Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Wreckers Ruin + D Coelacanth

Wreckers Ruin
Recycled cassette.

D Coelacanth - Nancy Creaks In Graveyard Slime
Recycled cassette + badge + vintage photo

And as the good idea that was Record Store Day slowly descends into the feeding frenzy it was destined to become, let us cast our minds back to when records were something you bought to help you hear music.

In his Saturday diary column the Guardian’s John Grace mentioned that Record Store Day was upon us once more and how this fact reminded him that he’d got rid of his vinyl thirty years ago and now his head is constantly full of thoughts as to how much all those records must now be worth. Millions perhaps. Enough to retire on at least. They’re not records any more they’re money shitting circles of crackly wax that lie in the hands of someone who doesn’t deserve them.

Thanks to Record Store Day there's now a cynical manufactured market for those super limited vinyl releases that everybody wants but only those mad enough or determined enough to start queuing at 2 a.m. outside Jumbo Records in Leeds [and other independent record stores around the world] are likely to see. Slapping down on the counter a wants list running to over 20 choice items our intrepid, sleepless, grumpy and soon to be listing on eBay vinyl ‘fan’ can look forward to steeping his weary bones in a hot bath full of aromatic oils as the bids on his recently purchased ABBA single pass the fifty quid mark.

I can’t remember the last time I was in a record shop to be honest. I try to avoid them these days seeing as how the prices being asked for vinyl gets me all hot and angry. £40 for Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ as reissued on 180 gramme high fidelity audiophile taken direct from the studio masters vinyl? Thank you very much. Kerching. Remember the late 80’s and early 90’s when a CD could knock you back £17? Well vinyl has replaced that CD cash cow and thats why ‘record shops’ are asking £40 for something you can buy for £3 on Discogs including postage and packaging [I just checked and oh alright its not on 180 gramme high fidelity audiophile taken direct from the studio vinyl but it’ll still do the job].

Looking at the snaking queues of happy vinyl hunters/scalping gouging bastards taken outside record stores on Saturday morning as posted on Twitter by deliriously happy record store owners had me chuckling deep in to my bowl of Golden Nuggets. Some of them opened early so as to let in all those bedraggled, been there since 2 a.m. punters. Some of those been there since 2 a.m. punters got upset and Tweeted that the queue wasn’t going down quick enough and that there was every chance that they weren’t going to get the mystery test pressing of a various artists LP that was being given away for free or that all the Led Zeppelin singles were going to be gone and that they’d have to settle for something by Shaking Stevens and hope that there were enough Shaking Stevens fans out there in eBay land willing to pay more than the asking price.

And have you noticed how those queues are full of males of a certain age? Of a colour of a certain type? Looking for a music of a certain type? There are exceptions of course and I dare say there were takers for last years Alice Coltrane 10” and Jazz and Reggae releases do feature in Record Store Day but the overwhelming weight of sales run along a white male rock demographic.  

And that can get very boring, very quickly.

Instead let us turn to something far more interesting and something that is unlikely to interest those who spend two days and nights in April queuing outside a record shop in the hope that they’ll secure a limited to 5000 copies David Bowie Greatest Hits LP that has a different mix to ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ on it.

To that man of mystery. The man whose name is written down on a scrap of paper and hidden inside the yew tree in the ancient churchyard at Burselm. He’s been called plenty of things in his time, most of them complimentary. You may know him as the Filthy Turd but that era is gone, never to return. He’s moved on now drawn to a brighter light, he’s polished his shoes and made his mark using a Sharpie he borrowed from the Jarvolater. Recently he was seen banging a four stringed out of tune guitar under the name of Ernie K. Fegg. He had a drummer with him and they never released anything. Last year, in the 40C heat of the Ionian summer he surfaced as D Coelacanth. Only the Tape Gods know where he is now.

He dumped these two stunners on me a couple of weeks back. I sat and played them on a loop while surveying the RSD queues. Struggling with the crosser I made copious notes:

Wreckers Ruin:

Proper Horror Show
Destroyed loops as recorded in coal cellars
Snatches of American scientists fighting for space with flaming pheasants and the dirty gunge found on guitar strings
The North Korean national anthem played on a circuit bent Stylophone
Rough confessions
Foul deliverances
Shriveled transmissions
Warning to others delivered through the distorting cloud of interference
Indistinct calls taken from crumbling ansaphone machines
Mutant riffs strummed on frayed nylon strings

That was good but as D Coelacanth and ‘Nancy Creaks in Graveyard Slime’ he’s created the best thing he’s done to date. If you want a solid hours worth of total mind bend then look no further for our man has somehow managed to edit together a series of short Dictaphone cut and paste randomnia that when listened to in one sitting gives the listener all the benefits of six pints of White Lightning without the danger of a hangover or liver damage.

You know the man can make sounds like no other but this is other realm. From the off there’s nothing but a constant barrage of short missives all delivered in that burry Burselm voice of his:

I could do with some thinner he shouted,
All over me knew settee
They wanted more skulls,
I collected all of it in a tiny box,
Luckily all them people were dead,
That needs a bit of work. See a specialist,
Its better out there,
There are seven types of damp,
I put me hands in,

Each line delivered in a series of voices most of them coming at you like an off his tits Patrick Stewart reading the rambling thoughts of Rampton through a paper cone.

The man is on the form of his life creating a world that no one else I know of can even come near to imagining never mind creating. A world chock full of dirty sounds, chipped mugs, the filth of forty thousand years as culled from the cassette racks of Woolies circa 1976. Hallmark Greatest Hits packages that only play one side with the other bleeding through. The monologue of a man on a mission armed only with a Dictaphone and his fevered brain. True Outsider Art.

Where you’d get Wreckers Ruin from I have no idea. Maybe you’ll have to hang around Stoke-on-Trent in the small hours looking for a small hairy creature. Chocolate Monk are carrying Nancy Creaks In Graveyard Slime though and for this they have my utmost respect. For your coin you also get a vintage photograph and a badge that says Eerie Stink. Neither release will require the packing of a sleeping bag and a flask.

Chocolate Monk


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Silver Dick + Saboteuse

Saboteuse - X
Crow Versus Crow. CVC008
Cassette. 50 copies.

Silver Dick
Feeding Tube Records. FTR 335LP
LP [including DL code]. 300 copies.

The above two releases have been causing a bit of stir of late. Silver Dick with a glowing review courtesy of Byron Coley and Saboteuse courtesy of The Bearded Wonder who was seen to be visibly shaking with excitement when the subject arose during last weeks Silver Dick gig at the Wharf Chambers. They are good though. Both of them. I’d go as far as to say that the Saboteuse release is one of those only-comes-along-once-in-a-while genre busting releases that you continuously listen to with a mixture of awe of rapture. And then you play it again.

The common theme is Joincey, that ever present constantly working underground figure who seems to have been around since the year dot. With Silver Dick he’s behind the drums while in Saboteuse he’s opposite long time collaborator Andy Jarvis with whom he shares the same initials. I’m liking the synchronicity. I’m also liking the sleeve written in Joinceys distinctive small case hand and that all the tracks begin with ‘the’ except for the last track ‘ROMMET’. Recorded in 2014/15 its only seeing the light of day now for reasons I can’t fathom. I can’t believe that something as wondrous as this has failed to find a label for three years.

Maybe its because its the harshness of the opener ‘the comedian’ and its moans in one ear and cries in the other, a machine in constant collapse and Joincey’s distinctive spoken word vocals that at times bring forth both Genesis P-Orridge and Mark E Smith both of whom would have been born a not too long a car drive away from Joincey’s place of birth. Next track ‘the drive’ opens a capella and then in the background a washing machine drum descending stone stairs with a brick in it. ‘the bloodhound’ has reversed tape EVP and a guitar being hit with a bottle, a silent movie soundtrack going in reverse. I made notes on each track here, all ten of them before it struck me that each has its own distinct style, Joincey’s voice is moody and effect laden, when its bare its revelatory, when he mentions Rochdale I think of MES. On ‘the crossbow’ there's the panning sound of the wind and Joincey speaks/sings ‘parakeets fly over the bridge that looks cool’. AJ one is ‘the stalker’ AJ two is ‘the painter and decorator/the executor, the executioner’. Andy Jarvis fills this wonderful world with loops and noises and spazzy guitar and riffing bass thumps. ‘The devil’ opens up with swirling noises, its noise/pop like what The Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded like if they came from Stoke-on-Trent. ‘the thumbnail’ is glitch, ‘the umbrella’ drone noise, last track ROMMET finds a multi tracked Joincey singing/talking ‘the flowers don’t smell’. The last words you hear are ‘do you feel anything’.

I most certainly do.

Saboteuse have been spitting out the odd release for the last ten years or so now but none have them have given me the goosebumps like this one. Previous releases have been more in the improv vein [to these ears at least], noisier, edgier, rougher but ‘X’ is it. Its easily the pairs best release yet and for two people with such vast back catalogues and such a depth of experience working and releasing within what passes for the underground these days, its easily one of their best.

That ‘X’ is limited to 50 copies and only available on cassette and download is laughable. Feeding Tube have done an excellent job with Silver Dick and I urge them with every tiny fibre of my being to give this the vinyl treatment too.

Actually I was lying about Joincey being the common factor between these two releases, Kate Armitage appears on them both too, as a ‘thanks’ on ‘X’ but as a full blown member of Silver Dick where she is credited with guitar and vocals, as is Martin Greenwood, all of them blowing in to things and singing, the sounds being off kilter improv pop with a Joincey on drums, vocals and ‘other’.

Whether its improv or not is open to conjecture. Seeing them play in Leeds last week I kind of recognised some of the songs once I got the vinyl and listened to it from the comfort of my own Poang. But the road to Improv heaven is not a primrose lined path strewn with scented petals, its more of a weed sprouting stretch of freshly laid thin Gypsy tarmac upon which you try your best to keep a hold of your senses. Improv is not for the feint of heart and can lead to fist fights in the gutters of Leeds city centre. Some people find that anything that wanders beyond the remit of Radio 2/Classic FM to be improv in that it all sounds like people making it up as they go along anyway. Its a tricky subject, where does improv end and structure begin? I’ll ask John Zorn the next time I see him in Tescos.

The eponymously titled Silver Dick has six tracks the longest being the opener ‘Reps’ that stretches all the way to 13 minutes and pretty much encapsulates all that is good about Silver Dick; mumbled vocals from Armitage [think someone singing after eating glue and being asleep for two weeks], battered rim shots, scraggly guitar, stretches of not much happening and wild racket. The see-sawing guitars of ‘Roman’ are head swimmingly swoony while second longest track ‘A Horse With No Opinion’ ventures the nearest to song structure with a recognisable slowed down naked strummed guitar chord progression and singing that emerges as if from the depths of a coal cellar. ‘Caul’ sees Armitage singing as if a small child trying to memorise a nursery rhyme by repeating it over and over again all this to a background of blown pipes and spidery notes plucked from high on the guitar neck. As a trio they fit perfectly with the wonk and bend somehow suggesting form before tearing it up and shoving it into toot filled rooms full of scrabble and dink.

Byron Coley calls it the ‘new, new thing’ which is good enough for me.

Crow Versus Crow

Feeding Tube Records