With tremendous excitement we can announce that HammerOn’s next release will be a split vinyl record, Believe in Hell/280418 by Bristol-based bands bellies! and EP/64.
bellies! are Nat (guitar/vocals) and D-M (drums/vocals). They have been writing and performing together since 2010.
bellies!’s music is a life-baked concoction. Formed in a do it yourself habitus, injected with the energy of free improvisation, the duo create imperfectly formed melodic song shocks, replete with hooks and eyes.
Believe in Hell evokes the atmosphere of Brechtian political opera, the vocal pointillism of Meredith Monk and the pop-post-punk sensibilities of 80s Bananarama. The songs draw inspiration from the horrors of the present and the mistakes of the past, probing the edges of where the future could be different with reference to the psycho-philosophies of Jane Arden and feminist histories of technology.
EP/64 create improvised performances that incite audiences to feel, move and invent.
Started by vocalist Dali de St Paul (HARRGA, Viridian Ensemble and DSC) in 2016, the project features different musicians and artists – mostly drawn from Bristol’s experimental arts and improvised music scenes – who unleash frenzied incantations and rhythmic mutations into the world.
EP/64 – Ephemeral Project 64 – will perform 64 times and then stop.
280418 was improvised at Juke Box Studios, Bristol and features Dali performing with drummer Dan Johnson of MARCY and Run Logan Run, her primary collaborator on the project.
EP/64 – ‘280418 [extract]’
The artwork and the engineering
Believe in Hell/280418 comes in heavyweight vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with artwork from Melanie Clifford and Laura Phillips who are both members of Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film (BEEF) collective.
Believe in Hell and 280418 were engineered, produced and mixed by Annie Gardiner (Hysterical Injury/MARCY), whose previous production credits include MXLX, Towel and Nervous Energy Records.
bellies! – Believe in Hell (12.52 secs)
- Believe in Hell
- Herbaceous Border
- Amy’s Blow Out Car
- Marie Told Us
- You Don’t Know What You Want, Do You?
EP/64 – 28042018 (15.11 secs)
‘these Bristol-based outfits’ respective debut vinyl appearances showcas[e] their invention, instrumental nous and self-sufficient spirit over half a vital hour. Bellies!, a guitar-drums duo of Nat Brown and D-M Withers, released their first cassette in 2010, and if the intervening years have certainly refined their practice, the approach seems essentially unchanged. Minimalist through choice before necessity, Brown plays riffs, sure, but nearly every sound on their side functions first as a rhythm. When the duo harmonise “HA-HA”s during ‘Marie Told Us’, a song inspired by Marie Hicks’ book Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists And Lost Its Edge In Computing, it hits with the bluntness of an otherwise absent bassline. What comparisons I’ve previously pondered regarding Bellies!, such as Deerhoof (certainly recalled in the guitar on ‘Herbaceous Border’) and The Ex, are now joined by Uzeda and Trash Kit: as rock-not-rock goes, these five bands make a stellar canon-not-canon.
On the flip, a 15-minute improvisation by EP/64, whose ever-changing lineup has Dali de St Paul as its sole constant, and is here augmented by Dan Johnson of neato punky jazzers Run Logan Run. His drumming, subtle in its progression towards to front and centre, spars with De St Paul’s distorted vocal loops and electronic distress signals, screams to near-silence seven minutes in and then reverses round the whole course. A sonic challenge, but not remotely dry or academic.’
‘If you’ve ever wanted to explore Bristol’s ever-fertile musical underground then Believe in Hell/ 28042018, a joint venture by two of the city’s most intriguing acts, could prove to be an excellent starting point. […]
Fronted by vocalist Dali de St Paul, EP/64 is a living, breathing musical experiment. The plan is simple; EP/64 (or the Ephemeral Project 64) formed in 2016 and will perform 64 times. Their music is wild, improvised and constantly changing. A strange, somewhat alien and disconcerting loop leads the way. Drums are introduced and the ritualistic, hypnotic nature of the piece is revealed. Without sounding like them the music here manages to recall the distorted, discombobulating soundscapes of Throbbing Gristle. An unintelligible voice fights to be heard as the noises are layered on top of each other, the drums providing a sense of forward motion to the unfolding chaos. The dial is firmly set to uneasy listening but I can’t help going back for more. […] The two pieces here present us with a sonic collage and a glimpse into an interesting, ongoing, creative process.
bellies! present us with something entirely different. Where 28042018 centres around pedals, loops, drums, and electronica, Believe in Hell communicates through drums, vocals and guitar. Natalie J Brown and D-M Withers have been making inventive noise together since 2010 and on their side of this split release offer up 6 twisted and arrestingly powerful slices of post-punk.
The recordings are sparse in their arrangements, letting the vocals and lyrics come through loud and clear. “Conversation is predictable” sings Brown “conversation with the same rules”. Thankfully, there’s nothing predictable about bellies! Like all the best post-punk the band seems to take great pride in catching you off guard.
The brief yet brilliant title track begins with some mesmerising, surprisingly soothing, vocals before descending into mclusky-esque noise-rock. Most of the songs last around 2 minutes and it’s impressive to hear just how many ideas they can fit in. A real sense of fun and creativity filters through every track. Taking feminism and the “horrors of the present” as its inspiration Believe in Hell is a short yet incredibly focussed mission statement. bellies! are expecting war but have come prepared. Just under 15 minutes of anger, intelligence and inventiveness.’
Believe in Hell/280418 is also stocked in WANTED records (St Nicks Market), Specialist Subject Records and Rough Trade, Bristol. Want to stock the record in your shop or distro? Get in touch to discuss.