No Label CDR
peeesseye percussionist and junk sculptor Fritz Welch is now based in Glasgow,
where he's teamed up with local guitar hero Neil Davidson
for two slabs of teeth-grinding improv
as rough and ready as the recycled cardboard cover they come in.
There's a Chadbournesque playfulness to such cottage industry packaging,
but there's little of Dr Eugene's wacko fun in the music,
which is tough, often ugly stuff, the aural equivalent of a Brillo Pad.
Fibre rich and filling, but lumpy. Like porridge. Dan Warburton Paris Transatlantic
Irrespective of how the music sounds, today’s CDr deserves a mention here simply because of the way it is packaged. Remember how shops used to remove the disc from CD packaging on their shelves so that they could not be stolen, and then file the disc behind the counter in a card sleeve? I’m not definite, but I think that With Lumps, the new duo album by the percussion/acoustic guitar duo of Fritz Welch and Neil Davidson respectively recycles these old card sleeves- so that the name of the disc once housed in the sleeve in a shop is still written in marker pen on one side, with a With Lumps sticker pasted over the other side. My copy then (which I suspect might have been carefully chosen by Mr Davidson!) used to contain a Michael Bolton album called Vintage. I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t any longer.
The sleeve actually holds a forty minute long album spilt into four tracks of straight up free improvisation that is all acoustic, and yet often quite noisy while also busy and bustling without really sounding that dated. Welch uses what I am guessing is a full drum kit here, but he doesn’t ever really ‘play’ the drums in a traditional manner, choosing instead to scrape and rub and rattle things around, so creating a set of vaguely industrial sounds. Davidson pretty much attacks his acoustic guitar any way you can without ever plucking a string. His instrument buzzes more than it chimes, groans and crashes more than it twangs and strums. The four pieces are all similar in style, studies in dirty, gritty sounds that layer together and infect each other so that it becomes hard to tell one musician’s sounds from the other.
The recording here isn’t that great, its all a bit cloudy and murky, and trying to pick sounds apart becomes even harder, but turned up loud the music sounds great, a kind of lo-fi Will Guthrie set, bristling with activity, but all jagged, metallic sounds, often so much happening at once, but with enough spaces appearing when things calm down that tiny glimpses of chiming metal or softly bowed wood come through.
Its difficult to know what else to write about this one. Its a thoroughly honest, bare-bones recording of two musicians and friends getting together to play. There is no indication anywhere as to whether the music might have been played in a concert setting or not, but there is little in the way of editing and certainly no post production here. From the packaging to the recording quality to the harsh finish to many of the sounds, this isn’t a polished work, and it lays no claims to greatness- I doubt that many copies have been made- but its also not just a bit of fun, this is seriously played music by two friends that enjoy working together. If you are a fan of improvisation, can look beyond colourful digipacks, mastering credits and marketing campaigns and just want to hear a recording of two musicians communicating with each other very nicely through a set of scratchy, scraping sounds then you can do a lot worse than give this one a try. The disc is available directly from Neil Davidson, whose website is here. Richard Pinnell Watchful Ear