Tipping Point review

interesting review here of Tipping Point Cdr with Andrew from Fluid Radio

Bob Dylan’s almost annual nomination for the Nobel Prize in literature receives predictable resistance. Popular music is the result of months of crafting and rehearsal, weeks of recording, countless hours of production and mastering. The process is invisible to the listener, and there are many rewards to be found, even in a brief, three-minute song: a catchy, repeating hook. A potent, repeating chorus and rhyme structure. Literature is nearly the opposite, wearing its process as skin. There is no way to rehearse a book without simply writing it, so the novelist discovers the story in essentially the same way that the reader does, by turning its pages. Rewards are much fewer, and subjective. Patterns are difficult to discern. The opposition insists that Dylan should not be considered for the Nobel Prize for literature simply because songwriting is not literature.

Can we say, then, that improvised music is much more literary than other music? That the creative process is laid bare, measure for measure, and the rewards are fewer, unconventional? That its patterns are fleeting, although purer in form, perhaps elemental?

If so, Tipping Point by David Birchall and Andrew Cheetham is no exception. Birchall and Cheetham (guitar and drums, respectively) met early last year, when performing for Rhys Chatham’s G3 ensemble. From the one-sheet, “Tipping Point is the culmination of endless jamming and working deep into each others psyche, delving into the dark corridors of their deconstructed improv drone-rock.” This is not just empty promotional copy. The text here is raw, chaotic, as if the guitars have been fashioned with tendons in place of strings, and the drums skinned with actual skin.

The opening, title track sets a curry-scented guitar drone against a cymbal-and-tom concoction. It’s somehow both kinetic and completely still, and easily plays as the most scripted track on the CDr. With two minutes left, radio-static guitar raises the temperature even more: the actual moment of tipping? The fading siren of the last minute confirms it. Opposite the spectrum from the opening cut is track three, “Hold On To Your Lamp Post,” a bewildering jazz study that will leave the more rock-minded listeners exhausted. (The artists have uploaded these two bookends for streaming at their Soundcloud page. Know that the rest of the material falls mostly in the relatively restrained middle.) The first minute is especially off-kilter, with a four-hand freestyle drum lick and a loose-stringed guitar seizure. After the manic introduction, “Lamp Post” settles into something remotely psychedelic. The guitar tones favors those of Jimi Hendrix, and the singing distortion, the jazz chord progression are reassuring features.

Track five (“Incompatible Principles”) nicely illustrates the push-and-pull between the composed and the turbulent. It begins with guitar scratching and muted, jazzy percussion. Not a sound check as much as a couple of guys who do not know the PA is on. After the disorderly warm-up, Birchall opts for a alternate-tuning drone and some chiming, high register harmonies. After a minute or two of false security, Birchall/Cheetham allow the pendulum to swing back again, incorporating headstock tricks, pulsing feedback, and now machinelike distortion and glimpses of slide guitar. “All the Reds, Yellows and Browns” closes the album with ten minutes of gypsy bell percussion and Cheetham’s knuckles-on-office-furniture ethic. Michael Ondaatje would prefer to describe the guitar as thinkering instead of tinkering, while Cormac McCarthy might refer to the sum of the parts as riprap.

It would be a disservice to the readers and the artists not to state clearly that Tipping Point is a difficult album. By all means do not think of the Birchall/Cheetham debut as a polished pop, where we learn of former lovers and future ones, of princes keeping the view. Instead, think of it as literary fiction, in which we learn as much about ourselves as anyone else. Tipping Point is available now, through MIE.”

– Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio


Tubers gigs for november

Ludo Mich is a Belgian Fluxus artist, performer and filmmaker, active since the 1960s. Ultra Eczema helmer Dennis Tyfus was instrumental in bringing Ludo to the attention of a younger generation after he saw Ludo’s pansexual aktionist emetic films from the 60s and 70s – nudist adaptations of science fiction and Greek myths. In 2005 Ultra Eczema released an lp cut from the soundtracks of these experimental films which featured Da……daist poetry, savage cries and screams, homemade instruments and junk sound. Through this fresh wave of exposure, recent years have seen Ludo Mich collaborating with, amongst others, Dylan Nyoukis, Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Baer and Wolf Eyes.

Harappian Night Recordings is the solo moniker of Hunter Gracchus member Syed Kamran Ali. Since releasing his critically acclaimed debut album, The Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele, on Bo Weavil early in 2009 (voted 11th in The Wire magazine’s end of year poll) Ali has produced a slew of increasingly deranged albums on various microlabels across Europe. These releases have seen him move far beyond ‘musical forgeries from an imagined east’ into ambivalent and disturbed psychic territories that have parodied, mutated and ripped apart singular fourth world cosmopolitanisms in a disjunctured maelstrom of frenetic, conflicting and distorted energies. This will be Ali’s debut performance as Harappian Night Recordings in the UK.

Pascal Nichols is one half of improvising duo Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides, who were recently justly described by a conspicuous music critic as the best live band active in the UK right now. Although, as a percussionist, Nichols has collaborated with a number of free improv luminaries it would be wrong to judge him by the criteria of earlier generations. Although technically proficient, the really intriguing qualities of Nichols lie in his insatiable interest in sound and his endless and authentic pursuit of the elusive wild mercury of genuinely collaborative improvisation, undistracted by the idiomatic flippancies and rodomontade of much free improv.

+ Akke Phallus Duo: A long overdue and much anticipated collaboration between Ben Morris of Chora and Jon Marshall of The Hunter Gracchus. Postally sharing raw voice, poached acousmatic sound & brut instrumental ingredients, shitting on Eno’s Fourth World confluence of privilege, they navigate modes of avant-experimentation open to the freedom & potential of this new duo dynamic. Wheezing & stuttering non-musics through broken mics and burst bellowed reeds, they integrate the spectres of position, loss, resistance and the fruits of free-hybridity from the comfort and confusions of the First World.

doors 8pm, first act 8.30 and PROMPT 10.30pm finish
£5 (£4 concessions)
There will be Kelly’s magic punch, beers, snacks and souvenirs as always



cosmic guitar manipulation from two of Sheffield’s finest plus visual accompaniment. LP out now on Present Time Exercises.


highly specialised collapsing of rock elements breeding a delicious free rock/drone/noise mix

one half of Sheffield Forest Creature

£5 waged/£4 unwaged 8pm