The week in which I write Rum Music I am recording the audiobook of my own book, shut in a tiny foam-lined studio in a basement along the Victoria Embankment, learning that long lists might be fun to write but are a bitch to read aloud. I also tried to take up a patio in the garden, which turned out to have another patio underneath it, which turned out to have another patio underneath that.
I was about ready to call Time Team in to see if geo-phys could ascertain whether the faint rectangle in the middle was the remains of an Anderson shelter, but financial constraints meant we just ended up digging one medium-sized hole for a flowerbed. The experience presented a potential deployment of a metaphor for my listening to and searching for music this month – something something excavation, something something digging, something something going deep.
However, I’m not going to bother drawing this cheap link out, mostly because I’ve spent a whole week listening to nothing but my own voice (the horror) and as a result of various other recording projects ‘music’ has had to be shoehorned into evenings and a few necessary trips on the tube. I’ve not gone deep this month at all, I’ve gone shallow and wide. I’ve not dug anything up, I’ve been the grateful recipient of mailouts and alerts. Despite this, I still feel like I’ve found one of my albums of the year this month in My Bloody Sex Party Vol.2.
Quick news announcements about some recent music books that are on the stack: at the end of April this massive Don Cherry/Moki Cherry/Organic Music Society tome is out via Blank Forms. Out already is this biography of Serge Gainsbourg by Jeremy Allen, also this memoir on Strange Attractor by Rose Simpson of the Incredible String Band.
Phew/ Kondo Tatsuo/ John Duncan – Backfire Of Joy
Japanese musician Phew, with Kondo Tatsuo and Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) member John Duncan all worming their way into my long term memory banks here through this agglomeration of sound and speech. On ‘Backfire’ Phew lists electrical devices she has sold someone in a dour and oddly Nico-ish patter that will be forever ricocheting round my head (an electric plug, an electric blanket, an electric bell, an electric cooker, an electric kettle, an electric iron, etc.), amid the throat-clearing squeaks of Duncan and Kondo. This recording was made at a concert at Hosei University in Tokyo in 1982, on Duncan’s first visit to Japan and the only performance by this trio. Story goes that there was a rapport there already though, through the exchange of ‘zines, tapes and records that had been happening between the Japanese underground and the LAFMS.
My Bloody Sex Party – Vol.2
Making Gasaneta sound like Steely Dan, My Bloody Sex Party’s first album, Vol.1, was a tumbling trip through teenage mucking about: some Beatles earworms, a Dead Kennedy’s riff, a rendition of happy birthday, and snare drum rolls. It was not even loosely held together, was a maddening and charming bounce around a rehearsal space, a pummelling of instruments with the first melody that comes to mind. I loved it, so went straight in for Vol.2, on which they seem to have improved, but not too much. It opens with a picked riff and some great dissonant shredding, but don’t worry, it quickly descends into something less coherent. There’s traditional Chinese instruments like the pipa, traditional rock parts like drums and guitar, samples from TV and a calculator is also listed as being played. However, they seem to be listening to each other more on Vol.2, and it’s a little more composed, with ‘little’ being the operative word. ‘Story Of 3AM’ picks out a medley on bass, that begins with the intro to ‘Sir Duke’, followed ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ and ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. What MBSP do is not collage and it’s not sampling – it’s a mnemonic trip through teenage minds, with a hungry slurping-up of culture which is then spat out into idiosyncratic assemblages. I presume it’s improvised, otherwise they’ve made the next Trout Mask Replica. They’ve become one of my favourite bands, and the most requested tapes in this house.
Etherwink & Larwott – Musik Från Bråna
Etherwink & Larwott – Musik Vid Havet
Etherwink & Larwott – Lagereldsmusik
(Tin Can Music)
Bought three of these CD-Rs by Etherwink & Larwott from Discreet in Gothenberg, but wish I’d bought the whole set. These capture “impressions and inspiration of things that can happen in the area of my summer cottage in Dalsland, Sweden” (Musik Från Bråna) “things that can happen around a campfire” (Lagereldsmusik) “things that can happen by the sea and its vicinity” (Musik Vid Havet). There’s also a fourth – Musik I Någon Stad, from the western central city of Gothenburg Sweden. These recordings are impressionistic and minimal in their means. I love the menacing motif and birdsong that opens Musik Från Bråna because it sounds more like an organ than a guitar; the lo-fi shoegazey feel to some of Lägereldsmusik; the heaviness to Musik Vid Havet. There’s something of an early 00s folk underground feel to it, but without the heavy psychedelic edge – moments of Jackie-O-Motherfucker or Charalambides unplugged, perhaps, but combined with something like Jon Collin’s guitar music and Poul Gernes’ organ LP. Whatever it’s reminding me of, these diversions have been second only to MBSP on the living room stereo this month.
Francesca Ter-Berg – In Eynem
The next in a string of amazing cello-rooted albums, this eerie small-album suite of pieces by Francesca Ter-Berg has a sense of levitating above and around the material world. These pieces are perhaps best triangulated by other recent (excellent) strings-based records: by the story-telling of Silvia Tarozzi in the links to song, the places that are present in cellist Leila Bordreuil’s work, and the rich dynamics Lori Goldston pulls from her solo playing. The cover perhaps makes it look a bit ambient (I spit), but what’s on here never approaches that genres wallpaper-ish tendencies, drawing tunings and songs from Ter-Berg’s studies of Klezmer music, including traditional Yiddish song ‘Oi Ihr Narishe Tsionistn’ and short Sinti song ‘Me Sunowa’.
John Krausbauer and Kaori Suzuki – Night Angel Of Dual Infinities
In the (Conrad and Cale) philosophy at the core of the Theater Of Eternal Music, is a commitment to deprogram proprietary composition and the cult of the Western composer. It means that really, we can all join the TEM – we can all be part of the theatre if we so wish. However, I’m shit at maths and don’t know one microtone from the next, so it is with happiness I received this new release from composer Kaori Suzuki and violinist John Krausbauer, squarely for TEM fans. I received instructions to play it loud to be fully consumed and can attest to it needing some vibrational levels of playback for it to really unfurl from the rich heaviness of the layered drones to a full-on psychedelic cloud of sound. If you can put a purple scarf over the lamp and lie down on the carpet as well, things will only improve. Suzuki has the chops for the microtones (as evidenced in her dagger-sharp electronic compositions such as this) and Krausbauer has that Tony Conrad/Henry Flynt fiddle butchery style locked down. I only wish this was longer.
Gavsborg – Domestic Audio Workstation
Regular readers of this column will know I’m a massive fan of Equiknoxx’s Gavsborg. Here he is with a new three-track EP of melancholic digi-dubs, hollow and lonesome bossa novas. Somewhere back in the lineage of these pieces is a parentage that takes in some esoteric bedroom-made album that has only ever featured on Mutant Sounds, and Augustus Pablo’s friendly Rocker’s Come East. It has a sort of thin vintage feel from the keyboard presets that make it sound far away, as if someone is playing to an audience of none in a hotel bar in Honololu circa 1986. Ambient not in the genre sense, but in terms of its lightness; the way it floats on the air.
Beatrice Dillon – 50 Locked Grooves
Technically the best value record I’ve ever bought as it has 50 doses of infinite music in its 50 Locked Grooves, and it was about £11. The loops pop and fizzle, gurzl, boing and shimmer. It’s an interesting creative challenge to make short loops that work like these do – they have to be rhythmic and interesting, with textures that distract from the repetition. There’s loops that have the metallic chink of a Mark Fell piece; fragments that could be from eroded house 12”s; jagged percussive potsherds and whirring machine sounds. Myself and Moats have been seeing how long we can listen to each one before we skip to the next one, and are sitting happily at about 20-minutes per loop. The bonus is that the physical look of the grooves make this a really beautiful object as well.
This wonderful Francis Plagne album, Rural Objects, is out again on LP through Horn Of Plenty. Dean McPhee’s new album, The Witch’s Ladder, has the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen in a long time, a 1933 painting by Agnes Pelton. Sending a special spiritualist shout out to McPhee for opening up this wormhole for me.