Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Yol - Everyday Rituals
CDR. No Label.

Yol & Posset - A Watched Pot Never
CDR. No Label.

Yol & Half an Abortion - The Designated Driver
CDR. No Label.

I get the feeling that if you ever invited Yol around for tea he’d be out of his chair as soon as your back was turned clanging together the fire hearth brush and pan set or screaming up the chimney to check out the acoustics. I’m not saying he’s a lunatic or not fully house trained yet but I do get the feeling he’s on a constant mission to create noise at all times and is forever curious as to what does what and what makes what. If you see what I mean. If you’ve yet to come across Yol [and if you’ve been reading these pages over the last couple of years then you really have no excuse] he’s the man from Hull who’s a cross between an angry Phil Minton and The New Blockaders. Now read on.

The noises he makes with his mouth combine strangulated gurgles and Tourettes outbursts with wails of anguish and kitchen utensil abuse. He’s a man forever losing his temper with a stubborn jam jar lid, he’s pushing a mop bucket around a tiled floor, he’s dropping things, clanging things but most of the time he’s emptying his lungs in the most violent manner you could ever possibly imagine. If you thought Junko was extreme then you need to hear some Yol.

Even after all these years, well three, since what was Neck Vs Throat I’ve been held in awe at the sheer aliveness of Yol’s work. His live performances are short, abrupt things where you begin to wonder if he’s in need of some kind of psychiatric help. Its a rare thing to find someone who gives so much of themselves in the live situation, which goes some way to explain why his performances are over and done with within the space of ten minutes. If you’ve gone to the bar and then for a piss you’ve usually missed half of it at least.

I’ve seen him live a couple of times now, once solo and once most memorably, with the Filthy Turd who’s natural ability to cause both unease and hilarity amongst audiences fitted in well with a writhing, angular, intense Yol. Its natural that musicians and performers should choose to collaborate and it would appear that Yol has no shortage of willing accomplices. With both Posset [dictaphone, cassettes] and Half an Abortion [noise, what else] he’s found two who’d invite him around for tea any day.

‘A Watched Pot Never’ finds Yol gurgling/shouting in a now trademark almost stutter shout as Posset strains the capstans with a smear of squeals and flutter; that’s ‘Pigeon Film’, ‘Inappropriate Pause’ hits the feedback button and sees Yol go for the Jap noise vocal dollar as Possett weaves in all manner of cassette fuckery with short bursts of this and slowed down bits of that. ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’ feels almost cerebral in comparison until we’re back in the TNB shed with the scraping and rattling of things, mainly cymbal like, mainly noisy, never dull. 

Two live tracks bookend ‘The Designated Driver’ with the first ‘Sicked Up’ finding Yol in the midst of some, at times, fierce blasts of distorted ice cream van toons shouting, ‘SICKED UP BURGER!’ before releasing a stomach deep scream that would be the envy of any death metal band. If anything the title track is even more visceral with Yol struggling with the words ‘Im the designated driver’ until eventually he spits out ‘YOU BASTARD!’ in what, it has to be said is a rare outing of profanity. Pete Cann [Half an Abortion] layers on plenty of muck until at its end there’s just Yol struggling with his last wretch. When all goes quiet you hear Cann in a surprised voice say ’where are you going?’ The two tracks sandwiched between finds Cann rummaging about in a box of knick knacks as Yol suffers a heart attack, bits of words stuttering out of his mouth, foam gathering at its edges, mouthing angry baby words, dying and being resurrected just in time to wretch it one more time. The longest track on here ‘Bang’ wanders into violin scrape Dada absurdist territory which for once is respite.

When sailing under his own steam Yol tends to introduce more verbal dexterity into the mix hence such gripping lines as ‘Its all fun and games until someone loses an eye’ [on ‘Fun and Games’] which was probably recorded at the Wharf Chambers and which it looks like I missed. What makes Yol stand out from the rest of the noise merchants and leads me to believe we have real talent here are tracks such as ‘Poundshop Gamelan’ which highlights Yol's febrile imagination and creates in two and half minutes a link between performance artist, austerity Britain and a grimy Hull meets exotic Java. A sentence I thought I’d never write. Last track ‘Bucket Ritual’ is as you’d expect Yol versus bucket in another live outing. As Yol rattles and smashes to the ground a galvanized mop bucket he screams, growls, yelps and stutters. Words are spat out; ‘the rain is expected to get HEAVIER AS THE DAY GOES ON’. Sometimes he struggles to get the words out, gasping for breath, a small string of bells tinkle, the bucket goes to the floor once again. ‘ITS JUST A BIT OF BANTER’ as a bastard file goes down the side of the bucket releasing painful, grating squeals. The cut short audience response at its end is genuinely enthusiastic. Go see him live should you get the chance or invite him round to scream up your chimney.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Beetroot Toilet Terror

Beetroot Toilet Terror
Cassette. No label.

Having just made, for the first time in my life, some meat free Ukrainian Borscht it would seem appropriate to review Beetroot Toilet Terror. No matter that I received this just last week and that I have a cluttered backlog of review material that forever teeters Tower of Pisa like, for Beetroot Toilet Terror the time is now.

So who is this purveyor of Beetroots? This Toilet Terror who comes without any information whatsoever bar the words Beetroot Toilet Terror. That it came from Mirfield and had a note from that man Campbell we deduce that what we have here is Neil Campbell doing it Old Skool Stylee, dubbing cassettes at home whilst knocking out some printed labels that get glued to card sleeve daubed in red paint. Even the cassettes are red. Its the way to do it of course. Bypass the pressing plant, get some jiffy bags, cassettes, make some music and mail it out.

But here’s the word ‘collab’ as hurriedly scribbled on enclosed note. But with who? I know not. Whoever it is they’ve certainly put the brakes on the Campbell express slowing down the runaway beserker pub disco going through a ruptured tweeter sound to something far downbeat and spacey.

It could be ‘Toilet’ or Terror’ it doesn’t really matter but here’s a squidgy thing all bleeps and bloops and a lolloping backbeat that you’d need a big bifter to fully appreciate. And here’s something that's totally spaced out man, KLF on Mogadon with meteor showers for company. ‘Beetroot’ [one of them] opens with a familiar ASC 4/4 thud but quickly becomes another sludge trawl.

What makes these six tracks so damned repeatable is the way the two layers combine with ASC thudge/sludge acting as backbone to various synth motifs and other celestial happenings. There’s a tad of reverb too and in places a dubby atmosphere. All of it quite wonderful in a drug fueled way. I'm guessing.

Who this celestial collaboration maestro is we can only guess at for now, but whoever it is they’ve helped create a curio that made my post prandial borscht hour all the more pleasurable.

No download then. No digital manifestation. No CD to rip from. The best you can do is go and make some borscht, find Beetroot Toilet Terror and make your own beetroot toilet terror.

Borscht Lovers Unite.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Gabba Gabba Hey

Ali Robertson + Friends
Giant Tank. GTNK025. Cassette.

Ali Robertson + His Conversations.
Giant Tank. GTNK026. CDR. 50 Copies.

Fritz Welch - Nothing To Offer
Singing Knives Records. Cassette.

Papal Bull - Argot of Incomprehension
Singing Knives/Discombobulate BOB007/SK023. CD

Papal Bull - In Ceres a Pig With Human Hands and Feet Were Born.
Chocolate Monk. Choc 253. CDR

The world of Gurglecore is but a small one [we can thank Phil Todd for the term]. People who make sounds with their mouths and sometimes pots and pans and the odd drum and sometimes electronica and the squeak of chair or the drop of stick. Choke and Clanger merchants, gobollallia, logorrhea lunatics. Gurglecore.

A small group of people in a tiny venue in Manchester accessed by a narrow flight of stairs from street level, twenty people sat around Phil Minton and Tony Oxley one with gob the other with drums and its just jaw dropping. It happened to me. An epiphany. Even the brother-in-law liked it and he’d only come for the beer. I’ve been here before but not often. Its a small world.

Several releases then that you could throw under a large-ish Emin embroidered vocal improv Dictaphone abuse noise Gurglecore blanket cover. Its not something I usually dig out on a Sunday evening but there’s no denying that certain factions within the vocal improv Dictaphone abuse noise Gurglecore world have a way of producing sounds that are of a nature that is like no other and is thus of a very satisfactory relaxing type sound, well some of it is. I think its the fact that you are listening to someone gurgle, or mash up their lips or scream or squawk or whisper, mumble, whistle, moan, groan, raspberry or just plain old talk that makes a refreshing change from the music or sounds that I usually reach for. Perhaps its the connection between speaker and listener, like listening to Stephen Fry reading from one of his books as you crawl through the M1 road works, a familiarity that brings comfort.  Like listening to Collette Robertson’s Scottish brogue intoning the words ‘if only you could put a little bit of yourself into the work’ against the sound of traffic noise.

Its the simplest of instruments. If you’ve walked alone down a long corridor or under a motorway bridge full of echo and not whistled or barked like a dog or shouted out rude words then you are a very sad person indeed.

Ali Robertson likes to talk. As do his friends. After a walk with Collette by the side of a busy road ‘his conversations’ is just that with a recording device sat on the mantlepiece catching the talk which segues into someone spitting ‘P’s’ and straining to rid themselves of a stiff shit which is, if nothing else, light relief from the garbled mass of conversations over which someone sometimes makes wibble noises.

His ‘& Friends’ finds Barry Esson, Bryony McIntyre, Ash Reid and Murdock Robertson involved in some kind of parlor word game, the rules of which I couldn’t fathom, in which the participants recite a certain phrase joining in at the right moment until you get them all talking at once or not at all. The other side has the village idiot having a coughing fit at an Irish jig and some kind of no-fi Bohman-esque scrapings. It's all rather mesmerizing and I have no idea why.

Taking these sounds into the art space can and usually does result in the kind of performance where you find yourself checking your phone or gnawing your wrist off in a bid to distract yourself from the pain resulting from what your eyes and ears are telling you. I’ve seen enough American sound poets to last me a lifetime each one of them making me wish I had a fully loaded Taser on my belt. Fritz Welch isn’t an American sound poet but he is American and his name is one that jingles the memory bank and I’m not sure if its in a good way. One side of his ‘Nothing to Offer’ [the gods of irony look down upon me] was recorded in a synagogue in Italy and consists of Welch hitting lots of drums and percussion type instruments in a haphazard fashion all whilst making noises with his mouth. The flip was recorded in a sauna in Edinburgh and moves along similar lines but is much sparser and all the better for it with Welch managing to create a truly surreal atmosphere with his rubbing and moaning. I’m just glad I didn’t have to watch it.

On the more suitably titled “Argot of Incomprehension’ we have Jon Marshall and Joe Murray going at it hammer and tongs under the Papal Bull banner. Here its all Michael Bentine’s Potty Time meets Captain Beefheart chewing on a hot sausage. I’m assuming it’s Marshall Touretting with the vocals as Murray scatters his Dictaphone wanderings hither and thither but I could be wrong. The rather splendidly scribbled and smudged inner sleeve mentions such exotic instrumenti as tres cubano, a xaphook, escalator and sheng amongst the more ubiquitous junk percussion, harmonica and shruti box. All this makes for a splendid near on 40 minutes worth of utter madness with Marshall and Murray constructing actual songs with actual song titles; ‘Snout Leather is Softest’, ‘Wand Erection’, Sadly Not Teeth Trees or Demons Piled on a Step’ which leads me to believe we have some wonderfully inventive minds at work. The way they distort the shruti box, brings to mind Mick Flower’s destruction of his Japanese banjo and with it the same kind of intensity. Chuck in the kind of demonic possession sounds as last seen on the Exorcist and you have the last track ‘Spangled Rag of the Butchers Apron’. Marshall and Murray are the perfect match, the jam roly-poly and custard  of the improv world. Definitely one of the highlights of the year.                        

An earlier work from 2012/13 appears courtesy of Chocolate Monk and with it a leaning to the noisier end of the scale albeit it with smidges of gob gabble interspersed within. ‘Bourgeois Blues’ is all distorted to buggery tape manipulations eventually giving way to vocal gurgles and an ice cream van playing the theme from Match of the Day v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Then there's the eleven minute ‘Sniff Out Where the Boar is Hiding’ where the cycling grind in one ear is matched by the screeching grind in the other, the shorter ‘Esther Mung, the Tenderloin’ [I just can’t help myself typing out these song titles] is more all-in wrestling grunt and gurn and all the better for it while the last track ‘Only the Mouth and Nose, and this last a Substitute for a Phallus’ reverts back once more to feedback and churn and a climax of moaning groaning voices.

I feel tempted to chuck in some Yol reviews here and further extend the joy to be had from working with the gob but it’ll have to wait.

So we go from conversations in Scotland to drum scrape to Beefheartian noise work outs and its all sounding enthusiastic and lunatic and bloody marvelous. Gurgletastic in fact.

Giant Tank
Singing Knives
Discombobulate Records

Chocolate Monk