Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hatebeak : Beak Of Putrefaction / God Of Empty Nest

One I discovered via Ed Pinsent's excellent Vinyl Viands magazine (an outgrowth of his wonderful and long-running The Sound Projector); and about as metal as I'm ever likely to get. Described inside the sleeve as, "a conceptual record based on countless death metal albums", this 2004-issue 33 r.p.m. split single (mine comes in slightly marbled blackish vinyl, supposedly "African grey") on Baltimore label Reptilian (REP 077) marked the debut of Willl (sic), Blayk and Mrk (sic) - alongside fourth member Waldo. Very much the star of the show, being a fifteen-year-old Congo African grey parrot, Waldo provided all the squawks and screeches, stuck on top of the mix of pounding drums and guitar/bass racket.
Front sleeve features the Hatebeak logo of gothic lettering and a little cartoony drawing of a bird hatching from a white egg, all enclosed in stylised red flames - this a steal from the insignia of the all-human band Hatebreed. The colour pic on the front was pilfered from Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance, though a photograph of a majestic-looking Waldo was stuck on top to disguise the fact, as Hatebeak had no wish to fall foul of artists they held dear. Beak Of Putrefaction is a nod to Carcass's Reek Of Putrefaction; I guess the other title refers to Morbid Angel's God Of Emptiness. On the inside there's a pentagram, entwined in which we see the skeleton of a bird, perhaps an archaeopteryx ?
At least one more split single exists by this purely studio-based band (no live performances were considered possible due to the effect of the decibel levels on a sensitive creature) - Bird Seeds Of Vengeance (REP 090), the other side by Caninus who apparently featured dog vocalists. Sad to report that a copy of this disc continues to elude my clutches.
Blayk : "The only goal of Hatebeak really is to raise the bar as far as extreme music goes. Many bands have come before and played an extreme form of music, and this was my way of taking it up a notch."

Interview :

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Lee Patterson : Egg Fry #2

A recent-release three-inch, fifteen-mins-plus CD-R (Cathnor Recordings Vignettes Series CV006) in a colour-printed-inside-and-out folded card cover as broad as but a little shorter than a B format paperback, the whole encased in a protective thin plastic outer. Prestwich, Manchester sound artist Lee Patterson's fascination with listening to breakfast cooking led to his experimenting with attaching tie-clip microphones to a pan's rim, recording an egg frying and then - following the crescendo of sound - the cooling-down process. For this second egg recording, dated 15th March '05, he used a pair of cheap electret-condenser mics, the only ones which would withstand the intense heat. The close-up recording revealed a soundworld Patterson wouldn't have managed to encounter for safety and practicality reasons.
A little traffic noise intrudes, which seems to be enough of a source of irritation to warrant a mention by Patterson (who lives near a main road and a motorway junction) - but to this listener that's fine, all a part of the whole : presumably everything could have been set up in a more clinical, soundproofed studio environment... but much of the charm of this compelling piece resides in the domestic circumstances of its making, the lovely accessibility of that, the suggestion of try-this-at-home (but carefully).
Patterson has described how, although the mundanity of the situation might distract some listeners, he was excited to discover the rewards of paying very close attention to what was happening sonically - "...this recording easily transcends its origins...". He writes that he was "astounded by the level and the density of sonic activity within this 'sound-scape in a pan'". It'd be quite easy to dismiss this disc as a bit of a joke, something perhaps suited to an extract being broadcast on Dr. Demento's show, but its existence forces one to reconsider soundscape recordings, that heirarchy in which certain subjects - melting ice, for instance - are deemed as being more worthy of consideration, documentation; more serious.
I don't think the egg depicted on the cover, with its golden yolk and bubbling-up white, is the egg, unless designer Olaf Oxleay was present in Patterson's kitchen... Initial copies come with a special printed fried egg label, which reminds me of that of the Concord company ( which released material by the great Stavely Makepeace.
David Toop has been in online discussion with Lee Patterson regarding the former's great liking for "what happens when you plunge a very hot frying pan into cold water" - which could make a fantastic sequel piece to this disc.

Link : The CD is £6 inclusive.
Lee Patterson :; and

Friday, 4 December 2009

Douglas Roy : Disco To The King

A 1977 Polydor seven-inch (2058 989) with unpleasant cheapo red injection-moulded plastic labels, in a special white die-cut paper sleeve (rather than a proper picture one) with black text on just one side.
Apparently Douglas Roy was an Elvis Presley impersonator from Niagara Falls, the only one of his kind known to have shared the stage with Elvis himself; and from its release date I'd guess that this 45 must have appeared in the wake of the King's untimely demise, reports of which were beginning to filter through whilst John Peel was on the air in his ten-to-midnight slot.
The sleeve of this two-parter lists fifteen different songs (with composer credits) associated with the dyed-blueblack-haired sometime rocker, each side consisting of a medley of several of these - to a string-laden, brass-punctuated disco beat with a surfeit of backing vocals, and some dubbed-on crowd appreciation presumably poached from an in-concert recording of the singer once considered broadcastable from the waist upwards only.
This record is wonderfully and completely of its era - a combination of a response to a major cultural event (if that was the case, unless this was simply released as a novelty) with the dominant musical form of the moment. Incongruous ? Preposterous ? To me, it works really well, and is far less reverent and mawkish a tribute (if that's how it was intended) than much of the slop which appeared after 16th August '77, like Skip Jackson's unintentionally hilarious The Greatest Star Of All, a Kenny Everett World's Worst Record Show L.P. "favourite" - more a celebration, a pleasing reimagining of Elvis Aaron as a living, active, contemporary entity. Did Elvis ever venture into the disco genre during his lifetime ? Might he, had he lived ? This single predates the dancefloor smash A Little Less Conversation by a good quarter-century.
I'm not aware of that many records by Elvis impersonators - I remember the turban-wearing Peter Singh whose disc I've yet to locate; and there's the Swedish Eilart Pilarm who appears on the first volume of the outsider music collection Songs In The Key Of Z. And of course there's El Vez, the Mexican Elvis. An early Rhino Records release is supposedly an International Elvis Impersonators' Convention (RNEP 505) (, yet it feels to me like it's played for laughs as each of the Elvises has his own distinct characteristic - Jewish, Indian, Japanese etc.
Two excellent books on the topic grace my shelves : American Graphic Systems, Inc.'s I Am Elvis (Pocket Books, 1991); and photographer Kent Barker's collaboration with writer Karin Pritikin, The King & I (Chronicle, 1992).
The sole Elvis disc I have is a reissue of the pre-Army Mystery Train, incidentally, though I'm told that his gospel recordings are pretty good. I was never much of a fan as a kid when he was making 45s like An American Trilogy...

YouTube link :

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Dolly Parton : Jolene

Possibly the best known of all Dolly's compositions, Jolene ( is the lead track on a seven-inch maxi-single (RCA Victor RCA 2675) which was her breakthrough hit in the British market in 1976, reaching number seven in June of that year. Whilst there's nothing remotely unusual about this disc in itself, either musically or as an object (unless one views the value-for-money three-track maxi as a curious product of the 'seventies, like Dynaflex, say), it merits inclusion in this journal because of how Dolly was manipulated by John Oswald (link : - it's number 13).
"Dolly Parton gets a sex change by slowing down the speed of one of her singles...", wrote Andrew Jones in his book Plunderphonics, 'Pataphysics + Pop Mechanics, which includes this quote from Oswald : "Although the idea of slowing down Dolly Parton was my idea, two separate Dolly Parton fans told me on two separate occasions that I should listen to Dolly Parton 45s at 33 RPM, because she sounded really great at that speed. And it's true."
From "Pretender (based on 'The Great Pretender' written by Buck Ram) features the opportunity for a dramatic gender change, suggesting a hypothesis concerning the singer, Ms.Parton, perhaps worthy of headlines in the National Enquirer. The first inklings of this story came from fans of Ms.Parton's earlier hit single 'Jolene'. As many consumers have inadvertently discovered, especially since the reemergence of 12' 45rpm records of which this present disc is a peculiar subset, it is not uncommon to find oneself playing 45rpm sides at the LP standard speed of 331/3. In this transposed tempo 'Jolene' reveals the singer to be a handsome tenor. Additional layers of homosexual longing, convoluted ménages à trois and double identities are revealed in a vortex of androgyny as one switches, verse to verse, between the two standard playback speeds."
Whilst to my ears the backing music does work extremely well, the reduced pace darkening the mood of the track wonderfully, I'm not sure I'm totally convinced that Dolly's voice resembles that of a male when heard at twelve revs fewer per minute - but if disbelief can be suspended briefly, one gets a whole new intriguing perspective on her lyric : a man worrying about losing his man to the song's female subject; the vulnerability of a male capable of being moved to tears by the potential situation.
As the strangeness of this release resides solely in how the disc's misused, I'm rather tempted to have a one-off custom pressing produced for my "museum" by Vinyl Carvers ( which plays at the expected speed yet features the song at its adjusted pace.
I once read of a show on Resonance FM dedicated to records being played at the wrong speed, but I've yet to listen in.