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Variations 3
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Variations 3

Jewel case CD with 12 page booklet

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess


•   SYNGEN BROWN - Ruckhousing  (01:54)
•   SYNGEN BROWN - Rainer's corpse  (02:20)

•   SYNGEN BROWN - Midland educational  (02:17)
•   WITS - Live at the Lewisham Arthouse (14
•   PHIL DURRANT - Depths  (04
•   VOLTAGE - Live at the Klinker  (13
•   CLIVE GRAHAM - Time spool  (14
:02)  mp3
•   ANDREW KING - Ninety and nine  (03
•   AQUILES PANTALEAO - Three inconspicuous settings  (12
•   BOB COBBING - Alphabet of fishes  (01
•   BOB COBBING - Tan  (03
•   BOB COBBING - Insults  (00
NGS OF MALAWI - Boeuf en crut  (02:08)

total time  77:39

Cover by Clive Graham

Released 1999

A third and final collection of lesser known & infrequently recorded artists living in London. Considering its size, London is not well recognised as a centre for experimental and electronic music (at least not since the early 80's). Additionally there is virtually no funding or support for this kind of music from within the system. Consequently many composers and musicians who can fit in, work outside of the UK. Naturally enough there are many diverse artists in London that carry on their work in isolation, both at home and within a great many unsupported clubs and venues. This CD covers my own personal favourite discoveries and rediscoveries since the release of Variations 2 in 1997.

These 3 short pieces are the first releases by Syngen Brown. All the music is made using second generation sound sources in addition to his own environmental recordings.

This is another debut. Wits are 4 women (Viv D. Corringham, voice, electronics; Sophia Lycouris, movement; Ashleigh Marsh, keyboards, percussion; Gina Southgate, bric a brac), who specialise in live work. Along with their use of conventional instruments (voice, electronics, keyboards and percussion), and a dancer, they also fill the stage space with a huge supply of everyday objects that are noisily explored and unravelled as an integral part of their audio-visual performances.

is best known as an improviser. Mostly he plays violin in various ensembles and has featured on CD's with other improvisers including John Butcher, Chris Burn, John Russell, Thomas Lehn etc. He also works with analogue electronics, most recently with electronic improvisers MIMEO. This piece was composed for a production of Salomé given at St Pancras Chambers by the Seven Sisters Group and uses analogue electronics.

are (Moshi Honen, guitar; Sharon Gal, voice, bass, toys; Dennis Austin, drums, percussion). This is an edited version of a live performance given at 'The Klinker', one of London's longest running clubs for experimental music, film and poetry. This is their first available recording as Voltage, although 2 of the members appear on Mouthcrazy's 'Open/open wide' on Ass Run Vol.4.

This recording is made from a variety of old half inch and quarter inch tapes that I have had lying around for quite some time. The last 5 minutes of this piece was previously issued on the Wire magazine's subscription only CD 'the Wire tapper 4' in August 1999.

is one of the few young members of the Traditional Song Forum, who specialise in the furtherance of traditional folk music within the British isles. He has previously released a CD of songs called 'The Bitter Harvest' (available via World Serpent), that dwelt on the darker and less joyous stories within the folk tradition. This piece is from an American source and dates from the late 19th century and is for voice and harmonium. Recorded at Retina Studios, September 1999.

is a Brazilian born composer who is completing his PhD in electroacoustic music at City University. In 1998 this piece was awarded a distinction at the Ars Electronica music competition in Linz.

3 pieces from this senior member of the poetry and sound poetry scene, the earliest of these pieces dates from 1964. All 3 pieces were recorded at a reading given at the Lewisham Arthouse on 9.1.99.

are (John Grieve, Dave Hodes, Heman Pathak). This extract was taken direct from the LP 'Vibrant stapler obscures characteristic growth' that came out in 1980. Most of the original 1000 copies were eventually destroyed, with around 300 copies that were actually sold. Most of the sales would have been through the United Dairies mail order list, who were probably their only outlet. All members of this group were involved one way or another in the very earliest Nurse With Wound records.


The third volume in Clive Graham's overview of unique and out-of-the-way sonic conceptions in late 20th century England, once again delivering a generally fascinating and diverse survey. Syngen Brown opens the disc with a delightful trio of pieces made up of roiling, messy electronic washes. There is more music that refers, however obliquely, to rock and folk forms on this disc than on prior offerings in the series, including Voltage's "Live at the Klinker" (in a punk/noise sort of way) and Andrew King's heartfelt rendition of the 19th century ballad "Ninety and Nine." But experimental electronics lie at the heart of this collection, and there are some fine examples herein. Phil Durrant's "Depth" is a furious, boiling work, abstract but remarkably visceral and corporeally present. Graham's own "Time Spool" unwinds in a looser, hymn-like fashion, deftly sidestepping any unnecessary cuteness and revealing a detailed, unusual world full of delicately sheared slabs of soundstuff. If the occasional piece doesn't quite cohere (like the live Wits performance), or if some, such as Bob Cobbing's madcap vocalizations, are a bit of an acquired taste, there is still much here to whet the appetite of anyone interested in the goings-on off the beaten track in England. (Brian Olewnick)

The final collection in the trilogy of Paradigm's exploration into current experimental music in London. Again it's a mixed bag, with a seriously duff track and lots of excellent material. Let's give you a run down... Syngen Brown opens the CD with threee experiments in electronic cacophony, reminiscent of some Asmus Tietchens a little, and act as a good way to set the mood. The trio Wits are documented by an extract from a live performance at Lewisham Arthouse and are pretty much the closest I've heard to Anima Sound, with rattling percussion, obscure clangs and wailing female voice. Phil Durrant's electronic/tape work Depths sounds like a mangled mash of short-wave radio sounds put through some vivid reverb and processing, and is - intense! A little out of place, Voltage present an edited extract from a live performance at the Klinker, and are a bit of a manic avant-garde grunge group based on this. Clive Graham's Time Spool is like 50's musique-concrete given 21st century production values of big tunnel reverb and digital cut 'n' splice, with lots of nice backwards and varispeed sounds. Track 8 we won't mention, except to question what on earth it's doing here? So, next we have Aquiles Panteleao with a return to the electroacoustic theme, and a three part work very much in the vein of classic Parmegiani or Bayle. At the end, the theme and inventive focus is lost again. This is because of the totally out-of-place inclusion of three Bob Cobbing rants (a mite tedious, and also I've heard much better works before) followed by a bit of Hastings Of Malawi (a Nurse With Wound offshoot best forgotten). So, 52 minutes out of 78 (I guess) makes this the best of the series yet. But, having said that, all three are largely excellent, and should be of interest to all into experimental music in the realms between the new-wave or industrial and the classical avant-garde. Those wanting more conventionally stylised 'new music' with tunes and songs should look elsewhere! (Alan Freeman)

AUF ABWEGEN (translated)
The well travelled among us will know that cities frequently offer city walks, mostly with an historical or themed route. One patrols through one of many districts (for instance London's), and one discovers in small cramped spaces the special quality of the respective neighbourhood. Similarly, Clive Graham (a member of the improvisation group Morphogenesis and the man behind the Paradigm label) tries a variety of sounds with his Variations compilation series. The interested audience will hear music by mostly unknown London musicians who are active in the areas of noise music/improvisation that allows for a magical place characterised only by noises. Finsbury Park, represented by Clive Graham sounds like a paradise of freshness: it breaks the branches and spins the drones. Archway becomes the refuge of the spirit of Andrew King, whose imploring voice roots you to the spot. And 1980 life in Finchley was illustrated by Hastings Of Malawi, also no easy listening (Zipo)

Wits's quartet piece distills anxiety attacks into religious euphoria (which is much more pleasant and serene once you get the pure stuff uncut with rat poison and drain declogger). Phil Durrant's 'Depths', originally composed for a performance of Salomé, strides confidently into the arms of electronic skreedlings and big bellied yormp. Voltage's uptight music with rock instrumentation feels more overworked than the stockboy at an organic produce market. It flirts with typical theatrical swooping, grandness of effort, showiness of gesture, but succeeds mainly because spontaneous departures that originate as stumbles, quickly materialize into ergonomic improvisations. After an underwhelming duet for airbrush and locust swarm intro, Clive Graham's 'Time spool' gives the status an extended leave of absence while he packs the court with processed king-of-the-jungle purrs and mercurial wedding bells, tape manipulation whamola, deflating pipe organs, peels of feedback and diagonal electro-blip. Other highlights include: Bob Cobbing, who some would call a poet, others a wild old man who's so used to yelling at cars that he's forgotten how to say anything lasting longer than 1.4 seconds; Syngen Brown's motorized shimmers and electronic skidmarks across the forehead of a Teflon inlaid portrait of the Prince of Tibet; and Hasting's Of Malawi's contribution, more of an archival piece, consisting of found voices (all these one-time Nurse With collaborators could 'find' back in 1980, apparently, was an example of preschool 'Let's sing' mind control and the English time lady). (Seymore Glass)

Variations 3 also has much to recommend it. The emphasis, where one is to be detected, is on the electroacoustic: Syngen Brown's seamlessly flowing collages, and Aquiles Pantaleao's Xenakian amplification of what sound like tiny insect-like noises; Graham pops up again with 'Time Spool', a segmented composition which begins with various clunkings transposed on a layer of background hiss, before segueing into cosmic electronic, ahem, "soundscapes", accreting drones, cut-ups and shifting perspectives. Also included are long live pieces by Wits - a primitive improv racket for modern dance and bric-a-brac which is followed by a lengthy and ghostly electronic coda - and Voltage, a sort of free-rock performance trio featuring Sharon Gal's outlandish vocals. A few uncategorisable oddities are thrown in: three short Bob Cobbing pieces, Andrew King's traditional folk singing with harmonium accompaniment, and an excerpt from an obscure LP by Hastings Of Malawi, comprised of then-collaborators - including John Grieve - in the Nurse With Wound fraternity. The highlight is Phil Durrant's 'Depths', a monstrous churning electronic piece composed to accompany a performance of Salome. Though he frequently works with theatre groups, this facet of Durrant's musical output is rarely documented, making this piece sound all the nicer. Both Variations 2 and Variations 3 are fine, worthy compilations: these discs and the series to which they belong hold a magnifying glass to artists who would - in their own city, not to mention everywhere else - otherwise remain heavily obscured or even invisible. (Nick Cain)

London Variations 3 from Clive Graham's Paradigm Discs is far away from matters of fashion and marketable categories. As with previous compilations Graham brings together a healthy diversity of sonic people practising away from mainstream exposure. You can't really get much more different than the free-form rock of Voltage at The Klinker to Aquiles Pantaleao's immaculately constructed acousmatics of 'Three Inconspicuous Settings.' These are two stand out tracks, as is Phil Durrant's sizzling and bubbling 'Depths.' Pantaleao's contribution is so thoroughly worked through that he overshadows the other solo electronic contributions, but in general the quality has not diminished from previous releases. The artwork is excellent again for all the nine artists represented including a hilarious photo of Gina Southgate doing the drums with Wits and also barmy egotism from Andrew King. (Tom Wallace)

Variations 3: A London Compilation attempts to right the balance when it comes to London's lapsed reputation as a centre for experimental music, and is the third in a series concentrating on London-based artists. The mix is indeed various, including the pulsing fragments of Putney's Syngen Brown, the rambling environmental noises of Wits (a rare all-female improv/avant quartet), the disturbing bubbling noise squark of violinist/improvisor Phil Durrant, the mystic wanderings of Voltage, some very interesting and subtle tape manipulations by Clive Graham and electroacoustic micro-explorations from Aquiles Pantale‹o (a Brazilian studying at City University). The most memorable or unusual tracks are three surreal ur-poems from sound-poet and eccentric Bob Cobbing complete with audience participation, an old American folk song from Traditional Song Forum member Andrew King, and a tantalising fragment of something I never previously knew existed: an extract of a track from an LP by Hastings of Malawi, a group consisting of early members of Nurse With Wound. Only 300 copies in existence? How about putting the whole thing out on CD, eh? Altogether this is a good compilation, with some wobbly patches as well as some nice surprises. (Jim Barker)

The SOUND PROJECTOR (7th issue)
Essential. The third and final in a series of compilations assembled by Clive Graham which for the sake of conceptual unity only features musicians based in London Town and environs. A champion of free and experimental music, Graham's soapbox stance is partly fuelled by dismay at the lack of recognition (and money!) given to London musicians who are - in his view - currently producing some of the most challenging and exciting music to be found. The compiler has been backing up this claim regularly with these Variations compilations, but for my money this selection of his 'personal favorites' is the best one yet. It reveals a nightmarish and twisted take on Dark London, which in year 2000 is clearly becoming Post-Dickensian in its bleakness - a town lacking in focus, flounced up with cosmetic window-dressing like the Greenwich Dome and the Wheel, fripperies which serve only to conceal the social ills and injustices, the foundering economy, the lack of basic decent humanity everywhere, and the retrograde culture that assumes all men to be loud, beer-drinking, letcherous, football-loving louts. The IMAX cinema in Waterloo for example displaced hundreds of homeless people living under wooden pallet shelters from the 'bullring' near St Johns Waterloo Road, replacing that makeshift community with a soulless entertainment-plex dedicated to showing Fantasia 2000. Actually, it's only my own sense of personal alienation I carry around with me in the city, and so I find solace and comfort in the pockets of weird and distinctive voices embodied and estamped on these recordings, reassuring me I'm not alone in perceiving that the world is sinfully askew! Variations 3 showcases great gobbets of blasting electronic noise alongside some extremely developed examples of the strange and savage beauty of the human voice's capabilities. In an age devoted to mono-culture idiocy, this insistence on peculiarness and singularity is precisely what we need. Three electronic pieces by Syngen Brown open the CD, and they kick ass - this guy is the king of the ring modulator and reverb units! 'Ruckhousing', 'Rainer's corpse' and 'Midland Educational' are all thorough investigations of the environmental recordings he works with, and the powerful noises that result are lean, disciplined and assert themselves like blocks of stainless steel. As good as any contemporary work in the field - yet these are Brown's first ever releases. The track by WITS is four women performing live at the Lewisham Arthouse (another small London-based pocket of cultural resistance clinging on by the skin of its teeth), and features the first of our idiosyncratic human voices, this one emanating from the estimable Viv Corringham. This live cut is a triumph of unskilled playing, recalling not only the glory days of The Slits (just check out the picture of one of the women wearing a lampshade),This Heat, but also of Company Week before it became too goshdarned polite and staid. This track reeks of invigorating risk-taking, with its ethereal wailing, twisted synth sounds and rattling of junk percussion. Voltage exhibit the same determination to sound as distinctive as possible. Our second 'voice of weirdness' comes from one Sharon Gal, who impersonates a madwoman trying to control an hysterical outburst. She's supported by a guitarist and percussion on this melancholy track, and Voltage demonstrate that real improvising is about finding your own voice and your own sound, not about having to impersonate established greats like Evan Parker. This cut comes live from The Klinker, a well-kept secret venue at a pub in London where the spirit of anarchy and freedom prevails - though I suspect that not every evening there produces music as good as this! Phil Durrant, Clive Graham and Aquiles Pantaleao all turn in electronic-based music and it's all highly individual and greatly recommended. Durrant's 'Depths' is a lethal assassin of a track, another robustly butt-kicking noise which comes roaring in with no apologies, then stays there spitting out its nasty throbbing rhythmical bursts which reflect his liking for the sort of dangerous Pitch-Black Techno music which reputedly lurks in the underground clubs of South London in the earliest hours. Like much of the compilation, Durrant's piece really puts your back to the wall - insisting that there's something vital at stake. Crucial. Graham starts with pieces of found magnetic tape and presumably works in the good old-fashioned IRCAM way to generate a frankly terrifying slab of white noise, vast echoing caverns, and doomy clangs. Loud and portentous, his 'Time spool' is powerful enough to vibrate the listener back in time. Aquiles P. kind of stands out in the comp as he's as close as can be to a 'professional' - a Brazilian composer, graduate student of electro-acoustic music and winner of a prize with this 'Three inconspicuous settings' recording. Also it's the most subtle piece of music here, making him a contemplative ascetic in a compilation full of roarers, weirdies and wildmen. His extended abstract whirrings are full of shimmering changes in pitch and timbre, with occasional sound-windows onto field recordings, leaking in seemlessly. Andrew King the folksinger, and Bob Cobbing the sound poet, are the third and fourth of our idiosyncratic human voices. King takes a break from his preoccupation with English folk, and turns to America this time - turning in his version of a 19th century Episcopalian hymn. 'Ninety and nine', based on the singing of Frank Proffitt, is a stirring religious song and contains a gloss on the parable of the Lost Sheep. King's vocalising (normally acapella) is here leavened by his harmonium playing. Bob Cobbing is a 'senior member' of the poetry and sound poetry scene, greatly cherished by many Londoners who have each discovered him in their own time. In this live recording, which includes the 1964 poem 'Alphabet of Fishes' he comes across like a scary mad uncle of the avant-garde, ejaculating his dada-like chants and nonsense syllables with a bearish growl. The brief 'insults' piece - a compilation of 'quaint' old English words which should never have disappeared from currency - nearly completes our Dickensian tour of London. We finish with a bewildering snippet, taken from the ultra-rare Hastings of Malawi LP from 1980. Clive Graham might I suspect be something of a rarer-than-thou, weirder-than-thou collector when it comes to curating old vinyl treasures. This particular scoop is no exception, but it is a real scoop! In this brief extract we hear a distorted old children's LP (from before the days when the Incredibly Strange Records mentality co-opted everything of this sort), followed by an extract from the old speaking clock...as juxtaposed absurdist statements on the futility of existence go, it's a classic - and will leave you feeling about as bleakly abandoned as it's possible to feel. The original 'Vibrant Stapler obscures characteristic growth' featured John Grieve, Heman Pathak and Dave Hodes - all early associates of Nurse With Wound. Of the 300 copies of their LP which survived, most were only sold mail order through the United Dairies network - allegedly, as a 'comedy' record. Safe to say we'll never see a copy. The original sleeve art (reproduced here in the luscious arty booklet) looks utterly cracked. (Ed Pinsent)

Sad but true. This is Paradigm's last introduction into a happy world of improvising London. Paradigm states that 'considering its size London is not well recognised as a centre for experimental music'. To us, the outsider this remains somewhat unbelievable. It seems so much is happening in those areas...but then, given the size of the city and the dirt it brings, the grass might not be greener over there too. Of the people involved here, I recognised just the names of Clive Graham (for he is not just an artist, but also entrepreneur behind Paradigm, so hail hail), Phil Durrant (who delivered one of the strangest CD's this year) and Hastings Of Malawi. The latter was the third member of Nurse With wound, who left and did this one crazy LP (which was listed on the 'file under humour' in the United Dairies list). A friend of mine had a copy and thought it was brilliant until after one night of too much beer he tossed it out of the window. He said that listening to the time announcer on the phone made him happy. Stylistically Variations 3 is all over the experimental place. There is much improvisation, vocal/sound poetry stuff (by Bob Cobbing), sampling and laptop variations (by one Syngen Brown, albeit too short and I wished it would be longer and also Phil Durrant, whose Mego inspired piece is great). Odd ball is Andrew King with some folk singing and was, I guess, just not made for me. Voltage sound like they have a rocky line up. hummm. Clive Graham offers an interesting excursion into his old reel to reel tapes of found sound, spliced together again. A fine piece of electro-acoustica. A similar piece, but entirely differently made is by Aquiles Pantaleao. Here all the acoustics are beyond recognition sampled and stretched. This is the sort of stuff my Square Root Of Sub friend loves... Hastings Of Malawi close off this CD, and I can only strongly suggest that the entire LP should be reissued on CD (Frans de Waard)

The WIRE (March 2000)
Even further out on its own little iceberg in the North Sea is Variations 3: A London Compilation. Titles like 'Live At The Lewisham Arthouse' and 'Live At The Klinker' may suggest communality, but this disc's electroacoustic/improvised music is made largely in isolation. Even when the music is the result of collaboration, the tracks from Phil Durrant, Bob Cobbing, Wits and Hastings of Malawi speak singular languages that range from AMM-like, dadaist scribbles through smoke-signal processing to infinitesimal electronic gestures that are as hard for the uninitiated to decode as sign language

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