FvRTvR – Gobi WowJune 16, 2012
Never Come Ashore
Hmm, what to make of this one. This vinyl disc arrived here a couple of months ago now, but was shamefully overlooked by myself as it disappeared under a pile of other records, only to be retrieved today when I did some tidying up. I have managed to give it a few spins today though, and while I can honestly say I was somewhat confused but he record when I first received it, having played it three or four times now I have to say I remain just as confused. The albums named Gobi Wow and is credited to FvRTvR who seem to be Fritz Welch, the American, Glasgow-based percussionist I know from his With Lumps duo with Neil Davidson, and Guido Henneböhl, who, according to the notes on the album is playing “an archaic electronic instrument of his own design that appears to be trapped in the ancient mysteries of circuit bending but it is in fact a dynamic oxygen filtration system”. If this isn’t a fine enough description, the group FvRTvR are also described as “a two-body locus for demolecularized disco realized through meat shredding, science fiction improvisation. There are no beats here, however, just a relentless pyroclastic flow of robot voices gurgling indecipherable quips of the “baby, that volcano looks so good on you” variety. ” What makes the release that little bit more odd is that it is released on Davidson’s Never Come Ashore label, which until now I had assumed was a netlabel only.
So a bit of a surreal one then if you go by the publicity notes alone, but musically speaking its a bit of an oddity also. There are two 12″ sides of 45rpm music that clock up less than forty minutes in total and seem to be divided into shorter tracks but as no titles are offered its hard to know if these should be treated as separate pieces or not. The music skitters about and cuts between elements rapidly, in a style that reminds me somewhat of the plunderphonic music of early Stock, Hausen and Walkman but seems to had been created from live raw percussive sounds, vibrating surfaces and the like, plus jabbering, synthetic electronic sounds and a fair spattering of wordless male vocal abstraction in a Jaap Blonk type of manner. So things crash about into one another while little tinkling bells chime, cymbals vibrate and drums are kicked about unevenly. The electronics have a rough, makeshift feel and the synthesised squawks, wails and shrieks match with the odd human blabbering that ranges from guttural throat noises to what sounds like comedy appropriations of cartoon characters. Its all a bit fast, frenetic, and quite frankly bonkers in places. I must admit to playing the album once through before I read anything about the disc, as I often try to do, but here, given that nothing is indicated on the record itself I initially heard Gobi Wow at 33rpm instead of 45, and while there was surprisingly little difference to the way the music felt, the voice samples, or whatever they actually are felt even stranger, slowed right down to a throaty dirge. In typically Peelesque fashion I might actually have preferred the album at slow speed however, with each odd sound feeling more deliberate and noticeable compared to the rapid fire stream of sonic and vocal burbling heard at the correct speed. The pieces flow together at rapid pace, presumably recorded in real time, though its hard to tell, beatless and strictly speaking rhythmless, but somehow the music has a strong sense of forward momentum to it.
An odd, but strangely likeable album then. Like so much of the Stock,Hausen & Walkman output and like so much vocal improvisation, there is a lot of humour in here alongside the strong show of musicianship and compositional skill. I quite frankly have no idea who to recommend this to, and that I suspect would be considered a good thing by the musicians involved. Its not my normal cup of tea of choice, but it would due wrong to say that listening to Gobi Wow today hasn’t been an enjoyable experience. Available from Never Come Ashore gloriously wrapped in a suitably peculiar sleeve.