We’ve been in the new place for over a month now and I’m still catching up with myself. Although actually I’ve not been on top of things for ages, come to think of it. Lots of work to do here, but more space to do it in. My desk is now on a landing instead of in a cupboard, for instance.
Still skint, but still sustained by great people sending me their music (see below) and blagging me into their gigs (thanks especially to Ekoplekz, Nochexxx and Mr Mugwump).
Ekoclef – Tape Swap (Magic + Dreams mp3s)
Ekoclef = Ekoplekz + Bass Clef in full collaborative “all star jam” style.
“We each agreed to record some musical ideas onto the first track of a four-track cassette tape, and then post the tapes to each other. We would then overdub some more ideas onto track 2, then send it back, continuing the process until all four tracks were filled. This may seem a rather out-moded and laborious method of composition, but actually it was a lot of fun and I think the results have a certain sound and feeling to them that would otherwise be hard to achieve in the digital domain.”
Mr Plekz described this to me as “a whole other vibe again…more like children at play…but keepin the shit lo-fi and spontaneous as always…”. That makes it sound a bit unfocussed, which is very far from the case. Certainly many of the tracks are abstract and atmospheric, with Ekoplekz’ shady murk given a bit more twinkly light in the process of collaboration.
But there also some gloriously melodic moments. “Lens Flare Oh Yeah” and “Royal Mail” sound like Suicide meeting Joe Meek on the Holloway Road. The usual lo-fi scuzz is accompanied by some beautifully fragile tunes peaking over the horizon.
“M4 Endless” retains Kraftwerks’ modernism (albeit with flashes of UK motorway service station concrete) but adds rain lashing against the windscreen, on the way back from somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. Musical instruments are added, sparsely, to the electronics.
I saw Ekoclef live at Cafe OTO and loved what they did. I sat on my arse drinking nice beer next to my man Mandrew B, who has adeptly written it up for The Liminal – so I don’t have to. (I’ve been to Cafe OTO dozens of times over the last couple of years and have made a pact with myself to just enjoy it without worrying about verbalising my experience online. So you have all been saved from my wittering about Peter Brotzmann, The Ex, Sunburned Hand of The Man, Geese, Stephen O’Malley, Wu-Ming, The A-Band and many more. Suffice to say it’s an amazing venue.)
Mandrew B also takes photos with a proper camera rather than my hastily snapped phone shots:
I love the scrapiness of this music. The set at the Cafe OTO included a bit of faffing about which I thoroughly enjoyed because it gave some stark contrast to the bits which were transfixing in their brilliance. Ekoclef are hurling ideas around for the sheer hell of it and then going “ooh!” when they hit the target. This is great to watch live and I’m sure it will also be great to listen to as new recordings emerge that document their continued adventures.
Tape Swap is available as a Cassette from Magic and Dreams. It comes with an mp3 download code. My cassette deck is getting more action this year than it has since the millennium.
I got given a free Cosef Jonrad CDR at the gig. I think this must also be a Bass Clef pseudonym? It’s a compilation of stuff on Magic + Dreams cassettes and has some great screwed and chopped droney bits which use chunks of old pop records. I have washed up to it a lot.
Pete UM – Can’t Get Started (GRIST 10″)
Another recent gig was the Cambridge Freakz/Exotic Pylon lash up, and bloody great it was too. Pete UM has been around Dissensus for yonks but I’d not really checked his stuff out. So it was very nice of him to travel to a few bus stops away from my new flat and perform for me with a bunch of his mates.
UM does odd little poems/songs/spoken word pieces over electronic backing. They are all short and not like anything else I am aware of. Very “characterful” (I’m resisting saying “quirky” because it’s all very deadpan rather than [ugh!] wacky – and quite right too). Live, he seems very accomplished and at home with his material, whilst being completely ill at ease with the rest of the world. I like that.
I got this 17 track 10″ EP off him at the end of the gig. There was an awkward moment where he wanted to hand it over and I wanted to give him some money. But neither of us is loaded, so what we really wanted was tainted by capitalist relations. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
This is a lovely DIY release with lots of inserts including pink one which describes the unfortunate tale of the project’s creation. Even after that woeful episode had been completed, half of the pressing was lost by the courier en route to UM Towers.
On the pink insert it says “Don’t buy vinyl to support the industry, or the artist. Buy it because you fucking love it”. That’s almost what happened between us that night at The Vortex.
Pete is all over the net but I have yet to find any clue as to how you would get hold of this record. Maybe start here.
Dome 1-4+5 (Editions Mego mp3s)
Intimidating 5 album set, which Mr Rehberg has wisely entrusted to me in virtual rather than vinyl form. I remember him talking about Dome in the eighties, but I don’t think I ever heard them then. Wire were never my main thing, let alone the various offshoot projects.
This is great though. On “1” and “2” abstract songs nestle up against more soundtracky/ambient pieces. Electronics collide with angular guitars and oblique lyrics. I’ve been trying to listen to a Dome album a week on the way to work and they seem to sit well with the journey’s anticipation of the slightly off kilter psychological landscapes I have to deal with in my office at the moment.
I’m increasingly drawn to music which doesn’t tackle the emotional intensity of love, or hideous injustice, or man’s inhumanity to man. Dome are much more about a general unease.
“3” almost veers into Talking Heads territory in places, but still retains the downbeat air of 1&2.
I will tackle 4 next week and 5 the week after. In the age of instant gratification, it’s nice to have some things to look forward to.
Mark Fell – Periodic orbits of a dynamic system related to a knot (Editions Mego LP)
I like this more than his recent 12″ collaboration but not quite as much as the two LPs from earlier this year. In fact I think bits of this are out-takes from those LPs – there are certainly some common refrains coming out. “Periodic Orbits” seems slightly more human in places, there are nods in the sleevenotes to actual musical instruments being used as source material. Some of the tones on side two recall early house and techno tunes, albeit in a ghostlike, skeletal, mathematical way.
The cover shot is a photograph of gardening-related injuries sustained by Fell’s other half whilst preparing to move house. Having mashed up my hand changing a mortice lock in our new place, this is something I can empathise with.
It’s tempting to imagine Mark tinkering with his immersive-yet-clinical sonic landscape whilst his partner is outside doing all the graft in the garden. I’m sure that’s not what happened though. It certainly wouldn’t in my place.