Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Various - (not) open to question


Whilst the New Year may be open to question the quality of the work on this album is not. Furthermore, you're invited by the label to make your own additions to these tracks, the first layer 'is created within the collaboration of MƩCHΔNICΔL ΔPƩ and Les Horribles Travailleurs', so the challenge is set, although this is very much in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition. As always, the bar is set high here but why not (re) create? Remake/remodel (should be a Roxy Music title...oh, it is?). 'You are invited to finish this soundwork by altering\adding layers etc. to the first layer, which can be downloaded from Bandcamp'. As it stands it's very good.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

New Year: So What





Let's start the New Year with a whimper...@',mn,mn,qwwwwwhhhhhhhhherrrr'

Fact is this year's going to be the one that sees the downfall of the music industry due to it's incessant gnawing of itself like a doped-up rabid labradoodle, foaming as it very slowly chews its own leg off and keeps going as far as it can reach until it's stinking innards spool out across everything but don't worry, you will be immune to the putrid, poisonous substance due to years of injecting the antidote in the form of JS Bach, James Brown, Bernard Parmegiani and other names involving capital 'B', or 'L', or 'D'...how about 'D'? Don Cherry, Defunkt...that's enough, that's the ABC of it, your alphabetically registered pantheon of  ....music people...the countermeasure to all the crap...

On the subject of letters...


That one's called AB...there's more of my art over here

Whatever...or, actually, all my art work this year will be part of a series called So What...why? I reckon it's the most common response.

In 2018, though, let's not be blase about things, least of all what we love the most and what we make...




Thursday, 28 December 2017

Aclds - Fuadain Liesmas




Under the radar, off the map...such terms hardly do justice to Chris Douglas' non-place in the what we might call 'the music world', even the 'underground electronic' version. No surprise then that Fuadain Liesmas  has not, to my knowledge, appeared in any end-of-the-year charts. As Dalglish, O.S.T. and Scald Rougish, Douglas has persisted in making music for any reason but the desire for publicity or, perhaps, praise. Not that I believe he wouldn't welcome recognition. Searching for reviews of this album I've found no mention other than on this blog and, of course, Boomkat (because their job is to try and sell music). 

Describing the carefully crafted sounds here would be a challenge for most would-be critics, yet that's no reason for it's apparent invisibility; many writers are better equipped than me to talk about 'abstract' sound and do so regularly. Nonetheless, here I am...on the edge of...reviewing what eludes easy categorisation. 

Negin Giv, being just 30secs long, might be a good place to start (and end?) since it is, in microcosm a snapshot of Douglas' methodology....his ability to...punch holes in ...the space-time continuum...? If I improvise, forgive me. Free-flowing word scrambles might suit talk of Jazz, but  Fuadain Liesmas being so meticulously composed I feel duty-bound to attempt the same in writing. And fail. 

OT-IntVxEs 1 is typical of what goes on here, which is not to suggest that it's all predictable from the outset (only in...approach to sound). Rather, I mean, in creating melancholic (?) tones which in other hands would signal mere ambient eternal drift somnambulism, Douglas scatters brittle components throughout. No sleeping here. No daydreaming 'bliss'. Only on Hrm Clng or Dtn#09_Ed do we find what feels like a place of rest, albeit one derived from an afterlife (?). After what? This is life, in all it's restless, skittish, uncertain gravity. 

Perhaps ambiguity renders such albums unpopular; not 'difficult listening' - that, surely, is in the ear of the beholder. Albums that gain attention often shout something, even if in a thoroughly minimalist, quiet fashion. Is the popularity of Ambient a result of what many perceive to be a  politically turbulent world? An escape from that madness? As if the world has ever been stable. Whatever, the thing to do is make music which speaks of either 'the street', or technological trickery in the service of an adrenaline boost. Songs, naturally, are always in favour. Fuadain Liesmas offers no such musical certainties. It's neither flash nor pleasingly serene. Ultimately, I can only say 'It is what it is'. You can get a taste from the stream below, but to fully savour what Chris Douglas has created, I suggest you buy the CD from here.



Sunday, 17 December 2017

2017: Albums of the (y)Ear


RTomens, 2016

WHAT? forgive me. I dunno. WHEN? last year. I mean, this year, 2017. In PC world nobody's memory works so I must consult this blog, scroll back in time (one day everyone will have mental bookmarks implanted, won't they?) to see which albums might be considered memorable worth mentioning in a round-up...

So here goes...

Broken Ground  - Christian Bouchard



Structures And Light - Group Zero









Some People Really Know How To Live - Shit and Shine
review







Hesaitix - M.E.S.H
review






Fuadain Liesmas -  Aclds
review forthcoming




Monika Werkstatt - Various
review






A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound - Roland Kayn (this didn't even make the Wire charts!?)
review





Entertaining The Invalid - Various
review 






Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Collaborative Soundworks by Les Horribles Travailleurs / MƩCHΔNICΔL ΔPƩ



Texture, abstraction, atmosphere...mood music for the apocalypse in your head. Who is not enduring small (or large) psychotic trauma on a daily basis? It's the modern world...in which other modern people go about their business, answering 'it' with just a 'sigh'. 

COMA †‡† KULTUR 

Pay what you want but somehow you will pay it all, (play it all) back...



Friday, 8 December 2017

Collage / King Tubby / Underground Resistance / Self-Portrait


All The Marks Of Identity Are Swept Away, RTomens, 2017

Wonder why...I'm not myself of late...




Self-Portrait, RTomens 2017

STARVE LIVING ARTISTS 
INTO SUBMISSION
DO NOT SHOP

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Art: Monk's Mood - Tribute To Thelonious Monk

RTomens, 2017
 Three art works from a series I made in honour of Thelonious Monk. The music is taken from his tune, Monk's Mood.

RTomens, 2017

RTomens, 2017


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Insane In The Membrane (Again) With Cypress Hill


So another CD chariddy shop bargain, Cypress Hill's Black Sunday for a quid - whoo-eee! I had this on vinyl too when it came out - then - what happened? 

Remember when hip-hop was big? Remember when Public Enemy were fresh after the old first wave - like dangerous music, like grabbing the torch from The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron bad - eh? Yes. Then, well, not quite then, but a few years after the second wave, maybe even the third, hip-hop got out of control worldwide MASSIVE - didn't it? Like many a street sound before it soon every square on the block was into this thing whilst debates about how good it was for the black community and folks at large, what with all that swearing, cop-killing, female-disrespecting, money-idolising, gang-glorifying lyrical splurge - all of which only endeared it to youth and gangsters, naturally. The bigger hip-hop got, the smaller my interest. What this says about me may be that I'm a snob who reacts against popularity, or simply prefers movements when they're fresh? What? Which?

Here's an album that went Triple platinum in the U.S - fuck! I knew Cypress Hill were popular but...only just saw that stat on Wikipedia. I remember loving Black Sunday when it came out, like millions of others - it had the juice - got the juices flowing - but that was then - how would it sound 24 years later? How about BRILLIANT! tHAT'LL DO. sHOCK. tHERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING ABOUT b-rEAL'S VOCALS THAT WERE DIFFERENT AND STILL SOUND THAT WAY, AS IF HE'S PERMANENTLY, YES, INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE AND HAMMERING AT YOUR WINDOW TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. Whoops, caps lock - which rhymes with 'Glock, funnily enough. 

In retrospect it's easy to hear how Cypress Hill got so big and so rich. The samples are choice, the mixing is absolutely perfect with the breaks in your face and somehow this album insists that you succumb, not through lyrical force so much as vocal/rhythmic dynamism. It's not original (when did that ever get you rich?). If anything, it's stereotypical of hip-hip subject matter (violence, drugs, bragging) - yet - yet - after the first four tracks you're slaughtered! Putty in their hands. Well, I was, again.



Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Courtney Pine Revived & Bowie Talkin' All That Jazz



Courtney Pine's debut album for a quid? Couldn't resist. Of course I owned the vinyl when it came out, which was 1986...and Courtney was our Coltrane - he was! We could only watch in awe as our man, a young black man, in a suit, delivered his version of what was then contemporary Jazz..in London Town! He was slimmer then - we all were. He was also the only one to make the cover of the NME. Well how has it aged? Fine, to my surprise. As We Would Say sounds particularity good. OK, in the writing stakes he was no Wayne Shorter or Coltrane, but after 31 years and in the context of all that went before Journey To The Urge Within holds its own with no small help from the likes of Julian Joseph on piano, Gary Crosby's bass and Mark Mondesir's drumming. 


                                             

So today I came across an interview Pine conducted with David Bowie in 2005, asking him about the influence of Jazz in his life. Turns out our David had some impressive names to drop. I'd never heard Bowie talking about Jazz before but I've often wondered if he got the 'Wham bam thank you mam' line in Suffragette City from the Charles Mingus track. It's more likely he nicked it from the Small Faces tune of that name, of course. 


To continue the Mingus connection, when asked for the one Jazz tune that really moves him, Bowie goes for Hog Callin' Blues from the album that Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am was also on, Oh Yeah. A man of taste! This also happens to be one of LJ's favourite tunes. Just listen to Roland Kirk tearing the roof off the studio...


                                           

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Sun Ra Exotica / Art Print


Pure (sun sound) pleasure from Modern Harmonic and how clever of them to collate Sun Ra's 'exotica'. For those not familiar with Sun Ra any sampling of tracks from here will be a surprise if they had him down as too 'crazy'. They may even wonder what all the fuss is about but to miss Ra in these moods is to ignore their worldly 'ancient' and thoroughly justified inclusion in the Arkestral sound collage. Essential.


Accelerated Destruction, RTomens, 2017

This along with other art prints is available now in my shop


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

80s Underground Cassette Culture Volume 1 / Various Artists - Under The Concrete / The Field / My Art Prints


How much more 70s/80s cassette culture can we take? - loads! it seems. And why not? There's much pleasure to be had from the beneath-the-underdog bedroom synthesists; the chancers, non-game- changers, radical visionary lunatics and nerds with attitude.

'Nuclear fuel breeds nuclear war/The politics of power/ Rotten to the core' - it's Missing Persons and Rotten To The Core, one of the treats on this superb collection, which illustrates many angles taken by the Lost of Tape Land. PCR's Myths of Seduction and Betrayal (Extract) is another gem. Human Flesh, Urbain Autopsy are names that tell of the Cronenbergian body mutation fixation of the times, when perhaps the recently-evolved opportunity to integrate mind and machine bred obsession with cybernetic mutation. Who knows. 

Cassette-sharing sites are popular now but for obvious technical reasons the sound quality is usually poor so this is a welcome chance to hear hi-resolution lo-fi emissions from the vast cavern of underground cassette culture.





Beneath the concrete field, the beach? Perhaps not. Here, at least, is a contemporary collection worthy of your attention. Material by Mark of Concrete/Field, remixed by various folk, most of whom have remodelled original sounds in a very interesting way. Descent's Freebase has great depth, a build-up of tension pressure that's all the better for never actually being released. AMANTRA's Scorched Earth Policy wouldn't sound out of place on the Underground Cassette comp - I mean that as a compliment. Kek-W got A Fax from Philip Glass (great title), well, I suppose a few people did in the 80s - anyway, as always, KW's work is spot-on/interesting, as is Libbe Matz Gang's Tratamento de Enxaquecas, like death metal machine music! Very good comp.


Windows To The Soul
BEFORE I GO, A PLUG FOR MY ART PRINTS, WHICH ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE HERE

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto



Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
And the feeling's right
Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
Oh, what a night (oh, what a night)...

...Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto - yes, what a night! You don't need me to tell that electronic music is a male-dominated world (which part isn't? bingo?), just like Rock, but unlike that traditionally macho realm of phallic axe-wielding at first glance there should be no reason for electronic music being a (mostly) men-only domain, until you start thinking about stereotypical male gadget obsession and the historical culturally-enforced tradition of DIY (inc tinkering with electronics).

Issues surrounding all that (not bingo or DIY) were discussed in the Q&A. An interesting point was raised about how women are expected to be 'brilliant' whereas it's OK for men to be 'all right'. The conclusion was that women should be allowed to be 'all right' too. The issue of expectations aside, pure percentage stats dictate that there's a lot more average male performers in electronic music simply because they dominate.

Politics aside, if it's possible to lay them aside and see the performers as just that (perhaps there's an irony there in rightfully demanding equality, ie not just being viewed as 'female artists', whilst presenting an all-female collective - tricky) with nothing to prove Monika Werkstatt proved it. It was an evening of seductive, passionate, humorous, powerful music, each of the four players performing two songs before a collective session finale. All four were present on stage throughout and it was entertaining just watching their individual reactions to what the performer was doing.

Before the collective, support came from London's La Leif, who brought beats and bass fit to shake Cafe Oto's foundations with a very tough set.

The first of MW to perform was Sonae, whose subtle, richly-textured ambient sounds set a good tone...



Then Barbara Morgenstern ('Queen Of Harmonies') delivered two superb songs, the power of which was amplified times 10 in a 'live' context...



Watch out, it's Pilocka Krach, surely the prankster in the pack, giving us all a good slap with her stomping Electro-Power-Pop! Do you like the beat? Yes, I did!



Finally in solo form, 'the boss', Gudrun Gut, organiser of the whole collective and legendary figure on the scene for years.



The quartet session was as intriguing as you'd expect from four diverse artists with their very own styles, working together intuitively, in the spirit of improvisation, just don't call it 'Improv', Gudrun's ambiguous about that scene and I don't blame her. As she said, it's something you can hate yet be drawn to at the same time. There's nothing to hate about Monika Werkstatt. Do check the collective album. It's an essential release from this year. As an encore, the joint was jumping to Who's Afraid Of Justin Bieber? Here's a brief video I took...


Oh what a night!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Colin Webster vs Tape Loops / John Sladek





Improvising to tape loops may sound implausible, or rather, contrary to the spirit of Improv, but who cares about that, eh? Not you. So here's saxophonist Colin Webster doing just that and the combination of his chops and repetitive sounds works very well. You can almost hear Webster thinking 'What shall I do with this?' in the unaccompanied sections, which adds to the intrigue. Being capable of creating many varied sounds from his horn, Webster has no trouble finding the 'right' tone for each loop (well, perhaps he did, but the released versions all succeed).



On impulse I called in Daunt Books today to see what sci-fi they had. I asked the girl if they had a section for it, she said they didn't because they 'specialised in travel'. "What about space travel?" I asked..."I know," she replied, almost smiling...

Bought this John Sladek collection the other day, having decided to read more science-fiction. The genre has promised more than it's delivered as far as my needs in recent years are concerned. Those needs have changed since I started reading sci-fi a long time ago, of course. 

After the early-teen experience of space adventures I progressed to the biggies such as Asimov and co.. It wasn't until the late-70s and discovering William Burroughs that my view of the genre changed completely; in short, he ruined it regarding everyone else, except JG Ballard, who I still rate highly and read regularly. That's no coincidence considering Ballard's opinion of Burroughs despite their very different writing styles.

Burroughs even gets a mention on page 79 of this Sladek collection from a stoned character trying to get to Morocco. Published in '68, the first novel, The Reproductive System, reflects the era in a good way rather than a 'dated' fashion, covering paranoia, anti-authoritarian, secret agent, science-gone-mad cynicism in the spirit of adventure that reminds me of both Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius and Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus! Trilogy. So far so good and since I will finish it that's a recommendation from someone who's a serial non-finisher (life's too short, isn't it?)

TTFN

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Space Age print / Flying Saucers Are Hostile / Starship Troopers / Shit & Shine - That's Enough / Felix Kubin - Takt der Arbeit


RTomens, 2017

More of my art here

1967 1st edition

You've been warned - 'YOU DARE NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO IGNORE IT!' (from the back cover).


Flying saucers are hostile, so too are the alien bugs in Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers - "The only good Bug is a dead Bug!". It's 20 years old and re-watching it I confess to enjoying it even more than the first time. That's a 'confession' because revelling in a film filled with square-jawed, squeaky clean heroes out for military death or glory to bombastic soundtrack sounds like hell as a film, but that's the point. ST is pumped up and primed as a trashy action film whilst constantly undermining everything it superficially celebrates. It's very sheen is as sickening as the site of a bug ripping a soldier limb-from-limb. It's gung ho writ large but gets booby trapped at every turn. Verhoeven knew what he was doing but did it so well that few could see the subversive irony through all the flying limbs and phoney machismo. 


In a way Shit & Shine like to play with machismo (note the cover) - perhaps they really are macho men. But there's an 'ironic' edge to most everything they do and their latest, That's Enough, is no exception - 'Do you know the way to the garden party?' - the EPs filled with samples, a long one opening the opening title track, which you've probably heard by now. The Worst continues playing with the sample idea -  the judges on American Idol? Subversion, like ST, is embedded in the per-usual nasty grooves - that must be Simon Cowell sampled - we might think that's enough of that talent contest shit but it just seems to keep rolling and so too, thankfully, do Shit & Shine. 




Do they still make musical geniuses? What do you reckon? Whoever 'they' are - parents of musically gifted kids who rise above being mere talented? What? Anyway, Felix Kubin: as Mark E Smith said 'Check the guy's track record' - it's impressive, to say the least. Here he is with Takt der Arbeit, four soundtracks to educational and industrial 16mm films about work. Is this a return to the fascist/imperial/dictatorship reflected in Starship Troopers? Is that what Work is? 

Track one has a militaristic slant (those drums) echoing the regimentation of both machine and human operators but here Kubin brilliantly orchestrates the components into something that sounds part friendly info film soundtrack, part chaotic depiction of factory-frazzled minds. Geburt eines Schiffes has the mood of Soviet-era proletariat-powered propaganda so strong you can see the workers marching towards you over the horizon, shirt-sleeves rolled over bulging biceps. Hold on, I got carried away with that idea. The actual mood is one of a huge industrial-age factory gradually coming to life with the roar, clank and hiss of machines complete with triumphant music heralding the brave new era of man-made mechanical wonders - or hell, since the overriding atmosphere is actually one of foreboding and tragedy. Martial Arts continues the work-til-you're-musclebound theme but Kubin continually breaks things down (a musical spanner in the works). The group Kubin works with add essential components to the EP; the human element in what could have been just another 'industrial record' in other, less creative hands. Release date was supposedly Nov 17th but as I write it's not yet out so keep an eye on Editions Mego. Don't miss it.


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