Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Taking a leaf out of the Vittelli book of listening I spent the last fifteen minutes of my weekend in London laying prone on a comfy bed listening to the sound of Dalston creep in through an open window.  A crisp ,clear, very early spring morning lent access to a concrete mixer, an angle grinder, jets circling for Heathrow,  cop car sirens, traffic, chatter, slamming doors and that ever present but unidentifiable low hertz hum that pervades every waking city minute but only becomes apparent during those rare moments of stillness.

It sounded like Makoto Kawabata smashing his guitar to bits as Jojo Hiroshogi egged him on. It sounded like Hijokaidan, Pain Jerk, Katsura Mouri, Toshiji Mikawa, Yumiko Tanaka, the dropped beer glasses on the hard concrete floor of Cafe OTO, the clanking of beer bottles, the windows rattling as I got some fresh air and chatted to the homeless guy pan handling pound coins for an old copy of OK magazine as the windows shook during Pain Jerk’s soundcheck ‘you’re gonna spend four hours in there - [nodding with his head to inside, roll up jammed between lips, hands deep in pockets, incredulous look on face] - you are all fucking mad’ - wanders off shaking head.

My best laid plans for staying relatively sober are wrecked by the Baron who shoves bottles of potent Kernel into my hands thus ensuring I spend most of Sunday wandering the Kingsland Road a shivering wreck handing off junky beggars and looking for sustenance in places like Rough Trade where I predictably buy nothing, the Whitechapel Gallery where I stare at Hannah Höch collages and various other cafes of exotic origins who would no doubt like to sell me something far stronger than tea for my throbbing head. Dodging the dog shit and bemoaning the loss of a long line of once great pubs that disappear in clouds of litter blown up by passing buses the walk clears my head for further sonic adventures.

The OTO is sold out and rammed both nights. An ambitious looking roster soon proves to be just that and is running late from the off. There's no stage so everybody crams up close to see whats happening. When the Baron asks me whats happening and I tell him some Japanese woman is stripping off he disappears like a dart into the wall of bodies. On the second night chairs are placed in a semi circle and there's a video projection so everybody can see whats going on. It helps. On the first night Takahiro Kawaguchi and Makoto Oshiro bridge two tables with kitchen foil and then place contact mics on it. If you're at the back it sounded like tin foil blowing in the wind. If you're down the front at least it adds another dimension. They drop washers and bits of metal into a vibrating speaker cone which has a piece of string tied to it thats stretched to a lighting scaffold that oscillates it into different shapes. Junko screams solo for twenty minutes. Pain Jerk wraps us all in dense swarms of throbbing bass whizzes and crunching stabs of pain. Of course its not loud enough or long enough but with such an ambitious line up that was always going to be the pay off and we give thanks that they are all here and in good health except for Toshimaru Nakamura who misses his slot with Mikawa and Akiyama on the last night night due to a mysterious eye injury.

Its not all noise of course. These two nights show the wide array of talent Japan currently has to offer so there's some traditional instruments brought to the fore first with a pairing of Yumiko Tanaka and Ko Ishikawa with Tanaka scraping, plucking, bowing, attacking both the Shamisen and the Japanese banjo in a ferocious fashion whilst singing in the delightful falsetto that traditional Japanese singers use so effectively. The Japanese flute [Sho] of Ishikawa emits graceful, gentle drones whilst his solo set on the second night brings the chatter to a complete halt. Rarely have I seen an audience so entranced.

Not all of it works. Not for me personally that is, although every performance is given a burst of rousing applause at its conclusion. Junko yelping over an electro-acoustic set was just plain wrong and I'm no fan of guitar abuse either so the pairing of Toshiji Mikawa and Akiyama forever teetered on the edge of painful atonal squawk [they sure missed Nakamura and his poorly eye - we hope you get better soon Nakamura]. Perhaps atonal squawk was the intention? Pure dissonance run ragged. The Hiroshige and Kawabata guitar hero set may have ended in a smashed guitar and the sight of one happy punter clutching the debris as a trophy for home but it didn't do much for me.

But these mismatches were few and far between. For the most part it worked beautifully and a lot of what I witnessed will be remembered for a long time to come. The light show that accompanied Doravideo's set and his battle with Pain Jerk the following night was enthralling with punters heads lit up with multicolored lasers in day-glo colours as Yoshimitsu Ichiraku's instrument of choice, a kind of Blade Runner-esque keyboard whose keys lit up in bright colours, triggered lasers and of course lots of noise. The erotic dancing from Miko Wakabayashi and the guitar abuse and turntable abuse that went with it forming a three cornered female noisefest was plain euphoric. The phenomenal depth of gutteral noise and stuck needle rhythms that Mouri produced from a humble portable record deck was really quite astonishing. Stylus abuse par excellence.

Highlight of the weekend and the most surreal collaboration of the lot came from Hatsune Kaidan. Electronic noise storms from Toshiji Mikawa, guitar eruptions from Jojo Hiroshige and between them stood on a chair in a waist length turquoise cosplay wig and the most innocent cherubic face you could wish to see stood Kamin Shirahata singing J pop minimal synth backed songs. See them at any cost, they will change your life. Cafe OTO cheered them to the rafters - two middle aged men, one bent over a table of electronics, the other thraping away on a Gibson SG and every salaryman’s dream totty singing songs of fuck knows what in a cutsie voice with oversized headphones on. Only in Japan.

The last words uttered on Sunday nighty came from Mikawa who after a speed drenched Hijokaidan set thanked Kou Katsuyoshi for organising it; "Without his passion this would not have happened". More cheers, hugging, back slapping. Its been a great two nights.

[In a sign that I must be getting older and more sensible I did indeed see every performance over the two nights. Reporting back on them all is a task beyond me. These are the highlights. All those involved deserve a mention and my heartfelt thanks.] 




Cafe OTO


Petals - Magnates Agus Drochthoradh
Hairdryer Excommunication

Petals - Scamail Le Focail
Hairdryer Excommunication

A short while ago Rob Hayler caused a bit of a stir by admitting that he didn’t like the new Astral Social Club album 'Electric YEP'. Coming from a friend of Campbell’s, a collaborator of Campbell’s and champion of Campbell’s music since the year dot this statement came as a bit of a shock. Knocking Campbell? It just doesn’t happen. I theorise that the Bearded Wonder’s words were the result of the opening track on YEP, 'Snow Clouds', a heavy doper outing that felt like wading through two foot of treacle at 16rpm. As openers go its a little like being given a large glass of Largactyl as an aperitif before been asked to join in the Hokey-Cokey. As far as I know Hayler and Campbell are still the best of friends. And so they should be. Rob said he didn’t like Neil’s album not his face. It wasn’t a personal attack and while some critics are stupid enough to incorporate the two there's also the person who thinks that an attack on their art is an attack on them. There’s a difference.

Any artist worth his salt must be prepared for negative criticism and be able to handle that negative criticism without taking it personally. It comes with the territory. If you take negative criticism badly then you’re in the wrong job.

Criticism has to be carefully weighted though. When coupled to constructive criticism it can even have benefits. A badly written negative review [‘your noise CD is shit’] wont win you any medals or friends down the WC. A badly written negative review with no constructive criticism also wastes the readers and the artists time whilst diminishing whatever respect the reader has for the reviewer in the first place. Just don’t go there. Its not worth it. If you’re going to knock something be prepared to say why and explain why. Its common courtesy. I’ve banged on about this before but its worth repeating.

After saying all this I guess Kevin Sanders of Petals is now fearing the worst. But fear not.

I’ve been happily listening to Petals ever since Sanders appeared in Leeds a few years ago. His minimalist electronic drones and general experimentation with tape loops have produced some decent results but after the first play of ‘Magnates Agus Drochthoradh’ I could hardly believe my ears. A single forty minute work it reminded me of my own failed doodling’s in the world of electronics from 20 years ago after discovering that rubbing a metal rod on the back of a circuit board made for an interesting buzzing sound. Memories of me listening to such failed nonsense for hours on end came back to me with a vengeance. At first I thought my experiments ‘interesting’ and filled many tapes with its buzzing telling myself that there were nuances in there that were clearly of mind altering capabilities. It must have been the whiskey. I drank lots of whiskey in those days. When I sobered up I chucked the tapes and sold the four track.

Listening to ‘Magnates Agus Drochthoradh’ makes me think that Petals isn’t any better than I was in 1994 and I know this cant be true. I don’t delve into what people experimenting with noise and electronics use to make their sounds, it takes all the mystery out of it for me, but to hear Sanders release something that sounds like me 20 years ago made me feel like I’m going round in circles and that can’t be a good thing.

That buzzing sound washes over pretty much all of the 40 minutes on here with various drones and wooshing sounds going on, off and around it for company but ... that … buzzing … sound … I cant get it out of my head. It ultimately annoyed me. I persevered. Maybe it was me? Had I had enough sleep? Were my trousers too tight? Did I have some unconscious problem whirring around my head? Nope. It was the buzzing.

I’m happy to say that there’s little trace of what I was up to 20 years ago on ‘Scamail Le Focail’ [I have no idea what these titles mean, Latin anagrams? Magma track titles?]. Here again a single 36 minute piece of simmering electronics and deteriorating drones of a very languid nature that move slowly through many phases, some featuring held down synth keys [I’m guessing] that gently throb in a graceful and effortless manner, others a tad sharper and dare I say it of a buzzing nature.

Coming hot on the heels of the Sanders/Thomas collaboration ‘Four More Cosmic Jams’ in which Industrial hum carried me in mini raptures to my bed for days on end, was I perhaps expecting too much?

Onward ever onward.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

W.I.P. - Feral EP

W.I.P. - Feral EP
CDR. 15 copies.
No contact info.

W.I.P. [which I’m reliably informed isn’t an acronym for Work In Progress] was pushed into my eager mitt during last November's Con-Dom 30th Anniversary all night freeze out in Birmingham by one of the organisers who just so happens to be one half of the outfit in question.

As far as I’m aware, said person, Phil Taylor, a person with experience in organising noise related gigs in and around the Birmingham area, had never before appeared on stage, or disc, with his Power Electronics hat on. Being so obviously a fan of the genre one can only wonder why it had taken him so many, many years to finally get it together and do something? It's not like he's getting any younger.

Perhaps he was waiting for the right partner to come along, which is where Lee Howard, another Brum habitue, and only member of Iron Fist of the Sun comes in. IFOTS, I’ve seen play a few times and have always enjoyed. IFOTS play PE in the classic sense of distorted vocals coupled to throbbing industrial rhythms played at ear piercing volumes. There’s probably more to it than that and I’ll probably be taken to task by Howard for not mentioning the Diana Spencer fixation or the electro-acoustic influences but there you go.

Phil Taylor made for a menacing presence on the night, his vocals appearing, as is PE custom, totally distorted and stripped of meaning. The onslaught was welcome and although their set was short they made their mark.

There’s only two tracks on the Feral EP both of which they played on the night.  Emerging at just shy of twenty minutes these two tracks show enough promise to warrant further visits to the studio [or the pub as is more likely]. ‘Why?’ Begins with a sampled rant on apathy as culled from the recent Southcliffe TV drama [a terrific tirade delivered by Rory Kinnear in which he attacks his parents apathy ‘so long as you’ve got your pint and your Beckham baseball cap ...’] before an ominous throb emerges followed by those shrieking, distorted vocals. ‘Elemental’ is initially far more subdued, incorporating thunderstorms going though various effects and some synth laden howling winds before some much clearer vocals appear [‘do you understand what wrong means?’] of course all hell breaks loose eventually but not until we’ve had some sampled female dialogue and further destroyed PE delivery.

Both tracks are available to listen to through the IFOTS Soundlcloud page.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Merzouga - 52 46 North 13 29 East - Music For Wax Cylinders
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 124. CD

Cathy Lane - The Hebrides Suite
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 127. CD

Christina Kubisch Und Eckehard Günther - Mosaïque Mosaic
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 131. CD

Rodolphe Alexis - Morne Diablotins
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 139. CD

Audio Work by Christoph Korn and Lasse-Marc Riek
Series Invisible. Collection II. Booklet.

The black square you see above is in fact a small booklet containing a list of locations where Lasse-Marc Riek and Christoph Korn captured a series of 50 field recordings. Dates, times, location and notes such as ‘recorded from a row of bushes’ are dutifully reproduced. More importantly they also note the date and time these recordings were deleted. For these recordings now exist only as words on pages and nothing else. The Roland Barthes quote ‘it cannot be denied that the thing existed’ as reproduced courtesy of Georg Imdahl’s introduction says it all.

Thankfully for the rest of us, and my aching brain, the remaining releases haven’t been deleted.

The most radical of the remaining four comes courtesy of Merzouga’s trawl through the 16,000 wax cylinders as belonging to the Berlin Phonogram Archive. Since the early 20th century  ‘…  trading as well as scientific expeditions were bound to travel with a phonograph and send their recordings to Berlin’. More than a hundred years later the duo of Eva Pöpplein [electronics] and Janko Hanushevsky [prepared electric bass] have taken elements from what I presume is but a small selection of the archive and transformed them into one 38 minute whole.

In his excellent sleeve notes the head of the Berlin Phonogram Archive Albrecht Wiedman asks a pertinent question; ‘Could the archive benefit from such an endeavor?’ But its not until he realises that unlike scientists, who request that the cylinders be digitally restored before embarking on their research, sound artists actually prefer the surface noise and imperfections and wish to incorporate these deficiencies into their own work. It sounds like an epiphany of sorts for Wiedmann who admits that he’s glad he took the opportunity to work with the pair and now listens to the archive from different perspectives.

Merzouga’s skill lies in the way in which they marry their instruments into a world filled with ghostly voices, bird calls, ethnic chanting, and all manner of grime as accumulated in however many of those 16,000 cylinders they worked through.  Pöpplein’s electronic treatments are subtle and deftly placed, a ringing here, a quiet drone there, a fallen saucer lid coming to rest. Hanushevsky’s bass meanwhile goes through all manner of permutations from rubbed edges, to tiny plucks to bowed throbs.

What makes the piece work so well is the tempered nature in which the three elements combine. Never during this 38 minute piece do you get the feeling that one element or another has taken over and bossed the show. At times surface noise is left to run alone, chanting tribesmen are backed by a beautiful paced bass run, ancient ceremonies are backed by chiming bowl rings.  

Merzouga have graced these pages before with a similarly approach to a trip down the Mekong river. 52 46 North 13 29 East [the coordinates for the Ethnologisches Museum Dahem where these cylinders are stored] is a far more adventurous undertaking and one with far more startling results. In the final second of this piece there lies the familiar sound of a needle full of fluff leaving its groove. A fitting ending but only a temporary one due to continuous plays.

You’d think that Cathy Lane’s homage to those far flung Scottish islands the Outer Hebrides would be a bleak affair full of uilleann pipes and the pounding of waves onto stout harbour walls. Its anything but. What begins with the warning bleeper of a docking ferry soon unravels into a series of interviews where voices are looped, some being given various ‘treatments’, before being mixed with the sounds of birds, sheep, tweed looms, the ever present winds, the crashing waves and in the last track and most memorably a church service where the congregation sing a mournful psalm to the sound of yet more crashing waves.

Lane’s aim is to heighten awareness of these islands, its culture, its natural history and local history. But it was only during ‘Watch Over Us All’ the strongest track amongst the six here, with its layered plaintive singing and austere sermon that I found myself finally rapt. The Whicker Man loomed large for me albeit in a Calvinist/Presbyterian/Protestant/Catholic/Free Church of Scotland non pagan kind of way.  

Mosaïque Mosaic actually begins with a church service. They’re praying to the same God but that straight laced fear of God Scottish hell fire and brimstone service has been replaced by a shoulder swaying, keyboard swirling one where the sermon is delivered twice, once in French and once in English: My God! Mon Dieu!.

These last two releases are pure field recording. Rodolphe Alexis with a walk through the forests of the Lesser Antilles, Gaudaloupe and Dominica and Kubisch and Güther in the Cameroon. Both come to life with a tropical rainstorm where the heavens open and the locals get a taste of God moving his furniture about. In the Cameroon the rain peters out on a tin roof until the cicadas, birds and other insects can be heard once more with Alexis the results are even more Biblical.

Kubisch and Güther’s made a deal with the locals in a I’ll show you mine if you show me yours kind of fashion. With Cameroon being a noisy place by nature [car horns, markets, amplified music etc.] they thought that it might be in the locals interest to hear what went on outside these everyday noises. The locals then took them to places they thought might interest them, hence the church, an abandoned hotel, the river, a national park. The results veer from the chaotic [the church service] to the sublime [the end of that rainstorm] with both sides coming out winners. Holding workshops for the locals Kubisch and Güther soon realised that the locals did indeed take heed of what was going on around them ‘but so far they had not felt any necessity to store these sounds’.

On Morne Diablotins [the name of the highest mountain in Dominica] Rodolphe Alexis takes a walk with recording equipment in hand passing Jaco and Sisserou, the endemic species of parrot, but failing to locate any mountain chicken’s or giant frogs. There’s always a next time. Its his mission to record and observe giving us the purity of the rainforest in all its verdant glory.

And whilst I thought that these recordings weren’t anything out of the ordinary [preferring David Tudor’s electronic take on the rainforest if pushed into a corner for an opinion] they do draw you in. Especially on the longest and most immersive track, the 28 minute ‘A Night in Grand Bay’ where a tropical rain storm, insect chatter and the agitated calls of parrots all joyously mingle.

Bird and insects sounds dominate on all of Morne Diablotins. As they should.

Another solid set of releases from the ever reliable Gruenrekorder.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Deserted Village

The Primal Barber Trio - BARBERarberbarbr
Deserted Village. DV44

Toymonger - The Night Vision
Deserted Village.
LP/DL [Released in 2007]

United Bible Studies - The Kitchen Session
Deserted Village.
LP/Free Download EP [Released in 2011]

United Bible Studies & Jozef Van Wissem - Downland
Deserted Village.

It took me a bit of time to work out that the one CDR and various bits of paper that Deserted Village sent me meant I could listen to all these releases via the medium of internet. You see, I’m like John Peel, in that I feel more at ease with records and physical formats, streaming and downloading are fine but give me a record any day. Perhaps its just as well that Peel never got to be confused by downloads, CD’s nearly did him in as it was. But I do like a nice record. They’re round and full of grooves and when you spin them and put a needle on them music comes out.

And yes I know I said I don't review downloads and I’m not going to start either [sort of] but Deserted Village put that Tom Carter benefit release up on their Bandcamp page a while back [which I’m still listening to by the way seeing as how there's nearly a hundred tracks to absorb] and whilst listening to The Primal Barber Trio I got drawn into the whole Deserted Village streaming/downloading thing and thought maybe this isn't such a bad way to go after all. Put aside your grumpy complaints I said unto myself and revel in this new found technology. A technology that enables you to listen to lots of lovely things for not very much money at all and in some cases bugger all money.

To be fair to Deserted Village they do back up their downloads with a physical presence which is to be applauded and it is to this that I turn first. Except it wont play. I’m cursed with the non playing 3” CDR.  They do look cute and you can get 20 minutes of music on them, which is like one side of an LP, but getting them to play is a different matter. My PC wont take them, my Walkman dithers as does my stereo which leaves me back at the Deserted Village Bandcamp page where I listen to The Primal Barber Trio via streaming heaven and whilst I’m at it the rest of this lot.

Primal Barber Trio are Stuart Geelon, Gavin Prior and Aonghus McEvoy. A three way vocal improv outfit a-gurgling and a-groaning their way through the Irish undergrowth like Blood Stereo, Phil Minton, Jaap Blonk, Trevor Wishart and some more people whose names'll come to me when I’ve posted this. Described as ‘No polite improv snoozefest, only  deranged ritual’ gives you some idea of what they're up to and to what Irish improv sounds like. Totally bonkers. Far more maddening than Blonk, far rougher round the edges than Minton and further down the road of drunken roar than Blood Stereo. The drunken yelling even reminds me of Humberside’s premier tourettes championeer YOL in places. And then theres the dictaphone abuse.

When solo, drunken roars appear to no one in particular. Together they sound like a gang of workmen trying to urge each other on whilst digging a hole. Sometimes the shouting reaches a crescendo and then it becomes quite frightening. Dictaphone abuse fills in the background somewhat with sweeping swirls of chaos, looped static and clunking loops. Mumbles, nonsense words, lunatic crying, the rattle of jail cell chains.

All this emerging from a ‘layered and collaged’ process courtesy of Prior the end results fitting in somewhere between a Stuart Chalmers tape improv session and a fight between Minton and Wishart in the bogs of the Duncan. Heady stuff. I urge them to do more.

The rest I listened to whilst dotting around the Deserted Village website. United Bible Studies are a folk group that incorporate synths and bizarre as that sounds it does work. Like Vashti Bunyan teaming up with Edgar Froese. The Toymonger release is almost seven years old now but worth a listen. Described as Ireland’s first noise 12” its anything but [noise that is]. What it is, is scrape and drone with Prior again in the thick of it producing brooding atmospheres across four tracks.

The Deserted Village Bandcamp page, not a bad place to end up. 


Deserted Village

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Diz Willis and Pizzle zine

Pizzle was a single A4 sheet that existed for one issue and was the work of Paul Harrison. I think all of these statements are facts but I could be wrong. It all happened a long time ago when Paul Harrison and Diz Willis were active within Smell & Quim - the Sowerby Bridge years. 

Whether this has appeared on the internet before now I know not but despite its mostly irreverent nature I feel its worth reproducing.

Vittelli: London Sound Survey & Matthew Phillip Hopkins

London Sound Survey - These Are The Good Times. 
[Field Recordings From London In The Early 21st Century]
Vitelli. VIT001. LP. 300 Copies.

Matthew Phillip Hopkins - Nocturnes
Vitelli. VIT002. LP. 300 copies in grey vinyl including artists booklet.

Although not obviously aimed directly at Londoners per se These Are The Good Times does give the habitues of our capital city the chance to listen anew to the sounds it produces. As Ed Baxter observes in his most excellent sleeve notes, Londoners aren't so much in transit as on the way out to be replaced by 'newer more robust urban punchbags'. This is the record that every one of those punchbags needs to hear to convince them that the ‘smoke’ isn’t just a constant barrage of emergency vehicle sirens, traffic and computerised voices telling you to mind the gap.

Thanks to the combined efforts of sound recordist Ian Rawe and Vittelli's Nick Hamilton we now have 21 instances with which to hear London through fresh ears. Culled from over 40 hours worth of material that Rawe recorded for the London Sound Survey website these 21 tracks have been selected by Hamilton to show London in a new light.

There’s the joke telling Irish beggar on conduit street, the chatter of customers and staff at Pellici's cafe on Bethnal Green road [bit a mash? lovely], the nostalgia filled lachrymose singing of pearly kings and queens and the Poet of Villers Street reciting the classics. Atonal squeaks appear courtesy of the Stonebridge Lock Windlass, dark ominous drones from the Sun Street Passage on Liverpool Street, vibrant ethnic music via a Caribbean Sunday Service on Canvey Island. A Trumpeting busker on Euston Road plays a sad lament.

Rawe recorded surreptitiously when the need arose, thus giving some of this a clandestine appeal. I doubt the sight of Rawe complete with parabolic reflector and shoulder strung recording equipment would have gone down a treat in Pellici's caff. Needs must.
My favourite pieces are the Corton Refinery sirens and the wide band that is the Motorcycle Wall of Death as recorded in Dulwich complete with rasping bike engines and the whoops of delighted onlookers. I shall be visiting London in a couple of weeks and thanks to Rawe I shall approach it with ears anew.

Release number two sees Matthew Phillip Hopkins garner comparisons with, amongst others, William Basinski, Nate Young and Giancarlo Toniutti and in the 'liking' stakes I'd say that they were all bang on. MPH [as I like to think he’s known] does indeed begin proceedings with a remarkably Basinski like Disintegration Loops piece albeit with added stifled gas mask breathing and the crackling of a distant bonfire. This, 'Nocturne 1', is mournful and dirge-like. Nocture 2 is more electro-acoustic in nature. A looping distant church bell and creaking oar straps add to the drenched subdued atmosphere. Tape abuse appears albeit of a very subdued and tempered nature along with tiny snatches of capstan skree amidst that deep and sonorous church bell. ‘Nocturne 3’ is the side long outing, a steadily cycling drone with seemingly random synth prods emerging like sparks of radio static that fizz into the ether.

According to the press release Hopkins produces these works using synths, cassettes, fx pedals, contact mics and random objects, in the dead of night, with headphones firmly in place.

I have to admit to never having heard of Hopkins before, no doubt due in part to his adherence to the no audience underground ethos of releasing your work in tiny micro editions. Which means I can compare his work with that of Phil Todd, Mel Delaney, Daniel Thomas, David Thomas, Eddie Nutall, Kevin Sanders, Stuart Chalmers, Andie Brown … and probably quite a few more of the recent crop of luminaries who are creating drones and atmospheres in an experimental electro-acoustic environment. Hopkins may live and work in Australia but he has plenty of contemporaries here in England.

Nocturnes is his first vinyl outing but after lapping this beauty up for the last couple of weeks lets hope its not his last.



London Sound Survey

Monday, February 03, 2014

Nigel Joseph

Nigel Joseph  - 1 2 3
SRV20. CDR. 30 Copies.

[All above information baring artist name and run number guessed at]

I remember interviewing Nigel Joseph many years ago after a particularly long drinking session in Blackpool. We were sat in Simon Morris’s front room and Simon thought it’d be a good idea for me to ask Nigel a few questions as I wrote a zine and I could type it all up and print it and everybody could read it.

Joseph had a history of mental illness and talked frankly about his run in with the psychiatric branches of the NHS, his suicide attempts and the strong drugs he took to keep him on the straight and narrow - oh the hours flew by. And despite having been out drinking for most of the day he seemed to be making more sense than the rest of us put together.

When he’s not making noises he plays guitar with the Ceramic Hobs. He’s perhaps most famous [or should that be infamous?] for playing the Hoover, running the thing around the stage as the Hobs played on. He once released a hundred noise tape that were sewn inside a dead dog and only available for ten minutes at ten past ten on the tenth of the tenth, or was it a hundred dead dogs inside ten noise cassettes … never mind, its not on Discogs. The last release I got to hear of his was a few years back on the Blackpool label Must Die Records, a release that had beats so drug infused I seem to remember passing it on to Campbell with the words, only to be played under the influence of Largactyl. Campbell loved it of course. I have another old noise release of Josephs here that is basically old blues records distorted into oblivion. Like listening to Led Zeppelin doing Leadbelly covers through totally fucked speakers at volume 11.

And now this. Three tracks of noise that run to 28 minutes. Simon Morris once asked me how do you keep coming up with things to say about noise releases? And I really didn’t know how to answer. Like a trooper you just get on with it.

1,2,3 is three noise tracks. It could be a pure dub of another noise release. Its generic noise that flat-lines in the same mid range. It could be two noise releases with one release in each speaker.

That's how you write about noise releases.

Flyers of interest.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sleaford Mods - Three Singles

Sleaford Mods - Bambi/Scenery
X-Mist. XM-101. 7” [including lyric insert]

Sleaford Mods - Jobseeker/14 Day Court/Black Monday
Kraak. K083. 7” [some copies include sew on patch]

Sleaford Mods - Mr Jolly Fucker/Tweet Tweet Tweet
Fourth Dimension Records FD388. 7”

Filling the gap between last years Austerity Dogs and the launch of the next Sleaford Mods album, in Leeds, at the Wharf Chambers, on the 29th of March, on a date that can’t come quick enough,  appear three seven inch singles, each one a life affirming Stella Artois fueled belch.

The future will be Sleaford Mod shaped, of that there is no doubt. The gig in Leeds is already being talked about a full two months before it actually happens [its a much delayed gig which only heightens the tension]. There’s talk of the WC having to ration tickets. I know people that are genuinely excited [me] and worried that they might not get one. The ball is rolling. Interviews are becoming more frequent. Music journalists try in vein to define their ‘sound’ with ever increasing implausibility. Everybody from Gil Scot Heron, Mark E Smith, John Cooper Clark, The Normal and The Wu Tang Clan get dragged in to the equation, so its no surprise to see such a clumsy genre moniker as Punk Hop emerge. Punk Hop? Give me a break.

Each of these three singles will put you on until Leeds on the 29th but I recommend buying them all. They’ll cheer you up no end. On them Jason Williamson tackles social media [Tweet Tweet Tweet - ‘chopped heads on London streets, all you zombies tweet, tweet, tweet’] and on Jobseeker the exasperation with having to deal with the civil service when signing on [‘so Mr Williamson, what have you done in order to find gainful employment since your last visit’ ‘fuck all, I just sit around the house wanking all day’]. The lyrics are on the record label so you can watch them going round and round as it plays. Mr Jolly Fucker is an inspired of stream of consciousness rant; ‘baa baa black sheep have you any crack, Mr. Kipling acid dances, 60 kids wheres mine, fish fingers, take the batter off, I cant believe you had kids, digital time boards are the new public shitters, two pint buzz and loads of office turds pushing in, can’t you see I was here first you cunt’ interspersed with shouts of Mr Jolly Fucker! A blast thats all over in two minutes flat. Bambi’s mournful refrain is ‘oh yeah I forgot’ delivered in a sarcastic tone that mimics the slack jawed response of the couldn’t care less perfectly and begins in true Sham 69 fashion with ‘This songs about drones and water cannons 1,2,3,4’  and could be aimed at Steve Jones for whom ‘the 80’s didn’t work out but at least you made a record with Axl Rose’. 14 Day Court includes a false start [‘fuck it’] and the classic line ‘Sonic Youth fan MBV, if you like feedback that much get a job at the council’ and ‘I don’t want white teeth and big tits, I want yellow fingers and missed mortgage payments’. Black Monday is the nearest they’ve come to a full on Fall-esque Container Drivers comparison. Try listening and keeping your feet still at the same time. Unless you’re in a coma its not possible.

These songs could be about indie music, The Sex Pistols, the local council, Williamson’s neighbours, self abuse, drugs, Fawlty Towers or the existential travails of someone trying to make his way in the world armed with a bog standard job and the thought that it could be all that lies between the check out at Poundland and a food bank.

Fearns pumping computer driven beats do resemble The Normal, they do resemble The Fall, Williamson’s sense of humour does resemble John Cooper Clark, his observations on modern life are beyond compare. Williamson is a poet for our times and the Sleaford Mods make you want to jump about.

What they’re doing is unique and saying that in the year 2014 gladdens my heart no end.