Friday, 16 February 2018

Acrobatic Champions - Strange Days (1986) C60


Here's another one from the former bestie who no longer talks to me because I think I'm cool. Oh well. This was to be a tape on my Do Easy label, but never came out because I'd lost enthusiasm for the whole enterprise, and crap and inferior though my tape covers were, I wasn't sure how I felt about Paul going against my Rotring pen minimalist aesthetic with his admittedly superior cover art. Also he'd taken to changing the name under which he recorded about every three months, and by this point was apparently calling himself Pröl, derived from his spelling his name Porl, which I find a slightly irritating affectation; so it's still Acrobatic Champions, so far as I'm concerned, just as it was with the first two tapes.

Not sure what to make of this one. It's not as amazing as I remember it being, possibly because I'd forgot about the inclusion of live tracks, material he'd been trotting out since Die Brücke - and I wouldn't be surprised if he's still playing some of that stuff in pubs even now. On the positive side, I still genuinely love most of this material, and think they were great songs, and that Paul could have been fucking enormous but for his tendency to keep shooting himself in the foot, time after time after time, ultimately alienating even hardcore sad sack fanboys such as myself. In his defence, he was - shall we say - unwell at the time of recording some of this, a combination of certain unfortunate recreational habits and circumstances described on Nightshift - actually the soundtrack of a video he shot about working nights in a plastics factory, which apparently wasn't as much fun as it may sound.

If only Situation Two or one of those labels had chucked a bunch of money at the poor fucker and got him started with No Heart and Tin Men as a single. We'd still all be talking about what a great record it was now, but never mind.


Tracks:
1 - Not This Time
2 - No Heart
3 - Tin Men
4 - Compression
5 - Watching from Outside (live)
6 - The Audience (live)
7 - You Fill Me (live)
8 - Hallo Hallo Hallo
9 - Tabbs
10 - Nightshift
11 - Heart Like Glass (live)
12 - The Car
13 - Secret Architecture

 
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Monday, 12 February 2018

v/a - The Best of Italian Opera (1982) C60


Runaway Rhinoceros was a generally wonderful fanzine done by a bloke in Kenilworth, Warwickshire - and was thus representative of the local scene for me seeing as that's where my grandparents lived and I spent a lot of time there as a kid - although actually now I think on I've a feeling it may have been some bloke and his brother who did it. Anyway, the amusingly and misleadingly named Best of Italian Opera was their compilation tape. The cover is a bit underwhelming so I've used a picture of the mag instead - one of many which I flogged whilst raising funds for my relocation to America. I wish I still had a copy but never mind, I suppose at least it went to a good cause.

The tape is mostly punky new wave with some representative anarchopunk and a couple of tracks from local avant garde heroes Attrition - just a mile down the road in Coventry. APF Brigade, as I've only just realised, featured the late Andi Xport of Man's Hate. You may recall Andy T from a million anarchopunk gigs and should probably note that he's still in existence today, and I Still Hate Thatcher is a fucking great title. Attrition you most likely already know about. Shrinkwrap was on Onslaught, their Third Mind tape, and if it's a remix, I can't tell the difference. I've a sneaky feeling that The Shadow Dance is actually Vigil from the same tape, but I can't be arsed to check. I don't know anything about Steve Ainsworth except that Warrior is fucking amazing, and I love it so much that I covered it on one of Stan Batcow's Godspunk compilations (volume two if you can be bothered). The remainder of what little I know about these artists can be gleaned by reading the information sheet which came with the tape, and which I've scanned for this download.

1982 is just a guess by the way. My gut tells me this came out in 1981, but the presence of these Attrition tracks suggests it may have been a little later.

Finally, by way of advanced warning, my copy of this came on a slightly shitty tape, so although most of it digitised okay, there's some serious wow and flutter on the last two Kevin Akitt tracks, plus some kind of weird intermittent distortion on Death of a Nation and at the start of Warrior - which I'm pretty sure is the tape rather than my digitisation, from what I can tell. Sorry. I did my best.



Tracks:
1 - APF Brigade - Syndrome 
2 - APF Brigade - El Dorado
3 - APF Brigade - The Crow Lives Nowhere
4 - Andy T - Frozen North
5 - Andy T - Man's Life
6 -
Andy T - Vivisection
7 -
Andy T - Exploitation
8 -
Andy T - Big Boys
9 -
Andy T - Progressive Destruction
10 -
Kevin Akitt - No Music
11 -
Kevin Akitt - Transmission
12 -
Kevin Akitt - American Dreams
13 -
Kevin Akitt - Soldier Soldier
14 -
No Label - The Truth Is
15 -
No Label - Oh Well - It's Over
16 -
No Label - Something's Gotta Be Done
17 -
Attrition - Shrinkwrap
18 -
Attrition - The Shadow Dance
19 -
Tears of Destruction - Death of a Nation
20 -
Steve Ainsworth - Warrior
21 -
Steve Ainsworth - Twilight Zone

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Friday, 2 February 2018

Smell & Quim - Atom Heart Motherfucker (2017) C40


Here's one I didn't have to bother to digitise because the venerable Mr. Srdenovic was kind enough to send me the files. This was handy for me because I don't actually have the tape, and I don't have the tape because it was apparently released in an absurdly limited edition of something like ten by Japanese label Vis A Vis Audio Arts, as run by Juntaro Yamanouchi of The Gerogerigegege.
 
The only other titbit of showbiz gossip I have for this one is that some of what you can hear on Careful with that Axe, Michael is Michael Gillham - whom you may remember from association with such recording artistes as the A Band and Vagina Dentata Organ (those being the ones I've heard of) - making alterations to the bathroom of a dwelling from which he was evicted. He doesn't seem to be credited on the tape cover, presumably through having had a disagreement of some stripe with Mr. Yamanouchi.
 
As I've only recently come by this one, there isn't really anything else I can tell you because I've only heard it two or three times myself. I get the impression it's Smell & Quim's heavy rock album, at least going by the titles - Bucket Fulla Piss not being that far removed from Whole Lotta Love, it might be argued. If you're familiar with their works, I don't think you'll be disappointed. They don't seem to have toned it down any.



Tracks:
1 - Careful with that Axe, Michael
2 - Cut Your Fucking head Off
3 - Westworld (Jamie Oliver Cromwell Street Mix)
4 - Metal Cunt
5 - Bucket Fulla Piss
6 - Wrong Hole in One
7 - Rock in a Sock
8 - Careful with that Axe, Michael (Slight Return)


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Monday, 29 January 2018

Trilogy - Other Input (1985) C90


This week features a special guest post by the man who actually recorded the thing on the grounds of our having kept in touch (but for a couple of decades somewhere in the middle), and that he naturally has a more informed take on this collection than myself. I'd already released a couple of his tapes on my Do Easy label (which can be found listed in the index linked at the foot of the page) and I had the impression this one was something in the order of tidying up loose ends so as to allow greater focus on the cassette he recorded as Sin, which will probably follow in a couple of months and is a masterpiece in my view. Tom didn't really have a title for this one and suggested I should come up with something, which was unfortunate because my suggestion was so fucking awful I can't even bear to type it out - I'd been very taken with the surreal grammatical phraseology of Lennart Eilersen of Enhoenta Bödlar, author of the mind-boggling Pok-a-Tok fanzine, and this was my lame attempt to weave gold of similar carat. For the purposes of this download, I've opted for Other Input, which Tom wrote on the master copy and which I choose to regard as the proper title from hereon.

Anyway, over to the man behind the music...

Tape to Some Bizarre (2:42) (Dec 1983)
This track started life as a letter to Some Bizarre Records asking Stevo if I could make films and videos for them. I then thought that something as prosaic as a straightforward request was hardly going to get the attention of these “arty” types – so I cut up the text and broke up the words and reassembled it as a kind of poem – with a few stray remarks about hating taxi drivers and Christmas trees (which I don’t – but it was a left over bit from an early recording I made while tripping – which I'm surprised I didn’t suggest for this comp). Anyway the cut-up letter still didn’t quite make it as far as I was concerned and being a Marc and the Mambas fan, I tried singing it over Empty Eyes. That really worked – so after double tracking it to make it more murky and bring in a repetitious quality to my chant, I sent the thing off to Some Bizarre. I never got a reply, but years later I heard from someone who worked at Some Bizarre that my tape had become something of a cult favourite in the office – though no one could figure out what the hell I was asking them for. Well at least I made an impression.

If anyone wants to see the “lyrics”...






“Cut-up” (6:25) (Nov 1983)
A very early piece when I was limited to a Casio VL-Tone, an old reel to reel which I’d picked up for £5 in a jumble sale and my still relatively new Sharp tape to tape. The title is more interesting than the track – which features no “cut-ups” at all – just me muttering and saying the phrase cut-up against overlaid Casio cycles.

Blows to the Head (1:42) (Mar 1984)
More experiments, but with a good deal more purpose. I now had the Roland SH-1000, so I could produce somewhat more gutsy sounds and I had refined the tape to tape echo effect quite well. Although this short tryout of a chugging white noise blast against an ultra high frequency “tune” wasn’t really developed, I recycled the basic sound a month or so later for Our Patience will End.

Such A Lot (2:58) (Nov 1983)
This particular experiment – only my 3rd “musical” recording - was my first attempt to create a song with lyrics and a recognizable tune. While primitive, it’s quite sweet but the just because she has an ugly face… stanza makes me cringe a bit.

Cosmetic Surgery (5:53) (Dec 1983)
First track to use my newly acquired Roland SH-1000 – probably around Dec 26th or 27th 1983. This SH-1000 was a demented beast of a synthesizer which could always be trusted to make the sounds I least expected. I loved it, although I discovered it was useless live. Back in the early seventies my mum had a brief stint as a “Studio Beauty Advisor” selling cosmetics door to door. Given how painfully shy my mum could be this was a truly heroic thing to try, especially in such a tough-sell area as recession hit Cumbernauld. It could only mean my parents were going through some hard financial times – something I was never aware of at the time. By 1983 all of that was a thankfully distant memory but the introductory record was still around – voiced by none other than The Jaw himself, Patrick Allen.  So I mangled the recording and riffed over it with my synth. I think I made two passes – each time double tracking the previous layer – and introducing some stereo panning via my twenty channel Equalizer. I was pretty pleased with the result. I felt I was now in a brave new world of synthesizers. In retrospect I wish I’d called it Cosmic Surgery – but at the time I would’ve probably shuddered at such hippy like connotations.

Elation (8:49) (Feb 1984)

An early SH-1000 instrumental with a nice free form quality to it. This is actually about half of the original recording – the original had a lengthy meandering opening – and either Lawrence or myself probably decided to cut it for tape space purposes. It’s like a pleasant version of something from TG’s Second Annual Report and the double tracking and EQ panning have developed to the point where there is some nice syncopation at various points.

Our Patience Will End (version) (13:36) (April 1984)
By April '84 I was tired of the somewhat ambient stoned sounding instrumentals I was doing and I wanted to create a really full on piece – something that would actually hurt people’s eardrums. Well, how better to kick this off than with a few samples of Adolf H and Goebbels taken from a documentary my dad recorded. (As Lawrence might say, I was in industrial bad lad mode). I had enormous fun creating and recording this one, really getting into the frequencies. I experimented with channeling the two German samples through the Roland and was delighted to find the syncopation of the speeches bleeding into the frequencies. Finally I recorded a ninety second highly rhythmic version of the Blows to the Head sound onto my reel to reel and was able to give the piece an even more manic feel by manually stopping and starting the tape – basically scratching.
I think the original was about twenty minutes long and outstayed it’s welcome by about ten, but from this point onwards I felt I had a clear vision of where I was headed musically. The title is the translation of what Hitler is actually ranting. Incidentally almost all of these tracks were recorded in my bedroom in my folks' caravan on the tarmac site we were living on at that time. Given that my folks were never more than fifteen feet away you might think tracks like this caused a lot of disagreement, but I always worked with headphones on and almost never played what I was working on through the speakers. This is another reason that the few vocals I recorded in this period are very subdued.

Do Not Forgive Them (8:10) (May 1984)
(or playing in traffic with microphones)
A shortened version of this full strength Frenzi piece, one of a quintet of feedback based pieces recorded over a few weeks in May 1984 (in retrospect a very productive time). This recording is one of several road-side performances / freak-outs I carried out at this time - in which I risked road-rage from Essex drivers by creating pieces of noise and visual performance live. Armed with my tape to tape this one took place one evening at an underpass just outside Waltham Abbey. Using two handheld microphones (one for each channel) and the natural echo and ambience of the concrete tunnel - this begins with several minutes of feedback music (sounding a bit like enraged whales) then proceeds to some full-on vocal screaming and invective from Frenzi. My "audience" was at best bemused - apart from a disgruntled motorist (at about 2:02) who tries to end both the performance and me...

Batora (3:00) (June 1984)
I was very interested in Martin Denny at this time, having heard Momba from a PTV tape compilation – but when I tried to get hold of one of his albums all I could find was a much later piano only album with no bird sounds to be heard. So I decided to create my impression of a Martin Denny track – with a very tribal vibe. This was one of those tracks that came together incredibly quickly, in about an hour when I was on lunch break from my summer job – working for Tarmac Construction in Hatfield.

Soul Mind (4:50) (Sept 1984)
This is a much more formally experimental piece – with the premise of meeting a girl on a date and the many ways it could go - most of them horribly wrong, but all ending with the same line, and then I went home and I wept. This was a pretty frustrated time for me sexually so I let my imagination run rampant, writing eight different scenarios which I then read over one another, assuming a different version of myself for each. I wanted to see if a meaning would emerge through the jumble of words and different voices. I then added a melancholy melody on the SH-1000 and this is the result. For a while I was unsure of whether I actually wanted to put this out – since I was genuinely uncomfortable with some of the scenarios I created – but in the end I think Lawrence persuaded me it was worthwhile.

Power Control (4:56) (July 1984)
An attempt to do something a little more poppy than my usual – with a lot of scratching on the TV commentator – from a program about propaganda.

Existence (2:24) (Aug 1984)
The second recording using my new echo machine, and my first attempt at synchronising Super 8 footage to my music – although I never committed the results to video. Throughout this summer I was filming material with a video-music project in mind – this would lead to
Disease by Sin. So this is a kind of dummy run at themes I was developing for that one.

Point One (4:54) (Aug 1984)
This very spacey sounding piece was my first recording using the Boss echo machine – and boy do I use it. I relished the way even my Casio suddenly sounded rich and luxurious and this would feature on virtually every recording I made from this point on.

Waking Dreams (17:24) (6th Nov 1984)
This one was created simply to fill some space on side two of this compilation. Essentially out-takes and isolated parts from Words Cannot Describe & Pagan Orchestral (as it was later known) which appeared on the Disease: First Movement tape. Since I had just recorded the latter I still had all the separate bounce tracks of the various layers and so I created a somewhat new track for this compilation. 


Tracks:
1 - Tape to Some Bizzare
2 - "Cut-Up"
3 - Blows to the Head
4 - Such a Lot
5 - Cosmetic Surgery
6 - Elation
7 - Our Patience Will End (version)
8 - Do Not Forgive Them
9 - Batora
10 - Soul Mind
11 - Power Control
12 - Existence
13 - Point One
14 - Waking Dreams



 
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Friday, 19 January 2018

v/a - Shake the Foundations (1991) C90


Here we are, as promised last week. I've already said probably all I can usefully say about Chainsaw Cassettes, and here's one of their compilation tapes. Most of it's pretty great, as you will hear should you choose to download the thing, and I at least played it enough to inspire further investigation regarding Operation Mind Control and the Symboliks. You should have heard of a few of the others here - at least factor X, Headbutt and Somewhere in Europe. You can probably find out something about most of these artists by looking around on the internet, or just reading the booklet which originally came with the tape, and which I've scanned, so that comes with the download.

Enjoy!


Tracks:
1 - Operation Mind Control - C.U.T.
2 -
Psycho Karaoke - Don't React
3 -
Billy Clark - Untitled #1
4 -
Chemical Plant - Episode 2
5 -
Somewhere in Europe - Butterfly in a Vice
6 -
The Invisibles - Disease Called Sunday
7 -
Guts - I Work for the BPI
8 -
Symboliks - Behind the Word
9 -
Billy Clark - Untitled #2
10 -
factor X - Grand>Dada
11 -
Pinkie Maclure, Fiona Sail & Chemical Plant - 1.47
12 -
Dominic Thomas & Steve Dell - Fifty Alarms
13 -
Symboliks - Home Base
14 -
Chemical Plant - Aphids One
15 -
Headbutt - Bush Baby (live)
16 -
Psycho Karaoke - Deep Pearl Blues
17 -
The Leper Colony - People Are No Good
18 -
The Invisibles - Blankety-Blank Generation
19 -
Somewhere in Europe - Carnival of Resistance
20 -
Symboliks - Dreamcurdling (live)
21 -
Operation Mind Control - Soundrench
22 -
Operation Mind Control - DeSona
23 -
Billy Clark - Untitled #3

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Friday, 12 January 2018

Symboliks - Ticket to Everywhere (1991) C60


I have no idea about this one. I bought it from the bloke who ran Chainsaw Cassettes on the grounds of the Symboliks track on his Shake the Foundations* compilation being pretty good. The inlay card doesn't give much away either. A few people are thanked, with no indication of any one of them necessarily being a Symbolik, and I would guess this tape was the work of one person, probably with a four-track, a Yamaha REX50 and drum machine, probably a cheap sampler too. It falls somewhere between Musligauze and Laibach before they turned into an ironic covers band, albeit on a budget, and is pretty fucking great in my view - one of the more pleasant surprises thrown up by my trawling through my tape collection; and it's a surprise because I've a feeling I may have listened to this once, maybe twice, at least up until now. This isn't a reflection on the music. Chainsaw Cassettes were one of those labels attempting some sort of professional standard, meaning their tapes were copied at one of those professional duplication centres, but copied onto cassettes supplied by the same, which in my experience were never so durable as your average Sony or TDK. They just weren't so sturdy or well made, and I suspect that's what put me off playing this as much as it probably deserved to be played. Also, on an even more superficial note, PCs were becoming approximately affordable in the early 1990s, so more and more cassette artistes were favouring artwork - or at least typography - printed out on some 16KB Amstrad piece of shit, which I always thought looked awful. So in striving for a certain standard, quite a few new cassettes just didn't look as appealing as they had done in the rough as fuck days of a photocopier, a felt-tip pen, a picture of Hitler torn from the newspaper, and a trusty Sony CHF60.
 
*: Coming next week, barring accidents.


Tracks:
1 - St. Eve's Hallo
2 - Days Without
3 - Lite Trip
4 - Timeless
5 - Iron Soul
6 - You Must Pay
7 - Trash Bags
8 - Dreamcurdling
9 - Into the Abyss
10 - Krackwise
11 - Amnesia Ripples
12 - See In Glass
13 - January Square
14 - Home Base
15 - Kiss that Fish



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Monday, 8 January 2018

Do Easy - Gravesend (1987) C90


I'd pretty much lost interest in Do Easy by 1987, and finished art college that summer meaning I no longer had access to any decent recording equipment, besides which I was playing guitar for Total Big by then so if I had energies, I expect that's where they were going. Gravesend was a tape which had been laying around unfinished for a while, never really considered for release, and which I suppose took form as part of a ferric spring clean during which (I assume) I added the two versions of Saxon Chief and gave titles to tracks which had been without one up until that point. Typically, considering it's basically here's some shit I had left over if anyone cares, it's probably a better tape than any of the earlier ones into which I put a bit of effort.

Rubbish Like You was a postal collaboration with Trev Ward, then recording as Nails ov Christ. He sent me a tape and I added to the noise. I assume it may have appeared in some form on his Fear Eats the Soul, but I'm not certain because I never actually had a copy. He probably didn't know where I lived by the time it came out; or he thought I was a bit of a knob or something.

We Can Build You was similarly a postal collaboration with Thomas Docherty of Trilogy. I'm not sure if this was me roping him into the whole Death Pact International tape thing, or something in its own right. I think
the percussion track you can hear eleven minutes in was from a live improvised thing by Steve McGarrigle, Garreth Roberts and myself which I'll post here at some point, if I haven't already.

Arnold Layne was recorded with this guy, and I have no idea why. I don't even like Pink Floyd, and I don't remember ever particularly liking them.


Life is a Domestic Bliss cover. I have a vague feeling I was collaborating more and more, or trying out cover songs (which I'd never done before) in an effort to reignite my enthusiasm. Anyway, Domestic Bliss were probably what you'd call local heroes when I was growing up. They released a single called Child Battery, of which Life was the b-side, and Simon Morgan worked in Discovery Records, my local independent store, and was as such the man who sold me my copy of Never Mind the Bollocks. Simon is a great guy and his more recent works can be found on his Bandcamp page. I might ask him if I can digitise Child Battery for this blog. It's still one of my favourite punk singles, and the original of Life somewhat pisses all over my slightly whinier version.


Saxon Chief, arbitrarily named after the pub in which I spent most lunchtimes while at art college, was the very last thing I ever recorded on my beloved Sharp double tape deck before it gave up the ghost back in 1985. I never really worked out what to do with the track as it steered a bit too close to Depeche Mode even for me, so it remained instrumental and ended up on this tape because I realised I was never going to get around to finishing it off. The drum machine was programmed by Mex, by the way.


Sound Levels in Arabia is here remixed from the original in an attempt to make it less shit, which didn't really succeed.


Music for Carol happened because someone called Carol asked me to do some music for her. I think she was going to write songs and sing over whatever I came up with, but I don't think she liked what I came up with, so never mind.

All That's Left apparently also features Steve McGarrigle and Paul Mercer playing in some capacity, but I accidentally taped over it and this was all that was left of the track, hence the title.


I've a feeling the track I've called Gravesend was actually something I recorded and sent to Trev for finishing off under the Death Pact International banner. Who knows?

The title of both the tape and the track of the same name was added much later for the sake of completism, probably early 1988 when I went for a job interview in Gravesend and found the place depressing beyond belief. The similarly arbitrary photo chosen to illustrate this blog post (taken in Leamington Spa in 1984) because this one doesn't really have a cover, just an inlay card which isn't really worth scanning... ahem... the similarly arbitrary photo was chosen because it looks how I felt when I caught the bus to Gravesend on that not particularly fateful day.

Anyway, this one is probably better than you might expect from my Eeyore-esque hard sell, and despite the moment where I shout I'm surrounded by fools! Honest.


Tracks:
1 - Rubbish Like You
2 - We Can Build You
3 - Arnold Layne
4 - Life
5 - Saxon Chief I
6 - Sound Levels in Arabia (remix)
7 - Music for Carol
8 - All That's Left
9 - Love is Dead
10 - Time Killer
11 - Gravesend
12 - Saxon Chief II


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