Various Artists – The Deep Vain Trombonist (sampler)

Dusty Curtain Face Records DCF 002, 2012, CC album

£3 (numbered edition of 100)

Dusty Curtain Face Records is not a record label in any conventional sense of the term, or even anything that could usually attract the description ‘recording studio’. It’s a sign of things to come, a point of facilitation for independent artists that passes devastating comment on the whole panoply of the music industry circus purely by existing. It’s one man, one man equipped with some very basic recording equipment, a big pair of ears, an unusual degree of motivation and a generous nature. He goes to bands’ rehearsal spaces, records them in the circumstances under which they feel most comfortable, taking care to capture the ambience in which their music has been formed, and mixes the results in a straightforward and sonically aware manner. Paul David Rhodes (for that is the man of whom I speak) describes what he does as lo-fi, but it doesn’t suffer from any lack of fidelity; in fact, the results he achieves sound far truer to the bands’ artistic intentions than the product of most visits to a traditional, one-track-at-a-time studio would.

This sampler is available only on cassette, so if you don’t have a tape player you’re shit out of luck… except, well, I didn’t have one, so I ordered one off the intarwebz shortly after the tape arrived in the post. That choice of format might seem a little perverse in this day and age, but then so does hand duplicating a limited edition of a hundred, with hand folded inlay cards, presented in a hand-stitched cloth slipcase… everything about the release tells you there’s a real human being on the other end of it. One who gives a shit. I hadn’t listened to tape for years: my relationship with the cassette ended badly, after I favoured it over vinyl in my teens, and then discovered in my twenties that my beloved music collection had deteriorated beyond the point at which it was worth trying to listen to it; if anyone gratefully embraced digital music distribution, via CD and then the internet, it was me. So I was a bit shocked at how amazingly good this sounds; tape distortion is a beautiful, warm pillow, if there’s not too much of it, and this release is just choc-a-block with analogue goodness. Of course it’s recorded digitally in the first place, unlike all those hopelessly woolly, wow-and-fluttering, cassette Portastudio home recordings we strained our ears to decipher in the 1980s…

There’s a good variety of material on here, ranging from roaring hardcore punk (The Domestics, Chestburster) to acoustic folk (Cuckoo Hill, Tough Lover), via some pretty avant-garde intermediate points (such as Rhodes’ own projects Cockdaughter and Hobopope And The Goldfish Cathedral). There’s avant-funk-rock (Lemonparty, sounding like a cross between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Talking Heads, with more incest), acoustic punk (the nonpareil Ed Ache), deep fried southern sludge metal (Old Man Lizard) and miserably rural sludge metal (Meadows). But I’m not here to give you a complete track listing; it’s all real knock-out stuff (except some bullshit that must have got on here by accident under the idiotic name of Chuckin’ Custard). All thirty-one tracks (except that one) are thoroughly creative, switched-on and (sometimes disturbingly weird) real treats for the ear. I strongly recommend you get a copy of this and follow up on some of the bands; none of it’s slick, but nor is any of it pretentious, and it’s all balls out (or tits out) passionate, committed awesomeness.

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