Intermittent D.I.Y. music / art / life writing projects.

Month: October, 2013

Hering und seine sieben Sachen / Parashi split c40 (Skell LLC)


Desiring Machines

Hering und seine sieben Sachen is translated via Google Translate Magic into the English phrasing, “Herring and his stuff”. From the liner notings of this recording, I gather that if Herring is he who has caused the sounds on side-with-screws of this tape, the stuff he has used is mostly 4 cassette walk-mans. If this translation is correct, and the meaning of the phrase near correct, I think it’s an amusing moniker. -Especially if such an approach is common to the executing of performances or sound creations by the artist. Who is “Herring”? Who is “Art”? -and what does he mean?


The pseudonym may not have any meaningful significance, but I like to pretend if possible. If “Herring” is not Daniel Voigt’s grandpa’s nickname, or the name of a relatively unknown megalomaniacal circus ring-master from the mid 1800’s, or a reference to a crude regional neighborhood joke, or an imaginary 40 foot tall anthropomorphosized fish with a cranky disposition acting as television judge in small claims court, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to shrug about it, is all. If the basis of this name is shruggable, I respectfully yet disappointedly digress. Curse / joy of irrepressible imagination.

“…why should I repeat myself?” speaks some about the approach taken in this stream of mostly loop-based ambient / drone growth. From one faded-in tributary to the next, the thing winds gently across some isolated deep night moonlit German meadow. Sounds are appropriated from old dusty sources; vinyls, tapes, VHS, or from digitized formats with their original analog audio patinas intact. There is also some synth drifting perhaps created in-house by the operating mixmaster, Daniel Voigt (a human presumably of German nationality, based in Germany, where he proliferates cassette releases via the SicSic label, of his instigation and proprietorship). This recording has a similar feeling to Venn Rain’s Last Nights tape, which also works with loops and dreamy night-scented synthesizer sounds, all in faded fidelities with well-rounded edges. The “…why should I repeat myself?” audio quote is from a wonderful Sun Ra documentary called A Joyful Noise, that I strongly recommend to anyone interested in eccentricity, unusual angles in music thoughts, jazz, history of human culture, exciting musical performances with theatricality and costumes, the life/mind of a visionary artist, and relative topics of intrigue. The quote here is taken from a sizable monologue Ra gives in a museum, among ancient statues and relics of Egypt. His ideas are cryptic, daring, weird, provocative, and insightful. Or if you like, you can take him entirely as a joke, finding only novelty in his unusual manner of dress, speech, and behavior. Much more prone to that sort of perception might be the film Space is the Place, which is a mythic science fiction feature starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Both are unique viewings for those seeking unusuality.


My favorite statement given during these segments (if I’m remembering correctly) strewn throughout the A Joyful Noise documentary is: “The chaos on this planet is due to the music that musicians are playing…that they are forced to play…by some who just think of money and don’t realize that music is a spiritual language, and it represents the people of Earth. When musicians are compelled to play…anything…it goes straight to the throne of the creator of the universe, and that is how he sees you – according to your music…”

In the context of this review, I relate this quote -well, because it really struck me at the time of my first view of the doc, and to suggest that Hering… is being conscientious about what he chooses to relate through sound, recognizing that music is -if not a “spiritual” language- at least it is a sublime language that needs to be wrought with earnest intentions and energies. Also, perhaps there’s something karmic about the way your music ricochets from mind to mind, place to place, resulting in good or bad fortunes to any persons or situations involved, relative to the intentions and energies with which it is imbued. I think Ra sought to stimulate, excite, inspire, inform, and energize people. Voigt’s inclusion of this and other speech soundbytes work toward similar ends, though much less overtly. The speaking samples here of Sun Ra, UFO news blurb, and another philosophization on the dehumanization of music by electronic music (who is this? I wonder…) are all flavorful arrows pointed toward mysteriously elusive ideas that permit lengthy rumination, which is appropriate for the moods depicted by the rest of the sound constructions in “Desiring Machines”. Interior pondering is engendered first by the tonalities and their inter-relative textural spicings, then we are provided periodically with verbal condiments for enhancement or anchoring.

Parashi – Sigil of the Shining Man

I mean to compliment Parashi by incidentally finding comparability between his (Mike Griffin of Skell LLC) recordings and those of City of Worms, which was a circa 1980’s project Jeph Jerman (Hands To, the Big Body Parts label) had a hand in prior and partially parallel to his Hands To project, which also bears some similarity to the way Parashi comes off to me. Parashi’s sounds and the way he arranges them are in this territory by being mysterious and obscured by fidelity scums of different sorts. His work (what I’ve heard) is more sparse overall, and uses more electronics. This use of electronics is quite care-ful; he takes pains to sculpt them such that they are alien to the discerning (musician) ear, yet eerily familiar on an instinct level – in that the feelings evoked by the sounds often provoke strange emotional reactions akin to deja vu, nostalgia, secret fears, strange dream sensations, and other difficult-to-place emotional sensations. With implicit recognition that I may be incorrect, in my writings here I do a bit of projection onto other artists’ work of my own interests, but I will dare to say that Parashi’s intention is toward expressing the metaphysical, the mystic, the esoteric, the ancient, the unexplained, and/or the geologic much more than the mathematical, the structured, the sterile, the technological, the everyday, or any straightforward aspects of perceptions and experience. Use of the word “sigil” here, I think, supports this daring suggestion, as does the title of a previous work, The Book of Nothing.

A sigil is (generally) the abstraction of the plainly readable text letters of a chosen phrase or statements of intention, often thought of as a “spell”, down to one uniquely synthesized symbol. This symbol is then intensely focused on by the one who has created it, then it is destroyed in some special moment of heightened intensity. I will let you do your own research on popular methods of intensity achievement, if you’re so inclined. (wink) The idea is that the sigilizer is forcing an intention willfully deep into the subconscious, like a strong seed, to grow at a later time into an intended state of being. This can be done for any reason; self improvement, revenge, luck enhancement, goodwill dissemination, or basically whatever the sigilizer chooses to intend. What Parashi, City of Worms, Hands To, and various other artists of this realm do, in my view, is often sort of a sigilization of sound. In certain instances, the artist begins with an easily identifiable sound found in a common setting or from an unremarkable source. Next, the artist directs intention toward the sound and idealizes results, consciously or unconsciously. The idealized results of course include the finished creation, but they also probably include some sort of influence on the people who encounter the sounds. The creator manipulates the sound, abstracting it from its original form, sublimating it down to another shape less easily identifiable. The artist cooks the sound so the mind has something more (or less?) flavorful to eat, and the sound is given the power needed to burrow deeper into the consciousness of listeners. The sound isn’t destroyed, usually, at the final level of abstraction, but it is many times “released” out into the world where it can and probably will effect other spheres. Sounds revealed to listeners in various situations can have uncanny effects on the trajectory of a person’s life. Most avid music listeners can list at least 5 albums that changed their life, and in the case of avid experimental music listeners, I think the life-changing aspects of such audio influences might frequently be of an ineffable, intangible, change-of-consciousness sort not easily linked to lyrics or other obvious points of interest.

Parashi’s work is magical, subliminal; in the realms of the sub/super/supra-unconscious. The two pieces here take interesting paths, avoiding redundancy and/or any discontinuous compositional / improvisatory calculations. I expect to dig deeper into his catalog, but at this point relatively early in my introduction to his canon I will say another daring thing: I don’t expect to enjoy anything else I hear any less than this release. Very pleasing to the mind and senses of a wonderer.

The two sides of this purple tape contrast each other excellently while creating a whole that harmonizes in aesthetic nutritions as well as a colorful plate of balanced-meal food nutrition. I felt my listening time was well spent and I was nourished; cells re-generated, dead cells & toxins flushed, nutrients replenished, energies gained, etc. I attempt to hold consumption of any arts to this standard, and am thankful upon the chewing of such meals.

Skell LLC

Hering und seine sieben Sachen



(Thank you to my good friend Bob, who some time ago spontaneously provided my mind with the “Who is Art?…” joke, which I am glad to thank him for. What does he mean??)


Crank Sturgeon and Hal McGee – A Statistician’s Intramural Crush C60 (HalTapes)

ImageHal is one of my all time most admired and enjoyed figure/artists. He was one of the first distributors of cassettes in the early 80s and figured heavily in the underground cassette culture of that time through his many collaborations, Cause and Effect cassette label/distro, and Electronic Cottage cassette culture zine. I first became aware of Hal around 2002 through my friendship with Phil Klampe of Homogenized Terrestrials, who had worked with Hal on a few collaborations. This exposure opened me up to the world of Brian Noring’s F.D.R. tape label, Charles Rice Goff III’s Tapedrugs label, Hands To, Minoy, Zoviet France, Malok, Hal’s Homemade Alien Music podcasts, etc. Greatly inspiring and stimulating work and activities. To learn more about Hal’s eventful history, check out this great interview piece at Don Campau’s Living Archive of Underground Music, or Hal’s website, which is full of great information and a massive catalog of home recordings.

As for a rundown on the new-to-me Crank Sturgeon, I will give my seal of approval to what he does and strongly suggest you read the informative deposits at his website, then have a look around through his world. Great, weird multimedia/performance artist.

This tape is a collaborative tape created by improvised mixture of two microcassette collage tapes; one created by Hal McGee and the other by Crank Sturgeon. These frenetic sound and voice collageforms are spontaneously created with vigor, holding a wealth of imaginative, funny, odd, and fun sounds and ideas. Hal’s on-the-spot mix of the two tapes works excellently to hold interest, with perhaps a mere 3% of the tape inspiring twinges of impatience. Being a work created entirely on the fly this is really impressive.

Crank Sturgeon’s material is fantastic. Bizarre, humorous, inspired. He has a great talent with his voice, being able to assume many characters and conceive of many entertaining fictions and compositions of wording. Some Gysin-like cutting via sampler and/or microcassette recording pause button nuttiness. Freaky synth noises and odd feedbacks are juxtaposed with vignettes and atmospheres painted by inventive word flows. We are put into a number of different scenarios within the realms of a number of different pretended minds.

Hal’s material is a mix of odd neighborhood conversations, wordplaying, weird number listings, voiceplay, electronic noises, noises made by objects, street noises, and other non-identifiable sound. If you are at all familiar with Hal’s many handheld tape recorder collage recordings this contribution is right in there, but nonetheless entertaining, thoughtful, fun, and at times poignant. Check out The Man With The Tape Recorder.

This is a really fun tape that is a great pleasure to listen to. I will also comment on the pleasure I derive from Hal’s drive for community which is at least partially embodied in the way he is always sure to include the artists’ contact information prominently on the packaging of the release. Newer cassette releasers don’t often do this, opting consciously or unconsciously for the use of Google for this purpose. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but I like this. Hal’s relentless enthusiasm and activity is inspiring, and this is a strong document of how worthwhile the fruit of his energies can be.

Controlled Bleeding – Body Samples C70 (Obsolete Units)

ImageControlled Bleeding is a project founded in 1978 by central member Paul Lemos. Originally the group played a sort of progressive instrumental music that, as described at the Controlled Bleeding website, sounded like “a collision between The Ramones and Mahavishnu Orchestra.” I have known Controlled Bleeding as mostly a sort of industrial-noise-electronic-ambient shape-shifting project, having released a number of recordings on labels such as Dossier, Ladd-Frith, Staalplaat, Sub Rosa, Soleilmoon, Wax Trax, Hospital Productions, and Cleopatra, which indicates somewhat of a variety of style coverage by the group. They also released a number of items on cassette in the 80’s, which had led me to a false conclusion that they were an extinct 80’s cassette-culture-oriented power-electronics/noise/surrealist group (to me, on the recordings I’m familiar with, being at times in Nurse With Wound territory). I found later that they are still alive and that they are a versatile experimental audio-art project that has released a smorgasbord of exciting audio weirdness over the last 30+ years. I find this to be a very interesting project and I expect to be digging more deeply into their varied catalog as finances allow. 

On the present release, Body Samples, a lot of what is heard is recorded through a distorted microphone, emphasizing much violent SLAMMING ON METAL OBJECTS, and sometimes joined by violent yelling. Such sounds are sampled and looped, scrap-yarded in heaps of other vicious sound, crumbly and scalding hot with distorto-scum. Then there are odd bits of strange electronic dreaminess thinly coated with an ooze of all-natural surrealist flavoring. Abstractly junky noised-up flea circus tunes with sinister undertones, utilizing the distinctive tactic of recording sounds, guitars, and voices at a slower speed than the intended playback speed. This idiosyncratic method is heard as well on another Controlled Bleeding album I enjoy called Curd. Wonderful weirdness is attained by this trick in conjunction with the many other aesthetic and elemental choices. Controlled Bleeding meld home taper collage stylings with harshest industrial noise and nocturnally-vibed surrealist puppet show instrumentals. Guitar and bass lines are played simply but with a unique sophistication, and at times the aforementioned speeding-up trick is probably not really what is happening; the guitar player (Lemos? – no guitar is listed in the jacket – only bass) is really playing that fast, and it’s pretty impressive, yet it’s unpretentious. Drum sticks are heard knocking out rhythms beneath rapid-boil pools of translucent gray-green-red channel overload cacophony. Microphone feedback projectile barfed from moldy amplifiers amorphously spasms and strobes. This tape falls into my long ago invented (inspired by Headless Ballerinas Underwater’s “The Devil’s Car”) category; Music that could actually cause my grandmother’s construction of reality to disintegrate, or -to reference HBU again- “Breakdown In Reality Part 4”. It’s violently harsh and bizarre with metaphysical hints, which jars not only the immediate visceral realities of the average ear’s predilection for non-horrific sorts of sounds, but digs deeper through the wise usage of dynamics, pacing, and diversity of sounds/tonality to achieve deeper psychological levels.