Archive for Birchville Cat Motel

Birchville Cat Motel – Nurse (Fencing Flatworm Recordings) 2004

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 2, 2014 by noisenoisenoise

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Well here we are in 2014. This bog (typo and it’s staying) was sadly neglected in 2013 for a crapload of reasons. Firstly Ingmar from evolkweenthemusical and I started The Antidote Podcast which meant that a great deal of my listening time was spent absorbing new releases to pontificate about. Secondly I had a third kid at the end of 2012 and that little rotter decided that sleep was for pussies and thirdly my job got superbusy which has been tremendously stressful but also fun. In any event the opportunities I had to listen to records for this blog were severely compromised. So I had to make a decision about whether to keep this blog going or just letting it slide into the digital ether. In the end I’ve decided that this blog will become much more active in 2014 – but the focus will change to concentrate to records that I need to share with others rather than to offer my thoughts on records that I think will generate traffic. At it’s height this blog was getting crazy numbers of visits and it was even named one of the best music bogs in Vice magazine. That was great for my ego but I think I lost sight of the reason why I started this bog in the place. So there you go – no more negative reviews. If I didn’t like it you will no longer find it written about here. DBS will  now only have reviews of records that I think noise nerds are going to enjoy. So here we go.

Let’s face it 2013 was a pretty ordinary year for music and  I wasn’t particularly inspired by much which essentially meant that my non-podcast purchases focused on nostalgic trawls through discogs and ebay. Nurse was a late night purchase on ebay which I discovered when I was looking for out of print Whitehouse records. Anyone who has followed this bog since it started in 2006 will know that the work of Campbell Kneale aka Birchville Cat Motel has been pretty well covered. In fact at least two of his records With Maples Ablaze and Our Love Will Destroy the World (the title he later took to name his new project when Birchville was retired) are in my top 20 records of all time. Although I enjoy his rock-pig and psychedelic guitar records such as Bird Sister Blasphemy and Astro Catastrophes, I think his best work is defined by his shimmering, ecstatic drone work. 

Nurse consists of one half hour untitled. The thing that sets it apart for me though is the use of beats. It almost starts like a Vladisav Delay minimalist techno record before the high pitched drones cascade over the top and a sublime white noise drone takes over. Yet like the best drone this record took me on a journey. There are subtle and not so subtle interjections of noise and found sound which makes this one  of the best things I heard in 2013 especially as many noise artists started becoming more overt in there explorations of beats. I can’t recommend this enough. There are copies on discogs for sale which aren’t prohibitively expensive – yoiu may want to check it out.

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Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight Recordings) 2004

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , , on February 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Two of the first “out there” experimental/noise bands that I heard were the almight Yellow Swans and New Zealand’s Birchville Cat Motel, basically the alias of Campbell Kneale. Sadly both “bands” are now gone. They’re all still making records under different names and both bands left a legacy of fantastic records.

It’s worthwhile tracking down some of Birchville Cat Motel’s work because I think he is one of the few artists that managed to combine field recordings and drone so well that a menacing pastoral ambience is created.  BCM also straddled other genres. I’m a huge fan of his black metal/psych records like Bird Sister Blasphemy  and Astro Catastrophes but I think he did his finest work when he embraced the drone. Maybe With Maples Ablaze is my favourite record of his entire catalogue. I found this heavily discounted at my local record store a fortnight ago and I nearly wept when I found it.

Over its 10 untitled tracks Kneale creates extraordinary palettes of field recordings and drone.  With Maples Ablaze often sounds somewhere between KTL, Menche and ambient Kevin Drumm. It is superb and like just about everything BCM released now out of print. This record has inspired me to reconnect with the ten or so records of his that I own. There are some great records you need to track down but if the only thing you can find easily is Seventh Ruined Hex put your hand in your pocket. When I reviewed it a few years ago I was dismissive of it. I was wrong. As an aside – I don’t advocate this often but if you find a sneaky download of With Maples Ablaze start clicking. An important work from a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans (Important) 2006

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on March 30, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

(If you think you’ve read this before it is probably because you have. This is a review I did in 2006 that was combined with BCM’s Chi Vampires – I hate my review for that record so decided to have another go and post them separately)

I don’t know what it is, but once Yellow Swans decide to team up with other noise artists the results are certainly a mixed bag. I recently came into possession of their outing with The Cherry Point, Live at Camp Blood. Now that is the most horrendous thing I’ve heard in quite a while. There is no light just an unrelenting maw of the most extreme noise. It’s a sadistic slice of ear-buggery.

Likewise there is little light in their outing with BCM. It consists of two tracks which were recorded during Yellow Swans tour of New Zealand. Terminal Saints clocks in at over 27 minutes and starts promising enough. An incessant mid- frequency throb gets proceedings underway. Found sounds are added as the tension slowly builds and then …. nothing. This is pure BCM in many ways. The track does not build to a crescendo. It merely exists. Perhaps the point is the tension. The electronic throb stays constant but the intensity of the track slowly builds as layer upon layer is added, before each new noise is thrown aside for the next. When it seems the track will collapse under its own weight, it teeters on the edge before retreating  and continues …. incessantly. There is no relief. There is only noise.

The second track is Marble Carcass which comes in at a sprightly 22 minutes. This track is a very different beast from the first. At times it is an extreme ugly chaotic mess but at least there is relief. The noise does what is supposed to do. It cannibalises itself in a self indulgent, aural orgy of bastardry.

In the end the collaboration works but it never trumps their individual output.

Black Boned Angel – Verdun (Riot Season) 2009

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Black Boned Angel, Doom, Music, New Zealand Bands with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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As some of you may know, Campbell Kneale, Mr Birchville Cat Motel himself hung up his feline moniker at the end of last year to focus on his new project Our Love will Destroy The World. The good news is that his side project Black Boned Angel continues to go on strongly. I was a huge fan of his BCM project yet had never dabbled with  Campbell’s drone-metal project, Black Boned Angel, a trio of Wellington musicians which includes James Kirk and Jules Desmond.. Fuck knows why really because I absolutely loved BCM’s Bird Sister Blasphemy. This, the band’s latest release on the awesome Riot Season, is an absolute gem. In fact it may be one of the finest doom records I have ever heard. The album itself lists three tracks but they are pressed as one continuous track. The titles references the battle of Verdun during World War One which claimed 250 000 lives. The thing I find interesting about the title is how tragic, military misadventures are a huge feature of schooling in the Antipodes and battles such as Gallipoli are etched into the psyche of most Australians and New Zealanders. Our understanding of  war is sober, without glory and critical of the folly of war.  In listening to Verdun it makes sense that the conflict is scored through crunching Sunn O))) riffs and futile drones. What lifts this above your average drone record is the addition of an operatic chorus belting out Wagnerian funereal hymns underneath the wall of crushing guitars. The effect is magic and somehow a natural fit for the horror that was Verdun. This record comes across a lot like Gorecki’s Misere on steroids. Riot Season are only releasing 1000 copies of this and you’d be smart to get one before they sell out.  One of the best albums of 2009 so far.

Birchville Cat Motel – Gunpowder Temple of Heaven (Pica Disk) 2008

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , on March 2, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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Now this is a treat for the Birchville Cat Motel and/or drone fan. In term so of the  music what you get  is one 40 minute track of sublime drone/noise. I’ve always migrated towards Campbell Kneales more rock base noise projects rather than his forays into a pure, minimalist drone. Gunpowder Temple of Heaven may have finally converted me and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to re-listen to all of the BCM recods that I already own to get a sense of where this fits in. Another treat for fans of BCM and New Zealand underground music in general, is  the essay by the Dead C’s Bruce Russell that accompanies the beautiful and thoughtful packaging of this record. I’ll quote:

” Thus for me, Gunpowder Temple of Heaven is a complex cluster of metaphors: linguistic, historical and musical. the proof, however, is in the pudding. It is the psychotropic effects of listening to this carefully laminated composition which makes it clear that there is in fact more than accidental confluence of image and sound. What you see and hear is , remarkably, exactly what you get – a consciousness-capturing dose of sounds that grips your skull like an abductor’s taped-on mask. I personally recommend it.”

Birchville Cat Motel – Summers Seething Pulse (Mar/ino) 2003

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags on October 11, 2008 by noisenoisenoise

I’ve been a bit ambivalent about Birchville Cat Motel this year. It’s because of the extremely disappointing Seventh Ruined Hex that he released on Important last year. That record highlighted just how careful a drone artist has to be in injecting enough texture into their noise to keep the listener engaged. What Seventh Ruined Hex managed to do was bore the shit out of me. It had it’s moments but those moments were few and far between. This year I drifted over to the recordings of Daniel Menche and I hadn’t given Birchville Cat Motel’s new output  a great deal of thought. I’m happy with the records of his I own  but his last release made me wary of dabbling again. 

Birchville Cat Motel release two different sort of records; the dark ambient rock pig records like Our Love Will Destroy the World and Bird Sister Blasphemy and the blissed, transcedent, drone ambience of Birds Call Home Their Dead and Chi Vampires. I’ve always loved the field recordings he infuses into his sound and whether it’s his drone or rock based recordings Birchvile Cat Motel is still one my favourite artists. Summers Seething Pulse is a record I never knew existed until three weeks ago. I have no idea how I stumbled over it but somehow during a late night surfing session I got directed to http://www.elsieandjack.com stumbled across this and I clicked that purchase button before I had time to think. Like most BCM records, Summer’s Seething Pulse is beautifully packaged. It’s limited edition and is on the elsieandjack sub-label Mar/ino which is all about the simple packaging of superb sounds. It’s cheap as chips (even with the horrible exchange rate) and if you have any interest in Birchville Cat Motel it would be difficult to find a more tremendous example of his transcendent drone music than this record. The field recordings infuse the whole project with a pastoral elegance which few noise artists get right. These are the true sounds of a Southern hemisphere summer.  It is breathtaking and has stirred up all those amazing feelings I got when I first heard Birds Call Home Their Dead. I mean this is quite simply awesome. I’ve added elsieandjack to the blogroll. Buy this record. It’s really that simple.

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