Posts Tagged ‘Audiocassette’

Dret Skivor – 1st October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Dret Skivor continue to provide an outlet for the weird and wonderful, not to mention the obscure and droney with the eponymous release from the enigmatic but somewhat amusingly-monikered twAt klaxon. All we know of twAt klAxon is that they’re a Finnish sound artist – but then, so we really need more (beyond the advice to ‘Play through decent speakers/headphones for best results’)? Sometimes, it’s preferable to engage simply with the music than to become side-tracked by biography and theory.

Being a Dret release, twAt klAxon is an album of two halves, created very much with the cassette format in mind (with just four copies of the limited C45 physical edition produced), and each side contains a single longform track. The first of these, the inspirationally-titled ‘twAt’ manifests as a single, thrumming, humming drone. It hovers predominantly in the midrange, and not a lot happens for a long time. Fleetingly, it stammers and stalls, before pulsing back with a stronger, more overtly rhythmic phase. While the variations are minimal, the sonic ripples yield some good vibrations – not just metaphonically, but literally, sending waved through my elbows and forearms as they west on the surface of my desk as I listen. And listen I do. Sometimes, to focus intently on a single sound can be a quite remarkable experience, one that’s both relaxing and liberating. The sound thickens and sticks, and slowly it creeps over you. It’s a frequency that doesn’t drill into your skull, but instead wraps your head tightly and squeezes, a smothering compression of emptiness.

As a child, I had a recurring dream in which pencil-drawn planes crashed and scrumpled in succession. This dream was soundtracked by a deafening silence. This is not that sound, but it reminds me of it, and in doing do, recalls the anguish caused by that dream, and it’s not pleasant. Even without that association, the tension of that single note that hovers from around the fourteen minute mark and on and on and on for all eternity is challenging. The reason I admire this as a work of sonic art because of the level of patience that must have been required to produce it – unless, of course, they left the room and made a cuppa while the sound continued, in which case I would feel somewhat cheated, and making them a twAt of the highest order.

‘klAxon’ is more drone: there are more vibrations, the sound is thicker, denser, buzzier, and there are intimations of beats of at least regular pulsations that thump rhythmically low in the mix. This slides into some heavy phase and throbs endlessly hard. It’s primitive, with undertones of early Whitehouse, mining that analogue seam minus the pink and white noise. twenty-one minutes of that undulating, slow-shifting bubbling almost inevitably has an effect, and it’s deeply disorientating. Perhaps less klAxon and simply more twAt.

Quippage aside, this album is certainly no accident: it is designed to register physically, while torturing psychologically. And no, torture is not too extreme a word: that isn’t to say that twAt klAxon is intended to inflict any kind of trauma, but it does employ the methods of torture within an artistic context to create a work that’s perverse and purposefully challenging – and it succeeds.

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Cruel Nature Recordings – 16th October 2020

New York’s Lip Critic return with their second album, imaginatively titled Lip Critic II. Now, I have a tendency – and I know it’s spurious – to associate numbered albums with prog and indulgence, ranging from Peter Gabriel to Led Zeppelin. But there is nothing remotely proggy or indulgent about Lip Critic’s second eponymous release, which crams nine tracks into 21 minutes of genre hybridity and maniacal mayhem. And make no mistake: this is intense and crazy shit, all going off in a boiler at once.

The lazy hookline would be that the album’s first track, ‘Why Not’, sounds like The B52s on acid, but more accurately, it sounds like The B52s on acid and meth imitating a fictitious Dead Kennedys / obscure hip-hop collaboration for the Judgement Night soundtrack. But none of this really convey just how frantic, frenetic, fucked-up and actually quite how wrong this all is. Yes, the world of Lip Critic is a bewildering one that absolutely defines the concept of ‘crossover’, and the closest comparison I can think of is Castrovalva, who were ace but niche and probably for a reason. It’s so far into niche crossover it’s hard to determine the level of seriousness behind the hybridized mess of noise that is Lip Critic II: this is an album that goes beyond so many boundaries all at once.

I don’t know what this is, and I suspect it doesn’t either. And nor should it: music should exist for its own sake, free from any constraints of genre. But with Lip Critic, it’s brain-bending and bewildering: there is simply so much going on, and all of it’s incongruous and seemingly incompatible.

‘Dreamland I’ is out-and-out mad, not so much a mash-up or hybrid as a multi-genre pileup with gas tank explosions and flames and wailing sirens and probably some people being cut from cars by fire and rescue and others being abducted by aliens.

‘Like a Lemon’ brings garage, grime, and industrial-strength hip-hop together with mangled beats a punishingly heavy groove that provides a backdrop to a more narrative-orientated approach to the lyrics, describing a guy with ‘A double-breasted suit and tight shorts / they’re so tight they cut off the circulation to his legs / … he said ‘I’m going to fill you up with rhinestones’.

At every turn, Lip Critic deliver mind bombs of every shape and form: sonically, stylistically, lyrically, Lip Critic II is simply an explosion. With every song being so brief, one barely has time to realise it’s started before it’s finished, and by the end, the listener is left punch-drunk, bewildered and dizzy. I think it’s good. I think it’s horrible. I think it’s a mess. But I can’t be sure.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Fibonacci Drone Organ: three random words spliced together, unshackled from the constraints of context to allow free association to determine interpretation? Or a descriptive indication of what Dave Procter’s second- or t(h)ird-latest (this month saw the debut of HUNDBAJS, which is Swedish for dogshit, the absolute latest) of his myriad projects which include the Wharf Street Galaxy Band and Legion of Swine? The cassette release contains precisely no information whatsoever, even down to a track listing, but a spot of digging reveals that it’s the latter – which should come as no surprise, given that the man behind FDO curated a ‘10 Hours of Drone’ event a while back. The album contains two pieces, each occupying a side of the tape, and they’re formed around droning organ notes. Long, long droning organ notes.

And my (rather limited but suitably fruitful) research uncovered that FDO ‘uses the Fibonacci Series as part of the compositional process,’ that ‘the notes are chosen via dice rolls and coin tosses,’ and that ‘the durations of the notes are chosen by the Fibonacci Series. Notes are added at the appropriate time.’

From this, I infer that in technical / theoretical terms, FDO compositions emerge from an intersection of John Cage-inspired randomness and the mathematical precision of Fibonacci. What this actually means, ‘m not entirely sure, and thankfully, the technical aspects don’t impinge too heavily on the output from a listening perspective. Ultimately, it’s all drones. And on this outing the ‘appropriate’ time for adding noes is seemingly after an eternity.

This means that across the tape’s duration, not a lot happens. Notes may be added, but at such distance that the layers build so gradually that the pieces are over before much depth, resonance or layering has occurred. This is all testament to Procter’s unswervingly uncompromising approach to music-making, and encapsulates the reasons I personally hold him in such high regard (and it’s fair to say that if there’s one person I’ve worked with who’s intuitively understood my vision for creating spoken word with the most hellishly mangled noise, it’s Dave who’s been behind the majority of my best and most exhilarating collaborative live work). With more projects, pseudonyms and releases to his credit than seems humanly possible, he’s practically a one-man underground scene in his own right. Look up ‘northern avant-garde’, and you’ll likely find a picture of Dave Procter – or a bloke in a lab coat sporting a pig’s head or something.

Procter gets art, and is an artist, but doesn’t espouse the pretentious trappings of being an ‘artist’ (or, worse still, an ‘artiste’). Which means he can not only get away with releasing a tape containing 40 minutes of theory-backed drone without appearing a tit, but delivers some of the most brilliantly self-aware electronic drone you’re likely to find.

Side two (not that the sides are marked) brings a quavering decay to the elongated drones – which hover toward the higher frequencies – by way of contrast to the strong, stable drones of side one. The effect is cumulative and ultimately soporific, and it’s definitely the music and not the beer as I listen to the spindles rotate on my tape deck and the notes drift from the speakers. Sometimes, there’s no shame in sleep.

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