Rotten Developments

This should be the last of the bundle received from Richard Kamerman’s Copy For Your Records label in August 2012. Developer’s self-titled (CFYRT04) is a cassette most likely made by Matthew Reis of Ohio, whose email address for his Factotum Tapes label is supplied in the inner of this short, small-run tape. Despite indications of brevity, Developer manages to compress a good deal of overpowering factory-noise and metallic shriek into a tiny frame, creating a rather haunting sensation of alienation and futility with his echoing klang. Oddly enough, I like it less when the episode collapses into more conventional harsh noise, but even so there is plenty of evidence of skill and subtlety in the way Developer handles his very abstract, abrasive material – especially in the editing. Reis is one of these impossibly prolific creators who not only has numerous releases under this name, but has also operated under numerous aliases, including Antennaeboy, Black Almas, Disasternaut, Heart Of The Whore, Wasteland Jazz Ensemble, and Yes, Collapse. (09/08/2012)

Another noisy cassette is the one from Darren Wyngarde aka Filthy Turd, who also sent a package in August. For this C20 release, “The Filthy One” extends his filth into the packaging itself, which arrives with a little packet of dirt in a plastic bag, marked with the legend “This mud protects against Radiant Cracks” – presumably just one of many spells and charms lifted from his warlock’s cabinet of magic philtres. This even made me slightly reluctant to open the thing at all, which is another index of this uniquely English noise-maker’s success; he radiates powerful waves of unapproachability. Two titles are printed on the skuzzy photocopy insert – ‘A Rotting Throb’ and ‘Rancid and Trmblin’, and it’s released on Urine Soaked Rag as #23 in that catalogue. When you succeed in spinning the tape itself, you’ll know that the world has finally come to an end amid a cacophony of distorted screaming, sirens, extended explosions of devastating destruction of earth-shaking building collapse proportions. With this release, Filthy Turd manages to pollute at least three of our five senses, and right now he’s probably working on methods to assault our noses and taste buds too. Another triumph for this remorseless, absurdist fun-loving magickal-prankster. 30 copies only. (06/08/2012)

UN NU is the team of Pascal Battus and Benjamin Duboc, and their Recoupements (EH?63) was recorded in 2010 at a performance space in Albi in the middle of the Pyrenees. Battus has wowed listeners before with his radical “rotating surfaces” method by which he produces slow and grindy sound-art, and his 2010 Ichnites (a collab with Christine Sehnaoui Abdelnour) was a “classic” of that genre. No surprise to learn Battus has been seen grinding his axe with that other primo scrapey fellow, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, for a goodly number of years. For Recoupements, he’s working only with guitar pickups, probably using them as a low-grade electronic instrument to generate the intensely irritating background squeal that permeates most of the length of this 52-minute endurance test; when he’s given the chance to “take a solo”, you won’t believe the obnoxious results nor the shrill, inhuman nastiness that Battus is capable of. Duboc meanwhile veers between attempting to play some simple tunes on his bass – free-form bowing to create simple two-note patterns, as if expecting Cecil Taylor to arrive and rescue the session – and making boxed-in clattering noises that are slightly more suited to the austere sound-art nature of the gig. As an album this has some great moments, but I sense the duo keep running out of steam every ten minutes, and the pauses in between ideas are a little bit awkward. But I’m a sucker for minimal improv when the noises produced are as deliciously abrasive, introverted and unfriendly as this. (08/08/2013).

Highly unusual item credited to HÁK-DAH is in fact the team of Hákarl (i.e. Kevin Nickells) and Daniel Alexander Hignell, and their Bambi (LF RECORDS LF025) includes a small insert which indicates, by means of a Venn diagram, what their musical contributions are where they overlap. Based on the scant 32 minutes of mist-drenched gumbo they provide here, I’d tend to characterise this music as a form of sinister ambient crawl, an assertion I make when faced by the nebulous clouds puffed out by Hignell’s fog-pumping electronic machines, and the experience is made ten times more creepy by the insistent violin work of Nickells. He himself calls it a “screaming violin”, and with good cause. One has rarely felt so terrorised by the sound of the instrument, which in his hands becomes a very persistent ghost stalking us along the deserted shore with all the tenacity of an M.R. James spectre. The agonised faces reproduced on the cover of this item are but a small indicator of the mental anguish that you, as the listener, will endure upon purchase and playback of this excellent item. Both players are based in Brighton, and on the strength of this they must have spent many hours wandering by the sea during off-season, when skies are grey and a mysterious offshore mist swirls around the feet of the unwary traveller. The record becomes even more of a weirdie around its mid-point, as voice elements and drum beats are added; one would hesitate to say it mutates into a “song”, but I’m lost for words to best describe the unsettling dirge that emerges from my tremulous speakers – the rhythms are askew, the pace lumbers like a crippled sea-monster, and Daniel’s vocals are just plain harrowing. HÁK-DAH would be lost with their echo chamber device, but they put it to very good use. This record may not be especially enjoyable listening, but it is quite unique and delivered with as much conviction as the two pallid ghoul-like creators can manage, as they brush the dirt of the grave from their faded black funeral outfits. (30/05/2012)

Bonus Filthy Turd image shewing bag of dirt
Bonus Filthy Turd image shewing bag of dirt