Tuesday, July 30, 2013


The last time we saw Dr. Steg he was littering Oldham Street with his artwork. He was now stone deaf in one ear after having sat through Smell & Quim's entire set at Gullivers not two foot away from the right hand PA stack. I'm happy to report that his hearing has returned and that a recording made by Steg of their set is on its way here as we speak.

SPON 31 is the Portrait Issue [A4 zine]. You may be able to spot some of the more well known faces. Or not, as the case may be. Whether 'The Sound of Tear Gas' was included in all SPON 31's I know not. Recorded by Steg after he found himself on holiday in Istanbul during the recent demonstrations it contains the sound of Istanbulis banging drums and generally making themselves heard. I listened to about twenty minutes of it before my PC had a demonstration of its own and refused to play it any further.

Dr. Steg


SPON 33 - The Digital Issue

What you are about to see is a collaboration between Dr. Steg and the Ceramic Hobs guitarist Jake Halliwell.

Dr. Steg is working on the covers for the new Hobs album and is a busy man so this new SPON is in full on glorious digital. Makes a a change from bags of rubbish I suppose. More SPON coming soon.

Dr. Steg

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Human Combustion Engine
Vile Plumage
Daniel Weaver

Todmorden Unitarian Church, July 27th 2013

It was only as we were passing through Hebden Bridge that I realised I’d never been to Todmorden in my entire life. All I knew of Todmorden was that Andy Kershaw had recently moved there and that the place itself was either in Lancashire of Yorkshire depending on where the boundary fell during any particular political struggle. Tod [as it usually gets called] is a down to earth, no nonsense stone built market town on the edge of the Pennines, a more lived in place to my mind, whereas Hebden Bridge just a few miles down the road is a more Guardian-ista lesbian knit your own cannabis yoghurt kind of town chock full of day trippers buying tricolour pasta at £5 a bag.

Things got off to a good start when we passed a burning bus outside Shibden Hall. Having passed a burning bus on the way to see Smell & Quim this could only have been an auspicious sign. After discovering Tod we parked behind the train station and made our way to the White Hart, a Weatherspoons pub inhabiting what looked like a 16th century coaching inn with a huge stone fireplace and drunk locals. After asking one of the friendly drunk locals which way the church was we were soon climbing the steady slope to the impressive late Gothic edifice that is Todmorden Unitarian Church.

And it is impressive. As church’s were meant to be. I always feel sorry for worshipers who have to kneel in prefab boxes built in the 1960’s, the kind of places that are usually built on the edges of housing estates and have flat roofs covered in rolls of barbed wire and appear to be more locked down survivalist bolt holes rather than places of worship. And there was food on offer, roasted potatoes with rosemary, grilled eggplant with garlic, couscous, beetroot with goats cheese and various other examples of the vegetarian art. There was beer and cider and wine and soft drinks for those not imbibing and TWO TOILETS. These things are important.

It was four quid in and even though the turn out wasn’t what you could call massive by any stretch of the imagination, I bet everybody present enjoyed themselves immensely and will be back for further Tor Booking events.  But perhaps not the six Americans who turned up with ten minutes to go.

Because this being a church we were all off and running by 6.30pm so we could all be back on the streets of Tod by 9pm. First up was Daniel Weaver who played electric guitar, first with ashtrays and then bits of bubble wrap [I’m guessing, I was sat on a rear pew] and then with a violin bow. Moving around picking things up and making noises with them. Three pieces the first being more adventurous in an experimental stood erect tuned up Keith Rowe kind of way before moving into more melodic looped melody mode that my accomplice Big Joe described as a cross between Twin Peaks and a twisted blues.

Vile Plumage looked suitably demonic and suitably at home in their church surroundings with their oxen head and skull mask. Hammer Horror came to Tod with a continuous blast of destroyed tapes played through an old school cassette deck [literally old school - it was saved from the skip as part of an equipment upgrade]. Two cassette players lined into this old box then mixed to produce a constant ugly dirge that is the sound of the streets of Burslem brought to life in a 150 year old West Yorkshire church. It was the longest Vile Plumage set I’ve witnessed and all the better for it with the chance for Skull and Ox to wander amongst the congregation with prayer bells and a general air of menace. At its end various cassette players were ripped from the box until just one totally crumbled vocal mantra was left wailing away.

But there was to be no Todd in Tod, thus depriving me of my my chance to use a thin joke. One half of Human Combustion Engine was on his sick bed leaving Mel to tackle the set on her own. Sat once again near the rear of the church the acoustics of the place finally revealed themselves. With only a small PA [Vile Plumage didn’t even use it] the slowly evolving synth motifs rang from the wooden rafters with a distinct clarity making you wonder what it must have been like to witness Tangerine Dream play York Minster in 1975. And while there wasn’t as much going on TD wise [and I’m not in anyway shape or form going to compare HCE with TD] the chance to hear synths [it was a synth wasn’t it? sat at the back couldn’t see didn’t investigate] in this most magnificent of structures was a memory that will live with me for a long time. These were very gentle structures that eventually morphed out into something larger but never harsher, eventually disappearing like smoke form a snuffed out candle. And there were plenty of candles to snuff.

A great gig in a great venue in a great town with amazing food and beer and happy punters [six Americans notwithstanding]. 

On the way home the recent heatwave came to a crashing end when a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions descended. I bet it put the bus out no problem.


BBBlood - Lazar House
Sound Holes 036. Cassette
70 Copies.

Duncan Harrison - 80 Ghosts
Sound Holes 038. Cassette
58 Copies.

Tina Turner - Tidal Wave
Sound Holes 042. Cassette
57 Copies.

Roadside Picnic - Where Is The Rented Forest?
Sound Holes 046. Cassette
55 Copies.

Journey Of The Mind - Salt Rubber
Sound Holes 055. Cassette
71 Copies.

U Boat - The Snake Needs A Tatty Cage.
Sound Holes 056. Cassette
61 Copies.

Being - Hunters Fingers
Sound Holes 057. Cassette
82 Copies.

Sound Holes Sampler #1

The inability of the English to cope with the extremes of temperature is a well known one. Two days of the mercury rising is enough for most whilst two weeks of 25C+ is considered to be something of a national emergency worthy of headline news, continuous 18 point header fonts in the Daily Express and tips from the government on how to keep cool. I have to admit that while I do like to get out of bed in the morning knowing that my wardrobe for the day will consist of nothing more than a pair of shorts and short sleeve shirt I do find the heat to be somewhat draining. Thus it is was that last Friday afternoon I found myself sat in a queue of traffic with sweat rolling down my face all caused by me having to do nothing more than strenuous than breathing. Not having air conditioning and swimming pool here at Idwal Towers I find myself resorting to gin and tonics, I.P.A.’s, decent lagers and several open windows as an aid to fighting what we in England call ‘a scorcher’ and what in many countries is called ‘just another day’.

The small dark room from whence these missives emerge becomes so hot I sometimes wonder if it has a tin roof. Upon entering the room beads of sweat appear unbidden on my forehead and my clothes begin to stick to me. After two or three sweaty gasps I’ll grab whatever it is I’m after and make for the Poang and for what passes as breeze coming in through the front door. Thus armed with a pile of review material I’ll forgo the outdoor festivities that seem to consist of annoying everyone else with barbecue smoke and shit music and instead don headphones to soak up some vibes.

Seven cassettes and a CDR sampler later I emerge happier for knowing that with Soundholes we have someone who mans [womans?] an eclectic cassette label. I like Soundholes for the format and the aesthetics, for its genre scope and that it introduces new artists/bands to me.That some of them may be made up names or people going under various monikers only adds to my enjoyment and happy confusion.

As evinced by trying to Google tape loop constructivist Tina Turner whose two sides of Basinski like decay, are along with ‘Journey of the Mind’ the highlight of this particular package. Both decompositions have that wonderful languorous feel of being adrift on a mill pond, voices drifting in and out of your consciousness, chamber orchestras being deflated and sunk, things going by slowly in reverse. One side of Journey of the Mind also brings to mind Gavin Bryars soporific mid 70’s classic ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’, another colossus of decayed drone with the all too easy ability to pull you under. Perhaps the Tina Turner work is more forceful and less relaxing, a bit more urgent and star burst-y, think cycling multi-key Nitsch drones recorded on to Boots C120’s and degraded all the way down to a series of rough utterances.

More tape manipulation comes in the shape of Duncan Harrison but here the end result is harsher in parts and more chaotic overall with an array of wailing sirens, church bells, Islamic chant, reversed vocals and general tomfuckery [all ending in a TNB-ish trash noise-a-thon] being the ying to a yang that begins all spectral vocally but soon ends in a murky noise/drone. 

And there is noise too, because where there is tape there is noise. BBBlood with some steam train noise, bubbling lava subwoofer noise, cresting waves noise, each side book ended with some kind of chill out ambience. ‘Being’ is also noise, needle fluff noise, Jap noise, everything in the red noise and then you turn it over and its even more in the red noise than the other side.

Roadside Picnic have ‘out there’ keyboard dabblings and spacey synth dabs, space age Noh music, low end rumbles and giant sized Sci-Fi organs emitting monstrous farts. One of the several tracks that they’ve managed to cram on to this C46 is all but silence as recorded in the middle of a nighttime forest with distant nocturnal birds and the spatter of light rain on tent sides.

Perhaps the stand alone release here comes from U Boat with some vocal explorations aided and abetted by sparse drum rattles, small gongs and wooden blocks. Like Sunny Murray sparring with Phil Minton. The vocals are of the running out of breath variety or what the Toddmiester might call ‘gurglecore’, as if some Lithuanian witch was casting spells in a rhyming kind of hymnal way and although I was left mightily non-plussed by it all I couldn’t help but like them for what they’ve achieved. Perhaps best listened to alone, at night, in the dark, when you're in a very receptive frame of mind.

Which leaves the sampler CD. Ten tracks all segued into one 46 minute lump where you can try and spot Optrex Ten Pints Never in and amongst BBBlood, Merit, Developer, Pax Titania and KPLR amongst a few others. Noise, drone, lots of things in-between and Oneohtrix doing the analogue boogie synth bit. Not bad at all and available to stream from the Soundholes

[Yesterday there was an old woman in the pet shop. She was sat on a bag of feed worn out by the heat. A cup of refreshing hot tea to hand brought to her by the shopkeeper kept her from keeling over completely. She looked up at me and said in a weary voice ‘eeee its too ‘ot for me, I’ll be happier when it cools down a bit, I like a breeze you see’. This is probably the same woman who 16 weeks ago complained that it was too cold and that snow in March was evidence that the world had gone mad and that we were all better off when Labour were in power. And now the heatwave is no more. Thunderstorms and three inches of rain in eight hours last night. She'll be happier now.]