So, the other week I put on a promoter hat and organised this gig:

The image on the poster is off one of the walls at Castle Howard, and I’m sorry to say I’m not sure of the artist (although it is possibly Antonio Pellegrini). For the actual gig, it was great to have my mate L’s band through playing, as well as an excellent other set from Etai Keshiki, with York duo …And the Hangnails offering a really great set of what turned out to be, indeed, heavy blunk (Can’t help myself dept: whimsical mashing of the words ‘blues’ and ‘punk’ which someone had used to describe them). We had a compère and everything.

Aside from the venue business, trite wordplay and some flyering, I took the opportunity to re-animate a zine I shelved a few years ago. The zine is called Conductive Jelly, which appeals to me more and more as a title the more and more I roll it around. Here is an extract from the first Conductive Jelly (2005), explaining the name:

This pamphlet gets its name from the intriguing list of instruments played throughout Matmos’ dizzying The Civil War collection. It’s used on the track “the struggle against unreality begins”. This is what Conductive Jelly #1 was inspired by:

“This song began when our friend Keenan Lawler sent us a recording he had made of himself playing a steel guitar in a sewer pipe underneath Louisville, Kentucky. We liked the idea of “sound in a tube” so we paired Keenan’s noises with the sound of blood in Martin’s carotid artery. To gather that sound we borrowed an ultrasonic doppler flow detector from the Exploratorium, rubbed conductive jelly on Martin’s neck and then angled the flow detector against his skin, picking up the blood flow as interference which sounded rather like a 70’s modular synth.”

[A link I included in CJ1 originally is now broken, but at time of typing you can read about Matmos here: http://brainwashed.com/matmos%5D

This delayed edition of Conductive Jelly had further blurb:

In 2005, Conductive Jelly #4 was supposed to be completed. Musical happenings in Leeds & otherwards, some commentary, some abstractions…

(Conductive Jelly was basically word scribbles inspired by groovy music from the globe and the then music scene blooming algally from LS12 (“Twice as cool as LS6!”). From sound and into text, attempting to bring forth little science fictions, quests for lost civilisations, allusions to the supernal oneness of the spacetime universe and the infernal twoness of quotidian existence here on earth in the early part of the 21st century…

…there was a manifesto plotted, maybe I should have scribbled it down too, but I think it was along the lines of the most music & art (as in ‘This is, like, THE MOST, dad, y’dig?’) being transient, anti careerist, spontaneous livin…

…driving it all was a fear that we might end up like Jonathan Pryce’s character Sam Lowry in Brazil, dreaming of escape to the forest even while being tortured slowly to death because the form was filled in properly…)

…time passes…

…moves to new cities, jobs, schools, came and went… music periodically wafts life into the smouldering embers of hope. Six years later to nearly the day, round the spiral, provoked by a gig in Leeds that put boot to bits, Conductive Jelly is reborn.

The purpose remains to explore strange new soundworlds, all that Star Trek spangled psychotic reactions fiery elephant dung thing, based, at this time, here in York.

I may engage in some future amalgamatification of all blogs, zines and written ventures into some uber-website/book crossover project, but I’m not in a great rush to that. Next week, I start teaching high school English, something I am approaching with approximately equal measures of keen enthusiasm, abject terror, web-based browse denial and an unprecedented – for me – flurry of writing activity.

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the gig. The low lighting and my HTC Hero didn’t get on brilliantly, but well enough to capture the noise & movement, as well as the Red Room/Black Lodge-esque stage of the Basement Bar at York’s City Screen.

Eagles-related discussion. "No, '...AND The Hangnails'."

Castrato Attack Group. Your argument is invalid.

Disorientate the photographer: Etai Keshiki, at the Fenton

Apologies to Etai Keshiki, for whom none of the photos on the night came out as more than a hardcore screamo blur, appropriate though that might be… the photo of EK here is from a gig at the Fenton, which was put on by Big Spaceship Presents. Big Spaceship is well worth a look, as they dig a gargantuan groove. With which I concur, like, the most.

This review is over two weeks late – I’m blaming ASH CRISIS ELECTION CHAOS distractions.

SO Tuesday 13 April 2010, to the Miller, SE1, for an evening of drone sounds, psych-rock and “atonal pointillism” with Faux Amis,  Alexander Turner, Moon unit and Chora!

Time was (a few years ago) that such a gig would have had me clutching for the pen to scribble down some fever’d cosmic visions, suggestive and suggested sci-fi snippets, some of which were subsequently published in a short-lived music zine Conductive Jelly what I wrote.  I may dig some of those out for your edification (threats!…) There were retrofuturist sparking transformers, drumkits imagined as CGI monsters, images of ruined machine-age civilisations overgrown with creepers, like Deep Thought in the Hitchhikers film.

A lot of it was meant (in my head, anyway) to be read aloud, not really as stories but word string theory excerpts, playing with the zounds as a sort of written accompaniment to the percussive/drone/abstract alinear anti-pop sort of things I was being introduced to by my pals. Luke, who played guitar in a band I was in, had started doing such sonic experimenting with Andreas (from Moon Unit). Indeed they still are doing it, Lanterns be their name, and they can be found on myspace. I did some “sleeve notes” for one of their early recordings, and very kind
of them to let me near their work it was too.

That, reader, was then. However, at the Miller, I sat watching and listening and they, the words, just weren’t there. In a little flash of insight I not only recalled the memorable phrase ‘dancing about architecture’ (and that’s a great site, by the way) but I jumped a step along and did not feel a second’s remorse for having to re-cap my pen and pocket my book and just sit there basking in the sound. Different things inspire me to write, and it clearly wasn’t meant to be the music on the night, then, but it was inspiring in a different kind of way, in that it was a pleasant realisation of having found oneself in a superb new chapter or even volume without noticing.

The writer Amiri Baraka came out with this great idea of an ‘expression-scriber’, which would allow every kick, elbow, scream grunt and itch to be recorded… It struck me, as it has many times before when at their gigs, that the ‘stick a contact mic on it’ ethos of artists like Chora, Lanterns et al comes very close to that kind of immersive total expression.

Thusly, enough of this wittery. Go to their websites and check them out, buy their CDs and records. Here are some photos from the gig (taken on my phone, I know the quality’s variable). If you really want some more words, you can click on the photos for additional commentary.

And a noiseriffic time was had by all!