Monday, February 29, 2016

Lenka Lente

Alfredo Costa Monteiro - Anima
Lenka Lente
40 pp poem + CD in de-bossed box.
ISBN : 979-10-94601-03-7
50 copies

Charles Plymell/Bill Nace - Apocalypse Rose
Lenka Lente
Book + CD. ISBN : 979-10-94601-02-0

Moondog - 50 Couplets
Lenka Lente
Book. ISBN : 979-10-94601-06-8

French label Lenka Lente mix sound and poetry like no other label I know. I mean there must be other labels and what with me getting all proud over home grown poets like Tony Harrison and Ted Hughes of late, I think there should be more. A slim volume of Ted Hughes poems with accompanying sounds courtesy of Guttersnipe perhaps, Tony Harrison coupled with Vibracathedral Orchestra, Simon Armitage and Piss Superstition. I live and dream but for now its to France and the exquisite Lenka Lente for our sound and word fix.   

After pairing Nurse With Wound with André Salmon, Adolf Wölfli and Charles-Louis Phillipe we now have Bill Nace rubbing shoulders with American Beat poet and writer Charles Plymell. These tiny books, about the size of your average smart phone are a sheer delight, perfect carriers for works such as this. Plymell’s Apocalypse Rose is a series of poems that first saw light of day in 1967:

I’m over here of course
melting in war stories
playing a sweet mournful tune
on a hollow flute made from
the bones of dead junkies

Which inspires Bill Nace, last seen rubbing guitar strings with Kimmy G, to create a loop from the intro to Jim Reeve’s Distant Drums [at least that's what it sounds like to me] a meditative peice that slowly evolves and transforms and disappears leaving traces of well being.

Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s ‘Anima’ is a fifteen minute sound poem using Spanish, French and Portuguese words, mainly alliterative, all combining to create a dark and menacing atmosphere. The 40 pages of the poem are elegantly printed on single sheets and placed into a debossed box along with the CD. An artefact worth owning and one that I’m glad to give shelf space to. Monteiro’s recitation is close up to the mic and sounds particularly good on headphones where the words are slowly released into your ear canal in short bursts; grunts can be heard, petite morts and the satisfied sound you make when a particularly difficult stool exits the bowels. Twice during its course an industrial hum appears and when it leaves Monteiro’s voice sounds even more sinister.

Moondog’s 50 Couplets are something that I knew never existed. 50 rhyming couplets in measured iambic parameters of 14 syllables each. Some are witty, some are sad and some just downright odd:

An armoured knight fell off a ship and sank into the blue.
He looked a lobster in the eye and said ‘you’re armoured to?’

She bought a cover to cover the seat; but the cover was so nice,
She bought a cover to cover the cover; and now its covered twice.

You couldn't tell me more than when you looked into my eyes.
Now, you are there and I am here; and hope within me dies.
Rush the beach, good Anglemen, and stop the Norman landing.
Use what strategy you will, but leave no Norman standing.

Costing a mere €5, the Moondog book is far cheaper than a small glass of beer at a Gare Du Nord cafe, as cheap as frites and and much better for you. These may not be the deepest thoughts ever committed to page but I'm glad they exist, on paper, in a slim book, not on ebook, Kindle, laptop, phone.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Consumer Electronics - Dollhouse Songs

Consumer Electronics - Dollhouse Songs
Harbinger Sound. HS152. LP

The last time I saw Phillip Best he was drooling spit on to his sweaty man paps. This larger than life character was winding up an audience of Americans who, you couldn’t help feel, had little idea as to what exactly was going on. Soon to jettison his leather jacket and shirt, but keeping on his shades, Best did what he does best and antagonized his audience with lengthy ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ gestures as a snarling, bent almost double, Dominik Fernow delivered contorted noises via laptop. I didn’t get every word of his delivery but the word ‘cunt’ could be heard approximately every third word, most of them aimed at the audience who he seemed to be treating with total disrespect. Being called a cunt by a beer bellied wank spanner may not be everybody's idea of a good night out but you’d be surprised at how many people are prepared to have their hearing damaged by 40 continuous minutes by Consumer Electronics noise. Not that I’m that a big fan I must admit. I much preferred Best in his earlier CE forays when he was still employed as part of Whitehouse, when he used to keep his shirt on [double cuffed too] reading his lyrics from a huge book that he waved in front of his ever sweating face.

All this aggression is part of the show of course. Off stage Best is head of Philosophy at Texas University. He’s written dissertations on the noise scene in Montenegro, chaired debates with Richard Dawkins and has a personal library that contains three miles of shelving. None of that is true but you kind of get the feeling that it could be. His favourite word is ‘cunt’ and his favourite writer is Thomas Pynchon. That much may be true. He’s an intelligent man and all that drooling on to his tits is there to wind you up. On record he’s all failed social systems, broken lives and suicidal teenage girls. And noise of course. 

Unlike the last two more recent-ish CE albums I’ve heard: ‘Nobody’s Ugly’, two sides of noise drone and ‘Estuary English’, 23 minutes worth of rabid delivery spread over two sides of vinyl, Dollhouse Songs feels more like a complete album. Perhaps the best CE album to date that I’ve heard. Maybe its the arrival of Russell Haswell on electronics or Sarah Froelich on screaming or the Trevor Brown sleeve art but somehow this feels like the one to wave at your mates and go ‘see, it can be done’, noise turns into art with lyrics that you can sing along to. Well almost.

His ranting, rabid, spittle flecked delivery is at one with the whatever hideous noises are being created. If you told me Best records these things rolling around the floor of a padded cell with a hypo sticking out of his arse I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised. What does come as a surprise is that the best track on here is also the quietest. ‘Colour Climax’, [infamous Danish porn empire in case you didn’t know], finds Best quietly speaking over but the lightest of noise flotsam, his words somehow appearing all the more menacing than when in full tilt, and at its end this:

tested like a witch in the dirty old river
feeling ruined fucked off
bed looks pissed in
skin dried hard and thin
strapped with sternal wire
hung in joints and sides

this is it
the bare life
it feels like love
doesn’t it?

So its not all hammer and tongs, even though there is plenty of that. ‘History of Sleepwalking’ erupts into the kind of electronic snare drum hits that make you feel like your tweeters are going to pop. ‘Knives Cut’ is all subtle low end rumble with Haswell skreeing circuit abuse all over it. On ‘Condition of a Hole’ and ‘Murder Your Masters’ Froelich tries to outdo Best by screaming her lungs raw. A constant deluge of forced words delivered to a series of monotonous rapid pulse beats. ‘Nothing Natural’ has no words and appears to be the space where Haswell get to flex his muscles, it sounds like Tangerine Dream on a noise trip and ends with someone orgasming.

Consumer Electronics reveal the social dystopia that lies in wait. A world brought about by the ubiquity of freely available antidepressants and pain killers. A world where the excessive consumption of cheap alcohol and Class A drugs leads to family rupture, suicide and self harm. A future of uncaring governments, war, death and pestilence. Its not a pretty world but then neither are Consumer Electronics.


Monday, February 01, 2016

TNB Orchestra

TNB Orchestra - Eine Kleine Nichtsmusik
Hypnagogia. GIA08. 300 copies.

On discovering that Eine Kleine Nichtsmusik consisted of two almost forty minute tracks I had the review written before I’d even played it. My mind ran to the hideous nature of Harsh Noise Wall [so noise isn’t ‘noise’ enough for ya hey punk?’] and works of a maximalist nature that no doubt exist on 16 gigabyte flash drives and run until your head falls off or your hardware malfunctions. I mean how much noise can one person take in a single sitting? Eighty minutes all in one go? Are you insane? I’m a traditionalist in these matters though and TNB don’t make music to wash the dishes to. I want to sit and listen to your release in the nature that it was intended. I will sit and listen to this all in one go and I will bloody well suffer for it. It comes with the job.

I trawled Twitter and found Japanese noise fans complaining that Eine Kleine Nichtsmusik was over long and difficult to get through in one-er. If it was too much for the Japanese then what chance did I have? And then I remembered Paul Watson’s comment that you could probably fit every noise fan in the world into a football stadium and wouldn’t it be great if we could all be nice to each other, there’s not many of us after all, we need to stick together, one big happy family sitting side by side on piano’s making horrible noises. And yes that is a noble sentiment except that I was thinking more National League North while Watson was probably thinking Championship. But how many in that ground are getting a kick out of an eighty minute noise release? How many people, even those who claim to be rabid noise fans, are getting their kicks out an 80 minute noise release? By now we’re down to those in the dug out and the queue for the half time Bovril. The audience is getting smaller as the tracks get louder and longer.

Then I played it reminding myself that this is, after all, The New Blockaders, or to be more precise TNB Orchestra. What the difference is I have no idea, the sleeve leaves no clue,  the tracks aren’t even given titles. So the only thing left to do is play it. I’ve been putting it off for long enough and here goes and ... well, that wasn’t so bad was it? Too much for some but not for me. It was like rolling in Chanel scented moss as Raquel Welch fed me plump grapes, it was like having the best sleep of my life. It wasn’t and certainly never will be Harsh Noise Wall or whatever the fuck that is. It does creep up on you though. The first thirty minutes are some of the most inventive TNB material I’ve heard with shortwave hiss and computer chatter slathered over a low end rumble and at around the fifteen minute mark Daleks but ever so slowly the chaos takes hold until you realise you’re trapped in a vortex of spiraling, out of control noise. TNB trademark clatter and squeak can just about make itself heard and sometimes voices making ghostly sounds for this is alive with all manner flotsam. An exhilarating joy.  But thats the peak. After reaching the summit the downhill descent of track two is less interesting as gas leaks, astronaut breathing and the wind howling outside eventually develop into a flat-lining assault. At its very end it collapses in on itself revealing the dying spasms of a malfunctioning android and the muffled, struggling puff of a steam fed funicular.

TNB releases now appear to follow a familiar pattern whereby a limited run of handmade CDR’s are sold to rabid collectors which then goes to fund the larger release. I dare say that those at TNB towers have an eye on a double LP for this somewhere down the line and I for one would buy it. Not exactly the Metal Machine Music of noise but still worthy of your time. See you in the Bovril queue.

Buy here