Friday, 30 September 2011

Illuminated 666 No. 1

With the Broken Flag Festival coming up next year in London I thought it was about time I dug out some old tapes to refresh the ears and get used to that old 1980's noise sound again. I dug out Kliestwahr's "Myth", but wasn't in the mood for the chorus pedal/phaser sound. I played the compilation release "Harsh Ears Now!!" the triple cassette that Midas Music released but after 3 sides I found it hard to listen to. Nice tracks by Kapotte Muziek, Club Rialto and S*Core, but a lot of poor stuff even from the likes of Tools You Can Trust...hunting out Le Syndicat's "Rectal Struggle" I found the compilation "Illuminated 666 No.1", a C22 from 1984 (I think) on the German Illuminated 666 label. Le Syndicat'll have to wait....
The tape starts of with Ltn. Murnau, a project I know very little about. French? (I know I am thinking of Lt. Caramel here....are they related)? "Rumort-Random Excerpts" is an instruction on how to use a power drill; DC whilst mobile, AC whilst hooked up to a generator. It is the sound of a power drill. The beautifully named FaLX cerebRi follow. FaLX cerebRi was the project of mail and sound artist Karsten Rodemann who ran Graf Haufen Tapes. Back in the 1980's I used to trade tapes with Graf Haufen Tapes. Here FaLX have stood the test of time with two pieces. "Thee Orgaasm (femaale)" is classic industrial music. An electronic throb over/under/around a female German voice going through a digital delay. Side two has a long piece by Mauthausen Orchestra. "Block 10". A great symphonic noise. The sound is "muddy" in parts and sounds like it was recorded live on a 2-track, but it still has power and that is what is important here....sounds like Esplendor Geometrico around the same period. I am now going to work through the"Gravitational Arch Of Sex" box. I am not too sure but I think Mauthausen Orchestra are playing at the Broken Flag Festival. Certainly a crowd puller for me! The tape finishes with a short Non like piece from Synthetisches Mischgewebe (AKA Das Synthetische Mischgewebe). Excellent sharp sound loop. "Illuminated 666 No. 1" is a great release. I have no idea if there was a "No. 2" or what happened to the label.


Sometimes I see a name of a band / project and I know I just have to hear what that name sounds like. Praying For Oblivion, Blod, Pestdemon have all been such names in the (recent) past...and now Trepaneringsritualen. Excellent name. I have been too late to get some of the releases - ultra limited tapes, just last week I missed out getting the "Veil The World" tape on some Polish label limited to 40 I was overjoyed when I managed to get a copy of the tape "Martyrium" on American label Small Doses. (Snapped up the new Kinit Her CD album at the same time). The cassette is a C40, packaged in a fold out sleeve, it comes allegedly with a 10 sided fold-out insert with artwork and info....but my copy didn't. The release is limited to 136 copies.
Are Trepaneringsritualen as good as their name? Hell, yes! Research tells me that Trepaneringsritualen is the solo project of Thomas Ekelund formerly of Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words...which (let's face it) is an awful name. Still, I saw a band called How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood listed on some noise site the other day...bloody awful name. OK, it's a Herzog film...but it's still a bloody awful name.
The tape starts with "Death Reveler" (I'm getting titles from Discogs). A pounding bass and base rhythm with distorted vocals. Metal percussion leads the track into madness. The sound is immediate and grabbing. "The Blood Of the New Covenant" has a more claustrophobic sound. An infested pulse beat and swarming insect sound lead us into a flat field. A voice tape evokes old school power electronics, Genocide Organ etc. It all ends on the sound of sharpening knives. Like track one "Plague Of Persecution" reminds me of Hunting Lodge. Not a bad thing. This track (the longest on the cassette) is built around low frequencies meeting electronic rumblings with controlled feedback. We're in a dark ambient place here. "Eucharist Of Piss And Shit" ends the tape. A short blast of throbbing noise and shouting, with metal percussion thrown about for maximum pleasure. Cracking stuff. I knew a band / project with such an excellent name wouldn't let me down.
If you can find any Trepaneringsritualen releases my advice is to get them.

1: Trepaneringsritualen Logo.
2: "Matyrium" Cover.
3: "Matyrium" Inner Artwork.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mark Stewart : On/Off

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a fanzine to list my top ten "essential" releases. Not desert island discs but records/releases that had influenced my way of life. Politics, listening, approach, attitude etc. I thought about this a lot and if I had been asked for a top 11 then The Pop Group's "Y" LP would be in there.
I have just got a copy of the Mark Stewart documentary "On/Off" on DVD. It is an excellent film. Back in the 1970's The Pop Group were a marmite band, and I love marmite. Shameless sloganeering set against cold white funk, angular free form jazz and punk all rolled into one. Fantastic. "Y" still sounds fresh today. The CD re-issue includes the 7" "She Is Beyond Good And Evil" and its' B Side "3.38" (which always sounded like Wire's "Former Airline" to me - or was it the other way round?) and is well worth hunting out.
The film starts off with Mark at home with his mother in Portland, Dorset and Mark talking about his life in Bristol in the early 1970's. Mark is a very chatty chappy and therefore makes the film come alive. His two brothers are included talking about life in the Stewart household. Punk and The Cortinas stirred Mark and his friends into action. Gareth Sager, Dan Catsis and John Waddington all give their accounts against promo footage and live performance footage.
....back in 1997 I showed my friend (at the time) John Everall a video clip of The Pop Group live on Dutch TV, he in turn told Mark who then rang my parents' asking if I could "dub" a copy for him and mail it to his home in Dorset which I duly did. I got a lovely thank you postcard a few days later...this clip appears in the DVD, although the director could have sourced it from elsewhere it is exactly the same 17 second clip of "Rob A Bank" I mailed him.....
Nick Cave, Fritz Catlin and Janine Rainforth are all talking heads in this section but strangely not Simon Underwood or Dennis Bovell. Mark then talks about the artwork that accompanied the records and how after they had toured with "For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder" LP he got bored and left the band. Promo videos for second LP tracks I have never seen before litter this part of the film.
I never did see The Pop Group live, they played close by at the Porterhouse in Retford with The Good Missionaries and Linton Kwesi Johnson but for some reason I never went...I did see Pigbag at the Porterhouse a few years later though.
The film is 88 minutes long and the split between The Pop Group and his solo work is roughly 50/50. After The Pop Group split I followed all the immediate splinter groups. Pigbag, Maximum Joy, (my favourite) Rip Rig And Panic and Maffia. I think the first LP is the better of all Maffia albums, it captures the early 80's zeitgeist beautifully. The film has some great live footage of Maffia performing "Jerusalem" in Bristol.
There is no mention of Mark as part of New Age Steppers or his work with Gary Clail and The On-U Sound System.
Enter Mark's second stage as performer and enter LeBlanc, Wimbish and McDonald. The film keeps up the energy with an enthusiastic Mark and Adrian Sherwood and members of Massive Attack (and Chicks On Speed) but my liking of Maffia has now all but disappeared. "Hypnotized" being the last Mark Stewart release I bought. After that it all sounds very "samey" to me.
"On/Off" is an excellent film and a necessary story told really well. Mark Stewart comes across likeable, lovable and really an old English eccentric. Any "fan" of The Pop Group should own this DVD. There are 70 minutes of extras - live footage and gallery stills and a set of postcards with the first 1000 copies.

1: DVD Cover.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Ashtray Navigations

Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest single by Ashtray Navigations. "Three Rockets Thicken" on Trensmat Records. Earlier in the month I saw the Ashtrays (as we call them at Hartop Towers) live at the Wysing Festival in Cambridgeshire and they were the hit of the day for me (besides Preslav Literary School and Astral Social Club and Disinformation), OK they were the surprise of the day for me. I liked the sound so much I bought this EP there and then.
13 years ago I played on the same bill as the Ashtrays in Nottingham, and that night had tainted my ears somewhat to their sound. They seemed to play for ever that night, a sort of improv. of zither and acoustic guitar. I got hold of the album "Four Raga Moods" but it did nothing for me. That is why, on this night in Cambridgeshire they hit me between the eyes with a great live sound.

The EP has three tracks, three short jams. Not extracts from longer pieces (something that I dislike) but three pieces recorded specifically for this 7" release. They have beginnings and ends.
"Monkey Music/Throw Money at the Monkeys" has an awakening of guitar and synthesizers. The sound is not too far from Section 25 and their "Key Of Dreams" LP. The synthesizer rush blossoms into....krautrock, moments later tablas work their way around the drifting guitar. It is beautifully uplifting. "Dinshan F Ghadali" is a short piece of floating guitars and keyboard drone. "Rocket Dust Slipping Out Of Your Mouth Some Afternoon" is a fantastic instrumental piece. It is 1970's prog rock sped up a few revolutions. The works of Greenslade came to mind whilst listening to this beauty. (is that a bad thing)?
How long have the Ashtrays sounded like this? Is their a full album of this material? Can anyone out there help?

Buy from or you will not regret it.

1: "Three Rockets Thicken" Sleeve.
2: Ashtray Navigation live in Cambridgeshire, September 2011.
3: Flyer from 1998.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Lyme Regis

"Crossing the border....Changing the menu" (Dome).

In the interests of research, my endless research in finding and reporting on secondhand record shops I travelled across borders and into Dorset and the coastal town of Lyme Regis. Sad to report that there are no secondhand vinyl emporiums in Lyme Regis, but there are plenty of pubs, fish & chip shops and a great secondhand book shop (at the bottom of the High Street).
Lyme Regis boasts to be the gateway to the Jurassic Coast which means pebbly beach. There is an artificial beach further down the coastline, if you're prepared to walk. Lovely soft sand and (today) the sea was swimmable. If you're after a pint and a great view of the Dorset coast, Lyme Regis is the place...just a shame about the secondhand record shops.

1: Old fossil on Jurassic Coast.
2: Oscar being a sand-angel.
3: Isabel F. (Reverse Ostrich...she buries her feet in the sand).

Friday, 23 September 2011


There seems to be a penchant for labels to be re-releasing / re-packaging old material from the 1980's and 1990's these days. Stuff that was ultra limited when it first came out now rediscovered and presented to a new audience...and a few of the old audience who have lost their originals or are on a path of youthful rediscovery. I am not complaining, personally I think it is great, especially when it works. (I am thinking of Harbinger Sounds' release of old Olympic Shitman recordings and live work). Second Layer Records have put out a cassette of the early recordings of Phil Julian, AKA Cheapmachines. The recordings were made 17 years ago; that's before HNW. 1994 when all noiseniks were Japanese crazy. There is no doubt that "Kept:1994-96" is a noise album. Blistering noise recorded and presented at a blistering pace. Side one is loud decay. "Damaged Electronics" as Phil puts it. Quite often the sound verges on implosion, a collapsed wall, but it is always brought back from the brink for another attack. A scholar from the legendary school of Putrefier. Side two starts off with a denser sound with hidden vocals in a morass of distortion. This is more Power Electronics than before. Track two is Musique-Concret. Durgan Country. Tape spool manipulation and kitchen implements contact mic'd through effect. Luc Ferrari. Excellent stuff. The second half of side two brings us back full circle and the sound / style /approach of side one. (No track listing here). There's a track with lyrics..not vocals, but lyrics. Can't tell what they are as they are masked by static noise surges and distortion but I'm certain they are lyrics. The tape ends on a tinnitus loop. Classic.
The cassette is gold and housed in a Richard Rupenus designed glossy sleeve. I'm not to sure of the edition run..probably 100 and available from Phil at and Second Layer Records.

1: Kept Sleeve.
2: "Gold" as Tony Hadley once said.
3: Kept Inner Sleeve.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tears Of Ochre (Unune)

Have just spent a pleasant while listening to Tears Of Ochre (Unune). In July I wrote my thoughts on an old compilation cassette release called "Power To Destroy" on the Lebensborn label, one of the bands on there was Agony For Pleasure whom I likened to Konstruktivists and whose track I like very much. Transpires that the guy behind Agony For Pleasure is still recording but under the moniker of Tears Of Ochre (Unune) and Agony For Pleasure has gone from project name to project label. Googling Tears Of Ochre (and I suggest you do) brings up loads of video footage on You Tube. Through this I contacted Mr. Ochre (aka Stephen Hopkins) and received this CDr album shortly after.
The album is titled ""An Eternity In An Infinite Flash Of Grey". Track One: "A Tenuous Link In Thee Endless Knot" begins with oscillations, random bleeps and synthesized sweeps. The sound of communication amongst machines. A great opener. slowly paced and leads into "Arable Grazing For Parable Sheep" perfectly. A sense of Coil is building with varispeeded and effected voices and a slow dragging beat. The mood / style changes with "When Things Fall Apart", repetitive loops / locked grooves provide an annoying track - could be a style/genre called glitch. Will have to check that out! Track 4 is the Tears Of Ochre (Unune) magnum opus with "Harmony/Disharmony/Illusion/Disillusion/Urge/Demiurge". The track sounds like a Novocaine nightmare with its angular synth attacks, sharp and piercing and floating around the speakers. Power surges and rumblings complete the sound. Sucks you in beautifully. "Revenge In The Spirit Realm" sounds like looped EVP Recordings accompanied by floating electronics. "Blood Comes In Spurts" plays like a homage to Monte Cazazza's "Kick That Habit Man" with a strong pulse beat and distorted vocals. The Novacaine nightmare returns with "Cerebral Incursions", madness in the vocals and keyboards. With "Fatal Romance (Judas As Homosexual)" looped electronics create a dancing rhythm which bounces around superbly. The sound phases and modulates to create a sound pattern not too far from what Neil Campbell produces. "A Subconscious Repercussion" slows the sound down. A slow wall of sound. (SNW as I call it). The album ends on a slight "novelty" track called "Under My Skin (Like Rabies)". Guitar, lyrics and cardboard drums.
An eclectic album, but I think one that was compiled over a period of time, maybe years, (Could be wrong) but as a taster to the sound and talent of Tears Of Ochre (Unune) it makes me want to discover more. Hopefully Stephen will create an Agony For Pleasure base soon.

1: CDr Cover.
2: Tears Of Ochre (Unune) art work.
3: CDr Back Cover.

Monday, 19 September 2011

COUM Transmissions At The Tate, 2011

I have spent the last couple of weekends passing through and staying in London so I made time to see the small Coum Transmissions exhibition at Tate Britain.
Billed under "COUM Transmissions In Context:Performance 1969-1977" what there is on display is art from the "Prostitution" show at the ICA in 1977, plus handwritten notes by Genesis on the set-up. Posters from COUM performances, a collage of Cosey's work for adult magazines and photographs from COUM's European shows. Bloody fascinating stuff to see up close and in the flesh, so to speak. I have only seen the work of COUM Transmissions in books before. The exhibition is part of a larger piece featuring work of Gilbert & George, Cerith Wyn Evans and Bruce McLean amongst others and is there until 15 January 2012.
Strangely enough after being out of Hartop Towers for a few days I came back to a pile of mail including the latest COUM Transmissions vinyl release "Sugarmorphoses" on the Dais label. Yet to play.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Astral Social Club #8

Live at The Wysing Arts Centre, Bourn, Cambridgeshire. 10/09/11.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Past Present Future Space-Time Festival, Cambridgeshire. 10/09/2011.

Have just spent a pleasant day at the "Past Present Future Space-Time Festival" in Bourn, Cambridgeshire. The lure for me to travel hundreds of miles to the event was a rare UK performance by Preslav Literary School and the attraction of hearing Astral Social Club loud!
Also along for the ride was my old friend Tim Bayes, recently back from Australia and now living in the wilds of Lincolnshire.
This was the second "Past Present Future Space-Time Festival" to take place at the Wysing Arts Centre so maybe still in its' teething stage, but for organisation and set up I think the festival will be going for a few years to come. There were some issues of "bad timing" vis-a-vis the running bill but I was told (and I am not a regular festival go-er, so I believe what I am told) that this is common place at events "like this". So there y'go.
The Festival began at Mid-Day.
The first few performers/bands on were local. Warm-Up acts. It all sounded a little like "Amateur Hour" whilst folk were milling about getting their bearings and bands were arriving and food stalls and the beer tent were setting up. (All tins of lager were £2).
The festival kicked off for real when The Dead Rat Orchestra played the Amphis Stage at 14:30. The Dead Rat Orchestra are a duo based in Madrid, although originally from Colchester. Their sound is of strings - violin and cello against a percussion of cow bells and the drone of harmonium. There were sections when the two members shouted at each other bringing into (my) mind Mieskuoro Huutajat, the Suomi shouting choir. Excellent stuff...fascinating to watch.
(The Amphis stage was a circular hut built out of reclaimed wood by artists Folke Kobberling annd Martin Kallwasser a unique venue).
With a bit of a lull it was time to catch up with Tim and sample the beer tents' wares and listen to The Invisible Polytechnic Orchestra soundcheck on the Boulder Stage. The Boulder Stage, an outdoor stage built to resemble a boulder sliced in half. The I.P.O. were performing a version of "In C" by Terry Riley. Sitting in a field in Cambridgeshire listen to the repetitive notes of clarinet and bassoon and the plucking of harp strings it was very relaxing.
Disinformation was performing indoors. This is where someone who understands the work of Joe Banks and Preslav Literary School was needed as their performance times clashed. I caught 10 minutes of Disinformation "Barcelona" before scurrying to the Amphis Hut to catch Preslav. For roughly half an hour Adam had me hooked in a trance as he built a soundscape out of prepared cassette loopings and spoken word. Magical. Preslav ran into I.P.O. time whose immense sound was ruined by some idiot in a battered transit van shouting sloguns through a megaphone at blistering volume - art...allegedly.
Simon Scott was interesting. The former Slowdive guitarist performed an ambient piece for laptop and guitar. A lovely raw live sound that fitted somewhere between The Durutti Column & The Cocteau Twins.
Not much happened after Simon's set. An awful noise came from the Matrix Stage. Devilman - a sound stuck in the early 1990's, but the festival crowd loved them. Whatever did happen to Gary Clail? Running times and artists were now overlapping so I am uncertain to whom I was watching, and after a few visits to the beer tent I didn't much care, reminiscing with Tim, Neil Campbell and Joe Banks about 1980's noise and its' place in 2011 was fun enough. Joe was Ashenden y'know.

Neil Campbell played at high speed and loud volume to create a miasmic whorl of noise, all kaos pads and distorted guitar riffs. The Amphis Stage became the Astral Social Club for 30 minutes. I have posted film of Neil live, so watch and enjoy. Ashtray Navigations quickly followed and were the great surprise of the day. I had played on the same bill as Ashtray back in 1998 and I found their sound (then) pretty hard to listen to but in the past 13 years they have changed somewhat in sound and personnel. This time last year I was in Paris watching Aethnor do their thing live and listening to Ashtray Navigations I was brought back to that night...but Ashtray's sound was a whole lot more accomplished, more directional and more bloody listenable. I am now going to have to catch up on Phil's output over the past ten years.
Ashtray Navigations closed the Amphis Stage so it was a slow wander to the Boulder Stage (via the beer tent) to listen to folk play dull and predictable laptop stuff.

The festival was well worth the trip because of Neil, Phil, Joe and Adam and The Dead Rat Orchestra and Simon Scott were a pleasant surprise. Like I mentioned earlier, the festival is still in a "teething stage".

1: Festival Flyer.
2: Festival "programme".
3: Myself (in Aaron Dilloway T-Shirt) watching Peter Um.
4: Dead Rat Orchestra.
5: Disinformation.
6: Preslav Literary School table set-up.
7: Preslav Literary School.
8: The Amphis Stage.
9: Simon Scott.
10: Tim, Neil & Joe. (3 Hippies)!
11: Astral Social Club.
12: Ashtray Navigations.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Secondhand Record Shops #14: Pete's Music, Cambridge.

Just spent a couple of days discovering the delights of Cambridge, trying (and failing) to find Spaceward Studios and finding the old Corn Exchange where once the late great Birthday Party trod the boards...they had a limiter y'know....anyway. Cambridge is a lovely City in the sun. There's some awesome architecture and plenty of pubs. One thing lacking though is the secondhand vinyl store. There is a Fopp and HMV so that's perhaps the reason why? Friday & Saturday was Market Day and on the market was "Pete's Music". The traditional secondhand record market dealer. Boxes and boxes of old LP's sectioned beautifully in to genres so I was not ploughing through endless Showaddywaddy or Gene Pitney to find a gem. There was also a large selection of CD's and DVD's which I didn't browse.
I managed to find an old Here & Now 7"EP; "Dog In Hell" and the picture disc version of the B.Movie LP "The Dead Good Tapes" and both for a tenner.
I visited a few charity shops in the City, but most vinyl was of classic sorts, to be expected I suppose.
If visiting Cambridge and it is Market Day, head for The Guildhall (signposted as Tourist Information Centre) and you'll find Pete.

1+2 : Pete's stall in Cambridge.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Aural Atrocities (Volume 3)

I have had this album, this CDr, for a couple of years or more now and I could not remember ever playing it, so I pulled it from the racks and gave it my ears, and time...
The CDr was in a package from Duncan Harrison a couple of years back, so I must have given his contribution a listen, but the rest was all new. The album looks like one of those compilations made by someone requesting material on a forum board, and running off copies on demand. Apart from Duncan the only other artists (using term loosely here) I have heard of are Cracked Dome & Splinter Vs Stalin and that is because they appear on certain noise/experimental sound forum boards. The rest read like a line up at a MySpace Convention for no-hopers. The album was released in 2009 from recordings made between 2006 & 2009 and is on the 412 Recordings label.
The album starts with Gas Chamber and "Deflower". The track has a male /female telephone conversation before blasting in to full on noise. There is no information on Gas Chamber. To me it sounds Japaneses so my guess is that he (it's always a he) is Canadian. Next up is Cracked Dome, within the message Cracked Dome = Blasphemator. "Blessed Coma" is a dark ambient piece, very atmospheric picturing empty vessels and shallow graves etc. The sound builds to a wide open noisesphere before decaying and disappearing. Interesting piece. Novasak provide circuit bending electronics. Not a favourite. Then in comes Slut Kull with "Cunt Kicker". The track actually starts off with an extract from the Derek & Clive "World's Greatest Cunt Kicker Inner" sketch. Unfuckingbelievable. Recorded in 2006 and sounding 20 years out of date - Comedy Power Electronics? (CPE). Stuntcock are from Ross-On-Wye. (Fred) West Country. Hawkwind style synth noodles through a trebly distorto-box. Next up is TGNM, a Japanese project operated by Yokota. Yokota describes his sound as brutal style harsh noise and who am I to disagree?
Duncan Harrison follows with the six minute piece "Honeying". Layering of choral singing and monastic chanting through a variety of echo chambers. It is sort of ambient and quite simply the best so far. It is hard to believe that there is a project called Chav Stabber but he (it is always a he) is up next with "Running With The Kull". Basically it is noise for noise sake rather like the next track by Beaten To A Pulp. "Beaten To A Fucking Pulp" starts with a distressed phone call to the police from a mother who has had her daughter kidnapped. This leads in to old school noise performed by a person called "Skippy" who I think has listened to too much Slogun. Back to CPE again. Splinter Vs Stalin is just bloody awful and proving the title of this compilation correct. The French project N.D.E.K. follow with (back to) noise for noise sake stuff.
The album finishes on a three minute track called "Choke On This!" by A Machine Called Orgasm. The sound of crunching looped electronics. It is quite a good track if it didn't keep stopping and starting with a sound of a female voice faking an orgasm.
The CDr is for sale on Discogs for a pound. Six minutes of Duncan Harrison for a pound? Your choice.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


The week started with the purchase of the latest LP by Pestdemon. "Helvetesljuset" on UK label Unrest Productions. (I think a rough translation would be " Hell Of Light", but don't quote me). So knowing I had a few days before it arrived in the post I set about reacquainting myself with the sound of Pestdemon via the half a dozen tapes I have bought over the past three years.
It was the name that intrigued me That, and the first cassette was released by a UK label therefore being easy to get hold of. "Esurient & Unwholesome" was released in 2008 by Unrest Productions. Limited to 100 copies. The sound is visceral.There's gristle in the sound. Side one is full of swirling electronics and tinkling Tibetan percussion making a sound of evil amongst the crawling chaos, side two has storm interference on a shortwave radio. The overall sound is of power electronics from the 1990's. Think Cold Meat Industry and Art Konkret. It came across (at the time) as a stunning debut and three years later is still a great listen. "Vexations" followed in the following year. A 48 minute cassette released by the Swedish Stromkarlen label. Stromkarlen is the label set up by Ex-Segerhuva operator Jonas Kellagher. Again the cassette is limited to 100 copies. The tape carries on from where "Esurient" left off with the sound of layered static noise, dropping, building, looping to great effect. HNW I believe it is called. There are hidden vocals that rise and have the trademark black/doom metal grunt but here it doesn't detract...more uplifts. Excellent cassette release. In the same year came "Hidden Temple", a 30 minute cassette (again) on the Unrest Productions label. "Hidden Temple" has a cavernous decaying sound, the electronics throb, grind and oscillate before being looped and layered. Powerful material. Side two is dark. Very dark. Swirling looped electronic noise that has a church choir hiding in the background. Doom Electronics, or Doom Harsh Noise Wall. (DHNW). Think Content Nullity, think Duncan Harrison and if you're old enough think "Lustmordekay". 
2010 saw the release of "Natural Destroyer" on the Swedish Utmarken label. This cassette is limited to 50 copies. "Natural Destroyer" is not an immediate favourite, the construction of noise here is lacking. There are no hooks, no loops just a relentless screaming wall of formless noise and not my cup of tea. Four tracks all with a lupined theme. It was at this point that I was thinking "is Pestdemon a spent force"? Had I heard his better material? (I am at this point thinking that the project Pestdemon is the work of one man, probably Swedish, otherwise wouldn't it be The Pestdemons)? The fifth Pestdemon cassette (fifth to my knowledge anyway) was another release by Unrest Productions and this time with a full colour sleeve so I bought a copy. Unrest Productions is not only a fine UK label and distributor but Martin does seem to put the purchase in the next days post. Faultless. "Doppelganger" is another 30 minute cassette released in the strangely limited edition of 141. Side One is of rolling distortion hiding radio broadcasts and spoken word tapes. Side Two begins with piano. Looped piano. Melancholic and funereal Crumbling electronics fluctuate around the sound before becoming continuous and addictive - then the piano returns with a lamenting operatic vocal before the sound becomes full circle. Excellent cassette and it brought me back in to the faith of Pestdemon. Next release was the split cassette with Rannstensungar on the Swedish labels Konsortium Lithopedium and Kafe Kaos - both being new labels on me. Unfortunately my cassette doesn't play, there were labels glued over the spindle holes. I tried to clear the holes but this made the tape jam and jar whilst playing and almost fucking up my tape machine. The cassette is limited to 50 copies and it would be interesting to know if any other folk have had the same problem.  
"Helvetesljuset" is a great LP. The sound is low key, and resembling the release "Hidden Temple". It has the sound of shuffling and scraping around an old industrial site or darkplace to quote Garth Merenghi. Again it brought to mind the work of Duncan Harrison...and that in my book is a major plus.
I shall continue to listen to and seek out the releases of Pestdemon.

1: Esurient & Unwholesome.
2: Vexations.
3: Hidden Temple.
4: The Natural Destroyer.
5: Doppelganger.
6: Split cassette with Rannstensungar.
7: Helvetesljuset. (not sleeve, but promotional artwork from Troniks board).


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Take It To The Limit

Have spent the last few days reading Neil Anderson's book "Take It To The Limit" a history of the Sheffield club; The Limit. After reading Tony Beesley's "Out Of Control", a book about two clubs in South Yorkshire - Doncaster Rotters and Rotherham Windmill it seemed to make sense getting this book.
I never went to either of the aforementioned clubs. I did spend a small portion of 1985 living in Sheffield in an area called Meersbrook but The Leadmill was the venue of choice and the watering holes of London Road (Red Lion)? Still, after collecting live tapes in the late 1970's/early 1980's I know that The Limit was a club of some renown and a history of the club would make interesting reading, and in parts I wasn't wrong.

The Limit was created by two entrepreneurs in 1978 - a Rock DJ and an ex-copper. They wanted to create a club with no dress code and therefore be an ideal place for the students and "outsiders" of Sheffield.
The book seems to present the club as some sort of oasis, but in the area there was Retford Porterhouse and Nottingham's Ad Lib Club (later The Garage) and preceding this... The Outlook in Doncaster and The Windmill in Rotherham and most importantly to me: AJ's in Lincoln - the Limit may have been unique to Sheffield but not necessarily to the area. Still, the story of how The Limit was built from The Buccaneer through to The Wapentake Bar and the characters involved is interesting. The book has great pictures from the club, some I haven't seen before - Punishment Of Luxury, Vice Versa, and a strange one of Clock DVA (!), and lists of bands that played...The Human League for 20p!! Good stuff. It quotes NMX too,I used to think it was a bloody miserable fanzine at the time and nothing printed here changes my mind.I much preferred the Leicester based "Y" at the time.
There is an interesting side story too, of the owners buying The Lyceum building, sinking their profits in to the venture and end up losing their "millions". Again, Sheffield Lyceum another venue I have never been to.

The book is a quick read but a worthy one and to all those who went to punk clubs in the late 1970's it will bring back memories.
I do find it interesting how Sheffield is now selling itself as a trail-blazing (musical) city in the late 1970's with videos, books and dedicated the time the city was no different (to me) from Lincoln or Nottingham. Great local bands with great venues to see them at.

Buy the book, £12.95 from or Sheffield Vision, it'll keep you entertained for a few days.  

1: Early Clock DVA promotional shot.
2: Book Cover.

And Then She Lied Again: Dieter Müh Doin' It Dresden Style

And Then She Lied Again: Dieter Müh Doin' It Dresden Style: