Thursday, September 22, 2011
Flux of Yellow Daises - ECT Disasters.
No label CDR
Contact: Cult.ofCthulhu [at] yahoo.co.uk
ECT [Electro Convulsive Treatment] is a rudimentary treatment to say the least. Having electricity pumped through your brain in the hope that it has a positive effect on your wellbeing seems to be up there with ice pick lobotomies in the prod and hope stakes. The adverse effects of ECT aren’t something you’d want either, amnesia and, some argue, brain damage. You wouldn’t give it to a dumb animal but apparently 12,000 people in the UK are given this treatment every year. According to my sources Tim Telsa has spent 20 years within the walls of the UK’s secure psychiatric hospitals and whilst he was a patient I’m assuming he was one of those 12,000.
Listening to ECT Disasters is a depressing affair. Bookended by two awful rudimentary death metal type tracks its 26 minutes and numerous tracks consist of the audio dubs of a television documentary on ECT highlighting one woman's treatment that went horribly wrong. These samples are then interspersed with basic noise blasts that I’m assuming are there to represent the treatment itself. The whole thing is poorly recorded, as if it was taken down on a portable cassette radio with judicious use of the pause/record button. The packaging is shoddily put together with just a sticker affixed to the front of a CDR case with an A5 paper insert containing contact info and a ‘religious statement from the Cult of R’Lyeh’ whose prophet is of course Tim Telsa.
As a musical artifact it’s value is negligible. This is all but an aural documentary on the barbarity of ECT with some death metal chucked in as light relief. Its worth lies in highlighting ECT and Tim Telsa’s state of mind. You have to worry about both of them.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Many thanks to Colombian sound artist David Vélez who answered my call for factory field recordings. Whilst listening to the recent package of Gruenrekorder releases the thought came to me that there didn’t seem to be any artists working with factory sounds. Well, David is one such artist and having listened to some of his work I find the need to plug it with evangelical zeal.
Both of the above links will take you pages where David’s work is available for download.
The first link will take you to ‘Memoria Fragmentada’ and the second to ‘Funza’. Both are brooding works that mix sounds taken from the countryside with those found in factories and cities. The factory sounds aren’t deep pummel industrial, this isn’t a Sheffield steel mill here, but more ‘one operator, one machine’. The results are a beguiling mix of distant rumble, traffic, rain and the rhythm of someone going about their daily work on a semi automatic machine. Industrial ambience fans are in for a huge treat. Some of it sounds as if David was stood recording all this at one end of a huge half empty factory whilst all the work went on at the other. The results are certainly eerie.
The above links will also take you to two fine labels; Impulsive Habitat and CONV both of whom have plenty of their catalogue available for sale and download.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Truant - The Truant Accord
Memoirs of a Flatworm. CDR. 100 copies.
Rob Hayler’s reintroduction into polite society has been a major boost not just for Leeds but for a wider thinking world where folks of a droning melody bent meet electronic dabblers of a nodding persuasion. Not only have we seen the re-emergence of some of his long forgotten solo material via a couple of small run three inch CDR’s we now have a lost Truant album to ease us into autumn with. Hayler’s solo project Midwich was an electronic wand with which he conjured drones and infectious motifs of a repetitive nature but he didn’t stop there. Back at the beginning of 2001 he chowed down with Phil Todd and the enigmatic ‘Cloughy’ to create Truant. They released one album and then went back to whatever they were doing in the first place. Fast forward ten years and the masters of a lost second album turn up at Todd HQ and whaddayaknow its been worth digging up. Why have we been sat on this all this time they all cry? Well, nobody really knows.
I suppose you could stretch your imagination somewhat and call Truant a supergroup. Clough played in the
Monday, September 19, 2011
Raionbashi & Kutzkelina - Aktion 091216 Berlin
Harbinger Sound. One sided LP. Harbinger 089
100 regular copies + 50 artist enhanced copies
Olympic Shit Man - Supercharge
Harbinger Sound. Double LP + Magazine. Harbinger 065. Promo.
One of my lasting memories of Istanbul is seeing a couple of local youths walking around in t-shirts emblazoned with eagles above which read the words WEST YORKSHIRE. The first time I saw someone wearing one it stopped me in my tracks. The street was busy so that by the time the sight had registered with my brain and it had worked out a response he was long gone. Similarly the second time around, this time in a packed market street. My camera was buried under piles of tourist detritus, my brain all agog. Why are people walking around Istanbul wearing t-shirts that say WEST YORKSHIRE on them? I looked in clothes shops for one of my own but all in vain. Of course it doesn't matter what it says on the t-shirt if you cant read the language its written in. Its there for effect only. I have a couple of t-shirts with Japanese characters on them that mean absolutely nothing. They’re just designed to look like Japanese characters. Its the same thing with printed English to people who don’t understand English. Anyway.
Two releases from Harbinger Sound that are both firmly aboard the good ship noise but with each coming from vastly different angles. Olympic Shit Man was the short lived collaboration between Mark Durgan and Andy Bolus. I think they released next to nothing and did barely any gigs. As far as I know when you get this there’s not much left over. Supercharge originally came out as a cassette in the mid 90’s on Mother Savage Noise Productions. Such is Harbingers bent to release such obscure material it has to take shape over two LP’s with the fourth side showcasing two live events [one from 1994 and the other from 2006]. To add to the all round madness of it all you also get a decent sized magazine of Bolus drawn insanity to while away your listening minutes.
The live stuff I eventually found more rewarding but that takes nothing away from whats some prime mid nineties noise muck. The 1994 recording is a bit dodgy as you’d expect but it does reach a certain crescendo in a ‘lots of noise things going on at the same time kind of feel’. Bizarre as it sounds Durgan’s well oiled noise gadgets do indeed feel as one with Bolus’s lay out of v-techs abortions, toy guns and broken things that go kkkkrrrrrkkkk but its the 2006 show in Antwerp that hits the spot. At one stage it revives old school Jap noise but the odd tinkling, whirring, scratched records and burnt out fizzing PC stack feel to it gives the meat of thing a gravitas I’d have never given it credit for on first passing. Supercharge meanwhile is alive with TV and film samples, angular noise farts, socket abuse, dustbin torture, unidentified scrape, eruptions of speaker distortion, shortwave whine, high pitched skree. The onslaught is incessant but at times gaps do appear, presumably these being when Bolus’s equipment broke down and Durgan carried on in his own manly fashion. As the trawl through 90’s noise tape land continues expect more noise gems such as this to be unearthed.
For those of you yet to experience a live Raionbashi & Kutzkelina performances this one sided piece of plastic archiving of a recent Berlin show should be at the top of your shopping list. Raionbashi solo shows always did have an element of performance art in them but now that he’s hooked up with the phenomenally vocally gifted Kutzkelina things have blossomed. I saw them perform at last years Lowest Forms Festival and the performance had mutated into a full blown ritual; washing of hands, nailing of wood to the stage floor, the humbling act of drying each other and then of course the sounds themselves. Between them they combine a series of relatively mundane sounds into a whole that is extremely unsettling. On their own the sounds of barking dogs, snoring, female shouts and a lazy accordion may seem innocent enough but once they’re combined they transform into something thats quite bizarre and deeply unnerving. Beginning with a barely audible snore, a bell is introduced, a ringing bell, then female shouts, a few wheezing keyboard keys, as things begin to build a flattening blast of noise erupts and then pigs eating, eerie unidentifiable sounds and then Kutzkelina’s incredible yodeling and if you think yodeling doesn't belong here or has some kind of joke status then you couldn’t be more wrong. Out of all this a dizzying cacophony develops a maelstrom of head swimming tumult that eventually cuts to leave you back at something resembling normality. I wouldn’t mind a full blown Raionbashi & Kutzkelina DVD for these rituals. It needs to be seen as well as heard.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Astral Social Club - Wet Wheel/Hot Wheel
Tomutonttu - Syvät Sävyt
Tipped Bowler 12”. TB012
Astral Social Club - Snaefell/Mocne
Trensmat 7”. TR021
Astral Social Club - Scudding [For Electronics and Air July 2011]
No label CDR.
I have it on good authority from the Nodmeister himself that all of the above releases are singles. No problems there until you realise that Scudding runs to almost an hour in length. This is dangerous Orb territory. I’m happy to give up the argument before its started though, if Campbell says its a single then a single it is. For those with a three minute attention span though Scudding will be hard work. Taken as one elongated piece of work it sounds a little like the Campbell issue running amok in the Klang Klang studio whilst proud parents look on, arms folded smiling appreciatively. You can hear them throughout most of Scudding, playing, pulling Sellotape off its spools, making a mess and poking each other in the eye, all the things kids get up to. Over it all Campbell plays a broken beat that morphs into different guises, gets covered in various pops, whirrs and squeals before flourishing into an ecstatic dance orgasm at around the 40-odd minute mark. Its probably the most experimental thing I’ve heard from ASC and single or no single its up there with the best ASC work.
The Tipped Bowler release finds us in is more familiar ASC territory. A longer Wet Wheels becomes a sped up Mother Mallard synth fest where the pulse slowly builds into orgasmic glow stick waving proportions until it cuts straight into Hot Wheels and a short jam before the taxi arrives. A major ASC nod anthem for sure. Just make sure you play it at 45.
Syvät Sävyt sounds like David Lynch dance music. Someone went into the toy instrument department of Hambleys and set everything going at once, played it all backwards, forwards and sideways and gave it to Tipped Bowler. Sort of. By linking together what could be sections of sped up backwards and forwards loops of stuck grooves Tomutonttu has created something in very much the same vein as ASC only with an end result that sounds like the glueing together of much studio floor tape waste. And I mean that in the most sincerest way folks. Over all this forward and reverse madness are stuck quirky melodies played on bits of broken Casios. I could of course be totally mistaken. Fingers are applied to records on turntables with no belts and spun to insane speeds. Somehow it forms a whole that is danceable but only to those with the correct amount of drugs in them. Insane and totally refreshing.
For those of you not in the know Snaefell is the highest mountain on the Isle of Man. You can hear the sheep up there and on Mocne, you can also hear Campbell getting his wind back after getting to the top of its 2000 meters. Snaefell is shiny yellow sun bursts and starlike explosions, psychedelic techno, beats morphed into mangled head swim. Its also got a maddening keyboard run that’ll have you nodding before the first spins taken effect. Mocne is even more urgent. Play it in your car and impress the hoodies in your neighborhood, play it at you next Tupperware party, buy some whizz and dance around the garden in the middle of the afternoon. ASC can have this effect on you.
As ever trying to pigeonhole ASC becomes almost impossible. With a foot in the dance section, a foot in the experimental section and various limbs in genres that include ambient, drone, Motorik and maybe even noise, the job becomes an impossible task. At least ASC are still evolving, bringing something new with every visit. Your humble scribe doesn’t try to make sense of it all he just sits back and basks in its warmth. You should do the same.
Tipped Bowler: www.tippedbowler.com
ASC: astralsocialclub [at] hotmail.co.uk
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Ernst Karel - Swiss Mountain Transport Systems
Gruenrekorder CD. Gruen 091
Tom Lawrence - Water Beetles of Pollardstown Fen
Gruenrekorder CD. Gruen 087
Andres Bick - Fire and Frost Pattern
Gruenrekorder CD. Gruen 074
Playing With Words - various artists
Gruenrekorder 2xCD. Gruen 065
The worst thing about the relapse [or the ‘Istanbul Goat Virus Round Two’ as its known round these parts] is that it robbed me of my powers of concentration. During the first phase of its manifestation two weeks ago all I needed was the strength to pull a CD from its sleeve and insert it into the stereo. During the more virulent second phase all I could manage was staring out of the window whilst listening to the cricket updates on Five Live Sports Extra. As I slipped between coma and semi coma news of wickets falling in Somerset and Warickshire entered my head only to leave again moments later. As a means of whiling away the days it was as good as it was going to get. For some strange reason the sound of any kind of music drove me to absolute torment. I decided it was best left alone. These last few days then have given me some idea of what my retirement days might be like and if I ever make there in such lousy shape I may as well take up alcohol as a distraction.
Thankfully I’d become familiar with this batch of Gruenrekorder releases the first time around so it was a just a matter of working my way back in.
Gruenrekorder is a two man label stroke organisation dedicated to the promotion of experimental music and phonography. Phonography meaning ‘an acoustic experience loaden with musical sounds’. Now I’ve always been a bit of a passenger when its come to Field Recordings [a term that Gruenrekorder also use], I do have some of Chris Watson’s work, some Touch releases that cover the same ground and the odd bit by various Schimpfluch members where they’ve stuck microphones hither and thither and recorded whatever’s emerged, but this is my first serious chance to get to grips with a label dedicated to such material and to give it a serious appraisal.
At least with Field Recordings you know what you’re getting. It says it on the tin. Swiss Mountain Transport Systems is, as you’d expect, the sound of ski gondolas, funiculars and chair lifts all doing what they do up the sides of Swiss mountains. The genius of it all is finding the musicality within these things. So the door locks, the winding motors, the support towers, the funicular tracks and the non mechanical outside sounds such as cow bells and people al become part of a greater experience. It seems obvious but I want to point it out. The first and longest track here is probably Karel’s best; ‘Oberterzern-Unterterzern’ is a 12 minute piece [each track is, I’m assuming, a complete journey] which begins with the closing of the automatic door locks before emerging into open space and a wonderful hum drone. I guess that the suspended gondola is acting as an enclosed speaker with the wire becoming a conduit for the noise produced by the winding motors. The pitch of the hum changes as the trip continues. The serenity is abruptly interrupted as the car passes over support towers. The hum builds and dies away only to be severely jolted by another support tower. Its an impressive piece of field work that will certainly appeal to anyone with a bent for Industrial ambience, which in a way, I suppose this is a pure version of. For a gondola ride alone its worth seeking out for its musicality, should you ever find yourself in Flumsberg please indulge. The other three gondola rides on here have their own idiosyncrasies but nothing as expansive as this. The funiculars are harsher affairs as you’d expect with the added bonus of stops along the way to pick up passengers. The eleven and a half minute chair lift ride that is ‘Oberdorf-Wiessenstien’ [now sadly defunct] is a white knuckle drone ride of buzzing inertia that builds in intensity as it nears the winding station and gently fades as it recedes. Its all recorded with incredible clarity and will reward anyone who takes pride in their playback equipment. My only gripe was track seven which is nothing but the sound of a helicopter transporting building material. Not what it said on the tin.
Pollardstown Fen is a calcium rich, spring fed fen in Ireland which has become home to all manner of wildlife including numerous species of water beetles. Tom Lawrence took his underwater microphone there and recorded what happened beneath the surface. Apparently water beetles like to stridulate. Stridulation being the ability to announce ones presence by the rubbing one body part against another. Remarkably Lawrence recorded one particular water scorpion going at it for over nine hours at an incredible 110 decibels. Part of that experience is included here. My problem with Lawrence’s work here is that even though I find it all absolutely fascinating [ and the sleeve notes help a lot] the sounds eventually become grating and with over seventy minutes of it to go at its an arduous task. But you don’t have to play it all at once. Taken in small doses the delights of water beetles rubbing their nether regions together do reward the inquisitive listener. Track two ‘Seven Springs’ is a cacophony of several beetle species all in ‘antagonistic high alert’ the results of which are comparable to electronically produced noise albeit, one of an especially repetitive nature. Think scratched Hecker CD. Interesting material just very, very demanding on the listener.
My big problem with For ‘Fire And Frost Pattern’ is that it skates dangerously near to ‘new age’. Its two compositions of ‘fire’ and ‘frost’ remind me of the days when doped up hippies used to sit and listen to whale sounds going yeah man and wheres the bean casserole. Andreas Bick creates two almost thirty minute pieces, one representing heat and the other cold. As you can probably guess Fire Pattern contains the sounds of volcanoes but after that struggles a bit so includes the man made sounds of ‘singing flames’ [a kind of late 19th century flame organ] and alcohol burning in bottles. Its OK but not a patch on Frost Pattern which has far more depth to it.
I was lucky enough a few years back to experience one of the sounds included here; whilst walking around the edge of a lake in Sweden one morning I heard a high pitched sound followed by a low rumbling one. It turned out to be the air escaping from beneath the ice. The entire lake was frozen over, but was slowly melting. Maybe a mile in diameter and the entire piece of ice was floating, air escaping to its edges in small spurts. On a cold, still morning with no one around it was an experience I’ll never forget and one I’m grateful to Bick to be able experience again.
Ice, snow, frost, cleaving icebergs, Bick uses them all to good effect and incredible sounds they make too. Capturing the sound of falling snow flakes by attaching contact mics to sheets of tin foil also works. If only I could shake off this new age thing maybe I could like it just that little bit more. I’d have been quite happy to have listened to all of these sounds as individual tracks. Collaging them into ‘suites’ or ‘symphonies’ or ‘patterns’ leaves me um … cold.
The various artist comp Playing With Words is release I got the most out of. Its a release that calls itself an ‘investigation into the spoken word’ and I call ‘one to take to the desert island with’.
It includes 42 artists over two discs, most of which are new to me, which means theres little room for detail here, but just to wallow in the majesty of voice, whatever the language, is sheer majesty. Once you’ve blown up all your electrical equipment and bust all you strings and gone partially deaf from all your noise gigs there’ll still be the human voice to entertain you. I’ve seen noise artist do gigs using nothing but their voice, I’ve seen Jaap Blonk do Ursontae, I’ve seen Phil Minton make gurgling sounds for half an hour and its all been totally sublime. OK, the genre does have its down side and can become very self indulgent. I’m happy to have forgotten the name of the American sound poet I once saw at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music fest but for every bad apple there are plenty of golden ones. Fortunately thats the case on Playing With Words and its not only words you get to hear. Jaap Blonks submission is a series of cascading voice samples that sound almost electronic. There’s the irrepressible and still sadly missed Bob Cobbing performing the 2000 version of Alphabet of Fishes along with David Toop and Paul Burwell. Barry Truax’s ‘Shaman Ascending’ is another vocals turned synth. There’s clips plucked straight from Radio 4, someone reading out the letter they’re writing with the sound of pen scratching on paper, there’s an incredible Trevor Wishart track that I’m desperate to share with anybody who’ll listen and a track by Salome Voegelin in which someone struggles to read a flyer with Welsh language in it in a supermarket cafe. Totally wonderful. Its a rewarding listen even if there are a few bumps along the way but the best thing about it is the fact that its available as a free download from the Gruenrekorder website. Plus, if you download it you wont have to strain your eyesight reading the tiniest writing I’ve seen on a CD release.
Gruenrekorder don’t just release Field Recordings and Sound Art though, you’ll find them investigating Soundscapes as well as running a workshop and an intermittent dual language downloadable PDF magazine called Field Notes. Its archived and worthy of your attention. Theres also a few more free downloadable albums beside the one I mentioned. Having never heard of Gruenrekorder a month ago I know find myself a fervant fan.
What interests me now is has anyone done any true ‘Industrial’ field recordings? I mean in actual working factories? I’ve been musing this for the last few days. I wonder if there are too many obstacles involved? Its not like you can just turn up at a factory with your equipment and say ‘I’d to record your machines please’. First you’d have to find out which machines makes the most interesting noises and that in itself would take months of ground work. Then you’d have to get the companies permission. The company involved would no doubt have to give you assistance as I’d doubt whether they’d just let you wander around their premises until you found what you wanted. The results could be interesting, just hard to collate.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
I thought I'd bring a little bug back from Istanbul. One of those nasty little bastards that grows on the pull chains of filthy Ottoman toilets. Not that I ever found a pull chain, or an Ottoman toilet for that matter, but somehow, despite all the usual precautions, a bug found it's way into my digestive tract. It began to bite during the return trip making the near 4 hour flight particularly unpleasant. Increasingly so when I realised that even if I was strong enough to pick up our cases, I still had to traverse one the busiest motorways in England during the tea time rush hour. At least I wasn't on my own, Mrs Fisher, in an act of total unselfishness, had caught the very same bug.
So there we were waiting for the bus to take us to our car, shivering and weak under gloomy Manchester skies wondering where this is all going to end. By now the thing is really starting to take hold and all we’re wanting to do is get home and get to bed. I'm shivering uncontrollably, my head is thumping, my throat feels like I've been sucking Nitromors pastels. I get the cases in the boot and bang my head on the door frame getting into the car. I feel like I've been banjoed by Sonny Liston. I'm starting to get clumsy and feel my sense of balance is deserting me. But an hour or so later we're outside 17 having managed to steer the limo past lumbering HGVs and the inevitable spray. With fingers gripped to steering wheel and with the windows going up and down [too hot, too cold] we cross the moors to the safety of home. We dump the cases in the living room, where they will stay untouched for two days and go to bed. It's 5.30 in the evening.
Before I stumble upstairs I ring work with the ridiculous idea that I may somehow be able to sleep this thing off and there's a slim chance that I may just be in in the morning. Six days later I realise that I was just kidding myself.
During the night I experience a mini cold turkey moment. If I had ever got addicted to heroin and then decided to get off it then this might be something like it. I sleep in two hour stints then wake up, thrash about for a bit, moan inside and begin detailing my symptoms inside my head: hot and cold flushes, muscle aches, headaches, a throat that feels like someone has lined it with battery acid, a mouth so full of strings of gob that I can’t shift them even with my fingers.
I’m intensely thirsty and decide to get up for a drink of water. Getting out of bed proves to be more difficult than I thought. It’s like one half of me wants to stay where it is whilst the other half knew that if water wasn’t ingested soon then there could be trouble ahead. With immense concentration I manag to get first one leg then the other out of bed. I slowly lift my wobbly frame to its full height before staggering to the toilet smashing one of my shins on the corner of the bed in the process. I sit on the toilet, head in hands, elbows on knees covered in sweat and release about a thimbleful of urine. I hang my head over the sink and try to get rid of some of the mucus that has formed in my mouth. When I try to cough up the stuff at the back of my mouth my stomach turns and I think I’m going to vomit. I get most of it out and manage to drink a little water but it burns my throat as it goes down.
I make it back to bed without any further disasters to find mrs Fisher in much the same state. We pass some mumbled greeting before going all fetal, one minute too hot the next too cold, covers on, covers off, each body a trembling mess of immune system chaos.
When I sleep my dreams are vivid and hallucinatory. I fly past miles and miles of perfectly lined up street cafe tables, all empty and laid out for the first customers of the day, carpet shops and bazaars whizz by on a journey that ends about 3 am when I am woken by the most violent stomach cramps I have ever experienced in my whole life. This time the part of the brain that makes me want to stay in bed is quickly overruled and I make haste to the toilet. When my arse cheeks hit the wood I release the most violent, black and horrendous pound of slurry it has ever been my misfortune to experience. It was ejected with such force that if it hadn’t have been for the porcelain it would surely have stretched a good 12 feet. It came in two parts. I had a breather after the first and then the second wave hits me. This time a trumpet blast of liquid fecal matter aided by a fetid blast of disgusting air. I moan inside.
I sit there in junky toilet Trainspotter mode for quite some time, trembling, sweating, trying to breath normally, only slightly aware of the stench that surrounds me. And then I fear for the future motions of Mrs Fisher. I tidy myself and the toilet up and stagger back to what is now a mess of sweat soaked sheets to continue what was to become 16 hours of bedridden torture.
At 10.30 the next morning I’ve been drifting in and out of sleep for four hours. I know I have to get up but the half of me that wants to stay in bed is the dominant force. Get up. What for? To eat something. Not hungry. To drink something? I could do with a drink but then I can get a drink in the bathroom. Get up and have a shower? OK.
Mrs Fisher was by now downstairs having crawled out of bed two hours ago, she’d brought me a cup of tea which I couldn’t drink because it was too hot and burnt my throat but which had now gone clap cold and was as equally undrinkable. Get up and shower and have a cup of tea I say to myself. Cups of tea can cure anything. Everybody knows that. I get out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. My head is light and I feel dizzy. I have to take small steps and try not to bump into things. I am aware that my sense of balance is out of kilter and that there is a good chance I could easily fall out of the shower. Whilst waiting for the shower to come on I stand over the sink and try to get rid of some of the gunk that has accumulated in my mouth. I realise that my toothbrush is in my case but we have Listerine so I gargle with that and my throat feels a little better. After getting out of the shower I throw on the first clothes I can find and very carefully make my way down the stairs on unsteady legs. I’m feel marginally better, as in last night I was dying and flatlining but now theres a blip on the machine. It isn’t much but its something to cling on to.
Mrs Fisher is sat in her wing back chair. She doesn’t look well. I make us both some tea and realise that even though I dont feel hungry I have to get something inside of me. I mash up two Weetabix in milk and let them go soft. I let the tea go cold for a while then take a sip. It is incredibly painful to take even a tiny sip of tea. As the tea goes down the pain in my throat becomes so intense that I can’t help but involuntarily pull my head back, which intensifies the headache which coupled to the fact I’m shaking all over and have a stomach that resembles a rancid goats bladder, doesn’t make me feel too good about myself. I grab at my throat and rub the swollen throat glands. They feel like two Victoria plums. I stare at my Weetabix like its radioactive waste. I put half a spoonful in my mouth and make myself swallow it. Its agony but the pain is short lived. I wait for the pain in my throat to subside then take another mouthful. I repeat the process until half the bowl has gone and then I feel sick. I take a tiny sip of tea. As it goes down it meets the Weetabix coming back up and I just make it to the sink before unleashing it. I stand holding the sink, trembling, sweating, going hot and cold on and wonder how long this is going to go on for.
In the living room the cases still stand where we’d left them. Neither of us has any energy so thats where they stay. My toothbrush is inside mine but considering the state my gob is in brushing my teeth really doesn’t seem to be that important. Instead I lower myself steadily into the Poang and give thanks to Japanese designers and Swedish furniture stores. Mrs Fisher throws a quilt over me and there I lay, gob open, breathing unsteady, head swimming, aching, staring out of the window like a coma victim. Neither of us says much.
After about three hours I get the first abdomen cramps. I throw off the quilt and make for the toilet. Weaving, head all a swim, trying not to knock pictures off the wall I make it to the top of the steps. After a short burst of diarrheic filth I tidy up, wash my hands and decided a sip of water might be in order and the Listerine might be a good idea too seeing as how I’m already up here. The water goes down easier after the Listerine.
I update Mrs Fisher on my condition upon return. She looks at me like a cow about to be slaughtered. At 6.30pm we decide that we really need to eat something even if our bodies are telling us they didn’t need anything. Mrs Fisher volunteers to make some cheese on toast and disappears into the kitchen. I managed half of it. Its like trying to eat glazing mastic. Even with the help of a half cold cup of tea I can’t manage any more of it. Its like my stomach has shriveled to the size of a tennis ball and is refusing to allow any more food in, assuming I had appetite or throat enough to cope with it.
At 7.30pm I return to bed. Mrs Fisher comes along. We take glasses of water, paracetamol and throat lozenges [by the grace of God there was a stash of the things in the medical tin]. Our cases stand like monuments to a time when we could move about like decent human beings.
The next night was much like the first. The dreams were the same, the aches the pains but the throat has taken over as pain area number one. It is so painful by now that swallowing anything; water, spit, cold tea, is impossible. I have to resort to leaning over the edge of the bed and rolling long strings of gooey gob into my water glass. My lips are now totally chapped. The inside of my mouth feels like the sides of a Bombay sewer. My throat is crippling me. But I know that if I’m losing water at one end it has to go back in the other. So during one of my toilet visits I manage to gargle some more Listerine and it does the trick again. So I stand on unsteady legs, holding the sink with both hands head back gargling, then a sip of water, gargle, spit, drink, gargle, spit, drink. I manage to get all the mucus out of my mouth and despite the shakes and the woozyness in my head I do feel a teeny tiny bit better.
The next morning I’m downstairs by 7.30am. I stare at my Weetabix mush and can’t force even a half a spoon of it down. I stare at it for fifteen minutes before giving up and going to the fridge. The fridge is almost empty. We’d frozen two pints of milk and some bread before going away and this is what we were now living off. The bit of cheese was a bonus. There are also four eggs in there that haven’t gone out of date so I suggest some soft boiled eggs. The old bung em up idea. I eat a half of one and drank half a cup of tepid tea then take off to the Poang.
The continual onslaught of antiseptic lozenge and Listerine is doing something right. I sit with a glass of water taking sips and am managing to take it down and keep it down. The abdominal cramps are now coming about every four hours but the emissions are getting smaller. I decide that what we need is soup. So I raid the tin cupboard and right at the back I find three tins of chicken and vegetable. I wipe em up and take out a pan and then notice they are all a year out of date. Then I remember we have some packet soups. I dig out a chicken noodle one and make it up. I stand dipping the bread into the stock and despite the pain in my throat it feels like a morphine injection. I know that we were going to get better.
We get the soup down along with some bread and retire to our chairs. I can concentrate more now which is a good sign. I’d gone to the toilet and farted and nothing else. Soon proper stools would appear. I would regain my appetite and all would be well with the world.
That night we make sardines on toast. Its a defining moment. We go to bed at around ten pm and the dreams are gone. I awake at five. The shakes are receding. I’m still a little unsteady but the appetite is coming back. The throat is still sore but I know how to fight it now.
I go downstairs, open my case and take out my toothbrush. After bushing my teeth I make breakfast. Three Weetabix, granola and honey. Why hadn’t I thought of honey before? I was mad at myself but knew that the road to recovery was now in full view and that with the honey and the lozenges and the Listerine normal life was out there for the taking.
By day five the only really problem I have is the throat. Mrs Fisher has still got the headaches but the violent shits never did really appear for her. For days now the only thing we’ve talked about is the state of our poo. Its like being on a six month trip round India. I know that once the solid stuff starts coming through again I was home and dry. Literally.
The worst thing about this illness, apart from the obvious, is the ability to not be able to think straight. Its like being given a particularly strong soporific drug. That first day of the illness I sat and stared out of the window for about eight hours straight. No TV, no radio, no PC, nothing. The illness did not allow anything else to intrude. The next day we decided that a bit of moronic daytime TV might be all we were up for and it was but by day three I had regained the ability to concentrate. It seemed like a good idea to catch up with the review pile.
Sat in my Poang with headphones attached I listened to all of this in one straight go:
Olympic Shitman - Supercharge [Harbinger 2xLP/magazine]
Raionbashi & Kutzkelina - Aktion 091216 Berlin [one sided Harbinger LP]
Astral Social Club/Tomutonttu [split 12” on Tipped Bowler]
Astral Social Club - Snaefell/Mocne [Trenmat 7”]
Astral Social Club - Scudding [CDR]
Andres Bick - Fire and Frost Pattern [Gruenrekorder CD]
Tom Lawrence - Water Beetles of Pollardsdown Fen [Gruenrekorder CD]
Ernst Karel - Swiss Mountain Transport Systems [Gruenrekorder CD]
Playing With Words - v/a [Gruenrekorder 2xCD]
Flux of Yellow Daises - ECT Disasters [CDR]
Truant - The Truant Accord [Memoirs of a Flatworm CDR]
Some of it I listened to twice. I really like most of it. Now all I need to do is find the right words.