Karl M V Waugh is an underground hero in the UK. He’s been a member of The Zero Map with Chloe Wallace since 2009 and released cassettes, CDRs and file-based releases of their droney ambient noise. He also played in The A Band, one of the most diffuse performing bands in history personnel-wise; the definitive history has yet to be written as far as I know, and it wouldn’t help our understanding anyway. Plus he’s also a poet and photographer, examples of which can be seen on his WordPress blog.
Today Karl calls himself DR:WR, which is his way of saying “Doctor War”, a phonetic approximation of his own surname and referring to his doctorate. There are four tracks of his home-made electronic music on the cassette tape Sci-Fi Morality Play (SLIGHTLY OFF KILTER LABEL sok070), realised in his bedroom. Much to enjoy here. The numbing yet soothing patterns of ‘Loft Music’ approximate a state of insomnia very nicely (may relate to Karl’s own condition after he became a father), suggestive of a grey dawn light slowly approaching over a comfortless bed. It’s got that numbed feeling I know so well. ‘Infrared Deathray House Party’ wins the prize for track title of the month; adroit listeners can detect techno and dub influences on the sound and method here, but it’s endearingly minimal and clunky, like a scaled-down version of Kevin Martin’s epic productions; successfully captures both the exuberance and sheer terror of an all-night party, with its sinister slithering tones rubbing up against sequenced tunes.
I also liked the sharp edges and robotic attack of ‘Disc Accretions’ (a sort of darkened over-mechanised take on Kraftwerk), but ‘Interspace Recreation’ disappoints – a rather ordinary ambient-distorto drone being fed through various filters for 16 mins. Even so it’s got a single-mindedness of purpose and persistence that might be one of this creator’s strengths. As a whole this tape more than lives up to the promise of its sickly science-fiction cover art. (07/11/2017)