Sunday, June 24, 2012

Iibiss Rouge / Astral Social Club

Astral Social Club - ASC22
No label. CDR

Iibiis Rooge - Life in a Bloodcell
Winged Sun Records. WSR 21. Cassette.

Iibiis Rooge - Hespherides
Weird Forest.

Weird Forest press release:

‘Iibiis Rooge is the high-powered collaboration of Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club, Vibracathedral Orchestra and A Band) and High Wolf (releases on Holy Mountain, Not Not Fun, and his own Winged Sun label).
Their new album, Hespherides, is a welcome development in the duo's trajectory, with its immersive propulsion more refined and synthesized than their 2009 self-titled debut. That earlier effort showcased the possibilities and capacities of the two artists' collaborative spirit, each track exploring the individual aspects of a shared sense of sound with discernible cues from either Campbell's or High Wolf's discography. In contrast, Hespherides is a meticulously sculpted document that embraces a total sound -- one that denies prominence of each contributor by melding the psychic duality of the pair. Shifting industrialized ethno-polyrhythmic structures are transformed by droning, blissed-out textural threads that seamlessly coexist and contradict one another; Through two side-long process-driven mechanical meditations, a shared space is constructed, one that satiates anyone willing to gorge on the global, post-acid house, rainbow hypnotism that is Iibiis Rooge’.

All that psychic melding must take it out on a man ... although I wouldn’t have used such pompous language to say so, I think that messers Campbell and High Wolf did indeed get their psychic duality melded. Given the task of reviewing this platter for the weird Forest website I’d have said that between them they banged out a couple of decent sides of pulse gabba where neither side managed to stick their head above the parapet thus creating something that sounded like ASC in one channel and High Wolf in another [not as simplistic as that but you get my drift].

Thus the continuing collaboration conundrum. I imagine each artists sat side by side in an elbow shoving contest, each trying to shove the other of the end of the bench in a my sounds are better than your sounds contest. I know, I know I know, its not like that at all, its all peace and harmony and respect for each others work and thats how the garden grows, heres my bit, theres your bit, backwards, forwards, I know how it works. Sort of. Its just that I’m not familiar with High Wolf’s work whilst on the other hand I’m very, very familiar with Campell’s and therein lies my problem. Weird Forest hear ‘blissed-out textural threads that seamlessly coexist and contradict one another’; I get Campbell’s trademark squiggles and bleats and someone else making some thumping noises over the top of it. Its all very good in a very good way but it lacks a certain frission thats needed to get my juices flowing. On side two theres even a tendency to stray into Orb territory which as regular readers know sends me all a-shiver and fills me with the portent dread that the thing is going to include a sample of someone asking Ricky Lee Jones what the skies were like when she was a child. Ditto the tape.

Much more to my liking is the unadulterated Campbell. Especially in Astral Social Club format. Having reached number 22 in his self released, no hyperbole, swallowed a dictionary world he has created what is possibly the best ASC release of the lot. A remarkable achievement.

The six tracks and forty odd minutes of ASC 22 include the usual live gigs, helping hands of issue, friends and fellow knob twiddlers, theres the rabid, over frotted electric guitar to which Campbell builds walls of beats, the crystalline shimmer of a descending three chord trip against which a frenetic Pat Metheny plays a Gibson jazz with his head bent low and his fingers going twenty to the dozen, disco beats are turned around, clanking chains are used as beat fodder, a 4/4 high hat goes tsk tsk tsk, spoken words are heard in reverse, then running water, kids in a playground and through it all a mad desire to bob ones head in joyous accompaniment. This is where the ‘frission’ that was missing on Iibiss Rouge lives. Rough hewn tracks burnt to CD and emitted with as little fanfare as a blog post can muster.

One day somebody is going to go through the ASC self released archive and make themselves a truly unforgettable vinyl box set. I hope I live to see the day.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jason Crumer - Let There Be Crumer

Jason Crumer - Let There Be Crumer
Second Layer CD. SLR016.



And there goes another decent record shop. R.I.P. Second Layer.  Not that I ever went. I went past it once whilst crawling out of London playing my part in the Friday afternoon ritual that is the exodus of the metropolis. The spare moments that I had during trips to the capital never proved conducive to Second Layer homage thus I never got the opportunity to chuck some money over the counter for some of Pete’s fabulous wares - I did my bit with the mail order though. At least we have the RRR Record Store LP with which to relive Second Layer memories and there’ll be photos knocking about and memories for those that went and spent. Perhaps most importantly the mail order section survives along with the website and the label.

An example of which sits here. I’ve been staring at Crumer’s fizog for too long now [I’m assuming its him on the cover although the similarity between Crumer and Todd Rundgren in his drug saturated heyday is uncanny]. It was either Crumer or the cake on the back sleeve - a cake that looks like it was made by somebody on acid with access to an unlimited supply of day-glo foodstuffs. On the inside there’s a foldout triptych featuring cock fights and dead rats all of which by now will have led the thoughtful amongst you to have deduced that this is a bit of an all over the place release. And so it proves.

Crumer has moved around within the noise beast for a while now but I don’t have too much of his work here to compare - a RRR LP which features plenty of noise and the odd PE type track and an Ignovimus CD from 2006 which will remain deep within the cardboard walls of a very deeply buried box.

On Let There Be Crumer he moves from drone to noise to field recordings to tubular bells to musical boxes and all the way back again in a bid to create something, some kind of concept, some kind of noise concept album, some kind of I don’t know what. A series of rather fetching short stories printed on the inner sleeve in the teeniest tiniest font you could ever imagine prove to be rather fetching but from all this I detect the hand of someone at a crossroads not knowing which path to take.

As a whole it is all over the place but within there lies much charm, the held down key drone that opens and ends the piece is delightful enough as are the tubular bells that feature a heavy downpour as accompaniment, the dull drone that follows the tinkling of a musical box builds to capture within its length the grinding of industrial machinery before the musical box reappears. The only parts of Let There Be Crumer I didn’t like were the noisy parts, which I suppose is why we’re all here. The juxtaposition of all those dainty sounds shunted into some all out tabletop free for all doesn’t sit easy with me. Maybe it will with you?



The Digitariat - Its A Fix

The Digitariat - Its A Fix
No label. CDR. 50 Copies.


Paul Knowles’ noisy Digitariat rants have flickered across our screens for a number of years now. Since relocating to London he’s definitely found more to rant about than he would have in leafy Harrogate. London does that to people. Deviating from his last release in such a manner that this becomes a serious handbrake turn we now find The Digitariat in more familiar territory than the one where glue records provide the soundbase. The foul mood that rails against class and caviar in a style reminiscent of early Whitehouse is one to warm the cockles of any self respecting nihilists heart and its one that Knowles performs with manly aplomb. The thirty minute live performance as captured at London’s Hope & Anchor in February this year shows that Knowles really can deliver a top noise rant. His cathartic delivery style twinned to some pummeling noise hits the spot and when he sings ‘Whats the difference between now and a Victorian workhouse?’ you really get the feeling that he means it [man]. Unfortunately all this venom disappears down the pan in an instant when Knowles breaks the silence that follows to meekly ask if theres time for one more. 

Its quality control that ultimately lets down this release down - a fault that runs through many a noise platter. The temptation to fill up your CDR with whatever’s lying about must be a strong one and its to be discouraged. If we’d have left The Digitariat after his Victorian workhouse onslaught we could have all gone home happy, instead we’re treated to an unwanted encore and some fucking about over which we hear the audience chat about tube times and whose round it is. What follows is even worse and best left alone. The previous five studio tracks hold out much promise which makes the oddball stuff all the more discombobulating; the title track fizzes by with much gusto, ‘A Flash of Smile’ is a volley of overdubbed vocals that shows Knowles is no slouch in the recording studio either, ‘Where’s The Advantage’ is sultry vocals over a industrial barrage, ‘Fix’ is Whitehouse homage circa Quality Time where those lovely falling down the steps bass bombs rub shoulders with frotted scaffolding and the odd nip of piercing feedback. ‘You Don’t Know What Skint Is’ sounds remarkably like one of John Cooper Clarke’s Martin Hannet produced jobs in which Knowles ask lots of questions of a similar hue in a flat voice through a rolled up newspaper; ‘What’s an avocado? Where does caviar come from? …’ the bass rumbles on in a gloomy Gang of Four style, the drums hit a 4/4 beat ... there’s not many noise artists working that could cover so much ground and make it so utterly listenable. And then comes the crud.

Knowles has a really big axe to grind. If he can temper it and use it in the editing suite he may end up with something remarkable. As it is now all those remarkable bits are lost. Hopefully not forever though.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Yoshihiro Kikuchi / Michael Muennich / Fragment Factory


YOSHIHIRO KIKUCHI - One Intensely Eats Up Another Economic Principle
Frag21. Cassette. 66 Copies.

Frag22. 3” CDR. 50 copies.

Michael Muennich’s Fragment Factory label grows in interest with each passing release. With a back catalogue that includes Kevin Drumm, GX Juppiter-Larson, John Duncan, Z’EV and the humble Filthy Turd it has evolved through noise into more conceptual areas. The last release that came through these hands worked with EVP or ‘hearing dead folks in the trees’ as I like to call it. Most releases run to a handful of copies and most of them disappear fairly quick, so if either of these tickle your tastebuds I’d get a move on.

Yoshihiro’s compositions evolve from the inability of one operating system to play another operating systems sound files. There’s lots of technical included [written in a font that makes flyspeck seem large] which in not so many words translates as ‘Apple no like Windows and vice versa’. The results are four tracks and 25 minutes worth of digital chatter, warble and hiss. There are differences between the four but for the most part this is a series of rapid glitches which may or may not be of interest depending on how you view computers. Not that these are uninteresting sounds, its just that they seem unerringly ‘cold’. That's computers for you I suppose.

Muennich’s work is far more edifying. Originally released in a micro edition of 12 ‘Zum Geleit’ is 17 minutes of electroacoustic pops, tinkles and synaptic flickers that carried this listener along its length numerous times. I was hearing amplified insect munching, tiny bells, the clatter of finger cymbals, dregs of liquid being sucked up a straw, incessant bubbling. Its all a delight and I’m guessing its made with turntables, tapes and various ephemera of a kitchen nature wired up to contact mics that are left free to swing in the wind. Whatever its construct the results are a wonderful slice of incessant fevered chatter that give comfort to those whose ears are finely attuned to the more intriguing sounds emanating from this end of the spectrum.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Arvo Zylo - 333

Arvo Zylo - 333
No Part Of It. CDR

Delirious Music For Delirious People
No Part Of It. CDR

There are some genres of music that I feel I will never come to terms with; trad jazz, scraping atonal modern classical, hip-hop, the boom-boom-boom stuff that you can hear coming out of teenagers cars half a mile away, bland pop and the kind of opera that seems to consist of two fat people bellowing at each other for five hours. Today I’ll add whatever it is that Arvo Zylo has created. I have no idea what you would call it though but this doesn’t stop me guessing: Sequencer Noise? Genre Collision? Overworked Sampler Dirge? ADHD Soundtrack?

I imagine Mr. Zylo as some kind of modern Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain spinning wheels, pulling levers, shouting orders to a massed orchestra of sequencer operators urging them to spit out their drum and bass samples, their hard beat samples, their fairground ride samples, their chipset computer game music samples. I’m looking at my notes for inspiration because, because, I just cant bring myself to play this again. Twice was more than enough. The first time to acclimatise myself to it and the second just to make sure that what I heard the first time wasn’t a mistake.

The saddest part of this story is that ‘333’ took Arvo six years to put together. One can only assume that this wasn’t six years continuos work but the odd hour on in front of the PC in-between propping a bar up somehwere. Whatever kind of genre you would like to chuck this in with you can tell from the first listen that its overworked. overwrought and overcooked. A triumph of editing skills over listenability.

I do like Arvo’s radio shows though [judging from the other disc he sent me that is - I haven’t actually sat through one of his broadcasts in its entirety]. Delirious Music For Delirious People is a celebration of his Delirious Freeform Radio Show that goes out live both in Chicago and Split [and of course across the internet]. Its 23 tracks [au natural] showcase an eclectic taste that ranges from all out noise to punk to faux lounge muzak. I listened in awe to an amazing cover of Faust’s ‘Why Don’t We Eat Carrot’s’ by the Big City Orchestra, I discovered a bunch of nutters from San Francisco called Hans Grusel's Krankenkabinet, I heard tracks from Boyd Rice, Controlled Bleeding, The Centimeters, Jarobe and the delightfully monikered Diatric Puds & The Blobbettes. Which got me to wondering how somebody with such a wide and varied taste in music could create something as horrible as 333?