Monday, June 19, 2017

Saturday Night at The Fuse with Posset, Stuart Chalmers and BBBlood.

Stuart Chalmers



Stuart Chalmers

Bradford Fuse Arts Space
17th June 2017

At the gigs end I’m talking to Campbell when Stuart Chalmers comes up and hands each of us a small slip of paper. We looked at each other nonplussed. ‘Its tonights gig’ says Chalmers. We looked at each other nonplussed again. ‘You’ll be able to download it in the morning’ says Chalmers. We look at each other nonplussed for the final time as it dawns on us that we can download the gig we’ve just attended. I look at Campbell and he looks at me and our jaws drop slightly. Kin hell.

Maybe its an age thing. Once upon a time you’d come across shabbily recorded cassettes of gigs you’d been to and bought them dutifully and if you were lucky they’d contain some semblance of musical fidelity but in most instance they sounded like they’d been recorded using iron filings, nails and a biscuit tin. Some people even went to the trouble of putting them on to vinyl but the results were pretty much the same, a decent gig with a shitty sound.

Its a hot and sultry night in Bradford and theres more people outside the Sparrow Cafe than in so I find a quiet seat where a gentle breeze coming in through the door wafts my paper, a pint and the paper and the crossword that I cant fathom and there’s ladies wandering about covered in half a square meter of netting, huge wobbly lines of them up and down Hustlergate, gangs of them pre loaded and ready to roll.

The Fuse Artspace is but one room with two windows facing the outside world. The last time I was here was to see Stuart Chalmers, then winter and blowing with rain, coats kept on to keep the warmth in and the wet out. Now its the fag end of the first day of a heatwave and inside its a temperature conducive to drinking beer which, judging by some of the bright red faces on show seems to be the case. Its a mainly male affair [‘almost a sausage fest’ says the Bearded Wonder] and a group of about 25 and we’re here to celebrate Crow Versus Crow’s ‘Delirium Cutlet Impaste’ of which the three artists appearing tonight were all a part of and of which I waxed lyrical not so many moons ago.

Delirium Cutlet Impaste brought together three people who for want of a better acronym wander around under the brolly that is the RFM NAU, thats the Radio Free Midwich No Audience Underground to give it its full title. That crawlspace that exists beneath the house that is all the rest of the music in the world. It is a small audience but that doesn’t mean the sounds produced tonight aren’t deserving of a wider audience.

Posset, a.k.a. Joe Murray has a poem he wants to recite but has instead committed it to tape which is fine by me and no doubt everybody else in the room. His well enunciated poem is a stream of seemingly unconnected words soon the subject of half pressed fast forward and reverse buttons. Posset works plenty of tapes around his set up, small ones and big ones creating a distinct Posettian sound, that is half formed words, coughs, throat clearings, whispers of tape whizzed forward and back, the nighttime mutterings of the bedridden, EVP culled from the magnetic dust on crumbling cassette tape, the ghostly chains of wandering spirits. I’m quite certain I can hear Murray calling a cat called ‘Chum’ as a fatally wounded dinosaur breathes its last. Enigmatic, delicate, mysterious and and deserving of Dictaphone sponsorship.  
Stuart Chalmers gives the night its longest set. Swapping his swarmandal for plenty of boxes and some pretty fairy lights he soon has the room locked in a bout of synchronized head nodding. I’m assuming. I’m sat on the front row right next to the Bearded Wonder who, as his is wont, is deep within his own, away with the lights as Chalmers fractures a loop that reverbs itself into its own kind of summers night fractal. Twenty five minutes of it and maybe a taster of that collaboration with Campbell thats just hit the ether [and my hand].The deeper it goes the more complex it becomes, building ever more unstable structures until it plateaus and settles in to a series of chiming out of synch church bells and sawing scaffold poles. Clangourous, head ringing, bells and cacophony and drone and harmony.  

Paul Watson [a.k.a. BBBlood] has dragged himself up from London with a Fidget Spinner in his pocket which he tries to incorporate in to his twenty minute set of noise roars with, so I’m later told, limited success. Fidget Spinner Noise. Keep the ADHD noise jerk in your house occupied as they continue to fill the hard drive of an iMac with ear splatter.

I’ve never been disappointed with a live BBBlood set and tonight is no exception. Listening back to it now [yes, I know, exciting isn’t it] in the discomfort of my humid man cave I find sounds that on first hearing passed me by; amid the crumbling edifices and sea bed explosions lie frequencies taken from the upper reaches of Jodrell Bank, transmissions from Mars and maybe a Fidget Spinner hitting an old baccy tin containing a contact mic and a few Japanese coins.

Its still hot. I’m still thinking about Saturday night. It was a good night for the sausages. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Franz Kafka/Nurse With Wound

Franz Kafka - Rapport À Une Académie
Nurse With Wound - Kafka’s Parachute

Lenka Lente. Book + 3”CD
ISBN - 979-10-94601-15-0

A few weeks ago I came across Satoshi Takeishi and his compositions for a soundtrack to a film version of Kafka’s extraordinary novel 'The Trial'. Its a pretty good soundtrack too in a low oscillating synthwaves kind of way. I dare say it’ll work well with the film and in some respects it wouldn’t go amiss as music to listen to whilst reading the book. I read The Trial while on holiday in Goa years ago when I should have been reading it sat in a Prague cafe drinking absinthe. Such is the power of the book I soon forgot that it was 35C with 95% humidity and I was in that dark, claustrophobic place that Kafka conjures like no other. The Trial is a remarkable novel and Kafka a remarkable writer, all this made all the more remarkable for the fact that he published next to nothing during his lifetime and left in his will demands that all his work be destroyed.

Then last week I watched The Insurance Man. Alan Bennett’s play about Kafka’s position in the seemingly surreal and incomprehensible insurance company for which he worked and the companies determination not to pay out at any cost. Daniel Day-Lewis played Kafka and Bernard Wrigley played a workman. The one and only time those two names will ever appear on the screen together. His work will live on forever. But probably not Wrigley's.

Rapport À Une Académie arrives with a PDF of an English translation courtesy of Lenka Lente as the text here is once again in French. Its the story of an ape who escapes his captors by adopting human traits and becomes so successful that it makes a living in music halls. An analogy for the assimilation of Jews in to society or something deeper perhaps? Typical Kafka.

Not that all his books are as easy to read as The Trial. Last year I picked up The Castle and after a hundred pages I felt as if I’d been sent into a dark maze from which there was no escape. Which is exactly what Kafka would have wanted. Once my stamina is back to where I want it I’m going to give it another crack.

On the CD we have an exclusive track by Nurse with Wound. Here as a six piece and a line up that includes Stapleton, Potter, Liles, Waldron, Quentin Rollet and on ‘words’ the enigmatic It Could Be Worse. Those words being Lewis Carroll Jabberwoccky-esque nonsense words as spoken by an overenthusiastic spell-casting Catweazle. Its such a good track it had me disappearing down the Nurse worm hole for a week reliving all those classic albums and shaking your head in wonderment as to just how good Nurse With Wound can be. Eventually It Could Be Worse’s words end up in a loop as bats fly and owls screech and goblins groan before it all goes surreal New Orleans trad band gone wrong with messy tape and toy squeaks and duck calls and shaved guitar strings. 

I did eventually make it to Prague and of course, the Franz Kafka Museum. My memories of it are of a room full of Bakelite telephones that rang randomly and a bizarre water fountain consisting of two male figures, face on in a pool, swiveling at the hips, streams of water issuing forth from their members and landing at their feet. What Kafka would make of such things we can only guess at.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Dieter Müh

Dieter Müh - Feeling a Little Horse
EE Tapes. EE35. CD in 7” sleeve w/4 cards. 150 copies.

Dieter Müh - Eponymous
Sentimental Productions LP. White vinyl. 150 copies.

Sometime in the late 90’s I received a cassette from Dieter Müh’s Steve Cammack that contained within it unreleased Panasonic recordings. As they were known before the Japanese electrical giant got all upset the result being the dropping of the ‘a’ and thus Pan Sonic, [a case of corporate bullying that probably worked in their favour]. I’d not had a letter from Steve Cammack before but knew that he was one half of Dieter Müh whose release ‘Feeling a Little Horse’ I’d recently bought from Mick McDaid, the man behind Lincoln’s The Mouth Label. Panasonic were signed to Finnish label Sähkö, Mick knew I was a fan and passed on my details to Steve. Thanks to a recent edition of Steve’s excellent Radio Muhmur show I discovered that the then other half of Dieter Müh, Dave Uden, had got to know Mika Vainio, one half of Panasonic, via the Bill Nelson Fan Club and had been given the cassette of unreleased recordings by Vainio. This was the cassette I now had in my possession. I think at the time I squealed like a little girl and danced about until my legs hurt. About three years ago the tape went the way of all tapes in what has become known as the ‘Great Tape Cull of 2014’ where a huge box containing about 500 of the things disappeared in to the boot of Andy Jarvis’s car at a gig and thence to the Filthy Turd who no doubt smeared his muck all over them.  

Mika Vainio didn’t survive 2017. He died in April aged 53. The same age as me and to say I was saddened doesn’t really cover it.

Panasonic and Vainio’s solo project ‘∅’ and most of the Sähkö catalogue at that time contained sounds created purely from analogue equipment. There’s was a sound austere, controlled, bleak, outer space empty, with woofer popping blats of seriously stark, surgically clean rhythms that grabbed your attention and made you fear for your speakers. Turn it up loud enough and you could make your curtains flutter. The perfect kind of music to emerge from a frozen Finnish landscape.

After what feels like a very long time its good to hear ‘Feeling a Little Horse’ again. It takes me back to those days of getting blind drunk in Lincoln after thinking it was a good idea to start drinking straight off the train at 11.30 in the morning. After Mick’s initial fifteen copies of ‘Feeling …’ disappeared it went to a French label who for reasons we’ll never know did nothing with it and thence to EE Tapes in Belgium who have done a sterling job of recreating the original artwork and putting it within a seven inch sleeve.

Regular readers will know that Dieter Müh are firm favourites here. I don’t know if Industrial Ambient is a certified genre or whether I made it up or I read it somewhere but its the term that I always use in conjunction with them. A heady stew of samples culled from porn films, atrocity videos and Ingmar Bergman films cut into noise loops, drones and crunching ritual rhythms. All this to the fore on the 37 minute long titular track that is a live improvised performance as laid down at the the Nottingham Old Vic in 1998. It passes by like the Death Star blasting Column One from deep within its bowels; crumbling noise, soaring diva like climaxes and those unsettling vocal samples. Being an early Dieter Müh release it lacks the finesse of the pairs later workouts where bowl rings, ethnic rhythms and Enochian invocations were incorporated but that rough sound certainly carries a punch. Around the halfway mark everything runs to almost silence and the words ‘God is dead’ are ominously spoken, a portentous moment and one that left me cowering behind the sofa. Not many bands have the power to do this.

EE have added a further three tracks, ; ‘Mühz’, ‘s.o.l.a.s.’, and the twelve minute long ‘Whorle’ all pulled from obscure comps, all from the same era and all fine additions with the twelve minute Whorle standing proudest with a full on head buzzing drone roar.

When ‘Eponymous’ eventually appeared four years later on the French label Naninani Recordings [103 hand numbered copies] their sound had refined itself somewhat; from rough noise loops to a denser more claustrophobic sound. The loops are still there but they’re sedate, unhurried, the grinding of bones into a tin funnel. We start with intermittent sunspot activity before the crack of a whip and an infants wail. ‘Monika Has a Throat’ has tortured moans and male orgasms, ominous drones, whispered demons. ‘Dumhome' proceeds at a slug like pace, a slowed-down ethnic drum rhythm while ‘R.I.P. 5’, ‘E.Coli Tsar and ‘Sebel’ are the degrading hum of dark machinery, last track ‘Anhosta’ is the emphysemic scrapings of slowly spun ridged pipe, its hollow whistle met with short blurts of static noise.

Ukrainian label Sentimental Productions have done an excellent job of making Eponymous a worthy reissue but its a pity that the limits of vinyl means a 14 minute track on the original has to be lost. No doubt to make up for this loss Sentimental have made 20 copies of Eponymous available in a black wooden box, each one containing an ‘elixir’. I’ll drink to that. 

[A few copies of Eponymous still reside at Cammack Towers. Get in touch via the email below should you feel the need]
Sentimental Productions

EE Tapes [at]