It's time for the defibrillator

 

Sanjay on holiday (again)

Hello!

Can’t think of any preamble that doesn’t make mention (yet again) of heat, or football, or Thai boys in a cave, so let’s just skip that bit. Our next in-store is a week on Friday - 13th July, that is. Come by for a few cans (BYO) and a cotch with some records played by Biscuit (Good Morning Tapes), Bake, XVARR (responsible now for not just one, but two, of the best records we’ve ever peddled), Y-L Hooi and Tarquin Manek (LST, F ingers ++). As usual, there’s a night-market going on in the year at the same time - so food and drink and listless babbling young-ish people will be in abundant supply. 6ish til 11ish. Hope to see you there! 

I’ll save the bake/biscuit gags for next week. 

Regards

LC


THE JUST MEASURERS
FLAGELLATION 

EMOTIONAL RESPONSE | LP | £16.99
 

How blessed are we to have this restive, roiling UK DIY/avant-punk masterpiece - a truly special and coveted record from the godlike trio of Chris Gray (Amos & Sara), Jim Welton and Lepke Buchvalter (under pseudonyms of course: out to Narki Brillans, C.D. Great and Yakko Banovic) restored to vinyl for the first time since its original 300-press in 1983 (an original in decent condition would easily set you back £200+)????. Answer: EXTREMELY BLESSED.

Rarity, however, is this album’s least remarkable feature. The playful, ad hoc, forever-on-the-brink-of-collapse M.O. of the trio’s better known projects - Homosexuals, Amos & Sara, L. Voag, Murphy Federation, Tesco Bombers, Milk From Cheltenham ++++ - is present and correct, but there’s also something brilliantly, malignly hypnotic about Flagellation; a psychedelic menace matched only in this milieu by George Harassment's Masai Sleep Walking. See, I dunno, ALL OF IT, but especially the chain-rattle minimalism of ‘Infiltration’, an ‘Petites Guirlandes’, an incredible piece of atmospheric, super-tactile reggae-concrete that out-manoeuvres General Strike.

As with, say, fellow travellers Officer!, DIY here is not shorthand for amateurism, so much as dogged individualism: the arrangements and playing are often madly sophisticated, at times edging into true Rock-In-Opposition/Recommended Records territory: ‘The Best Thing I Ever Did Was Give Up Smoking’, for instance, effortlessly bridges the gap between Brenda Ray or Vivien Goldman's scruffy, economical post-punk dub and the more high-minded, proggish huffings and puffings of Henry Cow. Like Amos & Sara's Endless Latino, this is also an album in love with GROOVE, casually parodying Ze-style disco-not-disco on the louche ‘Dinner Party’ and nonchalantly funky ‘Nioo Yiirk (The Big Time). The tuff rhythm section and spidery guitar lines are accented with fragments of music-hall piano, but the vibe is less pier-end jocular and more bedsit paranoia, almost Pinter-esque levels of smiling-man intimidation… The title, Flagellation, is apt - even at it’s most  larky and chaotic, ESPECIALLY at its most larky and chaotic, there’s a sort of violence driving the whole thing, a satirical rage that feels inwardly, as well as outwardly, directed. 

Yes, so, more ideas per minute here than most bands manage in a career, and of course it’s TOO MANY IDEAS - like all the best Homosexuals/It's War Boys-related stuff,Flagellation sounds like it could implode at any moment..but is held together by a sheer, mad, centrifugal force. It's totally unsurprising that the band dissolved after making it, how on earth could they have followed it up?! Just an amazing record that despite our best efforts defies any terrestrial description; the kind that throws into sharp focus the meagre talent, intelligence and daring of today's supposed avant-garde. Where have all the heroes gone???? 



 
VARIOUS ARTISTS
STALINGRAD VOL.1: DAS BESTE STAHL
BUNKER RECORDS | 12" | £14.99

VARIOUS ARTISTS
STALINGRAD VOL.2: BIS AM ENDE DIESER WELT
BUNKER RECORDS | 12" | £14.99

***White labels w/ inserts. Featuring Syncom Data, Rude 66, Legowelt, Subliminal Criminal, Schmerzlabor +++*** Outside of noise/P.E. circles I’ve never encountered anyone with such an interest in military imagery as Guy Tavartes (apart from this weird guy Gavin who was in year at my school. And tbf he probably has a noise project now.) This time around, back in 2005 to be precise, the Bunker general and his lieutenants set out to make a compilation, across two 12"s, of “extreme dark electronic music…about the human suffering at the battle of Stalingrad in '43”.

We’ll let Antony Beevor and/or a million angry ghosts judge whether they succeeded at a conceptual level, but in terms of the music, fuck me, it’s a broad and brilliant set that seems to capture the very essence of the label - transporting you to the heyday of Acid Planet and the Hague’s squat-nurtured/gnarled techno-punk rebellion. Relentless partying, wilful “mind-fucking”, wholesale rejection of society… the full deal. So rather than being a collection of burnt ends (as label comps so often are), Stalingrad feels like the definitive document of what Bunker stood for, with nary a dud across both volumes . In saying that, we have to broach the music at some point, and there will always be highlights: for us they come by  way of Rude 66’s acid-flecked, Unit Moebius-ish psycho-ANTHEM 'Die Starke der vernichtenden Schlage', and Kassen's 'Und der Schnee geduldig', a bleak, rhythmic piece of tortured machine music that feels (genuinely, unaffectedly) like an extended interlude on a black metal album. In fact that the whole comp is a reminder that Bunker nailed the "noise-techno" (yuck) thing long before its full flowering in the subsequent decade. Elsewhere on the comp you’ll come up against a horde of snarling, in your face acid jak trax, interspersed with paranoid, doom-laden soundscapes that basically make you feel like you’ve survived a heavy shelling but an enemy infantryman has raided your foxhole and is now applying slow pressure to your skull with his boot (easy Gavin!).

Deeply unsavoury, these records, and very special.

 
LEDA
JAPANESE KEY / THE SILENT CONTEST

I DISCHI DEL BARONE | 7" | £8.99

Picture-perfect cataclysm/muck from Leda (aka Sofie Herner) out on I Dischi Del Barone. It’s a no fuss two track 7” tiding us over till the next Neutral and Enhet För Fri Musik records (which can't come soon enough). Where there is something (darkly) dreamlike about Herner's contributions to Neutral, this solo outing (following on from 2016's 'City'/'Clear') topples over into the outright nightmarish. Vocals hardly feature on the clamorous 'Japanese Key'- which IDDB characterise as "slow-burning proto-industrial basement buzz", possibly downplaying how bleak, oppressive and forbidding it is. The kind of track that reminds you, in your enjoyment of it, quite how maladjusted you must be. 'The Silent Contest' comes from our favourite side of the Leda wheelhouse: sepulchral silence punctuated with distorted, barely-there chord progressions and ultra-frayed vocal melodies, Herner truly coaxing minimal elements into maximum effect.

So...a very heavy, engrossing record that belies its modest format, exuding that wholly unique industrial songbook quality that possibly has its its origins in NZ but today is broadcast most consistently and convincingly by the Svensks on IDDB, Omlott and Förlag För Fri Musik. If you dug Neutral and Enhet, you need to check this mouldy poison-postcard from the BLEAK, Leda-envisioned future. Each copy is hand-stamped with insert, edition of 200. 
 

ROBERT FLECK
SOFT FOCUS

WELL STREET | 12" | £8.99

Breezy, broken, dub-burnished minimal techno steppers in finest Well Street style... Best-in-show is the title track, 'Soft Focus': a smoked-out, lipo-suctioned dnb workout with deeply submerged, prowling Reese bass and echoes of classic SND and Hidden Hawaii's mighty QNS series; Gasometric Ruin's remix of the same is a loving Rhythm & Sound devotional which doesn't exactly innovate but certainly DELIGHTS. Strong 12" - can think of no better way to spend a hazy summer’s day than lighting up a badboy and sticking this on...INSTEAD I’M HERE, TALKING TO YOU :(
 

D'ARCANGELO
II

SUCTION | 12" | £10.99
 

Six-tracker of quality archival material from D'Arcangelo, most of it previously unreleased. This follows Suction's reissue of the perfectly po-faced Italian duo's 1996 Rephlex EP, and the label bill it as an "imaginary sequel" to that much-loved record. Personally, we reckon this is the superior offering: a stunning, consummate realisation of the duo's totally logical yet somehow never less than peculiar-sounding synth-pop/AI-techno fusions. 

The pure industrial electro hauteur of 'Callying Sybil', with its broken, blown-out, hammer-to-the-chest snares and looming strings, seems to shrink the distance between Christoph de Babalon and Amber-era Autechre; the ultra-alienated, minimal, droning avant-d'n'b of 'Qaballah' meanwhile is the sort of fearless-yet-rooted track that gives BRAINDANCE a good name.

The three tracks on the B-side basically constitute an extended love letter to The Human League, but whereas their best known stuff in this retro-futuristic vein always sounded a little twee to us (whether deliberately or not), these lesser-spotted examples are tough-minded, dead-eyed and ultra-addictive - check the RUDE arpeggiated bassline and clipped drums of 'Diagram V', or the metronomic, none-more-EURO-sounding robo-trancer 'XXIII' which feels like the true missing link between the bedroom-bound '80s minimal wave and the seamy dancefloor ecstasies of Nag Nag Nag etc circa 2001.

So f*****g good. With sweet picture sleeve depicting the boys in all their pouty android glory. 
 

UPSAMMY
WORDS R INERT
DIE ORAKEL |12" | £11.99

Ever get the feeling that “WORDS R INERT”?!!!??? Yeah, us TOO…language sure can be a blunt and clumsy tool for expressing THE INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART. It fails me every time someone asks “How are you?” and it certainly fails me NOW when I try to explain why Upsammy’s carefully crafted, bass-reinforced updates of (COUGH) intelligent ‘90s techno a la Black Dog/Redcell/Ross 154 style offer so much more than pastiche. But they really DO. Her ‘Another Place’ 12” on Nous’flaer was deservedly rated, and this 12” (titled, yes, Words R Inert) will certainly add to the little cult forming around her - although the vibe here is a little bleepier and bleaker, a little less lush and psy-fi melancholic, than on that previous record - culminating in the infeasibly RUDE, vacuum-packed, livin’-astro electro SPLACK of the title track. Recommended!

 



BACK IN STOCK

 
DE LEON 
DE LEON 

MANA | 12” | £15.99

**Re-press!** Accompanying the amazing, T++/DJ Scud-esque Diptera platter that Mana put out last week, a re-press of the MYSTERIOUS De Leon collective’s self-titled LP presenting “gamelan and capoeira in dub”. It’s a subtle one, this, so much so that you could easily overlook it - but trust us (who us?) when we say it’s one of 2018’s very best and you will regret not picking it up when you had the chance. Go! 
 
DIMBIMAN
ISO GRIFO

PAL SL | 12” | £8.99

**Re-press!** Reissue of a sought-after minimal house landmark from 1998. Way ahead of its time when first released on Baby Ford's Pal Sl imprint, Iso Grifo's slender, skippy but reliably serpentine steppers sound all the more visionary seventeen years on, especially in light of all that they helped spawn. Back then, Thomas Frantzmann was at a newly emerging vanguard of European producers bringing a supple, sensuous quality - and a palpable three-dimensionality - to minimal that had previously been lacking, while also intensifying its most zoned, trippy and alienated characteristics - a high-wire act that would later define Perlon's best releases too, but can be experienced here in its purest and most exhilarating form. The title track and the more linear 'Lava' are essential, but 'Round', impossibly louche yet deadly precise (gd mnml in a ntshll), is the unmistakeable highlight: broken drum programming that seems to mutate bar by bar without ever dropping a stitch, mischievous pop-concrète sampling that ear-kisses and unsettles in equal measure, and the whole thing swelling to a dub-deranged, space-time-distorting climax as pressurised and involving as anything you've ever heard in a club. Think I just came up on a pill I took in 2002. Listen loud, and file alongside peak Herbert, Studio 1, Brinkmann. What a 12". 
 
 NORMIL HAWAIIANS
MORE WEALTH THAN MONEY 

UPSET THE RHYTHM | 2LP | £16.99

**Re-press!** Bury us happy: the lost debut album from Normal Hawaiians, one of the great unsung UK art-rock bands, officially released for the first time some 35 years after it was recorded - and only an absolute bloody masterpiece. Cut in ’82, it never came out properly back then, after their label Illuminated was blacklisted by its distributor for unpaid debts (more wealth than money indeed). Most of us came to this South London outfit via Return Of The Ranters, their final album - also lost (careless lot, this), also salvaged a couple of years back by Upset The Rhythm. Here was a tight, texture-obsessed band that combined the terse and tense qualities of classic post-punk with a kraut-ish predilection for improvisation, hypnotic on-and-on rhythms and unorthodox song-structures, with intrepid use of strings, tape loops, echo boxes and home-spun electronics.

Hatched in the city, they would ultimately regroup in the isolation of rural Wales, where they lived together commune-style in a small cottage, gobbling mountains of shrooms and committing themselves fully to The Work. More Wealth Than Money, expanded here with an extra platter of contemporaneous demos and unreleased tracks, might be their first full-length, but it feels like their magnum opus: to call it a Pet Sounds of misanthropic UK post-punk might merit a slap, but in terms of musical breadth and soul-searching depth, we can do just that, and with a straight face: just listen to the the fearsome, fatalistic jangle of 'British Warm', the drizzle-pop perfection of ‘Yellow Rain’, the plaintive cinematic swell of 'Travelling West' and 'Left Alone With Her Pipe'. This is Big Music, with an expansive, windswept vision drawing on pastoral prog, haunting lapidary folk, dub, and a peculiarly British take on kosmische - with strong pre-echoes of the kind of shoegaze and post-rock that was still a decade away. Of its era, only Legendary Pink Dots come close, maybe bits of Astronauts (at a push). Completely bowled over. 
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