Monday, June 20, 2016

Outside Artists, Finnish Heavy Metal and Robert Ridley-Shackleton

Robert Ridley-Shackleton - Robert Ridley-Shackleton
Hissing Frames. Cassette.

Robert Ridley-Shackleton - God
Hissing Frames. Cassette.

Lörsson - Famous Lehto’s Pasties [?]
Gafoni/Gasthaus 5. 7”

Lörsson - Tipuuraa
Gafoni Galaxi-4. One sided 7” flexi

It was whilst listening to the Robert Ridley-Shackleton tapes that I found myself perusing Honest John’s most eclectic musical purchasing website and pondering as to whether to splash out the 20 odd sobs required to purchase the reissue of Jean Dubuffet’s 1961 double LP ‘Experiences Musicales’. Two sides of what is, judging from the brief excerpts I’ve heard, the sound of a man not playing the violin very well. This being the sound of a man trying to capture in sound what he created on canvas, inventing new ways of making sound, breaking free of recognised norms, tearing up the rule book and chucking it out of a third floor Parisian window where it lands on fresh dog turds.

The term ‘outsider artist’ is derived from Art Brut. It describes the work of the insane, the child, those with no training or yearning for recognition, those whose work knows no boundaries or cares to recognise them. I’d put Robert Ridley-Shackleton and Lörsson in there too but with reservations. Can you be an outsider artist and still have a Discogs page? A website? A Blog? I suppose you can, even the great Joe Coleman, one of thee great outsider artists is now shunned by the outsider art movement and its sellers and exhibitors because he’s too damned accessible and he sells his paintings to order. But I digress.

As far as I know neither Robert Ridley-Shackleton or Lörsson are insane or six years old but they do work on the boundaries of the creative spectrum where rules there are none and where the results are about as bizarre as you can get within the confines of recorded and physical medium. Robert Ridley-Shackleton with his torn scraps of cardboard artworks and Alan Vega plays Poundland tributes and Lörsson with their take on the lets get wrecked and record it and release it approach.

All of the things you see here are over in a blinking of the eye. The eponymous Robert Ridley-Shackleton cassette [it could be called RRS, nothing is certain] runs to less than a minute, at a guess. As does one side of the hard to find out what its called Lörsson single. That Lörsson should then go to all the trouble of having their work pressed up on exotic flecked turquoise vinyl and bright Tango orange flexi makes them all the more desirable and whacko. When dropping the needle on to the single with Tero Lehto’s name on it I wasn’t sure as to whether my stylus had broken or as to what speed the thing should be properly propelled at; dogs bark and a wheezy keyboard plays a programmed Whistling Dixie and then a drunk Finn sings. On the flip a record is spun at insane speeds as someone mumbles/argues with themselves. The last track is more mumbling, incoherence and coughing to the loop of a stuck record. And thats it. All done and dusted in about two minutes I reckon.

Tipuuraa is to all intents and purposes a one man heavy metal band practicing in his bedroom whose only instrument is an out of tune guitar that he’s put through an effects pedal and a practice amp powered by two dying AA batteries. The eight tracks on here, some of them lasting mere seconds are absurd in the extreme and the nearest thing I’ve heard to the mighty one man Irish heavy metal band Venusian Death Cell and thus destined for greatness.

Robert Ridley-Shackleton meanwhile appears to have some kind of card fixation. He sings songs about it and uses torn bits of it to adorn his art works and missives - I had one here but it appears to have got mixed up with the real rubbish and disappeared. And there’s something called the Cardboard Club, which is probably Robert Ridley-Shackleton sat at a table piled with torn bits of cardboard, paper, Copydex and pens. Judging by the proliferation of his card/art works and his recorded output I’d say that Ridley-Shackleton likes to ‘churn it out’ as we say in the business. And long may he do so.

On ‘Card is God’ he sounds like an 8-bit Suicide with plenty of yelps, ‘ows’ and pub singer ‘wo-ho’s’ over a ramshackle, rapid and catchy rhythm that eventually crumbles into paper rustling. These tracks appear to be actual songs albeit one of a shaky structure liable to collapsing into field recordings of someone trying to get matches out of a box. On ‘Believe’ RRS sings apparently random phrases in a George Michael fashion as parrots are attacked with flamethrowers. ‘God is Card’ goes for the  Neil Young ‘Tonights the Night’ fashion and reprises the opener. A mini classic. The brief eponymous release has two tracks each side but its hard to detect the join with more of the 8-bit Suicide, degraded static, singing/moaning thing going on.

Hissing Frames [Ridley-Shackleton website/blog] showcases many of his cardboard artworks cum zines which to my eyes bear more than a passing resemblance to Cy Twombly and at a push Jackson Pollock. Impressive stuff and definitely outsider-ish.


Hissing Frames

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