Tuesday 10 January 2012

Chin32: Oblivian Substanshall - Live in Bridport

What can I say about this recording? Cut direct to cassette tape, at the end of our tour of my opera The Third Policeman, immediately prior to Oblivian and I being very naughty boys indeed (courtesy of the good man Monkton Wylde) and staying up all night, it presents the vast majority of Oblivian Substanshall's triumphant and devilishly exciting performance at Howtosaytwo - an event I curated (or rather slapped together amid the million other things that were happening at the time) with Martha Moopette.

Aswell as being probably the best entertainment happening on the planet that night - it featured, as well as the last ever performance of The Third Policeman, live sets from Pete Um, Angela Valid, Elvis Herod, Vulnavia Vanity, The Gale, Martha Moopette as a Christmas Tree-cum-Satanic-Ritual, and of course Oblivian, plus Jonny Anyway's mime, a gingerbread house, a forest of children's art, and an audience of about 10 people - it was also the night where Oblivian pulled out this random fucker of a live show. Usually he will sit with his guitar, weave his little tales, and gently serenade us with his masterful, nonsensical pop songs. On this night, after months of hard slog on a tour of variable rewards, far too many intoxicants, and some high emotions and tempers (particularly from me), Oblivian decided to use, for the first time, some playback in his show. He described the performance-to-be as his "crooner set".

After initial technical problems and me sweating for the umpteenth time that night as a miniature audience waited to see what the cuddly, bespectacled, gentleman in front of them was going to deliver and I fumbled about hopelessly, finally the playback and microphone worked at the same time, and I ran into the other room to check that all was running smoothly (it wasn't).

When after a few minutes I returned to the small room where Captain Substanshall was stationed, I walked into a tiny audience enraptured at Oblivian, who had become the rotund rock frontman to end all rotund front rockmen (the guy from Pere Ubu would quake in his boots and probably spontaneously combust, or at least pull out his own willy and chop it off). Wearing a curly wig over his bald pate and darting between my Ivor Cutler foldy-harmonium, an electric guitar perched on a chair (an audience member said to me "Open string guitar solo! Never seen that before."), and, of course, the microphone, Obliv performed two numbers - "At the Same Time Maybe", and "On and On". Each was an explosion of jaggedy, peculiar beats, heavy bass, and Oblivian variously chanting the repetitive phrases and improvising on whatever was to hand. It was a singularly brave and brilliant performance and the small audience knew that every fucker who'd gone to whatever the fuck else was happening in town that night had missed something very special indeed.

So here it is, recorded direct to the internal microphone of a Coomber 393 cassette recorder, the great Oblivian Substanshall live in Bridport. If I had lots of money (or even just a spare few hundred quid), I would cut this recording to a 10" record straight away. But sadly I don't, and neither does Obliv. That's the price of not playing the idiot game.

I've lost faith completely in the "music should be free" thing. Kenneth Goldsmith's Wire article about "collecting mp3s you've always wanted and not listening to them just so you can say you have them for your sense of self satisfaction" was the final nail in the coffin for me. It does, it seems, cause a devaluing of music and sound-art, but at the moment there is no way else to be heard, so I don't see an alternative. When I'm very rich (and you'd better fucking bet your life I will be, soon enough) then I will release gems like this on beautiful vinyl in beautiful packaging, for as low cost as I can manage to sell them, but for now you'll have to make do with these 320kbps of utter joy.

I haven't known Obliv long, he's become very quickly my close friend and ally, and he ought to be yours too. Download this, then download all his other work on Chinstrap. And why on earth aren't you listening to his weekly show on one of the best, most unpredictable, vital and alive radio stations in the world, Soundart Radio? Go on! Get thee to the radio and FEED THYSELF!

The cover art of this release features Oblivian (centre), Elvis Herod (gurning on the left), and me for some reason touching my cheek (on the right). The image is superimposed with Martha Moopette dressed as a Christmas Tree (hence the pretty lights).

All my love and kisses,

Ergo Phizmiz

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