Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ceramic Hobs Target Shoppers Jazzfinger Makakarooma Dogliveroil - Fox & Newt Leeds 28th April 2012










Ceramic Hobs

Ceramic Hobs

Ceramic Hobs
Target Shoppers

Fox & Newt
28th April 2012

Thanks to the Fox & Newt the live experimental/noise/drone call-it-what-you-will Leeds scene has been rejuvenated of late. They can’t take all the credit of course but for a lack of a decent venue gigs of a noisy nature have been thin on the ground. The humble and ever so friendly Wharf Chambers aside there were times when small rooms above pubs in Leeds reverberated to all manner of squawking and banging, there was the Fenton which has gone all righteous, the Brudenell which has gone from Phoenix Nights to Las Vegas and the Pack Horse's lack of noise action is a mystery which only the likes of the Toddmeister and Mel can answer.

Apparently you can book the Fox & Newt for not many pounds and make as much racket as you want. The proprietors are very gracious in this way. The other good news is that the Fox & Newt is a brew pub [the only one n the Leeds city environs sadly] and from what I can gather their brews are worth the trek [I can’t comment, went in the car y’see].

It must have been so long since my last gig in a pokey room above a pub in Leeds that the clean environment offered by the Fox & Newt came as something of a shock. No walls plastered in flyers, no crumbling lino splattered with the dead dots of a thousand stubbed out fags, no air of stale sweat or fags, no brimming ashtrays awaiting their first emptying since 2006, no shiny black carpet or bulbs swinging from busted lampshades bought in 1976, no tatty curtains, no rotten window frames, none of this, the room above the Fox & Newt is shiny and new and then along came Dogliveroil and messed it all up when one of their number took a rather large rubber hammer to a box of VHS cassettes. The resulting bits of plastic and miles of unspooled tape found their way around the room as the resultant racket built to something approaching thunder. Some members of Dogliveroil partook their performance in the farthest reaches of the room as far away from the stage as possible, some wore masks, one blew bubbles, I don’t know what one of them did because all I could see was his bum crack but altogether it was a heartwarming and crazy way with which to start the evening.

I saw Makakarooma play in Nottingham a few weeks back. Then we got a set within which a static drummer whacked out a montone beat whilst the rest of the group whacked along with guitars, mainman the Turdster leading from the front in manic ‘day release’ style. Tonight they began with a radio ad for rheumatoid arthritis, Turdster stood staring into the room, eyes glazed, smile fixed as if in some kind of pre gig delirium and then it all erupted. Turdster stood on a table covered in gadgets his clothing covered in silver spray paint, someone joined in with a homemade two string ‘guitar’, a face mask with pub brasses hanging from his ears. Masked guitarists thraped and the drummer went wild before it all went quite so as the Turdster could walk amongst the faithful. He looked them in the eye, rested his hand on a shoulder and intoned some strange kind of benediction to which some smiled and others felt their bowels go loose. The band put down their instruments and picked up A4 pictures of footballers to which they all chanted. The Turdster was wearing an Ox mask then pulled the string on a speaking toy. He blew a single note on a trumpet and it was all over. Then they handed out sweets. I didn’t get one. 

After that it was up to Jazzfinger to blow us away with their deep sonorous drones. Working what looked like amplification built by the Russians in the 1970's they built heavily layered, syrup thick drones of portent that hit you deep in the stomach. One member on keyboards the other on guitar each of them altering a dial as their drone morphed its way to its inevitable climax. There was a point midway when they found a really deep vibe and you could see people reacting to it as they swayed and nodded in solo appreciation but after that I felt it fell away and they were left trying to recapture what had gone before. The keyboard playing half of Jazzfinger showed his appreciation by sweating profusely and sticking his head in the bass bins.

A voice said there’s going to be a Target Shoppers gig. There was some blurb on the flyer announcing special guests so I started to get all flustered seeing as how I’ve never actually seen the Target Shoppers in the live situation. About ten years ago I got so excited about the Target Shoppers that I released an LP by them and then they split up. And then they recently reformed. I missed them at the Wharf Chambers a few weeks ago when I had to leave to fulfill an earlier engagement but they were back in the saddle and I knew that I’d see them again soon. They were all in the room so it made obvious sense; Phil Todd, Joincey, Marky Loo Loo. They got on stage, strapped on guitars, sat behind drums, the Toddmiester introduced the band and then they played for one single second. The Toddmiester thanked the audience and off they strode. I await their next show with much anticipation.

Which left the Ceramic Hobs to further melt the audience’s minds. Having picked up a 21 years old guitarist the Hobs have certainly beefed up their sound of late. They’re also a lot tighter as a band, more raucous and if anything, more deranged. Main Hob and frontman Simon Morris waves a halogen lamp about and when it catches you in the eye its blinding. One member is dressed in a Mexican wrestling mask and plays a plastic toy babies head by rubbing whilst weaving about as if in some kind of delirium, the bass player wears plastic bunny rabbit ears [its Roger Ramjet and he’s back in the band after a lengthy hiatus] the keyboard player plays the keyboards with her arse and it collapses, Morris’s vocal delivery is a deep, chesty scream that's forever on the verge of going hoarse and is still one of this countries best kept secrets. The songs range from one minute all out ghaa to longer excursions of wilder abandon. They reach back into song catalogue going back to the mid 80’s highlighted when Morris announces ‘this is a song that's older than our guitarist’. Rock on. They come back for an encore and go mental for a final thirty second. The teeter between brilliance and chaos. Their day will surely come.

The New Blockaders - Schadenklang

The New Blockaders - Schadenklang
Hypnogogia LP. GOG03
350 copies. [50 copies coming with personalised Richard Rupenus sleeves].

The biggest mystery for TNB watchers is that this ‘live’ LP was recorded earlier this year at Morden Tower, thirty years since TNB’s first ever live performance at the same venue. In their thirtieth anti-versary year it seems appropriate that they revisit the scene of their first crime. Or did they? Maybe a surreptitious slink into Morden Towers for Rupenus R, Gillham and and Hutchinson during half day closing in Newcastle was the only way they could get this down or maybe I missed news of the gig completely [not entirely alien concept round these parts]? As ever the mystery that surrounds TNB is all part of the appeal. What actually did happen and all that matters now is that this LP exists. The rest is conjecture.

What I find remarkable about Schadenklang is the way in which it mirrors those early live outings whilst at that the same time increasing the listeners discomfort. Its like the old Blockaders with piled on agony. Those early 1983 outings saw the two Rupenus brothers create the sounds with which TNB has now become synonymous; scraping metal, clatterings of junk noise, disorientating atmospheres of edgy incoherence ... fast forward thirty years and Schadenklang brings all these elements to the fore with knobs on. Its impressive stuff.

Schadenklang  is an ever rupturing cascade of squealing train brakes, hammered metal, discordant and abrupt braying of tortured and unyielding steel plates shunted into place by three people intent on causing you maximum discomfort. Thanks to Phillip Julian’s mastering the nuances are gorgeously audible leaving the intrepid listener with a feeling of being sucked head first into a painful vortex of randomly and manically hit junk from which escape comes only with the lifting of the needle. Its the simple elements which cause the greatest discomfort; hitting what sounds like a common-or-garden dustbin with a baseball bat will indeed sound pretty noisy, when you incorporate that sound into a niggling bass hum, sawed tin and other various metal abuses the result becomes intensely disorientating.  Its a constant stream of quality noise for which The New Blockaders are rightly recognised as being the leading exponents of.

The recent flurry 30th anniversary releases cements TNB’s status as being  the undisputed masters of noise [for me anyway].

Those ever faithful TNB acolytes wont be disappointed with Schadenklang [translating as ‘destruction noise’]. Its forty minutes will be an endurance test for some but for your hardcore TNB fan its tuck in time.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mike IX Williams - Glass Torn And War Shortage

Mike IX Williams - Glass Torn and War Shortage: The Purposeful Poisoning of a Shardless

Auris Apothecary. AAX-039. C19 Cassette. 199 Copies

Theres not many releases that have the ability to take the edge off your best Swiss Army knife but thats whats happened here. Scraping broken glass off the outside of a cassette may not be everyones ideal way to start a Sunday morning but I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands cut to ribbons with this release for quite a while now and theres no time like the present.

I’ve been here before though. A previous package from Auris Apothecary contained a cassette by industrial noise extremists Pusdrainer a release that came in a bag full of soil and animal bones. I still have it around here somewhere where I like to think it acts as some kind of link to my pagan past.

Auris Apothecary don’t just do anti releases, things do appear on what some people would consider ‘normal’ formats but for me its their more ‘out there’ offerings that prove the more interesting and rewarding. Last time around, as well as the bag of dirt and animal bones, I received a CD that was more air freshener than music carrier and a cassette rendered virtually unplayable by being stuffed with sand. iTunes be damned.

This time I get a cassette covered in broken glass. I could have taken the easy route out and waxed convenient about the merits of anti releases followed by a resume of Mike IX Williams but [like the Pusdrainer] I was intrigued by what was actually on the magnetic tape buried beneath all that glass. So I got my knife out.

The concept is simple one; to listen to whats actually on here you have to run the risk of personal injury. The blurb does spoil it for me somewhat by getting all carried away with itself; ‘[this] cassette holds the potential to harm the purchaser physically, mentally and spiritually’ which in my book is pushing it. I could indeed have found myself with a piece of broken glass embedded in my thumb but harmed spiritually and mentally?

Having broken the wax seal it took me about five minutes of scraping with said Swiss Army knife to rid the cassette of its glistening outer shell and it was only then I felt a pang of doubt upon realising that it might not actually play. And at first it didn’t. The tape had become so tightly wound during its incarceration that it refused to budge but after a few hefty whacks on the desktop I was in business. No damage to thumb or desktop the only blot on the landscape being a sprinkling of ground glass that seemed to get everywhere.

Mike IX Williams is best known for his involvement with sludge metal band Eyehategod but that doesn’t stop him getting his hands dirty in other areas. For the most part this is misanthropic rant in PE with lots of low end buzz and high end fizz. You have to take the labels word for it that this is indeed misanthropic rant because as ever the lyrics are hard to decipher [I detected the word ‘embarrassment’] but the change in pace, the quieter moments, the [almost] ambience, the rants spoken then screamed, make this a release worth getting your hands cut for, even if I didn’t. Having dipped my toe in the PE pond of late I can say that this came as another welcome release. The entire concept is one to be welcomed.

Auris Apothecary are well worth watching, they work in mysterious areas; recycled cassettes housed in scouring pads, micro cassettes inserted into scented candles, unspooled tape in jars, opium scented cassettes of relaxing guitar loops, cassettes in 8 track shells, floppy discs, VHS cassettes, glue records, rockabilly gospel, drone, experimental noises made from household items, soundtracks from old NES games and releases with music ranging from a minute in length to infinity. There's plenty to absorb here and given the opportunity you really should.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kleistwahr/Never Say When/Broken Flag Weekend Festival

Never Say When - 30 Years of Broken Flag

London. Friday May 4th – Sunday May 6th
The Dome, 178 Junction Road, Tufnell Park, N19 5QQ

Kleistwahr - Myth
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 102. LP

Kleistwahr - Arsonicide
Harbinger Sound. Harbinger 103. LP

[unsure of pressing run for either of these releases]

With Broken Flag passing me by the first time around I’m always keen to hear whether the reissues add weight to the legendary label or whether they’re just the work of die hard fanboys.

But first a plug for the up coming Never Say When/Broken Flag weekend festival. I’ll be there for the last night and a line up that runs like this: 

RAMLEH (rock set)
+ other TBC

Not bad eh? Hopefully this time I wont have to dodge any flying TNB debris. The other two nights are as equally beneficial and I urge you to check out the lineups and buy tickets using the above links.

Kleistwahr was Gary Mundy’s solo project. An attritional barrage of indecipherable angst and misanthropy that's now seen as classic Power Electronics.

Myth definitely sounds the more primitive work of the two [and there are big distinctions between them]. On Myth there are rapid oscillations that sound like someone rolling a control knob backwards and forward in an attempt to produce something disorientating. Its a murky sea of electronic squiggles and reverberating, moaned, unintelligible, barked lyrics that occasionally form walls of sound and occasionally collapse into equipment frotting. 

I found Arsonicide’s more minimalist approach worked better than Myth’s all out blare and bluster. Here the vocals are much more prominent even though they’re still delivered in a muffled, threatening style [this on ‘III’ - all tracks on both releases are untitled] which when matched to single wobbling notes or slowly developing seas of static and hiss produce a much more balanced work.  A much more controlled affair and one I find myself increasingly drawn back to.

Hearing these releases in their original early 80’s cassette state must have been quite an experience for the lucky few managing to find a way into that most underground of labels. Hearing them on glorious vinyl has more than made up for my loss.

Gary Mundy’s label continues to grow in stature with every passing year,. We still might be here when the 50th anniversary of Broken Flag rolls around..

See you in London.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults

The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults Volume 14

Faithways International CD.

The thing that amazes me about religion is that if there isn’t one suited to your specific needs you can always start your own. Like Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Days Saints who one day went for a walk in the woods and came across an angel who showed him some golden tablets with funny words and pictures written on them. He took these tablets home and used them as source material to write the book of Mormon. This he did by putting a stone in the bottom of his hat, and dictating what he saw in it to a third party. Then he upset some people and was put in prison where he died of gunshot wounds. And then theres Scientology; a money making machine founded by a humdrum Sci-fi writer, the Unification Church; Christianity and Korean folklore cobbled together  and lets not forget the Hare Krishna’s or as I like to call them ‘The Hinduism For Westerners Movement’. The list goes on. And, inevitably, on.

But its those far out fruitcakes that amuse and shock the most. Reverend Jim Jones and David Koresh [such a big fan of Onanism that he was dubbed by one critic as the ‘masturbating messiah’] should need no introduction at all but what about The Family [sex mad], The Solar Temple [baby killers awaiting alien abduction] and Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church who encourages his congregation to picket the funerals of American soldiers and whose hellfire preaching and strict interpretation of the Bible [that cobbled together, rewritten multi-translated tome of mass murder and begatting] has left most of America bemused and disgusted. And lets not forget sarin sprinkler Soko Ashara and his Supreme Truth religion, an outfit that managed to mix together Yoga, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and the writings of Nostradamus, Charles Bukowksi and Jilly Cooper [OK, I made the last two up].

The reason I’m reviewing this is because Seymour Glass sent it to me as part of a larger package containing the work of the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble and the Glands of External Secretion. Whilst I cogitate on these I feel compelled to write about The Church Universal and Triumphant whose bizarre services are featured here. Firstly because I find religion fascinating and secondly because this is one of the most unbelievably weird recordings it has ever been my pleasure to sit and listen to. Its no surprise that their services circulated on bootleg tapes long before they became more easily available via Faithways.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet founded The Church Universal and Triumphant in 1975 as an outgrowth of a religion founded by her husband 17 years earlier. Wiki gives this description of the church’s beliefs; ‘The church's theology is a syncretic belief system, including elements of Buddhism, Christianity, esoteric mysticism, the paranormal and alchemy, with a belief in angels, elves, fairies, and other beings it calls elementals (or spirits of nature)’. Prophet predicted the outbreak of a nuclear war in the early 1990’s and encouraged her followers to build bomb shelters to survive the blast in their Montana settlement. When the big one failed to materialise she claimed that it was their prayers that had prevented it. There's lots of other shit too but of more interest to me [and I’m assuming Faithways International] is the way Prophet delivers her sermons and for the fact that they hated Rock Music. Really, really hated Rock Music. They blamed Rock Music for all life’s modern ills and went out of their way to rail against it at every given opportunity.

Prophet delivers her sermons in a speaking in tongues style that comes across more like a livestock auctioneer with a high nasal twang than preacher trying to get a message across. Its impressive, especially when the congregation joins in. On ‘Invocation For Judgement Against The Destruction of Rock Music’ her pastor reads out a list of rock bands, movies and TV channels all of which get the blame for getting the world in such a mess. Those named as being in league with Lucifer include Bananarama, Fleetwood Mac, The Thompson Twins, Band Aid [!?], Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton John and the film Ghostbusters. The list isn’t exhaustive [obviously - wot no Black Sabbath, they’ll be sooooo upset] which is why we get the rejoinder ‘ and all individual groups or individual artist who vibrate in consonance with them’. There then follows a 27 minute decree that's one of the biggest mindfucks you’re ever likely to hear. Intense polyphonic speaking in tongues with Prophet and her pastor dropping out on occasion leaving the eerie sound of the congregation going for it on their own. Certainly one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever heard and all the more reason to get interested in religion … so long as you don’t go so far as believing any of it that is.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Midwich - Skull Mask

Midwich & The Skull Mask
3” CDR. 50 copies.

Midwich - Running Repairs
Sriate Cortex. s.c.46. CDR. 60 copies.

Having succumbed to a variation of the dreaded Turkish Goat Flu I’ve been away from the keys of late. Three weeks of fluctuating body temperatures coupled to a cough that had me rattling to the core, both hands clasped firmly about the upper thighs in support, left me in no mood for tackling the review pile. The review pile that has been building of late. The recent trip to Northumberland, where we spent mornings filling our lungs with fresh air in a bid to rid me of said malaise, was as usual a music free trip. Apart from the odd bit of Radio 3 or 4 in the background, music there was none, walking there was plenty.

Its been the official stance for quite some time now. Having spent 12 nights in a hotel in the middle of nowhere India listening to nothing but Putrefier and Ashtray Navigations for days on end I can honestly say that it just doesn't suit the travelers mood, not this one at any rate. Trying to cogitate on the inner goings on of the minds of certain noise and drone makers whilst being served tea by a turbaned waiter never really worked for me so I just gave it up as a bad job and came to realise that unless I was at home, in the comfort of my own Poang, keyboard, pen and paper at the ready, there just wasn’t any point.

Its not until I return home that I realise how much I do miss the review pile though.We got back yesterday and once the chores were out of the way I spent the next eight hours lost in a world of drone and noise. A world where 3” CDRs come with exhortations to distribute freely, a world where Broken Flag cassettes get the vinyl treatment, a world where people do extraordinary things with Nick Cave songs, a world where Gruenrekorder send me a release containing a meditative work composed on a mountain top sanctuary which had the entirely predictable effect of sending me into a deep and restful afternoon kip.

I’d had the 3” CDR Midwich/Skull Mask for a while before Turkish Goat Flu II hit but never got round to inflicting words upon it. When I returned there was another Midwich release lying on the doormat. I felt I could kill two birds with one stone and besides, I’m a Midwich fan and words tend to come easier when the work on offer is something I'm familiar with.

And then I played Running Repairs which is probably the most remarkable Midwich release to date. A tiny two minute segment of buried voices and howling wind is sandwiched between a slowly evolving granular melody and a single oscillating note both of which run to over twenty minutes.

Where are the dainty pulses and head bobbing melodies? Drifting pastel coloured bubbles there was none. Delicate, floating flowers of tranquility had disappeared to be replaced with harsh and grating drones the likes of which appear to be new pathways for Midwich to explore. Familiarity there was none.

The hardest track to get through on Running Repairs is Bosky. Bosky is 25 minutes of a note taken for a walk. A primitive industrial buzz that had me wondering if I’d fallen asleep and woken up instead to the Kleistwhar LP’s. I went back and back again and still couldn’t make my mind up as to whether this was stimulating or annoying. Its certainly hypnotic and it is drone but of the kind that only people on Largactil would appreciate.

The opener New Territories is equally as hypnotic but much easier on the ear. A controlled amount of background fuzz over which a rapid and urgent industrial rhythm slowly mutates along its length until it dies out in a helicopter lift off. Maybe the clue is in the title?

The two shorter Midwich tracks on the Skull Mask split lie in similar New Territories territory all of which leaves me wondering whether Midwich has been digging out his Broken Flag cassettes or whether he just fancied a meatier work out.

Skull Mask sound like a gang of John Fahey’s fighting over six out of tune Bazoukis in a Greek taverna whilst Midwich Rob drones in the background. This is the work of Miguel PĂ©rez who I think hails from Mexico and is now part of the Rob Hayler/Midwich/Radio Free Midwich ‘Deranged Nodders Alliance’. You can join too but you have to be seen to be actively involved. Passing participation is OK I assume but getting your hand dirty is much more fun.

But this is what happens when you venture into the world of the ‘no audience underground’. The 3” CDR encourages duplication, distribution, expression and review. Each unit is unique. Something to be encouraged in a world where ‘stick it on Soundcloud and hope for the best’ is fast becoming the norm. The Striate Cortex packaging is a thing of hand made joy with hand splodged thick card outer and arty inner, printed CDR, OBI strip and four measly quid to boot. Most of this is available for download I assume but backing it up with hand made-ness makes these objects of desire and for someone whose been out of the loop for a while, items to be treasured and mulled over.

Midwich -
Sriate Cortex -
Skull Mask -