Sunday, July 25, 2010

Timothy C Holehouse/LAN Formatique

Timothy C Holehouse/LAN Formatique
Cassette. No label.
The Undermeister recommended ‘Bradford’s Noise of the Valleys - A History of Bradford Rock and Pop 1967-1987’. It was a book I’d half looked at when it came out a couple of years ago but had totally forgotten about and there I was in Jumbo Records on Saturday morning buying a couple of choice items and there it was up on the shelf. So i asked the guy behind the counter if I could have a look and he hands me the book and the four CD’s that come with it and it all looks great in a hand written rock family tree, old newspaper clippings, flyers kind of way but the print on the CD insert was so small I could hardly read it but what the hell £25 for all that it seemed like a bargain. Later that day I’m perusing the book and getting all nostalgic at the mention of the 1 in 12 Club and The Market Tavern and I’m half way down my bottle of red when I realise that the disc number one contains a Smokie track called Back to Bradford. Smokie hailed from Gomersal [ask Mutant Ape George] a small village which I eventually came to live in for six years. They were a big deal in the 70’s but to us they were just a run of the mill pop band who we would never take seriously.
It must have been 1979 or ’80 when eight of those Smokie hating Skynyrd loving school leavers went to the South of France for a two week beach holiday. All the way to the South of France on a 52 seater charabanc and when we’re about 50 miles away from the Med what does the driver shove in the cassette player? Only Smokie’s greatest bleeding Hits thats all. I’ve never forgiven him for it. On that album [whatever Smokie album it was] there was the track Back to Bradford and I’m thinking we’ve just done 700 hundred miles in a shitty, sweaty cramped bus with no bog all the way from Bradford and for two weeks the last place on earth that matters to me is Bradford and here were Smokie going ‘I’m going back to Bradford its what I prefer’ and I’m thinking you must be off your fucking nut to think that you daft sods. Here we are in 90f temperatures surrounded by beautiful women with tanned bodies and your saying that a dismal pile of bricks and curry shops is the best place on earth? And from that day until yesterday I’d never heard Back to Bradford but whilst I was halfway down my bottle of red that same opening glam rock intro riff came out of the speakers and I was back on that bus and thinking about all the good times we had during those two weeks. Which got me to thinking how remarkable the human brain is, storing that information from thirty years ago and in the space of a few seconds it had made the connection - here’s that song you heard thirty years ago and heres all the memories that go with it. A remarkable instrument the human brain, a pity some folks never use them.
I don’t suppose I’ll be having that same connection moment in thirty years time when it comes to Timothy C Holehouse and Lan Formatique. If I’m still alive in thirty years time these two will be but distant memories. In fact you’d have to pull off a printed copy of this review and shake it in front of my half blind eyes just to begin the memory jogging process. Such is the anonymity of what has just passed. On a muddy cassette appears two sides of vibrating, reverbed two phase drone [Holehouse] and Sunn O))) 10th generation live bootleg recorded on a dictaphone that was in the back pocket of a fat person wearing heavy wool serge trousers who was sat down on the floor above whilst having a rest from all his burger eating [LAN Formatique]. I can’t even remember who gave me this, probably came with a Jase Williams package. Another piece of flotsam.
I think I’ll have a run out to Bradford, its been a while since I was last there.
Bradford’s Noise of the Valleys -

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The New Blockaders

The New Blockaders - Crincum Crancum / Meta-Klamauk (For Jean Tinguely)
Hanson LP. HN 191
The New Blockaders - History Of Nothing (1982-1992)
Hanson LP. HN199
Viva Negativa! A Tribute to the New Blockaders Volume 1: UK
At War With False Noise. ATWAR064. CD
Its only with hindsight that we perceive worth. Those who deviate from the norm are often ridiculed, forgotten, dismissed as cranks and generally abused. Their work is seen as unimportant, frivolous, unfathomable and even pointless. Some of those early visitors to the Cabaret Voltaire may have attacked the stage but what they were experiencing was a significant shift in artistic expression. The audience saw people shouting and screaming, history saw a reaction to the senselessness of a Word War that would mutate into a movement whose influence is still felt today.
In 1982 The New Blockaders released their first album. Two tracks of disorientating junk noise, scrapings, rain on a tin roof and wild elephant parps that became known as Changez Les Blockeurs. With it the Rupenus Brothers paid their Dada dues whilst planting seeds that would continue to grow until here in 2010 you’d be hard pressed to find anyone involved in noise who doesn’t cite TNB as an influence. What began as a short run LP has somehow mutated itself into a manifesto that mirrors everything Dada by rejecting art and even anti-art seeing as how even anti-art is an art stance in itself. With TNB there is no compromise, no rock star stance, no confusion as to their aim.
They still manage to spew forth a fair amount of material, usually in collaboration and in The Nihilist Assault Group have found a vent for their live frustrations but its those early and hard to find releases that have gone on to achieve mythical status.
Most of those early releases ran in such small quantities that it became inevitable that reissues would appear. Its been slowly happening for a number of years now but the tributes are getting more elaborate as time passes.
Crincum Crancum and Meta-Klamauk are plucked from the 2003 4CD anthology Gesamtnichtswerk. History of Nothing, which first appeared in 2001 on the Japanese label Siren Records, also re-emerges [albeit minus a few tracks]. TNB acolytes will be more than familiar with this material and I can add little to what has been said before but to feast your eyes on those 12” covers and luxuriate in the grooves has been well worth the time and effort. Get a load of that enlarged Richard Rupenus artwork; little demons torturing a demented soul with ringing bells and hammered anvils. Hammers driven through musical scores and huge X’s cross out musical notation.
The real joy to be had of course is from listening to this all over again. Of all the material on offer here its Meta-Klamauk thats brings me the most cheer. Originally part of the 20th Antiversary Wreckordings, Meta-Klamauk [For Jean Tinguely] is like a more frenzied ‘Changez’: a drunk blind man stumbling into the racks of a pots and pan shop, a residual clatter and buzz of static, right channel full of rusty gears whilst rodent squeals emerge from the left [Klamauk is German for fooling around and Meta-Klamauk itself appears to be a tribute/response to Tinguely’s own composition Meta-Harmonie-H]. Crincum Crancum is equally disorienting; flickering strip lights, empty oil drums thrown down elevator shafts, electronic chewing, sledgehammers taken to lumps of concrete and rocks, all combine to give the listener a feeling of disquiet and nervousness.
History of Nothing’s six tracks includes ‘Hit Damage on A/B over X’ which features contributions from Emil Beaulieau and Hanson’s own Arron Dilloway - thats a sizeable chunk of the American noise nobility whose debt to The New Blockaders would appear to be immeasurable. That debt is being repaid with releases such as these. The other five tracks are equally important scrapes of course.
TNB’s influence runs so deep that it was probably quite easy for Vinyl On Demand to fill up eight LP’s worth of tribute material. Appearing in 2006 in two 4LP boxes this weighty tome is an indication of just how deep that influence runs. Eight LP’s is a weighty vinyl sandwich though so Scottish label At War With False Noise have decided to cut it up into four easier to consume CD releases. Volume one features the UK with Europe, Japan and America set to follow.
The tribute game is a tricky one though. Do you incorporate your own sounds into TNB’s, or do you do your own thing? Do you steal TNB material outright and pass it off as your own, or do you do a Dieter Müh and record the insides of a German railway station as rowdy football fans make their way home? It makes little difference to me. You’re on the comp and thats your tribute. Expect quality anti everything sounds from the likes of srmeixner, Mutant Ape, Putrefier, Anomali, Cheapmachines, Nocturnal Emissions, Halalchemists, Evil Moisture, Jazzfinger and Ashtray Navigation. Highlights abound and theres no duff track. Smell & Quim’s submission “Tasting Nuns’ Blood” ends in a barked ‘fucking hell’ - delivered in a suitable North Eastern brogue its about as good a tribute as you could wish for.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kylie Minoise

Kylie Minoise - Live in Japan
Korvorox Sound. Kovo-033
Kylie Minoise - The Paralysis Sect
Korvorox Sound. Kovo-034

When one man noise unit Kylie Minoise toured Japan he didn’t just record the live shows, he recorded the TV in his hotel room, the singing girl choir in Kyoto station, shrines and most memorably, a karaoke God Save The Queen with Hiroshi Hasegawa.
The four live tracks were worth the trip. In Nagoya some industrial clanging ends with some of the most ferocious noise blasts I’ve encountered, teaming up with Junko in Kyoto they try and outdo Hijokaidan with impressive results. But its the incidentals that make this release worth treasuring; the manic introduction by Hide Fujiwara, the ultra distorted karaoke blast and the recording made in hotel rooms of Japanese TV programs. Add these to the KM gigs and you have something lot more lasting than a postcard or a pair of ornamental chopsticks.
The Paralysis Sect sees KM try on some Industrial/Ritual/Ambience boots for style. After getting over the fact that this release wasn’t going to loosen my fillings or shake the wall plaster loose I found myself ensconced in some rather pleasant drifting territory. The two lengthy tracks here emit machine hum, ritualistic sticks beat out a repetitive melody whilst the shorter middle section is someone using an angle grinder to escape from the insides of a 40 ton stainless steel feed silo. As is the case with such material the pleasure lies in deeper listening. What appears to be a simple industrial drone becomes on repeated, closer listening a multifaceted layer of groans, sines, and high pitched whistles.
Kylie Minoise may well be the most versatile noise act now working within the UK. His live shows are memorable and the way he’s diverting his recorded style into different areas bodes well too.

Kill And Eat

Kill and Eat - Green Bushes
Alright Now Records. ANR08 CD
Kill And Eat are a three piece that utilise piano, trumpet, drums and vocals to build three dreamy, drifty songs that depending on your frame of mind are a] the most relaxing thing you ever heard in your life or b] the most annoying bollocks you ever heard in your life.
At times they sound like a half drunk jazz outfit buggering about after closing time, at others a distracted Burt Bacharach working on a new song. Jim O’Rourke’s meandering offerings spring to mind most often as does something I once hear by Wim Mertens that worked an LP’s worth of stuff around some piano musing but overall these feel like half worked moments rather than anything fulfilling.
It all became too much for me during Green Bushes [Sketch] where the constant jazz like vocal scat refrain became ultimately annoying. I kill your moody song with my death ray gun and punk rock records. Of the three tracks the title track is the least offensive/most rewarding: an 18 minute stretch/sketch in which moaning vocals and plonky piano drift along before the keys start getting hit harder and the song BURSTS INTO LIFE. To be fair if I heard Pharoah Sanders doing something like this [and some of Green Sketches isn’t a million miles away from some of his Impulse! stuff] then I’d be salivating but ultimately this is just mood music. A bit of Sanders, a bit of Burt, a bit of Jim, a fiver when you need a tenner a missed bus, a cold cup of tea when what you wanted was a black Earl to go.
Kill and Eat have decided they don’t do artwork either as they want their ‘music to be judged on its own merit not by whether it comes with visual art or fancy/handmade packaging’. This, therefore comes wrapped in a piece of folded A4 paper with just the minimal information, which if anything makes this feel more throwaway than it already is.
Alright Now Records, 1209, Wooster Road, Winona Lake, IN 46590, USA
killandeat [at]

Ape Shit / Intravenous in Furs

Ape Shit / Intravenous in Furs
Split LP. No Label. No Contact details. 100 Copies.
When Jim MacDougall wasn’t smashing bank windows or getting himself sectioned [well, maybe he didn’t get sectioned but I’d be surprised if he hasn’t] he was sending me CD’s of his band Ape Shit. They couldn’t play very well and the quality control was non-existent but the urgency to get stuff down was there in its maladroit glory for all to see. Eight releases appeared in a manic flurry of inventiveness that was one year and one gig. Each release was as shambolic as the next; a drummer who tried to fit in too many fills, a bass player too high in the mix, a guitarist who really wanted to be in another band altogether and above it all Jim MacDougall and his Ian Dury on acid stream of conscious ramblings. Pro lunacy group Mad Pride persuaded them to reform for a one off gig a year down the road and some of that appears here. This being Ape Shit they’ve don’t sound anything like Ape Shit but instead like Lenny Kravitz singing I Like You, over and over again except its not Jim singing its the guitarist. In Jim’s world nothing is ever quite straight forward. Maybe he got a new band together for the reunion? This untitled side of vinyl can be seen as summation of all that Jim’s done so far. Hear Jim as stand up comic [What’s the difference between me and Bernard Manning? ... silence ... about eight stone]. Hear Jim read poetry dedicated to someone who threw themselves under a train [its rather poignant actually] but above all there’s Ape Shit playing as only Ape Shit can - a haphazard beat knocked out by people with only a vague grasp of how their instrument works over which Jim sings/talks his incessant, made up as he goes along diatribe. There will never be another band like Ape Shit. You really do have to be mad to make music like this.
Meanwhile in Blackpool Intravenous In Furs sound like The Doors meets Gong meets Acid Mother Temple only on cheaper drugs, cider and roll ups. The West coast is now Fylde not California and the crooner is Simon Morris [ex Ceramic Hobs] not Jim Morrison. Heavy Leather centers around an evolving piece of krautrock meets Finnish nodders Circle. A piece that goes from all out LA Woman to Pink Lady Lemonade replete with Theremin and growly vocals. Morris really can sing y’know and its a crime that his talents haven’t been more widely recognised. There’s samples of children’s TV, a gig announcer exhorting the kids to shout fuck off and a short spurt of something Ruins wouldn’t have been ashamed to put their name to. At the end of it all there’s even a version of Rolf Harris’s Sun Arise in which Morris gets to show off his vocal chords to even greater effect. To be honest I’m at a loss as to how best describe this floating piece of ROCK which is why you’ve got all those references there. At least we know where to go if the UK psychedelic rock scene kicks off.
Probably one of the most uncommercial slabs of vinyl to come this way for quite some time and thats saying something.


Look at me, I got my first link to review.
All you have to do is click on the link, download the file, open it up, burn the songs to a disc, print off the art work, cut it into CD size shapes, insert CD and art work [glue the artwork onto the disc too if you want to get really carried away] fit all the pieces into a CD jewel case and before you know it you’ve got you very own Infirm Individual release.
Except I did none of the above. OK, I downloaded the file and opened it up but after listening to two minutes of mashed up doom metal, lecture samples about atoms and poncey keyboard stabs I wanted to kill myself so I thought it’d be better if I went into another room away from the computer and read a book or watched an old episode of Dad’s Army or something. Anything but subject myself to the misery of actually giving up my precious spare time to someone who thinks that sending a link in emails is a good way to get something reviewed.
Emails were a good idea once upon a time but that was before the spam merchant’s and serial forwarders got hold of them. Now your inbox is more than likely to contain all manner of shite and very little of worth. The above link falls into the shite category of course.
I’m no Luddite though. I think that in general computers are a good idea. I also think that records and CD’s and cassettes are a good idea and a better way of expressing yourself and getting someone’s attention than links in emails. Links in emails are tenuous portals into the murky world of MP3 where everything is available for the price of a PC and an internet connection. Give me vinyl, give me CD, give me cassette, give me something tactile and tangible, something that will still be around in x years time, something I can pick up and look at with [hopefully] fond memories, something I know came from an individual who cared so much about what they were doing that they took the time to press it up, put it together and put it in the post along with a little bit of themselves.

Begon foul link and darken my door no more.
Coming next; the memory stick review.

[please note - this link is dead]


Culver - They Killed Suzie Carter
Hyster. Hyster 07. Cassette
Re-Clip - Notes
Hyster. Hyster 08. Cassette.
Smear Campaign - Constipated Albion.
Total Vermin #26 cassette. C26
A Jarvis / Moral Holiday.
Total Vermin #27 cassette. C20
Bad Orb / Plum State
Total Vermin #28 cassette. C20
MPO/LERM - OZ OZ Alice 1
Total Vermin #29 cassette. C43
Servants Of Culture, Drinkers of Pearls Volume 1
Total Vermin #30 cassette. C40
Total Vermin’s unstoppable, drone, fluxus, nether regions UK underground documentation process shows no sign of abating and with this batch proves that if you need to know whats happening beneath the Wire radar you need to be getting in touch. Total immersion over the last few days coupled with a real under the skin session on a wet and dank November Saturday afternoon had all the benefits of drug overdose without any of the side effects. Listening to whats left of the Ceramic Hobs in their MPO/LERM guise is a startling experience and fills me with the kind of hope for music I once had back in ’78. Leaving Stan Batcow to his own devices the drink seems to have taken hold of the rest of them and in OZ OZ Alice 1 they carve out a rock seam that fits in somewhere between the Velvet’s The Gift and Nurse With Wound circa A Sucked Orange. Morris’s spoken word delivery makes Charles Manson sound about as scary as a the speaking clock, add in juxtaposed and ill fitting samples [cheerily sung Christmas carols and Wurlitzer organs?] and you have probably the only group in the UK worth following. There are songs on here the spines of which are a thudding bass plod or a chugging riff but each becomes buried under some detritus or other whilst Morris sings/talks through a series of diatribes that coalesce into something that could be termed a ranting manifesto against normality. They left the cake out in the rain alright. Maybe the drugs are stronger in Blackpool or the beer is cheaper or they have too much time on their hands but something is definitely happening on the Fylde coast and it needs to be heard. This is the first in a series of 11 OZ OZ Alice release, the rest are eagerly awaited.
Dragging myself away from such dementia is hard but the drone must go on. Phil Todd’s solo project Moral Holiday sounds like Popol Vuh meets Smell & Quim. Andy Jarvis, a long time favourite here reappears for the first time in a long time and comes over all wailing electronica built around a hacking guitar refrain. Smear Campaign as you would surmise is a collaboration twixt Filthy Turd and Smear Campaign resulting in the soundtrack to a Friday night kicking on the hard, damp streets of Stoke. Imagine you just spent fifty quid getting pissed in the worst bars in Stoke and you wake up in the morning with a two day hangover and your jeans are stained with piss and you have bruises on your face that you don’t remember receiving and you’re bent over the toilet bowl retching green bile into the abyss, well thats Filthy Smear. About as ugly and deformed as its possible to get inside a plastic shell. Bad Orb is looped mumbled vocals, whiny squeal, tinkly toy piano creating a spacious drone. Plum State is a hum of sorts in which a vibrating string hits the rim in spaghetti western Morricone style. The Vermin comp Servants Of Culture, Drinkers of Pearls finds Littlecreature Courses Thorough Content in Ribald Constance rubbing shoulders with easier gobfulls such as DK720, Dead Labour Process, Shareholder, Plum State and Sindre Bjerga. DK720 fill the room with emetic bass end noise farts the rest lies somewhere between leaning on a keyboard with your forearms and radio signals picked up by orbiting manned space modules.
After the day-glo shells and colour sleeves of Total Vermin its back to Hyster’s monochrome vision and recycled cassettes. Culver fit in to the monochrome ideal well seeing as how Culver’s main home is Matching Head, another tape label with a black and white philosophy. Culver fans wont be disappointed with these two tracks; one a murky trudge round an underwater cement factory, the other an ohm drone, a burbling range of notes that if stretched across a hundred years would be worthy of Cage.
Re-Clip’s Notes is a 16 track comp spanning the last ten years of their existence. It’s a slightly trippy slip and slide mix of hypnotic broken analogue beats, field recordings and spacey ambience thats hardly original but still listenable. I’m not averse to such working but on recycled cassette the finished product is lost in a midden of muddy mid range.
All the above are cheap, welcome and come in editions of 50.
Hyster: plaa [at]

Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Bär

Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Bär - Asylum Lunaticum
Intransitive Recordings. INT033 CD
Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bär have been quietly releasing a constant stream of Dada-esque experimentation since around 1999. Somewhere down the line they turned their hand to art and have since become recognised and prolific artists with Kommissar Hjuler sculpting chopped up Barbie dolls a la Bolus and Belmer and his missus Mama Bär turning out paintings that come on like an even more sick and twisted Paula Rego meets Francis Bacon. Originally describing themselves as ‘experimental musicians’ their ridiculously limited edition outpourings of hand crafted cassettes, CDR’s and acetates have long since been gobbled up by a swelling army of fans eager to get their hands on some truly startling work. A mundane CD then seems the perverse and perfect portal for mass consumption and a good a gateway as you’re going to get into their incredible workings without having to fork out plenty of euros for their art or waiting patiently in line for the next ultra-limited release.
Asylum Lunaticum contains seven tracks that give you a good idea of what the Hjuler & Bär ethic is; audio verité, absurdism and tape cut ups wrapped in a Dada/Fluxus blanket of freeform experimentation. On ‘Lauf in Eine Herde’ Hjuler runs into a field of cows waving a red shirt the audio result of which resembles someone recording a blustery moor top walk. ‘De Nye Rigspolitichefen’ is Hjuler reciting text dealing with the Dutch police which somehow transforms itself into a Punch and Judy show hosted by a maniac whose arguing with the puppets whilst banging on a toy piano. Its one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. ‘HJCVGrimmelhausen is voice cut up, in which Hjuler follows each word with a deep breath the end result being a disorienting array of vowels and vocal tics. The real star of the show though is Bär’s 25 minute epic ‘Ehrfurcht’. Described as a ‘recording by M.B. while having a bicycle ride together with her son Cy Hjuler, the complete ride with a tape recorder at the bike. M.B. singing’. Ehrfurcht begins with a reversed, slowed down vocal in one channel backed with a house alarm in the other to which we find Mama Bär singing in a whimsical daydream non-word style. A style that carries on for much of the track in which we meet passing traffic, footsteps up stairs and at one stage what seems to be a fight with a spring loaded five bar gate in a windy and muddy field. Bär continues to sing even though its obvious she’s out of breath which only adds to the already unsettling affect. Her voice drifts in and out of earshot, the tune becomes more embedded, you feel as if you’ve been captured by Danish aliens and forced to listen to their strange sing-song language. And to think this little masterpiece only saw the light of day on a CDR that ran to six copies.
Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Bär are much akin to Gilbert and George in that they are their own inspiration. It will take a better art critic than this humble scribe to make sense of it all but I feel greatness coming on and it needs to be heard and seen.
Anybody with a free afternoon should seriously consider checking out their website which contains vast galleries of their handmade album covers, sculptures and artwork as well as a smatter of sound and live action videos. Their myspace site may still contain the greatest video ever; Hjuler playing a bicycle pump.

Grey Park

Grey Park
Planned Confusion 10 CD
I’ve probably spent more time with this than is natural. But such is the quest for impartiality and truth and honest-to-goodness down home plain talking that it has taken me a month to come up with what it was exactly that was bugging me about this release.
Because I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Grey Park, I reviewed some of their earlier cassettes [ten years or more ago] and was impressed by their showing on a comp called Halogen Ball. Their sound was pliable, open to lots of influences, one minute coming all over Scandinavian Column One, the next a scrapyard field recording session with busted banjo strings and tin can bongos. They don’t release that much either and when they do its usually short run cassettes or three inch CDR with bizarre packaging [one item coming in an inside out coffee bag] - there is therefore a certain amount of genuine excitement when their releases arrive here at Idwal Towers.
So imagine my surprise when faced with a cross between John Michel Jarre, Cluster with knobs on and early Kraftwerkian shortwave plunder. For their first ‘proper’ CD outing Grey Park has manifested itself into a pastiche of 70’s keyboard ambience and I’m not sure if I like it one bit. On paper it should work, the production is great: ray gun blasts panning your speakers, shortwave swizzle, huge throbbing helicopter landing pulses, the odd vocal and musical sample thrown in but still ... and yet. With the recent upsurge in interest in bands like Emeralds who are so obviously wearing their 70’s synth influences on, not just their sleeves but lapels, gussets and lining too, you’d think that this would be a shoe-in for instant success but these three tracks leave me feeling oddly cold. I’ve scratched my head for long enough. Its time to put Grey Park away and see which direction they take next.
planned.confusion [at]

Grey Park

Grey Park - A Final Exam For A Agent
267 Lattajjaa CDR. LTJ 76
Beguiling Finnish out-there unclassifiable drone skronk noise shortwave etherplasm merchants Grey Park have been baffling and entertaining me for quite some time now. Trying to pin down their sound is nigh on impossible such is their ability to switch sides mid stream and A Final Exam is no exception. There’s spazzy guitar, shortwave illuminesence, hip-hop samples, Van Morrison samples, Eno-esque ambient burblings, someone hitting a tom-tom very s-l-o-w-l-y and patiently against a background of IRCAM dabblings and even a Matti Nykanen cover. Former ski legend Nykanen is Finland’s favourite tabloid fodder due to his penchant for getting pissed and doing stupid things, so covering one of his songs [he’s a part time entertainer too] seems logical for a Finnish experimental outfit. And to prove they have a sense of humour theres a sample of Tanita Tikaram’s Twist In My Sobriety stuck on the end.
All in all Grey Park cover in forty minutes what six other experimental musicians do in six albums such is their multi directional approach. All of this rendered meaningless though as I’ve just discovered that this is already sold out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dilloway/Emeralds/Family Battle Snake

Family Battle Snake - Optimistic Suburbia
Chocolate Monk. Choc 182 CDR
Emeralds/Dilloway - Under Pressure
Hanson Records CDR
Aaron Dilloway - Chain Shot
Hanson Records CD. HN207
Aaron Dilloway - Chain Balled
Turgid Animal 7” TA396
Aaron Dilloway - Face Mask
Turgid Animal 7” TA396-1
In a recent bout of self indulgence I withdrew with ‘The Golden Hour of the Future’. A release in which the proto Human League screw around with home made synths and ‘associated peripheral devices’ producing a sound that had me going all soft in the neck, eyeballs rolling into the back of my head as if in practice for my recently injected junky scene in the latest Lynch flick. It’s the kind of music that immediately puts you in a time and place, i.e. a grotty, broken, industrial late 70’s England where Embassy Number 6 and Webster’s bitter ruled in ubiquity. Those who think the Human League were just silly haircuts and synth pop sing-a-longs will be surprised to find more similarities here with Throbbing Gristle rather than Depeche Mode. I for one delight in all manifestations of the analogue synth and ‘associated peripheral devices’. Homemade, Moog, beat up and scratchy, if it produces sounds like this then all is well.
The analogue synth has seen a resurgence of late, Emeralds being the most notable protagonists but others have been indulging too, including Berlin resident Family Battle Snake. Coupled with a reel to reel tape [and no doubt many another piece of obscure kit] FBS has here constructed two tracks of such blissful cranial drift that its been a hard choice between The Future and Optimistic Suburbia all week long.
For want of a comparison both untitled tracks fit somewhere between the spacier moments of Edgar Froese and the industrial wastelands of Steve Stapelton’s more recent spacial offerings. But thats just to give you something to work on for these are two busy tracks gently going about their business evolving whilst keeping the ears entertained, drawn in, cajoled and surprised. Its this constant development that sets Optimistic Suburbia apart from meeker, more mundane offerings. All too often you hear a release where drone merchant A settles for plan B, sets a course for C and stays there until the batteries run out. From the almost sci-fi like helicopter whoops at its start to the barely audible mutterings and monkey chatter during track two, its 40 minutes of cranial drift thats as good as anything I’ve heard so far this year and in that statement I include Emeralds ‘Solar Bridge’.
Aaron Dilloway now spends his time cajoling sounds out of eight tracks, tape loops and field sounds, so I was somewhat apprehensive as to how all that would fit in to an Emeralds release. Thier sound is so pure that you feel that any kind of dilution will lead to a weakening of it. It kind of works although the second track [all untitled] is the weakest and this is the one that seems to have the heaviest Dilloway hand with a loop of an echoing, degraded vocal running through its core. The sublime third track, which begins in such delicate fashion that it takes about two minutes for the drone to emerge, is another killer slice of Emeralds head float with long notes taking an age to mature against lake edge guitar shimmers. Dilloway is here in the shape of an approaching storm; steel sheets beaten in a distant tree, an incoming subway car. Its sublime material yet again and one I never tire of listening to.
Dilloway’s solo material is a mass of destroyed loops, crushed pigeon coops and ethnic field recordings. It’s also another fine example of taking whats now deemed obsolete hi-fi equipment [8-track] and working it into something unrecognisable. Much as I admire the tape manipulations of Howard Stelzer and Scott Konzelmann [Chop Shop] I now admire the work of Aaron Dilloway. Capstan heads are squeezed, spools slowed, contact mics chewed, tape loops spill, reinvention is the key. Chain Shot sounds like it does contain the sound of a chain being pulled, a draw bridge being drawn up, it also contains the loop of some seriously damaged lungs or it could be the wind whistling over the top of a bleak moor at 4 a.m. Both Chain Shot and the following Execution Dock are 15 minute outings suggesting that these may have once belonged on a C30 and once again we’re drawn into ancient technology - but all for the good. What’s billed as a bonus track on Chain Shot is the meat though: Medusa is 28 minutes of a deep sea divers heavy breathing, escaping air bubbles and low industrial moan. Peeling away the layers reveals running water, a looped churn and the sound of the Indian army doing 6 a.m. star jumps.