Boards! Swans! Cybernetic Serendipity Music!: October’s ten must-hear reissues and retrospectives

By , Nov 5 2014
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BoC

Thanks to the graft of reissue labels and canny collectors, there’s an embarrassment of neglected, forgotten or misunderstood material being unearthed week by week.

The volume of new-old music doesn’t outpace new-new music, of course, but it’s not too far behind either. With so many more archival releases turning up on shelves, we’ve worked though the stacks to pick our favourite reissues and retrospectives of the last two months.

October’s got it covered: Skam delve into their BoC-catalgoue; an Aussie psychonaut touches down; Underworld give you your money’s worth; and one of the most quietly influential albums in electronic music returns to shelves.

Alternatively, check out our best reissues of 2013 rundown.

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3BZMC

BLACK ZONE MYTH CHANT
Straight Cassette
(Laitdbac Records)

Listen here

Cobbled together in three days, Black Zone Myth Chant is the child – and when we say “child”, we’re talking in the Rosemary’s Baby sense – of France’s High Wolf, who’s put out a slew of drone/psych-indebted releases for the likes of Not Not Fun and Holy Mountain. First released on tape and CDr on his own Winged Sun label back in 2011, BZMC is his stab at a chopped’n’screwed hip-hop album – friable industrial loops, with lurching pitched-down vocals splurged on top.

It’s seriously dark-hearted stuff – much closer in spirit to Vatican Shadow or Black Dice than the purple swaggers emerging across the Atlantic at the time. When it dropped, BZMC didn’t seem like the sort of record that would ever get some reissue polish, so props to Bigg Jus’ Laitdbac label for finally giving it a proper vinyl release.

2Underworld

UNDERWORLD
Dubnobasswithmyheadman
(Universal)

Listen here

Dubnobasswithmyheadman might feel like Underworld’s debut, but it’s actually their third album (their first two albums, jaunty guitar efforts, seem wildly anonymous in retrospect). Dubno…  is definitely a reset moment – with Darren Emerson brought into the fold, the band signed up wholeheartedly to a European techno aesthetic. For all of Karl Hyde’s louche-baggery across the album, it’s essentially a corking club record with real ambition: marrying dancefloor heft with proper songwriting, it’s a club/pop crossover landmark, and pointed the way towards the band’s superior follow-up, 1996′s Second Toughest in the Infants.

They’ve gone to town on this package, giving the record a full Abbey Road remaster from the original MIDI files. The 5xCD deluxe edition is the one to grab, with bonus goodies including: a CD of unreleased recordings and alternate versions dating from 1991-1993; a previously unreleased rehearsal recording dating back to 1993; a full collection of the band’s 1991-1994 singles releases; and the requisite glossy book and revamped artwork.

1PProud

PIP PROUD
Adreneline & Richard
(Superior Viaduct)

Listen here

The Australian Syd Barratt? Pip Proud certainly sounds like it on Adrenaline & Richard. Following a fine anthology release, A Fraying Space, on EM Records earlier this year, Superior Viaduct (bossing it yet again) have put out Proud’s 1968 debut Adreneline and Richard (or, as it was originally known, De Da De Dum). Anticipate zonked psychedelia, with some of the wide-eyed playfulness of Ron Geesin and the acid tang of Holy Modal Rounders, all presented in an Antipodean drawl. It’s deep-fried stuff, with childlike melodies and word salad lyrics suggesting a mind drifting down the garden path. The label have also put out Proud’s follow-up, A Bird in the Engine, which is similarly great. The reissues mark both albums’ debut on vinyl; tabs for all involved!

BOC

BOARDS OF CANADA
Hi Scores
(Skam)

Listen here

Back in 1996 (before they’d got their Warp cap, and long before they’d become Lords of the Stans) BoC dropped Hi Scores on Manchester’s Skam – their first official commercial release and the record that codified their then distinctive aesthetic. Pulling together choice picks from their low-key Twoisim and BoC Maxima releases – ‘Turquoise Hexagon Sun’ would also make the commute to Music Has the Right to Children – it’s a must-hear for anyone who’s thralled to their subsequent LPs. The building blocks will be familiar (analgesic synths; keening, straight-to-the-heart melody lines) but it’s a reminder of how traditionally ‘IDM’ BoC could be back in the day; see the crunching distorted drums on the title track, or the skittering rhythms on Autechre bite ‘June 9th’. And there’s the small matter of ‘Everything You Do is a Balloon”, rightly awarded a podium place in our list of the greatest IDM tracks of all time.

The deluxe edition has been remastered from the DAT tapes for vinyl, and comes with a bundled poster and some jazzed up packaging.

5Bristol

VARIOUS
Bristol Boys Make More Noise!
(Bristol Archive Records)

Listen here

No, nothing to do with soundsystems or wobble – this compilation (released as an accompaniment to the book of the same name, based around the photographs of John Spink) plots the movers and shakers in the Bristol scene from 1974-81. Although the tail-end of that period starts to incorporate dub-influenced genre benders like The Pop Group (more on them later), this compilation is a reminder that the city was once a rock hotbed.

The set collects largely forgotten names – hard-rockers Magic Muscle; lounge-y funk combo Gradez Darkx; jaunty blues rockers The Spics; jangle merchants The Various Artists; and plenty more. Reggae and dub creeps in (Talisman, the brilliant Shoes For Industry), but for the most part, these are swaggering and/or sunny efforts. The CD comes with a 44-page booklet, featuring notes from The Media/The Spics player (and future WOMAD co-founder Thomas Brooman.

6Swans

SWANS
Filth
(Mute/Young God) 

Listen here

“This is all slabs of sound, rhythm and screaming/testifying. What more do you need?” Gira’s own blurb for this reissue says everything you need to know about Swans’ bludgeoning 1983 debut. Spiritually rooted in – but situated at a remove from – the No Wave scene, Filth offers discordant, gut-socking noise, made using detuned bases, indistinct tape noise and metal-on-metal percussion, played at foot-dragging tempi. The tone throughout is muscular and supremely confrontational, with Gira singing himself into conniptions. It’s still an excellent place to start with one of the most consistent bands of the last 40 years; spirited clatter of the first water.

Young God’s new edition marks the record’s first proper vinyl repress in almost 25 years – prepare to flex muscles once again.

7StageFright

SIMON BOSWELL
Stage Fright
(One Way Static)

Listen here

Boswell, like many film composers, had a false start as a pop musician – signed to Transatlantic Records in the mid-1970s whilst still at university, he became a member of Blondie associates Advertising, and was a go-to producer in the 1980s. Prior to Stage Fright, he’d earned his OST studs working with Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, but this is his first great horror score. Stage Fright isn’t as dour or hyper-atmospheric as one might expect – instead, it’s a diverse and surprisingly direct affair. Glowering synths are interrupted by glossy saxophone leads, or moments of guitar splutter and chug – even the occasional breakbeat drifts into view. We’re not sure we’d take it over his twangy Hardware score (which made it into our just-published list of the 100 greatest soundtracks) but it’s a fine accompaniment to Soavi’s film – a sort of grisly version of Noises Off.

8ThePopGroup

THE POP GROUP
We Are Time
(Freaks R Us)

Listen here

A double-barrelled release from Mark Stewart and friends, packaging We Are Time, the 1980 collection of juvenilia and live recordings, and the unreleased Cabinet of Curiosities, which collects an assortment of rarities from over the years. The former shows the band in a state of rapid development, assimilating and turning over ideas at a fearsome lick. In the words of the band’s Gareth Sager, it’s an attempt to assimilate “Patti Smith’s Rimbaud ramblings, James Brown, the Stooges, Roxy Music, T. Rex and classical aleatoric music”, and the results are admirably heteroclite. The latter, meanwhile, plunders from the same time period, unearthing a new version of the peerless ‘She is Beyond Good and Evil’ and Slits split ‘Give Up the Funk’, plus extra Peel session recordings and assorted bumpf. An obvious Pop Group spotters buy, and an interesting adjunct for those who’ve never looked much further beyond Y.

9Mittagspause

MITTAGSPAUSE
Mittagspause
(Cien Fuegos)

Listen here

Mittagspause have some notoriety in their native Düsseldorf – they’re pegged as key early influences on the city’s crop of 1980s sonic adventurers, and the band’s Peter Hein would go on to find greater fame and acclaim with the long-running NDW outfit Fehlfarben. This reissue follows the same path as Captain Trip’s 2004 reboot, presenting the band’s 1979 debut 2×7” as an LP proper. It’s dubby late-period punk, with a supposed line in mordant comedy that we’re presumably insufficiently Teutonic to pick up on. Itchy, taut guitar music with lots of voice echo, skippy percussion, and some nimble guitar playing works in any language, however, and this is eminently respinnable stuff.

10CSM

VARIOUS
Cybernetic Serendipity Music
(The Vinyl Factory)

Listen here

Pegged as a watershed moment in the development of the digital arts in the UK, Cybernetic Derndipity was a 1968 exhibition at the ICA, investigating potential applications of computer technology in the fields of visual art, sciences, literature and music. Its accompanying vinyl release, Cybernetic Serendipity Music has become a set-text for sound artists (our friends at The Vinyl Factory, who are putting it out, describe it as “unique and extraordinarily influential”) .

Artists include giants of the avant-garde (Cage, Xenakis) and crucial figures in the history of computer music (EMS founder Peter Zinovieff, who built the landmark VCS3 synth). If you’re not well-versed in this stuff, expect the following: shuddering synth tones matched with performance poetry; music scored by computers for acoustic instruments; aleatoric synth chatter; and plenty more pabulum for hungry bleep heads.

Copies are limited to 500 copies; you can see a documentary on the album, featuring Russell Haswell losing his nut over the album, above. (interested parties are also nudged towards out greatest electronic albums of the 1950s and 1960s guide)

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