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
Newt Hounds debut press release...
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.
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
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.
"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...