Sunday, October 31, 2010

Harbinger Sound

The Good Anna - Wolf Tickets
Harbinger Sound LP 057
Ramleh - The Hand of God
Harbinger Sound 067/Hospital Productions HOS199 12”
Defektro - Noise Army
Harbinger Sound 024 7”
Cheap Machines/Family Battle Snake
Harbinger Sound 069 Split 7”
Harbinger Sound 038 7”
Kylie Minoise/Nackt Insecten - Beyond Stellar Filth
Harbinger Sound 058 Split LP
Contact: Schmontact
Don’t look for the Harbinger Sound website. It doesn’t exist. Don’t bother looking for half these records either as they’ll be probably all gone seeing as most of em only run to a 100 copies and have either been given away or dropped off at a distro and snapped up by eager consumers. Don’t bother looking for contact info either. What do you think Google was invented for? In the case of the latter two singles you’ll have to get your magnifying glass out and look for clues in the run off groove to see just who it is your listening to and even then you’ll have to have background knowledge. Take for instance the B side of the Cheap Machines/Family Battle Snake single. FBS is Bill Kouligas. He’s Greek so the run off groove next to a plain white die cut label is etched with ‘Demis or Nana?’ If you’re still not with it then its a seven day tour of the UK in the back of the Harbinger Transit van for you laddie and don’t forget to bring some fucking beer tokens wimp. Take a close look at those release numbers too. These all appeared within a few weeks of each other but they span releases 24 to 69. As with the much delayed Harbinger triple LP comp box of noise that was ‘Vultures ...’ there were ‘issues’. In this case a dodgy pressing that got the thumbs down. Its taken a few years to surface but then what’s a few years when you’re an obscure noise project from Japan. You may have seen a Harbinger CD in your local noise store but in Harbinger world these barely count as legit releases for when it comes to actually putting something on your stereo vinyl is still very much the preferred format. So vinyl it is then.
Now lets have a look at what we’ve got here; a reissue of an heritage PE classic, some Jap junk noise, a smattering of scrape and clunk improv recorded in a church, some of the best noise coming out of England and Scotland and some sublime vortexing frequencies from Greece. Harbinger does it again. Funded on overtime and expensive foreign beers HS supremo Steve Underwood doesn’t do Myspacebook or blog he just puts out the records and lets the noise do the rest. He’s not being elitist its just that the music matters more than any fancy website or social site.
The Hand of Glory was Broken Flags first Ramleh seven incher and has since become a much sought after item by connoisseurs of the genre. Some people say it never got the pressing it deserved though and its true glory is hidden in a sea of hiss and crackle. Twenty five years on the Harbinger/Hospital axis reissue it on handsome heavyweight black vinyl thus immediately reinstating it’s status as one of the landmark power electronic releases. It’s seen the light of day via a RRR Pure CD and was originally released on cassette too but to hear this in virgin vinyl glory is a sonic subversives delight.
The four tracks; Prossneck, Squassation and The Hand of Glory [parts 1 & 2] all contain that uneasy admixture of piercing feedback, tortured souls and moaning vocals that combine to make this a still unsettling experience. Twenty five passing years has not dimmed its power to affect the listener.
The Good Anna proves that Harbinger can do more than pure noise by putting out two sides of rattled drums and scraped detritus as recorded at the Holy Trinity Church Leeds. A room full of saucepan lids being attacked by a drunk knight with a three foot sword and scurrying guitar that altogether sounds like a night in with Roger Turner and Derek Bailey with his arthritis. The acoustics are wonderful.
Defektro’s junk noise creations come courtesy of some homemade equipment and what sounds like lumps of metal. Between the three of them [two Japs and an Australian who used to be in Kunt - nice touch] they forge four tracks of dense clockwork machine racket that is equal parts head mash and gut wrench. Industrial March sounds like a cappuccino maker about to explode, Survive is a dense morass of overdriven machine beats about which swirls your washing on its final spin. Defektro are a very very good noise band and so is this single.
Its a crime that Romance’s output hasn’t extended further than a handful of releases. Since erupting in a room above a smoky pub somewhere in England about 4 years ago Dean Glaister’s solo noise work is of the highest quality. Humping around large amounts of equipment and sheets of metal Glaister makes noise in the same mode as prime era Merzbow and obvious heros Hijokaidan. Harbingers three track live single redresses the imbalance somewhat but there must be more in the tank from this North East hero surely? Blunt, visceral, throbbing below the horizon before erupting with all guns blazing Romance make the kind of noise that makes noise fans in their 40’s weep for the days when jiffy bags stuffed with Pain Jerk cassettes were celebrated more than birthdays. Miss him at your peril.
Further up and over the border Scotland has been having its own not so quiet revolution. Nackt Insecten and Kylie Minoise have been two of the most prominent names to appear through the mist and both have been producing some stella work or in this case Stellar Filth. Nackts insect screams and shifting tonal buzzes are better than trepanning and cheaper too whilst Minoise’s slow burner of a noise drone lasts longer than any of his live shows I’ve ever seen. KM’s forte for me will always be the gut punch live assault but at least a side of vinyl gives him some space to work out in. And if you want to make it last just that little bit longer why not play it at 33.
After successfully locating Family Battle Snake I discover a track thats not dissimilar sensation to having your head sucked down a storm drain. It’s by far the noisiest FBS track I’ve yet to hear - a gorging, building drone that fills the room and your shell likes with a resonance that is both invigorating and disquieting. The run off groove for Cheapmachines is etched with ‘So Solid Crew’. I really have no idea. Cheapmachines reveals his penchant for experimenting with old gear by bookending the piece with static but the filling is solid noise and damned fine it is too. It seems Harbinger brings out the best in people.
So there you have it. Black circles of plastic, interminable delays, the best noise label in England.

[part of a series of older reviews that I feel needs reposting]

Auris Apothecary

Unholy Triforce - Air Pu[t]rifier
Auris Apothecary. AAX-023
Anti CDR. 69 copies.

Unholy Triforce - Sandin’ Yr Vagina
Auris Apothecary. AAX-013
Anti-cassette. 99 copies.

Pusdrainer - Worms Beneath Thy Cold Flesh
Auris Apothecary. AAX-022
C22. 50 copies.

Auris Apothecary is a small not for profit micro label releasing ‘drone, electronic, avant-garde, metal, punk and other varying forms of underground music’. So far so good but they sent me three conceptual releases two of which are unplayable and the other of which I could play but not in the manner as prescribed. But I’m not complaining. I’m all for conceptual/anti releases just so long as you back it up with some well thought out philosophy. Anybody can stick something on a plinth and call it art but it takes the mind of a man like Duchamp to really make it work. AA make it work by wrapping their ideas up in a cloak of Black Magic, pagan ritual, power electronics, noise, ambience, punk, attention to detail and striking design. They release music on regular formats but its their more outre efforts that raise the eyebrows: candles with micro-cassettes inserted into them, records made of glue, field recordings on loose tape inside jars, a video game and reel to reel tape. All of it exquisitely hand made and in some instances in runs as small as five.
With Unholy Triforce we get to sample Power Electronics in its most advanced state. Sandin’ Yr Vagina is a cassette release rendered [virtually] unplayable by being filled with sand [30 brown, 30 black, 30 white and 9 unfilled]. The playing holes are then further filled with sand and sealed up. The whole thing is then wrapped in a strip of emery cloth, sealed with a wax seal and placed in a plastic bag. According to the website the sounds therein contain: ‘Experimental material, scrapes, drones and eeriness drowned out in a tape-saturated wall of harsh power electronics and disturbingly-active silence’ although I’m not quite sure what active silence is, I’m intrigued. I dare say I could retrieve it from its plastic grave, brush all the dirt out of it, reseal it and play but I’d rather not loose the use of my only portable tape player. Maybe if I come across a really cheap and cruddy player I’ll report back but until then its still an un-played conceptual/anti release. Air Pu[t]refier is an anti CDR with particles of cinnamon, pepper and rosemary stuck to it [23 of each, mines pepper]. Again from the website ‘An experiment in digital scent distribution through the warming of compact discs, containing soundtracks to air both pleasant and putrid in odor’ - ‘Air Pu(t)rifier presents a regression in musical composition to further the evolution of sensory stimulation’. Without me even hearing them though Unholy Triforce have managed to create an impression of death that goes far beyond what is achievable through more standards formats. I also have an air freshener for the car.
Pusdrainer is the one release that I could more easily play but not in the manner AA would like me to. This C22 is designed to be played on a four track cassette [or a four channel dual stereo configuration] so that both sides can be played at once. One side has the recording in normal forward playing position whilst the flip has it in reverse. Playing it on a four track brings it back to its intended state. There’s also an animal bone glued to the shell that acts as a playback prevention tab. This is then placed in a tin with a clear window containing soil, fragments of animal bone, artwork on transparent paper and a manifesto of sorts written on vellum that is itself laminated [I think?], the cassette itself is sealed in a skin tight poly bag. With all these obstacles in my way it seems a shame to destroy it by playing it but I’m too intrigued not to. So I carefully slice the cassette out of its poly sleeve, remove the animal bone and listen to Worms Beneath Thy Cold Flesh. What emerges is an evolving wash of fluttering low end rumble, distorted lines of oscillating hertz fizz, vocals appearing through the static like EVP ghost voices, shifting phases of electronic fuzz. Pusdrainer remind us that we all eventually turn into wormfood and there’s not many releases I’ve come across that convey this so effectively. For once the packaging doesn’t outdo the contents.
Auris Apothecary have done what a lot of other people have failed to do and that is advance the cause of Power Electronics. I’d heard that PE was finally evolving but I never imagined it to take off in such an avant-garde manner. One to watch I reckon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Lowest Forms of Music

The Lowest Forms of Music
Beaconsfield Art Centre. London. 22,23,24th October 2010
The Tenses
Dinosaurs with Horns
Raionbashi & Kutzelina
Bill Kouligas & Joseph Hammer
John Duncan
Extended Organ
Mark Durgan with Spoils and Relics
Le Forte Four
Tom Recchion
I’m stood next to Ace Farren Ford looking at old LAFMS photos and theres one of the original Poo Bah Record shop. Ace cocks his head and with a nostalgic sigh in his voice says ‘yup, thats where it all started I guess’.
From a record store sandwiched between a sandwich shop and a gay porno theatre in a sleazy part of L.A. in the early 70’s to Lambeth in South London circa 2010 and Japanese noise nutters HIjokaidan as weekend headliners. For some mad reason it all makes sense.
At a time when the hippie dream was souring by the minute the Los Angeles Free Music Society took their cue from the likes of Beefheart and Zappa and began making music that was very much their own. With a freeform spirit in their hearts they put out records that virtually no one bought, made magazines that virtually no one read and took to the streets to play gigs. That freeform spirit became a spark though. A tiny spark that produced the flames which years down the line lit fires that amongst other things would blossom into the Japanese noise scene and would eventually spawn what became known as New Weird America. From small record stores does mighty influence spring.
So, to the Beaconsfield. Its not often you go to a three day event and see all the artists involved but with a line-up as strong as that then it would be plain stupid not to. I’ve been to plenty of three day [and four] day events of this kind and when you get into an easy half drunk conversation with someone you haven’t met for a year or so then its easy to give the next act a miss knowing that you’ll probably catch them somewhere down the line sooner or later. But Hijokaidan? How many times have they played the UK recently? And Incapacitants with the original line up? And Paul McCarthy and Tom Recchion and Extended Organ and John Duncan and The Tenses and fucking AIRWAY? Jesus, you’d have to be some kind of retard to miss any of those just because someone you haven't seen for a year is offering you another cigarette and the chance of a beer because the bars quiet. And thats what happened. Every time word got out that it was time for the next act we all made a bee line for the stage and listened and cheered and walked out with smiles as wide as our faces.
This one had been building for quite some time - two years in the planning. An aching ball sack and sleepless nights for some but for us lucky punters a chance to see why The Los Angeles Free Music Society are so influential. It was a total sell out. All three nights. The PA was perfect. The venue, a bricked archway under the Waterloo line was just the right size. The beer was cold and the faces all friendly. There was even a German bar within spitting distance that served as both a pre gig watering hole and once the final curtain fell a post gig wind down spot.
It started in the German bar on Friday afternoon and then to the venue where a feeding frenzy was taking place at the merch stall. I saw Underwood and he was smiling. It had all gone to plan. The venue didn’t sink. Flights had landed on time and the venue wasn’t double booked.
Morphogenesis began proceedings which means we got to see Adam Bohman wandering around with his Tesco bag full of detritus. Tiny plates of metal get sawed, things got twanged, maybe a pot plant got wired into something. It was hard to tell. Tom Recchion played to a film he made with John Duncan which included some ferocious drum samples that built into mini storms of chaos. Le Forte Four played spazz ur-punk with added toy ray gun noise and managed to half clear the space but those in the know knew that Japanese Super Heroes was coming and when it did I sang along in my head and when the lights went up there was Rock ‘n’ Roll Jackie with an equally, if not bigger shit eating grin than mine, giving me a double double thumbs up. It was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments. Smegma rounded off Friday and managed to earn themselves a genuine encore, not a hide behind the curtain for five seconds they know we’re coming back encore but a genuine roaring cheering hand clapping get your fucking arses back out here we waited a long time for this moment encore. Vetza sang like a siren. Ace Farren Ford blew chunks out of his pipe and the drums [who was the drummer?], battered to bits were the drums. Whipping all the way from twang 50’s rock to noise blurts to ethereal where did all the sound go moments and back to scratchy old records they flew as smoothly as they always do. It was beautiful.
Saturday night past by in an alcoholic blur. That German bar came in handy at three in the afternoon as I was thirsty after a lamb curry at the India Club and I was just getting into my stride when there’s a dash to see Mark Durgan with Spoils and Relics who I couldn’t see but it didn’t matter. They played on the floor. I could see the tops of heads. Electro-acoustic mutterings and clicks. Sublime. Extended Organ I’ve waited years to see, their improv vocal baby like moans and keyboard prods, string drangs [and if you haven’t got their CD on Birdman then your record collection is not complete]. Worth catching so at to see Paul McCarthy except I didn’t see that much of him. Small stage y’see. Doesn’t matter to me. I’d rather sacrifice poor viewing to a good PA. Imagine having the best view and the sound coming out of a blown PA the size of two Cornflakes boxes. These guys live for clear sounds. If it was McCarthy doing the vocals his next beer’s on me. Then came John Duncan who played and mixed CD’s from the mixing desk into a swirling panned PA system whilst we all talked about his corpse exploits in the bar afterward. Some people complained that they never cranked the PA for Incapacitants and they were right. All noise bands need volume to make an impact and it was a crying shame that they never got it. They were the first band to test the immaculate PA system but they suffered because of it. Still, seeing Mikawa and Kosakai jerk like epileptics is still a sight to be treasured. And then it was the much anticipated AIRWAY set. It was primitive pummel from start to finish with wailing everythings but by then the German beer had taken its toll on my sensory orbits and I stumbled out of the venue and back into the German bar to finish myself off. I could now walk between the German bar and the venue with my eyes shut.

Sunday and my sensitive brain has taken a hammering. So what I need is some smooth loops and analogue deliberations which is where Bill Kouligas and Joseph Hammer come in. Another collaboration that worked well. Saw Hammer at last years Colour Out of Space and he went on for what seemed like an age but here, with about thirty minutes to get it all in, it worked a treat. I managed to find myself at the front of the stage [almost] for Raionbashi and Kutzelina whose noise drone ritual included the elaborate washing of hands and face each time nailing the used towel to bits of wood. A low dog like growl slowly increased in volume until a whistle blow and then a double reading of Germanic text [which seemed to amuse the German speaking members of the audience but of which the only words I could detect was ‘salt and pepper’ showing just how shit my German is]. Then came the yodeling from the lovely Kutzelina and short stabs of painful static from Raionbashi the whole while the thing building into a pressure cooker atmosphere until they cut it dead.
And then some LAFMS Tom Fuckery, first with Dinosaur With Horns which I think was just Rick Potts and then The Tenses, a Smegma side project with Ju Suk Reete Meate and Rock ‘n’ Roll Jackie whose sound is a little like a stripped down Smegma with soaring tremolo guitar, run off groove static and tiny clockwork toys held aloft in one hand just that one sound playing at its conclusion. Then the appearance of Hijokaidan. After five minutes of what appeared to be them tuning up [like uh … ] main-man Jojo Hiroshige, with a tightly wound skull cap stuck to his head and Gibson SG strung around his neck pushed the button and filled the space with wall shuddering noise. With Junko [the Sheila of Shriek, the Sultana of Scream] yelping away like a hyperactive puppy with its paw trapped and Incaps Kosakai doing the electronics they soon managed to whip things up into a shit-storm of mayhem. Jojo began the mock whipping of the audience with his guitar, the drummer sounded like he’d got four arms, mic stands got chucked into the audience, bodies got thrust into the air [crowd surfing - I fear for their heads if they get dropped - me being a sensitive, caring type] Jojo actually handed his guitar to the audience and fought like buggery to get it back again, Junko’s yelping seemed to pierce my eardrums. It all sounded totally insane. The PA had done its job at last and then, for the second time in two nights, Kosakai dived headfirst into the crowd. Ta-da.
Afterwards, outside, we head for the German bar. It’s closed. 11.30 on a Sunday night in the capital and we cant get a drink. As usual I never did get to say my goodbyes, just shuffled off to the hotel with the Thames on my left and happy memories in my head.
On the final leg of my return home I’m on the bus from Leeds to Cleck and to drown out the sound of the school kids on half term chaos I turn on my mp3 player and turn up the volume and by sheer chance Japanese Super Heroes comes on and I was back watching Le Forte Four in that bricked archway in Lambeth with Jackie giving us all the double thumbs up and it all seemed so perfect. It’s a beautiful sunny Autumnal day and I’m warmed by the sun glaring in through the windows and the thoughts of the weekend just gone and I’m thanking all those involved in getting this on because it has truly been a special weekend. The likes of which we may never see again.

1 - Poo Bah Records
2- Ace in Poo Bah
3 - Flip top at Beaconsfield
4 - Exhibition space at Beaconsfield
5 - Raionbashi & Kutzelina ritual washing bowl.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deepkis720/Mothers of the Third Reich

Deepkiss720/Little Creatures
Midori CDR.
33 copies.
Mothers Of The Third Reich
C90. No info.
When I arrive in London tomorrow I shall head straight to my hotel and when entering my room I shall run a bath and throw all the freebie soaps in it and have a good soak. Having already reccied the Beaconsfield Art Centre I know that there is a pub selling German beers not but a half mile from its front door and it’s to there that I shall repair for a few pre-gig snorters and maybe, if hunger gets the best of me, a currywurst.
The tension is building in the run up to the Lowest Forms of Music weekend. A tension thats almost tangible. I feel the internet crackling with anticipated vibes as bags are packed and last minute checks are made by people flying in from America, Japan and Europe. Its fair to say that this coming weekend could see the most memorable noise related event this century has ever seen eclipsing even the four night 2007 No Fun Fest. The vibes are just right. A three day love-in of all things Los Angeles Free Music Society. The first on these shores. A veritable cornucopia of Japanese noise acolytes, American weird and European sensible [well, almost I suppose]. This could be the only chance we ever get to see The Incapacitants and Hijokaidan on the same bill in Europe, in England even. And then there’s Airway, Smegma, Raionbashi, Tom Recchion, La Forte Four, Extended Organ, Bill Kouligas, John Duncan, John Wiese and and and too many to mention but lets not forget the Durgmeister who I haven’t seen for nearly a year but who I hope is still sporting that fine fine face-full of fuzz.
Jase Williams will also be there. He’s easy to spot, a 6’ 7” Ben Gunn [unless he’s gone and shaved it all off again] and will no doubt be kipping in his car outside the venue as a cash saving measure. Jase’s contribution to the UK noise scene may be small when looked at in terms of released output but thats no reflection on his influence and input. Those few releases would suggest the mind of a man for whom side long tranches of noise aren’t the excuse for periods of reflection but a chance to wreak havoc with your ears. With his long running solo project Deepkiss720 Jase has managed to create a monster that makes noise that is genuinely unlistenable and I mean that in the most respectful of ways. Its not everybody who can put something into the noise trough that is so totally off centre as to be totally off whatever scale it is you want to measure it by. He doesn’t make bad noise in an amateurish way but bad noise in a professional way, a way that can truly disfigure. I’ve seen him play plenty of times and each time its been a hands over the ears, run away quickly type of experience. I reckon its the kind of response he would appreciate. Take the only Deepkiss720 LP to date; the Harbinger released Pace X Friction, a hyper active teenagers cassette collection chopped up into a thousand bits and glued back together randomly. Coming from somebody who’s spent a lot of time in the same room as Andy Bolus its probably the only result you could expect. Switching between chopped up drum and bass, noise blasts, porn samples and oddments pulled from christ knows where Pace X Friction is an ugly sister of a record.
So what to make of a postal collaboration between DK720 and Little Creatures? I received this many months ago and was told to save it for the bottom of the review pile. Suggesting that I may not like it and that it was an off the cuff release meant only for the ears of the desperate. After I’d played it once and my worst fears were becoming reality. The scribbled on CDR didn’t help, plenty similarly adorned releases have seen their short lives end in an airborne bin-ward arc and then there was the Gothic script and black magic song titles and the general all round feel of an off the cuff release meant only for the ears of the desperate. But I felt that there was more here than what was first apparent and subsequent listens have proved me right. Ignore the one perfunctory noise track which, as good as it sounds, seems unnecessary here because underneath lies a pretty good exploratory album. Listening in a more relaxed manner I detected much that is good amongst the immediately mundane; a nine minute track of Arctic desolation with randomly struck piano keys, shortwave crackle coupled to reversed monks plainsong, spazmo glitch electronics and Smegma style turntable-ism. Separating who did what and where it all ended up is an impossible task but i feel that these two were meant for each other. I’ve no idea who Little Creature is but he/she/them have managed to do the impossible and calm down the Ritalin deficient DK720.
Perhaps Jase’s work is more aptly summed up with his recent project ‘Mothers Of The Third Reich’. Joining forces with a drummer, Jase belts ideas out of an electric guitar, a clarinet [I think?] and various noise boxes creating something that may become the UK’s three legged dog version of Fushitusha. A homemade, spray-painted cassette contained various live outings [and no doubt some studio rumblings which were of course incredibly noisy but you’ve just got to get your head around these things. Immersing yourself into Jase’s world is never going to be an easy one and it isn’t a job for the faint hearted. So I persevere and somewhere along the line I feel that I may be making some kind of contact. The rasping, farting sounds of an overloaded sub woofer somewhere on that cassette sounded to me like the dying moans of an aging elephant. I was touched. Right there. It was like Coltrane coming at me at 20 hertz. Some kind of celestial connection was made and I was transported. Its what noise music is all about and I believe Jase has what it takes. Whatever it is. That first listen is never easy though, you have to persevere. Just like Jase.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Smegma - Mirage
Important Records CD/LP

1973’s I.D. Art #2 comp contains a track called Potatoe War - a sub sixty second Smegma outing that features jaws harp pluck and a dumb hick vocal that wails ‘Ahh got mojo potatoes in mah pockets’ - and then somewhere along the line, a line that stretches almost forty years now they morphed into one of the most influential bands in D.I.Y, experimental improv, noise, call it what you want land. From songs about potatoes, banana breakfasts and blow job machines to London love-ins during the soon to be here Lowest Forms of Music fest. Almost forty years on the go, making some of the most incredible music on the planet and a week on Friday I shall see them tread the boards once again. A moment to be treasured.
Smegma’s appeal is that they manage to combine disparate musical sounds into something that is so uniquely their own. And the best bit is they’re probably all your favourite sounds too; 50’s guitar twang, noise dabbling, toy abuse, jazz improv, oscillations of otherworldliness and turntable manipulation - sometimes all within the space of one track. Smegma like hitting things, twanging things, twisting things, breaking things, spinning things, parping horns and bugles, theremins, tapes, bass guitars, drums, walls, floors, light fittings, pipes, musical boxes and cat litter [probably], and by experimenting and improvising with all of the above [and probably a lot more besides] they make music that puts the listener in a room where Mingus, Kagel and Link Wray are in a constant three way scuffle over a box of Porter Wagoner records. Or something like that. Smegma records are pretty hard to define anyway. It's like they defy you to categorise them. So if you put almost forty years of music-making in a jar, with forty years of shifting and evolving band membership, you get a kind of music that is truly inspirational but so far off the genre scale as to be uncategorizable. You could chuck them in with the noise makers and the experimenters and the improvisers, you could tar Smegma with any of those brushes, but the music they make is truly their own.
Mirage sees the return of several key members; Dennis Duck, Donkey Flybye, Ace Farren Ford, Rogue Liniki, Tom Recchion, Jozef Van Wissem, and Cody Brant, who along with main-man Ju Suk Reete Meate and Oblivia makes for one of the largest Smegma lineups for some time, and with several tracks being recorded in party mode at Smegma HQ you get that definite feel of a good time being had by all.
Of the six tracks available to me for review I got that same goose bump vibe as I get from any Smegma record. The title track is Richard Bishop meets Derek Bailey, coupled with some of what must be Tom Recchion’s ‘mystery sounds’, Oblivia’s scratchy records mutate into whistling and an eerie empty ballroom feel which eventually erupts into a chattering of zombie noise. When the discordant guitar returns you almost feel as if it's been scored. And then, like an exploding theatrical maroon, comes ‘F-85 Turbo Rocket’, two and a half minutes of doofus 50’s rockabilly twang with howling vocals, harmonica and Forbidden Planet effects. ‘Oh Yeh’ is a room full of people trying out all the toys in the toy shop: prodded piano keys, bells, swannee whistle [or the electronic variant thereof], a stiff door being forced open, deep bass notes, swirling, coins dropped into a dustbin lid, chatter, Wurlitzer organ, an out of tune harp, something that makes a whizzing sound and Cheerful Charlie Chester having his knackers twisted. All life is here. All in one track. The 50’s twang always gets me though. Those tracks lie in wait like highway robbers out to get your purse. The rest doesn’t disappoint either with the opening track, ‘World Of My Own’, kicking off with Oblivia spinning what sounds like a Doris Day 78 which gets tipped into a whorl of cacophony, which if it had mutated into Donna Summer's ‘I Feel Love’ wouldn’t have surprised me one bit, but it didn’t, instead it picks up steam and a steady drum beat. It then chugs off into the sunset with Dick Dale twanging away stood erect and grinning on the back seat of an open-topped Cadillac.
What proves to be the most intriguing track of all is the live take from 1974 which LP buyers won't get: ‘Quiet On The Set Rioux!’ is eight minutes of harmonium wheeze, horn parp, reed blast and piano bashing which given its year shows that Smegma were already drifting away from Potatoe Wars and into a world of pure experimentation and improvisation.
Just one final word: the CD carries two tracks that are not on the LP [‘Quiet On The Set Rioux!’ and ‘Oh Yeh’] and one track on the LP that's not on the CD [‘Very Good Advice’ - a spontaneous jam which sadly wasn’t available for review].
See you in London.