Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Dovers - More of the Same Old Thing (1992) C60

I'm back, and before anyone asks, yes I did, and very soon - in fact I'm digitising one of them even as I write this.

This was the last cassette we recorded as the Dovers, and it comes as a surprise even to me because I didn't think I had a copy of this particular material. Something of its evolution is described here - specifically the last five paragraphs if you want to cut to the chase. If you can't even be arsed with the chase, the short version is that as guitarist in a two man band distinguished by a drum machine and a sense of humour, I was terrified of turning into Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Therefore I dug out my Casio SK1 sampling keyboard and shoved it through a fuzzbox, and while this didn't represent a conscious attempt to impersonate Suicide, the fact that you could listen to it as such is probably why it sounded all right to us, and crucially, nothing like fucking Carter the Unlistenable Suck Latrine.

Regrettably it all went tits up at the gig due to my ingestion of an unfeasible quantity of booze which helped me forget not only my stage fright but also those fiendishly complicated one finger - three note tunes I'd been working on. We muddled through, and Carl decimated the main band's prissily arranged effects pedals by jumping up and down on them whilst singing along to whatever the fuck I thought I was doing. This was because they believed we weren't a proper band due to our homosexual synthesiser, and thusly did they attempt to conceal us from the audience in a sarcastic cloud of dry ice like the wanky muso Dungeons & Dragons playing cunts they were.

I was mortified by the whole thing, and mortified to the point that I didn't even want to talk about it, so we never did, and the Dovers ceased to be. This rehearsal material sounds okay to me now, and really it was just a slightly crappy gig and nothing more - although I've never heard the actual live tape. Carl says it's decent, but I'll believe it when and if I hear it. I suppose it was shame - at least on my part - even embarrassment, over the contrast between how good I thought it was going to be and how good it really wasn't. I'd even worn a fucking shirt and tie.

Oh well. 

1 - Electricity
2 - Electricity
3 - Compost World
4 - Electricity
5 - Compost World
6 - Sister
7 - Fine Night
8 - Mr. Pop
9 - 8-Ball 8-Ball Martin De Sey

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

v/a - Process (1993) C90

I'm afraid there's not much I'm able to say about this one. Shaun Robert, then recording as factor X, got the ball rolling. The idea was that the tape would be passed from person to person with everybody adding stuff, treating what was already there and so on, presumably to end up with a piece of >cough< >cough< sound art of indeterminate multiple origins. He sent it to me, and there was clearly already some input from persons other than factor X - the guy with the American accent being one - but I have no idea who these people were or how many times this cassette had been messed with before it came to me. I suppose logically those involved would probably be persons with whom factor X had already collaborated in some capacity or other - so AMK, Odal, Sudden Infant, Suzuki Shunya, Mlehst, and others may be on there somewhere, but I have no way of telling. I had a look through my eight or nine lever arch box files full of correspondence (I keep everything) but found only the above in reference to this cassette. In another letter I found, Shaun talked about a performance he would be doing in Portugal. Whoever was putting him on had paid his air fare and would be providing accommodation, but he still needed money for fun. He had estimated two hundred quid should just about cover it, so he hated to ask but could I loan him fifty towards that sum? Seeing as I was working full time in a physically demanding job and yet still having trouble making ends meet, whilst Shaun had decided that wage slavery just wasn't his scene and had rounded up this begging letter with a cheery one day we shall both be artists! I decided that he could, in this instance, go fuck himself. Therein may be found clues as to why we are no longer in touch, and why I haven't been able to ask him who else contributed to this thing.

Anyway, the enterprise reminded me of Dada X, as orchestrated by Carl and myself a year earlier - the composition of which was why I'd introduced myself to Shaun in the first place - but frankly more ponderous with all that dull self-referential baggage about the process of recording. I was already sick of media drawing attention to its own structure by the time I left Maidstone College of Art in 1987, but I tried to get into the spirit of the thing, and tried to add material which might render it a bit more listenable - although some of that which I added is just me taking the piss, and the opening speech was nicked straight from Peter Avery's introduction to Moraals.

I don't know if this project was ever completed as Shaun never mentioned it again. Maybe I killed it off, but anyway, here's what it sounded like once I was done with it.

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Monday, 13 March 2017

Total Big - Rehearsal 11 - Complete & Unabridged (1986) C90

Sorry - I've run out of photos and/or related gig posters, so here's the cover of a comic I drew based on our adventures after Chris, the drummer, moved to Dover and we renamed the band accordingly. I never got around to printing the comic which is probably for the best as it wasn't that good, truth be told.

And yes - this is simply the unexpurgated version of Rehearsal 11, highlights of which I posted here back in January. We used to leave the tape recorder running during rehearsals or sessions or whatever you want to call them, and usually I got given a copy the week after once Chris had edited it down to just the stuff which sounded promising. Personally I preferred the unedited versions because I enjoy hearing us talking rubbish between tracks, plus I quite like the more shambolic numbers which Chris left off as being presumably beyond salvage; but then I was in the band so I'm biased, and this material will probably bore you shitless, whoever you are.

This one doesn't quite divide neatly into tracks as do previous rehearsal tapes, and so each track here is generally the track then a load of related fucking about up until the beginning of whatever I've identified as the next track, so this also incorporates a few fuck-ups and snatches of material which otherwise got taped over. Please feel free to call it sound art. The last two tracks were, I presume, from our first live performance at Maidstone College of Art on Wednesday the 27th of November, 1985, which presents something of a mystery as I wasn't aware of our having recorded it. Might have been from the video as I expect there was someone knocking around with a video camera.

1 - Nothing Like a Dame
2 - He Writes the Songs
3 - Rock Sandwich
4 - Keep Your Dreams A'Burnin'
5 - Are You My Mother?
6 - Call It What You Want
7 - Louie Louie
8 - Sister Ray
9 - Keep Your Dreams A'Burnin'
10 - I'm Not Losing Sleep
11 - I'm Not Losing Sleep
12 - Hail Fellow Well Met
13 - Cold Sore Herpes B
14 - Nervous Wreck
15 - Madonna
16 - Do It Again
17 - What's Up With Chuck?
18 - I Want It
19 - Is That Why?
20 - Hey Joe
21 - Louie Louie
22 - Sister Ray
23 - Hey Joe
24 - He Writes the Songs
25 - Rock Sandwich
26 - Spectre in My Trousers
27 - Ouch!!! (live)
28 - He Writes the Songs (live)

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Monday, 6 March 2017

Do Easy - This Can't Go On Forever (1987) C90

Here's another Do Easy tape which was really just a collection of stuff rather than anything intended to be listened to as an album of any description, and it's actually a C60 but I found Improvisation 1986 and Pause on the end of another tape, and they seem to have been from around the same time as the rest of this stuff, so here they are.
The first four tracks, which you may notice sound marginally less shambolic than the remainder, were intended as demos for some sort of 12" EP I had a vague plan of recording - seeing as how I had free access to a studio and Brian Eno's old EMS suitcase synth and everything. The idea would be that I'd re-record them without all the screw-ups at some point, then cut a disc and become rich and famous, but I had no money to pay for pressing or any of that shit so I lost interest. I was experimenting with perfect pop, like all those dudes in the pastel suits, whilst additionally influenced in equal parts by the Apostles and Nocturnal Emissions' Songs of Love and Revolution album (an influence which extends to a few of the other tracks on this tape), and it's probably significant that Slowing Down is basically a rewrite of That Was Then but This Is Now by ABC, although I didn't notice it at the time; and yes I know the lyrics are fucking terrible.
Steve McGarrigle played trumpet and almost certainly aided with programming on the first three tracks. Pete Avery sang backing vocals on Slowing Down, which was a bit of a mistake on my part - having backing vocals both louder and better than the main vocals, but never mind. Charlie Adlard, he of Soul, the Cosmic Rays, and who now draws The Walking Dead comic (and is as such probably the man to blame for why you can no longer turn on the telly without seeing zombies) played drums on Fucking Bastard and fire extinguisher on Lies - which was inspired by a dream I had featuring a Target Doctor Who novel apparently called Lies. The cover was predominantly yellow and featured Sea Devils drawn by Chris Achilleos. Ian Elliott is the gentleman with the Newcastle accent who can be heard enthusiastically agreeing that Steve Kütz is a fucking bastard on the song of that name, for that's who it was about, because I'd shared a house with him and the guy was a pain in the arse, quite frankly. Possibly ironically, Steve Kütz plays bass on Garreth is a Pervert, which was just the three of us mucking about. I guess he was less annoying that day.
Do Easy was never really intended to be anything but me and whoever else could be bothered, but Garreth Roberts probably came closest to making it a duo. He features on this tape on Fucking Bastard, Groove 1889, Garreth is a Pervert and Lies, and most of the singing which obviously isn't me was by him. I later re-recorded Groove 1889 for the Illyana Rasputin tape but Garreth failed to show, so I still prefer this version. Smilin' Paul Mercer sings on Decay. Improvisation 1986 was performed by Steve McGarrigle, Garreth Roberts, and myself - the TBM department at Maidstone College of Art was built in such a way as to make a sort of natural arena of the roof of the ground floor printing department, formed by the four inner walls of our own first floor department. Garreth, Steve and myself were bored so we set up a load of percussion instruments out there and just banged away for a bit, and I recorded it.

The woman you can hear laughing on Surveillance II achieved brief infamy a couple of years earlier when she appeared accessorised with her dead grandad's false teeth on the front page of The Sun newspaper as an example of why punk rock was an affront to common decency and all that good stuff.

1 - This Can't Go On Forever
2 - Human Fly
3 - Slowing Down
4 - Fucking Bastard
5 - Groove 1889
6 - Garreth is a Pervert
7 - Your Arms
8 - Lies
9 - Who You Are
10 - Spit Hop
11 - Decay
12 - Surveillance II
13 - Improvisation 1986
14 - Pause

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Monday, 27 February 2017

We Be Echo - Ceza Evi: Special Edition (1983) C60

Please refer to previous blog entries as linked in the index (see foot of this entry, immediately following the track list) or the dedicated We Be Echo website if you're either not sure who We Be Echo are, or else have them confused with a San Francisco jazz band.

I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind this souped-up version of Ceza Evi, released about a year after the first version. It mixes about half of the original tracks with more recent material, although the duplicates may actually have been polished up a little for all I know. Maybe this was an exercise in reclaiming the tape from Larry Peterson's Cause For Concern label, or Kevin had simply become dissatisfied with the earlier version of the tape - I don't know, but in any case the special edition works as a distinct album in its own right and is certainly more than just a director's cut.

Connoisseurs of weirdy music may be interested to learn, or else may already know, that Inside Life's Wire features the huffing and puffing of Genesis P. Orridge and Iham who used to edit Nanavesh on thigh-bone trumpets; and some of the other tracks feature vocals from Bobbie, Kevin's wife.

I really don't know what else to say about this one - almost a perfect tape album in my view. I certainly can't think of many which still sound this good thirty years later. 

1 - (introduction)
2 - Sexuality
3 - Punish You
4 - No Going Back
5 - Dawn
6 - Dull Day
7 - Cave Dweller
8 - Inside Life's Wire
9 - After the Battle
10 - Communication
11 - This Hour's Mine
12 - I Want
13 - Breakdown
14 - Paranoia
15 - House of Punishment
16 - Who You Are
17 - Bright Sheets
18 - I Do
19 - The Shout

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Dovers - Nobody Never Told Me Nothing About No Lights (1992) C90+

That's Maydew House in Bermondsey which would be where we recorded the material on this tape, because I can't be arsed to scan a boring generic cassette inlay card. Carl's flat would be somewhere at the bottom on the right, and I think Danny Baker lived on the floor above at some point. The arbitrary title of this cassette derived from a conversation I had about double negatives with fellow Catford based postman Micky Evans who said this was his favourite one, as uttered by some bloke on a television documentary. The tape was recorded by Carl Glover and myself on Carl's portastudio between Sunday the 27th of October, 1991 and Saturday the 25th of January 1992, except Tim Song, which wasn't on the original tape. Tim Song and the recordings immediately before and after were recorded on Saturday the 11th of November, 1991 with Christine - Carl's girlfriend - as part of a tape letter sent to my friend Tim. This seemed as good a place for it as any. There are plenty of other entries concerning the Dovers to be found elsewhere on this blog so if you're still confused about anything, please refer to the index which can be found at the foot of this one.
As for the stuff which isn't self-explanatory - 8-Ball 8-Ball Martin De Sey, named in honour of a former Cravat, was us going through my address book and insulting everyone in alphabetical order. There's a longer, probably funnier version on one of the other tapes. Cheer Up, Gen is the very definition of self-explanatory but I mention it so as to request that anyone of my acquaintance who happens to know him please refrain from grassing me up. It was a long time ago, he probably wouldn't get it anyway, and yes - I'm sure he has a great sense of humour. Ghost Dance is almost a Prince Buster cover. Telstar Air Strip was done for a Joe Meek themed compilation done by Chainsaw Cassettes, but the bloke didnae like it.
The Glenn referred to in passing at the end of the tape was, as is probably obvious, Glenn of Konstruktivists, Whitehouse, former Throbbing Gristle handler etc. etc., this being around the same time Carl and myself recorded stuff with him which ended up on some Konstruktivists CD or other. Anyone who calls themselves a true fan of the Gristle will therefore already have this material on the luxurious 360g splatter-effect vinyl triple album released by Waitrose Org a few years ago, much to the envy of those lightweight Johnny come lately part timers who were still listening to Captain Beaky when we were snorting nose candy off Chris Carter's gristlesizer backstage at Knebworth.
Crazy times. 

1 - Partial Bastard (version)
2 - American
3 - 8-Ball 8-Ball Martin De Sey
4 - Tell Him About the Rabbit
5 - Tales of Tom
6 - Two Men Standing on a Rock
7 - I Can't Wait
8 - Cheer Up, Gen
9 - Wooden Head
10 - Don't Know What to Do
11 - Measuring Rooms
12 - Everyman
13 - Big Mouth
14 - Ghost Dance
15 - Telstar Air Strip
16 - Pink Brick Town
17 - Ed is Great
18 - Alan Retentive
19 - (Maydew House 16/11/91 I)
20 - Tim Song
21 - (Maydew House 16/11/91 II)

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Friday, 10 February 2017

War Drum - Final Music (2005) C60

This was the last tape I ever recorded, one that I didn't really regard as having been finished up until I digitised the thing this week. I was mixing the tracks down to a C90 as I recorded them, and about ten minutes into side two, the four-track portastudio I had been borrowing from Eddy Walsh finally gave up the ghost and I couldn't seem to find anyone to fix it. Additionally this was around the time I started seeing Marian, and my life turned to a mire of passive-aggressive shite and mumbo-jumbo, so creative endeavours became difficult to sustain for the next couple of years. Anyway, digging this out in 2017, I notice it's actually just under sixty minutes in length and it sort of sounds finished, so let's just say that it is.
I had drifted away from War Drum, partially to concentrate on LDB (the works of which I might post here at some point, or I might not) and partially to concentrate on writing. Then in 2005 I got back into it. I'd been to Mexico four or five times by this point, and had taken a minidisc recorder with me on a couple of those occasions so as to record environmental sound. So Final Music features quite a lot of that environmental sound rearranged and ordered back in England with, this time, a much stronger influence of Mexican artists such as Tribu, Antonio Zepeda, and Jorge Reyes. This one is much closer to how I always wanted War Drum to sound, and so seems fitting as the last thing I ever recorded. The themes are, as will probably be obvious, mostly related to pre-Hispanic Mexican culture, and Idols Behind the Altars is sung in Nahuatl; and yes, it's my own composition. Most of it is either self-explanatory, or at least not difficult to investigate if you care that much. I seem to recall recording Lonesome Town again mainly because previous versions I'd done had been a bit crap.
Since digitising this one, I haven't had the chance to listen to the files on decent speakers, so I hope the bass has survived the transfer and that my minidisc recordings of tropical rain can be identified as such rather than just as overpowering hiss, but at least on the strength of the tape as it came through my stereo, I've a feeling this might be the best thing I've ever done (which I state in the awareness of much of my stuff having left considerable room for improvement).

1 - Primavera
2 - Nexpiltlan
3 - Fifth Sun
4 - Blood and Sand
5 - Idols Behind the Altars
6 - Sick Day
7 - Arrival of the Rain Baby
8 - Lonesome Town

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