Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ashtray Navigations / Ocelocelot

Ashtray Navigations - Ink Clouds And Axe Revealer
Memoirs Of An Aesthete. CDR. 100 Copies
Ocelocelot - The Umbragechord
Total Vermin. Cassette
Observant Wire readers may have noticed a ‘letter’ from my goodself gracing the pages of their latest end of year round up edition. Said missive was not submitted by me via email as stated but was actually copy and pasted from this very blog after a third party brought the article in question [from whence the ‘letter’ was lifted] to the attention of Wire editor Chris Bhon. At first I was flattered, this soon turned to annoyance and then finally acceptance. At least I’ve had a ‘letter’ published in Wire magazine ran one thought and then, but why didn’t they get in touch and ask me if they could use my work? I suppose that anything published on a blog will be seen as being in the public domain and therefore open to use and abuse but still, a comment left in the appropriate place would have a earned a reply. Life goes on.
I felt duty bound to buy myself a copy of said rag and seeing as how I was due a trip to Leeds to seek out Oliver Sweeney sale items I thought I might as well kill two birds with one stone. So there I was sat in Romagna’s cafe with my bowl of pasta and glass of red flicking through the latest Wire when I all but involuntary sprayed a huge gob full of everything onto the couple at the next table. I’d arrived at the regular Global Ear column and guess which city it was covering? Yes, Leeds of course and here I am in Leeds which is just about my home town and the place where I’ve been to more gigs than anywhere else and where I like to think I know [or knew] some of the people involved in the experimental music scene and as I’m reading Bruce Davies column all I’m waiting for is the mention of Todd and Delaney and Ashtray Navigations and The Termite Club and and and nope, no, not a word. Not a fucking sausage. Todd and Delaney are like Leeds Experimental royalty and even if the Termite Club has been tucked up in bed for a while its not as if its ceased to exist completely. But no mention of any of them? Oh dear. Davies does mention those other giants of the Leeds arts scene, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth [perhaps without realising that Moore was born in Castleford and Hepworth in Wakefield both about 15 miles away] before coughing up those other predictables, The Kaiser Chiefs and the Sisters of Mercy [the former a band that ditched grunge with the emergence of Brit Pop and the latter featuring a lead singer who changed his surname to Eldritch in the hope that it would make him appear more interesting] but no Wedding Present? No Mekons? No Three Johns? Certainly no Ashtray Navigations or Ocelocleot or even a hint towards the Termite Club. Life goes on. Again.
By the intervention of some unseen force I arrived home that day to find a package from Todd and Delaney awaiting me. I gave Ink Clouds And Axe Revealer about six straight spins and then got stuck into the Ocelocelot tape. Ash Navs is Phil and Mel playing together and Ocelocleot is Mel flying solo. During Ink Clouds I was transported back to the mid 70’s and kept uttering names like Froese and Fripp and maybe even Tomita to myself. Somehow they’ve managed to squeeze in Chris Carter along the way too. The psychedelic drone is still in full effect of course with Todd’s guitar soaring away like a high voltage out of control lava lamp but for now it comes wrapped in a 70’s prog keyboard homage. At least on the second track ‘Secretaries of the Future’ it does, which is pure mid 70’s solo Froese and somehow feeds in to the current craze for all things Emeralds keyboard prog. Theres even a hint of some breathy Florian Schneider flute sounds. ‘Horn Progress Affectation’ even goes and outdoes Emeralds stringer McGuire in the melody stakes - its a dual guitar duel with high end electric guitar dabs producing notes of short star like blink quality over a bed of keyboard note melody - theres a bit of Pussyfooting Fripp in there too. Erased by Ornithology, Incorporation Pop and Faxing sit in more familiar Ash Navs territory whilst last track Sponge isn’t a million miles away from Throbbing Gristles AB/7A. A bit like AB/7A meets Walter Wanderely in fact.
These six tracks and thirty minutes worth are what keep bringing me back to Ashtray Navigations. Not a bad track, not a bad second of work, endlessly listenable, totally rewarding. An impressive achievement. I’m a fan. I’ll always be a fan. No doubt some label is queueing up the vinyl reissue already. Bring it on.
This more melodic approach appears to have rubbed off on the other half of Ashtray Navigations. Delaney’s work under the Ocelocelot moniker has often seen her deliver drones of a more abrasive nature, NoiseDrone for want of a better term, but here, using a Keytar and an Evolver, she gives us her most melodic work to date.
The metronomic burble is long enough to get your head round and would no doubt induce mild bobbing should circumstance prove conducive whilst the other is a split level slow moving drone with a sub strata of deep hertz om over helicopter blade chop - a track which reminded me in great amounts of that sublime Sand track erm ... Helicopter. Mr Froese would no doubt approve very much jah.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Bacillus - Anthracis
Cipher Productions. Business card CDR. 100 copies.
I’ve never been that much of fan of CDR business cards to be honest. They’re small, faffy and you can’t play them in slot CD players. They store very little sound and unlike a seven inch single will never become a true fetish object. Having said that this release is well put together which no doubt ticks lots of boxes in the noise world but its whats on the inside that counts too of course. I assumed that the contents weren’t of a biohazard nature so ventured in to find out. There’s a laminate text on bacillus thats been cut and pasted from the internet and a smaller, similar piece carrying various info along with all the track titles; ‘Inhalation of Weapon Grade Spores in De-Staticized Aerosol Agent’, ‘Exotoxin Production Resulting in Hemorrhage and Edema’, ‘Encapsulated For Environmental Resistance’ and ‘High Level of Antiphagocytic Virulence Factor’. And then I played it. I would have forgiven some of the above if the five minutes worth of noise contained therein had made my gonads explode but they didn’t. What I got was four short tracks of badly put together splutter and rumble that sounded like someone messing about with the pause/play buttons on an old Ramirez cassette. My head hit the table and tears of sadness rolled onto my keyboard. My limbs became limp and I felt the will to live drain from my body. Only the thought of a bottle of untouched Japanese whiskey downstairs brought me back to life.
Investigation of the Bacillus web site is obligatory too, its all part of the concept. Dispensing with regular tabs like discography, press, history etc... there’s Disease Profile, Emerging Cases, Documented Cases and so on. Obviously there’s lots of jpegs featuring rotting limbs, petri dishes and people wearing hygiene masks and for the really adventurous links to outfits like the World Health Organisation and the Foundation for Infectious Diseases amongst others. What really killed it for me was the fact that its all written in the third person.
Conceptual releases work when all the elements work together - the recent offerings from Auris Apothecary show just how much effort you have to put into your conceptual releases for them to work - this release is only a third of the way there.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Onomatopoeia - irrelevant
The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again
LP. 300 Copies.
Quite why Steve Fricker’s solo project should be such an infrequent visitor to the shores of UK musical experimentation is a mystery that only the man himself can explain. You’d have to find him first though for Fricker is a man of mystery whose sightings are few and far between. The last time I saw him must have been about five years ago, he’d adopted the guise of a second hand car dealer, all slicked back long hair, Bermuda shirt and leather car coat. This was after the man with a van days where he could be found crossing the capital in his antique Mitsubishi side loader doing dodgy deals with the capitals diaspora. I first came across him in the early 90’s when he used to run Cheeses International, a pre-internet mail order outlet and label. He was the kind of person who’d lug two heavy bags of records halfway across the country on the odd chance of shifting an Asmus Tietchens triple LP to a drunken punter at a New Blockaders gig. I still miss him as do many others.
His releases under the Onomatopoeia moniker are few and far between and could easily be counted on the hand of a Todmorden teenager - and this after 20 years of experimentation. The last Onomatopoeia release was ‘A Marble Holder From Andover’ and that was seven years back - its one track ran to just twenty minutes. Onomatopoeia’s first album appeared in 1990 [I was lucky enough to find a copy in Huddersfield’s second hand market for a fiver one saturday morning - a serendipitous event that still has the ability to lift me from my cups]. Then there’s the collaboration with Smell & Quim, the vocal only experimentations on Auditory Hallucinations, a cassette that appeared on G.R.O.S.S. and ‘Interesting Train Journeys Of The West Midlands & Non-Palindromic Place Names’ - apart from the odd compilation contribution that’s it. Except for ‘irrelevant’.
It was at the recent Lowest Forms of Music festival that I spied a flyer for ‘Irrelevant’. Picking it up and squinting at its print in disbelief I think I heard myself say out loud, ‘Bugger me is Fricker still alive?’ all this while waving the flyer about as if it was evidence of life after death. I pocketed the flyer promising myself to buy a copy later.
What I’ve always like about Onomatopoeia is the surreal British humour and self deprecation; A Marble Holder From Andover has a picture of a marble holder from Andover on the cover, on ‘irrelevant’ all the track titles are alliterative and begin with the letter ‘C’ and ‘B’; Cellophane Cucumber Clamjamphire, Corduroy Croquette Clap-Clinic Cull, Blennorrhoea, Chafed Cervix Coleslaw Cum Chutney Cesspit, Bland Basingstoke, the label it appears on is called ‘The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again’, then there’s the small ‘i’ of ‘irrelevant’ a stab at self deprecation perhaps? A Marble Holder Holder From Andover was dedicated to his van, each copy of Irrelevant has a different world flag glued to its cover and on it goes.
Irrelevant started life in 1997 as a cassette that ran to 70 copies. The 7.17 From West Wittering Is Late Again have reissued it on vinyl and in doing so have done us a great service. Utilising a single instrument for each track Onomatopoeia create sounds that range from the almost Industrial to pure experimentation. On Corduroy Croquette Clap-Clinic Cull a single cymbal is hit repeatedly, little rhythms building and dying away. Blennorrhoea [utilising one Piccolo] creates a ghostly ambience, Cellophane Cucumber Clamjamphire [utilising one hunting horn] is equally funereal. You get the picture. Horns cymbals, piccolos, a bass guitar and a zambomba [an African drum] all taken in some way to create sounds that become removed from the original instrument. There must be some treatments or multi tracking going on tho I’m no expert, with maybe the cymbal track coming though as the purest [and harshest] of the lot and Bland Basingstoke [utilising the zambomba] being mangled in such a way as to sound like a looped Con-Dom fill. My only slight criticism of the whole enterprise are the latter parts of the almost side long Chafed Cervix Coleslaw Cum Chutney Cesspit [utilising bass guitar] in the latter parts of which the bass guitar becomes too obviously apparent. In a track that begins with some fine two phase oscillating fizz it peters out into random bass farts that end up sounding like a poor mans Sonic Youth solo. But let us not depart Onomatopoeia waters on such a low note because for us Onomatopoeia fans any appearance is to be warmly welcomed. I for one hope that some equally benevolent soul takes up the task of reissuing those other obscure Onomatopoeia releases but for now I’m more than happy with this.
contact: 7.17[AT]

Monday, November 22, 2010


Snotnosed - Cock Vomit
Second Layer Records. Cassette.

Giving Wire magazine a kick in the bollocks seems to be popular pastime these days and while its tempting to lace up the steelies and flex the old knee muscles I feel I have to admit that without it there would be a sizable gap for magazines covering the outer edges of music. That said theres a lot I don’t like about the Wire but I’m not going to sit here and type out a list of all my Wire gripes. Lets just say that that top of my list would be the fact that, for the most part, I find it an extremely dull read. [Which reminds me, I’ve just tried and failed for the third time to read Paul Hegarty’s book ‘Noise History’ - a tome so dry and professorial it makes the Wire look like Viz - and have I to mention the fact that Hegarty seems to think that Pete Best was a member of Whitehouse? Have I to? Too late].
Whats been filling the message boards recently has been the editorial for December's issue. In it Wire editor Chris Bohn takes to task todays noise/Industrial artists for failing to
further the progress made by the likes of first generation ‘noise’ artists such as Whitehouse and Throbbing Gristle. What I find disturbing though is that Bohn still seems to think that todays Noise/Industrial artist/bands are obsessed with those hoary fail safes; misogyny, serial killers, autopsies, the Holocaust, sexual perversion, porn etc and that the only way to get attention is by shocking people. Of course there will always be those who continue to be drawn to extreme and taboo subject matters but does Bohn think that all Noise, Power Electronics, Industrial, Experimental artists are still wallowing in a sea of aimless transgression? How many noise artist are still using dead bodies as cover stars these days? Last time I looked Merzbow had a chicken on the front of one of his releases - and it had all its feathers on. How many noise/Industrial artists still think of themselves as controversial? How many are out there to shock just for the sake of it? How many feel the need to explain themselves with intelligent critique and self analysis? Would Bohn like to see every new Noise/Industrial/Experimental act starting out today sign some kind of contract stating that they’ll never use a cutting from Readers Wives as an LP cover?
Can’t you make noise and experiment with noise and use what the hell you want for cover art or t-shirt art without recourse to having to explain yourself [isn’t that what Whitehouse did]? Can’t you make noise and Industrial music just for the sheer pleasure of it? Because you like the sound of what you do? Because its what you want to do without having to worry about whether you're advancing the cause of Noise and Industrial music by having Doris from Newark as your cover star. Why does noise and Industrial music have to evolve and ‘work out new strategies for telling unpalatable truths’? What unpalatable truths? And whilst I’m here can someone please tell me why it is that William Bennett is suddenly so popular with Wire magazine? Having ignored him and his work for the majority of his career they now realise that he is in fact an intelligent human being with something to say, not just some knobhead sticking knobs on his releases. So it’s OK for Bennett because he’s into African drums now but its not OK for Snotnosed because they’ve got the word ‘cock’ in the title? Is that it?
What would the Wire think of Snotnosed then? Have they already been reviewed? I doubt it. Maybe they’d merit a couple of lines in Byron Coley’s whimsical ‘Size Matters’ column. Snotnosed are a Hanatarash tribute group. End of review. Maybe the Wire would pick up on the Snotnosed shock tactic of using the word ‘cock’ in the title or the inner sleeve with pictures of cocks, real puerile ones as drawn by serial killers whilst they were wanking off to atrocity porn and dreaming up ways of cutting up the dead body in the bath. [Those early Japanese noise artists loved their ‘cock’s’ and ‘dick’s’ and ‘penis’s’ {peni?}. There were some days when you just couldn’t move for Japanese noise cassettes clogging up your letter box with cocks all over them].

If you’re going to pay tribute to a Japanese noise band then it ought to be Hanatarash [or Hanatarashi - I never knew why they added the ‘i’ - or dropped it for that matter]. They were the most destructive of the lot really - existing for a brief period in the 80’s but leaving a legacy thats still felt today. Hanatarash folded due to the fact that they usually destroyed the venue thus quickly running out of places to play.
And it had to be Michael Gillham that did it. Anyone who has been lucky enough to see Snotnosed in action will have seen Gillham swing sledge hammers, break his bones, draw blood, destroy stages, light fittings, floors. Most gigs end with the audience huddled together at the back of the venue with owner stood blocking the exit, arms folded with a look that said ‘nobody gets past me till all this shit is cleared up and I have compensation’.
Cock Vomit is a constant wall of destruction. Two sides that sounds like all the best smashing up bits of a Hanatarash gig edited together to make up two sides of junk annihilation. Sleeve says ‘performed and recorded by Michael Gillham at the Creche’ and if this is indeed the result of a live performance then I’m impressed. It would have to have been an old gig though as I remember Snotnosed jacked in for the very same reason that their Japanese heroes did. Expect total mayhem, total destruction and lots of cocks of course. Gillham writhes around in his [de]construction like an eight limbed Japanese noise monster, at the bottom of the mix you can hear glass shattering, steel drums meeting their end, pipes being clattered, heavy thuds and through it all a non-stop barrage of chopped box noise hitting you behind the ear, a dislocated bombardment, a pain in the head. If anything Snotnosed sound more like The New Blockaders at full tilt which may explain why there’s a collaborative release between the two in the pipeline. Its also the best Snotnosed release to date.
I listened back to some Hanatarash gigs in the course of my duties and what you can hear is people having a good time. In-between all the glass getting chucked about and the screamed vocals and the venue being destroyed is laughter. Whilst dodging the flying debris, taking pictures [on one recording you can hear the sound of lens shutters clicking] and hoping that Hanatarash main man Yamatsuka Eye doesn’t actually kill himself, people can be heard laughing, enjoying themselves. Its called having a good time.
One last thing. The cover of this months Wire - is that the best you can do?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Astral Social Club

Astral Social Club - Happy Horse
Happy Prince. CD
Astral Social Club.
To me he’s the Bimbashi of Beat, the Doyen of Drone, the Titan of Tone, the Prince of Pulse, the Padre of Peal, the Nabob of Bob. He’s Neil Campbell, the Scotsman washed up in West Yorkshire punching out loops of droneness with his longest running project yet. And he’s still here, walking those means Mirfield streets, soaking up the vibes in a terraced palace of imagination and creativity where collaborators drop in for tea and ale armed with loops and synths and oscillators all of them willing and waiting to contribute and feel at one with the Big Bobber.
A while ago I loaded up the ipod with all the self released ASC discs. For drowning out conversation I can recommend them but just be careful you don’t develop too much of an upper body rocking motion otherwise your workmates/fellow bus passengers/shoppers will think that you’ve gone into some kind of catatonic trance and will become alarmed/think you’re mad/think you’re on drugs. So it was good to get back in the saddle with 21 and Happy Horse. Anyone putting their hand into the big bran tub of musical life and pulling these two out will have little cause for complaint.
Happy Horse contains some of the best ASC work to date mainly due to the inclusion of Horse Cortex and Lost Caustic, two lengthier tracks in which Campbell really gets into the meat of the thing. Lost Caustic’s chatter of small bleeps, slowly building rhythmical loops and steady pulsing, throbbing beat slowly evolves into a thing of true beauty - 15 minutes later it plateaus into a meditative head bob that ends with trains crossing the tracks, waves lapping the shore and crow squawks. I was all a quiver your honour. Horse Cortex is a 12 minute trawl of space gun blasts, mutating loops and drones all undercut with a pumping, driving beat. The rest is no filler either, Free Wheels er ... free wheels. Skelp is pulled from a previous single release - all of it is heavenly.
ASC 21 also has a Caustic [as does the previous ASC release Octuplex - maybe there’s some kind of erosion/scouring theme going on here]. I like the pitted surface of Duct, the lollopping fall of Lunar, the empty space of Mongoose, the Swamp Thing of squelch of Caustic, the way sounds enter your hearing range set up shop and mutate before segueing into the next track is never less than wondrous. And lets not forget the collaborators: John Clyde-Evans, Phil Smith, Paul Walsh and Aled Rees all enhancing without diversion or subtraction. ASC is a slowly evolving beast and all those self released ASC discs are worth having and revisiting.
Quite why Campbell isn’t schmoozing with Bjork and Unky Thurst though is a mystery to me - maybe its juts a matter of them getting used to his flat Northern vowels, a form of Jock meets West. Maybe its those shirts?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Little Howlin’ Wolf


Little Howlin’ Wolf - Cool Truth
Solidarty Solidarnosc Records. [sic]
Distributed by Heresee [HS75 CD]

Here’s an oddball release thats been wallowing at the bottom of the review pile for far too long. I kept trying it on but when you’re deep into a TNB/Emeralds kind of jag its jarring blues wail never lasted too long. Bit by bit it eventually grew on me though. A little of research here a few more tracks there and then it hit me.
James Pobiega, under his Little Howlin’ Wolf moniker [he has more] seems to have spent the last forty years traveling the US making his own peculiar version of the Delta Blues - its the kind of music that fans of outsider music go mad for - a primitive blues and tribal thump mix of out there vocal and sax wailings all of which sound as if it was recorded at the end of a long corridor with the instruments up front and Pobiega at the back wailing away in tongues unknown. Via his own label he’s self released about 40 singles and lingered in relative obscurity. In the mid 90’s he disappeared off the radar altogether but then we got New Weird America and the music of old timers like Little Howlin’ Wolf began to make sense. Nautical Almanac took him under their wing, collated all his singles onto CDR and let the internet do the rest.
It’s a bizarre trip. Pobiega plays all the instruments; sax, harmonica, bass, marimbas, drums, flute, electric guitar, all of it in a loose fashion. His sax wails like Arthur Doyle, the marimba appears to be randomly struck, the guitar solos are single note walks up and down e strings. Hunt Song is one minute of Wolf singing along to a single tribal drum - he sounds like Idi Amin not making any sense. Bounty Song is a one minute forty seconds of Hunt Song in a slower form. Wolf sings in a style that renders his words almost indecipherable, on Shuk Schuk Shodi he whistles and claps along like a vagrant Bobby McFerrin. The longer blues excursions are like trips into the interior, bizarre journeys where drums are pounded and voices emerge from the undergrowth in a ‘the natives are getting restless’ manner.
What makes all this an even more out there experience is the fact that all these 12 tracks have been lifted straight from single to master disc with absolutely no tweaking at all. So you get to hear all the run in grooves, the run off grooves, the scratches and jumps. During Bounty Song there’s an audible jump in the recording, Shuk Shuck Shodi ends as if someone has just lifted the needle. Rather than detracting from the experience though this actually enhances it. Even the mis-spelling of Solidarity on the back sleeve seems to fit perfectly.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The Death of the Enlightenment Project - Temple of Wounds
Pumf Records [Brown paper bag series]. PUMF679 CDR.

It took a bloody Yorkshireman to have the guts to pick Cage’s 4.33 for Desert Island Discs and what did the BBC do? Oh we cant play it all says presenter Kirsty Young ‘due to technical difficulties’ i.e. in other words if we have more than two seconds of dead air half the listenership thinks the transmitter’s gone down. But during that glorious brief period of ‘silence’ you could actually hear Ian Macmillan’s stomach gurgling and Young suppressing a giggle because, as any fule kno there is no such thing as silence. God bless Ian Macmillan, the Bard of Barnsley.
The Death of the Enlightenment Project like their natural sounds too - not that this is an homage to Chris Watson - for whilst there are all manner of everyday sounds on here [dogs, babies etc..] they’re all treated samples, all of them layered up and wrapped in an Industrial blanket as supplied by Throbbing Gristle. But lets not stop at Throbbing Gristle for I also detect hints of Illusion of Safety, guitar era Ramleh, Muslimgauze, Paul McCarthy, Andrew Liles, Steve Stapleton, John Duncan, Column One ... its not a bad bunch to be associated with.
Layering sampled sounds to create something afresh is nothing new of course but before you start you have to have the right ingredients and TDOTEP have plenty of the right ingredients. Lets start with the first track ‘Blood and Sand’ and its heavy raspy breathing, after a while there’s an American cop car siren, then a Muezzin call, barking dogs and finally, whiplashed elevator cables - the barking dogs mutate into their own rhythm underpinning it all before you come full circle and are left alone with the heavy breathing. And so it goes. TDOTEP’s only problem is that all those influences are squeezed onto one release so you have a track like ‘Slave Bait’ which sounds like the industrial version of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn with screams replacing the sounds of passing motor cars next to ‘Full of Eyes and Dead Skin’ the second section of which is comparable to Paul McCarthy vocal work in which a deep male vocal is distorted and manipulated to such an extent that it appear like an ethereal cross between a cow in distress and a moron. And then there’s the Ramleh-lite feedback and thump of Dog Pieces, the Muslimgauze near east beats of ‘Lost Child on the M62’, the Illusion of Safety abuse confessionals [a distressed female - ‘I had been urinated on’], the tubular bells, the shortwave fizz, the astronaut voices, the shotgun blasts, crying babies, CD skips - all of it layered and produced to an incredibly high standard but all of it desperately in need of some focus. For just because you have a paintbox full of paints doesn't mean that you have to use them all. Fortunately TDOTEP don’t overdo it too much, not to an extent that it detracts from the overall work but nine tracks with such differing styles is a baffling one [although this may go some way to explaining that this is a recreation of a live event]. There are cliches on here though and I’m not going to let the Charlie Manson sample pass without saying anything and those synth drums hurt.
What The Death of the Enlightenment Project really needs to do is decide which direction to take. This is the second release to come this way and if memory serves it has a lot in the common with the first. You could easily take half a dozen elements from just a couple of tracks here and build them into something really classy.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Viva Negativa! A Tribute To The New Blockaders

Viva Negativa! A Tribute to the New Blockaders Volume I: UK

At War With False Noise. ATWAR064. CD

Viva Negativa! A Tribute to The New Blockaders Volume II Europe

Auf Abwegen. AATP28. 2XCD

Viva Negativa! A Tribute to The New Blockaders Volume III U.S.A.

Important Records. IMPREC262. 2XCD

Viva Negativa! A Tribute to The New Blockaders Volume IV Japan

Uplink Records. ULR023. 2XCD

[Observant visitors will realise that volume one of this collection has already been covered elsewhere on this blog. I include it here so as to give a fuller picture].

What you have to realise is that these releases aren’t just CD replications of the original Vinyl On Demand, two boxes, eight LP’s job that appeared a few years back. With artists from the vinyl version not making it to CD and vice versa that makes these seven CD’s unique releases in their own right. Plus, the artwork is different [each release comes with a booklet crammed with Richard Rupenus’s distinctive collage work] and for those who were lucky enough to grab one of the first 250 VOD boxes [me] there’s the small matter of a seven inch single containing the collaborative work of Rupenus, Meixner and Imustak which you still need to get the box to own.

But where to begin on a set that includes 85 artists? A stripped down artist by artist, blow by blow account would test the patience of all but the most determined so lets just say this; having sat and listened to all these discs numerous times over the last few weeks I feel I can honestly say that there’s just a couple of duff tracks. Not bad considering there’s 85 to go at. This brings me to the conclusion that the cream of the noise world managed to fuck up twice over 85 tracks - not a bad return. For the cream of the noise world does live in these releases, all of them lining up to pay tribute to The New Blockaders who without doubt will always be the most influential noise group of all time.

Styles vary widely across each disc and across the set as a whole so its to each compilers credit that you don’t have to listen to track after track of harsh noise. For whilst some artists do dabble with the face melting blasts of material inspired by the likes of Live at Anti-Fest others take their cue from the more disturbing scrape and bump of Changez Les Blockeurs. From field recordings to voice cut ups, to Orb like ambient burbling to harsh noise and free jazz skronk [the latter three coming courtesy of Controlled Bleeding who I must admit had me baffled for a while - either that or there’s been a balls up at the pressing plant]. So dipping in anywhere gives immediate satisfaction. In fact if I were so inclined I’d put all these discs into a multi CD player and play them at random. For while its neat and tidy to have all these artists compiled into their own country it would be just as rewarding hearing them come at you lottery fashion.

But who stands out? Plenty of people; Runzelstirn and Gurgelstock, Emil Beaulieau, The Haters, Incapacitants, Giancarlo Tonniutti, Dave Phillips, Vom Grill, Grunt, DSM, Alexie Borisov, Zbigniew Karkowski, Aaron Dilloway, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Ideal Fire Company, Bloxus, Plexia, KK Null, Astro, Putrefier, Dieter Müh ... its a pretty long list. Vom Grill’s angst screamed glass smashing seems to encapsulate the TNB ethos entirely, ergo ‘to create you must first destroy’, R&G’s offering contains electronic squeals that are pitched at such a high register that they appear to all but disappear out of hearing range - dogs may be interested here. There’s much to admire.

Of those who sup from the Changez well Nobuo Yamada, Putrefier, Kazumoto Endo, Jerome Noetinger, Macronyhmpa and Keith Fullerton Whitman shine brightly. The pure noise merchants are in abundance too of course but its Emil who deserves a pat on the back for doing what he does best. Thats not to forget the ear pummeling as dished out by the likes of Ramirez, Grunt, Government Alpha, Astro, M.S.B.R. and K2. Voice cut-ups and vocal manipulation arrives with Sudden Infant, Kommissar Hjuler, Mama Baer [both with individual contributions] and the enigmatic Japanese artist Embudagonn 108 who introduces his ‘New Blockaders variations’ before buggering about with his radio cassette recorder [something else he also announces] and then um … singing. Then there’s the analogue merchants, the field recording specialists, the electro-acoustic gang [Christian Renou take a bow], the tape manglers ... its a varied bunch who went and got themselves inspired by The New Blockaders.

The track that stuck out on the VOD issue and appears here too is RLW’s ‘Manifesto [For The Next Generation Of Blockaders]’. An outsider piece of music concrete capturing snippets of children’s conversation, violin scrapes, random strums on an out of tune acoustic guitar and a squeaky dog toy which pans around your head like an annoying fly and then there’s the kids playing recorders ... badly, steam organs deflating and a school orchestra cum band singing a Beatles song in Flemish [possibly]. Oh, and I’ve yet to mention Prurient, Wolf Eye’s, Z’EV, John Wiese, Carlos Giffoni, Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, Asmus Tietchens and God knows how many others artists and bands working in noise.

Viva Negativa! is an impressive achievement and for some will act as a starting point for further investigation but whether you’re new to this game or have been around as long as The New Blockaders have, these are still essential purchases.

[One other thing - insert the American discs into a media player and you’ll find the tracks don’t correspond to the track listing as included in the booklet. Not that I played all this on my PC, I have a stereo that will bring plaster off the walls, I just found it confusing]

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Important Records


At War With False Noise