I was pleased to contribute an introduction to a new photobook documenting UK club culture: Matthew Smith's Full On, Non Stop, All Over.
Published by Trip City and available from today, Full On, Non Stop, All Over collects pictures taken between 2000 and 2005, when Smith worked for magazines like DJ Mag, Sleaze Nation, Jockey Slut, Mixmag, Ministry, Muzik, The Face and Bristol’s Venue (poignantly, all print publications and mostly expired - two survived, one expired and then resurrected itself as a quarterly - an indication that those were different times when a boom-time club scene could support its own dedicated media). Prior to that phase of being a working club photographer, Smith - a.k.a. MATTKO - had been involved in the free party scene during the '90s, which is documented in his earlier book, Exist to Resist.
"Chronometer 71is a 1971 piece that comprises recordings of clocks in London's Big Ben and Wells Cathedral in Somerset. These were sequenced to a graphical score by [Sir Harrison] Birtwistle using Zinovieff's studio system to control several tape machines, much like an early sampler. The piece was created in Zinovieff’s second Putney studio, Musys, set up in the basement of 49 Deodar Road." - The Wire
"It’s the first quad sound classical music piece.... This piece was designed with Birtwistle in about 1970... But it was made as a quadraphonic piece, it was one of the first quadraphonic pieces." - Peter Zinovieff interview at Red Bull Music Academy.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Chronometer - for 2 asynchronous 4-track tapes
Realized by Peter Zinovieff at Electronic Music Studios (EMS), London using the Musys system developed by Peter Grogono (software), David Cockerell (hardware/interfacing) and Peter Zinovieff (system design and operation).
I have "Chronometer" on vinyl (it's the flipside to Birtwistle's The Triumph of Time - which is where that Zinovieff 1974 text comes from).
I also have it on the Zinovieff double-CD anthology Electronic Calendar of 2015. Which occasion prompted this Guardian profile of his career, achievements and intersections with pop culture.
Birtwistle is not the only posh composer Peter Z collabd with - there was also Hans Werner Henze
And recently cellist Lucy Railton - resulting in Inventions for Cello and Computer
Now I am honestly not sure if I've ever listened to the first side of the album, "The Triumph of Time" itself, but if so, it was almost certainly just the once. Let's give it another go, shall we?
Time during lockdown grew mushy and amorphous, didn't it? So it's not too much of a surprise - but a nice surprise nonetheless - to get a new Moon Wiring Club album in the early summer, rather than in the approach to Christmas as is usual.
The record consists of four long (ten minute or so) tracks infirmly situated in favorite MWC terrain - marshy but not completely gaseous... stumbling beats that never quite establish a gait... the dilapidated beat-structure wraithed around with after-images and palimpsests.
Opener "Summoning Up An Immaculate Ancestor" suggests 23 Skidoo in an advanced stage of decomposition. Third track "Empty Door in the Eye of Sun" wafts an eldritch whiff of Dead Can Dance... or perhaps an abandoned-house remix of FSOL "Papua New Guinea" with sunken floors, stairs missing, peeling wallpaper
The level of layering and apparitional movement within the stereo field is tantalisingly rich and edible-complex.... a headphone treat (if also an inner-ear imbalance inducer).
Ian Hodgson elaborates upon the release rationale for this unseasonal excursion:
"... it’s the sister release to The Most Unusual Cat in the Village ... I’d written a lot of additional music / musicke / mew-sicke for that album with the intention of releasing it at some stage. While I was putting up the final promo image for that LP, which consisted of a phantom figure marching down an empty street in town... I instantly visualised the aesthetic for a sister album which more-or-less wrote itself / congealed there and then.
"The main image I had was of a giant phantom catwalk circling around a clock tower in the dead centre of an empty town shrouded in green mist. While this was going on, the accompanying music would be drifting in from different locations all at slightly varying points in time. So a harpsichord would be playing 100 feet away in a street below, whilst a drum kit played from the top of a multi story carpark. You would be completely stationary, whilst the music moved around, continually out of phase. I wanted something that was stately, magisterial and completely knackered. The experience is sluggish (‘Is it day?’) and disorientating, and much like drowsy wasps in the Spring could turn nasty at any moment.
"This Catwalk idea provided the structure for the album, and I composed 'Catwalk of the Phantom Baroque' and then arranged the other tracks into a narrative accordingly. The first track 'Summoning Up an Immaculate Ancestor', almost made it onto The Most Unusual Cat LP because it has (certainly for MWC) a pretty unusual sound but I think it works exactly right as the starter in the context of this LP ~ coaxing things out of a mirror for a supernatural fashion show but forgetting to close the doorway.
"In my mind 'Summoning Up an Immaculate Ancestor' is classified as Sludge-Rock, but that doesn’t seem to be an actual genre and online seems to suggest Dinosaur Jr which is not what I was after. Maybe Slush Rock is closer? Music where everything has melted. That detuned repeated riff is what I imagine Sleep to sound like... Maybe something like James Plotkin’s 'Joy of Disease' which is a perennial favourite is closer and certainly an influence ~ 'Catwalk of the Phantom Baroque' ended up (because of the ultra-sloth pacing) sounding to me a bit like Bohren and Der Club of Gore ~ 'Empty Door in the Eye of the Sun' has a cavernous cathedral-ish reverb, that while initially dolloped on to coax out a tiny vocal sample (like a potters wheel) does provide definite goth ambience. The ‘Sunken Techno’ bit made me think of the 1999 Sturm LP ~ s one of my all time favourite records.
"The beginning of 'Everything Eventually Goes Completely Grey' has someone saying ‘I met a ghost’ over a warped Carnival of Souls style organ, and the end of has a bit of a Thomas Köner vibe. TK on a budget anyway. I sort of see it as everything dissolving into a washing sea tide of grey mist ~ a collapsing aftermath after you’ve escaped.
"Perhaps the main thing I like (and wanted) about this album is that (so far) it doesn’t seem to settle. Perhaps someone listening will immediately go ‘oh it sounds just like such-and-such’ which of course it may well do, but when I first received the test pressings I was amusingly puzzled + pleasingly disorientated with the results, as if the ‘off-season’ compositional time frame and condensed gestation time has conjured up something enjoyably unfamiliar and slightly out of control, and that feeling hasn’t yet gone away. "