Monday, December 31, 2012

Hiroshima Yeah! 94/ Turbulent Times 9 / Spon 22+23+24

Hiroshima Yeah! #94/December 2012
A4 zine

Turbulent Times #9 - The Mid-Life Crisis Issue
A5 zine

Spon #22 - The Animal Poetry Issue
A5 zine. Dumb Cunt Comics

Spon #23 - The Apathy Issue
A4 zine. Dumb Cunt Comics

Spon #24 - The Ceramic Hobs - OZ OZ Alice

Those of you with long memories will remember that the first ever paper edition of Idwal Fisher contained a number of reviews written by Gary Simmons. In a style heavily influenced by his passion for Whitehouse, Sci-Fi, space travel, Heavy Metal, GG Allin, Clockwork Orange, transgressive cinema, punk, Jap noise, cheap cider and avenues of a more risque bent he sent many a missive containing reviews that immediately singled him out as having a unique voice - like a cross between Alex from Clockwork Orange meets the Marquis de Sade at closing time in the Manowar pub Fleet Street. His review style meant that he usually meandered off course or even ignored the object of review completely, he used expletives in virtually every sentence [usually in upper case]. His main weapon was misanthropy which when coupled to a healthy disdain for mainstream culture meant that his targets regularly got blasted with heavy doses of his ultra sarcastic realism. And he certainly knew what he was talking about. I know of few people with anywhere as near an encyclopedic knowledge of the early English Power Electronics scene as himself and then there was the moon landings, the space race, NASA and probably plenty of other passions with which he could talk eloquently and write rabidly about.

I met him a few times whilst in London for gigs and once memorably bumped into him and his then Spanish girlfriend Maggie at the Tate Modern. A coincidental occurrence that inevitably ended in a drunken Sunday afternoon trawl around the pubs of Soho. The way he dressed [think big hair HM/punk cross over] and his propensity to give as much as he got often got him into trouble so I can’t say I was entirely shocked to learn that he’s now doing time in Pentoville Prison for the crime of GBH with intent.

Before his incarceration he wrote for Hiroshima Yeah! In an ongoing column entitled ’13.7 Billion Years Of Hell - Selected Dispatches From An Unwilling Player In God’s Little Game’ he ranted and raved about releases that fell within the noisy end of the spectrum usually attaching some of his own scans of related noise releases or the cover of a Brian Aldiss novel that for some reason just had to be in there.

Needless to say things have been quiet but in issue 94 of HY! he’s back. With a column now entitled “1.5 Years Behind Bars: Selected Dispatches From An Unwilling Contestant Of The British ‘Justice’ System’s Little Game” he gives us but six short paragraphs relating to life on the inside; the boredom, the routine, the lags, the screws all of it written in Gary’s own unique style. Lets hope that there’s more to come.

And lets not forget Mark Ritchie who has been manfully holding the reins of HY! solo fashion in his absence. I’ve mentioned HY! before but its worth mentioning again as its one of the few zines I know of that publishes regularly. A copy turns up at least once a month, most of them being but two pieces of A4 stapled in one corner. Think copy and paste, think gig reviews that mention drink more than the bands, think Ceramic Hobs, Glasgow and reality. Available for trades or stamps or maybe even a nice letter.

There were plenty of people at Extreme Rituals walking around with copies of Turbulent Times in their mitts. Most of them had smiles on their faces too, for Turbulent Times manages to pull off that rare trick of combining noise with humour. I’ve been told that humour and noise don’t mix but whoever said that never witnessed live shows by Emil Beaulieu, Evil Moisture, Gerogeregegege, R&G [think spaghetti] or Smell & Quim. And they never read Harsh Noise History in TT9. OK its pulled from Eraciator’s blog but lets not start getting all churlish here - this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read regarding noise and it deserves a wider audience; 

‘The European experimental music scene suffered badly during the economic recession of the eighties. In the UK, Live Actions became scarce when local councils zealously enforced the Harsh Noise Abatement Act. The extortionate price of photographic medical journals and army surplus clothing made it impossible for those without rich parents to continue’.

‘At exactly the same time John Coltrane and Albert Ayler invented free jazz in the new country of America for a bet’.

‘Japanese acts such as Merzbow (“Shit House” in English), Gregory Gegge, Hijokaidan (roughly translates as “ear wax sound”) and Hannah Trash (actually a Frenchman named Claude) produced vast quantities of noise cassettes and also surprised Western listeners by releasing their work on compact disc before the medium had been invented’.

Like all good zines TT9 wears its editors style on its sleeve. Healthy doses of cynicism abound as does some of the best gig reviewing I’ve ever read including top jobs on this years Broken Flag bash, a Consumer Electronics gig in London, the We Can Elude Control show at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion [featuring Helm and Russell Haswell amongst others] plus a bizarre event suffered by the editor at the hands of Nuclear Medicine, a gig in which he was tied to a table in a room and left to his own devices for half an hour, this after having taken two tablets as prescribed. There’s interviews with Nocturnal Emissions, GX Jupitter-Larsen, the Libbe Matz Gang, someone called GRMMSK and an all too short review section.

TT9 does what all good zines should do; entertain and inform - to be honest I never knew dub noise existed before I picked this up but I do now and if I so choose I can pick from several examples of the genre all of which have been sat though and rated for my listening pleasure.

And its a proper paper zine, you can pick it up, read it, shove it in your pocket and when you’re done with it you can give it to someone else and help spread the word. Judging by the copies that were flying off the merch stall at ER there’s still plenty of life left in the noise zine yet. Lets hope that it doesn't take another fifteen years for the next issue to come out.

Meanwhile over in Blackpool Dr Steg’s Spon continues to baffle and amuse. The ‘Apathy’ issue has a cover with nothing on the inside except 16 blank pages. I think I’ll scribble something on them and mail them back to Steg. Its what he would have wanted. Spon 22 [The Animal Poetry Issue] has eight pages of Dada-istic gibberish. Hugo Ball would have loved it.

Steg also sent me some copies of the Ceramic Hobs CD release OZ OZ Alice all with different covers that becomes SPON 24. If anyone out there would like one then please get in touch. There was a Fes parker CD too, the one that came out on Mental Guru [I think], but it seems to be evading me at the moment.

And then out of the blue I received a painting by Dr Steg. Upon a golden background were stenciled the words “I’VE NEVER BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED BY JIMMY SAVILE’. Its awaiting a permanent home but for now it sits at the top of stairs and every time I pass it I smile quietly inside. Gary Simmons would love it.


Dumb Cunt: dr23steg [at]

Hiroshima Yeah! - donbirnam [at]

Turbulent Times -

Eraciator -

Gary Simmons
HMP The Verne

Friday, December 28, 2012

Angus Carlyle / Rupert Cox / Roland Etzin

Air Pressure - Angus Carlyle and Rupert Cox
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 094. CD.

TransMongolian [6 Acoustic Portraits of Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea and Japan]
Roland Etzin
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 103. CD.

If you’ve ever bemoaned the fact that you live in a noisy part of town spare a thought for the Shimamura family. Since the late sixties the Shimamura’s have farmed the same few fertile acres of land right at the end of Narita airports runway B. That’s Narita in Tokyo in case you don’t know. 300,000 flights a year passing over the Shimamura’s heads at a height of 80 meters. The airport wants to expand its runway, the farmers want to stay put, protest groups make their voices heard. Over the deafening roar of those 300,000 planes a year vegetables grow, hens cluck and pigs squeal. Life, somehow, goes on.

During a couple of working visits over a period of two years Angus Carlyle and Rupert Cox spent time there gathering sound and film footage eventually creating the installation Air Pressure. What interested them was the effect that this continuous barrage of noise was having on the farmers health and that of their farm stock. Mr. Shimamura, the head of the farm, suffers from a hardening of the neck muscles caused by involuntary spasming. He no longer hears anything. The farmers eventually got the airport authorities to build them a soundproof room in which his family could sleep. They had to fight for it but they got it. Now the airport wants to extend the runway and a farming family going back generations faces the possibility of losing their land and way of life.

There’s ten tracks on here [the last is a compression of some of their recordings designed to capture the entire experience in one go] that give you some idea of what living and working at the end of a busy runway is like. It’s a no-brainer of course which is where I start to feel uneasy with the audio side of this project. For the art installation the audience were ushered into a space to be faced with two huge screens doing their best to represent the Shimamura’s suffering. At home with my headphones on I’m hearing the sounds of the farmers going about their work, birds, the odd bit of chatter, rain, wind, radio or TV and every other minute or so the god almighty teeth rattling roar of a plane going overhead. Its something that doesn’t take that long to get the message across.

Carlyle and Cox have done a sterling job in highlighting the farmers torment, as have Gruenrekorder in issuing this CD in a book that carries plenty of text relating to the project plus an array of wonderful photographs but when it comes down to actually listening to it I found that after about two tracks I’d had my fill and thanked myself I was just glad I didn’t live at the end of Narita’s runway B. This is to take nothing away from Carlyle and Cox’s work or to make light of the Shimamura family’s position but I feel that what we have here audio wise is encapsulated in those last ten minutes.

TransMongolian meanwhile is a far more listener friendly release. Traversing the 4,500 miles between Moscow [I think?] and Japan, Etzin captures the sound of wheeltappers at work in train sheds, noisy Pachinko parlors, sleepy train carriage rumbles, the creaking of leather straps on boats, the smooth whoosh of the Shinkansen, the chirp of nocturnal insects and cheery fairgrounds ... I could go on, the variety of sounds recorded by Etzin seem almost without end.

The defining pleasure to be had from this release is the way in which it captures the slow process of travel itself. The enclosed booklet contains pictures drawn by Etzin’s traveling companion René Seifert and none of them show planes or airports so I’m guessing this was an over land and sea trip? Water, rail and feet feature heavily: the crunch of gravel underfoot, the clank and groan of a train carriage, the lapping of the water against the side of a boat and then there’s the weather, hard to capture sunshine on sound but rain and wind make their ever fateful appearance, all of it adding to the ambience and the feeling of actually slowly moving from one place to another.

Deep down I was jealous of Etzin and Seifert and the fact that they had the time to make this trip. I doubt my more humble travels would return such rewarding material but you never know. I’m taking my digital recorder to Northumberland next year just in case.


Thursday, December 27, 2012


Petals - Where Textus Became Textus, And How I Operated Within.

Petals - Thread Dome
Hairdryer Excommunication. Cassette. C36. 11 copies.

Although listening to Art Garfunkel on Christmas Day evening 2012 may not lead you to think I had Petals at the forefront of my mind, you’d be wrong. After a rather heartening and I must say superb pair of biryiani’s at the Eastern Spice this afternoon me and Mrs Fisher now sit relaxing in front of a roaring log fire listening to Art singing his ultra smooth cover of The Flamingo’s “I Only Have Eye’s For You” only for the thought to come upon me that even though this is the season to do not very much bar eat and drink to excess I still have Petals [and the rest of the review pile for that matter] at the forefront of my mind. There might not be much going on on the surface but underneath the cogs are
still whirring.

So goodbye Art’s ethereal choirboy vocal Johnny Walker Radio 2 puff piece and hello Petals scrape and drone tape experimentation. Welcome to my world. While the rest of the UK sits cabbaging in front of the Dr Who Christmas special I do my best to keep you up to date with all that's happening within the West Yorkshire noise environs and while Leeds may be the city de jour when it comes to all things noisy round these parts, its to Huddersfield, about ten miles away, that we find Kevin Saunders doing his Petals thing.

By sheer coincidence two Petals releases arrived within the space of a few days - neither could be further apart in construct; one a plain dubbed TDK CDR with a black and white paper wrapper, the other an A4 box called ‘How To Use A Law Library’ containing 80 slides and a cassette telling you how to use a law library - it was borrowed twice from Huddersfield Polytechnic library before becoming Hairdryer Excommunication fodder. It was given to me by Saunders at a recent WC gig at which moment an amused onlooking Undermeister was heard to have said ‘thats excessive by anybodies standards’ and indeed it is. Now all I have to do is find a home for it.

On the ridiculously named “We’re Gonna Get Fucking Drunk Tonight Boys” label we find Petals pushing the 40 minute barrier with a track that moves between the noise howl drone of “I Saw The Sun Shine Behind The Clouds” [the last Petals release to come through these hands] and the kind of free flowing noise experimentia that leads me to believe we have here someone who likes to dabble. During its 40 minute course we find ourselves being dragged along by a rolling thunder and an overhead plane that disappears into the distance, its a piece that in parts floats upon a bed of agitated polystyrene balls kept in place by the constant whirr of several servo motors, motors that are plugged directly into the national grid, a grid fluctuating in intensity depending on whether or not the nation has just got up to make a cup of tea during the ad break on the Corrieknocker Christmas special. A shifting noise drone that peaks and dies only to emerge in the final act amidst a sea of analogue data transmission.

Both sides of Thread Dome are murky affairs, shifting noises of an indeterminate nature some of which sound like they were recorded in Saunders kitchen where an AK47 was assembled against the dim background hum of a Korg synth. On the flip we find chattery drones, the sound of a TV, some mild TNB squeak and scrape, mumbled talk, rattling milk bottles and finally some tape bleed-through of a school choir singing with merry gusto. At its end more murky whirring and a long die out of melancholic proportions.

So what genre label do we stick on this kind of work then? The only one that will truly fit is experimental but that seems to be upsetting people these days. I’m happy to go with it though. I feel Saunders is trying things out, finding his feet, testing and ultimately, bravely experimenting. Hats off to that then. Great name for a label too. No not that one.

[Only 11 copies of thread Dome exist but downloads are available from the HE website. WGGFDTB available for not many pennies via their website.]




Saturday, December 15, 2012


Evil Talk. CD.

I’d been thinking for quite some time now about how I’d begin this review. You see AMFJ [or to give him the name his parents gave him  Aðalsteinn Jörundsson] is from Iceland and whilst its easy to begin your Icelandic review by mentioning Magnus Magnusson, Bjork and unpronounceable volcanoes that spill ash everywhere I thought I needed something a bit cleverer and then on Friday morning I got. Exiting the house at 6am on route to my daily grind I made it about three steps from the back door when I ended up flat on my face. Black ice in its most lethal form had descended upon West Yorkshire and I was amongst its first victims. Never in all my life have I witnessed such viscous black ice. It seemed to cover every surface, tarmac, cars, walls, cats, grass and me. As I lay sprawled sporting a gashed knee, ripped jeans and dented pride I made various quick mental body checks and ascertained that nothing was broken. I carefully made it to my feet and slid to the car Bambi fashion, still clinging to my bag and what was left of a 2 liter milk bottle that I had filled with hot water so as to defrost the car lock. It was while safely sat in the car with throbbing knee waiting for the windows to clear that I wondered to myself how people who have to live in far worse conditions than these cope. But they do and then they make some noise.

That cold Icelandic weather may go some to explaining why AMFJ’s sound is so bleak and unflinching. Moaning away in his Icelandic tongue to Industrial pummel you get the distinct feeling that he’s at one with the long Icelandic winter nights.  The whole thing begins with a babies wail and ends with a mock cathedral organ blast, along the way PE hallmarks are dutifully stamped but crucially, and for me thankfully, the results are a long way away from the days when your average PE release came with compulsory badly photocopied gruesome crime scene/porno shock/serial killer art.
Its the variety of sounds on offer here that are the most welcoming - there are passages [and tracks] where the vocals give way to eerie landscapes of shuffling speaker wobble, low Hertz pulses left to freeze and die on bare Icelandic plains, some tracks morph their way through various phases most effectively on the last track Húsið Andar where a rolling pummel of a beat finds Jörundsson multi tracking his voice so that it sounds like a Franciscan monks evensong backed by Ministry with some Theremin doodling thrown in for good measure.
I find myself leaning towards PE as comparison because as soon as somebody starts ‘singing’ where noise is concerned thats about the only place you can go but this has far more to it than that to warrant such lazy comparison. The title track itself features no vocals but manages to convey bleakness by the bucketful, after treating us to the sound of someone clanging away on some frozen overground gas pipes a TG inspired rhythm takes over, simple but very effective. Opening track Útburður Umskiptingur mutates a babies wail into a seething vortex of wailing noise, second track Öldungur does for Iceland what Mika Vaino did for Finland, a stark pounding beat with Jörundsson singing a Viking lullaby from inside a vast echoing church.

What I find most remarkable is that Jörundsson composed most of this with some free software - PE mutates thanks to something called Buzzmachines - whodathunkit. Comes in a groovy trifold CD wallet too with lots of blurred photos of Jörundsson. He likes moving about a lot, presumably to keep warm.

More AMFJ material is available through Gogoyoko including the first album which on first listen would seem to be more up your death metal street. Long may he mutate.

Soundcloud -

Twitter - @A_MF_J

Gogoyoko -

Free software -

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Extreme Rituals


Christian Weber

Daniel Löwenbrück





The New Blockaders

Trevor Wishart

Vagina Dentata Organ

Extreme Rituals - A Schimpfluch Carnival
Arnolfini, Bristol, 30th November - 2nd December 2012



Daniel Löwenbrück & Leif Elggren

The New Blockaders & GX Jupitter-Larsen

Dave Phillips

Bryan Lewis Saunders

Rudolf & Junko Hiroshige


Trevor Wishart
Vicky Langan
Vagina Dentata Organ

Joachim Montessuis

Sudden Infant

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck


Dave Phillips (field recording set)
Michael Barthel
Joke Lanz & Ute Waldhausen
Alice Kemp
Christian Weber
Rashad Becker
GX Jupitter-Larsen, Rudolf, Mike Dando, Joke Lanz

Rudolf is staring straight into my eyes. He’s sitting on stage in the lotus position, thumb and forefinger gently touching, the backs of his palms resting on his knees. From the way the stage is lit he looks like Ming the Merciless, minus the eyebrows of course, I am genuinely unsettled and think he can’t really be staring at me but every time I look away, at Mike Dando say whose not blinked from the moment the noise erupted, or GX  his one good eye shut, or Joke Lanz who hasn’t moved a muscle either, each time I look back he’s staring at me. And then he begins to move, shaking as if he’s having some kind of a seizure, his lithe body spasming, fingers stair-rod straight as the seizure becomes ever more violent until the noise subsides and he becomes calm once more. Its a piece entitled ‘Wellenfeld - In Memory of Urs Schwaller' and its a good a way as ending three days of noise as any, even if its still only six o’clock on a Sunday evening.

To see how far we’ve come I gleefully sat through the two hour loop of Schimpfluch Gruppe Aktion’s showing in one of the Arnolfini’s galleries. In ‘Mama 1’, filmed in Zurich in 1991, a much younger looking blindfolded Rudolph [sporting a full head of hair] drops his trousers to his ankles before wandering around a room bumping in to people Frankenstein style while someone blows a whistle. Fast forward 20 years and here he is on a Saturday night in Bristol levitating on a wall of crunching noise to the acrid stench of burning vinegar - a Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck performance that not only delights the eyes and challenges the hearing but punishes the sense of smell too.

There was certainly a few more people attending Extreme Rituals than there was in that room in Zurich over 20 years ago. If you got there early enough on Friday you could have sat in on the some panel discussions [a previously booked train ticket deprived me of that little joy], on Saturday afternoon there was extreme yodeling courtesy of Doreen Kutzke and for the lucky public there was conceptual performances from Alice Kemp one of which involved her walking around the venue half naked and M. Vänçi Stirnemann who amplified the sounds of liquids leaving a series of intravenous drips. But it was the main venue where the biggest experiences were to be had.


Seeing as how I knew nothing about them I investigated Phurpa via Youtube, images of three cloak clad individuals sat in a darkened semicircle creating drones in a Tuvan throat singing cum shamanic ritual kind of way and when they start its a glorious hum but those short Youtube clips hid the fact that Phurpa could drag this out for nigh on 45 minutes. And whilst those deep throated moans are initially captivating they soon begin to lose their initial charm, the rattle of some unseen drums broke the deadlock but it was soon back to the nose and throat moan and with it went any hope of me ever getting to like Phurpa. Ten minutes would have been fine but these guys had traveled all the way from Russia and they were going to make the most of it.
We were soon back in more familiar territory courtesy of Daniel Löwenbrück and Lief Elggren who stood face to face and began to sew each others shirts together with needle and black thread. Once they’d run out of cotton and thus firmly united chest to chest they pulled apart only to appear on the venue floor where a roll of white paper unfurled, Elggren recited words from some sheets of A4 whilst Löwenbrück pulled a violin over the paper that had two magic markers attached leaving two black lines along its length. Löwenbrück then went back to the start of the roll of paper and began writing out the words that Elggren was reciting. They then both reappeared on stage where some ear pummeling noise erupted. Elggren sat in a leather chair whilst Löwenbrück filled a circle of bottles with milk, Elggren began to have a fit and writhed in his chair like he was being stabbed with a cattle prod, the spasms became more exaggerated and intense until the noise cut and it was all over. I’m still trying to work out what it was all about. Sometimes its better not to try.
TNB were joined by GX Jupitter-Larsen who seemed to be sandpapering the balcony bannister. By TNB standards it was an exemplary set of noise scrape with middle protagonist taking a saw to a piece of scrap metal whilst stage left TNB’er rubbed a cabbage that had a contact mic stuck to it. The backdrop film of an out of tune TV helped further the chaos. Middle TNB’er got hit by a flying beer glass [plastic] which resulted in a bin lid getting chucked back in to the crowd. It missed me which makes a change.
After that came  perhaps the most challenging set of the weekend. Forget noise as punishment, Brian Lewis Saunders ranted tales about his appendix bursting was far stronger in impact than just about any transgressive noise artists I’ve ever witnessed. Sat on stage he related his tale in a manner as if to suggest he’d just consumed a large amount of rather unstable drugs. And he really did rant, non stop and to some wailing noise and a backdrop of someones digestive tract being traversed and then of a piglet being castrated. It was around then that I began to feel extremely lightheaded and queasy, I had to leave the venue and take a quick walk around the docks to get some fresh air. Listening to Saunders tales of existential angst was one of the highlights of the weekend and coming so unexpectedly [Like Phurpa I’d never even heard of him before now] only increased my admiration for the Schimpfluch Gruppe.
To round the night off there was two cathartic blasts of noise, first from Dave Phillips who stood stage front rattling like a junkie as who knows how many decibels erupted from the Arnolfini’s PA system. It was visceral, vibrating and wholly enlivening. As it progressed balloons filled the air and when they landed people stood on them creating their own noise to add to those made by Phillips. To round the night off we got the first appearance of Rudolph albeit it from the back of the stage with his back to the audience playing the mixing desk creating more sheets of noise whilst Junko shrieked herself hoarse. Quite an end to an already exciting night and one that held much promise for the weekend ahead.


Rudolf is staring straight into my eyes. Its from a poster this time. A poster that I think is part of some kind of promotional material in which Rudolph stares in to the camera with what appears to be a cows anus attached to his cheek. I’m watching the Schimpfluch Gruppe Aktion film loop and there's some of Rudolph's photos on the wall, meat and intensities play a large part. Whilst ‘Vomit Play for 3 Girls’ is playing two middle aged local ladies walk in to the room carrying shopping bags and on seeing whats taking place make a dash for the exit which turns out to be a broom cupboard which only increases their panic. Its the longest Aktion of the 21 on display and the most grueling but one that serves to highlight the fact that the Schimpfluch Gruppe aren’t afraid to push artistic boundaries. Out of there and in to the room that houses Rudolph’s artwork [like a cross between early Dali and Hans Bellmer] and various Schimpfluch related recorded material where me and Wounded Knee Taylor get to play ‘got, not got’.

Saturday’s opener is Trevor Wishart who sprays spit over the front row with a dextrous performance in which he twists his face in to numerous shapes in a bid to extract as many sounds as possible from it. I’ve been a fan of Trevor’s work since seeing him at Colour Out of Space a few years back. The sounds emanating from his face are quite remarkable, gurning and stretching his cheeks and at times hitting his chest with the ends of his fingers he produce a tremendous array of sounds.
It was around now that I missed the only act of the entire weekend. I missed Vicky Langan’s set because someone told me there was a half naked woman wandering the first two floors of the Arnolfini. Upon checking this news I did indeed find a half naked woman wandering the first two floors of the Arnolfini. It was Alice Kemp dressed like a cross between a Victorian funeral director and a dressage entrant. A top hat with black veil coupled to a riding jacket, jodhpurs and a large er ... thing where her knickers should have been provided much bafflement and no end of amusement for those [men] who were missing Vicky Langan.
I’d never seen Vagina Dentata Organ before but knew that we'd be in for some serious drumming - you could hear them practicing all over the Arnolfini. The performance [Aktion?] began with someone playing the prelude to Bach’s Cello Concerto number 1 whilst the cross of Christ was made using white toilet rolls. Then came the drumming which was urgent and rapid and the work of about ten people. When VDO provocateur Jordi Vallis appeared on stage wielding a baseball bat we knew it was time for the mirrors at the back of the stage to meet their end. As the noise and drumming continued to pummel he set about the mirrors and shattered every single one of them no doubt giving the health and safety reps at the Arnolfini a nervous ten minutes whilst he did so. As it all came to a crescendo people began to dismantle the loo roll cross chucking them with gay abandon at anyone and everything including me who got one straight between the eyes dislodging my spectacles the result being me frantically trying to locate them on my hands and knees in the dark before someone stood on them. Lots of symbolism going on in there; the cross of Christ made of material you wipe your arse on, mirrors that reflect the self being destroyed, drummers driving out demons and then a well earned interlude while the auditorium was swept clean of debris.

The rest of the evening consisted of a noise set from Joachim Montessuis who stripped to the waist, became quite angsty while totally failing to ignite my enthusiasm. Sudden Infant was Joke Lanz aided by double bass player Christian Weber who were both superb. Some were heard to talk of the bass playing distracting from Joke’s performance but for me it worked perfectly but maybe that's just me being a huge fan of anyone mad enough to lug around a double bass and Joke Lanz. Lanz talked once again [see Leeds review] of the small boy stuck on the fifth floor of a building watching the cranes whilst Weber tugged and plucked and scraped deep ominous notes from his instrument. Watching Joke in action is a joy, stick man tats, tuft of unruly hair, bare feet and a stage presence that never fails to hold the audience rapt.
Rudolph rounded off Saturday night with a Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck Aktion that was a noise shamans lament. R&G Aktions [shall we just call them that from now on?] seem to have become more intense and noise based of late, gone are the chickens and the vomiting and the bumping around in rooms in Zurich and in comes the big guns, a pair of hand made mittens that dangle with various gadgets that once triggered emit painful walls of noise, bells hang from them and more bells emerge from a stick he picks up and shakes violently above the audiences heads. He’s stage front and clearly enjoying himself. The way the stage is lit his body is immersed in a bath of one strong white light making him seem even more ethereal than he already is.


With hindsight the 2.30pm start was a good thing. Anyone who’s attended a three day noise fest will tell you that the flesh begins to weaken during the third day, alcohol and the over consumption of such usually being the culprit. The excitement of the weekend ahead and the prospect of meeting of old friends usually leads to over indulgence and then comes Saturday afternoon and the livener which for some turns in to a 12 hour binge ending in a pizza shop cum late license pub on King Street where you end up talking bollocks to the chap from France in the Mutant Ape t-shirt. Actually I wasn’t too bad by this stage and a walk around Bristols outstanding dock area after a hearty full English had me raring to go once Dave Phillips took off his boots and settled on to a table in the middle of the venue. Phillips played insect noise [his own field recordings I venture] through a mixing desk bringing in new elements and then cutting the sound so that only a faint chirrup could be heard. At its end he walked the darkened venue with a miners lamp on handing out flyers highlighting the importance of insects to the continuation of the human species.
Michael Bartel gave us some sound poetry and a little Walkman construct and then barked three word phrases that increased in intensity until its climax.
G*Park and Rashad Becker made noises via mixing desks which because of the Arnolfini’s superb acoustics and sound reproduction equipment sounded pretty good but lacked dynamics. Given that the Arnolfini had a huge back screen at everyones disposal it seemed a shame that those performers for whom movement wasn’t an option failed to utilize it. Joke Lanz & Ute Waldhausen needed no such prop. A bare breasted Waldhausen struck a bare chested Lanz across the cheek and thus began their performance, I mean Aktion. Each performer face to face, stroking an arm and then a cheek, a caress and then a violent slap until we had body music. Contact mics taped into each right palm highlighted the sounds made. Joke grabs Ute by the back of the neck and screams into her throat. Both performers remain impassive throughout, barely blinking, no emotion shown, red welts appears. At once violent and tender. A remarkable performance.

Back in the foyer Alice Kemp is giving us another one of her conceptual performances; sitting in a chair with a pair of shears at her feet and a silk scarf wrapped around her head a low volume shortwave noise appears from the speakers. She never moves. The noise increases in volume slightly. Show ends. Another head scratcher.

Christian Weber reappears for a solo double bass performance and once again I am in awe. In over two decades of attending gigs of this nature I have only ever seen one other person attempt a solo double bass performance of this nature. Its a delight then to hear Weber deconstruct the stringed orchestral instrument solo. He scrapes the instrument along the floor, picks it up and drops it, hits the body with his palm, bends the bridge, plucks the strings above the headstock and then gets out the bow and pulls the thing so tautly over the lower strings that a guttural noise appears that sounds like god retching.

Which leaves us with ‘Wellenfeld - In Memory of Urs Schwaller'. The man in question being [I think I’m right in saying] the person who introduced Joke Lanz to Rudolph all those years ago and without whom none of us would be here tonight. The performers are all wearing headsets of some sort but I think this is just conceptual distraction. The piece is homage, four performers who have been making noise for longer than some of the audience have been alive.

As weekend festivals go this was one of the best: superbly organised, terrific venue, well attended and in a city that meant we didn’t have to suffer the indignities of the capital for a change. I came away feeling that I had witnessed something that will be talked about for a long time to come. I came away having been stared at by Rudolph and the feeling that we may all be back here in another twenty years time with an even larger group of people who have been influenced by one of the greatest art/noise collectives going - the mighty Schimpfluch Gruppe. Long may they reign.