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Archive for February, 2011

WHITEBOX 003 – 30th April 2009

CD album

Digital via Diogenes Music (buy data files here)

Tracks:

01  Intro
02  Saki
03  Green Room 2
04  Bay Horse :

05  Green Room 1 :

06  Ladybarn
07  Music Box
08  Rarefish
09  Untitled Outro

Notes :

Recorded, sequenced, edited & mastered by Gavin At Arkhonia

All performances by Liondialer, being

Greg Haines : cello, lapsteel guitar, small instruments, laptop
Danny Saul : electric and acoustic guitar, voice, laptop

Bay Horse features Ivan Hall (on the floor)
Ladybarn features unknown harmonica player

All audio recorded live in various venues throughout Manchester between 25.05.07 and 08.11.07, except Track 8, which was recorded at by Thomas Bartosik at Radio Centraal, Antwerp

Design :

John Coulthart

Photography :

Darren Shaw

Original release notes (May 2009) :


White Box released ‘Liondialer LIVE!’ by Liondialer on the 30th April 2009, and people have been quite complimentary so far about Greg Haines and Danny Saul’s improvised antics – the Danny Saul Destroyer blog has links to reviews, including not a few fantastic Google-translated (and neologism-laden) accolades…all very pleasing, and a rich source for future track titles.

The album is a pretty-much continuous sequence of extracts from gigs recorded around Manchester, excerpts chosen by Gavin At Arkhonia (or gavin@arkhonia, or more correctly Gavin Brownrigg, when he isn’t pretending to be ‘weird’ or ‘obscure‘ [dead links]) from recordings made mainly for reference purposes – the original intention of the album was as a farewell present to Greg before he left for Berlin, and serves pretty much the same purpose as Captain Sid James‘ cake as presented to him by Lance Percival at the culmination of ‘Carry On Cruising‘ (although Greg will undoubtedly be appalled at the low-culture analogy), containing bits of every place he visited as part of Liondialer while living in Manchester. The original sequence was put together very quickly, and then finetuned to suit all parties with an eye for release, and this tweaking took another 9 months of editing, re-editing, cleaning-up, mastering, remastering, being abandoned, being reconsidered…not a straightforward process in any way, and a source of intermittent grief for all parties. Amazing that it came out at all.

Album notes as follows:

Intro – this is an amalgam of parts from four different gigs, plus a spoken intro from Danny from the Ladybarn gig; the original intro had a rather different spoken exchange that was finally removed for all kinds of reasons, but mainly to not give air to the Green Room heckler who was so roundly dismissed with a ‘fook off!’ from the guitarist – it may yet appear as a bonus mp3 somewhere.

Saki – played to a cold and empty room, and its measured tone can be explained by Greg thinking the soundcheck was the actual gig and playing accordingly; once the actual performance began it had a pace that the soundcheck didn’t.

Green Room 2 – a later section of the Green Room performance.

Bay Horse – recorded in the dark cellar room of a Manchester ‘Northern Quarter’ drinkery, the audience commentary throughout comes from a bunch of blokes playing pool feet away from the ‘stage’, utterly indifferent to the presence of ‘performing’ ‘musicians’. Ivan Hall sat behind his amplifier adding subtle (and often inaudible) nuances via a ridiculous chain of effects pedals. No one noticed.

Green Room 1 – the opening of the piece above. The Green Room is a very pleasant ‘arts’ bar/venue/theatre. The audience were generally sympathetic.

Ladybarn – recorded in a small room upstairs in a nice old Burnage hostelry, and, booked as an acoustic duo, the entire performance drove very vocal drinkers away, in part because Greg grabbed one of their pint glasses from them, emptied its contents (their beer) onto the floor and then attacked his cello with this improvised bottleneck. The sublime harmonica was an older gentleman, very drunk, who joined in from behind his pint, and kept up his pure tone despite the barrage of noise that followed this excerpt. It’s his ‘if it’s too loud, you’re too old, so fook off’ at the very end of the album (and which should have echoed the Intro’s intended Rochdale dismissal), and at the time it just added an extra frisson of tension to a tense evening (the promoter was afterwards quite shocked at what she had booked), but listening back to his comments, his own enthusiasm is palpable. He claimed to have played with The Hollies in the sixties, but we had no luck in identifying him afterwards, and then the Ladybarn closed down, and no one checks their myspace any more, so he’s still currently unidentified.

Music Box – a ‘proper’ venue on Oxford Road, and as support to Dead Meadow (and before a Spaceman 3 ‘tribute’ band – that we should all live so long to see such things) – this was the end of the performance, and an errant mic inadvertantly left open by Danny distorted every movement onstage, until they both succumbed to it, and so their set ended with an empty stage spitting fizz and crackle from Danny’s gear, and after Greg had stopped punching his laptop, leaving the soundman to fade it down, the audience were left to applaud their equipment’s finale. A girl was overheard afterwards on the phone telling a friend she had just seen the worst band ever: “they didn’t even have any songs!”. Wish we had a recording of that.

Rarefish – recorded at a Belgium radio session, this is a two minute excerpt from twenty minutes, and an impromptu acoustic set, because none of their European power adapters worked, and they were both too hung over to find an alternative. Greg’s playing is as delicate as his hand, after drunkenly punching a wall or something the night before.

The Afterword – and the aftermath of the Ladybarn. Goodwill and consternation, and substantial encouragement from that evening’s special guest. “Proceed gentlemen.”

Album Review (Feb 25, 2009) :

(But)…rather than dwell on last evening’s concert, then, we focus on the evocative album based on Liondialer live in performance – a slimmed down release on White Box which sees Danny Saul and Greg Haines captured on “tape” in their moments of sheer brilliance – the Liondialer I was anticipating highly to see live in concert – the pairing of cello and electric/acoustic guitar and laptop processing for electronics and other instrumentation to back the two lead instruments. Saki is a haunting piece languishing in a receding light; Saul’s guitar is fleeting and wailing complemented by Haines’ strings twisted to siren-like sounds. The whole piece as such very moving and emotional. Then follows Green Rooma 2-part composition split up and in reverse on record by an intervening track, Bay Horse which is yet another lofty composition with sparsely interspersed guitar chords, scraping strings and ambulating electronic sounds in the background and the muffled voices of audience in the room caught on tape. Saul’s thought-provoking guitar chords are reminiscent of Ry Cooder, Christopher Willits and Mark Templeton to name a few – slow, lingering harmonies set in motion, and as always Haines’ strings twist and turn and feel like they’re wrung out with great physical exertion without sounding too strained. Highlights of the record comes with Green Room 1 which rounds off in little over 8 minutes and is a sluggish, wailing piece – Haines’ strings feel like the subsea sonar of whales. Halfway in, nervous strings scatter across the melody and long-stretched tones from Saul’s guitar complete the picture of something longing. But it’s the transition from this song, with chiming horns leading into the shorter Ladybarn that blows me away – the repetitive piano melody set to Saul’s reverberating, electric guitar tones. In conclusion Music Box is a noisy piece where guitar, strings and tinkering bells are broken down into bleeding masses of static and white noise which comes in bursts and dillutes most traces of melody, and Rarefish wraps up with some delicate acoustic guitar chords and fragile, scraped strings. For being a live recording it sounds very much like a studio album and has your ears pricked to attention – so it was disappointing to catch the duo on an “off-day” knowing their potential. But I’m likely to give Liondialer benefit of the doubt this time and anticipate their first studio recording.

Comments (Feb 2011) :

Possibly the most complex Arkhonia work to date, and certainly the one I am the most proud of – selecting favourite segments from rough and haphazard recordings of impromptu (and sometimes haphazard) performances; way too many complex edits and transitions (see if you can spot the loops in Bay Horse…); hours upon hours of processing and filtering to render these rough recordings listenable…but why was the cover lettering pink?

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As an amateur collector of curious recorded artifacts, and in an idle moment last week, I had the idea of adding some lashed-together videos of 78s to upload to youtube (inspired by way more dedicated people who have done likewise); the first completed was Sidney Bechet’s gorgeous and stately Egyptian Fantasy. I had planned to do something similar with flexidiscs and other oddities that I have acquired over the years (in truth mostly obtained for me by my brother, a rabid carbooter, ferocious haggler, and fantastic musician), and briefly started this project a few years ago (but abandoned it as quickly) via myspace as Random Audio Artifacts.

Having had a few items thus pre-prepared, I searched online for more images of Stainless Stephen, the performer featured on this lovely little thing:

being a 5″ cardboard 78rpm disc of unknown date, but bought in (and originating from) Manchester:

in order to augment an otherwise thin selection of images as accompaniment to Stainless Stephen’s paean to ‘the finest winter food in the world’.

Tripe, to the unenlightened, ‘is a type of edible offal from the stomachs of various farm animals‘, and Mr. Stainless is here extolling the virtues of Beef tripe, ‘which is usually made from only the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe). Abomasum (reed) tripe is seen much less frequently, owing to its glandular tissue content‘ (says Wikipedia).

This is tripe, alongside hooves and tongue, in a butcher’s window in Athens:

I imagined that, whenever this record was made, and then distributed to its audience via United Cattle Products outlets in an envelope like this,

tripe itself was then a kind of surrogate meat product, at a time of post-war British austerity (although the Athens picture above should have maybe told me otherwise) – and I must admit that Stephen himself was somewhat unconvincing (and maybe unconvinced) about its virtues and wonders.

I was therefore surprised to discover that not only does United Cattle Products maintain a presence on the interweb, but that “Stainless Stephen” Earns A Stripe had a page solely dedicated to it (placing it in 1935, 10 or so years older than I imagined), with photocopied images of the above disc, plus an envelope pic that looked as if it had been unearthed at Nag Hammadi rather than Heaton Chapel:

and that these images were obtained from the Hit of the Week blog, devoted to the collation and cataloguing of this particular form of budget pressing:

The card board Hit of the week – Durium records were released during the Depression years early 1930s, as a weekly, cheap, unbreakable and “durable” record in the US and Europe. This blog is dedicated to these rare ephemeral flexible records, which were released 80 years ago now.

I have a few other Durium discs, Mobil Oil Melody (‘Cars Run Better On Mobil Oil – It’s Slum Free!), plus 4 discs of a 6 disc set, Zoo Voices – Round The Zoo with Julian Huxley (I am missing Birds In The London Garden & The Larger Cats alas), but Hans Koert has constructed a fascinating history and discography of these curious discs here and elsewhere.

So I mailed both UCP and Hit Of the Week, with a link to the above images, plus an mp3 of the disc itself, and now both sites feature my own images as replacements for these older photocopies, here and here – and the UCP site also hosts the mp3, should anyone who has read thus far care to exercise their curiosity further.

And so, rather than having another odd audio/video post for this youtube ‘channel’, that few people might ever see or hear (and may quickly cease to exist if youtube’s Cease And Desist mails keep coming), I have instead the great pleasure of having helped two dedicated archivists update their archives, both working within an admirably-specific (and specifically divergent) dedication to their chosen pursuits: forgotten records and forgotten foodstuffs.

But a closer look at unitedcattleproducts.co.uk‘s small print reveals that

This site is not operated by, sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated with the United Cattle Products Ltd., their partners or sponsors…This site recognizes the historic importance of U.C.P. in promoting tripe in the United Kingdom and its purpose is to help further support the culture of this traditional dish by collecting and sharing memories, documents and images related to the United Cattle Products Ltd. for research, conservation and preservation purposes only

and that this is a subsidiary archiving project for the Accademia della Trippa (Academy Of Tripe); and I am informed by Robert from the Accademia itself that

the fascination with tripe comes from the love of the food, and the fact that is has always been considered a “B citizen”, notwithstanding the fact that every culture in the world has at least on recipe with cow’s tripe in it, from Africa to Australia.

We work in collaboration with Indro Neri, one of the Italian experts on tripe, having written several books on the subject ( http://www.troppatrippa.com), and his passion is contagious. Tripe is indeed more than just offal. It is part of local traditions, narrative, cinema and art, just to name a few.

all of which I had no idea of – my local butcher sells ‘green tripe for dogs’, but I see no indication that any colour of tripe is available for humans, and imagined that the rest of the world felt likewise. Communication with Accademia della Trippa corrected this smallminded (and I suspect specifically-English) misconception;  The Academy’s site looks extensive, but, as a non-Italian reader, I can only take Robert’s own contagious passion on trust – but a statement of intent that

“The mission of the Accademia della Trippa is to recognize, endorse and help advertise any association, company, group, individual, publication, or website promoting the culture of tripe and its consumption”

alongside Hans Koert and his Hit Of The Week, helps renew and rebuild the kinds of joys and excitements that little things (like the disc that spawned all this) can bring, and makes the petty cynicisms, elitism, inattentions to detail and general vaguenesses that I’ve experienced as part of the ‘music industry’ as the self-negations that they often actually are.

Thank you Robert, thank you Hans, for brightening an otherwise frustrating Thursday afternoon.

(amazing Athens tripe photo by David Barrie)

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