Friday, 12 January 2018

Symboliks - Ticket to Everywhere (1991) C60

I have no idea about this one. I bought it from the bloke who ran Chainsaw Cassettes on the grounds of the Symboliks track on his Shake the Foundations* compilation being pretty good. The inlay card doesn't give much away either. A few people are thanked, with no indication of any one of them necessarily being a Symbolik, and I would guess this tape was the work of one person, probably with a four-track, a Yamaha REX50 and drum machine, probably a cheap sampler too. It falls somewhere between Musligauze and Laibach before they turned into an ironic covers band, albeit on a budget, and is pretty fucking great in my view - one of the more pleasant surprises thrown up by my trawling through my tape collection; and it's a surprise because I've a feeling I may have listened to this once, maybe twice, at least up until now. This isn't a reflection on the music. Chainsaw Cassettes were one of those labels attempting some sort of professional standard, meaning their tapes were copied at one of those professional duplication centres, but copied onto cassettes supplied by the same, which in my experience were never so durable as your average Sony or TDK. They just weren't so sturdy or well made, and I suspect that's what put me off playing this as much as it probably deserved to be played. Also, on an even more superficial note, PCs were becoming approximately affordable in the early 1990s, so more and more cassette artistes were favouring artwork - or at least typography - printed out on some 16KB Amstrad piece of shit, which I always thought looked awful. So in striving for a certain standard, quite a few new cassettes just didn't look as appealing as they had done in the rough as fuck days of a photocopier, a felt-tip pen, a picture of Hitler torn from the newspaper, and a trusty Sony CHF60.
*: Coming next week, barring accidents.

1 - St. Eve's Hallo
2 - Days Without
3 - Lite Trip
4 - Timeless
5 - Iron Soul
6 - You Must Pay
7 - Trash Bags
8 - Dreamcurdling
9 - Into the Abyss
10 - Krackwise
11 - Amnesia Ripples
12 - See In Glass
13 - January Square
14 - Home Base
15 - Kiss that Fish

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Monday, 8 January 2018

Do Easy - Gravesend (1987) C90

I'd pretty much lost interest in Do Easy by 1987, and finished art college that summer meaning I no longer had access to any decent recording equipment, besides which I was playing guitar for Total Big by then so if I had energies, I expect that's where they were going. Gravesend was a tape which had been laying around unfinished for a while, never really considered for release, and which I suppose took form as part of a ferric spring clean during which (I assume) I added the two versions of Saxon Chief and gave titles to tracks which had been without one up until that point. Typically, considering it's basically here's some shit I had left over if anyone cares, it's probably a better tape than any of the earlier ones into which I put a bit of effort.

Rubbish Like You was a postal collaboration with Trev Ward, then recording as Nails ov Christ. He sent me a tape and I added to the noise. I assume it may have appeared in some form on his Fear Eats the Soul, but I'm not certain because I never actually had a copy. He probably didn't know where I lived by the time it came out; or he thought I was a bit of a knob or something.

We Can Build You was similarly a postal collaboration with Thomas Docherty of Trilogy. I'm not sure if this was me roping him into the whole Death Pact International tape thing, or something in its own right. I think
the percussion track you can hear eleven minutes in was from a live improvised thing by Steve McGarrigle, Garreth Roberts and myself which I'll post here at some point, if I haven't already.

Arnold Layne was recorded with this guy, and I have no idea why. I don't even like Pink Floyd, and I don't remember ever particularly liking them.

Life is a Domestic Bliss cover. I have a vague feeling I was collaborating more and more, or trying out cover songs (which I'd never done before) in an effort to reignite my enthusiasm. Anyway, Domestic Bliss were probably what you'd call local heroes when I was growing up. They released a single called Child Battery, of which Life was the b-side, and Simon Morgan worked in Discovery Records, my local independent store, and was as such the man who sold me my copy of Never Mind the Bollocks. Simon is a great guy and his more recent works can be found on his Bandcamp page. I might ask him if I can digitise Child Battery for this blog. It's still one of my favourite punk singles, and the original of Life somewhat pisses all over my slightly whinier version.

Saxon Chief, arbitrarily named after the pub in which I spent most lunchtimes while at art college, was the very last thing I ever recorded on my beloved Sharp double tape deck before it gave up the ghost back in 1985. I never really worked out what to do with the track as it steered a bit too close to Depeche Mode even for me, so it remained instrumental and ended up on this tape because I realised I was never going to get around to finishing it off. The drum machine was programmed by Mex, by the way.

Sound Levels in Arabia is here remixed from the original in an attempt to make it less shit, which didn't really succeed.

Music for Carol happened because someone called Carol asked me to do some music for her. I think she was going to write songs and sing over whatever I came up with, but I don't think she liked what I came up with, so never mind.

All That's Left apparently also features Steve McGarrigle and Paul Mercer playing in some capacity, but I accidentally taped over it and this was all that was left of the track, hence the title.

I've a feeling the track I've called Gravesend was actually something I recorded and sent to Trev for finishing off under the Death Pact International banner. Who knows?

The title of both the tape and the track of the same name was added much later for the sake of completism, probably early 1988 when I went for a job interview in Gravesend and found the place depressing beyond belief. The similarly arbitrary photo chosen to illustrate this blog post (taken in Leamington Spa in 1984) because this one doesn't really have a cover, just an inlay card which isn't really worth scanning... ahem... the similarly arbitrary photo was chosen because it looks how I felt when I caught the bus to Gravesend on that not particularly fateful day.

Anyway, this one is probably better than you might expect from my Eeyore-esque hard sell, and despite the moment where I shout I'm surrounded by fools! Honest.

1 - Rubbish Like You
2 - We Can Build You
3 - Arnold Layne
4 - Life
5 - Saxon Chief I
6 - Sound Levels in Arabia (remix)
7 - Music for Carol
8 - All That's Left
9 - Love is Dead
10 - Time Killer
11 - Gravesend
12 - Saxon Chief II

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Monday, 1 January 2018

v/a - Real Time 5 (1983) C90

The cover of this one isn't much to look at. It was released by Unlikely Records in 1983, which was the organ of Robert Cox of Rimarimba, amongst others. I found this picture of someone called Robert Cox using Google Images, but I very much doubt it's the same guy.

I seem to recall Real Time as a fairly regular series of compilation cassettes, and that Robert had a policy of including something by every hopeful who sent him material (although I could be wrong about that - it was a long time ago), which is why a few of these artists were a bit Alan Partridge, I suppose. Then again, musical history seems to have conveniently forgotten all those stonewashed jeans bands you used to see playing in regional pubs at Sunday lunchtime, usually with a cover of something by the Police in their set, and I suppose they deserve to be remembered as much as anyone.

Aside from the cod reggae, there's actually only really one band I disliked on here - MWAB who just sound a bit of a mess to me; but otherwise it's a surprisingly decent collection, plenty of variety and a few surprises. You may have come across UV Pøp, I'm Dead, and Sirius B - whom I'm sure I recall being the next big thing for a couple of days, at least according to Dave Henderson; you may even recall Len Liggins from this tape; and you'll possibly recognise the Attrition track from their Third Mind cassette. My personal faves would be by the Insane Picnic and the exceedingly proggy Trekellion Skyway, but not even Discogs seem to know anything about them, which is a shame.

1 - UV Pøp - Superstition
2 -
UV Pøp - Some Win This
3 -
Faction - Realisation
4 -
I-Jog & the Tracksuits - Optimism
5 -
Chapter 29 - Before
6 -
Chapter 29 - Silence Hammers Down
7 -
Death Pop - Antichrist
8 -
Death Pop - Walk With Me
9 -
Kix - Close Encounters
10 -
Len Liggins - Sandwiches
11 -
Len Liggins - Lead
12 -
Party Day - Party Day
13 -
Sirius B - Is This the End?
14 -
Sirius B - Chain of Thought
15 -
Attrition - Onslaught
16 -
Still Screaming DC - Holy Wars
17 -
Innerpropriates - Bryn to Drym
18 -
The Insane Picnic - Chaos Control
19 -
Trekellion Skyway - Black Brook
20 -
MWAB - Dirt
21 -
MWAB - Mik Bum
22 -
MWAB - Ooee Ooee Oo Song
23 -
I'm Dead - Whispers
24 -
I'm Dead - After Life
25 -
Jonathan Rush - Horizons
26 -
Jonathan Rush - Show Tonight

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Friday, 22 December 2017

Godless Pinkoes - Waiter, There's a Communist in My Soup (1982) C46

If you regularly follow this blog, you should have heard of Paul Mex's Dead Hedgehog Enterprises, and this was one of his, or maybe their's. You also should know the name of Robert Dellar, possibly. If not, he now has his own, admittedly brief, Wikipedia page, and me and a few others put together this book in memorial of him, his life and work - which is touching, funny, inspiring, and all proceeds go to Mental Health Resistance Network.

I've a feeling Robert might have been slightly bewidered by this unearthing of material he recorded with the Godless Pinkoes, at least going by the look of long-suffering patience on his face when I first met him, greeting him with the exclamation, 'you're that bloke from Cult of the Supreme Being!', that being another band of which Robert was a member. Anyway, this one was recorded with Adam Penwarden and Flash Butler, and I expect Paul Mex was in there somewhere (can't really tell from the artwork, which is a bit of a dog's dinner once you're past the track titles). I'm not sure what Robert's role would have been, but most of the vocals sound like him to me.
Waiter, There's a Communist in My Soup is pretty basic and will probably just sound like a tape of three young lads pissing about with instruments upon first hearing, but the more you listen to it, the more it sinks in as a winning combination of punky enthusiasm and surprisingly infectious tunes. Actually, some of it reminds me of New Order, except that it's better.
Rest in peace, Robert. We still miss you.

1 - Communists
2 - Hell is Other People
3 - Within You, Without You
4 - Dictator
5 - Hiroshima Day
6 - Virgil's Breakfast
7 - Action Man
8 - Camouflage
9 - Acid Drops
10 - Virgil's Breakfast (dub)
11 - Sanctuary

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Friday, 15 December 2017

Opera for Infantry - Scumworld (1984) C60

Here's the second tape I put out by Opera for Infantry, and God only knows why they gave me such free reign with their covers. I think I'd just bought Meet the Residents that week, and that's where the phenomenal pop combo gag comes from.

It's okay. If you need to roll around a little longer, pounding one fist on the floor and crying with laughter, I can wait.

As you will be able to hear, this is essentially a live tape but with the backing track used for the performance taking up the first side on the grounds that it sort of works as a bit of music in its own right, or works as a bit of noise in its own right if you prefer. The gig itself comprises a set of several numbers, but I've digitised them all as a single track, as I suspect that's how it was intended.

As you may well know, Opera for Infantry eventually became the Grey Wolves, so for the benefit of anyone who has a problem with that, or who still suspects the Grey Wolves to have been some sort of covert British Movement recruitment drive, Scumworld is probably as revealing an insight into both their founding and actual political sympathies as you're likely to need - Crass meets Throbbing Gristle if you'd rather get it in primary colours: just listen to the words of the live performance (and the tape is pretty decent quality, all things considered, so they're fairly clear), then reacquaint yourself with Reality Asylum if the penny still hasn't quite dropped. Of course the images were horrible, because they were supposed to be horrible, because it was supposed to get you thinking rather than just nodding your head and agreeing that vivisection was a bad trip. I sort of wonder if it wasn't the frustration of Opera for Infantry actually having to explain that they weren't hoping to bring about some totalitarian state (when their stance was fucking obvious if you bothered to listen), which ultimately drove them to greater extremes as the Grey Wolves. I still have a ton of correspondence from Trev from around this time, and it's obvious that he was frustrated by a certain complacency which he saw as having overtaken the anarchopunk scene. So there you have it, I suppose. 

Thirty years later, I'm surprised at how good this one is - not at all the racket I remember. It sort of makes me wish some enterprising sugar daddy had whisked them off to IPS studios and got some of this material recorded with some kind of sound quality.

1 - Before Scumworld
2 - Scumworld (Amesbury Sports Centre 2/8/84)

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Monday, 11 December 2017

v/a - Meridians 1 (1983) C60

It was going to be Vittore Baroni's TRAX 0682 compilation this week, but at last minute I noticed someone had already stuck it on CD, so you should probably buy it if you want to hear it, mkay? Anyway, Larry Peterson sent me Meridians 1 as a swap for something I'd sent him which I remember thinking was quite a lot better, so I was briefly miffed, not least because it seemed obvious that someone had given him the tape as a freebie and he'd thought it was shit and so passed it on to me. So that wasn't a great start, and there was something I didn't like about the cover (and I'm usually a fan of Malcolm Garrett too), and the whole enterprise felt like the Hayward Gallery getting involved in the tape scene and showing us uncultured fucks how we should have done it instead of all those tacky pictures of Hitler adorning our shit Woolworths cassettes of short-wave radio noise. There was something a bit up itself about Touch, or so it seemed to me.

So imagine my surprise when I pluck this from the shelf as a last minute replacement for TRAX 0682, digitise the thing, and discover that it's actually pretty decent, as I would have realised had I listened to it more than once. The contributors were mostly established artists with record contracts, or close friends of established artists with record contracts, but the music is mostly decent, or the very least, interesting. Most of this lot shouldn't really require an introduction, although for what it's worth, NOTi is also Andrew McKenzie, and the Ludus track seems to feature SPK's Graeme Revell on saxomaphone and Dave Formula from Magazine tickling the ivories. You may notice that the track list given on the sleeve does that fucking annoying thing of featuring mysterious interludes identified in predictable lower case but with no artist, as though they was done by a fucking ghost or summink! This is a pain in the arse for a digitiser such as myself given that I have to divide everything into proper tracks, regardless of stray snatches of speech scattered hither and thither in the name of art. Anyway, I've followed the track list given on Discogs which blows the whistle on himself of the Hafler Trio as author of all the scrappy bits of art challenging the listener's preconceptions about something or other. I should probably also mention that I'm not entirely sure I've correctly labelled tracks 14 through to 17, or whether one of those is actually another one of Andrew McKenzie's medium questioning excerpts from an episode of Nationwide.

1 - Matador - Nowever, Ornever
2 -
AC Marias - The Whispered Year
3 -
Andrew McKenzie - sigil one
4 -
Pascal Gabriel - Machu Pichu
5 -
Matador - Mother Earth Film Music
6 -
Touch 33° - Oral Tradition
7 -
Graham Lewis - He Said "Argh..."
8 -
John Foxx - The Quiet Man IV
9 -
Simon F. Turner - Wash
10 -
Andrew McKenzie - sigil two
11 -
Current 93 - Salt
12 -
Touch 33° - The Crucible
13 -
Test Department - Efficiency
14 -
S/Z - Text
15 -
The Pathfinders - Long Shadows
16 -
NOTi - Diagnosis
17 -
Andrew McKenzie - sigil three
18 -
Ludus - Corpse Candle

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Monday, 4 December 2017

factor X - Weird (1992) C90

As I may have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Shaun Robert and I fell out (for reasons which I may have already mentioned and can't be arsed to go over again because who cares?), but hopefully he won't object to my sharing this one, because it's worth sharing. My dating it to 1992 is guesswork based on vague memories of where I was living when it popped through my letterbox. Weird was supposedly to be released by Fool's Paradise, who also put out material by Maeror Tri, for whatever that's worth, although I don't know if that ever happened, or even if Weird ever achieved a formal release.

I seem to recall Shaun being quite a fan of the Severed Heads, which really shows on a couple of these tracks - and I mean that as a good thing. The Frog & the Raven and MT (Parted to Meet Again) number amongst the greatest tape only songs I've ever heard. The rest steers a little closer to more familiar factor X territory, although this tape still sounds fairly unique amongst his body of work to me, and I have quite a few others so I'm not just saying that.

I think it was recorded with his girlfriend of the time, whose name was Francesca something or other, although I have a feeling they separated shortly after this one. I can't think of anything more to say about it, so I've also scanned a four page factor X manifesto-cum-statement type thing called Sciolism which comes with the download, so that should give you something to think about, should you require it.

1 - The Frog & the Raven
2 - The Light that Shines
3 - MT (Parted to Meet Again)
4 - minim
5 - Tautologize
6 - Denkzeichen
7 - Smelt
8 - Silverspoons
9 - ènôrm'ous irrělêvance
10 - Seal
11 - Headaway
12 - Lulla
13 - Butterfly Existence
14 - Everyone is Fine
15 - OUT

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