Sunday, 21 October 2012

New Releases October 2012

Hello again... a big new batch is finally complete.  These are available for £2.50 each, plus postage.  Please email any orders to smearcampaign@hotmail.com...

Total Vermin #63:  Vampire Blues, "Epistemological Relativism and the Missionary's Position" C42

Vampire Blues is a duo of Jons Collin (Whole Voyald, Serfs) and Marshall (Hunter Gracchus, Roman Nose) on guitar and harmonium respectively.  One side of the cassette is electric, the other acoustic.  Each side is aglow with a transcendental fervour that augurs a non-theistic, or at least non-partisan, sublimation.  Take me to the water!

Joe Posset has reviewed some of these releases in his 2012 review.  I recommend that you check it out on his myspace blog - here

"Side one is heavy on the underwater guitar wrestling with a drowning harmonium. Big splashy chords give way to spiralled soloing, all salty and churning. Side two wrenches the asthmatic harmonium to the fore, coughing and hawking with keys slapping nosily like some thick tongued county cousin. For such a simple set up: two blokes, two instruments, strings vs leathery lungs, it somehow manages to sound like a Hell's Angel/Incredible String Band soundclash where things get seriously shroomy. In fact there's a whooshing rush across both sides of the tape like some oceanic loved-up house track circa 1998. Where's the Vicks Geezer?"

Total Vermin #64:  Bolide, "Jazz Gulag" C53

Early cuts (2008) from Brighton beatnik collective.  Solzhenitsyn never told us about the forced consumption of the BYG catalogue, so perhaps Bolide were sent elsewhere... wherever they were or were not (jazz asylum?) this is a heavy and wild document of the stay.  Rugged and raggedy jams for fans of the devilish glint in the horn-player's eye.

Total Vermin #65:  Core of the Coalman, "Stain" C59

Jorge Boehringer,  American in Europe, has carved this monolith of a cassette, this conundrum, from materials unknown.  A loop, possibly wrought from his viola, morphs imperceptibly.  A mere nodding of one's head induces psycho-acoustic paranoia, the resultant catatonic sway exacerbates the feeling... play loud enough for an end to balance and hand-eye coordination.  The black spots increase in size and we capsize.

Extra-special covers on this one, individually marbled by Susan Fitzpatrick.  See more of her art here.

Rob Midwich has written a review of this, and some other releases on his excellent blog, which can be found here

"Jorge keeps it simple: a full hour (in two halves) of slowly evolving variations on a fuzzed-up viola loop.  What at first seems like a Tony Conrad-ish endurance test took a few minutes to pop my bubble of mental resistance (soap-film thin at the best of times) then mind freed, my arse did follow.  I was soon dancing naked on the driveway of Midwich Mansions.  This tape is hard, lovely."

Total Vermin #66:  Fordell Research Unit, "The True Meaning of Red" C32

On the subject of monoliths, witness the standing stones of Oxgangs, here silhouetted against the hydroponic Midlothian sun.  Five pillars of drone, stacked like silos against the new dawn.  Witness the terrible majesty in which they prevail, fashioned not by anonymous or ancient hand, but by Fordell Research Unit, man and portent.

Midwich review:

"Fordell Research Unit is flavour of the month round here and The True Meaning of Red is a late contender for tape of the year in the hotly contested ‘droning fuzz roar’ section.  Five short to mid-length tracks, all beautifully balanced, all sharing the delicious alchemy of a poached egg coagulating in fiercely boiling water.  The whole thing invokes a feeling that we are rarely treated to: total, magisterial, soul-cleansing satisfaction.  A must buy."

Total Vermin #67:  Acrid Lactations, "Crude Paintings on Porcelain" C37

Acrid Lactations, for those behind the times, is a duo of me and Susan Fitzpatrick.  This cassette was recorded in the poky shower room of our old flat in Trafford, in the summer of 2011.  Improvisations with mandolin, percussion, dictaphone, stylophone, jarring cuts, shifts of focus, and the fittings.

Midwich review:

"Possibly the most lo-fi of these productions, it was apparently recorded in a shower room and, as the occasional sound of running water proves, the fixtures and fittings were pressed into service.  Side A is rumbling, popping improv percussion using whatever implements and instruments they could drag in whilst still being able to close the door.  It sounds like Paul Hession trapped in a cupboard and trying to alert the search party.  This is augmented with some unplaceable trilling and circuit-bent stylophone stylings and finishes with Susan and Stuart hallucinating the trumping horns and jangling cowbells of a procession of tiny Swiss goat-herds as they march across the linoleum.  Side B starts in a contemplative fashion before the goat-herds return in buoyant mood having eaten some mouldy bread and interesting looking mushrooms in the meantime.  The second half has a more ominous feel as a foot-long giant bee starts banging its head against the shower room window.  I dig it."

Total Vermin #68:  "The Presidential Cow Is Bound to the Maypole" by the Acrid Lactations C36

The second AL in this batch was recorded the month after CPoP, in the (slightly) more spacious surrounds of our then sitting room.  The majority is more airy than the bathroom tape, with whistles and voices prominent in the palette.  Ends, though, with a claustrophobic sampler, stylophone and scrabble jaunt through the bowels of 70s AOR. 

Posset review:

"This tape pretty much takes every gob-punk cliché and bombs them back to year zero. Very fucking warped skronk and double girl on boy skronk are the order of the day. Things seem to be in both real time and then manipulated via bad-electronics at random, making for a discombobulating listen. Moaning and groaning is fighting with pinched throat gurgles, drawn out mouth drones stray to the fore with a more high pitched keening just at the edge of my (admittedly damaged) hearing. Regular instruments are jettisoned as being bourgeois in favour of the more democratic domestic rattles of: bird-pipes, concrete sacs being dragged, ice chinks in a glass of Dandelion & Burdock, ripped cardboard, amplified plastic bags, violently bubbled milk and yogurt pots etc. Helium high screes march over tape loops of 'vurrrum-raaaam' with indistinct clumsy DJ scratching like Grandmaster Flash's first session on him moms hi-fi slipping a 'high on crack' sample against falling down the stairs drum machine. There's a bluesy quality to some of this...god know how that got into here...and then, just before you can dismiss this as aimless fucking about I'm reminded this is just a fag paper away from James Tenny's classic tape piece 'Blue Suede' from 1961. The Lactations know their history man! For today and today only this tape has the distinction of being the exact end point of what music is and what it can achieve. Awright!"

Total Vermin #69:  Lovely Honkey, "Set Sail for the Moral Highground" C33

Lovely Honkey is the solo project of Luke Poot, of Very Rich Lexicon, Hard Pan, Chastity Potatoe, Phil Minton's gang of toughs, etc.  This cassette, recorded before his flit from Yorkshire East to South, is lo-fidelity remedial sound poetry of the choicest order.  I just listened to a bit that sounded like a pig pushing weights with a scotch egg in its gob.

Posset review:

"More tape fuckery from Total Vermin. More goof-off gurning from the one and only Luke Poot. A debauched bag of grunt and feeble electronic chuff that lurches about like some jellied up yoof. Shanks of grumbled fuff are launched left, right and centre; throaty squeals, lumpen clutter notes, brassy farts etc to make a totally incomprehensible mess. There are track titles but for me this is a two sided jobbie...you got to hold your nose then dive into each gaseous, rumbling side. There are some extreme vocal mouth explosions that made me fear for Luke's sinus, so raw were the jagged snot-curses. Heavy furniture is lifted, dropped and dashed aside with tinfoil sticks and metallic bats wings. Man...this is a guilty, dirty release that's brown nudging at the coveted tape of the year slot."

Total Vermin #70:  Lovely Mr Honkey and the Acrid Lactations Jubilee Chorus "Sing the Futile Tapestry" C49

Wherein Susan, Luke and I powwow and browse on subjects irrelevant and construct the decade-abandoned building site of a bankrupt 'developer' in the playground of the progeny of our social betters.  Companion release, Acrid Lactations Meet the Lovely Honkey Uptown, "Lovely Honkey and the Acrid Lactations Bumrush the Temples of Mammon" CDR available on Poot Records.  I have a few copies of this, too, in A4 sleeves.  Let me know if you'd like one; you can have it at Vermin price.

Posset review:

"Gas mask and smothered gunnering chaff. Rankle whitts and stained-voice choir. Cluckering and fenkle ball bearing rattle all knotted together with occasional 'veep' of feedback and dithering 'whoaar'. On paper there is not really much between this and the academic, arts funded improv cluttering up Wire magazine CD giveaways. However, where this kind of cluttered kitchen-sink improv kicks the arse of the sound artist/performance gloop we are all meant to revere is in intention, richness and imagination. With no sound or technique off limits all becomes possible. With no commission to fill or brief to satisfy the collective hive mind can crack off blobs of salty jism easy like with no fear of comeback. This little cassette reaches some pretty dark places: a mung moaning turns into Yamataka Eye style fatlip bristle. Munching mic action takes on Nuremburg tones. As the tape spools on this gets more witchy as Puffin squeaks all take off together 'caw, caw, caw' to rub up against mournful ram horn pipes. And most importantly it's all done without the bland pesto of avant improv – reverb. This is delivered straight to the ear as nature intended. Another great tape on the peerless Total Vermin."

Total Vermin #71:  Hard Pan and Hobo Sonn, "Soup Electric and Roll" C26

Ian Murphy, Pascal Nichols, Luke Poot and I got together for good times one afternoon.  Sampler, tape, voice and synthesizer latticework pie-eyes the flies, collapses into sighs, and a tiny bongo shadow-boxing its electrical nemesis.  

Midwich review:

"Soup Electric and Roll is by Hard Pann and Hobo Sonn which unpacks as Stuart, Pascal Nichols and Luke Poot who are joined for this recording by Ian Murphy.  Side A is all stomping, knocking electronics with subtleties bobbing to the surface, side B is a sublime, too-wide-eyed choir of Nurse With Wound-ish unvocalizations.  Compelling late night listening or discombobulating walkman contents for the commute."

Total Vermin #72:  Smear Campaign, "Love in an Heroic Vernacular" C36

Coda of sorts to the Rapunzel trilogy, comprising dense electronic textures, drum machines, sampling, re-sampling and the first use of trumpet on a Smear Campaign release in a long, long time. 

Midwich review:

"A band name like that might lead you to expect power electronics or harsh noise but not a bit of it.  Instead you get in-between-train-carriages whistling wind, queasily arrhythmic percussion, clouds of robot starlings, skittering electronics and mournful trumpet.  At one point the entire mix is dropped down a well.  It’s like the alien funk of 1970s Miles filtered through ectoplasmic gel and played at half-speed.  Terrific."

Total Vermin #73:  Cabbage Rosette w/Phil Minton, "Ran out of Breath Licking Elegy Nipple?  Cough and Fall to Bits?  Tight Chest as Achievement?" CD-R

Cabbage Rosette is the duo of Luke Poot and me.  For this live performance in August 2011, we were joined partway through by Phil Minton.  The electronic furniture defers slowly to naked larynges, like traffic grinding to a halt to watch ducks fighting.

Posset review:

"Balls out skronk from Messers Poot & Vermin abetted by Mr 'jazzface' Minton on swelling tubes. Over-blown kitchen electronics huff each and every cough and splutter so the inward sigh becomes symphonic, the lip smack a thunderbolt. Squeaky doors or plastic tape cover are rattled to destruction (screeechhh, scraaaaaw) and the only recognisable 'instrument'; a phat keyboard, blebs in dopey chimes, once, twice then not at all. Sounds are fairly poured over each over with abandon and mixed up with a hot spoon. There's little structure or reason to this making it all the more fun and engaging. The frenzied jerk and Tourette's tick keep the energy up. You can almost picture them, shoulders up to earholes, spazzing out on spittle warp. Things get more crimped towards the end when what sounds like some remedial turntable abuse plays up against mouth babble and the whole thing ends in a conference of gurgles and wet-fart lippings. 13 mins in total...the perfect length."

Total Vermin #74:  Tube O' Mould, "Bags and Bags of Golden Rats" CD-R

The first released jam from the duo of Rhian Thompson (CKDH, Hockyfrilla) on strings, percussion and electronics and me on drums, trumpet and electronics.  Jorge Boehringer has his hands on a copy.  Here's what he said about it:

"it is pretty much like being in the belly of a giant buzzing fly with an Indonesian percussion orchestra practicing inside of a sheet metal building that the fly is circling around in trying to figure out what to do next.  Its not about escape, its not panicked, really.  Maybe its about roller derby, it kind of has that vibe too.  I have no idea what these instruments are but there are some electronic sounds, and I think some sticks.  After a certain point its like Albert Ayler comes on by for a visit and they tie him up in the kitchen.  Breakfast music."

The above quote was taken from Jorge's tour diary, to be found here.  It's very entertaining, and I recommend you check it out.  He reviews some older TV material too.

Total Vermin #75:  Inverted Bulb, We Are an Inverted Bulb CD-R

Pascal Nichols came to visit Glasgow.  While he was here we recorded some percussion duets, documented here.  Now, anyone who has heard Pascal play knows that he is a mean percussionist.  I am not, but our high-technique/low-technique combo works pretty well.  Sounds weird, nice and open.  Hopefully we'll do some more soon.

Posset review:

"A bold and confident start with one of my favourite sounds: a ruler twanged against a desk. Nestled up against groaning rub or shallow tuba blowing the air turns fizzy with red-cheeked effort. A polite and respectful percussion workout follows, chopsticks and eggshaker taking the foreground for a while until we get lost in crisp and fresh badda-bing. Old drums crop up again on the second track. With a total lack of technique antique military drums are pitter-pattered while cutlery and cups get a rocking. Butter knife (or one of those flexi-tone things) solos up amid the rumble for a while with slapstick effect. This has a Moondog feel to it as rhythms are picked up played with and set down carefully to one side as another takes over. As it is a Total Vermin disc I'd be surprised if Stuart Arnot isn't involved in this effort and that makes the jazz feel all the more Dixie."

Total Vermin #76:  Human Combustion Engine V, "Bible Whistle" C55

For those not in the know, Human Combustion Engine is the analogue electronics duo of Phil Todd and Mel O'Dubhslaine from Ashtray Navigations.  Very difficult to pigeonhole these massive jams.  They seem to reference many corners of synthesizer music across the ages, in the construction of something wholly new, and other.

Rob Midwich wrote a bit about this tape on his blog, reprinted below:

"Human Combustion Engine V – Bible Whistle, is a one-lengthy-track-per-side cassette on the surprisingly-lovely-given-the-name Total Vermin.  The cover features the enormously be-conked, perma-grinning plaster face of Mr. Noseybonk – a nightmare-inducing mime from 80s children’s television series Jigsaw.  Perhaps the less said about him the better.

Anyway, this be the fifth outing of Phil and Mel’s synth duo incarnation (hence the ‘V’).  As you might expect given the instrumentation, there are tangerine passages but it isn’t overly krautish nor does it feel at all like pastiche, or even homage for that matter.  If you want layers of low-end robo-dystopian rumble or epic synth washes then you can find ‘em – especially on side two’s ‘The Importance of Whistle Boards’ – but there is also plenty of agile tweakery going on which pushes things forward in an angular and involving fashion.  Let’s examine, for example, the opening to side one’s ‘Holiday Bible Week’ which begins in a spacey manner but this isn’t 2001: A Space Odyssey spacey, more knitted-out-of-pink-wool Oliver Postgate spacey.  As the atmosphere surrounding the trilling and warbling darkens the new genre of electro-doom-clanger is birthed before our very ears."

Total Vermin #77:  Acrid Lactations, "The Dazzling Quad of Roughmuscle" C60

A patchwork of sections from four gigs - in Manchester in August 2011, in Sheffield in January 2012 duo, and as a trio with Luke Poot, as a trio with Ben Knight (Towering Breaker, Helhesten) in Glasgow, February 2012, and trio with Sami Pekkola (Taco Bells, Mohel), Edinburgh in June 2012.  

Total Vermin #78:  Taco Bells, "Turku Solar Jazz Live 2007 (Tattis Niko ja Orko)" C30

Released to coincide with their recent UK tour, this tape comprises a quartet performance from a few years back.  Line up is Sami Pekkola, Tero Kempainnen, Jaakko Tolvi and Pekko Kappi.  Live and unabridged, raw and wild.  Most of these have already gone, so act quickly!


Total Vermin #18:  Ashtray Navigations, "The Nighttime is the Right Time" CD-R

Having sold out within weeks on its original release back in 2009, it's good to be able to reissue this fantastic piece of the Ashtray continuum.  Here's what I said about it back then:

"You should need no introduction to Ashtray Navigations. Phil Todd has been sailing this beautiful vessel since the early 90s. However, I for one have never heard an Ashtray release as HARD as this. Seriously tough stuff. The night time is the right time to listen... if you want to wake up having suffered complete mental collapse. You do?"

Still holds true.        


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