Monday, 27 July 2015

Illyana Rasputin in Pittsburgh (1988) C60

This was myself and John Jasper, the man behind the Joneses, thirty minutes of which can theoretically be found by referring to the index. I had been recording my own stuff under the name Do Easy since about 1982 or thereabouts, the problem with which was - as I began to realise - lack of quality control and the absence of any clear idea of what I was doing. Pieces of music which were obviously rubbish were taped over at source, but unless it was completely shit, I usually stuck it on a cassette in the hope of someone buying it. Additionally there was the problem that my tapes would vary wildly in style and quality from one track to the next. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to be Throbbing Gristle, Soft Cell, Karlheinz Stockhausen, or Leonard Cohen, so it probably all sounded wildly inconsistent. By the time 1988 wheeled around I fancied a fresh go at it with a new name and efforts made to ensure that successive tracks would at least sound like the work of the same person. Illyana Rasputin was a character whom I fancied from the X-Men comics, of which I was reading a ton at the time due to having very little in the way of a sex life. It sounded vaguely exotic and not even remotely industrial, so that was what I went with. This tape was recorded on and off throughout 1988 around at John's house. I and the Village, Pure Finger Point at Earth Scum, In the Ruins of Becelaere, Waterside at 12, Let the Bayonets Speak! and Groove 1889 all came from previous incarnations as Do Easy songs, or at least demos left at varying stages of completion, but half of these compositions are John's doing, and he's the reason I can still listen to any of it without wincing too hard.

The details at which I still wince are entirely mine, and time hasn't healed the wound. Because it was the eighties and I had everything Throbbing Gristle ever recorded (including the ludicrously rare private Death Factory tapes from '76, so nyer nyer nyer all you Johnny-come-lately part-timers) I spent at least some of the time exploring controversial ideas and imagery, just like every other sad fucker with a delay pedal and a copy of that Emlyn Williams book about the moors murderers. Accordingly one of these songs is named after a painting by Adolf Hitler, and another was one of Mussolini's catchphrases, to whom there are a number of additional lyrical references for the sake of flavouring one's Riesling with just a splash of urine for sake of texture. Personally I always saw the referencing of the transgressive as roughly in the tradition of the Surrealists and their like. It honestly never occurred to me that there might actually be genuine Hitler enthusiasts out there strumming acoustic guitars whilst singing about Himmler being a bit like some nice flowers, and getting away with it because industrial music fans are generally as thick as fucking pig shit. When not making daring references to bad 'uns, I was mostly singing about how I hadn't had it off in ages. Why this should have been so is obviously a mystery to me.

It actually took me a couple of years to get around to shoving this tape out under the banner of Runciter Corporation, a name stolen from a Philip K. Dick novel under which I also produced various comics and fanzines. I ran off about fifty or so copies, so far as I can tell, although I'm not sure how many of those I actually sold. The tape was also released by Carl Howard's Audiophile Tapes in the US. I'm not sure how many Carl sold, but from what I can tell by looking at his facebook page, he doesn't appear to own a yacht, so US sales may not even have hit single figures. I probably should have recorded a better tape, I suppose, although for all its innumerable flaws, I've heard worse - even if I do say so myself. I only wish the good bits had been my fault.

Whilst I'm here, I feel I should mention Space Patrol!, Carl Howard's net radio show for which there is a facebook page to be found here, and a dedicated group here. It seems like something worth supporting, so you know what to do.

1 - Rorschach Love Song
2 - I and the Village

3 - Sad Fascination February 1988
4 - Pure Finger Point at Earth Scum
5 - In the Ruins of Becelaere
6 - Scavenger
7 - Waterside at 12
8 - Let the Bayonets Speak!
9 - Musik in My Gasmask
10 - Pittsburgh
11 - Groove 1889

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