Monday, July 09, 2018

The Harrowing of the North

The Harrowing of the North / New Music From Yorkshire
End of the Alphabet Records. EAR 33

150 copies.

‘I was demoralised when I left Bradford for Florida.’

The above quote comes from the composer Frederick Delius who was born in Bradford and forced by his father to try his hand at growing oranges in Florida when all Frederick wanted was to make music back home. I used the quote on a tape I released a number of years ago now. Called ‘The Feeding of the 2,079,211’ [the population of West Yorkshire at the time] it pulled together the likes of Smell & Quim, Filthy Turd, Ashtray Navigations, Astral Social Club, Ocelocelot and Mutant Ape [remember him?] all of whom resided within the counties boundaries at the time.

The Harrowing of the North goes one step further than ‘Feeding …’ and extends its remit to include the whole of Yorkshire. And why not as Barry Norman used to say. Being the largest county in England [did anybody ever tell you that?] its bound to be chock full of all manner of interesting noises, sounds and musics and we’re not talking indie bollocks Pigeon Weddoes bollocks footy anthem bollocks or hair metal from Sheffield.

From ‘Feeding …’ only Ashtray Navigations find themselves making the leap to ‘Harrowing …’. Having lived in Leeds for so long now we can give both Phil and Mel honorary citizenship. They deserve it. They open it. As they should and they still sound as important and vital as ever. Its to the new names and new arrivals that I point my finger at first though. Thank you for coming and being here [and to those of natural birth for staying]; Sophie Cooper, Stuart Chalmers, Core of the Coalman, Eleanor Cully, the ethereal and esoteric Hawthonn, the visceral YOL and here for the first time the much vaunted Guttersnipe, Leeds’ most talked about but label shy band who give us a tantalizing eight seconds worth of a drumstick rattle, a scream and a ‘what for’, which is a near as you’re going to get to a ‘fuck you’ on musical terms. A couple of names are totally new to me; Eleanor Cully and Soon the Light, the former a Huddersfield based composer with one minute and twelve seconds of deep rumbling that could have been recorded from the insides of a pillow that was inside a piano when the lower register keys were being gently hit, the latter this counties answer to Amon Düül meets Yes’s trippier moments with some like deeply stoned ethereal female vocals and gently strummed acoustic guitars.      

Neil Campbell whose duty it has been to collate and supply the sleeve notes [and who along with Ashtray Navigations this compilation would seem incomplete] appears with Vibracathedral Orchestra who have the longest track here, a fifteen minute drone rattler as captured live at Total Inertia. Paul Walsh, who like Campbell was once in Smell & Quim arrives under his noisy Foldhead moniker with a particularly irritating [in a good way] blast of grating computer chatter, John Clyde-Evans, last seen wandering the hills above Hebden Bridge is joined by some friends with a cut from a concert at Greenhead college thats a sinewave getting shorter and sharper.  One half of Hawthonn is Phil Legard who with last track delivers a sublime, fog across the lake drone of the gentlest measure.

We could talk about who was left out of this comp which if I were to bore you with a list could run to quite some length. A list that continues to grow. This week I discovered a band from Sheffield called Black Slipper who work within the Industrial synth pop framework as built by the likes of fellow steelers Cabaret Voltaire, Vice Versa and The Human League. Its a big county with a diverse musical background, one that continues to impress me and give me far more musical pleasure than Florida ever did. Delius was right.

Harrowing of the North is an hour long comp released to coincide with this years Tor Fest; Experimental Yorkshire, an all day event taking place at The Trades in Hebden Bridge on July the 21st. See you there.

Trades Club + Tickets Info

End of the Alphabet

More details from The Quietus

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Simon Morris - Civil War

Simon Morris - Civil War
Amphetamine Sulphate. 68pp

ISBN 978-1-7324039-0-1

My few brief years of Facebook purgatory were enlivened by the ever entertaining posts of Simon Morris. Irregular and often followed by an occasional ‘thats me done with Facebook … forever’ flourish he never the less re-appeared some weeks down the line with yet another short and precise, nail on the head take on the entire oeuvre of his favourite bands, writers and film makers.

Some of these ended up in 2016’s Tegenaria Press’s ‘Consumer Guide’ along with a numbing account of all the people who’d died while being in the Ceramic Hobs, Morris’s [still, just] ongoing chaotic psychedelic Blackpool punk rawk outfit. Consumer Guide also contained Morris’s sparse and often lugubrious views on fast food and alcohol, offering up sage advice on the joys of Weatherspoons, Greggs and green Chartreuse. Last years offering Creepshots [also via Amphetamine Sulphate] came in the form of an epistle detailing Morris’s state of mind while traveling through several British cities, his relationships, crap pubs and Lana Del Ray.

Civil War takes ideas from both these where the reviews and opinions found in Consumer Guide meet the sexual angst of Creepshots. I read it in a single sitting one Saturday evening while listening to various Chocolate Monk releases. Soon after I’d turned the last page I found a link to a harrowing piece of journalism by the Guardians Hannah Jane Parkinson, a disturbing view of her own mental health that left me feeling upset, impotent and glad that I am [to my own thinking anyway] on an even mental keel. Later in the evening I turned on the radio to discover Sarah Kane’s play ‘4.48 Psychosis’ getting the late night R3 treatment. Kane hung herself after suffering from years of depression and never saw this, her last and most controversial work performed. As Saturday nights go it was a memorable one but perhaps maybe not for all the right reasons.

Subtitled ‘The Ultimate Guide to Guns N’ Roses’ Morris dissects each album and each album track in his own withering style relishing in the bands self immolation, excesses, sordid lyrics and all round greatness. Each album and each track is also presaged by Morris’s recent liaisons, antidepressant use, suicidal thoughts and often violent and degrading sexual fantasies. Whether these meetings and fantasies are genuine and carried out or the result of the muse is never explained. Its the juxtaposition between this and the ‘how great is Sweet Child o’ Mine’ that makes the book genuinely shocking.

On ‘Yesterdays’ Morris writes;

‘After a brief and silly one where I sit on you and punch you while talking to allegedly important men and flirting with other women, I invite you as a terrified child to a Halloween treat in which I make you eat an apple and razor blade while dunking your head in water until you are dead. We both laugh a lot at this’

Outsider writers in for this catchy and unremarkable pop-metal song …’

Its the same juddering effect you find in American Psycho and the ‘where did they come from’ chapters on Genesis, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis that lay cheek by jowl with the detailed descriptions of high class prostitute mutilation.

Some passages feel like diary entries or unsent letters with Morris complaining about his belly;

What the fuck am I gonna do, eating a piece of fruit isn’t going to stop me feeling suicidal’

While on the opposite page lie detailed methods of suicide;

'Fresh razor blade vertically down the prominent artery …'

And barely concealed anger;

'If it wasn’t for your nudge-wink cry for attention piece of contemporary composition last week I would have kept my patience and wouldn’t be on this diatribe while a nation coincidentally waits for a murdering parasite to marry some daft septic bint’.

Morris’s writing is imbued with a lifetimes weariness towards death, drugs and joyless sex. What humour there is is darker than a miners pocket but you keep on reading, aghast, confused, shocked and wondering if the relationship at the centre of this book is between Morris and A. N. Other or his own mind.
And despite all this madness, on he marches. Three books now, each one an improvement on the previous and showing the writing skills needed to capture a psyche and mindset that many of us will never know, understand or wish to. Civil War gives us a brief glimpse in to that psyche and however unsettling it might be you have to keep going, you have to keep believing and hoping that some sense will come of this.

What Guns N’ Roses fans will make of it tho is anyone's guess.

Hanna Jane Parkinson

Amphetamine Sulphate


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Timglaset #8

Timglaset #8 - Lists

Found shopping lists are revealing pieces of social flotsam. If found outside a UK supermarket they may also reveal that even after decades of saturation cookery television across all channels the home nations are still filling their baskets with bottled sauces, frozen pizzas and lard.

Its all Joe Possett’s fault. He’s been posting pictures of found shopping lists on his Twitter feed which has led me to start picking up bits of scrap paper out of supermarket trolleys and off of car park floors. They’re quite revealing. In a psychologists hands a found shopping list would no doubt reveal all manner of human traits. Even the paper they’re written on can lead to exploration and explanation; backs of envelopes for the thrifty, scraps of lined paper ripped from spiral bound notebooks for the studious, post-it notes from the office worker, pre-printed shopping lists with pictures of Peter Rabbit on them for miserable joy suckers. And then there's the spelling or as is sometimes more likely the case, misspelling and then acronyms [WUL], abbreviations [POTS] and shopping lists with added doodles. Shopping lists in blue biro, blunt pencil, felt marker, the shaky handwriting of the elderly, scribble from those in a hurry and of course the items on the list itself which will more than likely tell you which social bracket the list fell in to.

What you put on your shopping list wont be found by Google but if it falls in to the hands of Joe Posset [and me and a few others] the chances are it’ll get passed around, admired, prodded, poked and generally delighted in.

Themed Swedish zine Timglaset went with ‘errors’ last time around but has taken lists as its theme for issue eight. Five long slender sections all wrapped in a Japanese like obi sash some with colour pictures, some with poems, a game you can play using a 20 sided on-line dice and lots of general good stuff in-between.

The editorial is a list. A 21 point list of things that happen when you put a zine together. David Kjellin’s list is all bullet pointed black dashes and lines and baffles me but Johannes S H Berg’s poem 'Apophatic List: finding your place w/o using GPS' contains the wonderful line ‘your 12 year old t-shirt leaves you bit by bit but the holes stay with you’. Bengt Adlers list is called ‘The List of Truths:’ and is of course two empty pages.

And so it goes. Much is baffling though especially Filip Lindberg’s ‘tider tal’ which takes up the whole of section 2 and is nothing but data and the odd bit of Swedish that even Google translate couldn’t help me with but no mistaking alcohol and a series of pictures of lots of lovely bottles of the hard stuff given to us by Malcolm Green in a piece titled ‘Curated Drinking 00 to ∞’. Michael Björn's list is a list of lists; people, places etc … Mirfield’s very own Paul Tone has a collage/diagram that is what? I have no idea. ‘Ear Training Oh Happy Day’ it says.

In section 4 Pete Spence gives a list of of 26 artists and composers all in alphabetical order [Appel to Zog] all given the first name Max with Max Ernst given a red ‘E’ for his surname. The game is in section 5 and is by someone called Ozelot and is called ‘Artistic Action Random Suggestion Table’ where upon you roll the 20 sided on-line dice and pick an action from the first column, then roll the dice and pick another action etc .. Until you have something like ‘You will ‘cut up’ ‘a post-punk’ ‘dance’ then ‘xerox’ it. Hours of fun.

Attention to detail is the thing though. On the back page of section five we find:


‘The List is Too Long’ as Eugene Chadbourne once sang. Or not as the case may be.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jacques Demierre

Jacques Demierre - ABÉCÉDAIRE/AB C BOOK
Lenka Lente. Book + CD

ISBN : 979-10-946-22-8

Jacques Demierre describes himself as an improvisor and a composer, a person interested in the relationship between language and music. Swiss born and judging by the long list of releases, installations and publications to his name a busy man. One of life's constant workers, always touring, always recording, writing, making noises and notes.

The cover shows Demierre sat at a piano, eyes front, palms on top of thighs, a picture of perfect contemplation. Which is something he does do a lot of. This book could have been titled ‘Demierre’s Philosophy on Improvisation, Methodology and lots of other things In-Between’. His philosophy on philosophy. Roland Barthes, Zhaung ZI, Derrida are all mentioned as is the Swiss born Sinologist Jean François Billeter. Demierre obviously does a lot of thinking and contemplation. A lot of deep thinking and a lot of deep listening.

Each letter of the alphabet gives Demierre the opportunity to pass thought on things that matter to him most so ‘A’ gives us ‘A Piano Tuner’, ‘Amorous’, ‘Amity’ each piece a page or so of musings and philosophising, on everything from linguistics to Luciano Berio cooking pasta [Pasta] to his work with the LDP Trio and the DDK Trio to his method of working to his thoughts on listening;

‘The ultimate state of listening, if it exists at all, is in no doubt void of emotion, or rather it entails neither the presence nor the absence of emotion. It is a kind of evenness of mood that refers us back to ourselves immersed fully in the experience’.
Expand and discuss.

Demierre also give us his views on Capitalism [this after seeing someone begging outside an Armani store], his feelings of being denied access to a concert hall’s Steinway at a prestigious event [and being told that such a grand instrument would be unsuitable for such avant garde machinations] what its like to play improv under time constrictions [it takes away the need for an ending] and so forth. Its all very readable [and dual language, the first half of the book is in French] and gave me a better understanding of Demierre who becomes yet another improviser/artists/composer that was unknown to me before Lenka Lente's introduction.

The CD contains a thirty minute vocal work called ‘Ritournelle’ a work that Demierre expands upon under ‘Y’ and ‘You’ [You, yeux, eye, I. Geddit?] and within which he attempts to capture the cyclical nature of Franz Schubert’s ‘Winter Journey’ and the last ‘lied’ of that cycle ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Man’. Winter Journey being Schubert’s take on Wilhelm Müller’s poem cycle comprising of twenty four vocal/piano compositions.

After having listened to Schubert’s ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Man’ and then to Demierre’s version I wondered how Demierre could take such a minimalist, bleak, austere and haunting composition and transform it into something totally unrecognisable. Its an exhausting listen, as exhausting as it must have been to record it with each series of words emerging staccato like in a constant morphing stream, Demierre trying to gulp down air as each word transforms form one to the other before being replaced by yet another. Exhausting yes, but exhilarating with it.


Thursday, June 07, 2018


Skullflower - Werecat Powers of the Crossroads at Midnight
Nashazaphone. NP25. LP

Someone pointed out that in the last roundup of Nashazaphone releases I forgot to include even a mention of the Skullflower LP ‘Werecat Powers ...’. This may have been subliminal. I did play it. It buzzed around my head but me and Skullflower sort of kind of don’t get on. Me preferring Bowers more contemplative work with Marcia Bassett under The Hototogisu moniker and specifically that splendidly titled De Stijl triple LP 'Floating Japanese Oof!' A 3 LP set that still manages to float my oof.

Back in the 90’s I saw Skullflower at the 1 in 12 in Bradford. Bower played his guitar with his back to the audience, all knobs on 10, for what must have been an hour, which at its end was just me and Paul Harrison. I once saw him in Manchester in a room above a pub [twas ever thus] knelt on the floor in front of a set of speakers waving two microphones about creating equally damaging, swirling waves of noxious feedback [which didn’t empty the room].

So I think I’ve got Skullflower sussed. Prejudice is a terrible trait though and blind prejudice is the worst of the lot. So there’s a very big chance that I may have had my Skullflower blinkers on when I penned that last Nashazaphone review realising subconsciously that I had left it out and not caring that I did.

My respect for Nashazaphone and its founder Hicham Chadly means that I now beg all your forgivenesses and give you my most humble opinion of ‘Werecat Powers …' which despite the title I find myself warming to. I may go further. I actually deeply like it. Not love it or want to marry it but if I heard it while at a friends house I would inquire of that person as to its origins and where I could purchase a copy. I even like the Bacon-esque cover.

Here Skullflower is Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies with their ongoing part of a Nashazaphone trilogy that according to the press release revolves around investigations in to the ‘Darkness of Aegypt’ which leads me to believe the pair may have been taking succor from Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings, a book I’ve never got around to despite it getting the thumbs up from William Burroughs and being sat on my to read pile for years.

If this is what Skullflower are up to know I’m interested. All three tracks bear a similarity with the first side long track ‘We Move on Points of Shattered Mirrors’ a ceremonial like, buried deep, high end drone containing what I’m taking to be heavily processed guitars that constantly crash against each other in collapsing waves of Stygian gloom. The flip ‘Charnel Ground’, is a bass heavy throbbing oscillating drone that masks all manner of guitar skitter while last track ‘Departure Lounge’ has a more cinematic appeal, the drone surging and falling, forever being pulled out of shape to an undercurrent of soaring ritual rhythm.

How this fits in with more recent Skullflower work I have no idea but I now fear I've been missing out. I'll put Floating Japanese Oof! to one side for a while. I have some catching up to do. 


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Chow Mwng

Chow Mwng - Perforation Function
Self released CDR + booklet.

We left Chow Mwng at the back end of 2017 after he [Ashley Cooke] delivered one of those total left field slugs to the jaw [that almost didn’t make it because it arrived as an email and almost got deleted] that left my head ringing with the sounds of Dada improv, cassette abuse, abstract noise and all other manner of good stuff.

That was the enigmatically titled ‘ULOT-CA’ which contained songs. Yes, songs. Not ones that you could sing to, unless you were very drunk or had taken some strange kind of drug but songs none the less. I liked it because it sounded fresh and invigorating, the work of someone working quickly when in truth it probably took a lot of effort. I was glad I didn’t delete. I’m glad I have this too for it carries on in much the same vein except these aren't songs. But I reckon I could spot it as a Chow Mwng release after ten seconds such is its singularity.

Here we have a thirty minute sound collage composition the source of which was a broken cassette tape that was itself a recording of Nurse With Wound playing last years Tusk festival. The cassette in question coming from a certain David Howcroft whose instructions to Cooke were ‘do something with it or destroy it completely’. Deciding not to destroy it completely our man put it back together and constructed something that you might describe as TNB meets Jandek meets Derek Bailey meets John Cleese doing his Monty Pythons squeaky woman voice meets Ashley Cooke reciting ‘poetry’ in a maelstrom made from carnival sounds and Dada performances. With added Adam Bohman.

I think I mentioned Bohman in the review of ‘ULOT-CA'. It has that feel to it. Of anything can happen. Of joei de vivre. Esprit de coeur and lots of other things that probably need italics. What starts out like Derek Bailey trying to work out the chords to Sultans of Swing morphs through radio noise, capstan abuse, throat singing, smokers coughing and toneless chanting to ‘improvised prose’ the text of which you’ll find in the booklet.

A big part of the appeal, even if it is only for a short duration is Cookes speaking/singing voice where words like soil become a stilted ‘so-oil’, a matter of fact voice that at times is a bark and at others softens and comes down a semitone as if whispering in your ear. How much of that half destroyed Nurse With Wound tape survived on here is open to scrutiny but there’s plenty in here that is decidedly Nurse-esque; samples of ancient TV shows, lunatic accordion squeezing, plucked bridge strings, un-sourceable rhythmic loops, whether this is Nurse or Cooke I can only guess. Only the man himself will know.

As good as last years ‘ULOT-CA’ was a part of me hoped that this was going to be more than another collection of off-kilter songs. I'm happy to report that this is the case. The man has surpassed himself.

Monday, June 04, 2018


Nurse With Wound - Changez Les Blockeurs
United Dirter. DROMLP138

Nurse With Wound reworking The New Blockaders first album provides the opportunity to  dig out the original just to remind myself of its uncanny ability to remain as fresh and invigorating as it did on the day it was released thirty five years ago. Not that I should look for an excuse. In a just world the playing of ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’ should be a yearly ritual carried out by any discerning noise fan, the pulling of the record from the sleeve with dainty fingers, the settling of the needle, a gentle, appreciative rub of the sleeve, all a preamble to playing what will always be regarded as one of the best noise albums ever made.

How it was recorded is a secret thats been carried through those thirty five years by the Rupenus brothers who created it. When played it as part of this months Wire Invisible Jukebox selection Storm Bug’s Steven Ball remarked that it sounded like someone ‘building a shed’. I myself have described it as two elephants fencing on squeaky bicycles, or something like that anyway, that it sounds like nothing else before or since is the reason why I and lots of others keep returning to it.

Back in 2004, on its 21st anniversary, Vinyl-On-Demand gave it the reissue treatment and thats the copy I go to when I need my chakra realigned after listening to too many mediocre noise albums. It puts you back to where you need to be. Its construct is simple but yet devastatingly effective; it could be two elephants fencing on bicycles and it could be two squeaky wheelchairs fighting over a slack spring, it could or an army of tin men dismantling a Jean Tinguely sculpture while bouncing around on pogo sticks in need of 3-in-1. Is this the result of hours worth of studio work or did two people really once go down to the shed at the bottom of their garden and chuck some rusty metal about for 40 minutes? We’ll never know and thats half of the appeal.

I’m informed that Steve Stapleton was the first person to hear ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’ and it seems fitting that he’s the first of several numerous notables to give us his reworking of it [a 3CD set of interpretations called Changez Retravaillé via Italian label Ricerca Sonora lies imminent] or as it says on the back of the sleeve ‘NWW Plays TNB’. So what do you get for your hard earned apart from an excellent cover by Babs Santini the back of which features someone getting a custard pie in their face, an insert that mimics the Nurse With Wound list with the bands and artists replaced by the TNB manifesto and a piece by Paul Hegarty that weaves the pair of them into the Surrealist, Dada, avant-garde ethic? You get ‘Hallelujah T.N.B.’ which sticks closest to the original and a black hole dense ‘T.N.B. Amen’.

On ‘Hallelujah T.N.B.’ the squeak, grind and groan of the original appears to have been intensified, an intensity that is eventually joined by the heavenly choir of the Latter Day Saints their angelic voices emerging from the tumult until they themselves become subsumed, morphing their way into new structures and sub-harmonies. ‘T.N.B. Amen’ is a dense lower down in the mix loop, the high end buried flat going around in an industrial dryer becoming ever more hypnotic as it progresses. In their somewhere is Changez Les Blockeurs, with all its shuffles and clangs and scrapes and screech. And that's it. Simple but effective. A palimpsest of sorts. You can’t improve on a classic though. This is a new work and should obviously be seen as such. Comparisons are futile. Nurse With Wound bring us back to the original via a much darker route. It's Nurse with Wound's main road. Raise a glass, or a hammer and give thanks.

I hope I’m still here for the fiftieth anniversary where I will perform my own personal Changez Les Blockeurs ritual once more, with the same LP I have now, maybe a slightly more worn copy by then but one still capable of revealing its deepest mysteries.

Dirter Nurse With Wound The New Blockaders  Ricera Sonora



Monday, May 14, 2018

Smell & Quim - Atom Heart Motherfucker

Smell & Quim - Atom Heart Motherfucker
Vis a Vis Audio Arts. Cassette. 10 copies.

At least MP3’s [and their variants] allow you to download lots of music for nothing. No more forking out actually money to someone in return for a physical format that you can form some kind of a relationship with. Begone foul physical format and darken my door no more. Its now possible for you to download Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue in less time than it takes to get to the bottom of this page [that’s if you live in South Korea not North Yorkshire] and not one penny to the man himself. I don’t know how some of you sleep at night. 

I have found another advantage though. Its what happens when you come across something by Vis a Vis Audio Arts, the home of Juntaro Yamanouchi, known to his friends and colleagues as The Gerogerigegege, arch masturbator, releaser of ridiculously limited output, putter of noise inside Ramones LP sleeves to confuse Ramones completists, who has decided to release this and two other Smell & Quim releases, [Cuntybubbles and Quimtessence] in editions of ten. Only one of which has made it to these shores and now resides, quite rightfully, in the hands of Milovan Srdenovic. All is not lost though. Thanks to Lawrence Burton, his excellent Ferric Archeology blog and the blessing of MIlovan Srdenovic there’s a link to a download where you can not only enjoy the bone crushing, Sutcliffe swooning sounds of Smell & Quim you can also blow up and enjoy in all its sick glory the suitably nauseous cover that features a poo smeared coprophagic maniac sticking his head down a toilet [a man who it has to be said looks remarkably like a sans tat Srdenovic but whom, I am assured, is definitely not him].

Such is the quality of Atom Heart Motherfucker that over its eight tracks I find it hard to select a standout but ‘Careful With That Axe Micky’ comes pretty near. A rancorous frame built of things being smashed, its destruction on a par with the best TNB can muster. Such is the clarity of the recordings you can actually feel the debris flying around your head [rumour has it that this track contains actual recordings of said Micky [Gillham, Smell & Quim provocateur] smashing his own bathroom up but I couldn’t comment any further]. ‘Cut Your Fucking Head Off’ sees a demented Srdenovic distorting the title over another blizzard of noise, ‘Westworld’ [Jamie Oliver Cromwell Mix] is at the opposite end of the spectrum and the sound of an attention getting reception bell being repetitively hit with Srdenovic intoning the words ‘fuck it, kill it bury it’, the first line getting looped into all manner of absurdity, all of it delivered in that trademark blunt and flat West Yorkshire brogue. ‘Metal Cunt’ is a fractured noise loop with the word ‘cunt’ coming at you like pies out of a custard pie gun. ‘Bucket Full of Piss’ begins with long suffering Quim resident Simon Morris asking if they’re going to play ‘Bucket Full of Piss’? And yes they do mixing in church bells and maybe the hand dryer in the Grove too. ‘Wrong Hole in One’, ‘Rock in a Sock’ and ‘Careful With That Axe Micky [slight return]’ make up the rest of this shit smeared one on ten with ‘Rock in a Sock’ continuing Smell & Quim’s continued fascination with the Yorkshire Ripper.

After all these years you could forgive Smell & Quim for knocking out something less fulfilling but age has not withered them. Atom Heart Motherfucker contains enough full on harsh noise perversity to help make Smell & Quim as relevant today as they’ve ever been. In a noisy world and after thirty years stood in front of Pete’s pisser that's quite an achievement.

Ferric Archaeology

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lie Dream of Ice Cream Crow

Olivier Brisson - Horizon Capiton
Nashazaphone. LP. NP24

Skullflower - Werecats Powers of the Crossroads at Midnight
Nashazaphone. LP. NP25

Alberto Boccardi & Stefano Pilia - Bastet
Nashazaphone. LP. NP26

Trou Aux Rats - Amour & Sepulcre
Nashazaphone. LP. NP27

Sister Iodine - Venom
Nashazaphone. LP. NP28

Left Hand Cuts Off Right - Deserted Place

Simon Šerc – Bora Scura

Unlike other formats it would appear that MP3’s are unlikely to disappear only to reappear years later on the wave of some kind of nostalgia run brought to the fore by geeky teenagers with first generation iPods in their pockets. They’re here to stay forever, just like fascism and gonorrhea. Not that there’s anywhere for them to go. You can’t see them or hold them, they’re just there. Wherever there may be. They’re the Bic pen of the stationary world, the plastic fork at the dinner table, the Boris Bike of the transport world. Disposable, irreverent and serving a purpose without being truly loved or held in the highest of steems.

My inbox continues to suffer from them but the pain doesn't just stop there. Some MP3’s aren’t MP3’s at all they’re WAVS or FLACS or some other incomprehensible acronym, some of the emails they arrive in are so long they take a full minute to scroll through, links and URL’s flying by in a whirl of blue and fuzzy jpegs, some emails aren’t just links to MP3’s either but to streaming sites and websites where you can sometimes buy a hard copy or sometimes not at all.

Then there’s my favourite kind of email. The one that leads to the promos. The promos that are for solid releases. You know the ones, the ones you can actually hold in your hand. Which is where Nashazaphone comes in. Egyptian label Nashazaphone is a vinyl only label and while I would be very happy to receive all five of their latest releases I’m more than aware of the ridiculous outlay this would involve. Its the label owner’s most common complaint ‘I’d like to send you my latest offering but I live on the other side of the world and I’ve only got so many copies and I’m skint’. Which is why I’m starting to soften on the MP3 front. They’re still at the back of the queue when it comes to formats but yes OK I’ll admit it, they do serve their purpose. 

Of the five albums that Nashazaphone sent me the one that blew me away was by Olivier Brisson. I know nothing about Olivier Brisson other than he’s involved in psychiatry and has recorded the kind of LP that Tom Waits and Faust would have made had they got together in a Montmatre back street after several rounds of Pernod circa 1973. Its not only one of the best records I’ve heard this year, its one of the best I’ve heard in a very long time. Horizon Capiton is a continually unfurling somnambulistic trippy dreamy hypnogogic Gallic trip par excellence, a series of melancholic mini works segued and held together by a myriad of sounds; wheezy Gitane stained accordions, opera singers that emerge from hand wound gramophone players, badly tuned talk radio [in French obvs], gun shots, random shouts, Wurlitzer organ, pianos played in empty rooms full of mad people, electronic spazz, slowed down voices, multiple voices, muttered voices, the voices of children, unidentified machinery, musical boxes, drones, tape squelch, electric guitar squeals. The list is endless my enthusiasm not. I’ve played it on repeat many times now and its still giving something to me. A remarkable release and one I shall be buying on LP.

The rest isn’t too shabby either with French three piece noise heads Sister Iodine going full bore with an album that, according to the press release, took five years to put together. Expect something nearer the Industrial/Power Electronics spectrum with plenty of blasted synth noise and succubus like vocals. Trou Aux Rats is more pre-Industrial SNES experimentation with an organ that stopped working properly a long time ago. This being the work of Romain Perrot who you may know as the man behind bin bag head noise outfit Vomir. Andy Bolus likes it so thats good enough for me. Alberto Boccardi & Stefano Pilia give us four electro-acoustic compositions full of overdriven guitar doing passing overhead Jumbo jet impressions and then there’s the clang of strings, ripped out jack plugs, aching dronewaves and gentle cymbal brush.

Left Hand Cuts Off The Right is the work of Robbie Judkins whose looped piano works on Desired Place were composed as therapy after a recent suicide attempt. I think it may have been a certain Mr Cammack who alerted me to the prowess of Mr. Judkins many moons ago and whatever I’ve heard by him has been solid and worthwhile. Like that Mr. Chalmers he seems capable of making something out of very little, be it thumb pianos, field recordings, melodicas, radios, transforming whatever is at hand into something else completely. Here the piano is hit lower register the resonant hums being looped to create deep feelings of melancholy. Mordant and beautiful at the same time. The cassette has gone but the MP3/FLAC etc lives on.
Simon Šerc’s release Bora Scura contains pure recordings of the high winds that plague the town of Ajdovščina in Slovenia. Due to geographical slight the cold winter Bora winds can reach speeds of up to 200 kmh regularly taking lots of things with them. I guess the local roofer’s a busy man. Šerc’s unadulterated recordings not only reveal passing tractors and church bells but the obvious ferocity of the winds, both outdoors and in. The ‘in’ being far more terrifying than the ‘out’ as the force of nature finds the gaps between windows and brick and forces itself down chimney breasts and through doors screaming along and threatening to tear everything down with it. An hour and fifteen minutes was plenty though but nowhere near what the locals have to put up with. Quite how they cope with such terrifying winds is beyond me. I’d expect this kind of extreme weather on the South Pole not in Europe. What makes it work is the juxtaposition of these extreme winds with the more mundane sounds of everyday life, those tractors and church bells, a dripping tap, a creaky floorboard. Life goes on.


Left Hand Cuts Off The Right

Simon Šerc


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Wreckers Ruin + D Coelacanth

Wreckers Ruin
Recycled cassette.

D Coelacanth - Nancy Creaks In Graveyard Slime
Recycled cassette + badge + vintage photo

And as the good idea that was Record Store Day slowly descends into the feeding frenzy it was destined to become, let us cast our minds back to when records were something you bought to help you hear music.

In his Saturday diary column the Guardian’s John Grace mentioned that Record Store Day was upon us once more and how this fact reminded him that he’d got rid of his vinyl thirty years ago and now his head is constantly full of thoughts as to how much all those records must now be worth. Millions perhaps. Enough to retire on at least. They’re not records any more they’re money shitting circles of crackly wax that lie in the hands of someone who doesn’t deserve them.

Thanks to Record Store Day there's now a cynical manufactured market for those super limited vinyl releases that everybody wants but only those mad enough or determined enough to start queuing at 2 a.m. outside Jumbo Records in Leeds [and other independent record stores around the world] are likely to see. Slapping down on the counter a wants list running to over 20 choice items our intrepid, sleepless, grumpy and soon to be listing on eBay vinyl ‘fan’ can look forward to steeping his weary bones in a hot bath full of aromatic oils as the bids on his recently purchased ABBA single pass the fifty quid mark.

I can’t remember the last time I was in a record shop to be honest. I try to avoid them these days seeing as how the prices being asked for vinyl gets me all hot and angry. £40 for Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ as reissued on 180 gramme high fidelity audiophile taken direct from the studio masters vinyl? Thank you very much. Kerching. Remember the late 80’s and early 90’s when a CD could knock you back £17? Well vinyl has replaced that CD cash cow and thats why ‘record shops’ are asking £40 for something you can buy for £3 on Discogs including postage and packaging [I just checked and oh alright its not on 180 gramme high fidelity audiophile taken direct from the studio vinyl but it’ll still do the job].

Looking at the snaking queues of happy vinyl hunters/scalping gouging bastards taken outside record stores on Saturday morning as posted on Twitter by deliriously happy record store owners had me chuckling deep in to my bowl of Golden Nuggets. Some of them opened early so as to let in all those bedraggled, been there since 2 a.m. punters. Some of those been there since 2 a.m. punters got upset and Tweeted that the queue wasn’t going down quick enough and that there was every chance that they weren’t going to get the mystery test pressing of a various artists LP that was being given away for free or that all the Led Zeppelin singles were going to be gone and that they’d have to settle for something by Shaking Stevens and hope that there were enough Shaking Stevens fans out there in eBay land willing to pay more than the asking price.

And have you noticed how those queues are full of males of a certain age? Of a colour of a certain type? Looking for a music of a certain type? There are exceptions of course and I dare say there were takers for last years Alice Coltrane 10” and Jazz and Reggae releases do feature in Record Store Day but the overwhelming weight of sales run along a white male rock demographic.  

And that can get very boring, very quickly.

Instead let us turn to something far more interesting and something that is unlikely to interest those who spend two days and nights in April queuing outside a record shop in the hope that they’ll secure a limited to 5000 copies David Bowie Greatest Hits LP that has a different mix to ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ on it.

To that man of mystery. The man whose name is written down on a scrap of paper and hidden inside the yew tree in the ancient churchyard at Burselm. He’s been called plenty of things in his time, most of them complimentary. You may know him as the Filthy Turd but that era is gone, never to return. He’s moved on now drawn to a brighter light, he’s polished his shoes and made his mark using a Sharpie he borrowed from the Jarvolater. Recently he was seen banging a four stringed out of tune guitar under the name of Ernie K. Fegg. He had a drummer with him and they never released anything. Last year, in the 40C heat of the Ionian summer he surfaced as D Coelacanth. Only the Tape Gods know where he is now.

He dumped these two stunners on me a couple of weeks back. I sat and played them on a loop while surveying the RSD queues. Struggling with the crosser I made copious notes:

Wreckers Ruin:

Proper Horror Show
Destroyed loops as recorded in coal cellars
Snatches of American scientists fighting for space with flaming pheasants and the dirty gunge found on guitar strings
The North Korean national anthem played on a circuit bent Stylophone
Rough confessions
Foul deliverances
Shriveled transmissions
Warning to others delivered through the distorting cloud of interference
Indistinct calls taken from crumbling ansaphone machines
Mutant riffs strummed on frayed nylon strings

That was good but as D Coelacanth and ‘Nancy Creaks in Graveyard Slime’ he’s created the best thing he’s done to date. If you want a solid hours worth of total mind bend then look no further for our man has somehow managed to edit together a series of short Dictaphone cut and paste randomnia that when listened to in one sitting gives the listener all the benefits of six pints of White Lightning without the danger of a hangover or liver damage.

You know the man can make sounds like no other but this is other realm. From the off there’s nothing but a constant barrage of short missives all delivered in that burry Burselm voice of his:

I could do with some thinner he shouted,
All over me knew settee
They wanted more skulls,
I collected all of it in a tiny box,
Luckily all them people were dead,
That needs a bit of work. See a specialist,
Its better out there,
There are seven types of damp,
I put me hands in,

Each line delivered in a series of voices most of them coming at you like an off his tits Patrick Stewart reading the rambling thoughts of Rampton through a paper cone.

The man is on the form of his life creating a world that no one else I know of can even come near to imagining never mind creating. A world chock full of dirty sounds, chipped mugs, the filth of forty thousand years as culled from the cassette racks of Woolies circa 1976. Hallmark Greatest Hits packages that only play one side with the other bleeding through. The monologue of a man on a mission armed only with a Dictaphone and his fevered brain. True Outsider Art.

Where you’d get Wreckers Ruin from I have no idea. Maybe you’ll have to hang around Stoke-on-Trent in the small hours looking for a small hairy creature. Chocolate Monk are carrying Nancy Creaks In Graveyard Slime though and for this they have my utmost respect. For your coin you also get a vintage photograph and a badge that says Eerie Stink. Neither release will require the packing of a sleeping bag and a flask.

Chocolate Monk


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Silver Dick + Saboteuse

Saboteuse - X
Crow Versus Crow. CVC008
Cassette. 50 copies.

Silver Dick
Feeding Tube Records. FTR 335LP
LP [including DL code]. 300 copies.

The above two releases have been causing a bit of stir of late. Silver Dick with a glowing review courtesy of Byron Coley and Saboteuse courtesy of The Bearded Wonder who was seen to be visibly shaking with excitement when the subject arose during last weeks Silver Dick gig at the Wharf Chambers. They are good though. Both of them. I’d go as far as to say that the Saboteuse release is one of those only-comes-along-once-in-a-while genre busting releases that you continuously listen to with a mixture of awe of rapture. And then you play it again.

The common theme is Joincey, that ever present constantly working underground figure who seems to have been around since the year dot. With Silver Dick he’s behind the drums while in Saboteuse he’s opposite long time collaborator Andy Jarvis with whom he shares the same initials. I’m liking the synchronicity. I’m also liking the sleeve written in Joinceys distinctive small case hand and that all the tracks begin with ‘the’ except for the last track ‘ROMMET’. Recorded in 2014/15 its only seeing the light of day now for reasons I can’t fathom. I can’t believe that something as wondrous as this has failed to find a label for three years.

Maybe its because its the harshness of the opener ‘the comedian’ and its moans in one ear and cries in the other, a machine in constant collapse and Joincey’s distinctive spoken word vocals that at times bring forth both Genesis P-Orridge and Mark E Smith both of whom would have been born a not too long a car drive away from Joincey’s place of birth. Next track ‘the drive’ opens a capella and then in the background a washing machine drum descending stone stairs with a brick in it. ‘the bloodhound’ has reversed tape EVP and a guitar being hit with a bottle, a silent movie soundtrack going in reverse. I made notes on each track here, all ten of them before it struck me that each has its own distinct style, Joincey’s voice is moody and effect laden, when its bare its revelatory, when he mentions Rochdale I think of MES. On ‘the crossbow’ there's the panning sound of the wind and Joincey speaks/sings ‘parakeets fly over the bridge that looks cool’. AJ one is ‘the stalker’ AJ two is ‘the painter and decorator/the executor, the executioner’. Andy Jarvis fills this wonderful world with loops and noises and spazzy guitar and riffing bass thumps. ‘The devil’ opens up with swirling noises, its noise/pop like what The Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded like if they came from Stoke-on-Trent. ‘the thumbnail’ is glitch, ‘the umbrella’ drone noise, last track ROMMET finds a multi tracked Joincey singing/talking ‘the flowers don’t smell’. The last words you hear are ‘do you feel anything’.

I most certainly do.

Saboteuse have been spitting out the odd release for the last ten years or so now but none have them have given me the goosebumps like this one. Previous releases have been more in the improv vein [to these ears at least], noisier, edgier, rougher but ‘X’ is it. Its easily the pairs best release yet and for two people with such vast back catalogues and such a depth of experience working and releasing within what passes for the underground these days, its easily one of their best.

That ‘X’ is limited to 50 copies and only available on cassette and download is laughable. Feeding Tube have done an excellent job with Silver Dick and I urge them with every tiny fibre of my being to give this the vinyl treatment too.

Actually I was lying about Joincey being the common factor between these two releases, Kate Armitage appears on them both too, as a ‘thanks’ on ‘X’ but as a full blown member of Silver Dick where she is credited with guitar and vocals, as is Martin Greenwood, all of them blowing in to things and singing, the sounds being off kilter improv pop with a Joincey on drums, vocals and ‘other’.

Whether its improv or not is open to conjecture. Seeing them play in Leeds last week I kind of recognised some of the songs once I got the vinyl and listened to it from the comfort of my own Poang. But the road to Improv heaven is not a primrose lined path strewn with scented petals, its more of a weed sprouting stretch of freshly laid thin Gypsy tarmac upon which you try your best to keep a hold of your senses. Improv is not for the feint of heart and can lead to fist fights in the gutters of Leeds city centre. Some people find that anything that wanders beyond the remit of Radio 2/Classic FM to be improv in that it all sounds like people making it up as they go along anyway. Its a tricky subject, where does improv end and structure begin? I’ll ask John Zorn the next time I see him in Tescos.

The eponymously titled Silver Dick has six tracks the longest being the opener ‘Reps’ that stretches all the way to 13 minutes and pretty much encapsulates all that is good about Silver Dick; mumbled vocals from Armitage [think someone singing after eating glue and being asleep for two weeks], battered rim shots, scraggly guitar, stretches of not much happening and wild racket. The see-sawing guitars of ‘Roman’ are head swimmingly swoony while second longest track ‘A Horse With No Opinion’ ventures the nearest to song structure with a recognisable slowed down naked strummed guitar chord progression and singing that emerges as if from the depths of a coal cellar. ‘Caul’ sees Armitage singing as if a small child trying to memorise a nursery rhyme by repeating it over and over again all this to a background of blown pipes and spidery notes plucked from high on the guitar neck. As a trio they fit perfectly with the wonk and bend somehow suggesting form before tearing it up and shoving it into toot filled rooms full of scrabble and dink.

Byron Coley calls it the ‘new, new thing’ which is good enough for me.

Crow Versus Crow

Feeding Tube Records



Friday, March 30, 2018

Xann 4 - The Final Countdown

Primitive Knot

Xann 4 - The Final Countdown

Primitive Knot
Silver Dick
La Brea Pulpit

Wharf Chambers, Leeds, March 23rd, 2018.

The 254 leaves Cleckheaton at 18.41 and the last one back is 22.30. Seeing as how Leeds bus station is but a five minute walk from the Wharf Chambers this gives me about three hours within which to get some Sams Smiths down me and enjoy some bands as put on by that Mr Zanntone mister.

I’ve been going to Leeds gigs in the car of late. I can park up cheap in the Trinity car park and be home within twenty minutes of getting in the car. If I’m lucky I can get a spot outside the Wharf Chambers and if I’m really lucky I can go home with both wing mirrors intact and no parking tickets from over zealous traffic wardens but for some reason I fancied a few beers. So I went on the bus.

But first the illness. For the last three weeks a dreaded lurgi had descended into the very marrow of my fibre rendering me a weak and useless bag of bones. I ached the aches of a thousand men and awoke every morning feeling I’d done ten rounds with Kendo Nagasaki. I had to take time off work and spent two days wandering around the house a morose and defeated figure looking out of the window wondering what it would be like to be normal again. Then one day I did feel normal again and realised there was a gig I could go to and seeing as how I hadn’t a drink in a while I could go to the Wharf on the bus and drink some Sam Smiths. Oh frabjous day.

That last bus is a killer though. For reasons that I’ll never fathom the ever reliable 22.30 double decker last bus out of Leeds had for some time been replaced by a shuttle bus usually driven by a psychotic 17 year old speed freak. The normally staid ride down the dark roads of the A58 dropping off happy drunks a short walk from their homes became a torrid snow globe of people. Passengers clung to upright supports as if their lives depended on it and gingerly dismounted the bus looking visibly shaken, tottering the first few pavement steps like sailors losing their sea legs.

Still, if I’ve had a few bottles of Sam Smiths Imperial Stout 7% ABV £3.00 for a 330ml bottle thank you very much the pain of being involved in a serious road traffic accident would be lessened somewhat. At least for the first hour or so. So I went on the bus.

With two bottles of Sam Smiths Imperial Stout 7% ABV in my hand I made my way to the venue proper where I was met by Mr. Zanntone who immediately went for a pint leaving me in charge of the door where I scratched Zorro like zeds on the backs of peoples hands with a very sharp sharpie all the time apologising profusely in the hope that I wasn’t hurting them or giving them blood poisoning and thus becoming the subject of litigation.

The Wharf eventually became full of the wonderful characters it attracts, there was a bloke with a beard who held his mobile phone two inches from his nose and laughed like a lunatic into it, when La Brea Pulpit began a young slip of a man appeared from nowhere and began to vigorously shake his head and dance the dance of a thousand loons. He was really into it. Man. La Brea Pulpit being a duo of Gretchen from Guttersnipe and Pete Cann whose resemblance to a young Duane Allman grows stronger every time I see him. They mad a noise racket which sounded like a noise record with rhythm in it from which the rhythm had been stripped which meant it was fractured and disjointed but equally engaging. There should be more noise duos.

Catching the last bus meant I wouldn’t see Manchester’s Primitive Knot’s headline set but at least I see them soundcheck as I scratch zeds on the backs of peoples hands. A three piece with guitar, synth, laptop and masked vocals making pounding ritualistic dark anthems of a pagan nature or suchlike. Its hard to get a grip after only hearing one song but they appear to be worth investigating and are creating quite a stir amongst the various bald heads.

What came next surprised me no end. The Leeds duo of Hawthonn. The married duo [I’m assuming] of the Legard kind who between them held those assembled rapt with their whispered folk like field recording electronica. After ten minutes of this most mesmerizing of musics most people in the room were swaying like corn stalks in the breeze, me amongst them. With sounds assembled from bird song and the treatment of various bone rattles they took it in turns to whisper breathy vocals creating an atmosphere in the Wharf that I’ve never experienced before, a dreamy, featherlight atmosphere of drift and calm. A little bit of 21st century Paganism brought in to the heart of Leeds city centre.

The headliners for me would be Silver Dick. An improv trio featuring your man Joincey on drums and two electric guitars peopled by Kate and Martin who said at its end ‘you’ve had your fun, now fuck off’. Charming. As with most of what Joincey gets involved with its a compelling listen and for some in the room a trip down memory lane and the Termite Club and improv where pluck and parp were the order of the day. Joincey hit some finger cymbals with a stick, hit a drum, Kate pulled on guitar strings and blew down a pipe that may have been a small section of plastic tubing. Martin blew down a small section of what could have been plastic tubing and pulled his guitar strings. They all blew down sections of small plastic tubing and made wonderful wonky improv and along the way a rhythm may have grown in to something quite wonderful. A wonderful wonky improv that I’m struggling to compare but that sounds like a load of pop records and a load of improv records smashed together in a bag with a ball pien hammer and then glued back together again where they fit best. Which is a good thing. Sadly I took no notes. I never do and I’m writing this three days after the event so all I have is the memories of this and the queue for the beer and the scratchy zeds and the chat and the last bus home which wasn’t a shuttle bus driven by a seventeen year old speed freak but a proper double decker. A cracking night out.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Whiteness & Pinkness

Ex-Crown - 646 592 3423
Cassette. C10. Whiteness & Pinkness #1
70 Copies.

Three Resurrected Drunkards - The Dagger in the Flesh
Cassette. C72. Whiteness & Pinkness #2
100 Copies.

Various - Whiteness and Pinkness
Single sided flexi. Whiteness & Pinkness #10
250 Copies.

Moffarfarrah - Primo
Cassette. C45. Whiteness & Pinkness #19
20 Copies.

PVA in Hair - Sumptuary Law
Cassette. C5. Whiteness & Pinkness #62

Whiteness & Pinkness
A4 Zine + Badge.

There are weird labels and there’s Whiteness & Pinkness. A label so far out there in Weirdsville Australia they put YOL and Filthy Turd in the definite mainstream. Try that one on for size.

I like Whiteness & Pinkness because they don’t try very hard. I don’t like labels that try too hard, are too earnest, that flood my inbox everyday with entreaties to follow the link and download the press release and if you could spare but five minutes of your time ... I like labels that just get on with it, small numbered runs and that great feeling of being detached from whatever it is that passes for normal in your kitchen. Whiteness & Pinkness do that and thats what I like.

I like this Tom Smith/Pit Noack tape I’ve been playing for the last hour. Thats them in the Three Resurrected Drunkards disguise a-warbling and a-singing their way through two sides of Las Vegas crooner meets the muck inside a forty year old flip top school cassette recorder thats playing a recording of a 1940’s pinball machine doing Hugo Ball impersonations. This is thick loam. You can grow weighty taters in this shit.

What Whiteness & Pinkness have done is send me a smattering of their back catalogue for my perusal. Its a direction I encourage all other labels to follow as its a good way of getting a feel for the label over a short period of time, plus its a good way of getting rid of those releases that have failed to sell out.  Its also a jiffy bag from Australia rammed with goodies and not a link in an email. Its my favourite kind of communication.

Whiteness & Pinkness released the YOL/Filthy Turd double cassette extravaganza cassette back in 2013, I got one of the 20 measly copies that were made available [no download or Bandchump for you] all on recycled cassette, all glorious, ground down to magical noise dust. Twenty copies. The madness of it all. And it is mad. I’m still in Smith/Noack territory here so bear with me and then the thundering of subway trains and electronica that could be the ultra-distorted sound of electric guitar strings being twanged.

Lets start at the very beginning with a pink cassette in a white box and ten minutes of Ex-Crown [Miles Pflaz] ringing various pay phones in and around the New York City area and getting not much in reply but answer machine messages, number not in service robot responses and the scream of fax data for his trouble. What makes it work is Pflaz’s flat monotone vocal delivery and his actual shock when someone does answer, which I think was once. On the flip he tries to bamboozle the telephone companies voice recognition software by giving it ridiculous commands such as ‘bring me oysters in a half shell’ and ‘I have a gun, empty the register’ all of which illicit the response, ‘sorry no match found please try again’. As one sided conversations with robots go its all rather wonderful.

On a sickly yellow cassette we have Moffarfarrah and the abuse of vocal chords as spat out through the speeding and slowing capstans of various cassette players. Dictaphones maybe? The voice a ah-ahing and growling, dog like and then holding the note. The full Minton. Mouth held close to condenser mic gobcore with just the added soupcon of treatments giving it the ghostly feel of an unmade horror flick as recorded on a new school Nokia 3310. When the voice is slowed to absolute sludge is where it works best.

The shorter the tape the bigger the box hence the PVA in Hair release appears in a 7x7 box with a blob of hardened green PVA  on it [I’m guessing]. Side one is two males having a conversation about a TV actress and a straight cut from an American comedy/TV commercial replete with gales of canned laughter. The flip continues the conversation interspersed with cuts from Australian TV chat shows. This could be something deep. This could be something shallow. It could be the kernel from which an Australian author finds the urge to write the greatest Australian novel, the Australian Ulysses, The Ozzie Moby Dick. We will never know. One side is titled Shabby Chic Mania, the other Hydrogen Peroxide.

Which leaves the flexi and the zine and the outsized button badge which I will never wear.
The zine is a shiny cut and paste typewriter job, maybe laser printed and double stapled on the flat thus making the folding out of the pages a difficult task. Its a catalogue of sorts with info on the first 13 W&P releases including a review of the zine and the flexi which is weird. There’s an interview with Miles Pflaz and Always and reviews of suitably outre material tucked in at the back. Due to the nature of the stapling, the shiny surface and the numerous crossings out it makes it hard to read which is what comes with zine territory and seems fitting in Whiteness & Pinkness world. The flexi contains tracks by Always, Sneak and Mackle Jackle and is prime weirdo material with a musical box accompaniment to a recital as to what someone is going to do to someone else [Always], the Australian Smegma meets Butte County in a homemade ethnic instrument kind of way [Sneak] and life in Stoke as seen through night vision goggles [Mackle Jackle].

For those of you of a digital bent there exists a Whiteness & Pinkness Soundcloud page. It consists of a 14 minute track by Mother’s Breast which is a conversation between two young girls and one side of the Ex-Crown release. I’d be much happier with the flexi or any of these releases to be fair, they seem to reflect the world as it is. The mere sight of a flexi in a world of downloads and links, made me go all weak at the knees. Its a mad world for sure. A mad, mad, mad, mad world and like the film of the same name it makes this spinning orb of crud a much better place to stand on.



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Murray Royston-Ward

My Neighbour Who Lives in the City of Mirrors Near my House
CDR + 2 x A5 Booklet.
80 Copies.

Language is a Virus
CDR + A5 Booklet.
30 Copies.

Improvisations 2014
A5 Booklet.
50 copies.

Murray Royston-Ward - Dissolution Matrix in Afterthought of Skies

The Sons of David Ginola - Blood Too Thick Symptoms
3” CDR + Booklet.
50 copies.

There are times when I feel as if I should get to grips once more with a ‘difficult’ novel. I become intrigued by them and the polarised reviews they garner on Amazon and Goodreads and once more think myself ready to tackle something by William Gaddis or Alexander Theroux. And when the book arrives I get about halfway through it and think to myself ‘well ... maybe I’ll pick up something by Bukowksi and come back to this later when my brain has sorted itself out’. My current obsession is with William Gass and while I’m tempted by his first novel ‘Omensetter’s Luck’ and the it-took-almost-thirty-years-to-finish ‘The Tunnel’ I think I’ll hang on until June when there’s a compendium of his work out. At the moment I’m reading ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ which is the sort of novel that demands your attention and could easily be described as ‘difficult’ but that's mainly because its written in an 18th century style and deviates more than a drunk Italian driver. At least its got some laughs in it.

Unlike reading listening doesn’t demand total concentration. Few are those who can sit and listen to an LP or a composition and give it their 100% total concentration. You can listen to music while walking, running, shagging, washing the car and doing the shopping but you cant do any of those while trying to fathom the intricacies and the sub plots of Gravity’s Rainbow [unless you’ve got the audio book - which might make the weekly trip to Lidl slightly surreal/more interesting - somebody please do this and report back. I’d do it myself but I find wandering around in public with things jammed in my ears rather disconcerting].
All this apropos of nothing much other than leading in to what Murray Royston-Ward creates which might be described in certain circles as ‘difficult’ and in others as Sir Richard Bishop jamming with some audio verite tapes.

Described on one of his two websites as ‘Material flows and internal communications from the amateur avant-garde’ Royston-Ward collects field recordings some of which he works into improvisations of his own making others of which are left unadulterated. As in ‘My Neighbour Who Lives in the City of Mirrors Near my House’ which comes with two books, one titled ‘Bangladesh Listening Notes’ describing the noise levels in various parts of Dhaka and Royston-Ward’s attempt to find ‘quiet sounds’, something he eventually loses interest in due to the constant noise pollution. The other book is called ‘Gasworks Fellowship’ and describes his month long residency at the Britto Arts Trust in Dhaka and his increasing vulnerability as the rise of Islamic extremism results in the deaths of several  foreign nationals. The accompanying CD is a collection of disparate sounds ranging from the slaughter of cattle, to conversations with locals, to locals singing all mixed in with bowed cymbals, the inevitable traffic noise and Royston-Ward wandering around the Britto gallery space sucking on glass doors. The results being spacious, loose and liminal.

‘Language as a Virus’ as you’d expect draws from William Burroughs concept of the same name and details the work Royston-Ward’s wife did in an Ebola holding center in Sierra Leone. The booklet is a collection of photos as taken by Holly Royston-Ward alongside text describing the situation there. The CD is a single 28 minute track that is a series of rapid radio and tv samples [some relating to Ebola] over which Royston-Ward recites tracts of text [taken from news stories?] also relating to the subject. Its a tough listen with each sample and tract of text ending abruptly with a violent slap/stop as if Royston-Ward is hitting the stop button on his cassette player with a lump of wood.

The two stand-alone releases highlight Royston-Ward’s penchant for sounding like Sir Richard Bishop and the hitting of pipes and steel wires. The Sons of David Ginola release ‘Blood Too Thick Symptoms’ is a collaboration with Kevin Sanders and contains many a lo-fi rumbling, humming, squeaking, squelching Alvin Lucier homage while ‘Dissolution Matrix in Afterthought of Skies’ sees Royston-Ward mix wind flutter, chair scrapes and pub chat with electric guitar frottage and tape wobble. Like Jim O’Rourke playing pool with a guitar swinging from his neck. Track six ‘Loose Women’ sounds like a Sonic Youth rehearsal as a conversation in Esperanto goes in reverse.

All of the above comes highly recommended, even the Ebola related work should you have the stamina for it. Royston-Ward also utilizes recycled paper for his books, ‘archival inks’ [whatever they might be] and environment friendly plastics for their packaging. So all is good. Not quite. Why the Bangladeshi project had to come with two separate books I cant fathom while Bangladeshi Listening Notes also contained notes from Brighouse [just down the road from me] London and Edinburgh. The use of acronyms also bugs me, its why I never joined the army, I have no idea what CNG’s or SPL’s are, Sound Protection Levels? Cars Not Guns? Cocks Not Glocks? There’s also a series of pictures taken from an unexplained exhibition visit, one displaying the mutilated corpse of a child, oh what fun and a cut up poem which I couldn’t skim through quick enough. The Improvisations 2014 book would have been of far more worth had it come with a CD of the sounds created or links to the net where the sounds could be accessed. As a stand alone book detailing the time, place and instrumentation, its only of passing interest.

Having said all that the sounds herein are eminently worthwhile and show that Royston-Ward has the ear for the juxtaposition of disparate sounds, his prose is crystal clear too. At least they’re both here to tell the tale. After having survived the threat of ISIS and Ebola I doubt that me being a tad disparaging is going to upset them. Now where's my book.