Review from radio free midwich

Due to my doofus drunken behaviour I’ve never seen Bridget Hayden play live. Even when we were in the same building I managed to miss all but 45 glorious seconds of her set at Colour Out of Space due to booze related yapping. She’s been top of my ‘must check out’ list since then so I’m delighted to announce the great Singing Knives record label have telepathically picked up on my selfish wish and re-released these two tiny CD-rs from 2002 and 2007 on one handy prison standard tape.*
Side one is modestly entitled ‘Just Ideas’ and taking the title at face value I expected sketches, half thought-out doodles – a sonic sketchbook – but there’s not a jot of sloppiness or self absorption here dear reader.
These four short, untitled jams evoke an encyclopaedia of images:

  • The weather-beaten Sioux whispering into buffalo horn against the shimmer of summer rain and nerdy clip-clop of goats in felt boots.
  • The sunblinded ecstasy of scorching summer holidays with boredom reaching almost sexual levels until an octave-change-thing on harmonium makes it sound like sad news is coming…
  • Hawks circling high above the canyons: multiple recordings of gritty descant recorders like the world’s most psychedelic primary school orchestra conducted by Rhys Chatham.
  • Slide guitar played like Elmore James never ever existed and the blues sprung fully-formed from a JG Ballard short story.

…but it’s the details that make these pieces stand out so. It’s the short intake of breath, the close miked gasp, the quivering tremble of distortion that make these four pieces so god damn moreish. Phew!
Side two offers another insight into rarity with the ripping macadam of ‘They’ve sent me to a trust asylum’. Heavy chisels gouge out spirals of soft metal in ever more intricate patterns leaving pliant filigree on the workshop floor. The feedback/skronk is heavy for sure (VU Sister Ray style) but strangely floating in the middle of the room like fag smoke rather than sneaking to the four corners. This allows greater listening in an almost 3D space.
I move up, around and behind the thin blue waves to better see the edges.
‘Your Heart is your Thumb’s Usher’ and ‘Cracked Open’ starts with the sort of thin keening vocal tape work I dream of over cave-like ratiug sdrawkcab making melody into a purely rhythmic piece. Hwhab, hwhab, hwhab. What would once be ‘ringing pings’ become humming bees, feedback squeals evolved into erotic morse code. It’s an amazing grace.
*But what’s all this prison standard stuff? Well, the body of this tape is totally clear. That way the screws can tell if you’re trying to smuggle something (loot, booty, snout) inside. But of course what the Guv’ner would never figure on is the music itself.
This is a perfect high. Dose me!