Friday, September 01, 2017
CHOW MWNG - ULOT-CA
CDR/DL. 25 copies come in handmade box with booklet. NWSAS C2017
Described in the accompanying booklet as ‘D.I.Y. found sound dysfunctional guitar cracked electronics weird wordplay tape music sound collage noise avant-garde abstract improvisation industrial’. Which if you’re in to that kind of thing is quite a find. Fortunately for us CHOW MWNG have somehow managed to make sense of these accumulated genres, mixed them and used them as they [he, Ashley Cooke] sees fit. Its an astonishing achievement. Something that in lesser hands would have become a horrible mishmash, a smorgasbord of disjointed, juxtaposed sounds. Instead, we have one of the most remarkable dozen songs this year. Shit ... any year.
Think 90’s era Joincey and any of his myriad solo projects spitting out songs at the rate of one a minute, think Mark Wynn, YOL, Adam Bohman, Hugo Ball, Smegma, Blood Stereo and the gurglecore crew, think The Residents fronted by an acid crazed Bob Dylan whose been reading too much Lewis Carol, cutting up the lines of his poems and gluing them on to random columns of the TV Times. Think songs sung in a spoken voice by someone who [on Tara of Banana at least) sounds like a cross between HAL and Genesis P Orridge and on others like a laconic Mark E Smith. Hear stunning lyrics like ‘Beyond the north where electricity grows on dead trees’ and smile your widest smile.
Think Stylophones, think clinking clang, think feedback, clatter, struck zithers, the bleep and bloop of malfunctioning speak and spell machines, think Dada, think outsider songwriting par excellence:
‘Use your sense of smell to attract representatives of the musical establishment’
‘Baby son coated in alien bears’.
‘Never, never, never have a plan. Be on the non plan plan’.
‘No one wants to change the world anymore it seems, we all want to be on Marc Riley’s Radio 6 music show’
Pig Head appears to be a story. Albeit a surreal one accompanied by a random banging loop. Loops appear on Shark Attack USA where Cooke is in conversation with a child, a snippet of the conversation looped to the sound of hit pots and pans.
On we Stole Your Soul While You Slept’ Cooke delivers his lines as if straight from an instruction manual, all above a racket created by a hundred wind up toys; chattering teeth, Duracell bunnies, the lot. Beneath it the gentlest of melodies.
Stop Feeding Me Emoji is the killer with a killer last line, ‘Sod off’. It shows the humour that runs through ULOT-CA [whatever that means].
We’ve even got a manifesto:
‘For me music/visual art & poetry have always been about how far a piece of work can be pushed outside of its expected boundaries and about finding new ways to experiment using found sounds/images and minimal means to produce work that draws upon the immediate world around me’.
Not since the days of those myriad 90’s Joincey one-off projects have we heard the multifarious outpourings of one man and a thousand instruments put to song. Twelve of them, each one as unique as a knobbly carrot suffused with sapphires mounted on the Queen’s carriage; Kong Replica, We Stole Your Soul While You Slept, ULOT-CA, Crum Surplus Sequence, Screed, Pig Head, Shark Attack USA, Stop Feeding Me Emojis, Pop Music is Dead, They Moved to the Cities, The Sound of Skin, Tara of Banana. I include the track titles here because for once they’re worth repeating.
This is pop music for 2017. The future of pop music. Cooke has done for pop music what Pop Art did for art. Its been under your nose the whole time. Noise. Tunes. Pop music. Its what we’ve all been waiting for. Pause your Taylor Swift Spotify stream for just one minute, look up from your smart phone, cast your eyes over the booklet of lyrics. Randy Newman just shat his pants. Give CHOW-MWNG a chance.