Saturday, January 22, 2011

Penus Rectus

Penus Rectus 1997/Penus Rectus 2010
Dead Mind Records - CD + 7”
Ever wondered why black rap artists never refer to their manhood as a ‘cock’? According to Peter Silverton and his fascinating book ‘Filthy English’ it may have something to do with the fact that female African slaves called their fannys ‘cocks’. Quite why a euphemism for manhood came from a shortening of the name Richard though I don’t know, the same goes for why female African slaves should call their fannys cocks - some things just get lost in the midsts of time. But then dicksucker just doesn't have the same impact as cocksucker does it? Same goes for dick off, not nearly as effective as cock off and whilst dickhead is eminently more user friendly than cockhead I find cocktease or pricktease far more user friendly than dicktease [which is too near to striptease to be of any use as a good swear]. Apparently early English puritan settlers to America were so worried about overuse of the word ‘cock’ that they did their best to rid themselves of it by adopting the Dutch word ‘roost’ - hence ‘rooster’ rather than cockerel. Its why Americans call faucets faucets and not stop cocks [an English English word for ‘tap’] and why weathercocks and cockroaches become weathervanes and plain old roaches. 
Which brings me to Penus Rectus and the age old obsession of noise and penises. [Actually Penus is latin for painful which explains nothing whilst rectus is latin for straight. I’m nothing if not well researched]. Peni abound on the artwork to both these releases of course. Indeed various inserts and artwork are covered in all manner of phallus. Maybe its there for just in case you forget what one looks like or maybe they just like drawing big knobs? Whatever. 
The CD is a bit of a curates egg. Its a collection of tracks that appeared on a 1997 three cassette comp called [of course] Penus Rectus. The original cassette release carried about 30-odd tracks but here they’re whittled down to twelve, the frustrating thing being ... no track info. The insert says ‘this selection taken from …’ and leaves it at that. Having discovered the original release on discogs it seems a shame that Dead Mind haven’t taken the time to at least give us some detailed info or stretched it further by re-releasing the whole thing. Without a track listing I’m lost. It all sounds like decent mid nineties noise to me, meaning its fairly uncomplicated, muddily recorded and delivered with a sometimes naive honesty but with no info comes no detailed review. Just for the record, track 11 was my favourite [I’m guessing Macronymhpa].
At least the single is marked up. A track each from Prurient, Odal, Smell & Quim and Streicher. Odal is the only artist who appeared on the original cassette release and while Smell & Quim and Streicher were certainly around at that time they didn’t. That leaves Prurient to kick things off with a huge swaying lopsided pan-attack of holistic noise. A far cry from his feedback workings and well worth hearing. No doubt the Prurient completists will already be taking notes. Odal is a short blast of static and buried screaming whilst Smell & Quim work over a track call ‘cuntsocket’ [presumably included so that the other half don’t feel left out]. Its a classic slice of degenerate Quim with [I hope] porn outtakes amid a miasma of swirling muck. Which leaves Streicher. Perhaps one of the most enigmatic and controversial artists ever to release work in the Noise/Power Electronics arena. Listening to this contribution will leave you no wiser though - a straight forward blast of decent if not earth shattering noise. Which gets me to wondering as to whether the single contains material originally earmarked for the cassette release? The label that released Penus Rectus in 1997 was Dutch, Dead Mind is Dutch, there’s a link somewhere.
Peter Silverton/Filthy English

[after many weeks the CD artwork appears]

The New Blockaders - Live At Hinoeuma

The New Blockaders - Live At Hinoeuma
Hypnogogia. GIA04. CD 300 Copies.
For about five all too short years the Red Rose in London was the best noise venue in the country. Hinoeuma and Harbinger Sound put on plenty of quality shows there. For us Northerners it was easy to get to too; two hours on the train, two stops on the tube and out in to the wilds of the Seven Sisters Road past the former Rainbow Theatre, the dodgy pubs, the 24 hour continental deli’s, the grease outlets, the muggers and the shady looking locals. Its gone now of course, the last I heard it was a pool hall, but for those few short years it was perfect. Front of house was a regular pub, usually frequented by dwarf Turkish bin men and alcoholics - it was like the Duncan transported to Finsbury Park. Compare it now to The Grosvenor, allegedly the best noise venue in the capital, with its hike to Stockwell, [sarf of the river], its no tubes after midnight and only night buses and taxis to fight over and endure. The room at the back of the Red Rose was huge with a good sized stage but perhaps most importantly of all it was run by a guy who really didn’t give a shit about what you got up to so long as you drank lots of beer. 
One of the most memorable events at the Red Rose was the night TNB headlined. It was also the night Emil Beaulieau played his UK debut. Merzbow, Putrefier and various Shimpfluch members also found there way on to the bill, an impressive line up by anybody's standard and one not likely to be repeated. On that night The New Blockaders were so loud they drove me from the venue. This has been documented before and I feel no shame in repeating it here. Two or three times I sought the sanctuary of the front bar with its dwarf Turkish bin men only to return moments later to be met with … silence. It was so loud TNB kept blowing the fuses and all the owner did was dig out some new ones, run up a ladder and replace them ... only for them to blow again. I think they blew two or three times and each time the two Blockaders sat stock still and waited for the power to return and for the onslaught to begin. TNB delivered their set at a murderous level of sound. It was unyielding and unforgiving and its still the loudest thing I’ve yet to experience in a live environment. To stand in that room when it was in full sway was like having someone take a swing at the back of the your knees with a billy club. It was a volume you could actually feel.

A few years back this momentous event was commemorated via a RRRecords picture disc and as is usually the case with TNB material its short run disappeared pretty quickly. You can still get it, at a price of course, but for those who missed out this Hypnogogia repress is particularly welcome. 
Listening back now I’m met with the same predicament I had when listening to the vinyl; is that what they really played? The passing of years and no doubt the amount of beer I consumed that night have played tricks with my decaying brain cells. For me it was wall noise before the term was coined, an unrelenting barrage of sonic distortion designed to engulf, destabilise and overwhelm the listener to such an extent that it drove out any kind of thought process or rational engagement. And on the disc? Two 17 minute tracks of slowly unfurling, instantly recognisable TNB motifs … but no wall noise. There’s slow hums, creaking leather straps, ball bearings being dumped into a galvanized dustbin, chains, rattles and plenty of what I like to call noise churn, that lovely low end rumble that seems to fit snugly somewhere between your biorhythms and and a recess somewhere deep in your brain.Some elements I detect from previous TNB releases, what appears to be a primitive machine gun and then theres the slime slurpers, the release the bats experience and the bit that sounds like all the windows just blew in in the midst of a force ten hurricane. 
My abiding memory of that night is seeing Phil Todd’s anti-performance. Sat stage front at a table with his face covering balaclava and its defiant ‘X’ he drank from a bottle of wine. It was performance art and anti art rolled into one but above all it was nihilistic and  destructive - words with which The New Blockaders have become synonymous. 
On a different note, the CD image depicts a decaying building in modern day Detroit. In case you weren’t aware Detroit is crumbling and Polidori’s been there to document it. 
Polidori documents decay and destruction - TNB compose the soundtrack.
Polidori images:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Michael Esposito/Kevin Drumm

Michael Esposito/Kevin Drumm - The Icy Echoer
Fragment Factory 7”. FRAG16. Clear Vinyl. 300 copies.
I have this vision that in the distant future you’ll be able to have a file containing every note of music ever recorded surgically implanted straight into your brain. Everything. Everything ever recorded starting with Eddison’s wax cylinders right up to what popped out of itunes five seconds ago shoved on to a chip and stuck into your head at birth. And with regular updates it would be but a small job to connect yourself to a PC and download al the new stuff thats been made available. For a small fee of course. Wouldn’t it make life so much easier? And then just think of a piece of music and it appears in your head. No more need for portable music appliances or storage devices. Think of all that saved space. Devices will be made available for those wanting to share music in social situations of course but for when you’re on your tod all you’ll need is a single thought.
Except that wouldn’t be very good at all would it? Where’s the fun to be had in just thinking of a piece of music and having it pop into your head? What about the bigger picture? The way the artist wanted their work represented? The album sleeve? The inner sleeve? The run off grooves? The subtle messages hidden in reversed record grooves? [Rob Halford would never have had to defend himself from inserting hidden messages onto his records if he’d have released Suicide Solution on an MP3 download only single now would he?]And what about different coloured vinyls? Picture discs? Locked grooves? Double grooves? Clear vinyl? Shaped discs? Interlocking discs? Vinyl so heavy you can actually feel the weight in your hands. Who remembers the albums that came out during the oil crisis in the late 70’s? Albums so thin and flimsy they were almost like flex-discs older brother? Ah yes, flexi discs. What about seven inch singles? Ten inch singles? Five inch singles? Records that play 33rpm on one side and 45 rpm on the other. Records that play from the inside out? Maxi discs. EP’s. Double A-sided singles. Triple LP’s. Gatefold sleeves. Records with more than one centre hole. Juke box singles with the centre punched out. Acetates. Dub plates. 16 inch transcription records. Records made from glue. Records with only a finite life span.Transparent sleeves made to look like bags of sick. The Sergeant Pepper album cover. Anti records designed to destroy your stylus. Duchamp picture discs designed to induce hypnosis. 78’s. 16’s all the lot consigned to the dustbin of history replaced by something the size of a babies little toenail.
Which is why vinyl is still so vitally important. Now more than ever. Its heyday may have gone but in the hearts of people who still love music its still there, a format worth fighting for in a world slowly sinking into a digital sea.
Which brings me to Fragment Factory who have nailed their intentions to the mast with their first foray into vinyl. Let me start by saying that I know little about Kevin Drumm and even less about Michael Esposito. The latter I may be forgiven for but I suppose admitting to not knowing much about KD is a little like admitting you’ve never heard of Captain Beefheart. Well, at least in the circles I move in it is. Esposito is different. Research tells me that he’s involved with Electronic Voice Phenomena - the capture of voices from beyond the grave. For The Icy Echoer they use field recordings taken from a cemetery coupled to EVP files, found sounds and Drumm’s [I assume] prepared guitar. What it all sounds like is five short tracks of rummaging around in a plastic bag sounds and one longer track of rummaging around in a plastic bag sounds. Some tracks have pulses running through them, some don’t. On some you can hear voices and on others you can’t. One track has a slight guitar melody to it over which you can hear crows. If this sounds glib its not meant to. I have listened to this record many times and have still to make my mind up as to whether its an important EVP document or just a straight forward piece of music concrete/field recording composition with a bit of guitar chucked in. I suppose being the worlds biggest sceptic makes me the wrong kind of person to be evaluating a record that has EVP at its core. If there are ghosts out there trying to talk to us they appear to be going out of their way to make it as hard as possible for us to capture their rare utterances. One mans snip of ghostly speak is another mans wind in the trees. Having said all this I did enjoy listening to the groans and the static and the doom laden backgrounds plus its made me curious to further explore the worlds of Drumm and Esposito. Job done. Most importantly of all its a record I shall look forward to reacquainting myself with. And it is a record. A small clear piece of plastic with sounds on it and for that we should all give thanks.