Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Julian Bradley & Neil Campbell - For Lila O
CDR/DL. No label.
Stuart Chalmers and Neil Campbell - In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool.
CDR/DL. No Label.
Have you heard the Scott Walker/Sunn O))) collaboration? Did they do it just do it to fuck everybody off? Did any serious Sunn O))) fan think Scott Walker was the man to take the band in a different direction, give them a new lease of life? Was there a Sunn O))) fan who’d ever heard of Scott Walker? Is Scott Walker a Sunn O))) fan? Maybe he likes nothing more than listening to Sunn O))) thinking to himself, ‘you know what I’d love to make an album with these guys ... and if they’re not available I’m going to ask Boris or Diamanda Galas or Robert Wyatt’. Maybe Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson are big Scott Walker fans? Fans of warbling in a ridiculous voice that makes no sense? Maybe they wanted to do an album with Truman Capote but he was dead so they went for the next best thing.
Collaborations [or ‘feat’ as they call them in the singles chart these days] can be hit and miss affairs and not just in singles land. Stuart Chalmers recent collaboration with YOL
didn’t exactly run through the gears; a one man Tourettes machine hitting and clanging things coupled to someone more at home with loops, samples and swarmandals. But you kind of new that the destined to happen Campbell/Chalmers collaboration was going to be a far more settled affair.
My only fear with collaborations is that one artist occludes the other or the styles don’t mix [see above] an oil and water situation. Instead of an emulsion you have bits floating about and nobody likes bits.
There are moments on SC/NC when you get the feeling that SC is doing his best to be heard but thats a small complaint from whats a stonking meeting of minds. Chalmers use of looping samples [Reversing Pool. Gedditt?] are to the fore on second track ‘Deep in the Reversing Pool’ with Campbell’s clattering beats holding together the cacophonous reverse loop of a sample of snatched vocal. Think Nurse with Wounds ‘Rockette Morton’ given a blast with the Kircher. Pick of the bunch is ‘Slipping Slipping’ with Campbell’s trademark electric guitar going backwards forming lumps of molten lava that trickle all the way down the mountain of Chalmers looping loop of someone singing ‘slip, slipping away’. The fit is perfect, the mood one of being wrapped in a morphine drenched blanket. Next track ‘Detritus of an Old Bank’ clangs along like a Joe Jones machine, a-clapping and a-flapping and a-banging, an out of control fight to the death between people armed with teaspoons, knitting needles and finger cymbals. ‘Migrating Dirge’ is just that, wheezy Melodica, coughing, clanking, someone speaking in voices. A match made in heaven or Leeds or Bradford.
Bradley and Campbell have collaborated before but its so long ago I cant remember what it sounded like. I have one of them here, buried in a box somewhere. No doubt recorded in Leeds or Brighton after too many beers when the peak was peaking and the mood was just right.
Apparently commissioned by John Olson who was heard to comment that there wasn’t enough Campbell/Bradley collaborations on the planet ‘For Lila O’ weaves between full on two chord organ swirl jams to early sunrise beatific orgasms to gentle guitar strum. The two key tracks lie in the middle of the thing; ‘Giants in the Electric Nativity’ and ‘How to Wear a New Watch’ are ten minute drifts, sonorous and deep away with the fairies music, heady vibes. The first a loose warp on the chip out to the Stones ‘Sympathy’ as played by Sun Ra with his hands tied behind his back, Richards wonky guitar solo replaced with key clusters and wooing sounds. The latter, an eternal lift off, an ebbing tide of softly strummed electric guitar, the gentle burble of electronic streams. I doubt there’ll be any complaints from Olson. The rest aint too shabby either with ‘Budget Fashion Holiday’ sounding like the credits to a 60’s BBC programme about electronic music and ‘Cosmic Looking Twin’ two minutes of random fizz. Chip out track ‘Now and Future Drenchings’ is the calmest of waters, a bucolic English countryside with birds and breezes and more gentle strumming and burbles. The perfect antidote to anything Scott Walker get his hands on.
Friday, July 14, 2017
The New Movement - Theory of Nothing
White vinyl LP. 100 copies.
TNM019. CD. 50 Copies.
The New Movement and Bookwar - Antipati
Bookwar Records BK52. 7” lathe cut clear vinyl.
The New Blockaders & Kommissar Hjuler - Karawane I & II
Obskyr Records OB008. Picture disc. 100 copies.
Hate Poem & Depletion/Audiorcist
Hate Poem Self-Released Split Series LP. HPS012
Demons That Drove - Pigpusher
Obskyr Records. OB006 2 X CD. 36 copies.
Step Further Away - A Distortion of the Senses.
Obskyr Records. OB004 CD. 50 copies.
The New Blockaders. The New Movement. The former; Dada inspired sonic nihilists for whom the destruction of everything and the rejection of everything is just a starting point. The latter … are ... what? acolytes, side project, covers band?
Exhibit A; The New Movement LP/12” ‘Theory of Nothing’. As an artistic statement its as good as you will find; heavy duty white vinyl, cream labels, heavy duty sleeve, minimalist lowercase text, one side plays 45 the other 33. It has class written all over it. Then theres that male figure with the word ‘ANTI’ writ huge across the midriff. A figure dressed in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, balaclava ... hang on a minute ... When you play it the sounds are pure TNB. Things being broken, things being smashed. All in glorious sensuround stereo. It sounds good. It feels good. I like the sound of things being broken. But can I tell The New Movement and The New Blockaders apart? No. On a blind listen I’d say that even the keen ears of a quality noise producer would struggle to tell the difference. Perhaps there is no difference. Perhaps they just swap each others material around. Just for the laughs. Then again.
Do we need two TNB’s? Probably not. I dare say that one TNB is enough for some and too much for many. Well we haven’t got two TNB’s. We’ve got one and they live in Newcastle while The New Movement live in Sweden. Where the cross pollination comes in I know not but there it is, it does exist. The New Movement are Kenny Johansson and Tony Eriksson. Johansson runs Obskyr Reords. Its him I have to thank for this huge pile of noise and my confused state of mind.
They’ve collaborated of course. At least once to my knowledge on a hand made release that contained a cassette inside a toy piano, in an edition of one that went for an eye watering amount of money on eBay to a no doubt totally insane TNB completeist. But that's not in this package. ‘Theory of Nothing’ is THE release here though. The pick of the bunch. Any TNB fan will cream their pants upon hearing it. The A side is a studio workout, all squeaky metal, constant crashing, biscuit tins full of rusty nails getting chucked about. Not TNB’s first LP but not far off either. The flip is two live tracks as recorded recently in Sweden. Maybe a tad faster than a TNB recording. Put it down to nerves. The results are pretty much the same. Especially on the first track. On the second a wind up gramophone needle finds itself stuck in the run off groove of an old shellac disc as further lumps of metal and electronic gadgetry are bashed in to different shapes.
TNB do appear on an eyeboggling picture disc with fellow absurdist Kommissar Hjuler. An epic release and not just because it seems to last for as long as the limits of the vinyl will allow it. A live recording of a piano being destroyed. There’s wood snapping, keys being hit, someone singing a ridiculous falsetto [Hjuler?] and clucking like a chicken, wheezy accordions, bottles being rattled, electric drills, mad cackling laughter, the sound of a distraught participant. People can be heard talking in between the hammer blows and laughing at the absurdity of it it all. The whole piece seems to rise to a crescendo at one point before slowly making its way back to those first, solitary hammer blows. A symphony of the absurd. The joyous sound of things being smashed to bits. Released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dada and dedicated to Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara. I’m sure they’d be immensely proud.
So what of the rest? The collaboration between TNM and Russian synth trio Bookwar on the 7” lathe, had me checking whether my needle had been collecting dust for the last two weeks. Nothing but murk, buried Russian vocals and things being hit. The split CD at least gives you a chance to hear them and sometimes it works but mostly it doesn’t. I’m all for ranting in Russian, especially when there’s lots of synths around but synth drums? If anything dates a record its synth drums and this was recorded last year. All live tracks, the best being the longer 11 minute work out where you can really get your head in to the zone. The two TNM tracks are good too, piercing feedback, high pressure water hose hitting the bottom of a galvanized bucket. Yeah but synth drums?
Kenny Johansson turns up as one half of Hate Poem & Depletion on the split with Audiorcist and an instantly forgettable slice of workmanlike noise it is too. A lo-fi live recording containing a wordless cover of TG’s Discipline. A lo-fi recording that you cant help thinking would have been better left on the master tapes. Unless you’re in to lo-fi poor quality noise gigs that is, where everything is in the middle and all the dynamics have been shrunk to tiny testicles. The split does introduce us to Krister Bergman who is both Audiocrist, Demons That Drove and Step Further Away. Audiocrist, Demons That Drove displaying quality Power Electronics while Step Further Away moves more into Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works II territory. The two Audiocrist tracks are full on hypnotic churning noise, wailing vocals, early Smell & Quim muck buried in a leaky nightsoil bucket. Pigpusher, originally released on the American Black Noise label and here getting the 10th Anniversary treatment [with the addition of five tracks of, I’m assuming, new stuff], is solid too with Bergman not afraid to leave behind the noise in favour of more Industrial Ambient workouts as on the soundtrack-esque Cadaver Carnival. His PE work is terrific though, ‘Showtime’ is the madman’s confession delivered through a blizzard of noise and the kind of track, that when encountered out of the blue, makes it all the more delicious. Of course Step Further Away isn’t in the same league as Aphex Twin but that doesn’t mean that this hour long ambient trip through empty factories isn’t without merit. Its low key mood, its randomly struck scaffolding poles, dripping water and feeling of dank, dark places is enough to turn any comfortable living space into a chilling dystopian landscape.
Obskyr is Swedish for obscure which is what Krister Bergman is. I found four tracks of Cocteau-ish acoustic tracks on Bandcamp and that was it. Maybe that's him in the balaclava?
Sunday, July 09, 2017
D. Coelacanth - Tony Eats Screws
CDR - No label.
Me and Mrs. Fisher were in Paxos doing our best to help out the Greek economy. Bleeding euros everywhere we went, trying to stay cool in the 40C afternoons. Its a small island, 2,500 people and about the same number of cats. Most of them are lazy and skinny with the heat. The cats of course.
We eat every meal al fresco and drink too much white wine and three star Metaxa. The Retsina's four euros a bucket but you don’t want to go there. The foods pretty good too; spanokopita, fresh fish, Greek salads, great bread. Then there’s the buns and and the cakes. We come back light on euros but heavy on the pounds.
One lunchtime, still early, the hot coals rising from a charcoal pit of the Taka Taka Taverna we’re sat under a shady tree ordering food and drinking wine when someone shoves a clear plastic bag in my hand.
‘You write about noise. I know’.
The face is half familiar but the reflective sunglasses aren’t helping. Five foot something, Ramones T-shirt. Strange accent. Nice tan. Must’ve been here for a while. Maybe a resident? An exile? An expat maybe? Maybe the bass player out of Dire Straits?
I look down at the CD’s. A plain cover with D. COELACANTH on one side and TONY EATS SCREWS on the other.
When I look up he’s gone.
‘Which way did he go?’ I ask but Mrs. Fisher’s been feeding a cat.
‘What are those?’ she says.
‘CD’s’ I say ‘ D. Coelacanth’.
‘I have no idea’.
We’re in a villa on the edge of Gaios. Ionian Sea, ships masts, Parga in the distance. The villa’s on two floors, sleeping downstairs, all the rest up. Its big and virtually empty. The cheap shit music system blasts out D. COELACANTH and fills the empty space with random Dictaphone musings, words, scuzz, American 50’s radio plays, a half familiar voice, a menacing voice saying ‘Tony Eats Screws’.
I wish I could rip it to the iPod so I could wander the crumbling metalled roads and olive groves with it. A bottle of ouzo and water, mixed and chilled, me sweating and delirious, lost, getting bitten by mosquitoes, late at night, disorientated, unable to compose thoughts or stagger in a straight line. Until a local finds me and sits me by the side of an ancient cistern and pours strong Greek coffee down my neck, grounds and all.
He takes me back to the villa. D. Coelacanth is still playing. Maybe its looped? No, Mrs. Fisher has been playing it non-stop since I left. I’ve been gone four hours. It’s 2 a.m. The air temperature is perfect at this time of day. Outside cicadas grate away. Inside Tony eats screws.
Whats it like I ask her? She starts gibbering. I thought she’d been on the Metaxa but no, she’d been stood stock still since I left. Hardly moved from spot. The spot where the sounds, these sounds, this voice echoes around the empty space.
‘Its like being trapped in the mind of a madman’ she says ‘he’s talking to me all the time, he never shuts up’.
We stand side by side and listened together more closely. There’s burping, coughing, the speaking of lines from horror films, words, more and more words, words, lots of them, a never ending stream of them, short sentences, ‘desperate eyes at the funeral’, ‘strange perversions of boppers corner’, ‘with his hand in his sisters pocket’, ‘what a horrible pickle to be in’, ‘listen to the steroids’. Some words are cut off mid sentence, ‘Tony eats’, ‘destruction of’, everything covered in scuzz, drowned in mud, smeared in dirt and chopped in to three second fragments, fragments of songs and classical music but always, always that voice. Menacing, rambling, never stopping, sucking words in and spitting them out with lips close to the condenser mic of a Dictaphone. Poetry of the mad. Prose of the perverted.
I did some digging around. I had to dig deep. Turns out there’s a Greek Dictaphone scene. Whodathunkit. Top of the tree is a guy called Tony Moto. Must have been him that gave me the CD’s. Maybe its him that eats the screws? I guess it couldn’t have been anybody else. But how did he know I was here? On Paxos. In Greece itself? As far as I know I hadn’t left any social media traces. A few close associates in the West Riding knew I was here. Maybe theres a link to that Posset/Chalmers/BBBlood gig in Bradford? A slender thread that links the Dictaphone machinations of Posset and Tony Moto? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never know. I have better thing to do right now. Salad to toss. Leaves to tear. Wine to uncork. The Greeks make some rather good wine on the quiet. It needs seeking out though. Just like Tony Moto.