Cadavers and the Political Economy

Got a couple of cassette releases from I Hate My Records, a label operated by Edwin Dorley and George Rayner-Law – they began in Manchester six years ago and now they’re based in London. Already there’s a nice family of releases, many with intriguing cover art. Edwin and George also play together as Werk. Tape by Bootlicker is called Burial Practice (IHMR XIX), and has titles referring to prehistoric burial chambers, such as ‘Long Barrow’ and ‘Tumulus’. Plus there’s a blurry image on cover of what appears to be entrance to such a chamber. Shades of Children of the Stones already. We’re half-expecting an unwelcome revenant to appear from that entrance. Plus there are pagan sun symbols inside the cassette corresponding to all four titles. The metaphor of “burial” is of course extended into a pessimistic take on modern society. “Capitalism has made the world an ossuary,” declare these grim gloomers, “we’re all trapped in the abyss”. However, lovers of hauntology and English pastoral electronica (viz. A Year In The Country) may find comfort in the sentiment that “the landscape is haunted by ancestral modes of living”. I expect Bootlicker see this as a bad thing, that we’re clinging to the old ways (in politics, business, society) but that’s about the extent of their class war attack. Unless you count this nifty noise assault as a weapon in the armoury. Four tracks of excellent buzz, feedback, pulsations and overloaded circuits giving it hell for leather, sufficient to kill all birds of ill-omen in the sky. The intoning voices which occasionally recite horrifying messages of despair are also a nice touch. They boast that they do it with oscillators, feedback, metal, static, and “hamburgerisms”, whatever this may mean, and were evidently delighted when Bandcamp turned down the item for release because it failed to meet audio standards (they soon caved however). Very good packaging on the cassette with acetate insert.

Second cassette is Don’t Give Up You Can Do it (IHMR XVIII) by Schwerpunkt, i.e. George Rayner-Law, and he sees it as an extension of the same sort of process-noise which he contributes to Werk. Unlike the juicy noise of Bootlicker, this one is a real downer – two lengthy stretches of slow, murky creepster madness that seeps into the bones. The first one was made by simply pushing a synth pulse through delay pedals, and Schwerpunkt is evidently proud of the resultant “harsh, abyssal sound”. The second one started life as an organ drone, subsequently processed using delay, tape decks and equaliser. I like his hands-on approach to all this – in his descriptions you can sense an attachment to physical objects, like chunky instruments, solid boxes, and tape machines, and it’s not all about rendering down digital signals into a powdered mulch inside a laptop. As with above, the tape is intended as an explicit attack on late capitalism. The upbeat “can-do” messages of the track titles – the second one is called ‘Your Success Is Guaranteed’ – are snide comments on what he perceives to be the fundamental lies which conceal “the death rattle of capitalism”, as he eloquently puts it. Even the cover art gets in on the act; it’s taken from an evangelist pamphlet, and it’s clear that Schwerpunkt sees these modern churches as complicit in the process of trying to convince us we’re all happy and thriving under the yoke of big business. Ironically, the decision to release these tapes – they had been lingering for some time on the shelf – came to the artist when he made a trip to a supermarket in South London. Hearing his own music on shuffle play in the context of a shopping centre suddenly inspired him with a moment of supreme alienation, an epiphany which Karl Marx woulda loved, no doubt. His personal confusion has thus been sublimated into art – a process George might deny, but this is a very convincing addition to the genre of latterday industrial oppresso-drone.

Both the above from 4th January 2019.