AMN Reviews: Karl MV Waugh – Self Pity/Petals – Lost, Found and Buried in a Tree (Hairdryer Excommunication); Midwich – Single Figures (Kirkstall Dark Matter)

Underground England is a remarkable place, especially in the north, expansive with post-post-Thatcherite defiance even as it moans with longing for bygone hurly-burly and a legitimate union wage. A new, Leeds-based “occasional” CDR label, Kirkstall Dark Matter, joins a bundle of mini-labels devoted to small, deviant acts, one of which was surveyed here not so very long ago. And Hairdryer Excommunication, purveyors of “emancipatory nothingness” since 2011, just released a marvellous sheet of art, two 3″ CDRs mounted on flimsy cardboard, one each by Karl MV Waugh and Petals.

If you could record fog it would probably sound like the opening to Waugh´s “Self Pity”. But his planktonian particles proceed to become agitated, gather force, pick up a viola and molest it. As it rolls on, its momentum catches up and swallows it whole. But beautifully. A distant, booming bell tower chime is muted by fog on “Lost, Found and Buried in a Tree” by Petals, caught in a web of creepily capillaring radio static. A music box gets caught in the wheels of a bike as it travels over wet cobblestones. The air buzzes but keeps a still upper lip as the radio begins to zero in on its station. Curiously stately.

New father Rob Hayler is planning on spending more time at home and less making Midwich music and charting the scene (although with new staff on board, his Radio Free Midwich blog is a vital as ever). As a kind of auf wiedersehn, brand-new label Kirkstall Dark Matter has released a fine live recording called “Single Figures”. Beginning by stirring an empty pot, “Penny Dropped” simmers sweetly without coming to a boil. “Seasonal Adjustment” lets in the sound of passing traffic as simple, lovely, paisley-patterned synth notes waft out the window. Appropriately, each copy of the CDR comes wrapped in a page torn from John Wyndham´s novel, “The Midwich Cuckoos”.

Each comes in small, limited editions but are infinitely available for your listening pleasure at Bandcamp.×3

Stephen Fruitman