Posts Tagged ‘Cack Pop’

5th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The only way to remain sane through all of this madness is to embrace it, or at least some of it. Then again, ( kröter ) have been ahead of the curve in the madness stakes for some time, as the conveyor-belt of releases over the last couple of years have shown, since they were all culled from some epic sessions around 2018.

*f is their third album of 2021, and the sixth album to be culled from these sessions. Remarkably, rather than a random collection of offcuts and flow-sweepings, it contains some of the most outstanding material yet, and one has to wonder how much did they actually record?

They’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the material and chopping it into tracks and sequencing them into albums – with varying degrees of cohesion – but as they note, ‘as usual, there are no second takes in this pond. All is nutritious, spiraling and slowly growing legs.’ These legs are long and hairy, and the sprawling eleven-minute ‘Trajectory’ is a dingy, dirgy grind dominated by a crunchy, dirty bass groove and plodding beat. It’s kinda post-punk, kinda no-wave, kinda noise-rock, and if there are moments when Mr Vast’s vocals hint at a Jim Morrison-esque swagger, the whole thing reminds me most of Terminal Cheesecake, for those who can handle an obscure reference point.

‘The Letter’ is swampy, minimal, meandering, while ‘The Rock’, another low-oscillating slab of dark industrial-leaning synth is propelled by clattering percussion and features snarling, growling manic vocals. Vast is a versatile vocalist, even if on this set his delivery isn’t particularly angled towards melody, as he drones and yelps and drawls and yowls all kinds of atonality over repetitive electronic grooves.

It all comes together on the eighteen-minute ‘casper hauser in the mirror’, a thumping, humping, ketamine-paced motoric industrial jazz odyssey. Vast sounds utterly deranged as his voice wanders lost, aimless, as he half speaks, shouts, raps and yawns out abstract lyrics that drift out in a drift of reverb. Again, around the six minute mark, it sounds like Kraftwerk fronted by Jim Morrison circa LA Woman, and yes, it’s a pretty fucked-up experience, and the atmosphere is not only intense, but also dizzying, bewildering in its hypnotic pull. It transports the listener to another place, out of mind if not out of body, conjuring an almost trance-like experience. It may be some kind of woozy, weirdy, hippy shit, but it’s also affecting. There’s much to be said for the power of repetition, and this just goes on, and on… and on. It’s not nightmarish as such, but it is trippy and disorientating.

This is a fair summary of the album as a whole: *f really does pack in the weird shit, and if the initial tone is one of quirky, oddball fun, the overarching experience is rather darker. The disorientation it creates is less kaleidoscopic joy and more the nausea of excess, and a kind of unsettled bewilderment. ( kröter ) depart from Hunter S. Thompson’s adage that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, and instead forge their own path, whereby when the going gets weird, the weird gets even weirder, and a few shades darker, too. Which is cool, because who wants their weirdness to be predictable, after all?

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Christopher Nosnibor

2020 has been cack. That’s pretty much a fact. And here we are in December after nine months in varying degrees of lockdown around the globe, and many of us are really starting to feel it now. So what do we need to top off this annum of cack? More cack, of course, courtesy of the prime purveyors – and possibly the sole exponents – of cack-pop, Wevie Stonder.

Founded by Al Boorman in Brighton in 1993, along with Chris Umney, Richard Sothcott, Henry Sargeant, Wevie Stonder’s bio is a combination of tall tales and out-and-out oddness, which pretty much summarises everything they’ve done. Sargeant turned solo and split for Germany, where he’s now massive – or at least Vast – while Boorman operates a ‘music and sound design’ studio called Wevie as his mainline, with a catalogue of adverts and TV credits, spanning Comedy Central, Adidas, Netflix, and even Disney. Hunter S. Thompson said that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, and these guys demonstrate that it’s actually possible to go pro without ditching the weird. And make no mistake, they’re way weirder than most.

So this landed with me, and I don’t even know what the fuck it is. It’s a digital file. Is it an album? A podcast? Kinda. A FaceBook post on the Wevie Stonder page announced that ‘While some have been working on a vaccine, Al’s been working on an antidote to 2020 as a whole. To hear the results so far, tune in to the Skam Records live stream’. And so here we have an hour of wild experimentalism – with the emphasis firmly on the mental.

It starts off comparatively sedately with some wibbly synths and some narrative delivered in a prim English accent reminiscent of British 1950s children’s TV shows, but rapidly explodes into a brain-melting collage of all kinds of chaos. Despite the fact I’m personally more than well accustomed to all kinds of

A mere two minutes in, notes are sliding, gliding melting, a sonic equivalent of Dali’s brie-like clocks, before scratches and scrapes collide with mainstream trance and snippets of 80s disco chart hits are cut and spliced with vintage averts and clattering industrial beats. Carpet tile infomercials and grinding techno are glued at completely wrong angles. It’s disorientating, and the juxtaposition of the mundane and the strange creates an experience which is perfectly unheimlich, straddling as it does the familiar and the not-quite familiar just a step or two out of step with one another. It’s this proximity that creates such discomforting dissonance. You almost know where you are with it… but then there are elements which are just so wholly inexplicable.

You begin to feel woozy. You know, you get, that there is no lens into the mind of another person, especially not someone who thinks differently… but what the fuck is this? Suddenly Trout Mask Replica sounds coherent and linear. The thing about Hyperboredom (Vol 1) is just how quickly the scenes cut. It’s dizzying, and often, those cuts aren’t remotely subtle, but as clumsy as they come, calling to mind the primitive collaging of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu on 1987 and Shag Times.

Daytime YV snippets and wonky jazz collide in a messy mashup. ‘If you get bored of your own boredom, you experience what we call hyperboredom’ a soporific voice explains with almost a yawn. I’m thinking I’m more likely to throw up than suffer from any shade of boredom listening to this.

Whether knowingly or not, Hyperboredom belongs to the cut-up lineage that can be traced back to William Burroughs’ tape experiments of the late 50s and early 60s, and while the anarchic yet quintessentially English leanings may owe more to the Bonzo Dog band, the overall formulation is explicitly around methods of collaging, and the way different source materials play off one another. And in listening to this hour-long cut ‘n’ splice oddity, it’s impossible not to pick out or otherwise listen out for familiar voices and clips, and these in turn trigger recollections and avenues of reminiscence and contemplation, or otherwise the satisfaction of saying to yourself ‘ah, yes, I remember that’ – or frustratingly – aagh, that sounds so familiar, but what is it?’

And ultimately, what is it? It’s everything all at once, and one to explore, however much it might make you dizzy. The forthcoming album looks likely to be a cracker.

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Cack Records – 7th December 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I rarely review the same album twice. I mean, really, what’s the point? Admittedly there are occasions when I’ll revise my opinion of a record or a band – I absolutely hated The Fall the first time I heard them on Hip Priest and Kamerads, but came around a couple or three years later. And yes, it’s inevitable that people go off bands or records after a period of time: some of the stuff you listened to in your youth is just embarrassing 15, 20 years later.

But the arrival of a picture-disc vinyl pressing of Touch & Go, the last album by Mr Vast does inevitably demand a revisitation of sorts. Unlike many albums I bang reviews out for, I have actually listened to Touch & Go since, because for all its zaniness, the endless procession of quirky oddball moments, and oddly 80s electrofunk vibe, it has some undeniably great songs on it, which are more than pure novelty.

Mr Vast released Touch & Go almost exactly three years ago, to an off-tune synth-disco fanfare of parping trumpets and the pitch that ‘he’s lost the fucking plot’. And so it was that Vast’s second compendium of cack pop crash landed on the planet. And I dug it. Writing for Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ I draw comparisons to Har Mar Superstar and made some reference to 80s electroclash in an attempt to grapple with the whappy, tone-bending synths and bouncing basslines which are a dominant feature of a dizzyingly eclectic album, commenting that ‘if you think theatrical oompah and a self-help relaxation track with a twist shouldn’t feature on the same album, the perhaps this isn’t the album for you. But if you thrive on incongruity that goes far beyond postmodern hybridity, then Mr Vast is your man…Half smart-arse, half plain weird, wholly unpredictable, Touch & Go is as whappy as hell, for sure, but the execution is far from cack-handed’.

And I stand by that, although I’d certainly throw in certain similarities to the Bonzo Dog Band when considering Vast’s quirky, irreverent and exceedingly British eccentricity. Split into two halves across the ‘brekkie’ and ‘supper’ sides, the sequencing of the tracks is perhaps more noticeable in rendering an album of two distinct halves, with the second (‘supper’) side being more trippy folksy and less frenetic than the first (brekkie).

But what the vinyl release brings to the party is… groove. Naturally – it’s vinyl after all. Chances are, those who buy it will have already heard at least some of the music on-line, which again limits the need for further critical analysis of the music contained here. But as an artefact, as an experience… This brings new dimensions. Visually, it’s striking, to say the least, taking the concept of the original cover art to a new level. The rendering of something being something that it is not places it in the domain of the vaguely surreal, while the vibrancy of the shades is eye-popping. It’s a nice, thick chunk of wax and nicely mastered. And it comes with a doyley slipmat. It’s the first record I’ve ever seen with a doyley – and this one is gold and shiny! Of course, the track-listing has to go somewhere. Flippancy aside, in a world oversaturated with product and pointless tat, and a world of conformity and uniformity, Mr Vast is a glowing beacon of individuality and a maverick icon representing art, delivered with a demeanour of not giving a toss abut criticism or commerciality. This in itself makes Vast a hero; the fact the album’s a left-field corker only adds to his heroism.

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And there’s more here

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Mr Vast Vinyl