Sunday, 31 January 2010

Aaron Dilloway

One of the great surprises of last year was Aaron Dilloway, The sound of Aaron Dilloway. My dear friend Steve Underwood put me in touch with Aaron - he wanted to stock and trade the IBF 12"EP, so I did the deal and got a box full of Hanson Records stuff (as well as the magnificent "Michigan" LP set). At this point I had no idea what Aaron sounded like, I was very keen to hear his collaboration with Robert Turman, but as I saw the amount of Hanson Releases / /Dilloway releases there were I was not expecting any great shakes. I was thinking bedroom noise artiste type of thing. So, a great surprise when I started playing the stuff. Textured and manicured loops, sustained rhythms and controlled feedback. Intense. "Infinite Lucifer" being an immediate classic. "Face Mask" / "Beggar Masters" etc... Brilliant stuff. I am now a #1 Dilloway fan!
A shame I missed his 2009 tour with Nate Young, but I did manage to see Aaron live at the ICA last November. I stood there rooted to the ICA floor by the sheer power of vibrations that Aaron was delivering, a truly powerful performance.
So. That great shop Norman Records (of Leeds) were selling off some secondhand Dilloway stuff, I thought it time to buy.
"Boggs Volume 2" CD being first. This (to me) is early Dilloway material. A CD re-release of a previous CDr release "Seizure" from 2001. Two studio tracks that a quite non-cognitive. Haphazard electronics and quite a disappointment. Sounds like improvised awkward synth noodling. Often there is a loop to pick up on and Dilloway hits the spot, but as soon as I get in to the groove it stops, cackles and whirrs in to more abstract stuff. Bonus stuff on the CD comes from 2 live performances. This is the first Dilloway release I have not felt partial to. Next on the turntable is "Concealed" LP on No Fun Productions. 2006. No track listing, just three tracks and back to the great sound of textured looping, building / deconstructing / re-building. Loud and it sounds like Column One, loud and I am reminded of very early Soviet France, loud and it sounds like a slow version of Non. This LP is an immediate favourite. Obviously Aaron has been working on his sound over the years and now has reached this stage of genius. Heavy vinyl to boot. Lastly I spin the "Live At The No Fun Fest 2007" split LP with Carlos Giffoni, again on No Fun Productions. Here we have what is damn close to what I witnessed at the ICA. Contact mic's in the mouth and the manipulation of magnetic tape through a bank of effects.
If anyone out there is reading this and is into late 1970's industrial / electronic music and has not heard any Aaron Dilloway stuff - Just like I was this time last year - may I reccommend "Concealed" and "Live At The No Fun Fest 2007" LP's. I'm still going to be playing these records well in to my 60's!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Wounded Knee

I thought I would try and pass words on all good sounds that came into Hartop Towers this year, and January is shaping up to be a good month. Some old secondhand Dilloway, some new Schuster and some Flutwacht back catalogue to go at - but first. Wounded Knee. Scotland's own Wounded Knee. My mother used to say : If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Sound advice, but then Clock DVA came along with "Don't listen to your mother"! And that's the one I'll stick with.
I was given a copy of Wounded Knee " Edina Home Brew" CDr last week. I saw it advertised on a couple of forum boards and what interested me was the guy who was releasing it. Tom. His last output was the excellent Culver / Fordell Research Unit 10"/CDr package. A beauty. Tom and his label of no name seem to be releasing some serious shite. It was Tom that turned me on to the likes of FRU and Nackt Insecten three or four years ago, so if he is releasing Wounded Knee that is good enough for me. I got hold of Tom and he kindly gave me a copy....
I was a Wounded Knee virgin and to be quite honest, it should have stayed that way. A few minutes in to playing track #1 (of #2) my jaw was hitting the carpet. What an absolute pile of tosh. One guy, a microphone, some looping / echo / delay apparatus an amplifier that cannot stop feedbacking and what seems to be lyrics like "Bum Bum Bum Titty Bum". There are sections with words that come later (I have played the thing 3 times now - but no more) but "Bum Bum Bum Titty Bum" is the zenith of lyricism held within.
Years ago, years ago, years ago we would come home from the pub and mess about with the tape machine and record pissed up conversations or drumming stuff that was so out of time it was funny and then we would play back the cassette the next day and wipe it. This is what should have happened to "Edina Home Brew". It is that bad. Seriously. I cannot believe that Tom has put £ behind this.
It is not Ivor Cutler or Furious Pig or Mouth. It is very poor.
I shall still buy the next Tom release though....I think that this is a blip in the catalogue (that doesn't exist from a label without a name)...

Sorry Tom.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Active EG.

The year started off strangely again. Last year I had a meeting with long lost friend Simon Jarvis, also a bizarre correspondence with an old school friend called Mick Campion, who I had not seen since a Gary Numan gig in Aylesbury in 1979. He found me through Friends Reunited, a site which I forgot I had joined!!
Anyhow, the first week of 2010 brought a message via the Dieter Muh MySpace page from Drew Cormack. Andy Andrew Drew Cormack. Drew disappeared off the radar in early 1986. Then he was living in Stoke Newington. We met for one night, January 1986 and played snooker in a room above a pub in Stoke Newington. Me, Tim Bayes and Drew Cormack.
February 1982 and I am playing a gig at the Swiss Cottage in Lincoln. A CND benefit organised by Alex Cormack. Up for the gig from the deep south (Grantham) is his brother Drew. After playing a set as ESP Disk-rd, that was myself on drums and Dave reading poetry Drew introduced himself and said he played guitar and he was interested (if we were) in joining. Dave and I jumped at the opportunity, someone who could actually PLAY an instrument. A few weeks later Drew moved to Lincoln (the far North) and we began rehearsing in an outhouse of a house in St. Catherines. It was funny as we had to tell Drew that I was in fact the bassist/vocalist of ESP Disk-rd and Dave was the drummer. The Swiss Cottage affair had been a one-off. We were there, we were drunk. let's get up and do it kind of affair.
We decided to change the name to Active EG.
I got on really well with Drew. He had not heard of a lot of the stuff that Dave and I were listening to - he was dead stuck in to the Velvet Underground and Faust and Nico and all these groups that involved you taking drugs to listen to, whereas I was in to TG, Factory Records, Shoes For Industry, SPK et al. No drugs needed. Drew introduced Dave and I to smoking joints.
Moments later Drew and I were sharing a flat in the Sincil Bank area of Lincoln, and we had our first gig lined up.....Grafton House, home of the labour party in Lincoln. We were playing a "Young Socialist" Disco, supporting Total Strangers. A group of which I was now the drummer after Dave passed the auditions and then said no! I had to step in to help old friends out.
The gig was a great success. I have it on tape!! Still. After 28 years and it is bloody brilliant. We rip off The Fall and Devo and Gang Of Four, but it's bloody brilliant.
Now Drew and I were living together - it did raise a few eyebrows as even though we were both strident heterosexuals we enjoyed camping out on occasions at the Crown + Cushion and various other pubs in Lincoln - we lost the outhouse rehearsal space so we moved to a community centre on the outskirts of Lincoln. Brant Road Community Centre. (Badlands). Our last gig was there supporting Suburban Toys. We were so pissed and stoned we could hardly stand, so we decided to swap instruments. Drew drummed (or at least smashed a drum kit), I played toys (found in the centre) and Dave played guitar until he bled. We lasted about 10 minutes. That was the last Active EG gig.
I remember Dave wheeling his drum kit home across fields and across the river Witham in a wheelbarrow as Drew and I caught the last bus to Lincoln and home to beer. That night we split....
Drew and I briefly formed Hermann & The Helmets, he on guitar and me on WASP Synth and cardboard, but it didn't last as Drew up sticks and moved to London.

A year or so later and Drew is living in a squat on the Pentonville Road, Islington. Apparently the squat (I was to find out later) had Dave Tibet living in it, but back then I was staying on the third floor with Drew. I used to travel to London on giro days and stay with Drew and his then girlfriend Natalie. I was now hooked on Amphetamines and weed. I would go down to London, spend some money at The Record + Tape on essential vinyl and blow the rest on Beer and Speed. Drew was working as a barman at the Batcave. This lasted throughout 1983/4. and then I lost touch......
Natalie died.

Drew was OK in 1986 when we called in (Tim +I), like I said, he had moved to Stoke Newington and was OK. But then, after that nothing.
Tim, Dave and I used to talk about Drew all the time. He changed our lives, he opened doors that needed opening. When Dave and I were in London on Dieter Muh business we would keep an eye out for Drew. 1989 and Tim put 50p on him being dead!!! And then on Jan 6 he bloody writes to me, congratulating me on sticking at it.
Alive I tell you...Alive!

I responded of course, but he has disappeared again. For the now, but 2010 is going to be such a fucking good year because I know that Drew is out there (whereever - he never said where he was now residing) alive and .... with access to a computer. If you are reading this Drew - I love you + thanks.

1: Active EG at Grafton House, Lincoln. Drew (Guitar) + Dave (Drums)
2: Drew and Me in Sean Rorke's house. 1983.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Simple Minds #2

One of the great rediscoveries last year was Simple Minds "Reel To Real Cacophony" album. From the moment I put it in the CD player and pressed play to hear that simple drum machine sound through plenty of reverb start the rhythm and Jim Kerr's voice, I was back in a time. Quite simply a classic LP and for me the only decent record Simple Minds ever made. Over the Christmas period I begun to wonder why? Their first LP wasn't up to much, only one decent track "Chelsea Girls", and the release that followed "Reel To Real": "I Travel" was lightweight rubbish. Then they signed to Virgin, hit the new romantic zeitgeist and that was that.....
I decided to find a book about Simple Minds to find out why. There are a few Simple Minds biogs on the market, I thought it best to find one that covered the early days, the Arista years rather than one that wallowed in the Stadium Rock days and Nelson Mandela/Belfast Child era. I plumped for a book that came out in 1985. They were big by then - but not mega big. I found "Glittering Prize" by Dave Thomas for the princely sum of 22 pence.
Not a good read. Non of the members of Simple Minds were approached for the book, instead Dave uses NME, Smash Hits, No.1, Record Mirror quotes to find the story of the band. Rather like the Bauhaus book I mentioned earlier it seems to be written for teenage Jackie readers, fair enough. It did unearth some interesting facts like Johnny & The Self Abusers split in to two bands. Simple Minds & The Cuban Heels. I never knew that. I quite liked The Cuban Heels back in the day, I remember having a track of theirs on cassette - off John Peel I think....must have been, back then all my cassettes were off John Peel!
After their first LP ("Life In A Day") Simple Minds had no songs, so they holed up in a studio and experimented with the equipment and produced "Reel To Real Cacophony". Tracks were work in progress, lyrics were abstract lines, snapshots, meaningless therefore meaningful. An album of no hit singles or commerciality.
Arista soon dropped Simple Minds. Members left. It was a different Simple Minds that signed to Virgin Records and produced the hits. Jim Kerr and Charlie Guitar Player come across as very arrogant folk, but then again, only previously published interviews are being used therefore the quotes are more likely to be journalists interpretations than horse's mouth.
I shall carry on playing the CD. It hasn't put me off the group at all, but I might give the book to the local Hospice Shop.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Dieter Muh #39

Live performance #39 for Dieter Muh was as part of the impressive Equinox Festival that took place in London in June 2009. Spread over three days and two venues we were to play the third and final evening at the Conway Hall. The festival was organised by Raymond S. Harmon, Andrew Hartwell (Aurora Borealis) and Simon Kane. It was Simon who invited us to take part. We had played at the request of Simon before, at his (in)famous "Salons" that took place in London.
I did not know at the time but this was to be the final Dieter Muh performance with Dave Uden as a member.
I went along to the second evening (also at Conway Hall) to watch Burial Hex and K11 knock out excellent sets and Comus to perform a poor one. The sound was awful. Not a good omen for the coming day.
Rather than write a summary of the Festival, I will concentrate on the Muh performance. Needless to say though, the weekend I spent in London in the company of Simon, Lydia, Andrew, as well as old friends; Mikael Prey, Barry Hale, Carl Abrahamsonn, Steve Underwood, Sylvie + Stephane was a weekend that I shall never forget. The sun shone brightly, the bar was cheap (thanks Jacques) and the conversations never stopped flowing.....
Any way.
Sunday, and all was running late. Very late. Our set had to be cut short to 30 minutes instead of 40 and Aethnor ate up all the soundcheck time so ourselves, Threshold House Boys Choir and The Anti Group could only line check. Poor old Pestrepeller didn't even get a line check, and because of the amount of sound equipment onstage they had to play on the floor.
We always start a performance with tape loops. Experience has taught us that it's a good way of (onstage) getting the levels right. We mixed "The Call" in with "We're Not Happy....Until You're Not Happy", it seemed right to have the voice of Lon Milo DuQuette booming out of the speakers at such an event. Dave had brought a long a rhythm, almost dance, almost techno but not quite right and to that I bellowed out lyrics that were to be part of the "Bethlehem" project. Now sadly to be unrealised. The journey in to madness continued with a more structured version of "Burning People", after performing it live at our last gig and having real fun with it we thought we'd expand on the improvisation. "Sea Sick With Sand" followed, a piece that Dave and I first recorded in 1987, our finale was a slow building bass pulse that became cacophonous with myself playing loops of scraped and bowed cymbals and Dave blowing his clarinet. We ended on 32 minutes. We performed to a new film made by Dave, but unfortunately I had my back to the screen so never got to see it.
At least we got to play our full set. The poor Anti Group were cut short after 20 minutes. I didn't get to see Aethnor, and Peter Christopherson was a treat to see. To be part of the event that staged The Threshold House Boys Choir was indeed an honour.

It is true to say that event lost money. Whether or not there shall be another Equinox Event still remains to be seen. It certainly was one of the best weekends of my life in the life of Dieter Muh. The version of "Burning People" was edited by Dave and is to be included on a compilation CD that will accompany the Tasmanian magazine "Night Science" that is put out by Cipher Productions. It was Dave's last involvement with Dieter Muh.

1: With The Anti Group.
2: Dieter Muh live.
3: With Sleazy and Simon.
4: Dave Uden during line check.
5: With Mikael Prey.
6: The Conway Hall. (Rear Entrance).

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Fall. Exeter. November 20. 2009

Truth be told, I kind of lost it with The Fall in the early 1980's. I was with them from the off, but after "Grotesque" LP I kind of lost interest. My favourite Fall releases are "Live At The Witch Trials" and "Slates". Classics. Since then they have put out the odd decent single; "Look, Know". "Bremen Nacht", "Free Range" springing to mind, but I don't know how many albums The Fall have released since "Hex, Enduction Hour"! Not long back, maybe 2008 I bought The Fall CD "Live From The Vaults:Retford 1979" on the Hip Priest label. Mainly because I was part of the support group that night. I was sound engineer for Collide (Lincoln's finest power-punk trio). I only found out about the CD because I was doing some home research on The Porterhouse, the venue it took place in. Google it, and up comes The Fall CD.
I have a friend who says that punk died the day Marc Riley left The Fall. He may have a point.
Since losing interest I have seen The Fall a few times, occupational hazard somewhat as I lived in Manchester for 7 years. The last two times (prior to this gig) were at York Barbican Centre, and when Brix walked on stage both me and the then Mrs. Cammack exited to the bar, and lastly at Leeds Uni. I think that was on the "Infotainment" or some such tour. (I should really do some research here). That was poor too, and would have headed back home but the person I had given a lift to was enjoying it so much I couldn't leave.
Anyhow. One of the better reads of 2009 was "The Fallen" by Dave Simpson, and after reading about Mark E Smith's treatment towards the latter members of The Fall intrigue got the better of me, so when it was announced that they were playing in Exeter (20 odd miles up the road) I put my name down for a ticket.
I got a lift from my friend Elliot. Elliot is a big Fall fan, preferring the later Fall to their earlier stuff. Elliot had never seen The Fall live.
It was £19 a to get in
Who were the support? Bunch of kids. Terrible. There was Dave Myers DJing in the bar, spinning 23 Skidoo, Pop Group, Gang Of 4 etc. Post Punk Dream DJ.
For some reason, about 5 minutes before The Fall came on I wandered right to the front of the stage and plonked myself and plastic pint pot slap bang in front of Mark E. Smith's mic' stand. The back drop was some crude lettering and a badly drawn picture of Tommy Cooper. No expense spared there then. On came the band and knocked out this tight rock riff. Keyboard player, stage right, quite attractive synth noodles over the thumping 4/4. On came Mark E. Smith to a warm applause.
It was all going well, I couldn't tell a word Smith was saying, he had the microphone so close to his mouth it was incomprehensible muttering. Perhaps he was trying to keep his false teeth in? There was no interaction with the other 4 members of the band, they all stared forward as if they were shit scared of their leader. Hired hands. Then Mark E. Smith started turning down amps, levels on the synth, moving microphones away from certain drums or speakers making the sound really poor. No reason in this madness. It was an action that was mentioned in the "Fallen" book, and how it used to annoy the members - so why does it happen, so the band knows who is boss (apparently). By now I am bored and know the bar area will be empty so I exit stage left. Wrong about the bar! damn.
With no interaction with band or audience Mark E. Smith left the stage after about 40 minutes never to return. Poor. Very poor. Every time I see The Fall I say to myself - never going to see them again. (I said the same thing about Psychic TV in 1987, and I'd love to see them now)!
What did they play? No idea. Piss poor version of "Psychick Dancehall is all I recognised. To be honest, Mark E. Smith should be dressed in a teddy boy suit and brothel creepers fronting a band made up of ex-members of The Meteors, Turkey Bones & The Wild Dogs and Showaddywaddy and stick to doing old rockabilly hits. His creative days seem a long time gone.