Cahier - Jour Ouvrable III / Oubliette - A Grey Cylo Winter (Cut Hands CD-Rs)
Cut Hands started out as a great blog penned by a great fellow named Joris (see link to your right) and has now moved on to bigger and better things. Namely, the road to becoming a great record label. It's obviously named after the Whitehouse song, so right away it's a winner in my books, not to mention Joris is into all kinds of hep jams himself. These here are two of the first three releases from his label, the other being a Machinefabriek release that came and went before I could get a claw on it. Newer releases include a heavy-praised Psalm Alarm (Graveyards) disc as well as others from Filthy Turd, Love Letters, Heavy Winged, Fossils and Poor School (Brian Ramirez/Ex-Cocaine), with bands like Starving Weirdos, Sword Heaven, Lambsbread, Emeralds, and more on tap. Soitenly one worth keeping an eyeball on, despite the fact that neither of these two blew me away. Cahier is Tampere, Finland's Marko Neumann, and you may know his work from previous releases on Audiobot, Sloow Tapes and Foxglove. Not that I've heard any of these past records but apparently he's taking the Finnish flush out into a whole 'nother spiral than the ones constructed by countrymen and women in groups like Avarus or Kemialliset Ystavat. Oubliette is Seth Oubliette from Clyo, Georgia and he's got an astoundingly prolific recorded output to go with the label he runs, Obelisk Sounds. I think he's been at it since 2004 or possibly earlier, but again, this is my first exposure to the sounds he's making. I'm such a sloth.
Cahier may be cut from a different cloth than that of his free-folk hippie brethren, but there must be something generally in the water over there because they can still cut a weird record like no one else on the globe. And "Jour Ouvrable III" - the third and final entry in Neumann's "Jour Ouvrable" series - is certainly that much, at least for the first four tracks (the seven tracks are titled "Sin Fe I" through "Sin Fe VII"). They're all dedicated to an erratic electronic murk with Neumann adding in some kinda Aphex Twin windowlicking vocal blather, with parts even reminding me of a more obscure Residents. At "Sin Fe V" it starts getting into more typical noise fare, a melted-amp type dread that's not so wild and unpredictable but decent and well put together all the same. Imagine world-ending abandoned TV static post-atomic fallout broked into digestible 6 minute chunks. "Sin Fe VI" is the stand out of the set, on off-kilter folk/pop ditty strangled by the sound of droning effect pedal burn and other various plugged-in batterings. It veers off into a locust-swarming territory that brings the aforementioned Whitehouse to mind again, though the closing postlude sounds like a beautifully damaged snippet of Birchville Cat Motel's "Chi Vampires" (the track; all the piano and none of the metal). There's one thing I'll say without reservation - all over the map and nearly impossible to pigeonhole, this Cahier.
Seth Oubliette's got a pretty impressive noise manifesto on his MySpace where he comes across as both intimidating and self-effacing, and he's also got some snaps up where he's got sparks flying out of his armpits and chariot wheels chained to his back. No shit. "A Grey Clyo Winter" (an ode to his hometown, one would suppose) is a legitimate mixed bag if I've ever heard one, and I have heard some. There's some fairly straightly-squiggled noise jobs on rounds like the stormy "The River Field" and "Grey Theatre", and real out-there untunes in involving a slew of disparate soundscapes that ain't electronic and ain't pummelling no one's ears - think somewhere between Crank Sturgeon, Caroliner, Neubauten and Aaron Dilloway. Examples of such would be heard on "Hill Scabs", or the borderline-irritating "Ravine" and "Drink My Shame", the latter two being stuttering feedback-channeling workovers. Nothing here sounds mighty exceptional, though I did remark that it would probably come across better seeing it live - something those MySpace live shots appear to prove true. Which is kinda weird because you'd think with all the releases in the bank, it'd be down to a science for Oubliette by now. Maybe it is and I'm just not hearing it right. Nevertheless. Even if I don't find the results to be bang on, it's hard not to get behind a guy (uh, don't take that out of context) with a manifesto outlining personal rules like no digital sound sources, no hi-fi recording software, no mixers, live recording with little editing, and so on. I think he needs to worry a little less on the ethics though and a little more on the proverbial hard n' low, just my two cents.
Both these plain Jane CD-Rs come slipped inside milky chalk paper sleeves with cover screens worthy of keeping hid under your bed (seriously, how rad/terrifying is the Oubliette cover? Well it is to me, anyway) and color inserts. I was kinda disappointed to see the new Cut Hands discs not in these unique sleeves, but they look slick all the same. Joris is rocking a tight leash on these cemetary psychedelics especially: Cahier is limited to 60 and Oubliette is limited to 40, while others are selling out right under your nose.
Cahier - Sin Fe II
Cahier - Sin Fe VI
Oubliette - Doom Inspector
Oubliette - The River Field