Sunday, January 03, 2016

Grim Enema

Grim Enema
Must Die Records. MDR 38. CDR

We must look forward by first looking back. Unless you’re the Italian driving an open top Ferrari in the 1976 film ‘The Gumball Rally’; a no hold’s barred, totally illegal road race that starts in Time Square and ends up thousands of miles later when the road runs out at the Pacific Ocean. In it, the Italian looks to his co-driver and intones the immortal words ‘First rule of Italian driving; whats behind is not important’ before ripping off the rear view mirror and chucking it on to the back seat.

I didn’t see Nigel Joseph in any of the end of the year lists of those we have lost. I did see Lemmy and Philthy, Ornette Coleman, John Renbourne, Chris Squires, Rod McKuen, Demis Roussos, Mick Lynch, Edgar Froese and plenty of other musicians including Ward Swingle who you really must search online for but no mention of Nigel Joseph.

He didn’t have any hit singles, or write any classic tunes. He was in the Ceramic Hobs though. He used to play the Hoover or more conventionally the guitar, even if he did play sat down at the front of the stage. I’ve written about his solo releases on these pages before and retold tales of how he used to send me letters regarding news of his latest noise release including one that was going to be a one off of a hundred tapes sewn into a dogs carcass and when I got one [not the one in the dog obvs as that was only released for one second on one day and then went away for ever] it was just a distortion of a blues cassette which sounds really cheap and crass but was actually quite good in its own raw way. I interviewed him once too. Another tale I’ve told before but one that I like to mention because I don’t like interviewing people as I don’t like asking intrusive questions but Joseph was quite happy to answer questions regarding his fragile mental state and the amount of spine numbing drugs he was taking. For someone who was supposed to be ‘mad’ [a word I’m not happy using but its the one that was bandied about most when talk moved to Joseph] he seemed a lot saner than some of the idiots I have had the displeasure of sharing my working time with.

I think Grim Enema arrived just before Nigel Joseph died which was in the middle of 2015. It seems appropriate that it appears on the totally un-ironically named Must Die Records, a local Blackpool label that also found room for his migraine inducing un-danceable drug music release 'Radioactive Snuff' and of course the still tragically underrated Ceramic Hobs LP 'Spirit World Circle Jerk'. And on the same week that I take delivery of the new Ceramic Hobs single ‘50 Shades of Snuff’ [which I dare say features Joseph in some way or another] I thought it about time I paid my respects by highlighting Nigel Joseph’s Grim Enema.

Except its not just him. A scribbled note mentions the name Ben Stephenson which means nothing to me. So its a collaboration. A full blown band maybe. The MDR website has no further info but it does include, as does the CD, a list of around 30 or so books which I took the liberty to search for online. Its a list that swings all the way from erotic fiction to knot tying manuals to the Koran to Irish politics to the properties of concrete and if I didn’t know better then I’d guess that its a list of books as found on Nigel Joesph’s bookshelf.

But what of what we get to hear? Thankfully for me its not the monged out drug induced beat fug that was Radioactive Snuff, neither is it the throwaway noise of ‘1,2,3’ what we do have is jumbled mass of Sunn O))) type guitars as recorded in a drafty Blackpool bedsit when the tide was out and the drugs were in. Endlessly reverbing chords of heaviness, the Cocteau Twins on Largactyl minus Liz Fraser. Three tracks and forty odd minutes worth of lo-fi  Blackpool drooooooooooong with a Dr. Steg cover and a juxtaposed list of books. As a goodbye statement from Nigel Joseph, one time Hob, one time filler of dead dogs with noise cassettes its seems perfectly pitched.

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