Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aqua Dentata


Aqua Dentata - Lesbian Semiotics At A Jewellery Table
Echo Tango. etc01. CDR. 50 Copies.

Aqua Dentata - March Hare, Kraken Mare
Beartown Records. CDR. 40 Copies.

Eddie Nutall recent arrival on the drone stage seems to have taken everybody by surprise. From nowhere four releases have sprung resulting in praise scattered at his feet like palm leaves on the road to Leeds. And its easy to see why, a recent outing at Wharf Chambers had every single person present held in rapt attention, on a night where more boisterous elements held sway Aqua Dentata’s fragile bowl ring drone rang out like the purest of hearing sorbets. I phoned the Cammster to see what he thought and after ten minutes of gushing and tales of gigs in Bristol and the purchasing of everything with Aqua Dentata on it I got the message.

Only four Aqua Dentata releases in existence then and if these were to be the last then I’m in no doubt that what we have here would become serious collectors items. What I consider more likely is the continued creation of further stunning material along with requests from labels and emails from promoters wanting Aqua Dentata on their bills. Anything less would be a tragedy.

So why all the fuss? Maybe its the purity at work here, or the way these drones unfurl in such an unhurried manner, the minimalist way in which just a handful of sounds marry leaving the listener held rapt and transported, comforted and satisfied. This isn't just ear food its brain food too.

On first listen the unobservant ear may take these drones to be cut from the same cloth but closer inspection reveals a greater depth. The 34 minute single track as found on ‘Lesbian Semiotics …’ is immensely satisfying, the clearest and least cluttered of the two releases in which a single tone slowly emerges to be joined by another, each of them ebbing and flowing and changing in pitch only ever so slightly during its course. 'March Hare, Kraken Mare' represents the material that we heard at Wharf Chambers, here a bowed bowl rings serenely along with seemingly randomly dropped in bass notes as if some hidden double bass player was littering the piece with sparse lingering notes. There's three tracks with a shorter five minute piece sandwiched in-between, a beguiling piece that sounds like a desolate train whistle accompanied by rattling steel pipes. On the final track the cinematic scope of Nuttall’s work becomes evident, its easy to imagine this deeply grained structure sitting snugly in Eraserhead or a Ridley Scott cinemascoped descent onto an unknown planet. This is deeply eerie, moving, desolate, and mysterious work, a track that manages to capture the feelings of estrangement, desolation, emptiness, sadness and loss. A mighty effort and one that deserves a much wider audience.

Another fine example of the beast that is the No Audience Underground then and as befits the NAU [acronym alert] March Hare, Kraken Hare has sold out, copies of Lesbian Semiotics are still available though and if I was you I'd be getting in touch sharpish.

Contact: www.aquadentata.org

Monday, October 29, 2012


SPON 21 [The Carlito Juanito Issue]
A5 zine + The Dr Steg Sampler - 17 track CDR. 23 copies.

I’ve been having one of my major clear-outs again. I should really adopt a one in one out policy here at Idwal Towers but as ever laziness gets the better of me. As do the charity shops whose doors I pass through with great regularity exiting with books, shirts and records most of which usually end up making the return journey some years down the line. This recent clear-out has been particularly ruthless though, the floor standing electric fan that arrived with Mrs Fisher 13 years ago and has only been switched on about three times since has, along with two rucksacks and various other bits and bobs, found its way in to the arms of the Batley branch of the Salvation Army where two sweet old ladies took the crud off my hands with unhidden joy. Various CDR dubs of stuff I can get for free off the internet have also been jettisoned along with magazines, old spectacles, pens that hardly wrote and various items of clothing that I'd have to wait twenty years to see come back in to fashion. It does you good to get rid of stuff. Better to travel lightly than be weighed down by tons of crap you have neither the use nor the space for.

The day will come when I’ll have to start getting rid of things like this too but not before extolling its surreal virtues to your good selves. SPON 21is actually a mail order catalog for Blackpool legend Stan Batcow's extensive Pumf label printed in coloured ink on to tracing paper, which means plenty of Ceramic Hobs amongst the myriad of Batcowian delights, it also makes it very hard to read.

The CD is, I’m suspecting, 17 tracks of SPON creator Dr Steg’s favourite music with all the bands given aliases so as to escape some kind of fall out from the performing rights people. I’ve tried Googling some of them and have received in return nothing but nonsense which leads me to believe that they're all of Steg’s imagination. Could these artists and tracks really exist: Judith Cheescake [sic] - ‘Read My Aura’, Eggy Grin - ‘Lick His Toes’, Steroid Growth - ‘Enormous Breasts’ and The 5 T.V. Sets - ‘Moppet Body’? Between them they produce the kind of guff heard on adverts for mobile phones, a harmless genre of music that has an initial charm but which ultimately grates, twee, soulless wiffery that sounds like it wears a plaid shirt and lives in Scandinavia or some tumbleweed town in the American Midwest.

Another baffling edition to the SPON canon.

Contact: http://www.batcow.co.uk/steg/contact.htm

Paddington + Smell & Quim

Issue 7
192 page perfect bound Russian language magazine including Smell & Quim CD release Lavatory.

Its been quite a few years since Phil Wolotkin graced these shores. Under his Monopolka moniker the St Petersburg resident treated us to a number of tours during which he stripped to his undergarments, donned a rubber duck mask and thraped merrily away at a toy guitar aided by a bank of noise gadgets. A performance not entirely dissimilar to that of a lunatic having an epileptic fit in a Toys R Us. He’s still talked of fondly in noise circles and tales abound of him kipping in bushes during one tour and complaining loudly about the price of cigarettes, the price of which, after first purchasing a packet in the UK, he thought to be some kind of sadistic joke. I saw him play in Leeds a couple of times and most memorably at the second No Trend Fest in London [the one that sank] a shambolic gig that paradoxically led to some superb solo performances.

Back in Russia he now publishes Paddington a Russian language magazine the latest issue of which is devoted almost entirely to Milovan Srdenovic, Smell & Quim and Wolotkin's love of the English west coast and the denizens of Blackpool. Unfortunately for me and for non Russian reading Smell & Quim fans this means that you either have to sit with a Russian dictionary and translate or just look at the pictures. Some of the articles have been taken verbatim from the Smell & Quim website so all is not lost but its still worth having as a document just so that you have a decent collection of Smell & Quim ephemera all in one place. And there’s Lavatory of course, which if you haven’t got yet, makes this an essential purchase.

Worth getting for the picture of Steven Fricker on the inside cover. Fricker has played live with S&Q and continues to remain the forgotten man of the UK noise scene. Said picture shows Fricker stood at a bar, his most natural habitat.

Apparently very few copies of this magazine have made it to these shores but I'm sure an email in Russia's direction can change all that.

Lavatory review here.


Smell & Quim

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hyster Tapes and the no audience underground.

Uton/Grey Park
Split cassette. 50 copies. €3 or trade.

Over at Radio Free Midwich my comrade in arms, Rob Hayler, is basking in the warm glow of recognition as bestowed upon him by the music critic and writer Simon Reynolds. For those who missed it Reynolds keynote speech at last months Incubate festival gave mention to Rob and the ‘the no audience underground’ a phrase that Rob has coined to describe the world in which a 20 minute 3 inch CDR of 25 copies containing a fierce howling drone can bring on raptures capable of wild and enthusiastic discourse. Its not all howling drone of course, the remit covers just about anything of a ‘difficult nature’ that exists on labels run by people with buckets of enthusiasm and not much money. Its a place where small run editions and hand decoration are the norm, where the cassette and CDR are king, where emails and blog posts create a nexus that unfolds until you have a small community where the name Midwich means everything and profit is a laughable and easily discarded conecpt. Its a world in which me and Rob feel the most comfortable in. It’s a very different one from the slick celebrity, force fed, iTune friendly, clinically sliced, stunted attention span, regurgitated Guardianista mediocrity that passes for whatever flows down mainstream street in 2012.

In the no audience underground you receive a recycled tape from a label in Finland. A label that is a favourite of mine due to the fact that they release unclassifiable but wonderful music at the rate of about one cassette a year. This is the 16th Hyster release in 14 years.

Previous packages have included demented piano hammerings from France, Soviet radio broadcasts, drones, needles stuck in fluff filled grooves, industrial ambience, guitar abuse, tapes, synths, lap tops, talking, singing, found sounds, abused disco and the odd struck bass string, all from a variety of names most of whom will be new to those who never dip a toe into such waters: Dieter Müh, Culver, Courtis, Re-Clip and Crank Sturgeon to name but a few.

Uton describe their sounds as ‘experimental psychedelia’ which works OK, but I’d much prefer haunting ritualistic missives in which Keiji Heino mutters the odd word into an egg whisk [this on Sähköhomooni]. On ‘Aquarias’ the warbling vocalese as last heard on Hamburger Lady reappears this time with a trickling stream, restrained guitar thrash and gently struck milk bottles for company, its as if motherly Gen was trying to sing you to sleep whilst Heino [him again] practices downstairs with his headphones on. The rest is equally as joyous.

Grey Park’s three tracks span 1979 to 2012. I’m guessing ‘Black Keys’ is the more recent work, a looped two note synth refrain that morphs into a seriously melancholy thrum in which the movie sampled phrase ‘black keys’ is looped and morphed into decay. ‘Waiting Music’ is a mid Hertz hum with wheezing accordion and tapped cymbal for company and I’m guessing that the one minute and twenty seven seconds of electric guitar scrape, bass pluck, drone and adult voice manipulated to sound like a baby crying is the track from 1979. If so, then bravo.

This then is a prime example of what I’m dreading will become the acronym NAU [or should that be TNAU?]; around forty minutes of wonderment destined to never reach more than the fifty people who go to the effort to get one of these. But what lucky people those fifty are.

Contact: http://www.pcuf.fi/~plaa/rev.html

Radio Free Midwich

Simon Reynolds at Incubate [RFM mentioned at 38 minutes]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Human Horses / Castrato Attack Group / Etai Keshiki

Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides + Human Combustion Engine - Human Horses
Memoirs of an Aesthete. CD.
250 copies. 

Castrato Attack Group/Etai Kisheki - castratoattackgroupetaikeshiki
Hypnowave 02/Memoirs of an Aesthete MOA K7 001
Split cassette.

Every once in a while there's something emerges from the review pile that refuses to budge. It happens when an artifact of extraordinary listening pleasure refuses to take its place on the past reviewed shelf and insists that I return to it again and again and again. Its one of the pleasures of deep listening and one of the major benefits of not writing to deadlines. Ever since I gave up the zine publishing game my listening pleasure has been advanced a thousand fold simply by listening to music deeply and by that I mean ‘properly’. That means actually sitting and listening to something and paying it the attention that it deserves. Nothing wrong at all with having a bit of background music and something to make your day move along a little smoother but to become intimate with a piece of music and its twists and curves and nuances and delights rewards your time in ways that a cursory listen never will.

Take pity then on those who have paid only passing attention to Human Horses  for they are the ones to have missed out on a major connecting of spirits. Part Wild Horses Mane Both Sides consists of the percussionist Pascal Nichols and flautist Kelly Jones whilst Human Combustion engine lives as the synth project of Phil Todd and Mel Delaney - in this live forty minute improvised piece they capture that ethereal magical thing that is improv heaven. Improv heaven being the elusive and fluid beast that burns brightest when the assembled players achieve an empathetic balance resulting in a work thats a true one off.

Throughout the entire 41 minutes and 49 seconds of this release I have been nothing less than spellbound. Maybe its the way that the skittering drums compliment the light fingered haunting flute, or the way that the spacey synths float in like summer butterflies landing only briefly, leaving the faintest of marks. At times the drums become slightly more energetic and the synths build to a swirl, at times there’s the sounds of church bells, then an ebbing away to leave the flute alone or maybe a single [analogue of course] synth burbling all on its own as if its ticking over and only after thirty minutes becoming warmed to the task.

You could compare it to jazz of a kind as yet named, or Popol Vuh reincarnated but what this really is is the sound of Northern England in 2012 setting standards that others must match.

I’ve only become recently aware of Part Wild Horses Mane Both Sides [even though they've been recording for about the past four years] and feel eager to hear more of their work, there's something about the joining together of drums and flute that I find melancholy and soothing. But what about Human Combustion Engine? A Phil and Mel side project that I was rtotally unaware of. The streets of LS6 must echo to their multifarious outlets.

I’m deeply jealous of those who attended this gig, in Manchester [Salford?], sometime in 2012. By the sound of the applause that appears enthusiastically at its conclusion the venue was hardly a seething mass of bodies but those who were there witnessed something very special.

The Toddmiester also appears as bass player in the Castrato Attack Group where his bass guitar props up some seriously heavy riffage as spewed by the likes of Hawkwind, Acid Mothers Temple, rock Ramleh and Swedish proggers Arbete Och Fritid. This is the Leeds fringe good time Friday night band where splurging out to one long head shaking thumbs in belt loops shoulder gyrating rock-a-thon is the perfect antidote to a week spent trying to not catch diseases from those whose money passes through your hands.

Etai Kisheki also hail from Leeds. I saw them play live a while back in an all out no wave attack of angular limbs and angular thrashing. The female vocalist sings like she’s trapped in a burning building, the guitars are suitably filthy and the  drummer sounds like he’s got three arms. Damned good fun if you ask me.

[All the above are available as downloads].

Memoirs of an Aesthete



Monday, October 08, 2012

MK9 Con-Dom ... Wharf Chambers Review



Content Nullity
Cremation Lily
The Digitariat

Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 12th October 2012.

I was wondering whether my appetite for Power Electronics and Noise was waning. I pondered the thought as I drove in to Leeds where for three hours or more my hearing would receive a decent shellacking [and I have an auditory test at work next week which should prove interesting].

As I type this my ears are still whistling quite loudly. My hearing is already damaged and I suppose a little more abuse wont do it much harm. To add insult to growing old misery I’m already going blind and need readers as thick as washer doors so the hearing aid will become just another appendage to my dotage.

It was indeed very loud. The PA set up at Wharf Chambers accommodates the kind of bands that like to wander into the noisier end of the spectrum, its something that venues of a less dedicated nature shy away from thus depriving the noise artist of his main weapon of attack. As I arrive I’m told that I’ve just missed a very good Digitariat set which upsets me a little. I feel I have an affinity with Paul Knowles live work having witnessed his very first gig many years ago [under the Dachise guise and coincidently supporting CON-DOM]. His anti capitalist rants go down well here at Idwal Towers so I don’t get to hear him yell ‘You work in a neon Victorian workhouse’ over a coruscating swirl of noise. Maybe next time.

The first full set I witness is Cementimental whose circuit bending shenanigans are brittle and painful. Smashing a gadget held together with tie wraps in to the corner of the table this is full on noise in true mid 90’s Jap style. In your face for the most part with little in the way of respite. I have to escape at its conclusion for some fresh air and pose the Toddmeister the age old question of whether one night of full on noise is too much for those past 25 years of age. Already feeling noise weary I sit out the next act [Cremation Lily] which I’m again told was excellent in a ‘that man was amazing he was contorting his body into shapes that a body should’t go’ kind of way. It was certainly loud even with a solid brick wall as buffer.

Things go quiet for a while as it emerges that Content Nullity hasn’t arrived. After an eight hour drive he does appear and has to soundcheck before smearing himself with what could be soot and delivering a terrific set of classic PE. Resplendent in CON-Dom t-shirt and braces he adopts classic PE stances whilst delivering screaming volleys of anguish aided by stabs of analogue synth and the odd knob. Its an accomplished performance in which he throws himself into whole heartedly. Considering the circumstances its an incredible performance.

As ever, seeing CON-DOM on the bill is in itself a reason to be still alive. Its with no sense of hyperbole at all that I tell you that I think Mike Dando is not just one of the best PE acts ever but one of the best live performers ever, in any genre of popular music you care to mention. Dando’s presence on the stage is one of genuine disquiet. The sight of the the bald headed Dando raging into a microphone, face buried into the audience is one that never leaves you. These are genuinely confrontational performances. A room wheeling with the distinct incessant squeal and chatter of primitively culled noises pound at your hearing whilst just inches away a man stripped to the waist shoves his head into yours and screams and rants and raves. Behind him crude images of evangelic preachers mingle with the sights of everyday folk going about their business. He imitates one scene by taking off his boots and inserting stones, no doubt mocking Job and his Biblical suffering [but I’ll leave that interpretation open to you]. He eventually ends up on the floor still screaming, writhing and pushing the stones into his bony frame, the audience gawp, bent, rapt trying to catch every move.

MK9 rounds off an excellent evening with a chilling Orwellian set that juxtaposes humdrum imagery with that of total horror, despair and revulsion. A backdrop of films shows a man digging a hole, then a town in America ripped apart and blazing from a cracked gas pipe, then some rain on a porch, then a car park with distant passing traffic until finally you get the painful images of American warplane cameras capturing in their crosshairs the last moments of human beings before being blown to smithereens. Using the two-way radio traffic of the gas explosion as soundsource MK9 rages into the microphone about the failure of the gas company, titles appear like Corporate Greed Equals Death a splitscreen shows us unmanned drones seeking their targets in Pakistan whilst being maneuvered games console style by gum chewing females in Nevada. There’s no ear pounding as such just plenty of food for thought.

My ears are still whistling. I dare say they will be for a while but it was worth it.


Sheepscar Light Industrial 02.


The Skull Mask - Ella Y Su Mirada Lasciva
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.004
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Hagman - Wormwood
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.005
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Midwich - Eaves
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.006
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Andrew Jarvis - Cardigan Arms
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.007
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Aqua Dentata - A Staircase Missing
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.008
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Petals - Whether To Drown
Sheepscar Light Industrial. SLI.009
3” CDR. 50 copies.

I was talking to the Cammster on the blower the other night when the name Sheepscar Light Industrial came up. The Cammster, like me, was very much enamored with the first few SLI releases but after seeing a further six come to light in such quick succession was worried that SLI cheese Daniel Thomas was trying to talk before he could grunt. Too many releases all at once old chap, the worry of enthusiasm blinding the quality control sensors and they’re so cheap [£1.50], surely this is the way to the workhouse and ruin? Too fast too soon, can’t keep up this work rate, quality will suffer, all said in a slightly ‘we know what we’re talking about’ voice, arms folded across chest, head nodding in a condescending fashion.

Which is all bollocks of course.

Well, theres going to be some lows in and amongst the highs but the lows are hardly worth mentioning whilst the highs are high things of such high-ness that I’m going to have to be careful not to crash the gushometer.

But gush I will over Midwich and the 20 minutes worth of a simple looped, slightly phased bell-like ringing melody that begins life with a digital recorder stuck in the Midwich eaves capturing the comings and goings of neighbour's children and some hive building bees. Like all good Midwich work its simplicity is its greatest strength. The Bearded Wonder played us all a version of this work at a recent Wharf Chambers gig and it carried us all off beautifully. A serious contender for the head bobber of the year award.

All of these releases have drone at their heart except for The Skull Mask. The twanging Mexican who has found comrades in Leeds seems to be able to play two guitar at once. Except its not that of course. Two slightly phased guitars playing an attack of strings with the usual Derek Bailey fingers stuck in soundhole panache. Its all fine and dandy but if only Miguel would calm down a bit. This is work that would benefit from a lull in proceedings now and again. I’ve nothing against a bit of frenetic guitar improv and it all sounds crystal clear and impressive but I yearn for space and the opportunity to hear a string ring out on its own once in a while.

Andrew Jarvis [best Sunday name] heads to Leeds and the Cardy Arms for a bit of guitar thrape as attached to a table top covered in various gubbins that emit various throbbing pulses. The thraped guitar couple to gadgets drone is one that works for me, a thraped guitar on its own can empty a room quicker than a deadly fart but stick some electronics all over it and I’ll stay there all day. Mr, Jarvis has many strings to his bow and this is evidence of another to add to his collection. I just wish I’d have been there to witness it.

Eddie Nutall’s project Aqua Dentata is another name that had me and the Cammster cooing in delight. The Cammster shared a stage with him in Stoke Newington earlier this year, went to see him him play in Bristol, bought his merch and became a fan. AD’s approach is a simple one that pays dividends, a processed rung bowl that takes in various electronica producing wonderfully flowing organic drones that become all encompassing and enveloping.

Petals recent performance at Dwarf Chamber had me teetering on the edge of indifference courtesy of too many massed choirs and heavy keyboard riffs, a bit like John Lord meets Arvo Pärt - not such a bad idea on paper now that I read it but on the night a bit too magnanimous and bloated for my liking. This is much better, a dirty raucous roar that disappears into a blizzard of radio white noise whilst the second shorter track has an almost industrial ambience to it.

Which leaves Hagman, the work of Daniel Thomas who judging from these two tracks is a droning industrialists delight. Wormwood and Squashed Fly flutter and crawl with drones pulled from the soundboard of 23rd century cargo ship. Muted warning alarms that oscillate and throb and churn, a bleak soundtrack to a dead and dusty planet.

Six releases all at once and no harm done.

Contact: http://sheepscar.blogspot.co.uk/