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THE NEWT HOUNDS / HISTORY

Alan Freeman, Steve Freeman
special experimental Dada project, dedicated to Nurse With Wound


Originally conceived and kept on the back-burner since the early 1990s, and then years in the planning stages, the idea of The Newt Hounds was always destined to be something very different, something really special. As a weirdo homage to the great old inspirational works of Nurse With Wound (the name was taken from a Nurse With Wound T-shirt), it is also a surreal musical twist on the art of B. Kliban. The art of satirical cartoonist Kliban features strongly as an influence in the Diana Rogerson era of Nurse With Wound, her famous words "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head" being the title of a brilliant Kliban book. So, "The Poignant Device" can be seen as the spiritual son/cousin (once removed) heir to "Sylvie & Babs" and "Cooloorta Moon" era Nurse With Wound, whilst it is also a pioneering explorative album in its own right.

This eccentric mix of Dada and twisted rock forms is sure to be a winner. As the Tachyon Studio grew technically (during Endgame sessions), the equipment needed to create complex digital cut & paste, and the capability to layer, mix and record it all, came together. During intensive sessions, either blurry eyed at the computer, or there with turntables, guitars and loops all ready to roll! It was a long immersion into a different world, tweaked, reconstructed and refined until it was just right. Getting together the concepts, the poetry, the Dadaist eccentricity, all took time. The results are an album that is witty, eccentric, totally tongue-in-cheek, yet also rivetingly startling.

The brainchild of Tachyon Studio brothers Alan & Steve Freeman (from Alto Stratus and Endgame) The Newt Hounds' debut covers a lot of ground, from the totally potty, via pure avant-garde through to psychedelic rock and other realms, and features guest appearances from Shapeshifter and Volcano The Bear members.

Newt Hounds debut press release...

The Newt Hounds is a fictional group, a fancy, a concept that has no easy to define rules. The people behind it are the brothers Alan (that's me writing this) & Steve Freeman (from Leicester, England) long-time explorers and experimenters in the world of weird and different musics, working in the bands Alto Stratus, ZBB and the currently very prolific Endgame; also publishers of Audion magazine, the acclaimed Krautrock encyclopedia "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg", and owners of the specialist music retail outlet Ultima Thule.

Early history

Telling the story of the Newt Hounds isn't easy. It's hard to say where it all began. Maybe the first ideas were born when we met Nurse With Wound's Steve Stapleton in 1979, just a few months before their debut album "Chance Meeting..." was released. That day we heard the test pressing along with the three "Nurses" and were also introduced to The Residents and Xhol's "Motherf#@kers...", and found that we had a lot of musical taste in common.
    I know that, as we had already dabbled a little with primitive feedback electronics and tape collage, we were inspired to try further musical explorations ourselves. As we didn't have the finances or resources to release an LP, our own early experiments only appeared as self produced cassettes. One such release included a work titled "A Wounded Nurse On Freeman's Common" as a dedication to our mentor. The rest of the story from this era can found in the CD inserts of the CDR series "Auricle Archive".

What is a Newt Hound?

That would be telling! And "The Poignant Device"? Well, that's open to interpretation! You'll have to hear the album to suss that out. I guess you'd really like to know how it all came about, when the idea of The Newt Hounds began, and such-like? Well, on those matters I can help...
    We'd always wanted to do a proper Nurse With Wound dedication, but we never had a definitive idea to work to. NWW's EP "Alas The Madonna Does Not Function" and "A Sucked Orange" both saw a cross-pollination of eccentric/descriptive music bearing references to the art of the surreal/black-humour cartoonist B. Kliban. Nigel Harris, the third member of our band ZBB, managed to get us a copy of the B. Kliban book "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head" and we were hooked. Much later Nurse With Wound published a bizarre T-shirt bearing the words "The Newt Hounds?" and so the whole concept came together.

Surrealist Dada?

"The Poignant Device" is not just a Nurse With Wound dedication, nor is it a parody. We say on the cover...

"Could this be an irreverent homage to Nurse With Wound…
...or is it a Dadaist/surreal musical vision of the world of B. Kliban?"


It is "irreverent" in that it dares to explore influences behind the music, with references as wide ranging as Stockhausen and Whitehouse, Pierre Henry and Lady June, it also dares to mix surrealist humour and counterpoint rock with noise, psychedelia with pure sonic art. It is "Dada" in almost every aspect imaginable. And, "surreal"? There's a lot of weird dream imagery in there, and hidden messages for you to work out. Yes, definitely surreal. So much so, it still perplexes me!

Some of the music was performed live with such instruments as guitars, turntables, percussion, analogue synthesizers (with guest violin and drums by two members of Volcano The Bear), reconstructed and layered in our own studio (you can hear 4 Nick Mott's on "How They Get Watermelon"). Many of the layered elements and shorter tracks were created using musique concrete techniques, made with painstakingly fiddly digital "cut & paste" using a humble home PC. It's all pretty much a studio creation, with up to a dozen "Newt Hounds" in performance on some numbers!

Frank Zappa once said "Does humour belong in music?" to which he knew the answer all too well - of course it does. All the more so surreal humour, especially so humour in sound, art and drama, not only verbal. The Newt Hounds attempt to combine it all, to startle, surprise, and tickle that funny bone...

Discography...

THE NEWT HOUNDS present THE POIGNANT DEVICE - CD Ultimate Transmissions UTCD 008 (2001)
THE NEWT HOUNDS present LOOSE NUTS - CDR Auricle AMCDR 090 (2007) 99 track album

The Newt Hounds also feature on this download sampler...
A FEW ELECTROACOUSTIC MUSIQUE-CONCRETE SOUND-COLLAGE RELEASES FROM AURICLE - DL Auricle (2018) tracks: Loose Nuts - The First 6 Tracks

The Newt Hounds review in Audion - #53/36

The Newt Hounds on radio...
"Wit Who Runs Nude" in Clive Graham's "Sound Poets Exposed" show on Resonance FM, 27 November 2005

 

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