Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Time Attendant - Bloodhounds (Exotic Pylon)

Echoing bloop-fugue drift album ‘Bloodhounds’ is the debut long-form release from Paul Snowdon in the guise of shuffling synthotist Time Attendant.  It follows several excellent EPs for More than Human and Exotic Pylon records.
Atmospheric and evocative of experiences you haven’t had, it is steeped in the weird and uncanny.  The music is deeply odd, but not the alien oddness of cold machine process; there are clearly hands at these dials, switches and wires; what those hands are connected to I wouldn’t like to guess.  ‘Nettle Sting Riddle’ is a drum pad beat in thick moss, a drummer boy separated from his troop in a thickly fogged endless meadow; suffused with a weird internal logic that defies easy unpacking.  ‘Sugar Beet Perfume’ deploys pitch-bent guitar noise and a precarious beat patterned around interlocking rusted wheels.  The frog-chorus of weirdly phased and overlapping electro-croaks on ‘Inky’s Pitch’ is combined with small bubbles of bass and static.  ‘Crystal Mascot’ mixes the gentle clumping thwok of wood chime and crushed bird-song with hazy drones and bleep-melodies in a frame of hissing tick-rhythms that speed and slow like a broken record player.
Sounds pile on sounds in unlikely serrated blocks, a dada assemblage that is challenging to make sense of.  The answer is to not; it is what it is, and that is remarkable enough.  Spun together with human ingenuity but warped with garden-shed-bound lunatic urges; the album often resembles a brain where neurons must fire across weed-choked drainage canals.  With ‘Bloodhounds’ Time Attendant presents a noise-world runny around the edges, its modular-synth gravitational core a shifting kaleidoscope of trumpets, horses, voices, passing trains – a parade of almost-shapes smashed into non-linearity, a musical version of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’; a paradoxical mix of motion and mind-consuming self-examination, the forward drive of ‘Bloodhounds’ is frequently distracted by bizarre road-side monoliths.
Time Attendant’s recent live performance at London’s Brixton Windmill saw him at one point channelling the motorik chug of Neu.  The smooth glide along endless utopic Autobahns was suddenly diverted onto Ballard’s Westway, a crash expelling Snowdon onto a concrete island where he patches together synths from wind-blown crisp packets, crushed Coke cans and the occasional whirling hubcap.  Growing old with a squirrel in each pocket of his dirty overcoat, he plays infinite sets of broken techno to a menagerie of rat skulls, urban foxes and stranded badgers; the music almost entirely lost in the constant roar of traffic.
Grab a copy of 'Bloodhounds' here.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Tasos Stamou and Adrian Northover - Mantra Gora (Linear Obsessional)

‘Mantra Gora’ is the second in Linear Obsessional’s series of duo improvisations and this time around features Tasos Stamou (prepared zither, cassette loops, digital horn, test generator) and Adrian Northover (alto and soprano saxophones).  The sound is spectral and oddly peripheral, like something not fully graspable, music as fleeting corner-of-the-ear sense impression.  Full of sax squeak and hum, sci-fi bloop, tape gunk, and unidentifiable rattle and klang; stalking the edges, never fully darting in any particular direction, happy to perpetually chase its own shimmering multi-dimensional tail.  ‘Mantra Gora’ gathers its music from a wind-blown piling of detail, an accumulation of sound-mass from a subtle interlacing of breath and thin slivers of fuzzed metallic noise and static-drenched bleeping.  Stamou and Northover, across these seven close and concise explorations, prod and entice their instruments into bonds of unlikely beauty and fertile weirdness, a rolling union of delicate hissing furred elements and soft singing feathers.

More details on Linear Obsessional and 'Mantra Gora' here.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Tapiwa Svosve and Julian Chalabi – bracket bracket bracket (Raw Tonk)

‘bracket bracket bracket’ is a succinct EP full of ideas from the hands and minds of Tapiwa Svosve (alto saxophone, cassette player) and Julian Chalabi (guitar).  ‘Stendreck’ finds burring saxophone lapping against fluctuating tape echo and boat motor noise; the two elements playing coincidentally rather than in sympathy, each chasing its own tail in isolation; the middle point, the music, formed from the churn and friction at their adjoining borders.  ‘Future Shores’ is pulsing electric guitar throb and overheated sax honk, the players more closely aligned here; eruptions of pedal manipulated hum, the roar of electricity in beautiful union with the coarse buzz of straining lungs through mouth and reed.  ‘2’ is a highlight, an accumulating ticking bricolage of amplified dust, string klang and sharp guitar notes picked out in clusters of folkish loops, sounding like a vinyl copy of ‘Live From a Shark Cage’ left out in the sun for days; it is weirdly danceable before a violent carpet tug pulls the ground away and the sax wails in spluttering pain on the smashed-ankles coda of ‘Dawn Chorus.’  ‘bracket bracket bracket’ is another excellent release from the Raw Tonk label.
Grab a copy from here.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Neil Metcalfe and Daniel Thompson – Eight Improvisations (Creative Sources Recordings)

This set of eight improvisations from Neil Metcalfe (flute) and Daniel Thompson (guitar) is conversational and sparsely lyrical, an affable communion rather than a locking of horns; each player deeply attuned to the actions of the other.  Metcalfe for the most part draws fluid mercurial lines, often dissipating into dots of delicately suspended ellipses that dart away in separate directions like sparrows on a breeze.  Thompson is, by contrast, taut and nervy, often impetuous: sudden flurries of activity erupt from fidgety restlessness without warning and subside just as quickly.  On ‘Third Improvisation’ he is soothed by the curls and cool arcs of Metcalfe’s high whistling flutter; becalmed, he is still a fascinating player, tiny gestures are repeated and built upon or rested aside to be restored again later. 
‘Eight Improvisations’ is a compelling collection of duo performances, Thompson’s cross-hatched scribble outlined in bold swooping circles of flute; a gracefully chaotic dance, a thoughtful melding of minds.
Purchase the album here.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Various artists - Bourgeois Kerb Stomp (Herhalen)

For fans of no-fi lurking tape-weirdness, this should be investigated at the earliest opportunity.  Herhalen’s ‘Bourgeois Kerb Stomp’ release is a three-way split shared by Splashy the Blame-Shifter, Lenina, and Ship Canal. 
In ‘Petrol Station Homophobe’ Splashy the Blame-Shifter scrapes up tape murk and drags it over smashed dirty heads, plaintive piano notes ringing out forlornly; the track is a drizzled miniature chamber beauty, in place of strings  you get hissing flickers in a rotting shed.  ‘Excitement as Officer’ has hesitant molten fuzz trying and failing to find rhythmic purchase; a non-structure unable or unwilling to grow beyond an indeterminate revolving fidget.  ‘South of Heaven’ is all amp vomit and rusted voice fragments, buried under a crushing drill feedback avalanche sounding like the metallic scoop of a digger scraping the inner curvature of a gigantic iron bowl; dust packed collage and siren violence; sheer noise catharsis, harsh and skull-crushing. 
Lenina offers deafening violence: ‘Below Me Lay the Wide Waters’ is packed with roaring noise hostility; grey and unceasing for its whole duration, feedback screams slicing a thick hale of gravel-drone.  ‘Yr Average Oppressor’ and ‘False Widow, False Panic’ are both bleak and numbing raw machine yawns. 
Ship Canal’s contributions are from the outer-limits of oddness.  ‘The Stigma of Drinking Alone’ is a nightmarish, drunken mumble, a fog of sound-impressions: looped aquatic voices smear the words “all these areas” into woozy Möbius strips; cracks resounding like a shower of pebbles falling onto weed-wobbled pavement; queasy and jumbled sea-sick organ wheeze; a background throb like straining distantly respiring pipes; garbled chatter, as if through a membrane.  ‘Communicating Directly with the Restaurant’ lists  restaurant transactions with an intonation of glum finality; a procession of events listed without enthusiasm over a soundtrack of echoing dread sculpted from balloon squeak, oozing sonic gunk, distorted lost voices and sharply oscillating whistle; it briefly settles into a techno rush before collapsing as everything falls into mould and decrepitude.
‘Bourgeois Kerb Stomp’ is an arresting work of urban edgeland-concrete; found-sounds sifted with boxing gloves from a mildewed cardboard box.
Dredge 'Bourgeois Kerb Stomp' up from here.