Monday, July 6, 2009

Dylan Nyoukis/Nackt Insecten – Split [Sick Head Tapes]/Astral Social Club/Wounded Knee – Split [Sick Head Tapes]

When I was in Glasgow I met Ruaraidh Sanachan a.k.a. Nackt Insecten and operator of the sick Sick Head Tapes label. I took full advantage of the situation and grabbed the latest four from his label. I’m gonna cover the splits today which make a hell of a case for the UK being the place to be for experimental music right now.
Surprisingly enough, I’ve never heard any of Dylan Nyoukis’s solo stuff but if this side is any indicator, he may be at his best alone and in the zone. "I'll Give You a Translation World in Which You're a Rotting Corpse of a Run-over Dog in Some Ditch" walks a bunch of fine lines: hypnotic/creepy, feral/mellow, and the list goes on. I’m not certain what Nyoukis is using here but I’ll hazard a guess its microphones and probably some tapes too creating a drifting, lethargic warble and klang. Could just be a keyboard too I suppose but that’s beside the point. The point is that this piece is sensational. I haven’t heard anything this good from the boombox evensong genre probably since when The Skaters were at their peak a few years back. The piece re-molds itself constantly but retains a select few elements making all the transitions fluid and seamless. Really, really fantastic stuff.
The only other Insecten stuff I’ve heard was a cool tape of vocal fuzz a while back on Beyond Repair. So, I was surprised to find that Ruaraidh’s side, “The Telepathic Jackal,” was all synth. There’s some squiggly oscillator but it’s mostly fat, dense grooves and melodic keyboard trills. It’s thick, pulsing and crunchy but still totally bright and grooving. I’ve read his stuff described as sci-fi but this sounds like the future more than anything else to me. It invests a really vibrant humanity into a bunch of synthetic sounds rather than being a mind number. This is as active and dynamic as music gets. When I listen to this I always have a big ol’ smile plastered on my face like an idiot. Really amazing split and way too short!
It’s good to see Neil Campbell’s Astral Social Club back in the cassette saddle (when was the last time?) I am glad that this is on tape cause it softens ASC’s sound in a really lovely way. Anyhow, his side is cut in to three pieces; “King Speed Slush” lurches forth first with the mechanical space zombie grind of whatever sampler/synth/guitar palette Campbell employs. All manners of squelch, crunch and clicks before launching into “Morning Fog Vurt,” a toy keyboard demo-esque bass/drum machine thing—groovy with a slight cheese factor—before breaking down. The tracks blur together a bit but I think the start of the side’s centerpiece “Stacking Stacking” is signified by the mellow lull which builds to a massive roar over 15 plus minutes. To digress briefly, Spider Stacy from The Pogues helps out this track which I think is so goddamn cool! Never thought I’d be reviewing a tape with a Pogue on it. Anyway, back to the music. The piece initially works with a couple of glistening synth parts. Mechanical mist to get you primed for the crown jewel to follow. The piece keeps stacking, stacking swelling to Bower-esque proportions of raw distortion but always retains the melodic current that surges through it, peaking with a particularly beautiful and earth shaking crescendo with a looped bass part and even more searing layers of organ and feedback. The piece looms with a strange lethargic triumph, splintering and consuming each remaining particle of atmosphere in its vicinity. It feels like being steamrolled at 2 mph. An utterly incredible piece of work.
I’d never heard of Wounded Knee before but apparently it’s a dude from Edinburgh and his name is Drew just like me! (eerie…) Silliness aside, he serves up an epic half hour called “Lucier Rising” and it’s pretty damn great! It’s an all vocal thing but instead of using loops he uses delay pedals with really long decay times. The result is a brilliant piece in a constant state of flux. There is a strong sense of rhythm which is integral to its success, various styles of vocal melodies folding into the rhythmic framework so the initial section of sound evaporates but its essence is carried forth with new forms being created. I don’t mean to give the impression the piece has the same vibe throughout. Though, it moves in such an organic way that the transition from point A to B is almost imperceptible. It’s like a geological structure where over a length of time various minerals and so forth cement with each other forming a rich and often beautiful whole. Check this guy’s stuff out pronto.
Both these splits are highly, highly recommended. They each come in those thick, Disney-type cases with nice art by Ruaraidh. I especially love the psychedelic brain aneurysm/vomit on the DN/NI cover.

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