6 panel softpack with 4 page insert
• When a man (5:07)
• Among the twinkling stars (4:13)
• London pt1 (2:41)
• Crimson catfish (1:26)
• Ordnance survey (1:26) mp3
• London pt 2 (6:02)
• Vicar with a travel bag (1:14)
• The Grand old Duke of York (0:56)
• Southend pt 1 (3:54)
• My wife's having a baby (0:38)
• The lost islands (3:13)
• Southend pt 2 (4:38) mp3
• Barry on the blower (0:58) mp3
• Interruptions (3:34)
• Wiesbaden pt 1 (2:27)
• Screams of the undead earthworms (6:29)
• Wiesbaden pt 2 (2:06)
• The Jenkins family (2:28)
• Hectomaneous masturbation (2:50)
• Wiesbaden pt 3 (1:31)
• Intergalactic radio storm (4:00)
• Wiesbaden pt 4 (3:51)
• The unfortunate demise of Sammy slug (1:00)
• Music for metal pipe and guitar (0:24)
• Wiesbaden pt 5 (0:50)
• Waterfall song (3:13) mp3
• Wiesbaden pt 6 (6:13) mp3
• Picture drying rack in art room (1:54)
total time 79:34
Music and words 2 is the much delayed 2nd installment in an ongoing series of archival documents of Bohman's early work. As with the first volume, this CD is divided into 2 separate areas of his work. Adam is probably best known as an improviser, playing prepared instruments and objects, but the music here uses little of these purely improvised techniques. On this CD the musical sections consists of idiosyncratic lo-fi songs alongside short collage pieces and other experiments, recorded on stereo and 4 track cassette recorders. Most of these pieces date from the early 80s, but the earliest recording is from 1977.
The spoken word sections on this CD are centred on excerpts from 3 talking tapes - a trip to Southend, a concert series in Wiesbaden and a day in the life, in London. Anyone who has known Adam for any length of time will know that he frequently records his observations to a small portable cassette recorder. These are often recorded for friends and music contacts from all over the world. As with the musical contributions, all these cassettes exist in very small quantities, often they are editions of only one copy.
Although there is an obvious difference in these two types of recorded material, there exists a light and humourous common thread that runs through many of the 28 tracks.
This is the third solo release from Bohman on Paradigm Discs. He also appears on all 3 of the Morphogenesis CDs, as well as contributing to the first ever Paradigm release, Variations, a compilation of London based artists, from 1995.
1 hour radio show on resonance fm about the CD
There’s a guy walks around Cleckheaton covered in huge Kylie Minogue badges who mutters to himself. He’s never without a carrier bag the contents of which are numerous holiday photographs which he’ll gladly show you. He stands at the bar drinking out of his Leeds United pint glass and with typical unimaginative provincial humour gets called Stevie Strange.
The first time I saw Adam Bohman at a gig I thought of Stevie Strange. Bohman arrived at the gig and wandered about with numerous carrier bags in hand looking like a lost soul in search of the Mission. His carrier bags contained not photographs [well ... you never know] but various items of detritus with which he and the rest of Morphogenesis used to produce some rather wonderful electro-acoustic improv.
On ‘Music and Words 2’ we find Bohman capturing his every waking moment on a dictaphone. An accumulation of thoughts and observations. I doubt he can move around without it in his hand. Here we have his observations recorded in London, Southend and Wiesbaden, ‘The time is just after 9 a.m. and I’m in the Yako Lane Coffee House egg bacon sausage and fried slice tipping down with rain outside then I’ll walk down to the tube station and then to Heathrow for the flight to Frankfurt airport’ all recited in Bohman’s own splendidly lugubrious tone. At times he becomes more animated, adopting a Cockney accent to regale us with the delights of Southend sea front, ‘Rockettes, Thursday night laser disco karaoke …’ he edits as he goes along utilising his pause button with gay abandon ensuring that what you get comes in a seemingly random fashion with words disappearing mid sentence whilst others appear in similar fashion.
Humour is his greatest asset. I can’t think of any other artist working in the avant-garde who can reduce a listener to laughter. On ‘Barry on the Blower’ Bohman rings up the chart phone line [this was the early 80’s] ‘I wanna hear Barry Manilow’ he says in a childish voice before Barry appears down the crackly line. On ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ Bohman joins in a traditional rendition of the song with what sounds like a rubber car horn. ‘Hectomaneous Masturbation’ is a punk influenced affair, an off his tits Viv Stanshall thrashing away at a Desperate Bicycles b-side. ‘Ordnance Survey’ sounds like the music from Trumpton with Bohman coughing his guts up [‘Ordnance Survey, yuk, yuk, yuk’]. ‘The Unfortunate Demise of Sammy Slug’ is a one minute drama recounting the demise of Sammy the Slug. Perhaps the most mirth inducing moments come during ‘The Lost Islands’ where Bohman uses his TV set as sparring partner making animal noises to a wildlife programme and farting noises to a musical box. ‘Is there anyone there’ says a TV character ‘NO!’ shouts Bohman at his television set. He joins in with dialogue and accompanies a theme tune as would a drunk Derek Bailey on a guitar with only two strings left on it, both out of tune. ‘When a Man’ finds Bohman [along with someone called Kenny] sparring words at each other in gruffer and gruffer voices.
And then theres the tape compositions, ‘Screams of the Undead Earthworms’ where tapes go to and fro over abused capstans as Bohman groans and gurgles into the mic like a deranged Michael Bentine. ‘Among the Twinkling Stars’ is a series of cut ups and edits culled from TV programmes replete with squished edits and more heavy duty use of the pause button. 'Galactic Radio Storm' appears to be short wave radio recordings given the pause/play treatment. ‘Music for Metal Pipe and Guitar’ is just that.
His greatest achievement is in making the mundane appear remarkable. His is a world where everything is remarkable, from a restaurant menu, to the contents of his fridge, to the synopsis of a TV programme, to the noise that a spring makes. Entering Adam Bohman’s world has all the benefits of a week in a remote cottage without contact to the outside world. He will realign your chakra [whatever that is], he will ying your yang. He will remind you that the world you live in is indeed a very special one. The man moves amongst us like no other. The recent exhibition of his art at London’s Cafe Oto has lead a step nearer to his beatification.
Twenty eight tracks and almost eighty minutes that span the early eighties right up until 2010 all expertly compiled by Clive Graham and culled from Bohman’s own cassette masters.
All this comes in a rather spiffing fold out digipak, one picture of which disturbed me no end; the picture of Bohamn with that toilet in the background. Is he in the same room as the toilet or was the door to the toilet left open? Did he and his three friends [I can see three plates, nothing gets past me] think not to shut the door? And the toilet lid has one of those hideous 70's fluffy covers. Very strange. Mark Wharton
Like a classic mixtape you make for your good friend overseas this utterly charming record is less snapshot of ‘where it’s at’ and more time-travel device for the hyper-elastic mind.
Clive Graham from paradigm discs is the good-guy compiler here and all his source material comes from the personal chump-tapes and hen’s teeth releases from everyone’s favourite uncle – Adam Bohman. Some recordings stretch back to 1977 and it’s a trip to hear Adam as a young man all clipped and springy.
In Music and words (re-released 2013) the spotlight was on Adam’s tutored ping, verbal monologues and electric tape-jiggery. This time round (or before, or after) we get to hear some more linear sonic collage, extended ‘talking tapes’ and some real life songs!
You all know that the art of compiler lies in pacing and placement. Do you big-bang it at the start or drop a sleeper half way through side two? Well, dear reader, with material as rich as this you can afford to do both.
Things start with the world-wide mega-hit ‘When a man’; a viciously witty response to every meathead jock, alpha male and pumped-up Charles Atlas type swinging their (metaphorical) johnson in your (metaphorical) face. Delivered in the style of a gravelly action-film trailer arguing with itself we are treated to the world of what real men see, think and do. Real men (the interlocking voices of ‘Kenny’ & ‘Shane’ tell us) kill people, blow them away and have intercourse with horny chicks. And then it piles weirdness on weirdness with Rhodes Boyson and Steven Segal and Gore Vidal being referenced…
I saw someone blown away by Norman Lamont
…creeps out of one speaker building mental pictures of an evil-looking Spitting Image puppet getting freaky with the Bohman fist controlling.
And it’s these talking tapes (and variations thereof) that have captured the no-audience underground so much. Trips to London, Southend-on-Sea and Wiesbaden become enlightening travel guides of the curious-mundane. Adam’s daily fry-ups, train delays and listening habits are magnified through tape to enter a level of detail Nicholson Baker would be proud of. London & Wiesbaden are the build-up to gigs Adam is playing and the slow and measured psychedelic-domestic reveals a universe of connections; it becomes a precursor to the show, an essential route map of thought-processes that lead up to a tantalising blank, because, of course, the show itself is not represented. His trip through customs on one of the Wiesbaden pieces is almost a live performance anyway with the airport security playing a supporting role to Adam’s youthful mutters.
The sonic-collage pieces seem to each take a different medium and apply the same signature blunt tape edits creating delightful variations. In ‘Interruptions’ an old chord organ chokes and coughs with dust. In ‘Screams of the Undead Earthworms’ vocal blips and bibber melt like spit and during ‘Crimson Catfish’ Adam takes rogue radio recordings and chops them up with a rusty hacksaw.
The more song-oriented pieces: ‘Vicar with a Travel Bag’ or ‘Ordnance Survey’ or ‘Waterfall Song’ are as British as a cockle-scented general. His cheeks brick-red from massive Sherry consumption he wonders:
Why didn’t that Damon Albarn chappie use Bohman rather than Ray Davis to create his Hope & Glory template? Others would have followed. I can see Shed Seven ditch their feathercuts for Bohmanesque tonsures, muttering into Dictaphones as they search the aisles of Maplin’s for cheap batteries. The Verve taking their ricket-legged swagger down the allotment with a tartan flask, carefully comparing the differing resonance of scrap metal pipes. And of course Elastica copying every detail of a collage down to source material and then passing it off as their own work.
But never let it said these are naive recordings. If you are looking for cynical bite ‘My Wife’s going to have a Baby” is dripping with sarcasm and first-world-male-dread. The Southend-on-Sea talking tapes capture the darker side of Essex drinking culture and Adam acknowledges “I must sound like a terrible snob” as he avoids the thick-necked quaffers. The ‘Jenkins Family’ is pretty much a sharp poke at cultural tourism and, as the sleeve notes proudly point out, …was recorded the year before EastEnders was first broadcast.
At just over 79 minutes this is a long record…but never seems it. The pieces have a careful planning (as careful as any mixtape meant for wooing I’m guessing); the Talking Tapes come in convenient chunks and are interspersed with collage and song, making this more like an afternoon with a spectral Radio 4 taken hostage by the ordinary ghost. Essential. Joe Murray
Here’s the follow-up release to Music and Words which came out in 1999. Clive Graham of Paradigm (who compiled and edited the present release) has not been idle in keeping the work of this English eccentric in print in the meantime, since the original volume was repressed in 2013, and in between there was the amazing Bunhill Row LP of Adam’s fractured songs, released in 2006.
Revisiting my notes from 2000, I recall that the original Music and Words was pretty much a split between two modes: the first was documents of Bohman’s musical performances using unorthodox instruments and hand-woven organic junk objects, and the second mode was his spoken-word recordings, mostly in that case excerpts from his “diary” recordings – one has the impression he takes a hand-held cassette recorder wherever he goes and speaks his impressions directly onto the tape. 15 years ago I likened him to Patrick Keillor and other peripatetics who make observations on the streets of London, noted Bohman’s interest in talking about what he’d just eaten for lunch or dinner, and his predilection for reading out loud shop signs – or indeed any printed information that interested him. (1)
All of the above elements continue to feature on the diary recordings published on Music and Words 2, which present snapshots of London life, but also documents Bohman’s trips to Southend and Wiesbaden. Food, taking a bath, train journeys, going to the pub or the market, or strolling along Southend pier are all adventures which create fascinating and highly peculiar sonic episodes; apparently trivial details are read out loud from whatever source catches his eye. Because of Bohman’s unconventional speaking voice, these utterances become a strange form of rough poetry. Then there’s the sound caused by the tape machine turning on and off, creating those odd “catches” in the rhythm of the work, and a micro-second or two of tape varispeed glitch. And of course the snatches of “field recordings” that leak on to the tape, almost background sound effects to his daily journeys, including the sounds of running water for his daily bath, railway station announcements, street market chatter, and the general hubbub of the public. All of this amounts to rich and fascinating material that is very interesting to listen to. What strikes me on today’s listen is how gloriously absurd and bizarre the every-day world can be, made even stranger as it’s refracted through the lens of Bohman’s mind, voice, and cassette recorder. This isn’t to say that the phone number from a hair-dressing salon sign becomes, when read aloud, the mystical number that solves the entire universe, but it does somehow mean more than it originally did. I have the impression that Bohman is trying hard to make sense of the world, through planning and describing in detail his own actions – whether it be what to eat for breakfast, which train to board, or what happened in a charity shop five minutes ago. In between the scraps of documentary information, his personal mental processes can be glimpsed.
These diary sections are interspersed with other recordings which are frankly almost uncategorisable, but for today I’ll put them under the general category of Bohman music, songs, and sound art. They are incredible, and frankly even more engaging than the musical segments of the 1999 release. ‘Among the Twinkling Stars’, ‘Crimson Catfish’ and ‘Interruptions’ are assorted forays into tape collage and tape manipulation, using found sources and following illogical patterns to produce exciting jumbles of random noise; even the method used for these assemblies is odd, as Bohman makes no attempt to conceal his primitive, coarse edits and tape-starts, displaying no interest in refining his technique. ‘Vicar With A Travel Bag’ and ‘My Wife’s Having a Baby’ are both songs which, I think, use found musical sources and Bohman simply drops his hilarious lyrical fragments on top, singing with force, gusto and abandon, heedless of hitting the notes so long as his messages are conveyed and understood. He could make a song anywhere, any time, using whatever material comes to hand. Both these songs, by the way, are dead-on parodies of “the Normals” in society (2), something which Bohman does with a curious mix of bewilderment, affection, and caustic hatred, going well beyond anything an angry punk rocker could ever manage as they try to put the world to rights through song. Bohman does this again on ‘Barry On The Blower’, another barb aimed at Barry Manilow fans (the previous such barb was a song on Bunhill Row) where for less than 60 seconds Bohman puts himself into the role of a harmless but mindless Manilow fan, and at the same time effortlessly creates a fine example of that rare breed – a piece of telephone-based sound art (3).
I personally would love to hear more Bohman songs. There aren’t that many of them on this album, but when you hear ‘Ordnance Survey’ you too will wish he’d make up more songs full of sideways comments on the things that matter to him, such as walking in the countryside with the help of OS Maps. Even the combined talents of Jonathan Richman, Television Personalities and Frank Sidebottom could not come close to matching the whimsical genius that is expressed in these 96 seconds. Then there’s the near-menace of ‘When A Man’, almost a song – but more of a sound poem, expressed using two or more overlapping tape sources, where’s Bohman’s utterly unmistakeable vocal tones are pitched at their creepiest and creakiest, as he endeavours to lay bare the sheer absurdity of male macho posturing in sexual politics, in relations, or just in everyday life. He does it using metaphors from silly action-adventure movies, but he mostly does it by mercilessly peeling away male defences with his penetrating x-ray vision. Not designed for maximum comfort among the guys in the audience, and it’s the opening track on the album too. Then there’s ‘The Lost Islands’, some three minutes of utter lunacy which to me is the centre-piece of the album; found sounds, collage methods, recordings of clunky improvised clatter music, strange voices, all heaped up in disarray working to an inexplicable logic, to arrive at the soundtrack to the most insane TV or movie soundtrack that never existed. It is, frankly, simply glorious.
These recordings were sourced from early-ish tape recordings made mostly in the mid-1980s (although the earliest here is from 1977), and appeared in published form on releases such as Monaural Monstrosities, Starting From Scratch, Apricot Flavoured Telephones, and other surreal titles. Brother Jonathan Bohman appears on three instances. There are photographs of Adam Bohman including one by friend Peter Strickland, and there are instances of Adam’s collage and painting artworks from the cassettes. I mention this to let you know what a well-curated “archival” release this is, citing titles, sources and dates, and also so that I can wonder out loud how much more of this material there is yet to be exposed. Is the world ready for it? I wasn’t. I’ve got as far as hearing 15 of the 28 cuts on this release, before I could feel my sense of reality vanishing away. Which means I’ve still yet to experience the joys of ‘The Jenkins Family’, ‘Galactic Radio Storm’, and ‘The Unfortunate Demise of Sammy Slug’, but with titles like those, frankly how can you miss?! For me, this is an unmissable record which I suggest you purchase with all speed. From May 2014.
(1) We might note that all of this is some time before such things became more mainstream on Twitter, but I like to think Bohman’s more in the mould of such flâneurs as the surrealists or even earlier characters of 19th century Paris.
(2) Only Vivian Stanshall comes close as a forebear of Bohman, and his ceaseless efforts to Baffle the Normals should have gained him an OBE for services rendered to the UK.
(3) Other examples would include, I suppose, ‘The Blimp’ by Captain Beefheart, the speaking clock on the Hastings of Malawi LP, and ‘Mystic Tune’ by Fred Lane. But there are more, and I think Clive Graham once compiled an entire radio show of them. Ed Pinsent
Second instalment of archival recordings from one-half of UK improvisers/sound artists/comics The Bohman Brothers, with weirdo tape work and songs accompanied by some of Bohman’s legendary quizzical/deadpan ‘talking tapes’. Bohman uses various home-made instruments, wine glasses, toilet roll holders, plastic tubes and electric shavers up against slugs of scrabbly six-string guitar, trumpet and tape recorder collage. The songs match wry observations on monochrome/tabloid UK culture with crack-up one liners, goof-offs and bedroom surrealism in a way that bears comparison to early Shadow Ring records like Put The Music In Its Coffin alongside weird avant/basement units like Storm Bugs, Gore Vidals or even Officer and Art Bears. The spoken word sections are especially great, with excerpts from a trip to Southend, a concert series in Wiesbaden and a day in the life in London combining bathetic magic, sound poetry, personal trivia and a happy/sad feel that is uniquely compulsive. Another fantastic instalment, highly recommended. David Keenan
The Wire July 2014
You can never be 100 per cent certain what you're going to get from an Adam Bohrnan performance. You might see him coaxing tiny acoustic tones and textures from a tabletop of bric-a-brac and junk; reading a cut-up of found texts incorporating snatches of Chinese takeaway menus and TV screenplays; or telling a long and convoluted joke that gets more doggedly hilarious with every passing minute. But these recordings from 1977-2010 show that, throughout his whole career, the tape recorder - and, specifically, the art of tape collage - has been a constant. Pieces like "Among The Twinkling Stars" are primitive, rapidly flickering splices of song and speech snippets from TV and radio, like an impatient spinning of the dial; while "Screams Of The Undead Earthworms" moves closer to sound poetry with a rough jigsaw puzzle made of nothing more than coughs, gasps and rude exhalations. Bohman's ability to craft something genuinely disorientating, despite the familiarity or even overwhelming ordinariness of the material, is the central theme running through this collection. He's a master at revealing the underlying absurdity in the everyday. Once you grasp the deliberate pointlessness of Bohman's peculiar obsessions, they get ever more amusing just like those rambling jokes he tells on stage. Nowhere is that truer than in the long sections of talking tapes included here: spoken commentaries in which he records his thoughts while going about his solitary business on a day trip to Southend, a visit to play a gig in Wiesbaden, Germany, and an ordinary day at home in London. "I've emerged from the bed. It's now 8:30am. A bath and a shave are the next objectives. Not much left of the Lurpak but maybe enough for two slices along with the egg", he intones, with all the solemnity of a polar explorer leaving his tent and plunging into the vast whiteness. As he meticulously details travel plans, contents of cupboards and the colours and general repair of passing street signs, Bohman's ruminations take on the ominous strangeness of a JG Ballard short story. Only funnier. Daniel Spicer