Thursday, July 14, 2005


There’s soooo much great music round right now that I’m constantly sitting on a two-month backlog of stuff that I never seem to get round to listening to, let alone reviewing. About three weeks ago, I was sat out in the garden after sundown, gently chugging on some gin, when this little baby blew off my espadrilles:

Been trying to find time ever since to write about the darn thing…

As you know, I’m normally a total vinyl geek, but recently, I’ve been seduced by a number of wonderful homemade/hand-crafted CD-Rs that have been lovingly recorded and packaged by artists who haven’t made (or don’t want to make) the jump to 7” and beyond. Still, I’m glad I cast aside my petty prejudices, otherwise I would have missed out on the cracked Garage-Folk genius of “Acid Skull 205” by Garm.

On pretty much any other week of the year, this album would have easily earned itself a place in the Top Five of my Year-So-Far List, but, unfortunately, it was briefly overshadowed a couple days later when I encountered the incredible “Ultra” 7" by Kemialliset Ystavat. Mind you, the way things are going right now, my Top Five could easily expand into a Top 500…

The opening track “There’s a Belt of Trees that goes Around the Whole Wide World” is an acid-soaked back-porch strumalong with plaintive, slurred vocals that pretty much set the tone for the next (eep!) 27 tracks. Recorded direct-to-mike, the instrumentation is muffled and buried under layers of hiss, while waves of tape-flutter add a sinister modulated-wobble to the vocals and combine with their breathless delivery to hint that something really heavy is about to go down behind the bushes.

Garm’s feverish accidental deconstruction of the song-form works so well because he/they perfectly capture the mounting tension that usually precedes a radical transformation of The Ordinary. The No-Fi sub-”Interim” production-values favoured here beautifully bolster the sense of interiorised hysteria and impending psychic collapse that usually signal an appearance of The Uncanny: “we’ll be alright as long as we just keep singing…”

Tape drops-outs, leakage and seemingly random volume-level changes short-circuit our comfy notions of Linearity and play havoc with our both senses and our sense of expectation. Our listening-focus is constantly disrupted and redirectioned; each track expertly mimicking the moment just prior to the onset of some real or imagined psychogenic drug (…as opposed to Old-Skool Sixties Psych, which attempted to induce a sense of being right at the epicentre of (or of being engulfed by) The Trip…my, how the times have changed...). The production perfectly captures the mounting paranoia that accompanies a realisation that you can no longer fully trust what your own senses are telling you. This is a demo for the soundtrack to Not Wanting to Let Go

But bollocks to all this theorising; as a collection of songs, it sounds bloody great. These are easy/lazy comparisons, I know, but, errrrrrm, let's see: Yeahmm...Barrett circa "Vegetable Man" and early Pop Parker are pushed thru a pencil-sharpener and the shavings mixed with an inky smidge of Jonathan Richman (but more minimal) and some out-takes of Roky E jamming w/ Wildman Fischer. The resultant cassette is then set on fire and partially restored by a forensic sound-technician.

Sniper” is so minimal it makes The Ramones sound like a Full-Blown Prog Orchestra: a duuuuumb-but-proudly-strident guitar-riff is warped by tape-stretch into an acoustic Acid-Punk refusnik anthem:

"Do you know the sniper?
Do you know the sniper?
Do you know the sniper?
Do you know the sniper?
Do you know the sniper?
Do you know the sniper?
I know the sniper!
I know the sniper!
I am the sniper!

"There's Two Kinds of People" sneers and spits bitter seeds of anger at its unnamed targets, coming-off like a Marvel What If? Comic: What if Syd Barrett was still making records in 1977? "Knock Knock (Who's There?)" giggles and laughs nervously as it hides in the cupboard: "I'm not scared! I'm not scared! I-I-I'm nuh-not scared!" goes the twitchy/catchy little singalong chorus before the vocalist collapses under the weight of his own imagined terror. "The Black Lake" is genuinely freaky....vocals zoom in and out of focus, there's something about a monster out there by the lake, but it's too busy spooking itself out to make any real sense...elsewhere, vocals are sung thru bog-roll tubes or in crazed falsettos...4-track tape leakage spins backwards and sounds like crazed bursts of primitive, Wolf Eyes style homemade electronics...hyenas laugh through a flanger and a track ends violently as the mike is unplugged in a sudden kraaaumpht! of ampnoise..."Big Yellow Dog" reveals the singer's irrational fear of the Ordinary as a dog in the yard next door slowly becomes the fevered focus of an inappropriate emotional outburst...later, a creepy, parched-throat accoustic version of Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe" is tackled and promptly wrestled to the ground...

There's also an evil little comic-book attached to it which resembles the sort of demented scribblings that Robyn Hitchcock used to make to accompany his Mid-Eighties LPs:

And all courtesy of those lovely people at Time-Lag Records. So go buy.

This is far more fucked-up, twisted, tricky and darnright spontaneously-inventive than any record ever made by KidFuckin606.

Abandon Laptops All Ye Who Enter Here.