Thursday, 16 November 2017

v/a - A Person's Healthy Guide to Listening (1991) C70

This was a cassette release by Regelwidrig Recordings, the work of one Simon Kelly whom I vaguely recall as a wonderful guy with whom Glenn Wallis, myself, and Paul Condon shared pints at Bradley's Spanish Bar in Hanway Street. Annoyingly, it was one of those cassette releases which came clad in fancy, fiddly packaging which meant you couldn't just slot it in with the others on the shelf. I appreciate the effort to keep things interesting and special, but there were a few people guilty of this sort of thing and it was always kind of annoying, and the end result nearly always seemed kind of half-arsed and never as good as the artist presumably hoped it would look. This one came in a large card box with a photograph slapped on the cover at an angle and an apostrophe missing from the title; and anyway, should it not be A Person's Guide to Healthy Listening? Wouldn't that make more sense? Anyway, opening the box - which is no longer necessary since it all fell apart with age and now looks even crappier - caused bits of paper to spill forth across one's listening space - track lists, information, and bits of artwork which I presume to have been supplied by the individual artists because they're all different shapes and sizes and only five of the contributors are represented in this way.

Which is probably why I never listened to the fucking thing more than once, which is a shame because Simon clearly put a lot of effort into it and spent some money on getting it properly mastered and so on, as you will hear. In fact, this tape makes for pretty convincing listening once you've sat down, having swept up a million bewildering pictures of Islamic shoes supplied by Bryn Jones, the man who invented the racist instrumental, it could be argued.

You should probably know of at least a few of these artists, and of the ones I hadn't heard of either, there's not much I can tell you. I always assumed Shock City was something to do with Stefan Jaworzyn of Whitehouse who briefly ran a similarly named label and publishing imprint, but apparently not.

Anyway, enjoy!

1 - Nocturnal Emissions - Raised Beach
2 - Shock City - One World Before the World's Ways Waste the World Away
3 - Das Kunst - Probe
4 - Bourbonese Qualk - O Sonambulo
5 - Konstruktivists - Desire (part one)
6 - Konstruktivists - Desire (part two)
7 - Asmus Tietchens - Lemminge
8 - Jouissance - Delirium Dosage
9 - Illusion of Safety - Musikfuck
10 - Shock City - Alienateaghurkin
11 - Due Process - RRRadio WCVW Extract
12 - Contact with a Curve - Balloon
13 - Muslimgauze - United States of Islam

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Smell & Quim - Pushy Gothic Gnome Versus Charity Techno Gnome (1998) C60

I may be wrong but from where I've been stood, Smell & Quim are pretty much the saviours of noise music as we know it. Power electronics was sounding a bit samey at the tail end of the eighties, all knotted up in an arms race to be the harshest, loudest cheerleader for the most obscure former member of Hitler's cabinet or proponent of some stomach churning sexual perversion which even William Bennett regarded as going a bit far, and with the rudest picture yet on the cover of the tape. It was a war which no-one could win, and then Smell & Quim turned up to flip the script by introducing a sense of humour to the proceedings, or something which looked like a sense of humour from a certain angle but may simply have been straightforward insanity. Andy Martin told me he regarded them as the Chas & Dave of industrial music, which probably only works if you think Chas & Dave are a bad thing. I posted the above cover on my facebook page, and a person who has apparently taken it upon himself to police my social media quipped gratuitous sexism masquerading as subversion, so thanks for that valuable insight, Pat Robertson.

I don't really know what Smell & Quim are, but they've certainly made things a lot more interesting over the years, and also disgusting, but in an interesting way. This one in particular seems to serve as a decent illustration of why there's probably not much point thinking too hard about any of it. Imagine that the giant stone head full of guns from John Boorman's Zardoz made a disco album, and everyone hated it, which pissed off the giant stone head full of guns from John Boorman's Zardoz so much that his next work was an electronic piece recorded mainly in vengeful spirit; and that's how this album sounds to me. According to Milovan Srdenovic it came about when the title was mentioned as that of a fictitious album in an article on Smell & Quim in Seymour Glass' Bananafish magazine, and it was recorded so as to bring reality in line with the fiction, I suppose you would say. It was issued by Joel St. Germain's SPITE label in a hand-tooled edition of fifty copies, all in a nice looking little box with a naughty picture glued inside.

I wrote to Milovan Srdenovic to ask him if it would be okay for me to give his stuff away for free, and he said yes, because Pushy Gothic Gnome Versus Charity Techno Gnome should be heard by as many people as possible (or words to that effect); and he's right.

If you can't appreciate this one, you can't appreciate nuffink.

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Friday, 3 November 2017

Acrobatic Champions (1985) C60

Not to be confused with its predecessor, the similarly untitled C15 with a cover which looked almost exactly the same and which can be found here. This was the album released in the wake of the hit single, I suppose, and everything useful (or otherwise) I may have to say about the Acrobatic Champions has already been said here - and that's the same link as was provided in the previous sentence, in case you already clicked on it.
So that leaves us with just the music, which is probably better heard than discussed. Most of this was recorded in the sound studio at Maidstone College of Art on a couple of four track reel to reel machines, making extensive use of Paul's own WEM Copycat echo - as you will doubtless notice. Most of it is just Paul, although I played bass on the first two tracks and electronic percussion for the two performances - both played in different areas of the aforementioned college with audience comprising whoever felt like standing around and watching for a bit.
On reflection, I realise that most of this music would now be termed dark ambient, except of course it's about a thousand times better. I know I've had my differences with the bloke, but Jesus - this was some good shit, yes siree.

1 - The Sound Room
2 - You Fill Me
3 - AV142
4 - Mirror Glass
5 - Performance 1
6 - Hand on White
7 - Flowers (part)
8 - Performance 2
9 - Negative as Before
10 - The Audience
11 - Carmilla

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Monday, 30 October 2017

v/a - Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1980) C60

This was Dead Hedgehog's first compilation tape, a wonderfully tuneful collection of punk, pop, and post-punk serving as a time capsule to where some of our heads were at in 1980, particularly if you were living in Watford, which I wasn't. Regular readers will probably know who Mex is by now, and this is one of his. Furthermore these files were kindly supplied by the man himself and as such are therefore better quality than what you probably would have heard had I digitised my copy of the tape. You can read about the individual artists on the cover, as included with the download - an entire A4 sheet scrunched into a cassette case - which I remember finding quite annoying at the time; but I suppose a few additional words might be in order.

Exhibit A really should have been huge, but never mind; Soft Drinks still remain one of my favourite things ever; this version of the Bears' Motoron seems to be a sort of weirdy Copycat echo remix - Tigerbeat records put out a full length retrospective vinyl album back in 1986 with an (I think) much better version of the song, which is well worth grabbing if you happen upon a copy; as for the Steam Settee, I assume you all recall Nikki Sudden from the Swell maps, yes? ; and these Fire Engines seem to be an Exhibit A offshoot and as such are nothing to do with the Scottish band of the same name. I don't know what else to say about this bunch other than that I still find it mystifying that Dead Hedgehog never ended up a household name, which I suppose is testimony to the power of payola over a good tune, or something. Listening to the Traumatics, or the Notion, or the Garden, or Exhibit A - I don't know about anyone else but I have to remind myself that no, I didn't see them on Top of the Pops banging out 50:50 or The Signs Were Sure back in 1980, even though it feels like I should have done, especially considering the shite the rest of you were buying at the time.

While we're here, I should probably mention that Mex has a new album out, so you know what to do. Details at Mex One.

1 - Traumatics - SAS
2 -
The Notion - Human Zoo
3 -
Soft Drinks - Dangers of Drink
4 -
The Garden - Worried Man
5 -
The Bears - Motoron
6 -
Traumatics - 50:50
7 -
Passion Killers - X-87
8 -
Exhibit A - Me and You
9 -
The Beatles - The Lonesome Death of a Hedgehog
10 -
Jasbir Chhina - Nowhere Man
11 -
The Garden - Zoot Swim Suit
12 -
The Steam Settee - Cramped in Dr. Zombie's Vaults
13 -
Exhibit A - In the Wilderness
14 -
Soft Drinks - Pepsi Cola
15 -
Goddish Robs - Schoolgirl in Love
16 -
Fire Engines - Here We Go
17 -
Mex - Feature Film
18 -
Exhibit A - Echoes
19 -
The Garden - The Signs Were Sure
20 -
Fire Engines - Silver Machine 

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Friday, 20 October 2017

Introducing the Brides of Christ II (1983) C30

I don't know much about this one. I seem to recall that Trev Ward thought it was so great that he insisted I have a listen, which was effected by him lending me his copy, sending it through the post on the condition that I'd send it back once I was done. So that's what we did, which seems weird with hindsight, but maybe he just didn't want to diddle them out of a sale, which seems fair enough. Anyway, I liked it enough to buy a copy.

So far as I know, this was Rock Wilson and Dave Ryder, also occasionally known as R&D Group 28, a name under which they released one tape (according to Discogs) and appeared on Sterile Records' Earthly Delights compilation. Rock Wilson was also something to do with Apocalypso a Go Go zine, whilst Dave Ryder recorded as Plastic Bag and put a tape out through Larry Peterson's Cause for Concern Tapes which I really fucking wish I had bought at the time. There's a Plastic Bag track on Paranoia is Awareness and it's one of the best things on there in my view.

Anyway, here you go - fundamentalist Christian electronics a good few years before anyone had heard of that other lot. This is arguably one of the odder things thrown up by the whole weirdy tape scene as was, and it still sounds great if you ask me.

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Adventures of Twizzle - Party Ritual Extensions (1985) C60

Adventures of Twizzle were Saul Pol Koatep and Jude Wilton Keel, or at least that's how they signed their letters. They lived in Newcastle and were responsible for a series of noisy, low-fi and occasionally surreal cassettes distinguished by application of a well-developed sense of humour. The first one I heard was Hitler's Trousers After the Blast, from which point on I was immediately a fan. They also wrote great letters comprising peculiar flights of fantasy lavishly illustrated with wax crayon. One of my favourite was a postcard, a publicity shot from some old film to which Jude had selotaped a sachet of tomato ketchup and amended with what was either a joke or philosophical inquiry:

Q: Who is the Dada Jack?

A second postcard settled the issue about a month later:

A: Tommy Steele's Reggae Bagpipe.

Obvious really. Anyway, Party Ritual Extensions was a live tape they sent me and told me I would be releasing on my Do Easy label, which I did. The performances were two years old by then, but they seemed worth hearing. Listening to them again in 2017, this stuff is a bit basic but it still sounds good to me, and the tape makes for quite a powerful experience listened to in its entirety.

We lost touch soon after this, or specifically they wrote to me and I never bothered writing back. The two of them had apparently been nicked for fare dodging and had a massive fine to pay, so they photocopied a stack of legal stuff relating to their prosecution and asked if I could help them out, which I couldn't because I was a starving student and living on tinned potatoes at the time, so the request struck me as a bit fucking saucy. Then nearly a decade later, Jude saw my name mentioned as a member of Konstruktivists in an issue of Music from the Empty Quarter and so wrote a letter to Glenn explaining that he knew me of old and that I was in the National Front* and possibly also the Freemasons. It turned out to be a joke, just a bit of a wheeze, albeit one of those jokes which seems funnier when you've had your head stuck inside a bong for three days. So we corresponded, and he was clearly abrim with genuine regret at having libelled me for wacky fun-filled chortles, and explained that he had lost touch with Saul and was now a Hare Krishna. There didn't seem to be a lot to say after that.

Saul phoned me a few years later, mid-nineties some time, but it was at three in the fucking morning when I had to be up for work at five and he sounded somewhat off his tits, so I don't recall much of the conversation apart from that I found it heavy going. He'd found my number in an issue of The Sound Projector because I had stupidly included it in an advert for Ce Acatl tapes. He told me he was behind a label called Hypnagogia, of which I had actually heard, and sent me a few CDs and a 10" by Anomali, his most recent musical endeavour; which was nice, and at least better than writing to any of my friends and claiming to remember me having been on trial at Nuremberg.

Nowt so fucking queer as folk, eh readers?

*: Seriously - what do you fucking think?

1 - The Basement, Newcastle 22/6/83
2 - Widdershins
3 - Morden Towers, Newcastle 16/11/83

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Monday, 9 October 2017

v/a - International Sound Communication 10 (1986) C90

I don't have a vast wealth of knowledge regarding this one, one of a regular series done by Andi Xport who also recorded his own stuff under the name Man's Hate and which was pretty good as it happens. I had more volumes of this at some point, and certainly the first one, but it's no longer anywhere to be found, so I probably gave it to Jim MacDougall back in the nineties when I was having a clear out. I guess I kept this one because I'm on it.

A Split Second and Stress were both quite big, relatively speaking, so you should know of them; I believe Crawling With Tarts had some sort of following too, although I think this is the only thing I ever heard; Ajnynytyv once sent me a tape with a red cover but it was pretty noisy and I don't remember liking it much, so I think that went to Jim McDougall too, probably ending its existence flung off the top of an east London tower block for air rifle target practice or something; Len Liggins also contributed a (slightly better) track to an Unlikely Records compilation which I'll get around to digitising at some point; and I vaguely recall Modern Art, WeR7 and Mystery Plane from fanzines and Color Disc flyers of the time. I never bothered sending for any of their stuff, but I sort of wish I had now. Anything else you want to know, you might be able to find out from the Discogs page, although it's patchy where some of the more obscure artists are concerned.

Weirdly, I've a feeling this may only be the second or third time I've bothered listening to this one, which is a pity as I realise it's pretty decent, with a good variety and some interesting stuff on there. I really wish I still had the other volumes, but never mind.

1 - A Split Second - Resignation
2 -
Twilight Ritual - A Perfect Memory in Here
3 -
Syndrome - Night Talk
4 -
Linear Movement - Wired to the Machines
5 -
Photodrama - Dan Dare, Where Are You?
6 -
Ideas Beyond Filth - Rollercoaster
7 -
Agencement - Kazbuz
8 -
Crawling With Tarts - Smak
9 -
Ajynytyv - Integration (live excerpt)
10 -
Die Schlaffen Affen - Back to Rock 'n' Roll
11 -
Do Easy - Knife in My Side
12 -
Rudolf's Rache - Sommersprossensesicht
13 -
LD50 - Your Country Needs You
14 -
Los Paranos - Life On the Floor
15 -
Katharsis - Content Discontent
16 -
Mystery Plane - Find Somebody
17 -
WeR7 - I Was Not a Jew
18 -
Modern Art - Monochrome Dance
19 -
La Créme de la Crime - Lipstick
20 -
10T - Pandra Music
21 -
Det Wiehl - Himalaya
22 -
The Marvelous Roofs - Them Scarecrows
23 -
Len Liggins - Leningrad
24 -
Len Liggins - All the Dead Men
25 -
Solomonoff, von Hoffmanstahl & Hoffman - Serenade in the Night
26 -
Terry Gray - Faith
27 -
Stress - Fist Comes Down
28 -
F/i - Echo River (excerpt)

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pssst... more here.