Friday, February 21, 2020
Sexton Ming’s Porridge Van / Cromlech Shadow
CDR 40 copies.
Dirty Swords - The Devil’s Paste
Dai Coelacanth - Pterodactyl Bunker
Chocolate Monk. Choc 451.
CD 60 copies.
Dylan Nyoukis - Nothing to See Hear.
Chocolate Monk. Choc 470
CD 50 copies.
Neil Campbell - Displacement Activity Terminal 2019
Chocolate Monk. Choc 466
CD 50 copies.
Cody Brant - Scratch Music
Chocolate Monk. Choc 467
CD 50 copies.
Cloak + Cloaca - Croak
Totes Format. TOTFORM36
5CM CDR 30 Copies
Cloak + Cloaca - A Common Cavity
Totes Format. TOTFORM37
CDR/postcard/insert. 40 Copies
Rene Kita - Stille Nacht
Totes Format. TOTFORM36
5CM CDR 30 Copies
Caroline McKenzie - The First Snow From Soon
Totes Format. TOTFORM36
CDR 25 Copies
Carnivorous Plants - Mammon
Crow Versus Crow. CVC015
CD/DL. 50 copies.
There’s an unwritten law that states; if you work in a factory environment for long enough you’ll sustain an injury. And if you’ve ever worked in a factory environment you’ll be working alongside people with missing digits, missing ends of digits, missing lower limbs, scars, wheezing lungs, bumps and dents and tales of misfortune that range from the hilarious to horrific. After spending most of my working life in factory environments I’ve escaped relatively unscathed. This continued until Wednesday the 6th of February came around.
I arrived at work to find that during the night my mug had somehow managed to suffer a broken handle. I must state here and now that this mug is of the perfect size, bigger than your everyday mug but slightly smaller than the daft things big enough to boil pasta in. I’ve broken the handle before and successfully glued it back together. We have a history. The handle lay in two pieces from where I must have thrown it too viciously into its overnight drawer. Having an abundance of superglue to hand I first glued the two broken pieces together and once they had hardened I applied glue to all four remaining surface and with piece in place I applied pressure when disaster struck. The piece slipped and my hand hit what was remaining of the handle, a very sharp and unmoving bit of hardened pottery and enamel for which my tender flesh was no match. My initial reaction was, ‘oh thats going to hurt a bit’ and after sticking the wound in to my gob and sucking it, I turned on a cold tap and ran it under that while simultaneously gobbing out the sticky red stuff that my mouth was now full of. On first look the cut seemed manageable, about an inch long at the base of the index finger of my left hand, but it was deep, and this was my downfall. I stuck a plaster on it, bandaged it up and carried on with my work. About half an hour later I just happened to bump in to the first aider and waved my bandaged and bloody hand at him. ‘Your first aid box has been opened’ I told him [all first aid boxes are now sealed with an easily broken plastic tie wrap so as to prevent the casual pilfering of medical supplies], ‘Oh what have you done?’ said he, whereupon I showed him the wound. We both looked at very deep cut and what was obviously a hospital visit and after mild protestation from me, mainly brought on by visions of a morning wiped out at A&E off we went.
First Aider assured me that A&E would be quiet and that I would be back in no time and he was right, the place was deserted. ‘We don’t open ‘till nine love’, said the woman behind reception who’d taken my details and booked me in to the system. I took a seat. After sitting for no longer than five minutes my name was called and I found myself in front of a nurse who looked at my injury, and after careful consideration said ‘thats too deep for me flower, you’ll have to go to Pinderfields and see the hand specialist’. My heart crumpled. And so it was that I found myself at a bus stop outside Dewsbury District Hospital, my arm in a sling and a packet of antibiotics in my pocket, awaiting the arrival of the transfer bus that would take me to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
Pinderfields is half an hour away, I spent my time on the bus texting Mrs Fisher to tell her my tale of woe and realized that it was now ten o’clock and that I’d had nothing to eat since 5.30. that morning. Neither did I have any money on me. I had my phone, some paperwork, some antibiotics and that was it.
Arriving at Pinderfields I introduced myself to the correct department, handed over my paperwork and took a seat. I then assessed my miserable situation: I was still dressed in my works overalls and steel toe-capped boots, I had my arm in a sling, I was hungry, thirsty, without money and had a throbbing left hand that was going to need treatment. I was a tad pissed off that after 20 years of working with sharp knives and having suffered nothing more than superficial cuts I’d managed to end up in hospital after having tried to mend a sodding tea mug.
My name was called and I met a surgeon who looked at my injury. ‘How did you do it?’ he said while pulling apart the opposing flaps of skin and looking deeply in to the gap I‘d created. I told him the story of the mug. ‘So you work in a carpet factory with all those sharps knives and …’ ‘Yes, its hilarious isn’t it’ I said not laughing and trying not to think about where this was going to end. ‘You’ll have to see the specialist’ he said and with that I was whisked back in to the waiting area.
By now it was well past two o’clock and I was very hungry and very thirsty. One of the questions I’d been asked numerous times during the past few hours was ‘when did you last eat?’ and when I told them 5.30 that morning they nodded and said ‘thats OK then’. It now dawned on me that this meant they could operate today as I could handle the anesthetic.
Ten minutes later a nurse passed and took me in to her office. She took some details. I had a plastic bracelet fitted that contained a barcode, my date of birth and various other important information. About an hour later I was called again and this time I saw someone wearing a lanyard, who produced a form and began filling it in, ‘This is a disclaimer form’ she said ‘just in case anything goes wrong during the operation’. I nodded blindly. I was going to be operated on. ‘The surgeons are deciding on whether to administer a local anesthetic or a general one. They need to assess the damage. Are you OK with that?’ I looked up from my seat and nodded silently. A nurse came in and gave me a hospital robe and a flimsy carrier bag that said ‘Patients Belongings’ on it. Again I was asked to go and sit in the waiting area.
A nurse appeared. ‘Good news’ she said, ‘they can operate this afternoon’. I tried to smile even if it was just to convey how happy I was that she was happy, but deep inside I was monumentally pissed off. I waited some more. I looked at my phone with disinterest. I finished a Ballard story on Kindle that I’d totally forgotten about and tried to forget that no food or drink had passed my lips for eight hours now. Misery descended and refused to budge.
My name was called again and this time I found myself with the surgeon and the Hand Specialist. The Specialist shook my good hand, ‘So you’re the bloke who cut his hand on a mug?’ We all laughed. I felt stupid for wasting their time. The surgeon sat next to me and took hold of my injured hand. ‘Can you feel this?’ he said as he ran his index finger up and down the side of my index finger. ‘Yes’. ‘Can you make a fist?’ I made a fist. They looked at each other. ‘How do you feel?’ I wanted to say that I could eat a soggy mattress and drink what gathered in rain puddles but all I wanted to do was get out of there. ‘I feel fine’ I said. ‘I’ll take it really easy and promise not to make my injury any worse so long as you set me free and let me go home’. Actually I didn’t say any of that. The Hand Specialist said ‘It looks like you haven’t damaged any major tendons or nerves and if you take it easy for a week or so it should heal up by itself’. I felt blessed. My injury was attended to and I was allowed to go home. Or back to work to report the damage and wolf down two bananas and an energy bar before gingerly driving home without having to use the handbrake. I had the beginnings of a headache but I was looking at a week off work minimum.
This results in me having lots of free time on my hands. Well, my right one at least. Time to spin little shiny discs during the hours when I should be at work, watch three hour documentaries on iPlayer, shower with a rubber glove on and if it hadn’t have been for the nauseating effect of the antibiotics it would have been all the more enjoyable.
Where to start though? A not inconsequential pile of review material has been building over the last month or so and while I play something virtually every night of the week the words haven’t been forthcoming. I peruse but prevaricate preferring instead to watch restoration videos on YouTube with the sound down. Its amazing what people can do with worn out shoes and old pistols.
Totes Format got a mention last time around when a few of their cassettes got involved in a cassette review session. Along with those cassettes came releases by Cloak + Cloaca, Rene Kita and Caroline McKenzie. Cloak + Cloaca are a trio consisting of Kek-W, Matt and Totes Format head cheese GRM. ‘A Common Cavity’ is the far superior work and not just because it comes in a laser etched, hand sewn, recycled tar paper cover with postcard and manifesto based around the concept of accepting frailties, limitations and when to give up as the basis towards liberation. ‘Croak’ is good even if at times it sounds like Consumer Electronics having a coughing fit but ‘Cavity’ is the real meat. A full hours worth of Industrial Machine Malfunction Drone Dub Electronica with ritualistic undertones and just the merest hints of Spacey Techno Ambience. It really does have it all. If you’re in to that kind of thing of course. Rene Kita is the Finnish based artist whose mission it is to draw one million faces before he dies. You can follow his progress here: one of his faces comes with Still Nacht [I have number 224,390]. It appears on a small slip of paper as accompaniment to a black cdr of manipulated noise that sounds like it was made from processed gabber. Like a multitude of Phil Mintons doing the noise thing. Far more stille nacht is Caroline McKenzie whose dreamy synth soundscapes help with her ongoing insomnia problems. Its the first time I’ve encountered McKenzie’s work and I’m impressed. Think Eno at his droney best, a simplified Emeralds, drones that develop, morph and help calm the troubled soul. Three tracks that come in at just under an hour with the twenty-two minute third and last being the one on which to point the good ship Silent Night. Whether this is representative of all of McKenzie’s work I shall have to find out for myself. It seems I have some catching up to do.
My notes have Sexton Ming’s Porridge Van as sounding like God listening to Classic FM while having a bath as someone in the next room throws steel pipes out of the window. Listening back now thats exactly right. God droning on about his trip to the supermarket and how shit the weather was, washing up with R1, talking to himself about washing up as jazz records spin. Totally unclassifiable. Sexton Ming’s Porridge Van is Sexton Ming and South Coast agent provocateur Jason Williams, a man for whom the moniker No Audience Underground is completely irrelevant. By track seven we’re in to Cromlech Shadow territory. Here we find lo-fi noise, groaning bones, dying mammoths, glass harps, stylophone squeaks and TNB junk-outs, wheezy drones, the jingling and a-jangling of trinkets and ankle bells. After some digging around I discovered that Cromlech Shadow is the collaborative work of Andy Jarvis and Chandor Gloomy who both sent me a copy such was their determination that I have one. If anyone wants one, drop me a line.
Dirty Swords is Andy Jarvis and Marky Loo Loo. Two who make noises in various bands and projects but come together here to make two tracks that are then put in plastic a sleeve with cardboard artwork as cut from a larger piece of artwork as maybe made by Jarvis issue. I’m guessing. Here we enter the experimental, improv noise arena once again. Stoke-on-Trent that is. It houses a handful of hardy souls who can see no other way than to create these noises. To purge the soul, to do what others fear. The two tracks on The Devil’s Paste are quite soothing in a not very Caroline McKenzie way. Maybe she could try this for her insomnia? ‘Kazaki Neptus III’ becomes a continual throb of murk, a rumbling grumbling noise, an invocation to the Gods of Beetling, dirty bubbles, dirty grubbles, a-slithering and a-sliding thing. It segues into the second track, ‘Masters of Seas [The Lung Worm]’ and the kind of noise as created out of the back of broken radios where circuit boards are explored with strips of bare metal and divining rods, where the noise gets louder and more ecstatic as it progresses and ends up sounding like the Yakuza shooting up a noodle kitchen. I wrote ‘ A house is falling down and a record player is spinning Japanese Noise records that haven’t seen the light of day in 20 years’ and thats how it sounds.
Fast forward a few days and I’m back at Dewsbury District Hospital to have my wound looked at. I find myself sat in a too hot waiting area of the old hospital where R2 and Steve Wright blasts at a too loud volume to me and a bored looking couple and a man who’s waiting for his son. I divest myself of various items of clothing so as to become accustomed to the temperature as Talking Heads become the first track on the Golden Oldies section. I’m led to a curtained off area where a spotty youth asks me lots of questions I’ve already answered many times before, the answers to which he dutifully records with more concentration than seems necessary. My grubby bandage is cut off by a chatty man who tells me he’s had his tyres slashed by angry residents and that there’s a four year waiting list for a car park permit at Pinderfields. A small, clean plaster is applied and I’m back outside waiting for the 268 with a sick note in my pocket.
When I get home there’s been a Chocolate Monk delivery. It seems appropriate to follow on from all that Stoke noise by mentioning Dai Coelacanth first. That’s if he is from Stoke. Greece has been mentioned. Nobody knows. Smoke and mirrors. No promotional material for us just the raw sounds therein. This one runs for an hour and is the best one I’ve heard yet. It begins with Dai shouting the word ‘rabid’ numerous times before disappearing into a vortex that is the audio equivalent of being shouted at by a loony in the bus stop queue. Dai amasses this hours worth of audio from Dictaphone recordings and in the process gives us Milovan Srdenovic channeling Adam Bohman through Hasil Adkins whose sat at home playing his Mixed Band Philanthropist records. Dai shouts, he growls like a succubus but the shouting’s the best, things like ‘Dog Glue!’, ‘Mutant Queen Terror Baby!’, Rat Baby!’, Venus Creeps!’, ‘All I’ve Got Is Coffins!’ all this Tourettes like jabber coming at you between blasts of lo-fi noise, slowed down pop songs and general audio verite noise. At times there are fumbling stabs at getting the riff to The Ace Of Spades right on an out of tune acoustic guitar, ultra decayed tape mulch that once contained easy listening music, at times it just Dai repeating the word ‘worms’ over and over again, there are songs, sort of and mantra’s like ‘Lost my shirt in the meaty fumes’. The sheer glory of it. Nobody comes close. I am in awe.
Follow that I said to Dylan because he was next up. In a plain cardboard sleeve too, eschewing the recent beefed up, all colour, fold-out cards that Chocolate Monk have been adopting with much success of late. ‘Nothing to See Hear’ seems to be a pun thats been too long coming. The wait was worth it. Do we have a South Coast voodoo ritual then? A Homage to Adam Bohman perhaps? I hear his voice coming to me through the looped miasma, through the grubby tape and slurred vocals, the warbling oddments that are the results of dubs over dubs over dubs over dubs, a smeared window that can only give you an idea of what lays behind it, the palimpsest of a Dictaphone addict. Nyoukis weaves his creation with a skilled hand, his voices, or whats left of them becoming a series of inchoate babbles. We finish with simultaneous boos and applause and someone striking a match. There’s a message in there but I’m damned if I can work it out.
I wonder if Cody Brant has ever cut his hand? Maybe he cut it while making Scratch Music? Maybe he scratched his hand and this led him to make Scratch Music? A scratch is not a cut though and I definitely have a cut, or is it a puncture wound? Maybe I have a puncture wound? Whatever. Cody Brant comes to mind when I think of the Bren’t Lewiss Ensemble and Seymour Glass and all those glorious oddball musical geniuses who make music out of unicorn breath. I think they could be linked. Not by an umbilical cord but by the same kind of thinking and reasoning. About making music. About making noises and noise which is what Brant does here with twelve tracks of noises that may be some use to him as therapy. On ‘Repressed + Inhibited’ you can hear him [just] saying ‘I’m so goddamned inhibited I can’t believe I’m talking in to a cassette recorder’ but maybe this isn’t him? I found it hard to get a hold of Scratch Music. It flits and flirts. At times its a noisy Pan Sonic at others radio noise, at others highly processed digital techno noise, at others amp buzz, as on Holy Crap! when someone is heard saying holy crap! There’s a live track of droning sounds [at least it sounds like it was recorded in the live situation] thats decent enough but it feels like an oasis.
One man who’s no stranger to drone is the Munificent Mirfield Maestro himself Neil Campbell, here with four tracks as recorded at the fag end of last year. ‘Jingle Fucking Bells’ is the last and slowest of the quartet on offer; a wheezing, struggling to get going sample of bells that sounds like Ornette Coleman trapped inside a Grandfather clock chiming midnight. If you listen to them in reverse order the drones get more hectic with ‘Displacement Mood’ having an almost Hare Krishna-like vibe in and amongst the Stylophone gone bust squiggles and shaker shaking. The first two tracks are unmistakably prime NC though; ‘Albion Terminal 2019’ is a five minute gem of shimmering vibes and a looped electric guitar while ‘First/Last Blast’ is a shoulder rocking, head nodding, lolloping joy, filled with sparkly-ness that soars and glows and flows and roars and lifts the mood no end
The wound is now a scar. The flesh may still be a bit mushy beneath the skin and I doubt I’ll be twisting the lids off any stubborn jam jars for a while but this is now nothing. I have traversed the field of pain, fought terrible battles with rubber gloves and the nauseating effects of penicillin. A surgeon has rubbed my finger and I have escaped surgery. I am whole again.
My time off work coincided with the arrival of two very destructive storms within the space of a week. Each of them bringing misery for many. Particularly the residents of the Calder valley. Crow Versus Crow finds itself in close proximity to these storms and floods they created, yet as far as I know has managed to escape unscathed. Its a wild place at the best of times never mind when a full blown storm hits town. I’ve been listening to Carnivorous Plants release ‘Mammon’ with increasing curiosity. Its been around since pre-wound days. Blurb on the CVC Bandcamp page tells us that this release came in to being as a request from CVC to Carnivorous Chambers to record something with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in mind. Apparently this is something that Owen [Carnivorous Plants] Chambers has done before, i.e. record a pair of tracks for a limited number of people using a predetermined theme. Here this becomes three tracks, two of heavy drone with a piano interlude of a most delightful and pretty hue, as if the grandson of Debussy himself recorded a light air, en plein air with birds chirruping at the onset of dawn on a warm spring morning. Giving it the title ‘Pandemonium’ is tongue in cheek of course. Its sandwiched between ‘The Second King of Hell’ and ‘Blood Orange’ with the latter starting like the opener but soon opening out to envelop a keyboard drone within its grungy arms. In-house artwork by CVC is as beautifully crafted as ever.
I look at my scar. I look outside at the trees bending in the wind. Its been an interesting week or so.
Crow Versus Crow
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Hanns Heinz Ewers - Sorcière Ma Mère
Nurse With Wound - The Top of the Left Ear
Lenke Lente. Book + CD
60 PAGES. 10 X 15⋅5 CM
ISBN : 979-10-94601-31-0
Hanns Heinz Ewers has been described as the German Edgar Allen Poe and the reason you’ve probably never heard of him [that includes me until this dropped through the door] is that few of his works have been translated into English. His books began to appear in the early 20th century and with them numerous [and notorious] short stories, there were plays, critical essays, poetry, librettos, and a correspondence with lifelong friend Aleister Crowley. Hitler commissioned him to write a biography of Nazi martyr Horst Wessel, something he might have regretted had he known Ewers was a philo-semite with homosexuals tendencies, but hey, whose perfect?
Intrigued by Ewers, I sought out a translation of Sorcière Ma Mère [My Mother the Witch] and found one courtesy of Frans de Waard. An online PDF translated by fans of Ewers perhaps, and those keen to read his works in English. Its a curious short story in the form of an epistle written by the strangely named Dr Kaspar Krazy Cat to a rarely seen brother begging him not to get married. His reasoning being that if they have children they will become witches, assuming that the witch gene misses a generation. What follows is the doctors evidence that his mother is a witch; she cures warts, has poisoned mushrooms in her garden, has a closet full of brooms and curses those who cross her, literally and usually with terminal effects. These observations go further to enforcing his suspicions, which culminate in him seeing his mother transform in to a cat and receive an injury from a dachshund while in a graveyard. When she wakes up in the morning in human form the injury is still there and its this that makes him write the letter. There’s a twist in tale too, albeit a slight one.
That injury occurs at the top of the left ear which is where Nurse With Wound come in. I’ve been listening to a bit of Nurse With Wound of late, especially Soliloquy For Lilith which I took to the stereo while full of lurgi over the festive period. There really is something to be said for being so ill that all you can do is put one CD after another in to the player. You may be ill, but on the plus side it is possible to soak up hour after hour of drifting, droning music all without having to move hardly a muscle. ‘Top of the Left Ear’ is a gamelan-esque twenty-minute exactly Nurse drone where finger cymbals ring out amid scythe like cuts, digital jibber-jabber and someone sharpening a knife on a whetstone in rhythmical fashion. It’s eeriness makes a good match for the story it comes wrapped in and runs to around the same time it’ll take you to read it.
A match made in hell? Hardly, but another suitable obscure author/Nurse With Wound match from Lenka Lente.
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Claus Poulsen & Stuart Chalmers - Fictions in the Age of Reason
Aphelion Editions.APHELION014 - K7
Abattoir & Satori - Megaloschemos Live
Cassette/DL. 50 copies.
Rovar17 Vs Xpldnglke - Miracles of Orbanistan
Max Nordile - Primordial Gaffe
Paisley Shirt Records. PSR24
Max Nordile - Confusion Deodorant
Olliojohanna / Coldsore
Totes Format. TOTFORM40
Coldsore - Pollutant 3
Totes Format. TOTFORM37
There are those who claim that cassettes were just getting into their stride when the CD came along and stomped to death the living daylights out of them, vinyl, Minidisc, eight-track and whatever other format dared stand up to it. As the ever greedy recording industry geared up to make even more money than every before by dazzling us with shiny little discs, cassette duplication went from analogue to digital and the leap in sound quality was remarkable. Nobody cared though, we’d all fallen in love with the shiny discs and the record industry sat back and watched their bank accounts grow fatter by the second. That they cost a small fortune didn’t seem to worry us. We happily shelled out £15 for each and every one of them and when 2 for £20 came along it was a good excuse to max out the credit card. They wouldn’t scratch, jump or crackle and you could play both sides without having to get up off your arse and change the record, or flip the cassette over. Entire symphonies could be heard from beginning to end without interruption. You could skip tracks that you didn’t like and if you could be bothered, programme the CD to play the album in any order you liked. The LP record went on to life support with the cassette on the bed next to it.
Fast forward twenty-five years and by some quirk in the space time continuum cassettes and vinyl are still with us and its CD with its head in the noose. Cassettes live on as addendum's to hip rock stars release schedule, as a way of giving their fans a taste of ‘this is what it was like back in the day kids’, as the physical side of a digital release. They nearly snuffed it but thanks to a few die-hards they managed to limp along into the 21st century.
All this because I seem to keep getting lots of cassettes. They just keep on coming. Its like CD never happened. I have no room for them anymore, and a cull must come as sure as night follows day, but let us leave that for another day and the thought of one lucky punter, who just happens to be in Cleck Oxfam on the day they put out a box of cassettes marked ‘50p each’.
December sees the appearance of the Best of Year lists and a glut of articles written by people eager to tell the world which releases gave them the most aural pleasure during the previous twelve months. I don’t do those lists, but if someone said to me ‘choose a favourite release or you’ll have to spend January in a room with Katie Hopkins’, I’d choose the Claus Poulsen & Stuart Chalmers release, ‘Fictions in the Age of Reason’. Mainly because its the most gorgeous, achingly beautiful, fill me with helium and let me go two sides of tape I’ve heard in a very long time.
I saw them collaborate on a wet and windy night in Bradford a few months back and it was obvious from the off that they were at ease with each other, Chalmers with his swarmandal, cassettes and FX, Poulsen with tiny keyboards, sax and sawed cymbals. ‘Fictions …’ is the proud echo of that evening. Its first track begins with an Alan Lomax field recording, of what appears to be children bathing in a river and shouting to each other joyously in foreign tongues, there’s a short reversed loop of a strummed intro over which comes an Eno-esque drone of sheer majesty, over which comes the breathy key flaps of Poulsen’s sax and on it goes, folding in on itself and expanding, bringing in older elements and reshaping them anew, until all we are left with are vistas of a shimmering heat-haze and in it Poulsen’s dying sax’s last breath, birdsong and children, stillness and peace. After picking myself up off the floor, and walking around the house open mouthed for an hour, I pressed play and carried on. ‘Earth Dance’ where the multi-tracked gentle plucks of Chalmers swarmandal are joined with the tuneless and random plucks of some other unidentified instrument and the result is dizzying and mesmeric. ‘Eclipse’ is sullen, the swarmandal hit into a giant bell as Poulson does his best to resurrect the ghost of Chet Baker, the whole edifice becoming ever more dreamy as heavy duty tape swirl is introduced. There are but four tracks, the last being a low key drone which on someone else’s release would be the standout track, but here works as gentle balm before you flip and dive in again.
After such gorge-iosity I must ying the yang and subject myself to some full on noise. Which is where Megaloschemos come in. Megaloschemos being the collaborative work of Lorenzo Abattoir [Abattoir] and Dave Kirby [Satori]. Two blokes sat at a table in front of a mountain of gear that must have cost thousands, making a shit load of noise. Whats not to like? Crunching blasts of detonating depth charges, Godzilla footsteps, burning Stukas falling out of the sky at volume one hundred, deep throat singing. As recorded live in Budapest. Via the same label comes more wailing and gnashing of teeth courtesy of a collaboration between Italian noise merchants Rovar17 and Xpldnglke. A single sided five tracks worth of Industrial landscapes, brooding menace, drone, dub-like reverb and the scattered flotsam, jetsam and detritus that you’ll find in many a noise related release. Both players are credited with ‘electronics’ which tells me nothing. Some of it is self-indulgent and wearying and I don’t recall having a moment where my knees went weak or I felt the urge to break open the thesaurus, but it passed on a pleasant 40 minutes or so.
Max Nordile’s frequent blasts of improvised racket continue to draw breaths of admiration and not just because he’s willing to brave the outrageous prices charged by the US Mail. Two releases here, one that appears to have come from Nordile’s own hand and a thin blue xeroxed paper insert in which a recycled, sprayed on cassette lies. All the sounds therein are explained by the track titles, so ‘Sax’ is Nordile honking like his lungs are fit to rupture and ’10 Bells' being the sound of ten bells but with all the clappers taken out. I like Nordile’s knock ‘em out style. Get it recorded, get it done. That’ll do for a cover. What are we messing around at here. Lets get it out. ‘2 Bolts’ is two bolts being rolled around inside a biscuit tin, ‘Control’ I have no idea but it sounded like a violin being played with a guitar as Nordile sings ‘Control, it fits, it fits, it fits’. ‘3 Drums’ is a tribal rhythm, just the same unchanging rhythm that goes on for about 30 seconds, ‘CD’ is another Nordile song sung over some exploding electric guitar improv. He sings in a talking voice and the only comparison I can make to this kind of thing is early Joincey. If you like early Joincey this is where you need to be. ‘Primordial Gaffe’ like a more out of control Smegma, like Nordile [sometime accompanied by five of his friends, including someone called ‘Snake’] howl and stomp and frot and squawk through eleven tracks of delirious improvisation. I say improvisation but there are lyrics here. Let us suggest that Nordile has the lyrics and improvises over the top of them, mainly with a swirling, jagged, hammered to within an inch of its life electric guitar and then with band on tracks like ‘Decaying Tab [with mirror]’ where you can not help but intone the words ‘SCREAMING DEATH PARP’. Glorious, life affirming stuff. Like if Husker Dü took the wrong pills and got sectioned and were given busted instruments to play on. Where you track down Noridle’s work I know not. I believe both Nordile and Paisley Shirt may be on Facebook. Say hello to Zuckerberg while you’re there. There’s a Paisley Shirt Bandcamp page but much of what Nordile releases seems to be elusive and digital free. Its part of the appeal.
That Paisley Shirt cassette gets a shiny silver J-card insert too. It beefs the release up somewhat. Totes Format do the same thing while adding small, desirous items of handmade-ness to lift their release out of the ordinaire. There’s recycled cassette cases too so as to fit with the labels environmental ethos.
Totes Format releases have always gone down well here and these two are no exception. The Coldsore/Ollijohanna split has two tracks of heavy drone based on the theme of anti-gravity. The kind of slowly shifting, low-hertz thrum that sounds as if it was recorded inside the ventilation duct of a future city on Mars. The Ollijohanna side is full on drone while Coldsore introduces bowl-like ringing and space-y synth like bombs and drones, and at midpoint, a spoken word movie sample, which I thought slightly jarred, and whose only purpose in being there seemed to be its mention of anti-gravity. The third installment of Coldsore’s ‘Pollutant’ series finds a number of processed environmental sounds as recorded in the fallout zones of Russia's nuclear power plants. Rain features heavily. And heavy rain, rattling on a tin roof like a ball-bearing attack. There’s that eerie, echo-y sound of water dripping in an empty building and the roaring sound of, of what? That’s ‘Acrid Reigns’, on the flip lies ‘Pollination [of a corpse]’ and bee sounds writhing amongst a disorientating swirls of an analogue nature. This is much in line with what Dave Philips is achieving and a reminder that without bees we’re buggered.
Cassettes then? It looks like they’ll be with us for a while longer.