Tiger Balm and Common Seed

Rob Hart has sent his latest release from his CDR label State Sanctioned Recordings based in Brighton. OpenAir (SSRCD003) is by Tim Kirby (also of The Sonic Catering Band) in his Lessons Around Us guise, and arrives in a sumptuous landscape-format package (as indeed do all releases on this quirky label). There’s also a landscape depicted on the front – a fine 19th-century engraving with a waterfall, trees, house, figures and picturesque, geometric rock formations. Kirby’s work here uses lots of field recordings and home recordings, and experiments with instruments bleeding into household appliances (and vice versa) causing much magical pattern-making to ensue. With the emphasis on a ‘distinctly English vision’, I got a strong feeling this one can’t lose, and I can’t wait to unleash its powers within my four walls. The old-fashioned Postcard replica back cover (whereon the label’s emblem is printed in red as a postmark) is particularly nice – an old trick perhaps, but a good one.

Italian entrepreneur Andrea Marutti has sent a few examples from his art-edition CDR label AFE RECORDS in Milan. Much to my great excitement, he’s put in two records by Edward Ruchalski. We interviewed this modest NY State (Syracuse) genius in issue 13 of the magazine, and I personally can’t hear enough of his mystical-magical soundworks, some using home-made instruments, all of them using imagination and strange narrative drivers behind the deft tape-splices. On Territorial Objects (AFE089LCD) it seems we have one Michael Burton suspended up to his waist in the waters of Butternut Creek, playing cymbals, bells and other percussion. On Dark Night (AFE090LCD), a solo work, Ruchalski does his best to realise in sound the beauties and mysteries of a New England night with all the visionary powers of a Ray Bradbury. My inner warlock is just itching to get these colourful beauties (orange and black respectively) slotted into an appropriate technical niche! Also in the package, Mathieu Ruhlmann‘s The Earth Grows in Each of Us (AFE097LCD), an electro-acoustic work to do with regenerative rites and based closely on Mathieu’s personal family situations. All three of these packaged in restrained, professionally-printed wallets that put a lot of CDR releases in the shade; the Ruhlmann sleeve resembles a Joseph Cornell artwork. 100 copies only of these gems…

From Japan, two more oddities on Koki Emura’s EM RECORDS label which tend to confirm his status as the most eclectic of record reissuers currently operating on the face of the earth. We got Wild Billy Childish and The Black Hands play Captain Calypso’s Hoodoo Party (EM1065CD), a 1988 escapade presumably retrieved from the artist’s own Hangman Records label; the sextet hereon apparently tackle cover versions of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ among other songs, all played in a rollicking Calpyso style. While I certainly remain a convert of the godlike Sexton Ming, I’ve yet to experience the delights of the patron saint of Medway himself, so will let you know how this one fares (and I must add that I feel doubly surreal having arrived at something so completely “English” via a Japanese label). The other item in the envelope is probably more in my line; Annea Lockwood‘s Early Works 1967-82 (EM1064CD) got my attention immediately with the striking cover of the artiste herself standing in a junkyard in front of a burning piano, looking immaculate in her black slacks and black sweater and tied-back hair and the coolest horn-rim glasses and sandals this side of the red wine-guzzling beatnik chick of my dreams. I always assumed Lockwood was American, but she’s from New Zealand and has taught in NY since 1973. The burning piano (flames rendered with a flat overlay of process yellow on this CD, completing the pop-art effect) is from a performance piece series which may not be represented on this CD. What is on this CD is a start-to-finish reissue of The Glass World, her 1967-1970 LP, a rarity which causes unsightly saliva drippings among many collectors, plus 1970’s Tiger Balm. At time of writing I’m still fondling the sealed digipack of this release, but once played I’m expecting a physiological change to be wrought on my frame, something akin to a night of heartburn such that my own viscera will resemble that incandescent piano. Go Annea!