Apologies for the late mailout, much interruptus this week, with a certain west country reggae* enthusiast coming to town on ardkore radio ops yesterday and stopping by to talk shop / shite all evening, which was most welcome, but you know, not a little bit distracting. This garbage doesn't write itself...
Heavier and maybe a tad out of place in this rag, but it was a man called Paul’s funeral today. Paul built the counter and racks and all the other nice-looking stuff in our wee shop. He was a good man and way, way too young to be leaving us. Love and strength to his family and friends. Safe passage eh.
The Gothenburgers are back with their unique chop of tangent taking free-folk music, the debut of this new Oskrallan guise (feat. Blow and Neutral’s Dan Johansson) feeling like all the psychosis / privacy / BEAUTY of a year's worth of daydreams, rolled into one 40 minute soundscape. A short, serene walk from 2017 (pah!) and the whole crew’s Det Finns Ett Hjärta Som För Dig, it’s sedate campfire jamboree whittled into a more mystical, instrumental strain of Enhet alchemy, with vocals, for the most part, scaled back on - forming a forest coven-style collage of splintered ragas and acid-folk sketches. Hand drums and an arsenal of primitive wind instruments roll over a backdrop of fell-down-a-well field recordings and subtle, humming synthesisers - it’s the Third Ear Band at 4am, half of them listening to a Graham Lambkin’s Draining The Vats tape, the other half trying to stay warm by soundtracking the documentary about the Pendle witch-trials that one of their kooky pals has been threatening to make for years. The real deal! **Burned through our first box of this badboy, but last remaining copies soon come - hopefully here mid-next week, together with the long-awaited Monokultur LP**
Self released 1981 braindamaged-punk unit’s debut LP and follow up to the stormy “Dead Excitement” EP. Sedated, introspective slurs in murmur'd English over a unit of granite-trapped schoolboys hashing out the kinda tense but meditative, harmonic guitar-bleeding and knife slit water bass lines that made you fall in love with all this sorta gear in the first place - depressive, pressure caving themes played with an inventive, resistant will to LIVE. Sounding off a bit like Ski Patrol or Rema Rema sans the art-school melodrama, this one's got us back on that fucking wagon to nowhere. Uh-oh.
Been gearing up to try and relay the MAGIC felt by all when the first few copies of "Matthew" arrived at the shop a couple of months ago (they flew before these shiftless souls could add them to the website). Now realising this might be a good time to not inflect our own misguided imaginations and wrap the usual splurge, Sean McCann's words setting a perfect backdrop, calling this intensely personal record into context for all. Stunner!!
"Matthew is nailed together with driftwood from around the world. The waters of Italy, the pubs of London, birds of Japan, a phone call in Los Angeles. Sullivan moved from California to London in 2016. Living in London was a pivotal time for Matt, as I see it. This record digests that time. Each sound on Matthew means something very specific to the artist. Locales and memories focus to mind as passages rise and sink. Us listeners cannot know what transpires across the speakers, however. Our own narrative is quietly built. I like records that don’t concern the audience, ones that make you invest yourself; this is one of those records. Fans of Sullivan’s music know that he never gives an inch more or an inch less than he needs to. Bold and looming with few extraneous elements. Ekhein, Matt’s former cassette label, and his new label, as of yet without name, also carry this motif. Two side-long pieces, expertly woven, constitute this album. I admire Matt’s ability to play with proximity and depth of field: fading sirens, ripping waters, and digitized breath. Like an hallucinating Bill Fontana, the two works are sensory travels folding into themselves. Matt is once again living in Los Angeles, and thus the nostalgic mist that forms within Matthew is all the more meaningful."
Woi!! Monstrous revive, surely one of the most vital dub/reggae reissues of recent years? Previously nigh-on impossible to acquire, these sessions feature a whole squad of talent at their best - Pat Kelly, Sly + Robbie, Errol Thompson, Tommy McCook +++ KNOCK-OUT. Also features a whole disc of bonus material / studio outtakes, which we ourselves haven't quite got to yet having got disc one seemingly glued FIRMLY to our turntable. Loads of other new reggae/dub bits new in too, have a sniff.
God-given 2LP+7” compilation bringing together all of TVPs’ 1978-1989 single releases, fully remastered, from evergreen self-released debut '14th Floor’ through to ‘Salvador Dali’s Garden Party’. A monument to the heartbreaking staggering genius of Dan Treacy.
Broadly speaking, the first half of the comp reps the Ed Ball and Joe Foster years - tracking the group’s passage from shambling, self-effacing post-punk unlikely-lads to the none-better-dressed overlords of the Living Room scene, their pop-that-eats-itself gradually taking more on more of the speedy mod-revival swagger that Ball would push to its logical conclusion with The Times, and with lyrics that remind/reassure us that London has ALWAYS been full of wankers.
The second half of the comp sees the arrival of Jowe Head into the band's creative nucleus, shepherding the sonics and arrangements into a more spaced-out, multi-instrumental and pungently psychedelic zone, while Treacy’s writing is more vulnerable, more emotional, more obviously drug-damaged. All the classics are there: ‘Oxford St, W1’, ‘Where’s Bill Grundy Now?’, ‘Posing At The Roundhouse’, ‘I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives’, ‘Smashing Time’… The bonus 7” features a brace of songs that Treacy, Bernie Cooper and Mark Sheppard recorded as The Gifted Children for an ’81 Whaaam! outing, and their version of The Creation’s ‘Biff Bang Pow’ that appeared on a flexidisc given away with Alan McGee’sCommunication Blurzine. Download included with all of that plus extras.
Still shocks me how few people are properly acquainted with ver Television Personalities - if you’re one of them, I can recommend no better place to start. If you’re already a believer, this CAPACIOUS set will fill the gaps in your collection and your shot-to-shite excuse for a memory. On my life, it doesn’t get better than this.
Here's a mix of sorts I did on Monday to give me something to listen to this week while running errands in town, riding the train and tube to work, pushing a pram around, and trying not to spill boiling hot yuppie coffee on my infant child's face. ROK Y ROLL!
Like that overpriced, potentially baby-maiming black filter, it's been percolating a while. But in the end it was thrown together more or less spontaneously, and not particularly laboured over (as fans of EQing and properly smooth transitions will notice). A few old favourites, some recent discoveries, some brand new and forthcoming/unreleased bits for a bit of flash. Distinct spring/early-summer vibes throughout, I think...songs, guitars, voices, longing, invocation of teenage spirits (paed-ooooo!). It's also worth noting that, after 15-odd years living in big, bad capital cities, I now reside in a small seaside town that I can basically walk from one end of the other to in 90 minutes. I still come into Babylon to shovel shit at the shop and see people two or three times a week, but my centre of gravity has unavoidably shifted and I suppose too has my sensibility. This, then, is the sound of the provinces...Approach with due caution!
I was going to post the full tracklist, but Kenny reckons I should withhold it like a c**t, not sure why, he's just mean like that. By way of compromise, here's a list of who's on it: Anti-Clockwise, Thuja, Dean Roberts, Mekanik Kommando, Scythe, Edward Ka-Spel, Adopo, Brunnen, Keijo, Entlang, Letha Rodman Melchior, LST, Static Cleaner Lost Reward, Itchy Bugger, Stephen, Band of Susans and The Clean. Enjoy!
Ships Monday! Edition of 199 numbered copies with hand-pasted sleeves, one per customer please. The second volume of previously unreleased material from cloak-and-dagger Swedish electronics project Civilistjävel!. Until last year's 1 LP their work - created mostly in the 1990s, using Juno60 and Korg MS20 - had never been officially documented or disseminated. The tracks assembled on 2 pivot away from the lonesome, levitating kosmische themes of 1, and into a dronal, dubwise, heavily psychoactive minimal techno realm. We've never heard anything quite like the steamrolling, monolithic, kickdrum-centered epic that spans all twelve icy minutes of Side 1 - never, that is, outside of a recurring dream we've had since childhood about a recommissioned Northern Rail train smuggling munitions behind enemy lines in a future rural Yorkshire as part of humanity's guerilla war effort against shadowy, possibly entirely imaginary Mysteron-like oppressors. Erm...The other two pieces that constitute this LP are paranoid, broken, sub-heavy constructions that have echoes in Jan Jelinek's Gramm or latterday stuff from Hidden Hawaii, but always with that reserve and austere, out-of-time feel peculiar to the true European mutant/drone underworld. Seriously, how had this stuff not come to light before now?! Civilistjävel! plays live as part of Low Company's 2nd Birthday all-dayer on Sunday 26th May at London's New River Studios.
Welcome exhumation of unheard, sizzlin' 1980 6-track'er from Cleveland. Uncompromising art-punk spew and righteous clatter, a depressive and WRITHING tour de farce recorded in some dank basement at a time when there was still a chance for such humble, OUTRAGEOUS projects to cross over into the “real world”. No such luck for this swarming post-punk obscuro though, forever destined to buzz away in the shadows with a sting that KILLS. 150 copies - FFO The Residents, Captain Beefheart, Electric Eels +++
Replica version of the pulsing, minimal synth and Suicide styled, glass smashing live action featured on one of the seven self-released tapes by Didaktische Einheit in 1982. Manic, dilapidated rhythms and hopeless, zoned-out chants from the German underground - one please! Edition of 150.
Long-time-coming (four years!) second album from Diat, and, we're told, the penultimate ever release from BEB. The demand for this puppy (Iron Lung, who did the US release, are already onto their second pressing) speaks for itself eh: the German/Aussie band’s debut, Positive Energy, a belter for the ages, channelled no small amount of rage and disaffection into songs of pure disarming chest-bursting JOY, speaking to punks first and foremost but with enough going on to trickle down to a much wider audience.
Fairly sure they were taking the piss when they once described their music as "tough new wave" - but it's stuck, cos it's spot-on. They deliver the bleak outlook and angular hooks of post-punk, but ditch the implied space and minimalism in favour of a huge, head-crushing wall of sound, and some of the belligerent, bonehead swagger of, I dunno, Coitus Inc. Positive Disintegration is a more fractious, bruised, MOROSE record than its predecessor (clue's in the title!) - youthful brio replaced with uncertainty and ennui and a mounting wariness towards the no-sleep-til-Dienstag Berlin vampires who once seemed so enviably free and glamorous, dahlink. Lyrically, they make a subject, and for the most part a virtue, of that uncertainty - most vividly on ‘Missed The Bus’, an all too relatable elegy for the whole terrible aggregate of wasted/thwarted opportunities we call LIFE (it's also the gentlest song they've ever recorded, its schweet soft ache enhanced no end by backing vocals from Fran of the motherf***king CANNANES - returning the favour for Diat’s banging cover of the Oz legends’ ‘Blue Skies Over The Ocean’ on Positive Energy). Some experiments don't come off as well, but when they find their feet they’re a force of nature: see full-throttle rippers ‘Foreign Policy’ and ‘Only My Own’, both showcases for Tobi Lill and Josh 'Itchy Bugger' Neutron’s scream-to-a-sigh, Killing Joke-meets-Chameleons twin-guitar fireworks.
Finally back in print: Staubgold's vinyl edish of David Cunningham's peerless The Secret Dub Life of The Flying Lizards. The source tapes for this LP were recorded in Jamaica by Jah Lloyd circa '73-'74 as a part of a series he was making for Virgin's Front Line imprint, but were never used for their intended purpose. Instead, Front Line's Jumbo Vanrennen (we should all have a friend called Jumbo) passed them to Cunningham and invited him to remix them as he saw fit.
Cunningham continues: "I accepted the project, expecting lots of time in one of Virgin's studios to play with the music and the equipment, only to be presented with a mono master tape. So I began to invent (or perhaps re-invent) techniques of editing, looping, filtering and subtraction to deal with unremixable mono material (these were the days before samplers).
"The subsequent work took a long time: as I thought it might be something of an indulgence I worked on it at weekends and evenings rather than let it interfere with other projects. The techniques used here expanded my vocabulary of musical electronic (as opposed to electronic music) treatments and appear in a very different form on records made at that time. Notably 'Fourth Wall', my collaboration with Patti Palladin, and my production work on Michael Nyman's records."
The result - which lay unreleased until a CD on Cunningham's Piano label in 1995 - is one of the most strikingly inventive and immersive dub sets of all time, radical yet rootical, properly tuff rhythm-wise but at the same taking reggae into a truly meditative, ethereal space, exploring the limits of form and technique while staying true to the spirit of Lloyd's tunes and his (unidentified) musicians' playing (truer than the brace of '95-produced tracks Cunningham added for the CD issue - both brilliant, but occupying more of a date-stamped ambient-techno zone). The original cache of '74 versions remain uniquely sumptuous, aqueous, ineffable, awe-inspiring.
Whats been goin on over here? Ehhh, vast portion of our time has been spent drowning out our recently enthused but ill-informed football chat with the behemoth Triple Negative and Civilistjavel! LPs, as well as speculating questions for the pub quiz (overseen by The South Yorkshire Mick Hucknall) that’s going down at our second bday thing. Shout out to Paco's travelogue keeping us amused, the photo above being one of the few that doesn’t feature nudity, rare records or BOTH.
Completely in love with this record! An explosive siege of ideas, "Precious Waste In Our Wake" is the debut LP from London based three-piece Triple Negative. Ringing like a LOUD warning shot to any cumbersome emulators of classics and those whomst would obey the rulebooks of the arthritic avant-garde, passages of abstract, energetic garage-psych and a previously unimaginable range of unexplored tone and texture (both electronic and acoustic) are weaved together with sensitive, understated jumble-sale genius!!
Perhaps some local, vivacious gig-go'ers may already be familiar with these folk's increasingly frequent live performances, however none of us fools at the shoppe have actually pulled the finger out to catch them in action yet (apparently we are all too busy keeping up to date with ham-acted, scripted-on-the-bog British crime dramas - fuck sake!) but they are meant to be PULVERISING.
Only on hearing this monster LP in full now do we TRULY realise the errors of our ways - while equally as non-negotiable as their 7" single from late last year (also on the mighty PP imprint), they here get a chance to gather speed when set free to stretch their legs across a full length trip. A disorderly mind-heist from the very start, the band steer an almost formless vehicle daringly close to the edge of total destruction, the rhythms of “Precious Waste...” strengthen and decay across carefully considered, pasted together songs, with erratic, juxtaposed (and surprisingly TUNEFUL) elements working their way in and out of this idiosyncratic update on some of the finest Xpressway-style pile ups. The delicate, dust-disturbing piano on “Nothing Is Possible” and the glass-cut basslines on “Destroy” permeate swarms of phasing drum-machine metronomy, with tape churned vocals and bouzouki cascading gracefully in every direction like a falling leaf over the creaking, bric-a-brac textures. Shamanistic levels of enchantment throughout and an ectopic groove beating at the heart of the whole album, the subtle drifts come with a poise that recalls the finest moments on that Maciunas Ensemble collection from last year or indeed the disintegrative NZ death-march of The Dead C’s “Armed Courage”, every ounce of this trio equipped with jaws capable of delivering the same level of writhing combustible haunting BITE and rhythm as This Heat.
An endearingly honest and outrageously artful sense of seemingly forgetful prowess - having played together for seventeen years (!) and only now releasing their debut album, “Precious Waste..” really gives weight to the idea that it can take a long time to sound like yourself. Triple Negative's entirely unique breed of dynamic chaos providing the thrill and bewilderment of observing that which is so close to collapse, evolve into a fully realised slab of INFINITE potential.
Favourite thing we’ve heard in ages, cannot recommend highly enough. Edition of 280.
Back in stock! Unless you're in a bad way with some heavy-handed debt collectors that favour the concrete-socks treatment, this 12” is WITHOUT DOUBT the coldest, deepest bath you should ever be taking! Submersible, armour plated drones built around a sub-zero skeleton of Sahko’s signature, almost architectural minimalism. Nearly an hour of unbeatable negative buoyancy that feels like you are floating down a seabed pipeline. Might or might not be by Kevin Drumm (genuinely no idea if that is true or not - so don’t go spreading!). Amazing sleeve and info on Greenland sharks - into it!
Outstanding LA noir from James Rushford, who had a hand in two enduring Kye belters: Manhunter (his 2013 collab with old mucker Joe Talia) and the Food Court LP (with Talia and Francis Plagne). Actually this record tickles a that hasn’t been tickled since Plagne’s own Moss Trumpet (behave!) offering up a tour de force of contemporary electroacoustic world-building. Its mood is intense but never overwrought, delivering a good dose of the numinous, occult-dabbling decadence suggested by the incredible supine serpent-woman cover painting, but ultimately heading somewhere more pointedly futuristic, cold, metallic – organic instrumentation (piano, organ, flutes, viola, voice) ceding ever more ground to melancholic Terminator synths and bombed-out, head-crushing machine-ambience, as if Sarah Connor bodged the ol’ time travel and found herself stuck in Edwardian London, caning laudanum in a futile effort to suppress those pesky Judgement Day visions of genocidal cyborgs on the rampage and downtown LA in flames. As it happens the Australian Rushford made The Body’s Night in LA (aha!), and perhaps I’m pushing the pulp-cinematic comparisons too far when I say there are passages here that seem to take Elliot Goldenthal’s brooding, steel-grey scoring of Heat and run with it, but hey that’s how it feels right now. Rushford's stated influences show more discernment on his part than we can muster: contemporary composers Klaus Lang and Jakob Ullmann, '80s purveyors of bedroom electronics like DDAA, and the totalising nihilistic sound design of black metal. Complex, poised, meticulous, open to a multitude of interpretations (art baby!), this is just an outstanding record, the real deal, new music that explores the outer limits of medium and palette, and with depth of feeling equal to its depth of learning. DO NOT MISS.
Beltorrr '82 West German rough n tumble, originally released on the cult Pogar label. Five track'er of raging, youthful spirited distort with the two longer tracks opening up into passages of melodic, malnourished fuzzzzzzz that feel less built for flailing limbs and more blurry, introspective zone-outs.
New album from sectionable Cambridge pop-surrealist Pete Um, a world unto himself but also a standard-bearer for the kind of heroic DIY befuddlement and unflinching self-analysis that Deep Freeze Mice, Mick Hobbs, Robert Storey and the Homosexuals minted. Um’s sprawling catalogue is a beast that can’t be tamed or reasoned with, but it’s endlessly rewarding: time and time again he nails that going-mad-in-the-potting-shed-ness that is the historic, and perhaps eternal, English condition – what it is, indeed, to be a little bit ‘Fucked In The Head’ (as the title of one of the songs here has it). Where so much contemporary stuff in this vein sounds hopelessly mannered and contrived and untouched by actual real-world experience of being on the outside of ANYTHING, As You Were sounds fully free and unforced, hopelessly alienated from the thing we call society and GLAD of it, and even at its most demented and disorderly your man sounds like he’s wrenching everything he possibly can out of his primitive keyboard-and-mic set-up cos it’s all he’s bloody well got, not cos he's self-consciously imposing limitations on himself. While the influence of 80s UK squat-whimsy looms large, we’re reminded too of the synth-fuelled early-noughts art-spazz of the The Soft Pink Truth and Safety Scissors, and, more than anything or one, R. Stevie Moore – unexpectedly powerful and unforgettable songs emerging unexpectedly out of awkward, enervating loops and the more obviously pranky vignettes. ‘The Director’ is my song of the year so far, NO WORD OF A LIE: a warped, wistful sequel to Patrick Selinger’s ‘Businessman’. And ‘Ed Sheeran' is a casual takedown of the wee guitar-slinging eunuch, sure, but it’s also a long hard truthful stare at the plight of a more marginal musician: “When I was a kiddie / I wanted to be a star / I play in local venues / I guess I didn’t get that far…I don’t want no fame / It ain’t strictly pleasure / but I still gotta do it…” YES PETE xxx
Feels like a lifetime ago, already, but on Monday we undertook a serious (I had on a tracksuit, bub) SPRING CLEAN of the shop: reordering the shop floor, renaming and/or adding helpful subdivisions to our previously unwieldy sections, yes, reintroducing used records to our offering, sure, but for the most part just throwing out vast, vast quantities of SHITE. Amazing what tat you can accumulate, almost entirely passively, in just two years. I wasn't surprised by all the ancient tupperware or the boxes full of unsolicited - and uniformly baaaad - demos/self-released tapes, but I can't say I expected to find a copy of Bear Grylls' Extreme Survivors ("a great read and not just a book for blokes", say Bookseller NZ, although Amazon reviewer SarahPoet warns: "I had thought this book would make an interesting read for my 10-yr-old son...I didn't expect the stories to be unfailingly happy, but nor had I realised that they would include accounts of girls abducted and kept in cellars as sex slaves.")