Ferial Confine “Meiosis” C60 (1985)

cassette coverThe only release by Ferial Confine to come out in the 1980’s that could be considered to have been available would be this chunk of heavy noise and electronics.  Sounding perhaps indebted to The New Blockaders and Vortex Campaign, people would later look back for this cassette because of TNB’s heavy borrowing of Ferial Confine materials for releases in the 1990’s.  Although it was far from obvious at the time because of the lack of any detail on the cover, and neither Broken Flag nor Ferial Confine including contact details on any releases, Ferial Confine was actually a solo project of Andrew Chalk.  By the time I discovered that these two were the same, I had heard Andrew’s solo track “Thack” on Broken Flag’s “Never Say When” compilation LP which was quite the opposite of this cassette.  As alluded to above, the high pitched noise featured here inhabits a similar territory to early recordings by The New Blockaders which for me was marked by an almost slow motion mass of moving sounds.  Not a harsh wall of noise like so many other Broken Flag releases of the time, there is an almost psychedelic aspect to the sounds of Ferial Confine.  The only thing punishing here really is the extreme frequencies.  The sounds themselves are not on attacking or brutal.  Ferial Confine can almost be seen as a compliment to The New Blockaders, which is perhaps why Richard Rupenus though to combine the materials of both starting with releases such as “The Final Recordings” released on Dom Bartwuchs in 1991 as well as many subsequent releases.  Andrew himself was not particularly satisfied with the results however and asked Gary Mundy to delete “Meiosis” not long after its release.  Being an established label, a number of copies had already reached distribution channels, but it remained one of the more obscure Broken Flag releases.  Not doubt this was also in part due to this project not having released anything else that was easily available, something shared by some of the other artists being released on cassette in those last few years of the first run of Broken Flag – a few years previous to collectors looking back and wanting to amass and discover the label’s entire output.  Because of the above mentioned associations, it did become very sought after later and what copies that were circulated now change hands for good money and are no doubt mixed in with a number of  pirate copies as the Broken Flag cassettes are rather easy to counterfeit (I remember NEds in particular was trading heavily in these in the 1990’s).  In some ways I can see why Andrew would not be as happy with this as it is not quite as solid as the more obscure cassette “The Full Use of Nothing” (an edition of only 50 which was thankfully given a proper LP edition by Fusetron in 1999) or even the archival “First, Second and Third Drop” published on CD by Siren Records in 2008.  There seems to be less unity among the pieces on “Meiosis” contrasting the opening symphony of noises on side A with short pieces of analog electronics or outdoor recordings of a more pastoral nature on the B side in the midst of which was a noisier piece.  Some of this sound simpler, more primitive and less complete.  As a whole the cassette is of its time and stands out for some very strong tracks.  The rest hold their ground as decent and worth listening to in part because of their contrast to what else was de rigueur at the time.  At the time, Ferial Confine stood out for me, at first for the untitled track on the “New Babel” cassette compilation (one of the above mentioned releases with no contact information included) which lead me to seek out this cassette.  Part of this probably was because the pure noise aesthetics of Ramleh, et al were digging into wasn’t appealing to me (that said Ramleh did an amazing about turn right around this time and produced a few godhead releases).  I guess part of this might be what kept Ferial Confine to be a short lived project as Andrew Chalk explored very different directions in very delicate and quiet music which he continues to this day.  Ferial Confine only existed around 1985 and 1986 with Andrew playing around with some other names as well, some of which he no longer remembers.  In retrospect, perhaps it was a cage he was trying to escape or perhaps use to confine some of the more beastly aspects of noise music.  Going through a similar evolution in my listening at the time probably helps explain why I still hang onto this cassette and enjoy listening to it occasionally.  As for the actual real artifact, the j-card is low density (as in some of the black are not all that dense) photocopy onto blue card which is hand cut a little unevenly. The cassette itself is an unlabeled TDK AD 60 – cassettes from Broken Flag came on a few different kinds of blanks but never had labels.  This homemade aesthetic is what made it so easy to pass off pirate copies later on, especially as most people had not seen the original cassettes to compare with.  The cover art itself seems to be of yee olde Constructivist fashion, nothing I recognized as I still haven’t delved very deeply into that movements history.  The only other details on the cassette are the title and catalog number on the spine and the label name and year on the inside.  No titles or anything else.  But that was the BF aesthetic.

Broken Flag – BF48