Interred Views: Erm + Nickname



Erm & Nickname‘s Woodland Ritual fits into that oddly obscure-yet-pervasive niche of outsider music lodged in between free-jazz, early Faust-ian experimentalism, ambient electronics, primal therapy, and neo-pagan psychedelic rituals. It boasts a rich darkness as well as an ephemeral light, not unlike the campfire in the East Sussex woodlands it was recorded around. I chatted with the duo about their unusual, magical recording experience, which just happens to be the latest release in our Extra Limited Runs series (order it HERE).

Arachnidiscs Recordings: Tell me a bit about Erm & Nickname. Who are you and what’s up with this recording?

Nickname: Erm & Nickname are Andrew Newnham and Nicholas Langley. We met at the age of twelve and almost immediately chose the aliases Erm & Nickname for making radio-style tape recordings and comedy videos. We were both enthusiastic owners of recorder-Walkmans so we eventually accrued hundreds of hours of improvised radio, comedy, songs and general silliness, most of which will never see the light of day.

Fast forward about twenty eight years and the Erm & Nickname personas can become a useful psychological retreat for us. We escaped into the woods of East Sussex for four days armed with only battery-powered gear and the sole intention of making music. Not to record an album or work on a cohesive project, but to immerse ourselves in the therapeutic music process. We recorded rock songs, funk tracks, comedy numbers, but sooner or later the wood spirits always took over. They enveloped us, spoke through us. Our thin electronic sounds became one with the crackle of campfires and the wind through trees. The constant activity of arachnids, birds, insects and worms seemed to transmit both the life voice of creation and the deadly sirens’ call into the ground. The song cycle ends with Hope.

There’s this Buddhist proverb “Living without hope is like burying oneself,” which should be the album’s tagline really. It was truly an unintended deep, personal, musical and lyrical experience for both of us….

ADR: You say the cycle ends with “Hope” but it literally ends with a scream. Is “Hope” to you a primal scream in the wilderness?

Nickname: That’s not really a scream, just a thing we do at the end of recordings to make each other jump. We love to unsettle ourselves.

ADR: It definitely unsettled us every time it came around during the dubbing. EQ’d perfectly to sound exactly like someone standing on the walk outside our front door.

Nickname: A primal scream in the wilderness though? Sure that can symbolise hope. Screams for help, mating calls — making sound always involves some form of hope, I’d not really thought about it, but maybe that’s the main function of making music, to hold onto hope!

Erm: It’s almost that there is hope; getting through tough times and challenges… But around the corner something new rears its ugly head. Just when u think its all “gonna be alright” for a time it is… then the dark comes. It is like a cycle… with hands held; with support of others it is conquered for a time…

ADR: I’ve always wanted to record something in the woods but haven’t organized it. Tell me a bit about how you found it affected the recording experience as opposed to recording in a studio setting or at a jam space or something.


Erm: Didn’t feel influenced by life surroundings. We were shut off with no other human contact. Within the three days all life distractions faded. The only thing left was our subconscious. Working in solitude with limited equipment and resources allowed a more relaxed and spiritual result. Those limitations allowed us to let go of ourselves…within time our woodland surroundings, crackling fire, played it’s important part. We allowed the woods and our emotions to take over.

Nickname: Definately. It was good to be away from a computer. Limitations are really positive for songwriting. The play-to-work ratio improves.

ADR: I’m a big proponent of imposing limitations to spark creativity. So what is your usual musical modus then? When you say “good to be away from a computer” is it all Ableton Live and VSTs?

Nickname: Ha, God no, sometimes I think I should try that as I’ve only done three or four tracks that way. I used to just use internal ‘sequencers’ on synths and hardware, and quantised everything. No computers at all. Then I got bored with electronic music and stopped for five years. Since then I started using a computer to record mostly live stuff, as well as sound processing, mixing and mastering.  But for this project we were using just a portable recorder, which is how Erm and I always used to record actually.

ADR: When you pitched the album to me, I noted what I sort of thought was a Coil “unplugged” vibe. When I was listening to it over and over and over doing the dubbing, I began to notice perhaps more of a Nurse With Wound feel, perhaps specifically the vocals from their collaboration with Stereolab, actually. You said the Coil comparison was interesting because Erm doesn’t know them, though you of course are a fan, as are most people you make music with. Over on your side of the pond is there a large groups of people who are into the whole Coil / Throbbing Gristle /NWW / Current 93 scene?

Nickname: I really don’t know. Whenever I’ve met someone that I wanted to do music with, it’s turned out they’ve been really into Coil. That’s happened with at least three of my longest-running and significant collaborations anyway. Now it’s happened in a different way, it’s the first time someone made the comparison I think. Other than my own particular kind of music-people though, nobody I meet seems to know who they are. I’m not that familiar with Nurse With Wound but I love what I’ve heard. They seem to be interested in some similar areas to The Vitamin B12. And I do music with somebody who’s friends with members of NWW too so I should pay more attention really. I know I don’t like Current 93. I guess there are thousands of very keen fanatics rather than millions of fans. Coil were just so inspirational. I think that anyone who hears them is compelled to create with sound. It’s the overwhelming freedom of possibility in their music. They were very generous and kind with their time — with their fans — too. I know this for a fact.

ADR: NWW have a pretty vast catalogue that can be hard to delve into. Results may vary. I definitely am not a fan of Current 93 either. They sound like Jack Black doing a goth parody to me, though clearly many would disagree. But I was asking about Coil precisely because of how you put it: “Other than my own particular kind of music-people though, nobody I meet seems to know who they are”. I’m fascinated by that odd mixture of their being a seemingly pervasive, universal influence for experimental musicians of, shall we say, a certain age, yet remaining almost entirely underground even with—or almost in spite of—all the Trent Reznor connections.

My question here is, with your own particular kind of music-people, do you think its hearing music like Coil’s that compels them to create sound or that a band like Coil appeals to a certain kind of music-person? Who’s the chicken, who’s the egg?

Nickname: I’m pretty sure they were all doing music before hearing Coil, but it’s very encouraging to hear music that is outside of genres that can also be very moving and intimate. Not sure if young people are interested in Coil at the moment, but they will be at some point I think, it’s quite prophetic, or futuristic, in some respects. Technological folk music, which is where the music-making process is headed I think. So, not so much chicken and egg as chickens watching one of their own fly over the fence.


ADR: I hope you’re right about their music enduring—it does have a timeless quality to it. Though I wonder without anyone in that camp still alive if anyone’s in charge of their catalogue. I’d almost expect there were clauses in their wills to burn all the master tapes [*during the course of conducting this interview we excitedly learned their lost mid-90’s album Backwards is being released by former—and still living—member Danny Hyde].

Anyway, you mentioned The Vitamin B12, which is another of many projects you’re involved with. Are these all different “nicknames” for you or are these actual bands?

Nickname: Not me. The Vitamin B12 is an umbrella term for a wide range of artistic projects that nearly always include Alasdair Willis. Mostly, it’s a free-improv group. I’ve done 14 complete albums with them but that’s basically piss in the ocean of a really huge body of work. Hz is just me. Babylon was also Erm & Nickname.

ADR: You mentioned Buddhism earlier. Is Buddhism something that informs your creative process?

Nickname: I don’t think so.

ADR: In that case, what does inform your creative process?

Nickname: For this project it’s very loose. It’s playing in the sense of children playing rather than instrumental playing. You could say the process is informed by our long history, reverting back to being kids. We also do a lot of jokey stuff which is the other side of this.

Erm: Working with Nickname for over two decades makes improvising more possible. We seem to know how each other are going to play. I find that starting songs by improvising can allow my inner self to come out. I’m quite spiritual; so allowing my inner self to flow into music seems to work.

Nickname: Spiritual yes, but you might also say witchy or seer-like. I think you described the lyrics as almost channeling at one point. It certainly felt like we acknowledged some ‘demons’ out in the woods. I think your stream of consciousness took a life of its own?

Erm: You’re right there! It certainly was music therapy in the woods…. [laughs] Well, maybe just for me. Maybe I/we needed to face the demons in order to move on? Whatever it was… it was a great escape, a good time out; and its inspired me to do more!

Woodland Ritual released on September 25th. You can order it HERE.

Interred Views is an interview series with Arachnidiscs Recordings artists. This interview was conducted by Jakob Rehlinger.



Uvesen III cassette

C44 high-bias tape. Encased in plaster bandages. Pull black tab slowly and hear. $7 (plus regional shipping)


Uvesen is a Norwegian duo of percussionist Børre Myklebust and the highly prolific Andreas Brandal who has been releasing challenging and transcendental music since 1994, racking up hundreds of releases over several projects. With Uvesen the two embark upon free-improv psych experimentation of the highest order. Deep majick drones and wild aural landscapes. Abstract, percussive textures and bowed strings mingle with wild freak-folk dances and expansive electric guitar.

This music is such a beast we had to encase it in plaster for your safety.

CALL IT: Drone, improvisation, psychedelic, no-wave, avant-garde, noise-ambient, free-jazz, freak-folk
SONIC COUSIN TO: Pelt, Coltranes Robbie and John, Don Cherry’s Pan-African and Cosmic eras, Ensemble Pearl [or other SunnO))) ambient side-projects], Fred Frith, Sir Richard Bishop, Flowers/Corsano, a general VHF records vibe. God literally whispering in your ear (but maybe not whispering nice things).

The possible return of No Love



Back in 1989 Arachnidiscs Recordings began with demo tapes released on an imprint called No Love Records. Naturally, being a 1990’s label, No Love focused on punk and music that fell under the relevant-at-the-time label of “alternative” rock. In it’s days No Love never released a single vinyl record. Apparently, ten years on that bothered me so much that I looked for a new name for the label as we headed into the new century. Goodbye No Love, hello Arachnidiscs.

Anyway, if you’ve perused the Arachnidiscs  mission statement before, it’s clear there’s a number of genres not suitable to the Arachnidiscs aesthetic. This includes things like punk and alternative, no matter how weird the music is or how weird the people making it might actually be.

Lately, that’s kind of made me sad to say “no” to some pretty interesting projects so I’ve been toying with the idea of reviving the No Love imprint for a few select releases. I wasn’t going to announce it until agreements were nailed down with the bands, but how could I not announce this on Valentine’s Day?

Stay tuned? Maybe…






Babel : Rillingen

61:46 // Pro CD-R, thermal print // Vellum sleeve // Numbered edition of 50

$9-Buy With Immediate Download

$8-Buy CD Only (Canada)

$8-Buy CD Only (Rest of World)

$6-Download Only

While the city the rumbles with the subterranean boom of frost-quakes, RILLINGEN (meaning “Shivers” or “Chills” in Dutch) burrows deep into a frozen landscape of trembling souls, burning themselves to keep warm as they freeze to death in an orgy of winter ecstasy.

On this hour-long polar vortex of solo electric guitar improvisations, BABEL‘s more lyrical side returns to join the percussive, extended techniques of the previous two EPs—HEURTER and STURM und DRANG—finally bringing two halves of BABEL into one cohesive whole.

Recorded live, direct to 2-track on Mothers Day, 2013, in six takes (three of which make up the 37-minute closer) using echo loops and, fittingly (though pun not intended), an Electro-Harmonix “Freeze” pedal.

IN DECLINE: Cassette Store Day Exclusive



The iconic Sonic Boom record store in Toronto is celebrating the first ever “Cassette Store Day” by hosting a CASSETTE FAIR on September 7th, 2013.

Tape and micro labels from across the city (and beyond) are participating, including Arachnidiscs Recordings. As it happens, we’re coming up on our 100th release and wanted to do something special for the auspicious serial number AD100. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to do a retrospective compilation covering material from some of our long out-of-print titles.

The result is IN DECLINE SINCE ’99.

A limited run of 10 home-dubbed C60 tapes (in a choice of two colours) will be available EXCLUSIVELY at the cassette fair. It compiles 17 tracks pulled from previous compilations and releases since the label was forged in 1999. Featured artists include Gown, Amarillo Stars (pre-Gown project), Partli Cloudi, Cellar Doors (pre-Elfin Saddles project), Apollo Ghosts (rare early track), New Yaki (collaboration between Gown, Partli Cloudi and Moonwood), Flatbed (brutal west-coast noise rock), Early Man, Everything For Everyone (Crusties/Down With Everything related), and more.


The best part? These puppies are going to be FREE with purchase of any Arachnidiscs tape at our table (or at cost for $2).

The best part, that is, aside from the music, of course.


Another unexpected boon of this project was the experience duping the tapes by hand. I hadn’t done that since the ’90s, before I started Arachnidiscs (with the advent of CD-R). There’s something truly satisfying about home dubbing, a real sense of accomplishment, a real connection to the release I’d forgotten about (even though most of our packaging is done by hand, the tapes and CDs are pro-duped). Folding the inserts and stickering the tapes, sliding them neatly in the box… it’s a real zen zone. A completely different experience than having a case of completed tapes arrive on your doorstep and it reminded me why I wanted to run a label in the first place.

photo (5)

Not that I’d want to dub a run much larger than ten by hand. So I highly recommend, if you’re able in the Toronto area, you make it down to Sonic Boom (795 Bathurst St) on September 7th (noon til five) to get a copy, There will not be a second run.

SEMEN PRIEST pre-order is open





Pre-orders for the debut cassette from mysterious Canadian electro-funk shockers SEMEN PRIEST are now being taken through the just launched ARACHNIDISCS RECORDINGS Bandcamp site.

Pre-orders come with immediate download of three tracks and a link to the full album will be emailed the moment it’s officially released on August 6th, 2013. Of course, the tape will be shipped on or before the 6th. Pre-orders come with special packaging.

Listen to the pre-release tracks, Another Bad Day and two mixes of Taste The Beastbelow.

Or watch the video for Another Bad Day.

Split Tape Series #8: Chik White / Holiday Rambler


C50 // edition of 50 // pro-duped // DL code // glossy accordion fold insert // cloth bag with hand stamped product tag.


Side 15 – Chik White: I Am Muck. You Are The Wind.

CHIK WHITE is the recording alias of Darcy Spidle, star and co-writer of the Canadian cult film, Lowlife, and the guy behind Canadian indie institution Divorce Records. Playing almost like a possible alternative soundtrack to Lowlife, I Am Muck sucks you into a starfish licking world of bizarr0 psych improvisations and avant soundscapes created from “experimental jews harp and acoustic guitar”. Exciting and fearless stream of consciousness music/noise/sound making—like the wind and tides blowing and flowing.

Side 16 – Holiday Rambler: It Lasted A Hundred Years, It Will Last A Hundred More.

“More like coal than gasoline”, HOLIDAY RAMBLER (aka D. Alex Meeks of Hooded Fang infamy) is one of those young men you meet where you simply know they have a time machine buried in their backyard. They’re just too comfortable wearing the attire and diction of yesteryear for it to be entirely an act. The title of this set of songs and sounds, It Lasted A Hundred Years, It Will Last A Hundred More, could be a reference to the timeless/old-timey nature of the Rambler’s American gothic folk-blues. Despite being a relatively young sprout, there’s a lot of gravelly down-home wisdom woven throughout the set of bluegrass and gospel informed tunes with a decidedly end-times feel. Kind of like a Smithsonian Folkways recording from the backwoods of Virginia in an alternate universe where the Great Depression never ended.



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