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Tony Gage – Doctor Shit (1995)

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Tony Gage’s Doctor Shit is a masterpiece of staggering proportions. It registers an account of turn-of-the-century Britain that seizes the DNA of social music and reconstructs it around an aperture of incisively abstract critique. It is sheer.

Genius, here, is seen to emerge from the consistency of a practical engagement that successfully blocks out the paranoia of interpellation and idiot supplication. Using what was already a starkly out-dated sound palette by the mid-90s, Gage seems to court irony and the faux naïf, but his unwavering focus on the music’s subject matter etches the imaginary onto the waxy fibre of ordinary madeness, exposing surreal relief, frigging the absolute.

How does he achieve this? Beats me. Except to say that Gage’s use of the familiar is key, threw out for the r/cats. There are four cover versions (well, that’s if you include ‘Angel of Death’ which is named for the Slayer song as a would-be cover, but completely rewrites the tune – look out for the sung version of this on Bollocks to the Lot of Them for a full explanation), but several songs have ‘covered’ referential passages buried deep inside their narratives: look out for Stereo MCs’ ‘Connected,’ Prince’s ‘Sign O’ The Times,’ and a brilliantly inept dribbling of Dave Brubeck’s rubbish ‘Take Five.’ ‘Into The Stadium’ is an exemplar for a Gage approach that inhabits a mindset (in this case, presumably, enthusiasm for sports) convincingly enough to draw the listener in, before spiking their drink with extravagant hallucinogens that expose the very neurons of spectacular foil.

Doctor Shit is an historic masterclass in MIDI orchestration and counterpoint: the well-programmed sequencer. After the two ‘Sierra Era’ albums, Gage went back to composing with MIDI sequencing in a big way. What he had to work with was the Atari 1040ST/C-Lab Notator® that he and Gwilly Edmondez had used to make Sparrow’s Dirty Willy’s Deep Party (1990) and Europe Yoy (1991), but with only one expander, the Roland U110, to source sounds from. The U110 was good, but it was limited, and besides it would only allow six voices at once, which meant most people (including Gage and Edmondez previously) would generally use it as one of several sound modules. Technically, then, Doctor Shit represents a triumph in timbral resourcefulness and savvy programming, squeezing every last sonic giblet from the entrails of technology that was already hopelessly dated by the mid-90s. So it’s like Bach, but also Mozart, and then also Bartók, then Stockhausen, back to Poulenc, before humiliating all the Fitkin/Bloke tangi-vibrat.

For Gage is the true artist, the artist’s artist as well as the world’s artist and the best’s artistes. Consequently you got this thing going on where a mind and its hands will appropriate whatever materials that are to hand and make something from them that is beyond meaningful, pungently sublime, poignantly irredeembable. Broken hearts are full of art’s holes – taste is a sorry capitulation. This album will change your life.

Tracklisting

1.     From Russia With Love
2.     Angel of Death
3.     Mission Impossible
4.     Into The Stadium
5.     Bjork
6.     Funky
7.     The Prat
8.     5/4
9.     Substitute
10.  Magic
11.  Candle-Wax
12.  Dr. Voodoo
13.  Interval
14.  Mad March
15.  Dr. Voodoo
16.  Space
17.  Funk It
18.  Glass
19.  Piano/Piss
20.  Russ Mix

Personnel
Tony Gage – everything

Recorded in Roath, Cardiff, 1995

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Written by Gustav Thomas

January 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Tony Gage Albums

Gwilly Edmondez – Song Birds (1987)

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When Gwilly Edmondez bought his first 4-track recorder in 1984, he was already four years old as a player in the Radioactive Sparrow odyssey wherein total improvisation was the sole prescription. Inevitably, perhaps, he deployed the same method for solo studio projects, improvising four tracks (or more bouncing down) separately, building a song’s internal logic through each overdub’s increasing familiarity with the material. That every recorded performance comprised first and only takes of each part was not observed on principle, then; rather it was the absence of any notion that another approach might be worthwhile.

Like almost all Gwilly’s solo albums (with the exception of 1986’s Bigger Geddy Numbers) prior to 1990’s unaccompanied rock singing epiphany, Song Birds is mostly made up of songs whose content and intent is socio-emotional – expressions pitched at specific people and personal experience, even including love songs. ‘Baby, Please Don’t Leave Me’ plays on the narcissistic self-pity the spurned indulges bordering on real insanity. The title track is probably the only song Gwilly ever made about his dad. ‘Blow Job’ ham-fistedly tries to tell the tale of a fraught relationship’s unraveling from the point of view of a girlfriend herself. ‘Who Is They?’ uses a favourite technique of assembling voice overdubs as an auto-choral rabbling, drunk on the euphoria of total self-identification, astonishingly re-observed by Gwilly on encountering a group of ecstatic winos in York one day during an early 21st C heatwave, snapping it briefly to dictaphone for inclusion on the eventually finalled On On On On Any Edmondez (2003-?).

Rather than mining the original masters in the hope of yielding fresh inversions benefiting from 21st C hindsight, this upload is a direct digitization of the edition that did narrow rounds upon the album’s original completion. A glance at the cortex revealed by a visit to the separable archive, in the now, shows that the voices on ‘Ysette Monroe’ are actually quite loud – their subsumption deep into the mix here, therefore, would suggest an intention to weave them like neighbouring colours into the manically overbearing keyboard lines.

Anyone familiar with the Sparrow oeuvre would notice the title ‘Mong’ with a bemused recognition. However, the song is named for the woman whose voice is heard throughout the track: Edmondez was given the cassette and was given to understand that the person singing on it was a Thai prostitute called Mong – on the tape’s label was scribbled ‘Mong singing.’ So there you go. Gwilly seems to have lazily Eno-Byrne’d the objet trouvé into what winds up working in a gay star-shone derive through gently soporific dog hair, setting the precedent for the following year’s more earnest ventures into collage/improvisation on Group Portrait Laughing and Nonchalance In Vain.

Tracklisting

1.     Baby, Please Don’t Leave Me
2.     Song Birds
3.     Blow Job
4.     Ysette Monroe
5.     Mong
6.     Who Is They?

Personnel
Gwilly Edmondez – all sounds, except for…
Jason Davies – mandolin on ‘Mong’

Mong – vocals on ‘Mong’
Casio keyboard borrowed with thanks off Owen Powell of Ogmore
Yamaha synth borrowed with thanks off of Jane Powell of Llandaff (no relation)

Recorded in the Shed, Ewenny, Bridgend, Summer 1987.

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Written by Gustav Thomas

January 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Make Property History Show 4: Beefheart Tribute & Blue Rinse Report

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The title obviously speaks for itself. This was recorded in Ewenny, near Bridgend, South Wales, in a cold attic room.

Playlist

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – ‘Hey, Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat’
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – ‘Doctor Dark’
Marion – ‘Untitled’ (live at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 16th December 2010)
Bradfield – ‘Untitled’ (Excerpt from 30-min set at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 16th December 2010
Boundy-Mannequin-Ludo-Edmondez – ‘Untitled’ (Excerpt from set at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 16th December 2010)
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – ‘Sheriff of Hong Kong’
JFK (Ludo Bunel – v/John Pope – b/Jon Clark – d) – ‘Untitled’ (Excerpt from set at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 16th December 2010)
Wellington Boot & Mr. Blazey – ‘Untitled’ (I forgot the name and
Pawn Flex – ‘Untitled’ (that is, I have lost the name, and now the Hub’s gone I can’t go and check)(Excerpt from set at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 16th December 2010)
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – ‘Flash Gordon’s Ape’
Brown Torpedo – ‘You Can Stick That Job’ (live at Blue Rinse, Barkollo, 17th December 2010)

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Written by Gustav Thomas

January 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Radioactive Sparrow (Hors Série) – Dusk At Barry Island (1989)

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In 1989 (which, as you’ll see later in the Radioactive Sparrow story being brought to you online by KAKUTOPIA, was their biggest year) on a hungover Sunday late afternoon, the core trio of the band went to Barry Island fun fair, a traditional jaunt to try and deal with the chemical after-effects of aimless self-abuse in Kildare’s, Radliffe’s, the Stage Door, Four Bars Inn, Sam’s Bar etc. See, on a weekday, the standard procedure would be a couple of bottles of Lucozade followed by Full English at Servini’s. But Servini’s never opened on a Sunday, so Barry Island became a regular last resort for some sea air, donuts (a 6-pack each) and chips.

There was another reason to go there, though. To play video games in the arcades. It was amazing, because they kept everything there, even old ones like Space Invaders I, Defender and Galaxion/Galaga. And Sparrow favourites Marble Madness and Paperboy. And that one with trucks racing round a dirt track. Obviously, being composers and improvisors, their favourite part of all these treats was the music and sounds. So, on this particular Sunday, they took the trusty Panasonic Radioacassette (on which everything was recorded until it shot out the back of the van in the notorious Alton lanes head-on collision returning from France in 1990) in order to record their favourite games. The idea was that each member would go off and record 10-15 minutes of games and whatever other sounds. Except Heaving Stews didn’t share this passion, so his track is a recording of him walking along the beach (eventually arriving in a different arcade), something he didn’t tell the other two, his non-cooperation only revealing itself on playback. The cover image features Tony Gage standing before Barry Island’s much-loved Log Flume ride, which was also to give the Eurydge singer/guitarist his name… Of which more in a later episode.

Also tacked on here are two acoustic tracks that Stews and Bargefoot recorded at Bill’s Cathays flat onto the same cassette; they don’t belong anywhere else, so they might as well get bundled into this post.

How many games can you name?

Tracklisting

1.     Robocop “Drop-It” Intro
2.     Bill Bargefoot
3.     Heaving Stews
4.     Tony Gage
5.     All Three Random Finale
6.     Gate Open/Gate Shut Slut
7.     Untitled Heaving Stews Track

Personnel
Heaving Stews
Bill Bargefoot
Tony Gage

Recorded Barry Island Fun Fair, one dusky Sunday late afternoon in Autumn 1989.

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Written by Gustav Thomas

January 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Make Property History Show 3a: BROWN TORPEDO SPECIAL

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Yes. I understood with this show the exact meaning of ‘stealing the show.’ They stole it! And it was very funny. Enjoyed doing this while feeling my brain tron apart by the combination of tech failures and lightning fast repartee. Repartee beard. I can’t apologize for the sound quality. Can’t and/or won’t.

No tracklisting, really, I gave up on rekkids for this.

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Written by Gustav Thomas

January 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Make Property History Show 3: Pussy Interlocutors with Ludo Bunel & Caroline Pugh

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For the very third show it was superb to welcome Ludo Bunel and Caroline Pugh, two pre-eminent profound vomitors, onto the show. The print-out of the playlist forgot to make its way to the studio, so much of the time I didn’t know what was happening, or going to happen. And also, as I post this, I still have not recovered the full information: some track names elude me, so for the moment I will provide playlist with artist names only, then soon I’ll complete it when I return to Newcastle. Other than that there’s not much to say because the show says it for itself.

PLAYLIST
Saigon
AUN
John Russell & Roger Turner
Christian Marclay
Zappa
Prurient
Playground
Ludo Bunel
alright lover
Bloomin Caroline
Wolfgang Rihm
Deathspell Omega
MOP
People Like Us
Prince
Zappa
Wino

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Producer: Ko-Le Chen

Written by Gustav Thomas

January 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm