Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Wake

Just been enjoying a session of You Tubery and found this clip of The Wake live at The Hacienda in Manchester, 1983. I am pretty sure it was the gig where they were support to Howard Devoto.
I love The Wake (the Factory Records years) and still dig out the "Harmony" CD for a sing-a-long-a-shed-a-tear to play. They were great. I saw them a few times across the North didn't help having a "crush" on their keyboard player!
One thing I do like about this video is that my good friend and bro' Sean Rorke can be spotted front row. (I have the full DVD on LTM).
Play and Enjoy....

Secondhand Record Shops #8 : Plymouth

When I first moved down here to the South-West every town and city seemed to have a choice of secondhand vinyl stores. Bristol, Exeter, Barnstaple, Truro, Taunton, Brixham ... slowly they are all dwindling away. Plymouth. Ten years ago Plymouth had three fine secondhand record shops including a Record & Tape Exchange ... the only one outside of London. Now sadly gone.
Plymouth does have one of the finest secondhand vinyl shops left in the South-West though. "Really Good Records" situated in the Bretonside Bus Station. "Really Good" used to be situated near the University but re-development has brought it into the City Centre.
Here there is a huge choice of 12" vinyl with each genre clearly categorized. Large amounts in the "Punk/New Wave" and "Post-Punk" and "Industrial/EBM" sections. "Goth", "New Romantics", "Manchester" and "Indie - 1980's - 1990's" all have their own sections too. Great for browsing. There's also lots of Jazz, 70's flared stuff and Avant-Garde to have a go at. Big shop, big selection. I shall make visiting to Plymouth a must on the calendar.
Pricing seems fair with most vinyl costing between £3 and £10. I found a Fiat Lux White Label 12" of "Aqua Vitae" and the Wavis O' Shave LP, both mint and bargainously priced. The shop owner also cleaned my records on some "Ronco Automatic" record cleaning device and I got to keep the PVC protective sleeves at no extra cost. Good Man!
There are 7"'s by the counter, but after the huge selection of 12"'s / LP's the amount is a tad disappointing. There's also unsorted boxes to go through, but I unfortunately didn't have the time.
If in the area I thoroughly recommend Plymouth as a stop over. There's also the Barbican / Marina area full of secondhand book shops and antique / junk shops that have boxes of records.

1: Really Good Records in Bretonside Bus Station.
2: Really Good Records in Bretonside Bus Station with mandatory tramp.
3: Oscar, Isabel and Myself in the Barbican celebrating my Wavis O' Shave LP purchase.
4: Wavis O' Shave "Anna Ford's Bum" LP. (Anti-Pop Records).

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Sorry to say that my computer has gotten a little fucked up of late. Lost a lot of information, including addresses and E Mail addresses etc. Hopefully I can recover what has been lost, but please bare with me! Also, if I haven't answered an E Mail then I apologise - it probably didn't get through. Other than is OK!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Krautrock Karnival

I do like compilation albums. I am a big fan of the comp. Last year I appeared on 4 compilations. Starting the year with "Stahlerne Lichter" CD on Licht Und Stahl and finishing with a track on the accompanying CD to "Encyclopedia Of Industrial Music:Volume 2". I am at this very moment finishing off recording a track for a future compilation CD with two other compilation projects to finish before the end of April. (I am not counting the track required by the Lithuanian "Terror" Magazine as I haven't heard from them since last November). Dieter Muh would have appeared on more compilations in the 1990's if it wasn't for the fact that Dave wasn't keen on them. I used to say "Nurse With Wound early 1980's; they were on every compilation tape going...and it did them no harm". But no (as Colin Newman once said).
When a compilation works well it is a beautiful thing, either as sampler for a venue, city, label etc or a movement or genre. A top ten of favourite compilation albums would be interesting. (I like lists)! "Front Row Festival", "Business Unusual", "Hicks From The Sticks", "Wolfsangel" bloody classics. Recently "Ambient Intimacy Volume 1" CD on EE Tapes became a benchmark for the compilation. Adeptsound's "Bacterium" CD from last year was probably one of the best compilation projects of 2010.
Certainly not in my top ten, but I dug it out for a play anyway, is the compilation CD "Krautrock Karnival" released by the Saint David's Ambient Society/Future Sound Of Exeter label in June 2002. In the summer of 2002 I went along to the CD launch party at The Phoenix Centre in Exeter and came home with a copy. What surprised me with this 12 track compilation is the lack of bands from Exeter (and/or surrounding area) on it. The Future Sound Of Exeter does not come from Exeter (and/or surrounding area).
The CD kicks off with Finnish masters Circle. By 2002 their star was in its' ascendancy, and with the CD theme being Krautrock they supply a masterful slice of the genre called "Dedafiktion". This is Finnish psychedelia clashing with the sound of Amon Duul and Neu! It's a great start. I like Circle, I have a few CD's and 7"'s and I don't play them enough! (Unknowns) Airport '71 follow with some bland space-rock followed by Appliance in "lounge musik" mode and the track "Derailleur, King Of The Mountains". Appliance are the first siting of a band from Exeter. Basildon based Ken Martin follows with some Tangerine Dream homage. Kraut in essence but not much rock. The German group Foreign Spaces give us the melancholic "Phoeton 3-Utopia". This plays like really bad film music. A bad Tony Scott film with a Pete Bardens inspired soundtrack or something. With some faux military snare in the mix it should be called "Pablo's Theme" or some such. Bloody poor. Kubusschnitt bring the whole thing back to Tangerine Dream before Cookin' With Kurt (yep' the band is called Cookin' With Kurt) supply some really bad flute/drum/bass/ washy synth piece. The project is moving far from Krautrock now and going into the area of "Hippy Music" a la Ozric Fucking Tentacles. I have an LP by Here And Now, I am not adverse, but this free-form sub Tull (and dreads) is awful...but not as bad as the next track by Damo Suzuki's Network. A fifth rate Last Poets piece. I would have though that anything after this track would be a worthwhile listen but Bluesausageinfant disappoint with a track of bland. Next up is Exeter based Egg Yum Yum with a heavy Post-Punk piece called "Ooh-Sky-Rah-Ket". Egg Yum Yum are using Can as an influence here with heavy drums and a floating violin sound. Excellent track and along with Appliance and Circle following the "Krautrock" theme. The CD finishes with Abunai! who have a bloody annoying drummer and Nebula Drone who make New-Age washing-up music.
All in all a poor compilation. The future sound of Exeter does not (obviously) come from Exeter but is hired in to teach the Exetonians a lesson! Or, as it turned out the future sound of Exeter is Will Young and Muse (from Teignmouth but lived in Exeter before hitting the cocaine world of big time) and neither of them are on this CD.
On the 7th of June 2002 The Future Sound Of Exeter held a CD launch party at the Phoenix Centre in Exeter with Circle headlining. Excellent gig. Egg Yum Yum played an absolute blinding set in an adjoining art gallery and Appliance (although billed) never played.
What happened to the future sound of Exeter as an organisation I do not know. As for Saint David's Ambient Society.....I think they're still going......

1: Krautrock Karnival CD Sleeve.
2: Circle Live in Exeter. 2002.
3: Myself & Circle in Exeter 2002. (I am wearing a Kaos Kontrol T-Shirt)!
4: Egg Yum Yum Live, Exeter 2002.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Magnetic North & Misery Park

I was pulling out the Minny Pops CD "Secret Story" on LTM to play at work and out came the CDr "Rechi Angelov Angelam" by Misery as well. It is packaged in a very slimline case and my CD's are shelved pretty tight together at the moment. Space issues. I took the CDr to work.
I have had the Misery album for eleven years and today was only its third or fourth play. I remember Steve Fricker recommending it on his Cheeses International list so I bought a copy.
Misery is the solo project of Russian musician Andrey Ivanov. I am uncertain whereabouts in Russia he is based, but guesses are it'll be Moscow.
"Rechi" is a five track album, all tracks being untitled and lasts just under an hour. (I think, as track 4 stuck and just carried on looping, and it took me a moment or two to notice). The first track is a 15 minute opus of noise, synthesizer through effects onslaught. Very good, but sounding very "1990's". Think M:S:B:R "Harsh Works" or Merzbow at his Batztouti stage. Like I said, good stuff. It plays like a live recording and does "phase" a little. It's like, if it was on a cassette I would be thinking that the tape heads need a good clean. The sound owes more to Japnoise than European Power Electronics. Good stuff. Track 2 is minimal by comparison. Minimal and industrial with its sparse synth and mumbled voice. "Silent Schrei" or "Science Scree" the voice seems to be saying. (If anyone out there wants either of those titles for an album or band're welcome). It plays like an out-take from S.P.K.'s "Information Overload Unit" LP. Good Stuff. Track 3 has a rhythm machine. The last three tracks have rhythm machines on them, with the volume turned up to the red. The last three tracks sound like improvised studio recordings - unedited, and not so good stuff, and like I mentioned track 4 stuck in a loop-groove. I see (where would we be without the internet) that Andrey and Misery are still very active and I am keen to hear his present day stuff, see how he has progressed his sound, as for "Rechi"...I think it was stupidly limited at the time. 50 copies or suchlike. It's not even listed on Discogs.
Staying in the Baltic region. Also this week came the split tape release by Magnetic North Duo and Grey Park on the Finnish label Ikuisuus. (That means Eternity in English...I've been boning up on my Suomi y'know). Packaged in a beautiful full colour glossy card sleeve and all for 4 Euro. How do these Finns sell there wares so cheaply?
This time last year I was discovering the Norwegian musician Andreas Brandal, this year I am hearing fellow Nords Magnetic North Duo for the first time. I was expecting some sort of "Kosmische" drone, psychedelic tape sleeve and everything, but what we have on this cassette are two live tracks of improvised musique-concret. Itchy and Scratchy. There's a guitar and bass in there with their strings being scraped, plucked and vibrated all with a fair amount of contact mic' kerfuffle. Often a groove appears but it disappears into the space and silence. The tracks were recorded live in Norway. I have very little of this style of music. When played and experienced live I find it thrilling but on cassette/vinyl/CD it takes a genius to make it work. I hold up Mark Durgan & Spoils And Relics as exhibit "A" M'lud. The recordings are crystal clear unlike Side B and the recording of Grey Park live in Vilnius, Lithuania.
I have declared my passion for Grey Park elsewhere on this site. They release essential stuff, not all of it is 100% but all of it deserves a listen. Here we have a 20 odd minute live assault recorded on what sounds like a mono "Realistic" tape machine placed at the back of the venue on a table that others are using for drinking. Not a mixing desk quality. The side begins with a gruff Teutonic voice shouting "Beer! Beer!". The live sound is untitled and GP get straight in with a multi layered wall of sound, swirling and building before collapsing into a quiet piece that could have tape loops of "found voices" or it's the folks around the tape recorder discussing the next days events. The whorle of sound picks up again before it ends - all too soon. The quality of the recording does not detract from quality of the sound produced. Instant classic in the GP arsenal. The recorder is left on for about 5 minutes after the gig and ends on an unearthly garbled sound. Worth keeping the tape rolling for.
Ikuisuus is a new label on me, and this is catalogued number 16. Hopefully I can track down a record shop in Helsinki that sells some of their releases when I'm over there in a few weeks.

1: Misery Front Sleeve,
2: Misery Inner Sleeve.
3: Magnetic North Duo/Grey Park Tape Cover.
4: Inner Sleeve Picture.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hyster Tapes

There I was playing the Duncan Harrison side of the recent tape split with Hobo Sonn thinking about the use of recycled tapes and through the letterbox pops the cassette "Second One" from Hyster Tapes. Hyster Tapes being the crack Finnish label that releases on 100% recycled cassettes. "Second One" is their second compilation release, their first "Your Own Shadow Blocks The Light" was released four years ago (and features a rather excellent track by Culver).
"Second One" is a very mellow cassette, tracks made of low drones and shuffling electronics. I must admit to not hearing of a few of the artists on this compilation, starting off with Aiko. They are Finnish, as are Cleavage and Re-Clip. Chances are that these are all side projects from members of Grey Park - I am not saying that they are, just that chances are. Hyster Tapes is operated by plaa of Grey Park. Side One plays like one long piece, or at least pieces from the same band. To me that is the sign of a well constructed compilation. Even Crank Sturgeon (who I have always thought of as America's answer to Smell & Quim) provides a "nice" track of tape manipulations and lo-fi noise. Side Two is that strange beast on a compilation; a side long track (by Varropas). Twenty eight and a half minutes of a repetitive guitar (4 note pattern) interrupted by various synth noodles, electronic interference and tape varispeeds. After a few minutes it becomes all very dreamy and blurred. Good stuff and I want to hear more from this project. For some reason it put me in mind of another Finnish project called Hinageshi Bondage. They were damn good but went off the radar about 10 years ago. I wonder if (t)he(y) are anything to do with Varropas?
Hyster Tapes always provide the goods and their releases will set you back 2 Euros a piece. That's right. 2 Euro a tape! What is your excuse? Go to now!
Each tape is limited to about 100 copies, which means Hyster02 "Doin' It Dresden Style" by Dieter Muh is now all sold.....
I have come across a Russian site that had the bloody audacity to put Hyster Tapes up for free download, when an actual release will set you back 2 Euro - that is a bloody disgrace.

1&2: Sleeve to "Second One" compilation cassette.
3: Sleeve to "Doin' It Dresden Style" by Dieter Muh (Hyster Tapes).
4: plaa & myself enjoying a pint in Kentish Town, May 2010.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Bacterium CD #2

Various Artists - Bacterium
Bacterium is the first compilation from the Australian label Adeptsound and it's a good one. Based around the concept of bacteria, the compilers Tim Mayes and Steve Cammack dig deep into the underground to bring together veterans (DDAA, Column One, Dieter Müh) with a whole bunch of newcomers. The varied strains of experimental industrial are covered here from noise excursions through industrial ambience to those that straddle both. It's an uncompromising listen that's certainly worth the effort.

On the noise front Maison Close whip up something of a noise blizzard set against layers of crunchy electronics offset by the increasingly panicky outbursts of a distressed female. Josef Nadek, meanwhile, opts for short layered bursts of harsh grating noise. There's a compositional edge to Maison Close and Josef Nadek when compared to the full on brutal power noise of Praying For Oblivion which is thankfully cut short with its abrupt ending.

Bacterium is particularly strong on industrial ambience with some engaging tracks from Dieter Müh, Schuster, The Psychogeographical Commission and Mnem. 'Bacteria 2' from Dieter Müh is an impressive live recording from early 2010. Opening with scraping bowls and an incessant throb it soon settles into an uneasy ambience with reverbed singing bowls and crackling tones. With the departure of Dave Uden I was uncertain whether they would continue as a solo act under the auspices of Steve Cammack but with the assistance of Simon Kane Dieter Müh, a band I have long championed, continue to deliver the goods carrying with them the hallmarks of old school industrial. Schuster is Tim Bayes, an early member of Dieter Müh circa Black Square and his contribution 'The Scattering Of Bones - Place & Call (Klebsiella)' is a fine piece of occultic ambience with a still atmosphere punctuated with growls and micro-detailing of sound. Good stuff and I'd be keen to hear more. The Psychogeographical Commission are no strangers to viruses their latest album Patient Zero imagines the effects of a solar virus on a cities populous. 'Pathogenic Suspension', their contribution here, deals with bacteria which form a parasitic association with the living. It's a turbulent instrumental of twisted electronics sounds and eerie ambience showing a more dark ambient side to this excellent project. Finnish industrial experimentalists Mnem offer 'Invisible Organism' an otherworldy creation of gritty tones mixed with subtly crafted looped sounds.

German industrial stalwarts Column One don't appear to get caught up in the concept of the album. Their strangely titled 'Cindy, Loraine & Hank' offers sample ridden beaty textures wrapped seemingly around what appears to be a deconstructed dub record. 'Verdeter' from veteran French outfit DDAA use an old piece of Victor Hugo writings about earthworm. They've always been a strange proposition and this track based around gruff vocalisations and scraping violin strings and electronics, with little bursts of harmonica does little to change my opinion.

From the gritty industrial ambience of the opening track from Cheapmachines that is conversely soothing and harsh as analogue electronics get swept up into a gushing drone to the closing sample ridden electronica of Sevan Oh it's clear the compilers have put a lot of thought into the running order of Bacterium. Adeptsound have secured a lot of good material here. It does what good compilations should do: presents solid contributions from established artists with plenty of intriguing tracks from the less well known. Bacterium is released in a 4 panel digipak with 12-page booklet and a hand-numbered postcard. If post-industrial still means anything to you then this is well worth your time. Spread the virus. For more information go to

Review courtesy of "Compulsion Online Magazine".
Thanks to Tony Dickie.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Just spent a pleasant while listening to the LP "Moral Rearmament" by Zahgurim. Released by the German label Atonal Records in 1985. I've had this LP for a couple of years, think I got it from Discogs...can't quite remember. I remember seeing them at the "Feast Ov Flowering Light" all day event back in 1985 at Hammersmith Palais and never having bought the LP on release, curiosity got the better of me. I also (around the same time) bought a CD by Death & Beauty Foundation and that is close to bloody awful.
The LP is a strange beast. In a way very minimal. There is a lot of effects and machinery, but not much instrumentation. The recordings are over 25 years old, but their sounds haven't dated. What it does sound like is Bourbonese Qualk. It plays like a "missing" Qualk release. No surprise that Simon Crabtree and Julian Gilbert are listed as producers, from experience Simon is a very "hands on" type of producer. The LP opens with "Dropkick!", which owes more to the Gamelan sound than Qualk. Very 23 Skidoo, very "Culling Is Coming" (Probably one of the best albums ever made). This track leads into "New Flesh" and "The People's Temple" which have that shouty shouty vocal, space-echo treated scratching strings and Dr. Rhythm beat that Bourbonese Qualk were "famous" for. Think "Laughing Afternoon" or "Preparing For Power" and you are close to the sound of Zahgurim. "Panstwo" opens side two. Panstwo is Polish for The State, and Steve Tanza of Bourbonses Qualk had a project called The State...things are getting a little bit incestuous here. "Panstwo" has readings, it is constructed in the same way as Psychic T.V.'s "Terminus", the ambiguously titled "Shower Scene" follows. (Death Camp Psycho Sex Scene). "In The Shower You Are The Toy" seems to be the repeated vocal here and as with the final track, the instrumental "Two Women" the music is Qualkian to the max.
On hearing the LP for the first time I was surprised as I seem to remember them being all thigh bones and Tibetan Bells at the Feast.
As far as I know Zahgurim were Paul Ackerley and William Vince. There could have been a third member called Andrew Wadsworth, and they were either from Sheffield or Dewsbury. Yorkshire then? Aye. Paul went into Left Hand Right Hand with Karl Blake. William and Andrew.....who knows.

I think that the LP was recorded at Malt Street in New Cross, London. That is where Bourbonese Qualk had their squat & studio at the time. I recorded there as a member of IBF (Ideas Beyond Filth) in January 1986, recording a track for the "Songs Of The New Internationals" LP. Simon Crabtree was our producer and ended up playing Moog Synth on the track. We were also going to use the "studio time" to record the IBF song "I Want To Give You A Baby" for a compilation LP that Manfred Schiek was putting together for Atonal Records. We wanted Simon and Steve Tanza to assist but Simon gave a firm "no". They were owed monies from Manfred for recordings they made of other bands for him, and they had to make a firm stance. I wonder if this LP has anything to do with it?

The LP needs a CD re-issue.

1: Feast Ov Flowering Light Poster.
2: "Moral Rearmament" LP Sleeve.

T.V. Smith

With Amazon falling through on the Bill Nelson / Be Bop Deluxe biography "Music In Dreamland" I scoured the list of "music" books and plumped for T.V. Smith's "Getting There : Punk Rock Diaries:Volume One". I was never a big "fan" of The Adverts and I have little knowledge of T.V. in his solo career, but the promotional blurb on the Amazon page intrigued so I picked up a copy for a tenner.
I do remember seeing a documentary a few years back on former "punk" musicians who have gone acoustic, unplugged, and I seem to remember T.V. being in that along with Richard Strange, Jake Burns, Pauline Black, Bruce Foxton, Tom Robinson and (inexplicably) Mike Peters (he, ex of The Alarm).
Yesterday whilst washing the dishes I tuned into BBC 6 Music I heard The Alarm track "Blaze Of Glory" and what a big pile of crap that song still is. Embarrassing beyond belief. Then the host of the programme (let's face it, these chaps are not DJ's) waxed lyrical about how great The Alarm were live. I was that incensed I E Mailed the programme to relate a story of how I was drinking in Manchester Poly (1983) and a guy came along and told us to carry on drinking downstairs because The Alarm would soon be on stage. But I didn't want to see The Alarm. Trouble was that there was such a low turn out that those who wanted a quiet pint and a go on the Space Invaders had to drink downstairs because they closed the upstairs bar, therefore you had to watch The Alarm. Or go down the road to The Swinging Sporran, which if memory serves is what we all did. The Alarm made rock music for people with no taste in music. Guns & Roses, Bon Jovi, U2, Bryan Adams...they all do it. People with no taste in music have to like something otherwise they become social pariahs. The host of the BBC 6 Music show proved my point by then waxing lyrical (again) on the brilliance of Gary Moore, Phil Collins and Elton John live.
But, back to T.V. Smith.
As I mentioned I was never a great follower of The Adverts. I had a couple of singles back in the 1970's and in my collection now sits "Television's Over" and the album "A Cast Of Thousands" and the brilliant single "Tomahawk Cruise" by T.V. Smith's Explorers, but I never really "got" The Adverts. Songs were too long with no immediate hook. Complex stuff and not what I was really looking for in 1977. I did see them live once, in 1978 at Lincoln Technical College. They did play Lincoln in 1977 with The Damned but there was so much trouble at that gig that punk gigs in The Drill Hall (Council owned venue) got banned. A shame as I had a ticket for The Jam "In The City" tour a few weeks later. But there was still the Tech' Coll putting on the likes of The Stukas, The Flys, Suburban Studs and Eater and Bishop Grots Teacher Training College who put on Rikki & The Last Days Of Earth. Then The Drill Hall relaxed and we all got to see the mighty Depressions.
But back to T.V. Smith.
The Adverts at the Tech Coll, supported by Chelsea was a weird gig. It was supposed to be The Police and Wayne County + The Electric Chairs, but The Police pulled due to TV commitments so in came The Adverts + Chelsea. This is probably (one of) the most violent gigs I have ever been to. I don't remember much about the gig other than T.V. wearing an "Action Man" on his wrist and leaning forward into the crowd alot. I am certain spitting was still in full force, but I do remember a pair of scissors flying past my ear in to the front of the crowd so I went to the side of the room and sat on a ledge only to find myself sat next to my cousin, Martin. Martin was not a punk and had no interest in the music, he was there for a fight. Oh dear. At the end of the gig word had it that straights from Grimsby had turned up to do battle with the Lincoln punks and then bricks came through the window. A volley of wooden chairs came back at them and it was suddenly every man. woman and child for him(their)self. I bolted out of the venue doors and turned left and ran uphill towards the cathedral. My thought was that I would not be chased uphill, and it worked. The two folk I went with both got kicked about a bit. That was the last punk gig at the Tech Coll. (I did see Dave Coverdale's Whitesnake play their first ever live gig at Lincoln Tech College, supported by Firefly...but I don't like to talk about it).

So, the book. The book is brilliant. Unputdownable. Written like a diary it tells of the exploits of T.V. organising and playing DIY tours across Northern Europe. (1998-2002). He obviously is a very likeable chap. He comes across as a man totally dedicated to his art and his passion for the live arena. I like that. Everything is done as cheaply as possible - unless some larger label is footing the bill (this happens a couple of times when he is supporting Die Toten Hosen). Stories of small venues with no P.A., pulled gigs and playing to 6 people and a tin of beans on a freezing night in North Yorkshire after spending the day travelling are all familiar. Treks across Finland and Germany on a shoestring and trying to stay vegetarian. Avoiding the UMM as T.V. calls them. (Unexpected Meat Moment). Written with pace and humour, it is a must read for anyone who has played live at a "grass roots" level. There's a beautiful entry when T.V. is invited to play a couple of songs at a primary school in Preston because the teacher has been using one of his lyrics as study in his English class. T.V. then gets to judge a poetry competition and gets paid. A packet of Ginger Nut Biscuits. It made me smile with tears.
There is a volume two called "How To Feel Human". That is my next read.

1: The book.
2: T.V. Smith live.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Just spent a pleasant while listening to the triple CD set "Re-Conditioned" by Appliance. (RROOPP Records : rr03pp. 2010).
I like Appliance, not all their stuff but a bloody large chunk of it. Ten years ago as they were releasing the album "Imperial Metric" I started to "go out with" the bass player's sister; Tamsin. I got to hear a fair bit of Appliance and I (immediately) liked what I was hearing.
"Re-Conditioned" is a great "career over-sight", taking in the classics, the unreleased material as well as some pretty dodgy tracks. Tracks that probably sounded good in demo form but not after studio production. The first CD covers the four sessions they recorded for the John Peel Show, and this is a great introduction to the Appliance sound. Motorik rhythms, swirling guitar chord riffs, minimal but solid bass lines, catchy lyrics - often surreal always poetic - and distant tweebles and warbles. There are times when listening to these sessions I am drawn into the world of Krautrock. The driving sound of Can and Neu! and Amon Duul. The beat. It is the beat that does it. I get the same sense of joy when I listen to certain Stereolab tracks. Appliance are a lot like Stereolab.
Disc 2 is compiled of previously unreleased material and single B-Sides. Shame it is not the A-Sides as Appliance released 2 of the classic singles of the "noughties": "Land, Sea & Air" and "Go Native".
When Mute Records sold itself to EMI / Sony a few years back they "dropped" a lot of there artists, Appliance were one of those artists although they still own Appliance material - perhaps that is why RROOPP only have the B-Sides, Mute Records are waiting to see if their is a resurgence of (market) interest in Appliance and out they come with the re-issues? Since the early 1990's Mute Records has become a "re-issues" label, so who knows....
Disc 2 does contain one of the worst songs I own (and now I have it twice) "Nocturnal Walker".
Disc 3 is a compilation of the first 3 10" EP's and are presented in reverse order. It is one of those discs I can put on and just slip into a journey, let the mind wander and the music be the soundtrack. Beautiful stuff.

I recommend this release.
My favourite Appliance release is the LP "Imperial Metric", it is an all thriller/no filler mother of an album and a permanent fixture in the Hartop Towers all time top 20 albums playlist. I saw Appliance perform the album live at The Spitz Club in London in 2001, and after the gig bought the CD there and then. I liked it so much I bought the ruler! (and married the bass player's sister).
"Re-Conditioned" is available through Amazon. Buy it!

1: "Re-Conditioned" Sleeve.
2: Appliance Live @ The Spitz. 2001.
3: "Imperial Metric" ruler!
4: Michael + James of Appliance DJing at Exeter Cavern Club. 2002.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Rita

Last week I was kind enough to have been mailed the latest 7" from The Rita. "Predators" on Second Layer Records and very excited by the vinyl I was too. A lot of folk in this neck of the woods (i.e. The UK) have been saying good words about the work / output of The Rita so I was keen to hear this project.
The Rita (Sam McKinley) were over in the UK last November and Second Layer Records ("probably" the finest record shop in the UK) were putting out a limited "tour only" 7" to celebrate the event. I asked a guy who was going to the London show to "pick me up" a 7" and kindly he did, and last Thursday it arrived.
Now you can probably tell by the tone here that I am not too impressed with the single. I don't know what I was expecting but, I wasn't expecting this.
The single is of underwater recordings made by Sam of a knife scraping a metal bowl.
OK, maybe a touch of Leif Elggren here? I have a 7" of Leif cutting thin metal into the shape of crowns and I still rue not buying his 10" disc of knife sharpening in the Recommended Records closing down sale. But no, the sounds remain untreated. It is, simply, the sound of a knife scraping against a metal bowl recorded underwater.

I understand vinyl as a platform, a canvas for art, but the 7" should have come with some warning, some note saying something along the lines of "underwater field recordings - untreated (the recordings - not the water) - do not use for entertainment purposes".
Ah well.
I will dip my toes in the waters of The Rita again, but next time I will do a little "research" first.

1&2: "Predators" Sleeve.
3: The Rita Live.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Grey Park #2

I have been invited to perform at this years AAVE Festival in Helsinki, Finland. Dieter Muh and the mighty Grey Park will be performing at the Malmitalo on April 15.
A website for the event will be in action soon.
Looking forward to this one.

Hobo Sonn/Duncan Harrison

Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest cassette by Hobo Sonn + Duncan Harrison. This one has been produced for the upcoming February tour of the U.K. and both have a side a piece. (I don't think it is collaborative). As is the latest trend these days, the tape carries NO INFORMATION other than who is on which side.
The tape is recorded over a pre-recorded tape. The copy I have used to be a compilation tape given away with "Q" Magazine, it is an idea also used by RRR Records with their "Recycled" series and of course Hyster Tapes of Helsinki. Good idea, but lo-fi sound which with the Duncan Harrison track is probably not such a good idea. I am not adverse to tape hiss. "tape hiss is essential" as The Instant Automatons used to say, but it does play an unwelcomed part of the Harrison track. Low drone, minimal shifting and a faint murmur, reminiscent of Nurse With Wound.
Hobo Sonn provide (what I think are) three tracks. The first is very strange.
I have mentioned before, but 16 years ago Dieter Muh supported Soviet France in Bradford. Unfortunately we had no means of recording the gig and thirty or so minutes into the performance, and all is going excitedly well, I realise that I have a tape machine in my pocket that I wasn't using anymore, I had used it on the first two numbers but it went into the jacket pocket. So I pressed play/record and I now have 10 or so minutes of Dieter Muh live in Bradford 1995. Unfortunately it is an indecipherable murky cotton wool mess of sound with the occassional "clang" of the Tibetan Bell I was hitting. Unusable and pretty damn near unlistenable. The first Hobo Sonn track reminds me of this tape. A walk down Brighton High Street with a tape recorder in the armpit. Low quality sound on a low quality tape, I was in two minds to FF when all of a sudden (track two) I'm listening to crystal clear synth-sequencer keyboards and guitar a la Camel or Be Bop Deluxe. Crazy shit indeed. Track three is piano and flute.
The live sets will be interesting. I know the tour takes them to Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester. Pop along and get one of these tapes!

1: Hobo Sonn/Duncan Harrison Tape Cover.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Hum Of The Druid

It was whilst looking through my diary for 1985, looking for Doctor Zarkhov's Waiting Room pictures and information that I stumbled across another "band" I was in that was crappily named. Contakt Mags. That lasted for a C60 one Spring weekend. Interesting to think that back in 1985 the mysterious use of "K" over "C" was still in use. The diary then became a fascinating read as I discover a page with potential solo project names listed. I was recording "on the side" whilst still a member of Ideas Beyond Filth y'see. TrippingKorpse there's a name that never was! I did (for a few months) plump for The Streetcleaner. (Now, punch the air. Then slowly draw the fist back into the stomach whilst shouting from the back of the throat "The Stir-Eat-Klee-Nah"). That name lasted a couple of tapes before adopting the A:A:K moniker. Strange year 1985.
Deciding on a project name is so difficult. My good friend and Dieter Muh collaborationist Tim Bayes is doing some location based recordings (LBR's in the trade) in Western Australia but the results are far from his "usual" sound as Schuster so he is trying to find an appropriate project name. Difficult. Still did Cabaret Voltaire change their name just because the latest release didn't sound like the last? It is a strange area. But back to crappily named bands, and one that stood out for me in 2010 was Hum Of The Druid and last week Tommy from Abisko in Sweden kindly mailed me one of their/his releases.
For some reason I associate HOTD with another crappily named project Tenhornedbeast. Don't know why? Probably read about them at the same time or something, but for me they are entwined. I remember reading an interview with the chap from Tenhornedbeast where he states the work of Wishbone Ash as a great influence. I thought that a brave statement. For me an "off-putter" but a brave statement none the less. I have yet to hear Tenhornedbeast. I have heard the collaboration with Marzuraan that Aurora B. released a few years back, but even then I was thinking "Wishbone Ash"! "There's The Rub", "Argus"...the chap should move down my way, they do "secret gigs" in pubs around Torbay.

Back to Hum Of The Druid. HOTD is the project of Eric Stonefelt and has been recording and releasing as HOTD for over 7 years. Abisko is the new label from Tommy C who used to operate Segerhuva Records. The tape is an eponymous C65 limited to 200 copies.
4 tracks of indistinguishable snap, crackle and pop. Side A starts with "Fused To Foci". A track of continual mechanical grind, no hooks no loops just a grinding noise. "Scaffold's Width" continues the grind. Side B: "Manafacturing Of Personal Symbols" opens with the same crunching and somewhat industrial sounding scrapes and grinds before the silence of "Vitreous Strands". The silence builds to a hum and grows into a mess of rumbling, crumbling noise...has a nice haunting voice at the end though.
One of the best things about this tape are the titles. "Scaffold's Width" sounds like a band that could have supported Wishbone Ash on their 1971 "Pilgrimage" tour.
I am not down on HOTD though, they just do not sound like their name suggests. I have the compilation CD "Night Science 4" with the excellent track "Gammadion Rotates South" included, I think there are many sides to this project. The HNW side just doesn't press my button.

1: Hum Of The Druid Sleeve.
2: Eric Stonefelt Live. (Picture taken from the Internet).

Thursday, 3 February 2011

BBBlood #3

Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from BBBlood. The excellent "Destroy, Shatter, Stun, Intoxicate" C20 cassette on the American Void Seance label.
Side A: "Syrtis Major" is a crunching wall of noise. Fist clenching, room prowling wall of noise, the kind of noise that is called HNW these days. Side B is the title track and a mammoth (if a ten minute piece can be a mammoth) track. Lots of layering of noise and sound effects, crumbling and rumbling. I have this idea that the track is a complex compilation of studio recordings, bedroom rehearsals and live appearances throughout 2010, a kind of This Heat construction. The varying of levels and quality - just leads me to this idea. Could be wrong....more than likely am. It is a beautiful piece though and puts the tape into the "essential" category.
This tape is limited to 10 copies, so is probably all sold by now. I am surprised that the tape isn't numbered with it being only 10 copies, but I believe them! When I contacted the label a couple of weeks ago they had 2 copies left, although I think Paul (he who is Baron Bum Blood) is going to put this tape on his website for download. Always worth a look.

1: "Destroy, Shatter, Stun, Intoxicate" Sleeve.
2: Label Postcard.