Infinite Scale – The Value of Accessibility

Following on from their excellent BUNKR and Echaskech releases, VLSI Records continue to cultivate that rare ability in a label of creating a cohesive identity while simultaneously showcasing acts who have their own personalities.

Such is the case with Harmi Paldi, who has been creating music under the alias of Infinite Scale since 2005. Opening track ‘Caught On Tape’ gives the feeling of leaning forward without falling over, like a glitchy, fragmented Jack Dawson holding Rose Dewitt Bukater at a 45-degree angle on the bow of the Titanic.

‘The Chauffeur’ is fuelled by a laconic bass-line that tethers all the other moving parts to its roots. ‘Ordinary Familiar’ splutters wonderfully to a halt like ‘French Kiss’ deprived of its morning caffeine. Album closer ‘Steppa Side’s wooziness suggests a more playful side which strikes a nice balance with the more muted tones of the track that precedes it, ‘Pay For This’.

The album concerns itself with the ease we have of accessing information and the sheer volume of data available to us. It also suggests a longing for the pre-internet days of anticipation and manual discovery. The use of the word ‘tape’ in one of the titles reveals a fondness for the tactile joy of physical objects. In a digital world items such as audio and video cassettes look and feel antiquated, and it’s easy to see why they might become fetishised by generations who were deprived of the pleasure of possessing them first time around.

Does accessibility trump first-hand experience? Can second-hand experiences ever match seeing and feeling things unfold in the flesh? Does it matter? Are we guilty of setting our personal filters too far to the point where we only interact with our own doppelgängers?

Perhaps the reality is if we solely embrace this constant source of never-ending information we will end up isolated and our opinions homogenised.

The Value Of Accessibility‘s strength lies in its ability to process and present ideas without losing its humanity or identity. To have information at one’s fingertips suits those of us who can no longer can be free in their movements, whether due to geographical responsibilities, mobility issues, or the end of free movement in Europe post-Brexit. Luckily, records such as these transcend physical borders.

The Value Of Accessibility by Infinite Scale is released January 31 2020 by VLSI Records.

Words: David Best. David is a founding member of Fujiya & Miyagi and Ex-Display Model.

(c) 2020 David Best for Further.

Richard Skelton – LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM

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Richard Skelton’s latest album is a forty-minute evocation of the growth, peak and accelerated thawing of the British and Irish glacial landscapes, presented as a series of eight movements of slow, developing tones that ebb away into quiet murmurs; basically, it’s like Morton Feldman, on ice.

The effect is powerfully disconcerting when heard in the context of climate change and the insistent messages of politician, scientists, protesters about the urgency of the corrective action that might be required to arrest the impact.

Across these movements there is a sense of stillness and calm, but also a slightly dizzying sensation. The precise instrumentation is not disclosed, and one never knows the origins of these long, eddying indeterminate tones and warped, muffled drones; at times it sounds like industrial, metallic noise, while at others we hear what could be an especially mournful, poignant cello, only presented like a vague outline of something that once was, but which can never be again. Sounds drift in and out, like gusts of wind across the arctic tundra, only presented as fleetingly melancholic, and edged with a frosty tension. There is a feeling of isolation, a panic-inducing out-of-placeness, that sensation being all the more remarkable given the levels of nothingness one experiences here.

Your response to music is often entirely situational. For me, I chose to listen to this during the clamour and franticity of a walk three and a half blocks from a hotel in New York to a downtown E train during the rush hour. Something about the slow, ominous passage of the music chimed menacingly with the post-work streetscene of manic Manhattan, a world removed from the subject matter of Skelton’s remarkable work, yet somehow entirely in tune with it.

LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM by Richard Skelton is released February 2 2020 by Corbel Stone Press

(c) 2020 Further.

Evil Gal – Brown Acid / The Village Of Doom

A cassette outing for this 28-minute outburst from Canada’s Evil Gal, originally released digitally last November, here released through the uncompromising Industrial Coast imprint. Evil Gal is an offshoot of New Brunswick’s Women Of The Pore (M Gatling), here with additional sonic architecture from Montréal’s Matthew Donnelly (Fecal Mutiliation).

Both artists have a long pedigree in the world of noise, but ‘Brown Acid’ and ‘The Village Of Doom’ play with a different, slightly more restrained sense of violence, feeling more like a low-budget soundtrack to a particularly vivid video nasty only available through the dark web. ‘Brown Acid’ creeps, prowls and stalks with extreme menace, proceeding on a murky bass sequence over which all manner of sounds – percussion, sax, general unholy disquietude – are overlaid. It’s a thick, gloopy sonic goo that leaves indelible stains on your psyche. In a good way.

‘The Village Of Doom’ is more sparse, though just as freakishly uncomfortable, opening with oscillating sounds like warbling sirens, the hiss of escaping air, distortion, micro-loops of unknown origin and randomised non-rhythms and electronics that sound both chaotic and intricate. Nothing here stays around for long; passages are cut off just as they start to become repetitive, engendering a queasiness and rapid motion that means its fourteen minute duration nonchalantly zips by before ebbing away into surprisingly pleasant texture.

Brown Acid / The Village Of Doom by Evil Gal is released January 3 2020 by Industrial Coast.

Words: Mat Smith

3 Questions: Matthew Barton

No matter how hard I try, no description of Rugby multi-instrumentalist Matthew Barton’s latest single ‘Orchid’ is going to get anywhere close to his own: “‘Orchid’ was inspired by Prince minimalism and the Casio organ sound of the Young Marble Giants,” he advises. “I wanted to write something simple and direct. I think of it as like Prince having a baby with a Georgia O’Keeffe painting at a video game arcade. Or something.”

If that sounds brilliantly odd, it’s because it is. Driven by layered, sparse preset rhythms and a shimmering keyboard melody as hypnotic as it is absent, the vast empty spaces of the music act as the perfect setting for Barton’s distinctively impassioned, soulful vocal. There is tender anguish writ large here, spliced together with a vulnerability heralding the arrival of a singular musical talent.

Matthew Barton is working on a cassette release for Knife Punch Records that is due for release in the Spring. In the meantime, Barton talks to Further. about almost drowning and getting stuff done. Listen to ‘Orchid’ below.

What is your earliest memory?

Probably being fished out of a swimming pool by my dad, having fallen in, unable to swim. That wasn’t the last time that happened either. Maybe I can trace my fascination with water back to that moment.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

As a serial procrastinator, “You will never feel like you are ready – so just do it,” is useful and motivating. I’m trying to get better at that this year. Isn’t adulthood all about just pretending you know what you’re doing anyway?

Where are you most productive or inspired?

I find that new places, and new instruments, tend to spark ideas.

I have a lot of random voice memos on my phone recorded in weird places, usually while I’m just walking down streets, probably looking a bit bonkers.

New instruments too – my brother bought me a kalimba for my birthday and I’ve been writing some different stuff on that. You’ve just got to be open to everything around you.

Orchid by Matthew Barton was released January 21 2020.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

Waclaw Zimpel – Massive Oscillations

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For anyone interest in the rudiments of electronic music, titles don’t come much more thrilling than Massive Oscillations, the name of the second album by Polish multi-instrumentalist Waclaw Zimpel. It is both a perfectly accurate depiction of the structure of the title track’s enormous, ever-shifting undercurrent of snarling, wild, grinding synth lines, and the guiding principle that runs throughout the record.

The album finds Zimpel, an arsenal of vintage electronics from oscillators to tape machines, a piano, his clarinet and a guitar operating in a many-layered excursion into the underexplored territory between the slow evolutions of minimalism, avant-garde jazz and intense electronics. The four tracks were recorded at Willem Tweestudio in Den Bosch, Netherlands over a period of nine days and then mixed by James Holden, a musician who knows more than a thing or two about fusing together jazz and electronics (see his deployment of Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic theory with fellow auteur Marcus Hamblett for evidence).

Both ‘Massive Oscillations’ and ‘Sine Tapes’ deploy a tension between wandering electronics and Zimpel’s clarinet, resulting in something that can – on one level – appear meditative and soothing but at other times presages a dirty, turbulent discordancy. The expressive reed playing could easily be allowed to dominate, but instead it threads noisily through the wavering, oscillating tones that dominate the foreground, only rising to the top when developed into thick, heavy blocks of drones, squeals and resonant melodies.

‘Release’ is perhaps the biggest departure from the sonic architecture used on the preceding three tracks, given that the electronics take something of a backseat, reduced to textural white noise, gentle shimmers and air cylinder hissing. Here we find Zimpel exploring territory not dissimilar to Terry Riley’s In C, repeated motifs for prepared piano, clarinet and guitar quietly developing over the course of its eight beatific minutes. The introduction of heavenly vocals provides the piece with an unexpectedly transcendent, dream-like quality.

Massive Oscillations by Waclaw Zimpel is released January 31 2020 by Ongehood.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

OUTLANDS – The Joyous Thing: Secret Flight / BodyVice

Two polar opposite live performances forming part of The Joyous Thing, a weekend of events at Milton Keynes Gallery investigating the UK experimental music scene. The Joyous Thing is part of the nationwide OUTLANDS interdisciplinary project.

Secret Flight is a local MK electronic musician whose current concerns involve fusing reverb-drenched vocals to delicate synth melodies and minimalist rhythms. The result is dreamy, angelic, choir-like voices delivered with a gauzy, hypnotic warmth, only laced with an uncertain quality somewhere between intense rapture and crushing disappointment. Her last album, 2018’s My Forever Mirage is a brilliant and understated gem of an album. Listen to My Forever Mirage at Bandcamp.

BodyVice is the latest project from Natalie Sharp, best known for her audacious, confrontational performances as Lone Taxidermist and as a Gazelle Twin collaborator. For BodyVice, the subject matter is the intense and excruciating back pain that she suffers with, and finds her channelling her experience at the hands of doctors as they seek to identify the cause.

Beginning with a hospital gown-wearing male collaborator’s Irvine Welsh-style delivery of what initially sounds like a misty-eyed recollection of a Speedy J set at a Belgian rave – all intense beats of rising velocity and modulating electronics – it becomes apparent that he is, in fact, describing an MRI scan experience. What ensues is nothing short of unnerving – Sharp (with a collaborator and occasional flautist) rotating on turntables against a backdrop of howling, impenetrable noise to evoke the claustrophobia and unnatural experience of an MRI scan, all frantic, rising rhythms and industrial-strength walls of unending sound.

The performance then proceeds through angry lists of precautionary statements from a clipboard waiver, mesmerising sounds and non-melodies played on modified spinal chords (pun intended) designed by Tara Pattenden (Phantom Chips), guttural invocations worthy of Diamanda Galás and a thrilling coda of punishing, strobe-lit industrial techno as Sharp douses herself in fake blood while screaming.

According to Sharp, BodyVice is a reaction against the proliferation of stale, insipid electronic-musician-on-stage-with-MacBook performances. It is most definitely that. It is also uncomfortable, challenging and frequently terrifying; as a physical, visual and aural metaphor for Natalie Sharp’s chronic pain, it is forcibly and viscerally accurate.

January 25 2020. Thanks to Zoe and Simon. MK Gallery: mkgallery.org

Words and terrible photographs: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

First Play: Novelty Island – Saturn Alarms

Novelty Island is the brainchild of Tom McConnell, who hails from an indeterminate location somewhere in the north of England, and whose group may or may not be named after a Vic and Bob skit.

Featuring deft choruses, woozy retro synths and a wonky, space-age sensibility, Novelty Island released their debut single, ‘Magdapio Falls’ last year and follow that understated, singalong gem with ‘Saturn Alarms’ which will be released this Friday.

Both tracks feature on the debut Novelty Island EP, Welcome To Novelty Island, which is due to land in March. ‘Saturn Alarms’ is the counterpoint to ‘Magdapio Falls’s languid, laidback structure, being an urgent rush through the turbulent reaches of our solar system and the omnipresent sauce junk floating around out there, replete with catchy vocals and star-scraping electronics. The track was named after some inexplicable graffiti that McConnell spotted tagged onto his mother’s house in Liverpool, and thenceforth transformed into a retro-futurist pop monster.

Listen to the exclusive first play of ‘Saturn Alarms’ below.

Novelty Island play The Social, London on March 19 and Shipping Forecast, Liverpool on 26 March. Saturn Alarms is released January 24 2020 through Ditto Music.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.