Meadow Thrum Cassette Edition

20/11/2017

IMG_8289

This year we released Eiyn Sof‘s acid-folk tour de force Meadow Thrum on CD. It quickly sold out and we were pretty happy about that. But over the following months the nagging feeling that the album is too good to not be in print got to be overwhelming. Thus this new deluxe reissue was born. Limited to 50 copies, it comes in a special printed envelope with a full colour insert card.

You can order it HERE. ($6.00 CAD + regional shipping)

… an album pitched equidistant from full-out folk and mind-melting psychedelia. Meadow Thrum is a consistently riveting, occasionally confounding collection of escapist sounds and musical textures. File Meadow Thrum next to the most verdant and lush folk records or the most transcendent of alternative records in your collection; Eiyn Sof sits comfortably in both worlds.” ~ Dominionated


Interred Views: Lero

21/08/2015

IMG_2569

Based out of Hamilton, Ontario, LERO (aka Ben Dyment) is a solo project in operation since 2012. Shiftless, transient – secret gardens, slow drones and static hiss/hum, influence into expression. Plain hymns honest with pure truth airs. We’re releasing his album Trichomes on August 28th, 2015, so we had a chat about The Hammer vs. The Big Smoke, inspiration and suede desert boots. You can order the limited edition CD HERE.


Arachnidiscs Recordings: Trichomes strikes me as having a ’90s bent. Perhaps not in the way many people think of ’90s music, but in the  abstract dream-pop style of a band like His Name Is Alive or Labradford’s ambient post-rock. And, to me, “Cattleya” has bit of a Mellow Gold era Beck feel.  Are you influenced by that era or those kinds of bands?

Lero: Not at all, but I find it really interesting that you’d make that connection. A lot of my influences from that era are probably closer to that general assumption of ’90s music, actually — bands like Unwound, Royal Trux, Joan of Arc, etc. I think I get where you’re coming from with Mellow Gold on “Cattleya” though, but for what it’s worth at the time I recorded that I was listening to a lot of SMiLE-era Beach Boys.

ADR: I’d be pretty surprised if Beck wasn’t listening to a lot of SMiLE-era Beach Boys back then, actually.

Lero: That’s a good point, yeah. I think everybody goes through a SMiLE phase at some point.

ADR: I’ve never gone through a SMiLE phase. Or Pet Sounds, even. I don’t get the Brian Wilson worship at all.

Lero: I think if you strip Brian from the band identity and really view his work during that mid ’60s period, you see someone with a lot of the same ideals that you find in current tape culture/weird music scenes. All the improvisational and avant methods that say you or I might employ in our work, he was doing in a studio setting with a full group of professional session musicians and a major label budget at his disposal. He tried to advance pop music into a higher art, but it was too complicated — his audience wasn’t willing to move with him in a way he understood, and I don’t think he even fully understood where he was looking to end up. What appeals to me about his music is that sense of abandonment; he’s pushing as hard as he can to get somewhere further away from his origins and closer to his ideals, and when it works it’s fantastic.

ADR: See, that’s what people always say. I’ve tried to listen to his music from that angle for years but just don’t hear it. It makes me feel like part of my brain is missing. Because all these people whose opinions I respect can’t be completely off-track, right? I think it’s something basic like I just don’t like his chord progressions and melodies.

Lero: I know what you mean. I think with Brian and musicians of his stature most people insist “you HAVE to like them!!!” which is the wrong approach.

ADR: Any other ’60s musicians you particularly respect?

Lero: There’s a lot of people [from that era] that I like. I listen to a lot of East Coast and West Coast bands from that period on an equal level, which is still seen as taboo by some people — the whole ‘if you like the Velvets you have to hate the Airplane’ bullshit. It’s my favourite decade for jazz, too — people like Pharoh Sanders, John and Alice Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler. Impulse is one of my favourite labels, and almost everything they put out then was great, which is a pretty impressive track record.

ADR: I didn’t know I was supposed to hate Airplane. That hip-hop feud goes back further than I thought. But yeah, that 1966-72 period for exploratory jazz is pretty infallible — whatever the record label. It’s hard to go wrong just randomly buying a jazz record with that copyright date on it. The profile photo on your Bandcamp is a picture of your guitar with an Impulse sticker on it.  I noticed because I have one on my guitar too.

Lero: I was actually going to bring the sticker up — I saw yours when I was looking up Arachnidiscs online a while back.

ADR: We’re like sisters. I don’t hear a lot of actual “jazz” on your recordings. Does it represent more of an approach for you?

Lero: I think it represents more of an inspiration and influence on my thinking than my playing, and usually when it filters through it’s in a way that no one else would probably notice. Jazz makes up a large degree of my daily listening though, and the exploratory approach that you find in a lot of those records is something I try to always follow in my work, even if I’m not playing in an overt jazz style. “Ayler” is one of those tracks for me, how it sort of moves without a clear path and doesn’t wait for you to pick it up right away, hence the title homage. “Trellis” on Eye Hospital is another of those. I do want to get into a stronger jazz area with my work at some point, but I’d have to do it with other people—I wouldn’t be able to fully express myself in that way right now on my own.

ADR: When you’re recording, how conscious of influences are you? Is there a target you’re aiming for or do you just throw stuff against the wall?

Lero: I’m really conscious of influences when I’m recording, because I derive a lot of direct inspiration from whatever I’m soaking up at the time. There’s very specific targets, though I let them evolve as the process grows. I do try to keep each album fairly specific in its intent. If I come up with an idea that’s strong but really dissimilar to the other tracks, I’ll save it for a later project rather than force it in. I hope that the albums I’ve done carry the same sense of individuality in them that I feel when I’m making them.

ADR: Your Bandcamp displays a prolific output. In fact, you’ve released three albums since Trichomes. Are you one of those guys who’s never far away from a recording device?

Lero: You got me [haha]. I like to maintain a steady stream of output when I can. I’m the type of person who gets pretty obsessive with their interests, and I get inspired pretty easily, so I try to get as much as I can out of each area and see how I can adapt it into my own identity.

ADR: How do you see your identity?

IMG_0144Lero: I see identity as being something just slightly out of grasp, you know? If you reach too far it becomes intangible, but if you let it be it can surprise you with its strength. I hope that my music comes across as possessing some inherent traits and a healthy sense of personality at its core. Whenever I have to put down a genre I say ‘left-field folk’, which for me is a point of reference to the pure, weird sounds of Early American music. Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music compilation that he made for Folkways is an eternal well of influence for me, and it’s arguably the best source for what I’m talking about. Listening to those songs, you can hear everything filtered through the strange introversion of each performer. Each person sounds true to their own spirit, and that’s an element that I directly take as a guide for my own sense of self. The ‘left-field’ comes in with everything else that surrounds my music; you’d have to have a pretty obtuse sense of humour to take my lyrics as protest songs, and a lot of where I’m coming from is more Saturn than rural America, but that feeling of inward sustenance is what I strive for, no matter where I seem to be pushing the music towards stylistically.

ADR: Speaking of the American Folk tradition. In Canada it’s been an inescapable shadow since the 1950’s. Do you see there being a distinct Canadian musical identity?

Lero: Somewhat. I think it’s purity is usually either exported and distilled or else turned into a niche. I’ve never really been sure how to determine it, honestly. Do you see a clear identity?

ADR: I think it used to be more of a thing. Like Great Big Sea sound really Canadian. There’s no mistaking them for an American or UK band, even playing sort celtic music, they’re super Canadian sounding. And someone like Bryan Adams sounds distinctly Canadian somehow compared to his American counterparts Springsteen or Mellencamp or Tom Petty. But now it ‘s harder to pick out a Canadian artist out of a pile of new releases. So I don’t know anymore. I think that’s why I asked.

Lero: I agree with that a lot, yeah. A label like Arbutus is distinctly Canadian in its roster, but Braids or Grimes or anyone on there never really sounds ‘Canadian’.

ADR: No, Braids don’t sound Canadian. They sound Icelandic to me. Specifically, they sound like Björk.

Lero: Yeah, that’s an immediate relation to my ears as well.

ADR: Since we’re on the topic of geography, you’re based out of Hamilton, Ontario. For a few years now The Hammer’s been hyped as the “next Portland”, a sort of artistic oasis on the rise for creative types from Toronto who need to move somewhere less expensive. Does it live up to that hype yet?

Lero: I don’t think anyplace can really live up to its hype, especially when it’s coming from outside. To me there’s a clear delineation between the mindset of most people directly involved in the arts community here, and those just outside or far removed from it. The first group is focused on simply maintaining a level of creation/creativity, while the latter is eager to capitalize on it but a bit misguided (like when you have people proclaiming James Street North as an ’emerging arts scene’ for nearly 10 years now). It’s like any other city of its size, really — there’s a handful of good venues and good artists and a dedicated community to keep it going. I have noticed an influx of Toronto influence seeping into the general environment over the last few years, which can be a bit of a grey area, but then again there’s always been a bit of a complex relationship between Hamilton and Toronto.

ADR: Yeah, anywhere there’s always the capita-A “Arts” and then everything else that’s actually going on. In Hamilton is the scene the sort that allows for anyone who’s interested in taking part by just getting out there an doing it? As opposed to, say, Toronto where due to the sheer amount of competition in a huge city it can be pretty hard for a new band to get gigs when they start out. Is Hamilton a tough nut to crack?

Lero: No, nowhere near what Toronto seems to be like. Anyone can generally get something going here pretty easily, and people help each other out on a regular basis. What’s great is when the ‘weirder’ bands play bills together out of necessity/overlap and you get shows with a lot of diversity, rather than seeing 18 hardcore bands that all sound identical.

IMG_0147ADR: The other problem with Toronto—here’s where I inevitably get on my negativity soapbox—is there seems to be about a pool of 200 people into the weird music scene (perhaps more for the bands that skew punk). Recognizable faces you see at all the shows. But any given night there’s no less than three great shows drawing from that pool so everyone ends up with 17 attendees. Especially if you have the bad luck (or lack of foresight) to have your show booked the same night as something like Feast In The East. My feeling about smaller centers is maybe there’s fewer heads in the scene but you get them all out to your show because it’s the only thing going on that night. Or maybe I’m looking back at small-town life with rose-tinted glasses.

Lero: It’s true that with a smaller area you tend to get a higher concentration of people to each show, but there’s still a lot of times I’ve been at shows with 17 people here too. I think all those little factors that have nothing to do with the music, like the weather, day, venue, hype, etc, have more of an influence than we’d like to admit.

ADR: I don’t know about Hamilton but the slightest bit of rain in Toronto means you go down from 17 to 10 or less. But I wouldn’t know. I try not to leave my house for anything so I don’t go to shows if it’s raining. I’m pretty ecstatic if it starts to rain. “Yes! I don’t have to go!” But maybe people congregate to get out of the rain. So, I guess I wouldn’t know.

Lero: Yeah, there’s a bit of that here too. I get that excuse mentality sometimes when I’m going to Toronto for shows, when distance is an added factor. Rain’s good once you accept it, or if you’re not wearing suede desert boots.

ADR: Having grown up on the west coast, I actually kinda love rain. I just use it as an excuse. But speaking of desert boots, what’s on the near or distant horizon for Lero?

Lero: I just finished up an album last month entitled In Sunset a Glow Glory that’s largely improvisational/instrumental and plays as a soundtrack of sorts. Beginning work on a new album called Sapid Origin that might bring out some new sounds to the melting pot. There might even be some live Lero on the horizon too, which could be pretty interesting…

ADR: Live is life.


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


Interred Views: Louis Law

09/07/2015

IMG_9573

Louis Law is a British songwriter now living in Utrecht, Netherlands. Most of the music on his Arachnidiscs Recordings cassette, Hirudinea, was recorded on his laptop, some on his girlfriend’s slightly better one. He doesn’t own a microphone. He is perhaps best known as a prominent expert on Tommy Cooper and the occult, as well as the author of several books on the subject (Spoon Sigil Spoon available internationally for a reasonable price in all good stockists), and as the co-host of TrousersDown FM, an exciting and irreverent independent radio show broadcast to a select audience from the pits of West Somerset in the late 90s/early 00s. We sat down with our respective computers and phones to discuss life in The Netherlands, racism, socialism, classism, leeches, the occult, lo-fidelity and the blues.


Arachnidiscs Recordings: You’re living in Utrecht, which has been in the news over here lately as either a bastion of progressive social policy or a socialist hell-state depending on the media outlet. So, are you going to be living large off of that guaranteed income money?

Louis Law: This was news to me. As a non-citizen who only gets to vote for which water provider my city has, the local stories that interest me tend to just be the ones in which someone has died in an interesting or amusing manner, so thanks for telling me. I would only have found this out if I picked up a tabloid and read about a hard-up family suffocating under a deluge of unearned banknotes.

Good to see there wasn’t a public outcry about it. Maybe people here think they’re fucking scroungers, but if they do, they keep quiet about it. It’s a fairly left-leaning city, Utrecht, albeit in that slightly smug matter-of-fact continental way that I’m both in awe of and irritated by at the same time. It’s a boring, trite, cliched thing to say, but I find it odd as an English person to live in an essentially socialist society in which there’s virtually no discourse around class. It exists, of course, like it does everywhere, but everyone’s convinced themselves it doesn’t. To a Dutchman, being working class means nothing more than listening to Smartlap and drinking Heineken from a tiny glass. To be middle-class means nothing more than keeping a bunch of books you never read and not owning any curtains. As a Brit, I’ve spent my entire life constantly waiting for a class war to break out, but people here seem content to just keep calm and carry on. It’s confusing and infuriating.

ADR: That sounds not entirely unlike Canada. We like to pretend we’ve eradicated racism and classism and smugly point fingers at the USA, as if we’re doing any better. But while they seem to be actually acknowledging and fixing their social problems of late, we just passed a law that literally makes immigrants second class citizens.

LL: The national dialogue here around immigration is conducted in a way that’s completely alien to me. The UK sensibility has an isolationist bent, I don’t know how it makes the news across the pond but our membership of the EU is increasingly unpopular and was a major talking point during our recent election. That’s virtually absent here in Holland, but it’s entirely acceptable to blame every societal ill on the immigrant population. Second, third, fourth generation immigrants are referred to by their ethnicity, white people consider Zwarteschoolen (“black schools”) places their kids shouldn’t be… all sorts. The veil was just banned. All this seems racist to my ears. It’s like anywhere, vast swathes of people just want to stick to their own. Saying that, my perspective will always be as an outsider, I’m not convinced my observations should be taken all that seriously. There are many things I like about this country, and I’ve always been accommodated. I’m just drawn to speak about the negative aspects because they’re the things that are most readily different to what I grew up with. I like it here.

ADR: How out in the open is the “Zwarteschoolen” thing? I definitely see all those attitudes here in Toronto, but it’s all very hush-hush. People pretend they put their kids in predominantly white private schools because they claim, as a whole, the public school system is shot. But I think that’s just a rationalization for an attitude they don’t want to publicly voice.

LL: Very open. It’s something that you’d bring up at a dinner party or something. The attitude is that kids from a non-white Dutch background can’t speak the language, so their nice white kids will be dragged down to their level. Goes without saying that that’s untrue. The structure of the Dutch language facilitates a very blunt and honest approach to conversation, which is something they’re very proud of. I still speak around everything in that English way when I speak Dutch, which they find very amusing. I don’t think the attitudes you find here are all that different from other places, but people are happier to say it. The British public (which means private) school system is no better in practice. Very similar to the Canadian one, from what you and others have told me.

ADR: A difference between Canada and The Netherlands would have to be I have no idea what Smartlap is. Google isn’t helping. The Wikipedia entry is even in Ducth! From what I can tell by the humorously poor Google translation is it’s something akin to the Dutch version of Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel?

LL: Smartlap is the Dutch version of Schlager music. Very simple, catchy pop tunes about drinking, losing the love of your life and partying. The word smartlap means a handkerchief that you dry your tears on. Andre Hazes would be the most well known of these singers. To a foreigner it’s hard to take seriously, but Dutch people either adore it or are ashamed of it. Nothing in between.

ADR: What brought you to the Netherlands? Work? Romance? Treachery? How does it differ?

LL: I moved here to be with a woman. I don’t have any particular fondness for, or interest in, Dutch society or culture, and will probably never be able to fully integrate. That’s fine though – I speak the language, walk amongst them and have figured out how to act like I’m engaged. It feels like I’m deep undercover, basically. Whenever I feel like I’m becoming enamoured to the Dutch way of thinking, someone will say something about Moroccans or something and I’ll realise I’m not one of them. It’s nice enough though, and I enjoy living life from the outside looking in.

ADR: Would you consider your music ‘The Blues’?

LL: Ralph Macchio in Crossroads has more of a connection to the blues than me. It’s not something I know enough about to be able to expound on in any kind of intelligent or informed way – if I were to try and talk about what I think the blues is, I would be about two sentences in before I said something that’s probably racist. I don’t generally play the identity politics game as a rule, but blues does seem to me to be a form of music that’s intimately tied to the experience of black people in a very specific period of time in American history. I grew up in a shitty town on the Southwest coast of England. It was depressing enough, but I can’t say I’m anything other than influenced by the blues as a genre. There are about five or six blues figures I could name as people that I spend any real time listening to. John Lee Hooker, Robert Belfour, Junior Kimbrough, Blind Willie McTell. I would have said Howlin’ Wolf, but in all honesty I haven’t listened to any of his stuff in years.

ADR: Crossroads, for better or worse, was a huge influence on me as a 13 year old learning guitar. That Ry Cooder soundtrack affected my playing immensely. It’s pretty horrific, though, when you put it in the context of the blues, as you described it, being “intimately tied to the experience of black people in a very specific period of time in American history.” I mean, it’s a story about middle class white kid on a quest to become a “real” blues man. Who thought that premise was okay? Anyway, I’d agree your music is more influenced by the blues genre than anything anyone would immediately identify as the blues. But what I wouldn’t be surprised is if people name-drop Captain Beefheart. Is he an influence?

LL: I’d be more than happy to be compared to Beefheart. Doc At The Radar Station is the only record of his I own, but I’m familiar with his stuff and I’m a fan.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint a list of musical influences on these songs. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’d find it easier to talk about the literary influences. I sweated over the lyrics, but the structure and music of the songs just kind of sprang out of that. I was reading Arthur machen, as I said, and also had just gotten into Harry crews. A feast of snakes. Watt by Beckett. I was reading a Dutch translation of Pound’s cantos as I wrote the lyrics. I don’t really remember what I was listening to. Alasdair Roberts? Charlie Louvin, I remember. The Scott Walker and Sunn O))) record.

ADR: Bish Bosch is a masterstroke, but I could only listen to it a total of one time. And I only got as far as watching that infuriatingly pointless video from the Sunn O))) collaboration. Too intense and intentionally alienating. And I say this as, like, an Einstürzende Neubauten fan. But now that you mention it, I can hear some similarities between your album and Walker’s. I did, however, listen to yours ten times in a row when I was dubbing the copies and I enjoyed it more and more each time. It’s certainly not “easy listening” though. Was the aggressive sonic attack intentional, as an artistic statement, or is it just how it came out?

LL: I definitely wasn’t trying to sound abrasive. It came out that way, due more to my lack of access to quality recording equipment than anything else, but I liked how it sounded. What similarities can you see between me and Scott Walker? I would never have made that comparison.

ADR: Not a comparison in any kind of carbon-copy way. More of an overall tone, maybe? Like, perhaps, the same aesthetic but approached differently. And there’s some bits where you’re doing a sort of demented crooning over those abrasive sounds.

LL: Well, I’ve always loved crooners. Mario Lanza was what you could call a formative influence, back in the days when I was first getting into music. Arch japester and master of tomfoolery Jimmy Fallon wasn’t lighting up the airwaves at that point, so I wasn’t put off by their eerie resemblance. These days, I probably would be, which is a real shame. Much like the fact that I can’t watch professional tennis because my father looks too much like Andy Murray for it to be a coincidence, these kinds of things can ruin a young man’s enjoyment of great art. I’m told I look like the singer from the Wombats. Same thing.

ADR: I know when you first pitched me your recordings I was a bit reluctant thinking, “Well, it’s a bit low-fi, innit?” But now I think it wouldn’t have worked as well any other way. And it’s not nearly as lo-fi I initially thought. It sounds really great. Not that I wouldn’t encourage you to, you know, actually buy a good microphone. But the grit really adds to Hirudinea in the way people like to think the lo-fi DIY approach is instantly magic. This is one of the rare cases I’ve heard lately where I think it’s true.

LL: I’m a big Bill Callahan fan, but I didn’t listen to those early Smog albums until earlier this year. That whole lo-fi aesthetic, particularly on Julius Caesar and Forgotten Foundation, is something I’ve only really recently begun to appreciate. Before that, anything I liked that people called lo-fi was stuff I liked because it was good, not because of the way it was recorded. It did make me think that there can be something, as you say, magical about using shitty recording equipment if everything slots together properly, which is something that seems completely counter-intuitive and probably infuriating to a whole sector of the general populace. I’m not the guy to explain why it works, but it definitely does.

ADR: I think the problem with lo-fi, as a genre, is people heard the great records Smog and Sebadoh recorded with limited equipment and then thought “Oh, I can just record onto a surplus tape recorder and it’ll be good enough too.” Eventually shitty just became acceptable. Which it’s not. Anyway, my point is your album sounds raw but not shitty. In the notes for Hirudinea you claim to be an expert on the occult and a scholar on the subject. Is this true? Does the occult enter into your music?

LL: I do have a keen interest in the occult, it’s true. I would say any infiltration it makes into my music is unintentional, but it’s quite likely to be there. Literature probably had a more conscious impact on this bunch of songs than anything else, although of course there’s a heavy crossover between literature and the occult, particularly in some of the stuff I read. It’s interesting, actually – I hadn’t thought of it before you asked me this, but I re-read The House of Souls at around the time I recorded these songs. Listening back to a couple of them (Fourth and Hide in particular), I can detect a real influence that was completely unintentional at the time.

ADR: What is it about leeches (hirudinea) that fascinates you? Or do they? Why did you name the album that?

LL: I love leeches, and I love Latin names. I don’t know how interesting it is for anyone to hear this (I fucking hate it when musicians try and explain themselves), but when I was recording the songs for this thing I started to feel like I was transferring something, and that the recordings were holding some kind of residual energy. The tape is a leech, it’s not a two-way thing. I don’t think anyone can genuinely take that energy back from it, they can just watch it writhe and crawl in a jar like I used to with leeches when I was a kid. That’s what music is to me. What pretentious twaddle.

We don’t think it’s twaddle at all. Nor is Hirudinea which releases as an Arachnidiscs Recordings Extra Limited Run cassette on 07/27/2015. Order it HERE.


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


%d bloggers like this: