Wednesday, 9 October 2013
In modern music-writer parlance, musicians no longer release albums. They “drop” them. But in the case of Lord Gloom's debut, that happens to be true.
The story goes that Lord Gloom (real name unknown) was undertaking one of his frequent coastal cliff walks, when he inadvertently dropped a USB stick that happened to contain an album's worth of sequenced material, complete with artwork.
Though it's unclear as to where exactly on the British coast this took place, Lord Gloom must live in one of those coastal towns that hasn't changed much since 1972, for his USB stick was mistakenly identified as a bomb by a fellow hill-walker. The authorities were notified, but only the local constabulary were able to make it to the scene. This is fortunate for anyone interested in hearing this album. A “real” bomb-disposal unit would likely have destroyed the suspected device. Instead, a junior member of the constabulary volunteered to take the USB stick home “to have a closer look.”
When he got home, his wife immediately recognised “the device” for what it really was, so they decided to take a look at its contents. And the rest, as they say, is boring. Regardless of how we got here, here we are, with the first ever “official” Lord Gloom release. Not counting, of course, the countless albums he's already donated to his local parish's various outreach projects. This is the first opportunity the wider world has been given to hear the often nauseating work of Lord Gloom, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Though his thoughts on this particular collection of music are unknown, in the wake of dropping this album, Lord Gloom apparently gave his consent for its wider release. There will be those who'll speculate that the “accidental” dropping of Grizwald? was no accident, that he'd always intended for this music to be heard. But that's just conjecture, and should not get in the way of anybody's enjoyment or intolerance of this album.
Grizwald? opens with a simple four note melody over which somebody, perhaps Lord Gloom himself, performs a muttered rendition of Shakin' Stevens's “Merry Christmas Everyone”. What follows is a moody 40 minutes of sludgy orchestration, local history, time travel, growling clowns, corn bins, backward bouzoukis, old Latin rhythms and an inexplicable hate figure called Bob God.
Most interesting of all, four tracks feature spoken renditions of strange short stories from that master of baffling macabre microfiction, Nevervane. Those who have always wanted to put a voice to the words will be pleased to find that it fills the ears like refined battenberg soaked in boozy tea.
Some might find Grizwald? to be boring, half-baked, derivative dark-ambient nonsense. Those people would do well to remember that Lord Gloom perhaps never intended for these sounds to be heard. His subsequent approval for their release may have been begrudging. It's certainly too much to ask that critics might give Lord Gloom the benefit of the doubt, but you never know. Some might find here a pleasing midpoint between vaporware detachment and Hauntological dread.
Apart from anything else, intentional or not, Lord Gloom couldn't have “dropped” his album at a better time. It's the season of the witch, after all.
Download Lord Gloom's Grizwald? here.
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
It's finally here. After seven years of near silence tempered only by strange rumours and hearsay, we finally have a new album from The Filing Cabinets. And, as if to apologise for having been away for so long, it's a five-disc affair.
That's right. 91 tracks across five discs with a total running time in excess of two and a half hours. And of course, throughout this marathon listen, you'll hear nothing beyond a single note. They're back. And it feels amazing.
The Filing Cabinets were always the biggest purists in the most puritanical scene of all – One Note Music (ONM). Whilst pretty much every other purveyor of ONM was quite happy to stick to a single note per song, brothers Jon and Trent Berhaunt always limited themselves to one note per album.
Albums by The Filing Cabinets have always therefore initially presented themselves as gruelling mountains to conquer. Of course, the moment you familiarise yourself with the album's note, you immediately find vast glowing fields of wonder where previously you found only frozen tundra.
Getting there has always been half the fun, but with their new album, Grey Squares, The Filing Cabinets have crafted a beast so seemingly impenetrable that such past challenges as Trop and Blood Strings now appear as light and friendly as a Dirk Brick album by comparison.
True, the biggest obstacle to overcome when approaching Grey Squares for the first time is the length. There will be some people who just won't be able to handle the same note for two and a half hours. However, all it takes is a cursory listen to realise that the note in question is, once more, almost unbearably beautiful.
The Filing Cabinets have always been celebrated for their superior craftsmanship, and those who have visited their studio attest that they must put more effort into forging their single notes as most other bands do into recording their whole albums. This time the note is a sort of warm buzz – I think it's in C – and the main draw is that it sounds just as good quiet as it does at top volume.
Turn the volume up and Grey Squares will rattle your windowpanes as it empties your mind of all thoughts, memories and opinions. But personally, I've had more fun listening to it at a barely audible volume. It becomes true background music – as omnipresent yet unobtrusive as a distant fridge – and I find it aids concentration beautifully.
I've been approaching Grey Squares one disc at a time (as opposed to on a track-by-track basis), and I'm still not sure which one's my favourite. Disc one, though, is certainly the most difficult. At 18 tracks, it's the longest stretch of music so far recorded by The Filing Cabinets, and there you'll find some of the most dark and sinister music ever to come from the ONM scene. The likes of The Kiddies Have Fine Times Here and the variations on the Sunglassed theme are genuinely terrifying, but amongst the darkness you find a touching tribute to the work of the actor Kevin Eldon.
Disc two is a bit more playful. There you'll find Yellow - which may or may not be a Coldplay cover – and the really quite wonderful (if utterly perplexing) Illegible Handwriting.
If you listen, like I did, to the whole of Grey Squares in a single sitting, such jaunty tracks on disc three as Blow Wet, Sausaging and Bananas will take you completely by surprise; so by the time you get to the comparatively short and sweet disc four, loaded with sly nods, arcane references and Biblical allusions, you'll feel like The Filing Cabinets own your mind. Again.
And then we come to disc five. It's slightly less focused than all that's come before, and I can't help but wonder if they just shoved all their leftover odds and sods together for the sake of it. That said, the ten part Crack sequence is awe-inspiring, and even amongst the fragmentary diversity they still manage to draw things to a satisfyingly thematic close.
Grey Squares is certainly a lot to take in, and I do wonder if the excitement over having new music by The Filing Cabinets is clouding my judgement. But that said, even if you're a total newcomer to their world, you'll probably find a lot to love here. And who knows? As we spend months, years and decades with Grey Squares, we might find that we were right from the start to label it a masterpiece.
The Filing Cabinets – Grey Squares can be downloaded for free from here: http://www.sendspace.com/file/me6sgj
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
By now everybody knows how to make a homunculus, and the only reason our streets aren't plagued by legions of scurrying malformed minions is because the death penalty was removed decades ago. And even were it still in place, most hangings would assuredly take place in private places in this day and age, away from private eyes and keening shovels. They'd probably also take place indoors, meaning that no mandrake would even be able to take root in the correct conditions.
Soaking your mandrake root in milk will form a gentle and inquisitive homunculus. Contrariwise, a blood soaking will unleash what might be termed an “evil” homunculus.
Seeing as there's precious little opportunity to pick a mandrake root, most people are reluctant to deviate from the established practices of homunculus formation. But it has often been wondered what sort of homunculus might form from experimenting with different base liquids.
One man with plenty of time on his hands and, apparently, access to plenty of mandrake roots is everybody's favourite war criminal, Gulliver Deutschland. His notes, taken from his stagnant blog, detail his extensive research into homunculus cultivation. He doesn't explain where he managed to find so many fresh mandrake roots, but we must assume that he managed to gather such an ample supply whilst working as a scout/stretcher-bearer during The Great Interrail Wars. His writings from that period are full of references to dangling corpses swaying in the post-battle breeze.
I'm paraphrasing a little here, as Deutschland's notes, as usual, ramble on for pages. But the extent of his findings can be summed up as follows:
1. Milk – Gentle, curious, “innocent” homunculus.
2. Blood – Restless, vicious, “evil” homunculus.
3. Wine – Loud, decadent, narcoleptic. [red or white?]
4. Whisky – Fiery, tempestuous, pedantic homunculus.
5. Oil – Lubricated, formless, flammable.
6. Water – No homunculus formed.
7. Salt water – Mandrake root sprouted lichen-like growths and pair of eyes but showed no signs of life.
8. Rum – Hairy.
9. Fortified Wine [Port? Sherry? Brandy?] - Homunculus had crystals instead of feet, struggled to breathe and expired within hours.
10. Gasoline – Invisible homunculus.
Saturday, 30 March 2013
Friday, 22 March 2013
"I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree… of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides."Read more.
Sunday, 17 March 2013
"The Conet Project is far from easy listening. In fact, while everyone I’ve ever played it for has been intrigued, the bulk of the responses are laced with a trace of something beyond the undeniable creepiness. More than a few people have asked me to turn it off within the first 30 seconds, as if the recordings relay a sense of the foreboding and the forbidden themselves, without any background history at all. A transparent fingerprint of their original purpose somehow relayed as an audial warning label, not for public consumption."Read more.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
The cardinals cast their votes again and again until a majority is reached – throwing each successive ballot into a specially treated fire.
Or so we're told. Unless you're a cardinal, all you'll ever see of a conclave is a pillar of smoke. And they do like to tease us of what goes on inside, don't they? You often see cardinals on tour with their provocative “What happens in the conclave stays in the conclave!” t-shirts.
Knowing that he'd never pass for a cardinal, notorious investigative journalist Gulliver Deutschland once managed to infiltrate the Holy Cleaning Staff. With an apron and a duster, he went undercover as a shy Mezzogiorno maiden to see if the aftermath of a conclave could shed any light on the sort of things that might take place amongst a secluded gathering of cardinals.
As anybody who's ever read Deutschland's writing will attest, he does have a tendency to ramble. His report on the conclave aftermath, though, was disturbingly brief. Two words, if I remember correctly, that were repeated again and again: “Feathers” and “pinstripes”.
But Deutschland was this year given an unexpected opportunity to attempt a further infiltration of the conclave. This time, reprising his role as a Mezzigiorno cleaning lady was out of the question, as he didn't want to have to confront the ensuing mess again. “If you were to see what I saw,” he wrote, “you'll wish a sainthood upon every member of the Holy Cleaning Staff.”
This time, though, Deutschland managed to infiltrate the Divine Catering Staff. He's been very busy, but now that he's returned, he's once more disappointingly reticent. However, he did take the trouble to leak the conclave rider.
This is transcribed directly from Gulliver Deutschland's website. I'd provide a link, but I don't want to be held responsible for you or your computer catching anything. It's a list of the various items requested by the cardinal collective for their conclave.
Deutshland tells us that the original list was written in blue Biro by a shaky hand on crumpled Tesco stationery. He insists that it was originally written in Latin, but I believe he might just be showing off there. I have it on good authority that there is no Latin word for “Scotch Egg”.
Here it is, then. The Conclave Rider, copied verbatim:
6,400 x Hard boiled Eggs (green yolks, please!)
12,500 x Scotch Eggs
70 x Supermarket Brand Birthday Cakes (One for each cardinal, ideally with their face replicated in icing to avoid squabbling)
500 x Coconuts (drained of milk)
Every single chicken within a seventy mile radius of the Vatican (dead or alive)
350 x tins soup (any flavour except mushroom)
150 x tins chilli (supermarket brand is fine)
1,000x sachets of butterscotch flavour Angel Delight
3,000kg Dolly Mixtures
3,000kg Liquorice Allsorts (please remove all the brown ones)
1,000kg dried spaghetti
1,000 litres coconut milk
Babe – A Pig In The City (DVD or VHS)