Friday, 30 August 2013

Animals & Men #2

Have just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from Animals & Men, the 10" EP "To Live And Die In The West Country". That's right ... new release after many many years. When bands from the old days (that's late 70's early 80's to you and me) reform the news always comes with a sense of trepidation, a sigh of "oh dear" ... but with Animals & Men there's no need to worry - they have kept their sound (they have kept their line-up), they have returned with a no nonsense hi-fi lo-production classic EP that sounds as if it could have been released in 1979. The sound has a live studio feel with hardly any instrument separation or overdubs and no cymbals were struck in the making of this EP.
Four tracks that kick off with "Easy Riding", a sense of motorik, chugging blues .. "Living on planet' easy" followed by "I Never Worry", a live favourite from 1982. Discordant guitar strikes with a Wire-esque bass line and a catchy chorus. Great stuff. Side Two opens with the longest piece on the EP "Oh Death! (Traditional)". Description: Think of Neu or Guru Guru jamming with Young Marble Giants and you won't be far away from the sound. Vocals way down the mix and at times incoherent. Susan Wells has a similar style  / voice to Alison Stratton. "Just A Dot" ends the EP. A little power-pop paean that (I think) needs a scuzz guitar running low in the mix throughout ... sounds like a Swell Maps song (without the scuzz guitar running low in the mix throughout).
I like this release, it takes me back to a time when I was innocent and happy. It is sing-a-long and dancey.
Hopefully Animals & Men will do some live dates to promote this release. It is on their own Radstock Records imprint. Contact ralphjmitchard(at) to get a copy. (I have no idea how many have been pressed).

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dieter Muh Live In Paris & London 2010.

A release of live performance recordings made in London & Paris 2010 is imminent through Hanson Records. Details to follow.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


Whilst sat here getting ready to type this blog I thought I'd slip on the compilation CD "Throne" recently put together by Cold Spring Records. It starts with a track by Iron Fist Of The Sun which is so bloody awful I cannot believe that Cold Spring don't have some sort of quality control ... Unbelievable .. and anyway I am not here to to tell of my personal dislikes but to talk of VipCranco.
With VipCranco I know I am somewhat late to the party but it was only in June this year that Chris Groves of Cipher Productions introduced me to their sound. I have given my thoughts on their release via Cipher earlier this month .. Bowled over with their sound I have now bought two more albums .. courtesy of Cold Spring Records. (They have a summer sale on at the moment and there are bargains to be bagged).
"Xax" was released five years ago and is their first release on their own imprint Lisca Records. I know little of VipCranco and their output as there is very little written on the Internet, but I do know that they are an Italian quartet. "Xax" is a great album, very hard to categorise and quite unlike the ritual drone of the eponymous Cipher Productions cassette. The sound across the six tracks (three a side) is mainly ampnoise and frequencies. I can here radio dial doodling and the distant humming of bass guitar strings but the main construct is ampnoise and (controlled) feedback. It is not claustrophobic but it certainly has a boundary - I know that I am in a room with the sound. I (almost) get a sense that the pieces are scored. Classical Musique Concret. (CMC as we say in the trade). Think Alvin Lucier, Peter Appleton and Annie Gosfield. The "Noise In Your Eye" installations that were travelling the UK thirty or so years ago - that sound is all in "Xax".
The pieces have excellent titles too; "Blue Mastitis", "C5-C6", "The End Is Endless Strife" - which has such weird frequency shifts that it wouldn't sound out of place on the "Berbarian Sound Studio" soundtrack. "Xax" closes with the electronic sandstorm "Uncoloured Future".
It's a brilliant LP to play alongside "Afflicted Man Musica Box" and anything by Grey Park.
As mentioned, I managed to pick up a copy from Cold Spring Records (the "Throne" CD has picked up a little thanks to Boyd Rice covering David Bowie), or try Discogs. (There's no contact address on the LP).

Friday, 23 August 2013

MuhMur SoundArt Radio Broadcast : 22/08/2013.

What a difference a day makes, as I sit and type this the rain is lashing against the front windows of Hartop Towers, dark rumbling skies and wet socks after just nipping out to the off license to top with Belgiums finest. Yesterday was radio show day and Tamsin and I took the kids for an early evening picnic in the grounds of Dartington Hall. Glorious sunshine!
Tonights programme featured exclusive material from ARKHE. The latest project of Andreas Johansson. Andreas used to perform and release under the name of Pestdemon and the "session" features an unreleased track from that period. High quality material for which I say Tack! Andreas. I hope you enjoy ...
Engineer Dave is on holiday in Aberdeen so SoundArt mainman Chris Booth sat in with me. It is his voice you can hear introducing the programme ... A little bit of the previous programme bleeds in to the mixcloud upload - some poetry live from a pub in the late 1970's ... sorry ... live from a pub in Totnes.

01 : Tibetan Red : "The Sistine Chapel" (Zanfonia) 2000.
02 : Arkhe : "Pagan Mechanisms" (Exclusive piece for MuhMur Radio).
03 : Arkhe : "Kryptovraklarn" (Solformorkelse) 2012.
04 : These Feathers Have Plumes : "Don't Wish Your Life Away" (Sheepscar Light Industrial) 2013.
05 : Andrew Chalk : "Vega #3" (Faraway Press) 2004.
06 : Soviet France : "Smocking Erde" (Charrm Records) 1990.
07 : Tribes Of Medusa : "Veil Of The Solstice" (Self Released) 2013.
08 : Arkhe : "Vrakloge" (Exclusive piece for MuhMur Radio).
09 : The Sodality : "They Never Learn" (Verba Corrige) 1994.
10 : Virgin Prunes : "Sandpaper Lullably" (Rough Trade Records) 1981.
11 : Pestdemon : "Hearse - Cold Air" (Exclusive piece for MuhMur Radio).
12 : The Country Teasers : "David I Hope You Don't Mind" (Fat Possum Records) 1999.
13 : Dieter Muh : "Bethlehem" (Live at London Slimelight. 2004).
14 : Arkhe : "We Have Borne Swords, We Know, Do We Not?" (Release The Bats) 2012.
15 : Gary Numan : "Cars" (Live in Santa Monica 1980).

The programme is uploaded on mix cloud. Copy & Paste.
*** ***
The next programme will be at 9pm on Thursday September 19th. SoundArt is having a "tech week" after covering the Totnes Festival, so there will be no programme on the 5th. The 19th will be the 23rd MuhMur Radio Programme and will feature exclusive material from Phil Julian.

1: In the DJ's chair. (Photo by Chris Booth).
2: Arkhe "Session".
3: Pre-Programme Picnic.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ceramic Hobs

Have just spent a pleasant weekend listening to The Ceramic Hobs latest LP "Spirit World Circle Jerk" on Must Die Records. A strong contender for album of the year, but there's four months to go ...
A long time since a Hobs album release and this one carries on from where the 7" "33 Trapped Chilean Miners" left us. "Shergar" was polished - "Spirit World" is raw and how I like my Hobs.
It is the side long "Voodoo Party" that really gets me excited. A magickal mystery tour. It has cheesy muzak beginnings with tales of close encounters of the fourth kind and ends with reports of elementary school shootings in Connecticut and for fifteen or so minutes in-between is the work of sheer brilliance.
The construction of the album reminds me of Smell & Quim's "Spaceshit" with the segueing tapes cut ups and lounge lizard cocktail jazz moments ... "Voodoo Party" (as mentioned) starts with a radio phone-in from a woman who claims to have passed through a stargate and whilst this is happening there's a telephone conversation just out of earshot - memories of 'phone conversations with the mighty John Everall (although I know it's not). Rumblings as the machines awake to the beating of drums and beginning of a live improvised psyche-out "Hobs" style. (Copyright Hulme Crescent squat bands, 1986). Just as it starts it collapses and Jase Williams of Mothers Of The Third Reich blurts on the saxophone. "No, You're Going The Wrong Way" Live psychedelic rock-out with the kind of noise and quality that sucks you in to its vortex. The brain thinks of multi-coloured light show, strobes, smoke machines pumping out vanilla and strawberry clouds ... chant "Voodoo Party ... Voodoo Party" - turn the speakers to eleven and it gets very intense. Mushroom flashback. The voice of Elvis, there's a hurricane a-coming, Sandy Hook shootings...who's that telling me to smile and the world'll smile with me? Millicent Martin, Alma Cogan, Susan Boyle ...
Side A is made up of six tracks. I won't lie, I have been following the writings of ceramic head Simon Morris for a few years now. His words of wisdom and glorious insight and machinations of the world politic that appear on various Internet forum boards have kept me "tuned in". The tracks on Side A contain pearls of wisdom and word-play that take you in to Simon's world. "Say No, To" ... Child Witches .. The Devil .. "The Hong Kong Goolagong" is anthemic - I've been chanting it for the past few days ... who is John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt? "His name is my name too". Sections of "Voodoo Party" are revisited in title track, with acoustic twelve string and harmonies to rival Crosby, Stills & Nash .. or The Albion Dance Band. The side ends with "T.A. Death".  where Simon growls over a rough and raw 12 Bar Blues riff and tells us "I'll have your guts for garters".
It's one of those LP's where you play Side A and have to play Side B straight away and then Side B again. Give yourself a good hour and a few tins to listen to this.
The LP is limited to 250 copies and is packaged in an unique Dr. Steg silk screen print. Yeah, each LP is unique, not only in sound but in artwork too...Must Die Records have given The Ceramic Hobs a release they deserve.
Go to and see if there's any left - you need to hear this LP, and (just to let you know) MDR are putting out an Astral Social Club 7" in a couple of weeks!

1: Tamsin modelling the latest LP by The Ceramic Hobs!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Dark. Outside. Galloway Forest. 2013.

 The Dark Outside

Sunday August 31, 12pm - Sunday September 1, 12pm. Murrays Monument, The Galloway Forest.
Contributed an unreleased recording to this project: "As part of the Environmental Art Festival Scotland, 24 hours of music that nobody has ever heard before will be broadcast from noon to the Galloway Forest where nobody might be listening. The only way to hear ids to be there".

Monday, 12 August 2013

VipCancro/Andrea Borghi

Very excited about this cassette. I do like hearing new projects / new sounds / fresh approaches etc and this has happened with VipCancro. I understand that they have been actively performing and releasing for quite a while, but this weekend I "discovered" them for myself. (Well, with a helping hand from Chris Groves of Cipher Productions). I remember (well) meeting a chap called Mick McDaid in Lincoln about 15/16 years ago and he introduced to me to a whole new sound with projects like  Inade, Column One, Origami Galaktika, Manipura and loads more  - listening to VipCranco reminds me of meeting Mick.
Chris kindly handed me this cassette when we met in Berlin in June. A clandestine meeting outside "Barbieworld" just off the Alexanderplatz. On returning I took the tape from its packaging and it had Velcro sticky pads on the cassette - if I put it in the cassette player it would have been stuck in there for ever! Now I know that Chris was getting bored of standard cassette package releases, but I thought this was maybe an "anti-cassette", one that would ruin my cassette player. So the cassette remained on the shelf in the gimp room at Hartop Towers. Last week I received a message from Chris saying that I could just peel the sticky-pad off and the tape'll play fine. The cassette comes packaged in a cut and bent old record with the information being the label of the vinyl. (see picture). The cassette is stuck with "industrial" Velcro inside the bent vinyl. Nice idea.
VipCranco are Italian. A quartet that release stuff on their own Lisca Records. I have no idea what VipCranco means - my computer tells me it is Galician, but that is about all. It does sound like Kip Keino who used to be a marathon runner for Kenya ... but I don't think that fact bears any relevance to the cassette. The cassette is a split release with VipCranco bass player Andrea Borghi. VipCranco's sound is of controlled feedback and amp noise. Straight away I am put in mind of Nurse With Wound and their "Soliloquy For Lilith" / "Homotopy For Marie" / "Spiralinsana" albums. Dark, ritual, subterranean (industrial) un-nerving ... classic stuff. Four pieces of magic. "Flutal" has eerie whale song loop and tiny tiny floating voices ..... real clever stuff, and after playing the latest These Feathers Have Plumes 3" Cdr I can hear similarities in sound.
I cannot recommend VipCranco enough and I am now going to hunt for their back catalogue!
As mentioned, Side two is Andrea Borghi, VipCranco member and founder of Lisca Records. Andrea presents more "noisier" pieces, tracks that venture in to HNW. (I think). Microphone feedback, heavy distortion and echo on stun. "Abort/Modifica 3" is slightly more minimalist but still with ampnoise and crackling electricity ... it has an air of abandonment ... and the final piece is far too long - but let's not dwell on side two - it is VipCranco that need listening too.
The tape is available from Cipher Productions or google Lisca Records and brush up on your Italian - expect to hear on my radio programme soon.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

These Feathers Have Plumes #2


Have just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from Sheepscar Light Industrial, the label that keeps on delivering the goods. They seem to release in batches and the pick of the latest batch is "Untitled" by London based project These Feathers Have Plumes. Two pieces on a three inch Cdr spread over sixteen minutes. The first piece "Between Earth And Air" is a perfect example / introduction to the sound of TFHP. (Is there are nickname? Do fans know them as The Feathers or The Plumies)? I have seen TFHP live a couple of times in the past few months and this piece reminds me of those performances. It starts all ritualistic with the clanking of gongs and the chiming of bells, the tinkling resonance of hand bells (Eastern mantra) before the bowing of cymbals and glass begins. Vibrations are caught and processed and patterned in to a throbbing wall. Great stuff, would be lovely to see The Feathers (that's what I'm calling 'em from now on) perform in some great cathedral.
"Don't Wish Your Life Away" (great title) is a beautiful piece of meditative music. Tones and drones. Restrained and yet it has a wide open vista. Slightly melancholic and very intense. Andrew Chalk sprang immediately to mind, and there was a hint ( a hue) of SPK and their "Songs Of Byzantine Flowers" sound. That could be the cello? I have no idea how the sounds were made here, but it is one of the best things I have heard this year...a work of pure genius.
As with all Sheepscar Light Industrial stuff, this will be ultra limited. Go to and try and bag a copy.

1: Andi Brown of These Feathers Have Plumes.
2: "Untitled" sleeve.

Friday, 9 August 2013

MuhMur SoundArt Radio Broadcast : 08/08/2013.

A sunny and balmy night at Dartington ... the festival is still going on. Dirty Electronics were in performance in the bar but it was the same time as the radio ...
No sessions or exclusives tonight, just me spinning some of my favourite sounds of the moment.
Next programme will feature exclusive material from ARKHE but at the moment I am not sure when that will be. Dave (the engineer) is on holiday at the time of my next programme, so we are seeing if any one can come off the subs bench - and give me a lift back home ... I'll keep you updated via this blog!

01 : Clew Of Theseus : "Blind Guides" (Verlautbarung Records) 2011.
02 : Lustmord : "Comahon QQ Comahon" (Side Effekts Records) 1986.
03 : Merzbow : "Gateway To Itabashi" (Plastic Cowboy Recordings) 2000.
04 : Alvars Orkester : "Johannishus" (Ash International) 2006.
05 : Grunt : "You Can't Hide" (Force Majeure) 2005.
06 : ANTIchildLEAGUE : "Shit Baby" (Hag Records) 2009.
07 : Post Scriptvm : "Leperous Driver" (Silken Tofu/Peripheral Records) 2013.
08 : Debt Of Nature : "KXLU 2-16-1986" (Harbinger Sound) 2013.
09 : Factrix : "Eerie Lights" (Superior Viaduct) 2012.
10 : The Residents : "Beyond The Valley Of A Day In The Life" (Ralph Records) 1977.
11 : TuxedoMoon : "59 To 1 (Remix)" (Pre Records) 1980.
12 : The Weirdos : "We Got The Neutron Bomb" (Trikont) 2004.
13 : Burial Hex : "Hunger 1 + 2" (Holidays Records) 2010.
14 : Human Larvae : "The Truth I Failed To See" (L.White Records) 2013.
15 : Metabolist : "Identify" (Dromm) 1980.
16 : Young Marble Giants : "Credit In The Straight World" (Domino Recordings) 2007.
17 : Ultravox : "Slow Motion" (Island Records) 1978.
18 : Nocturnal Emissions : "Lighten Our Darkness" (Solielmoon) 1999.
19 : factor X: "Untitled (022 #1)" (Monochrome Vision) 2011.
20 : The Ruins : "Olivier Messiaen" (Plastic Cowboy Recordings) 2000.

The programme has been uploaded onto my site at MixCloud.
(Cut & Paste):

Thank You.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Days Of Idwal Fisher

I was having a conversation the other day about The 012, brought on by my mention of the Fuck Off     Records "Tapezine", and the guy with whom I was having the converse with said that he included their LP "Let's Get Professional" in his Top 100 punk albums list in "Idwal Fisher #4". He didn't say #4 as he couldn't remember which issue it was in, anyway ... it reminded me that stashed under the table in the gimp room amongst a pile of Dieter Muh cassettes and back issues of The Wire & Record Collector is the complete collection of "Idwal Fisher" magazine and its forerunner "Just Glittering".
So I slipped on some Etant Donnes and settled down to read Idwal Fisher #4. It is a great read, it is ... funny. Irreverent and very very funny. #4 is the "Live Special" with gig reports of Emil Beaulieau's 2003 visit to the UK, VibraCathedral Orchestra in Leeds and Smell & Quim + Putrefier in at "Scruffy Murphys" in Birmingham.
"We make it to Birmingham and a one way system devised by a blind retard gives us much cause for mirth and merriment. We find 'Scruffy Murphys'  but Steve decides we should try the pub next door for a laugh, the place is full of white trash, must have been giro day today. A real 'Phoenix Nights' feel to the place. A DJ (in the loosest sense of the term) with tattoos and a stained string vest spins Abba and Olivia Newton John at a volume Merzbow would be proud of".
Classic Idwal - the Steve is Steve Underwood by the way...not me, but I know exactly what Mark means when he says that Steve decides they should try the pub next door for a laugh. Steve's top 100 list is the highlight of #4. Sham 69 "That's Life" is the greatest concept LP ever made, 48 Chairs are as good as The Normal Hawaiians and is that Current 93 on the cover of the English Subtitles LP? It actually made me dig out my copy - ha ha ha. (Which is sadly not included by the way)..
There are pages and pages of reviews. Tapes, vinyl, CD's and other magazines - #4; and I was still writing a page or two of reviews. It is in #4 that I mention "A Call To Crime In A Cold Hard Time" a double tape release by Krimkal Productions. Here I write negatively about a project called Arsedestroyer. "Rule number one, never name yourself after a Whitehouse track. Why? Because the listener will just either eject the cassette, fast forward or go to the toilet. I did the latter. I did the former and the latter and then I did the washing up". It's one of my favourite reviews. I also wrote bad things about a project called Kemikaze Electronics and nearly 10 years later I meet the guy in Stockholm. He was very drunk and aggressive and remembered the review word for word. Luckily he fell in to a drunken coma later on in the evening and had to be carried out in to the streets.
#4 also contains a write up on alcoholic beverages, has a "name the ugly mug quiz" - it's a photo of Steve Fricker and the regular "Charity Shop News" where Mark (Mr. Idwal) chats he about his latest scores from West Yorkshires finest charity shops ...
The magazine took me two sides of an Etant Donnes LP and I laughed and tittered throughout.

Idwal Fisher is / was the brainwave of Mark Wharton. A4 sized and on average about 40 pages of humorous bilge. It began life as "Just Glittering" and ran for eight issues and was available for trade (food, stamps or cash). Idwal Fisher #1 was "Gary Simmons reviews eleven Fiend releases" - a bizarre issue. Writers for Idwal Fisher included Jase Williams, Steve Underwood, Dave Uden, myself and Simon Morris. As much as i like to read Idwal Fisher blog I do think that Idwal Fisher & Just Glittering magazines need to be reprinted in book form - like what has been done with "Sniffin' Glue" and "Ablaze". Idwal was more "fun" when it was on paper - there was more graphics and throwaway comment. The Psychic TV Reunion 2023 photo on the front of "Just Glittering #3" with the selling tags - "More Shite To While Away The Minutes" and "Free To A Good Home" I hold up as exhibit A m'lud.
The magazines are entertainment and education rolled in to one - I never knew there was a 48 Chairs LP!
Is there a publisher out there who'll take the task on?

1: Idwal Fisher #4
2+3: My collection of JG's and Idwals.

Dieter Muh #50 (2). Bremen, The Elefant.

The Elefant Nr. 5 Bremen

 Sat Oct 12 2013 at 08:00 pm Add to calendar
Venue : DeetjenPark, hinter dem Bahnhof
Created By : Feine Pinkels
Sponsored links
The Elefant Nr. 5 Bremen
Dieter Muh is solo project of Devon (UK) based sound artist Steve Cammack. Dieter Muh were formed as a trio back in 1994 and have released their sounds on labels as diverse as EE Tapes, Harbinger Sound, Tesco Organisation, Xerxes and Hanson Records, as well as Steve Cammack’s own Haemoccult label. Dieter Muh’s last album was released on the German Verlautbarung label. “Heterodoxie”. (2012).
The sound of Dieter Muh (2012) is construction and de-construction of prepared loops and drones. Often filed under “dark ambient” and “organic industrial”, Dieter Muh incorporates hard electronic rhythms and vocals into their live sound. For the Berlin performance Dieter Muh will be assisted by former Appliance member Michael Parker.

B ( ) TONG
hostile electronics, noisy tectonics, drones & tones
B°TONG is Chris Sigdell, former member of the German experimental industrial group NID (1995 - 2005).
With B°TONG he reaches for the nether regions of experimental electronic sound and has established himself as an acknowledged soundscape artist.
His music is a choice of dark, brooding layers of sound, high-pitched tones and weird electronic sounds that give birth to images of darkness and tranquillity, the solitude of an icy polar night or the equivalent of an underwater journey into a bottomless pit. To create these soundscapes, he uses found samples and self-made recordings and processes these on the computer together with recordings of his own voice and other vocal samples. There are no traditional instruments involved. In a live-situation Chris Sigdell relies on playing metal-sheets, electric toys and various kitchen utensils. The sounds thus generated are put through various effect-pedals giving him that trademark B°TONG sound.

B°TONG plays as much as possible, as this is part of his ambition. He travels all over the western and eastern european countries and has toured Russia once, and the U.S.A. and Canada twice. He has shared the stage with well-known artists like: Aun, Batur Sönmez, Column One, Dave Phillips, Frontline Assembly, Origami Galaktika, Sudden Infant, The (Law) Rah Collective, To Live And Shave In LA, Troum, Zbigniew Karkowski and many others. He has played festivals such as: Sinus-Series (Basel 2006), Ausklang (Hamburg 2006), Shift (Basel 2007 & 2008), Lab 30 (Augsburg 2009) , Støy På Landet (Rognes 2010), Unser Industrie V (Leipzig 2011), Zeit Für Lärm 5 (Osnabrück 2012), and performed on a number of renown radio stations. Sometimes B°TONG collaborates with other artists (Alain Courtis, Batur Sönmez, Diskrepant, Origami Galaktika, PS Stamps Back, TBC, Tamagawa) and is part of installations (“Polarkreis” & “95°“ by Brigitte Gierlich & Camilla Schuler) or video-projects (“Images” by Ulrich Fischer). He also does his own video-clips - the video to Sphere II was shown at the 2007 Miami Art Fair as part of the Urban Nomad film-festival; the videos to Black Dog Dream and 95° were shown in Beijing (Taiwan). The video “Fragile Package” was made by video artist Silvia Bergmann.

TROUM is a duo located in Bremen, Germany, established in early 1997. The two members "GlitH" and "Baraka[H]" were active before in the influental ambient industrial group MAËROR TRI (which existed from 1988 to 1996). TROUM is the old german word for "DREAM". The dream seen as a central manifestation of the unconscious symbolizes the aim of TROUM to lead the listener into a hypnotizing dream-state of mind, a pre-verbal and primal consciousness sphere. TROUM uses music as the direct path to the Unconscious, pointing to the archaic "essence" of the humans inner psyche. TROUM tries to create music that works like a direct transformation of unconscious matter.
TROUM's creations are influenced by post-industrial, minimal and drone-music. Both members use guitar, bass, voice, accordion, balalaika, flute, mouth-organ, melodica, gong, field recordings, pre-recorded-tapes and a diversity of sound-objects to build a kind of multi-layered and highly atmospheric dreaming-muzak. Their sound could be described as "dark atmospheric ambient industrial", "transcendental noise" or just "Tiefenmusik". TROUM doesn't work with synths, samplers or computer-soundsources, the sounds are created "by hand" to reach a broader sensibility. TROUM uses a spiral as their logo, expressing the trance-inducing potential of the music and the wish to reach inner, deeper spheres of the mind with it. Music as a door to unknown & alien dimensions. Music as an expression of the mystery of existence itself.

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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Human Larvae

Have just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest album release by Berlin based project Human Larvae. "Womb Worship" has just been released on CD format by L.White Records. I have a feeling that the album is a "bit of a" classic of its genre....what e'er that may be? Power Electronics, Dark Ambient Noise, Black Metal? It's like hearing a classic by Brighter Death Now or Genocide Organ. Not in sound but in ... hang on a minute here this is bloody good!
"Womb Worship" is a concept album. Eight songs that bleed in to each other over 43 and a bit minutes. It needs to be played loud - it has been mastered that way by James Plotkin. (There's a name from the 90's). It beggars the question; Does your worst nightmare need a soundtrack?
"Perdition From The Virgins Mouth" opens the album with a dramatic one chord piano loop and the onset of thunder clouds. Ominous. The track has a great full sound, three hundred and sixty degrees of sound, a room is full of interference before the vocals start. Shouting guttural vocals through echo device, this kind of vocal is not a favourite...found a lot in Black Metal circles and Harsh Noise. Here (on this album) the vocal treatment blends with the music so it's not all consuming or over powering. I get the "gist" but can't tell what the bloody hell is being communicated. A breath loop leads in to "The Truth I Failed To See" a superb contrast of spiralling uncertainty and spoken word. "Slave To Violence" is blistering sonics with scraped metal and rattling chains. I was fortunate to witness Human Larvae's UK live debut in Exeter earlier this year and saw how Human Larvae create this great sound of bowing an iron rod over the rim of a metal box, through contact mic's, ambient mic's and effects pedals to create an ungodly sound. Beautiful. (I have the iron rod here with me. I keep it next to my CD collection like a rock geek who salivates over owning Jimmy Page's plectrum). "Entwined In The Umbilical Noose" has a great bass vibration building some kind of perimeter before a sonic battle begins ending in a multi-layered cacophonous symphony and stripping down to an assuring and calming four note bass line...."Methods Of Possession" is more vocals with junk metal and more of an introduction to "Wrapped In The Warm Sheets Of Mother Love" and its spinning wheel of blistering noise and spoken word (tape / sample). The story of matricide? This track plays like old school industrial. To an old TG / SPK head like me it is simply brilliant.
"Obsession Intermezzo 2" is the calm before the storm with synthetic strings and wet flesh. The album ends with the title track "Womb Worship". A wall of noise with split stereo vocal treatment, clanking metal and sonic depth charges. The album ends abruptly and all of a fade, no come down - like suddenly awakening. Classic.

If you like Power Electronics, cleverly constructed sonic walls of layered madness (think Grunt, Burial Hex and Soldnergeist here) then you need to hear this album. Packaged in an 6 inch CD wallet and great black and white photography  - the cover being a close up of a clitoris (no credit), I am saying essential. Available in Europe via L.White and Tesco Distro and in the UK via Peripheral Records.

1: "Womb Worship" CD Cover.
2: Human Larvae live in Exeter. (Photo by Dave Mutch).

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The History Of The NME

A recommended read for those folk who remember the NME (New Musical Express) in its' hey-day of 1970's music journalism. A story well told by Pat Long ... although truth be told it does turn out that there isn't much of a story, from humble beginnings as a paper specialising in accordion music through to being a stepping stone for journalists and freelancers to get books out or appear on the telly. It is told well in a linear style - quick and easy to read and becoming enjoyable when the tales of sales figures and publishers end and the colourful worlds of Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and Mick Farren come to the fore. This is the early / mid 1970's when the NME was at its' most strongest (in their view .. not mine) and had its greatest writing. It was journo's hanging with "rock stars" having sex with hangers-on and taking heroin. The NME journo being treated like a "rock star" ... Keith Richards and Iggy Pop getting a lot of mentions here. Something had to change - editorship and staff overhauls changed the look and style and now we have stories of in-house bitching, the introduction of Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill - the Young Guns (for goodness sake)! The dislike of reggae (except Bob Marley) the introduction of left-wing politics, the backing of Rock Against Racism and further down the line Red Wedge etc, moving away from becoming a music weekly and covering more social issues. CND, Miners Strike, Jobs Not YOPS etc. Writers such as Ian Penman and Paul Morley writing illegible shite coming in paving the way for magazines such as Smash Hits and Select and The Face to become popular and eat in to the NME sales market. Interesting stories from ex-NME staff make the pages turn, and yes ... it features the words of Chrissie Hynde. A book on music is incomplete without the inclusion (somewhere) from Chrissie Hynde (or so it seems .... great song).
In the end the story fizzles out with bland characterless journos covering bland characterless musicians. NME didn't "like" rave or acid-house and stuck with white rock and indie sounds such as Oasis and The Smiths / Morrisey, Neds Atomic Dustbin and Primal Scream.
I looked on a newsagents shelf the other day and saw that the NME is still going, although now reduced to glossy magazine format. I didn't pick it from the shelf to browse though, I didn't know who was looking.
Back in about 1976 my older sister (Julie) used to bring home the NME from school, I used to enjoy the pictures and record reviews, but when I came to the age of actually buying a music weekly I plumped for Sounds. John Peel used to write for Sounds. Then my parents said that I could get one paper delivered and they would foot the bill, so I opted for the NME. It was useful for "news", it had a great Live Gig guide and more adverts for gigs - flyers etc than Sounds, but the journalism was unreadable and they didn't seem to like the bands I liked - it was all The Clash and not enough The Lurkers. Sounds had Dave McCullough and Dave Henderson it had Wild Planet and seemed to like Throbbing Gristle (Sandy Robertson)? For the record I also used to buy Melody Maker and occasionally Record Mirror and if I could get hold .. ZigZag.

If you are looking for a light and quick summer read I do recommend this book, a nice slice of musical history well told and easily bought (cheap) from Amazon.