Saturday, November 21, 2020

Found Tapes, Fridge Hum and Gobcore


Trouble Tracer - Autofhart

Crow Versus Crow. CVC019. Cassette/DL

50 Copies.

Cahn Ingold Prelog - Accelerate

Crow Versus Crow. CVC018. Cassette/DL

50 Copies.

Cody Brant - Found Cassettes. Volume 1

Research Laboratories.

20 copies.

Aum Shinrikyo - From Russia With Love 93

Research Laboratories 

16 copies.

Could we maybe just a little bit perhaps like skip Christmas altogether? A few people might get upset but think of the positives; no having to watch Toy Story 3 on Christmas Day afternoon while feeling slightly nauseous after being on the Emva Cream since ten o’clock and having just eaten twice the weight of your head in food, no fretting about whether the turkey will be big enough and will Uncle Arthur be coming this year, after all his legs aren’t what they used to be and we’re going to have to borrow some chairs from next door because if they all turn up there won’t be enough room and if your brother starts like he did last year I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my temper, maybe we’ll do two sittings and don’t tell me Aldi are out of turkey trays as it’ll never fit in what we’ve got and why did you buy such a big one, I hope you like turkey curry and don’t get granny started on the creme de menthe you know she cant handle it, your mother’s never forgiven us. Could we just go straight to New Years Eve and Jools Holland’s Hootingnanny and off to bed to wake up in the morning no longer able to move freely between those countries that we once used to move freely between? Please. 

Those of an artistic bent seemed to have faired better than most this year. Deprived of an outside world to explore and work in they’ve burrowed down into their inner selves and made the best of a bad job. Cahn Ingold Prelog is such a person. That person being Simon Proffitt who finding himself trapped within his four walls sent off for a sensitive piezoelectric accelerometer with which to record the insides of said walls. Said piezoelectric accelerometer allowing him to capture frequencies at the edges of the human hearing range so if he were to rest it on the top of his fridge he’d have instant fridge hum [or fridgecore as I’ve seen it recently termed, a term I’m happy to endorse] and if he put it in a drawer that he happened to be searching around in for a council tax bill he’d have the track ‘Unsuccessful Search For A Council Tax Bill’. Tracks like ‘Central Heating Song’, ‘Fruitless Hunt For Clean Fork’ and ‘Freezer [Main Compartment]’ thus become self explanatory. The results lie somewhere between the first TNB album and the electro-acoustic workouts of any decent electro-acoustic sound artist you care to mention. It also shows that there are plenty of people out there still getting a kick out of fridge hum and the sounds of everyday life.

Did Mark Vernon and Fritz Welch meet up during the lockdown that wasn’t a lockdown to record Autofahrt? No, they recorded this in free to go where ever you want without dying 2019, in the days before ‘bubbles’ and ‘will we be having Christmas this year?’ discussions. Vernon is described as a sound artist who works with found tapes and ‘acousmatic presence’, Welch as drummer, percussionist and vocalist. Together they have created twenty one tracks of huffing, puffing, rattling, shaking, frotting, grumbling noises which merge in to one big huffing, puffing, rattling, shaking, frotting, grumbling Blood Stereo-esque blob. There is also plenty of gob hum, flapping lips, tuneless whistling, moans a-plenty and some kind of cross-checked list on the j-card that involves something to do with engines that makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Shut your eyes and imagine you’re at a Phil Minton improv gig where he’s joined by people making noises on bits of pipe and junk, this is where we are. And full marks once again to Crow Versus Crow for going above and beyond in the cassette department. These things of beauty are what makes this job all the more worthwhile. I’m sure there are people out there collecting them all. Having all the CVC tapes stacked on a visible shelf with the confines of ones locked down abode gives you a pretty good idea as to whats going on at the fringes of UK experimentalism. Its no bad place to be.

Also at the forefront of cheering me up in lockdown are Research Laboratories whose defiance of all things digital has me warming to them like few others. That and their penchant for releasing truly mind warping sounds. Cassettes is all you get though. Their editions may be small, tiny even but this matters me not for that which is worth reissuing usually finds a new home somewhere down the line. In the meantime let us soak up some found cassette tape action courtesy of Cody Brandt and Aum Shinrikyo both of whom approach the found cassette with keen ears but from different continents. Thus Brandt’s tape is a collection of found Americana from an age where families would record Christmas messages to absent relatives [they knew what they were doing] ‘say a few words Betty’ ‘gee ... I don’t know what to say Frank’. These longer homespun homilies are in contrast to whats found on the first side which is a barrage of ephemera that includes; very bad karaoke, drunk women falling out with their husbands, tv recordings, children reciting stories, country music, news items about cough medicine and the dangers of kids getting high on them, raucous laughing, farting noises, speaking in tongues, telephone conversations, kitchen sinks etc. A world now gone, replaced by messaging services on mobile phones and whatever else you use to record stuff on to your phone with. 

With no information to go bar the badly xeroxed cover I’ll assume that ‘From Russia With Love 93’ is a straight copy of a found tape as recovered from a shoebox under someones bed in Japan, or a street market in Shibuya where the sale of old cassettes with handwritten track listings are all of a sudden very fashionable. Here be the Japanese version of one of those cassettes I used to make myself where a favoured C90 was permanently queued in a radio/cassette player, ready to record greatness as played by the likes of Peel and Tommy Vance [TV on the radio], the tape slowly filling up over the weeks and with it the j-card insert with your scrawl and doodles. Some tapes were better than others and prized tapes you carried through your life until the internet and recordable CD’s came along and changed everything. Here be programme theme tunes, buddhist ceremonies replete with tinkling bells, dialogue, traditional tunes sung in warbly voices, schmaltzy pop tunes, forthcoming features voiced by squeaky voiced ladies and all of it degraded to such an extent that it sounds like it came in on a distant shortwave station. At times the tape was so badly decayed and worn that I didn’t know if it was the actual tape that was ruined or the recording of a recording of the original tape that was ruined, the sound reaching my ears reduced to oscillating wobbles and flutter and with it absolute tape joy.

I listened to both Research Lab releases the other night while flat on my back, shagged out after a hard days squawk and the trip was like no other I’ve experienced in recent months. You have no idea whats coming next, you’re listening to dead folks and radio shows that probably only exist on these tape, worlds and people gone forever. Outsider works par excellence.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Max Nordile


Max Nordile - Building A Better Void

Gilgongo Records. GGGR-108. LP/DL

One of the upsides to living in the purple bit of the UK virus map is that there’s not much else to do except listen to music, read books and tell you about Max Nordile. I’ve never been much of a fan of the idiot box and looking for a back door boozer to sit and drink with the covidiots is about as likely to happen as Trump saying ‘I lost’. Watching films comes low on the priority list too, so after you’ve taken going to work and the weekend walk into account, books, music and telling you about Max Nordile it is.

To sit and read in silence though, to be able to read what someone else wrote and transform those marks on the page into thoughts and then to ponder those thoughts and put them into the memory bank for distillation and maybe inspiration or to give yourself a better understanding of yourself, your neighbours, the world in general. I still marvel as how as a species we’ve been able to achieve this and yet there’s still people who think the orange man child is a good idea and that he’s been robbed of the election. 

The only big distraction of late has been the US election. I mean, we take the coronavirus in our stride now don’t we? Hardly worth a mention. The unfolding of the US election I was able to follow in more detail than usual due to not being at work. Each morning I awoke to have it confirmed to me that 72 million American’s had put their faith in a person who despises democracy. Its something I’m still struggling with and its putting me off my tea and toast.

An LP from America then and as we all know by now, anything that arrives from America gets preferential treatment due to the sendee having to sell one of their kidneys, or rob a shop in order to afford the airmail costs. In this case over $23. A lovely thick slab of wax via Gilgongo Records out of Tempe, Arizona which after a bout of engine searching looks like one of those places where not much happens at all. If number two on your list of top ten things to do in Tempe [pronounced tem-pee] is a walk across a bridge that spans a man-made lake then you know you’re in quiet town. But then we are in the middle of a desert so perhaps a stretch of water has its charms. 

I like Gilgongo already and not just because their website has but one page and that it is an exact copy of the page that arrives with the Nordile record, a single sheet of A4 that looks like its been photocopied a thousand times and all the straight lines have started to wobble and the letters go up and down a bit, a distro list circa 1991. That and they have a Smegma/Winters in Osaka collaboration LP that I’m going to have to get hold of. You’re best finding them through Discogs where, if you can stomach the postage cost your hearts desires shall be met [Cold Spring carry some of their stuff in the UK too so alls not lost].

Max Nordile has graced us with his presence on numerous occasions now. We’re almost close friends, fist bump buddies, alternate poker nights round at his and mine with Albert Ayler blasting in the background, bowls of peanuts and brimming ashtrays, beer and crisps, sorry potato chips crunched into the carpet and 4am drives home. He’s the person in the middle of the Oakland experimental, improv scene judging by the amount of work he pumps out and the number of bands he’s involved with. Building A Better Void his his most coherent work I’ve heard though. Not a word I’d usually associate with Max who I’m guessing much prefers the chaotic route to creative nirvana. Although I have to qualify that by saying I’ve not heard that much within the greater scheme of things and that I’ve only been listening for the last couple of years. His solo stuff has veered towards freeform sax honk and general out-there weirdness while his work with Preening and Uzi Rash bear comparisons with Beefheart. This is more like early Nurse With Wound meets Jandek, six tracks of mumbled vocals, sliding strings, sax parps and noise, some of it recorded live with added chatter, some of the vocals going in reverse but always with that ‘vibe’, that force that you cant quite put your finger on. Its Max speaking in tongues, a mumbled witches curse as bridge strings get knocked about, shop doorbells going tinkle, one stringed melodies, a small ensemble of several Max’s where all the instruments have had their strings removed except one, where all the wind instruments have had all their holes blocked up except two, the vocals recorded while out walking or stood at the bus stop, a soupçon of swirly keyboard like a Swordishtrombone song thrown to hungry wolves with what’s left committed to wax. And this is just the first side. 

The longest track on side two, where but two of the six tracks reside is a metronomic bass heavy dirge of the highest stripe, a rolling tumble of detuned guitars, rubbed metal and Yol-ish tinks and clangs. This is The Residents far too the worse for drink trying to get it together on broken instruments using only their knees. Recordings made in a lunatic asylum 50 years ago by people who heard Zappa records played at the wrong speed, the recordings trapped in decaying reel to reel tape boxes and covered in bizarre pen marks that may or may not lead you to the true source of their inspiration. 

NB: This also sounds good played at the wrong speed.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Charles Pennequin & Jean-François Pauvros


Charles Pennequin & Jean-François Pauvros- Le Martien

Lenka Lente. Book + CD


The world of contemporary French poetry is as alien to me as the Rig Veda but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the delivery, the voice of someone reciting their lines in an increasingly vexed manner like they’ve forgotten how vexed reading their words can make them and now its all coming back and excuse while I blow a fuse here. Charles Pennequin is such a man. A big man with a red face and a bald head who records himself while driving, spitting out words while keeping an eye on that oncoming Citroen thats slowing down to turn left and isn’t indicating. French drivers eh? Maybe such incidents do inspire him? I was listening to The Verb the other night [R3 show that explores the written word as hosted by the lugubrious Bard of Barnsley Ian Macmillan, whom I am a great admirer of] and he was talking about how he fell down the steps at home the other day and while in the act of falling he was thinking to himself ‘this’ll make a great poem’. 

Pennequin’s Youtube channel contains some memorable performances and above them all the word ‘REVOLT’ which may give you some indication of where we’re heading here. No translation required. Here we find Pennequin reciting his poetry at the side of a busy and noisy motorway, hanging over the safety barrier shouting his words into the roar of the traffic, struggling to make himself heard, a forty second clip of him reciting poetry while riding his motorbike, a motorbike with a raspy engine which when coupled to the noise being made by the ensuing wind makes this sound like rudimentary Power Electronics. His standing in contemporary French poetry  and his oeuvre no doubt highly regarded by his contemporaries and admirers but very much an unknown quantity in the English speaking world due to the lack of translation of his work [as far as I can gather]. So much is unknown to us, so much left  to discover.  

Judging by my rudimentary research I’m assuming that Pennequin and the experimental guitarist Jean-François Pauvros have collaborated on numerous occasions and from what I’ve seen and heard they make for a good fit and I’m not just talking about creatively, Pauvros going for the Jimmy Page heroin years look and Pennequin with his shiny bald pate, bulging eyes and permanently gesticulating lips. 

This latest perfect tiny tome from Lenka Lente contains Pennequin’s poem Le Martien and a disc containing three different versions of it as performed twice with Pauvros and the other being a solo affair where Pennequin overdubs his voice so that the delivery becomes a series of rolling and reverbed lines. Pauvros’s mournful electric guitar accompaniment is a funereal thing full of softly strummed strings, thumped scratch plate, the occasional clang, frot and pull on the whammy bar as Pennequin delivery gets ever more vociferous and agitated.

I sort of translated the poem myself but I’ll spare you my rudimentary working of it; something about an alien coming to earth and not liking what it sees so it rings the mother alien and asks for advice. It doesn’t end well. During my ruminations I discovered that the French for flying saucer is ‘soucoupe volante’. I shall look forward to using that one and hopefully seeing some of Pennequin’s work in English.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Lockdown Improv Election Night Special


Pär Thörn/Ian Douglas-Moore - Story Destroyer

Firework Edition Records. FER1132. CD

Phil Maguire/Tim Olive - Invoer

845 Audio. CD/DL

Chris Dadge/Tim Olive - Nice You!

845 Audio. CD/DL

At least the US Presidential election is talking our minds off covid. For a while anyway. And Brexit. Who’d have though that that little story would be trailing halfway down the evening news feeds? I don’t know about you but I wake up every morning hoping that the petulant orange man child has been photographed having all his stuff thrown in to the back of a bin wagon as he leaves the Whitehouse for the last time along with a big boot print on his backside. Vehicle reversing beep, beep, beep, there go your ties, your kids and all those black ink pens you use to sign executive orders with, because you wont be needing them anymore. Oh and here come the authorities, have you paid your lawyers, better keep them sweet because people are wanting to know why you haven’t paid bugger all tax since whenever and your wife’s divorcing you too [good luck getting half of nothing].

The sad thing about the last few days is that it was all entirely predictable. Anything other than a landslide Trump win was always going to end in tears, or tear gas as it probably will. All it takes is one tweet from Mr Mentally Unstable Overweight Orange Person and you’ve got yourself a full blown civil war on your hands. I'll be watching via Twitter if anybody needs me.

Meanwhile here in lockdown England the quiet descends once more. I wouldn’t say I enjoy the lockdown situation per se but I do appreciate the peace and quiet. The still autumnal nights interrupted only by the distant sound of the neighbours barking dogs and seeing as how its early November, fireworks and the realization that there are people out there who actually think not blowing up Parliament was a good thing and worth celebrating by standing around a bonfire eating pie and peas as explosives scare the shit out of the animal population and those with delicate mental health.

The perfect time of year for getting your head in to some really quite gorgeous and subtle electro-acoustic work outs then.

845 Audio we are all familiar with here but first the [appropriately named at this time of year] Firework Edition Records. This being the label run by Kent Tankred and Leiff Elgren out of Sweden, a multi-disciplinary label that ‘moves freely between sound art, music, conceptual art and the visual arts’. Pär Thörn and Ian Douglas-Moore are also new to me but hopefully I will come across more of their work. The first two tracks are pretty good boiler plate electro-acoustic live work outs as captured six years ago in Berlin [noisy, scrabbling, plucked clockwork machines, strummed strings, tiny bells, droney, you get the drift] but where things start to get really interesting is on the newer collaborations where we stray into the corner of the room marked Industrial Ambience. I know I’m in danger of never being invited to Sweden on the back of this but when you start to mix reversed micro rhythms and short bursts of Ryoji Ikeda high hertz tones into a noisy crescendo, you have the all the ingredients at hand ... whats a man to do? ‘Describe How The Computer Has Been Used As A Tool For Warfare’ is the track title of the week and more of that Ikeda computer chatter stuck on a loop and a rare instance of a sound appearing within your hearing range that you initially assume to be outside of the sounds that you’re listening to. If you get my drift. In this instance the sound of someone repeatedly clicking a retractable pen, which I assumed to be Mrs Fisher but wasn’t. Add in some buried looped vocals and we’re heading to Müh Müh land. ‘The Urge To Sound Like A Car/Bird During A Rainy Afternoon’ has slowed down voices, the sounds of children and a slow descent in to silence. Were those fireworks I heard too? Please, no more.

This gentle ambience is carried over in to both 845 Audio releases which are two of the most laid back of Tim Olive’s releases its been my pleasure to receive. Within Invoer’s four tracks you will find subtle machine drones and faint pulses, tensed strings that vibrate on but the softest of breezes, gentle perambulations where the vague whiff of shortwave catches your nose unseen like pipe smoke. These being long distant collaborations that should have taken place here in the UK but were cancelled because of you know what. London based Maguire working with synthesizer and computers which no doubt contributed to the throbbing nature of most of this and Olive as ever prizing his sounds from magnetic pick ups. Its a well matched release and one of 845 Audio’s best.

Olive’s two collaborations with Chris Dadge were recorded while Olive was touring Canada last year, studio recordings where Dadge is credited with amplified percussion and ‘small instruments’. The latter of which intrigues me no end and is open to all sorts of interpretation; mini violins, toy pianos, those little plastic guitars that Steve Beresford is so fond of, things from doll’s houses? 

Nice You! Has two tracks the first of which becomes one of those glorious ‘pull you under’ drones that could have at its heart a frotted drum skin or is perhaps a recording of a steel door swinging on its rusty hinges, the second is full of resonating gongs, steel pipe clank, whining scrape and a wheezing tuneless harmonica [a tiny one maybe?] that floats in and out of proceedings. Drone being the key here with the pair gelling easily in all that they do.

Can you do Zoom improv? Has this been tried? I have no idea of the travel restrictions to or from Japan [where Tim Olive and 845 Audio is based] but I get the feeling that it puts the dampers on any face to face musical collaborations. Its interesting to note that Invoer was a collaboration formed by swapping files and Nice You! was recorded live in the studio, the result of this information on the listener [me at least] being nothing but incidental. Nice to know that the covid isn’t putting the dampers on such creative processes. 


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Food People, Cabin Fever, Astro.


An occasional perambulation through several choice Chocolate Monk releases, especially those that have brought much joy to those of us living in the North of England during the latter part of that most hideous of years, 2020.

Food People - God With Stripes

Chocolate Monk 492

Like a woodland get-together where everybody brought along an instrument or something they could make a sound with and they all turned up with their flutes and their guitars and things you wave about in the wind to make a noise with and toy xylophones and glass bottles half filled with stream water which they hit with sticks. And someone [who shall remain nameless] said ‘I want some electronic sounds in here because I’ve been listening to Noize Music’, so someone said ‘OK but how are we going to do that when were in the middle of a wood clever dick? And someone said ‘easy, because my backpack is full of PP9 batteries, which is why I’m having difficulty placing my feet’. So they set up an improv gig in the middle of a wood and theres some squeaky feedback and general malarky of a noise type nature and someone said ‘I’ve heard of field recordings so lets do some of those’ so they all went and recorded some fields. Which is just fine with me because I’ve had to walk through a field to get here. So while we’re recording you play something nice on your acoustic guitar while I play this cassette tape of traffic noise on my Dictaphone. ‘Oh, you’ve got a shortwave radio. Fantastic! Can you get a Russian station on it? Fuck! You can! The flute. Where’s the flute? I NEED THE FLUTE. We need the flute. This is so urgent. Oh sweet baby Jesus. I knew this would work. A recorder?! Where did Jasmine go with the sodding flute? I’m not giving in on this. ‘She said she was busting so she’s gone to find a bush’. Anybody here like drone? All of you? Thats one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Andy? No? Terry Riley then. We’ve all heard of Terry Riley. Lets take it from there because I don’t know about you but I’m getting ever so slightly hungry and its five miles to the nearest pub. So its long draws across the violin strings and …. perfect. Could do with some of that weird stuff in here to help it along. Here. No, here. Never mind, you missed your chance, we’ve moved on now. Don’t go all sulky on me, it’ll brush off when its dried. This was your idea as much as everybody else’s remember. I think we can get this edited down to about forty five minutes of workable stuff here. What do you think? I’ll send it to Nyoukis at Chocolate Monk. Go down a storm. What do you mean its raining? Oh for fucks sakes, its just a few spots, we’re under a tree anyway, you’re not going to melt. Amanda when we get back can you overdub some vocals? Smashing. Just you talking will do fine. Put them through some effects to make it sound like you’re coming up through the leaves. Beats? Who said beats? No. Never. We had rhythm last time and look where it got us. Stephanie had to leave after that. Its not been the same since. No, no, I’m adamant on this. It’ll spoil the whole feel of it. You want a vote on it? OK. One, two, three, four, five … it would seem I’m outvoted. So be it. Have your beats. Just let it be noted in the minutes that I’m totally against beats. Its the John Cage in me. Has Alan gone too?

Cabin Fever Cleansed My Mind - Volumes 1 & 2

Chocolate Monk 483/484

Seeing as how Boris has told us to go inside and not come out until next year it seems a good time to remind you that Chocolate Monk have provided us with not one but two Cabin Fever Cleansed My Mind releases. They may be sold out [as is the above] but you need to be aware of these things. Containing as they do the works of those who would otherwise be creating music anyway only without the option of doing it live or in other peoples houses, studios, gig space or forest clearing unless its in a group of six or less or someone you’re in a bubble with. I think.

Durling lockdown [past, present and probably future] many turned to online gigging via the wonders of Zoom or Skype as a way to keep the masses entertained and as a way of keeping it interesting. Some of which I watched in a series of half drunken blurs, the outside world forgotten for the moment, people bent in to strange body shapes making noises, records spinning in piles, neck creaking camera angles, gargles and cassette tape sprawled across living room floors, songs sung through the gaps in a Bontempi keyboard while someone holds down all the keys using two hands. On Volume One this is where Sophie Cooper’s synth blurt ur-pop sits cheek by jowl with Toshiji Mikawa’s fractured Japanese noises, where the Glands of Eternal Secretion speak of ‘silver prongs’ and Cody Brandt has a gas leak. I’m currently grooving to the the delights of Fatty Jubbo who along with Dylan Nyoukis took what was then an hour of government sanctioned exercise and during it recorded themselves puffing and panting up the only hill in Brighton, all while observing the necessary two meter social distancing rule. Who could resist the squealing charms of Giblet Gusset? A name to savour and feedback to wallow in, all while watching the daily press briefing with the sound down. 

Volume Two has the teeth grindingly painful cacophonous honk of Neil Campbell & Sticky Foster who between them must be responsible for no small amount of falling plaster moldings and dropped dado rails and before that some glorious drone courtesy of those wonderful Food People. Ogrob hit the spot with shortwave, insect, frog gubbins while Sharon Gal weaves a deranged shamanic ritual built from looped sample vocals and canned laughter thats either a Swedish comedy show gone wrong [they must exist I suppose] or a Kumul’s night out in Port Morseby. Leif Elggren gives us six minutes of baby noises coming in through a baby monitor, six minutes of a baby with a wet arse letting its parents know that it needs changing. Are baby monitors 5G?  

Astro - Adversity and Marginalization

Chocolate Monk 494.

Noise baby. You know what Noise is right? Well, this is Astro baby. Japanese Noise. Virtual Japanese Noise nobility guvnor. We are not worthy. Fly all the way to Japan to pay homage, buy Boss hot coffee in a tine from a vending machine, place on doorstep of Hiroshi Hasegawa, walk away slowly without turning around, after ten paces bend from waist to 90 degree angle, fly back to England, carry on life. Its been a while since I listened to any Astro. Its been a while since I’ve listened to any flat out ball scrunching noise come to that. So to set myself up with fifty minutes and three tracks of Astro is a jolt to the system, like plugging yourself in to the mains to get a belt off the leccy just for the sheer hell of it. About halfway through the last of the three the noise dissipates in to a fire cracker of comm chatter, lost voices and general destruction and when it hits back, when it blows back, you hit the volume and revel in those big crunchy ultra bass vibes. Altogether now, take me back to dear old Japan, drop me on the train for Shibuya town ….

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Further Adventures in Royal Mail Land with Hyster and Steep Gloss


D D Dobson - Ritual Bath

Hyster Tapes 30.

Recycled cassette. 50 Copies

Honkeyzontel Picnic - Facing Charges As A Sport

Steep Gloss. SG20


On Monday evening I answered the door to a young lady who said to me ‘Does an I-dwal Fisher live here?’ This she said while proffering a battered jiffy bag which I took from her and which I saw written upon it the words ‘Idwal Fisher’. Missing from underneath these words was the name of the town where I live and the post code.  Sending things in the post minus its intended town and post code is to put your mail in to a black hole from which the chances of it re-emerging are about the same as me bumping into Laurie Anderson in Cleckheaton library. ‘Its just that I thought it might be important’ she said, ‘ because its come from abroad’. Indeed it had. From Finland. I thanked her profusely and asked her how far she’d come? It transpired about a fifteen mile round trip, from the other side of Huddersfield and with that she was gone into the dark night. I felt befuddled. Should I have offered her money as some kind of recompense? Should I have invited her in for a cup of tea [probably not do-able under the current circs though] should I have explained who Idwal Fisher was? Maybe she just thought I was from Wales? No matter. After returning to the warmth of the living room I discovered that a Royal Mail employee had written at the bottom of the packet ‘try Huddersfield’ and beneath that an HD post code. I decided to send off a postcard thanking this kind person even more profusely than before while offering to do her washing up for a year or some-such by way of gratitude. As of today, no reply.

The next day I received a post card from the Royal Mail telling me that I had an item waiting for me but that I must first pay them £1.50 as the sendee hadn’t put enough postage on it. Then I got to wondering how it is that I’m all of a sudden finding myself more involved with the Royal Mail than I’d rather be and am I on some kind of watch list for awkward buggers? This, let us not forget coming after a visit from Plod wanting to know who it is sending me postcards with razor blades glued to them. 

Then I got to thinking whether this hassle was a price worth paying for not entering the digital realm? If these had been links in emails some poor lass might have never known where Cleckheaton was, the Royal Mail would be £1.50 down and I wouldn’t have two rather wonderful cassettes. Maybe it was meant to be.

Theres little chance of entering the digital realm with Hyster Tapes seeing as most of their releases exist as physical objects only, the majority on recycled cassettes that are also a very reasonable two euros apiece to purchase. To enter in to Hyster’s world is to come face to face with some exemplary ‘out there’ sounds. You can start your journey at ‘noise’ base camp in that all the Hyster releases I’ve head come from that germ seed but you’ll soon find yourself wandering lost in a room where just about anything that can make a noise is deemed worthy enough for inclusion on a recycled cassette. The D. D. Dobson release is no different in this manner in that some of it appears to be going in perpetual reverse and here’s a capstan coming to a shuddering halt and theres several conversations all going at once with one in particular exhibiting the characteristics of a gibbering lunatic. This is the musical equivalent of the detritus that accumulates on forest floors and over time becomes mulch that gives life to so many other things; a constant chatter of groans, whirrs, chunters and grunts not as escaping from a human voice box but from that deep mulch sound world. None of this explains why there’s sections of a syncopated finger-clicking surreality here or why theres a sirens wail [the classical kind, not the emergency services], or why a warbled tape presence should be here to set the tone. But it does. A series of cascading and rapacious tape swirls straight out of the Pierre Schaeffer book. Tell me this was recorded at Studio d'Essai circa 1953 and I wouldn't think any different and are they really trying to harness all that electrical power and do they have a van de graaff generator to hand with which to dissipate all this outage? Russians talking. Drones. And why is there a washed out Residents track in here? Why not is the answer. And why is someone blowing tunelessly down a trumpet tube while bombs fall on Libya? Can someone explain this to me? I’d be eternally grateful. On seconds thoughts …. Russians. A gong shimmering. Residual hiss and 1970’s telephone connection blat. Reel to reel computers going full bore just to send you your overdue leccy bill.

Wigan label Steep Gloss is quickly turning into another essential outlet for all things unclassifiable/wonk/sound-art/dada call-it-what-you-will, a veritable treasure trove and a steadily growing one at that. None so stranger than Honkeyzontel Picnic, this being the duo of Luke Poot and Darran Adcock who’ve submitted a lockdown classic of sorts as accompaniment for those of us who are struggling to make sense of the world. For nothing here makes any sense. Forty five tracks, some of them but mere seconds long of surreal absurdism thats a Northern Giles, Giles and Fripp meets Suicide meets Kagel meets Joincey during a lockdown in Park Hill Flats where they wrote songs while banana peel scrapings dried out in the oven. Luke Poot [I’m suspecting its him] delivers the lines to such beautifully ridiculous songs with a seemingly bunged up nose [at times whispering in your ear to Julius Eastman type bashings and toilet noises], like he’s halfway towards falling asleep or perhaps a heavily narcotized Larry Grayson, while as accompaniment we get random electronica and homely domesticity; squirts and squeals, cassette cuts, squeaky doors, kitchen sounds, sweeping up sounds, toy pianos and thumped tupperware, smoke alarms and whistles. Some tracks exist for as long as it takes to recite the lines they hold:  

‘Bugs Bunny, more like Insect Bunny’

‘grandma died in the paddling pool playing with nail clippers’

‘thats isn’t cooked its just wet and Sellotaped’

And actual sneezing, ‘sneezing in a bin-bag so as to huff it later’ delivered with a flatulent raspberry and hopefully in isolation.

I cant help but think that Poot and Adcock have found the zeitgeist here. Nothing much makes sense in the world these days so why not hunker down with forty five tracks of sheer lunacy and become at one with Honkeyzontel Picnic covid Stylee. Count me in. Well worth the fifty bob.  


 Steep Gloss