who works mainly in sound. Wolfgang Kindermann is an Austrian poet. ‘Who/Wer’ is the audio taken from an installations of Starwarska-Beaven in which she translates the text read by Kindermann to the sound of passing cars and general street noise and on ‘Daswessender’ manipulates vocals to the sound of angry machines.

Now for the bad news. All these highly desirous LP’s are pressed in small numbers. If I’ve got this right there’s only 48 of each with the 48th copy made in to an unplayable art edition. No downloads of course. What were you even thinking. There are copies available but be prepared to dig deep. 

News reaches these ears that Steve Stapleton is reworking Bladder Flask material as I type. This could complicate that second paragraph even further.

All three releases available here.