Saturday, 17 June 2017

Khmer Rouge - Year Zero Disco (1981) C46

I asked Mex if it would be okay to slap this one up here as a freebie (along with a couple of other Dead Hedgehog releases) and not only did he say yes, but he very kindly sent me his own digitised file of the tape, meaning 1) I didn't have to do nuffink, and 2) being closer to the source, the quality may be marginally better than it would have been taken from my copy.

Anyway, I don't really know much about Khmer Rouge beyond what can be gleaned from the artwork, all scanned and included with the download. The late Robert Dellar apparently plays some keyboard on this one, for what it may be worth, and of course Mex was involved and should require no introduction, but in the event of your having missed all the memos, please refer to this website and don't be afraid to buy an ice cream while you're there. One of the things I always appreciated about Dead Hedgehog Enterprises was their obvious love of disco in an era and culture in which it had become more or less a dirty word. There were plenty of tapes with the circled A of anarchy doing the rounds, but only Dead Hedgehog slapped DISCO! on the cover of their tapes in that font you otherwise only ever saw used on the signs of newsagents.

Year Zero Disco is punky and low-fi by the standards of your regular disco artist, but it rewards repeat listening, and begins to sound like something in the general direction of Public Image Limited, LCD Soundsystem, Shriekback and those guys, once you're accustomed to it.

The tape came in a plastic sleeve of the kind you would buy so as to protect the cover of a 7" single, so the artwork - two sheets of A4, were folded over so as to fit into the package. This annoyed the hell out of me at the time, so I made my own cover from photocopies of the original so as to fit a cassette in a jewel case neatly filed away under K, between my tapes of David James and Killing Joke as nature intended. I've also included a scan of my reconfigured cover in with the download just in case anyone gives a shit.

1 - Boogie 'Til You Drop
2 - Come Dance With Me
3 - Love Like Dynamite
4 - Take Me (Across the Floor Tonight)
5 - Tuesday Relay
6 - Disco Suicide

Return to Index

1 comment:

  1. My recollection of this project was that it was primarily the brainchild of Tim Reynolds, who Robert went to school with. At the time I always assumed Tim was Robert’s best friend, as they were a bit like glue in the late 70s/early 80s. It was only in the summer of 2015 whilst out having a meal with Robert, reminiscing about the old days, that he confessed he didn’t really get on with Tim and that there was an element of rivalry between them. This came as bit of a shock but with the fresh knowledge and hindsight, Tim kind of only created Khmer Rouge to compete with Robert’s Godless Pinkoes.

    As was often the case with these things, I was called upon to turn the concept into a reality, as none of those involved were what one would deem traditional musicians, coming more from the punk spirit of attitude over aptitude, which ultimately is what it’s all about (or should be)… also I was a chap they knew who had a modicum of musicality, not to mention an assemblage of tools that kind of constituted being a recording studio of sorts, and who was prepared to take the project on unpaid.

    They were great because they left me alone to my own devices to put the thing together – it’s always great when an artist trusts their producer. Most of what I did was cut and paste (with tape – this album was pre-digital) passages of their performances in order to assemblage a certain atmosphere, and make it as musical as possible. Coupled with listening to a lot of dance music at the time and having aspirations of creating Watford’s answer to the New York disco scene (albeit with a punk sensibility), dubbing the whole sound up got me somewhere near to that (plus I’d just bought an echo box, which I wanted to use on everything!) Hence, why the thing does have so much of a ‘disco’ flavour.

    I remember Tim Reynold’s being rather pleased with what I did because it made them sound a bit like ‘proper musicians’, especially his bass playing, which is fair to say, was more than limited in capacity.

    We put it together very quickly and I think it stands up pretty well today if I say so myself, despite its lo-fi vibe (which adds a unique quality in my opinion) and the limitations of the project from the offset.

    Good times (pun intended!)