Friday, February 24, 2017

Kinski Hardcore

The Lowest Form - Personal Space
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 153 LP

Kinski Uncut - The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski
Bloomsbury Paperbacks.

A couple of years back I found a copy of Fitzcarraldo in the chazza and took it home and watched it with ever mounting incredulity. Of all the movies Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog made together Fitzcarraldo is the biggest, bonkers one of the lot. If they’d filmed it in 2016 there’d have been a team of clued up computer geeks making the best of what CGI had to offer but back in 1982 Herzog did indeed pull a three story steamship weighing 300 tons over a 40 degree hill in the Peruvian jungle using nothing but a complicated set of pulleys and the local Aguraruna people. Given the conditions they were working under it was no surprise that Kinski lost his infamous volatile temper, losing it to such an extent that the now increasingly pissed off locals [a gentle and timid people unused to such manic behavior] approached Herzog with the offer of bumping him off. An offer that Herzog must have been severely tempted by seeing as how they were three days in any direction from civilization but which he dutifully refused. This thought no doubt prompted by the fact that he’d already begun shooting Fitzcarraldo once before with the American actor Jason Robards and Mick Jagger as leads only to see Robards go down with dysentery and Jagger bugger off on a Stones tour. He wanted to see his movie finished and he knew he couldn’t do it without Kinski.

Kinski is one of the thee greatest film actors. IMDB credits him with 140 films. Kinski himself professed to involvement in over 200. Some of them are total shite but the ones he made with Herzog are true classics and both their life stories make for interesting reading. If you believe everything you read in Kinski Uncut though you'd have to be the stupidest person on the planet. Kinski Uncut is basically 300 pages of Kinski putting his dick in anything female including his own family. In a pattern that eventually becomes monotonous he meets a woman and three lines later he’s fucking her. In Pakistan [where he’s taken by taxi to meet a seven foot tall giantess], in bushes, on planes, in cars, beds, toilets, you name it he’s fucked in it, name a country he’s fucked somebody in it, if he's some place where he can get his dick out, he’s using it. Then there’s the sleeping rough, the busted marriages, the lousy films he has to make so as to make money to pay the rent, the endless cars [he sells one car after discovering the electric windows don’t wind down fast enough], the numerous houses, the endless parties, the shitty directors, especially Herzog whom he despises more than any human being on earth. The movies barely get a mention.

This has nothing to do with The Lowest Form who I know nothing about barring the fact that Luke Younger plays bass. Luke Younger who you will know from Helm whose ventures into electronic composition are worthy of investigation and whose recorded output I’m the proud owner of. He plays bass in a London based Hardcore group. 

What I know about Hardcore could be written on the back of a postcard using a bingo dobber so this is going to be short. I do like their enthusiasm though. The intro to ‘Star Slammers’ sounds uncannily like William Bennett in late Whitehouse mode and listening to all of this in one go is like having a dose of smelling salts run under your nose. The inner sleeve is heavy duty, the font is all Gothic script and the black and white imagery of a park looks suitably Geneva before the First World War. Kinski would no doubt have hated it.  

Harbinger Sound

Monday, February 20, 2017


Pisse - Kohlrübenwinter #1
Beau Travail BT - 12/Phantom PHNTM15. 7” 4 track EP/DL

Pisse - Kohlrübenwinter #2
Harbinger Sound 162/In A Car 004. 7” 4 track EP/DL

Discovering that ex German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s surname translated into English as ‘cabbage’ was a defining moment in my continuing education. Since then I’ve always referred to him as Helmut Cabbage although I must admit that the opportunity to use this in conversation is somewhat limited now. The surnames of German chancellors have always interested me, other favourites include the charismatic Willy Brandt and of course the redoubtable and first ever chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, a man whose surname translates as 'accident in your keks'.

Pisse is the German word for piss. No surprises there. The surprise is that these eight tracks of shouty German hardcore punk mixed with 1930’s film samples, whipping vids and speeches [not Hitler but someone with a shouty voice] had me wishing it was 1983 all over again. 1983: a watermark year for those in the punk industry seeing as how some deem it the year punk finally chucked its scribbled on leather jackets and 16 hole DM’s into the cupboard under the stairs.

To be honest I don’t listen to that much German punk hardcore anymore. I don’t listen to that much punk full stop. Me being nearer retirement age than getting excited about Friday night age I find my punk excitement comes in very short spurts but when I’m introduced to a band as exciting as Pisse I have to bend my head slightly forward, turn it to the speaker and announce that yes, if I had enough beer down me, I would be one of those jumping up and down on the beerhall table.

They work best when the drummer is giving it the military medium, the guitar a choppy rasping thing but its not all like that; Dienstleistungsgesellschaft [oh the beauty of the German language - Service Society] is a mellower affair with a slowed down distorted vocal giving us the title as Pisse singer warbles in a high falsetto as a synthy keyboard wanders all over the end of it. Shit, these kids have got it all. The rollocking opener on #1 Fahradsattel [Bicycle Saddle] comes complete with whips and a chug-a-long Container Drivers-esque beat call and response all over and done in 1.49. Vernissage has a trebly high end bass and so nods to Hooky, the weedy synth gives it a Units feel.

The smattering of samples; wolves, whips and old films, give Pisse a depth that many punk bands lack and while these two singles [complete with fold out sleeves, lyrics and grainy design] are two stand alone singles they work well as an album and an album of punk tunes that keeps me interested is a rare thing indeed. I must be a fan.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lenka Lente

Andrew Liles - Très Chère Mère [Mother Dearest]
Lenka Lente. 5cm CD + Book
ISBN : 979-10-94601-11-2

Guillaume Belhomme/Daniel Menche - D’entre Les Morts
Lenka Lente. 5cm CD + Book
ISBN : 979-10-94601-13-6

The last time I saw Andrew Liles name was as it passed me by on the end credits of Peter Strickland’s superb 2012 film ‘Berberian Sound Studio’. Anyone who hasn’t seen it and has an interest in sounds, gobcore and 70’s Italian horror should go straight from here and watch it. In it Toby Young plays the sound effects guy brought in from England to work his magic on a maverick Italian producer's shock horror production. A film, it soon transpires, that Young’s character as very little interest in and is very much against, him much preferring to be in the shed at the bottom of his garden or wandering around the rolling hills of his home counties town. Screams in sound booths, kitchen knives in cabbages, splatted melons, torn radish stems for hair being ripped out and a blink and you miss it appearance by Adam Bohman. What more could you ask for?

Like Steve Stapleton, Liles is a man capable of creating sounds from seemingly nothing. A sampler par excellence, a weaver of magic, a man capable of making interesting sounds from a dishrag and yesterday’s newspaper. Not just any old sounds though, not rulers twanged on tabletops, not lollipop sticks stuck in bike wheels but sounds that leave you in awe, leave you wondering how they were actually made. I listen to Liles and wonder how he actually made what ever it was that just went down my ear canal.

I have a small smattering of his vast recorded output here with releases ranging from outings with Dannielle Dax to [appropriately] horror sound effects to tributes to Hans Bellmer [Aural Anagram - a queasy ride filled with eerie drones and manipulated female vocals that would fit easily enough besides some of the best Nurse With Wound material] but never before his writing.  

Très Chère Mère [Mother Dearest] is an uneasy modern day folk tale with a gruesome ending and while its written competently enough I doubt he’ll be giving JK Rowling any sleepless nights. Criticising Liles for the odd clunky line seems churlish though, like giving giving Picasso a hard time because his book of short stories were no match for Hemingway. At least its in English. Lenka Lente have received a certain amount of criticism for printing their works mainly in French but its not a criticism I share. They're the publisher and they can print in whatever language they want. Here the story comes in both English and French so somewhere someone wont be moaning.

The disc accompanying  Mother Dearest is all mumblings, pizzicato strings, harps, creaking leather oar straps and cello. A bit like a SNES soundtrack to a role playing game with a Japanese theme which may or may not have some kind of connection to the story. Its unlike anything I’ve heard from Liles before which makes me wonder just how far the Liles tentacles reach.

Daniel Menche is equally as talented. The single track on D’entre Les Morts overlays several different soundscapes to a juxtaposed but ultimately harmonious effect. There's TNB garden shed clatter, the inside of a grandfather clock, a drone, continuous pink noise and a length of steel wire dronged into eternal oscillation.  Menche’s skill in combining these differing sounds is worthy of note. He’s no slouch. Listening in on headphones is a rare audio treat and one you shouldn't deprive yourself of. Whether there's any link with the text is also unclear to me.

The book itself is written by Lenka Lente lead man Guillaume Belhomme and is entirely in his native French which, baring the odd word, makes about as much sense to me as a book written in Latin. I’m quite certain it’ll be dead good though.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Grandma [there's no one quite like].

Con-Dom - How Welcome is Death to I Who Have Nothing More to do but Die
Tesco 102. CD - fold out digi-pak with booklet. DLP box set with etching.

Dr Adolf Steg - Dead Mothers Blood
Multimedia artwork. Edition of 10

If you’ve ever been inside a nursing home you’ll know that they’re not exactly a day out at your local health spa. They’re where people go to die. And in the main we’re not very good at death and dying and coping with it. Death is for other people to worry about when the reality is exactly the opposite. We make jokes about it and invent religions to give it meaning but really, we try not to think about it too often. Unless we’re reminded of it by a dying relative or friend or the news of a passing celebrity or a politician its best left unpacked, something for other people worry about, something that's not going to happen to us for a long time anyway. We hope. But in the end death is just that. The End. There is no escaping it.

Lots of us will spend our final days in a care home or a nursing home. Most of those days will be spent in an overheated communal room that smells heavily of disinfectant and urine, a wall mounted TV blaring Escape to the Country, overworked and underpaid staff doing their best under the circumstances handing out weak tea in childproof plastic beakers. Or perhaps in a cot like bed with the sides up, a rubber under blanket to protect the mattress, bleeper around the neck, photos of loved ones arranged on a nearby table, oblivious to the world, reliant on others and waiting the inevitable. 

Power Electronics often dabbles in death but I don’t think any artist has ever gone as far as taking the death of their own mother for inspiration. The results are a brave and ultimately harrowing release and one that will no doubt have a deep effect on those who make their way to the end of it.

Its a release that works on two levels; the first are the sounds themselves which as you’d expect are despairing, haunting and unsettling. The second is the imagery, the strength of which I found so upsetting that I had to cover it up or hide it side on while I listened. You can cover your PE releases in all manner of dismemberment, torture, necrophilia, sadism, gratuitous porn and right wing propaganda but the sight of an old woman slumped in a winged back chair her face covered in the bruises of a fall, chills me to my very core. The cover is we must imagine, the face of death itself. 

Neither do I think that there has been a Power Electronics release that has as its opening track a sample of the Clive Dunn single ‘Grandad’. This saccharine 70’s pean to an aging grandparent is the sanitized portrayal of growing old, the well worn slippers and the pipe in the pocket. What Dando offers us is the exact opposite; the adult nappies, the shit, the piss, the stink, the dementia, the wailing, the futility of it all, the waiting to die. 

There are three key tracks: ‘Living Death’, Chocolates’ and the exasperatingly blunt ‘Just Fuckin’ Die’. There are samples of toilets and communal rooms, screams and in a series of shorter tracks we find the likes of ‘Wee’ and someone being asked by a carer if they want to go for one. Sarah I & II is a resident shouting. ‘Chocolates’ is a brooding 13 minute loop of cycling hum over which Dando recites a letter as written by someone with serious health issues who wishes to end their life [the chocolates are there to disguise the bitter taste of the lethal dose of barbiturates]. Which brings us to euthanasia which is essentially what ‘How Welcome is Death …’ is all about. ‘Just Fuckin’ Die’ is a ten minute loop of churning distortion which eventually reveals its brief and frustrated only sentence. ‘Living Death’ a slightly phased vocal over screaming turmoil, a collection of conversations between Dando and his mother, the misery, frustration and helplessness created by those who can no longer look after themselves. Power Electronics and death appear to be suited like Country & Western and lost horses, Pop and love, House and dance, Punk and spit. Could any other musical genre carry a message with such force and such honest brutality?    

The very last track is the natural matching bookend to Clive Dunn’s Grandad; the equally saccharine schoolkid choir sing-a-long ‘Grandma [There’s No One Quite Like …]’. A song you are unlikely to hear sung anywhere near a care home.

After a lengthy hiatus in the studio Dando may well have produced his most profound work since 2001’s ‘Colour of a Man’s Skin’ and just maybe the work with which he will be forever associated. A standout release of the genre and a work guaranteed to haunt you until the end of your days.   
Whether Dr Steg’s mother has died we can only guess at. This arrived with no information at all but the man has previous; he once sent me a button badge upon which were glued the ashes of his recently passed father-in-law. So we can assume that what we see is what it says on the tin. Or in this case the plastic grip lock bag. The contents are a bloodied strip of toweling, a bloodied, torn and creased piece of paper containing random words and squiggles and several pieces of broken glass. I really don’t know what to add to this. I’m no art critic. I only know that this week [this month, this year, last year] has been a depressing one. These objects, these works remind us that our time here is of the limited variety. Best make the most of it.


Dr. Steg

Friday, February 03, 2017

How I learned to Live with the Orange Overlord and the Recuperating Effect of Cassette Tapes.

Suffering Profusion - Auditory Hallucinations Unkn

Nothing Band - Close to the Past
24/7 Tapes

Neil Campbell/Campbell Kneale - neil campbellcampbell kneale
Don’t Fuck With Magic

Culver - Fells
Invisible City Records

Stuart Chalmers - In the Heart of Solitude
Constellation Tatsu. PURR 077

Stuart Chalmers - In the Heart of Wilderness
Was Ist Das?

Stuart Chalmers - Loop Phantasy No.3
Beartown Records

Stuart Chalmers/Z. Zsigo - Untitled
Strange Rules. RULE-119

Feral Tapes

TLON - Chapter II
Aphelion Editions. Aphelion 001-K7

There’s a lunatic on the loose in America and he’s doing all this crazy stuff like sending tweets with exclamation marks in them and banging on about building a wall thats going to cost like $75 bazillion. I’m sure he’ll get locked up soon and we can all go back to what we were doing before everything went totally tits up but until then I can’t seem to think straight or get my shit together maan. You know like do what I did before the Tangerine Nightmare dominated my quiet-sit-in-front-of-the-PC-write-some-words-about-music evenings. I now find myself scrolling apocalyptic blogposts written in alarming tones about how the Orange Overlord is nothing but a puppet for a right wing cabal whose thinking seems to revolve around the politics of the Fuck You variety. These are uneasy times.

My duly sapped creative juices have left me a desiccated wreck, left me seeking solace in the familiar and well worn: Bob, Neil, Van, Robert and yes, Art. When I reach for Art I know I’ve reached rock bottom. Not because I don’t like Art Garfunkel’s music, I love him dearly, its just that his music is the soothing-ist of soothing balms, the music I reach for when my fevered mind can’t take anymore. His music is a comfort blanket, a friendly arm around the shoulder, a familiar face in a strange town, a safe room when the loonies are knocking at the door. The review pile doesn’t get much of a look-in in such desperate times.

The loonies have been knocking louder and louder these last ten days. Its getting so that each news item becomes ever more incredulous: can you actually do that?, is that for real, alternative facts, whose on notice again? One day soon I’m going to wake up and it’s June the 23rd 2016 all over again and there’s been an important referendum and its gone the way I wanted and the most insufferable human being on the planet has been shot by someone who himself has been shot but a few hours later. I’ll have my MP back whilst I’m at it as well. Preferably alive.

The tide has to turn eventually though. I think I’m over the worst of it. Recently I’ve been flipping these tapes again. Going round and round on repeat in the twin deck as I scroll the the pages looking for good news. Its a good sign. Things will improve. I know it. Cassettes of wonderment as effective balm. Why not?

I wonder what the Orange Overlord would think of Power Electronics? I wonder what he thinks of music in general? I doubt he has the time for music. Too busy striking a deal to relax with a Mantovani album. I doubt he has any culture in his life full stop. Up to his nuts in money and power. The twin gods of those who care for nobody but themselves. Given the opportunity I’d put the Orange Overlord in a bare white room and play him Suffering Profusion at a volume guaranteed to give him permanent tinnitus. There’d be a CCTV camera in the room relaying his reactions to me as I peruse a selection of nibbles that include toasted almonds, a ripe Epoisses and a lightly chilled Alsace Gewurtztraminer [preferably a Hugel though such would be my good humour I wouldn’t be too fussy on this matter]. There’s only four tracks to annoy him with but they’re of such high PE standard I imagine he’d be screaming for mercy after about 15 seconds. We have full on roar and distorted vocals, no need to go into details, its not a complicated matter and nor is PE when its as base as this.

Suffering Profusion are American [is an American] I hope he’s not a fan of the long tied, short fingered Orange Overlord but with PE you never can tell. One person who I doubt very much is a fan of the Carotene Cretin is Max Nordile of the Nothing Band who is capable of stretching the boundaries of where songs begin and end. On the eleven minute ‘A Good Dog’ we have Nordile in Srdenovic mode singing along with a bullhorn while a giant ogre stomps all over his house, his voice emerging as if from the back of whats left of the rumble room. Some tracks are short minute long things in a Residents vein and even though you cant actually sing along to his songs I have an urge to do so to rid myself of these gloomy apocalyptic thoughts.

Maybe I could try the Carrot Tinged Twat with a smidge of drone? Two sides of a Culver tape perhaps? Who doesn’t like a spot of Culver? Well, one person obviously. ‘Fells’ is Culver in bass heavy drone mode that moves to melancholic bass motes and on the flip something that does it in reverse or continues the thread if you follow. Maybe this is one continuous piece divided over two halves? Maybe this is the face of the Orange Overlord getting pulped? You don’t need me to tell you about Culver.

Talking of which, the winner of the 2016 ‘Stokoe Cup’ [as awarded to those leaving in their wake a cohesive, well loved and totally fantabulous body of work as awarded by the Bearded Wonder over at RFM] was Stuart Chalmers. To say I’ve become a fan of the mans work is true to the mark. I buy whatever he puts out and that recommendation is enough for you. Over the last couple of years his work has moved from mainly sampled based loops to the inclusion of, along with effects pedals, the swarmandal, a type of zither originating from the sub continent. He gets the most out of it on works like ‘In the Heart of Solitude’ and ‘In The Heart of Wilderness’ where the more esoteric edges of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra are mirrored or how about the strangely ethereal guitar parts of the Cocteau Twins. He can be jarring as on ‘Loop Phantasy No.3’ another loop based sample set but when he sets sail for those distant shimmering horizons the results are enough to induce warm feelings of well being and banish all thought of the Fanta Faced Fool.

There’s the collaborations too which is where, as you’d expect, the sound changes. The short but fun Ecstatika takes a page out of the Astral Social Club book and is all bubbling rhythms and energy. ‘Untitled’ with Z. Zsigo is the lonely church bell as heard drifting across a mist covered graveyard in a 70’s Hammer horror that opens out in to a vista of descending church organ and empty building melancholic piano notes. The flip is a shamans rattle, electronic burble, a rumination on the shortwave dial, looped church bells morphed into gamelan. TLON sees Chalmers working with Liam McConaghy for an albums worth of soundtrack like material that is parts ambient, spacey and perhaps the least gripping of this collection but nonetheless a worthy and still essential SC related release. If you like Schulze or the beat-less parts of Tangerine Dream this is where you need to start digging.

After all this do you think Trumpa-Lumpa would dig the almost palindromic Neil Campbell/Campbell Kneale collaboration? Perhaps the name would confuse him? Don’t give him a tin of OXO or wash his duds in OMO then [‘old man out’ - as found on the window ledges of lonely sailors wives]. Two live outings, one a freak beat-fest of mutated lollops the other taking its time to emerge from the miasma before it gets its NC dusted rhythms and KN [I assume] feedback. A joyous thing, just don’t ask me which side is which.

OK I think my chakra has been realigned. I’ve removed everything orange from the house. I’m rationing my Twitter visits. I’m reading good books again. Got to stay focused and channel that good energy. Fuck Trump.

All of the above are cassettes of course and are of extremely limited numbers. If the above haven’t sold out of their physical editions downloads and streaming are available.  

Suffering Profusion

Nothing Band


SC - Heart of Solitude

SC - Heart of Wilderness

SC - Loop Phantasy No.3

SC/Z. Zsigo - Untitled


TLON - Chapter II