Monday, May 20, 2013

Spoils and Relics / Cremation Lily / Harbinger Sound

Spoils And Relics - Turner
Harbinger Sound 7”

Cremation Lily - Fertility Servant
Harbinger Sound 7”

The first time I visited Nottingham’s Chameleon Club was after seeing Wolf Eyes and Putrefier play across town. Word got out that there was going to be some kind of late night jam session there with members of Smegma, Heather Leigh Murray and Dave Keenan joining in for one big wig out. You climbed what seemed to be about fifty steep stairs and got a drink and then went up another three hundred tight stairs before you got to somebody's old sitting room that had a huge PA system and mantlepieces on which to rest your drinks. Jase Williams was there and banged his head on one of the low beams smashing his spectacles so badly that he had to tape them to his head so as to be able to see. He was drinking whisky out of a pint glass and was as pissed as a rat. He wasn't on his own. I remember looking out of the window and seeing the Nottingham nightlife wander about zombie-like fashion below. The last time I was there was March 2012 for the three night Rammel Weekender. On a more sober return I realised how well run the place actually was and how friendly the staff were, often making cups of tea and coffee for those less inclined to hard drink and serving up veggie food at ultra cheap rates. The PA was still the best in town and I even got to DJ, playing some crap old chazza records at a spot just below a short flight of steps on a flexible wooden floor that meant every time some over enthusiastic punter jumped down them so did the record I was playing.

For some inexplicable reason this small oasis of sanity smack in the middle of Nottingham’s city centre is shutting its doors for good.  What effect it will have on those more closely associated to the place is obvious, the impact it will have on the local experimental music scene doesn't bear thinking about. Even though I only went there a couple of times I find I have some valued memories.

At least we have ‘Turner’ to spin as we lick our wounds. Released as a tribute to the Chameleons long serving owner Nick Turner it says in one run off groove ‘dedicated to Nick Turner’ and in the other ‘he looks like a young Burt Reynolds’. According to the sleeve he looks more like Charles Bukowski chugging down a bottle of beer. As a nod of appreciation this is subtle and heartwarming.

On Turner we find Spoils and Relics being as wondrous and entertaining as ever, small clockwork toys make their way around the bottom of a mop bucket, destroyed walki-talkie's blare, there's clinking, muffled sounds, wire brush abuse and is that the sound of the Chameleon staff rounding up 4am stragglers before preparing to fight it out for a taxi with the whats left of Saturday nights revelers? Well yes I do believe it is.

I should have been at the Chameleon in March to see Nottingham's finest the Sleaford Mods bat it out with Consumer Electronics and Cremation Lily. I had a brand new hire car at my disposal with heated seats, heated steering wheel, sat nav, all the buttons that my knackered limo didn’t have. I could have traveled down in style and arrived pampered and ready for action but as has been usually the case this year some fetid fever decided to invade my weakened frame rendering me fit for naught else but a Lemsip and a sweaty night in the Poang.

I did see Cremation Lily last year at the Wharf Chambers, a performance of ritualistic Power Electronics that included the wetting of what looked like ashes that were then smeared around face, arms and bare chested body. As ever with Power Electronics I’m reminded of the noise genre that dare not speak its name, a shame for whilst Power Electronics may have been hijacked by every screwball doing the rounds it does turn out the occasional gem. And with that be-blacked body Cremation Lily did indeed turn out to be a gem.

Up until now Cremation Lily releases have appeared on ultra limited edition handmade cassettes with black and white montaged photography as cover art. As a way of building an audience and forging a definite image its something I applaud and encourage.

On this first outing on to vinyl the cover shows a dour Southend on Sea photographed and reproduced in such a way at to make it look about as appealing as an Azerbaijani oil field. Its the misinterpretation that appeals. Where once went charred corpses, gratuitous sex scenes and mutilated genitals we now have a south coast holiday resort masquerading as 1940's Russian front line and it works perfectly. In the run off groove it says ‘the future is bright’ adding further to the mystique. So far so good and then you play it … two sides of destroyed and deliberately incoherent vocals attempting to emerge from beneath an almighty onrush of clubbed to death noise. A man fighting to be heard in a tempest. Whats not to like?

Four tracks are credited as are the dates 7th June 1995 and 9th October 2005. Only two tracks can be seen and heard and what those dates mean I have no idea. Further intrigue.

Cremation Lily are a relatively new act within Power Electronic circles and remain an enigmatic force. Those limited edition cassettes disappear fast as will this single. There's no website or contact for Cremation Lily as far as I can see but for those whose interest has been piqued there's always the Strange Rules website. 

Harbinger Sound seven inchers don’t so much get released as thrown out at closing time. Turner was only made available over the bar at the Chameleon, both have probably all but disappeared. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kakawaka / Half An Abortion / Tim Olive & Katsura Mouri

Kakawaka - Ein fröhliches Lied auf den Lippen den Wandersmann kann nichts erschüttern
100 copies + download

Half An Abortion - Drowsy Seepage
Memoirs of an Aesthete. CDR.
75 Copies + download

Katsura Mouri & Tim Olive - Various Histories
845 Audio. CD.

Apologies for the crappy images above but my scanner isn't behaving. Its not how I like things to be presented you see. Not that I'm a hysterical perfectionist but a scanned image gives detail and highlights the artists wares. Its like Kenny Morrison sez, everything's in the detail. As it stands now you're struggling to see that King Kong like figure ripping up a skyscraper and sticking his penis in it whilst ejaculating through the windows. You'll struggle to see Pete Cann sat at his desk in contemplative mood on the reverse looking like a 70’s German synth pioneer pondering whether to put some batteries in the Walkman and if the the mixer he bought on eBay for ten quid will last for another thirty minute set. You will not see the Kakawaka countryside image in all its fold out J-card glory but you will note that the Tim Olive/Katsura Mouri release is a thing of simplistic beauty and design and its here where we should begin. I like clarity.

What initially put me off Kakawaka was the Kakawaka website [and it has to be said the name itself which I assumed was another Filthy Turd offshoot]  - a  horrible, eye searing glare of canary yellow background, red font and cerise blue links, its titles also being a blurred pixilated mess that would in no way lead me to believe that the person behind this disfigured piece of the interweb was in any way capable of producing something, that whilst no way a classic, is indeed a very good twenty minutes worth of its genre. That genre being Industrial Lite Ambient Ritual Field Recording.

Kakawaka give us two ten minute tracks of processed field recording, reversed tape engineering, noise and an atmosphere that lies somewhere between Dieter Müh’s more quieter moments, Chris Watson on steroids and with perhaps a certain leap of imagination, some of Column One’s output.

I’m guessing that Mr. Kakawaka likes the great outdoors to such an extent that he brings them home to his studio to process them with a sprinkling of Industrial Lite Ambient Ritual Field Recording Noise powder. Here we have the squeaky shaft of a windmill as a stand alone opening before lots of sped up in to reverse sudden stops, squawking crows and glitches before the sound of discordant frequencies being bent into shapes unknown. Crunches, bowl rings, insect chatter and ritualistic drums beaten to galley slave rhythms. All this on ‘Immer Diese Schuld’. The reverse is much better, ‘Überall Nur Widerlicher Schmerz’  begins with a tiny clock panning around your skull before layered thighbones are blown in a medieval jousting competition fashion. Cue a heavy downpour, some held down keyboard key drones and the sound of a car door banging shut at its conclusion.  

Noisy Pete [AKA Half an Abortion, AKA Pete Cann] gives us six tracks of elcetro-acoustic gubbins that show Mr. Cann at his most thinking best. Having got the urge to smash things up out of his system [for a while at least lets assume] he gives us plenty to ponder, especially on the first three tracks where sawn bits of tin and noise gadgets of a various nature are tweaked into sound waves that disappear out of the top of your skull. Proper electro-acoustic noise that’s in a constant state of flux, bubbling and boiling and at times exploding into noise rupture. My only gripe are a couple of rather muddy tracks that appear to have been recorded in a room layered in felt. Murky noise of a mid 90’s cassette bent thats best left well alone. But I forgive him because this has changed my perspective on Half an Abortion and Pete Lives In Leeds and this is on the Memoirs of an Aesthete label which is Phil Todd Who Lives In Leeds.

Meanwhile back in Japan we find Tim Olive continuing his collaborating ways, this time with Katsura Mouri. On previous releases Olive has played a one string electric guitar, guitar pick ups and analogue electronics, on ‘Various Histories’ he’s back with the pick ups and this time ‘metals’ with Mouri being credited with ‘turntables, edits and mix’.

And as with those previous releases the sound quality is simply stunning. The pairing is also a success with Mouri’s turntable antics combining with Olive’s deliberations to produce an almost Smegma like electro-acoustic session. A series of fumblings and clangings, small springs being twanged, wire brushes bering combed, the deep throb of a submarines engine.

Five tracks spread over thirty five minutes is perfect and with one of those tracks [the last, all untitled, perfect] hogging half the release it gives those of you with attention deficit disorder something to hang on to. That last track is a delight with Olive’s metal playing coming to the fore with steel cylinders being rolled and loose wires being monotonously plucked over guitar pick ups delivering that glorious low twanging sound. Its the up close to ear attention to detail that grips you though - the tickling of the ears with sounds culled from table top detritus entwined within a body of sinewaves and low end throbs, the broken pottery being sifted through that compliments an emergent buzz, the discordant thrum of seriously detuned guitar strings as accompaniment to glass crunching. A complimentary pairing.

Chuck in the bold design, plain brown card CD liner and you have a label worth following.

Kakawaka main page 

Kakawaka Bandcamp

845 Audio


Friday, May 03, 2013

SPON 27 + 28

SPON 27 - Dr. Adolf Stegs Pocket Sized Survival Kit

Contents include:

One sea shell bracelet
Seven small pieces of chalk in various colours
Three beer bottle caps [one Marstons, one Miller, one plain]
Three used plasters in a plastic bag and one used plaster on its own
An enamel badge celebrating the Queens Golden Jubilee
A small key
Four Christmas tree lights
Two Licorice Allsorts [one pink pastille, the other white nougat with licorice layers]
Fourteen tiles spacers
Approximately twenty cat biscuits
Approximately twenty Rawl plugs
A picture hook
A broken piece of blade
A plastic bottle stopper
Three screw bits for a socket set
Two slot headed cap head screws with wing nut fastenings
An enamel badge from the British Red Cross
Several staples and numerous panel pins all attached to a magnet
A purple cosmetic jewelry stone
A used plaster with hair attached in a plastic bag
Three dice [die?]
Two dome headed slotted screws
Some nail clippings in a plastic bag
Several small screws and some bits of plastic in a plastic bag

All housed in one of those tidy boxes that only people with tweezers or fingers like a child thief can get into.

What I am able to survive with this kit remains unclear. A long flight? Fifteen minutes in front of the computer? A trip to a part of the world where uneducated savages are appeased by the promise of useless bits of paraphernalia in exchange for virgin brides? Christmas? A day out in Burnley?

SPON 28 - The Brion Gysin Issue

A single A3 sheet with a reproduction of Brion Gysin’s obituary as written by Genesis P Orridge which appeared [I think] in the Guardian newspaper. The reverse containing one of Gysin’s artworks and a photo of the man as enhanced by Steg. With it comes a single sheet of A4 with some more biographical Gysin info and a Steg enhanced Gysin picture on the reverse.
SPON [? - Could be a continuation of the above or the above could be a wrapper for this]

A brightly coloured A4 ‘comic’ whose cover is a letter of complaint from the Technical Enforcement Officer of the Environment Protection wing of the Lancashire County Council requesting that to whom it may concern better shift their shit or there’ll be trouble. Inside there’s plenty of Steg’s great penwork and a collection of family snaps, mainly from the 70’s and 80’s, containing many a shot of a child dutifully standing in front of something important. The young Dr. Steg perhaps? Theres also a great pull out centre spread Dr. Steg artwork which contains the following words; ‘Mick Philpott Britains Best Dad’. Mick Philpott being the father of 17 children and the killer of six of them when a bizarre plot to frame the woman who left him went horribly wrong.


The Ceramic Hobs Live At The Cedar Tavern Blackpool 2012.

After ten minutes of listening to Live at the Cedar Tavern my computers optical drive decided that it had had enough and whirred to an abrupt halt. This has never happened to me before. I feel it is all part of Dr. Steg’s master plan. Before everything went whiirrrrrrrrrrrr I heard the Hobs talking and about five minutes of feedback, every other instrument stubbed out bar for the tiniest amount of drums. I could of course try to play it on another drive but I feel that its better left this way.

Its Steg’s world. There’s no point trying to make sense of it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Bugs, Brainwaves and Bangalore. More from Gruenrekorder

Mark Lorenz Kyslea - Eins+
Gruenrekorder. CD
Gruen 120

David Rothenberg - Bug Music
Gruenrekorder/Terra Nova Music. CD
Gruen 122/TN1309

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay - Eye Contact With The City [an elegy to Banglaore]
Gruenrekorder. CD
Gruen 108

I’ve been looking at Dave Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest for some years now. Since it was published in 1996 in fact. I used to pick it up in the Bradford branch of Waterstones  and marvel at its sheer size [all 1,067 pages of it] and wonder if one day I’d find the time, or the courage, to read it. Seeing as how I’ve now managed to club Pynchon into a corner with a knotty stick I decided the time was right and finally bought a copy.

Imagine my surprise then, dear reader, to find Wallace’s voice on the Mark Lorenz Kysela’s release ‘Eins+’. There he is on Martin Shüttlers composition ‘Schöner Leben 7’ in what I assume is one of his readings along with samples of people practicing their sax solos as culled from Youtube. Its almost like he’s begging me to read the damned thing.

On ‘Eins+’ Kysela’s plays various Sax’s, clarinets and assorted oddments in thee modern composition style, interpreting the work of several modern composers; Christoph Ogiermann, Thomas Stiegler, Michael Maierhof, Alvin Lucier, Uwe Rasch and the aforementioned Shüttler.

A casual read of the enclosed booklet leaves you in no doubt as to what kind of territory we’re entering here ‘...the autonomy of the aesthetic process is subordinated to dispositions that regulate it externally’. Erm yeah. As ever its whats coming out of the speakers that count and what does emerge is truly captivating. On Michael Maierhof’s  ‘Splitting 13’ a plastic cup filled with marbles is inserted into the mouth of an Altosax the result being a series of shrill and dissonant vibrations capable of shattering anything brittle. Tremendously painful and piercing rattles that are followed by silences and low undertones that are the sort of hums you get from digeridoos. A bit like being given electric shocks and then a nice cup of tea in rotation. The entire 70 minute trip begins with a walk to the performing area and a Sax so closely miked as to be able to pick up everything from breaths, tone holes being covered and uncovered and a series of dissonant scrapes that screech like a length of suspension bridge cable being abused with a tenon saw. Electronic elements are introduced, most prominently on Shüttler’s piece where we begin with a gentle flickering of glitches, fried connections and disconnected telephone lines but perhaps most notably on Alvin Lucier’s ‘In Memorium John Higgins’ where ‘the vibrations of a stable clarinet tone and the vibrations of of a slowly rising and barely audible sinus tone meet’. This being Kyslea’s interpretation of Lucier’s discovery that amplified brain waves could be converted into audible frequencies.

We end with a a short but delightful composition from Uwe Rasch called ‘For Sopranosaxophone and Volleyball’. I’ll assume you can work that one out for yourselves. The piece ends with the crashing of a piano lid. A fitting finale.

Kyslea’s task couldn’t have been an easy one but he tackles these difficult pieces with a professional hand. A delightful if at times difficult listen and one that I feel I’d be more comfortable with listening at home than in the live situation. Having seen plastic cups filled with water scraped in the name of contemporary composition I feel I have a platform to speak from.

David Rothenburg likes to blow his Sax too. And his bass clarinet and a Norwegian flute that has no holes. He likes to play along to insects sounds as captured on several tracks here. Rothenburg wanders into the great outdoors to blow improv and play along with the Katydids. The idea being that the insects provide a natural rhythm to Rothenburg’s improvisations. On a number of tracks he’s helped out by friends, most effectively on ‘Glynwood Nights’ where the overtone singing of Timothy Hill compliments the found sounds of nocturnal insects. A live track as recorded in Estonia [‘in which only 50 people were allowed to attend’ it sez here] is perhaps my pick of the bunch, mainly due to it not having much of Rothenburg but lots of a guitarist called Robert Jürjendal whose Hillage like noodlings are the perfect compliment to the nighttime sounds of the Borneo rainforest.

I can’t help thinking that I could listen to Rothenburg without the insects and the insects without Rothenburg but I’m stuck with them both. If I was a fan of bad puns I’d say it bugs me but I’m not. The guy obviously loves what he does and has a quirky sense of humour [track 7; Phaaaroah! Surely he’s a Pharoah Sanders fan? And track 9 ‘The Water Boatman’s Loudest Penis’ - ‘do not try this at home’] But for the most part I find these pieces jarring.

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay’s ‘elegy to Bangalore’ is a single 55 minute composition thats a
monotonous ride mixing the dull roar of building work, city traffic, pneumatic drills [them again] the agitated chatter of site foremen, grinders at work, traditional Indian classical music, [that’ll be the sounds culled from reel-to-reel tapes found in the city’s flea market]  … you get the idea … in an attempt to convey the rapid urban growth of Bangalore. In one huge solid lump that I found difficult to digest.

The entire composition appears as if through a cotton wool filter, car horns appear out of audible fog like dying sea mammals stranded on the Arabian seashore, scaffolding clangs to ground in a muffled thud, clarity there is none. Things finally get interesting around the 40 minute mark when pneumatic drills [them again] get phased through some kind of filter making for a slightly woozy I’ve-had-five-pints-too-many feel. An unintentional drug type trip maybe but I’m glad it was there all the same.

Maybe my listening facilities are out of whack here. Maybe I’ve been listening to to many pneumatic drills of late? Eye Contact With The City was the recipient of an honorable mention at the 2011 PRIX  Ars Electronica fest so what the fuck do I know?

Perhaps Dave Wallace will be more digestible?