Monday, 12 June 2017

Clench - In the Garden (1984) C46

I'm afraid I don't have much of a clue about this one, and even the year of its appearance is guesswork based on where the catalogue number should appear amongst other Black Dwarf releases listed on Discogs, which this one isn't, for some reason. Black Dwarf was the label run by Tim Gane of the Unkommuniti (and yes - Stereolab blah blah blah), so I have a vague hunch this may have been a couple of other Unkommuniti peeps branching out so as to experience the novelty of recording an entire cassette without H.P. Lovecraft references; but it's a hunch, so I'm not sure. It could be Jonathan King for all I know. I vaguely recall being sent this copy by some Clench person, asking if I would consider releasing it on Do Easy, which confused me because it sort of looked like it was already available through Black Dwarf what with the cover and everything. Maybe that was just some provisional thing and it never received formal release, hence the absence from Discogs. Maybe they just wanted it to appear on a few labels. Anyway, I thought the tape was great but Do Easy had more or less bitten the dust by that point, as I recall. There's a chance I still have the letter from the guy somewhere in one of the six lever arch box files in which I have kept all of my antique correspondence from Cosey Fanni Tutti, Neil Campbell, the Grey Wolves, and other famous people, but it could take a couple of days to find even if I still have the thing, so - well, y'know...

In the Garden stands out as one of the stranger, more interesting weirdy cassettes I've heard over the years - drum machines deployed as sonic effects rather than for the sake of rhythm in the traditional sense, and those weird, dark titles - more like lines of poetry than a list of tracks. Maybe if Michael Gira had been hanging around with Portion Control rather than New York art gallery wankers...

1 - Child - Man, a Summer's Day
2 - One Result of Courage
3 - He Was Pushed
4 - Don't Touch... Mine!
5 - Grab Me
6 - Insanity Begins (at Home)
7 - Kata'ib
8 - Why Choose Her, That Poor Little Girl?
9 - Lenny
10 - Instinctuality
11 - Indoctrination Starts Young
12 - Only an Attack Can Do These Things

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  1. Hello there,
    Just discovered that my cassette has been downloaded on to You Tube. I am indeed Clench (In the Garden) and also responsible for the Spinebender track on Ars Magna et Ultima, although I much prefer your title. A pleasant surprise to hear this after so many years as I lost alot of those tapes many moons ago. I think you are right about the date, it was about 1983 or 1984 and I was 17 at the time and still in sixth form having met Tim who was a couple of years older in the same school. The Clench recording was the second of my solo recordings for Black Dwarf (or should that be wreckordings). The first was under the name Moise Collectiv (no idea why) and will probably (hopefully) never be found. The Clench cassette was recorded on the trusty Fostex porta studio and I used Tim's Roland SH101 and Moog Prodigy along with loads of effects pedals and my Boss Dr Rhythm DR-101 drum machine and Boss Percussion synth. I think that was all, hence the minimalism (as well as clips from Star Trek and a Lenny Bruce film off the TV (sampling eh!). I contributed a lot of vocals on Unkommuniti tracks as I had quite a versatile screamy range as well as live performances at places like the Ambulance station in Old Kent Road, where we played with Ashenden incidentally as well as Attrition although they were going 'commercial' by then so were a bit aloof. Just as another aside as far as I can remember Tim's band McCarthy were named while we were at a gig in Dingwall's I think. I mentioned that the Live McCarthy tape by Ramleh was a cool name and what with McCarthy's irony and radical lyrics, to call themselves McCarthy seemed to fit nicely. So the jangly pop outfit were actually named after a Ramleh tape, who'd have thought.
    Anyway, keep up the good archaeological work, just thought I'd fill in some of the mystery. Can't remember writing to you, might have been Tim or Joe/Vince (Kallous Boys) but might have been me. I was trying to get a noise fanzine off the ground called a Gesture at the time but it never happened and I went off to University in Manchester and got my head turned by the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine (just the noisy stuff obviously.) Again your hunch was right about Portion Control, I did quite like the first couple of releases although most of the hardcore noiseniks thought they were a bit naff (which was probably right.) Although I liked stuff by Whitehouse, Lustmord etc. I always veered towards the more beaty synth and drum machine side of TG, Chris and Cosey first two albums, Nocturnal Emissions etc. Hence the side projects from Unkommuniti. Enough now. Just glad to confirm that Clench was not Jonathan King.
    David Brown

    1. Wow! Thanks for posting, David! Interesting stuff. I remember hearing about the Ambulance Station gig with Ashenden (and possibly also Gas Rattle, whoever they were?) and regretted not being able to go. The McCarthy anecdote is interesting - I remember the Broken Flag stuff and had actually wondered along those lines whether there might be some connection.

    2. ...or possibly not having gone to the gig as i may have read about it after the event. Wasn't it briefly mentioned in the Face or something like that? Seem to recall a single paragraph with a pic of Tim or someone with a megaphone.

  2. Yea so long ago. That Ambulance station gig was a bit of a blur as I came back down from Manchester especially so if there is a photo it might be me as Tim wasn't up for fronting stuff then. I remember that I burst blood vessels in my face that night I think screaming so much so a megaphone might have helped. Tim was hunched over the fostex with his guitar and only told me later that the fostex had got stuck on twice the speed! No wonder I was screaming louder than usual. There were lots of great squat venues back then like the anarchist Bingo Hall etc. and remember seeing some great Ramleh, Nocturnal Emissions and even Sutcliffe Jugend gigs in weird, dark places in London. Those first five or six Nocturnal Emissions albums are still favourites and you can probably hear a bit of Viral Shedding/Drowning in a sea of Bliss influence in the cassette (if only I had their equipment). It was a good crossover time with the June Brides and others playing the same venues and remember Larry Peterson with some affection, he put on some gigs and him trying to sell a Chris and cosey import to the Rough Trade crew in Ladbroke Grove. Kept on with the Anarchist stuff in Manchester for a while but I was always more drawn to the Dada angle, as was Tim although 'thee' gothic nihilist imagery was always a draw. Just as a last sign off I still think Nocturnal Emissions' Befehlsnotstand is one of, if not, the favourite album of mine and glad to say still got the thing on vinyl..Once again keep up the good work and if you ever come across that Moise Collectiv cassette - keep it to yourself. Ho Ho.

    1. Again - fascinating stuff! Funnily enough I only just got a copy of Befehlsnotstand about a month ago - still have most of the NE stuff (Viral Shedding is my own favourite) and have now reached the point of filling in a few gaps, and Befehlsnotstand was issued during a year of unusual poverty.