TTW#28 - Philip Marshall - Casse-tête
Cassette only - limited edition of 250 copies
Buy in the TouchShop
A1: 4263 (Number Crunch #1)
A3: The Man Who Fell
B1: 9176 (Number Crunch #2)
B2: Slight Return
Illustration - Rayna deNiord
Number Crunches composed, arranged and performed by Andrew Poppy. Field recordings captured by Zeno van den Broek and Sven Schlijper. Hidden voices: Thaddeus Zupančič. Mastered by BJNilsen. Commissioned by PAUME as part of “The Tapeworm Comes Alive!”, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 28.xi.10.
“Fog over Channel, continent isolated…”
Both sides of Philip Marshall's Casse-tête follow a very similar path, so much so that I had to consult the liner notes to be sure that it was not the same material repeated on both sides. Strong, clear piano playing opens both sides before giving way to atmospheric if stereotypical field recordings of accordion playing on what sounds like a Parisian street. Both sides finish off with some serious organ drone, side B's performance being particularly powerful. The transitions between the sections are edited beautifully, reminiscent of early Nurse With Wound and I must say that Casse-tête is a gem of a tape.
Further to The Tapeworm's adventures in Utrecht, follows this session from Ash International artist, Philip Marshall. Using field recordings of accordion captured by Zeno van den Broek and Sven Schlijper, together with “hidden voices” credited to Thaddeus Zupančič, Marshall siphons us from our reality to opulent surroundings fragranced with bright, clear piano, and into what may be a Parisian street scene, or outside the HSBC in Rusholme, the field recordings subtly edited for a trippy deja entendu, before melting into a final section of lustrous drone. The other side follows a similar route, as though we're following a brief segment of his day, an impression enhanced with the effortless, almost hyperreal segues between each section. Mastered by BJ Nilsen and warmly recommended.
Aquarius Records (US):
One of four new tapes on the Tapeworm label, a UK cassette only label that traffics in modern minimalism and all manner of outsider musical ephemera, shrouding many of their releases in mystery, leaving it up to the listener to divine the providence of these strange and wonderful releases. Not entirely sure who Philip Marshall is, although from the credits we're going to assume it's actually not a person, and instead the name of a group, made up of various composers, musicians and field recordists. Composed and performed by English pianist / composer Andrew Poppy, Casse-tête is a gorgeous elegiac bit of solo piano, brooding, and haunting, lush and melodious, but the main piano part is surrounded by various bits of audio detritus and random field recordings, from static and crunch, hiss and clatter, to snippets of conversation, the grinding metal on metal of what sounds like a commuter train, the background sounds occasionally overtaking the piano sounds themselves, a few minutes in, after what sounds like someone removing a tape from a player, we're treated to accordion and crowd sounds and what could be a busy street in Italy, the sounds getting ever more chaotic and noisy, reverbed and echo drenched, finally super distorted in a final squall of Merzbowian crunch, slipping into a strange bout of pulsating organs sliced and diced and all tangled up with more strange sonic snippets and fragments of what sounds like liturgical chorales.
The B side seems to be an extrapolation of that twisted collaged Italian street field recording, thick billows of accordion buzz, the rhythmic crunch of foot steps, church organs, lots of hiss and crunch and buzz, drone and dark, fragmented and fractured, a swirling, whirling droned out soft noise field recording flecked dronescape. Cool.
The Liminal (UK):
The sheer range of the Tapeworm’s interests continues to confound and delight in equal measures. One thing that has been reasonably consistent is their focus on individuals who, for one reason or another, aren’t exactly household names. Recent cassettes have included those from Peter Hope-Evans, once a member of 70s British blues band Medicine Head, as well as work from the workouts of the ultra-secretive drone duo Deceh. The name of Philip Marshall may be more familiar from his design work rather than his musical endeavours, but his new release is one of my favourite Tapeworm cassettes. In a way, it feels like the label in microcosm: with someone commissioning and arranging some very different sections into a beguiling whole. Andrew Poppy features with a couple of haunting solo pieces, before the tape is changed and we’re listening to someone else’s field recordings from a Parisian street, with accordions and street chatter – that too is soon ejected in favour of some deep church organ drone. And like the label itself, the strong curatorial hand ensures that it all works, the distinct movements somehow being knitted into a fascinating and evocative whole. (Scott McMillan)