Friday, 20 April 2018

Virullex! / Opera for Infantry - The Gentle Art of Murder (1984) C60

There isn't a whole lot I can say about this one which I haven't already said in regard to Opera for Infantry (apart from what a mighty slab of noise and vinegar we have here), so instead here's a guest post from Jess of Virullex! seeing as how it's his hard work I'm giving away for free.

1984: the miners' strike, that nice Mrs Thatcher's enemy within. She was unstoppable, coasting on a wave of self-interest and good old British entitlement. Since monetarism wasn't actually working for most of the country, left wing voices were drowned in a shiny tabloid outsplurge of WARandLIESandTITSandBINGO.

Since every point the left made was drowned out by all the ME!ME!ME!ism that had swallowed the country, my generation, in a piss-poor attempt at rebellion, started drifting towards fascism. Left-wing paper sales started to die as brutal half-a-dozen-on-one attacks on diffrunt peepul escalated.

The national focus was on the 'positive'. The Falklands was a glorious victory for those who hadn't been killed or maimed – and a huge hit with armchair generals everywhere. Union flags whipping in the wind, our brave boys serving their country. And those - on both sides - who bled out in the mud, screaming for a mother, thousands of miles away, they were swept politely under the carpet, innit? As Jeremy Beadle announced, “That’s right! You’ve been GAME FOR A LAUGH!”

In this rotting womb, Virullex! took shape. Driven by disgust and revulsion, I wanted to create an antidote to all the toothy boys with guitars tucked under their chins, singing about lurve. Something that described, not the shiny surface we were all supposed to be wanking over, but the hidden horrors that held it up and made it all possible.

I was isolated. None of the people I associated with listened to the funny noises I enjoyed. And so, the letter writing and tape exchanging began. I didn't start it, but contact was possible with others who hated what was being done to the 'best years of our lives'.

Joe (Ashenden) Banks, Andy (Apostles) Martin, Malcolm (Trench Music Kore) Brown, Tim (Un-Kommuniti) Gane, Gordon (Flowmotion) Hope, John (Interchange) Smith, many others who've disappeared without trace into the nothings in the last thirty years.

Cassettes would arrive through my door: obscure live Velvets recordings, Italian horror movie soundtracks and most importantly, "we done a gig last Saturday. The left channel's a bit quiet..." Other sick weirdos like myself, makin'-an'-a-sharin' their funny noises. It was a fucking goldmine.

I got in touch with Trev Ward and Dap Padbury sometime in 1984. We collaborated on a live tape, The Wars of the Roses, which was meant to be a Virullex! Gig in Edinburgh and an Opera For Infantry gig in Amesbury the same night – I was unable to find a venue, so I ended up hitching down and performing as part of OfI.

Trev was the acerbic one, all shaved head (a sort of round mohican, if that makes sense) and intense stares. Dap was the McCartney to Trev’s Lennon, the quiet one. We discovered a shared enthusiasm for liquor (and its effects on carbon-based life forms) and instantly became blood brothers.

I envied their work ethic. Opera for Infantry spewed out cassettes the way other bands threw badges at their audience. And so, (I think this was ex-mess 1984), we sent each other 30 minutes of backing tracks (In envelopes. With stamps on. This was the dark ages, remember?) And we collaborated, each piling our own racket on top of that of our opponents.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t heard this in a good twenty, twenty-five years. It’s been polished to a high standard and still sounds as dense and exciting as it did when things weren’t half as bad as they are these days. You fucking kids today, don’t know you're born, neither you do.

Here’s a shameless plug for some of my present day shite:

Funny noises for senile delinquents with too much time on their hands.

Pervy sex & politics for people with too much money lying around.

Religious emergency toolkit that you’re expected to pay good money for.

The last dying sparks of a badly burned mind.

...and finally:

No track list as it should probably be experienced as a single track, which is how I've edited it.

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Friday, 13 April 2018

Death Pact International - Fear Eats the Soul (1986) 2C60

All this Grey Wolves has set me to thinking about how I'd once collaborated with them as part of something called Death Pact International, and yet never heard the finished result. In fact I think I only realised that it had ever existed when Stream Angel, another contributor, had mentioned it on facebook. The deal had been that various persons with whom Trev of Opera for Infantry (or probably Irritant by that point) regularly corresponded should send in a tape of sound, noise, music, or whatever, and that it would all be processed, mixed together, and used as part of Death Pact International; so I suppose you could say it was a weirdy music supergroup on some level. Anyway, I sent him something called Rubbish Like You* - a title I'd pinched from Pok-a-Tok fanzine as produced by Lennart Eilersen of Enhoenta Bödlar - and that was the last I heard, although to be fair I was moving around a lot at the time so it's likely Trev either lost my address or that a copy never got forwarded to me from somewhere I'd been living. Anyway, duly reminded of this tape I had a look around for an MP3 version on the internet, but was only able to find one on a site which, for whatever reason, wouldn't let me download stuff. However, Nils Inge Graven was able to download the thing and thus kindly furnished me with a copy of the files, which was nice. So here, by way of a slight swerve, is something I haven't actually digitised from my own collection, but am sharing because I'm on the fucker.

The files I received took the form of four sides of the double tape each digitised as a single continuous track, which offended my sensibilities so I've put it all through Audacity and re-edited the thing, cleaned it up and so on, although as with Tomorrow We Live, the distinctions I've made as to where one track ends and another begins are guesswork on my part. I've also cleaned up the scans of the accompanying artwork and booklet. You're welcome.

Fear Eats the Soul is collectively the work of members of Opera for Infantry, Con-Dom, Kapotte Muziek, ESP Kinetic, Sperm Culture, Do Easy, Face in the Crowd, and a few others I haven't heard of. My recommendation is that you listen to it as though it were a single two-hour piece.

It's great to hear this thing at last, and I feel sort of proud to have been involved. 

*: The original track as it was when I sent it off to Trev can be heard on Gravesend.

1 - Bass / Roots Intro
2 - Madrid de Dia
3 - Sucked In
4 - Crawl
5 - Rubbish Like You
6 - Dumb Dogs
7 - Trigger Mechanism
8 - Mutation Nation
9 - Raw Aktion
10 - Piano //?
11 - Daddy, Fuck My Head
12 - Affirmation
13 - Rage Beater
14 - Clear Blue Sky
15 - Burning Down the Walls of Fire
16 - FDN
17 - What Are You Doing Tomorrow?
18 - Tentaciones
19 - Troops Rape Grenada
20 - Red Peace
21 - Ever Forward
22 - Kill at Will
23 - Banned Exit

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Friday, 6 April 2018

Tomorrow We Live (1986) C60

Last week I posted Opera for Infantry material from a tape I'd made up myself, copied from things which Trev Ward had sent me over the years. The last track on the tape was a massive slab of noise identified only as being by Irritant, a name Trev briefly used for his solo recordings. I had a hunch I'd probably just copied it straight from Tomorrow We Live for the sake of filling up a tape, so I went to check, then decided I may as well just go ahead and digitise the thing seeing as I was planning to get around to it eventually; meaning that April is Grey Wolves Month here at Ferric Archaeology Towers.

In between the end of Opera for Infantry and the beginning of the Grey Wolves, Trev recorded solo as both Irritant and Nails ov Christ, although I can never remember which secret identity came first. Anyway, this one was a split tape with Ramleh. The Ramleh side seems to be from some live performance, although I have no clue as to where or when, and the booklet doesn't give anything away. It also seems to share a roughly similar track list to a few of their early Broken Flag tapes - from what I can see on Discogs - which I never actually heard, so I don't know how well it stands up in the wider context of their oeuvre. Ramleh's Blowhole is one of my favourite records, but is almost the work of a different band, and their tracks on Broken Flag's Statement album are pretty solid, but I guess you probably have to be a bigger fan of Ramleh than I ever was to get something from this live set. I mean, it's okay, just sounds like a lot of other things. Titles appear where it seemed like a new track had begun to my ears, because otherwise it's just twenty minutes of more or less continuous noise. I know I could have left it as a single track whilst editing the sound file and no-one would have given a shit, but it felt as though it would be wrong to just leave it, because I'm a pedant.

Same with the Irritant side of the tape - the noise changes about eighteen minutes in so I've assumed that's where Assault System starts. I have to say, this Irritant material is probably one of the most powerful slabs of noise I think I've heard, and I vaguely recall thinking it was about the best thing Trev had ever done at the time.

I wasn't going to bother scanning the booklet because I'm sure you've all seen pictures of bad guys before, but what the fuck - here it is scanned and included with the download for the sake of being thorough. Enjoy.

I seem to recall the tape came loose in a sort of envelope made of an A4 photocopy folded over and stapled closed, which annoyed me because I LIKE EVERYTHING TO BE NICE, so I made my own cover (using photocopies of the envelope version) for the sake of sticking it in a case and neatly filing it away with my other tapes, like nature intended; so I've scanned my version of the cover. I don't have the envelope version. It's probably worth about a million quid now too.

Finally, in case it still requires an explanation, you will notice that the artwork of this tape features a heapin' helpin' of Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists, whom older readers of the Daily Mail may remember with some affection. My feeling, based on years of personal correspondence with Trev and the fact that I'm an adult, is that the presentation of Tomorrow We Live was intended to provoke an extreme and unpleasant reaction, rather than being as it is because, as some have suggested, Trev thought Oswald Mosley was probably a right nice bloke. The intention of most of Trev's work, as it seems to me, has been to provoke horror of such strength as to inspire change within society, so it's simply not the case that he's ever presented a vision of society he would like you to support. He's trying to scare you into pushing back. I personally think he may have misjudged the effect of what he was doing on a couple of occasions, but the Grey Wolves were never the musical wing of the far right, regardless of how it may have seemed from a cursory glance. Were it otherwise, I wouldn't be sharing this thing, mkay?

Smiley face. Smiley face.

1 - Irritant - British Blood
2 - Irritant - Assault System
3 - Ramleh - Throatsuck
4 - Ramleh - A Return to Slavery
5 - Ramleh - Nordhausen
6 - Ramleh - New Force
7 - Ramleh - Phenol
8 - Ramleh - Koprolagnia

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Friday, 30 March 2018

Opera for Infantry - Band Sessions (1984) C60

Back in 1984, Opera for Infantry - Trev Ward and David Padbury who eventually went on to form the Grey Wolves - briefly spent some time as a punk band with guitar, bass, drums, and songs. It was really an experiment, an exercise in audience expectation, as Trev wrote at the time:

We've been busy working out a set for our next gig which is going to be on May 12th followed by one on May 26th that is a benefit for the ALF. What we'll be doing at these gigs is some punk stuff so that people will think that is what we are, and at the gig after that we are going to do something completely different so as to shatter their expectations and to let them know things are not as they appear to be. They couldn't stand it at the very first gig when we played Hopscotch (very loud) and smashed all this metal stuff to pieces. 99% of the crowd left the hall as soon as they could and after our set they filtered back in moaning about the violence of it all, the unbearable noise. We couldn't stop laughing as we cleared the mess up. So next time they'll get what they want, so they'll think we have changed and then we'll hit them again with something different. I find that these people who call themselves individuals and open-minded like the punks in this area turn out to be very conservative and don't like change, preferring to stick to their safe 'rebellious' music which actually isn't rebelling against fuck all or changing anything.

In case that all sounds a little cynical, I seem to remember another letter which claimed it was just a case of diversifying, appealing to a different audience - although I can't seem to find that letter right now, but given all the punk bands Trev put out through his label, and all those OFI supported, I'm sure it wasn't just Trojan horseplay; plus it's worth taking into account that the music is actually pretty fucking great, and hardly the work of someone who is merely faking it for the sake of knowing industrial chuckles.

This stuff comes from a tape I compiled myself, because everything Trev sent me was always on the cheapest shittiest car boot sale cassettes money could buy, so I usually copied the music onto a TDK or something; and this particular TDK contained the three tracks contributed to my Moraals compilation on Do Easy, only two of which I actually used, recorded when we were feeling a bit down, I seem to remember him saying, and possibly the best things Opera for Infantry ever recorded in my opinion. The rest of the material is from the rehearsal tape, complete with fuck ups, false starts, chatter and so on. Some of the titles are self-evident, but I've had to guess at a few of them. Trev is on vocals, and I definitely came across a letter (which I now can't find) referring to a drummer named Chris, and I don't know about the rest. There's a segment of the tape where Dap is mentioned, something about working out something for the bass for when Dap turns up, so I'm guessing he wasn't on this recording.

1 - It's Later Than It's Ever Been
2 - Self Discipline not Self Oppression
3 - Time is...
4 - (introduction)
5 - Technological Valium I
6 - Brenda Spencer I
7 - Brenda Spencer II
8 - Men of England
9 - Brenda Spencer III
10 - Chemical Warfare
11 - Policed
12 - Massacre
13 - It Could Be You
14 - Burning (false start)
15 - Burning
16 - Nothing's Wrong
17 - Don't Worry, Animal
18 - Technological Valium II

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Friday, 23 March 2018

Real Time 7 (1983) C90

I posted a previous volume of this series back in January accompanied by the image of some random ne'er-do well in the absence of anything which could reasonably be described as artwork. I don't even have a cover for this one - just an information sheet, and I can't even remember if it ever had an actual cover; but anyway, here's a picture (as found on Discogs) of Robert Cox, the handsome fellow who compiled these tapes and recorded as Rimarimba because I still feel a bit guilty about the image of some lumpy bloke with which I illustrated the previous posting.

Everything I said about Real Time 5 seems to apply here, pretty much, particularly regarding stonewashed jeans bands; and yet like Real Time 5, this is nevertheless a mostly decent compilation with not much fast forwarding required. Robotghost was John Grimaldi, formerly of Argent whom older boys and girls will recall had a hit with God Gave Rock and Roll to You; Len Liggins you should recall from both Real Time 5 and International Sound Communication 10; Gambit of Shame and Mex should be known to you if you've been following these blogs, and No Bounds and 18 out of 20 seem to be variant mixes of those which appeared on their classic 7" - still one of my favourite singles from that era; I've posted about Adventures of Twizzle before as I put out a tape by them on my Do Easy label, although this track was originally on Hitler's Trousers after the Blast which I'll digitise at some point within the next couple of months; I'm drawing blanks on Magnificent Everything, If All Else Fails, John Ralph, Terry Crocodile, Nine Dangerous Fish Inc., Personal Effect, Martin Barbour, and Three Damn Cheers, although for what it may be worth, If All Else Fails' Sand is probably my favourite track on this tape after the Gambit of Shame numbers; Stress you really should have heard of, being the vehicle of Alan who used to edit Adventures in Reality and Phil Clarke who produced (I think) Damn Latin zine and was (possibly) in the Stick Insects.; leaving just Rimarimba which was Robert Cox's own material, possibly occasionally involving either Smell or Quim of Smell & Quim, according to Discogs.

Dream Syndicate sounds a bit Chris Morris to me.

1 - Robotghost - Museum of Fakes
2 - Robotghost - Studio 54
3 - Len Liggins - Boxes (All I Want is a Womb with a View)
4 - Len Liggins - I Know You Know
5 - Gambit of Shame - To Hell with the Carnival
6 - Gambit of Shame - No Bounds
7 - Gambit of Shame - 18 out of 20
8 - Mex - Born to be Killed
9 - Adventures of Twizzle - On and On and On
10 - Magnificent Everything - Blue Sky North Street
11 - Magnificent Everything - Big Casino
12 - If All Else Fails - Sand
13 - If All Else Fails - Blood on Her Produce
14 - John Ralph - Star
15 - Terry Crocodile - Velvet
16 - Terry Crocodile - Dream Syndicate
17 - Nine Dangerous Fish Inc. - Shake
18 - Nine Dangerous Fish Inc. - Lobsters on the Boil
19 - Personal Effect - Tired and Emotional
20 - Martin Barbour - The Other Way
21 - Martin Barbour - Attarine Street
22 - Three Damn Cheers - Peur
23 - Stress - Nothing New
24 - Rimarimba - Steady State
25 - Rimarimba - The Melting

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Friday, 16 March 2018

IVE - That Infernal Chemistry (1984) C46

This completes my posting of stuff released by Refill Tapes of Devizes, Wiltshire, given that there was just this and the two compilations, Reflections of a Past Age and Another Lost Cause. You may already be vaguely familiar with IVE if you listened to Reflections, but otherwise - answers on a postcard to the usual address because I haven't a clue. They don't seem to be on Discogs and have no internet presence that I am able to detect. There's some information on the A4 information sheet which came with the tape, and which I've scanned and included with the download - names, address, and other tapes which may or may not have been available, but that's about it.

That Infernal Chemistry probably won't change anyone's life, but it's a decent cassette of approximately post-punk tracks distinguished by female backing vocals and drum machine, quite original in its own way, and maybe not unlike anything else you've ever heard, but at the same time I'm not sure quite who I should compare this too for the sake of piquing anyone's interest - the Au Pairs maybe?

1 - Secrets
2 - Sixties Man
3 - Htworgrednu eht Hgourht
4 - Spinning Top
5 - Haircut Off
6 - Take Me to Your Alchemist
7 - Through the Undergrowth
8 - So They Tell Us
9 - I Must (cake mix)

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

War Drum - Complex Adaptive System (1998) 12"

This would have been a five track 12" EP except I never managed to get the money together to have the thing pressed, and the longer I waited, the more I realised no-one would buy it or even want to distribute it, and eventually I stopped caring. I seem to recall that Mark of Impulse fanzine (and Konstruktivists) ran me off twenty-five CDR copies, but my disillusionment with CDRs had set in by the time they came in the mail and I never did anything with them. It was recorded at JTI Studios in Brixton with Ian McKay engineering - same place as various Alternative TV and Skullflower records, and (as I've only realised just now) Ramleh's fucking fantastic Blowhole album. It would be nice to think some of the magic rubbed off, but it probably didn't. Anyway, I was at JTI recording a load of stuff with UNIT, probably material for the album which never happened and (frankly) would have been about a million times better than the one which did, and I've a feeling there were a couple of days we had booked upon which it turned out that Dave or Pete or someone wasn't going to be able to make it. Andy was going to ask Ian, who ran the place, if he could just have his money back for those days and let someone else make use of the studio, but I said I'd pay for those days and use them to record some of my own stuff. So that's what I did. This was January and February, 1998.
As you can probably hear, I was suffering from neofolk poisoning at the time, but never mind. Penitent wasn't really supposed to be on the non-existent 12" EP, but I recorded it seeing as I had some time left after we'd finished the first five. Lonesome Town is a Ricky Nelson cover, for some reason which made sense in 1998, and the other tracks, excepting Shoemaker-Levy 9, Fragment G, are fancier versions of things I'd already recorded on various War Drum tapes, as can be found elsewhere on this blog. Most of this was just me, although Andy Martin sang backing, played drums, and delivered the spoken vocal on Shoemaker. Ed Pinsent, whom you may recall from either Pestrepeller, Mystery Dick, Sound Projector magazine or his Resonance FM show, played guitar on Shoemaker.

I don't know. It all seemed to make sense at the time.

1 - A Marriage
2 - Toltec Inheritance
3 - Hummingbird
4 - Shoemaker-Levy 9, Fragment G
5 - Lonesome Town
6 - Penitent

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