Sunday, November 27, 2011
 Bob Hallucination
Dog Hallucination. 3” CD
Thanks to Peel playing their 12”’s that went on for 20 minutes I did have a soft spot for The Orb [Andy Kershaw took him to task over such indulgence of course] but for me, at a time when things were going tits up music wise, their music was as welcome as a found fiver in an old coat pocket. Their trippy ambient beats filled with quirky samples floated from my speakers like mind melting ether and then they teamed up with Mike Oldfield and Steve Hillage and it all went horribly wrong.
The Orb were the first band to spring to mind whilst listening to all 23 minutes [natch] of  Bob Hallucinations. Bob Hallucinations may not like it but thats what you get for sending your releases to someone who used to listen to The Orb. The production is pristine, the guitars layer and fall like glistening slivers of icicle melt, the field recordings are sublime and well positioned [a nail factory by all accounts], the beats [when they eventually appear] are all Muslimgauze-y and when put into one whole it should work but with it being so overly polished I find it as gratifying as overfeeding on Quality Streets.
Perhaps Bob Hallucinations would prefer it if I mentioned them in the same breath as Column One which I would do if only they’d lay off the hours of mixing and editing and pruning and making sure it all sounds just right. Stripped down and raked out into an hours worth of material there’d be enough sounds in here to keep me happy for many an alcoholic afternoon but as it stands now I find this too condensed and overworked. Pretty when ugly is needed.
Astral Social Club - V.E.N.U.S [For electronics and guitars, October 2011]
No label CDR
Astral Social Club - Generator Breaker
Dekorder LP. Dekorder 055
ESP Kinetic - ‘Want Some Of This?’
Harbinger Sound LP. Harbinger75
astralsocialclub [at] hotmail.co.uk
Eleven PM on a Saturday night is always a good time to grab some merch from the nodmeister. At the recent Ramleh gig he was chucking records about like confetti at a wedding. ‘Anybody not got one of these?’ says Campbell waving his arms about like a plane parker on acid. And all of a sudden it was like who cares about the Sabbath party band Campbell’s giving away records. Fortunately I’d scored the ESP earlier from the Underwood but the Dekorder and VENUS were received like golden tablets and carried home in the taxi like a new born baby.
I probably owe Campbell about sixteen gallons of beer by now and the upcoming tour of Cleck hostelries may redress the balance somewhat but In the meantime I’m still trying to link the stylistic bridge between Campbell’s first band ESP Kinetic and his current Astral Social Club project. There’s no point in trying of course. ESP Kinetic are early eighties Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV/Genesis P-Orridge acolytes, all orange hair, mascara and black finger polish banging away on drums to heavily reverbed vocals in grotty pubs in Northampton whilst ASC emit celestial drone via a network of arteries that flow between the hearts of dance, techno, motorik, drone, noise and pure experimentation.
Following on from last years unearthing of Fleck Nor comes ‘Want Some of This?’ The moronic come on of every pissed up football hooligan in England seems an odd choice of title for an ESP Kinetic release and its hard to imagine our GPO loving troupe clad in Lacoste shell suits hiding around terraced corners waiting for the other crew to turn up but there you go. Its primitive stuff of course. Even more primitive than Fleck Nor which at least had the sense to veer toward early Fall like riffage and MES like delivery now and again [when they weren’t genuflecting GPO’s way of course]. ‘Want Some of This?’ has Casio poke industrial instrumental ditties and early TG carnage all sharing space on muddied straight to Memorex recordings. Theres a live side and a ‘at home’ side with the punch coming from the ‘home’ side most notably on the longer outing ‘Two Faces Collide’ in which a driving bass riff is the backbone to ranting muffled vocals and spacey keyboards all combining to produce a raucous tumult. It’s what Gen would’ve wanted.
Fast forward twenty seven years and we have Astral Social Club. Since leaving the Vibracathedral Orchestra to their own devices about ten years ago Campbell’s work under the ASC moniker has blossomed into an ever flowing, multiplying body of work. An increasingly important and welcome body of work it is too and unlike some artists whose work appears with all the regularity of a well oiled turd, ASC’s prolific offerings are to be sought after and welcomed.
Generator Breaker’s seven tracks begins with a vibrating four chord descent from which we find shimmering guitars and vibrating electronica emerging. ‘Wishaw’ has a four to the floor thump that shares groove space with glowing heat lamp drones. Somewhere in there are the speeded up samples of European classical music. When the frenetic insect drone rumble of ‘Splashdown’ segues into the final track ‘Breaker’ the beats dissolve to leave a you adrift on a receding idyllic tide. This last, slowed down, ebbing away of residual drone and the final silence that follows had me flipping the damned thing numerous times.
Its hard trying to convey the sheer pleasure to be had from listening to Astral Social Club. After suffering a not inconsiderable amount of tosh in Brighton recently it was to something close to ASC that the weekend badly needed. Something beatific, life affirming, glowing, huggable, off your tits, nod your head drone. But its not all nod your head mindless boogie. Around the twenty minute mark on V.E.N.U.S a church organ like drone emerges from the beats thats precede it. For the next ten minutes it carries you off before breaking up into its constituent keyboard parts. Like this years earlier ASC release 'Scudding' this is a lengthy single. And whilst not hitting the hour mark its half hours worth are further essential Astral minutes.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Glue Pour - Telepathy Shots/Preslav Literary School - Sonuna
Split LP. RzDz15. 300 Copies
Rouse Poussin - The Christmas Shots
CD. RzDz16. 80 Copies
Rubén Patiño - Eleven Stereo Moments
Cassette. RzDz17. 40 Copies
Michael Barthel - Noch Mehr Hölen
Cassette. RzDz18. 40 Copies
I told Johnny Scar that I wasn’t going to mention Darksmith’s performance at this years Colour Out of Space fest but then my hurried answer was just as petulant as the performance we’d just seen. How could I not mention the fact that Darksmith, [Friday nights headline act] threw the teddy out of the cot five minutes into his set and spent the next twenty minutes or so exchanging ‘fuck you’s with the audience? Whilst stamping his feet, throwing his equipment about and drinking from a 2 liter plastic bottle of industrial strength cider he ranted, tore at his t-shirt, threw his chair about and generally behaved like a stroppy teenager whose just been grounded for a month. As acts of petulance go it was up there with the best John McEnroe moments but to see it unfold before my very eyes on the first night of a weekend of experimental music took some taking in. Some people said they enjoyed it but not for the sounds produced of course, which were intermittently interesting but on the whole so obviously chaotic.
And then there was the salad. I have this theory that the further south you go in England the more prevalent the green stuff on your plate. By the time you hit Brighton you need a machete to get through it. There must be thousands of rabbits starving to death due to the fact that the eateries of Brighton deem it compulsory to heap five handfuls of the stuff onto everything you order. I’m surprised its not used as a garnish with coffee. It was what probably pushed Darksmith over the edge to start with.
Colour Out of Space put me in the mood for Razzle Dazzle and a series of releases that cover electronica, tape experimentation, sound poetry and lap top bleep. I did play some of this to Phil T when he was here two weeks ago. It arrived on the same weekend of the Ramleh show. We sat and listened to Rose Poussin and what emerged from the speakers was a panning throb disguising various conversations. ‘Illusion of Safety’ said I. ‘Throbbing Gristle’ said Phil. ‘I bet the voices coming from beneath that panning throb are serial killers and sadists’ said I. But they weren’t. We were tricked into thinking this was homage to old school Industrial but when the voices became clear they talked about chess and the best way to hang a mirror. Disappointed we headed to the next track, another live one, this time a drone built on amp buzz and hiss. French voices appear. It ended. We left for Leeds.
Fortunately for me things improved in remarkable fashion when I played Michale Barthel’s Noch Mehr Hölen. Its a short trip but during it I heard voices as quiet as a mouses trot play with Clanger like voices, vocals mimic the exploding of a dirty bomb and a farmers field at five in the morning. On one track it sounds like they’ve gone down to the local Mental Institution and told everybody within mic reach to make daft noises. Some of it is so quiet that you really have to strain to make the most of it but that only adds to its surreal charm. Wonderful.
Rubén Patiño’s release is subtitled ‘stereo movements for a concert without performer’ and there is a certain air of detachment to these sounds. Most are single notes, test, tones, panned and pitched. Theres an air of 50’s electronic avant-gardism about it all giving the work a nostalgic feel which the format certainly benefits from. The two seconds of mock applause at its end shows that Patiño isn’t bereft of a sense of humour either.
Razzle Dazzle is a Berlin based label. Berlin becoming the emerging capital of experimental music. With the apartments of old East Berlin providing cheap rent for aspiring experimenters its no wonder that theres a plethora of artists and labels emerging from there. New York and London may have its fans but its to Berlin we head first. Preslav Literary School’s Adam Thomas and Glue Pours Benjamin l. Aman are both emigré sound artists working in Berlin. PLS’s work is cassette based, on Sonuna a pure church organ drone provides the basis for a layering of sounds that include child like voices, bird song and massed choirs. Such is the skill in mixing all this degraded sound that the end result becomes one amorphous globule of ghostly ethereal delight. Glue Pour’s end results lie in the same area but I guess that they arrive there via a different route. Telepathy Shots drone is one of electric current, held in check fizz, lost in space wilderness and while it didn't engage me as fully as PSL it still has enough depth to hold its own.
To Berlin then and no salad when we get there please.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
The New Blockaders - Antimonia II
Dot Dot Dot Music 7”
I’m not the only writer in this house you know. Mrs Fisher also dabbles with the keys, her chosen subject being travel. And whereas I amass records, CD’s and cassettes for my troubles Mrs Fisher amasses memories of travel. Since the advent of Ernest [the preferred name for her laptop] Mrs Fisher has been entering various travel writing competitions and the results have been rather welcome. The rewards for all this tapping of keys, besides various mentions in the Guardian Travel Tips pages, has been an iPad, a digital camera, £200 in foreign currency and two luxury breaks in the hotel of our choice. The luxury breaks are for next year and have already been booked. One is a night in the Devonshire Arms near Bolton Abbey North Yorkshire on the 30th of March and the other is two nights at the newly refurbed Marriott Hotel situated in Seven Dials central London the dates being the Bank Holiday weekend of May the 5th and 6th.
Observant TNB watchers will already be familiar with these dates. On the 31st of March TNB will play in Berlin along with Vagina Dentata Organ. On the weekend of the 4th to the 6th of May TNB will, at some point, play at the Broken Flag Festival in Tufnell Park London. You see my dilemma. With news that Jet2 are introducing flights from Leeds/Bradford airport to Berlin next year there is the very slim chance that there may just be a flight on the Saturday of that date that will get me to Berlin in time to see the TNB/VDO show [I could fly from Manchester but I could do without traversing the M62 as part of my escape]. With the London dates my chances are a little better. We’ll be there for the 5th and 6th but which night are TNB playing? We have a freebie dinner chucked in with the prize but which night to book it? Of course Mrs Fisher isn’t so cold hearted as to deprive me of at least one night at the BF Fest [attending both would create a permanent schism] but which one to attend and which night to book the dinner? Maybe they’re playing the Friday night and I’m screwed anyway? Its all finely balanced but at least there is hope.
In the meantime theres the slow trickle of quality TNB material to revel in. Antimonia II is two sides of prime TNB scrape in which the Rupenus brothers battle it out with seconds from seizing jet engines, lengths of rusty scaffolding pole, boxes of nuts and bolts and a pair of ball-peen tinning hammers. If anything these two short sides of primitive junk noise are even more visceral than the recently released early live works of which they share a great deal in construction. Perhaps then the seven inch vinyl single [an attractively flecked one too] is the perfect way to hear noise at this level of destruction? As ever its to The New Blockaders that we turn to for quality noise nihilism.
Not sure how many of these exist but the chances are that if you want one you’re already going to have to track down a copy at an inflated price to experience a further, essential, TNB thrill.
Friday, November 04, 2011
no label CDR
God is not Great
To the Wharf Chambers in Leeds to dish out ALAP badges like communion wafers. Which got me thinking. Funny thing religion. People eating bits of other people, babies having their genitals mutilated, animal sacrifice, Papal indulgences, suicide bombers. Of course you can do anything in the name of religion. I’ve been reading Christopher Hitchens splendid book ‘God is not Great - How Religions Poisons Everything’ and when you look at religion in the cold light of day, as you should, it all begins to unravel. Hitchens makes this unarguable point: if you or I were to cut the foreskin off a baby boy and suck the damaged member we’d be incarcerated but if you’re a Jewish ‘mohel’ you can cary out his procedure with the states backing. I could go on at length of course but then you’d never know what Ramleh were like. Buy the book for yourself and discover more.
Ramleh certainly thinned the crowd down at Wharf Chamber and this was the three piece ‘rock’ Ramleh not the two piece Power Electronics Ramleh. For the majority of the audience Ramleh’s three chord rock chug wasn’t their thing and at an hour I must admit to having my patience tested but this was my first time, the legendary Ramleh, who play very few gigs at all, Gary Mundy, in the flesh and then the Sabbath party band came on.
After the event I tried to reconcile my inner differences. Did I like it? Not really. In parts they sounded like an instrumental U2. At times they really hit a defiant stride and took you with them but it was only later that I realised that all my favourite Ramleh rock records have Phillip Best on them and tonight there was no Phillip Best. It left a gap that was the reason I couldn’t fully engage with them. At least we got see Early Hominids blast out a twenty minute piece of ultra throb. Early Hominids are beginning to hit their straps now and glueing big beats to the kind of bass throb that Merzbow excelled in is a direct way to my non religious black little heart. And due to a Manchester Skullflower gig being cancelled we got a last minute Voltiguers appearance in which Bower and friend whipped up a ten minute twin guitar wall of thrape. A perfect way to quick start your evening.
As ever, a pre gig snorter was arranged in the Duck and Drake. Shuffling homeless scruffs rubbed shoulders with shuffling home owning scruffs and as ever CD’s swapped hands. One such was given to me by someone called Jonas who had long hair and wore a brown storemans coat. He described the contents as mock jazz but I’d describe them more as quintessential English colonialist surreal humour in a Vivian Stanshall meets Diz Willis kind of way. Which seems pertinent as Diz’s name cropped up regularly during the late afternoon swiller.
Protagonists of David Gadson is four tracks of spoken word observations over backings of sax squawl, urban jazz and Jelly Roll Morton on a loop. I was particularly smitten with ‘Doom Radio with Reginald Ffolks’, in which someone with a plummy, lispy, English accent reminisces about his old records [Vera Lynne] and his Teddy Bear over the aforesaid Jelly Roll loop. The deadpan estuary English delivery and living in the city observations of the proletariat getting pissed and vomiting cheered me no end but it was all over too quick. 26 minute including silence leading up to the hidden track in which we get to find out that Steve’s favourite chord is D minor is way too short. More please.