Sunday, July 11, 2010

BRB/Voicecall//Spoils And Relics

BRB/Voicecall - Valmara 69
Spoils And Relics - Alsation Download

Harbinger Sound Split LP

The UK practitioners of electro-acoustic minimalist experimental fluxus music concrète [if thats not too convoluted a term] has, by its very nature, never had a massive audience. But that doesn’t mean that their work should be underestimated or taken lightly. The likes of Morphogenesis and The Bohman Brothers play to audiences whose rapt attention and appreciation bely the fact that this kind of music can, at times, be very hard to listen to and I don’t mean that because its difficult music. I dare say watching The Bohman Brothers play The Tate Modern is a vastly different experience from listening to one of their releases in a council flat with thin walls and noisy neighbours. Quite often your electro-acoustic minimalist experimental fluxus music concrète journey is likely to be interrupted by the sound of the outside world passing you by. I remember spending a pleasant summers afternoon listening to early Jim O’Rourke stuff through my Walkman only to realise halfway through the experience that most of what I was actually listening to was ambience; hedge clippers, birds, slamming doors, aircraft.
A new breed of people working in this arena is coming to light though. Usurper spring easily to mind and you could find any number of small run CDR labels kicking out material that could fit into one of those neatly phrased pigeon holes too. The spill is spreading.
A year or so back I stumbled blindly into the dark confines of the Common Place in Leeds to be met by what could have been a Spoils and Relics gig. Jonny Scarr’s neatly clipped mustache was the giveaway. They played a barely audible set to the light of candles and very good it was too. Scarr is joined here by Myles and Piercy for the 17 minutes that is Alsation Download. The vast majority of which appears to be tape manipulation with a bit of gadgetry thrown in for good measure. Tape spools appear to be pulled through with merry gusto, symphonies go in reverse, voices Pinky and Perky quick to Mogodon slow, then radios, static, ethereal voices, someone rubbing a balloon with wet fingers, someone trying to get a heavy box down some stairs.
BRB/Voicecall hail from the North East and have the 3” CDR label MuzzeDia Verhead with which to exhibit their wares. A region rich in the history of challenging music keeps on producing interesting and challenging work. Valmara 69 sounds like it was recorded using a disused concrete multistory car park as an instrument. The TNB influence must run freely through the North East like piss down a urinal on a Friday night in Gateshead. A flapping of broken belts on flywheels serves as an intro before we settle into dropped iron bars, ominously clanged pipes and an undertow of rumble. The final section is scored by picture frame glass being marked by a six inch nail and the echo of a large rubber ball being s-l-o-w-l-y bounced in the distance. As desolation goes it sums it up pretty well.
I have my caveats though. Both sides want to end on high so we get a slow build of noise before a cut and silence. It sounds impressive but it feels almost cliched. You wouldn’t catch The Bohman Brothers doing climaxes.
Usual paste on covers from Harbinger Sound but once again a label that makes its mark by giving valuable vinyl air time to outfits who may otherwise languish forever on CDR.


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