Tuesday, 14 November 2017

M.E.S.H. - Hesaitix



M.E.S.H. must be an acronym for something but I haven't bothered finding out what - Making Electronic Shit Happen? - that's probably it. James Whipple does make shit happen - good shit - detailed, interesting electronic shit like Hesaitix. Listening to Mimic just now I kept thinking someone was outside my window, rustling about and banging something so I got up to look and heard that sound again, from the speaker. Whipple's a spook in the speakers, spiriting sounds like...like you can't say what, except for the tolling of bells on Blured Cicada I...and now he's playing ping pong with Robert Henke (you know that sound?), who must be a spiritual brother of sorts, a forebearer, you might say. The difference being the beat, absence of the regular Tech motor Henke uses; instead, more irregular, as on 2 Loop Trip. But whatever messing around there is, he keeps a feeling of movement...the percussion on Search. Reveal is one outstanding aspect of a proper shapeshifting intergalactic gro-o-o-o-ver - yes it is! Whipple maps the space-sound continuum brilliantly, singing the body and brain electric. Damned good.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Fistful Of Dollars


Bought a Clint Eastwood Spag Western box set a few weeks ago but only started watching it recently, beginning, (chrono)logically, with A Fistful Of Dollars. I thought they were due reappraisal, having not watched one all the way through for many years. 

One of several things that struck me was the sound, which I only learnt the other day was dubbed on afterwards, thus explaining why every 'clip-clip' of the horses' hooves, jangle of bits and clomp of boots on boards seemed heightened, to the fore. Then the laughter; throughout bad guys spend a lot of time laughing. At times, it's as if some are high on something. The framing of some shots, of course, Leone's recognised for that now, so I wondered why this film, apparently, got such a luke-warm reception from critics. Couldn't they see the artistry involved? Perhaps they were blinded by the amount of gun smoke. If not exactly hailed as a bone fide 'classic' today, this and the subsequent ones are at least rightly hailed as unique.

One other thing that struck me was the similarity between the scene where The Man With No Name is getting his (swollen) eye in again, the shot of his gun hand as he practices to the sound of a militaristic drum beat by Morricone instantly brought to mind Travis Bickle firing to a similar beat by Bernard Herrmann. I may have imagined it, but as you know that military-style drum runs through the Taxi Driver theme.

One astonishing scene is the massacre of the Baxter clan. Leone doesn't depict this in a normal fashion, but hammers home the brutality with almost as many shots of the slayers as bullets they fire. It plays out relentlessly. 

By coincidence it's Ennio Morricone's birthday today. The score for A Fistful Of Dollars is great, of course, although as regular readers will know when it comes to playing Morricone scores I favour his Giallo work. Watching the film reminded me of reggae artists' obsession with Spaghetti Westerns, often resulting in hilarious Jamaican/Mexican dialogue. So by way of honouring Morricone, I'm opting for one of those instead of anything by 'Il Maestro'. Featuring adapted dialogue from the film, the now famous coffin joke... 




Wednesday, 1 November 2017

I Monster (feat Dolly Dolly) - A Dollop Of HP


Post-Halloween horror treat for you from I Monster: H.P.Lovecreaft read by Dolly Dolly (David Yates) - what's not to like? The musical accompaniment features students at Leeds Beckett University and is pitched just right, avoiding hauntology cliches, opting instead for a blend of dark electronics and even motorik rhythm. Yates' delivery is, as you'd expect, absolutely perfect. Time to throw another log on the fire, light a candle or two and watch the shadows flicker as your skin crawls. Superb. Available as cassette or download here.


Black Mountain Transmitter - Oscillator Ritual



Long books, long films, long tracks...I told him, they're good for nothing, usually...so here's James Robert Moore as Black Mountain Transmitter testing my patience - bah! If ever there was a sonic equivalent of a black hole/space vortex/tornado, this is it - you start (by listening, quite innocently) and before 15mins have passed you're sucked into the oscillating wave transmission's force field, from which there is no escape. This man is merciless, save only for the relatively quite (brief) passages when, having lost all track of time, you might think it's over, but no, it's sonic tendrils wrap around your skull and proceed to penetrate it all over again! Magnificent. The tapes have sold out all ready but you can buy the download here



Monday, 30 October 2017

Roland Kayn - A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound (a kind of review)




'I see it as a bridge between man and machine' - Roland Kayn

Many wouldn't consider Roland Kayn's A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound to be 'music'. Fittingly, with that in mind, this may not be a 'review'.
But you can call Kayn's sound music.
And I can call this a review. It is, after all, quite likely to be the closest thing to a review of ALEMWS I will write. 

You may have read other 'reviews', or more likely, observations based on previous Kayn releases with added history, quotes and generalisations about this box set. In other instances, where the journalist was sent a promo file, they have reviewed it before fully digesting what amounts to about 14 hours of music. I don't need to tell you that it's impossible to fully digest that much sound so quickly. That said, they may be more capable than me. I'm still listening to Pierre Henry's Utopia and hearing new things. To hear is of no merit, a duck also hears, as Stravinsky said. To listen, that is the thing; the difficult thing with so many distractions (the siren song of the internet!).

Kayn talks of a bridge between man and machine and I must tell you that whilst listening to Track 1, Czerial, for the fifth or sixth time one morning last week (not having read the above quote), it really felt as if the earbuds had become receivers, as opposed to transmitters, like stethoscopes against my head, allowing me to hear the workings of...what? My Mind, or brain? What mechanism made those sounds? Was I going mad?

There's undoubtedly an impression of machines 'breathing' in Czerial. Kayn, as you've no doubt read, is barely in control of what they do; he seems to set them in motion, equipped with the electronic (?) DNA he has fed them. Yet his methods are still a mystery for the most part. He talked in general terms of 'self-governing processes in the studio', likening it to throwing stones into water at different intervals and seeing ' very complex intersections'. 

As befits the man of mystery who didn't get the wider recognition he deserved when he lived, there's no info-packed booklet accompanying this box set. Somehow it seems right. The music may speak for itself and you the listener may hear in it what you wish to hear, or think you hear. ALEMWS is, after all, music to unleash the imagination of both listener and, one might fancifully say, the machines, for at times it really does sound as if they too are learning whilst they 'listen' to themselves. It's as if the 'aliens' meet and try to communicate whilst we humans, burdened with musical baggage as we are, try to unlearn everything we think we know about sound.

I talk as if the journey, for me, is complete, but must remind you of what I said earlier. The fact is that I have ventured only as far as Disc 4, which despite only being a quarter of the material, already feels like the 'outer limits'. One can't help but make sci-fi comparisons, from the title alone (oh the irony of the word 'little'!). The milky way cannot help but appear massive from where we stand, unaided by radio telescopic technology, as naked humans using our naked eyes we gaze up, incapable of grasping it all. As you'll have gathered, I am currently no closer to grasping the enormity of this little sonic galaxy either. 

Whilst much electronic music aspires to conjuring up sci-fi scenarios, I've yet to hear any that portray the 'alien' machine as convincingly as A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound. Not that I imagine that was Kayn's intention. Or was it? Did he have life 'out there' in mind when setting the process in motion? There are no 'greys', no biomorphic beings...but machines, as we might call them...technology, cybernetic, bio-technological 'lifeforms'. So it seems as I listen. 

At the 36min 33secs mark on Czerial there's a 'Terminator' moment, but unlike Goldie's classic, this really is music for 'metal heads', of metal heads, one might say. One might lazily bring in the term 'ambient' to describe the atmosphere, the rhythm/beatless (of course) drift, yet to do so would be wrong. If I may make a comparison relating to other 'space' records, namely Brian Eno's awe-struck, blissed-out wonderment of Apollo, this is the opposite in atmosphere and effect. At times, I was reminded more of the tension created by Ridley Scott in Alien ("Here, kitty, kitty") than any visual/sonic representation of beauty Out There. 

As I suggested earlier, to these ears, A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound is as much the sound of inner space as outer, despite my love of sci-fi and subsequent fictitious/visual comparisons. Like the sound of technology set in motion, it's hard to control impressions left by this music. Unlike the linear narratives and neat endings of most science-fiction, Kayn's 'story' feels endless, not simply due to its length, but the very nature of what unfolds. Although it's an expensive product, I promise that should you also decide to invest in this galaxy of sound, you too will be 'travelling' for a very long time.

Roland Kayn official website here



Friday, 27 October 2017

Timglaset no.7 now out!


The latest issue of arts magazine Timglaset is now available! This time in conjunction with Kit Records, who've put together an excellent compilation especially for the magazine. 


Very good issue, this, even by it's usual high standard, gathering as it does writing and art from worldwide contributors. I particularly like the vispo pieces by Marco Giovenale. Here's a sample, more in the mag... 


BUY IT HERE

ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE BOOKARTBOOKSHOP 
LONDON

Here's the window display, put together for the launch last night...



Three works by Jane Pearrett



Center artwork by Paul Tone, who records as Foldhead

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Clod magazine no.31



Clod magazine no.31 is now out. It's 'the funniest magazine on the planet' (officially). It's writers live in Luton. Do something to cheer them up. Get a copy here for only £2 plus £1 postage (UK). Whilst not having read much of it yet, I've already found out that wearing a pencil behind one or even two ears is this season's fashion thing-to-do. Yes!  



Monday, 23 October 2017

The Lumen Lake record label/collective


I've been investigating The Lumen Lake, an 'artist-run' label from South-East London. Artists should run everything, shouldn't they? The economy, international affairs, housing and the other stuff the government fucks up. It might be a mess, but it would be a good, well-intentioned mess, as opposed to the one we're in now. Mind you, I'm not sure artists could run the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, unless they're businesspeople as much as they are artists...and that equation never adds up in my book. My art is over here if you want a look.

From Mix One by Nomadic Female DJ Troupe...



From Viol of Acetate by DunningWebsterUnderwood / Rutger Hauser...



From Voyage en Kaléidescope by Ian Stonehouse...


It's well worth sampling what The Lumen Lake has put out. The attitude is eclectic, covering spit 'n'sawdust cut'n'paste tape, grungy electronics, raw power rock (even), songs and so on. All power to the collective.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

MONIKA WERKSTATT GIGS – COMING UP!



Exciting news! The Monika Werkstatt collective are coming to the UK, playing Bristol and most importantly (for me) the ex-European Union, corporate-controlled, wage slave capitol of the Western world, London! I'll be at Cafe Oto on Sunday which is, after all, a day of worship.

BARBARA MORGENSTERN, GUDRUN GUT and SONAE, PILOCKA KRACH will appear, 'live', in the actual flesh, not digital, real humans manipulating technology so as to transmit actual human ideas and feelings - yes! They contributed to the Compilation of the Year, which I recommend buying because you won't spend your money on anything better this year and that includes a new house, car, TV or basket of food and as Will said: If music be the food of love, play on!

18.11.17 BRISTOL – THE CUBE
19.11.17 LONDON – CAFE OTO W. LA LEIF



Support for the Cafe Oto gig will be the excellent La Leif, whose debut EP, The Nest, is available here. I very much look forward to hearing her 'live' too.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Bernard Parmegiani - Rock



Bernard Parmegiani's soundtrack to Michel Treguer's Rock (1982) may not be an acousmatic masterpiece but it's an enjoyable exercise in mood pieces for a motion picture, more akin to classic electronic library music, perhaps, than anything else. Or John Carpenter's minimalist techno soundtracks. Then again, Depart reminds me of Tangerine Dream's Sorcerer soundtrack from 1977. It's all pared down, minus the space and depth we're accustomed to with Parmegiani, but the uptempo tracks bubble along like proto-'techno' and some of the atmospheric slower pieces succeed in conjuring up images desolate, possibly hostile alien environments (I haven't see the film - who has?). I particularly like the trombone on Serge Assommé. Us fans are just glad of something new from Him and if this snack tempts newcomers to start feasting on the 'main course' all the better. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Various Artists - Entertaining The Invalid



I bought this CD brand new.
"So what?!"
Cheap second-hand, promos and MP3s are what I usually get, but seeing the sleeve and it's notes online I thought "I'll have some of that." Box sets I own featuring Bernard Parmegiani, Pierre Schaeffer, Dutch electronic music etc have extensive sleeve notes; I've never read them.

So here's Entertaining The Invalid, compiled by Matt Wand (formerly of Stock, Hausen & Walkman), who wrote the barley legible notes printed in typewriter-style font on brown paper. Why was that so appealing? I used to write a fanzine and this looks very much like one. I'm part of current 'indie' culture, you know. You probably don't know because being part of the true indie underground is being unknown, like all the artists on this compilation.

So I started having thoughts (a worrying phenomenon in itself) about indie culture, 'the underground', lo-fi, zines, small press art books etc. I wondered if there really was an increased interest in all that or my thinking had drifted toward the wishful side in the hope I might sell one more copy of an art book. There's something happening here, so I convinced myself. Look at vinyl sales. No, they're not a good marker. But wait, is the desire for vinyl more than hipster retroism and Dad nostalgia for what he sold years ago? Could it be a quest for 'the real'? If so, it's a deluded one. Unless the seeker wants 'real' analogue sound as opposed to digital clarity. Don't start that one. I mean 'real' as in album sleeves, for instance. Perhaps real as in a product of small specialist labels. As you know, the cost of them isn't exactly DIY democracy in consumer action. How about real CDs with sleeves designed to echo the spirit of indie circa...77? '79? (add your preferred date). Who'd have thought a CD could ever be thought of as 'real'? Before streaming it never entered our heads.

Not vinyl. No. Zines? One minute there looks like a revival, the next that zine community blog is dead, so I don't know. Anyway, as all of you who've attended small press fairs will have recognised, much of what's made is, sadly, more akin to the decorative arts than the spirit of '77. The spirit of an age is here on Entertaining The Invalid. But what kind of spirit? The 'Fuck you' 'I'm just doing this' spirit? The old 20th century spirit that kick-started zines with sci-fi buffs, 60s rebel kulture, 70s Punk, 80s DIY. 

'Stop asking questions' says The Anti-Mann on the opener, Angry Zen - right, I'm trying, but since getting this I've asked myself loads and can't stop. I ask myself what's so special about DIY culture whilst knowing the answer, then asking myself if...IF there's a bigger feeling for all that now is it a response the the potentially overbearing corporate mind control high rise luxury professional class world domination bid? Or what? Humans trying to find the human touch amongst the push-button health and safety regulated work life existence...

I'll stop asking questions. I'll say that this is the best compilation to appear this year. It's not just another nostalgia fest. Matt Wand's dug deeper than anyone; so deep it's as if he's made all the music himself and re-presented it as obscure artists. Try finding any of these. Where are/is Miracle Fat Destroyer now? Or Arthur Appliance? His/their Cheese Appliance is one of the highlights. Daft, wonky, childish...like Cabaret Voltaire...being daft. The hound-dog-on-your-trail barking on Tunnel Sickness...the video game stupidity of Joystick Jerk...fake Jazz in A Certain Ratio style Crazy Paint...Low Odour's Blue Monday joke. 

And so on, so much here to laugh at, puzzle over and simply enjoy for various reasons, not least because a lot of the tracks are really good. Get the real CD for the packaging. Available here.





Thursday, 12 October 2017

That's Enough Shit & Shine / Monika Werkstatt Remixes / People Will Talk (film)



Woke up this morning...(what's this, a blues number?) and had a shit and shine, I mean, listened to some Shit & Shine with my tea, like you do - the forthcoming That's Enough on Rocket Recordings is one good way to drag your head into the land of the living. Look out for it. I'll be talking about it more nearer the release date. Meanwhile, here's the first of the three tracks...



The Monika Werkstatt collective hoo-ha 20 year celebration comp this year is the Compilation of the Year (contemporary), along with another UK comp (old stuff), which I've yet to review but will soon - and here are some remixes. They're not quite as impressive as the originals but these five tracks are nothing to turn your nose up about, or to, or whatever you do with your nose (it's your business). Lucrecia Dalt's Blindholes - Borusiade Version is a classy cybernetic shuffle through time and space; quite the thing through headphones (or ear buds, as I believe they're known today. I used to wear ex-British Airways 'phones when DJ-ing...I like to think they encouraged me to 'fly' behind the Technics). Danielle de Picciotto's Desert Fruit - Perera Elsewhere version is also noteworthy, the way the beat dissolves into a chasm of disturbing sounds. 



With winter coming what better way to spend an evening than watching classic films. OK, we do that most evenings since we retired (from clubbing). A recent showing in The Cave was People Will Talk, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. I'm ashamed to admit having only just seen it for the first time. Mankiewicz's screenplay is spot on (funny, clever, even profound), the story probably reflecting his experience of the commie witch hunt's that blacklisted many actors and directors. People will talk and eagerly set out to condemn without good reason. So we see super-suave Cary Grant as Dr. Noah Praetorius going about his business of being the perfect doctor. He's magnificent in the role. But what's the story behind his friend, the mysterious Shunderson? Watch it and find out. 



Monday, 9 October 2017

Martin Glass - The Pacific Visions of Martin Glass / Ursula Bogner - Winkel Pong





The concept album (ask your granddad) lives. That's not something I ever thought I'd say with any kind of relish, but fear not, The Pacific Visions of Martin Glass is a million miles away from anything made in the conceptual pomp heyday of the 70s. Back then we invented Punk as an antidote. Today, in the post-modern era, it's OK to say your album's about an American businessman who 'falls under the hypnotic spell of the Pacific.' Mind you, how seriously we should take that story is another matter although at one point someone does welcome 'Mr Glass' to the Four Seasons hotel. Glass is an appropriate name given the hypnotic, repetitive nature of Reach The Beach. Far from being content to simply hit the 'minimalist' button though, Glass adds fine detail that makes the whole album worth replaying. If Les Baxter had made an album with Ryuichi Sakamoto it might have sounded like this. I think that's a compliment.





If Ursual Bogner hadn't existed someone would surely have made her up, such is the inevitability of this space-age electronic music, orbiting as it does the earthbound oast house genius of the UK's Daphne Oram and her former employees, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Perhaps Peter Thomas should get a mention too. And Tom Dissevelt. Oram and Dissevelt are well-recognised today, but Bogner's history remains elusive (until that academic writes her history, as he surely will). Meanwhile, Winkel Pong is another tantalising glimpse into the purified electronic realm Bogner inhabited, emitting crisp, clean analog signals as it does, irresistibly to these ears. Worth a mention is what sounds like a flugelhorn on Atmosphärische Energie, a nice touch. This little taster bubbles and bleeps away like that friendly household robot you will have in the future, with a suggestion of menacing undertones on Feldspat to suggest it might burn your eye out with a laser beam if you upset it. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dead Beat An' Poetry



Once upon a time I was a 'notable local poet' - yes, I was. The time was the early-80s...so long ago that I can't remember the year. The poetry I wrote was of the ranting variety, as befitted my state of mind and, you might say, social standing (I think I was unemployed). Besides that, I was not born to find inspiration in either Wordsworth or TS Eliot. Or rather, I should say, my life (education) did not take a course that would lead me to appreciate the 'classical' poets (yes, I know TS Eliot was a modernist, I know that much, but it helps to have knowledge of classical literature to get his references, so I've been told). 

So I ranted, inspired by Punk poets but not to the extent of actually shouting. But thinking about the verse I wrote, perhaps 'rant' is unfair. After all, it implies...what? A lot of bile aimed at The Man and society? Well, to differentiate my breed from would-be 'fine' poets, I suppose the tag was as good as any. Suffice to say I spoke of daily life rather than romance or the romance of sunsets. That kind of poetry had always put me off poets and to some degree still does. These days if I chance upon poetry that I like it's more often than not Bukowski, or The Beats.

Kerouac and co were an influence, although not to the point of romanticising either 'the road', Negros or Jazz. And the word 'angel' was never written by me in a poem. What I did write remains a mystery as I post this. No doubt the poems exist on paper somewhere, but don't worry, I'm not in a hurry to make them public. I recall combining Karl Marx and supermarkets in one. 

Naturally I was looking forward to supporting Linton Kwesi Johnson. Attila The Stockbroker was something of a 'star' in those days too. By the way, my name was underlined all those years ago, just to highlight my moment of poetic 'fame', obviously. That or to alert myself of the cutting's significance when, as I did today, rummaging through old ephemera. 

Well, the punchline is that LKJ didn't show. I can't recall why. I suspect, in hindsight, he was scared of being upstaged by me and my 'provocative work'. Ha-ha!



Monday, 2 October 2017

Lee Gamble - Mnestic Pressure / Time Attendant - Ruby Modifier



Lee Gamble patrolling prowling the borders of the dance floor as he does, sometimes, on some tracks, like Istian, which sounds like it carries a sample from somewhere but who knows what he samples or where he gets them from unless you're one of those who know The History of Rave/Jungle/whatever and I'm not - all diced and sliced, some bass boom chucked in (no not chucked, fused/blended) - tick-tick-tick...East Sedducke - ticking time bomb splintered d&b FX - it's ALL GOOD - the whip-cracking percussion and tire-screeching 23 Bay Flips, robot jive of UE8 and 'junglist' Ghost - YES!




Paul Snowdon's back (where's he been? painting, probably) as Time Attendant (who else?) and as per usual (you know, this level of consistency is boring!) he's made a great album, a lovely album, an album of subtle, crafty, slippery electronic wonders.  Suburbanosis has a fine section where it sounds like Forbidden Planet then very swiftly an 80s psycho-slasher soundtrack before becoming totally Time Attendant, which is great because I'd hate him to sound like anyone else even when he's channelling Deliah or Daphne and he never straight out copies the Radiophonic thing but rather contacts it through a spiritual medium rather like Jon Brooks, who mastered Ruby Modifier. Another gem from Time Attendant. 

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