No Thumbs is Pascal Ansell – who eager-eyed readers will recognise as the real-world persona of frenetic noise marshall Panelak – and Jon Marshall, he of Roman Nose and Singing Knives records. This tape is the debut release from Italy’s Tutore Burlato records, which, since this outing, been getting into its stride with a strong solo work from Posset and a dope collaboration from Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei.
But Slug Birth is a strong, gut-munchingly hectic opening salvo from this new label. The sounds of broken machinery and distorted samples shriek out in pain and ecstasy across the two sides of a c35 cassette, with skullcrusher bangs and crashes forcing mutilated grids of rhythm across the scrap yard tableaux.
Panelak’s never knowingly underplayed approach doesn’t always go down well with the fans, so if you’re feeling weary or just in need of a nice cuppa tea and an Enya album, this tape might not be for you. Personally, I’m all for it (previous love for Ansell’s solo recordings can be viewed here and here) and I dig this session with Marshall too.
I often experience Panelak recordings in several stages, and this one is no different (although Marshall’s contribution certainly adds a certain something to these thick, dissonant utterances). After two or three listens, an initial sense of being overwhelmed by the tumult passes into a kind of zen acceptance. The total sound attack becomes like gently undulating waves, breaking onto a pebbly, shell-ridden shore, the swirling mass supporting me as I drift on a cosmic lilo over the storm. At some point a third stage clicks in, one of hyper awareness, in which I seem to hear every last detail of the sounds hurtling past me, like individual data streams in the matrix. Then I’m done.
And so it is with Slug Birth. Side A’s Slug Birth and & Tharqa is an unrelenting, ululating racket, the sound of Professor Peach in the Turin nerve centre in The Italian Job, grabbing those mainframe tapes and playing their antique machine codes through a bashed up tannoy as the polyphonic angst of the Euro gridlock adds a stomping counterpoint to the mess. And yes, there is a continuing Andean flute motif burbling its woody polyphony through it. Sort of.
The two parts of Demogwbl are slightly less caffeinated, spreading out in a brooding ooze of crunching dirt. In Part i (which shares side A with the Technicolor heave of Slug Birth and & Tharqa), the cavernous grind is given an oily slickness by a meandering organ line that seems to have popped through a wormhole from some late 60s stoned Doors out-take and into No Thumbs’ cavernous maw.
‘Cavernous’ is probably the right word for this stuff, as apparently this piece uses recordings of Bologna’s underground waste disposal system as key source material . Part ii is just as ominous, the first part’s chewy roar replaced with a fuzzy bed of electrical drone, which swallowed by a grey wall of blank static, before suddenly giving way to a sticky mess of semi-plunderphonic noise pudding.
Now, where’s that cuppa you promised me?