The first week of 2013 is almost over and, musically speaking, I’m still catching up on the backlog of releases from 2012. It’s like this every year for me, I tend to spend January and February mainly grabbing items from the last flush of the previous year. That said, I’ve made some fantastic discoveries which, had I spent some time with them on release they may well have made it onto my ‘Best Of’ list. Here are a few of my current obsessions;
Order Of Noise by Vessel
Brilliant album of smudged electronics with flashes of knackered dub by Bristol’s Sebastian Gainsborough. The kind of record that almost convinces you that there’s something seriously wrong with your HiFi.
Mengamuk by Vindicatrix
Quite literally unclassifiable sounds from the elusive David Aird, issued by Mordant Music who are probably the only label brave enough to put out a record that sounds like nothing else on earth. Aird’s eerie baritone oozes across a series of decimated, spectral audio constructs like a possessed Jacques Brel under heavy sedation.
From The Far Future Part 2 by Terrence Dixon
Cult Detroit legend Terrence Dixon delivers a set of sparse, hypnotic and incredibly engaging Afro-Futurist workouts. Is this really a techno record? Yes, no, maybe… who cares, it’s totally out there on it’s own for me. Can I find a copy of From The Far Future Part 1 anywhere though? Time for a reissue I think.
Works for Abattoir Fermé (2007 – 2011) by Kreng
This is a mighty collection – A four LP box set consisting of eight tracks, each weighing in at over twenty minutes. It’s taken a little effort scheduling in three hours to listen to this massive slab of infernal, black music in one sitting but every minute was justified. Yes, it’s oppressive and at times disturbing, but it’s also utterly absorbing in it’s brutally isolationist beauty.
Now I’m Just a Number: Soundtracks 1994-95 by Black Rain
Reissue of a set of unreleased minimalist and darkly dystopian electronic soundtrack themes by Stuart Argabright of NYC’s seminal post-punk unit Ike Yard.
2012 was a great year for reissues too, my absolute favourite being the gargantuan 9LP box set collection of The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski on Temporary Residence. This truly has to be one of the most breathtaking library archives of music ever conceived and is utterly essential.
Vinyl On Demand & John Bender
Last week, I also discovered Vinyl On Demand, a German label who specialise in beautifully packaged issues of late 70s and early 80s post-punk, industrial and minimal electronic obscurities. These are mostly taken from impossible to find vinyl or cassette editions and are usually bolstered by numerous unreleased tracks. Last year alone they released collections by Conrad Schnitzler, Clock DVA, Sema, Experimental Products, Bizarre Unit, Merzbow, Crash Course In Science, Kluster, Die Werkpiloten, Lucas Trouble, Years On Earth and one of my holy grails – John Bender.
John Bender released three LPs via his Record Sluts label between 1980 and 1983, a further three self released cassettes were also issued. I remember picking up a copy of his Do The C.A.G.E tape at a record fair in the early 1980s and playing it so much that the spools became loose and would wobble, creating a kind of Doppler effect which added to the music. It was primitive, minimal and resolutely lo-fi but sounded like nothing else around at the time. Then one day, the tape snapped. I’ve spent around twenty five years keeping my eyes open for another copy, until this week when I discovered that Vinyl On Demand had released Memories Of Mindless Mechanical Monologues which essentially compiles everything that Bender has ever committed to tape.
My only complaint is that these incredible recordings are being made available again as yet another limited edition collection. I can’t help but think that the only people who will benefit from these important archives are vinyl fetishists and the few collectors who are willing to pay through the nose when copies surface intermittently on eBay.