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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  1. Thank you for publishing this (now lost) masterpiece (in my humble opinion). I'm a Konstruktivists follower from their beginning (my 1st LP from them was "A Dissembly"). I've always considered "Forbidden" a "unicum" in their discography. When I bought it in 1991 I was really afraid in what I could listen, but, surprisingly, the LP was really good and it was better and better at every listen! Unfortunately, as you said, the CD suffers of Disc Rot, and so it's many years that I'm not able to listen to it! The only thing I can say more is that I would like that such a masterpiece should be published at a higher bitrate (256/320 kbps?).
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Carlo, sorry I've only just seen your response. I'm told that Forbidden is due a proper reissue at some point soon. Glad you liked the album. I'm always surprised that people even remember it.