Thursday, 31 March 2011

Swell Maps

Just started reading the Nikki Sudden autobiography "The Last Bandit", a mighty (if not epic) tome and highly enjoyable.

God Bless the Swell Maps.....

Bear Faced Boy

Just spent a pleasant while listening to "Bite Back!" by Bear Faced Boy, a 2005 3" CDr release by Bristol based Abrasive Productions. The sound is pure European Power Electronics. Sometimes I like to listen to pure European Power Electronics and the likes of STROM e.c. , Genocide Organ, Soldnergeist et al. "Bite Back!" by Bear Faced Boy fits the billing perfectly.
This is a 4-Track 3" CDr released in 2005. A few years earlier Con-Dom released the seminal album "Colour Of A Man's Skin" on Tesco Org./Control Domination and this EP pays homage to that album. The strongest track "Our Problem" kicks off the journey with the Adhan and crumbles into a fine piece of throbbing crunchy electronics. Teutonic and Merzbowesque. The Eastern feel continues into track 2, the title track "Bite Back!", surprisingly the least effective track on the EP. "Stand Up" follows with an opening sample from an old Ku Klux Klan rally - I think the American group Consolidated used the same sample on their LP "The Myth Of Rock", so no accusations of Right Wing propaganda, please.
I once saw Consolidated live at the Boardwalk in Manchester (I think 1989 with Meat Beat Manifesto) and half way through their set they stopped and started a discussion group / Q&A meeting, first time I'd ever seen that. Us smug stoned vegan types dressed in black combat drill just stood at the bar tutting!
Anyway. "Stand Up" has a slow rhythmic noise loop building and decaying, before the final piece "Preserve"; a torturous sound of being trapped in a wind tunnel with violent electronics hovering all around like vultures waiting to pick at the carcass. Lovely stuff.
There's also a CDr by Bear Faced Boy called "The Aim Of Religion" and next time I fancy listening to some damn fine pure European Power Electronics (PEPE), it is top o' the list.

Bear Faced Boy was the solo project of a Bristolian called Richard. He was also part of the noise group Front Towards Enemy. I first met Richard when Dieter Muh played the Slimelight Club in London, 2004 (Excellent gig alongside Naevus & Knifeladder) and he and his then (business) partner, Liz, offered us a gig in Bristol. We corresponded for a couple of years as his BFB project took off, as did his company Abrasive Productions (I still have the T-Shirt). Dieter Muh did a couple of performances in Bristol courtesy of Abrasive. A great night at The Cube Cinema with Stimulus and Putrefier, and being part of the Venn Festival with Anti-Valium & Anenzephalia. Brilliant nights. Then there was talk of Bear Faced Boy teaming up with Gaya Donadio and the group Project FAHR. Whatever became of that? Richard moved from Bedminster to London, Liz from Bedminster to Berlin and I've never heard from them since. Shame? Yes, but our meeting and friendship for a couple of years remains as a happy memory.

Any HNW or PEPE fan should own this release.

1: "Bite Back!" Cover & Insert.
2: Liz + Richard, Bristol 2005.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Thee Psychick Month Ov March

March has been very much thee month ov Psychic TV here at Hartop Towers. It began at the start of the month with an E Mail from a very good friend with a picture of an early Psychic TV button badge and the "I found this and thought of you" comment. I was touched. It was a badge I wore years ago, but has since been lost (as badges do get)... I still have a Psychic TV "cross" pin and a "Force The Hand Of Chance" button badge, but the skull motif is no more - so if you're reading this Steve....stick in the post please!
Then through the post came the excellent "deluxe" 4LP set from Vinyl-On-Demand. Two double albums in gatefold sleeves encased in a cloth box with PTV Skull in glorious blood red on the cover. The recordings made by Genesis P-Orridge and White Stains take up the first three sides of vinyl. I am slightly confused here having never heard these 1990 recordings before but it does sound a lot like the Thee Majesty CD "At Stockholm" which is reworks and remixes from those sessions. I am not concerned as it is beautiful stuff. Spoken word over soft synthetic muzak. Side 4 is two tracks from the "Themes 2" period, soundtracks inspired by and for the work of Derek Jarman. "Pirates" has a great Burroughs sample rolling over the music. Sides 5 and 6 is an unedited recording of Psychic TV live at the Danceteria in New York, 1983. Previously released as "N.Y.Scum" on Temple Records, this LP is probably the best of the PTV live documents, and here it is crystal clear and sounding as urgent and fresh as ever. It has the track "Fear" which is not in the "N.Y.Scum" LP. Side 7 is three versions of "Unclean", and side 8 has three unreleased studio recordings, including the beautiful "We Kiss" in Demo format. I am simply cock-a-hoop with this release, as Vinyl-On-Demand release the goods yet again. Downside....slim on information. V.O.D. box releases usually come with booklets or pamphlets to devour whilst listening. Not with this one though.
Shortly after came the "collector's box" CD Set "Themes" released by Cold Spring Records. This one was to be released last December (the 23rd), but due to snow the pressing plant shut its' doors throughout December, re-opened in January and the backlog had grown. A re-release date of "Early March" was given. The box set comprises of 2 CD albums, two double CD albums, a very readable booklet and a postcard and because I pre-ordered in November I got a limited CD of Psychic TV "Live In Basildon" 1986.
"Themes One" sounds really good on CD, the sound of Psychic TV (from this era) has not dated at all. "Themes 2" comes as a double CD. First CD has the album "Themes 2" followed by the "Unclean" 12" and the previously unreleased "Unclean Monks", which is a track of Genesis chanting "Jesus"...I like. When I find a space with great echo / reverb acoustics I force the hand of habit and start singing "Unclean". Corridors and stairwells of Torbay Hospital are the best!
The second CD here is "Themes 2 A Prayer For Derek Jarman" which to me sounds like a remix of "Themes 2". No new stuff here and a tad disappointing. "Themes 3" double CD is of two live recordings from USA. The "Themes 3" CD is from Chicago 1984, it is OK but was always the weakest of the "Themes" series back in the 1980's. The other CD is "Themes 3" live in Boston (Massachusetts not Lincolnshire) 1984. Superior to the other CD, mainly as it doesn't have Monte Cazazza drawling over the sound....
I have a problem with "Themes 4", "Themes 4 Lady Jaye" in full title. This album has nothing to do with the "Themes" series, it is (quite simply) a Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge album, and it is extremely poor. Unlistenably poor. Start with "Themes 1" and end a few hours later with "Themes 4"as I did and it is a disappointing aural journey. "Live In Basildon" is a poor recording of an open-air gig back in 1986 when Psychic T.V. had turned into a "rock group" using session musicians. I gave this CD about 10 minutes before assuming it would never improve.
As a collector of Psychic T.V. 1982 - 1987 this release is essential..but a little disappointing. If Cold Spring Records had just released the remastered versions of "Themes 1, 2 & 3" and kept the lovely booklet and postcard, the release would be all the better. If considering buying / getting either or I would certainly say - get the Vinyl-On-Demand release.

One thing I've noticed with these two releases is the complete absence of credit for Paula P-Orridge on the Live in New York or "Themes 2" recordings. I have tried to find out some explanation via the internet, but can't find owt. Wikipedia has Paula as a member of 23 Skidoo back in the 1970's...that's not true is it? But why has she been wiped from PTV credits? Can anyone help?

I can listen to Psychic T.V. from their inceptual recordings to (roughly) 1985, I think that was the year I saw them live at Manchester Royal Northern College Of Music (with The Impossible Dreamers as support), but that could have been 1986? That wasn't a bad gig, it was an excellent gig for which we'd all taken unsurpassable amounts of mushrooms topped off with hot knives, chillums and lager, ( another story, as the evening also includes being thrown out of the venue at one point for trying to roll a joint at the back of an "audience with Ivor Cutler") but by this time in my life my interest in "music" was thinning and by the time I saw Psychic TV live in Nottingham 1987 I had all but "given up" on their sound. Listen to "Roman P." on Sordide Sentimentale Records then on "Live In Basildon" and you'll understand.

1: Psychic TV Badge.
2: Psychic TV Vinyl-On-Demand Box
3: Psychic TV Cold Spring Postcard
4: Psychic TV "Themes" Box Set CD's
5: Psychic TV "Live In Basildon" CD Cover
6: Genesis P-Orridge Live @ The Mardi Gras, Nottingham. 1987. (photo by me).

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Helsinki. AAVE Festival 2011 #2

Thu 14.4.2011 - Sun 17.4.2011
AAVE festival
Alternative Audiovisual Event
Free entrance
Event location: Malmitalo
Address:Ala-Malmin tori 1
The festival of moving images was held for the first time with great success last year and it offers again flickering, rattle and flutter for many great days (14.–17.4.2011).

The festival of moving images was held for the first time with great success last year and it offers again flickering, rattle and flutter for many great days (14.–17.4.2011).


THURSDAY 14.4.2011
18:00 Oishii! Japanese delicacies: To be announced later
20:30 Live Cinema: Gregoire Rousseau & Samuli Tanner (FR/FI)

FRIDAY 15.4.2011
18:00 This is our N.A.M.E.: Arab Shorts, curated by Marcel Schwierin (GR)
19:30 New Finnish Media Art: AAVE-arkki
21:00 Live Cinema: Grey Park (FI)
22:00 Live Cinema: Dieter Müh (UK)

SATURDAY 16.4.2011
14:00 VJ workshop pt.1: Iván Torres Hdez (ES/FI) & Hugo Olim (PT)
16:00 Dance performance: Mikko Kallinen & The Company: Measuring - coordinates, energy, time and gravity
18:00 This is our N.A.M.E.: Resistance(s) v.1, curated by Silke Schmickl (FR)
19:00 Oishii! Japanese delicacies: Angel's Egg (Tenshi no Tamago), Mamoru Oshii 1985
21:00 Live Cinema: Seppo Renvall & Maija Saksmann (FI)

SUNDAY 17.4.2011
14:00 VJ workshop pt.2: Iván Torres Hdez (ES/FI) & Hugo Olim (PT)
14:00 Short Animation: films by Tex Avery and Yuri Norstein
16:00 Dance performance: Mikko Kallinen & The Company: Measuring - coordinates, energy, time and gravity
16:00 This is our N.A.M.E.: Resistance(s) v.1, curated by Silke Schmickl (FR)
18:00 Oishii! Japanese delicacies: To be announced later
20:30 Live Cinema: J. K. Ihalainen & Sándor Vály (HU/FI) + Harri Hertell & Dxxxa D


FRIDAY 15.4.2011
13:00 Panel discussion: Silke Schmickl (FR) & Marcel Schwierin (GR)
Place: Kuvataideakatemia, Kaikukatu 4, Helsinki

22:00 VJ set: Hugo Olim (PT) & Iván Torres Hdez (ES)
Place: Siltanen, Hämeentie 13 B, Helsinki

SATURDAY 16.4.2011
22:00 VJ set: Iván Torres Hdez (ES) + Special Guest
Place: Baari, Porvoonkatu 19, Helsinki

SUNDAY 17.4.2011
22:00 VJ set: Ilmoitetaan myöhemmin
Place: Baari, Porvoonkatu 19, Helsinki


In April 2011 AAVE (in Finnish: ghost, spectre) will be back to haunt the cultural centre Malmitalo. The Helsinki-based festival of audiovisual arts, successfully launched in 2010, will will be offering a refreshing experience for many rewarding days, to any fan of cinema and art. Also for this year the event at Malmitalo is completely free of charge.

We will present a selection of short films and full-length feature treats as we did in our event last year. For our short film selection, we showcased in 2010 works from Europe and Americas, and now it's time to turn our attention to the lights and shadows of Middle East and North Africa. There will be both experimental and more traditional short films presented.

Our very own full-length feature series "Oishii! Japanese delicacies" continues to explore the rich cinematic history of the land of the rising sun. All films are connected by the personal, strong mark of its directors. Every festival-evening will end with unique shows where live music and moving imagery are complement by each other. The festival value is risen up by the première of a new dance show “”Measuring - coordinates, energy, time and gravity” by Mikko Kaillinen & The Company, where various art-pieces move inside an axel of live-performance/video-virtual world.

The weekend VJ workshop provides an interesting opportunity for interact with our audience. The programme of this year will also include two other new festival series, a fantasy-themed animated classics selection for all ages, and a compact, fresh compilation of new Finnish media art.

This whole ensemble is of course complemented by the presence our Finnish and international guests; you can find out more about them by visiting the ”guests” -section.

Aavemaisin terveisin,
Ivan Punzo & Kari Yli-Annala

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Neil Campbell

I felt like listening to some master "drone" material today, the mood fell upon me whilst I was picking out stuff to play at work and I plumped for (amongst other things) a CDr by Neil Campbell. I have had this release for a while now and love it dearly but because of the barely visible print on brown card which then has been spray painted I have no idea of the title, the label, the track titles or the year of release. Admittedly my eyesight is not that good but this "sleeve" is infuriating!
I reckon I have had this CDr for about seven or eight years now and it is always a pleasant listen. Track One sounds like an Astral Social Club backing track. Work In Progress. Apart from track 4 the whole CDr has a "Work In Progress" feel about it, anyway, track one has dronal keyboards throughout. In the old days (1980's b.l. ... before laptops) to get the ideal "drone" I used to push a piece of lead ( electric lead / cable ... not lead as in the stuff that is nicked off church roofs) under a key to hold down a note on a cheap keyboard. Holding the note, then I would manipulate the sound through effects or multi-layer on the 2-Track / 4-Track whatever was available Track.
Neil does this on this CDr alot. Tracks 1 - 3. Track One has a synthetic dripping sound throughout, track two is a short "tangerine dream" style blast, whereas track three is back to the drone with analog synth knobbery supreme. The sound is very claustrophobic. not ideal for headphones or i-pods etc. I find this CDr is best played with windows, doors wide open and to move around a bit so the full sound can be experienced with "outside" interference. Traffic, birds, the general public passing by - that kind of thing.....
Track 4 is a beautiful piece of Organum like drone. Heavy Industrial, scraping and bowing of noise. Classic and complete.

What this album is.....its' availability etc, I do not know. It is up there in the Campbell arsenal with the "Sol Powr" album...perhaps some label will re-release to make it a common item for musical drone collectors????


1: CDr Card Sleeve.
2: CDr.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Helsinki. AAVE Festival 2011.

In the middle of April 14.4-17.4.2011 AAVE (in Finnish: ghost, spectre) - ALTERNATIVE AUDIOVISUAL EVENT is back to haunt the cultural centre Malmitalo. The Helsinki- based festival of audiovisual arts, successfully launched in 2010, will be offering a refreshing experience for many rewarding days, for any fan of cinema and art. This year the event at Malmitalo is again completely free of charge.

Through the special programs Resistance(s) and Arab Shorts AAVE will turn the attention to the lights and shadows of North Africa and Middle East in the selection of traditional and experimental short films and video art from the area that has been in the focus of attention of the whole world because of the dramatic events that have shaken the structures of arabic societies. Our full-length feature series "Oishii! Japanese delicacies" continues to explore the rich cinematic history of the land of the rising sun which unfortunately has experienced a tremendeous losses and catastrophes in this spring. All films introduce the strong personal style of their directors.

Every festival evening will end with a unique show where live music and moving imagery complement each other. Our domestic live-performers are Ponytail (with live installation), Grey Park, Seppo Renvall & Maija Saksman and Helsinki Poetry Connection. Additional value is brought by the première of a new dance show ”Measuring - coordinates, energy, time and gravity”, by Mikko Kallinen & The Company, where various art-pieces move inside an axel of live- performance/video-virtual world.

The combination of VJ sessions and VJ workshop by Iván Torres Hdez (ES/FI) & Hugo Olim (PT) will provide an interesting opportunity for interact with our audience. This year’s programme also includes two new festival categories, animated classics selection for all ages, and a compact compilation of new Finnish media art.

The festival is organized by non-profit cultural association KAiKU ry, Nomadic Academy of Experimental Arts and the City of Helsinki Cultural Office. This whole ensemble is of course enriched with the presence our Finnish and international guests, such as curators Silke Schmickl (FR), Marcel Schwierin (GR) and sound / noise artist Dieter Müh (UK).

Yours ghostly,
Artistic Directors Ivan Punzo & Kari Yli-Annala
AAVE – Alternative AudioVisual Event, 14. – 17.4.2011
Malmitalo, Ala-Malmin tori 1, Helsinki

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Dieter Muh #29

There are a few, not many but a few, live performances by Dieter Muh that when I cast my mind back to them make me wince, make me purse my lips and let out a short exhalation of breath, make me think of the word "why".
Manchester 2004, Dieter Muh Live Performance number 29 is such a gig.
Today I was filing stuff, sorting out stuff for Helsinki and generally pottering about when I came across an envelope of pictures I had not seen in years. Pictures taken by Gary Warmington of that fateful night in Manchester. I thought I would share.

Since the formation of Dieter Muh I always wanted to play live in Manchester, to return to the place where it all started. (My adult life that is). I still do and if anyone reading this could get me a live spot in Manchester please get in touch so we can talk. Anyway, back in 2004 it transpired that a friend knew a friend who knew somebody that could get hold of a room with a PA and bar at an incredibly cheap rate and was prepared to put on Dieter Muh. The venue used to be called The Swinging Sporran back in the 1980's and was once an old haunt of mine. (I saw The Electro Hippies there in 1988). Now the venue was called "The Retro Bar". I asked Dave Padbury (AKA Dap) of The Grey Wolves if he would be interested in playing too...he's only down the road in Salford....for an evening of free drinks....and Grey Wolves were added to the evening.

All is good. What could go wrong?

Firstly, the gig was not advertised at all. I arrived in Manchester the day before the gig to catch up with old friends (except Christophe) and do some secondhand vinyl shopping and whilst walking around Manchester + Hulme I saw NO flyers or posters for the gig. Not even Affleck's Palace or the Vinyl Exchange on Oldham Street. Poor, very poor. Alarm bells should have rang.
Soundcheck was good. All sounded good, especially my guitar and Dave's treated vocals. The PA was magnificent. Crystal clear. The Grey Wolves (who also included Mike Dando for the evening) were happy with the sound too.
This was the third time Dieter Muh had played on the same bill as The Grey Wolves, the last time was back in 1999 and another bum-clenching piss-poor gig at The Fenton in Leeds.
For two or three hours we sat and waited for an audience. It became obvious that anyone who showed needn't pay the admission fee, they could just come and watch. But nobody did show. Dieter Muh and (for the first time ever) The Grey Wolves live in Manchester and nobody showed.
Much drinking ensued before Dave and I walked on stage. The guy behind the mixing desk had forgotten to mark our levels and what followed was an awful mess. Equipment did not work, levels were all over the place and after about 20 minutes or so and a poor attempt at the song "Bethlehem" we gave up, retreated injured to the bar.
Dap & Mike gave a great show, with Phil Taylor on slides. Loud, evocative, professional. All the things that we weren't.

Before this evening my last performance on a Manchester stage was as part of KRNFX performing a piece called "Fingers In The Stomach". 1987, Manchester PSV Club. On that evening we got turned off by the organiser (thanks Iggy) because he thought we were an awful row. 17 years later...and not much had changed.
There is no audio recording of this show - thank goodness, only memory remains and that (with age) is fading.......

1: Manchester Poster. (Designed by Dave Uden).
2: Dieter Muh Soundcheck.
3+4: Dieter Muh Live in Manchester 2004.
5: Dave Uden, Sean Rorke + Phil Taylor at the Retro Bar bar.

Wyrm + Nocturnal Emissions

Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from the American label Roil Noise Offensive. "Symmetrical Ecstasy" by Wyrm + Nocturnal Emissions. Released in a 5" metal tin (a la PIL "Metal Box") and limited to 100 copies. This was my first forage into the work of Wyrm, the solo project of multi-media artist Allan Zane. I do have the Zane / G.X. Jupitter-Larson collaboration CD "Banjax" that Somnimage put out in 2006 and I love that, so with that and the lure of hearing new recordings from Nocturnal Emissions I snapped up a copy straight away. The first 33 copies come with a "bonus" 3"CDr, I have number 18.
The "main" CD has two tracks "Symmetrical Ecstasy 1 & 2". The sound begins rather lo-fi, sounding like a wash of noise recorded live on a two-track Tandy tape recorder, but a clear sonambulistic drone comes through and picks the piece up to create a beautiful wall of dreamy like electronica. Loops appear and disappear in the ethereal. Track 2 is track 1 in reverse.
The 3" CDr also has two tracks. The same wall is manipulated but this time the track has a rhythms mixed in. Polynesian sounding rhythms. Track 2 is track 1 in reverse. The 3" tracks are preferable to the "main" CD release. My only beef is that the tracks aren't long enough, making it like a Drone Records release or a 7" single by Lull, perhaps this release is a pre-cursor to a full length release? That would be nice.
This release is available through the Roil Noise Offensive Website and (I would guess) essential for Nocturnal Emissions collectors.


1: Wyrm + Nocturnal Emissions "Symmetrical Ecstasy" Tin.
2: The "bonus" 3"CDr.
3: Allan Zane.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Lighten Up Sounds

Just spent a pleasant while listening to two releases from the US label, Lighten Up Sounds. A new label to me, but then again..most labels are.
It was their recent release by Andreas Brandal that got me interested and parting with my well earned paypal and the label MC kindly slipped a tape by Neon Sea into the package.
The cassettes are usually limited to a 50 copy run and cost six dollars a piece and come in full colour sleeves / printing and coloured tapes. We are talking professional outfit here.
Neon Sea are a new one on me. I am sensing a three-piece project here but I am prepared to be laughed out of the water. "Fading Light" is a 40 minute ride that begins with some really fine electronic noise, HNW and trapped circuit bending style noise, then into the mix comes drums. Cymbals and bass drum, it took me by surprise. Pleasant surprise as the journey took a whole new turn. Side two has more electronics and drums with (what sounds like) bass guitar. This kind of construct / approach is new to had me thinking of Hair Police but then again Hair Police is all I know. Cracking stuff and a repeated play tape.
Andreas Brandal I know and like and I'm always prepared to listen. My favourite Brandal is the "Shipwrecked" tape released by Licht Und Stahl label, this release "Autumn Drama" sounds very similar. More "broken" and/or "unconceptual" as previous stuff I have heard this tape plays like a sampler or compilation of Demos and out-takes. Short tracks of acoustic guitar patterns, drones and FX pieces. If you're unaware of the work of this Norweigan artist "Autumn Drama" is a great tape to start with....then move onto "Shipwrecked", if it hasn't sold out!

Lighten Up Sounds is a great American label. they have a blogspot and are worthy of discovering. (And for the Neon Sea tape - I thank them).

1: The Lighten Up Sounds Logo.
2: Neon Sea cassette (inner).
3: Andreas Brandal cassette cover.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Out Of Control

If it only takes me a week to read a book then it is either:
A: A bloody good book and unputdownable or
B: Only about 4 pages long.
"Out Of Control" by Tony Beesley is 165 pages long and it took me a week to read. An excellent book. From the opening foreword by Paul Bower (of 2.3 fame) I was hooked. He beautifully paints a picture of life in a Northern town mid 1970's.

"Computers are the size of twenty school lockers. The Internet has not been imagined. Social networking is going to the 'Dial House Working Men's Club' for six pints of Tetley's and a game of billiards. last orders are 10:30 p.m. If you want a job you got one. The National Coal Board; Shardlows; The River Don Works; or even night shifts at Bachelors packing cartons of Vesta Chow Mein. Wages come in notes and coins in a small brown paper envelope on a Friday. You feel a rush when you discover that the double shift you worked on a Tuesday has pushed you above £35 to take home. Hardly anyone you know has a bank account".

The book is the second part of the trilogy written by Tony about his youth as a punk rocker, a teenage punk rocker. I enjoyed the first part: "Our Generation" (mentioned in December 2010's blog pages), and bought this one as soon as I had finished it...about a month later! Tony doesn't feature in this tome though, he lets others tell the story of two years in the life of two influential venues in South Yorkshire. The Outlook in Doncaster and The Windmill in Rotherham.
In 1978 I used to frequent a similar venue, AJ's in Lincoln. The same bands at the same time where playing the Outlook. The Lurkers, Ultravox! (with John Foxx), UK Subs, Cyanide, The Skunks, Patrik Fitzgerald, Rich Kids etc. It makes me smile every time Ultravox! is mentioned it has (with John Foxx) in brackets afterwards. It is difficult telling folk nowadays that one of my all time favourite groups is Ultravox!, quickly followed by "before Midge Ure". Same when I tell folk I like Adam & The Ants....before he went shite. So the book hits an immediate chord. (Just the one). Folk in Doncaster were up to the same tricks as me...being 14/15 years old and trying to get into an over 18's venue...turning up outside the venue at around sixish and waiting for the battered white transit van to show up from across the Market Square. Offering to carry amps, drums, whatever up three flights of stairs to the stage area (what was it with clubs and stairs)? Then disappearing in to the shadows and praying the bouncers don't notice.
There is also a piece by Nigel Lockwood (of Gun Rubber Fanzine) about the Adverts gig at Lincoln Tech College that ended up as one great big bloody battle between punks and "local in-breeds" as he calls them. I mentioned this gig in my blog about the TV Smith diaries, and I'd forgotten that the ENTS folk belatedly locked the doors so half the in-breeds were already in the place and we couldn't get out! No where to run, nowhere to hide. Ahhhh, great days, eh?

Tony has got quotes from bands that played the venues too. Most interestingly from members of The Skunks and Strangeways. I never knew Strangeways (never saw them, never had their single) but I do know they had Ada Wilson as their lead singer. I'm a big fan of Ada Wilson, his "I'm In Control Here" 7" on Barn Records is one of my all time favourite songs...ever. I must admit to have never heard of The Windmill, a club situated in Rotherham United's Football Stand, but for a year or so it too was on the "punk" circuit. Not as famous or as long lasting as The Outlook (or AJ's or The Porterhouse in Retford) but then again it had no stairs to lug the gear up.
The book beautifully captures the age, the era, the violence, the fun, the thrill...just what is like to be a teenager back in the mid 1970's and discovering live fast music and punk rock. For all those who were part of it then and nearing 50 this book. The book can be bought via Amazon, or direct from Tony at . No excuse.

It does finish on a where are they now section but fails to mention the whereabouts of Ada Wilson. Does anybody know? Back in the early 1990's I went to see Bill Nelson and Harold Budd play at York Arts Centre where I found myself standing in an adjacent urinal to Ian Nelson (Bill's brother and saxophonist in Ada Wilson's band Tattoo Hosts Vision On). I asked Ian on the whereabouts of Ada then and apparently he was playing karaoke pubs in Wakefield as an Elvis impersonator. Can this be true? I'd love to know.

1: "Out Of Control" book cover.
2: Probably one of the greatest singles ever made.

Voice Of Eye

The next blog I was going to write (I do plan this thing out y'know) was to be about secondhand record buying in the Devonshire town of Tiverton. I went there last Saturday. But unfortunately Tiverton let me down, there are no secondhand vinyl emporiums in the town. There was an Oxfam "Music & Books" shop but that was closing down and bereft of stock. They built a motorway to by-pass Tiverton and now I know why. If ever in the South West (of the UK) don't bother turning off at Junction (whatever) drive straight through..I shall not be returning to Tiverton (the town was closed by 3pm on the Saturday) I trust you to do the same. Twinned with Gainsborough. (That's a bit unfair I haven't been to Gainsborough in ages, in fact the last time I was there (late 1990's) I was passing through on a train towards Lincoln and some guy got on at Gainsborough Lea Road Station carrying a shotgun under his arm and no-one battered an eyelid)!
So. I have had a pleasant while listening to the latest release on Stefan Knappe's Transgredient Records label (Their first non Troum release) "Anthology Two:1992-1996" by Voice Of Eye.
Voice Of Eye are one of those bands that have been in my radar for quite a while now but I just have not bought/got anything by them. I think it was Dan Plunkett of ND Magazine that first told me about them about 20 years ago, then there was Steve Underwood and Mick McDaid telling me all about them 10 years later but still I never adventured in to their wares. I have their "Mariner Sonique" LP taped but I can't say I gave it my uppermost attention.
And then Voice Of Eye become a band who have too much discog. Where do I start? And if I fall in love with the sound I'll have to get everything (I do become obsessive), so I have left them alone. Until now. Thanks to Tom Newell (Thee Intergalactick Beard) I have this CD. A double CD, and it hasn't been off the hi-fi for a week. (And this is a week when the Psychic TV Vinyl-On-Demand Box Set was delivered).
Disc One contains tracks covering three years of work either unreleased or appearances on obscure compilation projects and it plays like one album. That is some mean feat. A dedicated driven direction in sound. The sound is very akin to Soviet France and (early) Throbbing Gristle. There's one track in particular "I Have A Dream" that really took me back to "After Cease To Exist". Loved it! I played Disc One 4 or 5 times before venturing on to disc two. Disc Two is more diverse in sound beginning with a 1996 "rehearsal" for a performance called "Sonic Works", again, imagine Soviet France teaming with Throbbing Gristle and that is what you'll be hearing. For an old "industrial head" like me, it is a great listen. Chilled out blissed and stoked as the Americans would say. Disc Two ends with two short pieces and after the 40 or so minutes of track one are slightly disappointing, but I'm not complaining. If there was one complaint about this release it would be the poor packaging. A bad digipack style case (but that's just me I know).
"Anthology Two" is a necessary release and every home should have a copy. I am certain that both Second Layer and Cold Spring Records in the UK will be stocking it.
I will now be after Voice Of Eye releases where ever I see them listed and for sale. The "Anthology One" double LP and Drone 7" "Sprockets" go to the top of the list.

1: "Anthology Two" Cover.
2: Jim Wilson & Bonnie McNairn are Voice Of Eye. (Picture taken from their website).

Monday, 7 March 2011

A Treasured Tape #2

A treasured tape, one which plays beautifully and holds great memory. "Musick" by Glenn Michael Wallis is such a tape.
1998 and I get to play my first ever gig on foreign soil. Belgian soil, the small town of Sint-Niklaas. How we got the gig, how we played the gig...that is another story, but for three nights and four days I was in Sint-Niklaas, a small Belgian town north of Antwerpen. Eriek Van Havere was the organiser of the gig and our host for : The Eleventh Festival For Independent Music & Arts. (Eriek is one of the founders of the great label KK Records and even greater EE Tapes).
Eriek was also playing host to Glenn Micheal Wallis who was performing with Dutch collective Amy Love as well as performing a short "impromptu + unadvertised" solo set as Konstruktivist.
It was a bizarre situation to be in. To be playing my first ever "away game" and spending the weekend with the mighty Glenn, the former Throbbing Gristle "roadie", the guy behind Konstruktivists and N.K.V.D. Early '80's experimental synth, Third Mind Records, Conspiracy International.. the list of great works is ..... all there to see.
And Glenn can talk and talk he did. Fascinating stories of being on the road with Whitehouse and Vagina Dentata Organ, being in Sheffield with DVA. (This one always fascinated me as I thought that the N.K.V.D. project had some DVA input and at the end of the Clock DVA (bootleg) tape "The Alternative Soundtrack To The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" there are some Konstruktivists "demos". Interesting stuff). There was this bizarre moment when I was sat at a bar of a Country & Western themed pub on a Sunday Morning in a sleepy mid-Belgian town hungover but drinking listening to Glenn talk about TG and his thoughts on the (then) upcoming "Wreckers Of Civilisation" book, and Charlie Rich played on.....beautiful.
On returning I contacted Glenn. There was talk of a Dieter Muh / Konstruktivists gig in London, but nothing came of it, then I got this tape through the post with a thank you for a time well spent in Sint-Niklaas. I am uncertain to whether or not the tape contains released or rare material or what became of Glenn's "Kandyman" project but it is a treasured tape and one that gets played alot at Hartop Towers.
Side A is nearly all "vocal" tracks. "For You" reminds me of the great Phones B. Sportsman single (on Rather Records) "I Really Love You", faux Elvis croon sounding like The Grumbleweeds. The Kandyman material is raw synth pop. Side B is all instrumentals varying from "Kraut-Synth" style meanderings to violent noise. Easy listening to these ears. Unfortunately I have lost the letters that Glenn wrote, and the one that came with this tape. Too many moves.

It was good to know that Glenn recently performed as Konstruktivists again in Austria with Nocturnal Emissions, after the excellent "Flowmotion Years" double LP release on Vinyl-On-Demand it'll be nice to see Glenn get the recognition he deserves.

1: "Musick" by Glenn Michael Wallis.
2: Amy Love live at The OJC Kompas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. 1998. (Glenn standing).

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Joyful Noise

A while ago I managed to find a copy of the Sterile Records compilation tape "A Joyful Noise" on a trade list and snapped up the chance of owning a copy. I am a Schuster completest y'see, and a lover of the compilation.
Compiled by Nocturnal Emission and Sterile Records supremo Nigel Ayers from 5 years of tapes being mailed to his PO Box the release is a great guide, an aural window if you like, to the underground / sub-culture tape/mail-art "scene" of the mid to late 1980's. Many of the protagonists are on here.
There is a great sweep ( a choice) of styles on the tape. There's the "Eastern Feel" almost New-Age and Ambient artists, the Avant-Garde collageists, the 80's synth pop artists and the "Old School" Industrialist. In the mid 1980's I remember a lot of magazines coming with attached compilations like these and spanning a five year construction period the tape does sound dated in parts. (For some reason "Beyond The Pale" + "ND" just came into my head - 2 great American magazines that released the odd compilation tape).
Side A kicks off with an Eastern feel, with auto-harps, dulcimers and pianos all there in the mix. Sue Ann Harvey, Xaliman and Equivalent Insecurity Waspish (who?) are the first three artists before the Welsh project Plant Bach Ofnus change the mood slightly with a track that is akin to S.P.K.'s "Songs Of Byzantine Flowers" LP. Track 5: Psyclones with Pacific 231 mercilessly steals a Cabaret Voltaire drum machine pattern and sticks a violin over the top. Front Line Assembly and Club Dil Dough provide early EBM / 80's disco tracks. (Pretty poor) before Blackhouse come in with some great piano & voice experimentation and the track "Stairway 2 Heaven (Version)". NE side project Spanner Thru' Ma Beatbox slip in with a short two minute track before side A finishes with a great five minutes of tape crunching and looping from The Haters.
Side B begins with Collectif Et Cie, a French outfit I am completely in the dark with. The track "Snow Games" sounds like some Soviet/Eastern European animation soundtrack, the ones where the tall monochrome rectangle blocks of flats chase the small white mouse through triangular forests. The sound is random, angled electronics and extremely avant-garde. Lieutenant Caramel follow. Next comes two tracks of very dated nonsense, trouble is I haven't got a track listing to that tape and the track listing supplied by the "Discogs" web site is wrong. Track 5 on side B is Schuster with a remix of the piece "Floor" which was originally released in 1987 on the tape LP "Persecution Of Mistakes". "Floor" is a building / layering of hypnotic loops over a metallic drum machine and nightmare induced vocals. A tapestry of patterns. Next is Nocturnal Emissions with an extract from "Mouth Of Babes". Again, hypnotic loopery. Beautiful.
The last track is by Webcore, who I seem to remember had some TOPY link (but I could be totally wrong), anyway their submission is probably thee worst track on the tape. "Crusty Funk"! Awful.

Like I mentioned, the tape does sound very dated. It is...some tracks are over 23 years old but as a guide / a document of the times it is a great release. It lasts just under an hour and a half and comes in a small plastic case with booklet. I don't know where the track listing went but my secondhand copy never had one.
Worth buying for Schuster, Blackhouse and The Haters tracks alone.

1: A Joyful Noise tape sleeve.
2: A Joyful Noise Booklet cover
3: A Joyful Noise Booklet Page 1.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Beartown Records

Last year I managed to pick up a couple of releases from the Manchester based Beartown Records label. Baraclough and BBBlood tapes, and excellent releases they are too. A recent release of theirs is by London visual / sound artist Eddie Nuttall under the name of Aqua Dentata and after witnessing Aqua Dentata live last December in London this release was a must have!
Cryptically entitled "Seventh Past the Umbrella" the cassette is a 35 minute exploration of glistening drones. Crystal clear and sharp harmonious drones play and entwine around the senses, the sound is wide open and really attentive. Ideal for installation purposes. Good stuff and whilst playing I kept thinking, I've got something like this at home...I played the cassette a couple of times at work today....but I can't put my finger on what. Early Jackman, This Heat - think "Graphic/Varispeed" from the "Health & Efficiency" 12". I do like the name Aqua Dentata - if toothpaste could have a sound then it should be called Aqua Dentata, giving your teeth that refreshing "drone" feeling.
Impressed with the Beartown Records catalogue I also bought the Cheapmachines "Cast" tape. C20. 10-a-side. Flipping marvellous. (A C20 pun there). "Cast" is a 20 minute drone piece. More warm and comforting than the Aqua Dentata release and an ideal taster for the work of Phil Julian.

I shall keep an ear and eye out for further Beartown Records releases this year, like Matching Head and Fencing Flatworm of old it is becoming a great recorder of grass roots / underground sound art in the 21st Century. That is why I think it is Beartown Records as in documents rather than Beartown Records as in releasing slabs of vinyl....because they don't.
Google Beartown Records and you'll get there.

1: Not the Beartown Logo!
2: Aqua Dentata sleeve.
3: Cheapmachines sleeve.