Rum Music For October Reviewed By Jennifer Lucy Allan

Junglism sieved through the ionosphere and bodies of water, and Japanese rock bootleg anguish are just two of the things covered in this month's roundup of The Zone courtesy of Jennifer Lucy Allan


This is the second introduction I’ve written for this column. In the first version, I wrote about shelling out for the "new" Double Heads box set by cult Japanese rockers Les Rallizes Dénudés, and the incoming repress of one of their finest ‘albums’, 77′ Live (the original 2CD version is currently going for a minimum of $400).

I wrote about being unable to just know the recordings, and about giving in to material lust. I wrote that, despite my inability to let one pass, that it is my belief that one can be fully nourished on the two terrifically titled compilations – Blind Baby Has Its Mother’s Eyes and Heavier Than A Death In The Family – plus ’77 Live and Mizutani (also bootlegged as Deeper Than The Night), but that you could stretch to France Demos and Oz Days (the split with Taj Mahal Travellers) or my personal choice, Yodo-Go-A-Go-Go (Flightless Bird Needs Water Wings) (don’t look too closely at the cover shot for that one) and then, you know, just keep going.

I gave in to Double Heads after hearing the version of ‘Night Of The Assassins’ from 14 August 1980 (which I am pretty sure is also released as the LP Down & Out In Tokyo but with a wolf whistle from the crowd cut out). It opens with a delicate touch on its perfect bassline; drums that skip like tap shoes on pavements, before the lead guitar erupts, consuming all in a molten electric sludge that covers everything in howling, ash-drenched sonics. I had to have it; am helpless to resist yet another version of ‘The Last One’ I might not have heard.

A few days after I filed, the last Last One appeared in the form of a new post on the front page of a new Les Rallizes site, that appeared to announce that Mizutani had died. (And also that they would be "consolidating" a position on rights to the music.) The announcement of his death stated his passing was two years previous in 2019. It was perfectly fitting for a cult band whose catalogue is mostly made up of bootlegs. It also makes no difference to the music, which continues to live the same – for me at least – because I never wanted to meet Mizutani. I never wanted to be able to recognise him walking down the street, or any other members of the band for that matter.

I don’t want to meet my heroes and I don’t understand why anyone else does. I don’t want to admit day-to-day drudgery into the music that is my escape. There are some musicians for whom seeing them cross a road, order a coffee, talk about travel arrangements, would ruin everything. I want Les Rallizes Denudes to remain suspended in my imagination as unknowable and mysterious as rumour and anecdote; as conspiratorial theory on the origins of their recordings and the locations and actions of their members. There are few bands about whom I know so little, but whose music I know so well.

So here this rewrite becomes a short paean to Mizutani’s raw unholy sonics and rock & roll mythology, instead of my material lust. Les Rallizes are a place I go to. They’re the band that never changes and never gets old, that never makes a shit album; never goes fusion; never performs a classic album with the London Symphony Orchestra or comes out of retirement, but where there is always more to hear. They have remained so elusive (in the West at least) that every now and then someone suggests on a message board that they’re a made up band, to which others reply, that if Les Rallizes never existed, someone would have had to invent them. Alive or deceased, the songs remain the same. Mizutani is dead, long live Mizutani!

Alison Knowles – Sounds From The Book Of Bean

This is an LP pressing of work that is mostly concerned with beans and books by the Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, originally released on Charlie Morrow’s New Audiographics label. Much of Knowles’ sound work used beans, and she is also the author of world’s first computer poem. She was a Fluxus founder and worked with Annea Lockwood on the groundbreaking publication Women’s Work. The whole of side one is taken up with a collage of sounds recorded during the construction of Knowles artwork The Book Of Bean from 1982 – an 8-foot tall walk-in book built in New York. The spoken word contains poetic texts, lyrical lists, poetic phrases, storytelling read by Knowles and her daughter Jessica Higgins, and plenty of references to beans. The other sounds that populate the sound world include Yoshi Wada hammering together the circular spine of the book, people mixing ink and feeding horses, the roar of passing planes and the flowing waters of the Hudson Valley. The other tracks contain a bean soup recipe, the spoken word text ‘Bean Sequences’, and ‘The Whale Shark Rhinodon’ – which comes off like the diary of a NPC from Moby Dick. It is a record that holds time and that is strangely centring – I didn’t expect the humble legume to render such soothing effects.

Seekersinternational Presents Ragga Preservation Society – Worldwide Sound

Previous Seekersinternational releases laid down a murky dubwise palette, but here they swerve into a junglist mood. Rattling ragga snippets and acid hoover sounds mingle as if sieved through the muddled frequencies of the ionosphere, like missives from a ghostly pirate radio station that lost its anchor in 1996 and has been drifting ever since. There is an insistence about the way vocal loops in particular occur within this elusive crew’s music – they’re often left to hang and so feel like they are trapped in their repetitions. There are samples I recognise but are too small to place; a track that samples Roger Robinson (named as "Papa Roger Robinson") and that "Hey!" sample that permeates so much chart music… it’s like the dancehall version of the Wilhelm scream.

Iris – Speah
(Tax Free Records)

Finally got to dig at All Night Flights record shop in person, where Tom put this in my hands at the listening station. Roughly 15 seconds was enough to sell it to me, but once I’d got it home, I realised I had no idea what it was because the text is in no alphabet I recognise, and I could scry zero information elsewhere. So, in what amounts to a scene from an avant-garde music sitcom, I had to email and say, ‘That record I love that you sold me, what actually is it?’ It turns out that it’s Iris, who is/are from the Czech Republic, but that’s about all I know. The dreamy and impressionistic miniatures don’t resolve or end, but cut abruptly, straight into the next track. They punch way above their weight though, as minute-long prayers that carry strange moods, pops and bubbles, insect synths and meandering guitars, and a fat motorik riff about two thirds of the way through. Comparisons to Woo have been made and are warranted. Fans of this ought to also check out the Nina Harker album, a similarly impressionistic suite, but in a different soundworld altogether.

Juçara Marçal – Delta Estácio Blues

Brazilian singer Juçara Marçal is a member of Vésper Vocal, A Barca, and Metá Metá. She regularly collaborates with her bandmate in the latter group, the ‘apocalyptic samba’ player Kiko Dinucci, who plays on and produced this album. Delta Estácio Blues comes on strong with songs in a lineage of traditional singing but with boldly contemporary productions that pull from industrial-grade low-end, which revel in dubby reverb and moments of boingy, snappy punctuations of the sort found more often in club music. These productions are led by Marçal’s potent vocal, which is left almost completely untreated save for one choice moment of Autotune. Do not misunderstand my descriptions: this is not a baby-with-the-bathwater modern fusion project that adds cheesy electronics to traditional singing. This is confident, new songwriting with bags of swagger. It is self-assured and weighty, with far too few supporters on Bandcamp at time of writing. ‘Sem Cais’ is the portentous standout.

Natalia Beylis – Pink Sky Dawn
(Early Music)

Natalia Beylis lives in Ireland and makes music with field recordings, tapes, and instruments found or salvaged. I covered her collaboration with cellist Eimar Reidy earlier this year, and its titles floated through my mind this weekend as I trooped through some woodland picking sloes and spotting funghi (got a positive ID on a Sordid Blewit). Pink Sky Dawn is Beylis’ most recent release, which I wrote a little about in an interview with Beylis for tQ a few months ago. On it, there is gorgeous textural play between percussive pitter-patter of rain sandwiched between dense organ compressions, which serves to amplify the beauty of both. Whatever she’s playing though, Beylis’ music is embedded with a sense of listening; a curiosity about sound which is passed on, generously, to the listener. It is a nebulous property for music to have, but is equally detectable in the undulating motifs of the pump organ as it is on the rainy interlude of droplets on dog bowls.

Jon Collin – The Fiddler Now Steps To The Road

Label head at Early Music who released the above Beylis tape is Jon Collin. He also has released new music recently, which narrowly missed last month’s column. Side One sees him unzip an instrument from a bag and play a gently swelling lament, layering the sounds upon one another into a reflective and expansive side-long piece that looks outwards onto a landscape of the listener’s own imagining. Side Two searches for something lost in the air on fiddle and gently amplified guitar. The former is looped in its searching while the latter offers direction and conversation, as the white noise of cars and lorries swish and roar on rainy tarmac in the background.

Shackleton – Departing Like Rivers
(Woe To The Septic Heart)

Sam Shackleton’s constructions remain instantly recognisable as his and his alone. This signature sound, while never quite the same whether working with collaborators or solo, is bound by the enormously detailed sound field he works in and his deep excavations of percussive archaeologies. Allusions in song and album titling to water and light – ‘Departing Like Rivers’, ‘The Tumbling Sea’, ‘The Light That Was Hidden’ – are followed through in moments where the movement of many-layered synths call to mind sunlight filtering through open ocean; where beams of sound conjure the silvery light of a full moon; where gongs and chimes sound like the drip-drip of icicles melting in midday sun. ‘The Turbulent Sea’ in particular contains textural ripples that remind me of the (also watery) Michael Redolfi and Joanna Brouk (it also includes a sample from that Herzog nature speech). The whole suite unfolds slowly. It does not reach for the pulses of his club-facing music, nor does it play with cosmic and arcane energies like Tunes Of Negation or Devotional Songs. It is not ambient (which I’ve had about enough of right now) but is rather, immersive: submerged.

Toshimaru Nakamura – Culvert

The original no input artist, Toshimaru Nakamura, is back with an album inspired by culverts – covered streams that run under and through the city. For those new to this sound, Nakamura plays an audio mixer with nothing going into it, with which he generates and manipulates pure feedback via the mixer’s knobs and a bunch of effects pedals. The audio here consists of raw rhythmic signals shredded, stretched, looped and corroded. ‘Nimb #65’ and ‘Nimb #66’ sound more like they were made with no input Geiger counters, whereas the opener ‘Nimb #63’ is a pressure cooker of roaring turbulence and ‘Nimb #70’ does an impression of minimal techno without the kicks (a la Metri). There is a monstrous brutalism to the sounds generated by these minimal processes, and herein lies its appeal: it becomes a kind of post-industrial divination whereby inanimate objects are revealed to be teeming with dirty noises and infested with sounds. It is as if Nakamura has pulled the veil down, and we can hear the world as it really is.


There have been two St Abdullah albums out recently, but I hereby give special mention to the track ‘Like A Great Starving Beast’ with John Butcher. It is not exactly similar to, but is in the lineage of Mika Vainio and Lucio Capece’s collaborations. Butcher howls at the moon, pummelled by St. Abdullah’s caustic electronics, in cosmic-grade catharsis. Unmissable.

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