Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Units

History of The Units - The Early Years 1977 - 1983
Community Library CD CL16
What amazes me is the fact that you can get through nearly half a century of living without even knowing that a band like San Francisco’s The Units ever existed. And then you get your hands on this and you realise why persons of a certain age, usually male and nearing fifty, get all excited at the mention of obscure bands who only cut a couple of singles and maybe an LP before disintegrating into history dust nearly 30 years ago. Usually I’m not the type to get all that excited about the mention of obscure bands but after cranking these 21 synth monsters up for the last few weeks I may find myself turning into one. As an example; whenever the bald heads of noise find themselves around a pub table a band will crop up in the conversation, say The Screamers and Underwood will go “fuck yeah, The Screamers, their first single on Meeuw, 400 copies, red vinyl,1978, I’ve got two copies and Thurston Moore wanted to buy one off me for £200 when I DJ’ed No Fun but I told him to bollocks”. Years ago in pre internet days I sent the Undermeister a track I’d taped off the John Peel show in 1978. I had no idea who the band were except that they were French and that there was a heavy synth sound to it. Back comes a jiffy bag containing a tape with all their stuff on it and Xeroxes of their single sleeves. The track turned out to be Hystére Connective and the band were French synth punk pioneers Metal Urbain.
At the same time in San Francisco The Units were going that one step further than Metal Urbain by abandoning their guitars all together in favour of an all synth line up [and drums of course]. The theory being that you couldn’t be reactionary with guitars seeing as how by their sheer ubiquity they were part of the mainstream. They even went as far as to paint all their gear battleship grey, do away with a frontman and screen projected films at their gigs in further bids of non conformity and a chance to indulge in the performance art scene that was rife in San Francisco at the time. I know all this thanks to the enclosed booklet - a shining example of a labour of love from Portlands Community Library team.
But this is not all three minute angst from a bunch of misanthropists, there’s prog keyboard flourishes and instrumentals too [they composed soundtracks] which is pretty good as it is but its the early singles that captures the mood best such as on Cannibals with its rampant tub thumping, waspish buzz and rabid stream of vocals. High Pressure Days is a scintillating swirl of monster synth and 4/4 stomp thats easily as good as anything Devo ever got credit for. Warm Moving Bodies is urgent pop delivered in military fashion. Of the 21 tracks on offer its hard to find fault with a single inclusion. Community Library even have the sense to let the Pope of Punk and San Francisco's Mabuhay Gardens emcee/promoter Dirk Dirksen announce the band thus setting the scene without the need for a dodgy live track. And after slagging off the audience and mixing up the bands name its a treat from start to finish.
The Units began as an eight piece in 1978, in San Francisco before settling to a more manageable three. They chew up a dozen or more members, cut a few singles along the way and implode on Epic/CBS with a Bill Nelson produced album that never gets to see the light of day after having dented the disco charts in America with a track thats not even on here. Therefore they have all the right ingredients for a retrospective such as this and for once its a truly deserved and perfectly weighted release. Too often the urge to include every outtake, b-side, fart, click track and poorly recorded live outing proves too strong and the end result is a three CD set of stodgy proportions [see The Homosexuals ‘Astral Glamour’ release on Messthetics for a good example of how to over do it]. Here we have 21 tracks of what synth punk was all about and its perfect. I could go on; the origins of their name, the Trakstod Station [Californian hair rockers] cover, the alienation and swooping melodies but I guess you’ll just have to find that out for yourselves.
I don’t normally get material such as this through the door. Maybe Community Library has picked up on my enthusiasm for all manner of analogue synth in the shape of Emeralds and early English synth pioneers like The Future and more lately Vice Versa, whatever, I’m glad they did. History of The Units is released on the 15th of June on CD and thereafter on vinyl and MP3.

Usurper Trio/Muscle Tusk/Smear Campaign/Nackt Insekten

Usurper Trio - Party Tapes
Muscle Tusk/Smear Campaign
Nackt Insekten - Countdown to Ecstasy II
Ghost of an Octopus - 19,21,23,14
[all the above are cassettes]
Serfs At Victoria Baths
Abraxxxass- Plum Slate
Saboteuse - Apercu
For those of you wanting to know what’s happening at true grass roots level in the UK then look no further than Stuart Arnot’s Total Vermin label. Raking together the best of what’s happening in Manchester, Stoke and Glasgow Arnot cudgels together a satan hot fart of Fluxus garblings, eaten away frequency discharge and teeth to the neck fret abuse.
There is plenty to admire here amongst the spattered CDR’s and day-glo cassettes.
Ghost of an Octopus is Arnot and underground leg-end Joincey strangling guitars of various types in an incessant buzz of restless careering blue bottle distortion that attacks you like a swarm of angry hornets on a hot day in Dewsbury. This is not head down mindless Solmania. It’s a different beast altogether with little direction but a focus and intent. A disturbing beast of string kill that makes Keiji Hieno sound like Les Dawson.
Usurper Trio is the weird pick of the bunch. The Fluxus ethos of not making any sense is a melody of plumbing sounds, electronic rumbles and saucepans lids used as percussion. Tupperware, kazoo abuse and swannee whistles are designed to disorientate as squealing puppies and rattling china cups are thrown in for good measure.
Arnot turns up again in his Smear Campaign guise in a split with a live Muscle Tusk track. Muscle Tusk sound like a dying elephant whilst someone kicks a kick drum at random intervals. All of it eventually collapsing in on itself into a filthy pit of nightsoil. The other side sounds like the first side recorded onto dodgy tapes which keep swimming in and out of focus Norman Collier style. Deep earth rumbles and a muted trumpet struggle to be heard.
The last time I saw Nackt Insekten he was gigging on the Glasgow Underground as part of 08’s Instal fest. It was a bizarre sight indeed as commuters got on an off to the sound of distorted switches hidden in a suitcase amplified through a couple of ghetto blasters. Like all good noise practitioners though the beauty becomes apparent with immersion. NI’s angsty, fidgety, frequency driven overloads are head buzzes that become hypnotic until a subtle phase shift alters their course. It all sounds like it should be made on huge Dr Frankenstein like machines pulsing with Telsa shocks and ball lightning but I’ve seen inside that suitcase ... which makes me even more impressed.
Serfs all too short set of guitars and trampled percussion benefits from being performed in a disused Victorian baths. Starting out softly with rattles and the odd hit cymbal the six Serfs lift off into the crumbling iron lattice work on an ever increasing drone of guitar shimmer and scream that just makes you wish you’d been there. Impressive.
Joincey reappears in Saboteuse an outfit who can seemingly turn their hand to anything from Whitehouse squeal to the simply indescribable. Here its the simply indescribable - a kaleidoscopic collection of stabbed keys, fumble fingered guitar wreckage, kamikaze plane dives and spoken word. Joincey’s spoken word contributions besides adding to the mystery of it all make you wonder if he hasn’t got a future as a BBC newsreader, something I’d pay double the license fee just to see for one night.
Only Abraxxxass’s demented six string fiddling leaves me cold but not a bad result out of seven releases.
Total Vermin’s releases aren’t pretty and with a name like that you wouldn’t expect them to be but these are worthwhile releases documenting an area of work many labels aren’t interested in or are too scared to get involved with.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Fun Fest 2008

NEW YORK, 16/17/18 MAY 2008
I’m stood outside the Knitting Factory in downtown New York in the rain, in the road, smoking a cigarette when a voice in my ear goes ‘eez thurstanmuwar ohn’ I turn to see a blonde French woman who may be Charlotte Rampling or Bridgett Bardot looking at me with expectant eyes as her own cigarette smoke curls up into the damp night. I’m already half drunk and jet lagged and have to ask her again what it is she wants to know until it clicks that she’s a Sonic Youth fan and has come all the way from Paris on the off chance of seeing Thurston play No Fun. She has no ticket. I tell her that if I see him I’ll tell him she called.
And there’s no way that the bouncers at the Knitting Factory are going to let this French lady in without a ticket. Big Black Guy and his mate are the biggest pair of smiling Nazis on the lower west side. Its the reason why I’m stood in the road with a cigarette because they don’t want me fouling up the sidewalk and impeding the egress of their well heeled lawyer neighbours. You can see their point. If the Knitting Factory’s punters get over zealous and start making too much noise at one in the morning mister investment banker and his missus are going to get pissed off pretty quick. But enforcing this ruling with all the glee of an over zealous school bully is going beyond the call of duty and don’t even think about having a pull on that big bifter you brought with you. Big Black Guy has the keen nostrils of a sensitive beagle and delights in chasing small groups of high teenagers across the street.
The Knit certainly isn’t The Hook. Last years venue, The Hook, feels like a cosy tap room compared to the Dantes Inferno that is the Knitting Factory. At entry level lies Stage one, the main stage. Below that lies Stage two, the smaller floor space. Below that, merchandise can be found. Above all these floors is the viewing area cum DJ rack cum mixer and lights set up. The only way to get to these various floors is by a winding stair case. and with 50 acts appearing over three nights with about five minutes between sets it soon turns into some kid of Orwellian MC Escher loop of folks tramping up and down stairs in search of entertainment. And don’t even think of stopping to talk to someone you know because you ‘gotta keep moving folks - don’t block the corridor’ intone the half interested floor staff who in-between checking your ID and ink stained hands stare disinterestedly at PC monitors checking their emails or doodling. And there’s hardly anywhere to sit and socialise which is half of what No Fun is about. Everyone you meet at No Fun is either playing, fronting a label, a website, organizing tours or there to get ideas. Some people even go just to listen. At least they have bars on three of the floors and some decent ale on offer and even though I’l never pay $7 for a can of Boddingtons it’s heartening to see it here.
Once again No Fun orgasniser Carlos Giffoni has assembled a grand array of noise/experimental artists. Its easily the biggest and best noise related event in the world. Its a sell out. And with 50 acts on offer to the discerning noise enthusiast it becomes impossible to catch everything. What with the stairs and me not being as nimble footed as a mountain goat I probably miss at least half of what’s happening but to be honest its no big deal. Its like sitting down to a five hour Chinese banquet and passing on the egg fu yung. They’ll probably be a next time and anyway once you’ve seen one noise band you’ve seen them all right? Well, not quite. It has to be said that some noise artists come out of the PA sounding all the same, even though the artists concerned will vehemently argue against this but over the course of a weekend of such extremity a general wall of noise becomes lodged in your head and its hard to shift. But its not all all out kiddie pedal noise, therein lies the appeal of No Fun. There’s something for everyone.
Friday nights highlights are a punishing set from Sickness whose the first act on stage one. After the disappointment of last years appearance where there was some problem with the sound its heartening to see this one man PE/noise artist take total control of his gear and begin with an ear piercing wail that reached deep down into my ear ducts and caused me to briefly loose my balance. Bathed in a sea of blue light Sickness showed that the PE/noise axis can be both intelligent and rewarding. Randy Yau did his celery schtick thing. Munching on celery stalks spewing juices down his shirt and spraying chunks into the audience in a sea of celery splatter. Contact micd up it was brief and glorious. Somewhere lies the great photograph of Randy Yau machine-gunning bits of celery everywhere but I never took it. The rest of night descends into a bout of beer swilling jet legged banter with people I know, half know or get introduced to. Thurston, Black Quarter, Dinosaur With Horns and Falling Lights I could have either seen or not seen. Its hard to tell. I half catch Burning Star Core as I wait to get served at the bar. White Out no. Jason Crumer yes. Greg Kelly I have no idea. By now the beer/jet lag ratio is getting to me. Whilst in the merch area its obvious that Damion Romero has started upstairs. The second stage area’s PA is nowhere near as punchy as stage one’s and during Romero’s set of drone I wander around to discover that the best place to hear what’s going on lies the three feet in front of the performer. At the back it sounds all muddy, to the left nothing much, ditto the right. This becomes a problem when the noise freaks want to punch the air during the livelier acts but for shy retiring types like me it means three nights of murk. Astro are the last band on tonight but before that you have to endure Tony Conrad and his Squeaking Fiddle Band. The last time I saw Tony Conrad and his Squeaking Fiddle Band they succeeded in sending me to sleep. Tonight he tops that by driving me from the venue. Astro or no Astro I cant bear it any longer. I wander out into the rain and into the welcoming arms of a New York Taxi cab taking care not to say goodnight to the Big Black Guy and his mate.
On Saturday night I see a man hit two saucepans together and play the maracas. For one moment I think I’ve fallen through some kind of black hole and ended up at a Termite gig but no there he goes and he’s hitting the lids too. They’re mounted on cymbal stands and he’s hitting them with drumsticks. Well I never. But sanctuary is but a stairwell away and I climb to find Aaron Dilloway give one of the most memorable sets of the weekend under his guise as Nevari Butchers. Dilloway shows that he’s no one trick pony and worthy of inclusion after last years well received set. With a cello player for accompaniment he scrapes the insides of a wheelbarrow with a spade before retiring to a table covered in reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes and other various gadgets which he pokes and prods into some incredible sounds. With people like Dilloway, Stelzer and Chop Shop investigating the world of analogue tape experimentation I feel that there is a future for noise outside of its widely perceived persona of head down brain mush. This way the future lies. Nautical Almanac further improve my mood with a theatrical set of noise burlesque. Playing behind a backlit white curtain a figure looms near over a sea of coloured lights. Its like Kate Bush meets Shadow Puppet Theatre of noise land. Keith Fullerton Whittman stands behind his gear with long flowing beard emitting small squeaks which gathering into something bigger. Officially the biggest exponents of knelt down backs to the audience arses in the air drone merchants are The Skaters - I just wish they’d get up and shake some bells now and again as I’m tired of seeing their backsides but at least what they do is good wholesome drone. I bet they’ve never played Brighton without incident though. Giffoni gets himself on the bill but nobody’s complaining because what he does with that old analogue equipment is pretty spectacular. Its the old equipment thats making the most interesting noises. I think Emeralds are using old analogue equipment too and definitely a guitar. I saw a gitar. Through my now drunken eyes I saw a gitar that made a sound like early Tangerine Dream on steroids. I exit for a cigarette and stand in the road. I buy another beer [Magic Hat Circle Boy wheat beer at $4 which sure beats the PBR Well Shot at $7 and if you don’t know what a PBR Well Shot is then you don’t know how half these folks get drunk] I talk shit with people I half know. I get chewing gum stuck the the sole of my shoe. I go out for another cigarette. I find Alvars orchestra at the end of their set looking at their equipment taking in a few hearty cheers. One of them is staring blankly through heavy lidded eyes suggesting that he’s had more than his fair share of PBR Well Shots. And there’s no way I’m hanging around to see Cluster who may be German legends but at 1.30 in the morning play the kind of ambient tat thats liable to induce a coma in a drink and jet lagged body.
On paper Sundays stage one line up is the highlight of the weekend. Sudden Infant, Lasse Marhaug, Illusion of Safety, Consumer Electronics and to top it off, the granddaddy of them all, The Haters. And thats just upstairs. Downstairs we have Brooklyn PE upstarts Halflings, that well know spelling mistake Ahlzagallzeguh, full on FFH, the big man Cleanse and to top it all off John Weise. And lets not forget those I don’t know or will never see.
It could be during one of tonights performances that I smell the unmistakeable sweet smell that is dope. I’m stood at the back of stage one just knowing that its going to be less than ten seconds before Big Black Guy makes an appearance and sure enough here he comes barging through the punters sniffing the air like a drug bust Alsatian knocking folks aside in his quest to catch these most evil of evil doers. I’m as tired of the Knitting Factory now as the next person but at least a three man Edwige kick up a decent racket before Sudden Infant does what Raionbashi and Kutzkelina did last year and silences the No Fun crowd with a cultured display of vocal distortion and noise manipulation. At the start of his set he’s pelted from up above, these noise kids just want to get their kicks and aren’t about to put up with a European giving them something they might have to think about but he carries on putting an index finger to his lips just as they think its all over. Sudden Infant actually gets the punters laughing too with some well aimed observations and at the conclusion of his piece gets a riotous reception. Back down the stairs we get a classic PE performance from a group of young men from Brooklyn called Halflings. They seem to have brought half the crowd with them who immediately start crowd surfing and basically go batshit for the full set. Its good to see what is a sometimes a maligned genre safe in such young hands, Ahlzagallzeguh’s micro-edit noise spurts sound pretty much like other noise spurts live and then on the same floor FFH gives us another one man PE performance that has the thrill seekers, body shovers and beer sprayers doing what they do best. Back up the stairs for Lasse Marhaug this time aided and abetted by a Dror Feller who does a damned good impression of Olatunji era Coltrane going bright red in the face blowing all the high end register out of his sax whilst trying to keep his eyeballs in his head. Marhaug; is whipping cables around and treating us all to one of the loudest and most punishing sets of the weekend. Those high pitched sax squeals coupled with Marhaug’s devastating noise assaults are just on the brink of proving painful to my tinnitus damaged hearing but its still a breathtaking ride. Another member of Sonic Youth at this years fest is Lee Ranaldo but his drumming is but mere background to my search for more Magic Hat. Then its to the more erudite transmissions of Illusion of Safety. I have admired Illusion of Safety from afar for some years now. Their blend of samples, field recordings and experimentation have been a singular voice for donkeys years. If you dig far enough into their CV you’ll even see the name Jim O’Rourke but at this late stage of the proceedings electro-acoustic field recordings mixed with samples and lap top fuckery are interesting for about ten minute but soon wane into self indulgence. The rest of the evening flies by in a bout of drunken European camaraderie. It all comes to the fore upon appearance of Consumer Electronics. CE frontman Phillip Best has been at it long enough to give the punters what they want and with Dominik Fernow helping out with the noise side of things he strides the stage like a blobby drunken holiday maker in Benidorm shirt half open drooling saliva onto his nipples and rubbing it in. Eyes hidden behind shades, screaming unutterables he read from a scrapbook of lyrics wailing them into a wall of fierce noise. Fernow grimaces as the levels rise, Best strips off down to trousers, spits water into the crowd, revels in the ugliness of it all, puts his jacket back on, paces the stage as if looking for inspiration, loving every minute of it. News comes through that John Weise’s lap top has gone tits up so that leaves the bigger man Cleanse to round things off downstairs. Cleanse is there to fulfill all the testosterone fueled rampant male noise fantasists dream. He’s big, he’s loud and he loves to get involved. So it is that after two seconds he disappears in a sea of sweaty, beer soaked bodies and punching fists. The kids are enjoying themselves so much so that Big Black Guy just has to wade in and stop it all. He stands there in the midst of it all looking like the Headmaster searching for the kid who made the funny noise in assembly.
That leaves the Haters to round the weekend off. After missing the legendary ‘tyre’ tour of Europe in which Haters supremo GX Jupitter Larson ground his way into a car tyre with an angle grinder, I’ve been waiting ever since to catch him live, but tonight its just hooded theatrics with a mixer. At its brief end someone shouts ‘GX you’re a genius’ which as overstatements go takes some beating. The man is certainly up there with the greats but this performance is about as baffling to me as The Haters seminal release The Totimorphous. Make sense of that and you’ve uncovered the secrets of the universe. The legendary Haters live show will have to wait for another day.
Back outside I smoke a last cigarette. In the road. Away from the building. Quietly. With no drugs and with no beer. Just me and a cigarette saying a few goodbyes and wondering why it had to be that The Hook went bust and why I ended up at the Knit with Big Black Guy and the stairs.
Oh, and I never did get to tell Thurston about the French woman. She’s called Kate. Sorry.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ghost of an Octopus/Pecus

Ghost of an Octopus - XVIII XVII
Pecus - There’s a Dolphin Talkin’ to Me
3” cdr
I had these pushed into my sweaty mitt whilst in Glasgow for Instal 08. Two three inch cdr’s with no info really bar a few track titles on the Pecus sleeve, I’m not even sure that the Roman numerals are significant, they’re just there looking important and mysterious like end credits. I had little knowledge of what was going into my pocket but that the man giving me the GO release was from Levenshulme which I later discovered is now Joincey’s stomping ground and there on the back of the Pecus sleeve I half spied a picture that was Joincey and that handwriting sure looked like Joincey’s so maybe there was some kind of Joincey involvement then?
That would make these two little spinners of more than passing interest because Joincey is famous in his own tap room for being one of the shadowiest shifters on the English underground scene and I hate to use the word underground but there’s really no more apt a word. That he remains virtually unknown but exalted by those who do says more about him than any ten CD box set of his collected works would [which, by the way would be a virtually impossible task considering the scatter gun mechanics employed to release his material].
Internet searches reveal Ghost of an Octopus to be the twin berth caravanette that is Smear Campaign and the Joinced one. Smear Campaign being the giver of said discs and last see helping out Nackt Insekten on his Glasgow tube noise gig - a memory that will last long in the memory not just for the sheer absurdity of it all but for the fact that if this stunt had been pulled in London all the participants and spectators would now be dead from bullets to the head and other important parts. Smear Campaign benefit from being straight forward ugly. Joincey could give you anything from Whitehouse to Olivia Newton John covers. Here they seem to share the load with some split channel madness that’s one channel of the amplified death throes of an angry bluebottle fizzing in a glass jar across from all the guitar solos of Stevie Vai played all at once by somebody who has drunk ten pints of Scruttocks. GO are never going to be succinct or attract big words from Wire hacks. Their offering is a straight reflection of the vomit splattered streets of Manchester and reflects that perfectly. The machine eventually gives up the ... er ghost at the cut off period that is the 20 minute mark but by then their message is perfectly clear.
Pecus I assume to be yet another Joincey solo project - don’t even try nailing down all the bands he’s involved with or his myriad solo projects - I bet even the man himself looses himself. The first short track ‘flecks’ is a mumbled manipulated vocal work that sounds faintly like a 3 am death threat to noisy neighbours, ‘purpleggs’ is whistling feedback, ‘vectors’ is the industrial Mancunian decay that settles all over the North West like pollution on a new paint job. Joincey has more hats than a Russian Army Store and can hit you with just about kind of ear bomb. What gets me excited is that the urgency with which these things appear is matched by their equally rapid disappearance. And with no contact info it seems as if they’re almost content with the fact that these things just exist in their own right, lurking in someone's pocket waiting to cause disruption.

contact - no contact information given but you can try; [Smear Campaign myspace page] [joincey’s myspace page]

Howard Stelzer

Howard Stelzer - Bond Inlets
Intransitive Recordings 030
In 1997 Boston based composer and tape manipulator Howard Stelzer released an album called Stone Blind using little else but old cassette tapes and their players. Unfortunately for us Stelzer was less than happy with the result and rather than release an inferior product he trashed most of the pressing and sat on the masters. For ten years.
Cue the tenth anniversary of his Intransitive label and Stelzer decides its time to revisit those original recordings and take them apart and put them back together again using the passing ten years of accrued tape manipulation knowledge to create, according to the press patter ‘a piece that more accurately reflects what his intentions were then and what his aesthetic is today’.
But Stelzer doesn’t just sit there with his finger on the pause button making squidgy sounds, there’s an obsessive at work here. A curious obsessive creating sounds that one would never in a bazillion years think originated from the humble tape and their players. For these are drone works on a grand scale crafted and filled with the minutiae of busted condenser mics, grimed out ghosts of tape data, wheezing tape spools and fingered reels. There’s huge clanging drones that sound like church bells heard through the fog at Paschandaele, drones that could be the sound of distant traffic coming at you through a long mountain tunnel in Norway. Both these nigh on thirty minute untitled tracks are melancholic drone trip fer sure but they’re ones that have been on repeat here for the past few weeks and I am in awe. Each travel a melancholic path that takes in wheezing tape-deck motors, busted mics, trapped tape, snapped tape, empty players spinning on fast forward, shit I don’t know how he does it but what I do know is that he’s trying to use tape as a tool, as an instrument to create a sound that it wasn’t originally intended to. Tapes can be instruments as much as turntables kiddo, you just have to know what to do with them and Stelzer certainly does.
The last thing I heard by Stelzer was a live track on ‘Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe’ [Pacrec -] a head woozying blast of tape dexterity that swam in and out of my vision like psychedelic goldfish. Bond Inlets shows that there’s more than one string to this mans bow.
PO BOX 39151
MA 02139

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Incapacitants - Burning Orange
Pica Disk CD 2008 PICA006
No doubt about it anymore, Japanese noise duo Incapacitants are quite simply the best noise band on the planet right now. As I sit here twiddling with my overgrown face fuzz I still think back to that magical night at No Fun where the classic Incapacitants line up of Toshiji Mikawa and Fumio Kosakai shook the place to the ground with an intense set of mind boggling psychedelic noise fizz that drew comparisons with sightings of the Holy Mother and trips to Lourdes. For as Tommi Keränen so rightly states in his excellent liner notes, an Incapacitants live show ‘has a power of near religious proportions’.
Live shows outside their own country though are as rare a sight as Keiji Heino in a straw boater but Lasse Marhaug persuaded them to travel to Oslo for the 2006 All Ears Festival and this here disc is evidence of that trip. As you would expect from the Incaps its a blistering set. Nearly thirty minutes of high density, red level madness akin to an army of androids malfunctioning in shorting random spastic attacks as you try to hold on to a loose whip cracking high voltage cable. What amazes me about their sets is that the intensity rarely slips and somewhere along the line you’re going to hit your own personal blissful moment of trancedental delight. If you ever get to see them live you’ll see it on the punters faces. Its an incredible sight. Somewhere near the end of this set as the signals begin to cut out you can just about hear the audience starting to shriek and holler their approval. At the end it’s genuine heart felt applause and its for two men who are revered and held in high esteem by noise aficionados the world over. By day the Incapacitants work for the Japanese banking industry and the government in turn. Its worth remembering this if you ever get to see them because they don’t get up their in suits and sit behind a desk, they get involved, shake and tremble, scream into mics, sweat, get delirious with the sheer power of the noise they create. As your senses are being shoved out the cracks in your skull and the hairs on your legs shiver with delight its worth remembering this. To see them live is a privilege and as I recently saw at Instal 08, people will travel many miles to see them, to soak up the special atmosphere they create, to pay homage to the greatest live noise bandß of them all.
There’s an additional track on here too in which liner note writer Tommi Keränen joins them for a similar length set billed as Fumio Tommikawa and after a hesitant start that too delivers. Noise never sounded so good.

Andrew Paine & Richard Youngs

Andrew Paine & Richard Youngs - 1958/Santos
Sonic Oyster Record. CDR

Picked a couple of Sonic Oyster discs up at the Volcanic Tongue stall at Instal 08. I was probably drunk and gurning at Keenan’s missus at the time. Oh you can have these as trades for all the stuff you sent she tells me in her American drawl. Cheers our kid I reply in my best heavy woollen tones whilst snaffling them into a pocket and keeping them there whilst I slept on sofas and ate chips and deep fried sausages and fell asleep during three hour skronk outs because I’d been deprived of my eight hours and comfy bed and Weetabix and replaced it all with J&B and crafty fags and veg curries at three in the afternoon.
And after a very pleasant journey home down the west coast mainline in glorious winter sunshine I returned to Idwal Towers and in the best of moods I stuck 1958 into the slot and the room filled with the sound of a Glaswegian raga. Because both Youngs and Paine and [by implication] Sonic Oyster Records are Glasgow based. Young plays the bass and a Japanese flute going by the name of a Shakuachi whilst Paine plays electric guitar and percussion. Add all that to Youngs lost sounding, solitary note bass plucks over that lonesome flute and you have a 24 minute mind healing joss stick session in your hands. There’s more to these 24 minutes than that though, at times I feel as if I’m in In-di-ah and the Ibex are on the dusty red horizon others I’m in the spaces that Throbbing Gristle used to occupy on works like Hometime, drifting electric winds of grizzled melancholy. Better than a massage. Well almost.
1958’s second track Armorial Sands drifts in like a B-movie flying saucer before setting up a peppy chakra beat that collapses into scatter drum shots and a crescendo of warbling flute and bass runs. Both tracks leave me in a sate of bliss hit repeat-ness. Paine and Youngs have worked their magic over me. Their sounds settle like dust motes through a sunlit window and best of all remain unclassifiable. In a genre filled world this is manna from heaven.
Santos is equally as beguiling although the trips are shorter. Paine and Young are credited with cymbals, drums, gongs, ring modulation and shortwave amongst the Shakuachi breaths.
Besides working with each other on numerous releases they have each in turn interbred with multifarious dabblers of the sonic arts and released a staggering amount of music. Sonic Oyster Records is Paines own imprint and worthy of further investigation.