Monday, November 05, 2012
The Tenses - Conform
The Tenses - Conform
Harbinger Sound LP. Harbinger 91. 100 Copies.
In true Harbinger Sound style this was meant to see the light of day twelve months ago during the Lowest Forms of Music weekender in London. As the world gathered to wallow in all things Los Angeles Free Music Society related these 100 platters were subject to some kind of pressing plant high jinks - maybe the pressing plant burnt down or there was a terrorist attack, or maybe they had all their vinyl diverted in to the making Nicki Minaji 12inchers, an everyday delay is entirely unlikely.
The Tenses are Ju Suk Reete Meate and Oblivia, who also happen to be the core duo of Smegma, that long running [40 years] LAFMS unit that's a rolling, coming and going, loose collective of individuals whose names sound like characters from a surreal drug induced Disney movie [my favourite being Dr. Id and Dr. Odd]. They also make some of the freest, most out there rock music ever to come out of America and if by any chance you are unaware of the greatness that Smegma are capable of then may I kindly suggest that you plug that gap immediately with Pigs For Lepers, or Glamour Girl 1941 or Rumblings or indeed any other Smegma release for that matter. I’ve yet to hear a bad one.
Comparing The Tenses to Smegma seems obvious but there are subtle differences. Without a drummer, sax and various loons talking in to the mic what The Tenses create is a more meditative experience. Oblivia spins and manipulates spoken word records of her own making whilst Meate parps on a bugle before whacking out a few loose Link Wray riffs by way of diversion. Oblivia’s disc spinning throws up detached voices that appear like EVP phantoms, a locked garbled gibberish, some tracks, there are five in all, build repetitive, deranged loops that are capable of limitless transport [a locked groove on the actual record would’ve been perfect]. The pair of them perform like an octopus picking up things that squeak and tinkle, whoop and whirr, make chicken sounds and the kind of noises you hear coming out of a cradle, maybe a shortwave radio in there, a theremin, a device for sending Morse code, whatever, all of it a perfect delight. For the most part its a therapeutic and soporific ride capable of creating the impression that you’re stuck inside the Wizard of Oz movie only with a weirder soundtrack. I guess we’re not in Nicki Minaji country any more.
White labels, paste on covers and no doubt rarer than hens teeth by the time you read this. You could get lucky and score a copy from Second Layer but you’ll need to get your skates on.