Thing of the Day


December 19th 2010

Slate pipe Banjo Draggers

THE SLATE PIPE BANJO DRAGGERS: Prime Bolus Music – (Eaten By Squirrels) Apparently this sixteen minute one track CD is an edited and mastered version of an improvised live set that the interestingly named Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers have been performing around London this year. A sixteen-minute, ever building piece of clever musical construction. 

“i live and work in london

i am a sound artist and audio visual technician

i make sound and video pieces which explore various methods of sound creation and employment

i make music using the name the slate pipe banjo draggers both alone and through collaboration

i make paintings using paint and mixed media”

  So reads Andy Rowe’s (lower-case only, no capitalisation here) website – just typed in Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers and up came Mr Rowe’s page, seems to be his project..
 Hard to work out how much of this improvision is ‘live’.  How many of the spoken words are recorded, who’s doing what, how many of them are there on the stage rather than in a soundbite, what's field noise, recorded state – are those voices live on stage? They sound like field recordings to us – not that it matters here: this is well painted sound, this is good…
“The sixteen minute piece is called Prime Bolus Music and comprises principally of found sounds and field recordings made in London and Sri Lanka during 2010, these sounds have then been mixed with conventional and software instruments” reads the accompanying press release. 

Prime Bolus is an impressive piece of work, a slowly evolving, regenerating piece – tribal electronics, evolving drones woven with spoken word, with announcements, train stations, pulsing drive, ritual organicness, slowly spinning machines, peaking ultra motions… Kind of dark in places, mysterious noises out there on the edges of the piece - layers, repetitive cycles overlapping, interlapping, interloping, layers to peel back, the more you journey with it, the more you hear, the more you discover. 

Peeling mechanical onions for your ears, voice patterns, animal sounds, the sound of silence. Audio weaving – tactile, warm, inviting. Eavesdropping on the 149 to Edmonton Green, my friend said let’s go to a gay club… Scanner.. throbbing of the engine, voices from the deep, motorway city… I can hear the air the air that they breathe through their mouths… blood pumping warmth, tunes wrapped around tunes, drones meeting words, machine organicness getting closer, she gets a bit closer, she sees the room sideways again… she sees his hands in front of her… the beauty of machines, the safety of repetitive mechanicalism, of many voices, bites of conversations, announcements overheard… 

This is excellent actually, locks you into those rhythms, feeds you different bits each time, one great big complete whole of a piece that works so well as one big sound painting, one piece of joined up thinking. "Are you recording me? Are you going to put that on the internet? Stop recording me!" Stick it on repeat, learn the bus route, wait for the kick in that comes about five and a quarter minutes along the journey and just go with the piece and enjoy it on so many levels.. The real art of listening, resonance indeed. – soundart with an excellent tune, a warm tune, an ever evolving ever building tune, a warm texture, a narrative you just don’t tire of, a real piece of thought-out crafted delight. We get a lot of this kind of thing sent in here, most of it comes nowhere near holding our interest and taking it with us like this fine piece does, you can’t help but pay attention…
Out on Italy’s Eaten By Squirrels label as a numbered limited edtion of just forty hard copies, I’m sure it must be available to download as well. Further investigation via

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