30 September 2004


I've been meaning to write this one for months, but John Eden's recent post finally gave me the impetus to knuckle-down and get it out of my system...

There's a type of music that's been really exciting me over the last year or so. Not so much a 'scene' in the regional sense (although I suppose it centers around the London area), more a general aim of totally jaw-dropping gabba/jungle kinetics that I, from my remote suburban hilltop viewpoint, like to call "Amentalism"(nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism, of course). I like to think that Squarepusher was the first Amentalist. When he burst on the scene in '96, his take on mashed-up breakbeat science, inspired by the original Junglist's like Remarc, seemed to buck the general trend towards 'smooth 'n rollin' in the Drum 'n' Bass scene of the time - a dancefloor-unfriendly riot of convoluted, fragmented breaks that, from the outset, seemed determined to rinse as many new possibilities from the 'Amen' break and it's ilk as possible. Then last year Luke Vibert released a series of five EPs for Rephlex under the same Amen Andrews, which got me going again on the Amental trip and, combined with Planet Mu's Remarc anthologies, got me really starting to want to hear that type of grainy, insane hyper-funk racket again. Whilst this will no doubt be old news for some, here's a selection of tracks for the curious consumer...

MP3: Shitmat - Tuff Babylon
From "Killababylonkuts" (Planet Mu, 2004)
Buy at Amazon, Warpmart or download from Bleep.

From Amentalism's first 'concept album', where every track utilizes the 'Babylon Boy' sample. Shitmat has an even more irreverent attitude to sampling than Vibert! A true kleptomaniac, he's quite happy to throw in bits of The Stranglers, Ace Of Base, Michael Jackson, Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" and the theme from "Rainbow". Maybe this might wind-up some of the 'purists', but I find it all very endearing. "Tuff Babylon" is the most Gabba-flavoured offering - an overstimulated headlong speedrush that'll have you chuckling in amazement, especially when 'Golden Brown' makes an appearance...

MP3: Kid 606 - Powerbook Fiend
From "Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You" (Ipecac, 2004)
Buy at

Although I sometimes think that Kid 606 is just a skilled copyist, hanging-on to the creative shirt-tales of Squarepusher, Aphex Twin et al, I must admit he's made some remarkable records over the last few years. Effortlessly moving through jungle, electro, hip-hop and IDM -often in the course of one track - San Franciscan Miguel Trost-Depedro is a jack-of-all-trades and master of most. Here he lays down one of his fiercest Gabba riddims, adding dynamic spurts of Amen-intoxication that'll almost certainly give you a cardiac if you even attempt to dance to it.

MP3: DJ Scud & Christoph Fringeli - Bodysnatcher
From "Mash The Place Up" (Ambush, 1999)
Buy at Amazon

DJ Scud's Ambush crew are purveyors of some of the most violent, aggressive and downright nasty shit I've ever had the pleasure of being assaulted by. "Bodysnatcher" is like the next stage on from 'panic-attack' Jungle - a dense, nightmarish world of blood-curdling screams, white noise riffs and head-staving artillery beats that should not be fucked with when under the influence of mind-altering drugs. These records should come with 'health hazard' stickers. The horror..the horror...

MP3: Soundmurderer & SK-1 - Fathom
From "Rewind Records" (Rephlex, 2003)
Buy at
Amazon, Warpmart

Although they're probably the quintessential 'Ragga-jungle' act, "Fathom" is from another place entirely. It's a total fucking vortex of hemorrhaging Amen stutter-beats, foreboding atmospherics and ghostly 'Mentasm' stabs that gives me the shivers everytime. Apocalypse, wow!


You simply must read Woebot's latest post, where Matt casts a critical eye over the state of MP3 Blogs. I was much relieved not to get a good tongue-lashing from Mr. Ingram, who can smell bullshit at thirty paces. In fact, I even made it into his 'Top 11". Cheers, mate!

Matt says "I do believe the same cloying chuminess which many people say ruins "The Bloglom" hampers the mp3 blogs". Hmmm...I wonder about this myself. Sometimes I think I link too much to other blogs (like now fr'instance), but the fact is that I'm not only a blogger, but also a fan of blogs in general. Right now they're pretty much my #1 resource for musical/cultural stimulation. I put these links in for my own benefit sometimes, so that I'll be reminded of them in months (years?) to come. I like to think of Gutterbreakz as being just one small componant in a huge matrix of knowledge and enthusiasm. 'Chuminess' has always inflicted this particular axis of the Blogdom. I have this romantic notion in my head that most of the London bloggers like K-Punk and Heronbone hang-out together in bedsits and on park benches, discussing art, philosophy and Marvel Comics. I like the thought that maybe the West Country Blog scene could ultimately spill-out into the 'real' world too. A night-out supping pints and chewing the fat with Kek-W, Loki, Psychbloke and The Spoilt Victorian Children sounds like a fun alternative to sitting in front of this bloody PC every night!

29 September 2004


Well, after months of waiting, a copy of Biochemical Dread's "False Kings of the Earth/Indiana Cuba 7" 12 inch arrived on my doorstep this week. "Who the fuck's that?" you ask. Richard H. Kirk, of course! I'm feeling a bit lazy tonight, so I'll just let the press release explain the rest. I'm very familiar with these tracks already, as they featured on last year's "Bush Doctrine" album, but hearing them again beautifully mastered on virgin vinyl really blew my head off.

As Pulsoid are a small label with their heart in the right place, I'm not gonna post up any of my own MP3's from this release. However, I am going to act as a portal to the places where you can legally hear some BCD stuff.

MP3: False Kings Of The Earth (clip)

One of the grooviest tracks that Kirk's done for a while now. Propelled by an irresistibly funky guitar lick, overlaid with snatches of shortwave interference, digi-dub sonorities, subliminal 'found' sound/speech...it's a classic Kirk recipe; an anthem for haunted dancehalls and death discos the world over.

MP3: Indiana Cuba 7 (clip)

A more uptempo piece that sounds like Kirk's been indulging in a spot of self-kleptomania (why not? - he's done it before). I'm sure I can detect a loop from the Cabs' classic "Taxi Music" here. This track has a similarly claustrophobic, relentless intensity, only slightly alleviated by some catchy synth riffs and a solid 4/4 kick drum undertow.

The "Bush Doctrine" CD came out virtually at the start of the Iraq invasion, and as such it's dense, violent, anti-Bush administration theme was as perfectly in tune with the times as the Cabs' "Red Mecca" was to the Brixton Riots in '81. Kirk's as relevant now as ever, it's just a shame that he's reduced to releasing his work on small labels when he should be getting the high-profile exposure he deserves. Here's a couple of track from the album:

MP3: Zanderix Part 1.

This is the opening track, a real killer onslaught of polyrhythmic intensity that utilises the same riddim as "Indiana Cuba 7" but with added mashed-up filter and glitch fx. Severe!

MP3: The Capitol Of Abyssinia

Check that post-Dancehall groove...this one features the sort of ethnic chanting samples that Kirk's been exploring for ages now. I was picking up a similar feel from some of those tracks on "Rephlex Grime Vol.1."

There's yet another fresh wave of R.H. Kirk-related releases just around the corner. Any suspicions you might have that Gutterbreakz is really just a Kirk tribute site in disguise will almost certainly be confirmed in the next few weeks....

MP3 sources: D-Pulse America, Cocosolidciti

28 September 2004


Senses Working Overtime is not an XTC tribute blog, but does seem to be championing retro- Moog and Space Age Pop at the moment. Some fun links, including one where you can download Claude Denjean's "Moog!" LP in it's entirety. I've long had a weakness for these strange albums..there was a time when you could pick 'em up for pennies. Admittedly, many of them are totally worthless exploitative crap, offering promises of 'amazing electronic sounds' to the unwary consumer but actually containing poor renditions of pop/classical hits with awful, whining Moog noises filling in the lead melody. This one's pretty good though, in places. Beastie Boy Mike D. even included it in his Top 10 Moog Records in an old issue of Grand Royal magazine. Denjean's other Moog albums, "Open Circuit" and "Moods" are less successful though. One of these days I might compile my own personal MP3 selection of favourites from this genre, but don't hold your breath....

Another link to French Moog-pop offers downloads of Roger Roger's "Best Of..", which has it's moments. Roger was actually quite an interesting character, a contemporary of Jean Jacques Perrey who specialised in making Library LP's for such 'legendary' labels as Chappell, iM and Southern. Working from Ganaro Studios in Paris, Roger (along with Nino Nardini and Eddie Warner) was just as likely to create trippy experimental pieces as chirpy melodic nonsense. Whilst JJ Perrey always kept his muse on a jolly, light-hearted tip, Roger wasn't afraid to create some fearsomely dark, avant-garde shit - an endless conveyor belt of mad ideas which were, bizarrely, intended for use as background/jingles for TV, film and radio. I feel compelled to share a few favourites with you...

MP3: Roger Roger - Sounds Industrial #15 (1970)

I've never heard the original (and extremely rare) 'Sounds Industrial' album. But Luke Vibert was good enough to include this on his "Further Nuggets" compilation (Lo Recordings, 2002). Accurately described by Luke as "watery, futuristic electronic funk - like a '70s Drexciya", this track sounds astonishingly ahead of the game.

MP3's: Cecil Leuter Pop - Electronique #9 / Pop Electronique #12 (1969)

Leuter was Roger's unhinged experimental alter-ego. Both of these are from the "Pop Electronique" album (re-issued by Pulp Flavor Recordings in 2000). Side 1 shows it's age by using a live rhythm section bashing out the standard 'groovy' backing-tunes of the day, but side 2 is a real excursion into the unknown. '#9' is essentially a mini-symphony for electronically treated drum machine - a primitive premonition of '90s filter-techno. '#12' features some heavily equalised hi-hats that put me in mind of the metallic, processed textures of '70s dub, particularly King Tubby's sound. The bits where Roger suddenly flips the rhythm into reverse suggests hints of Jungle's beat-manipulating abstraction 25 years later.

MP3: Cecil Leuter - Electro Sounds #8 (1968)

This one comes from Barry 7's "Connectors" compilation (Low Recordings, 2001). A collaboration with Georges Teperino (aka Eddie Warner), that demonstrates Roger's application of electronics to dark ambient mood music. It anticipates Cluster's nebulous soundscapes from a few years later.

Couldn't leave this 'Gaelic Pioneers' theme without a quick mention of the great Pierre Henry. Although he was from the 'classical avant garde' quarter, there are strong parallels with Roger in terms of introducing European audiences to queer new electronic textures.

MP3: Pierre Henry - Rock Electronique (1963)

This is some heavy shit...the opening frantic oscillator pulses predict the headlong kick drum assault of hardcore Tekno, followed by Neubauten-like metal bashing percussion and violent bursts of vulgar synth-chatter - Rave music for '60's academia!
Kid Shirt relates his own personal experience of witnessing Robert Rental & The Normal live. Unmissable!!

This one involves my other son, who's ten months old. We went 'round my mate Mike's house today, for a sort of 'father & baby' afternoon. No bloody women - just men, baby boys, cups of tea, idle chit-chat and the occasional discreet fag in the back garden. Whilst fooling around on the toy-strewn living room carpet, me and the babe discovered one of those little toy keyboards with drum pads 'n shit. It had three different preset sounds: one was a church organ, another a sort of bell-like tone and the third was a synth sound that was exactly like the one that did the lead melody on Nitro Deluxe's '80's House track "Let's Get Brutal". With just a preset drum beat to accompany me, I simply had to perform an impromptu live rendition of this classic cut. Mike was diggin' it, but the babes were not so receptive - they wanted their fucking toy back now. I dunno...you try your best to give your kids a good education and they show absolutely no bloody gratitude!

27 September 2004


In October 2002, whilst watching Echoboy performing live at 93 Feet East in London, I literally bumped into Mute Supremo Daniel Miller, as he was standing next to me in the audience. A small exchange ensued, with the conversation eventually focusing on Miller's one-time friend and collaborater, Robert Rental. Daniel informed me that Rental had died of lung cancer a couple of years earlier. I was so stunned by this information that I forgot to ask Daniel perhaps the most burning question I had concerning this most enigmatic figure, namely: why did he stop making music?

There's so little documented about Rental's brief career. A google search will throw up lots of brief mentions, the odd obituary...but little else. One such mention can be found at Brainwashed, which includes some clips of Rental's work which I've linked to individually in orange throughout this post - I'm sure they wont mind! I've loved this man's music for so long now, yet know virtually nothing about him. Without any interviews or decent biographical info to draw on, it's impossible to truly understand his motivations for creating music or indeed why, after just three years of recording/performing he suddenly went AWOL. His close association with Miller would surely have provided him a 'job for life' as a Mute recording artist, even if he had only been a marginally successful figure on the label's roster. Perhaps the answers might lie in an obituary that Miller wrote for Throbbing Gristle's "24 Hours" (but I never had the cash to buy it!) or maybe Simon Reynolds might've addressed the matter in his new book. If anyone out there knows the answers, please contact me...

What I do know about Rental is this: he was Scottish, but moved to London in the wake of Punk to form a shortlived band with his fellow countryman Thomas Leer; then an interest in Krautrock and experimental tape music quickly led to a move towards electronics. In 1978 a triad of pioneering solo DIY singles by Miller (T.V.O.D./Warm Leatherette - as The Normal), Leer (My Private Plane/International) and Rental (Paralysis/ACC) arrived on the scene, with a common aim: self-recorded, self-financed, with a loose manifesto that Miller summed-up recently as "the idea that electronic music was the real punk rock, and that punk rock was really just pub rock, sped up". Musically, each found their own particular means of expressing this approach. In Rental's case this resulted in what is, for me, one of the most fascinating artifacts of the Post-Punk era....

Robert Rental - Paralysis/ACC (Regular Records 7 inch, 1978)

MP3's:Paralysis, ACC

Actually, this release has some links with Rock tradition like the hazy, messed-up, fumbling confusion of acid casualties Alexander Spence and Syd Barrett. But really, there was nothing else comparable to this in the singer-songwriter tradition. Rental sounds like he's been buried alive under a huge slab of compression and ectoplasmic synth-screech. Occasionally his fragile, wounded vocals attempt to rise up out of the melee..."can you feel a little heart beat?" he implores, before wringing his own voice through the sonic mangler. His taught, angular, treated guitar lines slice through the mix like hot knives...it's a real emotional explosion of nameless longing that eventually leads to a coda that sounds reminiscent of some of Suicide's early demos or Joe Meek entrenched in a black cloud of depression. The B-side 'ACC' is a more uptempo piece with chugging guitar riffs and a soaring Meek-like lead synth. I think this is probably one of my favourite singles ever.

Robert Rental & The Normal - Live At West Runton Pavilion 6/3/79 (Rough Trade, 1980)

MP3: Untitled (Track 2)

Rental teamed-up with Daniel Miller to perform live during the Spring of 1979. The only known document of this is a recording from a sleepy seaside town on the Norfolk coast, released on a one-sided LP by Rough Trade the following year. Musically, Rental appears to have deferred entirely to Miller's more purist approach - an uncompromising sound generated entirely using synthesisers. As a live vocalist he appears to be a very different animal: the soft, indistinct slur of his studio recordings replaced by a harsh, urgent, monotonous growl - seemingly galvanised into righteous anger when performing his art on the battlefront of the live stage (and let's not forget what an uncomfortable place that was for electronic groups at that time).

It's worth noting at this point that one of the crucial factors in triggering the late-70's rise of independent electronic groups was the growing availability of low-cost monophonic synthesisers. Whilst the established Rock groups of the era were using more expensive American synths from Moog, ARP and Oberheim, the post-punks were picking up cheaper alternatives from places like Japan. The Human League bought Roland gear. Daniel Miller started with a Korg. Rental went for a British synth called The Wasp, which at that time was available for an unbelievably cheap £199 on account of it's lightweight cost-cutting design and non-moving keyboard. The thin, buzzy sound that these instruments generated was in sharp contrast to the fat, warm tones of the Moog. Their clammy, alien(ating) textures helped define the New Wave from the establishment as perfectly as any confrontational polemic. Rental and Miller's combined Korg/Wasp onslaught still sounds pretty fucking intense now. There's an interesting interview with William Bennett here, where he briefly recounts his time on tour with Miller & Rental, with his first group Essential Logic. Apparently, Rental subsequently sold his Wasp to Bennett, who then used it as the basis for devising the sound of his next group, the quintessential '80s noise group Whitehouse.

Another luminary of the era who was impressed by Rental's Wasp was TG's Chris Carter, as he recounted in a retro-review for Sound On Sound magazine: "The first time I heard the Wasp was in 1978 while I was with Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records, and happened to hear some demos by Robert Rental and Thomas Leer. They were writing very individualistic 'electronic' songs using just voices, guitars and two Wasps. The Wasps supplied all the keyboard and percussion parts, and we were amazed at the sound they were producing with these, especially as they were using no drum machines (I think they may have used a Spider sequencer). We signed them to our label and released their first album, The Bridge. I was so impressed by what they had achieved that I went out and bought a Wasp of my own."

Thomas Leer & Robert Rental - The Bridge (Industrial Records, 1979)
re-issued by (and available to purchase from) Mute Records in 1992

MP3's:Day Breaks, Night Heals Attack Decay(clip) /Interferon(clip)

Over a two week period in the Summer of 1979, armed with an 8-track recorder on loan from Industrial Records, Leer and Rental developed their demos into one of the greatest home-recordings of the era. Like a lo-fi alternative to Bowie's "Low", "The Bridge" is an album very much of two halves. The first side being song-based, the other abstract and ambient, for reasons explained by Thomas Leer in the re-issue's sleeve notes: "Robert wanted songs and I wanted a pure ambient album. I thought back then that the idea of the song was dead and the future belonged to instrumental music. Voices could be used, but not in a structured way."

The MP3 clip of "Interferon" gives a hint of the eerie, twilight world of wraith-like drones and loops that Leer and Rental created for side 2. Leer explains further: "We were doing the same kind of things Eno started with his Discreet and Ambient musics, but we were trying to take it a stage further, away from his prettiness. We took his technique and applied a harder, nastier edge to it."

The 'song side' proved to be a fruitful collection of electronic pop possibilities. The more forthright Leer takes the lead vocal in most cases, as on killer opening track "Attack Decay", with Rental providing the scorching noise-guitar blasts. I've selected "Day Breaks, Night Heals" because it's the only track where Rental takes the lead, although much of it's appeal is in Leer's superb synth sequence.

Robert Rental: Double Heart/On Location (Mute 7 inch, 1980)

MP3's: On Location, Double Heart(clip)

At the time it must've seemed that Rental's first release on Mute Records, with it's higher production values, was the beginning of a whole new exciting chapter in his career. But it turned out to be the final act. Recorded at Blackwing Studios in August 1980, Daniel Miller - with in-house engineers Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer - seemed determined to groom his friend for the big league, enlisting the services of D.A.F.'s Robert Gorl to play live drums and adding a bright production sparkle lacking in the murky home recordings of the past. On "Double Heart", Rental's economical bass and synth lines are augmented by uplifting piano flourishes from Thomas Leer. Yet set against this comparatively lush backdrop Rental seems frozen in the oncoming headlights, his voice too soft and reserved to project the necessary charisma required for pop crossover. Yet his performance retains an understated charm and quiet determination. Perhaps the line "If there is anything that I could be/I would be close to you and we would be free" hints that Rental was already aspiring to personal goals beyond the confines of a 'pop' career.

"On Location" is a much more dramatic piece - stark, tense, urban blues - a Ballardian nightscape of 'corrosion cars' and 'orange glow street lamps'. On the sleeve Rental is like some nocturnal character from a Scorcese movie - clearly an illustration of this song's theme. Alone in the streets he confronts his own desires caught in a passing car window reflection - "foot falls, heads turn, eyes meet/synchronised faces explode simultaneously..." - leading to a blood-curdling scream of horror (or elation?).

Whilst other left-field artists like Frank Tovey, Boyd Rice and Nick Cave were able to thrive under the artistically-driven ethos of Mute, Robert Rental, for whatever reason, decided that his future lay elsewhere outside the music biz. These four documents are all that remain of his brief non-career. For these at least, we should be thankful. Rest In Peace...

25 September 2004



I love getting e-mails like this:

I stumbled over your Blog and, well, I think you are my doppleganger.
I too have a large collection of tapes (including that Detriot Techno tape), I
too include Scientist's The Bee as an all-time classic (although I'd have to go
for one of the remixes) and I too am obsessed with Breaks, Bass'n' Bleeps

This comes from an ex-pat Brit who now works as an R&D Programmer for Sony Computer Entertainment America. Once more the internet brings kindred spirits together, though they may be an ocean apart.

The Scientist was Phill Sebastiane. The groundbreaking breakbeat-orientated music he created (with large input from DJ Hype) for Kickin'Records set the tone for Rave's second wave. Hype's hip-hop instincts, combined with Phill's assured synth-programming, on tracks like "The Exorcist" and "Champion Sound" (as Kicksquad) were the template for the early-nineties Jungle/Darkside explosion. I remember being incredibly excited by it all, and those Scientist tracks will always have a special place in my heart. Phill later went on to work as Pure Science.

MP3: The Scientist - The Bee

Although the more famous "Exorcist" tune was helping to push the BPM's higher, I actually prefer The Bee's stealthy, mid-tempo vibe. Looking back, I can't imagine what user-value this tune would've had for the E-heads, other than freaking them out with those bee-swarm samples. It's spacious, vaguely ominous atmosphere seems at odds with the rest of the Kickin' output of the era - hardly a recipe for 'bliss-out'!

I couldn't seem to find a copy of "The Bee" on vinyl or CD in my collection (thought I had - but never mind), and a quick Soulseek search proved surprisingly fruitless. So I've encoded this one from my trusty old "Best Of Kickin' Records" tape, which feels quite appropriate in this instance - a celebration of me and Sony-man's love of the music and the format. The sound-quality is surprisingly good, mind!

One last thing - I've been mucking about with my FTP files, but I'm a bit of a moron so let me know if this MP3 link doesn't work for you. Ta!

24 September 2004



If you're looking for a definitive view of developments in video art over the last fifteen years, here's a good place to start.

Naturally, the work of Chris Cunningham dominates this collection, the earliest example being Autechre's "Second Bad Vilbel", from 1995. Chris was already pushing his fascination with robotics and 'distressed' visual effects here, but his real genius lies in his ability to lock into the rhythm so precisely. The promo for Squarepusher's "Come On My Selector" still looks remarkable - Cunningham's hyperactive editing skills in perfect concord with Tom Jenkinson's skewed art-jungle classic.

But there's plenty of other quality directors on show here: Daniel Levi's bizarre Chinese schoolgirls misbehaving in the playground to the soundtrack of LFO's "Freak", Laurent Briet's magical music-box accompaniment to Aphex Twin's "Nannou", Barback's '60's kitsch-flavoured promo for Broadcast's "Papercuts", Lyn Fox's creepy insectoid vision for Chris Clark's "Gob Coitus"...but the one's that are initially fascinating me most are the early small-budget affairs. Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker's promo for Sweet Exorcist's "Testone" is a delightful period-piece. Probably put together with a fifty-quid budget, they equate "Testone"'s bleepy sonics with old skool Space Invaders computer games and a surreal revival of the old BBC testcard, where the little girl with the blackboard breaks out of her confinement to play with beach balls and a VCS-3 synthesiser.

The pre-computer graphics primitive video effects are thoroughly charming in my view, particularly apt as they accompany the music of Richard H. Kirk, who was himself something of a pioneer of DIY video art (note: Mute will be re-issuing Cabaret Voltaire's seminal "Doublevision" collection on DVD very shortly - more on that soon..).

MP3: Sweet Exorcist - Testthree

Less famous than it's older sibling and, to date, only ever available on vinyl, "Testthree" is the one where they strip the track down to it's rhythmic core, add an eerie, sustained warble and then douse the 'bleep riff' in some tasteful echo.

Warpvision also includes a bonus audio CD - "Watch and Repeat Play", where Buddy Peace and Zilla take us on an an hour-long trip through the Warp back-catalogue, artfully editing loops and fragments together to create an hallucinogenic alternate reality. I'm gonna be a bit cheeky here and post-up a short section, for 'evaluation purposes only'. This is where my favourite piano interlude from Aphex Twin's "Drukqs" gets beefed-up with some phat breakbeat action. Check it!

MP3: Warp Mix - Section 9

Right, now go and buy the bloody thing!

Analogue whispers...

E-mail from A.O...

RDJ has bought a ton of stuff this year from people on the Analogue Heaven mailing list. My mate sold him some Korg MS boxes. Hopefully he's done with software 'bullshit' and is going to make some more good records. Fingers crossed!

RECOGNISE 5 - The aftermath...

Easily the most successful so far, possibly thanks to a concerted fly-posting campaign. It's been really pleasurable watching this little club gradually grow and develop. Seeing DJ's Dave B., Will and Dave T. go from complete novices to ever increasing levels of confidence and inspiration. By the time the management turned off the juice, the place was really fucking buzzing. I thought there was gonna be a riot. Special mention for young Will (he of Bronze Age Fox) for some extremely tasty mid-80's action. We had Herbie Hancock's "Rockitt", Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" and, best of all, Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F." Hearing this track again blasting through a P.A. was nothing short of a revelation. Goddam, 1985 was a bloody terrific year for pop! In honour of the occasion, I present it here for your listening pleasure. Sure, you know the song, but when was the last time you played it? Sounds fresh as a daisy to me. If ra-ra skirts and white stilletto's can come back in fashion (which they have), then so can this!

MP3: Harold Faltermeyer - Axel F

Oh, and great to finally meet another blogger in the flesh. I got to hang out with Spoilt Victorian Child Rowche Rumble for a while, and was able to personally congratulate him on that fucking awesome MP3 compilation. Not sure if Rowche shared my enthusiasm for Axel F. though....

22 September 2004


I was kinda hoping that a few people might run with my LFO singles comp. idea, but it's particularly pleasing that the Patron Saint Of Rave Culture, Mr. Simon Reynolds, has given the project his blessing. This has inspired me to get over my bandwidth paranoia and post up the remaining three tracks that aren't available legally.

However, I would never suggest that this compilation was better than the actual album. As Simon wrote himself in Energy Flash, "Frequencies" was "not just the definitive bleep-and-bass record, but one of the dozen or so truly great albums the electronic dance genre has yet produced". But hearing these b-sides and remixes together does give a refreshing new perspective on the magical soundworld that Messrs. Bell & Varley concocted all those years ago. Incidentally, my suggested running-order is purely chronological. If anyone comes up with a more musically meaningful arrangement of tracks, I'd love to hear about it.

I should add a disclaimer that, although I've done the best I can with my limited home technology to reproduce these tracks in MP3 format, to fully appreciate the full frequency range of some of these tunes, particularly the sub-bass pressure of "LFO (remix)", you really do need the original vinyl 12 inchers (and a half-decent Hi-fi system). As Warp's Steve Beckett explained to Simon about the vinyl mastering process: "A lot of it was in the cut. You've got filters on your cutting heads. Basically, it was about taking off all the filters and all the compression, and just pushing the levels up as far as you could. The engineer, this guy Kevin, would be sitting there watching the temperature gauge go right up, 'cos your cutting heads get really hot if you haven't got the filters on. He'd be sweating, saying 'you're gonna fuckin' destroy me, ya bastards', 'cos if the heads blew he'd get sacked. But he loved it really."


Not generally known for using House-y piano-vamps, LFO's take on ivory-tinkling is a bewitching little number that circumnavigates the euphoric riffs of Happy Hardcore for a more delicate, wistful vibe - all held together by a stonking 909 kick drum, of course...


Again, hardly typical of LFO's sound, although thankfully not anything to do with New Age music! Nice, chunky Hip Hop-tempo beats overlaid with horror-flik string stabs...like Belgian hardcore at the wrong speed.

MP3: WE ARE BACK (remix #2)

How many versions of this track do you need?! Personally, I'll take whatever's going, mate. Admittedly, this mix doesn't add much to the agenda, but it's more austere, reflective aura does encourage one to focus attention on those deliteful metallic percussion sounds.

One final point, following Simon's proposed 'Autere Series'. I've never managed to shake-off that rockist fixation with the artist. Probably the main reason why my blog tends to go around in myopic circles of oft-repeated obsession ("will the howling never end?!") is because I tend to know an awful lot about a relatively small handful of artists but don't really have a handle on the wider cultural implications. Perhaps it's because I never fully engaged with Rave Culture at it's source - on the dancefloor. Never an E'd-up cog in the euphoric wheel of pleasure, always a fascinated bystander, more concerned with the new Aphex Twin direction when I should've been focusing on the faceless white labels which were the true indicators of where everything was heading. I'm fully aware of my shortcoming and I reckon that anyone who checks in here regularly knows them too, but maybe that's part of my appeal - you always know what you're gonna get over at Gutterbreakz. It's a comfy, reassuring place. Maybe I should try and change that...

Like our own Kek-W, director Chris Cunningham did time as an employee of Tharg, under the alias Chris Halls. His work is very similar to that of Simon Bisley, I think. It kinda rocks, like the new Warp DVD.

Mean Machine, 1992

Check out some of Chris' cover art over at 2000 A.D. Online...
Scott Woods takes the helm over at Stypod, and hits us with some serious electro-R'n'B from the class of '88. Lush! Grab 'em now while stocks last. Particularly pleased to see Scott giving props to Nu Shooz. Although I'd not heard this particular track before, their smash hit "I Can't Wait" has been a firm favourite of mine for some years. Didn't make much impact on me at the time, but then a few years ago I had a dream and this song was the soundtrack. Y'know how great music sounds in your dreams? Well, in this dream "I Can't Wait" sounded like the most perfect piece of pop in the history of mankind. The spell was cast and I've had a minor obsession with it ever since. Found a second-hand 12 inch in a charity shop a little while later...christ, it just fuckin' sends me, especially her voice, which is a bit soulful but doesn't try too hard...a sort of vacant, directionless yearning...

...I wanna have sex with that voice!

21 September 2004

Just a quick mention for Psychbloke, who just happens to be a mate of Loki's (wish he was my mate too, boo hoo!). He takes lot's of photos of things that catch his eye in central Bristol, but also goes off on occasional journies into the warm, milky glow of childood memory, like this brilliant Star Wars post. Even though my general feelings of shared experience are probably inevitable due to the fact that I'm of the same age and from the same city and share an alarming amount of similar non-musical interests, I reckon this is so powerful it would make even the great K-punk shudder in empathic ecstacy, assuming he bought bubblegum cards (didn't we all?!- and I hope Mark spotted that Sapphire & Steel post a while back), god...I can fucking taste those pink gum strips now...time for some deep reverie shit...

20 September 2004


Another cool MP3 blog: Radio Babylon. Not least 'cos he calls himself 'Blue Calx' or the fact that he's been bigging-up Luke Vibert recently. He's also brought to my attention the imminent release of a new Aphex Twin 12 inch called Analord 10 (I really should check in at Rephlex more regularly!). My own reactions to this lush vinyl package are pretty much exactly the same as Calx's, so over to him:

The good news about this speaks for itself. The bad news, it's only available as 180g Audiophile vinyl, which means that the sound quality should be fantastic, but it will probably also be expensive. And for only two tracks too. It's also packaged in a binder which will also hold future editions of the Analord series. As nice as the idea sounds, it'd be nice to get them all put together on one CD, wouldn't it? The unfortunate thing about Aphex Twin is that he's gotten quite good at making money lately but he's also talented enough to get away with it. So depending on how much he's looking for for this result (the line "Price: t.b.a." seems like a bad sign to me), I'll probably end up springing for it anyway. Of course there's also a bit of debate over the title "Analord." Despite the fact that it's also the name of a Wagon Christ track, is it a reference to the fact that these tracks may be refined versions of the back catalogue of his old analog work? Or is it... well I'll leave it your imagination. Considering this is Aphex Twin, I'm going to guess that it's a little of both.

Indeed! I'd also add that it's nice to see that James is now free to use his beautiful Aphex logo wherever he darned well pleases since freeing himself from his Warp contract. You all know by now how much I love Warp (DVD is in the post, btw!), but I got the impression some time ago that James wasn't happy there, so it's best that he does his own thing now. "Analord' does indeed give out a coy suggestion of 'analogue', which I find intriguing. But I don't believe for one minute that James has reverted back to his roots in soldering irons and voltage control. Once you've made the move to software, there's really no going back. But perhaps he's using his Powerbook to emulate the sound of his analogue recordings? I hope so!

I cherish the sound of those early Aphex releases. He really was a total breath of fresh air when he first went overground in '92. Like nothing else around. And such an advanced mentality towards sound, that had Simon Reynolds making John Cage comparisons at every opportunity. The fact that his equipment seemed to consist of all this junky homemade or modified gear was equally mindblowing. One of the greatest gigs I ever attended was this one:

Of course I enjoyed the spectacle of Orbital, who were just starting to hit their stride as a shithot live experience. Yet when James came on stage, it was like some distopian Steptoe & Son-meets Blade Runner-type scene. All you could see from the audience was the crown of his head, just poking out from the top of an unfathomable pile of circuit boards, ancient TV monitors, keyboards that looked like they'd been ripped open and their guts splayed out. To us it looked like a heap of scrap, but it had grown organically over many years and James no doubt knew exactly where every crocodile clip was supposed to be placed. Like some H.R. Geiger biomechanical nightmare, James seemed fused within all this electronic garbage - truly, man and machines in perfect symbiosis.

And then there was the sound of those crazy gadgets. Percussion sounds beyond anything yet experienced by mankind. And the reverb-laden patina of otherness that pervaded his analogue recordings. No matter how intricate his laptop programming becomes, that sense of environment seems to have been lost in his digital work.

MP3: AFX 6

Here's an example of that early Aphex sound, recorded for a BBC radio session transmitted on 13th March 1993. I've deliberately left in John Peel's dulcet chatter. Totally fucking martian, mate...

18 September 2004


Jez won't stop grinning. Crash! Another power-chord. Bam! LFO swing their axes like Thor swinging a sausage. Whee! Chang! Twang! With one power chord LFO save rock 'n' roll. From itself.

Encouraged by NME's Ian McCann and photographer Steve Double, Techno's Bright New Hope LFO symbolically slaughter a bunch of guitars in their quest to rid the world of Rock's tired, outdated stranglehold.

Jez Varley: "We thought we'd do it for a laugh. It'll probably wind up the sort of indie band that hates dance, though."

Mark Bell: "It must be hard to make music with guitars. Or hard to do something new. A guitar can only make a few noises really. There's the acoustic sound, the electric sound, the distorted fuzzy sound and everything else is just variations. And all these sounds have been used in the last 20 or 30 years. How do you get a new sound out of a guitar? On the other hand a synth has got hundreds of sounds on it, and there are hundreds of synths that all sound different from each other. If people say it must be easy to do what we do, well, it is in that it's easy to get a new sound out of a keyboard and it's hard to get a new sound out of a guitar."

Axes to grind: Jez Varley (left) and Mark Bell indulge in some serious Rock-Deconstructivism

Varley and Bell were teenage ravers at clubs where the DJ's were members of Nightmares on Wax, the cult Leeds House-hip-hop production team. They gave Nightmares on Wax a demo of a House track they did on a tiny Casio SK-1 keyboard and candle-powered drum machine. The track got played at the club. The crowd loved it, and among the crowd were the guys that own Warp Records. Within a month 'LFO' by LFO was out on Warp.

Now, two singles and an album ('Frequencies') later, LFO are among the electronic elite.

Ask them if they're ever tempted by anything that isn't electronic and the names they come up with are Brian Eno and Pink Floyd. "One of my friends," muses Mark, "likes Metallica, Slayer and Megadeath, and he likes Techno. It does make you wonder..."

Wonder what? Wonder if Techno is the new Metal rather than the new punk? Sling a few simple Metal riffs together using a computer and you've got a House record? Nah, it doesn't seem possible. But LFO have bigger things to worry about, like the 'new' 'live' TOTP, which, they reckon, has been engineered to make dance music look crap. And that's not all.

"It's not just that", says Mark. "Think about the way the big record companies are trying to do away with vinyl. They know full well that dance music is just 12" singles. It's an attack on dance music because they know it's not a CD market. And an attack on dance music is anti-independent labels, because all those dance hits are on little labels. The big labels want everything their way and dance music is a threat. They'd rather it wasn't around."

Alright!! LFO are spearheading a joint assault on the Rock and Corporate establishments (which, let's face it, are pretty much entwined anyway). Go get 'em lads - your generation needs you!

Burn, Babylon, burn!

But wait a minute....this all happened over a decade ago, in January 1992. So what the fuck happened?! How did we allow the trad-rock bollox of Oasis, Travis and The (wretched) Darkness to flourish once more? Why is Jack White an international superstar when the real voice of Detroit youth - Jimmy Edgar - still languishes in relative obscurity? Why is it that the charts - once under siege from an unstoppable deluge of smash'n' grab independent dance labels - are once again dominated by the major labels and their foul 'pop idols'? Why are LFO's subsequent sporadic releases only listened to by a smallish community of die-hards, when their first three singles all invaded the charts?

Everyone's a winner, baby: the LFO entry in the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles

Amazingly, from just three singles/EPs and their remix offshoots, it's possible to compile a whole new album's worth of material from that classic era. Below is my suggested tracklist and running-order which you can use to create your own Singles/B-sides 90-92 CD-R. As this is intended as a companion to Frequencies, I have left out Mentok 1 and the standard mix of We Are Back as they are identical to the album versions. Tracks highlighted pink are available to download from Bleep. Disgracefully, none of the other, mainly vinyl-only, tracks are on-catalogue at all. Those in yellow are available to download courtesy of Gutterbreakz. I would've put them all up, but I'm conscious of bandwidth restrictions. However, the remaining tracks are all in my shared folder on Soulseek. Please take them, burn the CD-R, then pass copies to your ten-year-old nephew and so forth. There's still time to save The Kids before the system sucks out their brains forever! It's a question of Cultural Survival!

1. LFO (Leeds Warehouse Mix)

2. TRACK 4


4. LFO (Remix)


6. WE ARE BACK (Remix #1)

(different from the album version)


9. WE ARE BACK (Remix #2)
(erroneously titled 'Push')



12. TAN TA RA (Moby Remix)


14. WHAT IS HOUSE (Remix)


Total playing time: 68:22

17 September 2004

Oh fuck. After yet another e-mail wondering what the hell happened to my Martin Rushent revelations, I've decided to give in and reveal what little I know. I really wanted to do something special with this one, and there was so much info I wanted to glean from Martin but, despite his assertions that he would answer my questions when he had the time, no further information has been forthcoming, and I really don't want to keep hassling him like some sad wanker. So here's what he's given me so far, in his own words...

A very dear friend of mine - Andrew Lauder - head of A&Rr of UA Records and then Radar records - played me an album by Grandmaster Flash.

I thought this record was amazing - GMF was doin it by scratchin' records and I thought i could do something similar using studio fx and splicin tape.

The first remix I did this way was Homosapien remix with Pete Shelly from The Buzzcocks.

I did the remixes for Love & Dancing at the same time as I mixed the Dare versions.

In fact the b sides of some of the singles were the remixes of the a sides.

By the time Dare was dun - we had almost an album's worth of remixes - so I suggested I do a couple more and put it out as Love and Dancing - which we did.

After Dare had been successful in the USA I went over to find L&D had revolutionised the US dance scene !!

Whilst on tour with the Buzzcocks I stumbled over the
Linn Drum (LM-1)in development and ordered one.

So in summation:

influences from USA

Grandmaster Flash
the Linndrum machine

there were a few other unfluences - reggae dub
James Brown

There u have got it

So essentially Martin is saying that the early '80s US dance scene was influenced by him, not the other way around. I must admit I was fascinated by the thought that all those st-st-stuttery edits, which would become so predominate in club remixes, originated from Martin's desire to emulate Flash's turntable technique. It's also important to remember that, although remix albums can often smack of 'cash-in' these days (even Go West were doing it by '85), there wasn't really anything like it when L&D first hit the racks. The nearest comparisons would be with Jamaican dub albums, whose influence Martin acknowledges. Soft Cell's "Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing" came shortly afterwards (more on that here). L&D's success would've been far from assured at the time, especially as they decided to release it under the 'League Unlimited' moniker. It was a pioneering concept, and potentially risky as there were no real precedents with which to gauge audience reaction. The other vital point in Martin's comments is that, rather than being cobbled together as an afterthought, most of the L&D mixes were recorded during the Dare sessions - the result of Martin's feverishly inspired tinkering after the rest of the League had gone home for the night. It was a labour of Love. And Dancing.

I should also mention that Martin is writing his autobiography, and also remixing 'Dare' once again "using all the latest computer stuff". The League don't seem too sure whether Martin is up to the job, but bare in mind that Martin has been in talks with Autechre's Skam label about releasing a solo album. If the Skam people are taking him seriously, so should we!

That's it, folks - hope you're not too disappointed after such a long wait...


Since my brief review of their 'Burnerism' mini-album back in June, I've not seen any other support for the mighty Team Shadetek out there in blogworld, other than a rather muted response over at Telephone Thing in July (no doubt you'll let me know if I missed something). 'Burnerism' just seems to get better and better everytime I listen to it. The Autechre comparisons are legitimate, but whilst Messrs. Booth & Brown come across like techno-druids meditating on their silicon-encrusted mountain top, Shadetek are pure street. Hard, urban boombox music fragmented through the lens of Powerbook glitch-fuckery. Wired, (in)tense, edgy shit that grooves like nothing else I'm hearing right now. Like Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica", this music moves in time to it's own peculiar inner-riddim, requiring several listens before you're fully attuned to Shadetek's beat.

You can listen to previews of all the tracks on Burnerism here.

Those lovely people at at The Milk Factory have a cool review/bio here and even cooler interview here.

For my part, here's an MP3 of Innovate, the B-side of their first self-financed single, which is out of print. This is much earthier and lo-fi than the Burnerism material; quite similar to Jimmy Edgar's approach - it's like oldskool '80s Hip Hop, back when it was raw, strange and bludgeoningly repetitious. I love the way they pluck a horn blast from it's comfy little home in the past, attach live wires to it's festering testicles and make it jerk Frankenstein-like in a new 'dance macabre'. That's what Hip Hop's all about, as far as I'm concerned.

16 September 2004

Phew, I'm back, having just got my PC back from the workshop for some minor but well-overdue repairs. Off-line for over 72 hours! The cold turkey was harsh.

Anyway, normal service will be resumed shortly, although I will probably spend the rest of the evening just catching up on all the cool stuff that's been happening in bloggyland in my absence.

Oh and by the way, my last post was so full of self-righteous proclamations that I forgot to say a big 'thankyou' to Simon at Spoilt Victorian Child for some invaluable advice and encouragement that gave me the impetus to get into the MP3 game. As one of the more vocal supporters of Download Culture, it was beginning to worry me that I wasn't taking this blog to that level (but that doesn't mean that I consider MP3 Blogs to be superior to non-MP3 blogs - far from it - it's just something that I need to do in the quest for personal advancement).

Thanks for all the kind words, people. It means a lot....
Just spotted perhaps the most honest and truthful account of the blogging life over at Loki's(with some excellent comments responses). I like that paranoid vibe; it sharpens you up real horrorshow. My emotional safety net is the fact that those blogs that first inspired me to hook into the program (Blissblog, K-Punk, TWANBOC/Woebot) have all linked me and occasionally throw me a scrap of praise. I don't use counters or any form of link tracking - I think that would drive me insane. Instead, once a month or so I google the phrase 'Gutterbreakz' and see what comes up...anything I might've missed through my normal surfing habits usually shows up there.

Loki has isolated my own personal greatest fear: "What if you post something that's already been posted? " (shudder...)

13 September 2004

Well, I'll be buggered. It would appear that Gutterbreakz is indeed now an MP3 Blog. Sometimes I amaze myself!

But what to do with this new-found power?

Firstly, I should make it clear that this won't change the dynamic of the blog much - it's still going to be primarily a place where I write about music (and whatever else takes my fancy)but now with the added option of adding aural illustrations where appropriate.

Secondly, don't expect any 'exclusive' pre-release MP3s. I don't receive any freebies or promos from record companies; I get to hear stuff the same time as everyone else. This is as it should be - I'm not a pro music critic or involved in the music biz in any way, I'm just a fan who writes about the stuff that interests him. If I started getting freebies I'd probably feel obliged to write nice things about them. This way, I only focus on the music that's really important to me. Most MP3s that I submit will probably be old stuff from my collection that I think needs to be heard again. I may also occasionally add some of my own tunes, Paul Meme-stylee, although even these will probably be old stuff, as this is one area of creativity that seems to have deserted me this year.

Oh and by the way, the track I chose for the 'test run' was indeed 'Popcone' by Sweet Exorcist (Richard H. Kirk & DJ Parrot). Although best known for their early pioneering 'bleep 'n' bass' tracks for Warp Records, this one comes from a 12 inch released on Cabaret Voltaire's short-lived Plastex label in 1991. A track so strange at the time that I wasn't even sure what speed it was supposed to play at! Still sounds pretty odd by today's standards....

12 September 2004


I really don't know what the fuck I'm doing.

Click here, and let me know what happens, if anything (might take a while if you're on dial-up).

11 September 2004

Loki in tha comments box:
i've always lived in fear of people bringing out the acoustic guitar for a 'jam' at parties

Oh yeah, absolutely. Bunch o'wankers, mate. Yet, by a strange coincidence, earlier today I was clearing out all the crap in my garage, when my eldest son spotted my acoustic guitar lying unloved and covered in dust. He wanted me to play something on it. I'd almost forgotten that I could play guitar (nothing too flashy, but I can get by) and before I put him to bed this evening, we had a little 'jam' session of our own. His favourite tune at the mo' is "The Tide Is High". He first got into it through the Atomic Kitten version, but then I hipped him to Blondie's original and now he likes that better. After struggling for a while to get the damn thing in tune, I worked out the chords and away we went; me on vocals and guitar, him on assorted percussion and atonal blasts of recorder. It was kinda beautiful. Maybe we'll do it again tomorrow, with his mum and kid brother as an audience. But this is just a family thing, okay? If anyone catches me trying anything similar at a party, you have my permission to glass me.
Stypod on Daryl Hall's "Sacred Songs"

Part of Robert Fripp’s infamous MOR trilogy, Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs found itself in limbo upon its completion, unable to be released because of its so-called challenging nature. Hall, who was consciously trying to reinvent himself outside of his more famous duo with a certain Mr. Oates, plunged back into duo work and soon found his commercial feet again with some of their best-loved material on Voices and Private Eyes.

That being said, while some of the work on Sacred Songs was undeniably pop, “Without Tears” being a prime example, many of the songs suffered from a battle between the twin impulses of Fripp and Hall. This push/pull can be seen no better than on “Babs and Babs”, which goes from oompah-pop stomp to Fripper-tronic guitar theatrics and back again over the course of its seven-minute length.
[Todd Burns]

Yeah, but it's that collision of Daryl's pop sensibilities and Fripp's rampant experimentation that makes this such a unique, fascinating artifact of '70s Artrock. "Babs and Babs" works beautifully in my view; Fripp's gorgeous waves of frippertronics gently caressing the song until eventually disolving into the dead-calm of "Urban Landscape"...before suddenly knocking our heads off with the awsome prog-punk dynamics of "NYCNY". One of the greatest segued song-triads ever!

Buddha's CD re-issue includes two extra tracks, the second of which, "North Star" features a true supergroup line-up of Daryl (vox), Fripp (guitar), Eno (synth) and, er, Phil Collins (drums). Did they all record their parts together at the same time? I wonder what they all talked about....
Blimey! Just been watching Robert Wyatt receiving an award at the Mercury Music thing, presented to him by his good friend and long-term admirer Mr. Brian Eno. Fucking well deserved, sir. I'm feeling a bit choked-up about the whole thing.

On a less impressive note, earlier there was a group performing called Thai (Tie?), who proved yet again that live Hip Hop is shite. Why do people insist on trying to turn an electronic music form into 'real' music. Dex, fx and a rap. That's all you fucking need. Crackley vinyl loops, beatboxes 'n shit. Okay, maybe a laptop and Cubase if you're a bit clever. Sod the bloody live percussionists, rhythm guitarists and all that. Hip Hop steals that stuff and turns it into something else. Bah!

Franz Ferdinand: they look great, don't they? (always end on a positive note!)

09 September 2004

The MP3 Blog revolution continues to expand and propagate at an astonishing rate. I'm starting to get overstimulated. I can barely keep up. Starting to feel a little redundant too. Time to do something about it!

A couple of things of particular interest. Kode 9 has some tracks from the forthcoming Virus Syndicate/Mark One album. Scissorkick has a track from Fingathing, a duo who I was first introduced to when Dave started playing their stuff at Recognise. Music For Robots has Eddy Grant's 1982 disco-synth b-side "Timewarp", a track I heard over at a friend's house years ago. Really great to hear it again!

08 September 2004


(thanks to podoci81)

07 September 2004


Suicide - Half Alive (ROIR, 1981)

Although Suicide's eponymous debut album is generally considered the essential item, I must admit that, when it comes to 'Desert Island Discs', then "Half Alive" would probably be the one I'd choose. In both concept and appearance it has a distinct bootleg vibe; the selection of live tracks and home demos has the feeling of a homemade compilation, whilst the basic typeface and slapdash hand-drawn cover lettering suggest it was knocked out in five minutes by some enterprising bootlegger. In fact, this is a very official release from Reachout International Records Inc. (ROIR) that employed Martin Rev's reprocessing skills to get the tapes into shape. I think I actually bought it in HMV. Strictly budget cassette release though, as the small print states: "Warning: This material not available on vinyl"

Here we have the first ever examples of the incredibly dense, claustrophobic music recorded during the '75 rehearsals ("Space Blue", "Long Talk", "Speed Queen"), an earlier, more solemn and utterly devastating studio version of "Dream Baby Dream" (renamed "Dreams" for copyright reasons?) and three demo's from 1979 that would later be reworked(with the help of Ric Ocasek) into sleek, futuristic, multi-layered electropop on the Second album. But I prefer the demo versions. "Cool As Ice" (which became "Touch Me") is just fantastic - Rev's grinding, monotonous organ riff and pounding rhythm machine proves that it's possible for One Man to sound better than the Velvet Underground. Likewise, "Love You" (aka "Sweet Heart") and "Chezazze" provide a frustrating glimpse of what the second album might've sounded like if they'd kept to the original basic set-up of Farfisa/drum machine/vocals.

The live tracks are all killer too. The Marquee track "Sister Ray Says" is a lesson in repetitious delirium that we can all still learn from - the bit near the end where Rev suddenly cranks up the volume mirroring John Cale's similarly violent organ work on the song that this track is a homage to. And let's not forget Vega at his absolute best on "All Night Long" from Toronto in '78 - part blustering egomaniacal crowd-baiter, part trembling emotional wreck - my god, the sheer fucking charisma of the man makes even the brightest new 'Pop Idols' look like a bunch of vacant wet blankets by comparison. It hits me in the head. It hits me in the heart. It kicks my ass. I'm filling-up just at the thought of it.

"Half Alive" has since been re-issued on CD with extra tracks. I have that too, natch. But the original cassette remains a personal treasure of such talismanic power that I used to carry it around with me, drawing strength from it's close proximity. I could handle anything life threw at me with this baby by my side.

Suicide - Ghost Riders (RIOR, 1986)

This is a recording of Suicide's Tenth Anniversary Concert at The Walker Arts Centre in Minneapolis on 19th Sept. 1981. Again there's a cheap, artless feel to the inlay graphics that belies the important documentary evidence contained within. There's a nakedness about this performance; bereft of the echo effects and other mixing desk tricks that usually come with the Suicide package, this is the nearest thing to Rev & Vega Unplugged you're likely to hear. Of course, the electricity is very much turned on, as Rev's harsh Farfisa-boogie testifies, but there's a clarity about this recording that highlights the abilities of the men, rather than focusing on the technological roar that usually envelopes them. I wouldn't say it was my favourite concert recording of theirs, but it certainly has a distinct charm of it's own. Vega's anguished shrieks on "Harlem" - usually echo-plexed into infinity - are startlingly near-focus. At one point he sounds genuinely demented, almost choking on his own bile as a series of insane whoops, yelps and gurgles spew out of him; Vega's vocal chords seemingly a vessel to emote the pain and suffering of all the down-trodden inhabitants of the New York district of the song's title. This is art on the absolute edge of panic. How he managed to wrench this stuff out of his guts on a regular basis defies rational explanation. I mean, I couldn't do it once. Like many people, I have an inbuilt safety valve that cuts in when things get too extreme - I just sort of shut down. Yet Vega could turn on the horrors like a fucking tap. Although he's still a great performer to this day, sadly I don't hear that level of intensity in him anymore. Maybe it's because he's accepted now. That's why the much-publicised hostility of the early audiences was so crucial to what made Suicide tick (and maybe it's also about New York City, their home in life and spirit, which is a very different place now). But as David Fricke notes on the inlay, "All that energy, frustration and indestructible pride comes blasting through on this recording". Amen to that.

06 September 2004

Ooh! Aah!! Fuckin' hell, 20 Jazz Funk Greats present The First Annual Suicide Week. Wicked!

I must point out though, chaps, that there's one Suicide Tribute album you didn't mention. How could you? It's only known to a small selection of Suicide freaks who hang out at Revega, a Yahoo group that I set up back in March 2002. The tribute CD was created by and for members of the group only. I covered Suicide's "Girl" and Marty Rev's "Nineteen 86". It was lot's of fun to do.

Suicide - Another Tribute (2003)

By the way guys, I don't know how long you've been following my writing 'career' (ha!) but here are links to some of the things I've written about Suicide:

November 2002 - Sat 2 & Sun 3 - London, Mean Fiddler
(there doesn't seem to be a direct Url to this, so scroll down and click on the 'Misc. page' and go from there..)

Martin Rev - "To Live" album review

Over-excited career overview

Oh, and Kid Shirt on monstrously good form on Andy Partridge.
Interesting response to my post on Bleep here.
Finally got round to listening to Squarepusher's last-but-one album "Do You Know Squarepusher". A strong set only let down by Tommy Jenks' ill-advised decision to cover Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Like previous attempts by such musical luminaries as Swans and, er, Paul Young, this cover fails because the original version contains dark supernatural powers that I suspect are Not Of This Earth and any attempt to get near it will only result in making you look silly by comparison. Like the Ark Of The Covenant, "LWTUA" should not be fucked with under any circumstances - there are some things beyond the understanding of mere mortals...


As soon as we discovered Burroughs, that was it. That's why we thought, 'Fuck Genesis', because applying that cut-up technique to music was a new idea back then. All that stuff was just as important, if not more so, than the music.

Richard H. Kirk, Uncut Feb. 2000

Cabaret Voltaire - Seconds Too Late (Rough Trade, 1980)

Possibly the best ever Cabs single, backed by the perennially strange "Control Addict", features an attempt by the band to visually interpret their music on this brilliant sleeve. Artpunks with craft knives! I've stared intently at it on many occasions, but only get faint traces of the image that slices diagonally across what appears to be architectural blueprints. A design classic in my book. Interestingly, the Designers Republic seemed to have taken inspiration from it last year, when they created this:

Richard H. Kirk - T.W.A.T. The War Against Terror (Intone, 2003)

Perhaps a bit more clinical than the original, and it's fairly easy to make out the three different images used, but I dig it. The Designers obviously liked the result too, as they used the technique again shortly after for this Warp promo card, cutting up Luke Vibert's "Yoseph" with Chris Clark's "Empty The Bones Of You", LFO's "Sheath" and Plaid's "Spokes":

It looks attractive, I think - although it doesn't really mean anything. It's just cool design, as opposed to the Cabs' original concept that just oozes with lo-tech mystery and suppressed violence.

05 September 2004

For a little while I attended Wanking School in the house of one of the lads called Rex Barrow. We would gather in a circle and extract our organs. Barrow himself had a prodigious cock and was very proud of it. We would all watch nervously while he got going. Even at the slack his member was daunting. But as he began to recite the names of local girls and rock back and forth to our accompanying groans, the miracle took place before our eyes.

'Rosie Ball, Rosie Ball', Rex would mutter hoarsely, for libido and hoarseness always go together. 'Rosie Ball', and as we all groaned his snake flickered into life. 'Evelyn Coffee', said somebody else to a new groan of approval and Rex's prick filled out further, mesmerizing those of us whose tackle remained inert.

'Bertha Moonan?' I suggested, desperate to kindle the flames further. There was a howl of anger as Rex's dick died.

'You daft bugger, now look at what you've done', snarled Derek Houghton, 'you've killed his dick.'

The above extract is just one of many highlights from possibly my favourite autobiography ever:

Who On Earth Is Tom Baker? (Harper Collins Hardback Edition, 1997)

I've been on a Tom Baker tip all day, after seeing him interviewed this morning on the otherwise dull-as-ditchwater "Heaven & Earth" show on the telly. With some gentle prodding, Baker discussed several themes from his fascinating past, including his time as a monk, his disastrous first marriage and attempted suicide. I was inspired to start rereading the autobiog yet again. It's a real page-turner. Then tonight his wonderful voice was heard again, as the narrator of "Little Britain", at which point I realised I must share my love of the great man with the rest of the world.

Baker wrote another book too, a humorous fiction called "The Boy Who Kicked Pigs". I have a signed copy:

The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (Faber & Faber, 1999)

Okay, I didn't actually get it signed by him myself. My mother-in-law, of all people, heard he was doing a book-signing in Belfast (yes it's true, my wife's an Irish lass) and went along to get a copy so she could send it over to me, 'cause she thinks I'm such a bloody great son-in-law. If only she knew the real me...

The nearest I ever got to the mighty one was this:

I took this shot at Longleat a few years ago. Tom is seen here with ex-companions Sophie "Ace" Aldred and Liz "Sarah Jane Smith" Sladen at some ceremony to celebrate K-9's 20th Birthday. I did get to have a chat with the girls (who were both lovely) and also Producer John Nathan-Turner, who I personally thought was the ruination of the series, although I didn't tell him that. I couldn't be arsed to wait in the massive queue to meet Mr. Baker - I'm not that big a fan fer chrissakes.

It seems slightly academic to point out that Tom was the greatest Doctor by a mile. You all knew that already.


A comment from Loki got me thinking about something my mate Aaron once asked me. Namely, what terrible things have you done in order to ensure that you acquire that prized item you've been hankering after? I immediately thought of one which was awful for it's outright betrayal of a fellow Kraftwerk fan's trust. One afternoon back in about 1990ish, my good friend and work colleague John Shattock came up to my desk and, in hushed tones, confided that he'd spotted a copy of the Vertigo gatefold edition of Kraftwerk 1 & 2 for £14 in Replay Records. He hadn't had the cash to buy it at the time, so had hidden the album in the back of the 'J' section, so as to put other potential Kraftwerk fans off the scent, with the intention of slipping back the following day to buy it. To my shame, I clocked out dead on 12 noon the following day, rushed over to Replay and bought the record before John got there. Needless to say he fucking cursed me when he found out, though thankfully was able to forgive my disgraceful behavior. I am scum, it's true.

John later moved to Birmingham, but we kept in touch. I subsequently bought the unauthorised CD reissues of Kraftwerk 1 & 2 and decided that it was time to atone for my sins and posted the Vertigo vinyl to him as a surprise present. So John ended up getting the record for free. He just had to wait about 10 years to receive it.

Anyone got any similar (or worse) crimes to confess?
As if to show what a complete bunch of lame twats all my fellow bloggers are
(puts up fists to enormous throng of encircling 30-something males) I've noticed
that since the demise of WOEBOT there have been absolutely no visual paeans to the
glory of sleeve art when they WERE all the rage. A few in it's immediate aftermath,
but thereafter silence. Pathetic! It's almost inspired me to move back to my old address and keep posting JPEGs in lieu of not having much interesting to say most of the time. Almost.

I feel most put-out that Woebotnik doesn't consider my grainy cassette-inlay scans to be 'sleeve art'. They may not tickle Matt's fancy, but they all mean something to me, no matter how crude they look. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My taste in sleeve art is probably a bit different from Matt's anyway. Here's an example from the Gutterbreakz 7inch Collection, that I still find extremely attractive:

Silicon Teens - Judy In Disguise (Mute, 1980)

This is a childlike illustration of the fictitious synth-teenpop group - created by Daniel Miller - rendered by Simone Grant. Left to right are (I think) Jacki (synthesizer), Diane (synthesizer), Paul (electronic percussion) and Darryl (vocals). For a while I actually believed the group really existed! I wonder what Daniel would've done if Silicon Teens had actually had a hit record and been asked to play on Top Of The Pops? Did he have a bunch of kids ready to mime along, just on the off-chance? Whatever, I find Simone's 'Junior School' graphics extremely pleasing to the eye, especially with the watery pastel colours and tacky type-face. You can go on about your Tom Hannan Blue Note sleeves till you're blue in the face. I know what I like.

04 September 2004

Yay! Blissblog endorses new Wagon Christ album shocker!! You've gotta get over that 303 hump though, Simon...

20 Jazz Funk Greats just keeps on churning out the quality. Love the Add N to (X) post especially. Likewise An Idiots Guide To Dreaming with nice post on Kid Acne. Along with Kid Shirt, these guys are all in the running for 'Best Newcomer' in the end of year polls...

Recently discovered Unhalfbricking, who has an interesting new post on Ballard. Also scroll down and check out his totally accurate account of life in the shadow of debt. It's so true it hurts...

03 September 2004


Unreleased demos & live performances. Alternate mixes. Abandoned recording sessions. Promos that never made it to full release. There's always been a healthy market for the stuff that, for one reason or another, the artist or label has seen fit not to release. The hunger for more work by a favourite artist, when all official product has been consumed and digested, is not uncommon amongst serious music obsessives, like myself. And so, for many years now, the bootleggers have done a roaring trade. Illegal, yes - but let's make a quick distinction here. We're not talking about pirate copies of officially released material that robs the Industry of millions of pounds every year, but those enterprising individuals who plug the gap between what the Industry chooses for the consumer to hear and what the consumer wants (and in some cases needs) to hear.

The standard of bootleg products can vary wildy, from immaculately packaged vinyl pressings and lovingly compiled CDs to dodgy Xeroxed sleeves with poor audio quality or questionable authenticity. Back in the days when I regularly frequented Record Fairs, I often found myself invariably drawn to the shady character with a stall full of cassette bootlegs - row upon row of gaudy, primary colour spines beckoning me with their artless, punkoid Xeroxed inlays, amateurish typewriter track listings (if you were lucky) and the music recorded onto domestic C90's. A few personal favourites:

Cabaret Voltaire - Outer Limits Demo

Back in the days before Mute excavated the Cabs' early back catalogue and looong before "The Attic Tapes", this was the sort of thing us chronically addicted Cabbaholics coveted. This one features early demos recorded at Chris Watson's loft, most of which have since made it onto CD. Notice that although the music dates from the mid '70s, whoever 'designed' the inlay choose a jocular pic of Mal that clearly comes from the '80s, completely inappropriate for the vibe, illustrating the 'anything'll do' aesthetic.

New Order - More Than Despair (Broadcasts & Rarities)

Yeah, okay, I was a big New Order fan back in the '80s, and this is one of the best bootlegs of theirs I ever found. A nice combination of demo mixes, BBC sessions, live tracks and a demo from their first post-Joy Division recording session at the Cabs' "Western Works" studio. The tape finishes with an early version of Joy Division's "No Love Lost", from the abandoned album sessions recorded with Richard Searling in Spring 1978. Interestingly, although the band were horrified when synths were overdubbed onto their songs (ironic, no?), I think the added electronic throb sounds wicked.

Kraftwerk - Chicago 1975 FM Broadcast

After "Autobahn"'s surprise success in the States, Kraftwerk undertook an extensive tour, from which this Chicago gig originates. They performed a full-length "Autobahn", along with "Comet Melody 1 & 2" plus a re-arranged "Rukzak", the opening track from their eponymous first album. To be honest, Kraftwerk sound knackered here - the tracks all seem to be at least 10 bpm slower than the studio versions. But it's still a fascinating display of early live electropop, with all the technical problems that they must've had to be overcome to replicate the studio sound. I mean, would you trust a Minimoog to stay in tune for the whole duration of a gig? A document of true pioneering spirit and bravery.

The future...

So bootlegs can be great, even when they're shoddy. But traditionally, someone is always making a profit out of other people's intellectual property. Now, with the advent of P2P filesharing on the net, these people are probably going to go out of business. Why? Because of the international network of knowledge that's housed on the harddrives of thousands of filesharers across the globe. Because filesharing has nothing to do with money. The middlemen have been cut out. Once these recordings get into the system, they spread like a virus, from user to user, each filesharer offering his treasures for free on the speculative assumption that he might (and almost always will) get something free in return. A simple bartering system - 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours'. I often leave my PC running overnight. Who knows how many files get copied from my shared folder during that time? Who cares? I have a moral code, of sorts. I never share stuff that's freely available to buy elsewhere, only deleted items and associated rarities. I am a bootlegger. But I don't do it for personal gain, only to bring joy and satisfaction to others and to keep that music which I cherish alive, because music's no use to anyone if you can't listen to it. If the artist or label are unwilling or unable to make their recordings available to the public, then we will do it for them.

Richard D. James aka The Aphex Twin is a classic case in point. Although he often brags in interview about all the unreleased material he's sitting on, his unwillingness to make it available is bizarre and, quite frankly, mean-spirited. He's built up a strong fanbase over the years and yet seems to have little or no concern for the interests of those who adore him. His output in recent years has been slender to say the least and when he does release some product, it's often unsatisfactory. The last new thing I think was the remix of the Bug's "Run The Place Red", accompanied by two almost unlistenable experimental pieces, which simply wasn't thirst-quenching enough after such a long drought. And as my good friend Robster recently stated:

"The earlier, more serious work is my preference without the enforced oddness that seems to pepper his latter stuff"

Yes, totally. James seems to be playing a game that we the fans don't understand the rules of. Which is why it's so important to get access to the great music that he almost released. The most recent I've discovered is "Analogue Bubblebath Vol. 5". Although the link shows that a cd-r exists, the MP3s I've acquired appear to come from the vinyl pressing, via several generations of cassette dubbing. The sound quality is therefore rather muddy, with the first track beset by waves of undulating high-end inconsistency, as though the music has been swept through an equaliser, although this is almost certainly due to the poor state of the cassette from which the track was digitally encoded. Yet even in this degraded state, the music's beauty is undiminished: deliciously naive, contemplative melodies dancing across irresistibly efficient electronic rhythm tracks; like the pastoral visions of mid-70's Cluster relocated to the mid-90's.

Then of course there's "Melodies From Mars", the projected follow-up to "I Care Because You Do" that was scrapped and subsequently replaced by the "Richard D. James" album. I've been living with MP3s of this one for a while now. Some of it's incredibly odd, especially the opening track with it's childlike, 'sequencer-for-beginners' beats and ultra-cheesy melodic figures. One track survived for the RDJ album, namely the immaculately composed "Fingerbib", which might give some idea of the vibe on this album's strongest pieces - playful, lighthearted arrangements which still exert a strong emotional pull; a vital snapshot of where James' muse might have gone if he hadn't discovered drill 'n' bass.

Another increasingly reticent act are Boards Of Canada. In the six or seven years that they've been in the public eye, the Boards have released a comparatively slender catalogue of work. Factor in the almost mythological status of their early private releases and you've got a classic recipe for bootleg frenzy. Having apparently been working on music continuously for many years prior to unleashing their epochal "Music has The Right To Children" album, BoC have amassed a huge amount of material. Whilst rumours of a box-set of early works still remains unconfirmed, the fans have been busily sharing the few documents that have come to light. The most well-known being "BoC Maxima", which appears to be an early draft of MHTRTC with various substitute tracks. Some fans reckon it would've made a superior official debut. Opening with the now familiar "Wildlife Analysis", it then segues into a truncated version of "Chinook", which has only ever appeared officially as the b-side of the "Aquarius" 7inch.

A Few Old Tunes - handwritten cassette inlay

Perhaps more even more interesting is "A Few Old Tunes". There are two volumes of these, apparently originating from cassette compilations that BoC made for friends and/or family. Somewhere along the line, someone in their inner circle must've betrayed them, 'cos a couple of years ago they started appearing on the P2P networks and have since spread like wildfire. There has been much speculation over the authenticity of these tapes, though 'Vol.1's credentials are now probably beyond dispute. Although there are several throw-away doodles, such as "Light, Clear Hair" which is a loop of some women talking about shoes and hosiery on TV, followed by some porno film grunting, there are some real beauties on here that, if I had one, I would stake my reputation on being by BoC. Opener "Spectrum" uses a rhythm that would later be used on the track "Twoism" but features a different, gloriously uplifting melody that take a certain unique talent to achieve. "Forest Moon" is over six minutes of heart-rending beauty and it amazes me that BoC have never seen fit to release it properly. Another familiar track is "I Love You", an exceptionaly evocative piece that uses samples of a young girl from Sesame Street trying to spell those 'three little words', which was subsequently renamed "The Colour Of The Fire" and included on "MHTRTC".

Volume 2 features 36 tracks, most of which are very short sketches or possibly fragments of longer works. Some of the files claiming to be Vol.2 are actually composites of Vol.1 and the real Vol.2, so if you're ever hunting for them on Soulseek, take care that you find the proper one. There's enough clues here for me to be satisfied of it's authenticity, but even if this isn't the work of BoC, it's still a beautiful collection and the forger should be applauded for his talent.

Whilst these are examples of my own personal obsessions, you can rest assured that, if an artist or group has a fan base, then their 'unavailable' output is busily speeding down phone lines across the globe right now. This is the real gift of filesharing. - millions of music lovers need never go hungry again. We're an international self-help group and we're doing it for love and for the music and pleasure it brings. But let's use the system wisely, people. If the music's available through official channels, get your credit card out....