Thursday, September 29, 2016
Chris Goudreau - Ultranegative
Elm Recordings. RLM-11
C40 100 copies.
Chris Goudreau - Odd Monsters
Kitty Play Records. KPR23
C24 100 copies.
SELF/OMEI - It Never Ends Well
Circle of Shit. C.O.S.28
2 x C34, 5 x business cards, 1” button badge, sew on patch & sticker in hessian bag.
I don’t suppose its easy being a noise artist. With very few exceptions making a living from it is virtually impossible and even if you’re Mr. Shit Hot shifting those units is a hard work. Release something new every month and even your most ardent fans become jaded, release something once a year and you’re hardly doing your profile any favours. Gigging involves lots of travel and plenty of discomfort with little in the way of recompense and there’s always the possibility that putting your equipment on the airline check-in scale could be the last you ever see of it. And then mixer guy starts pulling faces because he thinks its too loud and the turnout’s in the low twenties.
At a gig in Birmingham I once saw Chris Goudreau take to the stage, outside, in November at around one in the morning to perform before a small group of mainly drunk people who by that time would have struggled to notice the difference between Whitehouse and Sparks. For this he had traveled on a transatlantic flight, with all his equipment and all the hassle that comes with trailing through airports for approximately ten minutes of noise making. That those ten minutes were of the highest quality was no doubt lost on that small group of inebriated merry makers but for those who had braved the cold and had managed to stay clear of the John Barleycorn the results were nothing short of visceral bliss. To his credit Goudreau did his duty with the utmost magnanimity and where others might have stomped about complaining about their being brown M&M’s in the bowl or the lack of fluffy white bath towels in the dressing room, he just got on with it. Even though he’d traveled thousands of miles, even though it was bollock freezing, even though the crowd had dwindled to the drunks and the intrigued and those few who knew they were in for a rare treat.
Its why I’ve always had a lot of time for what Goudreau creates. He takes what he does seriously. He’s a serious noise artists. He’s seriously good too. First with Sickness, a solo noise project that saw him explore the frailties of health and later with his side project Omei where he gets to explore the quieter side of things. Like other noise artists before him Goudreau has now begun to release music under his own name and like other noise artists before him this has resulted in a maturing of output. Out go the full blown noise sets and in comes a more measured, less frenetic response.
The two live tracks on Odd Monsters, both clocking in at around eleven minutes, are Goudreau in hunched over modular synth mode creating a juddering sequence of juxtaposed growls, pops, stops, starts, sustained drones, snatched samples of panicked conversation, message dings and with it wild fluctuations in volume that make you wonder if the next three seconds are either Contemporary Composition or the full blown roar of a noise artist getting in to the swing of it. Brevity plays its part and its to Goudreau’s credit that he can pack such a considerable punch in such a brief space of time. Oblique and somewhat troubling liner notes lead me to believe that this is the break off release for Goudreau and that his future lies more in this direction and less in that of Sickness.
The title track on Ultranegative carries on in the same vein with plenty of glass being chewed between back molars for that full on granular feeling whilst its neighbour ‘After Image’ contains as much silence as noise. On the flip we find ‘Piano Sonata For The Untalented’ and a side long noise drone feedback work which I struggled to fully engage with. The troughs and peaks it goes through work fine enough appeared at times to be meandering and in need of sharper focus.
Anyone who’s ever been to a Goudreau/Sickness show will no doubt have bumped into [quite literary] John Balistreri. With his nihilistic Power Electronics project Slogun he’s as often as not down the front reveling in the fact that there’s a small crowd of people intent on knocking the shit out of each other and whoever happens to be standing within in elbows reach. It comes as some surprise then to discover Balistreri has a side project called SELF that delivers the kind of ultimate muscle relaxant ambience that you thought only Brian Eno was capable of.
‘It Never Ends Well’ really has been a revelation of a release with both artists delivering two sides of pure ambient drone bliss. SELF with a looping two chord wheeze through which are scattered the echoes of cars passing through tunnels and then a lo-fi drone roar with machine hum, the clanging of elevator cables, a heavy smoker struggling for breath, distant conversations and a send off that appears at the sound of solemnly struck plague bell, OMEI with two slowly moving, cycling drones and a steel mill forge hammer for balance. A truly haunting and beautiful release.
Those five business cards give further clues as to the direction these two are working towards here; images of self harm, blood from cuts and photographs of peeling and torn bill posters and decay as taken by Balistreri. These releases go deep but that makes getting lost in them all the more pleasurable.
Slogun/Circle of Shit
Saturday, September 24, 2016
People - And The Horses Rode In On Us.
The Blues ‘Sings The Blues’ Vol 15
There’s an inbox on this computer where emails from labels go to die. There must be hundreds in there now. I dare hardly look. Persistent offenders get a sarky email directed at them and after that it usually goes quiet. I had one a while back from a label based in Brooklyn and they wanted me to hear about how great their new singer was and she’s just written a song about a submarine and how she loves it and out of sheer curiosity I bit my lip and went for it and guess what? Total shite.
Rarer is the jiffy bag that arrives unannounced. Rarer still is the jiffy bag that arrives from America with two tapes in it and no contact info what-so-ever. A return address on said jiffy bag looked like it was written in a hurry by a dyslexic five year old with a crayon so you have to resort to the internet and that gives us the label ‘Nooth Hing’ straight outta Austin Texas. You see how much more interesting that is folks? Its like giving a restaurant reviewer a menu full of scarce offal cuts.
With nothing to go on your perceptions are primarily based on what you see. This time around a hand drawn j-card insert and a cassette [outer and inner] thats been sprayed with some kind of textured paint. They could contain anything. There is no press release. Harsh noise? Tape loop experiments? The silence between all the words spoken by Donald Trump at one his conventions? The sounds of various motor car engines put through free download software that turns them into the voices as heard in the films of Ingmar Bergann?
People is none of those. People is Lew Houston and Max Nordile singing songs of the most basic and roughest hewn nature. Songs so raw and improvised they make Hasil Hadkins sound like Prince. One songs sounds like a two man chain gang with Houston and Nordile singing along to the sound of a shovel hitting the dirt. Out of tune stringed instruments are hit and hammered, bridge strings are plucked, a song called Water Skeeter has the pair singing ‘we love water skeeters’ and nothing else. Kitchenware storage units become timpani, strings are wound up and down, glass bottles are hit with pencils. Think stream of consciousness outpourings by the North of England’s Joincey crossed with the sheer oddness of America’s Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble. First track is a riotous lo-fi acoustic strummed, drummed thraped, rattle shaking shamanic anthem that wails out on the back of a badly blown flute and someone whistling the theme tune to Bonanza. Little Baby Birdie lasts for a minute and has the pair of them singing ‘Little bitty birdy looking at me’ to the sound of empty bottles being rhythmically hit, Log of Hollowness is them singing to the sound of dry leaves being walked on. Bonus points are earned for this all arriving over the top of what sounds like a John Coltrane tape with jazz leaking around the edges at beginning, end and various moments in-between.
The Blues ‘Sings The Blues’ Vol 15 has seven tracks of guitar/alto sax/percussion improv all called ‘Goulash’, each given a number and tracked in seemingly random order. This being the work of Marrisa/Max and apart from that I can tell you little else for not even the omnipresent might of Google can track them down. Is it any good? I can barely tell. I’m no fan of such things and find the random hitting, wailing and pummeling of such instruments about as much fun as having my balls shaved by a blind leper. Its a racket isn’t it? The sounds I mean. But still far more welcome than a link laden email.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
See You Next Tuesday?
Issue 1. A4 zine + CD. 100 copies.
See You Next Tuesday? [an oblique way of saying something rude in case you haven’t twigged] is a noise based zine from the mighty North East of England that is made by people who live there and concentrates in the main on the people who make noises there. Like all good zines it looks like it appeared in the aftermath of an eight hour drink binge with pages appearing upside down and sideways on and with the text disappearing into the background images. All good zine tropes and to be admired. It’s rushed together-ness became even more apparent about a week after it arrived when I received an email from one of its creators containing a missing page that was a flyer for a TNB gig. Word has it that there will be four issues and then no more. Get em while you can.
The accompanying CD by The Black Unknown does not, as I was wholeheartedly expecting, contain an hours worth of noise but has instead but three minutes of an audio verite bedtime conversation between a North East woman wanting a goodnight kiss from her North East husband before she turns off the bedside light:
‘Gwan pet give is us a kiss’
[mumbling, agitated and clearly in no mood for such things] JUST LERRUS GERRA SLEEP ... FER FUCK SAKE WOMAN!
[quietly pleading] Just gi’ us a kiss goodnight ...
[tired, exasperated] I WANNA GO TO FUCKING SLEEP!
Why wont ya gi’ us a kiss?
OH FER FUCKS SAKE!! FUCKING SHURRUP WILLYA ...
I could be paraphrasing some of the above or it could be the script to a Viz column, either way I found it far more entertaining than an hours worth of noise. After inserting the disc into my media player the online database gave me numerous options for a title, none of them being The Black Unknown: ‘The bittersweet allure of lovesickness when considered as an intimate liason [sic], or a close proximity, with quantum time’ but it did give me ‘Cockeyed Rabbit in Plastic’ by a band named SLUG and that's the one I chose.
Since See You Next Tuesday? concentrates mainly on whats happening and whats already happened in the North East there are plenty of mentions for The New Blockaders and in particular those now legendary early 80’s gigs at Newcastle’s Morden Towers. In floating text boxes various comments are given by those who were there and those who weren’t but wished they were. How much of this has appeared before I know not [some quotes from issue 1 of ALAP are reprinted] but either way the trivia is fascinating. As is the claim that Richard Rupenus was spotted in TK Maxx, a claim disputed by Rupenus which makes me wonder how much of this is being made up and how much is real. The addition of many rare TNB gig posters and flyers will no doubt see a few issues making their way towards Japan and America.
There’s a drunken interview with Lee Culver, some dodgy handwritten poetry by Arthur Pellower [lead singer with the band Xtreme], something on the importance of 'dictaphone music’ by Linda Pine, a plug for a fillum about Blyth [no ‘e’], interviews with PE/Noise/experimenters Depletion, Wrest, Wasp Bomb and The New Movement. There’s also some interesting, nerdy, noise trivia regarding early TNB live cassettes and their live releases in general. Other delights include a classified section, where there’s a Hoover going for £40 and a review section of sorts where Lee Stokoe gets to say ‘Its fucking great!’
One of the best zines I’ve seen in years. Long live the North East.
[I'd put more images in but the scanner doesnt work after an upgrade. Sorry]
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