31.10.09

CRYSTALIZED MOVEMENTS : Mind Disaster

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I avoided listening to Crystalized Movements for as long as possible on the assumption, quite rightly I think, that any band with a name as abysmal as that must be fucking terrible, right? As usual, Peel put things to rights. I remembering my ears instantly pricking up when he played "Rearranged" from 1988's This Wideness Comes one evening - it wasn't so much the song that grabbed my attention (though it's pleasant enough) as the hissing, spitting feedback fest it culminated in. The following afternoon I ambled into Selectadisc & found a copy of the CD (one of the first I ever owned!) for a couple of quid in the "sale" rack.

Mind Disaster is an entirely different cup of meat, however. Based in Connecticut, Crystalized Movements were originally a high school project of Wayne Rogers & classmate Ed Boyden. Sharing a love for late 60s psychedelia & 70s No Wave, the duo taped countless hours of experimental, improvised lysergic jams, eventually deciding to release a "proper" LP in 1983. Though they got as far as recording some of Rogers' songs in duo format, they graduated & drifted apart before actually releasing anything. Left to his own devices, Rogers spent the summer overloading the recordings with endless fuzzed-out guitar dubs &, liking the results, released them on his own Twisted Village label in a hamfisted, childish sleeve (130 copies only!) - marked parallels with Sandbox-era GBV/Robert Pollard here I think? Rejected by the poser-heavy Paisley Revivalist scene, Mind Disaster quickly slipped out of print & into obscurity. Or not. Rightfully pissed off by this hipster rebuke, Rogers enlisted a full band, honed his songwriting skills, practiced 'til his fingers bled & stormed back a couple of years later with Dog Tree Satellite Seers. Though probably their least sonically extreme LP, it adeptly demonstrated that Crystalized Movements were more than just another amateurish bunch of smalltown drug abusers with 3rd hand valve amps & a Cry Baby wah. Consolidating this new found acceptence with This Wideness Comes (my personal fav) & their swansong, Revelations From Pandemonium (both of which are melodic but rarely mellow), Rogers has barely paused for breath since. Pursuing a prolific solo career as well as founding Vermonster, B.O.R.B., Magic Hour (the latter with Galaxie 500's Damon & Naomi) & Major Stars, he's now recognised as an American equivalent to Brit neo-psychedelic renaissance man, Nick Salomon (The Bevis Frond).

I'm not sure where this link originated (thanks Anon.) but it sounds lovely - it's mastered (I think) from a cassette dub of an original vinyl copy of the LP with a v.fine drenching of tape hiss. Primitive = perfect.

Close Your Eyes

WALKING SEEDS : Upwind Of Disaster, Downwind Of Atonement

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It's all about the stragglers. One of the last of that weird legion of forgotten 80s/90s English bands to evade redscovery, Walkingseeds' records possibly make more sense now than they did "then" - the usual case of we mere mortals requiring a decade or so's hindsight to play catch-up...

Formed from the rubble of The Mel-O-Tones, Liverpool's legendary purveyors of psychedelic bomb site grunge (& initially naming themselves The Corinthians), Walkingseeds were, from the off, enthusiastically championed by John Peel (of course) & Mark E. Smith - in fact, I first saw them live supporting The Fall on the Bend Sinister tour in 1986 (who knew MES was a Nabakov afficiando, eh?). Maintaining a longstanding relationship with Probe Records, Walking Seeds' Knew Too Much debut was a (relatively) sophisticated updating of the original Mel-O-Tones' sound, though "sophistication" possibly wasn't at the top of their agenda when they crawled into the studio to record it? A thuggy backyard amalgamation of early Iggy & The Glitter Band, it's one of those records that repeatedly fooled me into leaping up to inspect the stylus, only to find out it was supposed to sound like that! The subsequent Marque Chapmanne 12" (via their own, shortlived Moral Burro label) violently upped the fuzz/aggro levels & & ushered in the raucous Skullfuck LP, a twisted & unsettling musical pedal-bin of nasty Nuggets, Butthole Surfers & Blue Cheer influences with a cheeky Grateful Dead-derived title (inspired by Mouse & Kelly's iconic "skull & roses" sleeve). Superior records all, though their Peel sessions from the period are even better (search 'em out).
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Upwind Of Disaster, Downwind Of Atonement appeared in 1989 (the band having hooked up with the much-missed Glass label in the interim). Recorded at New York's Noise studio with wayward genius Mark Kramer (Shockabilly, Bongwater, B.A.L.L., et al), Walkingseeds had obviously spent their recess concentrating on writing songs rather than merely jamming around a few borrowed, obscure riffs & the results still sound phenomenal - far more melodic than their earlier releases (though the disruption factor is still immediately evident) & often genuinely psychedelic (rather than just sounding like they'd necked a stack of drugs before recording). Songs like "Slow Dance Of Golden Lights" & "Wreck Of The White Star" share the same wistful 60's shambolism as homeboys The La's (with whom they briefly shared a guitarist or two) but none of the frustrating purist retrospection. Elsewhere, "Sexorcist", "Mad River" & "Ocean Drain" (a petulant flicked-V in the general direction of Liverpool's nostalgia-entrenched local music scene gobshites - "The Greatest Album Ever Made", my arse!) remain 3 of their finest songs. A contemporaneous Clawfist Singles Club 7" - remember them? - features The Bevis Frond covering "Sexorcist" on one side while Walkingseeds give his "Reflections In A Tall Mirror" a seering once-over on t'other - cop a listen, it's a belter. The Bevis Frond would return to produce their Sensory Deprivation Chamber Quartet "dwarf"-LP a few months later &, again, it's an absolute must-have (I'll retrieve it from The Shed one of these days, just you wait & see...). I'd not heard Upwind Of Disaster... for several years (again, my copy's stowed away in The Shed) until Anon. sent me a link for it c/o this blog a few days ago. It's a hitherto unknown (to me) CD edition with a couple of extra songs, including a snotty thrash through Blue Oyster Cult's "Transmaniacon MC" (previously visited on one of their ace Peel sets). I've hardly stopped playing it.

Walkingseeds made a few more LPs after this one, then quietly fizzled out, briefly reappearing as The Del-Bloods (one 7" on Seminal Twang) & then obscurity. The last I heard, monster guitarist Bob Parker was parodying stadium A.O.R. in Batloaf ("Meat Out Of Hell", etc). If anybody knows what crazed vocalist/affable lunatic Frank Martin's now up to please get in touch...

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30.10.09

HARRY PUSSY : Fuck You



My last Harry Pussy post proved pretty popular so, me being Mr. Man-Of-The-People an'all that (hmmm), here's another one...

Released in 1997, several years on from their In An Emergency You Can Shit On A Peurto Rican Whore debut, this LP's officially untitled but has assumed the Fuck You (aka Tour) mantle. It's pretty scarce I think - a friend found the link on Soulseek & passed it onto me, since when I've only been able to excavate the scantest of info (even the mandatory sleeve scan has eluded me, what a sorry state of affairs). Noise-wise it's typically spectacular - the feral opener "Drop The Bomb" is a nigh-on perfect mission statement (all 16 seconds of it), though their D.Bailey-on-Salvia skronk (yes, skronk) has extended out into virtually avant garde territories by the album's close. Bits of Fuck You were compiled on Load's highly recommended You'll Never Play This Town Again compilation (a mere 42 tracks!), which you can purchase here, my dears.

You'll no doubt be aware that, since Harry P's demise, drummer/screamer extraordinaire Adris Hoyos has married The Shadow Ring's Graham Lambkin & apparently (hopefully temporarily?) given up music. Her insane Monostadt 6 CD is still well worth seeking out however (ahem!), as is her initial collaboration with Lambkin, Transmission (both debuted with eponymous releases on Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers around the same time as Fuck You). Guitarist Bill Orcutt recently re-emerged with A New Way To Pay Old Debts, a highly regarded vinyl LP of lo-fi acoustic soloing on Palilalia (500 copies, all gone). The Wire love it & bizarrely seem intent on setting him up as a 21st century Fahey - fingers crossed for a "challenging" appearance on Later... With Jools Holland semi-sharpish! Take cover, etc...

Yeah, you.

21.10.09

NO TREND : Inner Ear Session (Teen Love 7" + more)

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I heard this last week for the first time in a long while - & it still sounded absolutely amazing. Pissed off Washington psyche punk miscreants from the mid-80s, No Trend were often compared to San Francisco's Flipper &, while I can see the parallels, I think the only thing those 2 bands genuinely had in common was a rather evident shared love for Metal Box. Oh, & repetition - snarling, dirgelike repetition. And, erm, venomous, utterly disgusted cynicism (we musn't forget the cynicism!). However, whereas Flipper were very obviously in thrall to "classic"-era Public Image Limited, No Trend also sucked on the withered teat of austere Brit-gore anarchos Discharge & Flux Of Pink Indians at their most harrowing (i.e. the screeching cacophony of The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks LP, etc).
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Teen Love was No Trend's debut 7", recorded at DC's Inner Ear (reknown as the Discord studio & then based in Don Zientara's basement, it's still in operation today) & released on their own eponymous label in 1983 (they re-released it a year later on 12", heavily remastered with a couple of extra tracks). The link I'm posting here represents that entire, initial Zientara-produced Inner Ear session & was fleetingly issued by Teenbeat in 1995 as part of their The Early Months retrospective (currently £75 on Amazon!). Most of their subsequent releases are online if you can be bothered to look: 1984's Too Many Humans is a must-hear - it's even more outraged & troublesome than their debut in places - while the following year's A Dozen Dead Roses explores as-then uncharted, caustic in-roads into a nascent, poisonous pseudo-goth sound (it includes all their Heart Of Darkness EP, recorded with & originally released by Lydia Lunch on her own Widowspeak outlet btw).

Inner Ear

4.10.09

OMNI & THE ART OF THE INNER EYE

An unconventional combination of high brow science fact, fiction & speculation with a prohibitive price tag, Omni was a very glossy, full colour monthly magazine published by Bob Guccione's Penthouse organisation (!) from the late 1970s onwards. Though it was way out of my financial league (I was blowing all of my meagre pocket money on 2000AD, Smash Hits & Refresher bars in those days), I was fortunate in that a rich & slightly eccentric American great uncle of mine was a subscriber & was generous enough to periodically mail me hefty packages of his unwanted back issues (at great expense too I suspect, it was a real doorstep of a mag!). Though most of the purely scientific content left me feeling slightly giddy (& probably still would tbh), it's ingenius short S.F. stories, paranormal supposition & ravishing illustrations turned my head in multiple new directions. Omni was unashamedly pretentious, but positively so.

Regrettably, now that S.F. cover art has largely retreated into conservative 1950s classicism, dominated by frivolous re-interpretations of it's archaic zapgun/rocketship pulp archetypes, the fantastical inner landscaping of Omni's visually opulent cover art seems almost kitsch by comparison. Often resembling a Max Ernst version of Tron, it's imagery was drawn from the same somnambulistic strand of pop surrealism that, for me at least, Dali's enduring The Persistence Of Memory & Ballard's Vermillion Sands never fail to invoke. I'm still secretly rather fond it, though I wouldn't rush to hang much of it on my wall you understand...
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3.10.09

THE HUMAN LEAGUE : Peel Session 1978

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Originally recorded 8th August 1978 (at BBC Maida Vale, of course), this must've been mastered from a vinyl bootleg of some sort (the In Darkness bootleg possibly?) as there are a couple of very audible skips (tres irritating, I know...) but sound quality overall is terrific. "No Time" (aka "Again The Eye Again" from Fast Product's The Human League Cassette) is actually a formative version of Reproduction's "The Word Before Last". Plug yourselves in, etc

No Time

www.blindyouth.co.uk
P.S. I've actually no idea who posted this & the previous Nico session unfortunately, but many thanks anyway...

PRIMAL SCREAM : All Fall Down 7" + Peel Sessions 1985-86

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It took me some time to finally click with Primal Scream. I saw them live several times around the time of these inaugeral BBC recordings (supporting The Jesus & Mary Chain generally) but considered them too studiously fey & slavishly retro to be of any lasting importance. Like most folk, "Loaded" fleetingly turned my head in their direction a few years later, but it wasn't until 1997's opaque & enigmatic Vanishing Point LP that I really fell for 'em. They were an absolutely outstanding live proposition 'round that time - I caught them at Nottingham's Rock City & still consider it one of the finest gigs I've been too ever. No support act as such, just Andrew Weatherall hammering out dark-as-fuck techno dubs in a pitch black hall to a howling, loved-up 'n' boistrous mob. Then, fronted by a short haired Bobby (quite a surprise at that point!), P.S. growled at half-speed through all of their most paranoiac material, kicking off with a sullen "Out Of The Void" & rendering even the usually euphoric "Higher Than The Sun" as an unsettling bad trip mantra (& did I imagine The Third Bardot's "5 Years Ahead Of My Time" cruising by at one point?). A closing "Loaded / Movin' On Up" medley was the only obvious shaft of light & even that seemed seemed clouded with dust & narcotically unhinged. I'm sure that they performed their entire set in front of a 30 foot high screen showing a loop of divebombing Stukas but, erm, that could've been the drugs frankly (seriously, if anybody can confirm that I did actually see that please drop me a line to confirm!).
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Though fully aware of P.S.'s earlier, leather kek-ed Creation/Elevation period, I was honestly never convinced that they were anything more than a McGuinn-besotted flash in the pan. On reflection, their still unissued "All Fall Down" debut wasn't a complete write-off afterall &, despite my reservations, I played their 2 Peel sessions to death at the time (I still have the cassette squirreled away somewhere). Immaculately coiffured & voluble conversationalists they might've been, but those early P.S. records consistently failed to inspire (botched production I guess, even Mayo Thompson couldn't get it right?) & by the time they'd junked Younger Than Yesterday for the first New York Dolls album, serious drugs & vulgar rock'n'roll raunch they seemed like nowt more than a clueless indie anachronism, aimlessly bumbling around from one stone dead genre to another with a perpetual "headcold". I was elsewhere listening to Sonic Youth & Big Black by that point & having the time of my life, frankly. P.S. really nailed it on these BBC-commissioned sessions though - the crystalline Maida Vale sound is gorgeous & P.S.'s performances are spot-on (compare the spirited Peel version of "Crystal Crescent" to it's lacklustre Creation counterpart for instance) . Maybe if they'd released these versions instead of the downcast Sonic Flower Groove they wouldn't have dejectedly shuffled off into that sub-Stones ditch & self-medicated themselves into virtual oblivion? But then they wouldn't have recorded Screamadelica, of course. Or, thereby, Vanishing Point. The Lord giveth & The Lord taketh away, etc...

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