The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Rum Music

Plumbing The Depths: New Transmissions From The Outer Reaches
Scott McKeating , October 5th, 2011 12:36

Scott McKeating takes another dive to the outer reaches, returning to reality with new transmissions on cassette from Astral Social Club, Hobo Sonn, Brian Lavelle and more

It’s always difficult to pin down what a particular Astral Social Club release sounds like, but Wheezy Paradise is a further turn of the screw, with the sound never sitting still in one place long enough to get a branding. To properly describe an ASC release you’d have to be taking furious shorthand on the music as it progresses/mutates, leaving you with sheets of manic scrawl. The solo technoweird project of ex-Vibracathedral Orchestra member Neil Campbell, this is the sound of several different genre electronic records being mixed in and out of each other. A mild bliss haywire of back and forth and inside out, Campbell unthreads electronica melodies and rhythms by feeling his way through the sound via twists of a dial and leaps of the mind. More of a midday jacuzzi thunderstorm than an aural bath, Wheezy Paradise is nudged in parts into an occasional violent squall. From the chaotic neon rivulets, notes sink away and the music is briefly, and intermittently, darker. Great whooshes of something illegal run like tributaries through a storm of Steve Hillage notes with a Reich attitude. Wheezy Paradise is a swamp of bird calls in the eye of the storm, with Campbell on the rudder.

Wheezy Paradise is available on cassette through Sonic Oyster Cassettes in an edition of 50.

Welcome to the sounds of the great scrape of the north, from various members of western Scotland's lo-fidelity crew. Usurper are joined by Muscletusk and Fordell Research Unit (and Adam Burnett, a 10 year old affiliate) for two sides of the kind of non-sensed improv that sends right-minded folk to their MPs to complain about arts council funding. Usurper & The Void works within a sound aesthetic based in house clearance objects and instruments-as-textures, and works within a field of experimental noise that should be entitled 'scuffling'. Whether they're making the sound of laminating floors in a steam train or the shifting spiky moving mass of extra limbs like some robotic insect, Usurper make it sound like they're dealing in the outskirts of the acoustic avant-garde at floor level - sounds moving from source to source in random patterns. Like untested cluster bombs, some bursting like miniature aural provocations and others letting out bathtime farts, Usurper are as able to generate the vividness of the slow burn of circuit boards as they are the duck call sound of stretched wood over feedback groan. Watch Usurper live here.

Usurper & The Void is available on cassette through Threshold Tapes in an edition of 50.

Brighton's Hobo Sonn (aka Ian Murphy) is an artist whose music is in a state of constant homemade handcranked flux. For someone who sounds like he's often working at a micro/ground minimalist sound-selector level, fiddling in the fragments, its uncanny how out there and other his records sound. As tapes slowly spin to life across Wary The Mind, ghost traffic coming in from solar slipstreams, Hobo Sonn works within the same magical abstract that makes you want to drag out (overused) Nurse with Wound comparisons. Filagreed full of ideas, cuts, edits and wavering drone parts, the untitled A-side even ends with a guitar coda that most artists would have built a whole vinyl from. The flipside is a little more sampladelic, loops taken from anonymous sources as possibly bizarre as spooky music hall piano, harp glistens and buoy bells. What's most obviously special about this slice of Hobo Sonn's work is the lucidity and the working/manipulation of sound levels. The album is odd enough to distance itself from the more clinical end of experimental sound technicians without being faux-surreal. There's a still a strong essence of the odd across the whole record though, a kind of wrong-way-round-Coil-at-their-best, fragments of sound(s) that aren't 

 Listen to Hobo Sonn here.

Wary The Mind is available on vinyl through Amen Absen in an 
edition of 330.

Better known for his lengthy drone tracks, and his synthwork/manipulations as part of acts like Fougou and Space Weather, Brian Lavelle set himself tight restrictions on duration and instrumentation for this cassette release. With this is mind, it’s a somewhat unexpected turn of events that has Suburban Electrification up there with some of his best work to date. Across 13 inventive tracks Lavelle goes synth-only in on Warp bubble-bath bleepage, blooms of Eno-ic melody, some Badalamenti menace on 'UFOs: 1947-1968', the trickle of delicate digitals and even a step in direction of the afore-reviewed Astral Social Club on ‘Begin to Breathe’. In fact almost every track comes at drone-laced electronica from a different angle, Lavelle creating a collage of work that’s nostalgic and inventive.

Suburban Electrification is available on cassette through Overland Shark in an
edition of 100.

Out on Milwaukee's ever-reliable Small Doses label, this split cassette effort from Disgust and Joshua Norton Cabal comes in a fine looking screen printed box courtesy of the talent at the HQ of fellow shit-hot label Phage Tapes. Mere seconds after the introductory vocal-sample threat, and Disgust have already made it clear that this is music born of loathing, of a rage against the biped. Pouring out a viscous and vicious stew of bass noise and howled vocals, Disgust's sound is a tar-drenched vocal exorcism haunted side of power violence. Instead of simple meat-and-potato aggression, this is frequency wrecked pounding. Punchily live-sounding, these three tracks (including an xBrainiax cover) are as-it-happens disaster music, vocalist M. Chami coming somewhere on the jagged line between hysterical and resolute. Low-end piano riffs and howling scarred with overdubs; Disgust has shards of that on-a-leash (old school) Prurient sound, and shadows the lines between power electronics, noise and industrial. No offence to Joshua Norton Cabal but Disgust's side of this split is hard to stop rewinding. Listen to the split here.

Split Cassette is available on cassette through Small Doses in an edition of 100.