Sunday, December 30, 2018

Max Nordile

Max Nordile - Grey Material
No Label. Cassette.

Max Nordile - MONK/Solstice
Independent Woman Records. Cassette.

Vol - 2
No Label. Cassette.

Nothing Band - Descension/Digestion
Decoherence. DECO-09. Cassette/DL

Nothing Band - Anarchy 99

F 32. Cassette.

Breeze - Fresh Whiffs/The Guilty Baby
No Label. Cassette.

Uzi Rash - We Live on Trash
Freedom School Records. 12”

Uzi Rash - Coreless Roll Can-Liner
1234 GO! LP/DL 
Wet Drag - Work Drag
Wacky Wacko. WW08. 7”

Arriving just before Christmas 2018 this pile of goodies from Max Nordile may not only be the second best Christmas present I got it may be the reason I keep this blog from turning in to a digital mausoleum.

Yes, while in my cups I have intimated to those close at heart that 2018 may well be the last year that Idwal Fisher continues in its present format. I’ve been doing it for ten years now and will soon hit 500 posts and while I still enjoy hearing new music I was becoming just a tad bored of spending the start of most evenings politely responding to emails containing press releases and links to Drop Box saying thanks but no thanks. A part of me will forever be Old School and all that digital gubbins is nothing but whisps of smoke and ephemeral mirrors. Its there but its not there and besides I fancied putting some ideas down on paper and writing me some fiction. One problem; I have no ideas and to be a writer of fiction you need ideas. I’ll leave all that up to Mrs Fisher who seems to be doing quite well with it.

Six cassettes, an LP, a 45 RPM 12” and a seven inch single, in a box, from California at an eye watering cost to Max Nordile of nearly $40 blows all those Drop Box links into last weeks food waste bin. Nordile has done this to me before but never at such a cost and so extensively. I feel humbled and rejuvenated. For now the fiction’s on hold. Here comes more weird stuff.

Another big plus is that Nordile just sends his work out of the blue, no email before hand [which I’m sure he has access to] or dreaded Drop Box link, just a dashed off hand written note explaining what he’s sending and that's about it. It doesn’t get any simpler. Press play, enjoy.

So instead of ruminating about whether to jack the blog in I spent the days between Christmas and New Year, those indeterminate, indistinct days where the quality of daytime television improves only ever so slightly and no bugger knows what actual day it is anyway, soaking up the Nordile vibe.

All of the above contain Nordile in some shape or form, from Uzi Rash and Wet Drag [both on the verge of mutant punk like emissions and defunct since 2012/13] to his now more recent solo experimental/improv explorations and collaborations. Solo stuff like Grey Matter which is Bailey-esque scratchings and MONK/Solstice [the Solstice side being a live recording from earlier this year], pure experimentation and improv par excellence with guitar, sax, shakers and tin cans all getting a look in, the atmosphere being a mesmeric one of constant rolling guitar trash flux, jitter and roll. Weirdly engaging.

Vol. is Nordile sparring with Morrison Magic with two live sets of guitar/sax improv the length of each bout on the Burlington side determined by the setting of a kitchen timer that goes off regularly at around the sixty second mark much to the amusement of those gathered. The Live at Octopus side is more of a full on shriek-a-thon with added shouting but no kitchen timer.

Breeze is Nordile collaborating with Jackson Blumgart with Blumgart adding deeply busted and buried rhythms and TNB like scrapings to Nordile’s blustery sax. All this recorded to one very far away condenser microphone. That’s Fresh Whiffs, The Guilty Baby runs to two sides and appears to be a live track again recorded to a single mic this time kept under a thick woolen blanket for the occasion. Here spacey vocals and theremins find themselves wandering into all out noise territory and all to good effect.

The Nothing Band is actually Nordile alone but under a band moniker. Why not? On Anarchy 99 he ups the sax skronk with some truly wondrous vibrations while filling out the sound with trumpets and saucepan abuse not forgetting the slide and swipe of his electric guitar. Its that sax sound on side two that shows Nordile really getting to grips with the thing producing squeals within the notes that somehow sound unreal. And the sneezing. Nordile [or someone in there] sneezes a lot. Whether this was intentional or not [or maybe it was whiplash] I guess I’ll never know.

All this growing from the ashes of Uzi Rash who appear to have been some kind of floating collective that started out [at least on this evidence] playing tribute to Doo-Wop, the Monks and Jonathan Richman before morphing into a harder edged ur-punk outfit and an LP on Oakland punk label 1-2-3-4 GO! Records [the first side of which has the most dead wax I’ve ever seen on a record - a good half at least]. There’s evidence on Youtube of Uzi Rash playing sweaty twenty minute sets that end with Krautrock like versions of The Doors ‘Break on Through’, this when Uzi Rash were down to three; a drummer, bass player and Nordile on nasal-y vocals and mini keyboard. The pick of the two here is ‘We Live on Trash’ from 2010, an A4 insert for cover and six tracks with titles like Turn on Yr Love Lamp, I Saw U, Maypole and I’m a Trash Bag, some of which may be covers such is their likeness to 50’s and 60’s vocal groups and erm The Country Teasers. ‘Coreless Roll Can-Liner’ is what you might call more normal. Nothing wrong with that but a testament to how far Nordile has come in his mission to break free from the shackles of structured musics in to more experimental and improvised areas.    

Tracking this stuff down is the hard bit. Nordile has a Bandcamp page:

Nothing Band

And a Big Cartel page:

Max Nordile

He could be on Facebook. I’m not.

You can find the New Zealand label Independent Woman Records here:

Independent Woman Records

And Decoherence here:


Discogs has a few copies of the We Live for Trash 12" going for a very reasonable few bucks. But then there's the postage. Steel yourself.


In the meantime I’m still here. Post number 498.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Howl in the Typewriter

Howl in the Typewriter - Manifest [A Universal Declaration of Indespendence]
Pumf. Pumf 777. CD

I like Stan Batcow. I really do. I have lots of reasons to like him one of them being that he managed to survive a stint in the Ceramic Hobs which, when you learn that Stan never touches a drop of John Barleycorn is nothing short of remarkable. He’s quietly run the Pumf label for many, many years now with little in the way of recognition and he used to send me his Godspunk compilations until he either a) got fed up of my negative reviews of them or b) got fed up of me. I haven’t heard from him in a very long time and thought that maybe he’d fallen out with me which, with hindsight and knowing Stan a tiny bit, is very un-Batcow-ish of him. How silly of me. Howl in the Typewriter is Stan’s also long running with little in the way of recognition solo project. I remember listening to a Howl cassette on a train going somewhere a long time ago and marveling at Stan’s ability to weave samples of TV commercials and humdrum conversation in to his songs, something that he’d bring with great effect to at least two Ceramic Hobs albums.

After listening to Manifest I now realize that me and Stan have even more in common; a genuine loathing of advertising, consumerism, Capitalism and greed. For Manifest is Stan’s rock opera cum concept album regarding the nefarious ubiquity of advertising, consumerism, Capitalism and greed and probably lots of other things too. The way such things pervade and sully our quotidian experience, the way such things reduce everything and everybody to a marketable commodity.

Advertising is hard to ignore and easy to hate. Personally it makes commercial radio and television unbearable for me, it makes news media websites a pain to load and while technology has led to more tailored and specific advertising I still think all those hours of having sat through Tampax and Head and Shoulders adverts are hours I have wasted and could have spent more creatively. Top of the Grinding My Gears List comes car advertising. Do people really see an advert for a car and think to themselves ‘you know what I think I’ll go out tomorrow and spend 15K on the new Golf’ and why do adverts for cars always show happy people driving around deserted streets on their way to the shops or pulling surf boards off the roof rack in deserted coves when the reality is the roads are full of potholes and psychotic meatheads trying to overtake you in a 30.

I’m sure Stan feels the same way. Over the last several years he he’s been compiling all the songs that make up Manifesto and has finally in 2018 put it all together into one big long track. And while I applaud his sentiments entirely I found sitting through this hour long magnum opus a bit of a tough listen. This mainly due to all manner of people contributing what becomes the theme of the release; the of repeated mantra

We don’t fucking want
What your trying to fucking sell
Shove it up your fucking arse
Then fuck off and go to hell

Which is hardly Bob Dylan but you get the sentiment. Stan’s guitar playing is all buzz and saw, many tracks are built on a drum machine pattern and are littered with samples of mundane television adverts for breakfast cereals, detergents, fabric softeners, buy one get one free offers, he sings/talks about the uncaring nature of big business and every heartfelt bit of it resonates with me but as an item of listening pleasure I found it tough going.

Stan’s biggest problem is that without advertising he’s struggling to spread the word. Oh the irony. I’m here though and I’l tell you that for £5 [including p&p] you get a delightful gatefold CD sleeve with booklet and two stickers one of which is a picture of a burning cigarette with the word ‘idiot’ running through it. Stan’s next project perhaps?

The Crazy World of Post Office Counters

On Saturday morning I entered a deserted Brighouse Post Office to post two items one of which was a jiffy bag going to the Republic of Ireland that Mrs Fisher had entrusted me with. I approached one of two female counter staff who were sat next to each other and was asked to put my first item on the scale, this being the local weekly newspaper that I send my mother. This passed with no remark. It wasn’t until I placed the package bound for the Republic of Ireland on the scale that I entered a bizarre nether world where commonsense has been replaced by random dice thrown diktat dreamt up by persons unknown who no doubt command large salaries and have never sent a package to the Republic of Ireland in their lives.

Counter Staff Person 1: What’s in the package love?

Me: I’m not sure. Some earrings I think.

CSP 1: If you’re not sure we can’t post it.

Me: They’re definitely earrings.

[CSP 1 now begins to feel package with both hands kneading it like its putty in need of restoration before passing the package on to CSP 2 for her opinion. Whilst all this is going on I offer to ring Mrs Fisher and ask her whats in the package. My call goes straight to message].

CSP 1: You see love if its jewelry you cant post it to Ireland.

CSP 2: [While doing the putty revitalization thing] There’s two boxes in here, it could be earrings.

[Package now goes back to CSP1 who picks up the hand held slot device that determines whether the package for posting is a letter or a parcel. The package fits through the letter slot.]

CSP: Put it back on the scale love I’ve forgotten the weight.

[I put it back on the scale].

CSP: Because it goes through the letter slot it can go letter rate so it doesn’t matter whats in it.

Me: This country is fucked.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The Pain Factory

The Pain Factory
Influencing Machine Records & Spastik Visuals.
4 x DVD. 350 copies.

Thanks to Michael Nine Christmas has come early this year. I may have had to miss his Leeds show with Rusalka due to attending the wedding of the year [clue: not Harry and Megan] but this 4 DVD, 13 hour trip down memory lane [and several other releases that I’ll come back to later] has more than made up for it.

The Pain Factory was a public access TV Noise show and the work of Michael Contreras. It described itself as ‘A Live Experimental Noise Television Program’ and was broadcast out of the San Fransisco Bay Area area from 1995 to 1997. For me these were the golden years of noise. A time when I was getting in to noise in a big way, soaking up as many names and releases I could get my hands on. Lots of those names appear on these discs.

Calling it The Old Grey Whistle Test of Noise, Industrial and Experimental music wouldn’t be too far off the mark; a couple of live performances in the studio with the odd [literally] experimental film, footage of live performances, band videos and idents that feature the words The Pain Factory cut into a forearm with a razor blade. No Whispering Bob though, for that we can only be thankful.

Because these were the days when noise came all wrapped up in anything death, sex, blood and violence related we have bands like The Amputease, a trash noise group whose live set is littered with all the gory bits from once banned video nasties and Nihil one member of whom gets his bare back whipped raw by a dominatrix, then there’s the clips of Harvey Kietel shooting up in Bad Lieutenant, or autopsy footage. Flyers for The Pain Factory contain images of severed heads. Those were the days.

Not that I’m familiar with every single project/band/noise artist on these discs. Plenty are unfamiliar to me but when I see the words Killer Bug my knees go weak and even weaker at the sight of a very young Kazumoto Endo working a table top of noise boxes, whipping himself into a frenzy while doing so. There are so many highlights its hard to know where to start and seeing as I’m only halfway through this set there will be plenty more to come but so far we have; Macronympha destroying everything in sight with one half naked female band member visibly distraught at the process and having to leave the performance, The Haters doing the stapling CD’s to a car tyre thing, Crawl Unit using cassette tape and radios to make some wonderful noises, Fin with an aerosol can taped to his foot and masking tape over his mouth, Rotten Jesus an improv noise band making a hell of a racket with a drummer wearing a ‘Kill Everyone’ t-shirt and an as ever unsettling Death Squad video with a straight lift from some Gulf War military comms where an armed helicopter pilot kills his own troops. Most enlightening for me is the first sighting of long running San Fran pranksters and anti-art visionaries Bige City Orchestra with a puppet show noise set piss take complete with a talking cassette guide.

The Pain Factory ran to 13 episodes all of which are here barring episode eight which was a straight showing of the notorious [supposedly] Japanese snuff film ‘Flower of Flesh and Blood’ which brought the station the not unexpected torrent of complaints, something they appear to have reveled in. According to the blurb Michael Contreras is the only person on earth with extant tapes of The Pain Factory and has spent the last two years digitizing it. Apparently none of this has appeared on the internet before making seeing this for the first time like coming across the mother lode of noise and weird shit. I love it. If only I could have picked up The Pain Factory in West Yorkshire. My life would have been complete.

This being the mid 90’s the studio special effects are primitive compared to today's technology, blue screens and two cameras giving us overlaid images of burlesque dancers, Chinese martial arts films and gore but if anything this only enhances the feel of the period and despite the rare horizontal hold/VHS flicker the picture quality is superb. Contreras’s work has not been in vain. I for one take my hat off to him and you should too.

Half way through disc three I got to wondering what a 2018 version of The Pain Factory would look like? It would no doubt look very different. Times have changed considerably in Noise World and while there’s still plenty of people making weird noises the transgressive and sometimes confrontational nature of Noise [and with that I’ll lump in Power Electronics] has all but disappeared. We live in more enlightened times, your autopsy footage is old hat and belongs in the past, your footage of a vet giving a horse a nasal probe is meaningless [this courtesy of Dr Crystal Mess ... yes, me neither]. Female Noise/Experimental artists are thin on the ground over these four discs [I think I’ve counted three so far] but much more common now. Go to a live experimental/noise gig and the chances are that half the performers and half the audience will be female. That doesn’t mean we cant enjoy what has gone before. There’s over 13 hours worth here to explore and explore you must, whether its as a nostalgic or as someone curious as to what was happening in Noise in the mid 90's.

After all this I’m getting that itch again. I might even dig out some Macronympha and give that a whirl. The ideal Christmas present as they say at this time of year.