Mark Wharton | Idwal Fisher

The inability of the English to cope with the extremes of temperature is a well known one. Two days of the mercury rising is enough for most whilst two weeks of 25C+ is considered to be something of a national emergency worthy of headline news, continuous 18 point header fonts in the Daily Express and tips from the government on how to keep cool. I have to admit that while I do like to get out of bed in the morning knowing that my wardrobe for the day will consist of nothing more than a pair of shorts and short sleeve shirt I do find the heat to be somewhat draining. Thus it is was that last Friday afternoon I found myself sat in a queue of traffic with sweat rolling down my face all caused by me having to do nothing more than strenuous than breathing. Not having air conditioning and swimming pool here at Idwal Towers I find myself resorting to gin and tonics, I.P.A.’s, decent lagers and several open windows as an aid to fighting what we in England call ‘a scorcher’ and what in many countries is called ‘just another day’.

The small dark room from whence these missives emerge becomes so hot I sometimes wonder if it has a tin roof. Upon entering the room beads of sweat appear unbidden on my forehead and my clothes begin to stick to me. After two or three sweaty gasps I’ll grab whatever it is I’m after and make for the Poang and for what passes as breeze coming in through the front door. Thus armed with a pile of review material I’ll forgo the outdoor festivities that seem to consist of annoying everyone else with barbecue smoke and shit music and instead don headphones to soak up some vibes.

Seven cassettes and a CDR sampler later I emerge happier for knowing that with Soundholes we have someone who mans [womans?] an eclectic cassette label. I like Soundholes for the format and the aesthetics, for its genre scope and that it introduces new artists/bands to me.That some of them may be made up names or people going under various monikers only adds to my enjoyment and happy confusion.

As evinced by trying to Google tape loop constructivist Tina Turner whose two sides of Basinski like decay, are along with ‘Journey of the Mind’ the highlight of this particular package. Both decompositions have that wonderful languorous feel of being adrift on a mill pond, voices drifting in and out of your consciousness, chamber orchestras being deflated and sunk, things going by slowly in reverse. One side of Journey of the Mind also brings to mind Gavin Bryars soporific mid 70’s classic ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’, another colossus of decayed drone with the all too easy ability to pull you under. Perhaps the Tina Turner work is more forceful and less relaxing, a bit more urgent and star burst-y, think cycling multi-key Nitsch drones recorded on to Boots C120’s and degraded all the way down to a series of rough utterances.

More tape manipulation comes in the shape of Duncan Harrison but here the end result is harsher in parts and more chaotic overall with an array of wailing sirens, church bells, Islamic chant, reversed vocals and general tomfuckery [all ending in a TNB-ish trash noise-a-thon] being the ying to a yang that begins all spectral vocally but soon ends in a murky noise/drone.  

And there is noise too, because where there is tape there is noise. BBBlood with some steam train noise, bubbling lava subwoofer noise, cresting waves noise, each side book ended with some kind of chill out ambience. ‘Being’ is also noise, needle fluff noise, Jap noise, everything in the red noise and then you turn it over and its even more in the red noise than the other side.

Roadside Picnic have ‘out there’ keyboard dabblings and spacey synth dabs, space age Noh music, low end rumbles and giant sized Sci-Fi organs emitting monstrous farts. One of the several tracks that they’ve managed to cram on to this C46 is all but silence as recorded in the middle of a nighttime forest with distant nocturnal birds and the spatter of light rain on tent sides. 

Perhaps the stand alone release here comes from U Boat with some vocal explorations aided and abetted by sparse drum rattles, small gongs and wooden blocks. Like Sunny Murray sparring with Phil Minton. The vocals are of the running out of breath variety or what the Toddmiester might call ‘gurglecore’, as if some Lithuanian witch was casting spells in a rhyming kind of hymnal way and although I was left mightily non-plussed by it all I couldn’t help but like them for what they’ve achieved. Perhaps best listened to alone, at night, in the dark, when you're in a very receptive frame of mind.

Which leaves the sampler CD. Ten tracks all segued into one 46 minute lump where you can try and spot Optrex Ten Pints Never in and amongst BBBlood, Merit, Developer, Pax Titania and KPLR amongst a few others. Noise, drone, lots of things in-between and Oneohtrix doing the analogue boogie synth bit. Not bad at all and available to stream from the Sound Holes Soundcould.

[Yesterday there was an old woman in the pet shop. She was sat on a bag of feed worn out by the heat. A cup of refreshing hot tea to hand brought to her by the shopkeeper kept her from keeling over completely. She looked up at me and said in a weary voice ‘eeee its too ‘ot for me, I’ll be happier when it cools down a bit, I like a breeze you see’. This is probably the same woman who 16 weeks ago complained that it was too cold and that snow in March was evidence that the world had gone mad and that we were all better off when Labour were in power. And now the heatwave is no more. Thunderstorms and three inches of rain in eight hours last night. She'll be happier now.]

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