Undecisive God is the recently retired recording moniker of Shame File Records impresario Clinton Green. For many years, the guitar was the mainstay of releases from Undecisive God, as Clinton beguiled and tortured six strings into a complex array of noises, some soothing, some unsettling. Since 2007, prepared turntables have slowly replaced the guitar as the predominant tool by which Clinton has explored his sonic territory. Logically continuing the process started on Duos for Guitar and Broken Records, RPMs 3-4 is the third Undecisive God release to work exclusively with cracked shards of vinyl, nails utilised in place of stylus and an irreverent experimental ethos that links into the rest of Green’ work and that of his Shame File label.
“Rpms 3 x 3′ kicks off proceedings with an astute grasp of the dynamics of the turntable medium; harsh, grating and repetitive, it’s like being locked in an eternal battle between splinters of your grandmother’ music collection versus the misanthropic agenda of earlier Undecisive God, Kevin Drumm or Otomo Yoshihide’ turntable work. “Turntables are Wrong’ outlines just that; an overdriven mass of spluttering vinyl summons forth a dark pulsating heaviness that power electronics or noise practitioners would be envious of. The only non-turntable piece on RPMs 3-4, “Summer holiday 2010-11′ soothes the ears with the thundering peel of the Australian coast, before “RPMs 4′ takes the listener on an epic journey. It’s like being stuck on a clattering underground train with competing vocal companions, as trotting percussive rumbles and Warner Brothers-esque sound bites fight and repulse. Towards the conclusion of the piece, a subtle, almost ambient, passage soothes the frayed nerves, like a less opaque and histrionic antipodean take on Phillip Jeck, just with shards of vinyl rather than manufactured nostalgia from an array of dusty Dansette record players.
As a nation, Australia has a profound and diverse array of labels, individuals and networks of experimentally minded artists working on the peripheries of contemporary music. Shame File was the label behind the two remarkable volumes in the Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music series, plus the digital reissuing of the NMA Tapes, the Ernie Althoff Tape Archive and the formative sound experiments of Jack Ellitt, Arthur Cantrill, and a broad selection of artists active over the past decade. Whilst I have an intellectual appreciation of the processes at work behind the sounds contained on RPMs 3-4, after prolonged audio exposure at home, a headache and an ontological crisis of being emerged for me from this latest iteration of Undecisve God.
I recently interviewed Clinton Green on Community Radio station RTR, when he was visiting Perth during a week of 38 to 42 degree days. You can restream that conversation here.