Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Mantile 26 + 27. Stephen Cornford and Culver

Stephen Cornford - SWF
Mantile 026. Cassette/DL 50 copies.

Culver - Prophecy of the Black Spider
Mantile 027. Cassette. 50 copies.

Johnny Scar said to me ‘Give em a spin. See what you think’. Not at a gig but in an email. Just give them a spin and see what you think. But of course I can’t but help write about them. Not just because they’re good listens but because its my lifes mission to champion labels like Mantile thus saving the world from drowning in mediocrity.

Labels like Mantile are tape only labels that release esoteric noise, drone, experimentation, electro-acoustic outings anything of that bent with little in the way of fanfare or sought out recognition. They know that what they’re doing is good and worthwhile and they don’t need to shout about it. The people in the know know and if they know then nobody else needs to know. You know. If you get my drift.

Like all good labels Mantile has a strong aesthetic; stiff card inserts of a tactile texture coming in varying pastel hues litho printed [I think], sometimes in deliberately obtuse ill contrasting colour-ways as is the case with this Culver release - black print on purple card that you have to hold up to the light at a certain angle to decipher. Its a perfect fit. Not just for Culver but for anyone that ventures on to Mantile.

Lee Stokoe’s Culver needs no introduction. Its drone. Here its drone. It will always be drone.  Listening to ‘Prophecy of the Black Spider’ is like sitting on the wing of a prop plane as you fly across the Atlantic late at night for hours on end until the drone from the engines propellors has embedded into your skull to such and extent that when you get off the plane you can still hear it for hours afterwards This is what Culver does and everybody likes it and don’t say they don’t. Both side virtually identical except for a slight deviation at the start of one side. Perhaps. Perhaps I too had succumbed to the prop plane drone syndrome. Things happen in a drone. Not just Culver drones any, drone.

Stephen Cornford is new to me. He likes shortwave patterns. Here he gives us two twelve minutes tracks of ‘unprocessed stereo recordings of shortwave interference’, the results sounding like an early Grey Wolves outing minus the shouting. As any fule no the shortwave bands are a treasure trove of found sounds, not just static but exotic foreign radio stations all of them continually shifting and fading. If you’re really lucky you could come across a ‘number station’ or the cops or military communication, radio hams having conversations about plum brandy. Or if you’re Stephen Cornford you could use the static to make some rather interesting noise.

Having listened to SWF I turned my trusty Roberts Traveler on and spent a happy hour flitting around the ionosphere. I should do it more often. So should you.


[In true antediluvian Culver fashion 'Prophecy of the Black Spider' is available as a cassette only release and is not available to download].

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