Andrew Liles - Miscellany Deluxe boxset (3 x LP Vinyl-on-Demand)
Boxes are all the rage. Everyone's at it. Re-release stuff in a box with a bit extra stuff to pad it out. They look good on the shelf along with the Carry On DVD boxsets, no? Vinyl-on-Demand have gone all out to fill up that shelf of yours. What with NWW, Vidna Obmana, Portion Control and loads of others, there's a bloody mindedness about them that has to be admired. OK, there is the occasional item you could give a miss but that's a given.
Rather than re-release the old work he's assembled a terrific collection of largely previously unheard tracks which provide an exciting (yes!) re-view of his musical history for this fine anthology. Going back to the earliest work, like 1984's found spoken-word piece 'Find a New Husband (Unabridged),' you can hear that his instinct to turn context on its head and make it something hilarious was there right from the beginning. And then the punchline 'Daphne was unlucky.' Ha!
Tape fun in suburbia. There's nothing like it for capturing the depravity of a boy's bedroom.
So, the box. Sturdy bugger. Very attractive silver box with a purple line drawing and titles. Minimal, clean. The box itself feels weighty and good to touch. That's important.
Open it up. A card announcing it as a numbered edition of 600. Seriously heavy vinyl with seriously sturdy covers. One double LP in a gatefold cover with informative sleeve notes by Liles. The double LP you can buy by itself without the boxset. Also in the box is one single LP which is exclusive to this box set. Oh and there's a t-shirt. Nice Liles artwork (teeth!) but who the hell wants a t-shirt?
The double LP, 'Miscellany Deluxe (Souvenirs Perdus D'Antan)', and the third album, 'Miscellany - Disque Trois', are in the most gorgeous shade of translucent blue vinyl and very well pressed. Since these are early tape experiments the dynamics aren't exactly challenging so they've managed to cram in a hell of a lot of material onto the albums without losing the sound quality.
The tracks were manually made cut-ups. Liles messed with found sounds and 'samples', manually glitching them over and over. Primitive versions of what he still does. Interestingly, even at his most 'out' there's always a lack of harshness or wild abandon. No matter how hard he tries he isn't fucking around, it's always musical.
Also included are the recordings he did under the name 'Lividity.' Not sure which tracks they are unless it's the snippet 'Martyrs of Tragedy' where a crap rock band thud-and-twang away.
It's interesting to hear the subtle evolution of his sound. Rather than coming along in leaps and bounds, he refined the sound; worked on production. As the albums run their course, the sound enlarges, the tone is darker, the comedy more sly. There's a definite point at which he's bought himself a computer and downloaded a copy of Audition.
What's strange is how all the work seems to be part of a definite trajectory. The very first track, 'Bendy Building,' set the tone for his musical career - a children's musical box just that little bit warped, just enough for discomfort.
It's all so distinctly 'Liles.' Even when he's playing a fuzzed guitar it has that strange highly clinical feel to it, like he's putting on a circus magic show rather than engaging with the sound. 'A Show Case for Your Colours' has hints of early Coil about, like a levitating colourful box turned slowly. Lovely.
The third LP, 'Miscellany - Disque Trois', it starts with 'The Width the Girth', an MC-202 style squittering, fuzz guitar and flat drum machine like an off-kilter krautrock. More than any of the other tracks this reveals the difference between playing the track and working with tapes of the track. He's one step removed from the song and, rather like Foetus, uses the studio as an additional instrument; his main instrument. The sounds/instruments used are merely raw material for the work. Play really fucking loud for a rewarding experience. A frustrated rock guitarist lurks in there somewhere. Will someone please by him a Marshall stack for Christmas?
From here on in we're entering dark territory. But you know Liles, you've been expecting it. It's nice the way it ends in an understated fashion.
An excellent boxset both in terms of content and presentation. The most enjoyable and fruitful boxset by anyone in years. HM