Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Burd - Wild Saloone
Mantile 019. Cassette.
50 copies.

Fossils - What A Drag
Mantile 020. Cassette.
50 copies.

Kayaka - Operation Deep Freeze
Mantile 021. Cassette.
50 copies.

Brood Ma - Fission
Mantile 022. Cassette.
50 copies.

Spoils & Relics - Stammer Challis
Mantile 023. Cassette.
50 copies.

I’m beginning to think that it may be easier for me to begin each post by inserting cut and paste sections of the British Medical Journal into the first paragraph, especially those relating to common colds and how the fuck it is that yours truly appears to be a magnet for every mutation doing the rounds. Having spent most of January with a sludgy marshmallow head I now appear to be spending the beginning of March with something similar. This time around there’s a chest rattling cough to contend with along with the obligatory expectorations that I look at with amazement before flushing down the bog. Nothing too devastating to keep me off work of course, this one appeared late Thursday, just in time for me to flatline through the entire weekend ensuring I got to miss the months in planning, highly anticipated Consumer Electronics/Sleaford Mods /Cremation Lily show at the Rammel Club. Of all the weekends, in all the world you had to ruin this one dintcha?

As ever during these recurring bouts of malaise I find myself taking to the Poang with the review pile. Its amazing how much crud you can soak up when your energy levels are on a par with that of an overworked Chinese donkey. I sat listless for hours on end with Gruenrekorder, LF, SLI the new Kirkstall Dark Matter, Fragment Factory and Spon 27 which by the looks of it will keep me in panel pins for years to come. Some I listened to on repeat because it was easier to press the repeat button on the remote than it was to actually get up and change the item in question. So, two whole days spent doing not much else but listen to the review pile whilst coughing up green bits of lung juice.

Johnny Scarr warned me in advance that some of these tapes contained dance music and that they may not be to my liking. I do like a challenge though and whilst Lemsip may not be every weekend party animals drug of choice I found that it numbed the nerves sufficiently enough to allow me to sit through Brood Ma without once twitching anything like a toe or a foot. As you may have gathered, I’m not the biggest fan of dance music in the world finding that my ability to move in a syncopated manner manifests itself only at weddings and birthdays and then only after excessive amounts of alcohol have been consumed. To be fair to Brood Ma and Johnny Scarr this isn’t exactly dance music but music that has been constructed from dance music, more like an electronic dub reggae. I have no idea what you call this genre of music, I once heard someone in the pub say Intelligent Dance Music and thats the coverall term I use for anything with beats in it that I don’t understand. Don’t hang me for it, I know that there’ll be three million sub genres doing the rounds and that the kids down Afflecks Palace will laugh at me for being an out of touch old twat but what you gonna do, spend two weeks researching the outer limits of the Berlin techno scene just so I get the terminology right?

I have heard music like Burd before though and its made by people with portable Yamaha organs which have lots of preset beats on them that get endlessly morphed creating an all night shoulder rolling, head waggling dope dance fest. Like Heatsick, who I like to think of as the John Shuttleworth of dance, not because he punches the air but because of his sweaters, who I’ve seen live and appears to be capable of keeping a packed house shuffling about all night by doing nothing more strenuous than drink lager from a can whilst hitting the odd strategic key with a well timed index finger. Wild Saloone is quite trippy in a lo-fi, head full of snot fashion which seems apt considering my current state of health. I did find myself warming to its lethargic, fizzy beats in a nostalgic 80’s crap pop 12” b-side instrumental kind of way though. Lets call it Heatsickism.

There’s some beats on Kayaka too. Unfortunately for Kayaka there’s also lots of kak as evinced by the ‘all over the place I think I’m experimenting with sounds’ stance that results in some tracks sounding like a faulty synth drum and others Sonic Youth tuning up [not a good thing by the way]. An aimless bunch of noisy tracks that have noise at their heart but no heart in their noise.

Which leaves Fossils and Spoils & Relics who for me are the true heart of Mantile, the bit where for me anyway, it starts to get interesting. This is where The Clangers show Edgar Varèse what lo-fi TNB scrape is all about, the place where tiny taught egg slicer wires are plucked one at a time by someone whose just about to tip over into slumberland. You know the kind of thing. Fossils I know nothing about, a duo certainly but apart from that nada. Here there are live outings of slowed down taped, reversed tape, tiny sounds all muffled and suitably cassette harmonious, teeny tiny bubbles and squeaks, capstan fiddling, spring boings, an underwater composition for Kagel’s toys played by crabs with toffee hammers in their claws. The live stuff is a tad rawer but the studio [maybe, perhaps] is the real joy.

I played Spoils & Relics back to back with Fossils and the similarities are there for all to hear; the electro-acoustic love-in, the breathing gaps, maybe more space in S&R’s work, less clutter but as ever an aural delight for those wishing to take a rest from the common annoyances of the world outside. There’s a moment near the beginning of one of these sides where it appears that someone is rubbing a piece of wood up and down a wobbly wooden table thats covered with sensitive electronic equipment that judders as it emits various roosting chicken noises. The joy comes from listening to a recording put together by people with a true love of sound. For these are indeed just that, collections of sounds that when combined with deft hands produce transports of delight. From gently moving hum to Patrick Stewart sample to gentle coaxed tape pull. I’ve yet to hear anything from Spoils & Relics that even beings to approach mundane. A delight. Long may they continue.

So Johnny was right, there were some tapes in here that I didn’t particularly like but those last two more than made up for them. Hand pressed card inserts, five quid each, about thirty minutes of sounds on each one, perfect for that Lemsip Poang trip.


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