blue thirty-one: Thank You, Merciless Onlookers / Helen and Gavin


Pro-dubbed C40 with full-body printing and printed O-card

Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records has put out some of the best small-run releases of the past seven years – that’s just a fact. However, this release is not one of them.

But that’s OK. For a while we might have aspired to be – and accidentally became, for a bit anyway – imperiously cool. There were the mainstream radio shows, the guest curating cool festivals, the fancy-pants style mags. But maybe it’s now the time to give up on cool. Be smaller, stranger, and just for us.

So, what I love most about this release is how cosy and warm and familial it is. The a-side is a live recording of my own set at our lovely Blue Tapes matinee showcase in 2018 at Café Oto, where my short-lived Thank You, Merciless Onlookers project made its debut, supporting the legend that is Todd Barton. The b-side is a recording I made of an impromptu jam at my girlfriend’s mum’s house, on Christmas Day 2015. Both pieces are built around the reedy, meditative drones of the same harmonium.

The TYMO piece, The Sea Is Half A Rothko That The Sky Crushes On, is like a spell, or a magic trick, or a time machine cobbled together out of bits of scrap cardboard and tape. It is a set of ritualised movements across harmonium, glockenspiel and piano that are fed back into the performance at strategic points by a hallucinating laptop. Set to a backdrop of glitchy generative rain-sound, when the forcefield of FX-treated acoustic sound starts really pushing through it makes me think of flora breaking through soil in timelapse. That, or UFOs.

On the b-side, Helen and Gavin - my girlfriend’s mum and her friend - regale us with a spirited mish-mash of Indian chanting and traditional Sussex carols. It was never meant to be heard by anyone other than us, but like the a-side, for me it’s a beautiful sonic photograph of a special and happy time.

To prevent this from being total self-indulgence, I gave all music from this release to the peerless Angel Marcloid of Fire-Toolz, to turn them into something resembling a record. Angel did an amazing job! I think other people might even like this!