A piece I originally wrote for inclusion in the forthcoming noise journal As Loud As Possible but which has now been replaced by a more recent offering.
In which the hirsute Stewart Walden sits on a freezing bus with broken windscreen wipers on the hard shoulder of the M1 on a wet Saturday night in January in the midst of a 600 mile round trip just for the brief delight to be had in throwing Smell & Quim audience members around a tatty room smelling of spilt beer and brought in kebabs. Walden is one of the true unsung heroes of the UK noise underground. So far off the radar as to be seemingly on a different planet but appearing Gandalf like at S&Q gigs, gigging with Neil Campbell and drinking cloudy cider in real ale bars. Because it is to the West we must look first. West Yorkshire and two fine West Yorkshire residents going by the name of Astral Social Club and Filthy Turd rolling around a mucky pub in Leeds like a pair of drunk Injuns after necking a bottle of the white mans firewater. The Turdster, last seen in Dortmund Square 9 o’clock Friday night stripped to the waist, beer belly to the fore, singing songs about his dirty snake, wearing a skull mask, keeping a maddening beat with an empty baked bean tin and a stick. ASC mainman Neil Campbell, last seen hot footing it back from some chic euro hotspot electro love in after wowing the denizens with his sun melting beats and drones. But on this [probably] wet July night they pull together as Filthy Social Club/Astral Turd, a sea of feedback and Red Indian holler. The Turdster cracking his whip, espousing gibberish spoken words, the pair of them howling like they’re trapped on a plane that’s losing height and the sea’s coming at them at zillion miles an hour. Crashed cymbals and the Astral Social Club beat box breaking up and sounding like a cheap disco through plasterboard walls. Needless to say the whole thing builds into an uncontrollable monster that no doubt had the lights flickering and the punters downstairs wondering what the fuck was going on.
EE’s broken analogue noise dump cassette ‘Ceramics’ is fine wonderment to my shell-likes. Taking apart the back of an old CRT TV and sticking your fingers where you shouldn’t, putting a metal bar across the circuitry of an old reel to reel computer main frame or just plain old guitar effects boxes. I don’t know how they make this shit and I prefer not to know. It spoils the effect. If I found out it was really easy then I might go and do it and form a noise band and see the world and get to sleep on peoples floors and not shower for days and get bitten by things that live in carpets and drink too much alcohol and eat too much of the wrong foods and forget what country I was in or what day it was and when I got back home I’d make some noises like this and send them to Sound Holes who’d spray paint the cassette and put it in a box and make 68 copies so that 68 people could have one each and listen to its churning noise and feedback. Except for the bit towards the end of side two where it all goes a bit pear shaped. I wouldn’t do that bit because it was a bit crap really.
Snotnosed – Live Shit Action 2003-2006 - utter madness - listen to the sound of a big bald bloke fly head first into a dustbin full of broken crockery. Gasp in amazement at the sight of a big bald bloke smashing the shit out of pokey venues with a sledgehammer. Be amazed at stories of how big bald bloke breaks bones and bleeds everywhere. Because if you’re going to do a Hanatarash tribute act you might as well do it right. And then there’s the machete and the Peter Sutcliffe mask and the broken records … lots of things broken of course.
But first you need your big baldy scary bloke, that’s Michael Gillham [Cock Combat], on some outings he’s joined by Cock Victory [on metal and drills] and there’s ‘Censored’ too but mainly its Cock Combat going for head bleeding glory in a series of mental outings where audiences scream and shout encouragement as the debris from a Dansette record player mingle with the spilt beer and the blood. Cock Combat screams too, galvanized dustbins are destroyed, cymbals hurled with gusto. Lots of things get broken including Cock Combat’s bones. Three gigs in a row he breaks foot, knuckles and wrist. Some people would have given up but this just spurs him on.
I once saw Snotnosed play the Royal Park Cellars in Leeds. Cock Combat wore a Yorkshire Ripper mask and waved a sledgehammer at the audience before doing back flips onto broken cymbals. He destroyed a galvanized dustbin by repeatedly swinging it into the floor as Cock Victory hid behind a box of tricks keeping the noise levels up. That gig isn’t here sadly but there are six other tracks of equally enjoyable mayhem, including Live Actions 0, 1, 4 and 5 to keep the English noise obsessed fan happy. From such mayhem comes a surprisingly good listen. In between breaking records over his head and waving fire extinguishers at the audience the Cocks cook up some decent ear bleed. The Bloodcurdling screams, the sounds of things being busted, it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Snotnosed activity is now suspended, presumably so Gillham can get his breath back, but this here document [which even copies the first Hanatarash sleeve and logo and comes with pin badge and booklet] is all you need to re-live those extra special demented moments. Just insert disc and hit yourself over the head with your sister’s records.
Under his Kylie Minoise moniker Lea Cummings gave us one of the best noise releases of 2008 with Spank Magic Lodge, an utterly magnificent noise breach which will surely one day receive its heroes welcome. It had zany track titles too like ‘The Last Survivors of a Band of Nude and Long Haired Freaks’ and I loved it.. Then comes ‘You Suffer’ a CD of seemingly endless maximalism and unwavering dullness that would be better employed as a beer mat. Maybe it was just something he had to get out of his system? Maximalist noise has its fans but its safe to say that I’m not one of them. Lock yourself in, turn up the stereo and kick four of your senses good bye for an hour … err no thanks. Coming after the sheer joy of Spank Magic Lodge it’s hard to bear.
Fortunately for us Cummings also appears in Opaque. A twin headed guitar beast who ditched their drummer years ago when they developed a penchant for avant guitar noise. Opaque don’t just do neck ringing head down mindless noise though. On the four disc set ‘The Cult of Survivors - Unreleased Tracks 1997-2007’ there’s plenty of honest to goodness noise of course but within these forty odd tracks of live and studio detritus lives pulverizing drones, struck strings and deathly frottage.
Seems Opaque live shows have the habit of polarizing the audiences though, half of them bottling them off and unplugging their guitars while the other half try plugging them back in again. As far as noise goes they sure don’t sound or look pretty; track one, disc one, a two minute blast-a-thon that must have rattled the rafters in Utrecht. It’s brutal unapologetic ear wax dislodging material and if anything nearer to prime Jap noise circa mid 90’s than two guys with guitars in Europe in 2004. But they can do ambient too and if Buddhist temple like chilled out ambience with dying amp warmth is your bag then there’s some of that on here too. TNB clang isn’t far away as are gloriously built up overdriven motordrones and echoing dead factory ambience.
They also have the sense to jumble the styles too so that each disc runs its own stylistic gamut. Something to be welcomed when faced with so much material in one package in these days of ever dwindling attention spans. Of course, four discs is always going to carry unnecessary baggage and I reckon that this could have easily been slimmed down to two hour long discs or, if I’m being brutally honest, maybe just the one.
Andy Jarvis floats around the UK underground noise scene like a traffic warden – only friendlier. Sticking 3 inch CDR’s from his own First Person label under windscreen wipers and taking notes of how long you’ve been parked he drifts along invading Stoke on Trent’s pubs with a variety of fellow bong merchants laying down everything from ether pluck to vibrant noise drone. When not running his own label he appears from nowhere on obscure outposts espousing drone and strum. On the four unnamed tracks on Aghast/Agape Jarvis layers jumbled guitar chords over shimmering electronics, lays down orgasmic Tangerine Dream like synth washes over a Robert Fripp guitar run and on one track sounds like Manhattan Research era Raymond Scott after a good session. The first track is sub sub sub guitar riffage played with the fattest plectrum in the box reverberating back to you until it morphs into mangled vocal mantras that come in half way between Tuvan throat singing and a moaning mystic at a lively seance.
But back to Walden who this time turns up in London at the Old Blue Last with Neil Campbell [or should that be Procrane Split?] a gig seeing the light of day on Campbell’s own Astral Social Club CDR run, this being number 16. Procrane and Stool Man go where no dronester has ever gone before; a deranged, monged out, head nodding cess pit of mutated beats, held down synth keys, wild Theremins and shortwave radios. Its 25 minutes of batting each others senses up hill and down dale. It runs beautifully, taking in Pan Sonic like bass spasms, spaced out Theremin walks and one finger snyth jabs. They climax in a cumulative splatter, knee trembling and with the walls shaking - one half of them heads for the North leaving the London punters with only their flat ale and bleeding ears to contemplate. The other goes back to the bar. Bad news is this though … there’s only 24 copies to go round.
Filthy Social Club/Astral Turd - www.777was666.com [cassette]
A Jarvis- www.beyondrepairrecords.com [cassette – 50 copies]
EE - www.sndhls.com [cassette]
Snotnosed - www.atwarwithfalsenoise.com [CD]
Kylie Monoise/Opaque www.korvoroxsound.com
As Loud As Possible http://www.asloudaspossible.org/