This Noisy Nylon (SNATCH TAPES tch 223) tape by Ice Yacht sure is “noisy”. Philip Sanderson adopts one of his many aliases, Ice Yacht being by far the most experimental and daring, to produce seven new cuts on a very limited cassette which came out in May 2022 and is already sold out.
Other online voices have found this music to be somewhat “industrial” in nature, stressing the opinion by underlining it with their green biros, but to me Noisy Nylon sounds more like a very wayward form of electro-pop, a wilful misunderstanding of dance music, wanting only a Pet Shop Boys style singer to appear from behind the curtain and cavort lasciviously under the red spotlight. Interestingly, Sanderson felt compelled with his previous Ice Yacht item to provide plentiful written screeds describing his artistic aims and intentions (and pointing meaningfully to historic and cultural landmarks in experimental and pop music genres the while), but he remains pretty much silent about Noisy Nylon. Matter of fact, it might even be regarded as a transitional album in his recent prolific output; “this turned out to be a stepping stone to doing more long form musique concrete-ist style work,” is all he can tell us, pointing to the works which emerged after May 2022. So, after the four raucous pop-song stompingtons with which this album is front-loaded (some of them with wacky titles, like ‘Nitty Nora (Head Explorer)’) we reach the end of side two with ‘Break Their Legs so they can’t lay eggs’, one of the few cuts with a vocal refrain, and characterised by a slightly lighter touch after those four bangin’ tunes of keyboard hammering…it also has a haunting and evocative “theme”, something too dispersed and nebulous to be called a “melody”, so evocative that I would liken it to a missing segment from ‘Supper’s Ready’ except that I know Sanderson isn’t really that much of a Genesis fan.
The main event – length-wise, anyway – shows up at the start of Side B, with the Jim Jupp-styled title of ‘Running From Ghosts’ and lasting for a gorgeous 13:09 mins. Here Ice Yacht throws out some delicious experimental shapes, synth textures and crazy sounds, doing so in the framework of a drum-machine rhythm track that resembles Cluster fused with a microwave oven, or Ralf and Florian the day after that disastrous picnic in Hamburg. Yes, I can see how a track of this spiky ambiguity and remorseless drive could earn the “industrial” epithet. Me, I could happily listen to ‘Running From Ghosts’ on a perpetual loop for two weeks, in the certain expectation that I’d get a lot more work done around the house. There’s also ‘Jizzy Jazz’ tacked on the end, feeling a tad anomalous in this context – tasteful piano chords and disco beats, amounting to a slightly wacky and queasy take on soul-funk easy listening, spliced with experimental globulets and noisy-splatterfons…kinda misfires for me. No matter, as the bulk of Noisy Nylon delivers the oats to the virtual stable.
It remains to mention the cover painting – I thought “noisy nylon” was a cute way of referring to magnetic tape in a cassette shell, but as you can see the subject matter is about nylon stockings on a shapely pair of female legs – not exactly painted the way that Allen Jones would have done it in the 1960s, but there it be. A splendid tape…hear it on Bandcamp or demand a repress… from 6 May 2022.
18/07/2023 update from Philip Sanderson:
The title ‘Nitty Nora (Head Explorer)’ was inspired by an exhibition I saw at the Conductors’ Hallway gallery in Camberwell by Jenny Jones back in 1997. The exhibition included some knitted or crocheted computer monitor covers and I always assumed the title was a pun on knitting. Only later did I find that Nitty Nora – Head Explorer was a nickname given to the nurses who used to visit schools in the 1980s to deal with the pupils’ head lice of which there were several outbreaks across the land. From the same source comes the title ‘Break Their Legs so they can’t lay eggs’ which was a guidance for dealing with head lice by using a steel comb.
Talking of ‘Break Their Legs so they can’t lay eggs’ whilst not an overt reference to Genesis I am now rather fond of the Gabriel albums even if throughout the 1970s they epitomised everything that seemed to be wrong with the music industry. I even met Gabriel albeit very very briefly when I was staying in the flat above Crescent Studios in Bath one summer. He seemed quite down to earth and un-diva like – he was later given a copy of the first Storm Bugs single – which I’m guessing he probably hated but he managed to make a few positive noises about.
Lastly the sleeve and title. For a long time I had named the little painting on the cover ‘Hockney’s Sister’ as the style was a tiny homage – though don’t ask me to name a specific picture. The title itself came from eBay searches for vintage overalls – I have a small thing for old British Workwear – cotton drill jackets and the like – these eBay searches along with faded boiler suits would often come up with lots of nylon house coats described as being either “rustily” or “noisy” nylon, popular it seems in certain quarters and commanding surprisingly high prices. There seemed a tangential link between Noisy Nylon and the cover image and yes also with the tape itself though strictly speaking I think tape backings are made of polyester.