Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creative Destruction

Creative Destruction
Various Artists
Hypnagogia. GIA07. 2XCD. 300 Copies


Kazuma Kubota
Government Alpha
Guilty C

If I’d have been handed a Jap noise comp 15 years ago I’d have probably squealed like a girl and spent the next ten minutes dancing in a tiny circle on tippy toes. In 2012 its a different story. I’m often asked if I still listen to noise and the honest answer is that apart from when I’m given something to review I rarely do. Thats not to say I don’t enjoy the chance to indulge but as the years march on I find my appetite for it diminishing at an alarming rate. I still enjoy a live show of course and I feel that this is where noise still has the chance to flex its muscles but given a double CD of it to peruse I’m finding it hard to generate any enthusiasm.

[As an aside - in a recent bout of shelf clearance I took all my CD’s and hid them in boxes. Its my take on the Blue Peter time capsule thing in which you take a number of everyday items, bury them in a box and wait 50 years for someone to discover it hoping that they’ll marvel at the bizarreness of the contents - vinyl was being neglected and the balance had to be addressed - numerous noise CD’s had the lid shut on them for the good of my well being and into a dark future they went.]

Not the best time then to be handed a double disc set of Jap noise but with curiosity forever lurking I took the bait. And half way through the second disc I ejected and decided that I really had lost it. I could have waited until I was in a more receptive mood but then that could be a very long way off. I did though [eventually] dutifully listen and decided that there was neither anything very bad on here but equally, and more importantly, there wasn’t anything really remarkable. I made detailed notes. I watched youtube videos. I ventured on to various websites. I started writing what I consider to be the bog standard noise review .. sounds like this … slap of metal …  ear shred par excellence … but it wasn’t working. All that came through was the realisation that at this moment in time a double CD of Jap noise just wasn’t doing it for me.

Anybody who knows their Jap noise artists will know what to expect here. A dodgy Incaps track aside theres some fine noise being made here and in the case of Guilty C a terrific 16 minutes worth of noise drone that eventually managed to lift me from my cups but by then my mind was made up. Into the box it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rammel Weekender Nottingham 9-11 March

The first weekender of the year gives us hope that there is light at the end of the dark winter months. Yours truly will be spinning some records on one of these nights. Tickets are limited.

Astral Social Club
Bill Kouligas
Blood Stereo
Dieter Muh
Ellen Mary McGhee & Sophie Mary Cooper
John Wall
John Wiese
Mark Durgan
Modulator ESP
Nacht Und Nebel
Nick Jonah Davis
Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides
Patrick Farmer
Patrik Fitzgerald
Sleaford Mods
Spoils and Relics
Storm Bugs
These Feathers Have Plumes 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Must Die Records / Wrested Thread / Bedawang

Wrested Thread
Must Die Records. CD. MDR 017

Bedawang - Skin=Deception
Must Die Records. CD. MDR 020

Contact: http://mustdierecords.co.uk/

The war against CD’s began in earnest with an offloading of a bag of MDR stuff to Campbell HQ. I had an inkling that he’d take to Nigel Joseph’s Mogodon beats and as it happened I was right. Those thick, syrupy doom laden beats layered all over with hundreds and thousands of diddly diddly guitar notes, the soundtracks to numerous nights in on the Fylde coast with nothing more than prescription drugs for company and the bang bang bang of someone hitting their head against a council flat wall went down like a stripper on a stag do.

And after having my negative thoughts regarding MDR checked somewhat by the sublime Bad Suburban Nightmare I was hoping for something heading more into that kind of territory [think esoteric, tumbleweed, Ry Cooder on a windswept Morecambe Bay in January kind of feel] what I got instead was one middling work of muddling noise and one 
of a rather more rewarding experimental nature.

Wrested Thread got off to a bad start after I visited the MDR website during a spot of pre-listening fact checking. There I was met by these words ‘“…pure aural abuse – certainly not one for the faint hearted”. Labeling your work with such an epithet I regard as rather foolhardy for there is no way on earth that you are ever going to fulfill such a claim. Pure aural abuse is what you get from the missus for coming home at seven in the morning pissed out of your brains minus a shoe with vomit down your shirt. Pure aural abuse is what The New Blockaders sound like coming at you through a 5000 watt PA system. Pure aural abuse is not what I got from Wrested Thread. What I did get was Astral Social Club on Blackpool drugs. Segue the tracks, replace painkillers with Timothy Taylors and you have a rather dull Astral Social Club album. I didn’t even approach it with caution, such is my nonchalance and lack of self preservation when inserting CD’s.

Things improved no end with Bedawang. Bedawang being the Belgian experimenter Christof Becu [who carries no epithets at all on the MDR website]. Not surprisingly I was more inclined to linger longer in Christof’s world seeing as how it contained sounds that were of recurring interest. The 24 minute closer ‘Blaschko’s Lines’ is the pick of the bunch; a taught affair in which the radiating therms of banked glow lamps buckle and fizz giving us a tempered noise drone that hardly alters through its course. The five preceding, and shorter, tracks range from star pulse radiation glitch to Sähkö like analogue beat. Becu sails close to the apocalyptic wasteland shores as created by the likes of Mika Vainio and encapsulates some of that feeling whilst adding touches of industrial ambience; half lidded pulses, deep rhythms, astronauts breathing, keeping the whole sixty minutes interesting enough to warrant return visits. More from Mr Becu please.

Must Die Records, even if they're only getting it half right are at least worthy of attention.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Merzouga - Mekong Morning Glory

Merzouga - Mekong Morning Glory
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 092. CD + Booklet

Mekong Morning Glory is a 49 minute journey in which the duo that is Merzouga transport the listener along the Mekong River taking in gentle wind chimes, screeching exotic birds and the sound of the Mekong itself emptying into the South China Sea. Its a delightful listen that is a relaxing as it is rewarding and made all the more so by the knowledge that the duo took their 2008 field recordings back to the studio in Cologne and mixed in prepared electronic bass [Jano Hanushevsky] and electronic sounds [Eva Pöppelin]. Pöppelin also takes on the producing duties and her results are a sonic adventurers delight.

Pöppelin has to take credit for the way in which she has matched the field recordings to the work done in the studio. Taught bass strings plucked like pizzicato violins are a match for the sounds of flocks of birds taking off, water fowl squawks could be electronic glitches, crowing cocks sit cheek by jowl with the haunting riff pulled from a two note bass string. When children’s voices appear the bass notes drop a tone and if you’d have told me I was in the midst of an Industrial Ambient release I wouldn’t have argued.

The journey unfolds at such an elegiac pace that I found it hard to sit through this release without nodding off and if you think this is being dismissive then you are wrong. In the space of about ten days I have played this every single night and without fail I’ve succumbed to its soporific charms. Upon waking I found myself at various stops along the way and it was as if I were being treated to some new found conflagration of bass pluck, torrential rain, children’s voices, whimpering dogs, waterfalls … 

Its at about the half hour mark that Merzouga eventually encounter mass civilization and the field recordings capture this; outboard motors, mopeds, Hari Krishnas, floating markets, the sound of chopping, crowds, conversations, traffic cop whistles, car horns, Vietnamese pop, people jumping in the river and when the wind chimes reemerge to the sound of the gushing sea you know your journey is at an end.

I was mesmerized by Mekong Morning Glory in a way that I haven’t felt by a piece of music for a long time. I may be a tad behind the times here but the way in which the natural world and the recording studio have combined here is a sheer delight. For the patient listener its rewards are immense.

Gruenrekorder have encouraged me to listen to a number of their other releases which are available for download and even though I’m no big fan of downloads I’ve been so overwhelmed by Mekong Morning Glory that I feel that to ignore them would be a grave mistake.

 Contact: www.gruenrekorder.de

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Grey Park / Dear Beloved Henry / Albert Materia

Grey Park - Three Notes On Stockholm Palindrome
267 Lattajjaa. LTJ104. CDR

Dear Beloved Henry / Albert Materia
Split release on recycled cassette.
Hyster. Hyster13. 50 copies. 2€

Grey Park releases arrive like birthday cards with tenners in. Having said that Stockholm Palindrome doesn’t surpass The Odyssey of Juri Gagarin [which came in an inverted coffee bean bag] or Planned Confusion [which was … gasp, choke, a proper CD] it still manages to arrive covered in Finnish hoar frost though. These sparse deliveries from the Nordic climes are most welcome seeing as how I feel they convey the true spirit of the lone sonic adventurer - Yuri Gagarin was all Soviet radio broadcasts [in reverse], with star radiation pulse for company. Planned Confusion was lightly flecked experimental drone made with stuff kicking about on the floor. There was the odd single and cassette too but these two releases are the ones that are usually floating around here [mainly due to the fact that the coffee bag is so prominent].

Most GP releases have some kind of radio flicking going on in them, usually around the shortwave band, along with the feeling of having been stuck in a lonely house watching the snow come down. By treading a plank that wobbles between bedroom knob twiddler and art space pro Grey Park have managed to retain my interest over quite a number of years now.

Stockholm Palindrome’s three tracks have a mild leaning towards Industrialism especially with an opening of heavy machinery drone in which a deeply buried generator fights it out with a buffeting wind. A mild aversion to all things Industrial is no bad thing indeed and Grey Park’s daubing in the medium are fine things to indulge in. The needle stuck in a run out groove, the TV voices, the morose drones, tape reverse, air raid warnings, the lonely mariachi trumpet wail of the climax to Morricone’s Fistful of Dollars soundtrack layered, looped and morphed into new weirdness and then a noisy burst before spoken voices, a madman singing, Diamanda Galas being strangled, all of it petering out like a dying Geiger counter. Chuck in some enigmatic track titles [M.2.T.2010, 2.2.T.P.A., F.A.F.O.D] and its another winner.

Hyster are Finnish too. I remember them for a particularly impressive live Dieter Müh release and for the fact that all their releases arrive on recycled cassette. Who Dear Beloved Henry is I have no idea though. Here he give us a single 24 minute track of tape spool drone, sea side organ slowed and distorted, fingers on fast running capstans until a revelation of its source; a Casio thump beat, a two chord keyboard chug with plenty of right hand plink to while away the dying minutes.

Albert Materia’s mainly piano built songs sound like Cecil Taylor doing a David Sylvian impression in French. On the first track you can actually hear him approach the piano and take a drink before cracking his knuckles and launching into a song in which each machine gun strike of the piano matches a vocal utterance.

Anyone familiar with David Sylvian’s more out there moments will feel a similarity with the eleven minute, self explanatory ‘Lullaby’. The French [?] accent, the mournful, wobbling delivery, the minor chords, the sense that I feel Materia is making this up as he goes along all adds to the charm of the piece. With his voice wavering between a dithering falsetto and a stuttering fa fa fa f-f-f-f-resh-ness he manages to imbue his songs with a naivety thats rarely found these days. His lyrics are also worth hearing:

I am the people
Where is my heart?
I am the chatter
I am the the noise, noise
I am the springtime noise

Its all rather marvelous. Somebody should give him a recording contract.

Contact: 267 Lattajjaa

Contact: Hyster

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Asymptotem - Four Lines Cross
Total Vermin 58. Cassette

According to the Total Vermin blog Asymptotem were missing one vital ingredient the day these two tracks were recorded; Joincey. The peripatetic experimental drone pop maestro who finds his path crossing Manchester, Oxford and Stoke on Trent, whilst dabbling in more groups and recordings than seems humanly possible, was denied his place at the table due to the vagaries of the British rail network. Which is sad but having said that these two twenty minute pieces of achingly beautiful and whimsical folky oh so English drone are so damned perfect that we’ll just have to pretend he was there all along.

With a six piece line up containing two Sculptress members as well as TV boss Stuart Arnot I took an educated guess as to where these two tracks would be heading before insertion and playback but this still didn’t prepare me for what lay within. Both sides dwell in similar Sculptress territory; flutes, random drums hit with muffled mallets, the odd moaned vocal, kids toys, but here we have added beefed up and droning electric guitar, a drone that had me in mind of Matthew Bower playing from beneath a damp horse blanket. His droning guitar was there but made to stand at the back giving the other instruments space in which to be heard. But this is only on one side.

I don’t know which side it is which now but its the one that begins with a delightful twin flute duet before various of the above elements are added culminating in a crescendo of electric guitar wail that disappears into a trumpet squeak, amp buzz field of gorgeous emptiness. The other begins with blown tubes, Swannee whistles, sawn strings, softly hit drums, the piece held in suspension before the sound of Tuvan throat like moaning/singing and another flurry of drums. At times sparse Edgar Froese or maybe a more avant-garde Whicker Man soundtrack. However you want to compare it these are two tracks of outstanding beauty and creativity.

And it really is all so utterly delightful and for some reason so utterly English. Both tracks were recorded late on a summers day, maybe a rare warm one with ale in reach and bare arms on display. Maybe a picture of the Queen on the cover would have been more appropriate? Made me want to make a cup of tea, lay the floor with a map of England and look wondering if there were lay lines linking Stoke and Manchester.

Contact: http://totalvermin.blogspot.com/