MICROCORPS is the alias of Grumbling Fur’s Alexander Tucker. Tucker has just issued XMIT, his first album of electronic rhythms under his new alter ego, which features collaborations with Nik Void, Astrud Steehouder, Gazelle Twin and Simon Fisher Turner. We described XMIT as “the thrilling, vibrant sound and energy of pure electrical current, here wrestled and tamed into a regimented form, but one that always feels like it’s on the frontier of suddenly becoming wildly out of control.”
Here, Tucker takes us through five of his most treasured albums, from dub to drone to electronics and reveals how Michael Morley from The Dead C provided the impetus for his MICROCORPS project.
Faust – Faust Tapes
My friend lent me this album when I was 17 or 18. I dubbed it to tape straight away and I used to listen to this whilst hoovering the house. My friend was part of a local crew of musicians into experimental music. I grew up in a small town called Southborough in Kent but luckily for me it was populated with a few like-minded souls into the weirder aspects of creativity. I was instantly taken with the collaged cut-up nature of this album – so many warped worlds, moving between psychedelic songs, noise and fried improvisation. Alongside Throbbing Gristle’s Heathen Earth, these two albums made me realise I could use my limited musical abilities to start my own forays into drone, frequency manipulation and tape loop collages.
Santic And Friends – An Even Harder Shade Of Black
This compilation of dub producer Leonard ‘Santic’ Chin’s work from the mid 1970s was my introduction to King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, Horace Andy, I-Roy and Gregory Isaacs. I was sifting through records in the old Rough Trade in Neal’s Yard and they started playing this album in the shop. It was the prime post-rock / hardcore period of the mid-1990s, I was really into Tortoise’s first album and the Discord band Hoover, who both had a strong dub flavour to their bass playing, so my ears were already primed to get into the originators for this sound. Santic’s production is so warm and texturally rich, I love his re-working of The Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood’ melody on ‘Harder Shade Of Black’ and ‘Better Shade Of Dub’ played on the melodica.
Bardo Pond – Bufo Alvarius
There’s something particularly blurry about this early Bardo Pond release. I think Bardo have been misunderstood over the years, often mistakenly filed under stoner rock. Most of the members of this band have a fine art background which I feel feeds into the broad noise brushstrokes of these feedback-rich tracks. Neither MBV or metal tags do them a service, the history of noise improvisation and outsider psychedelic song forms are closer to the mark. The epic 30-minute track ‘Amen’ is a master class in drone maximalism, beatless and anchored around bassist Clint Takeda’s ever circling repetitive bass phrase. Guitar tones phase into pure sound and vocalist Isobel Sollenberger’s processed voice melts into alien language and time is banished forever.
Gate – A Republic Of Sadness
Gate is Michael Morley of The Dead C, Michael gave this LP to me at a Dead C gig in London. I expected this to reflect the looped samples and guitar noise of previous Gate albums but this was predominantly electronic beat music. A Republic of Sadness and the follow up, Saturday Night Fever, are two of my favourite records. Morley is able to meld his love of drone minimalism to his exploded rockist leanings, through to electronic manipulations. Somehow there are aspects of Charlemagne Palestine and The Fall simultaneously shining through these pieces. This album helped me to move towards making music with machine rhythms and electronics. I really liked it that someone from the noise scene was making this type of music, I think that freed me up to pursue the similar mutant forms I’m currently engaged with in MICROCORPS.
Oren Ambarchi – Hubris
I was down at Soho Radio with my friend Simon Fisher Turner whilst he was DJing and he played a good chunk of side one of Oren Ambarchi’s excellent Hubris album, which I hadn’t heard before. First track ‘Hubris 1’ is such a perfect example of something made up of many different layers, that you can view in both a microscopic and macroscopic way. It can be heard as a homogeneous whole or you can dive down in to the individual parts making up the piece. Its rhythmic drive is matched by its pulsing motorised guitar patterns creating these perfectly revolving cycles. This could easily be three hours long and I would never tire of this perfect track.
XMIT by MICROCORPS was released by Alter on April 16 2021. Thanks to Zoe.
Interview: Mat Smith
(c) 2021 Further.