Sunday, September 09, 2012
Armed Within Movement
Finglebone - Voorpwerp
Armed Within Movement. AWM002
Cassette. C20. 40 copies.
Sea of Palms - Aino Tytti
Armed Within Movement. AWM003
Cassette. C26. 40 copies.
cM nG/Spoils and Relics
Armed Within Movement. AWM004
Cassette. C60. 40 copies.
I’ve never been on one of those holidays where you get to relax on a white sandy beach as attentive staff bring you a never ending supply of exotic looking drinks served in half a coconut. All well and good and no doubt selling like hotcakes to those who can afford it but I fear I’d eventually get bored with all that pampering. Somewhere down the line I’d hanker after a cup of Yorkshire tea brought to me in a cracked cup by someone looking like Bella Emberg or a black cloud to drift overhead scattering the locals, something to remind me that I was still in the real world and that one day, in the not too distant future, I’d be once again be getting out of bed at 5.30 am to make my way to that sorry place of employment I call work.
For this years cultural edification me and Mrs Fisher took off on a ten day trawl through three European cities. At the height of summer and in temperatures when you really should be doing nothing but lounging about having drinks stuck in your hand we experienced the delights of having to drag our suitcases down streets where tourists were never meant to drag suitcases. Along the way we saw some impressive sights with the retina burning image of two tramps fucking in a piss stinking underpass near Keleti station in Budapest being amongst the best [or worst should you think that way]; tramp clothing hung on the bits of concrete left bare where wall tiles had become dislodged, trickles of freshly vented urine made its way across the floor, the air was fetid and disgusting and still two people thought it the best place to get their rocks off. They might even have been gay, it was dark, I wasn’t hanging about, two pairs of feet aft and two short haired heads to the fore going at it like a Singer sewing machine on speed. This, after negotiating various other underpasses along Rákóczi Avenue all the while getting the nagging feeling that the excruciating pain that is sciatica was making a most unwelcome return to my left leg. Then there's the time we dragged our cases up to Bratislava’s main train station to be met by vomiting drunks and gangs of young toughs doing their West Side Story bit complete with simulated oral sex and hand guns tucked in belts. Lets not forget the Slovak taxi driver who seemed to be able to say in perfect English the words ‘sixteen euros and ten cents’, the laughable amount he charged for a five minute ride and probably the same amount he charges all foreign visitors no matter where they go. Then we got lost trying to find our hotel in Vienna, it was the fold in the map that did us, by the time we reached The Savoy [no not ‘that’ Savoy] we were hot, sweaty, hungry and very, very thirsty … and still facing two flights of steps and a check in procedure hosted by a man who we had no choice in calling Herr Flick. After chucking our things on the floor, showering and changing in to some clean clothes we headed for the nearest bar where we ordered lager and food and experienced the nearest thing we’ll ever get to that moment in Ice Cold in Alex where they all stare at a cold beer for two seconds before necking the lot. Then there was the time we managed to find ourselves the only people standing between drunken PAOK Salonika fans and several hundred heavily armed members of the Viennese constabulary. There’s the time we went in to a dimly lit Viennese establishment, hungry and thirsty, only to realise that the menus were written in Vietnamese and German, a situation that needed two pairs of spectacles, one upside down and two feet in front of the other and the deciphering of the German bits. The William Burroughs exhibition at the Viennese Kunsthalle was probably the most bona fide highlight of the trip, one of those magical moments when you turn a corner to be met with a poster of Bill taken in Paris in the 50’s and the words ‘on until September’. On a Tuesday morning at the back end of August 2012 we had the place to ourselves. And then we came back home.
Seeing as how I was so behind in the review pile I decided to take along some of it as aural stimulation. It turned out that drone really does help the journey along [as does the mental racket as made by Normal Man, a release that on more than one occasion proved to have been be recorded loud enough to drown out the moribund chatter of my fellow travelers]. CD’s were easily ripped and thanks to the wonder of the modern age I was able to take a number of cassettes in MP3 format. Armed Within Movement having taken the correct precaution in making all their releases available as downloads to those who’ve bought the things in the first place. This means that I got to listen to Finglebone, Sea of Palms and Aino Tytti on the train from Budapest to Bratislava and cM nG/Spoils and Relics on a hotel bed late at night after too many wines. There were others too including a new batch from Gruenrekorder, the latest from Sheepscar Light Industrial, Noah Brown, The Plurals, La Cose Bianche, Culver & Karst and Cathal Rogers, all of which more later. Alas I didn’t find the time to rip the whole Ramleh box set which is a shame because if I’d have been playing it whilst passing those rutting tramps it would no doubt have enhanced the experience no end.
After getting back in the saddle I notice that the bearded wonder over at RFM has already listened to and dissected just about all of that list. Our review piles seem to be almost perfectly matched these days, as are our observations. cM nG really does not engage the listener at all - too many random noises that fail to connect. Improv should have something to carry it along and whilst there is a touch of scrapey TNB-y sounds to the proceedings the sounds that enter and leave the fray are often nothing more than annoying; sharply resonating finger cymbal like clang that enter deep into the ear canal and ring in pain, tampered tape manipulations, sporadic rim shots, radio sounds … a very flat and dull affair as recorded live in Manchester by the duo of Michael Walsh and Andy Jarvis. Its hard to put your finger on why a different group of people working in the same environment and creating the same kind of feel should produce something that is so completely different and totally captivating but this is whats happened on the other side with Spoils and Relics. Although not a live recording the sounds here come and go at regular intervals leaving you wondering what it was you actually heard. The joy to be had from improv works of this nature is that the source sounds remain utterly out of reach, you could be listening to a ventilator shaft fan humming away, the abandon ship alarm, electronic insects, the small nurdling sound that somehow creeps inside your ear becomes utter bliss, drill bits at work, generators, the list is endless and a credit to the people working within Spoils and Relics.
Finglebone’s droney guitar noodling proved to be the most therapeutic way to watch the Hungarian countryside pass by. I should have made a video of the blurring greenery and used Adam Varney’s melancholy pluck as background. Merging drones and field recordings with his echoing guitar work Varney creates pieces that evoke atmospheres more usually associated with Ry Cooder [and maybe even the more recent Bad Suburban Nightmare]. These are melancholy pieces in which Varney’s slightly struck electric guitar strings reverberate into the ether helped along the way by the sound of rushing water and large hums. A hint of Cocteau Twin, a smattering of Jim O’Rourke, somehow veering towards New Age but having enough originality to stop it falling in to that category. All very relaxing and contemplative.
Aino Tytti and Sea of Palms also use field recording and were part of that same journey. Sea of Palms mean streets of Birmingham mixing with guitar work thats not entirely dissimilar to Varney’s. A work that breaks down in to three distinct sections the middle one containing the most delightful of motifs and something the likes of which John Fahey wouldn’t have minded putting his name to. Tytii is more full on celestial choir. Angelic voices made from home made synths that ebbs and flows and rises to crescendos to crash again like waves on a cold Finnish coast, that depending on your mood or stomach for such material, could go on for hours, days even, at least until you reach the end of the line.
Now for the bad news, All these are already sold out at the label. Googling the artists various web pages may produce results but I dare say that these releases will surface at a later date sooner rather than later.