‘Don’t call for help advises Säure flashing his phony acid bottle, ‘or that pretty face goes flowing off its bones like vanilla pudding.’ But Minne calls his bluff, starts hollering for help to all the ladies of the same age in her building who feel that same motherly help-help-but-make-sure-there’s-time-for-him-to-rape-me ambivalence about nubile cat burglars. What she means to scream is ‘Hübsch Räuber! Hübsch Räuber!’ Which means Cute-looking robber! Cute-looking robber! But she can’t pronounce those umlauts. So instead it comes out ‘Hubschrauber! Hubschrauber!’ Which means ‘Helicopter! Helicopter!’ well it’s 1920 something and nobody in earshot even knows what the word means, liftscrewer, what’s that?
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity’s Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity’s Rainbow
Vehikel & Gefäss - Hirrnkopter Hellikrank
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 118. LP
Debt of Nature - Order: Spoil the Entire State
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 111. LP
Spoils & Relics - Sins of Omission
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 113. LP
And whilst the Sleaford Mods ‘Austerity Dogs’ leaves Steve Underwood’s Harbinger Sound label fighting off the music press with knotty sticks, its back to the coal face with this lot.
Three releases that swing thru Swiss Dada-ist cut and paste art action, mid 80’s Yank noise improv and bang up to date electro-acoustic sprawl. None of which are likely to be vying for the top spot in Norman Records 50 best of the year but all of which are at the very heart of Harbinger Sound do best.
‘Hirrnkopter Hellikrank’ was originally released by Schimpfluch back in the 80’s on a 50 run cassette edition that came in a plastic bag full of various cut lengths of cassette tape. Therein lies a clue. For this is two sides of sharply edited sounds upon which Vehikel & Gefäss [thats Joke Lanz and Rudolph eb.er in a side project that lasted for, I think, two releases] layering sounds of their own making with rapidly passing tape edits. It mirrors in some ways the work of Mixed Band Philanthropist, The Broken Penis Orchestra and perhaps Evil Moisture where hundreds of quick edits are painstakingly spliced together to form new wholes. The difference here is that over these edits and during spaces in the edits Lanz and eb.er layer their own sounds be it burps, the honking of rubber bulbed car horns, retching sounds, stuck records … the overall effect is one of disorientation and ultimately nervousness as the listener [this one at least] awaits the next jump from the speakers elbow raised in ready guard. The edits contain everything from old musical hall tunes, Astrud Gilberto, donkey brays, speeded up spoken word records, police sirens, dogs barking, door knocks, manic laughter … some edits are so sharp that its impossible to work out the original source thus making for a series of blurs that merge. ‘Hirrnkopter [Streetactions]’ sounds as if the edit sources came from a trip down a Zurich back street with pneumatic drills, door bells, bike bells, steam organs, singing drunks all entering the mix. Hellikrank [Radio Actions] is the ‘cleaner’ of the two, if you like, and sounds as if it was made in the studio for one of their radio broadcast [obvs]. Two things remain; have the Schimpfluch Gruppe made the belch a more repulsive sound than the fart and is that a ‘Crisis’ seven incher in the midst of all that debris on the back cover? A broken sledgehammer too. Impressive.
Spoils & Relics and Debt of Nature are untied by improv but also separated by about a good thirty years and the Atlantic Ocean. Debt of Nature is the band 15 year old Brad Laner formed in 1985. Along with Jim Goodall and Spencer Savage they quickly pulled into their free floating orbit members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society with Rick Potts, Joseph Hammer, Tom Recchion and legions of others joining in the sprawl. 'Order: Spoil the Entire State's' eight live tracks are culled from performances in ’85 and ’86 and all run to exactly five minutes suggesting that what we’re hearing are edits. Most tracks seem to move at the same pace with only brief blasts of spazzed guitar, wailing and electronic abuse lifting things from, what has to be said, are fairly rudimentary, exploratory affairs. These are primitive recordings in every sense. Coming from the mid 80’s they're impossible to ignore though. Primitive excursions but still important ones.
Given two sides of untitled vinyl to stretch out on the enigmatic Spoils & Relics; lay out their wares for all to see. These include all manner of hard to identify sounds that could have been made inside a deep sea divers helmet at 20,000 fathoms. Here we have shortwave trawls picking up single, impossible to translate words, slight squeaks, wheezes and heaves, sounds of budgie cages being shaken in empty houses, lo-fi electronic squawk, bottles being kicked around a stone floor, parps culled from small boxes with switches on them, electro-acoustic dub, dried peas rattling around a Quality Street tin, a mass beetle exodus ... or none of the above. The mood in places is austere, in others noisy in some contemplative.
This is their third release on Harbinger Sound - after sharing one side of a split LP with BRB/Voicemail and having a single all to themselves they’ve finally got the LP they deserve. Working in ever more darker and harder to define corners means Spoils & Relics are refining their craft making their outings a greater pleasure each time. Hübsch Räubers of sound if you like.