Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ashtray Navigations/Ocelocelot































Ashtray Navigations - Ten Layer Terror
Memoirs of an Aesthete Layererror 2000 Series no 2005 CDR [100 copies]

Ashtray Navigations - Fuzzbottle Phenomena
Memoirs of an Aesthete 2000 Series no 2001 CDR [100 copies]

Human Combustion Engine 2
Smokers Gifts CDR Smokers Gifts *2 [50 copies]

Ocelocelot - Mental’s Last Chance
Smokers Gifts CDR Smokers Gifts *10 [100 copies]

To The Grove, Huddersfield, Kwak on draft, Trebuchet Triples [bottle fermented foam escaping out of the neck in live yeasty fashion] a lousy head cold, shivers, the Kwak filling my aching bones with that numbing strong alcohol feeling and there’s Phil Todd and there’s the Undermaster and Phil Taylor and next to me Mel Delaney CD’s and records purchased earlier in the day at Wall of Sound from their impressive downstairs vinyl department. I bought John Cooper Clarks ‘Gimmix’ and from the continental market, a wild boar sausage. May Contain Nuts packets swimming in spilt beer [a wobbly table and customers in Fez’s]. Later I would smoke my first cigarette in months and get driven home in a taxi by the only Asian hunchback in West Yorkshire. In my pockets CD’s that have stickers on them so I cant play them in the PC because they get jammed when the discs heat up and the glue melts on them so I play them on my Walkman and all the better they sound for it. Delirious chapters of music that nobody else makes. The Toddmeisters long running Ashtray Navigations project is at its creative peak. Fuzzbottle Phenomena i played at least three times in succession. Its four tracks creating in my snot filled head the feeling of having been lifted up to face Christ in his heaven and finding he has the Broken Flag back catalogue to his elbow. The picked acoustic intro to ‘Blowwing’ [Black Sabbath’s more reflective moments] is but mere gestation to the great fizzing OHM. Creaking, swaying, sawn up electric guitar squealy drone throbbing huge expansive drilling into the hippocampus pleasure regions my eyeballs melt into my glass of Bowmore and I die die die a happy man this gusting wintry wet night. Its enough to make a grown man weep the fact that this music [and I’m getting tired of saying this] languishes on CDRs that number 100 copies. Ten Layer Terror ten short tracks the last of which [Mist Lingue] scalps you. Together the Todd/Delaney axis bring you Human Combustion Engine 2 a two tracks outing into Klaus Schulze land in which Korgs and Echo Units bring peace and tranquility. I played the latter track [Where Am I When Am I What Am I?] so many times on repeat that I entered a different dimension whereupon my body floated above the PC monitor and I could see the wires down the back. Its one of those great tracks that slowly takes over your concentration. One minute your getting on with your life and suddenly you become aware that there’s some sound in the room that you must investigate. Scratchy sounds and shortwaveness abounds in Ocelocelot land. Passages of deep static fractured beyond repair beats subsumed under a dense barrage of ugly noise aberrations of what was once a Suicide b-side smeared in dog shit and stuck into a B&O rack. The horrendous farts of a thousand devils. The death rattle of a leprotic transistor radio.
It’s all here in Leeds. Hold the earphones tight to your ears.


Contact:
Memoirs of an Aesthete - ashtraynavigations [at] hotmail.com
Smokers Gifts - myspace.com/ocelocelot
Ashtray Navigations - www.myspace.com/ashtraynavigations

Palumbo - Tomasini













Palumbo - Tomasini / Canes Venatici
Blossoming Noise CD BN033

Once in a while a release comes along and knocks you sideways. There you are bobbing along with a regular away review pile when something comes out of the speakers that sounds like it came from another planet altogether. Canes Venatici did it for me.
I urge anybody with an inquisitive taste in music to enter into the world of Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo and Ernesto Tomasini. Its a world where 19th century Grand Guignol meets Judas Priest meets Nurse With Wound. And if you think that makes an ungodly mess then you couldn’t be more mistaken.
Tomasini is the voice; an Italian singer who can sing through four octaves. Palumbo creates the music; a clear cut mixture of modern Italian Avant Garde that takes a big leaf from the Steve Stapelton/David Tibet book.
But calling Tomasini a singer is like calling a five course meal something to eat. His vocal range is one of the most impressive I’ve ever heard. From the high falsetto heard on the opening 13 minute track to the Dick Van Dyke crooning of ‘Whistling Away The Dark’ his voice is both sublime and staggering in its diversity. The opening track ‘Tratto Sulla ...’ has deep breathing, oscillators, spoken Italian words - a piece of music that sounds like it was recorded in the Vatican cellars whilst the Papal Swiss Guard lolled about on harlequin cushions smoking dope, kicking off their shoes and getting down with the vibe. Canes Venatici also contains what must be one of the most remarkable cover versions ever; Judas Priest's ‘Breaking The Law’. Tomasini sings it in the style of a malevolent child snatcher whilst behind him clockwork toys wind down and solemn strings are struck. It’s one of the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard.
There is but six measly tracks and thirty plus minutes on here with in which to indulge your senses. All of it has been replayed endlessly since it arrived.
This release not only enhances the listeners life it gives it new meaning and direction. I never heard of these two people in my life before, I thought I had a wide and eclectic taste in music. I now realise I know nothing.


Emeralds













Emeralds - Solar Bridge
Hanson Records CD HN183

The superlatives have been out in force since Hanson put Emeralds on the map with this breathtaking piece of bone humming drone.
Wallowing in almost obscurity for the last three years amongst a smattering of short run CDR’s and cassettes, these three American dronemiesters have taken up their synths and processed electric guitar and shaken the drone world to its very foundations with some staggeringly beautiful music.
What makes this such a landmark release though is the reemergence into frontline drone work of analogue synths. Its like lap tops never happened. If, like me, you still get a kick out of synths and still hanker after the days when the keyboard player in the band had more equipment than the rest of the band put together, then this is for you. I defy anyone to listen to this release and justify anything similar made on a laptop. The drones are treacle thick, reverberating at loud volumes to such an extent that plaster became loose and the street lights dimmed. Layered with the lightest of treated feathered guitar notes each track creates its own gravity from which its impossible not to be drawn.
There are but two tracks here though and less than thirty minutes of drone for you to become acquainted with and this has attracted its critics. The up side is that it will fit perfectly onto an LP, of which Hanson promise to deliver soon [rather ingeniously the track listing is split into two sides - how can you fail not to like people who do things like that?]. When that LP arrives [which it will because I’ll be camping out to secure a copy] I will sit down and listen to The Quaking Mess and treasure the moment when Mark McGuire’s guitar comes tumbling out of the tumult with a delicate filagree of dots whilst Elliot and Hauschildt’s heavy synths leak out the kind of radioactive drones that were built to match skull reverberations.
Magic is an equally impressive but criminally short twelve minutes. Each builds to a head expanding crescendo that left me a melted, gibbering wreck.
Three things need answering though; when will the back catalogue get the reissue treatment? Will they deliver some longer excursions and when are they coming to England?
The world needs more bands like Emeralds.


Contact: MPO Box 73, Oberlin OH, 44074, USA




www.hansonrecords.net

Helm




















Helm - Illuminated Factory [Peasant Magik - cassette]
Helm [RRR - recycled cassette series]

One half of drone day trippers, Birds of Delay, Mr. Luke Younger [a.k.a The Thin White Luke - whose so damned good looking he gets stopped on the lower east side by photographers asking him to pose for photos and which he so cooly and naturally turns down] develops the urge to create on his own and Helm is the result.
First with three tracks on the ever so good lately Peasant Magik label that sound increasingly like the Eno/Fripp classic No Pussyfooting in which a single guitar note is goes from high to low [or is it low to high?] via a bottleneck and hangs there tantalizingly whilst a sea of drone churns on in an industrial low heat.
If I had to choose one to take with me though it would have to be the recycled tape. By its very nature the recycled tape is what it says on the box [mines an old Silverfish tape] RRRon is doing his bit for the planet and putting good sounds out at the same time. I’ve been a fan of the recycled series since whenever when - no track listing, generic masking tape covering the original artwork and RECYCLED written across it in what I presume is Ron’s [or some goggle eyed acolytes] own hand . Insert and enjoy. Enjoy, in this case, some exquisitely floating just above the surface, gently churning dust motes that drift in and out of consciousness in a salt lake plain where the horizon is forever hazy and the temperature just above melting. Or, degraded toy piano motifs under a wheezing drone monster. These are timeless excursions. My only regret being that I missed Helm play at the recent Colour Out of Space fest in Brighton but going on first at 6PM on a Friday night is always a killer especially when your a mile away, on foot and its coming down like stair rods. There’ll be other times though. Until then, these will do nicely.


Rudolph Eb.er’s Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck



















Rudolph Eb.er’s Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck - Kotschleuder
[Hate Operation News Bulletin - Schimpfluch Commune Int]
Tochnit Alpeh CD and art photos. 100 copies
Entering the world of Rudolph Eb.er be it via his disturbing live shows or his numerous recorded works is always an unsettling experience. As founder of the Swiss aktionist outfit Schimpfluch Gruppe his name is already legend to those who like their head experiences trepan deep. Nobody makes recorded works quite like Rudolph. And then there’s his own outfit Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck and his own label Schimpfluch plus numerous collaborations and now, just in case you weren’t confused enough there’s Schimpfluch Commune International.
Live, I’ve seen him head-butt plates of spaghetti bolognese and scare the shit out of audiences just by his appearance. He’s not your average Joe. And neither are his records. Juxtaposed sounds of dogs barking, whips cracking, short random blurts of noise, dungeon screams. Taking the Dada ethos from Switzerland in 1987 right up to modern day Japan, where he now resides, he releases the kind of music you expect to hear being played in in S&M bars 50 years hence. And if you think thats just too insane for your top 40 brain then have no idea what you’re getting into.
Eb.er is the grit in the oyster creating pearls of non standard structure. Virtually every Rudolph related item I have here is non standard. There’s a P Tapes single that despite having some regular grooves on one side has a seven inch paper label on the other, presumably for you to ruin your stylus on plus the die-cut sleeve is offset so you’re not quite sure which way the record actually leaves the sleeve. His 2005 collaboration LP with fellow Schimpfluch conspirator Joke Lanz ‘Liederliches ...’ had a cover that almost made me puke. The ungodly R&G release Asshole/Snail Dilemma had a cover showing mutated scrotums and comes with what is quite possibly real human hair protruding from beneath the CD tray. The aim is to rewire your heathen senses and open your head to new possibilities. Rudolph can take you places that only other experimental artist can dream of.
Kotschleuder is not only 55 minutes of heavy nasal breathing, friendly alien chatter, blind John Cage piano fumbles and a fly trapped in a bottle, its 30 quality art photos of a naked Rudolph posing with offal, a small axe, a dolls head and what I hope is a fake penis. Covered in gore he sticks his penis [the real one] into the dolls eye sockets, holds the grime covered axe to his erection and, whilst bent over, places what looks like a cows tongue onto his arsehole. In one memorable picture he holds up some unrecognisable guts and with head tilted back seems to be roaring what’s written above him ‘In God I trust’. You try and work it out.
Kotschleuder [which I think translates from the German as ‘shit stirrer] is long out of print but well worth tracking down - as is just about anything else Schimpfluch related.
hateoperation [at] yahoo.de

Bulbs/Godspunk 6/Zack Kouns/Miss High Heel/Duncan Harrison/Deepkiss720

Last night I dreamt I made experimental music with Thurston Moore.


Zack Kouns - A Woman is not a Sphinx
lucpascal [at] yahoo.com
Handmade is a term truly abused in the cdr game. Handmade, when related to a TNB release makes you go all warm and tingly in the nether regions whilst pound note signs circle before your eyes as you envisage the ebay resale value twenty years hence. Moonmoonmoon’s release ‘ A Woman is Not a Sphinx’ takes handmade to new heights [lowts?] by sticking a plain white cdr into a piece of folded card glueing a mirror the size of a pound coin to the front and adding the title in red felt tipped pen. Its written in a nice arched shape tho, i’ll give it that. 
So far so bad. But then I play the damned thing and what do you know I actually like it. Well some of it. A Woman is Not a Sphinx is Zack Kouns who either plays sax, zither, sings, drones and sticks and stones and wind chimes or he has lots of uncredited friends. Each of these ten tracks holds up on its own in either a slow sax honk meets Steven Sondhiem meets singer songwrity echo chamber or late night dysfunctional Scott Walker smokey jazz bar stylee. The only thing that bugs me is that Zacks singing voice eventually begins to grate like a bad pub singer and during some tracks you wished he’d just shut up and let the perfectly good sounds in the background do their own thing. On one track [they’re all untitled of course] he performs a perfect reflection of Faust in their prime. Bizarre. According to Zacks website he’s available for hire and will play anywhere, in the nude too thrill seekers’, for modest travel expenses of course. The kids birthday party will be unforgettable Malcolm. 
Bulbs - Light Ships
Some releases you just cant take to and wonder what anyone saw in them in the first place. Freedom To Spend’s first release is by Bulbs; a duo that finds ex Axolotl guitarist John Almaraz teaming up with the drummer William Sabiston in what is promised as a truly great meeting of minds. After ten minutes listening to a gagged mute trying to escape from a padded cell using a drum stick and an electric guitar for tools I was beginning to think this wasn’t the grand opus I’d been promised. Almaraz makes wheedly, fiddly noises with his guitar whilst Sabiston fumbles with his drums. The whole thing sounds like a gay disco coming through a tinny speaker via downtown radio Botswana. Imagine George Formby having his first electric guitar lesson whilst Cletus plays with the preset keys on a drum machine and you have some idea of the horror I have endured. I was told this release had divided opinion and after suffering this dud I’d like to hear from someone who actually likes it - label owners apart.
Godspunk Volume 6
Stan Batcow’s steady trickle of lunacy continues with Pumf’s sixth volume of Godspunkyness. After four attempts and varying degrees of success [in my opinion anyway] Stan finally hit pay-dirt with a cracking volume five. Juxtaposing a single noise track around the usual bunch of non-conformist popsters like the Las Vegas Mermaids, Needle Park, Stan’s own Howl in the Typewriter and the implausibly named Satan The Jesus Infekt’d Needles and Blood [amongst a host of others] he managed to harness all that ribald lunacy into a single cohesive unit that was both listenable and for once, repeatable. If dotty pop songs coupled with the fringes of mental health are your bag you missed out. 
So to volume six. I see Unit are still there. Last I heard, London ‘punk’ agitators UNIT had taken time out to pen a song deriding yours truly. Not content with hating multinationals and loving trees they seem to have taken a dislike to Idwal Fisher. I can only assume they have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. Here they chip in with a song called Eco Warrior blues which if I was in charitable mood would suggest was a cocky, cheery pub rock Greenpeace anthem but I’m not - think sub Chas ‘n’ Dave penning an anarchist anthem after too many ales dahn the Elephant and Castle. 
The Haddenham One’s sampled voice repeating the line “they spilt my medicine’’ over rumbling dubious hip hop cheers had me in its thrall. Characters like Evil Jack McDeath, The Style Pigs, The Shi-ites, Bartles and Elwyn Temple Meads populate Godspunk releases like tramps on a park bench on a warm day. When not knocking out witty sideways-on songs about mental elf and stuff they build up dreamy techno-y worlds like DimM D3ciPLe [yes that is how its spelt]. So there’s something for everybody y’see. Top trumps on volume six tho is Stan’s own Howl In The Typewriter outpourings. The man comes at you like a demented Stock Aitken and Waterman production and because its his label he can have six goes - the best of which is a split channel affair; one channel sounding like someone putting on an anorak in a gale and the other a lonesome industrial drone. Godspunk discs are little pieces of creation that every dysfunctional, tee-total, alcoholic, tree hugging, London b-boy, mental health sectioned largactyl numbed person should have. Keep em coming Stan.
Miss High Heel - The Family’s Hot Daughter
Blossoming Noise CD
Is it just me or does anybody else think Tom Smith is overrated? Virtually everything I’ve listened to by Smith has been a long, tortured session of rapidly moving, quick edits and annoying warped vocals. Lots of people like him of course which is why Miss High Heel isn’t a Tom Smith release per se, lots of folks join in here to slap Tom on the back and give a helping hand, say what a great thinker he is, so original its not true the mans on a different planet etc.., Jim O’Rourke chips in as do around eight other like minded souls. But don’t be fooled, this is still essentially a Tom Smith album seeing as how he recorded, mixed, edited and produced the whole thing. They got Trevor Brown to do the cover and this may be just about the best thing about what is essentially a leaden mass of dense, sixteen different directions at once sub John Zorn Pain Killer blasts and layered groaning vocals. What really gets my hackles rasied is the way Smith piles up his vocals so that you get three voices coming at you at once all of them sounding like a bunch of pissed up tramps trying to harmonize a Ramones number Dalek fashion. It’s the Emperors new clothes time and it has to stop. I got to track five and skipped through the rest just to see if there was anything other than what had gone before but my disappointment was only further extended. 
The story goes that this album has lain dormant for the last ten years and has only recently been unearthed. Make your own judgements.
Thing is, I actually quite like Smith’s work when he teams up with his long time outfit To Live and Shave in LA. Their last outing on Blossoming Noise was well received here and rightly so.
Duncan Harrison/Deepkiss 720 [no title] CDR
Homemade covers cut from NWA LP sleeves wrapped in black and white photocopied photos of a naked female mannequin leaning in someone’s window. Probably Jase Williams window. Mr Williams as last seen twiddling the knobs at the Termite Fest in Leeds  whilst performing as DK720. Jase does noise and by Christ it’s noisy. He was playing a green guitar too that had no neck, just the headstock glued/nailed/bolted straight onto the body throwing it into the floor of the Holy Trinity Church and by God its a good job the vicar wasn’t there. Duncan Harrison I know not of but I assume that Luggage Records must be something to do with him as, after checking out his website, he seems to appear on lots of their releases. Which are damned cheap at £2 a throw and if this is anything to go by then they’re damned noisy too. After relearning all the best bits from the Incapacitants seminal release As Loud As Possible I stuck this one in the slot expecting some light relief but instead I get a rollicking good earbashing. Things tend to slow down to Norman Collier stutter standards on track three but for the most part I was quite happy to sit through all 25 minutes of this raucous homemade beauty.

Culver/Matching Head

Culver & Waz Hoola - Maps of War [MH153]
Inseminoid [MH152]

The Prestidigitators vs The Purple Better One - Jazz Mag With Pages Stuck Together [MH150]
Murder Book - Anglo Angel [MH143]

Matching Head is the label that shouldn’t exist but clearly does. Releasing everything on shop bought cassette tape with black and white photocopied paper inserts its about as Luddite as you can get in 2008 but is all the better for it. 
Based in the North East of England Lee Stokoe’s label finds a home not just for his own excellent Culver drones but for an array of noise merchants, experimenters, twisted pop diablos and outré dabblers.
Now up to releases in the 150’s and with no sign of slowing down its always a pleasure to see a batch of MH tapes appear at Idwal Towers. 
And this batch is no exception. 
The North East bent is large and could be larger seeing as how I’ve no idea where Murder Book or Inseminoid hail from But The Prestidigitators vs The Purple Better One are the real NE muck in the pearl. Jazz Mag is an unremitting seething whump of top end 200 notes a second fret frot and drum abuse that is as sadistic as it gets in its homage to prime era Smell & Quim disturbance, This is not just pure homage though but a continuation of that lineage. The soft porn insert and general feel of top shelf newsagency filth is of course pure gold and sadly missed.
Inseminoid is Walls of Jericho noise in which Stukas dive bomb from 30,000 feet all guns rattling into a high trebly glissando guitar piece. Then you’re stuck in a tent on the Arctic ice cap whilst a blizzard whistles by at -40C. Then it’s John Fahey and all very confusing.
Murder Book’s Anglo Angel is a series of uninteresting circuit fluctuation but that disappointment is negated by the arrival of Culver and the Indian spinner Waz Hoola [and with a name like that he could be an Indian spinner]. Culver’s drone work is never less than immersive and this is no exception. Two tracks of key depression pulse and throb drift bringing to life a wheezing build of heavy nod out dopage.
MH releases are mostly one sided C90’s [at least the ones I’ve had through my hands have been] they’re affordable, inventive and a million miles away from an MP3 link in an email from someone you never heard of. So the sound quality is never going to be pristine but what are you some kind of clarity freak? Some of these sounds come alive in the hiss.  
Get a life gadget boy and buy into some real sounds.

Label: Matching Head. Prices: £1.50 UK/£2.50/$5 ROW
Contact: 
Lee Stokoe, 100 Saltwell Place, Gateshead, NE8 4QY, UK 
email: lee_stokoe [at] hotmail.com

RRR/Nose Picker/Irukandi/Realcide

RRR - The Best
Nose Picker [cant find a title]
Irukandi - Pray For Me
Realcide - Ready to Fight


There I was tearing down the inside lane of the M621 at 60 mph with Burt Kaempfert’ s Afrikaan Beat blasting from the tape player when the thought occurred to me that Ron Lessard had just sent me some really rubbish records. Which is a little like kicking your granny in the shins after she’s just given you a fiver for your birthday but it has to be said, Nose Picker, Irukandi and Realcide, you did nothing for me. Actually come to think of it they did do something for me; Irukandi made me want to fall asleep - big tired bear yawns afore curling up for three months hibernation sleep. Realcide made me realise why I don’t like all that angsty, hardcore, thrashocre call it what you will core, all that shouting oooh no and Nose Picker ... four live tracks of screaming and a-hollering that sounded like Incapacitants on a tenth grade dub recorded in a toilet on a train. A meandering collection of random bleeps and nostril debris that is the epitome of time wasting. Ron did save himself from a five star lashing by including one of his most marvelous compilations though. Simply titled ‘The Best’ it includes some snorting material from the likes of Halflings, Cathode Terror Secretion, Ichorous, Brutophilia the Cherry Point and the enigmatic IS. Fluttering undertows of woofer expanding mania from Halflings, screaming noise from CTS and IS chip in with with an almost disappearing off the scale of audibility piece that plunges into the bowels of hellfire damnation noise save your souls you hell bound sinners.  And as for Brutophilia ... well what do you expect from an outfit with a name like that. It all comes wrapped in customised junked sleeve with oddball newspaper inserts hand written by the man himself labels. Which leaves me wondering why, with so much good and wholesome American noise out there, does the Ronfather choose to put out such mediocre stuff as Nose Pickers?  

Sickness












Sickness - Mudlark
Self Abuse/Ninth Circle Music CD

Being a mudlark in London during the Industrial Revolution meant that you’d hit rock bottom. Scavenging the banks of the Thames at low tide, you did your best to avoid the rotting corpses, turds and other unsavory flotsam in the desperate hope of finding something to sell that would keep you alive for another day. Wading ankle deep, bare footed in a fetid, slimy, bacterial gloop meant that for you life just couldn’t get any worse.

And here’s a picture of a river bank on the sleeve and the insert finds various written edicts headed ‘scavenger’. I think you get the idea.

So a collection of hard to find Sickness items collated on to one easier to find disc that includes live material from the sixth Consumer Electronics show that if you needed a starting point for Sickness is where to go first; a murderers confession that detonates into a squall of harsh electronics thats as good an indicator of the mans work as anything I’ve heard.

Sickness’s strength lies in the control displayed throughout these 10 tracks. It’s noise Jim but its under control noise. Take the best bits of Government Alpha couple them with the noisier end of TNB and you have an approximation of what Sickness can really be about. Throw in the intelligent work ethos and the stunning live shows and you have one hard working geezer who knows exactly what he’s doing.

Through no fault of his own there was some kind of equipment failure during his 2007 No Fun set and never have I seen so many people at a gig so genuinely gutted. That he came back in 2008 opened the whole weekend and stomped all over the memory of that is testament to the mans mindset and the high esteem in which he’s held.

Buy this CD go straight to track ten ‘Everyone Dies Alone’ and hear how a noise track works in the hands of someone who knows what he’s doing; heavy breathing, silence, dry joint static, random eruptions, footsteps down a corridor. Perfect. Just don’t expect to find a copy on a river bank.


Ramleh



















Ramleh - Valediction
Second Layer CD.
Ramleh’s ‘rock’ period was always a bigger draw for me than their power electronics stuff. I remember driving down to the South coast one summer with their Homeless CD cranked up and it made a humdrum drive down the M1 in a rented Fiesta feel like an American coast to coast odyssey in an open top 50’s Cadillac. The swirling chugging chords, the pounding drums and the tortured vocals of the classic 18 minute title track ran on repeat for most of that journey - an endless loop of head nodding churn, a droning rock mantra that only ended when I ran out of road in Eastbourne.
Ramleh’s uncompromising attitude coupled with art work that featured autopsies, SS officers, serial killers, electric chairs and track titles like Fistfuck got them noticed. Like their much admired counterparts in the nascent English Power Electronics scene Whitehouse, they liked to shock. And then they disappeared only to return in the 90’s in a ‘rock’ format and thats what did it for me. And then they disappeared again. Band members came and went but founder and mentor Gary Mundy remained a constant and highly influential figure.
Twenty eight years on from their first release Mundy teams up with Anthony Di Franco to give us Valediction. Advances in recorded technology results in a sound thats as far removed from the early cassette days as its possible to get. Its a big, meaty sound that you cant fail to be impressed by. The vitriol and misanthropy that power electronics so intrinsically wound itself around is still obviously there [open the gatefold case up and you’re met with the words ‘you people are poison’] as is the aggression, the screaming feedback, the anguished vocals. It’s an impressive sound. Gone though are the corpses and SS officers to be replaced by images of a headless, limbless statues covered in moss, crumbling, abandoned hospitals.
There are six tracks - each a Valediction. Valediction IV is the standout track; a thundering, runaway, distorted two chord bass riff that dissolves into a shitstorm of noise dissonance. Mundy scowls all over the first half of it, the words buried under a slather of incessant skree. Impressive and a track that appeals to the rock side of Ramleh thats in me but then there’s the rest of it which is where I start to have problems.
How do you keep a genre such as power electronics alive when its so easily formulated, copied and maligned? Its a hard job which Mundy and Di Franco succeed with but only because they have the utmost pedigree and this is a good PE release, don’t get me wrong, there’s very little on here that wont have your average PE freak slathering at the chops.
I have my caveats though, Valediction IV sounds so much like the rumblings that underpin most of Whitehouse’s Quality Time that its uncanny. The rest is fine PE but its sounds no better or worse than what Whitehouse were doing in ’95 and therein lies the problem; where do you go with PE? What is there left to do? How much misanthropy can you dish out without it becoming stale and predictable? How much alienation does it take for the message to sink in? Question: How many serial killers does it take to make a PE cover? Answer: one’ll do. Whitehouse have evolved out of PE to such an extent that Bennett now finds himself alone with his African drums. As new outfits clamor to take PE to their heart and wallow in it it seems that those who pioneered it keep it at arms length. Happy with their work they leave the genre behind for others to mutate. What next? Where’s it all going to end up? At least we have the reissues to look forward to. Maybe the answer lies with the title? Valediction, it mean goodbye dunnit.