Sunday, November 23, 2014

Astral Social Club - Fountain Transmitter Medication. Ambarchi/Flower/Campbell - Live at TUSK.

Astral Social Club - Fountain Transmitter Medications

Ambarchi/Flower/Campbell - Live at Tusk Festival 2013
Tusk LP/DL

A Friday spin into Leeds for a Wharf Chambers love-in provided an ideal opportunity to give the CD part of Fountain Transmitter Medications its first outing. Climbing in to the limo I inserted said CD, cranked up the volume and gripped the steering wheel for a journey that ended up being some kind of psychedelic version of Death Race 2000. By the time I was half way up the M62 I was beginning to think I’d inserted the wrong CD and was instead listening to the new Merzbow. Not having listened to any Merzbow since a long time ago I wondered if the lithe Masami was now putting out noise drone anthems that not only assailed the ear drums but had the ability to pin you in to your seat like an astronaut on lift off. By the time I’d pulled off the M621 to follow the inner city loop road I felt as if I’d gone three rounds with Mike Tyson. My body was weak from the assault. I feebly turned down the volume hoping that my innate sense of direction would lead me to the NCP behind Leeds market from where I could stagger to the WC escaping with naught but a couple of bleeding ears and a whacked out equilibrium.

It was a few weeks later before I dare get the LP out but when I did I found that things were, in some ways, pretty much as you’d expect them to be in ASC land, swooping beats, glistening glissandos, pumping electronic nodes, the dance thing, the noise thing, the whole bit. But that was just side one, after that things really took off. There are four tracks on side one that you could pretty much nail as ASC but the on the second theres an audible throat clearing before a wailing wall of jarring electronica hits you like your iPhone has just exploded at the side of your head. From there on in its a seat of your pants ride and you best come prepared.

Take away the first side of Fountain Transmitter Medications and what you have left are four tracks that each run to around the twenty minute mark. Its these that give you those small ‘what the fuck’ moments. ‘Diamonds in the Dreich’ dysfunctional electroblasts have Campbell intoning words over them like a Benediction, words that only become clear once the tumult has given way to a celestial shimmer, which in itself gives way to one of Campbell’s biggest orgasm’s yet, a ten minute freak out full of rolling drums, stiff armed power chords and squealing frequencies. ‘Sun Still God’ kicks off with an ever escalating, digital information overload cacophony before opening out into an ever expanding vista. Perhaps the most ‘out there’ track of the lot is ‘Erotic Meditation’ a 26 minute epic rammed with pulsing malfunctioning robot communication, various shards of Kaoss and the sounds of Dewsbury market, at times it had me in mind of Faust’s Krautrock in the way that it has two pulses going at once, one slightly delayed from the other, one in each ear. Yet more orgasms. The whole thing climaxes with not one but two pneumatic drills and Campbell washing his face in the sink. ‘Squeegee Anthem 3’ is the chill out track that mutates into rock-a-geddon where you get to float on heavenly fluffy cotton wool clouds before ten searing guitar solos, all going at the same time, become buried under an avalanche of spasmodic glitch-a-tronics. Fucking hell.

There may be those who dislike Campbell’s more noisy and fractured direction but I cant for a minute think why they would. FTM has more rapture, ecstasy and joy within its folds than anything this side of a pre 70’s free jazz album and I dare you to find anything thats been recorded today that matches it.

‘1 Hour and 47 minutes of Free Ecstatic Sound’ it says on the blurb and they weren’t kidding.

‘Live at Tusk’ meanwhile finds Campbell joining forces with Oren Ambarchi and his more regular traveling partner Mick Flower for a further 30 minutes worth of ecstatic free improvisation. By all accounts this set at last years Newcastle staged TUSK festival had the audience at the stage’s edge urging the trio on to even greater and greater heights. What makes this free rolling psych trip even more remarkable is the fact that the trio had only met up minutes before the performance and didn’t really have any clear idea of what they were going to do. What they did do was show that when three like minded people get together you don’t need and any fixed idea, you just go for it. Side two is where the drums come out and the thing rises and falls like a thrashing Godzilla. Flower’s guitar is an ever changing one, strings going up, trashed chords, harmonics strung out, notes fluttering and ringing, Campbell is all electronic squiggle and bleat whilst Ambarchi drumming lurches from rolling thunder to a sustained barrage. First side is all build up with no drums in sight but even that doesn’t take long to achieve lift off. Here I’m presuming Ambarchi layered on more of the electronics giving it a wider sound which Flower uses to fling his guitar about. The rapturous applause at its conclusion, by a no doubt well lubricated North East crowd is, it has to be reported, genuinely wild and raucous.  And so it should. These coming togethers don’t happen nearly often enough and when they do they deserve to be recorded, pressed and given a Karen Constance cover. Another one for the Death Race 2000 trips.


Fountain Transmitter Medication

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