Monday, June 22, 2015

Woven Skull, The Sunken Hum, Tarracóir.

Woven Skull - Fat Baby Blues
Deserted Village. DV51. Cassette [Cassettes sold out and now available as a free download]

The Sunken Hum - Vol 1 Field Recordings of Rhythms & Drones
Deserted Village. DV51. Cassette

Tarracóir - Growth.
Deserted Village. CD/DL

Its the word ‘awesome’ that does it for me. A word favoured by vocabulary deficient American teenage noise artists that grates like sand between my rotten teeth. I see it here on Deserted Village’s press release for Woven Skull, a trio of souls who are chucking Irish folk, gamelan and drone into the air to see what happens. To be fair to Woven Skull the word ‘awesome’ is used in conjunction with a music festival going by the name of Hunter’s Moon [which, coincidentally, is the name of a house I once to a party to in Gomersal where someone carved their name in the wooden bog seat before knocking a hole in the wall big enough to crawl through]. But I digress. Deserted Village, yes, they’ve sent me decent work in the past but for some reason I took against the the three headed skull motif on Tarracoir and the name Tarracoir itself which makes them sound like a third rate thrash band. And whats with the miserable looking kids on the Woven Skull release. Sheesh, you’re supposed to draw me in not put me off. And theres another one sat on top of a car dressed in a Santa outfit giving what could be the Heavy Metal two fingered devils horn thing except of course it isn’t.

So lets forget ‘awesome’, thrash metal and miserable kids and concentrate on Deserted Village who sent me two tapes and a CD so long ago that I can’t remember what they sounded like in the first place. And when I do its not good news. Again. Like what the what the. They doing it to me on purpoise? They used to send me good stuff now all I’ve got is people with beards twanging guitars, really fast, twangy with a delay on the twangs. Horrible. Its horrible. So I turn it off and then the cassette sticks so I get fed up and download the damned thing and side two, well, side two opens up into something completely different. I’ve been listening to Alvarius B and Cerberus Shoal and this gives me that same feeling. That feeling of being smothered in lots of warm blankets, layered over whilst you sink deeper into a comfy bed. A comfy bed to end all comfy beds. Its glorious. A slow sinking into comfort feeling made from rasped strings and smooth round stones being knocked together before being dropped, plop, into deep still waters, a sound that I bet hasn’t been touched up making it all the more remarkable. A drone of sorts with seashells being rummaged and wind chimes and an aching two note draw on a bass and someone smashing up orange boxes for firewood. It doth tickle my ears. Just don’t mention the first side.

The Sunken Hum collect various field recordings including an auctioneer at a cattle market, waves crashing, running water, …. you get the idea, which were all recorded as part of a sound art project wherein a two minute field recording was taken everyday for a year. Budgies, hums, things frying, photocopiers, someone sweeping up, traffic, people in a pub, someone walking over a shingle beach, popcorn being made, the best sound I found started at around the two minute mark on side two where Pete Hook was playing a digeridoo at 33RPM until someone turned the speed up to 45 RPM. I have to admit to having fallen out with found sounds of late. I want songs in my life once more.

Which brings us to Tarracóir. This from the press release ‘ Tarracóir’s genre is ‘Base Metal’ - the listener is the alchemist. You will hear elements of Free Jazz, Death Metal and the blare & clatter of Tibetan Buddhist demon-chasing rituals’, and across the bottom in caps ‘LET’S GET READY TO FUMBLE!’ And then the computer spat the CD out saying it was an unrecoginsed format or somesuch. So I found the download on DV’s Bandcamp page and I played it thinking this is going to be easy, two lines about how I hate thrash metal or Base Metal or whatever it is they’re calling it today and I’ll be back to my Prefab Sprout in no time. And then something remarkable happened. I found myself wanting to hear more of it. Here I am fourth track in and I may be getting my noise schtick back. So its not Normcore [as they say on the press release - like what the fuck would I know] but it is a half decent racket that isn’t all full on BLEURGH with the drummers arms going a blur and a thousand guitars dying a death. Electronics can be heard, parps and squeaks, trombones even, garden hose even more even. I could be a fan.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sleaford Mods - Talk Bollocks/Little Ditty/Grammar Wanker

Sleaford Mods - Talk Bollocks/No Ones Bothered
Salon Alter Hammer/In A Car. 7”

Sleaford Mods - A little Ditty/I’m Shit At It
Emotional Response. 7” [Inc DL code]

Jason Williamson - Grammar Wanker. Sleaford Mods 2007-2014
Bracket Press.

If you’ve ever had to work with a temp you will know the sinking feeling that accompanies the ‘Here’s Kevin, you’ll be working with him today’ feeling. At 6.30 in the morning with a long 12 hour stretch ahead of you and a numpty staring you in the face, ‘Here’s Kevin, you’ll be working with him today’ are the last words you want to hear.

I’ve had my share. The ones who like to do donuts on the fork truck, the ones who chuck good material in the skip and take the crap stuff to the warehouse, the ones who try to pick up 4 meter wide material with a sack cart, the ones who’ve been getting out of bed at 2.30 in the afternoon for the last six months and cant get their head around the fact that at 6.30 in the morning they have to be switched on, not off. I worked with one temp, a teenage stoner with lank hair and bad breadth, who liked to sit back and rest his feet on the work station until one day the MD walked round and asked him what exactly it was he was doing? ’Just chilling’ came the reply, which I think were the last words I ever heard him say. I worked with a temp who fell asleep in a drainage channel. The same temp took to skinning rabbits, whilst working, or not working as the case may be. There was the Phantom Shitter who liked the leave the toilet unflushed. The old guy who poked his tongue out like a budgie and coughed every two minutes. And then there's the temp who at 11.30 every morning shouted ‘COME ON DINNER!’ like he was cheering in a 50 to 1 winner. Some temps have walked out. Others gone to the chippie never to return. I’ve worked with South Africans, Ethiopians, Romanians, Hungarians, Australians, ballet dancers, circus strong men, banned from driving HGV drivers, blobbers, murderers, muggers, heroin addicts, alcoholics,t tea-totallers, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, born again Christians, manslaughter-ers, squaddies and those who like to spend at least three months of the off season in the less than salubrious bars of Manila. There was the guy who  turned up for work on his daughters bike, a pink one with tassels on the end of the handlebars. Those who have knocked down walls or put holes through them with the pointy end of a pole truck are too numerous to mention here. There’s the spillers, the wreckers, the manglers, the fucker-uppers, the lazy, the dying, the smelly, the fat, the thin and the bent in half how the fuck is he going to manage? The ones having heart attacks, the ones who disappear for a crafty fag just when its getting busy, the ones who fall asleep in the canteen, the ones who turn up totally unprepared. The almost blind, the almost deaf, the farters, the burpers, the ones who take their boots off at break time and rub the soles of their feet like Laurel and Hardy did in Sons of the Desert.

I began to wonder if there were temping agencies who specialize in strange people. But then again I think, perhaps its just life. Best to get on with it. Not all of them are ding dongs of course, every now and again you find someone who you can actually have a conversation with, but then they’re usually just passing through, killing a few weeks before a proper job turns up.

Thanks to the Sleaford Mods I now have a song to sing to these people.

‘I’m shit at it!’

‘Can’t even work in a chippy’

‘Chips peas and gravy’

‘I’m shit at it!’

‘It ain’t fucking rocket science’,

‘Heston Fucking Blumen Cunt’,

‘I’m shit at it!’,

‘Can’t even answer the phone’.

‘I’m shit at it!’

'Can’t even butter a cob right’.

Which is the line that gets repeated as I sing along my singy song.

Can’t even butter a fucking cob right you fucking numpty. COME ON DINNER! Cant even butter a cob right you fucking cock end.

Its these little things that keep you going in a factory environment where the only fun to be had is laughing at each other. Taking the piss. Laughing at the fat lad and the lass in the office with the bent nose and the plastic tits. The gaffer with a head like a five pound onion who cant drive for shit and likes to show us his ski boots like we fucking care. Bell End.

Its songs like these that keep you going through long shitty days. Its something to cling to when you're looking at that sleepy eyed numpty with nothing but a chicken nugget between his ears.

Sleaford Mods have been lobbing small plastic bombs about in the run up to the release of their imminent new album ‘Key Markets’. Like all good bands these singles aren’t just filler or contractual obligation crap but proper teasers, Talk Bollocks being sold on a recent short German tour [and now fetching silly sums on eBay]. Talk Bollocks has a bit of cheesy working mens club keyboard as intro and a chorus that speaks for itself. Here we have Williamson bemoaning the shit that gets talked on tour and the mundanity of it all. No One’s Bothered [Slow Version] is a stream of consciousness observations ‘Victory for no one Hates as much as bleeds The dark through the go on Dead up from the knees An hip shake shake it I been round The grass in the dug out.’ all to an ultra slow Fearn inspired slave boat beat. The faster version that's doing the rounds rips up a storm and if that's the version that's on Key Markets I’m already down on one with head bowed.

A Little Ditty is the rapid and catchy two and half a minutes that begins with a burp and ends with Williamson saying off mic ‘that end bit's shit’. You know all about this one already so its to the b-side and the unapologetic existentialist ‘I’m Shit At It’ which is the bees knees, the motherlode, the track that shows Sleaford Mods at their very best. A track that comes from nowhere, has no precedent, has no mother or father, no smarmy right on DJ plugging it, or dollar backed label pushing it. This is where we all get to rub our tummys and laugh like drains.

Here we see the return of fellow Nottingham resident John Paul for a spot of verbal sparring with Williamson. It starts thus;

John Paul: I’m shit at it. Can’t work for no one telling me what to do.

Williamson: [off mic] I’m shit at it.

John Paul: Can’t work for mesen. I’m shit at it. Can’t even work in a chippie

Williamson: Chips peas and gravy

John Paul: I’m shit at it

(and then the sound of someone making rasping noises, close up to the mic, raspberry fashion]

And on it goes until Fearn’s solid beats kick in and Williamson walks up to the mic and just gives it to us. John Paul finishes things off solo style; ‘ … I’m like an hit man on 20 Marlboro menthol, like Diamond Lights with Hoddle and Waddle, you don’t need tattoos to be a footballer mate, just a shit hair cut and a page three model’ And then, after more than half a minute of silence he returns with a few rabid lines about ‘G Star dads, heads to toe in the stuff ...’ and the dross to be found in pubs. Perfecto.

I’ve been flicking through that book too. Not keeping it all pristine so I can sell it on when I’m skint. When John Harris reviewed Grammar Wanker for the paper version of the Guardian it appeared below a review of Tory posho William Waldegrave’s memoirs and opposite a review of Nigel Farage’s autobiography. The picture of Farage accompanying the piece was one taken from below, a deliberately unflattering photograph that made him look like a maniacal Punch. Waldegrave was pictured attempting to milk a goat, perhaps the one and only time in his life that he ever got his hands dirty. Williamson appears at mic, bottle of water to hand the very faintest outline of scribbled tats visible. I know which one I'd trust.  

I have my favourites; ‘Rollatruc’, ‘Swarfega’, The Wage Don’t Fit’, Donkey ['Hold on hold on, bought rock ‘n’ roll what a con'], Trixie [who writes songs about prostitutes these days?]. Life on the factory floor, the shitty pub, the litter strewn streets, minimum wage, no job, shit job. Life as it is for a lot of people, everyday folk - not Ambridge. I used to have Bukowski but now I’ve got Williamson too. Life's raw and open wounds.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Guillaume Bellhomme, Guillaume Tarche.

Item - Guillaume Belhomme, Guillaume Tarche
Published by Lenka Lente

78 pp
10 x 15 CM
100 copies
ISBN :  978-2-9545845-7-7

L’enveloppe - Guillaume Belhomme
Published by Lenka Lente

32 pp
10 X 15 CM
300 copies
ISBN : 978-2-9545845-0-8

Remember that odd little book I got sent a while back? The one about the size of a packet of Marlboro 100’s that contained nothing but lots of black and white pictures of avant garde/improv/jazz/electronica record covers juxtaposed against things ordinary like say an Ornette Coleman LP stood beside a picture of a card with the words ‘Et maintenant’ printed on it? Well, there's another book that's almost EXACTLY the same except its called ‘Item’. Same cover, same font, same authors [authors? There’s no writing in this book except for the back cover where, as in ‘Time’ there exists a list of all the people whose work appears between the covers]. So I do my job as ace reviewer and scan some of the more interesting photos and let you judge for yourself. As to whether this is a work of love or the work of someone with too much money and a huge avant garde/improv/jazz/electronica record collection at their fingertips is for you to decide. I point you in the direction of my last review and the connection between improvisation and composition. I look forward to ‘Emit’.

Guillaume Belhomme is also the author of L’enveloppe, an even slimmer tome that I’m thinking originally came with a Michael Esposito 3” CD which knowing Esposito probably contained some EVP recordings - so maybe the two are linked but seeing as how my French is about as good as my Japanese I can’t tell you very much about it. Except that it may be about an envelope. Or enveloping. Or something. Its definitely fiction. What I can tell you is that the few reviews in French that exist online are all nothing less than totally effusive. Belhomme is also a journalist and author of books on John Coltrane and a Jazz anthology. My money is on him being the man behind all this.

More interestingly [for English speakers at any rate] are the Nurse With Wound and Adolf Wölfli releases. I keep dropping these hints but y’know ...


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Southwark Mental Health News/Continuity Mad Pride

Southwark Mental Health News 127 
w/ Continuity Mad Pride v/a CD. 1000 copies

Made with the help of a £750 grant from the South London & Maudsley Trustees ‘Smile’ fund this Continuity Mad Pride various artists CD defied all my expectations and turned out to be actually rather good. In a ‘all the way through good’. Well most of it anyway. I’ve had these Mad Pride CD’s through my hands before and I don’t remember the others being as … um ... cohesive. Perhaps time has erased some of my grey blobs of remembrance but nope I don’t think I was as royally entertained by Continuity Mad Pride as I was with the others.

I played it through twice while making comments to myself along the lines of of well whodathunkit, theres me liking a UNIT track [mainly because it had a William Burroughs sample on it], and there’s Hiroshima Yeah! zines head cheese Mark Ritchie hovering between greatness and busker like someone doing a bad Leonard Cohen cover but it actually sounding better than Laughing Len himself. His voice has that really sad ache to it that gets you right there. There. And there’s Jim MacDougall who was last seen being arrested somewhere no doubt, probably for popping bank windows or somesuch and Fes Parker [R.I.P.] with a rollicking The History. Of course I don’t know who half of these people are but what struck me was the way they’d created sounds that went down my earhole and reached my brain without me having to make pained expressions of the kind that has one side of my mouth going higher than the other making one eye shut in a grimace.

And then the CD refused to play. No doubt some Mad Pride hidden agenda designed to turn you in to frothy mouthed UKIP voter. I played it on my PC and the third time I inserted it into its slot the little pointy thing just went down all the tracks in split second and stopped. So I took it out and rubbed it on my sleeve and put it back in but no, it was no more. But I do remember being held in thrall by The Ceramic Hobs ‘33 Trapped Chilean Miners’. A single from last year that I'm most familiar with and is without doubt the track that has the biggest ‘what the fuck’ factor. That the Hobs continue to record such remarkable rock churn with little in the way of recognition remains one of life’s mysteries. We live in hope.

Of the rest I’m relying on memory. It seemed to get spacier as it went along of that there is no doubt, was the last track by Esther Leslie a poetry reading as given to a Dada inspired parp band? I think it may have been. The Astronauts rocked it. Thank you Mr Astronaut. Alternative TV. You know about them. And DJ Unfit For Work. Come on down your time is nigh.

Southwark Mental Health News itself is an A4 paper zine of sorts containing lots of information as regarding drop in centers, gigs, marches, help groups and the dodgy Braham Kumaris pseudo religious cult who believe that the world is going to end soon [now theres a surprise] and that only India will be left standing [yawn], theres a cartoon strip about Raffy the psychiatric Labrador, a lengthy piece entitled Capitalism Is Bad For Your Health by Robert Dellar, a small review section and an appreciation of Nikki Sudden, some poems, thats about it. The only thing I cant tell you is how to get hold of a copy seeing as how these are given away to the artists and those members of the Southwark Association for Mental Health. You could try their website.

Southwark Mental health

Or their FB page


Monday, June 01, 2015

Dr. Steg and the ‘Redundant Teeth of the Afterlife’

If I’ve learnt one thing over the years its that you can rid yourself of writers block by writing about Dr Steg. Because, as some of you may have noticed, this thing, this thing that I do [I don’t particularly like the word ‘blog’ but it serves a purpose], this thing that I do that I, and others, sometimes call ‘a blog’, is a definite hit and miss affair. Words wise I mean. And I dare say quality, though I rarely re-read anything I write leaving the thing [that thing again] up there for eternity and history to judge, use and abuse.

I’ve been giving the blog [blog bog fucking bog] some serious thought of late. Again. A serious rethink is once more underway. This after I realised I’d painted myself into the corner of a room by foolishly promising I’d review everything I got sent and not only that, reviewing everything I got sent after listening to it in great depth. And then I get sent a CD/DVD/CD-ROM/BOOK from Gruenrekorder thats a pean to a remote island off the Canadian coast or somewhere equally remote that I have to admit to not taking much interest in due to being overcome with the enormity of a task that involves not only reading a 300 page book but taking in a DVD that contains hours of field recordings and an interactive CD-Rom that no doubt contains instructions for making toggles. I just don’t have the time fellas. I’ll send you it back I promise.

And then I found myself thinking, but I’m just reviewing the same stuff over and over again. Only a fool would complain at getting sent vinyl from the [genuflects in all directions] Taming Power and I’m not going to here but there’s only so much I can say about something no matter how good it is. My biggest fear is being sent the same thing over and over again and trying in vain to find a gear with which to start the brain moving. Thats not to say I don’t enjoy listening to the stuff I get sent its just that the mere thought of having to critique whilst listening is now spoiling my enjoyment of the listening experience. I’m getting to the stage in life where actually not thinking about what I’m listening to is becoming the more preferable option. Gone now are the days where I used to sit with pen and paper, nib poised as the needle hit the record and within instants the words would appear. Perhaps I have the onset of early dementia? My brain is definitely on the dip and for evidence you only have to ask Mrs Fisher about the numerous instances in which I’ve clear forgotten the one thing it was I was supposed to remember. Whatever it was.

So here I am once more thinking up things to say about Dr Steg. But here its about what you see and read [although he did enclose a couple of OKOK Society releases in with his latest package that I’ve been listening to all night and which have stirred such memories of days of yore that I feel as if I’ve been transported back in time to 1994 - more on these later perhaps - after much not thinking]. With Dr Steg its about what the eye sees and in this instance its a Dr Steg postcard showing a picture of someone called Brindley Dummett, a fold out poster of sort thats folded like a Hayler-esque Barrel Nut Zine, a small sketch book that looks as if it was a pictorial diary of a visit to Paris in 2002 and another of Dr Steg’s surreal diaries in which he doffs his cap to the likes of Viv Stanshall and Michael Bentine.

This wasn’t the only things he sent me. Resplendent upon the walls of Idwal Towers there now resides yet another Dr Steg canvas. Given the title ‘Redundant Teeth of the Afterlife’ said canvas depicts the words ‘IDWAL FISHER’ as made from children’s toy plastic letters atop a construct of various oddities including a half set of false teeth, animal bones, kids toys and other detritus as no doubt found on Dr Stegs many travels around the west coast of the north of England and his home environs. To say that I was honored to receive such work is an understatement of a magnitude measurable on the Richter scale. In my many years of being sent review items, books, records, and  CDFUCKINGDVDFUCKINGCD-ROMFUCKINGBOOK box sets and Filthy Turd releases wrapped in rancid fried rice this work of art tops the lot. I may have rare records lurking on the shelves here that I didn’t pay for and accepted in lieu of a review and are now probably worth sums that will one day bolster my rather piss poor pension pot but this picture, this work of art this ‘Redundant Teeth of the Afterlife’ I will treasure until my dying day. It will be there on the wall of my sheltered accommodation, my care home, it will sit atop my coffin as the thing disappears in to the flames to the sound of Roy Harper’s mournful ‘When an old Cricketer Leaves the Crease’. Its ashes will become mine as they’re shot into the sky inside a Standard Fireworks rocket Hunter S Thompson stylee.

It goes without saying that I am a fan of Dr Steg’s work. The man himself is as unpredictable as sweaty dynamite. I’ve bumped into him at a couple of Smell & Quim gigs and he’s by far been the drunkest person in the room - no mean feat at a Smell & Quim gig. At the Gullivers gig in Manchester he nearly got the place shut down after waving a dagger about and declaring that the Green Room was toast [said dagger was actually a Steg spray painted letter opener cum blade with no edge to be used as a Smell & Quim prop but nobody was really paying that much attention and when a drunken lunatic comes at you waving something like that the details get lost]. When I saw him at the Sleaford Mods gig in Blackpool he was already reeling drunk by about 7pm and spent the entire gig either dancing like a fool or covering himself, the furniture and the walls in stickers that carried this blog’s url [the calls never came]. I later found out that he made it home via a casino where he lost all his money and an all night garage whereupon he fell into a point of sale display.

He’s good at getting the words flowing again too.