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Rum Music

Rum Music For March Reviewed By Jennifer Lucy Allan
Jennifer Lucy Allan , March 30th, 2022 06:52

Jennifer Lucy Allan encounters puppies, performance art and sound poetry, plus the polished versions of Les Rallizes Denudes, in a busy trip into The Zone

Charlie Morrow

Half-way through this month's Rum Music writing session I was distracted by the second of Makoto Kubota's Les Rallizes Denudes remasters plopping into my inbox – a previously unreleased 11-and a half-minute long version of 'Otherwise My Conviction' (here titled 'Vertigo Otherwise My Conviction').

Even more so than 'White Awakening', this is about as crisp and clear I've ever heard LRD, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's comparable to the moment you discover Greek statues were not bare white marble but were originally painted in paintbox brights, with big eyeballs, painted eyeshadow and patterned robes. Not to worry though, the tunes are still gnarly, the basslines still perfect, and maybe I'll work out what Mizutani's singing about this time around. There is a question lurking though, about how much my relationship to this music is fused to the muss and roaring of the artefacts gained from boots on boots on boots, but I've not worked out the answer yet.

What I do know is that I could definitely write an essay suggesting that the geological strata of the LRD unofficial catalogue may have been contributed to not just in size but also in aesthetic by the efforts of fans and bootleggers. Those who have booted the boots ad infinitum might thereby have not just preserved the band but contributed to the murky sonics that were in part what so attracted those same fans to LRD in the first place. A circular artistic project that means that LRD need never stop creating. I may have overreached, but it's certainly a romantic notion, don't you think?

I really struggled to whittle down this month's column, but have gone for stuff that's not covered elsewhere, and rolled a few over into next month (Ensemble Nist-Nah I'm looking at you). However, if the below column isn't enough, I recommend adding to your listening pile the new releases on Zoomin' Night; Ecko Bazz on Hakuna Kulala; and the new one from the Crazy Doberman kennel. I also got early access to some really good stuff coming from Freedom To Spend in the summer (incoming as soon as I can link you to something), and there's a CD/digital version out of Eliane Radigue's Occam XXV for church organ. I heard the latter in person on the Union Chapel's organ this month and the effect of it was so powerful I am frightened that if I listen to the CD I will ruin the vibratory transcendence I felt in that pew, which I am still feeling the effects of as I sit here writing this today. However, not everyone got to hear/feel that, so I will say that in this zone full of experimental church organ records, Eliane's is the only one you need.

Al-Mutreb Abul-Loul – El Ga7beh (Unmastered): Live at the museo Hermann Nitsch Napoli ft. Amaury Cambuzat
(Drowned By Locals)

Opening with a rare inclusion of a single this month – no lyric translation but the tin foil textures, hardware dirt and fuzz-echo vocal treatments appeal to the Wolf Eyes fan in me. Amaury Cambuzat started playing with Faust in 1996, and also founded French rock band Ulan Bator. Al-Mutreb released a retirement album just a couple of months ago, which I also recommend, language barrier notwithstanding.

Vindicatrix x New Noveta – Room Sound

Room Sound collects recordings from across five years of collaboration between the ever-underrated Vindicatrix and New Noveta – a performance art group led by Keira Fox and Ellen Freed (who Mousse magazine said were purveyors of "catastrophic distress" – fantastic!) Across the three tracks there is vocalising, singing, chanting, and intoning; globs of percussion; harsh electronic interruptions from sheet-metal stabs and tones that pierce like needles; plus violin and clarinet (and their historical baggage) tracing decorous lines over the whole. It swings demonically between moments of ugly brutishness and classical beauty, and is not a comfortable listen (it's not supposed to be). The contrasts are abrasive – not a bad thing in the context of this column – and really forced me to have a think about myself as a listener. Have I got the guts for this? I found in it the provocations of some strands of performance art – it presented a challenge to my expectations, my complacency and my social compliance; asked me to find the edge of my tolerance, politeness, and sense of propriety.

Propan – Loom

I absolutely love this cassette by vocalists Ina Sagstuen and Natali Abrahamsen Garner on Greater Lanarkshire Auricular Research Council. Loom sits just right on my synapses, simple vocal patterns punching far above their weight. Don't mistake its 16 meditations as being about atmosphere or *mbient music. This holds space as meditations should, rather than filling it in (or smoothing it out for optimum productivity). Vocals combine with – I'm guessing by ear here – thumb piano, tuned glasses, other percussive knick knacks and one big drum used sparingly. My personal highlight is a track that's a sort of vocal Shepard tone, repeated over a shaker. It comes packaged with a poem by Glasgow poet/writer Romy Danielewicz that deals in the domestic and the quotidian, juiced with a touch of contemporary anxiety and romance. "Kiss kiss," they write, which is an accurate description of my feeling for the music on this here cassette. Tip!

Kaori Suzuki – Music For Modified Melodica
(Moving Furniture Records)

Big enveloping drone works that have got nothing to do with the dream house. Suzuki's work tends instead towards the creation of psychoactive effects at high listening volumes (her work often instructs high volume listening). This piece has perhaps more in common with Kevin Drumm than other works of acoustic drone minimalism. It triggers a fight or flight instinct – a precipice on the edge of ecstasy and pain. Sticking it out makes for a transformative listen. Even at lower volumes or laptop listening the microtones will still prompt a physical reaction, maybe a little itching in the lugholes or suchlike. It's made from acoustic sound sources – the reeds of a melodica made playable with a foot pump, augmented with high frequencies, oscillators and treated with time delays.

Schisms – Break Apart The Idea Of Separation
(Bergpolder Records)

I saw this release on a few write ups from labels and shops that mentioned VU boots, Les Rallizes, etc, and this certainly scratches that itch. Schisms is a trio of Bridget Hayden, Richard Chamberlain and Sam McLoughlin, and they have a debut on Fort Evil Fruit behind them already. This is heavy music with three-note repeating basslines; riffs that sound like they're being dragged out of a bush, and production sounding like it's been given a good rub down with the coarsest grade sandpaper. There's also a second version of the album available on cassette that's a totally different mix, and the LP is only pressed in an edition of 200, don't sleep etc.

Treasury Of Puppies – Mitt Stora Nu
(Discreet Music)

Last time I didn't get lyric translations for one of these albums out of the new Swedish underground I ended up playing a song about children finding a dead body in a ditch on what was supposed to be a feel good New Year's Eve radio show. I haven't got them for this either – which seems to be the most hyped release to come out on Discreet to date – but given some of the few bits sung in English are about kissing on the couch of death (track name translates to 'Death's Sofa') I'm guessing this one isn't a laugh a minute. But you know, I'm not here for belly laughs, and this is a super hooky collection of songs-as-sketches a la Flaming Tunes, and is just as sticky. Its downer earworms and looping motifs are laid over bare bones arrangements that are just perfect in their simplicity.

Charlie Morrow – Chanter

I think this might be my favourite Charlie Morrow release on Recital to date – even though Toot! Too is all pipes and horns and bodies of water. The works on here cover 60 years (the earliest work is 'Ella' from 1960) and mark Morrow's 80th birthday. Some are pulled from chant cassettes on his and Jerome Rothenberg's New Wilderness Audiographics label (where they also released Annea Lockwood – who gets a cameo here – as well as sound poetry by Philip Corner, Dick Higgins and others). 'Sun Chant' has been a perfect mantra for the year's first sweaty absorptions of Vitamin D and a herald for the summer ahead. 'Hymn Transformations: ‘O Come Now My Soul’' is composed by a formula of numerical repetitions based on geographical coordinates, and contains within it sung echoes of itself, which acts like a real-time mode of imitating acoustic spaces with natural delays: Why has everyone been doing this do it in post-production when they could've written it into the composition?! My highlight is the beautiful soaring voices of 'Genesis Song', that are like birds wheeling on updraughts.


Speaking of Recital, label head Sean McCann has done a tape for Stockport cassette label Regional Bears, which is becoming quite a growing concern in the fuzzy edges between music and non-music, music and anti-music. The other two in this most recent drop are also brilliant.

McCann once succinctly described to me his goal in music being to fuse sound poetry and chamber music. Here he's fusing spoken word and... bath time? It's very reminiscent of Robert Ashley's Automatic Writing and could in fact be whatever was coming through the wall in those recordings.

Dan Gilmore (of Careful Catalog) is faffing about here on a bunch of different instruments, playing them without actually playing anything, if you get my drift. These are charming recordings that feel part of some far-off lineage with Maher Shalal Hash Baz, and which I find enormously enjoyable.

I've not always got much bandwidth for releases that are the unadulterated sounds of daily life now COVID restrictions have lifted. Living in a city and being out in the world seems so often to provide these releases free of charge – I don't want to miss the distorted accordion and dancehall Doppler effect I often get at the end of the high street because I was listening to an album of someone doing the washing up. However, this Havadine Stone is an exception to that – not just because it begins with a sweet singalong to 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me', which is one of my most frequent earworms. The space it creates is deeply comforting – I loved its mutterings and potterings; friendly muddles of conversations; dogs barking and movements around interior rooms – it captures contentment.