Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mixed Band Philanthropist / Broken Penis Orchestra

Mixed Band Philanthropist - The Impossible Humane [25th Anniversary Edition]
Hypnagogia Cassette. PN01. 200 copies

The Broken Penis Orchestra - Plays With Itself
Hypnagogia Cassette. PN02. 200 copies

Back in the mid nineties I decided to dabble in the art of making sounds from samples. The idea of creating something new from the bits of something old appealed to me and not in a Stars on 45 way either. Influenced by the likes of Illusion of Safety, Nurse With Wound and Aphasia I armed  myself with a Fostex 4 track, various music formats and a bottle of whiskey. Over the course of a few nights I sat and spun and edited and eventually made something new but alas not something worth listening to more than once.  I soon realised that I had neither the patience, skill or wherewithal to create anything of any longstanding merit and gave the whole thing up as a bad job.

Which is why I admire those that can do it. They make it seem so effortless when in reality some poor sod has had to spend the best part of a summer painstakingly splicing together and mixing an unending series of three second samples into something coherent and listenable, all without going mad.

In 1986 Mixed Band Philanthropist did what I could could never dream of doing and released ‘The Impossible Humane’. Thirty odd minutes of splatter collage created via samples originating from the likes of Merzbow, Smegma,Vortex Campaign, Organum, H.N.A.S, Etant Donnes, Andrew Chalk, Asmus Tietchens, Nurse With Wound, The New Blockaders and about twenty odd other artists working on the fringes of experimental music. Its car crash tape collage still stands today as one of the best examples of the genre. Its perpetual barrage of split second samples are a dizzying mess of sixties pop songs, scrapes, industrial whirr, uncategorizeable racket, ghostly voices, electronic beebles and burrs, sped up records, tape whizz, machine rumble, snatches of reggae, bucket damage, kazoo farts, disco spots and about three thousand or more [I’m guessing] other samples that really shouldn’t work but by some slight of hand or genius, actually do. Which is the thing that draws me to such work in the first place. On paper snatches of steel bands shouldn’t be found on the same side of tape as Geordie MC’s, Michael Jackson, pneumatic drills, early Merzbow muck and 50’s doo wop but on the Impossible Humane they do and again, it works. Totally. Then comes the added bonus of being able to listen to this to the point of ad nauseum, mainly due to the fact that there are so few reference points that every listen brings something new. And this is 1986 remember, none of that taken for granted home computer and digital editing fancy Dan stuff. You can put this down to the talents of Richard Rupenus, K. Jameson, and D. Lucas who, no doubt influenced by those twenty odd artists, put this thing of beauty together.

This release also gathers in the 2003 MBP single ‘The Man Who Mistook A Real Woman For His Muse And Acted Accordingly’ plus a reworking of this single by The Broken Penis Orchestra. ‘The Man Who’ … uses the same template as The Impossible Humane but this is more of a nudge nudge Friday night lads out affair with lots of knob jokes coupled to comedy sound effects - it wouldn’t have looked out of place stuck to the cover of Viz magazine or on the b side of a Stars on 45 Pints single, what with all the North East Geordie DJ gorm thrown into it. Rupenus R must have been busy with his pause/record button during many a late night Metro Radio session to have gathered together all the source material used here. Still, it works, thats the main thing and despite all the oo-er vicaryness of it all you still cant help but admire the damned thing.

Then we have The Broken Penis Orchestra. ‘Plays With Itself’ has seen the light of day twice now [both on CDR], once with PyschoChrist in an issue of 33 and once with Hypnagogia in an edition of a 100. Its worth releasing again though. BPO is Stan Reed of Blue Sabbath Black Cheer fame, or as he’s credited here Srad Tene and again its a kaleidoscopic array of sample mania. This time the samples sit a little longer allowing for the formation and reinforcement of ideas.  Samples drop out of the mix only to reappear moments later and despite the obvious Nurse With Wound influence I did detect bits of Negativland and Smegma. ‘Plays With Itself’ is almost as fevered as The Impossible Humane but with completely different samples of course [it was originally released in 2000]. Here you can expect, Melt Banana thrash, spoken word, Nintendo missiles, lonely sax solos, noise drone, flutter, jazz skronk bands, gospel choirs, rock drumming, heavy piano chords, R&B bass runs, twanging guitar, religious radio bollocks, struck tubular steel as modern gamelan all of it threaded together with reverb, echo and lots of industrial string. There’s also room for ‘Could Someone Please Turn This Off’ a track that appeared on the ‘Bone Tickling Nightmare Pig’ comp.  

What impresses me about both these releases is the inventiveness and patience thats needed to put such material together. The fact that even after 25 years The Impossible Humane hasn’t dated one tiny bit is further testament to its originality. Both are towering releases and ones that you really need to own. For those seeking further enlightenment I suggest digging around in the BPO back catalogue. ‘Testicle Difficulties’ still gets played around these parts on a regular basis.

I’ve reviewed some of this material before in a previous guise but its been nothing less than a sheer delight to hear it all once again.

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