We need your help – please
Drone / Ambient
Outsider / Art Brut
Sound Art / Spoken Word
Folk / Song
Run by Mark Harwood / Astor, Penultimate Press operates mainly in the fields of music concrète, electro-acoustic composition & processed sound. Unheard of underground alongside crucial reissues.
“Debut full length from London based 3 piece originally hailing from New Zealand (Matthew Hyland), Germany (Anja Büchele) and Romania (Dennis Debitsev) Precious Waste In Our Wake (full title written nowhere: “The Fucking Terrible Receding Shapes, We Shed Precious Waste In Our Wake”) is an endlessly beautiful, dense and chaotic crawl through so many forms it can be difficult to ascertain what is actually at play. Ostensibly a ‘rock’ band carved from the same plank as previous outfits Philosopie Queen, The Mean Streaks, etc Triple Negative have shaken a somewhat complacent London with their wildly original blend of chaos and beauty rolling around a maelstrom of politics, spite and humour. Bloodclaat Orange, Fatna Bent Lhoucine, The Associates, Aby Ngana Diop, Royal Trux, Brigitte Fontaine/Areski, and Babyfather are all somehow wished into the scenario, either suggestively, explicitly quoted or manifesting as some malformed degree of inspiration.
Precious Waste features bloody-minded Schlagzeugspiel by Stephen Robinson (Aufgehoben) & Rohan P. Thomas (The Mean Streaks, Sigma Editions) + guest verses by Maria Callas/P.-P. Pasolini, Marlene Dietrich & actually existing urban foxes of Northeast & South London. Also contains “Destroyer”, the 1st song written by Cameron Bain for The Mean Streaks (2000. complete lyric sheet: Destroyer!), followed immediately by Dr Moreau-style fusion of Herman Melville & Peter Perrett in glass-all-void Immigrant Song. Also bass sound of the miraculous Stylophone Beatbox, plus Casio MT 45 psychick dancehall and 3 pairs of strings, not 4, on the bouzouki.
Following on from the quietly released TOWERS, OPEN, FIRE/Looking For Business 7″ on Penultimate Press towards the end of 2018, Precious Waste In Our Wake is a Malediction Forbidding Mourning, a portfolio of old pathologies folded into a sleek new nervous wreck. Precious Waste In Our Wake is a hulking ride of audacious rhythmic passages swaying alongside the meanest of melodies suddenly swept over by flights most fragile. Packaged in a high gloss sleeve with insert and precious zero by way of peers.”
“An endearingly honest and outrageously artful sense of seemingly forgetful prowess - having played together for seventeen years (!) and only now releasing their debut album, “Precious Waste..” really gives weight to the idea that it can take a long time to sound like yourself. Triple Negative's entirely unique breed of dynamic chaos providing the thrill and bewilderment of observing that which is so close to collapse, evolve into a fully realised slab of INFINITE potential.” - Low Company
Triple Negative – Precious Waste In Our Wake
"The Blue Horse is a beautiful strange journey through a landscape where little is familiar but all are welcome. Made from predominantly acoustic sources, The Blue Horse gracefully hisses, puffs, wheezes, whirls, and clunks it’s way through a series of distinct musical and non musical environments. Sounding both at times like a dark and stormy night… and “an elephant trying to get laid”, the ambiguous style of The Blue Horse conceals the artists’ unsettling, fantastical and quietly humorous sensibility.
Whilst The Blue Horse lacks any obvious precursors, it’s elemental and environmental leanings potentially tread a path initially mapped out by Moniek Darge and Godfried-Willem Raes in the works coming out of the Logos Foundation in Ghent, Belgium in the mid 80’s.
The Blue Horse is the debut recording from Sholto Dobie and Mark Harwood and features a guest appearance from cellist Judith Hamann.
Sholto Dobie is an artist and performer born in Edinburgh and living in London. His solo output is marked by live performances that are characteristically delicate, evocative and absurd. He uses his own instruments, crudely assembled from materials such as reeds, whistles, bin bags, fans and air compressors, alongside loose performative structures, to respond to places and situations. He plays in Al Fresco (with Lia Mazzari & Tom White) and regularly collaborates with Ben Pritchard. He has also worked with Ashley Paul. He continues to run the event series Muckle Mouth which he founded in 2014.
Mark Harwood is a musician and performer born in Ferntree Gully and living in London. His output veers towards uncanny audio both delicate and unsettling whilst his performances rely on teasing out and playing with the mood embedded within any given environment and audience situation. He has collaborated with Graham Lambkin, Aine O’Dwyer, Timo Van Luijk and MP Hopkins and runs the Penultimate Press label which brings forth this very release."
“People say he looks blue under the moon”, is what Mhairi told me when I asked her about it.
I was walking along the roadside with my partner in the Cabrach, one of the most remote areas in northern Scotland. At a bend in the road, something directed my attention towards the hill and when I looked up I could make out a silvery-blue creature, moving slowly and gracefully, obscured by the trees. It wasn’t clear at first, but I soon clocked that it was a horse and I took a picture of it. Earlier in the day I came across a fairy ring of field blewits, mushrooms otherwise known as blue-legs, so I knew something was up.
By the time it was dark (around 4pm in November) we were the only customers in the Grouse Inn, a long-standing middle-of-nowhere tea room and whisky bar, beautifully cared for by Wilma McBain and her daughter Mhairi. Noticing the leather harnesses on display I asked Mhairi about the horse we’d seen earlier in the woods. I was somewhat enchanted just talking about it, and she wasn’t surprised.
Later in the evening, we ended up behind the bar in the refrigeration room (where Mhairi paints), she showed us her painting of the blue horse.
I didn’t sleep much that night.” – Sholto Dobie, 2019
Mark Harwood & Sholto Dobie – The Blue Horse
'Who will listen to aches that Everyone has’ is a telaesthetic document of disquiet, distance, and disintegrating memory. Careful mantels, rumours of summer, a nocturne, the black inside; Septembers wither, sentiments wane, the chamber-band plays.
---MB / violin, piano, spokes, hotel bell, lighthouse bell LR / cello ML – pianette LF / cutlery SM / silhouette
Parlours – Who will listen to aches that Everyone has
Exceptional first release from much talked about trio, Triple Negative: Madame Tlank & Clinical Wasteman & others. Bayern Tāmaki Makaurau/northsouth London, since 1989/2003/2016.
"Nether neither either ether [C.B.]. Bad bad grace back for a death-affirming day.
Hard-to-Reach claimants born in the wrong place (Bayern Tāmaki Makaurau, Arkhangel district), put out too tender & possessed by spite.3 x negation = 15 years Philosophie Queen, 18 Meanstricken, meaning totgeschlagen! No end to the keratodermic bouzouki, knock-off Glock, plastic reed, Tascam Spiel. There’s nothing not superficial about it. An animus nursed with bad bad grace."
Triple Negative – TOWERS, OPEN, FIRE / Looking For Business
First in a series of two releases unveiling the previously unissued soundtracks made for the films of Ursula Reuter Christiansen by her partner and collaborator Henning Christiansen.
The Executioner (Skarpretteren) is Ursula’s first film from 1971 and is now considered one of the most important works of early Danish feminist art. A highly praised recent show at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen highlighted the pertinent themes and ongoing urgency which lies within this bold symbolic work.
The exquisite score is one of the key neo-romantic works in Henning’s far reaching output. A deeply melancholic set of vocal based works which place the listener deep within the tension and despair of Ursula’s themes. This unique vinyl presentation also features nature sounds recorded for the film on the island of Moen along with surprising works that defy anything else in Henning’s output.
Henning Christiansen – The Executioner
Kreuzmusik was commissioned by the Bonner Kunstverein Gallery, Kunstfond, Germany in August 1989, for inclusion in their 'Taking Fluxus Around for a Drive' happening, (also featuring performances by Dieter Daniels, George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow, Al Hansen, Joe Jones and others) and originally issued on cassette in 1990 by Neue Bildende Kunst in an edition of 100 copies.
"in 1967 Joseph Beuys and i travelled to darmstadt for a performance of hauptstrom fluxus from 1:00 -11:00pm (10 hours) on the 20th march. hauptstrom was basically a new ritual, which is how a lot of people saw it at the time, and later on too. beuys used his own body as a deeply primal human language, and i made 10 hours of ritual music using a number of tape recorders. and obviously we wanted to make a completely new space for hauptstrom. the space at franz dahlem's at 7 aha street was small and there was even less space for the rather large audience because beuys made a roughly 7cm high rampart of margarine around his own performance space; and my main motif was a knocking sound, like the sound of a heart beating, which i used to create peace in the space, separate from the other more energetic sound-music passages. when i got the invitation for 'taking fluxus around for a drive' i immediately remembered that darmstadt exhibition in 1967. it's not all that far from denmark, 150 km to bonn-darmstadt, but a timespan of 22 years. i thought of jörg immendorf's lidl-bundestag, which you could say landed in the roses outside the real bundestag. this poetic, political act impressed me at the time, because it showed that our world could basically be quite different. i decided straight away that i wanted to make kreuzmusik, and i was also sure that no other fluxus people would come up with the same idea. most of my fluxus friends go for homo ludens and that's fine, but i wanted to feel the intimacy again in a small space, i wanted to make a scandinavian ritual in fluxid behandlung. i took my stone age gramophone (which really does play stones) called my friend ernst ludwig kretzer from hamburg and arranged with him that he would operate a time delay on my tapes and voice so that i could ritualise freely.
in kunstfond i didn't make a mound of margarine - of course not - instead i made one from flour (bread), in the middle of this was the stone age gramophone and hanging on the wall there were strange crosses, made out of socks and clothes hangers; as well as this there was a headless figure of christ and a toy cessna plane in a little canary cage.
i began with my piece io am en vogel as a 'starter' (about 20 minutes), then i performed zum preis des fluxus, which had been my contribution to the wiesbaden fluxus 82 catalogue, then i threw green stones into a bucket of water, then to the accompaniment of the eurasienstab -fluxorum organum music i played a green cutting sheet that was hanging on my chest, then to european zen i played 3 glass bowls with red sticks, the bells and knocking für das alte russland (for old russia). then everything went dark and i lit candles while my deep groundnote played. after 5 minutes played the lights came on again and my groundnote led into the sheep composition (sheep instead of fiddles); i used my green fat-fiddle to make little twittering sounds; for me, sheep mean peace and insight. this soundworld then lead into the composition with 180 hammer blows against war monkeys. i hammered very sharply and powerfully. beuys once wrote a piece with the title: der dumme hammer tritt auf (the stupid hammer performs), that's how it should be - against the war monkeys, logical. this sequence then finally lead into peaceful bird twitterings in a piece that i call die freiheit ist um die ecke (freedom is around the corner). during this i slowly immersed the cesna plane inside the canary cage in a tub of water , after i had flown around in my own space for a while. and that was the end of the whole seance. it lasted over an hour. - Henning Christiansen, 1990.”
Thanks to The Henning Christiansen Estate and Ursula Block.
Henning Christiansen – Kreuzmusik
Op.192 UMWÄLZUNG – fluxorum organum 1990 EURASIENSTAB ist immernoch ANGELPUNKT is a previously unissued work by Henning Christiansen from 1990. Around the formation of the European Union Henning approached his original Eurasienstab organ recordings from 1968 as a platform to remold a vast amount of audio he made over the subsequent years. This release comprises two different mixes of UMWÄLZUNG that were made for Werner Durand in 1990 to be used as backing tapes for a performance at Ballhaus Naunynstrasse in February 1990.
UMWÄLZUNG is unique in Henning’s output as it resides in a more contemporary landscape positioning itself more as a ‘mix’ than a stand alone recording. One which retains the skewered sensibility that only Henning could conjure. The two hour long versions of UMWÄLZUNG are haunted with tape hiss, weird interference and a deeply melancholic aura that moves from the original Eurasienstab organ recordings through to the somewhat hysterical 180 Hammer Blows Against War Monkeys resulting in an epic and hypnotic excursion.
Henning Christiansen – Op.192 Umwälzung
Second in a series of two previously unreleased soundtracks Henning Christiansen made for the films made by his partner and collaborator Ursula Reuter Christiansen. Den Røde Skov (The Red Forest) was Ursula’s second film made in 1986.
In stark contrast to the exquisite romantic melancolia of their first collaboration, The Executioner, Den Røde Skov resides as one of the wildest recordings in the entire Christiansen catalogue. Aligned more with works like the legendary collaboration with Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys, Abschiedssymphonie, Den Røde Skov unfolds as a delirious and demonic audio exhibit, at once deeply eccentric and utterly enthralling.
Featuring the exceptional sound work of Ernst Kretzer and contributions from Ursula Reuter Christiansen, Addamaria Reuter Christiansen, Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen, Carla Tató and Werner Durand this is a rich tapestry of sounds, voice and obtuse atmospheres drifting from the deeply meditative to the outright hysterical.
Henning Christiansen – Den Røde Skov
"In the summer of 1969 we made a collective film "The Search" on the heath in Jutland, Denmark. Henning Christiansen made on site field recordings for the individual scenes with Peter Sakse as sound master. The music was first used during the performance at the festival Strategy: Gets Art exhibition organised by Richard Demarco at Edinburgh College of Art, on August 21,1970 with Joseph Beuys and Henning Christiansen. Henning Christiansen sampled the field recording into the organ music from "Eurasienstab." He gave this composition subsequently the title 'Requiem of Art Fluxorum Organum II Opus 50'. That means a requiem for the role of art in the 1960s." Ursula Reuter Christiansen, Møn, Denmark 10.20.2015
'Op. 50 Requiem Of Art (Aus "Celtic") Fluxorum Organum II' was first issued in 1973 by Edition Schellmann alongside ‘Schottische Symphonie’ with Joseph Beuys (Beuys* / Christiansen* - Schottische Symphonie / Requiem Of Art). With the full cooperation of the Henning Christiansen estate, Penultimate Press is proud to present the authoritative version of one of Christiansen’s greatest works.
Henning Christiansen – Op.50: Requiem of Art (Aus “Celtic”) Fluxorum Organum II
MP Hopkins has established himself as a formidable presence in the experimental circuit courtesy of a diverse range of projects including Naked on the Vague's debased rock, Half High's blurred dreams and Four Doors' take on techno. This is Hopkins' second solo effort, originally issued as a micro edition self released CDR. 'Vent' proposes a Frankenstein assemblage of the awry ambience heard on the recently acclaimed 'Nocturnes' LP merged with a more extreme take on the ketamine indie crossover of his earlier outfit, Vincent Over The Sink. Side A features four transcendental propositions bathing in perverse transitions, inhuman vocals and a singular audio perspective where spacious room recordings weave amongst crude studies in direct input. Side B extends the dichotomy of grit and beauty into more spacious planes as the hovering grace of the side long 'Wobbly Study' is interrupted by melodies at the point where melody is visited by sound. 'Vent' is a unique exhumation of sonics and song, the ambient and the uncanny.
1. Platescrape / Rhydg - 4:542. Mangman / Chrspk - 4:113. Stpn.pnjowl - 3:054. C/m.hxf/b - 5:185. Wobbly Study With Broken Breaths - 18:02
Mp Hopkins – Vent
Matthew P. Hopkins second full length release for Penultimate Press presents a curious and compelling listen which harnesses his deeply personal and paranoid vision into the ultimate beauty/horror object.
Over the last decade Hopkins has distinguished himself as master of multiple musical forms including bent song, freeform concrete, improvised electronics and techno. Under his own name he has produced a most singular take on abstracted voice, feedback, field recordings and found sounds.
With Blue-Lit Half Breath Hopkins furthers his domestic enquiry into subconscious sounds with a series of vignettes that hover from hissing clunk, atmospheric creep to improvised piano refrains. Amongst all this the voice of Hopkins appears throughout as a shadowy narrator delightfully disturbing the sonic play.
Blue-Lit Half Breath is a late night oil burning masterpiece which resides within a zone orbiting it’s own logic.
Mp Hopkins – Blue Lit Half Breath
Having released four full length albums framed around more ‘‘song’ orientated spheres, Melbourne artist Plagne has concurrently moved around collaborative endeavours with Andrew Chalk, Joe Talia and Crys Cole. He was also a part of that Food Court record released on Graham Lambkin’s Kye label in 2014. Which brings us to Moss Trumpet - Plagne’s first solo album which exclusively orbits a more abstract domain. Taking inspiration from Costin Miereanu’s Luna Cinese this gentle curiosity records the private use of flute, harmonium, keyboards, microphones, organ, paper, percussion, recorder, synthesizer, tapes, tuba, voice, whistle and zither. Like Miereanu’s master stroke these recordings were then collated in semi-random layers creating shifting beds of subtle startling sound.
Moss Trumpet is a timeless affair, warm and woozy as if it is drifting over two sides where each could be either, where the audio perpetually falls in on itself creating a bed of sound inexplicably eschewing standard movement and progression as it unfolds out and around the listener.
Artwork by John Nixon. Mastered by Joe Talia.
Francis Plagne – Moss Trumpet
Melbourne based artist Arek Gulbenkoglu presents his second full length album for Penultimate Press. Following on from the 2017 release Three days afterwards, A gift like a hollow vessel sees a sharper scalpel at play resulting in a more nuanced release which unfolds a curious journey of suburban psychedelia. Sourced from voice and body sounds, recording of non-musical processes, actions and events, breath, tapes of animal sounds slowed and sped up, processed field recordings, electronics, percussion, tape delay, sample of old folkways records and Esperanto text to voice translations. A gift like a hollow vessel is striking and intimate musique concrete. A work of confounding beauty as created by one of the most unique voices operating in orbit of psychedelic music as it presents itself today.
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. Artwork by Matthew Revert
1. A gift like a hollow vessel - 19:24
2. A gift like a hollow vessel - 16:04
Arek Gulbenkoglu – A gift like a hollow vessel
Debut recording from two troubadours of oppositional creep. Inspired by Philip K. Dick and the useless machines that haunt us all, Disfigured with Abbreviations is a roundtable exquisite corpse which crawls through a miraculous environment, at once sensual and sinister. How is it that the perpetual promise of a future lands us in a deeper quagmire? How do two gentlemen with scruffy vocabularies fall into a sonic landscape of such haunted beauty?
Following their debut live performance on the rooftop of a bakery in Northcote, Victoria in January 2018 Harwood and Hopkins soon set about making a recording. Initially structured with individual recordings placed on each other regardless of content and positioning. These works soon evolved into a rich labyrinth of found sound, field recordings, electronics and voice with all elements mapping out a landscape heroic in it’s embracing of utter failure.
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi with artwork by MP Hopkins and Mark Harwood.
Mp Hopkins And Mark Harwood – Disfigured with Abbreviations
Three Days Afterwards is the fourth solo release from Arek Gulbenkoglu. Within manifests a disorientating assignment of tones, textures, and voice. Hovering around the key words below there is an unsettling psychedelic music – ripe for this foreboding age:
SicknessRoomsFM synthesisThe fickleObjectsRitualsArmeniaVibrationsThe inconsequentialThree days afterwardsArek Gulbenkoglu
Mastered by Joe Talia. Artwork concept by Arek Gulbenkoglu; Layout by Matthew Revert.
Arek Gulbenkoglu – Three days afterwards
Conceived whilst wandering through the iron bark forests and gold fields of country Victoria the official debut by Melbourne’s Hour House gifts a musical blueprint marinated in mystery, beauty, sound and song. Hour House is the Melbourne based duo of Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna, formerly of the Newcastle based outfit Castings. Penultimate Press is proud to release their official debut LP Chiltern. Comprised of individual tracks folded into two side long suites Chiltern is an unique excursion through foreign encounters, warm surrounds and disorientating comfort. Field recordings, electronics, samples, guitars, voice and atmospherics all contribute to form a bewitching whole.Many questions are raised: Is this a soundtrack to a mental experience or an altered take on a familiar reality? Is section 3 based around the sound of a basketball court? Does section 4 comprise a song? Where do the original soviet science fiction soundtracks fit into all this? Is this sound or music? Simultaneously ambiguous and accessible Chiltern is a ride unlike another and resides as the consciousness tickling release of 2015.
Mastered by Jason Lescalleet at Glistening Labs, and with stunning artwork by Alice Wormald.
Hour House – Chiltern
Vang Circular is the first outing from Timo van Luijk (La Scie Dorée, Af Ursin, Elodie) and Mark Harwood (Penultimate Press, Astor). Employing vibes, mellotron, natural reader, an iron ant, synth, metal pipes, slide guitar, and a double bass, these audacious souls conjure a wonky musical vision that gently peels away the familiar. The results are a surprising synthesis of the two individuals somewhat oppositional agendas. From the farthest reaches of the galaxy to the highest celestial plane, the core of this haunted and bewitching release exists as a spectre at the edge of time. Recorded over a weekend at Kulta Saha studio, Belgium in the summer of 2017.
1. Alone 4:522. Armenia - 5:283. Myopia - 2:054. SXDF-NB1006-2 - 7:36 5. Peake Haus - 5:546. Crystal Shuffle - 13:24
Timo Van Luijk & Mark Harwood – Vang Circular
Mark Harwood‘s third album under his Astor moniker slips away from the obtuse atmospheres and concrete field recordings of Alcor and Inland (released on Graham Lambkin‘s KKY label in 2012 and 2013 respectively). Lina in Nidasits more in a melodic electronic framework covering a wide range of sonic and emotional states.
“The East” initiates proceedings as a proposed anthem for Britain during a potential invasion by ISIS. Things soon move into the uncomfortably claustrophobic “The Landowners,” where an oblique narrative by Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu spirals into a blurred fantasy of musical roads, nocturnal wanderings, and entrapment under floorboards. The B-side relocates itself further out as “They Cling to Each Other” hovers over uncharted ketamine lows while “The Sleepwalkers” lurches around a spider-like environment. “Amusement” tackles a cosmic music, but one that hurtles itself far beyond the outer regions of the cosmos, while “5:00am” contains within the greatest sound known to mankind. As a further shift from reason, Lina in Nida is a thrilling expose of intense atmospheres, emotional states, and ecstatic physics.
Astor – Lina in Nida