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