Model friendships and poison ideas: the month's 10 most important reissues and archive releases

By , Jan 31 2012
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ATOM TM
COLD MEMORIES
(SÄHKO 2xCD)

Sahko has dug into its enviable archive and unearthed two precious hours of music by Uwe Schmidt, recorded to tape for a radio project commissioned by the Helsinki Museum Of Modern Art in ’94. Touching on raga-like minimalism, beat-driven ambient techno and what feels like a whole galaxy between, it’s a compact testament to the breadth, volume and unerring quality of Schmidt’s output, particularly in the 1990s. Whatever he creates in the future, Schmidt deserves to be remembered as one of the era’s most talented, visionary electronic artists. KS


F.C. JUDD
ELECTRONICS WITHOUT TEARS
(PUBLIC INFORMATION LP/CD)

Don’t get me wrong: Daphne Oram, Tristram Carey, Delia Derbyshire, John Baker et al, I salute them, I give thanks for them, I quietly venerate them as gods. These are inspiring figures, people who turned engineering into artistry, people who realised that machines could deepen and expand the range of human expression rather than crush it. But do we need more of them? These days it seems like any OAP or corpse who once picked up a soldering iron is being positioned as a “pioneer of early electronics” and lavished with retrospective praise. The latest candidate for canonisation is one Fred Judd, who’s had his most resonant 50s and 60s work compiled and released by the young Public Information label, with the help of his family and the artist/filmmaker Ian Helliwell. The good news is that Fred is deserving of the attention – the pieces included on the comp, played entirely on self-built instruments, are as otherworldly as they are jaunty: ranging from concrete experiments to the kind of space age fantasias that Joe Meek could have only dreamed of. KS


HOOD
RECOLLECTED
(DOMINO 6xCD)

Even in their late 90s pomp, Hood always felt a little second division to this writer, with few ideas that hadn’t already been more rigorously, boldly explored by Talk Talk and Tortoise. The very existence of this lavish 6xCD retrospective box set on Domino implies that they were more important than that, in terms of posthumous influence if not immediate impact. I’m still not convinced – Recollected is not particularly revelatory. It is, however, a pleasure to listen to, flush with moments of rarified pastoral beauty that have weathered the years well. KS


JAMES MASON
‘NIGHTGRUV’ / ‘I WANT YOUR LOVE’
(RUSH HOUR 12″)

James Mason is best known for his unreconstructed, frankly unremarkable soul-jazz odyssey Rhythm Of Life (Chiaroscuro , 1978), which he released shortly before his career ran aground. In the early 80s he returned to the studio, creating a handful of minimal, hard-kicking electronic disco tracks which were basically house avant lettre. The tracks in question – ‘I Want Your Love’ and the astonishing ‘Nightgruv’ – gathered dust before being released 12 years later on the UK’s Mighty Fine label, and a further four years later on Soul Brother. Both editions are highly sought after (read: expensive), but Rush Hour have stepped in once again to help save your pennies. For their sparkling 2012 edition they promote ‘Nightgruv’ to the A-side and add an extended mix; in so doing they make it nothing less than definitive. TF


POISON IDEA
DARBY CRASH RIDES AGAIN: THE EARLY YEARS
(SOUTHERN LORD CD)

29-track CD anthology of the Portland punks’ early work. Its backbone is the 11 tracks that comprised their fast and furious demo of the same name (which was subsequently issued on 7” in ‘89.); additional tracks come from the previously unreleased Boner’s Kitchen demo, a live radio set from 1983 and outtakes from the Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes sessions. All the tracks have been restored and remastered, and accompanied by a booklet stuffed with informative notes and imagery. Hardcore at its most vital and irreverent. [NOTE: those looking for vinyl are directed to TKO’s understandably bonus-free reissue 7”, which came out late last year] TP

PORTER RICKS
BIOKINETICS
(TYPE 2xLP)

Apart from Basic Channel’s entire discography, you only really need a handful of dub-techno records in your collection. Porter Ricks’ Biokinetics is one of them. A classic not just of dub-techno, or of techno, but of electronic music at large, Biokinetics was the first CD released on Chain Reaction, the BC offshoot that also nurtured the likes of Scion, Vladislav Delay, Monolake and Various Artists (T++). The original 1996 disc featured five selected tracks taken from Thomas Koner and Andy Mellwig’s three 12″s for the label, plus three exclusives. Type’s 2xLP reissue represents the first time that the album has been available in one complete vinyl edition. Porter Ricks worked in the space opened up by Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, but brought their own expertise in sound art and engineering to the table, and a conceptual preoccupation with the sea. “The nautical view evokes a clear vision, something freeing,” they once declared. “The club as a diving platform, and techno as a nautical sound experience, a project that lies between clubs and art.” TP


REGIS
‘MODEL FRIENDSHIP’ / ‘SPEAK TO ME’
(DOWNWARDS 12”)

The difference between the bludgeoning machine music made by Karl O’Connor in the mid-90s and the supple, sculptural techno warheads he crafts today is marked; there’s no doubting the power and value of his early work, but there’s also no doubt that he’s a finer artist now. 2011’s limited edition 3xCD retrospective, Adolescence, documented the output of Regis Mk.1 exhaustively and, if truth be told, exhaustingly. Each of Adolescence,’s three component discs are being released individually this year, beginning with 1994-1996, but more crucial is ‘Speak To Me’/’Model Friendship’, the first in a projected series of 12” reissues. The two tracks on this record originally appeared on Montreal, the ’94-recorded, ’95-released EP that made O’Connor’s name (‘Perspex’ is left out). The original 12” was unmastered – supposedly O’Connor didn’t think it was worth it, as he’d recorded the tracks onto a Phillips pocket memo – but that didn’t stop it causing havoc in clubs. Now, mastered for the first time, ‘Speak To Me’ and ‘Model Friendship’, sound more detailed and dynamic than ever before, but thankfully no less brutal. TF


ROBERT TURMAN
FLUX
(SPECTRUM SPOOLS)

Recorded following Robert Turman’s brief stint in Boyd Rice’s NON, and self-released on cassette in 1981, Flux was something of a departure from the American mult-instrumentalist’s noisier early work. For this project, Turman adopted the palette and strategies of a minimalist composer, working with kalimba, piano, drum machine and tape loops to create “a complex bed of interweaving micro-stasis”. For this vinyl edition on John ‘Emeralds’ Elliott’s Spectrum Spools imprint, the tracks have been re-mastered and cut from Turman’s C-60 cassette master by Rashad Becker. It’s an impressive work, but check out Turman’s far more entertaining Way Down LP first, if you haven’t already. KS


SUNN 0)))
ØØ VOID
(SOUTHERN LORD 2xLP)

Recorded circa 2000, ØØ VOID – which has been out of print for almost a decade – saw Sunn’s core members Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley joined by bassist Stuart Dahlquist, violinist/vocalist Petra Haden and vocalist Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool, Goatsnake). Musically, it’s free of the proggish tendencies that have occasionally benefited, but often blighted, their later work; instead it’s an exercise in extreme sludge, pure and simple, and tellingly climaxes with a gloriously suffocating Melvins cover. As Julian Cope put it in his memorable review of the album, “SunnO))) is the heavy rock equivalent of an institutional-size dose of Largactyl, that is: when you finally get down, you stay down.” TP


VAZZ / LA BAMBOLA DEL DR CALIGARI
WHISPER NOT / THE WRONG HOLIDAY
(FORCED NOSTALGIA)

Forced Nostalgia, the industrial/post-punk reissue label curated by Belgian sound archivist Fré De Vos in collaboration with Boomkat, has thrown up some unbelievable treasures to date – personally I’m still coming to terms with the magnificence of Pelican Daughters’ Fishbones & Wishbones – so one approaches their latest vinyl salvo, which features the work of Glasgow’s Vazz and Bologna’s La Bambola Del Dr Caligari, with reasonable excitement. It’s Vazz’s 1982 demo set Whisper Not that makes the biggest impression: seven narcotic pop tracks that straddle carefree whimsy and abject gloom, summoning the likes of AC Marias, Young Marble Giants, Tropic of Cancer and Weyes Blood along the way. TP

 

Words: Tim Purdom, Kiran Sande, Trilby Foxx

 

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