Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bulbs/Godspunk 6/Zack Kouns/Miss High Heel/Duncan Harrison/Deepkiss720

Last night I dreamt I made experimental music with Thurston Moore.

Zack Kouns - A Woman is not a Sphinx
lucpascal [at]
Handmade is a term truly abused in the cdr game. Handmade, when related to a TNB release makes you go all warm and tingly in the nether regions whilst pound note signs circle before your eyes as you envisage the ebay resale value twenty years hence. Moonmoonmoon’s release ‘ A Woman is Not a Sphinx’ takes handmade to new heights [lowts?] by sticking a plain white cdr into a piece of folded card glueing a mirror the size of a pound coin to the front and adding the title in red felt tipped pen. Its written in a nice arched shape tho, i’ll give it that. 
So far so bad. But then I play the damned thing and what do you know I actually like it. Well some of it. A Woman is Not a Sphinx is Zack Kouns who either plays sax, zither, sings, drones and sticks and stones and wind chimes or he has lots of uncredited friends. Each of these ten tracks holds up on its own in either a slow sax honk meets Steven Sondhiem meets singer songwrity echo chamber or late night dysfunctional Scott Walker smokey jazz bar stylee. The only thing that bugs me is that Zacks singing voice eventually begins to grate like a bad pub singer and during some tracks you wished he’d just shut up and let the perfectly good sounds in the background do their own thing. On one track [they’re all untitled of course] he performs a perfect reflection of Faust in their prime. Bizarre. According to Zacks website he’s available for hire and will play anywhere, in the nude too thrill seekers’, for modest travel expenses of course. The kids birthday party will be unforgettable Malcolm. 
Bulbs - Light Ships
Some releases you just cant take to and wonder what anyone saw in them in the first place. Freedom To Spend’s first release is by Bulbs; a duo that finds ex Axolotl guitarist John Almaraz teaming up with the drummer William Sabiston in what is promised as a truly great meeting of minds. After ten minutes listening to a gagged mute trying to escape from a padded cell using a drum stick and an electric guitar for tools I was beginning to think this wasn’t the grand opus I’d been promised. Almaraz makes wheedly, fiddly noises with his guitar whilst Sabiston fumbles with his drums. The whole thing sounds like a gay disco coming through a tinny speaker via downtown radio Botswana. Imagine George Formby having his first electric guitar lesson whilst Cletus plays with the preset keys on a drum machine and you have some idea of the horror I have endured. I was told this release had divided opinion and after suffering this dud I’d like to hear from someone who actually likes it - label owners apart.
Godspunk Volume 6
Stan Batcow’s steady trickle of lunacy continues with Pumf’s sixth volume of Godspunkyness. After four attempts and varying degrees of success [in my opinion anyway] Stan finally hit pay-dirt with a cracking volume five. Juxtaposing a single noise track around the usual bunch of non-conformist popsters like the Las Vegas Mermaids, Needle Park, Stan’s own Howl in the Typewriter and the implausibly named Satan The Jesus Infekt’d Needles and Blood [amongst a host of others] he managed to harness all that ribald lunacy into a single cohesive unit that was both listenable and for once, repeatable. If dotty pop songs coupled with the fringes of mental health are your bag you missed out. 
So to volume six. I see Unit are still there. Last I heard, London ‘punk’ agitators UNIT had taken time out to pen a song deriding yours truly. Not content with hating multinationals and loving trees they seem to have taken a dislike to Idwal Fisher. I can only assume they have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. Here they chip in with a song called Eco Warrior blues which if I was in charitable mood would suggest was a cocky, cheery pub rock Greenpeace anthem but I’m not - think sub Chas ‘n’ Dave penning an anarchist anthem after too many ales dahn the Elephant and Castle. 
The Haddenham One’s sampled voice repeating the line “they spilt my medicine’’ over rumbling dubious hip hop cheers had me in its thrall. Characters like Evil Jack McDeath, The Style Pigs, The Shi-ites, Bartles and Elwyn Temple Meads populate Godspunk releases like tramps on a park bench on a warm day. When not knocking out witty sideways-on songs about mental elf and stuff they build up dreamy techno-y worlds like DimM D3ciPLe [yes that is how its spelt]. So there’s something for everybody y’see. Top trumps on volume six tho is Stan’s own Howl In The Typewriter outpourings. The man comes at you like a demented Stock Aitken and Waterman production and because its his label he can have six goes - the best of which is a split channel affair; one channel sounding like someone putting on an anorak in a gale and the other a lonesome industrial drone. Godspunk discs are little pieces of creation that every dysfunctional, tee-total, alcoholic, tree hugging, London b-boy, mental health sectioned largactyl numbed person should have. Keep em coming Stan.
Miss High Heel - The Family’s Hot Daughter
Blossoming Noise CD
Is it just me or does anybody else think Tom Smith is overrated? Virtually everything I’ve listened to by Smith has been a long, tortured session of rapidly moving, quick edits and annoying warped vocals. Lots of people like him of course which is why Miss High Heel isn’t a Tom Smith release per se, lots of folks join in here to slap Tom on the back and give a helping hand, say what a great thinker he is, so original its not true the mans on a different planet etc.., Jim O’Rourke chips in as do around eight other like minded souls. But don’t be fooled, this is still essentially a Tom Smith album seeing as how he recorded, mixed, edited and produced the whole thing. They got Trevor Brown to do the cover and this may be just about the best thing about what is essentially a leaden mass of dense, sixteen different directions at once sub John Zorn Pain Killer blasts and layered groaning vocals. What really gets my hackles rasied is the way Smith piles up his vocals so that you get three voices coming at you at once all of them sounding like a bunch of pissed up tramps trying to harmonize a Ramones number Dalek fashion. It’s the Emperors new clothes time and it has to stop. I got to track five and skipped through the rest just to see if there was anything other than what had gone before but my disappointment was only further extended. 
The story goes that this album has lain dormant for the last ten years and has only recently been unearthed. Make your own judgements.
Thing is, I actually quite like Smith’s work when he teams up with his long time outfit To Live and Shave in LA. Their last outing on Blossoming Noise was well received here and rightly so.
Duncan Harrison/Deepkiss 720 [no title] CDR
Homemade covers cut from NWA LP sleeves wrapped in black and white photocopied photos of a naked female mannequin leaning in someone’s window. Probably Jase Williams window. Mr Williams as last seen twiddling the knobs at the Termite Fest in Leeds  whilst performing as DK720. Jase does noise and by Christ it’s noisy. He was playing a green guitar too that had no neck, just the headstock glued/nailed/bolted straight onto the body throwing it into the floor of the Holy Trinity Church and by God its a good job the vicar wasn’t there. Duncan Harrison I know not of but I assume that Luggage Records must be something to do with him as, after checking out his website, he seems to appear on lots of their releases. Which are damned cheap at £2 a throw and if this is anything to go by then they’re damned noisy too. After relearning all the best bits from the Incapacitants seminal release As Loud As Possible I stuck this one in the slot expecting some light relief but instead I get a rollicking good earbashing. Things tend to slow down to Norman Collier stutter standards on track three but for the most part I was quite happy to sit through all 25 minutes of this raucous homemade beauty.

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