Bristol

LICE ‘WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear’

“Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism” reads point one of 1910’s first Manifesto of Futurist Painters. Bold declarations of visionary intent are a distinct feature of the futurist movement, an avant-garde collective of artists and thinkers born in Milan and conceived by poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, eschewing social and artistic tradition to forge work that would upheave the very foundations of society as well as shun the archaic aesthetics of old. From the British Vorticists, Dadaists, and Russian Constructivists who followed, the many challenging and unorthodox pieces unleashed on to conservative society were routinely accompanied with manifestos proclaiming the ills of the cultural world and their noble crusade to rid of the obsolete and enter liberated modernity (despite some early aligning with fascism on the Italian part).

In a barren wasteland on the edges of reality, a hapless character known only as Paul discovers that his penis has become sentient, growing teeth and whispering snide remarks at it gnaws through the front of his jeans. Taking the drastic measure of removing the cognisant member, it grows further among the hospital refuse, eventually reaching humanoid shape and imitating the likeness of its previous owner. Like a twisted retelling of Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose were it written by William Burroughs, the ‘imposter’ walks on its testicles in the moonlight to Paul’s house, killing him and assuming his identity, replacing him at his workplace and coming into success before arousing the suspicions of the sinister R.D.C…

Talking genitalia, shape-shifting and shadowy committees are just a taste of the many surreal exercises in satire in Alaister Shuttleworth’s science-fiction short WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear. Both a journalist and frontman for experimental post-punk act LICE, Shuttleworth has been on a one-man mission to smash complacent music coverage and champion the potent avant-garde s̶c̶e̶n̶e̶ community currently seizing Bristol out of its trip-hop nostalgia. Taking cues from the litany of crusading proclamations of the futurists, Shuttleworth’s music magazine The Bristol Germ and the aforementioned fantastical text are replete with manifestos, with almost revolutionary rhetoric, urging the curious reader to free themselves from the shackles of stagnant artistic consensus and idle, surface participation. Caring not for the arbitrary peripheries of the album format, LICE’s debut LP via their own Settled Law Records encompasses iconoclastic music, puzzling prose, and a bizarre new instrument of their innovation called the Intonarumori.

The whirring clangour of the mysterious machine which opens the first track ‘Conveyer’ establishes the character of the record immediately: dissident and curious. WASTELAND… is an amorphous trip that veers between industrial abrasion and brittle minimalism with total ease, often within the same song. ‘Espontáneo’ weaves in and out of deep, cavernous disquiet akin to the sonic nightmares of Scott Walker’s The Drift, an eerie expanse of flickering vocals and phantom whispers percolate around Shuttleworth’s hushed recounts of time travel given greater introspective wrestle with Silas Dilkes’ exotic guitar picking. Hypnagogic trance grooves on the synth-based ‘Persuader’, a crisp drum machine anchors the dreamy haze that submerges midway in a mist of frenetic percussion and subliminal, numbered motifs, all deep-diving together similar to Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’. LICE display a true feeling for emotional scope on the haunting ‘Serata’ an intimately epic cut which is probably the most moving song about a robot’s friendship with a spider you’ll ever hear, while LP closer and epilogue ‘Clear’ is pure Lynchian lounge, foggy keyboards and sultry guest vocals from Katy J. Pearson and members of Goat Girl scoring the final collapse of the Wasteland, each line intriguingly sung as stage directions for a play.

For all of LICE’s cultural reference and intellectual rigour, they never let cerebral fancy stand in the way of rocking. Like Howard Devoto’s canny ability to marry philosophical esotericism with direct, unpretentious punk rock, LICE know when to throw a strike of urgent post-punk attack, albeit with proggy leanings. Gareth Johnson’s mean bass rattles along with Bruce Bardsley’s primal drums on the thrillingly raucous ‘R.D.C.’, a volatile pummeler which filters Louis Althusser’s heady marxism in a satisfying blast of SANS style noise. Their industrial inclinations hammer with Einstürzende Neubauten levels of heft on the bruising ‘Pariah’, massive guitar hack and chops while the Intonarumori cranks amid the din, Dilke’s heavy riffing against Shuttleworth’s metallic and acrid vocals beautifully alien and beefy.

“Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent” reads point three of the Manifesto of Futurist Painters. In their quest to produce work that is vital and radical, LICE have dropped an extraordinary record that successfully combines journalistic endeavour, a dynamic range of aural exploration and honest-to-god rock ‘n’ roll with impeccable harmony. WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear is an eternally fascinating and electrifying debut that resoundingly honours their crusade against the banal and derivative.

RRS ‘Tonight’

Cardboard is not immediately what comes to mind when seeking inspiration. Perhaps the heavy-duty, paper-based material is unfairly forgotten, a major resource for many budding creative, be it a primary school nativity play to the avant-garde peaks of Hugo Ball’s Cubist costume worn while delivering his Dadaist poem ‘Karawane’.

It’s also a perennially a recurring motif for Bristol artist Robert Ridley-Shackleton. Spending the last decade releasing an exhausting amount of tapes under Cardboard Club and the now-defunct Hissing Frames, RRS has been unleashing a deeply offbeat mesh of idiosyncratic performance art, surreal stand-up and lo-fi tape experiments. Describing himself as “the cardboard simulacrum of the artist formerly alive and known as Prince”, RRS takes the brittle and primitive minimalism of Suicide but infuses the frangible vibe with warped humour and a thoroughly weird take on pop.

Tonight, being the soundtrack to his titular film exhibited at Tusk Virtual Festival, is another fuzzy collection of atonal synths, crude drum machines and stream of consciousness lyrical oddities. RRS’s affection for funk plays out on the title track and EP opener, a skewed and muffled murk of ‘Being Boiled’ style basslines and preset beats which sputters along to the Cardboard Prince’s proclamations of looming stardom, his repeated line “tonight I’m going to be” like a particularly warped episode of Stars in Their Eyes. This congealed slop of bedroom DIY production and RRS’s jocular incongruity never lets up, the roiled pop twisting and turning throughout save album centrepiece ‘Dusty Feeling Vs TJ Laser Face’, a commentary on a wrestling match between the two aforementioned prizefighters strewn with witty musings. RRS is smart enough to keep the EP at a lean length, never allowing the unorthodox nature of the music and delivery ever becoming stretched or testing to the listener.

With RRS being an ‘outsider’ artist in the truest sense of the word, Tonight further cements his reputation as one of Bristol’s most radical and hilarious dilettantes, a gloriously misshapen and absurd piece of work that enthralls with its precarious improvisation, hissing decrepitude and upside-down humour.

INDIGOS ‘INDIGOS’

It took a global pandemic but the free market zealots finally paused the capitalist hamster-wheel (after much equivocation and an obscene death toll). Long inured by a lifetime of merciless labour extraction, a percentage of the overworked and underpaid were granted the simple, Marxist ideal of free time. This freedom to allow personal development away from the neoliberal grind could be both liberating and terrifying. Alone with your thoughts and little else, deep rumination and introspective wanderings can take place, reaching profound epiphany or painful reconciling with wounds that lie buried and unresolved.

“Self-reflection, projection, nostalgia…”. The lyrical themes of INDIGOS, as stated on their Bandcamp, feel inexorably linked to this reflective pivot that hangs in the air. Like the mysterious duality of night and day adorning their latest cover, the Bristol-based heavy pop trio have crafted an exquisite blend of psychedelic shoegaze and slacker grunge that uncannily scores the contemporary contemplation and its trepidation. Sharing a love for 90s alternative rock like Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies, INDIGOS, along with kindred spirits Wych Elm, anchor their lethargic fuzz with a keen ear for subtle but infectious pop hooks. After winning support slots with Cherry Glazerr and rotation on 6 Music, INDIGOS finally drop their debut EP via AC30 Records and co-production help from IDLES guitarist Lee Kiernan.

Sophia Barnes’ mean bass opens INDIGOS on the explosive ‘Silhouette of You’, pitch-perfect loud/quiet dynamics straight out of Doolittle ending with a strung-out thrash that’s both heady and electric. Guitarist Jack Croft’s swirling jangle expertly percolates around Barnes’ spooky vocals on the eerie ‘I’m Healed’, before the stirring ‘Animalistic’ displays an anthemic rigour to their tripped-out post-punk. Finale ‘Out of Body’ is simply stunning, a gorgeous meander through a hazy daydream of ethereal effects washes and Barnes’ cooly delicate vocals before an awesome guitar attack that recalls the breathtaking solos from Siamese Dream.

Thrillingly ethereal without ever becoming lost in its sonic expanse, INDIGOS is four tracks of impeccable psych-rock that veers between light and dark with ease, channelling the ambiguity of our collective uncertainty with exceptional insight.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #14

‘Sexual freedoms turned into corporate schemes!! Viruses plaguing your thoughts, plaguing your souls!!!’⠀⠀⠀⠀

The acrid, stinging fuzz of Spit ‘n’ Static! corrupted the 1020 Radio studio today, the usual synthpunk splatter we all know and love knotted and twisted with a little alien sleeeeeeze for good measure! Careful…this one bites! 🦠📡👽👌⠀⠀⠀⠀

Electro-spectral entities by Paloma Kop

Glaciers Noods Radio #15

Noods Radio was hit with the 15th Glaciers last Wednesday, another chilly blast of synth vibez and a smattering of shoegaze and Scouse post-punk for good measure! Wrap up warm! 🎹 ❄️ 👌

Glaciers Noods Radio #14

Glaciers frosted up Noods Radio again today, catch up with the 14th helping of icy sinewaves and frosty frequencies below! 🎹❄️👌

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #12

The alien mind control that is Spit ‘n’ Static! has been hijacking your signal for a full year! Here’s to another year of everyone’s favourite avant-punk-synth-trash-fuck-spit from the planet Zanfretta! Keep catching that wave same slime, same faceat Bristol’s 1020 Radio! 👽 👌

Glaciers Noods Radio #13

The 13th punch of Glaciers hit Bristol’s Noods Radio once again, another hour of chilly vibez! Check it out! 🎹 ❄️ 👌

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #11

The loyal devotees of the Spit ‘n’ Static! cult dunked their head in the 11th dose and ‘Ascended’ outta this topsy-turvy world just as their glorious leader ordered them too!! Check out the death tape from this infamous incident, and ‘catch the wave’ at the new schedule of every third Thursday of the month, same slime same face, at Bristol’s 1020 Radio. REJOICE!!!!!

Glaciers Noods Radio #12

After two months off the chilly punch of Glaciers is back! Here’s your twelfth helping of your favourite minimal-synth and coldwave pop courtesy of the Noods Radio mob!! ❄️ 👌