Monday, 29 February 2016

War Drum - War Drum No. 1 (1997) C90


I wasn't going to bother with this one, but I had a listen and it's not quite so bad as I remember, so what the fuck.

By 1996 I was thoroughly sick of being me and had decided to be someone else for a while. I think I was probably going round the twist somewhat. One element of this awakening - what I have come to view without irony as a Shamanic process, roughly speaking - demanded a whole shitloads of breaks from the past and from previous ways of doing things in so much as this was even practical. I was tired of the sort of material I wrote or drew or painted or recorded and had decided to start again from scratch. Another element of this awakening was a growing obsession with Mexico, specifically late Postclassic central Mexican culture - the people generally but incorrectly remembered as Aztecs. By obsession I'm not referring to just a T-shirt and a couple of library books, but something which pretty much consumed me and changed the course of my existence, and about which you can read more here if you're that interested.

War Drum was a fresh start because I felt like making music once again, and given my interests of the time it came out as something akin to Muslimgauze but with an entirely different focus, which was intentional. One problem I had experienced, and the one which meant I hadn't actually recorded much of my own music for at least a couple of years, was a lack of equipment. Specifically I had a few bits and pieces but nothing on which to record anything, so I just went ahead and shoved everything into a little four channel mixer and recorded it more or less live onto my home stereo, but for occasionally bouncing tracks by plugging a second tape recorder into the mixer. The quality wasn't great, but then I reasoned it would be no worse than any of those Do Easy tapes recorded by more or less the same method; also that I should be able to produce something listenable if I made some effort to work around the limitations of this set-up, and to keep things simple.

The reason I wasn't going to bother is nothing to do with the quality of the music, such as it is, but that War Drum No. 1 dates from a time when I was still dishing out the benefit of the doubt to certain neofolk types, as indicated by two covers of Sol Invictus songs and at least a couple of lyrical flourishes betraying just how entertaining I once found that Boyd Rice album. I've never had any racial agenda - excepting perhaps a touch of Aztec Fundamentalism coming from a philosophical or aesthetic angle more than anything else - and nor anything along Social Darwinist lines; but I was keen on forging something slightly fierce and scary from my interest in both Mesoamerican history and all of the science I was reading at the time - Dawkins and others, hence the somewhat regrettable monologue of Timebomb which, I feel I should stress, condemns a cultural bias towards quantity over quality of life rather than being the Douglas P style horseshit about bad stock to which it bears unfortunate comparison because I wanted to sound like a hardcase. I'd apologise for the Sol Invictus covers but won't because I still like the songs, despite what I have since accepted to be the unpleasant truth of the source; and even if my versions are a bit John Shuttleworth, I still say my voice is superior to that bellowing noise we once heard coming from the blowhole of the original artist.

The rockabilly numbers may seem a bit mystifying in context - I was going for a sort of back to basics vibe, something as far away as possible from the sort of Wire-reading art gallery shite the rest of this music probably resembles. War Drum was supposed to be folk music, or imaginary folk music, or Muslimgauze eating a taco whilst frowning - something along those lines. Most of the references will make more sense if you have some working knowledge of Nahua culture, (and yes, that would be me trying to sing in Nahuatl on Xochitlacuicatl) although it probably isn't essential. Just pretend it's fake Swans without a drum kit or summink.

Anyway, once I had recorded this masterpiece I got fifty copies professionally duplicated on chrome cassettes by a bloke in Bromley and had a cover printed. I sold a few, gave some away, and eventually got rid of them all. This was in aid of an ideal of producing a cassette tape which didn't look like some half-assed piece of shit, and generally speaking I'm still fairly pleased with this one despite its obvious shortcomings. My biggest mistake was, I suppose, releasing a cassette at a point at which people had more or less stopped bothering with the same, having mostly switched to the greatly inferior medium of CDR.



Tracks:

1 - Yei Tepeilhuitl
2 - In Xochitl, In Cuicatl
3 - Penitent
4 - Rex Talionis
5 - Burning Water
6 - I Can't Believe in Forgiveness or Absolution
7 - Communication
8 - See the Dove Fall
9 - Autosacrifice
10 - Timebomb
11 - Azcapotzalco
12 - Xochitlacuicatl
13 - Fire of Love
14 - A New World
15 - Chicome Cipactli
16 - Dry Valley, Antarctica
17 - Blood Consciousness
18 - Lonesome Town

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Academy 23 - SDS Gegenseitige Vergeltungsmaßnahmen (1993) C60


I never quite worked out why Andy Martin asked me to join Academy 23, the group he formed in the wake of the Apostles. Either it was because he thought I was famous, having been a member of Konstruktivists (who I'm still not convinced were any better known than the Apostles had been), or because I represented a source of free artwork; but whatever the reason, it almost certainly wasn't because of my amazing musicianship. Well, whatever reason, I was glad to have been asked as Academy 23's uncomfortably titled Europe, Awake! remains possibly the greatest cassette to ever find itself saddled with the term industrial, at least to my ears. SDS Gegenseitige Vergeltungsmaßnahmen was more or less the follow up to Europe, Awake! thematically speaking, the second cassette having been an ill-advised collection of Andy Stewart covers, Donald Where's Your Troosers and the like.

This was the first material to which I contributed - mostly synth (an SH-101 I'd borrowed from Andrew Cox), although I played various woodworking tools and declared I am a good and efficient worker! in Russian on Arbeit Macht Freiheit! because I'd been learning to speak Russian at the time. I liked the letters, and Andy probably encouraged me because he had been learning German. I must admit I found it initially difficult adapting to Andy's methodology as I'm more accustomed to just turning a tape recorder on and seeing what the fuck happens, whereas Andy is very much someone who composes in advance.

So there was this, everything in German excepting the Wire cover (uncredited on cassette sleeve but mentioned in booklet). I'm not sure why it was all in German except for possibly good old why the fuck not? Andy claimed that our cassettes and one CD sold quite well over there, but it could just as easily have been his desire to parade his newly learnt language just to see if he could do it. I don't speak German at all, but am told by German acquaintances that he did reasonably well albeit with a slightly odd accent. Of course this also means that I have no idea what these songs are about. I doubt there's any overt tribute to Adolf Hitler here principally because Andy seemed to be going through a bit of a Marxist phase when we recorded this, as seems to be indicated by what I can tell of the titles, plus
Arbeit Macht Freiheit! is approximately Constructivist in spirit, meaning those Russian dudes rather than Glenn Wallis.

...and whilst we're on the subject of work making us free, yes I know - and there's a rune on the cover and it's all in German and the first paragraph makes reference to something called
Europe, Awake! Even given Andy's occasional nods in the general direction of Boyd Rice, the answer remains no, at least not beyond his having the political elasticity of a yo-yo depending on who he's trying to piss off at the time. He's come out with some utter bollocks over the years, but I wouldn't have remained friends with the bloke for the last three decades were he of Wakefordian stripe. If you're still not convinced, please take it up with the man himself.

So there you go. The tape originally came with a sixteen page booklet of essays (all in German I'm afraid) with some artwork by myself and others, which is included in the download as scans.



Tracks:

1 - Keine Krankheit
2 - Hell Leute
3 - Ulrike Meinhof
4 - Andreas Baader
5 - Uberholt!
6 - Die Fabrik
7 - Ein Gütiger Ungeheuer / Ein Held
8 - Weiss Mann - Schwarz Mann
9 - Vorgeschichte
10 - Aussetzenen
11 - Es Gibt Soviele Dinge Zu Tun
12 - Der Licht Dass Lichten Jeden Mann
13 - Für Nguyen Van Troi (Teil 1 & 2)
14 - Arbeit Macht Freiheit!
15 - Brudi An Die S-Bahn
16 - Noch Fällte Der Regen (Tiel 1 & 2)
17 - Wie Eine Flut Von Kraft Und Licht

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Monday, 15 February 2016

factor X vs. Family of Noise (1995) C90+


I started writing to Shaun Robert when Carl Glover and myself were doing the Dada X cassette, to which Shaun contributed in some capacity. In 1993 we decided to undertake another collaborative work, something Shaun had done a lot with a number of noise artists, Odal, Mlehst, Sudden Infant - and others. By this point I was recording my own shite as Family of Noise, not because I considered myself a noise artist by any stretch of the imagination, but because I was still obsessed with both the Italian Futurists and the first Adam & the Ants album. Anyway, the idea was that Shaun would fuck with a load of source material I had originated so as to create new music, or at least sound; and I would do the same with his material. I liked the idea of producing music where all of the sound had been generated by the other person, then arranged by myself, so I was present in the recording only as an organising influence.

The first eight tracks here are therefore me looping and sampling bits of Shaun, excepting 120 into 10.29 which was two hours worth of factor X songs - possibly the entirety of the Weird album plus some other stuff - all played at once, just like the young people do these days with their YouTubes and every Beatles song ever recorded - I got there first, shitheads. I could have sworn it was ten minutes and twenty-nine seconds in duration. Maybe time just ran faster in the nineties.

It took Shaun fucking ages to come up with his tracks - nine through to sixteen here, by the way - and when he did he ended up taking an entirely different approach. I was a bit pissed off by it at the time and I remember thinking something along the lines of, he's just played a load of my backing tracks and added some funny noises, the lazy bastard. Around this time he had done a track called V.Gen, similarly credited to the both of us, which turned up on the Pornography compilation from BV Tapes, and it was just the instrumental of Illyana Rasputin's Musik in My Gasmask with Shaun talking about his todger over the top of it. This niggled me a bit. I had sent him a load of tapes, including backing tracks for existing pieces of music, assuming he would pinch, loop, or sample bits of them rather than just do karaoke numbers over unaltered instrumentals.

Anyway, it took Shaun fucking ages to come up with his tracks - I think it was 1995, although I could be wrong - by which time I'd lost interest in the idea; and so the finished tape never appeared. In fact it was never even a single tape, and what you have here comes from the various cassette masters from which I would have assembled the tape, had I been arsed to do so. Shaun's material came on a C90 with an audio letter recorded on the other side, and I've also included that here as an afterword of sorts because it relates to the project as a whole and gives Shaun's side of the story (seeing as you've had mine).

Ironically, after all this time, I realise Shaun's tracks work a little better than mine. They have more personality somehow. Conversely some of my own more heavily sampled efforts represent such abstractions that the source of the original material is reduced to an irrelevance. Oh well. You live and learn.

I eventually fell out with Shaun for boring reasons, but you might like to check out more of his stuff on his Bandcamp page. The Pornography compilation I mentioned is available as a freebie download from somewhere or other, but I'm not going to link it because the artwork is all cocks and arseholes and fannies and I wasn't that knocked out by the music, personally speaking. I'm sure you'll be able to find it if you look hard enough.



Tracks:

1 - Loop Guru
2 - Hawaii 15
3 - 120 into 10.29
4 - Open Your Eyes
5 - In the Shed
6 - A Woman's Clothes
7 - Pussy Actually Gash
8 - The Man with the Child in His Eyebrows
9 - Computer Game
10 - untitled I
11 - untitled II
12 - untitled III
13 - untitled IV
14 - untitled V
15 - untitled VI
16 - Devil Music
17 - Afterword by Shaun Robert

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Monday, 8 February 2016

Do Easy - The Ninth Metal Tape (1983) C60


I knew this one was going to be tough going, but I didn't realise it would be quite as bad as it is. I'm probably not even going to bother leaving the usual links on Twatter and Arsebook. Download at your peril.
 
With hindsight, the problem was my delusional graduation from noisy sound pieces such as Le Cœur à Gaz - which was named after a Tristan Tzara play and is probably the best thing here - to things I considered songs because they had tunes and deep, meaningful lyrics. It didn't really occur to me that my voice was whiny and unpleasant, and my lyrics weren't anywhere near as weird or interesting as I imagined them to be. Neither did it occur to me to re-record things so as to make them less shit than they turned out on first attempt. Oh well.

If The Sixth Metal Tape was my media album - which it wasn't - then this was probably my sexuality and fear of molestation concept album, or something. I vaguely recall finding the bloke in our local chip shop a bit creepy and deduced in my teenage wisdom that he was probably a kiddy fiddler, which he almost certainly wasn't, and so some of these songs were about that. At the same time I was developing a weirdly puritanical attitude in response to kids at school going on about Mad Max and how it's great when the bloke rapes all those women - or something along similar lines; and then there was Second Brain Product which I have a sneaky feeling may have been about having a wank, and distancing oneself from the act so as to appear less like a pervert to the girls who would then be more likely to let me have sexual intercourse with them. Ironic really, when you consider the old bloke in the chip shop was effectively giving it away and probably wouldn't have required the preliminary box of chocolates. There are also a number of references to Mussolini because why the fuck not?

What the hell was I thinking?


Tracks:
1 - Youth of Today
2 - I and the Village
3 - My Remaining Eye
4 - Le Cœur à Gaz
5 - Essential Supplies
6 - Eleven-Year Old Scenery
7 - Strong Stuff
8 - Obscene
9 - Pause Button Experiment
10 - Wasted Cells
11 - The Laugh!
12 - Twelfth Night
13 - Second Brain Product
14 - Just This Screaming
15 - Don't Look Back

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Monday, 1 February 2016

Konstruktivists - Tic Tac Toe Remixes (1991) C60


Konstruktivists had recorded an album for World Serpent and somebody or other suggested the possibility of there being a single from the album, which was all very exciting. I hit the photocopier and put together the artwork for what would definitely be our first twelve inch single whilst Joe hit the studio and remixed the shit out of Tic Tac Toe, the track which everybody seemed to regard as representing our best chance at knocking Cher's Shoop Shoop Song and Colour Me Bad off the top of the hit parade. Then suddenly everyone realised that vinyl was rubbish, and that no-one would ever buy a vinyl record ever again, and the thing was downsized to a CD single which I would have to take around to somebody's house to listen to for at least the next five years. Oh well. It was still better than a kick up the arse I suppose.

Weirdly, I find that twenty-five years later, persons on facebook are still listening to Tic Tac Toe, which is nice; and so I am prompted to dig out this cassette of ten mixes crafted by the technologically adept hand of Joseph Ahmed. Some of these turned up on the CD single. I can't be arsed to work out which, but unless you were in Konstruktivists in 1991, you probably won't have heard at least five of these. I wasn't sure what to make of these mixes at the time, but with hindsight Joe did a great job, and I only regret that one of the trancier versions didn't end up as a slab of vinyl being played into a flexidisc and getting rewinds and all that in the super hot Tropicana acid disco house clubs of the day. Seriously, I think this lot would make for a very listenable double vinyl set if anyone feels inclined to think about that one for a while.

Whilst we're here, I should probably point you in the general direction of Joe's more recent work which can be downloaded from this bandcamp page.

No cover as it was just a boring inlay card, I'm afraid. The Alex pic comes from a promotional postcard we did around the same time.



Tracks:

1 - Tic Tac Toe (instrumental mix)
2 - Tic Tac Toe (guitar mix)
3 - Tic Tac Toe (vocal mix)
4 - Tic Tac Toe (album remix)
5 - Tic Tac Toe (trance I)
6 - Tic Tac Toe (trance II)
7 - Tic Tac Toe (trance III)
8 - Tic Tac Toe (dub I)
9 - Tic Tac Toe (dub II)
10 - Tic Tac Toe (reverse dub)

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