Friday, May 24, 2019

Astral Social Club + Grumbling Fur

Astral Social Club + Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra - Plasma Splice Trifle
VHF Records. VHF147. LP

Released 7th June

Soundcloud has its uses but the comments people leave during certain points of track playback make me think that its users have vocabularies that aren’t shall we say, overdeveloped. ‘Nice’ and ‘#poetry’ are two that pop up during Grumbling Furs collaboration with Charlemagne Palestine. An album with a ridiculous title that I shan’t reproduce here and could only have been created by someone sitting on a keyboard. And by that I don’t mean one you’d find on a Bosendorfer.

I don’t do much Soundclouding what with Bandcamp stomping over everything Godzilla like but Campbell’s been raving about Grumbling Fur for years now and to be honest the name put me off, a bit jokey, a bit proggy, a bit Blodwyn Piggy. I’m sure that the duo who make up Grumbling Fur; Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan are the loveliest of people alive and help old ladies across the road whenever the opportunity arises but I’d never heard a single second of what they’ve ever done because I’d been put off by the name. My bad as the kids say. And seeing as I’m as familiar with what Campbell does as the pot holes in the roads around here it would be unfair to delve in to this collaboration without first hearing what it is exactly that Grumbling Fur sound like.

So I went to their Bandcamp page because that's where Godzilla goes. This is where they’re flogging/promoting their latest album Furfour. You can leave comments here too but instead of Bay City Roller fan vocabulary you get more considered opinions, maybe from Wire readers. Those opinions having Grumbling Fur in the Brian Eno vocal compositions camp which after a few tracks of Furfour I totally get; twin vocal harmony pop for grown ups with lots going on in the background showcasing the duos talent for mixing and overdubbing. I like Brian Eno, I like Brian Eno’s singing, I like Grumbling Fur and Furfour. Forget Blodwyn Pig.

Plasma Splice Trifle has harmonies and vocals and spoken word and when they appear its like a dreamy Dream Machine with pretty pictures flickering against your shut eyelids. Patient reader I was transported. The four tracks as a whole flow seamlessly. I was at one with the bob. I was grooving with the VHF crew. I imagine the VHF crew rolling a fat one [on the already printed LP sleeve of course] and DM-ing all those involved immediately upon hearing the results of their labour with a series of cap locked YESSES. I’d have done the same.

Grumbling Fur and Astral Social Club are a match made in, not heaven exactly that would be too corny but maybe somewhere in the Eno-sphere. Campbell’s sawing violin is there as is the electronic staccato shudder and the pumping beats. The sawing violin is no wild, folksy, moth eaten jumper, cider reeking mad jig either, its a beautiful soaring thing that lifts you cloud-ward, all this as on second track ‘Three Years Apart’ but first we have Campbell reciting from what we have to assume is a book or a poem, something about sperm and going back to the egg, all this over a muezzin call, a small child calling and shortwave static. As an entry to the album it draws you in and is soon followed by trademark ASC head bob beats and further multi tracked Fur/ASC jaw jabber thats buried deep, deep, deep within the mix.

The cherry on the cake is ‘Ozone Antifreeze Intelligence’ and a beatific, melodic piano riff thats the floaty ying to the vocals of the three of them’s yang. Grumbling Fur vocals drift in and  out and under as Campbell speaks, electric guitars hold back feedback and things burble and bibble as the piano chimes its funereal chime. The riffing bass on last track Toejam Boxdrum is the riff to carry you all the way back to its intoned beginning.

I get the feeling that all parties involved are chuffed to mint-balls with what they’ve created here. Plasma Splice Trifle is a work of great depth created by two parties which I imagine have a lot of common ground between them. The more you listen the more it gives. I’ve had it clamped to my head for the last few days and now that I’m totes familarz with it I’m getting all evangelical. I’ve no idea what that covers all about though. Looks a bit Blodwyn Piggy to me.

VHF Records



Sunday, May 19, 2019

Max Nordile

Preening - Gang Laughter
Digital Regress. LP/DL

Max Nordile - Got To Sleep, Fool
Digital Regress. DR29. Cassette

Dolphin - Breezebather

Droppings #29

Droppings #30

Out of sheer curiosity and having nothing better to do with my life for the next 90 seconds, I decided to check out what was happening in the UK Top 40 these days. It’s been a while. About twenty five years give or take a year. The singles charts are now as irrelevant to me as adverts for tampons, TV channels selling jewelry and shampoo. When singles were just that, small rounds of vinyl with a song on each side, they carried a certain weight. Now they are literally weightless. Since 2005 the Top 40 has included downloads and brought streaming under its aegis in 2014 [to qualify as a streaming single its length must not exceed 15 minutes and cost no less than 40p. So now you know].

In 1981 Laurie Anderson got to number 2 with ‘O Superman’, an eight minute single of an avant garde nature featuring electronically manipulated repetitive vocal phrasings that paid homage to Jules Massenet’s opera Le Cid. At the time I was living in a pub and after consultation with the people who put the records on the jukebox it was decided that in everybody's sanity it was best left off and given to me. I still have that copy. O Superman was denied the top spot by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin with their cover of ‘It’s My Party’. Thats the same Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin who played their part in the Canterbury scene via Stewart’s band Hatfield and the North. Whats filling the top two spots now? I can hardly bring myself to defile these pages with the words but I give you Ed Bieber, Justin Sheeran with some collaborative guff that you file under ‘had to happen’, and Lil Nas X. Lil Nas X, I’ve just discovered, being famous for his crossover country rap breakout single Old Town Road. Country Rap. Maybe Mel Brookes can use it in his Blazing Saddles remake. I know that this is going to make me sound like an old curmudgeon but to be honest I'm far past caring.

So when exactly did mainstream music become so teeth grindingly dull? There’s always been dull music in the charts of course. At least up until I stopped listening. But the dull stuff was clustered around interesting stuff.

Here’s another chart from 1981:

1 - The Specials / Ghost Town

2 - Stars on 45

3 - Bad Manners / Can Can

4 - Imagination / Body Talk

5 - Whacko Jacko / One Day in my Life

6 - Motorhead / Live EP

7 - Tom Tom Club / Wordy Rappinghood

So I’ll keep 1, 6 and 7 and you can melt the rest on your three bar electric fire in bedsit land. Its still a decent return and that's just from the top seven.
Seeing as how most of the charts are now full of people I’m unfamiliar with I’m assuming that they’re either mediocre singer/song writers, bands with a modicum of talent stretched so thinly that you can see their genitals, female singers who think that howling like an ululating hyena will get them compared to Janis Joplin and country rap crossover stars. Its all v v v v  depressing and something I care not to linger on. So without further ado I give you Oakland California’s Max Nordile whose been invading these pages with his improv skronk for the last couple of years now.

Nordile also prints zines that are black daubs opposite hand written upper case musings:


Issue 30 is described as an ‘Art and Humour’ publication with the art being there for everybody to see and the humour being buried somewhere deep in Nordile’s mind.

Which is all well and good and a decent outpouring of creative activity and while the improv skronk tapes are most welcome [‘Dolphin’ is yet another Nordile improv attack vehicle while ‘Got To Sleep, Fool’ is Nordile wandering around in his own soundworld] it was the LP that blew me away this time. Last time it was via Uzi Rash and a couple of 12 inch platters that sat astride the Country Teasers horse only with more whisky and a liking for The Doors. This time its a 12 track 45rpm knock you sideways, I didn’t think people were making music this good these days, pure shot of mezcal straight in to the cerebellum, instant classic. Its like Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band made a record with some Ethiopian jazzers in a New York basement circa 1977 before they went out and blew The Ramones off stage at CBGB’s because they weren’t zeitgiesty enough. This is the music of the future coming from the past via all kind of jazzy, punky, improvisational wormholes that is like a lot of what I’ve heard before [all the best bits] baked into a cake and covered with glistening dark joyful listening cherries. It is life affirming stuff.

Preening is Alejandra Alcala, Sam Lefebvre and Max Nordile. Theirs is a stripped down sound with Alcala’s bass running wiggle worms around Lefebrve’s post-punk drums as Nordile skronks and honks in and amongst. Nordile and Alcala do vocal call and response harmonies like Don Van Vilet arguing with The Raincoats and all of it sounds like nothing I’ve heard in years. Opening track ‘Dogtown Top Ranking’ is a tumbling James Chance like rawk with the chorus nicked from Althea and Donna’s greatest hit. ‘Flotilla’ has that Egyptian vibe and its here where you get to hear Nordile’s vocals disappearing into a higher register yelp before collapsing in on itself. Put it down to too much sunshine. ‘Slabs’ is Preening paying tribute to Albert Ayler. ‘Work Policy’ is a song about dress codes. ‘Red Tape’ is an instrumental with guest laughing, people laughing like lunatics as guest cornettist ErAl does the Ornette Coleman thing. The title track is a piece of improv featuring Alcala on piano and then gamelan and the sounds of cars as heard through the open window of wherever they recorded this open heart surgery on my musical lassitude. I could do the whole dozen like this but you really need to hear it for yourself.

There was a time when you could just wait for the next musical genre to come along and give your jaded tastebuds a car battery like jump start; out with the Punk in with the Post-Punk, out with the Indie in with the Rave. Now everything in the mainstream seems like so much mush. Corporate mush at that. Unless you get digging of course. Digging is where you get to find the real gold. Preening are unlikely to ever bother the likes of the Top 40 but that means you cant dig. Dig? 

Digital Regresss

Max Nordile


Monday, May 13, 2019

The New Blockaders - Live at Sonic City

The New Blockaders - Live at Sonic City
Cold Spring. CSR261CD. CD + DVD

The most astonishing footage of this forty minutes and exactly no seconds bout of TNB destruction comes at its very end; as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata escapes from a very battered and out of tune piano we get a slow-motion close up of [presumably] that very same instrument. A claw hammered finale that is a slow blow after blow after relentless blow that disintegrates the key cover into plumes of dust and countless fragments of wood. Its a controlled performance but no wild, smash it to bits bout of pissed up artistic indulgence on someone else’s expense sheet. This is The New Blockaders slowly and methodically going about their work, banging out a head syringing noise with a hammer in each hand, feeding a cement mixer with self made detritus, sawing and hammering and generally reducing everything in sight to splinters and misshapen metal.

Using several cameras and overlay effects you get to see the dust vibrating out of that upright piano, the cement mixer being fed with a gramophone horn as the gramophone itself plays records in a way that its makers never intended it do. The backdrop shows the flickering static as created by a blank VHS cassette with TNB instruction words like ANTI, NOTHING, REJECT, appearing. A table contains a mixer and small metal boxes that have turning handles on them. One Blockader studies a small reel to reel recorder with an intent that's almost disturbing. The resultant noise is of course suitably intense, destablazing to the senses and offensive to those of a weak nature. 

The biggest benefit from having this live footage is that you can get as close as the front row did without having to inhale the dust or suffer hearing damage. It also shows how in control the performers are. This performance being enacted by two Blockaders, a Rupneus and a Niemand, though which Rupenus remains unexplained or Niemand come to that. Each methodically going about his work; rubbing metal on to that cement mixer, throwing metal rods in to a galvanized rubbish bin, hammering said galvanized bin in to a useless shape.  

The CD part of the package is the soundtrack to the DVD. While on the DVD the soundtrack doesn’t match the action on stage. This leads me to believe that the audio may have been put together in the studio. Moonlight Sonata is not seen being played either at its beginning or its end, there’s also audience chatter during the rare quieter moments which seems hard to believe and synth-like sounds, none of which you can pick out in the DVD. This detachment gives the visuals an arty, cinematic feel.

Of the live footage that exists on the internet none compares to what we have here. That live show at the Broken Flag Festival? A drunken riot. I’m guessing that The New Blockaders wanted something that truly represented what its they’re trying to achieve. This is it.  

Cold Spring

Friday, May 10, 2019

Duncan Harrison

Duncan Harrison - Nothing’s Good.
Index Clean. IC-011. CD

Duncan Harrison - Preamble to Nihil

Duncan Harrison - Life Is Not A Succession of Major Events

Duncan Harrison - Something Approaching Zero
A5 zine.

I’ve never met, spoken to or otherwise had anything to do with Duncan Harrison but I still feel I know him. Not that I’m in constant contact via the DM’s or the PM’s. Such is the social media world we live him his name crops up all the time and I think I may have even seen him play live in a charity shop once as part of the Colour Out Of Space fringe. After visiting his Soundcloud page I can adjudge that he’s a vegetarian who works in a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, this because the first two tracks on his Soundcloud page are of Harrison phoning his local radio station to talk e-coli in salad and how to spot when an avocado’s ripe. I’m making an assumption here, he may be a meat eater who works in a vegetarian restaurant, this is Brighton after all. Then again … no.

The fact that the fist two tracks on Harrison’s Soundcloud page are of him phoning his local radio station to discuss food related issues impresses me immensely. That another track on there is a drunken recording of himself and Dylan Nyoukis wandering the streets of London looking for alcohol is another ten pound sledge-hammer through the floor of common sense. Its saying ‘yes I have a Soundcloud page [and a Bandcamp one too obvs], doesn’t everybody, but the first things you’re going to hear is me and ultra charm local radio DJ talking e-coli in salad and then me having a good time in the Cafe Oto toilet with Mr Brotzmann. Not like that you’ll understand, just a little bit of good time gurgling and skronking. Put that in your organic pitta bread halloumi wrap with chia and cress and shove it where the monkey shoves its hickory smoked almonds.

The real dirt comes from the hands of the man himself; an A5 booklet containing prose and poetry, two cassettes and a CD that you could easily put into the hands of someone wanting to know more about where noise is at in 2019 and say ‘here you go, it’s all there, just apply brain and go enjoy yourself’. If I were to place these on an Olympic finishing podium ‘Life Is Not A Succession of Major Events’ would get bronze, ‘Preamble to Nihil’ the silver and the CD ‘Nothing’s Good’ the clear winner with the awardee reciting words from the ‘Something Approaching Zero’ while putting on all three gongs on a hopping about Harrison head.

In Harrison’s sound world ‘Life is Not a Succession …’ is the one where he records the Rupenus brothers taking his house apart while he sits at the top of the bare staircase throwing cricket balls through the front door and out into the street as seagulls squawk and cars go by. ‘Preamble to Nihil’ meanwhile is where things become a little more eclectic, where amongst a myriad of other sounds, he impersonates a dripping tap, skronks on a horn, blows wildly down a tenor recorder, chops up tape edits of his own voice, loops clanking noise and offers up field recordings of church bells and church organ music that had me in such a melancholic mood that I had to keep telling myself that this was the same person who started the tape. There was noise too, noise that sounded like it was recorded at an expensive, totally exclusive French recording studio with Iannis Xennakis at the controls.

By now we not only know that Harrison has intimate knowledge of e-coli in salad ['wash, wash and wash again'] and the toilet at Cafe Oto but that his world, his soundworld, encompasses everything from Dictaphone-iste gabber to full bore noise works. Thanks to these few tapes and his website [whose first page shows a photo of Harrison outside the gates of Strawberry Fields in Liverpool but turned 90 degrees left and chopped so that you only see half his head] we can also deduce that he’s quite happy listening to Sergeant Pepper as he is knocking up vegan wraps as he is getting drunk with Nyoukis while extolling the virtues of the sound glass marbles make while rolling them around the palm of your hand.

Which is what you get to hear on ‘Nothing’s Good’. Three very different tracks that feel like total compositions in their own right. The first of which involves the detail to be found in Dictaphone mouth squelch, the second, a lo-fi noise movement of sorts where a rusty bucket passes for a Tibetan drone bowl before all the crockery left over from the jumble sale gets smashed to pieces in it, and then all the keys on the keyboard held down while moaning a Brighton mantra before chipping out with a hacking cough. At times it sounds like Harrison is firing a high pressured jet of water into that rusty bucket while expertly manipulating the sounds so that they sound like mini stars exploding and reverberating into the English Channel, like TNB with a vegan vibe. The final, shorter track is book-ended by Harrison reading his poetry whilst in the middle of it all appears a gentle drone made from stuck stylus fluff and a gentle looping. All this thrown under the wheels of a microphone struggling to cope with the noise generated by a blizzard.   

Harrison is one of those people for whom sound is found everywhere. It’s the John Cage quote about the world having an abundance of free music, you just have to stop and listen to what’s around you to appreciate it. Harrison adds to this soundworld by recording himself moaning about his neighbours constant playing of Metallica, by recording marbles going around in his hand, by blowing wildly into a treble recorder, by listening intently to the barely audible click of a stuck needle in a run-off groove. I bet he makes a mean bean burger too.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Vukovar & Rose McDowall

Vukovar & Rose McDowall - Live in Inverness

Constant Shallowness Records. Cassette

A cassette surreptitiously shoved into my hand in a pub in Halifax yesterday lunchtime accompanied by a sotto voce ‘you didn't get it from me alright and don’t mention the ….’ I don’t do drugs but I should imagine plenty of drug deals go down like this; a minimum of talk, a passing of goods and then a parting. I shoved it in my pocket promising to give it a listen and not mention whatever it was that I wasn’t supposed to mention which I can’t remember anyway because I’d had a few glasses of vino by then, which whilst not my normal lunch time tipple had the great benefit of making Halifax appear welcoming.

A Bald Heads of Noise convention in what was once Dirty Dicks, a half timbered pub that has now reverted back to its original name of The Royal Oak, which is what it would have been called when Peter Sutcliffe drank there. And there’s Pete’s Pisser just inside the main door. Pissing up against the same wall as a serial killer. How many more of you have done the same and not realised it? How many gallons of piss have gone down that urinal porcelain hole since the day the pub opened? How many of us have nipped outside for a fag and been offered coke and ket? On a Saturday lunchtime? Yes your honour. Not me you realise. It’s just a rumour that was spread around town.

Rose McDowall was one half of 80’s polka dot popsters Strawberry Switchblade. Maybe she still is? My contact with the ongoing nature of pop music is virtually non existent. Vukovar I thought were called Vvkovar but that was just the font confusing me. I think they like black clothing and have offered up endless pints of chicken blood at shrines dedicated to Nick Cave and Ian Curtis. I once saw Nick Cave in Brighton, he was wearing an expensive looking powder blue cashmere sweater, sensible slacks and black boots, an outfit that looked like it’d been bought in Italy from shops whose prices exclude mere mortals. Then I  saw him again the other week in ‘Wings of Desire’, Wim Wenders filming him and his band in a run down East Berlin hotel, Cave turning in a blood curdling performance. There must be a law that says you can’t escape the pull of Nick Cave for more than two weeks. Maybe that’s no bad thing.

A true tape bootleg sound with lots of audience chatter during the quieter parts, muffled bass that still sounds great, drums that sound like they’re made from Tupperware, where McDowall’s voice floats like ethereal flotsam, an undulating ephemeral ghost-like wail wrapped in tattered Nottingham lace, spiders webs and too much reverb. Male Vukovar vocalist doing guttural low register Elvis like Ian Curtis drawls. I imagine him hunched over the mic, clad in black leather, a young Alvin Stardust with a shiny chromium chain hanging from his back pocket. The band are bass heavy, military medium, face the front, straight ahead pace hardly shifting thud thud thud Gothbusters meets Joy Division. Last track is Mutiny in Heaven because it has to be.

A part of me liked it and a part of me reminded myself that I hardly listen to such music anymore because I find little joy in it. Maybe I’d like them if I saw them live, maybe I’d like to see Rose McDowall live too with or without Vukovar or her other Strawberry Switchblade half. At least this cassette did me the favour of reminding me how great a pop band Strawberry Switchblade were, this after I ditched the cassette and fell down a Strawberry Switchblade Youtube hole. Birthday Party next.

If you follow the link below you will discover that this cassette costs an eye watering £13. The price of fame perhaps but with only a handful of the 88 copies left they must be doing something right. You can have my copy for nothing if you can answer the following question correctly:

How many bald heads were there in the Royal Oak yesterday?

    A]    1

    B]    2

    C]    3

Answers via idwalfisher [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, May 03, 2019

845 Audio

Lyall/Olive - Lowering
845 Audio. 845-9. CD

Tim Olive and Yan Jun - Brother of Divinity
845 Audio. 845-10. CD

About a month ago I received an email from someone asking me if the reviews I write are tempered by the fact that I know the person. The posit being that most of the music I write about is made by people I know and would I give someone I know a bad review thus jeopardizing the relationship. The short answer to which is ‘yes I would’, with the caveat that most of the people I know aren’t sensitive wallflowers who take to their bedrooms should someone say boo to them. A review is just that. Its a review of the music. I don’t write character assassinations or use reviews as a vehicle for slander, unless I can work in Trump or the Tories of course.

What about if that person lived in Japan and you just happened to be passing through the city they lived in and you dropped them an email saying ‘Hello I’m in town and it would be really nice to meet up and thank you for all that great music you’ve sent me over the years’ and they said yes and they took time out of their schedule to meet up with you and show you some parts of the city that you’d have never found under your own steam like the greatest Jazz cafe that you’ve ever been to in your life and at the end of it all they bunged you two discs of their own music. What would you do then if it was rubbish?

Me and Mrs Fisher were passing through Kobe and I thought I’d drop Mr Olive an email to see if I could coax him out of his electro-acoustic lair. I’m happy to report I did and after meeting us at our hotel and being ever so genial and pleasant he took us to that never to be forgotten Jam Jam, a basement Jazz cafe that has a listening side and a conversation side and was blasting something like Dexter Gordon at a volume that just about made conversation possible [all this on a Wednesday afternoon]. He also pointed us in the direction of Motoko Town, a narrow alleyway of shops under the JR line that had not one, not two, but three record shops all within spitting distance of each other, every one of them a sprawling, chaotic jumble of vinyl and CD that had long ago outgrown the confines of the shop and were now happily spilling into the narrow passageway. Each one of them a full days worth of digging and exploration and there’s us with only four nights and only one of them left.

At the end of the day a yellow plastic bag was handed over. The bag originated from a musical instrument shop called Miki Gakki whose strapline in fabulous strangled Japanese/English read ‘Super sensibility for sound. We are sound riders. Really?!’ and out came the two CD’s you see before you. Are they rubbish? Will I have to give a sledging review to someone who showed me around his home town and bought us tea? No chance.

I don’t know why Tim Olive originally picked me out to send his music to, there must be plenty of other people deserving of his creations. But arrive they did. In recycled card sleeves and vegetable ink stamps, permanent designs and ones that are always going to win me over. He doesn’t release that much, maybe ten releases since 2012 which leads me to believe that quality is winning out of quantity. In the early days of reviewing his work I plead guilty to too many over comparisons to Bernard Parmegianni but that’s just me being lazy. I feel I know his work better now and can leave those lazy comparisons behind.

As with all 845 Audio releases these are collaborations. Last time around we discovered Jin Sangtae, a South Korean who eeks sounds from computer hard drives and a live recording with Olive joining Frans de Waard and Takuji Naka in a basement in Europe somewhere. This time it’s Cal Lyall a fellow Canadian expat now living in Tokyo and Chinese resident Yan Jun who between them contribute to two compelling releases.

‘Lowering’ moves from a juddering noise opening into a submarine drone courtesy of Lyall’s hydrophones with Olive employing magnetic pickups, electronics and a Bohman-esque scrape, this making for a submarine sound like they were working away on sensitive instruments at 20,000 leagues under the sea. The work eventually plateaus into a cycling drone with Olive’s electronics dancing like microtonal insects upon its body.

‘Brother of Divinity’ sees Yan Jun’s radio swirl enter the fray. Here, both Jun and Olive employ electronics making for a highly detailed work with much chatter, burble, clank and tink of spring and buzz of bare circuit and metal. At times a background of restrained fuzz tricks you into thinking there’s a noise beast waiting to unleash itself and at times I thought I was halfway down the garden path to a TNB shed but the mood remains a constantly restrained and a deeply satisfying one with much of what’s going on reaching you at sound levels that teeter on the edge of audibility. The reward for the astute listener is a work rich in detail. Like an audio Joe Coleman painting but not half as bonkers.

No rubbish here then. Far from it. Not only do I have two rather excellent electro-acoustic releases I have two reminders of a memorable day in Kobe. Cheers Tim.

845 Audio              



Sunday, April 28, 2019


I have an old t-shirt that at the time of purchase I thought was adorned with Japanese characters, which upon wearing instantly transformed my thirty year old self into a cool dude who was down with the kids. When I bought it I knew not of the Japanese alphabet and had no inkling that the written Japanese language consists of three alphabets; one borrowed from the Chinese [Kanji], a basic language that everybody learns when they start school [Hiragana] and the one used to translate foreign words and names [Katakana]. The t-shirt I bought had characters on it that I now realize looked like Katakana but weren’t. Katakana are the characters you see on those exotic looking OBI strips that Japanese import LP’s and CD’s have wrapped around them. I discovered my t-shirt wasn’t true Katakana when I wore it to the MOMA in New York one summer and the girl on the desk, who happened to be Japanese said to me ‘You do know that the writing on your t-shirt is meaningless don’t you?’ I admitted that I’d bought it because I thought it looked good and that it transformed my thirty year old self into a cool dude who was down with the kids and that no I didn’t know it was twaddle and thank you very much and excuse me while I adopt an expression that conveys bemusement, forced jollity and grateful thanks.

The reason I mention this is because the Japanese do the same with their clothing. Walking Japanese streets is made all the more enjoyable by reading what it says on peoples clothing.

And its not like these things just got lost in translation which is easy to do. With the Rugby Union World Cup and the Olympics arriving in Japan in the not too distant future the authorities are now realising that a lot of their English signs make no sense at all and are reassessing them - ‘lost and found box’ as The Forgotten Center anyone?

So people wear clothes that have things written on them that make little or no sense at all but which at the same time are slightly surreal and endearing. Things like;

Remember The Name
Happy Life With Little Pop
Hair Make Angelica
Nothing Behind
New Entries, Older Entries
The Opening of Course

And my favourite from this latest trip;

Advice Below

This jumbled English isn’t just the preserve of items of clothing though. The following are actual names of retail emporiums:

Episode of Custard Pudding
The View of Untitled
Patisserie Tooth Tooth

I’ll leave it to you to work out what they were selling and no Rope didn’t sell rope, it was a female clothing store.

This mistranslation and surreal juxtaposition of English words by Asian countries is well documented and shows the difficulties in translation and how easy it is to be misunderstood. If all you have to rely on is online translation software or people who think they’ve mastered a second language but have yet to grasp the finer nuances of it there's always going to be something not quite right. Still, until the software becomes more accurate or people do we still have the enjoyment of seeing some of the following:

[PS That top picture isn't mine I nicked it off the internet though it does give a good example of what you can expect to see]

Friday, April 26, 2019

Salford Electronics

Salford Electronics - Destruction
Hospital Productions. HOS-608-COL
12” clear vinyl. 300 copies.

In 2004 the BBC decided to move its Northern services to Salford. I heard the screams from here. Worried hacks who had never been further north than Watford in their entire lives began to wonder if this was some elaborate joke and hoped beyond hope that Salford might be a forgotten suburb of South London. It’s not. Its a suburb of Manchester if you didn’t know and it’s as Northern as black pudding and Les Dawson.

I was there recently and purely by accident. This due to getting shunted off the M62 thanks to late night road works as me and Campbell made our way back from a Sleaford Mods gig in Liverpool. Me thinking I could make it without the sat nav but having to dig around for it in the glove box while parked up in an industrial estate at midnight, both eyes on the surrounding area wondering whether we were going to be set upon by the ladies of the night or drug dealers. The sat nav eventually took us home through Prestwich which at midnight was still lively but showing no sign of Mark E Smith who was then very much still with us.

Those BBC employees now firmly grafted into Salford will have hopefully had their fears allayed and found plenty to recommend it. Those BBC employees who may once have thought Salford to be the bum hole of the North may have been surprised to discover that the Salford Quays, where they’re now based, does a passable resemblance of Dusseldorf’s own redeveloped dockside and while I’ve not found any Frank Gehry architecture on my online travels there’s more than enough shiny new buildings and restaurants to keep even the most home sick Londoner interested. That’s not to say that Salford is all £15 cocktails and tempura tripe but at least it shows that that it isn’t all cobbled streets and cars on bricks.

When the Boomkat blurb promoting ‘Destruction’ appeared you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Salford was indeed a post apocalyptic, rubble strewn wasteland. A grim North, a land filled with boarded up pubs, shabby shopping arcades and shuffling drug addicts, feral kids in fear of no one and random graffiti. The discovery that this is not entirely true means that the black die cut sleeve that this record comes in represents either the blackest of Salfordian black holes or the close up of an inside of a pie. Its your choice.
After a CD release and much activity on Bandcamp we now have a first time appearance on vinyl for Salford’s finest exponent of dark electronica. There’s a case to be argued here for establishing a new genre; ‘Grim Electronica’. Coming from someone steeped in the North and working out of the ashes of The Grey Wolves it feels right. The mood is a decaying industrial Ballardian one, concrete landscapes littered with run off groove fluff and creepy menace, pummelling urban beats over distorted military communications and the sampled voice of someone telling you to ‘think for yourself, question authority’. There are smoother rides and layers of synth wash but you still feel like you’ve spent all night on that industrial estate. The remixes are pumped up versions of the title track, maintaining the spine of the original while chucking in all manner of sonic detritus. Thank you Vatican Shadow and Ancient Methods.

Mood music is a derogatory term but one I find useful. If your mood should mirror that of crumbling social housing, poverty, intimidating tower blocks and patched up tarmac roads then Salford Electronics has the soundtrack for you. Just don’t play it to BBC employees.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Craven Faults

Craven Faults - Springhead Works
Lowfold Works. 12”/DL

Craven Faults - Netherfield Works
Lowfold Works. 12”/DL

Once in a while I’ll check out the Norman Records website to see if I can be induced into going wild with the Paypal shekels. More often than not I manage to keep a hold of them what with most of whats on offer being reissues I originally bought thirty years ago and still have, or new stuff by people I don’t really care about. The main reason I don’t buy anything is usually down to me being in a continual ‘can’t be arsed buying new music’ mood. I’m in one of those ‘can’t be arsed buying new music mood’ phases at the moment. A lack of time, a lack of space [I don’t buy digital ya numpty] a feeling of buying something just to listen to it a couple of times before putting it in the rack with the rest of the stuff.

The last time I went to see Norman I came face to face with the Craven Faults release ‘Springhead Works’ and below it a Youtube video of ‘Intakes’ which is one of the two tracks on it. The magical words ‘pulsating vintage synth to soundtrack journeys across the post industrial landscapes of West Yorkshire’ roused me from my normal lethargy and had me sat ramrod straight. That bleak, black and white cover image, the minimalist design. I went all nostalgic for walks up Stoodly Pike and Greetland. I clicked ‘play’ thinking I’ll give it five minutes and twenty minutes later I’d bought both records and have been playing them almost constantly ever since.

Being a sucker for vintage synths and having an interest in anything of such a musical nature coming from the environs of West Yorkshire my interest was of course piqued. While waiting for the records to arrive [very promptly and well packed by Norman as ever - I do recommend them] I went searching for more information but came back a frustrated empty handed person. The Craven Faults website is a single page with a subscription box. No joy there. Norman talks about ‘a cloaked Yorkshire based producer’ which I’m guessing doesn’t mean the person involved goes around dressed like Batman. So at least they know a little something. Which is more than me and more than any internet search engine you care to mention. I did find an interview with the cloaked Yorkshire based producer where he/she talks about their instrumentation and how its all put together but when the talk turns to gates and sequencers and LFO’s and envelopes I’m soon fast asleep. I know the synth world is a nerdy one but for the listener it doesn’t have to be. Just put the record on, sit back and prepare to enter a world created by machines. Everything else is superfluous. 

These four sides [all one track apiece] are the spiritual home of Michael Hoenig, Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese, mini symphonies of a classical synth nature where the sounds are introduced to other sounds to compliment and augment before either leaving the fray or bolstering it. My favourite track of the four is the one I first listened to with Norman; ‘Intakes’ from ‘Springhead Works’. On its first hearing I was wondering whether its gentle beat would morph into something wilder or drums would be introduced spoiling the whole thing and leading me back to my Fred Dibnah videos on Youtube but no. I was gripped. I was swayed. I was swooned and intoxicated. I was carried away on a cloud of synth bliss where far below I could see paler synth dabblers making not much but humdrum weak and insipid, easily forgotten synth music. I was in synth heaven. I was taken back to the days of my youth when the intro to Chicory Tips ‘Son of My Father’ rattled my very bones [only much later did I find out that this was a Moroder composition] and where Jean-Michel Jarre and Tomtia could be heard on daytime radio. Not that Craven Faults have that much in common with any of that lot.

‘Eller Ghyll’ from the earlier ‘Netherfield Works’ release is a bubbling sequencer feed, ‘Tenter Ground’ from the flip is Neu! after spending a month in Macclesfield, a brooding composition with a slinky bass guitar straight out of the Hook Book. Think grim tower blocks, burnt out cars and grubby kids in star jumpers playing out in their mothers court shoes, something makes a Roxy Music like sax solo except its not a sax and maybe a sampled sax, Philip Glass like two note fills filter through but always that doom laden bass. The more recent ‘Springfield Works’ is where the sound becomes purer and with it the glory of the head bobbing, driving, pulsing ‘Intakes’ and lastly ‘Ings’ with its foreboding ur-stomp over those bleak, heavy clouded moors.    

All four tracks, all four sides of these two records have rekindled my love of synth and the glory of sound itself. I look on these two records not so much as records but as children I never had. Thank you Craven Faults. Thank you Norman.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Active Denial

Active Denial - What Dreams Are Made Of
Outsider Art. OA024. Cassette/DL

Its impossible to write a review of a Power Electronics release without referencing the original pioneers of the genre. Thus lots of this sounds like, this feels like and oooh remember that gig at the [insert name of crap venue in London that died decades ago] when the police were called and the bottles started flying.

If you’re reading this you probably have a favourite PE group or two or three and have a stack of releases that you go back to when the mood suits, I know I have. I also know its a genre that I revisit less and less frequently. One of the main reasons being that there’s only so far you can push PE before it folds in on itself and finds itself back where it started. In other words it can become staid very, very quickly. So while there may be female artists working within the PE spectrum [big cheer] there will always be those for whom the classic PE sound is where its at.

That sound being a bloke screaming over a pulsating synth throb about sex, death and Nazis his voice disguised by various electronic means so as to make it sound as if you’ve been physically assaulted. Put it in a cassette with a bit of far right politics or a grainy black and white image of a suicide on it and away you go.

Doing your best to put the dodgy politics to one side early PE produced some memorable bands, some memorable labels, some memorable music and became incredibly influential. No PE no Japanese Noise. Without Sutcliffe Jugend no Incapacitants or certainly not what we have today. Perhaps many others too. But this is 2019. 1982 is a long way away. We’ve been there and those who weren’t [me for one] have the internet and reissues to help them discover these original recordings. It’ll be there for future generations to find too which is probably where Active Denial come in. 

Who have supped heavily from the Ramleh cup to such an extent that they have become drunk upon it and have given us What Dreams Are Made Of. Burcorvos Leadbeater and Jack Knife being the protagonists delivering their homage to early PE from the environs of the English South coast. My money being on Brighton. After a few listens and giving this the benefit of the doubt I dare say that if I heard it in 1982 I would be suitably impressed. It has all the hallmarks of classic PE and there’s not much more to add to it than that. Best track is the slower Wish Harm and the shared vocals are actually pretty clear with either Leadbeater or Knife having the far superior delivery. Just the four tracks; Black Sontag, Smoke, Wish Harm and Myth of Madness. Chuck in a couple of samples and away you go. Lets party likes its 1982.

Active Denial

Monday, March 11, 2019

Simon Morris / Ceramic Hobs

Ceramic Hobs - Use Your Illusion III
Independent Woman Records. CD 010. CD + Booklet.
100 copies.

Simon Morris - Sea of Love
Amphetamine Sulphate

I’m thinking Simon Morris statue on Blackpool Prom. I’m thinking statue draped with used condoms, crushed and empty packets of Embassy Regal bottom half of cellophane still attached, low birthweight warnings, Ceramic Hobs song titles graffitied on to bare chest, pages torn from the works of Kathy Acker and biros with chewed ends left at the base Jim Morrison stylee, fans from around the globe arriving on the Fylde Coast in all weathers [but mainly rain] to pay their respects and have a pint in the Spoons across the road that might one day carry his name. The Simon Morris serving [eventually] bored drunks glasses of Australian brandy and non european lagers. Later a yearly festival of Hobs inspired music where singer-songwriters extrapolate Cupcakes in shutdown shop doorways while ropey bands on drugs and Lidl alcohol try to make sense of 33 Trapped Chilean Miners all this as people recite passages from Morris’s books in a mock Lancashire drawl.

Recorded at last years Tusk Festival in Gateshead Use Your Illusion III is the best live Hobs release to pass through these hands. I was there. A band that everybody was more than ready for after a day and a half of chin rubbing and musing. Morris stamped around the stage bare chested, displaying a gut of some considerable size [‘all paid for’ you used to hear down the pub while the owner of said gut stuck it out even further and patted it proudly like a man would a prize marrow].  When not sticking his gut out Morris planted one foot hard in front of the other and made as if for one killer head-butt thus helping expel his words at hurricane force. His voice is remarkable, a gnarly growly shout, his face a twisty tormented thing, his gut sticks over his black jeans like a mutant pregnancy. Rock ‘n’ Roll mate. After warbling the opening bars of a Star is Born and covering what they say is Alice Copper’s first single from 1966 [‘No Price Tag’] they fly into Shaolin Master which is still the best song about coach-potato machismo ever written [I’ll kick yer arse mate - I’m the last of the invisible white ninjas]. There’s a couple of new tracks one of which they finish with [Dog One] which is encouraging and all the hits from the ’80’s, 90’s and 2000’s’ as Morris laconically informs us. There was a new band member too, a female one playing a keyboard. The guitarist played dead when everybody else had left the stage. The rest of the band look at him as if he was daft. He probably is. When we get to ‘This Sore and Broken Blackpool Legacy’ the mood darkens and along with it a much slowed down pace. Its their longest track of the set and maybe the nearest the Hobs will get to a ‘Freebird’ or a ‘Hurricane’ except its probably about deceased band members and the putrid pull of Britain’s sleaziest seaside resort. Not that there’s ever going to be any guitar noodling here just Morris growling a moribund ‘endless’ as the funereal march makes its way down the promenade. Thirteen tracks including a killer thirty seconds worth of White Noise. Overdubbed intro includes Cheap Trick playing Dream Police [paranoia?] and an outro of what sounds like the kind of record football clubs used to make when they got to the FA Cup Final. A booklet of lyrics makes for interesting reading.

The sleeve and title are nods to Guns N’ Roses of course, a Morris obsession that  provided the framework for his previous book ‘Civil War’. It being a critique of every GNR album and album track with throwaway sex and violence accompanying each review. ‘Sea of Love’ is divided in to chapters that cover the first eight James Herbert novels, except Morris has done away almost entirely with any notion that these chapters will be about James Herbert’s first eight novels, each novel being dismissed in a sentence or two before embarking on the matter of Morris’s many sexual relationships. All of who remain nameless and most of whom appear to be married except for the cute singer in the boy band who drunkenly asks him ‘are you going to fuck my face then?’ Which came as a bit of a shock as I never knew Morris was bisexual. Or is he? Are we in fact or fiction land? Does it matter? The opening tract [pre Herbert] is a very thinly veiled attack on a well known Irish experimental film maker that is very much not fictional. I can only assume that this is Morris being antagonistic, maybe even spiteful. An interlude checking the first eight Stephen King novels describes a visit to a prostitute who specializes in domination amongst other meetings of mind and flesh. Fun, fun, fun it isn’t.

As we pass through each relationship and the drink and the drugs and the endless cigarettes and the crap pubs and the very good Spanish cafes that go with them its Morris’s mind that we get to know more than anything else. On the final page he says goodbye to his Spanish girl at the airport:

‘she holds me tight and sings Sea Of Love in my ear one last
time and she likes seeing me cry but it’s so deep it’s hurting and I look
into her kind eyes and feel the softness of her breasts and her scent
against me one last time before I go through and do the shoe and bag
scan thing, and she is stood there and we can see each other and I just
stand there for a long time and so does she, staring at each other
across the distance and sometimes waving and the tears are still
falling and she says she loved it that I was just stood there like a creep
staring and eventually I have to go and find my gate in this huge
place and we made plans for another visit each way but she knew I
would find someone else and I knew she would never leave that man …'

In and amongst all that casual sex and alcohol is Morris trying to make sense of the death of one time Hobs member Calum Terras. Its a short passage but its central to the book. All that sex and alcohol is just stuff that happens. This books central theme feels as if its more concerned with death than sex and booze. That he can write with such tenderness in and amongst all this nihilism makes the book even more depressing. Like Morris’s previous Amphetamine Sulphate publications Civil War and Creepshots [apparently an ongoing Arthouse sequence], Sea of Love is a slim tome but one that carries much weight.

Amphetamine Sulphate

Independent Woman Records

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mark Wynn - Normal Tea

Mark Wynn - Normal Tea
CD + Zine/DL
Desert Mine Music

We left Mark Wynn supporting Sleaford Mods at the Leeds Irish centre in what must have been 2016. A couple of Harbinger Sound LP’s crammed with Wynn’s punk-ish musings on life spurted on to the scene around the same time and then not much since. Those two LP’s, ‘Singles - But They’re Not Really Singles I Just Sent Them To The Screen And Said They Were Singles - Singles’ and ‘More Singles - But They’re Not Really Singles I Just Sent Them To The Screen And Said They Were Singles’ and that particular gig were one of the highlights of the year - I recall a bare chested Iggy thin Wynn, a grape eating Wynn, a tiny tot tiara wearing Wynn, an all over the stage one man band Wynn who sang along to a cassette player and went down well with the ‘what the fucks he on’ eager to get to the front Sleaford Mods fans.

Wynn’s one man punk-ish journeys encapsulate all that was good about the original punk scene and those lonesome troubadours who wrote songs about chip shops, ill fitting shoes, girlfriends whose breath smelt of parma violets and existential angst. And here it is in the 21st century your direct route back to when people just went and did that without worrying about what they’d look like in HD and which hashtag to use. In a world where my inbox fills to overflowing everyday I herald the arrival of a Wynn zine/cdr combo as much as I would an abandonment of Brexit.

Normal Tea [Normality?] is another one of Wynn’s self released hand written zines with a CDR stuck in the back except this one has printed lyrics to most of the songs and not much in the way of pictures of Wynn pratting around in a park in York somewhere with a parasol while gurning funny faces into the camera. All that has gone and with it the songs about girls he fancies in Age Concern and Bobby Gillespie. The set up is as before; raspy guitar, overdubbed drums or tambourine, added vocals or spoken asides, one track sounds like it was recorded by an actual band but its easy to be mistaken in Wynn World where he does a lot of talking to himself anyway, oh and the songs are bit darker. Out go the songs about charity shops and Battenburg and in comes some introspection. The songs can be equally as raw with ‘Cashmere’ apparently invoking the wrath of the digital distributor who declared it unlistenable [‘I don’t know what they’re talking about I’ve listened to it hundreds of times’]. The one real catchy tune with a recognisable Wynn like plucked chord progression is ‘Speel-Berg-Shrugs-Agen’ with much of the rest being filled with plenty of strummy guitar buzz. All twelve songs chip in at just under the twenty self explored minutes mark. 

Signs that the times they are a-changing come on ‘Bent Heel Shoes’. Wynn has a conversation with a barman who asks him why he isn’t drinking ‘Markie, what’s with all this abstinence thing going on? Will it be lasting long? Any Problem? And then in ‘Normal Tea’ ‘Would you like a drink?’ ‘I don’t drink. Thanks for asking though. And I hope you didn’t read that bit in the lyric to Bent Heel Shoes’ and then ‘I want some herbal tea, I’d like a peppermint tea’. So that’s Wynn off the booze then. Perhaps the most revealing is ‘The Centre of Which is Not Here’ which has these added lines which aren’t actually in the song ‘Must I defend myself in this way? If not why am I writing this? Am I still trying to unlock me? Why have I stopped answering my questions?

His song writing is as strong as ever, as his delivery, a spoken word sing-talk thing with just the hint of flat northern vowels. Thankfully his humour and spirit lives on as with ‘Delicious’ which is a song about someone daring him to write a song with the word delicious in it. ‘No, My Love is Like a Bad Medicine’ reveals a finger picking spoken blues which reminds us that Wynn is actually a very good guitar player who has long since left that gig behind deciding instead to be Yorkshire’s Ray Davies. On tea.

Mark Wynn Bandcamp

Desert Mine Music

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Independent Woman Records

Midnight Mines - Great Disturbances In Your Mind
I.W.R. CD005 2 x CD. 300 copies.

Fishschool - Live 1983
I.W.R. Cassette. 40 copies.

Witchblood - Maleva
I.W.R. Cassette. 30 copies.

Punctured Corpse
I.W.R. Cassette. 30 copies.

Chow Mwng - Mollip & Reptile
I.W.R. Cassette. 25 copies.

New Zealand label Independent Woman Records came in to view when I heard they were releasing a Ceramic Hobs single and then I found out that there was only going to be a 20 copies lathe cut job. A Peter King lathe cut job of tiny quantities that I have no chance of owning. Life goes on. While down in my cups I scanned more of their desirous items via the wonders of the web and found choice items by the likes of Smegma, The New Blockaders, Kleistwhar, 8 inch lathe cuts, 12 inch lathe cuts now all happily settled with owners who aren’t me. They also do cassettes in small quantities and CD’s of larger quantities which is where this lot came in. All the way from New Zealand in a Maori inked jiffy bag to West Yorkshire.

Biggest surprise of the lot is discovering that Punctured Corpse is your scourge of the south coast actual Jason Williams. My draw dropped a degree at the discovery of this fact. You have to assume that you’re in for some Head Down No Nonsense Death Metal Scribble Backed Denim Jacketed Mindless Boogie at the sight of such nomenclature but actually its all six foot thirteen of yer man doing what he likes to do best which is making an unholy racket. A good heft of it on show here too. A C55 filled to the gubbins with lots of short tracks that include lots of bottle smashing and general all out ear racket. Some of the live tracks are actually pretty stupendous with the chaos being greeted by much audience hilarity. During one live track it appears that the venue alarm went off and its to be assumed that none of the audience could decide for themselves whether it was part of the performance or not. Legend. 

Fishschool are a trio from where I know not who cant make up their minds whether they’re the Talking Heads, Slint or early Velvets. Still, it was 1983 so we can let them off. In 2019 it still sounds pretty good in an all over the shop kind of way and will prove vital fodder for those who seek out obscure bands from the early 80’s. Wherever they come from. Then I went for Witchblood which I thought might be more Head Down No Nonsense Death Metal Scribble Backed Denim Jacketed Mindless Boogie but is more aligned to what Charlemagne Palestine creates with the repetitive hammering of piano keys recorded in a lo-fi manner so as to create drones. With the addition of some much admired tape wobble I left feeling sated. Chow Mwng I’ve not listened to since risking my arm on a download a few months back and finding myself in raptures. Oh how I chastised myself and made promises not to be so harsh on the inbox. If memory serves what I got then were songs as recorded by somebody who only had access to the cutlery drawer and a bent acoustic guitar with two strings missing. This is maybe even more experimental, like something recorded in Hungary in the 1950’s by an electronic pioneer in a studio full of expensive looking equipment when in actual fact its Chow Mwng pulling sellotape, drilling imaginary holes and singing along to irritating squeaks all while surreptitiously recording his try outs in the Moog shop. Superb stuff. A man trying to make interesting sounds with whatever comes to hand and succeeding.

The release that's been played the most and the one that you are more likely to get your hands on is the double CD set by Midnight Mines. I know nothing about them except that there are two of them, Private Sorrow and Baron Saturday and that they’re described as ‘improv attacked with a primitive garage band mentality’. Apparently they record ‘spontaneous compositions’ before reworking them in the studio adding dubs, beats and the occasional synth slaver. I can vouch for their success. Disc One is a collection of their first three cassettes with Disc Two bringing unreleased material to the feast. Here you can chow down on all manner of guitar rawk beat box synth barrage burble with the occasional vocal going backwards. Like an early Ashtray Navigations going through more distortion boxes or a more rudimentary Ramleh [rock version obvs]. Vocals are few and far between and when they emerge they’re more like anguished wails than actual words which is fine by me. I found the cover intriguing; riot police breaking up a demonstration which judging by the haircuts and dress of the people involved must have taken place in the ‘70’s or ‘80’s. So why that particular image? It must have some significance for as riot police breaking up demonstrators goes its a fairly ho-um image. If you enter ‘riot police breaking up a demonstration’ in to an online image search the vast majority of returns are of recent unrest photographed up close by brave photographers not photographs taken from a building across the way like we have here. Then I saw what I think must be the reason. If you look very closely at the figure exiting the image on the extreme right they’re wearing white socks with sandals. Quelle horreur.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Neil Campbell.

Neil Campbell - Mirror Mania Ersatz Chamber

I do admire a person who dubs their tapes in real time before sticking them in a hand daubed sleeve, sending them out snail mail with a greeting written upon the reverse of a very nice postcard. Mine was Genet’s cover of his Faber book The Balcony. 1950’s. It looks gorge dahlinks in that ‘we’re not trying that hard’ 1950’s kind of way. But this is 2019 kiddywinks. Put your iPhones down for a minute and take note. All that Whatszappening, Instagargling and Faceflogging is only going to get you so far. And while Zuckerberg makes billions from selling your data to all manner of dodgy, money obsessed scum you could be doing something like this. Making something. And not just noises made with an app on your phone. This is real. An actual thing. And not available on bandcamp. Yet. Maybe never.

Repellent Music did make it on to Bandcamp. This cassette came wrapped in a sheet of paper and was from the Campbell School of Noise. It sounded a bit like a stretched out electronic growl, someone making a low ‘ahh’ sound and treating it electronically for an hour. It morphs of course. All Campbell music morphs. There may be the faintest trace of where you began at its end but during that time you’ve visited at least three musical continents, ten musical genres, two different guitars, several effects, ten noise boxes, a KAOS pad rewired to sound like a melting star, three magpies and the pounding beta sound of several crates of dance records. Maybe in another past life he was just a frustrated bell caster?

I write this the day the tape came through the door [actually now yesterday]. Its the kind I like the best; a smooth white shell with Mirror Man written on one side and Ersatz Chamber on the other but hang on, one side is blank. Has Campbell forgotten to dub a side or did he just write the title across both sides of the cassette because he didn’t have a magic marker with a point fine enough to fit it all on one? Ah well. Let it sit there. I like it as it is.

To be honest with you I owe Campbell a review. I’ve probably not written one for over a year while he very kindly sends me things without pressuring for a review. I’ll swap this for the numerous emails I get from people who never read these pages and a week later follow up with a ‘have you had to chance to listen to my Greatest Thing Ever’. You lot can all go and shite.

Mirror Mania Ersatz Chamber Jean Genet’s The Balcony Could Be On Two Sides Of A Cassette But I’m More Than Happy With One visits several continents and the insides of the Fripp/Wilcox household where Toyah bangs away on a toy xylophone as Robert winds up the acoustic guitar for some serious head down stunted riff work. Yes it morphs. Of course it morphs. And layers. And layers. And layers. I’ll rewind it once more and tell you all about it because its new and its exciting. Yes. Exciting. While it was rewinding I started listening to Repellent Music [via Bandcamp] and got caught up in that again The whole hours worth. I should visit this page more often. There’s not much more you need really. What I really need is a cassette player that plugs in because I’m burning though batteries what with this tape only being on one side and me not having the patience to rewind it with a pencil [someone please explain this to younger readers who only have smartphones to access music]. I’m in an Alpine meadow and all the cows have bovine spongieform. Hang on. This is different. Have I only reversed halfway and pressed play. Have I got my sides mixed up? You cant see in to the cassette. Sodding white cassette shells. Now there’s some carnival music. A Parisian Merry Go Round. Now the pace is considerably slower. I’ve been sucked in to the Campbell space-time continuum where your senses are not what they were when you first entered. My mind has been taken over by Campbell. An even slower pace now, an African sounding stringed instrument gently, hypnotically plucked to an effervescent background of electronic fireworks. It does have two sides. Sodding tapes. What was I doing? Whats happened? Can I go now? I think there’s a dog barking somewhere. This is blissful. I think I’m tripping. Up.