Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Namke Communications - One Year; Two Days.
Fencing Flatworm Recordings. CDR/DL. 40 Copies
Synchre - Requiem.
Attenuation Circuit. ACU 1009. CD
Two releases of electronic origin with a chasm between them that not even the likes of Eddie Kid could bridge. One a grandiloquent requiem the other the work of someone who works quick. So quick they took it upon themselves to record something new everyday for a year. A pursuit in which I hear they were entirely successful. If the four tracks on One Year; Two Days are representative of this crazed mission then we need to be hearing more.
Namke Communications is John Tuffen. On 'One Year; Two Days' he makes the kind of simple, repetitive, head nodding oscillations that Fencing Flatworm go all ga-ga for. No wonder they made it their only release of the year. The backdrop to the live action would be one of a continual upshot of fluffy white clouds drifting across an azure summer sky, your head laid back on a plump pillow as your punt is punted down the Cam, a picnic hamper from Fortnum and Mason’s awaiting your arrival on the shore. The four tracks are all given a date and a time which we are to presume are the time and date of recording and the file names they were saved to PC as. According to the Bearded Wonder these were created using a PC. Me not being what you would call an expert on computer composed music I wouldn’t know but the results are nothing short of wonderful; rung bowls of electronica and oscillating vibes that with very little effort find a common purpose. There’s the occasional muffled depth charge and at one instance a school playground but always the feeling of complete control and with it immense aural satisfaction.
Requiem, on the other hand, is a much more pompous release. As you’d expect from something so grandly named you get the feeling they were going for the magnum opus. Three movements each broken down into further sections so we get 00.00 Articulation, 05.35 Transition, 9.50 Abandon right up to 34.20 and Immanency and its eventual and not untimely end. Its the work of Luca Canciello and Lorenzo Brusci both of whom have CV’s the length of your arm and are involved in everything from electronic music composition to speaker manufacture to the ‘music robot start up MusicFit’, something which matches the BPM’s of some horrid sounding beat music to your work out rate and which would appear to be the winner of ‘The Thing I’m Least Likely to Purchase This Year’ award.
After enjoying the simple flavour’s of Namke Communications Japanese ramen bowl this is like sitting down to a ten course tasting menu [with matching wines] courtesy of Heston Blumenbollocks. There’s so much going on its all a little bit overwhelming. A shiny disc filled with a mass of sounds and noises that appear to be there not with the aim of producing a coherent whole, but to show off the talents of the composers.Thus you move from rapidly advancing drum and bass sounds [with added droning trumpet] to vocal treatments to portentous keyboards to a mouse’s fart and the wild screams of the reviewer at number 17 who having listened to this over-complicated mush of excess decided to move to India so he could experience the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 Rupee notes all for himself.
There are moments on Requiem that do gel especially on the last movement ‘Transfiguration’ where arc welders do battle with Survival Research contraptions and men in rubber monster costumes fight it out in cheap 60’s Japanese TV shows. The choirboy like vocals on the second movement is one of the rare moving moments of the entire suite but these are small crumbs at a table where you cant see the food for the cruet.
Maybe I’m being a tad unkind here and I shouldn't be comparing banquets with beans on toast but my mind is made up. There will be those who seek out such weighty electronic scores, the concept album for the dead, the three hour Jean Michel Jarre concert with flashing lights and arrival on stage by boat but it isn’t me.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
A5 zine + CDR
Mark Wynn - Singles - But They're not Really Singles, I Just Sent Them to the Screen and Said They Were Singles. Volume II
Harbinger Sound LP. Release date March 2017.
We left Mark Wynn on stage at the Leeds Irish Centre supporting Sleaford Mods. He danced around with a child’s tiara on his head and ate grapes from a plastic punnet. As ever he was stripped to the waist revealing ribs and a physique that is no doubt the results of a roll ups and Seabrook’s prawn cocktail diet. He had a small table stage right which had either a cassette or a CD player on it which he occasionally glanced at, no guitars, no drums thus making it easier to roam the stage eating grapes performing as if for himself, noticing the audience when they made a noise, as if they’re a distraction to what he’s doing which is eating grapes and singing his songs which are more like existential cum observational monologues sung in a flat voice to punkish three chord acoustic guitar riffs. A more like-able Jake Bugg only with better songs and a finer punk aesthetic, a young man’s John Ottoway, Patrick Fitzgerald for 2017 with knobs on.
I like Mark Wynn because I once saw him piss off an audience at a less than salubrious Working Mens Club in Heckmondwike and because he has a song that mentions Batley and that he channels the kind of punkish attitude last seen being delivered from the lips of oh so innocent, peculiarly English eccentric types as mentioned above. He’s from York but leads a peripatetic lifestyle meaning ‘Achin’ at the Prospect’ arrives with a Largs postmark. What the Largs folks think of this gangly, million words an album, no off switch, troubadour is open to debate. I have visions of him busking on a drizzly Largs high street much to the bemusement of the tourists and the locals except for one sad and lonely goth teenager who clings to Wynn’s legs like he’s the incarnation of Pete Murphy.
‘Achin’ at the Prospect [A Racket [That One] by Mark Wynn and his Knack-Kneed Or-Kes-Strar] the zine is Wynn’s mind as written down during long journeys that take him to and from Largs including an interview conducted by his girlfriend who reminds him that he’s living rent free at her expense. Its a proper zine crammed with tiny handwritten thoughts and musings, ephemera, cartoons and cut out pictures of himself, Elvis and a panda. The accompanying CD contains eight tracks of Wynn at his more thoughtful and less rackety including the opener ‘Doom’ where he enunciates the word ‘Attenborough’ rather peculiarly and spends thirty seconds adding overdubs of him talking to himself. During ‘Heart of Stone’ he berates himself for screwing the song up ‘You fucked that right up dint ya?’ ‘Impossible’ is a song capable of arousing the interest of Apple, Samsung and, more probably Seabrooks, such is its whimsical gentility.
Wynn’s charm lies in his basic recording technique [acoustic guitar overdubbed with fuzzy electric guitar, shouts, asides, keyboards, snare drum] his flat, deadpan delivery and his ability to knock out ridiculously catchy punk enthused tunes alongside reflective love songs. The catchy tunes are there in abundance on the eighteen tracks that vary in width along ‘Singles ...Volume II’. Starting with the glorious ‘Dave Went Mental’ where, apparently, his mate Dave went mental and ‘I Am John’ which manages to achieve the impossible and has me jumping around in front of the hi-fi with imaginary guitar. That Wynn can pen songs that are paeans to William Burroughs and Kes and tip the hat to Link Wray shows you that he's not only number one in a field of one but that he's so far out to sea his head is only just visible to those who are really looking. That's me, you and most people who've seen him live [except for those in the Comrades that night]. That he can then make a trip to the shops, a fall out with the check out staff in Tesco’s and bemoan the absent Woolworths in songs that rarely nudge the three minute mark is nothing less than life affirming.
On ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry [Massive Turn On]' he admits that he doesn't want to go to Filey, on ‘Orange’ he recounts not being able to buy oranges in a shop because he isn’t old enough [all this to a background mumblings and handclaps]. ‘I Once Fingered A Girl Who Rejected Rick Witter in Glasgow’s Art Bar - The Song’ isn’t a personal boast but a reflection on a Tweet and how he sounds like the Fall. Songs that are worth mentioning because they have great song titles and are great songs as well are ‘Day Trip to Heckmondwicke’ [sic], ‘The Beatles Hate Me’, and ‘George Formby Breakdown’. The final mad chorus from ‘I’m Mint Man Me Man Yeah Yeah’ was the first thing that came in to my head when I woke up in the middle of Sunday night. Its still with me now. I think it’ll be with me for a while yet.
Since Geoff Travis lured Sleaford Mods away with the promise of diamond encrusted Lamborghini's and gold topped canes there’s been a definite lack of top ten chart action for Harbinger Sound. Enter Mark Wynn. With his trusty cassette recorder, punnet of grapes and songs about whatever came in to his head ten minutes ago he's making 2017 just that bit more bearable. If you see him in Largs say hello.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Dennis Tyfus & Kris Maes
Meeuw Muzak 047. 7”
Phillip Sanderson - No No No No
Christmas Bonus CD/DL
So how was your Christmas? Oh lovely thank you. I managed to avoid anything that was to do with Xmas altogether which is pretty much the best way to go about it. Fortunately for me Mrs. Fisher loves the festive season [Christmas twig, nativity scene, baubles, cards up etc ...] she takes care of everything except the purchase of food, alcohol and second class stamps. She even has a favourite Christmas CD which has lots of 50's stuff on it and nothing by Slade, Wham, Wizzard, Shakey, Paul McCartney, John and Yoko, Chris Rea, Jona Lewie and Mariah Carey which is fine by me. Once upon a time I used to look forward to the odd Christmas song especially Greg Lake's 'I Believe in Father Christmas' with its anti Christmas theme and its purloined bits of Prokofiev, usually first heard while dawdling down a shopping aisle wondering how many bottles of port would see me through a week of cold nights and giving me that nostalgic feel for when I first heard it as a child back in the 70’s, 'They sold me a dream of Christmas …’ but to be honest even that bores me now. Give me snow and frost and clear blue skies, a week off work where I can do nothing but the crosser and get slightly pissed on port on every night but all that mixed up pagan/Christian bollocks that's all but forgotten about by Boxing Day morning? No ta.
Two Christmas related items landed just as I was about to put my foot through the TV at the first sight of the festive John Lewis advert. Two releases that gave the 50's Christmas CD a run for its money and the sight of which provided me with much needed succor. The first is 'No No No No' by Phillip Sanderson of Snatch Tapes/Storm Bugs fame which arrives in a homemade Christmas card and on first sight appears to be not Christmas related at all but there it is at the very end of the very last track 'Holding Little Hands' a lolling little ditty whose last words are 'Merry Christmas'. Ahh. Sanderson is of course well known amongst vintage synth aficionados because hes been around for ever. At least since the mid 80’s. The sound is a basic one, Resident-y for want of comparison with echo-y synth melodies sometimes accompanied by reverbed and delayed vocals which make Sanderson sound like Genesis P Orridge in TG mode. Transported I was. Transported away from John Lewis ads and Jona Lewis I mean Lewie The title track is a full on losing your head no no no no no no no no no no no which is what I think when I see a Christmas advertisement for Iceland or TK Maxx. There are jarring instrumentals like Scream Test Extra and extra points for the homemade card and the Woolworths ‘single sided’ CDR. For those less fortunate this is available as a download and is excellent.
Kris Maes and Dennis Tyfus are two separate entities on either side of a seven inch single with a large hole in the middle. A comforting sight. Tyfus stretches his vocal chords over a looping/sticking slightly cheesy Sun City Girls take on Silent Night while on the flip there's a blink and it's gone ditty called De Kerstdagen [Christmas Day] which is sung in East or West Flemish or Limburgian. Belgians eh? Meeuw Muzaks is a [well since its very beginning anyway] a seven inch only label and releases a Christmas single most years. Previous incumbents being RLW and Tom Recchion amongst a roster of unknown’s. A belated Merry Kris Maes.
Sunday, January 01, 2017
|Smell & Quim - Manchester December 2016|
Smell & Quim - Jesus Christ/The Jissom Killers
Old Captain. OCCD25 2XCD
250 copies. First 50 come with five postcards.
Once upon a time in 1987 two men with a shared interest in drink, serial killers, Charles Bukowski, pornography, Throbbing Gristle, Ken Dodd, rockabilly, weepy country and western bands, William Burroughs, decent prog and Gary Glitter entered a studio in a fading industrial town in West Yorkshire to record an album called The English Method. The name they chose to record under was a corruption of a then popular female singing duo: 'Mel and Kim'. The two men went by the name of Milovan Srdenovic and Paul Nonnnen and the town was Batley. Its about five miles away from where I write this and where I’ve lived most of my life. Ever since I discovered noise Smell & Quim were there and that they were making some of the most remarkable industrial noise dirge but a short bus ride away seemed almost implausible. My mind was well and truly boggled. They've been with me ever since. 2017 is their 30th anniversary.
The original line up lasted three albums and while The English Method may have been their first release its the two that followed that still linger like a mammoth curled turd in a decrepit toilet. ‘Jesus Christ’, their second album, was apparently so called because its what most people said after seeing the cover. Story goes that such is its provocative nature [a naked female child having corrective hip treatment as culled from a medical volume] that the band had to go to the continent in order to find a printer willing to take the job on. The finished sleeves then had to be smuggled back in to the country under cover of darkness so as to avoid the interests of HM customs who, one can only assume, would have taken great delight in making such individuals available to the tabloid press [PERVERT MUSICIANS IN PAEDO SLEEVE ART SHOCKER - QUESTIONS RAISED IN HOUSE]. Its why my scan of it is so small and why you’ll never see a copy of it on shelf without a brown paper bag over it. After it's release on their own Stinky Horse Fuckers label 'Jesus Christ' attracted the attention of Tesco who were no doubt in no way surprised when 'The Jissom Killers' arrived and with it a sidelong 25 minute track entitled ‘Sucking a Dead Man’s Cock’.
Both releases contain music that can only be described as claustrophobic, unsettling and disturbing with ‘Sucking a Dead Man’s Cock’ epitomising the Smell & Quim sound for this period with its torture chamber wail, clanking machinery, battered crumhorns and rattling homemade percussion. When you factor in track titles and imagery designed to cause maximum offense it has the required effect: 'Old Enough to Bleed, Old Enough Butcher', 'Beaver Full of Spunk', images of the stigmatic Therese Neumann, the gutted remains of an Ed Gein victim and close ups of gentian surgery on the record centers. End result is a pair of classic industrial noise albums that will forever be relevant and even now, after almost 25 plus years, still contain and reach levels of depravity that are deeply shocking.
The stand out track on 'Jesus Christ' is the the twenty minute long 'Eight Fuckers' with its two chord keyboard wheeze spiraling into a maelstrom of guitar abuse, the pair of them moaning and shouting insults at each other as if in some moronic call and response ritual. A flagellation session in which they flog themselves to a standstill with loose chains and an out of shape cymbal. "Skunk Pussy' kicks off with gargling, a looped vocal tic and masses of dirty guitar, it ends with a bizarre vibes like melody that sounds as if it was pulled from the start credits to a Hithcock film. Everywhere there is discomfort, shouting, nonsense, disorganisation, confusion, dark corners from where there is no light or life that you would recognise.
Nonnen and Srdenovic went their separate ways after The Jissom Killers performing live only once in a spectacularly drunken Duchess of York performance where Srdenovic played the guitar with a dildo and the pair of them fell over paralytic through drink. In the audience was someone who would take the name of d. foist and find himself taking Nonnen's place in a soon to be ever more out of control, fluxing Smell & Quim whose releases would get noisier and stranger and whose live shows would be the absolute paradigm in drunken debauched noise revelry.
Last man standing is Srdenovic. Now growing old disgracefully and purveying his back catalogue like a proud father. I doubt he's done yet. Smell & Quim recently played shows in Portugal and Manchester. Nobody knows but him whether their 30th year will be their last.
Ukrainian label Old Captain have gone back to the original Ampex reel to reel tapes for this release and it's to their credit that they've resisted the temptation to record direct from the LP's. Classics in every sense and now in need of only a smaller brown paper bag.
[Please forgive me but I don't know who to credit for the live picture - If you get in touch I'll let the world know. Cheers.]