The Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone show has been running on NTS for around three years now; a platform for the musical outer limits run by artist and musician Graham Dunning. The show is fortnightly and is basically the breakfast show for every other Friday (noise in your cornflakes?).Dunning is a sound artist who is gaining a lot of recognition of late. His exploration of the turntable-as-instrument involves solo gigs, where he creates techno from a layered cake of record players, contact mics and an array of clamps that would not be out of place in a science lab, or in collaboration with others, such as his excellent improv work with saxophonist Colin Webster, where they emit restless bursts and splutters with a minimal setup. The guy is out there working rapidly towards a ‘veteran’ status (despite being a mere 32 years of age) and is certainly a ‘face’ on the London improv and noise ‘scene’; which holds him in good stead to host a show where noise music and sound art rub shoulders on a regular basis.
Fractal Meat Cuts Volume 1, released on the Adaadat label, is a collection of performances for the show that have been played live in the NTS studio by Fractal Meaty guests, as well as at a concert at Bethnal Green’s Apiary Studios, and offers a variety of cuts from mostly London-based artists who traverse the diverse noise scene. This compilation is pretty varied, and there is something for everyone; provided that everyone likes their music on the experimental side.Shelley Parker brings us techno-concrète with “Apiary,” all muffled 4×4 kicks and percussive clicks, hinting at what used to be called the “house sound of Detroit.” This is techno whitewashed and bleached. Artist Tom White’s “Untitled” (an incredibly common title on this collection) is a frisky piece that sounds like he’s rolling around on the floor with squeaky toys, baby rattles and a turntable; a playful track that is matched by the almost slapstick “Cascade” by Cullilt. Ryan Jordan, a man who has been known to conjure sounds from the static on a television set, along with hosting the excellent Noise=Noise nights in east London, gets the speakers buzzing with a short but tough number. Thibault Autheman (The Dead Arms) offers some malnourished electro-as-sci-fi-soundtrack, where a throbbing synth is offset with a high-pitched tone.
There’s a field-recording by Leslie Deere, noise plus vocals from Flange Zoo and hostile electronics twinned with spoken text from Uru Ana. Adaadat head-honcho Bjørn Hatleskog delivers queasy, throbbing electronics under his Romvelope moniker. Cult mystics AAS have a particularly lovely track on here called “Chiming (Excerpt),” where woody thuds played on a bodhran propel a gorgeous collection of, well, chimes. It’s a real shame that the AAS track is just an excerpt and really gets one yearning to hear the rest of the session. “Untitled” by Jo Thomas is all gurgles and growling electric sound, before skittering drum patterns and warped vocal samples work their way in; teasing the listener with some electronica before the piece dissolves into abstract sound once again. A great piece!Mark & Sal’s Thoughtography present the listener with yet another untitled piece which gets down and dirty and sounds like they have dragged their microphones into the sewers, where we can hear rattling chains and animal snarls. Stereocillia, also with an untitled number, provide dubby Americana, like John Fahey in an echo chamber. San Francisco-based composer, playwright, and performer Jess Rowland presents a minimal piece with clicking percussion and lilting flute that sounds slightly odd in amongst the rest of the material here.
This collection is a great introduction into what listeners to Dunning’s show can expect, and will hopefully encourage people to tune in, along with seeking out more work from the assorted performers. Here’s looking forward to Volume 2.