missive 200 (n)
We’re of the thinking that unless you have had a prior acquaintance with the work of Paul Flaherty (don’t worry we hadn’t either) – who blessed of a back catalogue that stretches to some 50 plus full lengths featuring an array of collaborations with the likes of Thurston Moore, Sunburned Hand of the Man and most notably Chris Corsano then nothing will quite prepare you for the unhinged and frantic freeform that will spew forth on your turntable.
Now faced with offer of listening to 40 minutes ‘out there jazz’ – the description I should add here to which ‘Aria Nativa’ was sold to me by and then noticing that said ‘out there jazz’ was in fact – by way of quick reference to the reverse of the sleeve – a solo four track suite to which the protagonist was accompanied by only an alto and tenor saxophone – then admit it – alarm bells are furiously shrieking and if you could decipher and translate into some understandable language would no doubt be shouting violently that maybe this was a little too far out even for your eclectic taste buds and armed with this information you may well be inclined to politely make your excuses and move on with an ever so quickening step. Admittedly we were similarly struck but hell armed with no prior knowledge as to his work and drawn by the fact it was on the rather excellent Family Vineyard imprint – well face it how could we resist – though admittedly we‘ve neglected to mention that the deal was sealed by the small detail that our vinyl copy was a promo and one of a select few of first pressings suffering from a minor sound defect (basically a click that lasts for about 30 seconds and no more – the problem has since be resolved).
Anyway a word of warning with this release – if like me your prone to playing stuff loud often without the aid of headphones and (weather permitting) with the windows wide open. Then think on. We’ve had some seriously strange looks from passers by when this blistered babe has been in full throttle not to mention some slightly bemused glances from the cat Dylan. Lets just say you’ll never be able to appreciate the tenderness of a sax solo after this experience armed as you will be with the knowledge of what it can do when pushed to the limits. Accompanied by Ken Hill cover work and a Ken Del Ponte poem entitled ’no more America’ ’Aria Nativa’ captures Flaherty performing in New York January 2007 and September the same year in New Hampshire across four cuts of powered and pulverised avant sax improvising. it’s a scalding affair the opening 15 minute salvo ’woman in a polka dot dress’ being bleached and ruptured by a positive sand blasted whirlwind of violently abrupt squalls of sax shrieks the intensity of which is only momentarily held at bay by brief excursions into serenely drizzled noir tipped rain swept terrains. It really is fried stuff all at once free spirited, freakish, fierce some, demanding and demented. Perhaps its nearest reference marker would be the wildly off road schizophrenia of Inside Ov a Butchers Shop. ’I don’t live here anymore’ is more conservative in comparison though still reveals Flaherty’s want of drilling out the most amazing of contortionist deliveries. ’weren’t there two of them’ opens side two – again an extended 15 minute composition initially beginning more mellower in texture it quickly sheds its skin to stutter, bark and howl hitting the kind of notes you suspect some Geneva like Convention for music has deemed at sometime or other to be unlawful, its as Spartan as it is caustic albeit delightfully skatty with Flaherty skilfully bringing things back to some sense (though obviously that’ll be sense in its loosest possible text) of normality just as things appear to be teetering at the point of chaos. Frankly needing to heard to be believed ’moving through the darkness’ rounds up the set, the most intricate piece here though alone knows don’t even dare ask me to describe what’s going on – is it really possible to initiate an autopsy on a saxophone? Wired stuff indeed and one for the serious improv purists among you.
Key tracks –
Moving through the darkness
Vignetting the compost
This particular release happened to find itself on the player late one night towards the tail end of last week in one of those ‘we’ll have a sneak peak at this and see if there’s anything interesting enough for considered listening in the morning’ moments that many months ago we promised to stop doing for fear of losing sleep staying up until the wee small hours savouring various sounds while copiously scribbling hand written notes which would eventually appear indecipherable in the cold harsh light of day. I think you know what’s coming next. Yep. We got hooked on this. In fact it wasn’t until just before 5 in the morning and three complete plays later that we finally decided to call it a night by which time night had also decided to call it a night and had slumbered off into hiding leaving day break and the dawn chorus to chirpily take its place. Thankfully next day there were no notes to decipher through scrunched up eyes, in fact the album lent itself such that to do anything but recline and let the sounds wash over you would be deemed to a busy and exhaustive folly.
Bibio is the alter ego of Midlands based resident Stephen James Wilkinson who we must admit to being a tad ashamed to have never heard of previous to this – we believe – his third full length. As apt a title as we’ve come across since in fact hearing er – ‘a psychedelic guide to monsterism island’ just this very morning – but you get my drift (don’t you?). ‘Vignetting the compost’ is sumptuously threaded by all manner of snoozing gemstones that have been sculptured from yawning electronics and rustic riffs sprinkled by the breezy life affirming glow of nature’s own magical essences, a gorgeously woven tapestry of parched floral recitals dashed with soft psyche overtones and originating as were from an enchanted woodshed. Its utterly disarming and captivating stuff alarmingly seducing and serene and sure to appeal in equal measures to fans of Tunng (as on ‘Weekend Wildfire‘ albeit here dimpled by early 70’s flashbacks), the Busy Signals (non more so is this the case than on the village fayre fancy ‘odd paws‘), Oddfellows Casino (especially on ‘great are the piths’) and Vernon Elliot.
Sixteen tracks feature within, part sepia glazed dream like corteges part wonky and inebriated clock working rustics that sometimes sound like they’re a little worse for wear for sitting in sun, these mellowing slices of fanciful melodic foliage are delicately awash with flotillas of dissipating fuzzy felt mirages and softly tipped lysergic myriads. Within prepare to be charmed by sea faring treats such as dream weaving ’top soil’ with its melting interloping riff work – much recalling it has to be said Toshack Highway’s self titled debut full length. Then there’s the lolloping banjo graced ‘thatched’ – a dizzy and dusty porch lit treat while in sharp contemplative contrast the divine and demurring sepia tweaked snow globed effect lullaby tracing that attaches to the simply adoring and bitter sweetly shy eyed ‘Torn under the window light’ is simply the stuff of jaw dropped numbed awe.
Rummage a bit under the floral undergrowth for the idyllic and woozy Oliver Postgate like charmed landscapes of ‘Dopplerton’ or the lulling albeit slightly seasick see sawing minimalism of the gramophone loft find that is ’under the pier’ and lest we omit to mention the parting 15 minute orbiting odyssey ’the garden shelter’ – droning cascades that to these ears sound like bagpipes, shimmering keys, music box montages and then silence for 5 and a half minutes the return being a rather nifty slice of delta folk rustics by way of mystical astral trip to Tibet. Quite perfect if you ask me.
Key tracks –
Torn under the window light
Flesh rots, pip sown
A psychedelic guide to Monsterism Island
An utter cornucopia of wig flipping ornate opiate opining serenades we haven’t had this much fun with a record since we fired up the household Bunsen burner and in a fit of infant curiosities applied our own pyrotechnic experiments to replicating the lunar landscapes of Gerry Anderson’s UFO out of my mum’s prized Cliff Richard and Bobby Vee record collection in order to engage in the mother of all Dinky toy battles between a moon base Interceptor and a battered Captain Scarlet SUV. Oh the joy – mind you I wasn’t able to sit for weeks and proudly showed the welts resulting from the ensuing good natured beating for many weeks that was after she released me from incarceration out of the pantry.
Where were we. Ah yes. ’A psychedelic guide to Monsterism Island’. As you’d no doubt detect from the title this mind warping odyssey of strange sounds is indeed a bit psyche-y and while we are here we may as well say it’s a bit lounge-y, kraut-y, space-y, jazz-y, trip-y and tropicalia-y. A pure unadulterated adventure in sound featuring a mercurial gathering of magic mushroom munching merry minstrels amid whose assembled ranks you’ll find lurking fully paid up members of the Ghost Box collective, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, some Super Furries, ex Octopus renegades, a few Future Sound of Londoners, the odd out in the cold Special(s) as well as the mighty Circulus, the more than admired in our gaff Wolf People, Batfinks, Luke Vibert and head gatekeeper of the library of weird tunes Mr Trunk of Trunk records fame.
Okay where exactly do we begin with this mind expanding 27 track kaleidoscopic journey. Well I suppose the best place is to list the likely reference markers from the out set so as to give you a flavour of what to expect, any names you see and you like – then Bob’s your uncle its probably for you. If not then the odious U2 album is there in the local and musically clueless record supermarket ready to part a fool and his / her hard earned dosh (am I being a bit harsh and dismissive here – of course not ‘no line on the horizon‘ is utter tosh despite what the advertising revenue chasing inkies tell you – mind its better than the Moz album – now that is painful). For lovers its best said of Raymond Scott, Vernon Elliot, the Radiophonic Workshop, Benge’s recent ’20 systems’ set, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve (again), the Superimposers, Optiganally Yours, Herbie Hancock’s ’future shock’ era work and more besides.
As said 27 cuts feature here, well strictly speaking 20 plus 7 linking interludes which we gather are there in order to allow you to pause for breath and give your fringe a quick comb and straighten before its sent off again for a spot of cosmic parting. A treasure trove of sepia jingles and pickled pupil dilating sound-scapes carved and crafted or so you’d be lulled to thinking from a long distant space age forever green in your inner child’s minds eye, fractured and fried fondant fancies calibrated with redolent retro glaze. The magic within folks is all done with mirrors – of course we lie its all festooned in marimbas and mellotrons.
Here you’ll find a rare and richly vibrant untamed paradise of dream woven mirages from the opening salvo the sultry and inviting intones of the summer drifting south pacific sea breezes of the ukulele drilled ’magic morning’ by the Monsters at Work who emerge again after a short nap in the afternoon sun with the arabesque tweaked lounge psych of ‘fisherman‘s jam‘. Mind you those among you who just can’t get enough of that south sea paradise sound should be mindful to fast forward through the set to Tremortex’s ‘final froog’ – for he is one third of the Monsters and sure as hell can have you in a grass skirt shaking maracas like a wild ‘un in the blink of an eye. Marc Shearer – former resident of 90’s indie poppers Octopus – a band it should said who we were most fond off at one time – stumps up some shimmering cosmic wooziness in the shape of the oceanic ’magma on my mind’ – think Discordia meets 808 State. Belbury Poly – a member of the disarmingly dizzy and fuzzy lost sound paradise that is the Ghost Box imprint who we’ve had occasion to feature in passing in these very pages cooks up some nifty and spongy sounding crooked goo that’s part kooky early 70’s TV styled ’vision on’ fayre and fried test card montages. Been a while since we had cause to mention Luke Vibert in dispatches – we’ve always been totally smitten by his Wagon Christ alter ego and rarely is his work far away from our turntable – on ’silver snorse hotel’ he teases the childhood recollections and takes you skipping down memory lane for a spot of twinkling nursery rhyming – a kind of Jack and Jill on space dust if your asking. next up Mr Trunk wades in with some smoking noir tipped jazz sophistication for ’nest we forget’ – very Vernon Elliot all said and done.
Wolf People forever hold a place in our hearts chiefly courtesy of their outings for the esteemed Battered Ornaments imprint, on ’village strollin’ they’re found togged up in their best tie dye threads and a tooting on a fat ’un whilst laying down some seriously laid back and chilled head expanding bliss grooves. Meanwhile over on the village green those impish medieval muses Circulus are busy adding a spot of maypole frolicking to the festivities with the flute tooted ’til we meet merry again’ – word has it a spanking new album is currently fermenting in their Wizardry lair. Previously unknown to us Amorphous Androgynous have apparently been releasing the results of their warping aural alchemy via their own Electronic Brain Violence imprint which straight after writing up this we are hastily heading over to to see what we can plunder, featuring Gary and Brian from FSOL fame ’mr s sponge’s groovy oscillations’ is pure early 70’s prog tomfoolery, all at once wonky, trippy and crooked a kind of shit faced jam between a wired Band and a clearly out of it VdGG if you’re forcing a comparison. Taking a break between SFA duties Mr Rhys loosens the mood to serene levels with ’wild robots power up’ – an orbiting bossa nova promenade like serenade that is unless our ears do deceive with falls somewhere in sound terms between early Echoboy and a youthful Mr Jarre which we here are thinking is a good thing. Right? Better known to family and friends as Pete Fowler, Squonjax who sculptures some rather fine transcendental willowy-ness on the cavernously captivating Budd-esque ’chocolate skull’. Dud Thud on the other hand is the library music obsessed alter ego of Specials founder Jerry Dammers who really should require no introductions in these pages and if he does well young persons with sizable blanks in your record knowledge your just listening to the wrong things. ’lonely library’ is just as you’d imagine something titled as such on the tin – lonesome library sounds which it should be said emerging from their sparse minimalist halo sound not unlike some curious snoozing fusion between John Brenton’s Landshipping and OJN guises. ’to all the Wizards in lockdown’ is a celestial mistral piloted by Grid / Beyond the Wizards Sleeve alchemist Richard Norris, all at once eerie and enchanting its possessed of that same ceremonial aura as braided the work of Add N to X. those of you loving your sounds – shall we say – on the fat, fuzzy and futuro funky side of the road should immediately seek out the stuttering schizoid happenings of Cherrystones wonderfully wonky ‘seven thousand pound bee’ while admirers of Emperor Penguin’s sublime ‘mysterious pony’ set from a few years back would do well to drop whatever your doing and immediately re-tune to the wigged out tonalities of hardfeelinguk’s ’volcanic drive’.
As previously reported the set has a few visitations from those dudes of lounge cool over at Ghost Box, of course Belbury Poly you can read about above ‘lair of the grolfax’ features the remarkable talents of label friends the Advisory Circle – essentially a solo project of the fingers in many pies workaholic Jon Brooks who here enchants all and sundry with some delightfully down tempo tipped star crossed milky way lounge loveliness. Next up some mystic psyche folk courtesy of Richie Crago via the decided hypnotic drone wiring snake charms of ‘wandering black holes’. Fans of the spellbinding archaic sounds of Men An Tol and the Owl Service will be all a swoon with the evocative entreaties of Nancy and Paddy’s frail and lo-fi pastoral flower ‘Owl Ritual’ – Paddy of course being Paddy Steer of Homelife fame and Nancy as in Nancy Elizabeth whose output has courted lovers of both the Leaf / Timbreland imprints. Last up Batfinks who by all accounts has from his shy Manchester retreat caught the undying affection of LOAF records, ’crystal hermitage’ featured wrapping up proceedings here is a gorgeously carved slice of looping driftwood rustic snake winds, deviously demurring and alluring and sprinkled ever so subtle with exotic essences. Nuff said. Buy.
Key tracks –
Circulus ’til we merry meet again’
Wolf People ’village strollin’
Gruff Rhys ’wild robots power up’
The advisory circle ’lair of grolfax’
Luke vibert ’silver snorse hotel’
Bronnt Industries Kapital
Another release that went astray that we’ve had hanging about the gaff for a month or two much to our embarrassment is the second full length from Bristol based aural alchemist Bronnt Industries Kapital or as he’s better known to the local postman Guy Bartell. The subject of a specially put together reconnaissance team of crack marines who through the glow of night waded through mountains of dangerously piled CD’s in an attempt to track down the errant release. Okay we exaggerate a tad – still you can’t deny it adds a bit of dramatic tension to the proceedings. In truth the release came into question when we eyed a new BIK release – ‘hard for justice’ via the Get Physical imprint – of which in a flash we ordered (the vinyl version) and are now eagerly camped by the front door ready to pounce when the letter box creaks.
Such frivolity aside.
Released in a limited issue and housed in a stark ink stamped card envelope ’Haxan’ is a truly evocative, engaging and enchanting outing that should serve to see Bartell’s critical stock level rise swiftly. Resulting from a commission to provide a soundtrack for the Tartan films re-release of the much regarded and dare we say equally loathed silent movie from the early 20’s ’hexan’ – a film whose historical providence, relevance and cult therein we won’t bother replicating here other than to say if you feel inclined to read more then google IMDB or better still click on the following link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0013257/
Recorded by all accounts (as was the film by and large) in order to capture that sense of witching hour isolation, Bartell crafts a richly arresting atmospheric odyssey of sound, its an album calibrated in such a way that despite the outward sense of sparsely minimalist applications often revealing themselves it should be noted as were like porcelain sculptured apparitions that there’s an deeply alluring inner warmth engineered by the lush tenderness of the orbiting crystal tipped chamber toned ambient corteges (the Goblin-esque ‘fire‘ for instance). Far from being some macabre like mausoleum piece (though that‘s not to say that the set is without its odd moment of hair at the back of the neck raising – see the psychotropic drone weaves of ‘for eternity‘ – very similar in texture to Mount Vernon Arts Lab’s ‘Séance at hobs end‘) ‘Haxan’ is rarely haunting in terms of edge of the seat suspense except that is with the exception of the ritualistic clock working of ‘preparations for trial’ where indeed a sense of sombre foreboding is instilled or the ominously rhythmic intones of ‘conspiracy’, while ’anna, the printers wife’ is very much found nodding to Owl Service’s chilling covers set ‘Cine’. That said ‘haxan’ is chilling only in the sense of the sereneness and out there transcendental quality it endows, the beauty and precision (and dare we say majesty) of the steady ebbs and flows of the arrangements casting as were a lulling spectacle of opining distress calls into the endless cosmic voids the overall result assuming something akin to a strange and dusty viewfinder replaying images of fade memories.
Elsewhere you’ll find the silvery shimmer like corteges of the uplifting ‘the youngest servant’, the ice tipped kooky and woozy mirages of the twinkling ‘torture chamber’ or the snow globed lullaby effects afforded to the chamber like reverence of ‘confessions’ though for us personally the dream like fuzzy dream sequences within ‘thunder with water’ just do fine by us.
Reference wise – of course Goblin are instantly recalled as is Fat Cat’s Hauschka, maybe a little John Carpenter especially via ’the power of lead’ though overall the ambient symphonies are dimpled by a classical vibrancy that on more than one occasion called to mind the unaccredited Godfather of ambience – Erik Satie that’s borne of the sets shimmering tides of gracefulness, introspection and application of space.
A haunting though hitherto spectral beauty.
Key tracks –
‘preparations for trial’
‘the youngest servant’
‘thunder with water’
http://www.myspace.com/hollydrift – the work of artist Mathyas Anderson a Wisconsin based resident undertaking an odyssey into the far reaches of the un-chartered vapour strewn voids of ambiences ever evolving and expanding universe. These cavernous coliseums of sound are shoe gazed hybrids sculptured from porcelain and framed within celestial star kissed twinkles, from the locomotive rhythms of the bitter sweet epiphany that is ‘peach fuzz’ to the minimalist pastel shades applied to the nakedly spectral ‘seduced’ with its arcing monolithic Cathedral like structures and glacial swathes, Hollydrift cuts an alluring display of introspective isolationism, between the lilting and the lonesome these silver skinned glassy opines wallow, weave and wane with a tearful tenderness that’s both reverent and regal none more is this better exemplified than on the stately and ceremonial ‘Abygayle Surrey’ where the orbiting cycles and monastic harmonies swirl and dissipate to coalesce into a deeply affecting arabesque tweaked effervescence that has to be heard to be appreciated. Mind you we here are equally smitten by the frosted atmospherics of ‘an empty carrier’ – an EP entitled ‘peach fuzz’ arrives shortly via the Test Tube net label – we suggest you seek out.
Alas that’s your lot for a day or so – over the bank holiday weekend don’t be too surprised to find shed loads of missives littering up the gaff – loads of gear in preparation and near complete stages – alas there will be a y space type special thing. As to the internet label focus – alas postponed for a week or three – we’ve found stacks of sites and are currently checking them out and will once satisfied that we have enough to cause the near meltdown of your pc through over-active downloading then we’ll deliver.
As usual thanks yous to all those who’ve made these musings possible – I’m forever eternally grateful – those who’ve sent emails to firstname.lastname@example.org – I apologise for non reply – we’ve had something of an email issue crisis – I can receive but can’t send – I will check this out over the weekend because its getting laughable. For now please hook up to http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience and send a message – honest I do reply. As for snail mail –
Till whenever take care….