Tense Men - Ideal Meals

Self-released | Digital | 16 tracks | Download
Released November 24, 2018

State Your Intent 02:05
The Threat 02:35
Fool's Philosophy 01:50
Beyond The Pale 02:28
No Logical 02:08
Fresh Hate 01:55
False Dawn 02:55
Departure Curve 04:42
The Art Of Poise 04:03
Character Crash 02:20
Real Person 03:45
Memory Forms 03:01
Bitter Clutch 04:28
Counterpoint 02:08
Lateral Declivities 03:01
Low Plateau 03:24

We spent a year or something writing a load of songs as a three piece, then spent a few months recording them on Richard's 4-track. We didn't know what they would be but just started trying to capture them. The process was flawed and disorganised, we lost recordings, tapes went missing, we recorded over things, had to re-record things, found songs again, was it the right take? Lost the entire album in the cloud. We persevered and it got very close to being finished many, many times, it has taken many forms, tracks got dropped, brought back, it has sounded many different ways and at some point it disappeared... too many songs? shouldn't have done it ourselves? No-one to tell us it was a doomed endeavour? We remained friends but also at some point stopped being a band. A few months ago this thing got resurrected, finally figured out how to mix it, mastered it, amazingly we were all happy. Found some photographs from the recording process and here we have TENSE MEN'S IDEAL MEALS. Enjoy mates.

Music recorded live on to a Yamaha 4-track in 2014/15
Vocals & overdubs done on the computer.
Mixed and mastered by Richard Phoenix 2015/18
Photos and Bass by Liam O'Neill
Text, Guitar and Vocals by Oliver Fisher
Layout and Drums by Richard Phoenix
All songs by Tense Men, lyrics by Oliver

Sauna Youth - Deaths

UTR103 | CD / LP / Digital | 12 tracks | Buy
Released 7 September 2018 

Percentages 01:23
Unreal City 02:21
Distracted 03:11
In Flux 01:56
Problems 02:22
No Personal Space 02:02
The Patio 01:39
Leisure Time 02:24
Veiled Critique 02:03
Laura 02:56
Swerve 02:02
Theatre 83 03:06

The final part in a trilogy of LPs that started with Dreamlands in 2012 (wide-eyed, naive beginnings introducing listeners to the world the records inhabit), followed by Distractions three years ago (what happens while you're heading towards a destination, the unknowns, the unexpected outcomes), the songs that comprise Deaths are collectively about the act of finishing, an ode to 'the ending'.

Creating this album was a working research project embodying what is sometimes the hardest part of musical endeavour: completing a record. Making a new album is always daunting, but when all band members also have full-time jobs and other commitments it can also seem logistically impossible. Then there is the nagging, unattainable perfectionism that can draw out a record for months or even years - an experience that didn't bear repeating. When is something finished? Is finishing necessary to move on?

The album was created and facilitated through a series of deadlines. The recording studio was booked before any songs had been written. Having a deadline in advance allowed for productive freedom through limitation and finite time: five months to write the album, that was it. This meant meeting every week to write no matter how many members could make it, filling in on each other's instruments (reminiscent of how side-project Monotony came about: writer's block in a Sauna Youth practice - removing yourself from your role in a band removes the old expectations) and using automatic writing processes.

The limited time didn't allow for much reflection and overworking. Placeholders became final tracks through committing to songs at early stages, keeping them immediate. The album is site and time specific - those months in an archway in Peckham, which live on through samples including amp interference from trains passing overhead. It's also very much of this specific point in history, influences, and band members' lives. This process created a tension through trusting decisions and not questioning what was produced.

The 12 tracks touch on political rhetoric, artistic legacy, action and passivity, work and leisure, and, of course, distraction, referencing many musical genres in the process while never leaving punk's orbit. Creative living becomes more gruelling and endless than the 9 to 5 on 'Leisure Time', how freelance living and having multiple jobs both result in no free time. Being in a band is leisure time, but can be a lot of work. Our lives should afford us with time, but we fill it with activity.

'No Personal Space' looks at the cyclical nature of music, referencing 'New Rose' - the first single by a British punk band - via a drumbeat and lyrics, exploring the enclosure of the genre; a blown out recording of practising constantly interrupts the band. 'Percentages' was written at a point of political and social upheaval and problematizes the use of numbers as a form of proof. Whole groups of people have been reduced to statistics for political reasons, and people use and manipulate statistics to prove any point they want. 'In Flux' is about whatever is opposite to creativity, what kills it dead, the communication of a song or a piece of art can kill it, even trying to see an idea through to its conclusion can be what kills it.

The pure pop number 'Laura', according to Jonah Falco who mixed the record, sounds like "The Desperate Bicycles went to graduate school in the fields of Salisbury while being yelled at by two sides of their conscience, oddly enough, telling them the exact same thing." 'Problems' - a former Monotony song - reduces the punk song to its essential elements, aiming to sound like being inside a brake factory and repeating 'Problems' until it has rendered the word completely meaningless. The album ends with a wild and playful rejection of patriarchy and a frustration with those who uphold it either willingly or through inaction in the form of the unhinged Theatre 83. It's like English music hall meets 'We're A Happy Family' by The Ramones.

Like the previous two albums, Deaths includes writing put to music. 'Swerve' and 'The Patio' are extracts from a short story written by band member Ecke about the murder of an artist whose estate is overseen by her ambitious sister, and is read by writer and frontperson of Marcel Wave, Maike Hale-Jones. Samples are as important as they ever were - this time including the aforementioned electrical interference, recordings of practice and YouTube videos of lawnmowers and cafe noise that people (including members of the band) listen to while working to distract their mind in order to focus.

An album once finished is frozen in time, solid and no longer resistent or adaptive to outside forces. Does the difficulty to find an end come from the genre, from punk's revisionist impulse, redoing the same thing over and over? Do we avoid an ending because playing in a band is a distraction from everyday life?

Child’s Pose - S/T 7”

  1. Feral 02:11
  2. Psyclone Town 02:02
  3. Caroline 02:10
  4. CCMMD 02:20

It's break time and alumni of Sauna Youth, Nekra, Sarcasm, Woolf and a hundred other top set London groups have tied their laces together just to feel a feeling. Falling into each other, these elements together make a truly delightful heap. This is Childs Pose's debut single, four class-clown chants of caustic, affecting pop that blend elastic snark with darker energies. While you'll hear all the best sonic trademarks from each member's other efforts, this still feels new, like a fully-realised curriculum of dynamic, surprising, stop-start punk rock. There's a manic rush of hopeful, delayed gratification and in these songs, like drawing a smiley face on a cracked egg full of soil and seeds. Check in every day. Yes, you're getting warmer. You're feeling better.
- Bryony Beynon

Released March 28, 2018

Child's Pose is: Kai, Oli, Richard & Sop
Art by Sop
Recorded by Richard Phoenix at Queens Road Peckham Arch
Mastered by Daniel Husayn

Available here.

Lilac - Arch

  1. Arch 05:50
  2. Piano Machine #1 01:42
  3. Vitte 02:14
  4. Vica 01:46
  5. Ettiv 02:42
  6. Piano Machine #2.5 00:43
  7. Deaths 09:10

'Lilac soundtracks the twelfth gateway into Nervous Energy's aural transmission with a collection of graceful audio arrangements. "Arch" presents drones which sway in and out of time with the urban algorithm; dipping and diving aside harsh dynamics and tender interludes. Lilac's piano tracks tease the mind into analysis of their compositional formations, riding a fine line between generative structuring and masterful improv. This collection crafts a hybrid palette of scenic situations through the diversity of its sonic narrative."Arch" and "Deaths" signpost the front and rear of its ineffable acoustic architecture, marking the beginning and end through their semantic and audible polarities. The tape is a blissful peep hole into the musical workings of Richard Phoenix's diverse artistic practice.'
- Louis

Released February 2, 2018

Recorded by Richard Phoenix in 2017 in Peckham & Brixton
Artwork by Ben Connors
Nervous Energy 012

Available here.

Lilac - Helix

1. escape 03:45 (video)
2. Frankfurt Rhythm 02:43
3. Now That U 05:49
4. Routine For Better Living 01:14 (video)
5. upstairs 03:46
6. Midi Music 01:43
7. Glass 05:24

Improvisations with keyboard and sampler. Summer 2016.

Released March 6, 2017
Edition of 20 individually hand-made cassettes.
Available here.