Onomatopoeia - irrelevant
The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again
LP. 300 Copies.
Quite why Steve Fricker’s solo project should be such an infrequent visitor to the shores of UK musical experimentation is a mystery that only the man himself can explain. You’d have to find him first though for Fricker is a man of mystery whose sightings are few and far between. The last time I saw him must have been about five years ago, he’d adopted the guise of a second hand car dealer, all slicked back long hair, Bermuda shirt and leather car coat. This was after the man with a van days where he could be found crossing the capital in his antique Mitsubishi side loader doing dodgy deals with the capitals diaspora. I first came across him in the early 90’s when he used to run Cheeses International, a pre-internet mail order outlet and label. He was the kind of person who’d lug two heavy bags of records halfway across the country on the odd chance of shifting an Asmus Tietchens triple LP to a drunken punter at a New Blockaders gig. I still miss him as do many others.
His releases under the Onomatopoeia moniker are few and far between and could easily be counted on the hand of a Todmorden teenager - and this after 20 years of experimentation. The last Onomatopoeia release was ‘A Marble Holder From Andover’ and that was seven years back - its one track ran to just twenty minutes. Onomatopoeia’s first album appeared in 1990 [I was lucky enough to find a copy in Huddersfield’s second hand market for a fiver one saturday morning - a serendipitous event that still has the ability to lift me from my cups]. Then there’s the collaboration with Smell & Quim, the vocal only experimentations on Auditory Hallucinations, a cassette that appeared on G.R.O.S.S. and ‘Interesting Train Journeys Of The West Midlands & Non-Palindromic Place Names’ - apart from the odd compilation contribution that’s it. Except for ‘irrelevant’.
It was at the recent Lowest Forms of Music festival that I spied a flyer for ‘Irrelevant’. Picking it up and squinting at its print in disbelief I think I heard myself say out loud, ‘Bugger me is Fricker still alive?’ all this while waving the flyer about as if it was evidence of life after death. I pocketed the flyer promising myself to buy a copy later.
What I’ve always like about Onomatopoeia is the surreal British humour and self deprecation; A Marble Holder From Andover has a picture of a marble holder from Andover on the cover, on ‘irrelevant’ all the track titles are alliterative and begin with the letter ‘C’ and ‘B’; Cellophane Cucumber Clamjamphire, Corduroy Croquette Clap-Clinic Cull, Blennorrhoea, Chafed Cervix Coleslaw Cum Chutney Cesspit, Bland Basingstoke, the label it appears on is called ‘The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again’, then there’s the small ‘i’ of ‘irrelevant’ a stab at self deprecation perhaps? A Marble Holder Holder From Andover was dedicated to his van, each copy of Irrelevant has a different world flag glued to its cover and on it goes.
Irrelevant started life in 1997 as a cassette that ran to 70 copies. The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again have reissued it on vinyl and in doing so have done us a great service. Utilising a single instrument for each track Onomatopoeia create sounds that range from the almost Industrial to pure experimentation. On Corduroy Croquette Clap-Clinic Cull a single cymbal is hit repeatedly, little rhythms building and dying away. Blennorrhoea [utilising one Piccolo] creates a ghostly ambience, Cellophane Cucumber Clamjamphire [utilising one hunting horn] is equally funereal. You get the picture. Horns cymbals, piccolos, a bass guitar and a zambomba [an African drum] all taken in some way to create sounds that become removed from the original instrument. There must be some treatments or multi tracking going on tho I’m no expert, with maybe the cymbal track coming though as the purest [and harshest] of the lot and Bland Basingstoke [utilising the zambomba] being mangled in such a way as to sound like a looped Con-Dom fill. My only slight criticism of the whole enterprise are the latter parts of the almost side long Chafed Cervix Coleslaw Cum Chutney Cesspit [utilising bass guitar] in the latter parts of which the bass guitar becomes too obviously apparent. In a track that begins with some fine two phase oscillating fizz it peters out into random bass farts that end up sounding like a poor mans Sonic Youth solo. But let us not depart Onomatopoeia waters on such a low note because for us Onomatopoeia fans any appearance is to be warmly welcomed. I for one hope that some equally benevolent soul takes up the task of reissuing those other obscure Onomatopoeia releases but for now I’m more than happy with this.
contact: 7.17[AT] orange.net