Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lines of Flight 2009 - barfly perspectives

---and yes - there are photos from LoF and several recent shows by Markus Gradwhol

...Well has it been a busy couple of weeks or what. What with all the glueing and folding and eating. And all that smiling and nodding and waving. And all that breathing. The lunatic fringe gets it's soap box once again here in dunedin and we all get drunk. And the money trickles somehwere else.
The Lines of Flight festival is a now an institution - an annual rite celebrating sound art and the supercilious lives of the sound artists themselves. Crude got in. I'm gonna attempt a review. I missed the 1st evening, which was a great night apparantly, Tillakaratne , Mela, Tim Coster, and White Saucer performed, must've been artfull and scintillating, this is art, it's art god-damn you, it's kunst. Of course i would attend the 2nd night because I was playing it. Oh the breathy awe of a star-lined soundcheck late afternoon in Port! That satisfying amber glow of mutual acheivement and endevour.
That knowing and self-conscious bustle of ampage and the nutty odour of hops. The merch bench emblazoned with the ltd-edition cover designs of New Zealand sound-art royalty.
The evenings' opening performance was by Peter Wright, a member of the increasingly active Christchurch contingent. I remember him for his industrial work, he was a member of the classic krkrkrk band TMA1 alongside original Aesthetics bass player NoTV/j-mz robinson (not to be confused with the prolific abstract expressionist painter). Wright pulled out the rivets and joined the masonic ranks of the free-noise/guitar improv world several years back. Not surpisingly his performance was guitar-improv du jour - a virtual nuclear power plant of pedals and gadgets inside a get-smart style gat-case; the digital dash-board transforming a simple guitar strum into a synthetic cascade of drones, melodic feedback and hypno-rhythm. Wright was seated on the floor for the duration of his performance and so was his audience, creating a flattened, sorta egalitarian effect. Like a night down at the Hindu temple. Just lovely.
...Most music of the Lines of Flight ilk demands yogic concentration and poise of the audience. For an attention deficient child like myself I find this level of commitment a real trial, preferring the tactile huslte of the bar. And out the back.
And on the ceiling. And at the end of someone's doobie. And i was on. And with a few hyper-adrenalized heaves my gears were set-up and the filthy pseudo-euro synthesizer lines of flight charged up and everyone stands up. everyone stands and i just keep dealing it out, those old synth lines i do like - oh yeah this is how i describe it (from my page) art-noveau-Ming the merciless style science fiction synthesizer motif - dark and hallucinatory alien mantra....the sinuous, circuitous tunnels of a sexualized,black lacqeur, ky lubricated alien beasty... ritualized, almost fascistic fanfare for b-grade alien, psylocibin drenched 1930s ufo tune.' So i do that for a bit, then hit this appegiated/staccato motif and whine about how I hate this invented character called 'Thomas' and that i was born in the 1970s.(As sean O'Relly said the nxt morning 'so you were born in the 1970's - how was that for you..) Behind me was a Kim Pieters film, edited specifically for my performance (so flattered) entitled 'magnet'. I believed it worked.
XE played after Crude, a very different angle here - one of the rare Lines acts that included vocals. Rachel Shearer played keys and sung with Dean Roberts and Sean O' Reilly layering delicate, almost shoegazeresque guitar over Guy Treadgold's gingerly handled drumming. The overall effect was beautiful - this is the sound of resolved psychic turmoil. Eye played next and they were on fire that night - The sonic/energetic peak and trough formula not as obvious this time - obscure sound sampling was used masterfully.
I had missed the matinee, so i missed the oppurtunity to be blindfolded for rotor + 's concept performance..and Sandoz lab technicians would have been fascinating. Check out the photos HERE

....Saturday night was the big night - i waltzed in half-way through Adam Willets truly amazing synthesizer work-out, an undulating beast of a set, or half-set, beautifully exo-terrestrial. The venue was packed out, the big draw-card for the night was of course the Dead C who do things the overground music media in New Zealand simply don't or won't recognize - constant international releases, shows and festivals all over the globe, both Morley and Russell travelling and exhibiting and performing in their own right here there and everywhere - a healthy following in the States that is only growing with the yeah, the home crowd will of course drag themselves away from Campbell Live to see the boys who did good. The wild card of the evening and IMHO one of the true highlights of the event was a total misnomer - Adrian Hall was supposed to perform, he does a runner (he's so utterly conceptual) and the act he chose to collaborate with him had no choice but to do something..Pete Gorman's latest home-built synthesizer/installation, the 'Fustigator' - another synth assault/work-out/demonstation and what a brilliant trans-personal experience it was. Pure electronic sound current super-sensitive to the touch,,with individual audience members absolutely out-of-their head and gloriously posturing to the sounds (and that is how you 'dance' to 'noise' - it's a series of wild postures,,sky punching etc), Gorman seemingly interpreting their every move with a sonic surge..
Next was Christchurch's Stanier Black Five whos set focussed on a wide spectrum of steam-engine/rail sounds, grinding them down into their constituent parts and reassembling into a temporally logical constructivist ambient suite. A friend described it as 'pure industrial'. Subtle reverberating sounds and noise - maybe 'dark found sound'? 'black ambient' ? Dare i make the 'steampunk' connection here? Either way - it was great stuff.
Stanier Black Five would be the last of the nights' lap-toppers and the traditional drum/guitar/guitar template took the stage in the form of the Dead C. I think this is the 1st time the band has played here for a couple of years and so they got eyes to the front. And that dirge set in. And it was the Dead C. And Robbie would'nt play. And the guitar drone went on. and Robbie wouldnt get up. And the guitar dirge went on, and someone or something motivated the infamous cans man onto his throne. His style is totally his own, a snare heavy swagger beat only the truly soused and limber could imitate.

In conclusion , I truly think this was the best Lines of Flight ever. So there.

But wait...theres more. The after party was even better - with Lines rejectees Rise of the City Cat Cult having the last laugh as they delivered the most subtle, sinister, psychedelic new-wave science fiction keyboard noise death-wave i've ever heard. The venue, the abode of local art-students is so utterly cool it may never put on a show again. Or will it. I have no idea. Sorry. Goodbye.

goodbye. matt middleton, conformist

Sunday, March 22, 2009

zard: heraldic quum of zorthuuum.

we, the people of Zard - proclaim this : our foundational statement.
Mountain: Mantis. Self - no-self.
Null - your fiendish monetarism is null -
our protein sucketh up no more cud
growing thither and hither amongst the rancour reeds of RORSCHASH.
Cull! Cuntish weasles!
Bosh and fug!
Nuisance and EDITH!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


That private water. Cocaine cola, no puritan would ever. There's a work-ethic to it all, this sickness benefit subsistence. 'Tis the ignominious toil of being human.
A teenagers rainbow party-cum-consumer prison. Being itself, wrong time, wrong place, wrong body type. Being. Being-in-spectacular-time.
Each spin of that Crude cd generates a little charge, a little quantum fizzle. Each spin casts off an alternate universe, a universe in which crude was actually U2, a universe where crude was propagandized as heavily as Michael Jackson, a universe where Barack Obama was a lazy-eyed dairy farmer from Twizel. Each pulse, each sliver of crude's sound lives and dreams and prays and ascends ever higher, a zionist lobby group of a noise, an apocalyptic, billowing, sanguine cloud of colloidal drums, boyish vocals, angry reed-spatter and a deranged orgy of synth.
Aesthetics Lps in adolescent bedroom formation, such utter stress. It's a tough road, going it alone, doing it yourself, defying the Australian music bosses. Copies will trickle out of the bassinet at a pace dictated by demand. One at a time: emailed request, postal address, bank account number, payment received, there you go.
Money families, molestation. Richard Dawkins. Sultana Bran. The Maktoum family. Exopolitics. Blog. Butchered at birth. Fatalism. Mens' Lacrosse.
Alkalize thyself to get ye higher. Alcoholize thyself to attract ye a buyer. Crown thyself thusly 'thee hardest tryer'. Don't drink that milk mate, it's clearly expired. I'm not on the dole I'm simply retired...and data entry, well, it just makes one tire. Oh do shut up, you pathological liar. But, sir, these buttocks, are taut and fo' hire! Big pharmaceuticals and the ministry of social development - a very cosy relationship.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Aesthetics, Wolfskull, Bastardwisher and Crude at Sammys

There is something special about Sammys, it lends to a musical event a sort of old-world magnificence and a cavernous cathedral-like sound. That proscenium arch, gorgeous art-noveau, i couldn't help think it some sort of old-time Dunedin Scotts- masonic reference to Nuit:

Yes, the small pub-rock boys get a big stage once more, only the second time, and we get all toy-store excited. This was the 'big night' , the official launch party for the 'ugly ambition' LP, and the weeks of preparation and facebooking and interviews boiled down to this moment. And , quite objectively, I think we pulled it off. As you all know, i tend to 'self-review' alot, a fairly dodgy practice. But really, if I don't do it no-one will so here i go again. As punters dribbled in, their entrance barred first by friendly bouncers, then id checks, then a table of beautiful screenprinted LPs (care of the great 'Little Paisley') , then a friendly door person ,that inimitably Sammy's style atmosphere began to brew. Lots of oxygen, lots of nooks , lots of crannies and cliques. First up was Crude (here goes - that 3rd person
charm that only the artist themselves can muster) - crankin up the ole' juno 60 with a new cheap distoriton pedal and layin' a few pseudo-occult 'alien' ritual fanfare motifs on the audience...oh! those acoustics - such ghostly resonance! Lots of harmonics and quasi-islamic tone bending - then the old square-shawm instrument attempts (doing a rather nice job of it actually) to emulate the synth sounds. The set ends with a suicide inspired glitch/pulse number emblazoned with the cutesy vocal mantra ' I'm the glitch bogan'. Yes, matt, you (I) certainly am (is).
Bastardwisher hit the apartment-set-studio-type-theater-stage next, with sly and sullen coolness, with that streak of psycho,,Jason Barrett brandishing his elusive Alto sax, John on drums and the Sefton on laptop,a raging rodeo of a set - a misanthropic rock'n'roll teddy boy high on jazz-pizazz at thee helm, dark and angular and skinny, cropped sefton all sweat and jap-noise anger, john from alabama slappin the cans like a improv octopus. Very impressive, Lynch-like set.
The LPs were getting snapped up !! Opinion leaders and followers alike had their very own copies proudly under-arm evoking that WINZ icon, (you know the one, the blue thing with the orange thing under it's arm - a sort of image representing 'skills' or maybe a 'cv' or an orange to keep you going while your on 2 week stand-down..)
Next on, and perhaps the best thing about the night, was my perosnal favourite band in town, that very masculine band 'wolfskull'. The acoustics, like a pitch black chasm , were perfect for the skulls, and they played up to it like true champions. Amazing set. Duane Zarakov was truly on fire, his playing a psychedelic engine room , groovy tom tom chatter ubiquitous and constant and spinning any dancer into a dervish -delirium (hey, don't play with my delerium...hey..)Iso, the frontman, was totally in his element, and I can only hope they play the venue again.

The Aesthetics hit next, and i can only say that the bass and drums were so beautifully solid, that my sluggish musical bumbling
didn't actually matter. its always hit and miss, 'feeling out' a new venue, a new situation, a new set of equipment. Nevermind. We churned out 'Drive on' , a few oldies,,,,,,,,,,bringing heady smiles to the right people and glazed indifference from all turns to memory and disappears.