Review: C N U S Tape Release, with Ocean Charter of Values & Vulva Culture

Category: music 284

November 7, 2015 | Plan B | Halifax

By Sophia Bartholomew
Ocean Charter of Values Photo by Deborah Hemming
Ocean Charter of Values | Photo: Deborah Hemming @deborah_hemming

OCEAN CHARTER OF VALUES “All of the good bands are up next,” Nick Laugher says, and it makes me feel badly for standing out here in the store listening. It’s a nice way to listen, though: pawing through silk shirts and wool coats and high-waisted denim. It gives me something to do with my hands, making it easier to concentrate on the sounds and on the words that he’s been forming in the other room. This is his new project: a guitar and a voice and a drummer, a friend (Cameron Hall). These are circular sounds he’s been making, and so I think about the rhythms of a life lived with cigarettes, and I feel the lilt of stumbling footsteps. “Sorry for the things that I said,” he sings. Slow and nautical like the name.

Here we are again, swimming inside of another cavernous sound check. People are making islands, floating. People are loitering inside, outside, around. There’s darkness, near-darkness, half-light, and spot-light. There’s no bar at the show, but someone’s set up some chairs for the audience to sit on and it feels quite cozy in here, sheltered from the steady rain outside. It’s damp, humid, something awful.

“We’re gonna start in five minutes, does that sound good?” (Laughter.)

C N U S starts with Union Suit. His body wriggles, tilts, and then the mic stand tilts, and then… they’re holding each other up, building an amplified body instrument with big gulping breaths, and words shrouded in looping sounds that swell large and crumble away, endless, endless.

With all of the fish in the ocean, it’s easy to get lost. Low tones, low light. Things slow moving, depth sounding, sinking. Schools of small fish dart around near the surface of the water: sunlight streams through, blue, as the camera pans upward, looking through them toward the sun and the sky. He is making low sounds that shake in that hollow space between my two shoulders. Click on, click off. Click on, click off. “Okay, next one.”

This one doesn’t feel like an ocean. I’m sitting with my back against a cabin or a barn, looking out over a field, down off the hillside: watching the world stretch out, stretch on and on. Watching the world stretch. Wooden shingles, peeling paint, weeds in the cracks. Some of these are my own pictures, and some of them are from movies and educational segments: ocean ecosystems, multiculturalism, the Swiss Alps, and the desert, somewhere. It always so much less clear where the desert was, and I wonder why. (This one’s a love song.)

Where Union Suit keeps his voice buried inside of other sounds, Cedric Noel’s words sit on top of everything, strong and pleading, and it makes a strange body, these two song-makers grafted together: Cedric Noel Union Suit. A single lamp casts strong shadows, and there’s full light, store light pressing in through two doorways. Price tags, textures, dusty smells from antique things: the sounds they make move backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, mapping out forebodingly big spaces.

“Don’t fall immediately… Don’t fall repeatedly…” he sings. (You think about everything you could have been and you aren’t.) I think about being the smell of perfume and a pencil skirt, taking photographs toward some unknown end. Keeping things, playing them back: growing and decaying, altering course, stopping, starting, stopping. This is the accumulation of my life, my days: marking the passing of time by sending and receiving sound energy. “All through the mountains and all through the trees… All through the oceans and all through the waters…” (Silence.)

“Thank you.” (Clapping.)

VULVA CULTURE Amy Vinnedge brings it in quietly with her voice and her guitar, sings one song all alone, and tells us that it’s something about legs, though it’s hard to catch the shape of each word as she lays her voice down through heavily textured channels. A rubbing, a grating, a pressing noise. This singing and the low lines of Hannah Guinan’s bass build out the big shapes of the songs, while Kayla Stevens’ guitar and Bianca Palmer’s drums draw in something frenetic and intricate, dancing along the top, and pinning everything down near the bottom, respectively. “Sometimes you get sick of all the silence,” he said. The same thing said again and again: differently, the same thing, again and again. Plucking noises. When? (When what?) “This last song’s called LSD,” she says, and the song is another big, full thing, but I feel disappointed about such an obvious title.

(Clapping.) Wonderful.

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