Volcanic Tongue Catalogue

Kommissar Hjuler/Mama Baer/Ninni Morgia/Silvia Kastel
Live At Morden Tower

Ultramarine Records UM-016


Necessary document of this inspired team-up that toured the UK last year, with Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer’s tapework, feral sound poetry and performance art married to the outer space improvisations of synth/vocalist Silvia Kastel and guitarist Ninni Morgia. Playing in the tiny historic Morden Tower – home to countless beat and post-beat poetry readings as well as many seminal Industrial performances - the quartet birth a profoundly feral amalgam of body-soundings, de-constructed language, zonked brain-bombing hysteria and weird cosmo jazz that gives way to the kinda refusenik metal meditations of classic No Wave. This is free improvisation well outside the bounds of ‘free improvisation’ with a performance style that has as much to do with Iggy Pop as Henri Chopin. Edition of 100 copies. Recommended. 

Control Unit
The Fugitives

Backwards BW-02


Phenomenal new set from the duo of Silvia Kastel and Ninni Morgia, here trading their free/rock style for a wild minimal synth/Euro Industrial approach that is fairly revelatory: using vocals, synth, beats, guitar and bass they build on the experiments of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Vita Noctis, Kaa Antelope et al. Silvia’s vocals are particularly amazing, with a desperate nocturnal aspect that occasionally spills over into female Alan Vega-isms, with sudden screams and spluts erupting over low bass pulses and fuzzy rhythmic electronics while Ninni’s guitar stylings combine the kinda Ray Russell-isms of his free improvised work with a barbarous, minimal style that feels supremely threatening. The dark, nocturnal cold wave atmosphere is sustained throughout, giving the nod to Bend Sinister-era Fall as much as 20 Jazz Funk Greats or early Asmus Tietchens and the degree of invention marks this out as more of an extension and extrapolation of original minimal Industrial wave jams than a mere ‘tribute’. These two have been responsible for a ton of great vinyl and live jams of late but this may well be my favourite release of theirs to date. Edition of 300 copies with gorgeous hand-silkscreened sleeves. Highly recommended. 

Silvia Kastel/Ninni Morgia/Bren’t Lewiis
Fix It Again, Tony



Great, trans-continental collaboration between Euro avantists and Control Unit tag-team Silvia Kastel and Ninni Morgia and legendary musical savants Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble, here represented by Gnarols and Lucian Tielens: recorded ‘face-to-face’ in April 2012, this is a fairly wild ride, with Morgia’s electric guitar reinvented as a particularly brutal sonic reducer that works more like a ‘simple’ channel for electricity than anything tonal. Kastel’s electronics have alla the ticker-tape/nightmare appeal of Tolerance w/a heady hobbyist vibe that has an cracked LAFMS telethon feel. Gnarlos and Tielens bring guitar, voice, objects and tapes to the mix and they combine a kind Smegma-style usurpation of traditional small instruments ‘mores’ with a fully zonked Saturn records vibe, you know those weird Sun Ra fade-outs where all that’s left is the sound of some kind of strange string that sounds like a radiator being bowed in a vacuum? Well, there’s plenty of that here, giving it the feel of a Music Improvisation Company in space or a toy-town Arkestra calling planet earth. More claustrophobic and brain-searingly electronic than the mass Lewiis actions but with a nagging/eerie late night appeal that will score points with followers of Yeast Culture, Small Cruel Party et al. And don’t try to maintain that ain’t you. 

Kommissar Hjuler/Mama Baer/Ninni Morgia/Silvia Kastel
Live In Edinburgh

Ricerca Sonora RS-4


It’s no secret that at VT we dug the hell out of the live hook-up between German art terrorists Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer and Italian actionists Ninni Morgia and Silvia Kastel when they blazed a trail across the UK back in 2011. Well, here’s another document from that amazing run of shows and it’s a doozy. Live In Edinburgh comes over like an unreleased Industrial ritual brainstormed by Lisa Suckdog, with a wild exuberant atmosphere and plenty of cracked vocal disobedience. Mama takes the lead here, mis-remembering and variously dismembering pop and rock effluvia, joined by Kastel and Kommissar at points, the latter of whom barks comments and instructions via a microphone attached to a cheap keyboard. The music is feral free improvisation w/nada in terms of sophistication, just tearing guts and circuitry from various electronics while massed vocals build to peaks of mutual hysteria. Exuberant, funny, challenging and curiously life-affirming, this is another blat of whu from a buncha thinkers who don’t. Edition of only 180 copies, highly recommended!

Gary Smith/Silvia Kastel/Ninni Morgia
Brand II

L'Esprit De L'Escalier Lele-03


Second instalment of wildly outside trio playing from this inspired hook-up: Gary Smith has had a fascinating career on the fringes, playing with Bill Fray as the replacement for Ray Russell and collaborating with John Stevens, Chie Mukai, Shoji Hano, Masayoshi Urabe and more. His guitar conceptions extend Derek Bailey’s use of extreme volume pedal dynamics and microtonal string scuffles, playing a kind of muted though internally explosive/endlessly refracted form of psychedelic improvisation. Kastel and Morgia are, of course, well known purveyors of Kraut/Cold freak, and the trio combination is truly maximalist. Kastel moans and hovers over the tracks like the ghost of Joan La Barbara while Morgia brings the metal, with clanging tone-on-tone brutality combined with long passages of high-wire and intricately constructed semi-silence. Somewhere between NWW list style blat, Iskra/Music Improvisation Company tectonics and 20th century composition, this is another brutal and challenging instalment in this excellent series.