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