Monday, 28 September 2015

Cloister Crime - Devilish Music for an Unredeemable (1984) C46

I have no idea - some Swedish bloke called Stalker apparently, and my guess is that he probably wasn't averse to the occasional spot of the Gristley Throbbers whenever Dave Lee Travis happened to spin one of their songs on the wireless. My other guess is that Stalker probably wasn't his real name. I vaguely recall sending Lennart Eilersen of Selbstmord Organización some crappy tape of mine and suggesting he send back whatever he had laying around as a swap, and so I ended up with this, which wasn't actually on Lennart's label, but I guess he knew the guy because he's thanked on the tape. Of course it's potentially a bit of a political minefield offering up this sort of blatantly industrial obscurity given that most of the fuckers seem to have ended up as Conservative politicians or worse, so for all I know this bloke may presently spend his day banging on about the dilution of the white race by impure stock (etc. etc.); but let's hope not, and if so, sorry, I looked high and low but drew mostly blanks.

I use the term blatantly industrial for reasons which will be obvious once you listen to the thing - harsh noises and what Sir Kenneth Clark would almost certainly have described as a beastly undercurrent in the lyrics, which probably isn't too surprising given that Charlie and My Double were originally poems written by one of those serial killer types, and I wouldn't bother looking the guy up on Wikipedia because it's all characteristically disgusting. Obvious reservations aside, I remain surprised by how good this one sounds regardless of it having worn its influences so blatantly on its sleeve, and it probably helps that Chrome must surely have been significant among said influences.

Finally, I did what I could with the original tape, but there's some drop out in one channel for a few seconds during a couple of the tracks, and it was beyond my powers to fix it. Hopefully it shouldn't spoil your enjoyment.

1 - Bunker Neighbourhood
2 - Too Tough

3 - Charlie
4 - My Double
5 - The Mean Lip
6 - To Suck
7 - I Wanna Be Your Nun

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Konstruktivists - Forbidden BC (1991) C90

Many thousands of years ago I was in a band called Konstruktivists, as formed by Glenn Wallis and still very much a going concern today. I wasn't properly in the band for very long partially because of geography - the difficulty of being in a band with two other people living so many miles apart - and partially because I could never quite work out why I was in the band in the first place, excepting possibly as thanks for having painted a couple of the album covers. Anyway, at the end of February 1991 we recorded an album called Forbidden in a studio in Harlow, Essex. Forbidden was released by World Serpent distribution and apparently sold well in a relatively short space of time. Unfortunately Forbidden was one of a number of albums which World Serpent had produced which later succumbed to disc rot and thus became unplayable - something to do with the ink on the label side of the CD apparently, and all the work of one particular pressing plant. I'd always looked forward to the day I got to put out a proper album, so it was kind of a pisser when the thing came out as a mere CD rather than PROPER VINYL, and as a CD which degraded to an indeterminate slush of zeroes and ones after a couple of years.

To whine further, to this day I still don't know what to make of Forbidden. Some of it is great (Autonomen, Hurts So Good), but some of the tracks I never really liked that much - Tic Tac Toe, She Loves It, and the somewhat comical Konfess - six minutes of pantomime evil and scary faces so cock obvious it would surely embarrass even Marilyn Manson fans. Then there was the recording process, three days during which I would tear around at work like a blue-arsed fly in the morning, rush to get home as soon as I could, get a bus to Liverpool Street, and then a train to Harlow to catch the last couple of hours of studio time that day, then back home and up again at fucking five for work the next day. The tracks had already been recorded and required just my guitar part, which I had to work out there and then in most cases. I disliked this way of working and had initially imagined I might, being in the band, be included in the process of composition in a more collaborative capacity

'It's just how it is,' Joe would shrug because it was somehow beyond his power to have included me in the initial creative process, this being Joe with all the samplers, Joe who lived a five minute walk from the studio. Being accustomed to improvisation, some of my guitar sounded all right I thought, but on a couple of the tracks they may as well have just given me a fucking tambourine to play. I spent the playback of one number noodling away, finally working out something I thought I could do, only to be told it had been recorded and was therefore a final take, and Joe's massive grin was probably this is how wild and crazy we are, but felt kind of like some weirdly passive-aggressive expression of victory. I got the impression he didn't particularly like my being in the band, and our communication seemed restricted to bewildering phone calls informing me what his close personal friends Chris & Cosey had been up to that week, then later to whining as to his having no photographic representation on the album cover, which was put together by myself and Carl Glover. I had asked him over and over for a photo we might use, and honestly had the impression he'd stopped caring about the band now that World Serpent were putting out his solo CDs; although to be fair I seem to recall that Chris & Cosey were considering buying a new fridge freezer at that point, so obviously he would have had a lot of other stuff on his mind.

Anyway, for many years I've been unable to listen to my copy of this album, but then remembered I have a tape of it, copied from the DAT at the time as I recall. Because I've a feeling Forbidden may have undergone further EQing prior to pressing, and because my tape copy leaves off the end of Dark Exkursions (faded here so as to spare you the abrupt cut) and includes Sole Street (which didn't make it onto the album), and a load of other stuff with which I filled up the C90, I've stuck this here as Forbidden BC (before compact disc or summink) as a copy of my cassette rather than the album it became. For what it may be worth I understand that cogs are in motion for the proper rerelease of Forbidden.

Tracks 1 - 11 were recorded at The Square in Harlow 28/2/91 to 2/3/91, and were recorded in the order in which they appear here by Glenn Wallis and Joseph Ahmed with me on lecky guitar. I think you can actually hear me playing the Coronation Street theme on that one track they recorded without telling me, whichever one it is. Serves them right.

Tracks 12 - 15 were recorded by myself and Glenn on his portastudio at his place in Norfolk a little later in the same year, so far as I recall. I personally preferred these tracks and they are closer to how I felt Forbidden should have sounded.

Track 16 is actually by the Dovers, who were myself and Carl Glover with Chris New on drums. This is from a live gig at the Sunset Strip, Chatham on 23/12/87. We were able to coax Glenn up from the audience to provide guest vocals and general yelping. To be fair, he didn't actually require much coaxing.

Tracks 16 & 17, so far as I recall, were recorded by Glenn, Carl Glover and myself at Carl's place in Bermondsey, probably 1991 or thereabouts.

1 - Housewife's Choice
2 - Tic Tac Toe

3 - Sole Street
4 - Friendly Fire
5 - Heute
6 - She Loves It
7 - Hurts So Good
8 - Autonomen
9 - Konfess
10 - Face of an Angel
11 - Dark Excursions (fade)
12 - Sin Título III
13 - Sin Título I
14 - Sin Título II
15 - Sin Título IV
16 - He Believes [The Dovers]
17 - Sin Título V
18 - Sin Título VI  

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Monday, 14 September 2015

v/a - Circumcise the Foreskin of Your Heart (1983) C60

Here we go. Everybody and their milkman had a compilation tape clogging up fanzine column inches and I was determined that I shouldn't be left out. Additionally I had certain ideas about the sort of thing I wanted to hear on a compilation tape, and the sort of thing I didn't want to hear, and had already begun to formulate cynical thoughts about those independent tape labels which quite clearly just wanted to be EMI, or at least 4AD, and were only slumming it with the rest of us because they couldn't afford to do otherwise, wankers; and, to be more ruthlessly honest, it had also occurred to me that no-one could say what should appear on my tape but me, and I'd sent tracks off to a few tape labels only to be told either that my stuff was shite, or was else not worthy for inclusion on the grounds that I didn't know anyone from SPK.


Anyway, at the time I was corresponding fairly busily with Larry Peterson of Cause for Concern tapes, architect of the genuinely wonderful A Sudden Surge of Power C90 featuring Chris & Cosey, Attrition, Test Dept and all sorts - the finest compilation of that entire era, I would argue. Larry encouraged me to get a compilation of my own together, and then fobbed me off with a few tracks he'd been sent but obviously didn't want to use for his follow up to A Sudden Surge of Power, and also he put me in touch with Kevin Thorne of We Be Echo who accordingly sent me a track out of the blue without my even having to ask. Plus, I wasn't entirely without my own resources so...

Some of these you may as well just look up on Discogs or wherever given that I never really knew much about them. I understood Citipati, for example, to be something to do with the excellent Adventures of Twizzle (who came up with the title Circumcise the Foreskin of Your Heart, which is from some religious source, possibly), with whom I was in correspondence, but Discogs seems to think they were some sort of New Blockaders side project; and The Prison was the best song on a five track demo which Larry passed on to me, a demo by a band which never actually responded to any of my letters, so I thought fuck it and stuck the track on there anyway. It seemed to fit. I guess it's the same track which appeared on something called Sing As We Go from the previous year. Oh well.

The Desolate Accountants were Pete and Graham, my two friends from school and half of the Pre-War Busconductors, which also included myself and Eggy. The Pre-War Busconductors were a fairly raucous (not to mention stupid) cardboard box drum kit punk band, included here mainly so as to annoy anyone anticipating a fifteen minute track of mains hum by Coil's dentist and named after Aleister Crowley's favourite holiday destination, but also because we all enjoy having our bollocks whipped from time to time, don't we? I included the two Desolate Accountants tracks because I always loved them, and thought they were the most musical of our imaginary bands, the one name from the bunch which could justifiably fill a Vinyl-on-Demand release without too many people asking for a refund.

The Cause for Concern was Larry Peterson having a go at noise as he did from time to time before he realised there was no money in it, and none of the bands on his tape label would ever be famous. I realise with hindsight that Mike Finch was a pseudonym used by Dave Fanning of the Apostles and later Academy 23 with some frequency, so I assume this may have been something to do with him given that he did stuff with Larry on a couple of occasions. He also played bass for Three Heads Nodding, or so I heard somewhere. Three Heads Nodding were, so far as I know, Neil, Kev (possibly) and some others who lived in a squat in the Brougham Road in Hackney just a few doors along from the Apostles. Neil also drew and wrote Ka-Ka Komik back in the days when Viz was still a fanzine sold in Newcastle pubs. Ka-Ka Komik was fucking mint!

NKVD was an alias of Glenn of Konstruktivists to whom I had been writing since A Dissembly came out. I think this version of Mansonik No. 2 may be the original portastudio demo which Glenn later took into the studio and had fancified by Dave Kenny ready for its appearance on his second album. I could be wrong about that, although it sounds different to me.

Asepisis was my friend Jez from school, another Gristle fan who recorded a load of stuff on my equipment, and actually seemed to make a better job of it than I did with the whole noisy electronics schtick. He did a great C60 called The Glory of Punishment for whatever the Grey Wolves' tape label was called at the time, but we fell out (which was my fault). I'm still trying to work up the courage to ask him if I can reissue his C60 here as a free download.

Do Easy was myself, obviously, sounding a lot more Numan-influenced than I remember being the case. Neither did I realise my voice was quite that nasal, although it was pointed out to me, in fact it was even pointed out to me by the bloke out of ABC. Oh well. I still say some of my lyrics were decent, even if the execution left something to be desired.

Probably the best tracks on the whole thing were from Irsol, a band which featured Ash from Attrition and a couple of his friends. Irsol put out two exceptionally wonderful cassettes which have recently been given the vinyl treatment, two exceptionally wonderful cassettes which remain amongst the absolute best of the entire cassette scene to my ears. I've a feeling they may have been a bit pissed off upon discovering that their lovingly recorded tracks ended up sharing tape with an assortment of tossers rummaging around in a broom cupboard and a song called Whip My Bollocks. I actually had my mum drop me off at one Irsol member's house on the Kenilworth Road in Coventry so I could leave four complimentary copies of Circumcise with his dad, or whoever the guy was. They never wrote back. I suppose it might have been the wrong house.

Anyway, that's your lot. It didn't set the world on fire. I think it sold about sixty or seventy copies over the space of a couple of years. There were worse compilations. I'm not sure what else I can say.

1 - We Be Echo - Soma Improvement
2 - Desolate Accountants - Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree

3 - The Cause for Concern with Mike Finch - Look in the Mirror
4 - Do Easy - My Remaining Eye
5 - Three Heads Nodding - Sloven Song
6 - Pre-War Busconductors - Whip My Bollocks
7 - NKVD - untitled
8 - Citipati - Improvisations April '83
9 - Irsol - Time Domain
10 - Do Easy - British Movement
11 - Three Heads Nodding - Hitch Hiker
12 - Konstruktivists - Mansonik No. 2
13 - Asepisis - Accidents with More People
14 - His-Create-He - The Prison (that Jack Built)
15 - Irsol - The Stranger
16 - Desolate Accountants - Interview

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Monday, 7 September 2015

The Shining - Green Dragon 2/8/84 (1984) C40

I don't really know much about this lot, but they were a local Stratford-upon-Avon band whom I saw live a couple of times. The line up at the time of this gig was Penny Green (vocals), Dave Browning (guitar), Henry Probert (bass), Jackie Lowe (sax), and I'm pretty sure the drummer was called Jim. Apparently they changed their name quite a few times and had previously been known as That Statue Moved after a song by Slow Children. Anyway, my diary first acknowledges their existence as the Shining in an entry dated to Friday the 30th December, 1983 as follows:
Sarah and Penny, who is also in a band called the Shining, came over to do some recording. Jez came over too a bit later. We watched Grez's Agfa video tape of various pop videos. The Devo one was great. Sarah and Penny did their track. I like Sarah. She is really sweet, and not one of those Bauhaus types at all. The same goes for Penny.

Yup. I fancied my best buddy's girlfriend something rotten, and it all ended in a terrible mess, none of which really relates to the Shining whose activities were next recorded in my diary on Tuesday 3rd April, 1984: 

I went to see The Fab Eight, The Shining, and Trees Kill Two at the Green Dragon with Jez, Eggy and the delightful Sarah. What a nice lass she is. I also saw Martin, Andrew Bird and some others, and I might have joined a band. I'm not sure. Glenn Wallis phoned while I was out at the gig. The Shining were great by the way.

I've a feeling the Fab Eight were some sort of conceptual side project involving Henry Probert, Dave Browning and six cabbages arranged around a microphone like backing singers. You probably had to be there, and I was, but I can't really remember what happened. Anyway, on to Saturday 12th May 1984...

Today I had a letter from Maidstone: I'm in! I also had post from Gordon Leitch and also from Doublevision who want to see my video work! Later I went to see the Shining and the Fab Eight at the Green Dragon, which was ace. Jez, Martin, Jane, Grez, Louie, Eggy and Sarah were also there. I sold Sarah a copy of Five Track Compact Cassette. I will be supporting the next time the Shining play live. The Shining are fucking good.

Yeah. It was all happening for me, apparently. Five Track Compact Cassette was a tape by Do Easy, the name under which I had been recording vaguely underwhelming experimental music for about a year, and by this point I was beginning to think about the possibility of gigs. Word of this got back to Dave and Henry of the Shining who promptly offered to help out, and thus, following something you wouldn't quite call a rehearsal at my house, aided in my vaguely improvising some sort of noisy efforts, initially at college in Leamington Spa - no Henry, but with Jim banging bits of washing machine (yer trendy metal percussion at least beating sodding Depeche Toad to the party, if admittedly no-one else); and with Jez playing guitar because I hadn't yet pissed on my chips by entering his girlfriend.

This was Monday the 2nd of July, 1984. Jim is wearing the plaid shirt as Dave bashes something powerfully and Jez rocks out on the right. Those paintings of life size cut-out figures in the background are by my famous friend Jason Pierce of Spacemen 3 and later Spiritualized. He was on my art foundation course, at my college, and he wasn't at your college, therefore nyer. One day he said to me, 'I would like to form a band, but I don't have any inspiration. What would you recommend, Lawrence Burton, my close personal friend and mentor?'

'Have you tried that skag?" I quipped.

He seemed thoughtful. 'I'll look into it, but I can't very well form a famous pop band without a name - that's my other problem.'

'How about Spacemen 3,' I suggested, smiling beatifically.

That's how it happened, or would have done except I didn't know the guy and apparently he was asleep for most of the year. Henry, Dave, and Jez - but no Jim - augmented my pitiful Genesis P. Orridge impersonations at another Do Easy performance, this time at the Green Dragon on Monday the 6th of August, 1984, the recording of which will probably be digitised and posted on this blog when I really start to run low on decent stuff. This was, I suppose, a sort of postscript to Thursday the 2nd of August, 1984:

Today was the usual shit except that I saw the Shining supported by the shitty Magus weak disco. The only good records they played were Killing Joke's Eighties and the first Public Image Limited single, and it kind of spoiled the night. It was the last Shining gig, which is a great pity. I saw Jez, Grez and Sarah - who cheered me up with a letter. I hate cult weirdos.

I think this last reference, along with the one to Bauhaus types made earlier, comes from a general dislike of fashion victims, this being before anyone had coined the term goth. The Shining would probably have been described as goth had they endured, but at the time I never really thought they required whatever descriptions were available - either post-punk or positive punk or whatever it was that month. They reminded me a little of a couple of bands I already liked, notably Siouxsie & the Banshees, yet had something of their own thing going on, particularly with that wonderful saxomaphone, and I still think the lyrics were great. I'm guessing this tape was from the last gig. For some reason I never bothered to write the date on the cassette inlay card, but I probably wouldn't have thought to tape the first one I saw back in April, not having any idea what they sounded like, and the first thing you tend to notice about any cassette recording made in the presence of Eggy is the aforementioned presence of Eggy gurgling and squeaking away next to the microphone, so I doubt it was the May gig.

Thanks to Penny for this pic...

Anyway, I've derived much pleasure from this recording over the years, not least whilst drunk and melodramatically inclined; and it's been a very pleasant surprise to revisit this thing and to realise what great quality the recording was; so er... you've probably never heard of them, and none of this will mean anything, but this be some good shit. Enjoy.

...and also this one.

1 - The Back Room
2 - Twentieth Century

3 - Infatuation
4 - Embarrassment
5 - My Cindy Doll is a Transvestite
6 - Whispering Blades
7 - Oubliette
8 - The Girl

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