Category Archives: Music

All the great tunes that I loved in 2016

…..well, not exactly. I loved a lot more but this covers mainly the new stuff, not the great standby stuff that gets bought out as needed or the numerous re-issues that I really needed, really.

To be clear, 2016 was a dirty ass dog of a year. Endless death and escalating volumes of stupid across the globe. Both of these probably contributed to my self burial in loud and distracting noise. Here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve enjoyed, no natural or unnatural listing or rating. It all worked when it was needed. Please feel free to ignore the words and click the links for the good stuff.

As Uncle Frank noted “Music Is The Best”.

Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not

Probably the best of reborn DJ albums but I thought that about the last one. Loved the growing differences between Lou tunes & J tunes. Absolutely huge. On the lovely Jagjagwar label

Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

A real work of art. With such a big history and reputation to fall back on it’s a huge credit to Mr Osterberg that he doesn’t play on it. Still plainly dangerous though….

Swans – The Glowing Man

Following up last years ‘To Be Kind’ which was huge in itself with a 3 disc opus and notionally the last album by the band as it has been for the last few years. Coloured by accusations of impropriety and worse by M. Gira it remains a master work of meditative hard noise. Still the most intimidating live band I can remember seeing.

BJM – World Pyramid

Anton. Well, how many albums this year? 4 I think, this the last. Classic BJM psych plus twist, new EP in January so his absence of moss continues.

Exploded View – Exploded View

One of those brilliant Sacred Bones bands (SB definitely in my list of great indi labels). Echoes of Krautrock, Ambient, Dub, poetic intervention and above extra-national. Took me ages to bag a vinyl copy of this but so worth the wait.

Grey Hairs – Serious Business

Second album by not entirely past it local post-grunge band. The live outting of this was a banger. They easily deserve wider attention for this riffy lyrical noise fest.

Rattle – Rattle

Wonderful eponymous full album from another local band. Drum, percussion & vocal, thoughtfully played and avoiding all the drummer cliches. Really pleased that they got a lot of attention and played across Europe (well, over the channel at least). This one is great.

Soundwalk Collective – Killer Road

New York based experimentalist group, and yes, it was Patti Smith that bought me here. This gives voice to the poetry of Nico but extends beyond the words. One of those records were time stands still when its playing.

Wymond Miles – Call By Night

More from Sacred Bones. I think I clicked on a link and was sucked in. Its got it all, lyrical glam guitar pop done with style. Sounds heroic…

PrairieWWW – WuHai

Another label that never fails to deliver is Gurugurubrain, more from them follows.

“Prairie WWWW is an experimental folk band formed in Taipei, Taiwan in 2010. Its music combines poetry, folk, ambient and tribal elements. The band seeks inspiration from the might of nature, and with a mixture of sounds and visual arts in their performances, they manage to bring forward to their audiences the experience of their unique soundscape visually and aurally”.

Minami Deutsch – Miami Deutsch

Another Gurugurubrain band. Storming Krautrock inspired music.

“Their sound is influenced by both their love for Krautrock legends such as Can and Neu!, and the band members being self-professed “repetition freaks” who heavily listen to minimal techno.
The music proceeds straightforwardly with the Motorik beat (Hammer beat), devised by Klaus Dinger (Kraftwerk, Neu!), as its central axis. Humorous, yet bizarre Japanese lyrics are whispered over a hard, cold beat that is maniacally repeated, creating a pleasant ambience of electronic pulses drifting in space. Sharp guitar tones reminiscent of Michael Karoli (Can) occasionally explode into fuzz distortion, on the verge of collapse”.

Kikagaku Moyo – House In The Tall Grass

If they make a record, its on the list. Gurugurubrain again and the band that bought the label to my attention. This years album covers a lot more ground but they still rule when the groove settles in and the guitars freak out.

MERZFunder

Declared self interest here. The diversity of music on this is outstanding, independent artists, unfettered creativity. The project was created to raise funds for the Merz Barn in Ambleside and many of the pieces are lead by thoughts relating to Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters. It was great to be involved, contribute a couple of track and produce the cover art. Dive in, #5.00 for over 5 hours of music.

Scattered Purgatory – God of Silver Grass

More Gurugurubrain goodness. These brave guys dragged themselves into Nottingham for a very special gig at J. T. Soar.

“God of Silver Grass” is Taiwanese experimental duo, Scattered Purgatory’s second release from Guruguru Brain. On this album the drone music-makers delve deeper into their obsession with creating dark, ambient sounds, while adding new approaches to give spice to their intense, ritualistic music. In contrast to the magma-hot heaviness of the riffs on their previous record “Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean”, “God of Silver Grass” coolly crystalizes into a whirl of icy synthesizer loops and improvisational guitar”.

Bob Dylan – Royal Albert Hall 1965

This may be a cheat but really, WTF. This is the real 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert rather than the other 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ show which from Manchester Free Trade Hall. Stunning quality audio and pure fire from beginning to end. The Company released all of the 1966 shows on CD, an archivists wet dream, this particular show is the bomb.

Ex-Easter Island Head – 21 Strings

Another band with a local connection although they are from Liverpool. Unique and absorbing. We saw them in 2015 playing this music prior to recording. One of those big silly grin on your face before you noticed it was there bands, surprising and engrossing music that lifts the spirit.

Six By Seven – EX

EX is the most recent release from Six By Seven and the incredibly prolific Chris Olley. This a raw (that word again) Krautrock referencing record that was produced through a Kickstarter campaign. Chris is incredibly prolific and I follow his work as best as I can. In 2017 Beggars ArKive are releasing ‘The Closer You Get’ following last years Christmas chart storming ‘eat Junk, Become Junk’. I’m in…..

Glitterbust – Glitterbust

The ever inventive and never chasing the pop dollar Kim Gordon and her mid period not Body/Head project. Kim is the only ex Sonic Youth i’ve yet to see and I’m sure it’s worth the wait. Creatively I’ve feed on a lot of the Body/Head & Glitterbust work. Built on intent and atmosphere.

Twin Peaks OST

Another terrible cheat. This came out in 1990 with the first season, but it got a vinyl release in the Summer. It’s a thing of beauty and I don’t care if it’s not contemporary. New series in 2017 and I don’t doubt the musical aspect will blow socks off.

Cousin Silas & Glove of Bones – Ornithology

More despicable self interest. Of all the musical & creative things I’ve diddled with over the last couple of years, this one still feels disconnected because it came out so well. There was some thought to make a ‘dub’ album but it went beyond that. Cousin Silas is a wonderful human being and far more adept at this ‘making musical things’ business. A truly great thing to be involved with and a highlight of my creative year.

Van Der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb

It seems likely that this album will be the final VDGG album. None of them are young things any more but hat didn’t stop them making a record that extended their catalogue without repetition. PH’s voice is strong and the lyrical content unlike any other. I’m sure there will be ‘something’ more. One of those out side of a genre bands, linked to prog but really elsewhere.

Stranger Things OST

Netflix hit of the year with a really wonderful retro synth soundtrack. Demand out stripped supply and the vinyl was over a month late. Waiting for the second series whilst hiding behind the sofa. (The OST tracks keep getting removed so apologies if this doesn’t last)

Bob Mould – Patch The Sky

Gig highlight of the year and an album that may complete the trilogy of Silver Age & Beauty and Ruin. The meaty backline of amps on stage gave a good indication of the evening ahead. Bob played with the energy of a guy 20 years younger without any break for breath. Love the guy.

Squrl – Live at Third Man

Sqürl don’t release nearly enough music but what they do is precious and wondrous. Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan, Shane Stoneback & Josef Van Wissum. The last big thing was the OST for ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ but this year they released a live set recordered at Third Man Records for Jack White. Perfect analogue production cut straight to vinyl master. Rich, resonant & loud as hell.

Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

More from Sacred Bones. A recent acquisition although it came out in September. Artful and extreme in sound and lyric.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

If there was any hierarchy here this would juggle at the top. I’m a huge fan of Nick Cave and the Skeleton Tree was a highlight despite the sadness and pain embedded in it. Released just after the limited showing of ‘One More Time With Feeling’, a direct and painful making of and much more. This is an amazing song.

David Bowie – Blackstar

2016 was looking like a great year for music when the new Bowie album ‘Blackstar’ was announced at the end of 2015. The video was released, the excitement mounted, the album was a revelation, and then…… Stunned. Art as life. Hugely missed but thank you for the music Starman.

Brian Eno – the ship

This dropped in April and i’ve played more than I thought I might. Engrossing soundscapes and unexpected lyrical content including Peter Serafinowicz. Loved this Velvet Underground cover. Particularly beautiful packaging on this as well.

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

A five year gap between this and King of Limbs but worth the wait. Super duper special edition, the immaculate ‘True Love Waits’ and the storming opener ‘Burn The Witch’. A definite highlight.

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

Lenny was been writing about the darkness and long walk to the grave for years. ‘You Want it Darker?’ came out in October and at the time he indicated this may be his last album. Then in November the curse of ’16 struck again and he was gone. There’s a great article about him here which is worth a read. As dark and deep as it gets.

King Crimson – Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind

Closing with a little cheat. This live album came out this year but was mainly recorded of the previous couple of years. It includes every song performed by the band throughout their current three drummer seven headed Crim line up. This is the stunner ‘Starless’.

I hope you find something you either like or hadn’t heard up there.

A big shout out to Forever Records in Nottingham that helped me enjoy many of the above albums. best record shop in Notts easy.

MC& HNY. Bye bye 2016.

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digitalDIZZY – MERZ Funder

merz-crop-edit-2k

The absolutely huge MERZfunder compilation was released on Friday 28th October. 114 original tracks by some highly creative individuals & bands, many pieces made specifically for the project. As well as offering two tracks, one with Peter Wullen, I was very honoured to be asked to put together some cover artwork for this.

The piece took specific reference from the many collages of Kurt Schwitters, whose Merz Barn in Langdale is the point of this fundraing project. More about the Barn can be found in a previous post HERE. The project is a digitalDIZZY production, an independent net label and promoter of all things anarchic and free thinking. Kudos to Ruby Black and the Devotional Hooligans.

Here’s a small selection of pieces by Schwitters that informed my cover design.

The MERZunder is on Bandcamp now and for a small number of 5 British Pounds it can be yours.

There is a huge diversity of music here. Most of the featured artists also have their own Bandcamp or Soundcloud page.

various-artists-merzfunder-merzinfo

UPDATE: Press Release

MERZfunder press release
31 October 2016

It is 100 years since the Dada movement first rocked the art establishment and paved the way for every oppositional and groundbreaking cultural force that followed, from surrealism to pop art, situationism to punk. Yet in the recent BBC celebrations of the anniversary, no mention was made of Kurt Schwitters, the man seen by many as a major force in and beyond Dada – and the only one to leave a lasting physical legacy of his work in the UK.

MERZfunder brings together more than 100 musicians and experimental noise makers to raise money to support and preserve the Schwitters Merz barn in Cumbria. This was where Schwitters made his final Merzbau installation, a sculptural collaged wall, which he worked on in the last years of his life, walking five miles each way from his home in Ambleside to get there.

The MERZfunder digital download – available for a minimum donation of £5/€6/$6 at merzfunder.bandcamp.com – comprises 114 exclusive tracks, delivering more than 10 hours of Schwitters-inspired creativity. Contributors include:

The Astronauts
V4V (Charles Hayward/This Heat)
Ob
NIk Turner’s OUTRIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE (Hawkwind/Inner City Unit)
Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow/Warrior Squares)
Richard Youngs
Rapoon
Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club/ Vibracathedral Orchestra)
Hagar the Womb
Band of Holy Joy
The Shend (The Cravats/Very Things)

Money raised will go towards the rebuilding and shoring up of the Merz barn at Elterwater in the Lake District, which was damaged by one of last winter’s storms.

Kurt Schwitters was an outsider everywhere – not just as an exile in the Lakes, in London, in Norway, but also in Germany, where the Berlin Dadaists wouldn’t let him join their club because he broke their rules as well as everyone else’s. That inspired him to develop his Merz style of artwork, which he applied to poetry, performance, and abstract expressionist sculpture, collages and installations.

Schwitters was an artist in exile for most of his life, and he worked wherever he was. He ended up in a barn in the English Lakes. This was a working building that was not designed to house an internationally important artwork. It has not weathered well, and is now buckling under the onslaught of age and climate change. It was the last place of work for one of the world’s most influential artists and it continues to inspire others today. For that legacy to continue, the barn needs to be made sound.

That’s what this MERZfunder is raising money for. Please pay what you can to help make this happen – and, as a bonus, treat your ears to a wealth of wonderful sounds created by 100+ of us who want to thank Kurt Schwitters for showing us that creativity is about finding the artist within each and every one of us in whichever medium feels right, the more primal and abstract the better.

https://merzfunder.bandcamp.com/releases

NOTES

As one of the originators of the cut-up collage technique, which he applied to sound, poetry and 3D installations in his famous Merzbau projects, Kurt Schwitters inspired countless others to explore their creativity outside the confines of the fine art tradition. Think Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, David Bowie, Lydia Lunch – all gave a nod to Schwitters for setting them on their path.

Kurt Schwitters was an outsider everywhere – not just as an exile in the Lakes, in London, in Norway, but also in Germany, where the Berlin Dadaists wouldn’t let him join their club because he broke their rules as well as everyone else’s. His creativity wasn’t bound by the values of the art world, his work never belonged in galleries. He had built Merz installations inside an ordinary house in Hanover, and when he had to leave them there (there was no place for ‘degenerate’ artists in Nazi Germany), he found somewhere else to make his mark: inside a cold, dark, little barn, buried in the most awe inspiring natural landscape. In the last years of his life, he walked five miles each way through those breathtaking mountains and valleys to get to his wall from Ambleside and make Merz.

The MerzBarn Langdale is under the care of the Littoral Arts Trust, which encourages artists inspired by Schwitters to continue his legacy by working at the site. http://www.littoral.org.uk / https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com / @MerzBarnLangdale

The Schwitters Wall was cut out of the barn in 1965 and taken to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, where it remains part of the permanent display. https://hattongallery.org.uk

For more details, contact digitalDIZZY through Facebook or email: algonne@hotmail.co.uk

And to close this post and great video & sound from Sequential

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Glove of Bones – Mabinogi

taith-hir-02

This from my on-going project site The Glove Of Bones. I’m really happy with this outcome. It’s exactly as I planned – long, narrative free, a visual drone, a tied in soundscape (which I was really pleased to persuade Cousin Silas to help with). It’s a long piece at 72 minutes and I’m unsure how many might make it to the end, it is however in three easier to digest sections, each with their own character. I hope you take the leap and click on the link.

A film by The Glove Of Bones.

Taking it’s title from the Medieval text, The Mabinogion (a loose translation of this being Juvenile Distractions), this new work of film and original music takes on non-narrative considerations about passing time, the joy of travel & landscape, musings on history and our broader connection to our ancestors through reflection and our progeny through creative acts.

tonnau-araf-01

tonnau-araf-02

In recent years I’ve collected materials when taking the annual Summer break holidays. These often return as blog diaries with pictorial content, and more recently as associated songs & sounds. This year, on the 4 1/2 hour drive to Wales some vague project came to mind, fragments, ways of collecting content, some notional endpoint started whispering.

taith-hir-01

From the point of arrival, in the rain, with this sat-nav avoiding single track road as our entry point, it started to come together. The piece would directly connect to the place, the local elements, history and the joy of distraction that comes from being away from your natural home.

Filmed in August 2016 around Pembroke in Wales with some underlying sounds either recorded in the area or made during the trip.

Additional tone and texture in the soundtrack was provided by acclaimed ambient musician Cousin Silas.

As with the original text which has four ‘Branches’ or short stories (additional tales where added later), the film is split into three sections, each bearing a Welsh language title. These link to Earth, Water & Air in some ways.

This is the Mabinogi as dreamed by the Glove Of Bones

The piece is split into three sections, or branches.

1- Taith Hir (Long Road) – 20mins
2- Tonnau Araf (Slow Wave) – 30mins
3- Breuddwydion mewn carreg y Pentre Ifan (Stone Dreams at Pentre Ifan) – 20mins

pentre-ifan-02

pentre-ifan-01

Please anticipate after thoughts to be added below.

Useful links below;

https://www.gloveofbones.com

http://www.mabinogion.info

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ORNITHOLOGY – Cousin Silas & Glove Of Bones

Glove of Bones

You really can’t plan creative journeys, you just get up and start walking.

When I did the Crow Dub for the Cousin Silas & Friends release earlier in the year it was ‘one-off’. On my part a gratefully received invitation, really enjoyable to do and we both thought very successful as an outcome.

So, after several months of swapping files on FB, much discussion and huge amount of freedom I’m really pleased to offer ‘ORNITHOLOGY’ an 8 track bird themed collaboration between myself and Cousin Silas. It started along the ‘dub’ theme adopted by the Crow tune but has wondered off into a variety of areas, blown by the wind under it’s wings.

Available now on the always excellent digitalDIZZY label.

Listen, enjoy and download here.

In addition to the digitaDIZZY download release we can offer this special Limited Edition CD copy. These handmade copies include all of the track artworks and will ship with a signed Certificate of Authenticity showing the edition number. The edition will be limited to 30 copies and produced in sets of 10 if suitable interest is shown. Currently only proto-type versions have been produced but its basically ready to go.

Ornithology Special Edition

These unique limited edition releases will be £18.50 each plus postage. UK postage estimated at £3.50 with European & US being a little more.

If you are interested in obtaining one of these rare birds before extinction, please complete the form below. Once we have a practical number in hand we can confirm a shipping date. Payments will be by Paypal with details to follow.

If you are totally committed to the program, please buy now using the Paypal button below.


Buy Now Button

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MerzBarn – Fundraiser

Kurt Schwitters and Hilde Goldstein outside the Merz Barn, c. 1946. Photo © K und E Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover

Kurt Schwitters and Hilde Goldstein outside the Merz Barn, c. 1946. Photo © K und E Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover

I have noted here previously an association with the wonderful digitalDIZZY net label. They have released two of my musical pieces and have been kind enough to include my schizzle on two of their great compilations.

Well there’s another one forthcoming which I’m more than happy to get behind. Please forgive the following copy and paste content, but I hope you’ll get the point.

From Wiki:

Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters (20 June 1887 – 8 January 1948) was a German artist who was born in Hanover, Germany.

Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography, and what came to be known as installation art. He is most famous for his collages, called Merz Pictures.”

For my part, having an interest in graphic design, collage, printmaking and surrealism, I took quite an liking in his work when at art school.

“Schwitters first visited the Lake District on holiday with Edith Thomas in September 1942. He moved there permanently on 26 June 1945, to 2 Gale Crescent Ambleside. However, after another stroke in February of the following year and further illness, he and Edith moved to a more easily accessible house at 4 Millans Park.

During his time in Ambleside Schwitters created a sequence of proto-pop art pictures, such as For Käte, 1947, after the encouragement from his friend, Käte Steinitz. Having emigrated to the United States in 1936, Steinitz sent Schwitters letters describing life in the emerging consumer society, and wrapped the letters in pages of comics to give a flavour of the new world, which she encouraged Schwitters to ‘Merz’.

In March 1947, Schwitters decided to recreate the Merzbau and found a suitable location in a barn at Cylinders Farm, Elterwater, which was owned by Harry Pierce, whose portrait Schwitters had been commissioned to paint. Having been forced by a lack of other income to paint portraits and popularist landscape pictures suitable for sale to the local residents and tourists, Schwitters received notification shortly before his 60th birthday that he had been awarded a £1,000 fellowship to be transferred to him via the Museum of Modern Art in New York in order to enable him to repair or re-create his previous Merz constructions in Germany or Norway.[58] Instead he used it for the “Merzbarn” in Elterwater. Schwitters worked on the Merzbarn daily, travelling the five miles between his home and the barn, except for when illness kept him away. On 7 January 1948 he received the news that he had been granted British citizenship. The following day, on 8 January, Schwitters died from acute pulmonary edema and myocarditis, in Kendal Hospital.”

Merz Barn Eltewater

The Elterwater Merzbarn is at the centre of this project.

This from Merz Barn Langdale

“The Merz Barn project is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of contemporary art, not only in this country but in the world-art context. It has taken great care and work to bring this to fruition. It speaks enormously well of Cumbria and of us as a nation, and will undoubtedly be a focus of interest for decades to come. To think that it will crumble away for the sake of a modest grant speaks very badly of the Arts Council’s priorities, especially in the more remote parts of England. I do hope this will be reconsidered.” Email from Lord Bragg, 10.6.14

The Merz barn building still stands much as Schwitters left it in 1948. Located in a remote woodland in the heart of the Langdale valley in Cumbria, NW England it serves as a symbolic connection and poignant memorial to the spirit and tenacity of the artist who worked there. This project is about the recovery, documentation and restoration of Kurt Schwitters‘ last Merzbau project; the Elterwater Merz Barn, and the international fundraising campaign that is intended to pay for vital restoration work and sustain the development of the project in the longer term.

This brings us directly to the project. This from ‘Merz Funder

“Over the past three years we’ve been visiting the beautiful Elterwater Merz Barn in Cumbria (last creative home of the mighty Kurt Schwitters)using various devices to capture field recordings(outside the barn) & using these to create live soundscapes(inside). On our arrival last week we discovered that the whole site has been severely damaged in recent storms, which is devastating news as the merzbarn receives no arts grant or regular funding. SO we need your help to raise monies and awareness about the final home of uk dada! Ruby/lamorna/Joy/exp ct!”

So for all of the above reasons, I’m very pleased to offer ‘Merzquito’ to the project. This was produced with content by Belgian sound artist Peter Wullen. A happy accident of coincidence, his word assemblage / text/talk poem about a mosquito, reading about Schwitters internment on the Isle of Wight at the end of WWII, and the launch of the Merz Funder project.

I’ll confess to having a couple more lined up and some musings on visual materials. Its great to inspired by a project. I hope some readers here will feel the same. Contribution is everything.

Some vital links here

Merz Funder on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Merzfunder/

Merz Barn Langdale https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com

This from A-N https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/kurt-schwitters-merzbarn

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A Warmer Welcome – Via The Glove of Bones

digitalDIZZY

The Glove of Bones is very pleased to have a track include in the 110 track various artists compilation from digitalDIZZY produced to raise funds for the Refugee’s Welcome organisation. There is a nasty isolationist attitude in the general political atmosphere in the UK and its commendable that creative/arts organisations spread the word of tolerance and charity that is often missing from the broader culture.

(dD88)
A Warmer Welcome is a benefit release for #refugees welcome
www.refugees-welcome.org.uk

In times of crises, British people have always answered the call and banded together with other friendly nations to speak out, send aid and provide refuge.
Along with local groups and national organisations, we’re ready to respond to this crises; welcoming refugees from abroad and encouraging our political leaders to do more.
We’re ready to welcome people fleeing from violence and persecution.
We’re ready to find homes, help children to settle and bring Civil Society together.
We’re ready to answer the call once again.

Compiled by Ruby & Lamorna for digitalDIZZY | Feb 2016
Artwork | Pamela Caughey
www.pamelacaughey.com

<>
credits
released February 15, 2016

Please listen, purchase & share. The music on offer here is cutting edge from hugely committed independent artists.

A huge thanks to Ruby Black for previous support of the Glove of Bones and for bringing this great project together.

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#TDM – The Drone Machine Project

The followings is reposted from the Glove of Bones project page. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

A4

TDM

From the beginning of my swagger into music production of some sort or another the term ‘Drone’ has been in the room. A friend of mine, Mark Ward had started to make ambient music and through this I found the frighteningly good natured and creative community of diverse independent musicians through FaceBook groups, Sound Cloud and Bandcamp net labels. There are people out there making 8 hour compositions, terrifying field noise experiments, dreamy piano / synth / guitar pieces, industrial noise and experimental drone.

Drone (or protracted monophonic/harmonic sound) has occupied a place in music for millennia. From a wet finger circling a wine glass to bagpipes and the sitar, the hypnotic underpin of many musical forms is the drone element.

In contemporary music artists like Sunn O))) and Steve Wilson (as Bass Communion) use sustained repetition and volume to affect an audience at a level other than just song structure & lyrical content.

Following the modern trail back you get the Velvet Underground and Modern Classical composers like Terry Riley, Steve Reich & Phillip Glass.

Further into the obscure there are artist from Dada, the Beats & Avante Garde using pure sound to impact their audience.
A little before the New Year I came across Tony Conrad and the group that formed the Dream Syndicate
In particular the link between a sound experiment and an artefact had resonance.

The Long String Drone is discussed in this article and for some unknown reason the device struck a chord with me.

Tony_Conrad_Long_String_Drone_GB_W

Digging a little deeper the sound produced from these devices cemented the fascination.

Add to that the incredible process & construction behind the work of Ellen Fullman and I was intent on having my own device.

My approach to scale is somewhat limited by domestic circumstance and budget and overall you could say I’ve given an organ transplant to a guitar. I am, as always lead by a Voodoo notion of connection to materials, history and activity. The resulting artefact is almost exactly as I imagined with the added advantage of being functional.

The intention was to build something with a physical presence that took it away from being a guitar, that it would be a functional electric device whose sound could be manipulated, that as an object it would have an ascetic of its own, and that to best of my ability it would be constructed from the ground up.
Most of the ‘guitar’ elements are exhumed from a cheap Strat copy from the local Cash Convertors, the main body is a 1.4M long piece of Oak which the very kind Alan from Custom Frames supplied and routed to my design. The project has come together far quicker than I imagined it would and bar some minor cosmetic intervention its working. Below you can see a gallery of the development process.

The creative applications for this elaborated plank are slowly coming together. I’m hopeful that I can acquire more analogue sound effect devices but that wanders into a whole new world of practical dilemmas. I’ve had one small experiment with the machine which whilst casual and unplanned, I found exciting to produce. The drone element of this is a single unedited production. the sound artefacts that are added are to colour in the narrative (a non specific walking story). This is #TDM 01.

I hope you join me for the further adventures in drone, coming to this page soon.

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The Glove of Dub

Little Shadow

The following is shared from the Glove of Bones site which I hope you find in your heart to follow. I am of course utterly responsible for this, but also very pleased with the message on offer.

Information below…..

It has finally concluded. Whilst I’m very pleased to stand by and support the previous 50/50 and OST pieces, the ‘Glove of Dub’ really does feel like an arrival. Given the intuitive and chancy process this auditory content emerges from, this is the best dressed and most suitably prepared for public gaze to date.

It still whispers obscenities in the ear and has the embarrassing attitude of exposing the occasional slab of bare flesh in an inappropriate circumstance, but has enough personality to carry off its indiscretions.

I can’t thank the fun loving and diversely aware digitalDIZZY label enough for giving this project a virtual home.

If you have a thing for context, knock your self out with some Google fun on the titles. It really might help to explain this sprawling noise.

FREE downloads are available from the Bandcamp site.

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Captain Beefheart, cut up poetry and the inevitability of death.

crepe

After the very sad death of David Bowie recently I’ve been pondering on process, influence and the awful inevitability of all that creativity and effort reduced to dust, blabber & smoke.
Quite famously Bowie used the Dadaist Cut-Up technique to form lyrics taking as his direct influence William S Burroughs. The process has more recently been used by Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke.

Another notable exponent was left field American artist Don Van Vliet, mainly know by his nom-de-plume Captain Beefheart. A friend of mine often cites the Captain as “One of only two post-1945 musical geniuses (the other being Miles Davis).” I’ve often taken issue with this bringing in Zappa and others a counter argument, but I’m increasingly persuaded by his argument.

Van Vliet passed away in 2010 following several years of illness with MS. During his retirement from music he lived in the desert of California in quiet solitude with his wife and mainly engaged with the production of exquisite and primal painting in the Abstract Expressionist style.

Is work can be seen on his website HERE

But back to the poetry. The following was included in the exhibition document Stand Up To Be Discontinued in 1993. Its evident his health was declining from his reading.

– Fallin’ Ditch

When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
When I trip fallin’ ditch
Somebody wanna’ throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin’ the sun come out
Stole my fear ‘n gone
Who’s afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who’s afraid of the fallin’ ditch
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
How’s that for the spirit
How’s that for the things
Ain’t my fault the thing’s gone wrong
When I’m smilin’ my face wrinkles up real warm
When I’m frownin’ things just turn t’ stone
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones

– The Tired Plain

The bra was white and yellow elastic
and held to foam cones
the corners triangular shaped
pyramid
three edges made one point
starfish and embry boards
triple D cupped and poked to a point
the main character was composed into a bow
that broke first in the front
and equal on adjacent sides

American cowboy was approaching on a collision course
– his hands groped outstretched three digits triangular
to the front nail a line was drawn from the middle
finger to the knuckle of the index finger across
the middle finger onto the third –
creating a perfect arrow
with an imaginary point

– Skeleton Makes Good

There’s so many things
to feel and see while you’re awake
they’re just out of reach
out of grasp
yeah out of reach
and just as many, maybe more
the minute that you sleep
so I got to throw my preach
skeleton breath
scorpion blush
I have a crush on your skeleton
watch out unsuspecting stranger
you’ll fall off the log
headfirst into dreams
end up screaming
this will comb the wolf
and that will comb the fog
what will peen the rain
what will preen the hog
oh you mean earth
and hell over you
and laugh at your tire tracks
if you get up
skeleton makes good

– Safe Sex Drill

The child
held the old T.P. roll
carefully
thoughtful
not to misshape
the hole

– Tulip

It could be
a tremendous black upside-down tulip
it could be
a black fishes’ tail
it could be a day, artistically crimped
and buoyant
in its taped together way

– Gill

Bub & Gil
Bub & Gil
Bub in India
Bub & Mat
Bub in the wool
Bub in a rug
Indoor Bub – Bub in stitches
Glass Bub – Bub in rope
Bub in jail
Bub in tent
Bub in pale
Bub on springs – Bub’s brakes
Bub in pyjamas
Bub’s party – with Gil & Mat & Bub in stitches
Erect Bub
Gill’s pill
Perfumer

To close, here is the Captain in full musical wonder.

The following documentary is also and engaging watch.

Don Van Vliet January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010

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Yet another Annual Review of 2015

Really, I’m not big on lists, music criticism, reflection or history. Yet for some perverse reason I’ve posted Annual Best of posts pretty much since I started this blogging thing. The main reason being it compensates for poor memory. In doing this list I had to check my calendar and a pocket of receipts to verify what I’ve done over the last 12 months. Shocking isn’t it, age is catching up with me, living in the moment is the only option.

This years version is split over live & recorded. I’ve not included any musical purchases of music not released this year (unless indicated or where I’ve cheated). I’ve also cut back on the critique in relation to the recorded stuff, theres column inches of that self absorption out there. Lists and best off are just examples of the bubble that the commentator lives in, my aim if any above aid-memoire is to guide you dear reader to somethings that may have not burst your bubble. Also, don’t look for chronology or ratings, I’m not responsible enough for that. So, lets start with gigs, these chronologically listed.

British Sea Power - Derby Theatre

Jan 10th – British Sea Power – Derby Theatre

More intrigue than fandom. This was the tour where they played with a Brass Band. I only really knew their first two albums which I recall liking. The concept worked well when it gelled but I did find some of the orchestrated parts shoe horned in. Worth a look though.

J Mascis - The Rescue Rooms 2015

Jan 16th – J Mascis – Rescue Rooms

Slacker Prince of Shred. I’ve seen him a dozen times but never solo. A great way to start the year especially as it wasn’t that packed and I got to stand front & centre. He played a great selection of tunes from his not insubstantial song book. The treat though was up close view of his loop building on the fly. I would always jump at a chance to see J.

JAMC - Rock City

Feb 22nd – JAMC – Rock City

The first time I’ve seen these. Like many bands they were on a ‘play x album back to back’ Rock City was absolutely rammed and the sound was monstrous as you’d expect as they slowly pushed past 11. The album was Psycho Candy which to be fair is a great album, the first half of the show was best of the rest which I think I preferred.

Hookworms - Rescue Rooms

March 22nd – Hookworms – Rescue Rooms

These Sheffield boys share a label with some local bands so have played here before. They work on the long near drone punctuated by great melodies and a flying vocalist. Definitely worth a visit and really enjoyable event.

Wire - rescue Rooms

April 22nd – Wire – Rescue Rooms

Another band that I’ve enjoyed over the years but never seen live. This was a standout surprise of a gig. They played almost entirely new material and it held my attention throughout. They walk their own groove, a little like Hookworms with long limited chord songs but great dynamic and masterful sonics. A highlight of the year.

Nick Cave - RCH Nottingham

April 30th – Nick Cave – RCH

This came with a lot of loaded expectation. One of my favourite artists who I’ve seen several times over the years. The last time he played the Royal Concert Hall was on another ‘Nick Cave’ solo tour with the proto Grinderman line up. That was ‘intimate’. This was expansive. A near full Bad Seeds line up, lots of pretty lights and long long show. Cave is the king of stage craft, interacting with the audience, chatty light and full of jokes. And the songs are immense and played to perfection. Not just gig of the year but in the list of best evers.

Grey Hairs

June 19th – Prolapse / Grey Hairs – The Maze

I was attracted to this by the support band, local grunge paddlers Grey Hairs. They released their debut LP this year which is jolly excellent. They gave good gig on the small stage in the Maze. I think I missed Prolapse first time around. A post MBV/Curve/Slowdive shoe gaze band with added regional kitchen sink drama. It was good.

Ex Easter Island Heads

July 25th – Ex-Easter Island Heads – BoHunk Inst

I missed these when they played in 2014 so was keen to make sure to see them this time around. They play electric guitars, lain flat and in odd tunings by variously hitting them with batons & sticks. Invariably long tunes building on rhythm and repetition. It’s very hypnotic especially in a small gallery venue when you are standing at arms length from the performers. Look them up on Bandcamp. Worth a listen I guarantee.

Mike Watt

Sept 10th – CUZ – The Maze

CUZ are Sam Dook and ace of bass Mike Watt. Again great to see them in a small venue like the Maze and managed to chat with Mike a little before the gig. They played a hybrid pop, rock, world music set. Very diverse and quite unlike the album they had recently produced when played live. Watt is a master though and worth seeing in any setting. Apparently the last time he played Nottingham was with J Mascis & the Fog which I saw. Forever ago.

King Crimson BSH

Sept 14th – King Crimson – Birmingham Symphony Hall

Another gig proceeded by huge anticipation. KC don’t tour often and hadn’t played in the UK for several years. Now a seven piece band with three drummers and decades of incredible complex music to draw from. Unlike Cave they have no interaction with the audience. A pre-recorded message from band leader Fripp with a request to not take pictures before the band come out immaculately dressed in dark suits. Expertly rehearsed they played songs from their 50 year history including devastating versions of ‘Starlesss’ and ’21st Century Schizoid Man’. World class genius.

Hey Colossus - The Chameleon Arts Cafe

Oct 10th – Hey Colossus & Kogumaza – The Chameleon Arts Cafe

The Chameleon Arts Cafe has a performance space in the upstairs of an already small upstairs bar. They also have enough PA to put on a loud show in Rock City. Supporting were local hard drone (?) band Kogumaza (again, check Bandcamp, they are excellent) who use finely balanced analogue / retro effects with huge volume.
Hey Colossus release two albums this year and have rightly got them selves a lot of attention. Three guitarist, bass, vocals & drums, slow builds to roaring noise. There was paint falling from the ceilings at this one. Another stunning show and a must see band.

Sisters of Mercy - Rock City

Oct 15th – Sisters of Mercy – Rock City

From the distant 80’s Goth scene I couldn’t resist the pull of Andrew Eldridge and the current Sisters of Mercy. Rock City was again completely packed even though it was a early (7.30!) show. Barely visible through the dry ice Eldridge, two guitarists & Doktor Avalanche ripped through the hits. A dense mass of youngsters slammed and swayed their shoulder dancing girlfriends while I hid on the balcony. I hadn’t seen them since the late 80’s but they gave good gig. And of course closed with Temple of Love & This Corrosion.

The Space Lady

Oct 16th – Space Lady – The Chameleon

This was pure curiosity. The Space Lady (Susan) was a street performer from San Francisco who uses a Casio keyboard and a beguiling manner to re-interpret songs from the seventies mainly. A gig is like being introduced to an obscure mystic who has plainly discovered a level that you can’t quite imagine. Precious and as hard to nail down as smoke.

God Speed You Black Emperor

Oct 22nd – GSYBE – Warwick Arts Centre

From out of left field GSYBE announced a tiny handful of UK dates. Closest to me was Warwick Arts Centre which has been rebuilt since I was last there to see Bauhaus quite a few years ago. God Speed released a great album in the early part of the year which was essential a single 40min piece of music in four movements.
I arrived early and by immense fortitude managed to stand front and centre throughout. I had anticipated the kind of crushing volume used by Swans but it turned out they have a more user friendly approach. It was loud but clean and precise. Like King Crimson they avoid anything more than a quick wave hello and a nod of the head goodbye. In-between was tidal storm of music whipped up by musicians who knew each other intimately on stage. Unmissable performance which I won’t forget.

There was supposed to be one more but I ducked out due to frailness. Next up in 2016 is Bob Mould, ‘\w/’ as the kidz say.

Albums that crossed my horizon…..

So here’s a less than comprehensive list of albums I’ve enjoyed this year. To help you along I’ll include some YouTube videos (the only irritation being regional restrictions and future take down notices – get it while its hot I say).

No chronology here. Sorry. Probably available for academics out there.

Black Mass – Dumb Flesh

A recent find although this came out early in year. One of the guys from Fuck Buttons, I’m more with the noise than the groove. Side four of the vinyl is a long nameless ambient piece which is a stunner.

Hey Colossus – Black & Gold and Radio Static High

See above about their gigging. They put out two albums this year and I couldn’t choose between them. A cracking band with a signature sound. Nothing not to like. This from Blank & Gold.

Grey Hairs – Colossal Downer

Local vendors of post grunge Stooge noise. They have a knack with covers (Final Solution & Jump Into The Fire). This is from the album though. Honourable mention to Colossal Downer for an iconic cover image.

Pop Group – Citizen Zombie

From one of the standout gigs of 2014 to a great return to the studio in 2015. Mark Stewart and the Pop Group didn’t loose a beat from their 1980’s edgy punk funk conscious dance grooves. Immaculate.

BJM – Thingy Wingy & Musique de Film Imagine’

Always prolific (thats a dumb thing to say isn’t it) and always idiosyncratic and beyond the curve. Anton Newcombe gave us two BJM albums. Played the grooves off both of them.

BJM & Tess Parks – I Declare Nothing

Another Anton project from earlier in the year. This with Tess Parks who had appeared on the Musique de Film Imagine album. Absolute corker of an album. Tess growls through the project in the classic European ingenue style.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and other Distresses

Near gig of the year and near album of the year. Huge in scale but the result of tight personal connections in the band. This is the closing section of the album. Played live the entire piece was name Behemoth which is appropriate.

Rocket From The Tombs – Black Record

A surprise entry. Cult Cleveland progenitors of avant-rock came through with a new line up and finally put down some old songs. Given the age of these guys its a damn miracle. This might well be my album of the year. And of course David Thomas.

Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes

After the sublime 2014 album Benji this came with a heap of expectation and TBH it didn’t fulfil on first listen. A couple of months on though it started to sink in. Kozalek had dug even deeper into his personal life and took pretty much himself and drummer Steve Shelly into an acoustic orchestral fantasy life.The songs change pace and the though train derails before jumping back with such intricate detail you can smell the food he mentions and feel the cold on the film set. It needs slow absorption.

Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes

The Dude made a self help album for insomniacs. Yep. Pretty sure its great but I have no idea what happens at the end. If you want we can pretend to be crows.

Steve Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase

I had some appreciation of Wilson from his ‘Raven Songs’ album. For a short period I played the hell out of this. Through this I also found his long form drone albums. Admirable artist with a wide interest and substantial talent.

Courtney Barrett – Sometimes I Sit & Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Acres written about Courtney. Great album, you can see why she hit a groove. But what do I know…. I’m a phoney..

Wire – Wire

30 years at the forefront of obscurity and they can still put out a ground breaking album. At this rate in tens years they will be an overnight success. Seriously though, epic album and they use beautiful guitars.

Bjork – Vulnicura

Appearing on lists all over the place. Bjork’s lack of given fucks helps but this albums narrative of relationship fracture made it into something more human than some of her previous albums. I still can’t got Moto Crash out of my head though. The videos though….

Bob Dyan – Bootleg – The Cutting Edge

My first cheat. Yes its old but there where literally hundreds of unheard versions, sessions, breakdowns and sweepings on this. Bobcats three years of wild mercury sound. The full release needed something like 19 hours to absorb. More of a historical artefact than an album release.

Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night

And on the other side of his career, confounding fans and critics, Bob puts out a album of Sinatra covers and shows with a pitch perfect lo-fi band & production that He Can Still Sing. This is utterly sublime……

David Gilmour – Rattle That Lock

When I first heard this it didn’t ‘grab me’ but after watching the BBC Making Of doc I was persuaded by its merits. Still enjoying it but still waiting for Comfortably Numb. This track is about encouraging young people to social insurrection so not a bad message. So Long Syd.

Keith Richards – Crosseyed Heart

The vampiric eternal life form and human riff Keef came back with a solo album. What I loved about this was the production. They had gone with studio ambience, it sounds like a band in a room, its primal, no flashy solos. The soul of rock’n’roll. Its just music, man….

Twelve – Houston V – Houston IV (HERACLEUM MANTEGAZZIANUM) – Houston We Are All Going To Die – NO_COUNTRY

The most prolific artist in the country came through with four full Twelve albums in 2015. These have accompanied me on numerous journeys, each has a different tone but mines the same electro Kraut Rock / Motorik mines of beat and groove. The penultimate frontier.

Miley Cyrus – ‘Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz’

This might be considered a surprise last entry. This album was fascinating in the same way that being given strange food when blindfold and trying to decide if you like it or not is fascinating. The feeling on the palette is uneasy but the gag reflex hasn’t kicked in so it must be OK? Still undecided but would definitely advise you don’t play it on the school run. You go girl….

So there you go. There are about half a dozen albums that have been recommended that I didn’t get to, Joanna Newson, Father John Misty, Public Service Broadcast, Jenny Hval, Low (which I’m sure I’d like) and also a bunch I tried but (shockingly) didn’t get.

Apologies to all who tried to guide but for the life of me I didn’t get…….

Jamie xx – In Colour

Panda Bear meets the Grim Reaper

Sufijan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

New Order – Music Complete

Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

I promise to try again unless some fool brings another record out in the mean time.

Seasons Greeting to you all and remember as Uncle Frank taught us ‘Music Is The Best’.

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