Tuesday, 30 July 2013
Theses days I seem to get books / magazines with CDs or CDrs attached to give an example of the sound discussed within the pages. "Night Science", "Micro-Bionics" and Koji Tano's "Noise" spring immediately to mind, but do you remember tapezines?
Digging out "Scars On Sunday" at the weekend made me dig out another Fuck Off Records release. "Tapezine 002". A compilation C60 featuring music, interviews, a short story, "jingles" and a short editorial. "Tapezine 002" was released (although that seems the wrong word) in 1981 - available through the classified section of "Sounds" and "Zig-Zag" and (maybe) Rough Trade Records and probably cost a pound (including P+P). Fuck Off Records was operated by Kif Kif Le Batter who ran Street Level Studios in London ... where this tapezine was compiled and recorded. There is a voice throughout the tape, introducing tracks, interviewing artists etc but I don't think it is Kif Kif talking, the voice (alarmingly) sounds like my producer/engineer at SoundArt Radio. Dave Mutch ... but it couldn't be, could it?
The cassette tape was such a disposable format, a tape could be wiped and re-used or simply recorded over. The early 1980's was the era of the cassette tape with Sony Walkmans and tape to tape boom-boxes being sold cheap. Well, cheap if you bought Amstrad or Realistic tape machines! I love cassettes, always have - I have thousands .. not such a disposable format.
So. "Tapezine 002" has not aged well, in fact it has become pretty unlistenable. The interesting part is the first 15 minutes or so of Side One and then it all goes a little downhill...Side One kicks off with Alternative TV (the reason why I have the tape in the first place) and a demo version of "Cold Rain". Just Alex Fergusson and Mark Perry, no flash production (a Grant Showbiz production no less) or swooping keys, a version that puts "Cold Rain" back into 1977. Excellent stuff. Nowt at all wrong with the "Strange Kicks" version but this version is superior, trust me. Mark then goes on to chat about the birth of The Reflections and simultaneously recording "Strange Kicks" with Alex as well as his disdain for Margaret Thatcher and the Westernisation of the world and the Americanisation of Britain, about living with his parents and how depressed he is in 1981. It's a fascinating interview and one that if it was in print I am certain I would have read a few times but now I am listening to "Tapezine 002" for the first time in over 30 years....does that make sense? The interview closes with "Snappy Turns" from the LP of the same name. Side One then carries on with some music. Vince Pie & The Crumbs perform "Straight Answers" a song that sounds like Roogalator or The Tyla Gang then comes a one minute track from The 012 called "Turn The Bass Down In The Headphones".There is Bake from Glasgow who sound like Screaming Lord Sutch singing with Darts as a backing band and The Brainless Fools from Yeovil who are quite simply amateurish and awful. Side One has a "new feature" with "Subway Section" where the voice of the tapezine interviews a busker and invites him or her in to Street Level studios to record some songs. Pierrot Floridia (Yes - Floridia not Florida) is awful, there is a reason why this chap is busking - he is shite with his acoustic guitar, affected American voice and mouth-organ - where is Pierre Floridia now? Side One ends with a short slice of synth pop by That Dangerous Age. A track called "Down", I don't know why but I couldn't help thinking of Ricky Gervais and his synth-pop band Seona Dancing.
Side Two features a lot of Here & Now. I don't mind Here & Now, I really like the split LP with Alternative TV. "What You See Is What You Are" on Deptford Fun City Records, I like the "Dog In Hell" 7"EP too, but here the pieces are from early Here & Now, Here & Now "phase 2", 1975. So Side Two kicks off with Crazy Alan Dogend, ex Here & Now bassist and member of The 012. One man and his acoustic guitar - open mic night at the pub around the corner. Then comes "The Editorial" where the voice tells us of a band who featured on "Tapezine 001" and another Fuck Off Records compilation cassette that have become famous by releasing a single that is topping the "indie charts" and signing to Rough Trade Records and have requested to be "wiped" from the Fuck Off Records releases but when Kif Kif refused they went to the studios and took the masters so no cassettes can be duplicated and sold. The voice tells us that if the masters are not returned soon that he will "out" the band by releasing a piss poor demo tape they had sent him. Gangster style eh? and seeing that I don't have "Tapezine 003" - who were that fucking band? Mark Astronaut & Friends sing a song about Ronald Reagan's America ... I can't help feeling that there were a lot of home knitted jumpers, berets and corduroy worn when this track was recorded. Arnold Rubenholt then reminisces about the early days of Here & Now - about early members and the good old days when dope was only £22 an ounce. The sound of an early Here & Now "jam" plays in the background before a live piece called "Soviet Commercial Radio" comes to the fore ... I am pretty certain Arnold says this was recorded in Brigg (Lincolnshire) in 1975! Musical (loose term) tracks on this side come from Hove's Concerned Christians and Funky Soul Brothers, both fucking awful. The tape blurb calls Bikini Mutants "promising" but their song "Butterfly" is Status Quo's "Paper Plane" played really badly. Out of time, tune and ideas ... Bikini Mutants, like The Brainless Fools were from Yeovil. Where are they now? Germ Warfare feature on Side Two with a piece called "Trapped". I remember liking Germ Warfare - I think they were on some Deleted Records cassettes as well as a compilation with Religious Overdose. Germ Warfare were from North Lincolnshire.
Interspersed between the music tracks the interviews and editorials is a short story called "The Last Human" by Johnny Brainless, it sounds like an episode of "Bleep And Booster".
"Tapezine 002" played twice in 32 years and on that average I will be dead before I get the urge to play it again. I would not be surprised to find this cassette going for "funny money" on EBay or Discogs or wherever. I think it's worth about a pound (including P+P).
Sunday, 28 July 2013
I am just about to spend a fortnight on my own as the wife and kids have gone off on to the wilds of Dartmoor with the in-laws and friends to camp, knit, quaff and worry the sheep. A life under canvas is not for me - not even two weeks. So with the house to myself I realised I could play my tapes & CD's on the downstairs hi-fi! Excellent. What to play on a bright and sunny Sunday morn? Not a real dilemma - it had to be "Scars On Sunday" by Alternative TV/The Good Missionaries. I had been meaning to dig out some 'Missionaries since spinning the latest Debt Of Nature LP a few times last week.
"Scars On Sunday" was released in 1979 by Fuck Off Tapes and was available through the classifieds in Sounds, Zig-Zag and N.M.E. (and probably Rough Trade Records in London). I think it was a pound. Back in the day - the day being 1979 - I was a big fan of Mark Perry of Alternative TV and The Good Missionaries - also his solo stuff and work with The Door And The Window and The Reflections. I (strangely) never got to see Alternative TV live. I say (strangely) because I saw just about everybody else in those days and ATV were regulars in Nottingham, Retford and Sheffield.....never Lincoln though.
"Scars On Sunday" is a live release with Side One being the penultimate ATV gig at Greenwich Theatre, London in March 1979 and is a fine example of how far Alternative TV had come and could go. The sleeve notes say that music had changed drastically since their formation, but folk still came along shouting for "How Much Longer" and "You Bastard". I remember going to see Bill Nelson's Red Noise in Retford and folk still were shouting "Ships In The Night". It happened. The gig is tense, that is obvious and it all ends in chaos as equipment is smashed a piano is tipped from the stage and the PA is switched off....it has a similar ending to the tape of Whitehouse at The Roebuck. The gig starts with a strange version of "Nasty Little Lonely", the drums are atrociously out of time and the wailing of Annie Wombat is out of place ... third song in is the mighty "Radio Story" sliced here with "Lost In Room Poem". Classic ATV and Mark Perry at his best. "The Radio Story" is my favourite ATV song. "The terror is in your radio-oh-oh". Dieter Muh tried to do a cover version when we played in Cleckheaton with Steve Underwood (of Harbinger Sound) on Bass Guitar and Pete Bright (of Six Fingered Cousin) on shared vocals. I say tried as alcohol and stupidity got in the way...be assured that no-one will ever hear the result! As mentioned the gig ends in chaos as the PA is switched off (total switch off) and arguments ensue between band and audience.
Side Two features three pieces by the Good Missionaries including "Bottom Of The World" from their debut live performance at the London Lyceum in 1979. Personnel is virtually the same as Side One - it was obvious the name had to change (but the songs remain the same). "Bottom Of the World" is all out improvised mayhem with slap-bass playing from Dennis "Side" Burns, the best piece on this side is "The Good Missionary Goes For A Walk" - a mammoth jam around the "Good Missionary" track - parts psychedelic, parts free jazz and parts punk .. a great example of why Mark Perry is a genius. (I have stated this fact elsewhere on this blog). The last two pieces were recorded on the The Pop Group/The Good Missionaries/Lynton Kwesi Johnson tour of 1979. A tour I regret missing - it came so near to Lincoln (Retford Porterhouse) I still don't know why I didn't go...to this day I have never seen Mark Perry live!
In a time where all and sundry, the good, the bad and the total slice o' shite is being re-issued, re-packaged and re-sold someone should get hold of this release and make it available again. Put it in a bigger box than it needs to be in (as The Diagram Brothers once said) .. that's put me in the mood for some Diagram Brothers ....
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Listening to Harbinger 111 is like taking a history lesson. Document of event over entertainment. Harbinger 111 is "Order:Spoil The Entire State" a vinyl LP by Debt Of Nature. More evidence (if needed) that Harbinger Sound is not a noise label. Debt Of Nature were formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by Brad Laner. Brad was also part of Savage Republic and journalist with the legendary experimental music magazine Unsound. Jim Goodall and Spencer Savage joined a short time after. It was finding out about Jim Goodall through his work in Whitehouse twenty years ago (great song) that I first heard of Debt Of Nature, this LP cures a twenty year old curiosity. Spencer Savage is part of Dinosaurs With Horns, in fact Debt Of Nature have collaborated with many luminaries from the L.A.F.M.S. (they may or may not appear on this record). Artists such as Rick Potts, Tom Recchion, Joseph Hammer and John Duncan. Keeping in with the US West Coast scene the artwork for this LP is by ex Tuxedomoon manager and graphic designer Patrick Roques.
The LP is made up of eight five minute segments from live recordings made throughout 1985 & 1986, apart from one piece that was recorded for KKLU Radio. The sound scrapes, blurts, blows and crashes like all live "free improvisation" does. Debt Of Nature's forte is that of clever tape manipulations and shortwave radio swill, as the album progresses the sound becomes more coherent and cognitive. Less Sun Ra if you know what I mean? (again ... great song)! The last piece recorded at the superbly named Cheap Racist Gallery reminds me of an old live tape I have by the Good Missionaries, but the sound is not dated, the sound has a fresh taste still. It's great to hear old analogue synthesisers battling it out with spider sense guitar and feedback.
Debt Of Nature will appear in "As Loud As Possible #2" and a second LP of even earlier material will surface soon on Harbinger Sound. Undoubtedly limited and totally necessary the album is available from all good stockists...and Discogs. Harbinger Sound do have a Facebook page if you are that way inclined. Buy!
A rather "mellower" programme than usual, must be the summer sun. Before tonights programme I paid a visit to The Barrel House in Totnes. Geoff, the drummer from Animals & Men was playing a "Battle Of The Bands" type evening with his new group The Clock Surgeons. I was hoping to hear / see them soundcheck but organisation seemed amateurish and the PA Guys and other bands were very "rockist". Take the Rat People who seemed to want to use the soundcheck to rehearse and sounded like Mumford & Sons meet The Lighthouse Family...then there was some fat chap with an acoustic guitar who sang about fighting vikings dressed like he was about to have an evening down Dartmouth Yacht Club. He wanted "more stomp through the monitors". So, I never got to see The Clock Surgeons, their Vox Organ player (Geno) was telling me that they sound like something from "Pebbles" or "Rubbles" - psychedelic sounds. Hopefully they'll play a gig on a night I don't have to present a radio programme.
As mentioned, the first part of the programme is quite mellow, quite ambient. I am enjoying such sounds whilst the heatwave hangs over the South-West. A slight mistake during the Andreas Brandal piece when I accidentally pressed the "skip" button - apologies...but there will be more Brandal played in the future ... I also forgot my Crispy Ambulance "Fin" LP so had to mutter Hempsall's immortal "This one's a classic from the new wave era" myself! The Dieter Muh "We're Not Happy ..... Until You're Not Happy" is a version that was mailed to Spite back in 1999. It was to be part of a Spite double cassette compilation project that never materialised. Joel St. Germain - where are you now?
1 : Claus Poulsen : "Terrestial" (Striate Cortex) 2012.
2 : Small Things On Sunday : "Enceladus" (Skrat Records) 2013.
3 : Aqua Dentata : "10,000 Wooden Faces #1" (Echo Tango) 2013.
4 : Varropas : "Bogdanovin Tektologiya" (Hyster Tapes) 2013.
5 : Astronaut : "Prayer For Mitnick" (Field Studies) 2007.
6 : The Human League : "Dignity Of Labour #1" (Fast Product) 1979.
7 : Andreas Brandal : "The Second" (Ilse) 2011.
8 : Beequeen : "Long Stones And Circles" (Staaplaat) 1997.
9 : GX Jupitter-Larsen & Michael Muennich : "The Workers Of Vienna" (Fragmant Factory)
10 : I'm So Hollow : "Dreams To Fill The Vacuum" (Hologram Records) 1980.
11 : The Human League : "Circus Of Death" (Virgin Records) 1979.
12 : Dieter Muh : "We're Not Happy ... Until You're Not Happy" (Not On Label) 1999.
13 : James Fella : "When You Sleep (Whilst Your Sleeping)" (Gilgongo Records) 2007.
14 : Throbbing Gristle : "Twenty Jazz Funk Greats" (Industrial Records) 1978.
15 : Robert Fripp : "Under Heavy Manners: (Editions EG Records) 1985.
As always when I have archived the programme on Mixcloud I will type the link below.
Thank you for listening.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
I have just spent a pleasant while listening to the cassette compilation "Venice Of the North" on the Unik Eld label. The tape was getting favourable mentions on various "noise" boards so I thought it needed investigation. (i.e. if Kristian Olsson says it is good then chances are...). The cassette is a C32 and features 5 projects, all of which are/were new names to me - I thought I knew a little about the Stockholm "underground"!
Side one starts with an old Swedish prog-rock track intro before splicing in to Corrosion and "Your Judgement Is Clouded By Morality". Low hum and junk metal gives way to amplified feedback and pedal pedantry. File under HNW, the track goes straight in to "Untitled" by Vit Fana. Vit Fana are the find of the cassette, and thankfully they have two submissions. This one has a drone guitar, junk metal (junk metal must be cheap in Stockholm) and distant drums. Megaphone treated lyrics lift the piece in to the realm of early Swans or Last Few Days ... or Lust For Youth. Immediate and attention grabbing. great stuff. Side one finishes with Victor Eremita. A slow piece. A brooding landscape, ice cold and desolate. I kind of drift off with this piece and then notice it has morphed in to something sinister and unnerving. A constant rattle (babies or dog toy)? travels around the background throughout. Clever stuff and well constructed.
Side two starts with two slices of Musique-Concret style pieces. Broken Lights with "In Solemn Ritual" begins with the clanking of pots and pans and rustling of bubble-wrap before fading and re-appearing with a catchy sequencer loop - ends on a great sound of breathing wood. Hander Som Varder follow. This is the project of Unik Eld main man Henrik Soderstrom. Henrik has released material before on Release The Bats and Jartecknet. Here his piece is lo-fi, maybe too lo-fi for the intricacies of sound? It becomes more cognitive towards the end with a shuddering loop. I am now interested to hear his 7" on Release The Bats ... something without the tape hiss. Vit Fana end side two with "Untitled". C'mon guys - it is not that difficult to give the piece a title...is it? Just for reference if nothing else. A short wall of synth sounds and heavy (church) organ keys play a melodic tune. Tres-Gothique. And with a few words of wisdom in Swedish from a passing drunk on the Stockholm night bus to Vasteras the tape is finished. An excellent sampler for new Stockholm sounds. Hander Som Varder and (definitely) Vit Fana need to be explored.
Go to unikeld.blogspot.fi and get a copy.
Sunday, 21 July 2013
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Ahhh, the pre-season friendly, the only chance for us folk that live in the ville of a lowly team get to see a Premiership / Championship team. Since I have been down here in the South-West Torquay United have played host to such greats as Leicester City, Leeds United, Stoke City and even the mighty Nottingham Forest. 2013 saw the visit of Yeovil Town. Formerly and quite recently a team of amateurs from the Conference, but now they punch their weight and play with the "big boys" in the Championship.... Football is a funny game.
It was a balmy summer night and ideal weather to watch a football match (anything has to be better than the awful women's euro football on the BBC). Torquay charged £1 for kids and £10 for adults. Bargain. The football played was above standard, Torquay United raised their game, last time I saw them was last November with a different manager and a different squad, they lost 4-1 to Southend United, they were awful, but now they seem to have mastered the one touch and give game. It was more "to the feet" rather than "hoof and hope". Yeovil Town were slightly played off the park. I know it was a pre-season friendly but I just could not see Yeovil Town doing well against the Championship big boys such as Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Reading, QPR etc .. they were too reliable on the long ball game. They have a Peter Crouch like striker in Michael Ngoo, but no wing play to get the ball across. Right back Luke Ayling did try, and Yeovil did hit the woodwork a couple of times in the first half, but the defence were all over the place, their captain and central defender Byron Webster seemed like a startled rabbit caught in the headlights! Stand out for Torquay United was the winger Niall Thompson, not afraid to run at defenders or get the ball in the box. Good to see.
The final score. Torquay United 2 - Yeovil Town 0, for Torquay it was a deserved win. Oscar (the family's football expert) loved it. On this display The Gulls are automatic promotion candidates and probably will be playing Yeovil Town in Division 1 in the 2014/15 season.
"C'mon ye Gulls"!
1: Oscar Cammack studying the team sheet.
2: Torquay United "Warm Up".
3: Yeovil Town put a free kick in the box.
4: A Torquay United corner.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Was browsing the internet the other day and came across a review of the Epicurean Escapism Festival that took place last month in Berlin. Problem being the review was written in German, so I got in touch with Stefan Hanser (The curator of the event) and asked what the review said. Stefan said that the guy liked the dense and intense wall of sound I created, but didn't like my stage antics! Stefan also mentioned that the review did not "google translate" very well as the guy / reviewer wrote in a surreal style. Ahhh, Google Translate - I didn't think of that ... so here is the review courtesy of Google Translate.
After a short break we continued with DIETER toil, which - as it is now dealing here with a one-man project, you can probably remain in good conscience in the singular - to me up to this point only by name a - fairly fuzzy - term was. And I must confess that even now the following appearance rather insignificant motivated me to look me in the future closer with the project. Well, the proffered Drone Noise-dark-ambient-mix was quite intense, full of the sound, and it piled up decent sound walls before and around the listener on, still the matter of my taste was a little shapeless, and the convenient watch sitting on the stage at his desk, graying Lord in turning knobs, the fascination factor increased only marginally. - Long story short: I can very well imagine that like white to tie in the domestic environment, this unfortunately managed to live less well. Is not excluded, however, that to me has simply been a lack of one's own ignorance DIETER familiarity with the work of toil in the way.
I am graying lord in turning knobs .. I like it, a term i shall happily carry with me. For the German review go to www.nonpop.de and search for Epicurean Escapism. The CD/DVD release is gathering positive reviews too.
At the same time as browsing I was uploading the MuhMur SoundArt Radio Broadcasts that happened in May, these are files that my new apple computer said were corrupted ... but it seems that it was just playing games with me.
Please go for a listen to:
Sunday, 14 July 2013
I have been listening to some great new releases over the last few days (great band), the new CDr from Aqua Dentata, the forthcoming LP on Harbinger Sound by Small Cruel Party, the latest tape release from Colin Potter on The Tapeworm label and Varropas. All 4 releases have a similar vibe and fit in to the category: What I want to listen to ... now!
Varropas is the Suomi duo Jusso Paaro and Samuli Kyto and apart from a handful of appearances on compilation projects this is their first "full" release. (Please note that I could be completely wrong here). I first heard Varropas on the Hyster Tapes 2010 compilation "Second One" where they filled side two of the cassette with the 28 and a half minute piece "Mols Pa Drift 1978" and that piece is recalled especially on side one of this eponymous album. "Clipperty" has a slow synthesiser start, a sort of keyboards assemble themselves at dawn. Very kraut, very Terry Riley, quite Eno (but what do I know) and then it cuts to a lo-fi home recording of lowering and rising oscillations of looped percussion and a repetitive five note guitar "riff". It creates a very calm and meditative picture, very flowing and hypnotic. It is a great listen, one of those tracks where after the needle leaves the record it has to be placed at the start again.
Varropas LP reminds me a lot of the work of Neil Campbell, especially his "Sol Power" LP that came out about ten years back on the Finnish Lal Lal Lal label. (Is there a connection)?
Side 2 continues to paint the same picture. "Bogdanavin Tektologiya" is built around a three note acoustic guitar loop with a myriad of sounds and effects that shuffle, rattle & roll and loop around the pattern. Rising, falling, morphing. I can hear synthesisers, I can hear penny whistles and Fischer-Price toy glockenspiels ... it's really clever stuff that puts in me in a great mood. (Although the British weather could also be helping at the moment).
"Varropas" sees the first vinyl release from Helsinki based label Hyster Tapes, famed in the past for releasing classic albums on recycled cassettes and charging 1 euro per release. I don't know if this is a "one-off" - it is a collaboration with fellow Suomi-ites Ikuisuus - but Hyster Tapes breaking out onto vinyl can only be a good thing.
Contact Ikuisuus via www.ikuisuus.net or go to Hyster Tapes and write to plaa at www.pcuf.fi and get a copy.
Friday, 12 July 2013
Ahh, beautiful Dartington in the sunshine ... the Dartington literary festival is on at the moment, taking place across the grounds of the estate - a chance to sit outside on the lawn and sip lager whilst the great and the not so great wander about ... Richard & Judy, Melvyn Bragg, Marcus Brigstock, Paddy Ashdown etc etc ... very civilised. Dave and I enjoyed a few beers before tonight's programme, out in the sunshine.
Tonight's programme opened with Small Cruel Party and side 2 of the upcoming release from Harbinger Sound. "Unroof The House Of The Fishes" (Harbinger 116). It is a re-issue of a 1993 cassette originally put out by G.R.O.S.S. of Japan. Since Harbinger Sound released the triple CD set "An Accident In Substance" I have noticed a few folk discovering the sound of Small Cruel Party and discovering the beauty and body of work. SCP kind of stopped releasing about ten years ago, so I suppose his catalogue is alien to many. Anyway - the opening half hour or so is dedicated to Small Cruel Party.
Next broadcast is on July 25 and shall feature an "exclusive" session .. details to follow...other than that, thanks to Dave for being my producer and getting the beers in and thanks for your ears....
I will put up a link for the mixcloud upload as soon as I have managed it ...
1 : Small Cruel Party : "Unroof The House Of The Fishes" (Harbinger Sound) 2013.
2 : Small Cruel Party : "Before The Dream" (Drone Records) 1995.
3 : Small Cruel Party : " The God Pan Like A Swarm Of Buzzing Flies Came Down:Part 5"
(Flenix Records) 2000.
4 : Smell & Quim : "Peter Was A Truck Driver (Getting Wood At Gerrards Mix)" (Kay Ogden
Percy Mather Recordings) 2011.
5 : Last Few Days : "Too Much Is Not Enough" (Touch) 1986.
6 : Trepaneringsritualen : "C'est Un Reve" (Malignant Records) 2013.
7 : Camp Sophisto : "Obsession" (Pure Freunde) 1982.
8 : Lemon Kittens : "The Hospital Hurts The Girl" (Illuminated Records) 1982.
9 : Phil Julian : "Hive Work" (Sheepscar Light Industrial) 2013.
10 : Kogumaza : "Rowan Maeve" (Lancashire & Somerset Records) 2010.
11 : Five Or Six : "Polar Exposure" (Cherry Red Records) 1982.
12 : John Foxx : "Burning Car" (Metal Beat/Virgin Records) 1980.
13 : Throbbing Gristle : "Five Knuckle Shuffle" (Sordide Sentimental) 1979.
14 : Aaron Dilloway : "Face Mask" (Turgid Animal Records) 2009.
15 : The Door And The Window : "Part Time Punks" (NB Records) 1980.
16 : Bruce McClure : "Vouchsafe Me More Soundpicture (Fain Makes Glories)" (Olde English
Spelling Bee Records) 2009.
17 : Organum : "Shin-En" (Aeroplane/Robot Records) 1995.
***** www.mixcloud.com/muhsteve/july-11-muhmur-radio-broadcast/ *****
Me with my Bruce McClure LP.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
I have spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from Gerechtigkeits Liga. "Dystopia - Ritus - Atlantis" a double cassette on the Berlin based Aufnahme + Wiedergabe label. Deluxely packaged in a VHS video box with badges and postcard.....
The first cassette (side A) is a re-issue of the 2011 vinyl LP "Dystopia", originally put out on Gerechtigkeits Liga's own imprint Zyklus Records. It does seem a little strange to re-release the LP on cassette and limited to only 100 copies when the LP is still readily available but when listening to the cassettes in one straight listening / sitting, to hear the world / vision of GL, then OK ... it (probably) makes sense.
"Dystopia" is quite a "difficult" listen. It took me a few plays to appreciate the sound, perhaps because I was expecting a sound / approach more in the vain of the great "The Games Must Go On" or "Hypnotischer Existenzialsmus". Great electronic pulses with rolling rhythms and great sampling. "Dystopia" has a more martial feel, even neo-folkesque with vocal treatments and heavy percussion. The tape opens with "Justice" - the end justifies the means cries Till Bruggermann with a sound not too far away from a Death In June LP. Tracks like "Dynamometer" and "Dystopian Dream" also carry this sound. The instrumental "Clockwork" has a post-apocalyptic soundscape and "End Of Time" reminds me of late 1980's Laibach with its heavy orchestral strings marching percussion and growling voice telling me "We Are In The End Of Time". "Dystopia" also has a couple of fillers ... little 2 / 3 minute tracks, of which "Slash" with its PIL bass/rhythm sample verges on the unlistenable. On the LP I can just lift the needle. Percussion and Zurna (an Eastern wind instrument) is provided by John Murphy.
Side B of the cassette is "Ritus".
"Ritus" literally translates as Ritual and what we have here is 40 minutes of a live recording that has taken place in a Berlin basement. The line up here is the "new" Gerechtigkeits Liga line up of Till Bruggermann and Ragnar. The sound is familiar. It is the sound of blown horns, of plastic & metal tubes. Struck metal, dirt kicked over metal plates that are contact mic'ed to the full. Synth pulses and frequencies. A ritual piece. What is most important here is the "ambiance" the sound of the space being used. Like I said, the sound is familiar ... from 23 Skidoo and their "Culling Is Coming" to Psychic TV and their "Themes" and Metgumbnerbone and their "Legaliahorn" to more recent releases by Michael Muennich, Zev Died Orchestra and the stunning Poena tape on Belaten. "Ritus" is a masterpiece. Fully engrossing from the first moment. 40 minutes is a long time, but time flies when I play this entering a new space / dimension ... mind wanders and dreams. Beautiful.
Cassette two is the album "Atlantis". Two tracks (thirty five minute instrumentals) over two sides. "Atlantis" is nothing like "Dystopia" or "Ritus"in sound. Dense psychedelic walls of noise, hypnotic electronic layers built to sound like a audio dream-machine. Of all the material present "Atlantis" is more like the Gerechtigkeits Liga of old ... Dark, existential, menacing, brooding, thoughtful and mesmeric. Back in September last year Ragnar mailed me a promo copy of the piece "Hagstice" for playtime on my radio programme, it is great to see it finally released. "Atlantis" brought to mind Origami Galaktika, Manipura and Troum.
This release is available direct from the label : www.aufnahmeundwiedergabe.bandcamp.com
1: The Box.
2: Gerechtigkeits Liga live.
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
I have spent the most of June reading a couple of tomes. One good, one bad. Well ... "Renegade:The Lives And Tales Of Mark E. Smith" by Austin Collings is not a bad book per se it is just not the book it says it is on the cover.
I already have a couple of books on The Fall. "The Fallen" by Dave Simpson and "The Fall" by Mick Middles & Mark E. Smith and they are good reads but this book is simply boring. I did read the bulk of the book whilst waiting for trains and planes in London (leave the capital) so it was more out of necessity than "I can't put this book down". (If you know what I mean)? I found the book for a couple of quid in Torquay Oxfam, bargain. The front of the book screams; "A Riot" (Independent On Sunday), "Hilarious" (Scotland On Sunday) and the classic "May be the funniest music book ever written" (Observer). OK, I'm ready for a roller coaster ride of joyous bon mots and merriment. I am afraid to say it never happens. Mark E. Smith just proves to be a cantankerous old curmudgeon with tales of petty rivalries and a distaste for his admirers. There are no tales of hilarity, the jokes (of a practical nature) seem cruel - happy memories leave a bitter taste...I suppose. I like The Fall, I have a few of their releases, I have Fall "stories"myself but I am one of those folk that Mark doesn't like - I like the old Fall, the Fall of Riley, Burns and Brahmah. I have not read such a bad book since Hugh Cornwall's "A Multitude Of Sins".
Once, whilst out drinking, Steve Underwood of Harbinger Sound Records told me that the day punk rock died was the day Marc Riley left The Fall or the day he realised that The Boomtown Rats weren't the real deal....he forgets. Steve is interviewed in the Swedish fanzine "Fordamning #2". Quite an exclusive! I remember a Freak Animal edition from around 1998/99 that had a few column inches on Harbinger Sound but never a five page spread. Again, there's a touch of curmudgeon about in the interview, but a fascinating insight in to the workings of Harbinger Sound (which is not a noise label by the way) and Steve's dislike of the Internet. The next time I meet the fella I'm going to ask him about his days as a TV stuntman ... that was new to me!
The fanzine also has an interview/overview of Ideal Fire Company and Pedestrian Deposit as well as a slew of reviews. It is a good read.
"Fordamning #2" is available through various outlets in the UK - Peripheral Records, Unrest & Cold Spring (no doubt) and Freak Animal in Finland....maybe Belaten in Sweden (?) - I should have researched...I know. "Renegade" is available in selected charity shops throughout the UK, if you pay over a pound you've paid too much.
Monday, 1 July 2013
Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from Phil Julian. "York 17/08/2012" has just been released by Authorised Version, a new label to me. The concept of the release is Phil's experiments with York University's EMS VCS3 synthesisers. Voltage Controlled Studio Synthesisers built in the late 1960's. Ancient beasts. Phil has been working with these machines for a while now, earlier this year he performed live in Stockholm using EMS synthesisers.
The cassette is a C40. Side one is comprised of short experimental pieces, discovering the machine, testing the textures and boundaries. Free-Form electronics. There are some great sounds, real low frequency oscillations and some great sequential loops that immediately lock in to the brain and get the body rockin'. There are the obligatory trumping in the bath sounds and helicopters at sunrise (we've all done it) but these are short sharp almost workshop type pieces. Free jazz episodes in the realm of avant garde electronics.
Side two is built of longer, more constructed pieces - perhaps a live performance? Opening with a low warm drone that has to be played extremely loud through speakers (no headphones allowed). The second piece has a harsher start before drifting off and heading towards the floorspace. The tape ends on a short rapid intense pulse. Good stuff..
Packaged with a deluxe sleeve and great artwork the cassette also comes with a free download code. (You can have mine for a pint)! www.cmx.org - £6 a copy.