Wednesday, December 31, 2014

mouth music # 50 and final

A grand finale of a VOXstravaganza!

Theme: tribal(ish)

(did you forget, like me, just how good Animal Collective could be? how out...? Classic case of later parts of the discography erasing the early parts in the memory!)

An earlier version of the same song, titled "Chant"

Not sure there's even any "mouth" on this one but guessing there must be a trace

And finally - not really tribal, definitely primal - and most likely the very first 'extremism of the human voice' record I heard - Diamanda Galas, The Litanies of Satan - bought off the strength of a review by Barney Hoskyns or Chris Bohn, one or t'other, can't recall  - Tried, once, listening to this in the dark -  never made that mistake again.

Starting with the flipside which is even more deranged and un-defanged than the title track side

and the title track, but a live version, ripped from an old VHS it says

Actually, correction: it was a few years before buying Litanies of Satan that I had my initiation in extremism of the human voice - which, unless we're counting "Death Disco" - came courtesy Steve Micalef. Whose sprawling, indiscriminately acquired collection contained many surprises, but none more surprising than two ethnographic records: the Jeux Vocaux Des Inuits, which I think I included earlier, or at least some proximate examples of the genre, and then this one:

Which  - I am afraid to say - we used to nickname "Venuzuelan Vomit" on account of the sleevenotes description of the retchings and snot dangling in long mucoid strings from the shaman's noses and chins, on account of the violent emetic effects of  the ayahuasca potion they'd ingested.  Used to play it at our student parties, we did.

Did not realise at the time that this album was actually recorded and released by David Toop, fearless ethnomusicological explorer of the Amazonian jungle.


Anyways, the Galas and Yanomamo between them make for rather a good soundtrack with which to memorialize a year that prompted almost uninterrupted gnashing 'n' wailing...

Here's hoping for a better 2015 for all of us.

Happy new year!

mouth music # 49

Lumberob - who I had the great surprise and delight of witnessing live, with Jad Fair,  some years ago in NYC. quite unprepared

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

mouth music # 48

Some ace suggestions offered by Bob Cluness via Facebook a while ago that I forgot to post...

First up, Bjork

modes she continued with the Dirty Projectors.... 

"as part of Anna Homler's "Pharmacia Poetica" series of installations that "demonstrates how the literal becomes the lyrical and in so doing, cures"

Blurb for Phurpa's The Sound of Dakini Laughter

"This voyage began in the middle of the 1990's in Moscow, when a group of artists and musicians led by Alexei Tegin and based at the legendary Fabrique of Cardinal Art commenced their studies of traditional ritual music, drifting away from the field of contemporary electroacoustic and industrial music with the intent to delve deeper into the ancient musical cultures of the ancient Egypt, Iran and Tibet. 

The original 2003 lineup of the project that emerged as a result was dubbed Phurpa (one of the five tutelary deities of the Father Tantra in Bon tradition), and all the members have carried on with their research in the field of Bon and Buddhist liturgies up to the present day. 

Before Buddhism reached Tibet, local people had practiced involved shamanic rites derived from various ancestral cults. Later on, circa the VI-IX century AD, a conflict between the local tradition, namely, the pre-Buddhist religion of Bon (which originates from Central Asia) and Tantric Buddhism (hailing from the North of India) gave birth to a unique cultural phenomenon known as Tibetan Buddhism, which combines an extensive metaphysical corpus and an advanced philosophical system with pristine ceremonial practices that reach down through many centuries. In the X-XI century AD the monastic ensemble came into being. It has got a lot in common with the Chinese court ensembles of the Tang dynasty; nevertheless, the Tibetan ceremonial ensemble has preserved its authenticity and kept a large number of primordial elements stemming from the ancient Tibeto-Burmanese music intact to this day. A typical ensemble usually includes a pair of nga drums, several rolmo cymbals and a pair of gyaling oboes, as well as telescopic dunchen horns, dunkar shells and short wandun horns. One of the unique features of the Tibetan monastic choir is a specific kind of overtone chanting, called "rgyud-skad", or the Tantric voice, which is based on the principle of the singer's transmogrification during the so-called "chanting meditation". 

And a couple more guest suggestions from Andrew Parker, which he concedes might be "too conventional" but nonetheless in the case of the Sill, he associates with "'Starsailor' due to the dense vocal overdubs" and with the Mitchell while "pretty straight...  the vocal is very exposed"

mouth music # 47 (talk-box special)

all beyond-awesome, but heads into Buckley-zone around 6.55

bonus talk-box tasties:

(you can skip straight to 5.50 with this one)

Monday, December 29, 2014

mouth music # 46

". on the solo voice "Starsailor", the singer multiplied himself into an astral choir. Sixteen strands of Buckley's eeriest vocal goo--overdubbed, but amazingly not treated with effects in any way--ooze and extrude, striate and shiver, forming a multi-octave meshwork of rippling filaments and quivering tentacles. It's like you're somehow inside Buckley's body--exploring its labyrinthine architecture of erotic energies and pre-verbal intensities, an inner-spatial honeycomb of bliss and dread,attraction and repulsion. The only parallels for what he was doing on "Starsailor"--and the most gravity-defying and ectoplasmic vocal manoevures on "Jungle Fire" and "Healing Festival"--are Gyorgi Ligeti's hair-raising choral music on the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Diamanda Galas's Litanies of Satan....  In rock, only Iggy Pop (the un-human snarls and expectorations on "TV Eye") and Robert Wyatt (the muezzin-wail-meets-scat falsetto altitudes scaled in the final minutes of "Sea Song") have taken the human voice as far as Buckley did on Starsailor. Weirdly, given that the album seemed to represent Buckley's final push to break free of being "a slave to the lyrics," the words were among his best ever--a sort of erotic-mystic Fauvist beat poetry, all "baited moans" and "I love you like a jungle fire". Larry Beckett... came up with some triptastic imagery, like the title track's "Though I memorized the slope of water/Oblivion carries me on his shoulder/Beyond the suns I speak and circuits shiver." The song,Buckley explained later, was "a view of the universe through the eye of a bee. It's a great cartoon"-- possibly a wind-up, given his reported penchant
for embroidering the truth and sometimes straight-up fibbing...."

He could do it live ' all

And then this one: all awesome, but mouth-music worthy from 4.54.... 

Similarly this too from about 3.40... 

.... "Get On Top" really takes off in its second half, Buckley leaving behind fixed libretto for freeform libido and mad-scatting a zoo-music of gasps and grunts and Mexican whoops, as lust battles with exhaustion (that's why he's suggesting a change of position). In "Devil Eyes"--the song with the line about licking between his older lover's stretch marks--Buckley beseeches his partner to do the "monkey rub". And in the song's final feverish minutes, he gibbers like a funky gibbon, at one point emitting this vocal wobble like the "ooo-er!" of an orang-utang slipping on a banana peel--a polyrhythmically perverse pratfall that's simultaneously slapstick funny and teasingly erotic.
Of Greetings from LA's horny-as-hell bubbling babble and orgiastic onomotopeia, Buckley said " I brought in the technique of talking in tongues, which is very religious, out of the Holy Roller thing and very much American, a part of the country. Words lose their meanings after awhile and in a lot of ways, word are just preliminaries to the real thing in music."

full paean here

mouth music # 45

Ace suggestion from Andrew Parker:

Ian William Craig's website

A Turn of Breath reviewed at Music OMH

A Turn of Breath reviewed at Tiny Mix Tapes

Saturday, December 27, 2014

mouth music # 44

and one incredible piece of not-mouth music....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

mouth music # 43

Jonathan Gharraie comes forth with some ace suggestions

First, Ruth White's album Flowers of Evil ("spoken word against a background of staggered sirens and soupy bleeps" as he describes it) but with particularly "very fucked" vocal treatments on these tracks:

And also Paavoharju's first album, specifically "Vitivalkoinen" 


Meanwhile Graham Sanford at Our God Is Speed winds up his excellent run of "Crooning on Venus" posts with this coda, including Max Neuhaus's "Radio Net" and vocal sampladelia from an outfit called Original Instrument 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

mouth music # 42

#7 in FACT's 50 Best Albums of 2014    

Feels like the first time in living memory that a dancehall album featured in any hip magazine's end-of-year list

In recent years, the thought had crossed my mind now and then: when did people stop paying attention to Jamaica?  

Last time dancehall felt like an intense focus for outside-island ears was the early 2000s, with Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, et al... that flurry of riddim albums... the Billboard crossover of Sean Paul

But since then....  well, on the rare occasions I checked in, didn't seem like anything seismic had happened....  the genre seemed more or less static. 

How could that be, though? That incredible run - from the 60s through the 70s, 80s, 90s -  of new rhythmic, production and vocal ideas (not to mention huge personalities, entertainer originals)  - could it really just come to a halt? How could such a formidable sceniotic engine sputter, run out of juice?

Not sure I can hear anything really seismic (on the scale of  a Bogle, a Playground,an Egyptian) on Where We Come From...

What it makes me think of oddly enough is Rustie's Glass Swords -  Melodyne-shiny, Splenda-rific, Pixar-sculpted.... glitzy with trance-gloss, ditzy with detail... omnivore dance that lifts nifty ideas and tricks from everywhere and everywhen. 

Digi-maximalist dancehall 

The semi-deracinated provenance of the beats (international outsourcing = new norm for big or would-be-big stars) accounts perhaps for the denatured sheen and slickness 

Besides being a pleasing sound  - grain + gritlessness - the processing of the voice captures and expresses a process, an ideology even: the  local + embodied morphing into the global + informational.  

Perhaps the aspiration is a roots tinged / rootical-tangy version of the alternately Esperanto plaintive and EuroVegas party-up cosmopop purveyed by the likes of Bruno, Ne-Yo, Derulo...  

(see also Pitbull's Globalization)

("been around the world, don't speak the language/but your booty don't need explaining") 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

mouth music # 39

Jandl at 3.30

Monday, December 15, 2014

two thousand and fourteen (part two)


Ariel Pink, pom pom
Ekoplekz,  Four Track Mind
Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron
Mica Levi, Under the Skin
Actress,  Ghettoville
The Advisory Circle, From Out Here
Moon Wiring Club, Leporine Pleasure Gardens
eMMplekz, You Might Also Like
Shabazz Palaces, Lese Majesty
Scott Walker and Sunn O))) , Soused
Madalyn Merkey, Valley Girl
Ian Crause, The Vertical Axis
Ekoplekz, Unfidelity
Gazelle Twin Unflesh
Rangers, Reconsider Lounge
Edvard Graham Lewis, All Over


Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q, “2 On”
Schoolboy Q, “Studio”
Nightshift, “Made You Look (Hugo Massien Remix)”
Ariel Pink, “Put Your Number In My Phone”
Theo Nasa, “Area 51”
Schoolboy Q, "Collard Greens"
Ariel Pink, "White Freckles"
Area 8, “On My Level”
Rae Sremmurd, "No Type"
Katie Gately. “Pivot”
Nightshift, “Memories” 
Howlround, "Torridon Gate"
Psionics, "R9-A"
DJ Snake and Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What”
Andy Stott, "Faith In Strangers"
Metronomy, "Love Letters"
Nightshift, "Through the K Hole"
O. T. Genasis, "CoCo"
Hugo Massien, "Myndgamez"
Pharrell, “Happy”
Shay & Sinista, "Boiling Point"
Schoolboy Q featuring Jay Rock, “Los Awesome”
RS4, "Gladiator"
Psionics, "Space Invasion"
Shay & Sinista, "Forgive Myself"
Ghosthouse Banton, Get Loaded EP
Pathogen Beats, "Perception"
Heterotic featuring Vezelay, "Shoe Soul"
Camo Crooks, "Maestro"
Adrian Marcel featuring Sage the Gemini, "2-AM"
Ilovemakkonen featuring D***e, "Tuesday"
Ghosthouse Banton, "Dangerous"
RS4, "Walking On"
Camo Crooks, "Insomnia"
Future, "Move That Dope"
Camo Crooks, "War of the Worlds"


Jon Hassell City Works of Fiction
Donald Fraser Locomotion
Francis Bebey Psychedelic Sanza
Various Lagos Chop Up: Fuji and Afrobeat, Highlife and Juju
Various Lagos All  Routes: Juju and Highlife, Apala and Fuji. 
Creel Pones (Elektron Musik Studion Dokumentation 1 and 2, Anna Ricci interpretat obras de Andres Lewin-Richter, Ed Herrmann Still Life in Concrete, Claude Caron/Serge Perron/Ted Dawson, Bruzdowicz/Bogaert, Klaus Roder Kompositionen 1981-83Françoise Barrière / Christian Clozier, Hans Otte  On EarthFilipe Pires Canto Ecuménico....)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

two thousand and fourteen (part one)

Favourite song  -“2 On”  by  Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q,  

Favourite sound - Under the Skin by Mica Levi

Favourite vibe - "Studio" by Schoolboy Q

Favourite track - "Made You Look" remix by Hugo Massien

Favourite rock  - "White Freckles" by Ariel Pink

mouth music # 36

"This track was made with voice, wind, fire and 83 electronic bagpipes"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

mouth music # 35

trove of Henri Chopin poésie sonore  at UbuWeb

Interesting selections in Our God Is Speed's first couple of "mouth music" posts.  Leon Thomas, a revelation.  And makes me reconsider Mr Partridge.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

mouth music # 33

trove of poesie sonore et "crirythmes" by François Dufrêne at UbuWeb

Graham Sanford at Our God Is Speed joins in the Mouth Music thing,  turning it into a miniature version of the annual inter-blog nominate-your-faves thing a la Riffs / Solos / Drummage / Intros. Feel free to join in and make it less miniature.

Graham actually has some substantive things to say about his selections (in the first post, Yma Sumac + Roberts Wyatt and Ashley). Which I fear is beyond me at the present (quite busy). But I shall be posting for a while yet.

Happy to hear suggestions from the blog-less. Concept, if it's not apparent: music made up entirely of, or prominently featuring, vocal strangeness. Doesn't have to be extreme, either in its effects or its technique. Can be pleasant, lulling... but it should be a peculiar loveliness. Can be entirely produced from a live human throat, or involve  processing, tape-editing, etc of speech, found vocals, and so forth. Abstract/wordless or text-based.

So far the posts have harvested mainly from the fields of musique concrete, experimental singing, text-sound / poesie sonore, and been distinctly thin as regards jazz, field recordings, non-Western music.  Or for that matter, extreme metal, industrial, outsider folk etc. Frankly, I've got a limited appetite for Gothshit. Eerie rather than ghastly - that's my bias, my bag.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Among the latest batch of 33⅓ titles is a book on Hole's most famous album written by Anwen Crawford.  Really looking forward to reading this.  

Live Through This is out on December 18 in the USA and on February 12th 2015 everywhere else in the world. 

But right now you can get a taste with this extract from the book at The Lifted Brow.  

While you read you can listen to a mixtape Anwen (note revised spelling of her name ) has pulled together of powerful female voices from PJ Harvey to Bessie Smith.

mouth music # 32

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Hauntology Parish Newsletter: December - Moon Wiring Club, AUDiNT

Slightly too late for me to wheel out my hardy perennial analogy with the Advent Calendar, but making it just in time for a late high entry in my Faves of 2014, here's a new album from Moon Wiring Club - the opaquely titled Leporine Pleasure Gardens.

The compact disc contains the usual large number of tracks (twenty two, this time) but the vinyl incarnation consists of just two long ones. 

An excerpt from one of the LP sides, which I imagine as being like one of those Mantronix megamixes of the entire album.

A track off the CD:

Chiming with the recent, ongoing, potentially interminable "Mouth Music" series, Ian Hodgson tells me that the original concept for Leporine Pleasure Gardens was "just vocal/voice samples". In the event that proved impossible to sustain over the duration, but there's "still a lot of that in there though."

More information here.

Buy it here.


I thought Christmas had come early when a large package arrived from overseas.  Inside was a mysterious and attractive object:

It turned out to be the work of AUDiNT, "a research cell" currently staffed by Doctors Toby Heys and Steve Goodman, who are engaged in "investigating how ultrasonic, sonic and infrasonic frequencies are used to demarcate territory in the soundscape and the ways in which their martial and civil deployments modulate psychological, physiological and architectural states."

Inside the psychedecodelic camouflage case lurk a 112-page book, a 180g clear vinyl record, and six 12"x12" 'Dead Record Archive' cards. It comes in a limited edition of 256. 

The title is Martial Hauntology.

Which couldn't be further up my street, really.

Extending the work started with Dr Goodman's book Sonic Warfare and continued with AUDiNT's Unsound System,  Martial Hauntology "explores the involvement of Alan Turing and The Ghost Army's pioneering use of three-deck mixes in World War 2, through the chopper-mounted loud-speaker terror of the US army's Wandering Soul campaign in Vietnam, to the deployment of High Frequencies as 'teen repellants,' the military applications of muzak and the current use of hyper-directional LRAD speakers in Iraq." The vinyl consists of  two 20 minute audioscapes with recitation by Ms. Haptic: the first side concerns a "a mid-20th century spectral research mission across the Atlantic assisted by an illicit truth serum" and the second side "goes on a ghost hunt in the vinyl recycling plants of South China."

Listen to some excerpts: 

Read full review of Martial Hauntology - AUDINT (Kode9 & Toby Heys) on ©

mouth music # 31

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sunday, December 07, 2014

mouth music # 29

Extended Voices is an apt title for this album, for the simple reason that all of the works here either extend the human voice physically or enlarge the performance situation of choral music.

In Pauline Oliveros’s jet-propelled Sound Patterns, the conductor deals with precise, difficult rhythmic structures that have many changes of tempo. The singers improvise pitches within broad areas of high, middle and low and are asked to produce a varied assortment of sounds, including whispers, tongue-clicks, lip-pops and finger-snaps. The vocal noises, along with tone clusters produced by the pitch improvisations, create a humorous, electronic effect.

In Robert Ashley’s She Was a Visitor, the performer finds himself
 in a decidedly different choral situation. The chorus is divided into groups, each headed by a leader. A lone speaker repeats the title sentence throughout the entire performance. The separate phonemes of this sentence are picked up freely by the group leaders and are relayed to the group members, who sustain them softly and for the duration of one natural breath. The time lag between the group leaders’ utterances and their pickup by the group members produces a staggered, chant-like effect, with the sounds moving outward from the nearest performer to the farthest. It is possible that in a concert performance, the audience could, with minimal instruction, also participate.

Christian Wolff in Cambridge by Morton Feldman is a simple, two-part work, consisting of a succession of chords and single notes sung quietly by the chorus. There is no text. The conductor chooses the duration of each sound on the basis of breath control and harmonic weight.

Chorus and Instruments (II), a longer work also by Morton Feldman, has alternating sections of free and strict tempos, plus the additional colors of tuba and chimes.

In Solos for Voice 2 by John Cage, each singer is asked to make their own realization of the piece, using material, including sheets of transparent plastic, supplied by the composer. By superimposing certain sheets on others, the singer determines several aspects of his vocal part, including vowel and consonant sounds, dynamics, approximate pitch areas and time decisions. The electronic version of this work was developed by Gordon Mumma and David Tudor. The singers’ sounds are picked up by several types of throat, lip and cup microphones, are fed into a complex configuration of electronic equipment and are then processed in real time during the performance. In the Ichyanagi work that gives this album its title, singers use musical instruments, such as slide whistles, to extend the range of their voices. At the same time, electronic instruments transform the voices in terms of timbre, range and dynamics. The written score consists mostly of sustained sounds and glissandos of varying lengths and speeds. The development of the material depends upon a cueing arrangement that instructs the singer to perform in relation to sounds he hears another performer make. Extended Voices also includes a prerecorded tape, composed of purely electronically produced sounds, that functions as complementary or accompaniment material.

The vocoder used in North American Time Capsule 1967 by Alvin Lucier was designed by Sylvania Electronics Systems to encode speech sounds into digital information bits for transmission over narrow band widths via telephone lines or radio channels. There is no written score for this work. The performers are asked to prepare material using any sounds at all that would describe to beings far from our environment either in space or in time the physical, spiritual, social, scientific or any other situation in which we currently find ourselves. The performers’ sounds are fed into the vocoder and are modified during the performance both by the sounds acting as control signals and by the manual alteration of the vocoder components.

-- from the liner notes by Alvin Lucier 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Empress, Unclothed?

I had been wondering to myself about the absence of dissenting views concerning the recent run of Kate Bush shows. About why were there so few chinks in the reigning consensus about Kate Bush as National Treasure. Apart from a few grouches on Facebook -  old punks who never liked her at the time -  I've not come across a peep of public negativity. The reviews seemed to be extravagantly praiseful. Personal testimonials on Facebook and message boards and so forth were uniformly of the "greatest show I ever saw in my life", "tears were running down my face for most of the performance"  type.   

Which is odd because one thing about the Internet surely is that it encourages contrarianism and dissenting views.  Polarising stances and breaks with consensus drive traffic for online publications; comment boxes are the stomping ground of naysayers and nitpickers. 

And then last weekend I got an email from my friend Sam Batra who mentioned in passing that she'd been to one of the the Bush concerts with her teenage daughter:

"What a monumental disappointment. The show was little more than a prog rock Jackanory, wish I had never seen it and had saved ourselves the best part of 300 quid."

I laughed out loud. Partly because of the reference to Jackanory  (a British kid-growing-up-in-the-70s/80s-only kind of thing, for sure). But also the shock of truth. See, I’m convinced I would have felt exactly the same if I'd gone. Much as I love many of Kate Bush's recordings, and sort of generally support the notion of excess and aspiration, pretence and pretentiousness....  I've got to admit, some of the old videos, and the footage of the 1979 tour, it's a little hard to stomach, don't you think? The still photos  of the current show, and some of the descriptions in the reviews, seemed to promise a similar sort of overblown, thesped-out hokum. 

I asked Sam for more details of  the disappointment: 

"My heart sunk right at the beginning when Kate and co 'conga-ed' onto the stage like some waifs and strays from an office party. Still, I tried to rally and remain optimistic. As things went on it seemed like the show was a vehicle for middle aged release, as I looked around the audience, everyone obediently in their seats, it struck me that some of these folk needed to get out more often. Was it a collective amnesia about what really comprises a great gig?.... . In the second half, I cast a glance at [my 15 year old daughter] who was falling asleep.

"Kate felt the need to plug her son, tell us all how much she loved him, 'more than anything else in the world'. Son, Bertie had been given a lead role in the excruciating panto. It did strike me that Bush had seen War Horse a few years ago and had been hopelessly influenced by it

".... I never want to hear Aerial so disappointed, she was such a heroine, wish this concert had never happened to us."

Wish this concert had never happened to us -  like it was a tragic accident, a personal calamity! 

Dearie me. I'm laughing but I do a feel a pang of pecuniary empathy for Sam.

300 quid!

mouth music # 27

See also Roger Reynolds's Voicespace

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

mouth music # 25

As discussed in this 2014 overview essay "Tongue, Throat, Lungs: Voices at the Margins of Body and Mind "at TMT,  alongside other contemporary extremists of the human voice

Not that this is particularly extreme or anything  - Goth-lite with a bit of Newsome-winsome thrown in - perfect for the credits sequence of some quality noir-ish TVdrama like The Affair, in fact

Rather nu-Goth-lite than nu-Goth-heavy, though.... 

Truly offal (boom boom)