Review: Territorial Gobbing – Capitalist Art Is Cartoons Fucking (Opal Tapes, Sep 27)

Earlier this year, Leeds-based tape skronk project Territorial Gobbing (also known as Theo Gowans) entered my ears with Stud Mechanism, a brief but formidable odyssey into junk coagulations, mucous-caked a cappella scrabbles, and other aspects of Gowans’ “no expense spent cheap stupid music with tapes, clutter and spit.” Despite this irreverent, no holds barred, almost anti-music approach, there’s always a great deal of masterful technique at work on a Territorial Gobbing tape, especially on Capitalist Art Is Cartoons Fucking, the project’s most recent release. This time, Gowans’ toolkit is largely the same—dizzying, violent tape manipulation; chopped-up radio grabs; gargling, moisture-filled mouth sounds; and clattering object hodgepodges—but the space occupied by the music is much more expansive and ambitious. Introductory remarks of indecipherable deadpan muttering and contact mic clutter are claustrophobic yet atmospheric, and “Tooth Orb” specifically evokes something not dissimilar to the dark, musty basement milieu of Mars beneath its noisy bustle. Things spread out a bit more on “Are Militant Atheists Using Chemtrails to Poison the Angels of Heaven,” with terrifying throat warbles ricocheting off raucous clanking metal and what sounds like a field recording of a public environment. This track is the longest on the tape and therefore has the most time to bring its hulking junkyard monstrosity to fruition, but the shorter pieces accomplish amazing feats with their more limited durations; “Armpit Beer” discombobulates with sudden blasts of fast-forwarded tape, “Spooky Electrics Blog” stitches together a haphazard form from disparate voice samples, and there’s a moment amidst the heavyweight kinetics of “Raw Plastics” that seems to depict a small mouse being brutally murdered. Stuffed full of rust, slime, and trash, Capitalist Art Is Cartoons Fucking is Territorial Gobbing at the top of his game.