25.4.10

KEVIN HEWICK & THE ART OF GIVING A TOSS

Hewick 4Tet
It'd be fair to say that I totally missed the bus, re: Kevin Hewick.

Back (back... back...) in the mid 80s, when I was already well on the way to be a smartarsed teenage music snob (no Bad Manners for me, thanks very much!), an older friend of mine owned a copy of FACT24, 1980's much maligned A Factory Quartet double LP, a slightly ill-judged sequel to the then already iconic A Factory Sample. Badgering him for a listen, I was profoundly disappointed - nay, disgusted - when I discovered it didn't feature 4 more slavishly predictable Joy Division / New Order knock-offs for me to self-consciously mope around college to. Even the (embossed!) sleeve offended my narrow-minded post punk sensibilities, it's tasteful photography & fine art calligraphy looking suspiciously like the work of a bloody hippy. Actually, of course, it was - ol' Anthony H himself in fact. Needless to say, I was not terribly impressed.
Hewick 80
Over the next couple of years, I gradually came 'round to the relative charms of The Durutti Column (in retrospect, the definitive Factory act), Blurt & The Royal Family And The Poor. An appreciation of Kevin Hewick proved more difficult to grasp, however. Back in 1985, his earnest bedsit troubadouring seemed, to bigoted little moi, offensively uncool - "What's this bothersome hippy doing on Factory anyway?", etc. Hewick seemed like an unnecessary throwback to the legendarily dreadful sepia-tinged early 70s, the type of "proper music" ZigZag magazine worshipped prior to Lydon & co.'s Ground Zero blitzkrieg. His music sounded exactly like those elaborately gatefolded records my friends' older brothers would roll their hideous joints (ugh!) on the back of. Hewick's subsequent defection to Cherry Red backed-up all of my abiding misconceptions - I'd already written them off as a "bloody hippy label", despite their bankrolling the likes of The Nightingales, The Monochrome Set, Felt & that fantastic album by The Misunderstood. If I'd have known that Hewick had already recorded with New Order around the same time I was belatedly discovering Joy Division I might've lent him a more sympathetic ear. Sadly I wasn't that clued up. My all-too-malleable brain, polluted by the NME's relentless week-in/week-out savaging of anything that didn't fit their high-falutin' King's Reach Tower agenda, simply didn't want to know. My loss.
Doomcloud
A few years back, with the advent of music blogging, I began chasing up records that the myopic music fascist I'd once been had lost, flogged, overlooked or ignored. One of the first things I sought out was A Factory Quartet (once a steadfast bargain bin fixture, now virtually impossible to find). Typically, Hewick's side suddenly sounded formidable: belligerent & sarcastic, emotionally raw, vocally startling & timeless rather than timewarped. Delving deeper, 1983's This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal 12" (recorded with Adrian Borland's The Sound) is a minor masterpiece of Buckley/Martyn-esque agit-folk with a Hannett-inspired production job. It's lead song, "Plenty", sounds so voguish it could honestly have been recorded last week. I've found a link for the entire e.p. over at Pop Will Eat My Blog. Give it a listen &, if you like it (& you almost certainly will), bag yourself a copy of Cherry Red's exceptional Tender Bruises And Scars CD - it compiles all 4 of This Cover...'s songs along with both sides of his forsaken Factory 7" (produced by Peter Hook & ACR's Donald Johnson), the Such Hunger For Love album, plus various B-sides & compilation tracks, everything except those elusive FACT24 tracks in fact (you'll find it here).
Hewick Now
A quick gander at Hewick's wesbite reveals that he still lives & regularly performs (3hr sets allegedly!) in Leicester, & that his most recent LP, the rather fine Doomcloud, is available for free download in it's entirety. The voice might be a fathom or 2 deeper, the lyrics marginally less confrontational & the music a step closer to to blues than folk, but the passage of time evidently hasn't blunted Hewick's serrated musical edges at all, which is more than can be said for many of his Factory contemporaries. He's a bona fide diamond in the rough, just don't wait as long as I did to realise that...
Hewick Unreal

24.4.10

SONIC YOUTH : Noise Fest 1981

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All evidence suggests that this is Sonic Youth's debut live performance. It was taped on 18th June 1981 at White Columns gallery, NYC (capacity: 60) as part of Thurston Moore's Noise Fest, excerpts from which were compiled on ZG magazine's subsequent Noisefest 1981 cassette. Taking place over 9 evenings, other Noise Fest performers included Ut, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, Y-Pants, Mofungo & Rudolph Grey (the file includes a scan of the official press release with full details). The S.Y. line-up here is Thurston (guitar & vocals), Kim Gordon (bass & vocals), Ann DeMarinis (keyboards) & Richard Edson (drums), which provides some indication of just how early into their "career" they were. Their sound here is much closer to Ut & the later No Wave bands (particularly Robin Crutchfield-era DNA) than the psychedelic avant rock they're renown for, though there are intermittent hints of their oft-overlooked eponymous debut LP (for Glenn Branca's short-lived Neutral label).

Inspired by the series of 1978 shows (at New York Artists' Space) that culminated in Brian Eno's No New York compilation, Noise Fest itself spawned Live Skull & friends' similarly-themed Speed Trails showcase in 1983, portions of which were released as a Homestead LP the following year.

1981

23.4.10

SEESSELBERG : Synthetik 1 (1973)

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A superb LP of homemade synth & oscillator fart & burble from the "tweak it & see what happens " school, released by German brothers Eckhart & Wolf-J Seesselberg in an edition of 600 on their own, eponymous label back in 1973. Recorded over 3 years at a variety of disparate locations, including a performance at London's Gallery House, it's a lost masterpiece of raw & exploratory Kosmiche electronica in the vein of early Kluster/Cluster or Tangerine Dream & pre-empts, certainly, the formative experiments of Throbbing Gristle a couple of years later. I've only recently heard of Seesselberg for the first time, c/o this excellent Youtube clip (the zoned-out German audience are a sight for sore eyes!):
Synthetik 1 is Seesselberg's only release as far as I'm aware, & I'm sure I'm not alone in saying love to hear more if anybody can point me in the right direction...

Synthetik

21.4.10

LONELADY : Black Session, 29th March 2010

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Lone2
Though she's hardly the "new Ludus" figure The Quietus would dearly love her to be, Lonelady (aka Manchester's Julie Campbell) has still managed to rudely shake me awake to the possibility of enjoying new, contemporary music - as opposed to circa '81 period stuff I've not heard before - & that never (well, rarely) happens these days. Her debut Nerve Up LP (on Warp, which'll doubtless open a few interesting doors for her) is a decent enough showcase, but it's scratchy low-fi sound frequently works against her & does her sharp, abrasive songs few favours. Though I'm generally in favour of that type of austere, minimalist approach - particularly this early in an artist's career when studio-fixated elaboration is often employed as a makeshift cloaking device - it seems slightly detrimental in Campbell's case. Live, as per last night's show at The Rescue Rooms here, she's currently far more exciting. Accompanied by an energetic & often thunderous drummer, the economical duo sound of the album immediately becomes a much fiercer, jagged proposition. Fortunately, France's Inter FM coaxed her in for one of it's reknown Black Sessions 0n March 29th - a brief set, as per her current support slots with These New Puritans, including the unexpected cover of The Fall's "Hotel Bloedel" she played here on Monday night. Make the most of her now, before the inevitable, soul-destroying remix frenzy ensues (as per The XX). Oh, & Morley's on the case as usual.


Black Session photographs by Oliver Peel - thanks / apologies.