Tagged: cassettes

Three Spooling Dans from France

Nicolas Marmin sent us three split cassette tapes from his KommaNull label in France which arrived 18 October 2013. Note the uniform packaging of these Spooling Dans. Each tape resides in a corrugated card carton which when flipped open will reveal the cassette in a paper slipcase within, the pearl of tapedom sitting in the oyster of the hypermarket. It so happens our first pearl (KOMMANULL SPLIT K7_3) is of pinkish hues.

Häk and his Music for Molekularsynthesizer finds German synth-mangler Häk issuing forth a pleasing variety of electronic sounds – some crazy, some outer-spacey, some just plain obnoxious. Certainly no shortage of effects, textures and surfaces on his half of the tape, but it’s a tad under-developed in the way of compositional design, apart from letting the piece continue and accrue further layers of effects, until it reaches a tipover point and collapses in a welter of noise. However there is a sense of exploratory fun in the work as knobs are twisted and crazy whoops sputter from the devices, and the sense that Häk is something of a kid in a sweetshop, restlessly trying out a shiny new toy. The fun aspect is undercut somewhat by the grim buzzy drone noise which closes out the tape, a testing episode of process-based grind, but as noted Häk has many varied approaches to offer.

Alan Courtis occupies the flip with his Untitled piece. Argentinean peripatetic loon Courtis has produced so many records now and worked in so many micro-genres that I’ve given up trying to understand one-tenth of what he does. One moment a throat-singing guitarist, the next an electro-acoustic tape boffin who does his best work with a household blender. At all times he’s been informed by a sense of absurdity which always gives his work a slant, an offbeat edge. Here we have something so indefinable passing over the tapeheads that my ears are getting bent out of shape trying to get a handle on it. Right away you notice his sound is much “dirtier” than the pure electronic beeps and tones of Häk, but that may be due to excessive processing and transformation. We’re dragged unwillingly across very unfamiliar terrain and there’s no clear end to this weird journey through tunnels of murk. I’ve often thought that Courtis underperforms as an editor or a composer, but here those deficiencies are somehow turned intro strengths, as this odd and episodic perambulation wanders through a series of unexplained vistas. This tape is probably a reliable psychic indicator of what’s happening to Courtis’s inner being on account of his frequent travels, not least the nauseating effects of air travel. I need a cup of strong tea after this one.

Next split is a blue item (KOMMANULL SPLIT K7_2), the sweet sweet blue of the sea.

BoneyFM’s self-titled album is 14 tracks resulting from collaborative actions between Lil’ Oof who provides the raw material in form of tapes, and Finkelstein who processes them, while Eran Sachs contributes a mixing board to two tracks. A confusing jumble of half-baked electronic sounds emerges, chopped up into short and unfinished pieces, arranged in no apparent order. Interesting sonic collisions may emerge from this wreckage, but they feel more like accidents. The creators can’t seem to decide if they’re going for all-out table noise, or a radically deconstructed recreation of avant-techno. A very broken and disjunctive listen; sorry chums, I just don’t get it.

Suboko offers a single 30-minute piece from a live recording at La Bascule in Rennes, from 2011. This is Laurent Berger, who’s also a member of Sun Plexus and the “minimal wave” four-piece band Ich Bin; plus Pascal Gully and the turntabler Nicolas Boutine. We have heard them before when they collaborated with some German brass players as the K-Horns, but this little slice of mayhem shows them at their unhinged and primitive best. I suppose one could also characterise this as a very broken and disjunctive listen, but it’s much more enjoyable than BoneyFM. The players are energised and focussed, and determined to give us an honest portrait of urban sprawl in sound, whatever the cost to themselves. It’s got the same vibe I find in APO33 and pizMO, the sense of a chaotic but juicy performance which has no defined boundaries and revels in the joys of uncontrolled electronics. Plus it just keeps going on and on forever. You may find the grim, industrial-ish caste of this music a bit wearisome, but it’s an honest and raw performance.

Of greenish tint is our tertiary item (KOMMANULL SPLIT K7_1)…

Ravi Shardja (also associated with GOL and Oleo Strut) is another French musician who has come our way before with the double LP Grun Ist Grau for Grautag Records. While that item might have shown his industrial landscaping skills, his half of the split tape La Ferme Vous-Meme is apparently more of a cut-up sampling item, with a baffling jumble of instruments and voices producing a nightmarish version of modern pop music, with insane beats and ugly sounds wrought from guitars and synths. No less unpalatable are the distorted voices, sometimes screaming in agony from the harsh transformations they must undergo. Shardja makes his mixing board work overtime until you could cook a three-course meal on the overheated desk, and pushes his array of sounds to their utmost limits. The album may have its melodic moments, but these too are rendered quite bizarre (almost comical) by means of edits and juxtapositions. Even so, this is so far the most “entertaining” listen of the bunch. You could play it to someone who’s an expert in obscure Burmese movie soundtracks, and just watch their brows furrow as they try and name the tune.

Enregistrement Temporaire is another name for Marc Nguyen Tan, who improvises on a modular synth to produce his Clusters Animés. All I can say here is that it’s a piece of great beauty, a very subtle melodic work, innovative and imaginative and with a lot of intriguing details to hear as it passes through its compositional stages. It may also be somewhat untypical of Tan’s other work. He’s more well known as Colder, an Electro-Beat thing under which name he has a lengthy catalogue from 2003 onwards, and has been involved in dance and remix projects besides finding time for film, TV and dance work. For me, Clusters Animés is the pick of the bunch from these tapes and shows there is a contemplative side to this young man’s work. Other listeners find parallels here with Nurse With Wound or HNAS – what may be emerging as a “surrealist” sub genre of electronic music.

Blaksmoke / Part 1: tiny packet of black metal energy

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Blaksmoke, Part 1, Soulthief (2013)

Sometimes I wish most BM bands would deliver albums as tiny and packed full of zest as this one. At just over seven minutes, Blaksmoke‘s debut full-length deserves to be at least twice or even three times as long. Some folks might even wish for longer – there’s so much energy on this teeny-weeny record, it could sustain a much longer effort – but we could be pushing our luck. This is a raw recording of rock-out black metal, very punk in its production and in the furious energy it zings out in all directions. The percussion is wild and all over the shop and chainsaw guitars grind away in search of a victim to zoom over and cut up.

Each track seems a lot angrier and more abrasive than the previous track until everyone, musicians and listeners alike, can take no more. This isn’t to demean the first track, simply called “I”, which is a cacophonic racket of bashing drums and lawnmower guitar on speed. Deep vocals roar around the joint as if trying to gain a foothold on the racing music and finding none. Occasionally a rhythm develops but this is only temporary. The second track is a growling song of spiky string scrabble and evil demon groans. Like the first song, Track 2 ends quite abruptly – recording and production finesse obviously isn’t a big priority with Blaksmoke. Given that one of the Blaksmoke guys, Wikkid, recorded the music, produced the album, distributes it and has two solo projects (Alcutraz and Wikkid) to tend to as well, perhaps we should thank our lucky stars that he has time to issue product of a good consistent standard like this recording. The third track is more relaxed (well, at first anyway) and more death metal in its ambience and style though without the pummelling blast-beat rhythms of that genre. Past the halfway point, something spooks the two musicians and they go off on a bonkers chaotic tangent, drumsticks whacking furiously, strings shredding manically and vocals swept up in the storm. Wonderful!

This is a tiny pocket of roaring primitive BM and I wish - I dearly wish! – that there’s a lot more of it where it came from.

Contact: Wikkid, wikkidblackmetal@gmail.com

Icarus Ascending

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Paul Carr
The History Of Aviation
UK BUILD MUSIC BM001 CASSETTE (2012)

Walking through the Art School Canteen, nodding to Godley and Creme, Wire had also been around, but had caught Brian’s Ferry rather than the plane. The plain and mundane get a look in in the shape of Currys, presumably appliances rather than Anglo-dubbed Indian food. No Tikka Masala, then. But there is some sort of ode to ‘reversible jackets’. The artist apparently does not like them. To be honest the reviewer is not sure he is totally into songs about preferences regarding them.

Name drops include the artists Bruce McLean (I had to Google, but there’s a Slade connection – University rather than Holder or Reeves and Mortimer) and Ian Breakwell. This should suggest a certain angle and context which – assuming sympathy to such suggestions – could influence engagement with this short tape. Musically very low rent keyboard and close-mic’d clutter-loop, with mumbled vocals and an overall hesitant rattle and vaguely spindly nature, an introspective pencil and a shoe-box idly trying to imagine sketches of This Heat by someone who’d only ever heard descriptions of them. Fits into some sort of English tradition of tentative uncertainty. (Perhaps).

Like the light switch in somebody else’s bedroom, it’s plastic and there. Aha, but the sky is outside! I find that’s good to remember whatever the circumstances, anyway. But then again, it’s also through the window. Unless the curtains are drawn. Hmm.

There is a website, and hints of more sprawling, perhaps ambitious, projects such as radio plays should you be drawn (you see?) to investigate further.

Voice of the Beehive

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Got a couple of tapes from the Belgian Tanuki Records label, which is operated by Patrick Thinsy who used to be a member of martiensgohome. To be honest I never cared much for anything I heard from by the mgh collective, so I approach Thinsy’s Disappearances (TANUKI RECORDS #4) with a little trepidation. The A side is a simple experiment in minimalism, operating small variations on a single (very high) monotonous tone; you never heard such a thin and delicate drone in your life, as though he were trying to extend one gram of platinum in a wire so thin it would encircle the earth. High tone on one side, a low tone on the B side; a mysterious grumbling bullfrog making its moan in a forgotten swamp, wheezing like a very restrained old harmonium, until it too becomes an extended tremulous drone, so faint you can barely notice it. It’s likely that both of these simple compositions operate according to a structure; they proceed with an inscrutable methodology, and a basic trajectory is perceivable from start to finish. Not quite achieving the monumentalism of Phill Niblock, but not bad. From 27 February 2013.

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The press notes describe Woodger Speece and Thierry Burnhout as “two very interesting Belgian sound artists”, and 14 Rhythms for Jamilla / This Beehive State (TANUKI RECORDS #3) is their debut. Though not made clear on the release, this appears to be a split and Woodger – who is actually someone named Pauwel de Buck – has four, not fourteen, of his rhythm tracks on the A side, combining strangely attenuated beats with prickly radio static. It’s amazing he gets anything solid out of this unlikely combination of elements, but he persists doggedly until these severe, alienating tones begin to cohere at some level. It’s the kind of music you imagine that small insects, or microbes, would enjoy dancing to on the sub-atomic plane. After ten minutes of this art-minimal reduced Techno buzzery, even Atom TM will sound “over-produced” to your ears. Thierry Burnhout occupies all of Side B with 22 minutes of This Beehive State, which like Thinsy’s above is operating in a droney and floaty area, where the skies are mostly grey and we dance to the whims of the wind. Though de Buck describes him as a “troublemaker”, Burnhout’s abiding mood here is somewhat serene and peaceful; in places, he generates pleasing harmonic passages that inspire a sense of well-being with their rich vibrato and throbbing undercurrents. I just feel it’s scant on ideas; having established one mood, he’s uncertain where to take it next, and he either treads water for too long or runs out of steam at crucial moments.

Three Rotary Rampages

Kordik Lucas is the duo of Daniel Kordik and Edward Lucas, making a bizarre and near-indigestible improvised noise with one trombone and a “Vostok” synthesizer on the cassette MMXXII (URBSOUNDS COLLECTIVE N. 28). I found this intensely irritating at first, but now I’m finding some way to key into its craggy and non-musical surfaces; they seem intent on noise-creation rather than music, but that isn’t to say they don’t coalesce nicely as a duo. The title ‘broken bone’ is highly applicable, if you use the word ‘bone’ as an abbreviation for trombone; all of their music is deliciously “broken”. The duo can’t keep their hands still – they saw, they sputter, they doodle, they bluster, and from much frenetic activity some sort of half-knitted unpatterned fabric may eventually emerge. Not tremendously satisfying, but at least you can hear what they’re doing; I think I’ve just about had my fill of “reduced” or near-silent improv. From July 2013.

One fine split cassette of gritty death-dealing noise (TR-013) on the Spanish micro-label Truco Esparrago records. Generic Death are a trio of disaffected young Spaniards grinding out a ten-minute howl called ‘Continuity of Deception’ with just vocals, a bass guitar and drum kit, making a splendid angrified and fiery punk-noise racket. Plenty of grisly pedal effects, distortion and feedback are used to punch the message home, and while it starts off with a steady beat, the song collapses into an anarchic state, leaving the listener in no doubt as to the depth of the bitterness felt by these three firebrands as they exact their revenge on society. I for one would love to be in a band where a guy named Iago is playing the bass. Since Othello, the very name is redolent of revenge tragedy. On the flip side, Varunian take us on a ‘Black Hole Trip’ for fourteen minutes; he too favours excessive effects and creates a non-stop, dense and thickly layered coagulation of ugly noise which is tempered at the finale by sweet but desolate angelic drone effects – a very compelling and near-psychedelic concoction, a Technicolour rendition of the Apocalypse. The creator is Roberto Bustabad, who also calls himself Rober or even Graverobber; he hasn’t made too many records as Varunian, but has been very active in the Spanish grindcore and Death Metal “scene” since 2001, playing his diabolical guitar (probably built in the shape of a scythe) for the bands Banished From Inferno and Machetazo. It’s fair to say his entire work’s underlying theme is an attempt to recreate Paradise Lost in sound, and this spectacular horror-show is no exception. From October 2012.

Another fine split from Truco Esparrago. This cassette (TR-017) features Mubles on the A side and Grassa Dato on the B. I raved about Mubles in 2012. It’s the team-up of the great Miguel A. García with his buddy Alvaro Matilla, although on ‘Oh Pequeno Muble’ there may be some other contributors involved to the general hurly-burly. They create a very jumbled, layered and disconnected sound, as if assembling parts found in a junkyard, and the illogical electronic music brews like a fetid gaseous mist around your ankles, while Matilla intones his chants and poems in a surly snarling rap, this time speaking through a broken telephone receiver. This is completely incoherent, half-insane continuous art-drivel and bound to irritate the heck out of 99% of normal listeners; just great! Grassa Dato’s side is called ‘Los Que Habitan en la Obscuridad’, and is likewise jumbled and chaotic, but with considerably more emphasis on the aggressive and unpleasant power electronics. There’s a voice to the forefront of the hideous murk, said voice naturally enough transformed into that of an ugly barking cybernetic creature intent on covering us with radioactive slime before chomping off our limbs with crocodile jaws. Grassa Dato creates a highly effective and dynamic roar, not without its fair share of grotesque distortion and shrill air-bomb bursts. This all seems to fit the profile of this very prolific noise and power electronics act which has made about 28 albums since 2011.

A Worm is At Work

Kink Gong is Laurent Janneau. He’s been very active recording the speaking and singing voices of ethnic minorities in Asia, China, Vietnam and Laos, and quite often contributing extensively to the Sublime Frequencies catalogue with his recordings. On Voices (DISCREPANT CREP08), he creates imaginative and unusual assemblages using these recordings of his, supplementing them with archive tapes, field recordings, electronic music, and computer transformations; in this way he creates dazzling vocal-heavy collages of sound events that never existed, but are full of drama and incident, amounting to beautifully strange music and aural portraits of a vanishing world. Or perhaps glimpses of a fantasy world, one that is disappearing before our ears even in the very telling of it. Unlike Ghédalia Tazartès, who wants to turn world music inside-out so that he can spin us fantastic yarns of the impossible, you can sense that Janneau is being very true to his source material here. The long track ‘3 Hani Pipa’ is particularly impressive, and one that’s bound to attract descriptive terms such as “shamanistic” or “delirious”. Sometimes, life truly is as strange as this. From 16 April 2013.

Another who presents us with snapshots from remote corners of the worlds is Glochids, on his solo cassette Originals (WEIRD EAR WER-002). This is James Roemer from Arizona, whose work here comprises short and extremely opaque assemblages, combining odd and rather mysterious field recordings with instrumental snippets. Roemer not only plays many instruments, but is an electronic musician and computer programmer. His locations are many and various, and he appears to have roamed South America, Chile and Bolivia, as well as picking up additional recordings in parts of North America. The press descriptions are quite specific about some of the locations, yet Glochids himself prefers to remain “evasive”, and what ends up on the tape tends towards the vague and drifty. Originals does have many moments that intrigue, but the work is rather formless in its assembly; it’s uncertain where things start or end, events or musical passages fail to gain traction, and sparkling moments end before they have a chance to pass on anything of value. All of this leads to a somewhat frustrating listen. From 15 April 2013.

From Oslo, another quality release on the Va Fongool label…the duo Skrap is Anja Lauvdal and Heiða Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck, making a very distinctive abstract noise-blart in the studio, using just a Korg MS-10 and a tuba. Synths and brass instruments have rarely created such a strange sound together in a single space. The brevity of the duo on K.O. (VA FONGOOL VAFCD004) is admirable; many of these tracks come in at around two minutes, some last even less than 60 seconds, yet these miniatures are packed with ideas and incident. Skrap claim to be partially inspired by Sunn O))), but if they are, it’s certainly not by the durational aspects of Stephen O’Malley’s excessively amplified and over-long drones. That said, Skrap don’t seem to have quite enough material to fill an entire album satisfactorily, and some of the work descends into aimless doodling. After a while you also begin to notice the rather flat and toneless quality of the recording, made by Christopher Brenna; somehow the team have yet to find a way to bring a more sculptural quality to their sounds, give them more mass or density. Even so, it’s a solid and sustained attempt at innovation and experimentation, apparently brought about by accident when the two musicians were locked in a small room with just two bass amplifiers for company (unless the press notes are being jocular on this matter). The word Skrap translates as “scratch” in English, even though the K.O. of the title might lead us to expect a scrap or fight. Related musical endeavours of Anja and Heida are Muskus, Skadedyr, Broen and Your Headlights Are On. From 20 May 2013.

Russian electronicist Dmitriy Krotevich is from St Petersburg, has released a couple of download albums for Enough Records and Treetrunk Records, and has played with Ilia Belorukov (probably a mandatory part of any underground musician’s apprenticeship in Russia). His olgoi-khorkhoi (INTONEMA int006) arrives in a lurid sleeve printed with a fantastic illustration of a red snakey monster, drawn by Solongo Monkhoorai. This is the Mongolian death worm of the title, a hostile beast which is supposed to live in the Gobi desert and emit acid or electric shocks when attacked by the incautious traveller. Although not explicitly stated in the supplied text, it’s also as gigantic as the worms in Tremors and has a taste for terrifying the local cattle. Using abstract grinding and scrapey bursts generated by his turntables and no-input mixing desk, Krotevich summons all his brooding energies to limn a sonic portrait of this beast. The menacing noises he makes start out subtle and understated, growing ever more abrasive and threatening; each track of this four-part epic broadly follows this developmental arc as to the musical construction. Gradually, he arrives at some extremely unpleasant and sickening tones, some of them quite unacceptable to the human ear, and it’s something of a relief when each segment comes to its conclusion. But the slow build-up creates a lot of tension and is quite effective; unlike the “traditional” noise artist who dives straight off the deep end into an unbearable harsh noise assault, Krotevich prefers to “worm” his way into that zone through means of patient burrowing and writhing. In short, he has become the Mongolian death worm. From May 2013.

Upset Twilight

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From 12 March 2013, fabulous cassette in a mostly black package from the swell Fang Bomb label of Goteborg. As you may know Fang Bomb is a personal favourite of mine for some reason. Maybe we share the same sense of the macabre. If they were a printing or engraving workshop, they would etch their lines deep and use a black ink of the deepest hue, resulting in evil tomes which, when opened, would give the reader forbidden glimpses of an ashen world and induce nuclear-holocaust strength headaches. Imaginary Forces is the London composer Anthoney J. Hart, who comes to us from a background shaped by 1990s drum and bass music, and whose Begotten (FB022) is a very rich piece of complex dark ambient music, with multiple layers – “environmental field recordings, the chug of train on rail, percussive chatters, insect song and whipping wind” all fed into its creation, selon thequietus.com. The fact that he was approached by Anthony Di Franco for a collaboration may also help you to situate his work. That and the fact that Begotten is based on his own personal obsession with a movie of the same name. I expect he’s referring to the 1990 experimental horror film made by E. Elias Merhige, which looks like it could be a mind-searing experience. Ironically, Hart spent a lot of money getting hold of a copy of this deleted item, but for the non-squeamish among you it can be viewed on YouTube now. The music of Imaginary Forces is compelling, not quite as “bleak” as much emptied-out dronery I’ve heard in this area, where the creators insist that we accept and participate in their sense of futility, and endure the aural equivalent of sub-zero temperatures that numb the brain. By contrast, Begotten gives us a lot to listen to and in its subtle layering often appears to be spinning in four directions at once, its elements shimmering and shuffling apart like decrepit tree limbs slowly withering away before our eyes. Yet it also retains an insistent and mesmerising power. Hart seems to have found a way to suffuse and disguise his pulsations so that they have the same impact as an entire week spent in a club with high-volume dance music, yet remain almost imperceptible in the mix.

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Here’s CD 2 of the mammoth P16.D4 box set Passagen (MONOTYPE RECORDS mono58) which we broached some weeks ago. For Distruct, the trio of Ralf Wehowsky, Roger Schönauer and Ewald Weber were joined by Stefan Schmidt, Gerd Neumann, Thomas Memmler and Peter Lambert, for these 1982-1984 recordings which were released by Selektion on LP in 1985. RLW had been given the idea – by Harry C. Poole of Smegma – to do a remote collaboration; Poole proposed to send across tapes from America for P16.D4 to complete, without having to meet up. Apparently the American found the idea of a thousand-mile distance extremely appealing. This kind of thing is fairly commonplace nowadays, especially since file-sharing has been made easier by the internet, but I suppose it was an innovative and bold step in the early 1980s. Although Smegma don’t actually appear on the finished item, RLW went ahead with the idea anyway, and with his characteristic productiveness organised collaborations with numerous international names from the “noise” and “industrial” music areas. Consequently, you can hear contributions from Bladder Flask, DDAA, De Fabriek, The Haters, Merzbow, Nocturnal Emissions, Achim Wollschied and Nurse With Wound, plus many others. Even an anonymous submission was used for this ambitious postal project; on ‘Aufmarsch, Heimlich’ you can hear a choir from a tape sent to the band from somewhere in Eastern Europe. Said tape has of course been severely mangled by RLW’s unusual treatments and deep slices as he wields the scissors of truth. Impossible to summarise the intense and wild music on this release – every track seems to exhibit a different approach or inhabit a new sound-world – but one thing they all have in common is that they produce very disjointed, broken and difficult listens. The rubble and bracken of unpleasant noise is jumbled and rehacked every which way, resulting in an extremely uncomfortable ride. Truly radical deconstruction techniques at work here. While admirable and important, it’s not much fun to listen to with its general air of nihilism and misery, although I found some respite from the grimness on ‘Les Honteuses Alliances’, whose success might be attributable to the fact that it’s a multiple collaboration: Merzbow, Bladder Flask, Nocturnal Emissions and Phil Johnson all supplied elements to the work, although once again it’s mostly Wehowsky putting the materials into the frame. A very clever and elaborate frame it is too, one made of robust wooden struts and held together with dovetail joints and screws. The CD release includes a couple of related bonus tracks, which have only been available previously as part of a subscription-only Vinyl On Demand box set.

Two Sides to Every Story

L.E.G.
The Dogs In You
TANUKI RECORDS #5 CASSETTE (2013)

Just under 20 minutes of experimental trip hop/noise from Belgium collective L.E.G., a band whose moniker is presumably an acronym for something, but despite the best efforts of Google search, exactly what it stands for is a mystery to me.

This cassette release is, perhaps appropriately for the format, very much a tale of two halves. I’ll take the less obvious route and discuss the ‘B-Side’ of the tape first, as it’s the side I feel most comfortable discussing. There are no song titles here, so I’m not even sure if what I’m listening to is one long song, or a number of shorter ones. Whatever it is, it starts with a slowed down rumble of ominous noise, before the mood is lightened considerably after about 30 seconds by some chilled-out keyboard stabs. A regular wobble of thunderous sound flutters in and out, sounding not unlike Rolf Harris on distorted wobble-board (possibly he is making an un-credited guest appearance, but I wouldn’t bet on it). Random distorted snare hits puncture eardrums like gunshots. A backwards trippy drum machine comes and goes, before the snare hits return, this time with someone yelling ‘blood!’ in the background. Wind chimes offer a soothing note above a more violent storm of electricity. Finally the piece is stripped back to isolated bass riffs played out against ethereal sung voices. In short, this is interesting, unpredictable experimental noise, and I liked it a lot.

The ‘A-side’ of the tape however, is a completely different kettle of fish, being to my ears pretty much straightforward trip hop. There’s little of the sense of experimental nature of the other side of the cassette, with looped regular drum beats, and what seemed to me to be a very traditional rap about ‘cosmopolitan hip hop’. What confused me slightly, is that despite seemingly originating from Belgium, the vocalist still manages to rap in what sounds like an American accent. Maybe it’s a genre thing. Be aware however, that hip hop/trip hop really isn’t my thing – so if this sounds even vaguely interesting to you, go check it out on the label’s website.

Beyond This Vessel: a dark and demonic sermon of swamp folk psychedelia

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Geist & the Sacred Ensemble, Beyond This Vessel, Moon Glyph, cassette MG68 (2013)

It’s time for some dark and demonic ritualistic psychedelic folk from way down in the fetid, humid swamplands of … uh, Seattle, courtesy of a bunch a-callin’ their selves Geist & the Sacred Ensemble. Lazy drawling half-singing / half-declaiming vocals from Geist himself lead the way and what a trail is blazed by these musical gypsy travellers: a lackadaisical rhythm, simple tribal percussion, stark and sometimes massive guitars, and a generally heavy kind of atmosphere.

The guys swagger through “On the Next Full Moon”, simmering up some Southern Gothic rock dirge drudge drone for the monthly sacrificial lynching ritual to appease an angry Old Testament spirit. The music becomes a bit more urgent and apocalyptic on “Seeker”, Geist almost in supplication to the personal demons and angels locked in eternal battle in his heart for his soul. The guitars change from insistently heraldic and emphatic to soft woozy wash. This becomes “Terraformer” and as the title suggests, the music has indeed metamorphosed from structures based on simple beats, repetition and riff loops to soft desultory, dreamy ambience with rippling guitar notes out front and reverbed guitar wash out over the skies above. Geist’s singing sleepwalk barely holds the track together. Black misty shadows rise from the still green waters beneath the tangle of mangrove and tree roots, a giant reptilian shadow glides through the muddy depths, a deep alien machine starts to rumble  - perhaps there is a UFO down deep within the marshes?

“Bird Passage” is a peculiar name for the lethargic ritual conducted by Geist in deadened preacher mode, leading an equally enervated congregation in prayer to their unholy chthonic spiritual masters. Woozy wobbly effects and a solemn acoustic guitar accompany Geist on his journey to whatever passes for spiritual enlightenment and union.

It’s a surprisingly short album for its cassette format – the album repeats over on the B-side (this must be the new trend in recording albums to cassette tape) – and with the songs sort of joined up, listeners could be forgiven for wondering what happened to the second half of the album, unaware that it in fact has sailed right past them. The music is brooding and haunted yet not very absorbing; the vocals tend to be exaggeratedly twangy and drawling and need some real sulphurous fire-and-brimstone passion to capture that full-on prophet-in-the-wilderness apocalyptic quality. There probably should be more thumping hypnotic psychedelic music with the guitars soaring at wild and swerving tangents to create an intense rallying mood in which it should be possible for listeners to fall to the floor shaking uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth, perspiring by the bucket-loads and uttering pathetic little cries that appeal to their dark pitiless god for mercy or delivering warnings of global doom in guttural demon tones.

They Mask Us

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Broken Penis Orchestra
Plays With Itself
HYPNAGOGIA PN02 CASSETTE

For those that don’t understand classical music here’s a quick lesson. An orchestra is just like a band but it has LOTS of members. The convention for orchestra/band names is [where the musicians are from] + [the place where they have a residency] + Orchestra. All orchestra / band names have to end in the word ‘orchestra’ to avoid confusion with bands who don’t have many members. All orchestras have to have a residency (in local pub, church hall etc) because they are too large to travel. Because they are too large to travel all members live in the same area. Two examples – ‘The London Philharmonic Orchestra’ is a band (orchestra) who’s members live in in London and they have a residency at a place called ‘The Philharmonic’. ‘The Broken Penis Orchestra’ is a band (orchestra) whose members live in in Broken and have a residency at a place called ‘The Penis’. I don’t know how many members the Broken Penis Orchestra has but I suspect it runs into the hundreds.

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Hirsute Pursuit
Tighten That Muscle Ring
COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR158CD

Front cover shows a Russian sailor (‘Yason’ according to the press release) who has lost his trousers. Back cover shows either some haunted goalposts or some goalposts in a haunted field. It isn’t obvious which. The two things seem at first totally unconnected but there are clues, hidden and obscure both on the sleeve and elsewhere. What is a sailor? A traveller, an adventurer, a brave soul. What are trousers? More importantly what are clothes? Clothes are the connection to the birth of humanity. Adam and Eve. First they mask our modesty, hiding our sexual organs. Next they mask us. Completely. Proffering an image that isn’t there. Who could walk into work naked? Clothes are identity. A sailor with no trousers has no identity, is not a man. What is football? A team game, humans working together and simultaneously fighting each other for control. What is a haunted football pitch? Loneliness. Alienation. The apocalypse. I’ve read a lot of other reviews of this release, slating it purely because of the way Yason is (un)dressed – in some circles the trouserless Russian sailer look is deemed ‘uncool’ or ‘not noise enough’. Well fuck that. I always thought Bill Hailey had good style and Yason is all right by me. anyway, it’s the noise that counts right? The noise is THE THING. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from or where your pants are – THE NOISE IS THE THING.

p022

Can “Khan” Oral
Angels Of Disguise
FANTOME BOOK / CD / DVD

AUDIO PORNOGRAPHY
AUDIO PORN MEGAMIX DVD

Ha. These came with a ‘press release’. That went straight in the bin. No one’s telling me what to think. I don’t need your guiding hand. The thing with press releases is that they are just a collection of lies. Big lies and small lies. ‘Audio Pornography’ does NOT sound like a delicious mix of Nevermind ere Nirvana and the glam pop of Slade fronted by king of the red boys Desmond Dekker. It sounds fuck all like that. And the lies roll on.

Plopping the DVD in I was expecting over saturated gooey monsters in graveyard ejaculation. Expectant mothers on the examination table. Lurid visualisations of lurid visualisations . I was somewhat surprised by what’s in this DVD – nine films of a distant star through a telescope. Sometimes it’s proper near, a big ball of lava and then it’s far away smothered in huffs of radiation. The visual effect puts a spin on the audio. Brain makes connections. I wasn’t thinking porn at all. My literal worms wriggling towards radio waves, communiques from some other place – an echo of a dead civilisation. What would aliens at the other end of the universe see if they could pick up a satellite porn channel? just some glitchy digital huff, like radiation traces.

These two discs come in card covers nowt on em but plain writing, the word porn looms large but there’s no flesh in town. What’s that about? Is it some statement on modern life? The loneliness of the long distance masturbator? I dunno, I chucked away the press release so I’m clueless.