(keep off the groynes in Brighton, England)
Having completed a really long tour this summer, having done my best to contribute to the cultural downfall of the places I visited and western culture in general, and having sampled the delicious fast food of many nations and peoples, it is now time to write about various things in chronological order. This is done for myself, mostly, to wrap my head around things, my head, which is made of elastic material, to wrap it around things, and also to write about some of the interesting people I spoke with, and the recordings that some of them gave me. I also need to tunnel, memory-wise, through the various landscapes traversed, the various flavors and crossed bodies of water- the wind and sounds carried thereupon – (landscape with grammatical freedom) goodnight goodmorning goodmorning good morning my darling, and the sunburns I received in unexpected places (like Brussels).
Is it all quite clear? Good.
As usual all this started without me knowing what I was getting myself into. I was getting a bit fed up around here in the Prag and Graeme Smith suggested I come out to Scotland and that we go camping in the Orkney Islands. So that is what I did and it turned out to be pretty mystical. While I was there, for example, I dreampt I was in a band called CornHoof.
As unusual, but not unsurprising, I need to add a disclaimer: when I started making this page I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This is really long and confusing and at a certain point I accidently almost erased the entire thing, then put it back together out of order, and (to quote Henry Flynt: “so forth and so on”). Anyway, obviously even with this Melville-esque breadth and verbosity I have omitted some detail. So do not be offended by grammatical and/or factual errors or omissions, or if you are, send me something and I will try and put it right, espiecially if you are one of the friends whom I realized that I did not remember your last name….etc.
Here is what some of Orkney looked like sort of, and some drawings I made there. And some audio based on some ideas I came up with there and later, in Brussels. All these audio bits are also just sketches, but here it is anyway.
This field was the first place we camped. It was nick-named St. Margret’s Mind after a nearby toe-town. St Margets Head or Hope or something.
Graeme in passing
There are a lot of standing stones around, this one is one of the Standing Stones of Stenness, which is a popular group of them near the majestic Ring of Brogdar with its majestic name. They just stand there. They couldn’t care less. They don’t even care if the sun is out or not or if its cold or hot. They have been there for over 4000 years.
This one has a sort of 70s contemporary art attitude:
The cleft in this here pointing towards the Maeshowe burial mound in the distance
Makes me want to write songs about human sacrifice.
Here is some beautiful nature:
(note neolithic mound in the background)
(note mound in the foreground)
part of the Ring of Brodgar, which is really huge and impossible to capture all at once on my crappy camera
spot 12 differences in the two pictures below
strange coastal landscape
Graeme examines the strange rocky structure of reality
The landscape itself is sort of Northern California or Dover-esque
except for the 4000 year old rock wall on the left
and this 4000 year old recreation center or whatever it was
its nice to imagine that maybe a group of these folks got tired of building things in the inland town (that is now being excavated) between the Stenness stones and the Ring of Brodgar. “C’mon” said one of them, “this sucks. lets get out of here and go live on the coast”.
they are still here:
coastal structure – hard to discern the scale, it could be any size (actually these ridges are pretty small, your foot can span three or four of them at the same time)
I am interested in the history of rock
There were a lot of stone walls out there and I made many drawings of them.
(I don’t think you could really build this one)
geological structure with the Old Man of Hoy
meanwhile, back in civilization, towards Inverness, the following evidence
He was caught in the middle of a Controlled Dog-Fouling Scheme.
No swimming for the girls, they have to walk.
back in Edinburgh, or Leith
I didn’t record this in Edinburgh, but who cares?
So, after that, having come up with some new ideas and stuff, which was the plan, I started making the first group of concerts. I did several things in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.
The first Edinburgh show was at a place called Banshee Labyrinth. The poster looked like this:
It was a great first show of tour. Snake Until Listen is the solo project of Graeme Smith, who was camping with me in Orkney. He claims to be a poet or something, or maybe it would be better to say that he is normally a poet, or normally says he is a poet, but he is actually an amazing musician (in addition to being an brilliant and most innovative poet as well). This was the first opportunity I had to hear his music live, and in fact I think it was only his third or fourth live concert with this project. His music consists of guitar manipulations with fingers and electronics. He also manipulates the electronics with fingers. And guitars. Snakes could be like fingers manipulating guitar strings or electronics or the strings could be the snakes and they could be manipulating listen. Until listen the snakes could be hands manipulating guitar fingers electronics. He also uses a really amazing fret tapping technique and creates super nice minimalist counterpoint stuff along with his washes of glorious colourful noise, like the sunset reflected on the smooth skin of a chromatic snake’s back.
NOT listed on the flyer due to organizational schizophrenia or Stuart Arnot was the band Tube O’ Mold. This duet of the aforementioned Dr. Arnot and the mmmmysterious entity who also performs solo as Hockyfrilla were going to play but couldn’t. They have made this amazing recording though, released on Total Vermin as #74 and it is pretty much like being in the belly of a giant buzzing fly with an Indonesian percussion orchestra practicing inside of a sheet metal building that the fly is circling around in trying to figure out what to do next. Its not about escape, its not panicked, really. Maybe its about roller derby, it kind of has that vibe too. I have no idea what these instruments are but there are some electronic sounds, and I think some sticks. After a certain point its like Albert Ayler comes on by for a visit and they tie him up in the kitchen. Breakfast music.
Although Tube O’ Mold didn’t play, Hockyfrilla did. I have noticed that Hockyfrilla keeps a low profile, he/she doesn’t seem to like to use her/his real/fake name/nomme so I am respecting this here, of course if she/he wants his/her real/fake name listed s/he has my address and I will be happy to include it. Hockyfrilla really sort of sounds like the effect its name had on me when I first found out what it meant by accident, by typing it in google and getting a shock by the image results. Careful, this is pretty graphic:
Hockyfrilla makes some amazing continuous sounds and noises. Lots of plastic toys are mixed in free interplay with percussive wooden objects from non-western cultures. Perhaps this is Inuit technology at work here. There is certainly a machine like quality to some of the rolling continuities found in the temporal abyss of Hockyfrilla. This is also very well expressed on the disk Vulpes Vulpes, below.
This disk is really really good, especially if you like mind melting washes of harmonic feedback and tape echo-esque friction.
By the way, who made this one (below)? I wonder if it isn’t this same mysterious person as in Hockyfrilla. Its called ckdh “summer trance” and is also released by the ubiquitous Total Vermin (this time, number 47). This is totally my cup of tea. Strong, black, with insects in it. The second side begins with scratching and a feedback Larson-squalk that makes me think of Hockyfrilla, thats why I thought it might be the same. But let me know if it is not. Or send me some information anyway. Send me anything, preferably more like this.
Dead Labor Process was next. This is the solo project of Euan Currie of Unverified Records and the band Muscletusk.
I am putting a picture of Muscletusk here, even though it has little relevance to what I am writing about. But whose website is this, eh? Thats right: mine. I do what I like.
Anyway, Dead Labor Process is the clown on the right, between the two red “x”s. Euan does what he does using tape recorders and some times other objects like a coffee can. Actually, I have no idea how he does what he does because every time I hear it I am surprised by something new, and always something that undermines some assumption I have about reality, or language, for instance. Lately it seems like Dead Labor Process is language-obsessed and his set at this show was certainly language oriented. Tape loops (or loops on tape) revolved and slowly turned into one another creating changed and combinatorial meanings, while the sound itself moved across the stereo field in time with this. Something might have been funny here, then it could change to something else, something serious, or something else. It seems like he could take these sentences anywhere. Sometimes he breaks them apart. Usually. I totally recommend getting his releases. The tape he made with Kommissar Hjuler und Frau (Total Vermin again, this time #56) is probably my favorite Hjuler thing, and that might be fun for you too, if you feel like going fucking nuts.
this is me, Core of the Coalman, doing something in Edinburgh:
Then what? Then we did a short Core of the Coalman / Dead Labor Process duo in which I was wayyyyy tooooo loud and then I played my solo set in which my keyboard stopped working between pieces and I had to restart my computer, but no one seemed to care, and it was still really fun and all that. I think this picture (taken by our friend Rachel) is in fact of that very moment when things were starting to fall apart in computermusicland.
Then there was Caesura, #5, which is a series of poetry/text events in the greater Edinburgh, run by the aforementioned Leitheopean Graeme Smith. Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, an exhibition of poems, drawings, graphical materials, and performances accompanied, punctuated and punctured by projections, projectiles, projecticons, insults, lambaseds , lambrusco, and lambswool.
Well, it was pretty nice as far as poetry-based events can be. The place was super fancy though and I don’t remember if they ever gave Graeme his room deposit back or not. Maybe we should have stolen something. But the furniture was real ugly, except for this one great chair I found. Graham Stewart of the amazing band Skrim (Scrim?) is on the couch, looking like Marcel Proust.
I think Euan Currie of Dead Labor Process (see above) took these photos. I have to post them both because I like the fact that it looks like this girl has her shoe on me and also you can see my poem in the projection behind me (its a different one than the story I was reading at the time).
I don’t know how to review this or what to say about this experience. It was nice to read things, it made me get off my ass and edit together some fiction things I had been working on (expect the novel in a week, with blog posts this long, nothing can stop me). But yeah, I just dont know. Graeme’s work is really good and interesting. I think it is good to hear him read it because it takes on different meanings than when I read it to myself, and he plays with dialects a lot, so that makes sense. The other two guys who read I didn’t really get.
The first guy made me sad. I don’t remember his name. He read some really sensitive pieces about problems. I wish him luck. He seems to be a good writer. I wanted to leave and go get an ice cream during his set though.
The last guy, nick-e melvile, seemed like a bit of a tool. His work was allright, but he was totally rude or stupid and talked the whole way through my set, in a room without a mic or anything. I mean, whats up with that, dude? I wanted to ask him myself but he left as soon as he finished his reading. It seemed that he was fronting a certain arrogance to cover up a certain insecurity. Whatever, I guess he is supposedly a big deal in the Edinburgh poetry avant-garde, and maybe he didn’t like my set because I was from out of town, or wasn’t particularly avant-garde, or whatever, or because I was smiling, or maybe he just didn’t realize I was performing and felt like talking, but anyway it was a lame thing to do, and if I am ever at one of his performances again, I will either ask him what that was about personally, or just make a mess of it and sabotage the whole thing! Good times, nick-e! Looking forward to seeing you again!
In search of something more positive we journey to Glasgow, city of light. I really like this place. The show, arranged by the aforementioned but never aforementioned enough Stuart Arnot, was held in the cavernous upstairs space across the street from Stereo, which is the same owner as Mono, and the 13th Note, I think. The place is called The Old Hairdresser’s and you get in from an alley which smells a little like piss, but only at the public end where the cars go by, and that doesn’t make so much sense, does it? The alleyway is architecturally beautiful as well, as from there is visible a type of collage architecture that I was told was made by someone notable and is apparent in several places across Glasgow. I’d like to be able to name or link to whatever it is I am talking about so you can see it and be like, “wow, yeah, that IS interesting,” but I can’t because I can’t remember the name of the architect. Maybe Ash Reid knows. Somebody was telling me about it, but I don’t remember who.
First band was Smear Campaign, Stuart Arnot solo. He was doing something really crazy. Very process-oriented too. He had this feedback and amplification system patched together, and making pulses. Then he would sort of yell at it. He seemed like he was trying to match the rate of the pulses with his voice. But every time he yelled at his circuit, it would respond to his voice and this would alter the pulse a little. So his attempt to match the rate (if thats what he was doing) was damned to failure by his interaction. I like things that are like thar, damned to fail. It was a really interactive feedback situation. This turned into something else with more continuous sound textures developing and then some really rich synth-like things, that I think were not made with synths but maybe just with feedback and a pitch shifter. Arnot is always doing something different, and it is always surprising. Check out his other act Plum State. They have a great tape on Winebox Press, which is Jon Collin’s wacky wooden tape label.
Next up was a great band called She On Say. This band consisted of Ash Reid of the band Scrim mentioned before, Ben Knight and Hannah Ellul of Helheston, and Liene Rozite. Ash played clarinet in some completely strange whispy way, and some other small, mostly acoustic noisemakers, which she processed minimally with a microphone. Meanwhile, Ben made barnyard cacophony with his throat and voice, slowly and finally falling to sputtering splatters of textual textures of texts and words pushed inside out. Liene played a couple different instruments (unless my memory is playing a trick on me) but especially flute. She seemed to adopt a Sciarrino or Lachenmann approach, playing only a few notes, with very very small and detailed shifts in timbre, and repeated with a Feldman-esque semi-regular pulse. The whole time Hannah sat in the back meditatively grinding away at the guitar, but grinding rather quietly with objects (maybe brushes) just above the pickups. All this together made for a great mixture of transparent and opaque textures. The band were complaining of a lack of direction before the show, but I felt that this performance had great direction and I would love to see and hear them again. Besides, they are the best looking noise act in western civilization.
But who was the red-haired girl with whom we walked around all afternoon earlier that day in Glasgow, and how do I get in touch with her?
On another note Total Vermin is releasing a new tape of mine, called Stain, and I am super excited about this. A few have come out already and the covers are very special. Here is what Susan Fitzpatrik wrote about the process of making the art for these marbled covers on her site:
“Acrylic ink drawing photocopied a bunch of times, then each photocopy is individually marbled. The marbling ink kit was from Germany, I bought it in the Bethany Shop in Stockbridge, Edinburgh for £3. Such a bargain. I have since bought oil based marbling inks but they are nowhere near as good.”
Thanks for doing this Susan! In case you want to know what the music sounds like – it sounds like a piece of wood with paste on it turning around and around on record player with a bougainvilla thorn for a needle. Side two is like a piece of stone instead, without paste. Its repetitive and distorted but if you listen the speed of time might change right while you sit there.
We then had some gin and crisps and all together went back to Edinburgh for a lovely show in the “Edinburgh Arts Festival”.
Its sad that this picture so lo-resolution because this flyer was made by Malcy Duff, the Missing Twin. Have you seen what he is doing? He makes comics that do many things. These are my favorite comics ever. They change the speed of time. Side effects also include extreme heaviness, laughter aloud without object, manic attention to small details, and repetitive re-utterance of monosyllabic linguistic forms, while rocking ones head from side to side, beating it onto the table or running through the woods, taking shelter behind trees, then reemerging in turn, all while receding into the distance. One recedes into the distance as one watches oneself, and that is just the beginning.
Wouldn’t it be nice to publish this work to a wider audience? Check his website above and if you have any interest in furthering his mission to fracture rational consciousness, get in touch.
And so, there was a concert in Edinburgh, in a Garage in a fancy neighborhood, organized by Missing Twin. His work was in an exhibition in the Garage, as were interesting graphic works by a number of local artists. I tried to get their names but it was a delicious cider inpossible.
There was a concert in a a garage in a fancy part of edinburgh during the Edinburgh festival. Usurper and and the Y Bend played, and then I got to do a trio with Blood Stereo.
(a small Y Bend)
There was this concert in a garage, in Edinburgh, then the police came, but luckily it was after we had all finished playing, and it was in a fancy neighborhood. We thought we would go to a pub but it was stuffy and expensive so instead we just used their toilets all night and spent the evening sitting on the curb, much to the visible displeasure of some local residents and their dogs.
Before all that there was a concert, in a garage. So, it went like this:
The Y Bend. If I am not mistaken this is largely Stewart Greenwood’s organization. His picture is below, as is the disk he gave me:
This record begins with the sounds of an abominable snowperson cleaning cave house. Its relaxing. It seems to be fun rather than serious, but there are things getting broken everywhere! Track 1 is less then 2 minutes, track 2 less than 20, track 3 something of a completely different nature. Track 4 is an accordian and tape jazz meltdown nightmare. Track 5 reminds me of the baroque period.Track 7 is really quiet. I would continue, but whatever, just listen to it.
Somehow, I had never read the back of the disk. Above is the back of the disk. If it makes anything clearer, there it is. Surely we have evidence.
Digital keyboard synthesizer, bass with swoosh foot sport set up, acoustic guitar compressed and repressed until it sounded like a teenage toaster about to explode while receiving stray UHF transmissions, small plastic toys and percussions, bombs and clocks, and a guy wrapped in plastic waving a garden hose. Holy crap. I should eat another vegetarian pasty. I will attend every performance that the Y Bend does, provided I am in the same or a nearby town as I am.
I already attend every performance that Usurper does when I am in the same or a nearby town. This one was super special though, because they collaborated with Dead Labor Process’s Euan Currie. Usurper is Malcy Duff, about whom I was blathering on up there above. It is also Ali Robertson. Here, for example, is a picture of Ali Holding up their new record, which I am listening to at this moment. It seems sort of serious, meditative, minimal percussions, with a Metallica cover at the end. Its good, get one yerself. I think it is making me hungry for breakfast cereal. At a certain point, I think they are eating styrofoam on here.
On the Giant Tank site, they try and blame all this on light bulbs. I am not buying it, nor am I finding it cast away along some forgotten or smelly part of coastal backwater. These boys have raw talent, focused by zen-like concentration. You can see it in their facial expressions when performing.
He Nose when to Pick the perfect moment
Euan Currie added a structuring element in the sense that he sat in the the center of the table. Triangles, as Bucy Fuller pointed out, are extremely structurally stable.
Careful With that Butter Knife, Euan
A related project that did not appear on this show but which I enjoy very much is the Brittle Hammer Trio. This group consists of Euan Currie and Ali Robertson, pictured above, with the addition of Fritz Welch, pictured below. I got a new cd from them and I am going to tell you all about it.
Brittle Hammer Trio is like laughing after a stomach operation, that which hurts you, is the best medicine. These guys use a mixture of compositional strategy and whiskey (whoa, I meant to say “improvisation” there) to make this. I know because I have watched them do it once. There are sometimes rules or games, then there is also the discussion of these things, while the tape roles, but then what one thought was “the tape” itself, the inner skin of the captured time container, ends up getting knocked and mangled until the frames reframes the framed broken glass across itself. Certainly tongues are cut, and the neural paths between hither and thither in which these grammers are hatched are mangled and murngled and turned out side in. Strategies include those reminiscent of conceptual artists like Jackson Mac low, or experimental composer Robert Ashley, if you want to be a smarty pants, check them out. Then you can talk to the college girls at cocktail parties. You can discuss the Avant-Garde with them. I didn’t get to see Fritz this time around, but I did get this record, which I had to mention because it is grand:
Brittle Hammer Trio presents “Communication Methods”
its great, get it here
Anyway, we played this show in Edinburgh in a garage (remember?) we did this trio of Core of the Coalman/Blood Stereo, oh no!!
as they say in Telugu: “ఆ సింహాలు, డాగీ అన్ని మెడ ఉంటుంది!”
I was able to get some new stuff, or stuff new to me at least, while hanging out on the sidewalk with Blood Stereo, in particular this amazing tape, which I think was released before as a box set of small cds (but was it not also a vinyl?)
Right, I know, my camera sucks. But I think the visual aspects of this record give a better feeling for the sound than my yapping onward about it. The title is “The Eight Thumbed Hand Serenades”. You can get a copy or even here it here on the Ultramarine website. Check out the rest of their catalog too, its pretty good stuff.
Pink tape, and paintings by Karen Constance. Its really nice that Karen paints collages sometimes. Everything is full of these contradictions, and I am totally happy about that. I think this is my favorite Blood Stereo release at the moment, it has displaced my longtime favorite Magnetic Headache, which I assume is still available from Chocolate Monk.
For whatever reason this reminds me of music. but filtered, like in a brita water filter, like Harappian Night Recordings reminds me of for some reason.
In any case this other new-ish release, “Don’t Chase That Whisper, Let It Sleep” is also great, but takes things in another direction completely.
ah, alas, my poor quality photography is obliterating more nice work by Karen Constance.
There is more space around the sounds The Blood Stereo are working with here, something more minimal, there is chaos, sure, but there is also a lot of care. The sounds are allowed to be themselves, not slammed together or made into a mash. I think a lot of classic electronic stuff like Mauricio Kagel, Bruno Maderna‘s surprising electronic music, or the unfortunately recently deceased Ilhan Mimaroglu‘s electronic music (I mean it reminds me of his work from before he died, if he has more recent stuff, I haven’t heard it).
Meanwhile, at the Franz Kafka Center For the Development of Paranoid Sport in Scotland, people played billiards in a the corner of a very small room, and had to use wooden spoons as cue sticks:
That is just how it goes sometimes. It was like that all night. There was supposed to be a huge meteor shower, the Perseids, but it was cloudy, so there was no evidence of it. Still, we walked around until five in the morning, along the coast and through the spooky woods, tunnels, and forests of urban Leith-en-burgh.
This road, too, has a Y Bend:
Before leaving Scotland I had a couple more interesting experiences, one being another poetry event at an amazing independent arts space in Leith called Out of the Blue, at the Drill Hall. This space seems like a great thing to support, especially at a time when venues appear to be closing left and right, and when not closing charging a lot for artists to use them while being totally unsupportive of the events that happen inside their own venues. Drill Hall, on the other hand, is entirely artist run (from what I gathered) and they offer many artistic opportunities both for learning and exhibition (see their site, linked above) as well as studio space, a book swap, and a great cafe (super good breakfast sandwiches and excellent coffee all at great prices, yes, beer too). The provide a space for community events too, for example the flea market held inside each weekend.
It seems the space is being well used, as when I was there the exhibition Self-Reliance(1841) was up, featuring the artist Malcy Duff mentioned above, along with artists Alicia Bruce and Johnny Gailey.
Here is some official text about the exhibition from the Out of the Blue Website: “The exhibition has taken inspiration from the essay, Self-Reliance’ written by American author Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1841. The text admonishes the reader to “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events …Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” The three photographers/artists are each exhibiting a body of work in progress, in which various aspects of self-reliance come into play. The exhibition itself will be created from reclaimed wood and funded through crowdfunding – self reliance in action.”
Here are the websites of the artists involved:
Alicia Bruce: http://www.aliciabruce.co.uk/
Malcy Duff: http://www.missingtwinnews.blogspot.co.uk/
Johnny Gailey: http://cargocollective.com/johnnygailey
I was actually visiting the Drill Hall on that particular day for another reason though, and that was the Scree magazine launch party for issue 5 of Lila Matsumoto’s amazing magazine.
Again, poetry… How to write words about words. Its like the famous quote someone once said about Slavoj Zizek: “if you can’t express yourself without referencing Jacques Lacan in every sentence, then shut the fuck up!”
Nonetheless, I am going to try it. The poster pictured above features the block for print or the print of the block for the (nevermind, not another loop) it was made by Greg Thomas of Helhesten, and thats that.
Greame Smith began things with a mixture of rhyming and not rhyming, rhythmic and arhythmic sprawl covering local and international topics of extra- and intro-version. This is a position. Is it ok to rhyme? Of course it is. “Do as though wilt” even if thou find theyself seated amongst the self-appointed Avant-Garde. Even should the self-appointed avant-garde take it upon themselves to talk loudly thoughout your set (see above for the blood), but no one did that here it was very respectful. Scree is a pretty open and respectful community. Scree, being what it is
(also called Talus, an accumulation of broken rock fragments on the bottom of an incline)
is actually a very nice metaphor for the eclecticism in Greame Smith’s approach, and so it was a very nice match.
Next up was Sam Walton, Samantha..not to be confused with the founder of American mega-destroyer Wal-Mart (or was he the founder of Scientology? I get so confused) Sam Walton the poet, was a great surprise. There was clarity, music, sweetness, brutality, protest and energy in this work. I can’t find an official website for her work but here is one blog link I found. You can see some of her work there, its downloadable. Maybe if there is a better site someone should send it to me, I will post it. I think maybe her performance had a lot to do with the reaction I had to the work, but it should be good to read it on paper as well.
Then there was some music, the solo from local artist Anak-Anak, who also plays in a popular local band. It was her first solo show. There were pre-programed beats and samples, with live voice processed with some delay. She seemed nervous, which is totally understandable, I would be too, everyone would. But she pulled it off. Her voice was really strong and beautiful and the backing tracks were well made, I couldn’t tell if they were pre-recorded or triggered because they had a nice lack of sync, that leant a freshness to what otherwise could have become quite a dry, predictable situation (pre-recorded, repetitive structure = predicatability). The songs were well made, and in general the effect was quite good. It will be nice to see where this project evolves, I expect some of the more obvious influences will drop away and then the clearly original foundations of this work will emerge as the main substance of the presentation.
Then, a poet, Scott Thurston. Thurston presented tightly-knit poetic structures. At times utilizing repetition, at times with a more free-prose approach, but always offering a generosity, and a sense of invitation. I did not feel that the work was confessional, as is so much poetry that I suffered through out on the West Coast of the United States. There are documentary aspects of this work, and it is personal, but I think the word generous, rather than confessional, describes it better. Thurston is not an “emerging artist” but clearly rather a writer who has emerged, who has a developed confident artistic voice and vision and who crafts structures according to his own artistic direction and conceptual explorations. Whether you enjoy it or not is up to you, but it is clearly well made, and he is generously offering you the opportunity, should you want it. It was a pleasure to learn that he is a professor of creative writing (in manchester, maybe?) because I believe that he would be an excellent teacher, both supportive and instructive, even towards directions in student work antithetical to his own.
Finally, the last concert was an electronic set by Iliop. Iliop used windy sounds, beginning with the reedy throat of a melodica and the natural reverb of the Drill Hall. He then interfaced this natural reverb into some digital reverb and it went from there, adding voice, building a large sustained harmonic drone that pulsated and filled the hall. After time this was intentionally collapsed, and a new texture built from, if I remember right, some more absurdist mumblings as a starting point. I liked this stuff a lot, and it would be nice to hear a longer set, or to hear what he does normally in a club setting, where the need for careful control doesn’t exist as a given imperative (the audience was seated in chairs, in rows, quite close the where he was playing, obviously volume and whatnot become more of an issue in such a setting). I felt some real sympathy of approach here. I think he and Graeme Smith might be collaborating soon…
Above is pictured a little piece of the fractured geology of Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh. Thanks friends in Scotland! I had a great time there.
Then suddenly, I was in Ireland for the first time:
This was a really grand experience. I have wanted to come to Ireland for a really long time, and off and on Vicky Langan (a performance artist, sound artist, video artist…etc, from Cork) had mentioned that we should make this happen. Well, this time it happened, thanks to help from a lot of friends. And here is some of what happened there:
There are some great people out there in County Leitrim. I was told by a lot of people that this place is supposed to be considered to be historically pretty depressed. That you can’t farm there because the water pools on the ground, because the bedrock there is quite hard, and this in turn makes it hard to farm. In fact, I did see some evidence of this, cattle grazing up to their ankles in water, for example. For all of this however, there are some tall and amazing forests, even if many of them are tree farms that will eventually be cut. Perhaps the absence of agriculture can have positive side effects.
Its not all bad here, just look at the size of this wasp’s nest:
In Carrick on Shannon, we did a lot of recording. The band Woven Skull lives there. We recorded a lot of stuff and I a looking forward to having a chance to start mixing it. We also recorded in this super spooky old abandoned house:
maybe this is enough to get the idea?
In addition to the Woven Skull tracks that I hope we can mix and release from our session together, they also organize the Hunters Moon Festival, which will happen between the 26th and 28th of October. With PERFORMANCES BY: JOESEPHINE FOSTER * LUDO MICH * PHURPA * GNOD * BLACK SUN ROOF * BIRCHALL/CHEETHAM DUO * TOMUTONTTU * TARRACOIR * ALISON O’DONNELL & BAJIK * JENNIFER WALSHE * WOLFBAIT * SWLLWS * FIRST BLOOD PART II * MELODICA DEATHSHIP * TSEMBLA * LUXURY MOLLUSC * CORE OF THE COALMAN * JAMES KING * TOLA CUSTY * WOVEN SKULL * CONOR O’KANE * YAWNING CHASM * WIZARDS OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN
FILMS BY: VIVIENNE DICK * ROUZBEH RASHIDI * LUDO MICH * MICHAEL HIGGINS * MAXIMILLION LE CAIN
Here is the text from the website: “Hunters Moon Festival 2012 will commence on the 26th of October until the 28th of October. 3 days of experimental music, art, and film at The Dock Arts Center, St Georges Church and various cafes around Carrick on Shannon, County Leitrim. Soundscapes, visual art and record and art stalls will also be set up around Carrick. This year will also host film screenings, workshops and talks”
tickets? yes. http://thehuntersmoonfestival.bigcartel.com/
Well, so in addition to the Hunters Moon festival it seems like things are pretty productive out there in Lietrim. I arrived right at the end of this zine fair in Dublin and it seems like there is a really positive community for independent publications there. Lots of labels, zines, and comics. It reminded me of the feeling of a similar scene in Portland, Oregon, but maybe it was just all the rain. Natalia from Woven Skull is super active making really beautiful zines with pictures and drawings and mythological stories told in a very personal way that is full of humour, sometimes black humour.
This page comes from this book:
Natalia had so many different things, such as a detailed guide to Sea Monsters in the River Shannon, or the Goats Secret:
again, sorry that my camera is crap. I imagine these are available directly from her online someplace. I am sure they will be available at the Hunters Moon festival next month. Highly Recommended. Great Gift Idea. Great Strategy for Existence. The Great Wild Etc.
Woven Skull has many releases out as well, and several are available on their bandcamp site.
I am currently repeatedly enjoying listening to this tape, Moods of the Hill People by Woven Skull on Fort Evil Fruit(you can hear it with that link above). Its got some really thick drones but there is something about it that works differently than thick drones and prog rock normally work, for one thing, I feel like I can hear the room in there, and there seems to be a real natural process of the making of the tape in the recording of the itself. Then, musically, it unfolds very naturally and in so doing engulfs the listener without the listener really expecting that.
It is a really nice drawing too.
This one below is totally different, all made on Gamelan instuments in Belfast, where I believe Aonghus works. I would be really interested to know how this was done. It sounds extremely structured, and even if it is improvised there must have been some discussion…I would almost offer to eat my hat if it is all improvised, but then I have a suspicion I might end up with a mouthful of hat.
Next stop was Galway for a concert organized by Declan Kelly in an abandoned underground car park. The echo and darkness were predictably amazing. I learned a lot here. I played ok, but then in the night, after the show, I dreampt that I played the show again. I realized that I did much more in the version from my dream than in the version from “real life”. The reason is that I was rushing and nervous because I didn’t know the people there, or what I had to do to set up and play, and I wasn’t used to the environment, we had been driving all day etc ect etc neurosis and stuff. But I figured it out in my dream. I have to slow down and let myself check out the space for a second so I can enjoy seeing how its working and do something with what is there, and what is active there, in that place and that moment. That s what I want to do anyway, that is the most enjoyable and the most rewarding in terms of curousity. Questions rather than stuck objects, objects that pose false solutions and only create problems because they resist change.
Still, this was a great experience and the I was really into all the other performances:
Gavin Prior did an amazing performance in the center of the space. It began with a guitar improvisation that slowly became more electric as it went along, becoming both more continuous and more fractured at the same time. Then, for a second piece, he moved to a teepee like structure above some candles that held a curved piece of sheet metal. After exciting a few longer tones from it and tapping out some harmonics here and there, he let fly a percussive storm of hurricane intensity, beating the crap out of this resonant metal inside this space with a natural reverb of several seconds. We sat there in near darkness, engulfed in sound. I felt like I was together with everyone and was a little less nervous about the show.
The second act, which I am not sure whether it was Raising Holy Sparks, which is what is on the poster or not, was also great. This was a participatory piece led by a large ensemble. The piece was based on a Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening exercise which consisted of listening and singing a song from one’s memory as slowly as possible. I am sure the instructions were a little more specific, but probably not much more and it was a long time ago. In any case, it was great, I felt the space was really activated and that I understood some of the hidden resonances in it and myself better than before.
Then I did a little Core of the Coalman set, but like I said, it was better the second time, in my dream.
I should mention a few other things before I continue, however. First of all Declan Kelly has created a new radio show called Abandon Reason, which features recordings from his collection Carp Ark recordings. These are, uh, recordings – including live concerts – made in that there Carpark in Galway. So it should include my and presumably Gavin’s shows and so forth. The link to the episodes are here. I am of the belief that only this first one is available now, but more will be added in time. This site is his, and seems better, in that there is more info and more pictures.
Pretty amazing place, I hope I can play there again someday. I want to try and use the process I discovered in my dream. There are Deep Trolleys.
(its ok if they drop it, it walks on water)
I got a tape from Gavin or Dave, before I left Galway.
This is (another really bad photo) of the tape the Dreamlike States of United Bible Studies. These guys (and girls) have a lot of releases and they all look really beautiful (the releases, but no doubt the people too). I have no idea what they sound like because I have only heard the tape pictured above, which is really varied and great in many places. It goes many places. I have heard different things from different people about what they do live, and that live they can be sort of a noise or psych collective. I am really interested to see this myself some time, and sooner rather than later.
This tape, like the Woven Skull one above, is published by the label Fort Evil Fruit who have a really amazing and large catalog on their site. I would like to know these people. It would be fun to trade some disks and they seem to put out quite a lot of different things, not sticking inside of one particular style. Sticking inside a particular style is what the anti-cruise seems to be doing these days, so whatever is anti-anti- cruise is good in my opinion.
Certainly on the tape release pictured above, United Bible Studies doesn’t stick to a particular style either. There is a lot of traditional music on this tape. American traditional music. Irish traditional music. Music that might or might not be traditional. Music for founding a new tradition around. There are also a lot of people on this tape and a lot of live tracks from different shows in different cities and, I think, countries. Suddenly there is some electronic music. Then there is a sort of prog/psych jam. Then more traditional music. I like almost all the tracks a lot. Its a big mixture of live things, and sort of confusing for all that. Thats ok with me, I figure these folks made it that way on purpose. They seem to know what they are doing and since none of us know where we are going, I am happy to let them drive for a while.
Next I was in Tuam, Ireland where I stayed with Vicky Langan’s family for a while and got to enjoy something of the local countryside and culture. Ireland, I was discovering, is a really musical place. I mean, almost everywhere, tourist books talk about how “the streets are full of music” but its a lot of malarcky. I mean reading these things you expect to hear people here in Prague singing out of every window. Well, you don’t usually, unfortunatley. But in Ireland, maybe. It seems like people are singing everywhere around here. kids sing, and people play music together all the time. Traditional music, foreign music, whatever. I don’t feel like people are trying to present virtuosity or anything with it either, they are just playing to play, to be in and with the sound. I like it.
So we were staying out of town in the country, where there were more stone walls, a lot of sheep, blackberries…lots of great stuff. It was really relaxing and I had a lot of ideas, and I was able to practice outside and just enjoy. I also got to hang out with a bunch of small kids for a few days, which is great as nothing takes your mind of the ridiculous nonsense of the adult world like the company of not-yet-adults.
I managed to go out for a walk and get lost in the rain and Vicky’s daughter Sionnach and her cousin made some great drawings about that:
I guess I really do have brown hair now.
This one is funny because she has me asking “why am I wearing a dress?” That is a good question.
When I told them that I didn’t really mind being lost and that the rain was nice this drawing appeared, in which I have turned into a spider and am saying “I don’t want to know where I am”. Huh. I have to think about that.
Anyway we played the Earwig Arts Festival in Tuam. There were some people heckling me during the sound check, but by the time the performance rolled around, it was cool. Good vibes all around. Vicky (I think) took this nice photo:
I learned things at this show too. I was trying to take it glacially slow, and I learned something about relaxing into the sound. I would rather talk about the other stuff though –
The other performances that night consisted of the band Nanu Nanu (who do dark synth-based songs) and a film by Vicky Langan. The film was a collaboration with Maximilian Le Cain. Slow moving scenes featuring exotic costumes, forest lore, mythology, dreams, darkness, and small forest creatures (like slugs) mixed with cuts of an extremely brutal live performance created an excellent contrast. Totally worth checking out. Vicky has a website where you can find her work, here. She can also be found performing under the name Wölflinge, and was curator of the renowned Black Sun events in Cork where she lives.
Here are some further geometries from out there:
lots of stone walls here too, but the construction is more chaotic than what I saw in scotland.
still, they stand up
some horses that look like the animals from the work of Bay Area artist Eric King, though he would probably not agree
then back to the UK, where everyone was really obsessed with the Olympics. It seems the British team had won another medal for Horse Jiving.
My next show was inside Leeds. All the Leeds. This time it was great. In general, it seems that there is a lot of energy in the Leeds and in between them right now. There were a lot of flyers and it seemed like a lot of organizing going on. I got lots of new recorded materials from people.
Right this moment I am listening to this totally brutal tape from cM nG who performed that night. They described themselves (or were described, themselves) in the show announcement as “New electronics, tapes and percussion duo of Andy Jarvis (First person label, Asymptotem, Sculptress, A Warm Palindrome) and Michael Walsh.” While that is accurate, it says less than listening to their music would say. Here is a picture of their tape, I have no idea where to get it. Towards the end of the first side it becomes quite peaceful, however elsewhere it is one of the most brutal things I have ever heard. Overall in concert they were not so harsh. I like both approaches.
Andrew Jarvis also has a solo project called Vile Plummage. His tape, “in a vile corner, the creature is laughing” is below, photographed using my usual technique in order to make everything look terrible.
This is definitely my favorite of the recordings he gave me. I can’t even figure out what is going on here. While typing I accidently deleted a huge part of this really long thing I am writing (this, in fact) and accidently copied it someplace else. Vile Plummage helped me to make a bigger mess than before, and I still can’t even begin to say what is going on here. Tape recordings? Feedback? The first side is several highly distorted clipped collage textures. These give way eventually to a really repetitive loop, that transforms itself rhythmically over time on a small scale. This is then further cut in to, without transition, by several other textures, and then ends abruptly. The second side seems to be an improvisation with noisy synthesizer waveforms and feedback over a single distorted tape part sampled from a film or something – that is itself processed with itself and modulated with the synth stuff. Crazy daisy.
Later, when trying to figure out what it was, I realized that Andy Jarvis also contributes to this cd below, which also I realized upon listening, then reading, also has Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides, Human Combustion Engine, and Human Horses, unless that is the name of the whole thing. There are a lot of synthesizers on it and a scattering of percussion. It has the very organic “recorded in the practice space” sound that musicians love. You can even hear amplifiers buzzing. The flute sounds just crazy when the repetitive part starts after about 5 minutes in…
this is a really pretty sleeve
Hagman played next. This was also a great surprise. Not that I am surprised by how good it was, but just that it caught me by surprise and was awesome. I would love to hear this again, and maybe I can because one of the four Sheepscar Light Industrial releases that I got (below) is theirs, but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to spin it yet….sooooon
Live, Hagman was a swirling pulsing compost of electronic tones and overlapping rhythmic suggestions. A two person soundtrack to one’s air running out inside of one’s deep sea diving suit, know what I mean? Blood in the ears. Or like jumping from a plane. I still haven’t done that, but from what people say, it probably sounds a lot like this set, which was awesome.
Ashtray Navigations played next, and it was a trio. I wish I knew the name of the third person playing and the band that person regularly plays in. Anyway the set was crazy. Phil (Todd) had a kind of sequencer or something that they used to generate this crazy repetitive slinky of synthimasizer sound. Mel (O’Dubhslaine) was playing echoed out drum blasts on another synth controller. A third person, Daria (Keshiki) began to play the guitar in time with the synth. Then out of time with the synth. Then completely destroying the time sense of the synth, which was relegated to the background as she and Phil created a cloud of many colours, articulated with pulses whose tails moved nervously like snakes made of thunder after escaping from Mel’s elektrik drum thing. Come over to Prague, will ya?
The disk above was made by Cabbage Rosette, which consists of Luke Poot, Stuart Arnot, Susan Fitzpatrik, and on this release Phil Minton.
One might also say that its Total Vermin #73.
The title is “Ran Out of Breath Licking Elegy Nipple? Cough and Fall to Bits? Tight Chest as Acheievement?”. Maybe there is something wrong with my copy, but mine was only 13 minutes long. Or 13:40 or something. It takes me longer than that to read the title. I really like it though so I hope they make another one, and if they need help with wordy titles I would gladly volunteer.
Luke Poot also organized the Sheffield show. It was in the Red House. Nice place. Luke did a really incredible performance that consisted of a sound collage and a video collage with interjected murmuring and I think some yelling. Good stuff. He is working with video and I really like what he is doing, collaging VHS images together in a really sort of lazy way, just kind of throwing them around, in terms of editing decisions. It works well and is even funny. I think so anyway. He also encouraged me to expand myself by covering a Darkthrone song which I did.
Jon Marshall of Hunter Gracchus (the guy with the harmonium in the middle of the photo liked above) did a solo version of his Roman Nose set at the Sheffield show and a trio version of it the next night in Manchester. I liked both a lot. Both times he made decisions that were totally clear, and totally the opposite of how I would have done it. Awesome.
There are drones, of medium high pitches, really compressed together and distorting. These are sometimes created with the harmonium but sometimes are samples. There are very trebley field recordings of insects, repeating in odd times, and other reed instruments (harmonica?) played live. In the Manchester show Sarah McWatt and the amazing drummer/percussionist Charlie (somebody help me here..sorry). It was not easy, but it was rewarding.
I also got some great recordings from him. This one was released on Winebox Press, the amazing label of Jon Collin in Manchester, but more on that later.
Volcanic Tongue describes Marshall’s tape as “‘Roman Nose is the solo guise of J Marshall of Hunter Gracchus et al. Using harmonium, vocals, reeds etc he assembles a bunch of inspired ethno-drone miniatures that take in the cosmological drones of Herman Nitsch, the glottal euphoria of Ghedalia Tazartes and the kind of dense improvisatory ethno-flux of the Gracchus proper. A great companion piece to Winebox’s recent Blue Yodel set.’ “
This obviously makes me want to hear the Blue Yodel release too, and the Blue Yodel track on the comp Jon released (see Post-Industrial Freak Flag below) is really good.
Among the other recordings Jon gave me was Sarah McWatt’s disk called McWatt, which features Sarah on flute and accordian and Seth Bennett on double bass and accordion. Tight compositions very well played. Totally great! Track 3 reminds me of Gabriel Faure.
“table of weights and approximate breaking strains”
made by Singing Knives
Also made by Singing Knives is the record “Tigers on Acid in the Hell Of the Brushwoods”. Several people later on tour told me that their girlfriends wouldn’t let them play this one in the house. I don’t see why not, since to me it seems like a nice free jazz record. You know, breakfast music, like Ornette Coleman. There are some really amazing silences in the last track, which is almost 20 minutes long.
if anyone’s girlfriend would be telling them not to listen to something it would more likely be the Akke Phallus disk below, which is also becoming a favorite of mine
This one sounds to me like the high/mid drones of Roman Nose meeting some super brutal harsh noise, and would suspect that since it is a duo (Jon Marshall and Ben Morris) that that is exactly what it is. I am enjoying it very much. Terroir/Pissoir.
That flower is/was growing out of the wall by the street outside Jon and Fiona’s house
Here is are photos Eun-Jun Kim took at the Sheffield show:
I want to post pictures of the other people but I don’t have them…
The Manchester show took place in a small rehearsal space in the center of the city. Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides practice there, which was great news, because I wanted to see them and they had just gotten back to town. David Birchall organized the show (its also his practice space) and he was the first to play (followed by the Roman Nose set with Sarah McWatt and Charlie X mentioned above).
Birchall plays “acoustic guitar and objects” and creates “new works in trouser jazz”. He gave me the cd recording pictured below and it came with a very nice book. Very optimistic titles “signs of hope in our archipelago”
This record is, for me, even more active than the performance. He seems to focus more on the percussive sounds than the guitar string sounds in general. There are some real grinders on here too…I think this is going somewhere great. Interested to hear what is next.
Here is a live action pic – you can see David performing the old balloon on the guitar trick:
This is the new-ish compilation from Jon Collin’s label Winebox Press. As might be expected, there is some real nice guitar pickin’ on here, but there is also a healthy amount of electronic yawl and sway, pick it up, its a good way to introduce yourself to what these people surrounding the greater Glossop area are up to
take care with were youse leave that carcass
This is the new record from the Whole Voyald Infinite Light, which is another project of the Jon Collin mentioned about. In this band he plays guitar and Barry Dean sings, plays guitar, and some times plays other things. They can also be heard on the comp above, they have a real nice track on the start of side two. I really want to listen to this record, but I have to wait until my friend Ondrej and I have our radio show because my turntable is gone.
Here is some audio mixing some viola with some really badly recorded sounds from brighton. No high fidelity here, but maybe it doesn’t matter.
See below for a polite way to tell somebody to fuck off
(these are pictures from Brighton)
this is what I want to do musically:
Brighton, England is a strange town. It is one of those places, like Santa Cruz, and actually in a different sense like Prague, Czech (where I live) where things can seem very beautiful and then suddenly switch to something else in a second. The sun is shining the surf is crashing against the beach…what – is that a corpse with a bird eating out the eyeball? Ah, innocence. Nature. Decomposition, with ice cream sundae.
The show in Brighton was a blast. Duncan Harrison couldn’t come but I got a great tape for him (below, below, below, Saul Bellow). Here was the poster:
I thought all of these performances were incredible.
Henry Holmes lived up to his name. There were noises, tape noises. Misloops. Misunderstandings, some thing garbled, the reel to reel and something digital, together, and we got through it together and everyone was happy.
Smack Music 7 & Hobo Sonn was a duo between Karen Constance of Blood Stereo and Ian Murphy of Hobo Sonn. It was very detailed. Karen played a clock and I am not sure what else, a secretive electronic box. Ian played his Kubrik-age sampler. Ian always makes that thing sound different, even when he uses the same sound files as source material. All those people talking about “using the sampler as an instrument” should take a lesson from him instead of just spitting out pre-set four/four lame-o beats. They improvised a real nice, natural feeling structure, which stood like the standing stones posted earlier, great contrast to the alien sounds they where electronically gurgling forth -cave noise and early german electronic ghost raising music. I wished somebody had recorded this (me, but I left my recorder in Ian’s house) because this would be perfect for a long radio set. Hopefully they will record it or even do some radio stuff, I think it would work quite well in that connnnnnntexxxt. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick.
Then, there was a of program. Lewis Major and Dylan Nyoukis played with Robin Dickinson (the guy who does Slow Listener). I think what they were doing was mixing completely different sets of field recordings live. I think also maybe they were not sure what was on the tapes or how they would interact which made for a good sense of adventure and sprightly freshness. Yet for all the daisy-like surprises of midsummer, it was not easy listening, but somehow still communicated the feeling of the photo below. Sort of like Santa Cruz, California. It is beautiful, but can you trust it?
The record below is by Nackt Insecten, which is the solo (usually) project of Ruaraidh Sanachan. It was released on Blackest Rainbow. Its not particularly new, but it is new to me. I want to listen to it again, but I can’t because my record player is broken. I remember it being pretty thick with harmonic drones that I think were made on a guitar and/or a synth. It was great. Soon I will get to hear it again.
Duncan Harrison has released this banger. Its like a spiritual field of memory. There is this really heavy electronic sounding drone, but is it electronic, or is it made of questions – this question then fades into the background and then there are sounds like singing bowls and other percussions but is he playing them or are they from a keyboard or are they tape-manipulated – this question then fades into the background and then…
Rowan Forestier gave me the cd below after we made an evening of recordings with Ian Murphy (see below) and Jarvis (whose last name I haven’t learned). We played synthesizers, recordings, drums, violas, cellos, voices, with electronics and cider from the farm nearby. We sat outside close of a lake and waited for the rain that could be felt soon to arrive by the humid cloud and pressure, which skulked close by the ground. I will have to ask them for a copy of our recordings because I had a blast, even if somehow after that I lost my microphone and got bit by something that turned the back of my leg blue for a week, but such is life, I mean there is also great cheese with whole mustard seeds inside, so a little blue leg is worth it.
Rowan also gave me her new disk Gloam Mirror, which is really good. As Embla Quickbeam she has made several releases, and I have enjoyed them all. In fact, the two times I have played in Brighton prior to this last, Embla performed on the show, and it is always changing. This sense of change seems natural, as the sound presented is normally based on field recordings. Unlike the stuck, trapped feeling I associate with the use of field recordings (espiecially field recordings of “nature” sounds) in the work of many other artists, Forestier offers a lightness of treatment, one can forget that one is hearing the work of a human hand, accompanied by an intensity of texture that can become quite haunted and even violent. Gloam Mirror seems to remind me more of some of her earlier approach than does last year’s Seven is In Rhinogs Crown (Chocolate Monk), but I totally like both. She was also a member of Leopard Leg…
Same sad record player story here. This is Hobo Sonn’s new LP, but I can’t hear it. Nope, not me. All of his recordings have been favorites of mine, and I am sure this one will be interesting as well. It looks great. I just can’t play it until I get a new table…anyway, I am taking it to the radio station (Radio1) here in Prague (where next Friday I have been invited to guest DJ on what unfortunately will be the very last In The Bed radio show…) and I will play it there, even if I haven’t heard it yet, its a Hobo Sonn release, it will be awesome.
“ne jetez rien a la mer”, I crossed over to the Continent for the next part
Here is Philipe Cavalieri from Bruitale Orgasmne playing a set with his son.
Here is an installation Philippe worked on with some other interesting artists in Liege (names, anyone?)
Close to Liege, there is an old fortress with tunnels that run out under the airport. The Level 12b festival was held inside and it was incredible. Fort du Hollogne. It was odd because just the other day Kris Dittel from B32 and I had taken a bike trip to some similar WWII fortifications on the border of Belgium/Holland, close to Maastricht. Now I was inside something similar, and there were five or six seconds of natural reverberation in the main room where the sound performances where. Almost all the sound presented was experimental sound/music/noise with some other things. Later in the evening there were the boring predictable techno things presented but all in all it was amazing, even the techno crap can be forgiven.
Janluk Achure was the first thing remember seeing there. He performance. Even his soundcheck was great. In fact, I still don’t understand what he was doing during the sound check, there were these really long delay lines with is prepared guitar sounds reversing and then reversing again, the seemed to oscillate irregularly in direction. His prepared guitar technique consisted of percussive attacks and slower scraping sounds created through a combination of mostly metallic objects and producing a variety of effects, from slow long sounds to electronic-error sounding scrapes. He also made extensive use of four track tapes, almost as an extension of the long delay lines, recording and reversing parts of the set he had just played, then repeating the process. The whole thing seemed both process- and sound- oriented, and I was pretty excited to see the show. I was also into this because I was supposed to play after him and I was pretty excited to play, in fact getting a little nervous. (I don’t know why, but when I am in a really nice place to play, whether it is an old tunnel with great sound like this, or the really nice sound art pace HS63 in Brussels, see below, when I am in what should be the “perfect” place for a concert, I find it really easy to psych myself out – I somehow make myself nervous thinking about what can go wrong. Whereas in a shitty club with bad sound, it doesn’t happen as often. Isn’t that weird?) Anyway, onward…
photos by Anouk Luciole Avecdeuxailes Brouyere
What happened during his actual set was ridiculous…I guess even out here in the middle of nowhere at a festival of experimental media art you can still find assholes. This other guy, who later in the night provided super loud techno-entertainment beats during which the entire audience left, came up to Achure in the middle of the set and started to object to his playing. I guess in particular he was upset about the volume, and the fact that Achure had one ear plug in. This was an odd objection because this guy’s lame DJ set later was much louder, and much more boring. Anyway, this lame-o totally interrupted what was going on, the performer lost his concentration and stopped the set after only like 6 minutes. I was starting to get pissed off, because I had to play next, things were already moving really slowly, and I was losing my energy, and now there was this crap going on. I went outside, then decided to tell everybody I was going to start, so I gathered some people. When we got back inside, Achure decided to start again, and it was great. I was happy I had brought some people because they could hear this, and provide a better audience than had (obviously) been present first time around.
So then it was my turn and some friend told me, “you should start now” so I tried it. Earlier I had been playing in a really dark scary chamber off of the main hall were we were playing. Bats live in there, but so do harmonics, only waiting to be pulled out of the walls. I started doing that. Unfortunately, no one could hear this part of the show because there was too much talking. So I played for myself. When I was satisfied with that, I came out of the room, still laying acoustic, just listening to the space, and the reflections of my sounds and all the talking, which started to slowly quiet a bit. Once I got over to the table of electronics it quieted down all right. Its sometimes good to get really mad when performing, because I think this was my best set of the whole tour, and I wanted to kill everybody the whole time.
again, photos by Anouk Luciole Avecdeuxailes Brouyere
special leg technique
I am posting a lot of photos of myself, but then, it isn’t everyday I get to do this stuff, unfortunately! By the way I am available to play at birthdays, weddings, christenings… especially if they happen in underground bunkers!
this group of photos shot by Christophe from Nancy….
I am not sure what happened after my set, and I am not sure what really happened that night or the following night, but I will say something about some other things I was really into, many of which originated from Nancy, France.
One artist I met who completely blew me away with the complete variety, commitment, and intensity in his work was William Nurdin:
“William Nurdin, active pluri instrumentist since 1998. Either actor, or more frequently video designer (lumino dynamics, mapping…). WN, trained as a guitarist and eager of instrumental knowledge, has been studying music since 1993. Numerous experiences as a singer in various musical formations allowed him to get acquainted with stage and live performance. To nurture his one man band project ‘xULFni’, NW develops an electro acoustic instrumental set, where analogic synthesizers and goat skinned percussions jam along. http://xulfni.tk For the past few years, NW has been orienting his project towards noise music, more specifically Harsh noise, and sometimes Harsh Noise Wall. He plays in various musical formations, operating in turn electronic organ, guitar, drumkit or trumophone. http://nwwn.bandcamp.com/ ‘Cup’, NW’s latest solo project, is based on voice amplification brought to saturation, necessarily implying the use of feedback in sound composition. WN deploys all his vocal energy in a plastic cup, equipped with a microphone connected to different distortion effects. For six years, WN has been conducting a free radio program, ‘A Propos de Minos’, a weekly open stage, aired every Monday -10pm to 1am- live from wherever WN may be. http://apdm.tk WN has a degree (BTS) in sound engineering and informatic networks management.”
You see, he has this performance “Cup” in which he does more with a plastic cup and a contact mic than most “performers” do with a whole band, fancy outfits and an army of publicists. In this cavernous space, the effect of this was completely intense. If anyone has video of this particular manifestation of this performance, please get in touch.
William also does Clougnioule, NW , and various other projects, like circuit bending organs live, etc. He gave me the small cd below, which is from a set of three. On this disk was virtuosic noise, several tracks, all different. Texture-based, and, I suspect, analog. William spent the Level 12b walking around with a boom mic with a very attractive furry windscreen that looked like a small dog. Inside was a Rode condenser mic, which was then connected to a CASSETTE recorder. Commitment.
This tape below was made by Nurdin and Christophe (whose last name, or nome d’plume, I do not know, so if someone wants to help me out…) as a tour-release for an earlier tour. It comes wrapped in toilet paper and tape, so it can be useful around the house should you find yourself short of one or the other.
The approach on this tape seems pretty process-oriented. Turn it on and let it run, with interruptions. I suggest you find their work and listen to it the same way (turn it on and let it run, with interruptions (turn it on and let it run, with interruptions(turn it on and let it run, with interruptions (turn it on and let it run, with interruptions(turn it on and let it run, with interruptions (turn it on and let it run, with interruptions(…
There oddly enough wasn’t much of a play to rest at this festival, at least I felt like that. I spent a lot of time in the video installation (or actually installationS, since though it was a single channel work, the artists regularly altered it showing several pieces over the course of the weekend, all of which had different presences and activate the space in different ways) of artist Emile Salquebre.
Salquebre’s work took me by surprise. I had spoken to her during the evening before in Liege, when we had visited – with other festival participants – the installation (above) of Philipe Cavalieri and associates, and Philipe’s solo concert, etc. We had discussed a lot of things: goats, human relationships, beer in Belgium, lots of beer in Belgium, video making, food at vernissages, but also about her approach to making cinema (would she call it that? maybe no, I don’t know). He approach is totally inclusive. Things are tried, new techniques developed for new materials encountered. Found objects are made into tools, found situations are invested with meaning and re-represented as new realities. It is interesting to discuss the work with Emile because there is a strong cocktail of punk energy – to explore and re-contextualize everything, mixed with a passion and a dedication towards artistic practice that is everywhere evident.
Well, so the next day at the festival when I saw her work I was totally surprised. I am not sure why, but I expected sort of dangerous short circuiting electronics in water in which the viewer is also standing, or painful encounters with broken glass and taped together structures in which one finds navigation difficult…but what I found instead where images that became experiences. Time again got twisted. Some works, like one that opens with a collection of worms on a white ground in the middle of the screen and closes when the worms vacate the premises move rather linearly through time. Other works, like one where a speaker occupies the whole of the screen and pulses at you like a sumo wrestler, offer a more static approach. I spent a LONG time with these works, and hopefully you will have the opportunity to do that too.
I include no images of her work, because it is difficult to photograph an experience (though Salquebre herself has done so, and you can see it here).
Well so at some point William returned to knock the teeth out of this poor helpless organ.
and then came The Living Lumumbas (it was explained to me that their name is a reference to the Dead Kennedys). Here is there own description of themselves: “The living Lumumbas is the project of Imran Khan and Damien (OS 125), the darker and more organic regions of inner space are explored via a slightly modified Sitar from Pakistan, effected stuff, assorted handmade percussion and electronics. drawing inspiration from oriental and industrial music evokes a bleak and troubled age that, ironically, can best be surmised as a post-apocalyptic era that we have as yet to arrive upon. “
My description might be something more like “Damien, a percussionist who moves relentlessly forward with extremely heavy yet fast, regular- pulsed footsteps produced with a guitar, a cymbal, many kitchen utensils, office equipment, and sharp-edged pieces of metal impresses footprints that are a mixture of very far out jazz and Japan’s the Boredoms on a concert space simultaneously being liquidized by Imran Khan’s meta-experience in which the sitar is stretched into a convolution resembling textures impossible.” I normally don’t like to list bands that things remind me of, but I can’t resist saying that the presence of these guys live reminded me of that of a really good Skullflower live set I saw a few years ago…
The next day Damien did a great solo set composed/improvised to a Jan Svankmejer film and then a trio with William Nurdin (above) and I.
Bruital Orgasme. Without these guys, none of us would have been able to come and play this amazing festival. Philipe and Nath Cavalieri have been exploring and shattering perceptions with their multimedia artworks for ever, and as Bruital Orgasme they apply this approach to turntables and electronics. There approach is completely original, but has an intensity and intimacy that can be compared to another band who uses vinyl records in extremely innovative ways Pure Vinyl Terror and Horror. In fact, Bruital Orgasme has played here in Prague several times, sharing the bill with local turntablists Birds Build Nests Underground. As curators, the Cavalieri’s excel in their approach, which is reminiscent of that taken by Chocolate Monk’s approach to the Colour Out of Space festival: surprise and inclusiveness seems to be the order of things, rather than fashion and the usual principal of (fear) sticking to a particular genre of (safe) materials. Rather, the Cavalieri’s seem to be seeking accidental explosions.
This is a photo of Bruital Orgasme from a different festival, but it is too great not to include here:
Incidently, Bruital Orgasme has a show with KK Null in London at Cafe Oto on November 3. They are trying to get one or two more shows (for both acts) in the UK, or will likely have to cancel the trip. If you can help, please get in touch with me, and I will put you in touch with them.
Bruital Orgasme‘s license plate.
Philipe also played a duo with Maxime Manac’h (who also brought an incredible solo set mixing digital and analog synthesis to make a post-musical dreamland of beautiful terribleness) that was one of the greatest loud sets, as well as loudest things I have ever heard. It was like standing in front of a jet engine and having your memory erased. I want to say more, but its not possible. Maxime’s website is here.
Here is a disk from 2009 by Phil Begg, released by Yannick Franck‘s Idiosyncratics record label (see more on Yannick below). Begg mixes field recordings with electronic sound in a practice with which I find quite a lot of sympathy. The result manifested on this disk is a one-track landscape of variation in which water plays the role of ground and processed and acoustic sounds like bowed cymbals, and guitar provide figure, though often enough these are mixed together. Begg dedicates the disk “to the exorcism of ghosts and escaping from cities.”
What is this? This is the second LP from the band Motherfucking, who used to live in Lyon, France where they helped run the amazing concert space(s) Zero Jardins, Ground Zero. Well this is their second LP. I don’t think that they play together much anymore because Gael lives in Brussels. This LP is incredible however. I was lucky enough to be able to hear it before I got back to Prague where I dont have a record player (I say this over and over because I figure if I do that maybe someone will give me one). The record is actually a collaborative situation between Motherfucking, 2:13 pm, and La Sixieme Faute. The insert says its a collab between Julien Dupont (from Motherfucking, now rumored to be SINGING his way into the hearts of the european punk scene – Julien, come to Prague dammit!), Julien Louvet and Eric Duriez from 2:13 Pm, who I havent heard yet alone, and then Gael Moissonnier and Samuel Moncharmont from La 6e Faute. According to the liner notes all this is heavily influenced by the big “guns” of popular metal like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and has a lot to do with a process of fragmentation. I don’t know about any of that. It seems to me to be super cohesive liquid love. But that is my opinion.
But wait? Who is this guy below? Didn’t he organize a show for your band in France? Maybe a whole tour?
Thats right, its Gael Moissonnier.
We played this show (poster below) in Brussels, and it was great. This is a wonderful space (Karel Ball) in the center of the city, and is run by two guys named Frederik. It is an amazing building with really good sound. Beyt Al Tapes also played, delivering a blistering set dedicated to the spirit world. This is the project of Niels who runs Agnus Dei records and played in Silvester Anfang. There is a really good interview with him on Foxy Digitalis here.
Gael has a solo cd of analog modular synth music that is pictured below. How does he make that interesting texture on the cd (if you know write me, you may win a prize). Gael\s solo stuff is exactly where my interests are at the moment. I am not sure he is doing the same thing as I think it is or if he thinks about it like I do, but I really like this process, which to me is really about process, continuity. Gael doesn’t pretend to be a synth expert, though he totally knows what he is doing. He doesn’t pretend to be anything. He just plays the synthesizer, making weaves of patterns and noises, which then he modulates with noise, trying to import the energy of the moment into, and continue. Each time is different, but then again, each time there is something in common. This could be similar to an acoustic guitar finger picker who improvises compositions, using similar turnings and rhythmic patterns but not repeating (at least not consciously) the same material. It could be similar, but I am not sure it is. It is certainly more radical and colourful. Go hear it, he is on tour in the UK next month.
Then to Maastricht, which seemed to float like a city of dreams
the performance photos of myself, below, and Yannick Franck, further on, where taken by Claudia Falutoiu. Below is from just before my show at B36,at the Dynamic Living Room where Krystin De Wilde lives
Yannick Franck performed in B32 in Maastricht. Its down the street from B36 where I performed earlier. B32 is a gallery, event space with a nice bar, a little garden, a squat, and a collective of energetic people doing crazy projects in a strange part of Holland (Maastricht). The last time I had heard Yannick live was when Wouter van Haelemeesch made a concert for us in Gent three years ago (or four). This was a real surprise. I remembered liking Yannick’s stuff, but this was a huge and developed vibration. Multiple levels of electronic and vocal sound interweave so as to become indistinguishable, interacting on a basic level, aggregating into a vibration which sympathetically resonates the hollow parts of the room and the body. One listens to this outside of time. We played on the same concerts both here in Maastricht, and in Gent, and Yannick’s newly released disk Memorabilia, is below.
Franck mixes field recordings, electronic sound synthesis, voice and perhaps other things to create the compositions on this record. The work here is different than the pieces he was performing live on our concerts together, but certainly a family relationship exists between them. The work here seems more loop-influenced. I don’t want to say loop-based, because it is not, it is (for me) timbre-based, and a properly creepy atmosphere prevades here. When I say loop-influenced I am referring to the use of sort of plodding, irregular rhythmic material, moving like a tired giant through some of the tracks. Things recur (see album title). Like a memory or a dream, the recurrence may not be exact. Variation occurs as the memory (the loop) decays – and while here this exists as metaphor rather than from a real process of tape decay, as is the case in, for example The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski, for example, I think this metaphor is intentional (again, see album title). The rhythmic aspect is reminiscent of some of Wolf Eyes broken drum machine driven rhythmic collages. Yet this is something else, as one immediately realizes earwise, immersed in the outfolding of vibration that makes up this landscape.
After this Yannick and I performed again in Brussels, at the Idiosyncratics tape release for Rinus Van Alebeek at HS63, this great and unfortunately temporary sound art space in Brussels.
Van Alebeek (it seems strange to call him that, so I am just going to stick to Rinus, and hopefully that will be ok)..Rinus performs in an interesting way, and it is clear that is what is most important is listening. It seems to me that he involves himself in a healthy amount of self-sabotage, in which tapes are combined in unpredictable ways with unpredictable equipment. The situation is the patiently worked out or allowed simply to expire. Sometimes it seems that Rinus is as much an audience member as we are. Other times some tiny manipulation on his part will send the sound spiraling away from its representation roots (say, an urban landscape field recorded) and into outer space (an outer space reminiscent of that neighborhood discovered by Luc Ferrari in the Presque Rien works).
these photo by Fabian, from Brussels:
See what I mean? In the moments before the photo above and the photo below the author has disappeared. Elvis has left the building. That is how transparent this process is.
well, good night.