Thursday, March 24, 2016


Lieutenant Caramel - Überschallknall
SPAM 15. Edition of 60

Posset - Standard
SPAM 13. Edition of 50

Nils Quak – In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni
SPAM 14. Edition of 40

I’m quite sure Frans de Waard is as happy as a pig in shit rolling around in all those releases he gets sent every week, but just imagine opening the door to a postie armed with piles of jiffy bags every day, all of them containing the same kind of music. All those JLIAT releases that go on for hours and hours? All that indescribable nonsense thats gets just the one listen and off to Oxfam or eBay. Maybe he has more time than me. Maybe he likes listening to nothing but discordant skronk and JLIAT everyday of his life, for hours on end, day after day, week in month out. Until one day, he says to himself ‘I cant take this anymore’ and he torches his house and runs away to join a transgender ABBA tribute band based in Luxembourg. FDW as Benny and a promise to himself to listen to nothing but the top 40 for the rest of his life. That’s what would happen to me if I had to listen to JLIAT all the time. 

My biggest fear is that I end up getting sent the same kind music as FDW ad infinitum. A never ending lifetime of coming home from work and picking up jiffy bags with 60 minutes of the same old same old on it. A living hell. Maybe FDW chills out with some Texas or Prefab Sprout on his nights off, or maybe a spin of the Grease soundtrack? Who knows. When it comes to listening to music I prefer plenty of variety and that doesn’t just mean swapping Adam Bohman for Jonothan Bohamn. Variety it has to be and while I’d quite happily rave on all day about Adam Bohman I’d be slitting my wrists if I had to listen to nothing else for two weeks solid. If all I wrote about was Adam Bohman I’m pretty sure that soon enough the only people reading this blog would be me and Adam Bohman. It doesn’t work like that.

But back to me and these words of mine which are but a sideshow, a peccadillo, something I like to do when the urge strikes, when the muse is upon me, when I’m gripped by a certain piece of music or a release and the need to put words on screen and click post descends upon me with a fervor I find impossible to ignore. Its why people who get good reviews on these pages immediately send me everything they’ve ever done and then wonder where there isn’t another equally as magnanimous rave review the day after. It doesn’t work like that.

So the day comes when three tapes arrive. Each of them containing sounds created by two people I know nothing of and one whom I’ve heard of but not heard. My heart flutters a moment and I put aside my recent qualms about tapes not being loved here any more and insert the rather ridiculously named Lieutenant Caramel into the machine. Judging by the name, Lieutenant Caramel could be anything except maybe an Adam Bohman side project. What I wasn’t expecting to unearth were the workings of Phillipe Blanchard, a French composer born in 1961 who judging from this all too short ‘Überschallknall’ release is a master of the studio, his own studio and genres with French graves accents in them; Musique Concrète for example. How his name has passed me by all these years [according to Discogs his first release appeared in 1986] is worrying me somewhat. As this tape slowly spooled further on my jaw fell further with each passing inch, after numerous repeats I just shook my head and thanked Joe Murray Posset for sending me them.

From his studio in France Blanchard mixes and edits sounds resulting in a kaleidoscope that encompasses the radio chatter of Mexican drug cops [I’m guessing], a group of people trying to pull a cow out of a well in India [I’m guessing], atonal string quartets, footsteps as accompaniment to Kagel like toy compositions, the rubbing of bass strings and randomly struck piano notes. Using sound sources as taken from his travels through Syria, Rome, Samarkand and no doubt plenty of other places along the way you also get plenty of spoken word in foreign tongues which when coupled to the sparse sounds of those wires being rubbed and the bass notes of a very deep bass being plucked give rise to what can only be described as sheer ear delight. Special mention must also be given to the sound quality here, perhaps the best I’ve ever come across on cassette tape, the result of Mr Blanchard’s studio and a high fidelity cassette. Life’s full of surprises. What was that about the longest journey beginning with a single footstep? I feel like I’ve been on this journey for years and have only just got over the threshold. What a wonderful world we live in.

The aforementioned Joe Posset and the sender of these items of delight is where we pitch up next. His name has been familiar to me for a while now, mainly due to various reviews of his releases on the Hayler RFM site and later, through his own idiosyncratic writing in the same place. He’s not Adam Bohman or the Filthy Turd or the tourettes affected YOL or THF Drenching but he does like to wander around with a dictaphone, probably mainly in the North East where I think he hails from.

What struck me is that his work [based on this release] is very low key, relaxing in certain instances, whereas Adam Bohman can be fairly frantic in his approach, at times appearing to have just got off the bus with the square wheels, [reciting menus and flyers stuck to walls] and the Filthy Turd is, well … the Filthy Turd. Posset appears as if through a veil of mist, revealing himself in parts as a creature of mystery with gently plucked acoustic guitars, the sounds of rummaging, stand alone sounds of dogs barking and groups of Sri Lankan’s impersonating strange animals on windy moors. The overall sound quality is certainly lo-fi and thats a benefit here of course, those murky sounds are all part of the aesthetic, they’re the ones that add to the mystery, the sound of someone playing Candy Crush Saga while eating a red hot meat and tatie pie and getting beaten up at the same time, the Phil Minton bit, the pagan ritual in a forest clearing knee deep in crunchy leaves or is that the tape rubbing against the capstan, slowing things down, stretching things to snapping point. The beginning of one side contains an exquisite bucolic loop with masses of tape swirl slathered across it. Short but beautifully perfect. A beguiling sound and one to wallow in. Posset reveals himself as a collector of sounds be they from gob or fumbled guitar or forest floor. Lets all buy dictaphones and put our boots on.

Which leaves us with Nils Quak and some modular synth workouts via Germany. Which for the most part are eminently listenable with nods to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works II, Chris & Cosey and some full on noise/drone, finger prod squeals/farts for good measure. This came with bits of tin foil stuffed into the case for reasons which remain unexplained while the title is a Latin palindrome known as the devil’s verse. The things you get sent eh?

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Karies - Parole Grätig
7” - In A Car 002 / Harbinger Sound 156

Apart from being the German word for tooth decay Karies are four serious looking young German gentlemen that Underwood was raving about the last time I saw him. He bunged me this 4 track tour e.p. and said ‘Give it a spin, see what you think’. So I did and it was like um …  er …  okaaaay. Perhaps I need more information. Maybe I could give this China Crisis LP a shove for an hour and investigate. So I found myself watching an hour long Karies set as played in a long thin room, that despite being up for five months now, has managed a measly 300 views and an even measlier seven ‘likes’.

Four blokes, three guitars, plenty of effects and a prayer mat with Joy Division stitched into it. They sure do wear their influences on their sleeves these moody looking Germans. Perhaps I should chuck Neu! into the equation too and Killing Joke and the guitar sound of the Cocteau Twins. So many guitar bands, too much time. Not that I have anything against guitar bands, some of my favourite bands have guitars in them but to stand out as a guitar band in a world of guitar bands you have to have something special, have a sound that is your own and Karies have a sound that is made up of lots of other guitar bands and a drummer who cant help it with the fills. Kill the fucking fills man.

But back to the e.p. which is where I started this an hour or more ago and four tracks that sound a damn sight more punchier than the gig in the long room. It must be the grooves in the record. Grooves versus Youtube? Hifi versus Mac speakers? A one sided fight if ever there was one. ‘Signale’ is my favourite of the four, a rapid bass driven 3.42’s worth of angst with a drop out tinkly cymbal bridge that builds back to its epic climax and with the added European charm of shouty German language vocals you have something you could jump around the room to.

After submitting my senses for an entire evening to the Karies cause [y’see, the things I go through] I find myself coming to the following conclusion; Karies could go one of two ways, they could either be the biggest band in Germany come the back end of 2016 or they could end up with another 100 hits on that Youtube vid. The gap between success and everlasting obscurity cannot be measured by a few hundred words in a review like this. 301 views. 

Harbinger Sound

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Simon Morris - Consumer Guide

Simon Morris - Consumer Guide
168pp Hardback book.
Tegenaria Press.

One of the few people who made my brief dalliance with Facebook all the more bearable was Simon Morris. The long suffering singer/songwriter, the only surviving original member of the singularly fantastic Ceramic Hobs, Smell & Quim activist, drunk, Power Electronics fan and one of the most interesting people I know, spent his time on FB posting critiques of his favourite/worst bands, films, authors, foods, drinks and English seaside towns. And then he quit FB. And then he’d reappear again. And then he would threaten to quit FB and not do so and then he would. And then I did and that was the end of that.

His posts were of the highest quality and always led to numerous comments and active banter. For example, the merits of the entire Neil Young back catalogue could be disseminated in a series of pithy paragraphs using a straightforward language of the kind more normally found in books by Ballard and Bukowksi. On one memorable occasion he posted a piece entitled, ‘A Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships’ and in the space of a few hundred words made some kind of sense of the tangled web that, when you come to think of it, is the nub of life itself. He was the only person I know that was putting anything of worth on Facebook and it made scrolling past pictures of peoples cooking all the more bearable.

Thankfully there are people at Tegenaria Press who have seen the worth in Morris’s musings and have had the good sense to collate them all [all?] in to one rather wonderful and essential hardback book entitled ’Consumer Guide’. The cherry on the cake comes in the shape of two new works that are its beginning and end, one dealing with Morris’s personal life up to the present and the other his dissemination of the major Ceramic Hobs releases.

‘Further Back and Faster’ documents the Morris life so far; thirty pages that cover the death of friends and band members [of which there are many], Smell & Quim gigs, European Hobs dates, Sleaford Mods support slots and destructive sexual relationships; 

‘Never anything but hands below the waist. Sucking, a lot of sucking and always in public, and she needed me to withdraw so she could watch the spurt. How my mother hated her’. 

There’s the detailed account of the infamous Smell & Quim gig in Belguim where the promoter booked them, thinking they were a duo and got instead fifteen drunk Smell & Quim members on his doorstep. One was Morris of course who along with his fourteen paralytic band members, takes to the stage at three in the morning with potatoes in his underwear.

In ‘Self Critique’ we get background information on all the main Ceramic Hobs releases, which for a band who drench their work in all manner of symbolism and oblique references is truly revealing. If Morris should so wish he could devote his next book to expanding on the myriad corridors that make up their darkest album ‘Psychiatric Underground’ alone, the first track of which is covered here and gives some indication as to just how deep the Hobs really go.  After donkeys years of trying to make sense of Psychiatric Underground this is like being given a treasure map with a big cross on it.

The bulk of the book is given over to those FB posts though and is possibly the only place in book-land where within the same covers you're going to find critiques of Art Garfunkel and The Grey Wolves. How many people do you know could do that? Not only are his targets wide and varied [Pink Floyd, Joy Division, Blue Öyster Cult, Lou Reed, Dexys Midnight Runners, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Sonic Youth, Morrissey, Manic Street Preachers, The Pastels, Cocteau Twins etc] their dissemination is, crucially, absolutely spot on. Of the bands that I’m familiar with I found myself nodding along constantly, inwardly shouting ‘yes’, in an increasingly higher voice at regular intervals. Whether Morris is critiquing the Guns n’ Roses back catalogue or the novels of Martin Amis you get the feeling he knows what he’s talking about. You trust him all the way leaving yourself free to go out and seek what he suggests while leaving the duds behind.

Of more pertinent interest to readers of these pages may be the chapter ‘Underground’ where Morris tackles the few Harbinger Sound releases that have ‘beats’ on them and then theres Skullflower and the eight ‘real’ Smell & Quim albums. The correctly titled ‘Cinema’ tackles the output of David Lynch, Lukas Moodysson, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and Sam Peckinpah and like all good critics Morris comes out with some truly memorable lines as in calling Wes Anderson ‘the Sonic Youth of cinema’. In an earlier chapter he loads his gun and fires it at Neil Campbell calling him a ‘talentless dilettante’ [Morris’s disdain for drone is well know], not a view I share but an example of his bluntness. His writing becomes belligerent to the point of this bluntness and is all the more fun because of it. In the chapter ‘Throwing Shade’ there's a series of lists all with the word ‘shit ‘ in the title. Lists that caused this reader to chuckle deep into his leather buttoned Chesterfield:

Your Favourite Bands Are Shit

Big Star - beloved by an all-male audience of unstable depressive opiate abusers, this ultra-tedious ‘sensitive’ cult act boil my piss to the limit ….’

The Clash - the single most boring rock band that ever existed …

Billy Bragg - big nosed moaning ginger tosspot …

Followed by ‘Shit Films’, ‘Shit Books/Shit Writers’ and ‘Some Mostly Shit Bands from the 90’s’, culminating in a list of ‘Shit English Seaside Towns’ and Fleetwood ‘where even the charity shops are boarded up’.

Now for the bad news; only 100 copies have been pressed with a promise that they will be the only 100 copies ever pressed. At £23.23 [including recorded UK delivery] Its not cheap but then it does have some Phillip Best words on the back sleeve.

Consumer Guide is destined for sold out cult status, a book that people of a certain persuasion will seek out and spend large amounts of money on, samizdat copies will circulate on the internet and Morris’s status as a writer of genuine freshness will be cemented. I’ve even contemplated sucking the Zuckerberg tit again. If I knew fresh words were there I'd be seriously tempted. Our only hope is that another book emerges.