Monday, September 29, 2008

Ballistic Kisses - Wet Moment

New York-based Ballistic Kisses released two albums: Total Access in 1982 (available at Mutant Sounds), and Wet Moment in 1983, both on the quirkily-named UK label Don't Fall Off The Mountain. Trouser Press doesn't think much of this one:
Wet Moment is a tedious cross between the B-52's and Gang of Four: minimal melodies, propulsive rhythms and bleak vocals. It's easy to believe freaked-out tunes like "Emotional Ice" and "Everything Leaks," but how alienated do you really want to feel?

But it's really better than that. True, there are not many melodies to speak of, and no real hooks to linger in your mind, but if you just like the sound of 80s minimal synthpop then there's plenty here to enjoy. There's so much, in fact, that it wouldn't all fit on a single record: the 54 minutes of music was spread out over a 33rpm 8-song LP and a 45rpm 3-song 12". The band lineup is:

  • Michael Hrynyk: keyboards, vocals
  • Richard McClusky: percussions, vocals
  • Michael Parker: vocals
  • Jeff Freund: guitars, vocals

There's some pretty cool bass guitar on several of the songs, too, which I presume is one of the "guitars" credited to Jeff Freund. Get the Wet Moment vinyl rip here or here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blue Zoo - Two By Two

Four-man UK band Blue Zoo released just one album, Two By Two (1983), produced by Talk Talk's Tim Friese-Greene. It led off with their sole hit single, 1982's "Cry Boy Cry," which peaked at number 13 on the UK chart. It's a great single, too, with a driving rhythm perfectly suited to, say, sports highlights clips, and features the powerful backing vocals of Stevie Lange in the chorus. (Stevie Lange also provided the chorus vocals to Gang Of Four's "I Love A Man In Uniform," and was the lead singer of Night, who were one of the bands featured in the campy Vincent Price horror film The Monster Club.) The other four uptempo tracks (which I will denote with an asterisk in the track listing) on Two By Two are nearly as engaging, impelled forward by a sequenced instrument that sounds like something between a hammer dulcimer and a glockenspiel; perhaps that is the Celeste 8 credited to Matt Flowers? The rest of the album consists of slower ballads, which are generally pleasant and have a few hooks but mostly have trouble coming to life. The full track list is:
  1. Cry Boy Cry*
  2. John's Lost
  3. Far Cry*
  4. (You Can) Count On Me*
  5. Love Moves In Strange Ways
  6. (I Just Can't) Forgive and Forget*
  7. I'm Your Man*
  8. Open Up
  9. Can't Hold Me Down*
  10. Something Familiar

Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Popular History of Signs - Comrades

A Popular History of Signs, led by Andrew Jarman, was an 80s synthpop band that didn't quite fit into any of the standard synthpop categories: not beat-heavy enough to fill dancefloors, too warm and melodic to be lumped in with "minimal wave" bands, and too thinly arranged to take their place with more melodramatic bands like Ultravox. Jarman's vocal style has been compared to David Byrne's, and it's a good comparison, though Jarman's voice is deeper and more wobbly. Jungle Records released the ten-song Comrades album in 1984; there is a thread of socialism running through several of the songs that makes it feel almost like a concept album. The opening track, "Body and Soul", was released as a single, and it is the strongest song on the album, with some nice bass work from Jarman. "Tidy" could pass for a Talking Heads song circa Fear of Music or Remain in Light; "Father and Son" is a touching downtempo ballad; "Comrades" contains echoes of David Bowie's "Heroes" in its melancholy, possibly doomed, optimism. Overall this a stronger album than the Trouser Press Guide gives it credit for. The band members on Comrades are:
  • Andrew Jarman: vocals, bass, keyboards, drum programs
  • Lindsey Smith: guitar, keyboards, drum programs
  • Paul Patient: percussion, pixie phones (?)
  • Christeen Isherwood: vocals, ideology

Get the Comrades vinyl rip here or here. Andrew Jarman is still musically active, currently with the band Southern Arts Society.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Exposure - Wild!

Here's a fairly obscure album from the 80s: Wild! by Exposure, Statik STAT LP 19, 1984. Of the nine bands named Exposure at, this is the ninth, and at the time I'm writing, this album is not listed on their page. Exposure was a multiracial five-man band that played the kind of new-wave-tinged mainstream rock that was so successful for bands like INXS and The Fixx. Members were:
  • Ashton Liburd: voice
  • Boy: guitar synthesizer
  • Tony Doyle: lead guitar
  • Paul Gold: bass guitars and voice
  • Ed Butler: drums and heavy percussion

None of these fellows seem to have many credits after Exposure; any info on their later careers is welcome. "Edge" on side 2 (track 8) could have been a hit, I think, but for the most part Exposure was stuck between genres, neither traditional enough nor quirky enough to really break through. Maybe not distinctive enough, either, although still pleasant enough to listen to. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Various Artists - For Your Ears Only

As mentioned previously, here is the massive 1987 Third Mind compilation album For Your Ears Only: 25 songs over two LPs, some tracks previously unreleased, some rerecorded, and some taken straight from already-issued albums. It is the most comprehensive overview of the Third Mind label in existence. In fact it's so much music I wasn't able to fit a complete 192kbps rip into a single archive file, so each LP is a separate download. The track list is:

LP 1

01 Bushido - Introduction (previously unreleased)
02 Bill Pritchard - Pas De Plaisanterie (previously unreleased)
03 Beautiful Pea Green Boat - And She Laughed Too (previously unreleased)
04 Attrition - Fusillade III (Both Barrels) (rerecorded version)
05 All Singing All Dancing - The Rising Tide (previously unreleased)
06 Bushido - Recalled To Life (rerecorded version)
07 CRedit - Almost Virgin (previously unreleased)
08 Beautiful Pea Green Boat - Paper House (from Future Tense)
09 Bushido - Time And Time Again (from "Voices"/"Time And Time Again" EP)
10 Attrition - Into The Waves (from In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts)
11 Bill Pritchard - Greek Street (previously unreleased)
12 All Singing All Dancing - The Grains Of Time (previously unreleased)

Get it here or here.

LP 2

01 Badland - Til the Stars Fall (previously unreleased)
02 Intimate Obsessions - Why Can't I (rerecorded version)
03 Tragic Venus - Paintbox (previously unreleased)
04 Frontline Assembly - Aggression (previously unreleased)
05 Konstruktivits - Nostalgia (from Black December)
06 Bill Pritchard - Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe (previously unreleased)
07 Bushido - Question Of Time (from Deliverance)
08 Simon Fisher Turner - I Love Your Suit (previously unreleased)
09 Jung Analysts - Entrails (previously unreleased)
10 Edward Ka-Spel - And The Lord Said RISE (previously unreleased)
11 CRedit - What Are These Words (previously unreleased)
12 Attrition - Day I Was Born (from The Attrition of Reason)
13 Intimate Obsessions - Erebus To Hades (from Erebus to Hades)

Get it here or here.

I always liked the Jung Analysts song, but I never found any records by them. I've just found their (or his, Terry Burrows) 1985 album Sprockendidootch over on Mutant Sounds, and it's great! I love how the Internet has given me a chance to hear the records I missed the first time around.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Solar Enemy - Dirty vs Universe

Here's another album from Gary Levermore's Third Mind label, which you may have already realized is a Fantod Favorite. Portion Control, longtime purveyors of "hard, rhythmic electronics", greatly expanded their pallette on their 1987 album Psycho-Bod Saves the World (even recording a ballad, "H.O.T. Matter"), and then disappeared. They regrouped in 1990 as Solar Enemy, a "side project" that just happened to contain only members of Portion Control and sound just like Portion Control. Solar Enemy released an EP in 1990 (Techno Divinity), an album in 1991 (Dirty vs Universe), and one more in 1993 (Proceed to Beyond--Rape of Europa). Offered here is Dirty vs Universe, unfortunately just the 10-track US version and not the German version with several extra tracks. Still, if you like the danceable Portion Control of "The Great Divide" (let's hear it for punchy sequencers!), then these ten tracks will be sure to please you. They are:
  1. Universe
  2. Welcome To Hell
  3. Inca Pisco
  4. Burm-Up
  5. Dark Angel
  6. Massive Radiation
  7. Carcajou
  8. Trojan
  9. Rotator
  10. Sundown

Get the CD rip here or here. Portion Control reactivated and began releasing new material, and new packages of old material, in 2004. Their latest album, Slug, was released earlier this year; you can sample it (and buy it!) here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Killer Moses

Slab frontman Stephen Dray put out some records under the name Killer Moses in 1995-96. As he tells it on the Unfit For Print blog (and I recommend you read the whole thing for the Slab history and to see the Slab resuscitation unfold):

Following SLab Paul [Jarvis] and I wrote a lot of stuff together largely based on the slab third album ( never released or even properly recorded but very diverse and way ahead of its time.... again!) At the same time I was writing with Sherman [a member of the last, unrecorded Slab lineup] who had basically single handedly got the NME to write about dance music and championed the Orb and Andrew Weatherall etc in his guise of Sherman at the Controls. He basically introduced electronic music to the NME audience. He was djing a lot and he and I wrote some tracks around 1990 one of which was released on Guerilla Records which was just about the leading dance label at the time. we chose the somewhat dubious name of Euphoria and the track was called Mercurial. It sold bucketloads and is on about 20 compilations....Anyway Euphoria sold and is still coming out on compilations... and me and Sherman got the princely sum of £150 each and a t shirt....After that I became Killer Moses and released 4 eps on Shermans own label called CLoak and Dagger. again it got lots of good press and reviews but the label went bust before an album came out. There are various Moses tracks on compilations... not sure how you categorise it really but the albumm was heroically dark.... a very narcotic Slab....

I would categorise it as instrumental dub/breakbeat, and "heroically dark" definitely fits; something like a cleaner Scorn or Ice. Offered here are three of the EPs:

Seizure EP (1995)
  1. Insomniac
  2. Drive In
  3. Big Wheel

Unseen EP (1995)

  1. Killer Moses
  2. The Hanging Garden
  3. Bogeyman

Succubus EP (1996)

  1. Icarus
  2. Sea of Fear

With tracks ranging from six-and-a-half to nearly twelve minutes, there's plenty to listen to. The A-sides are especially seductive: they gain intensity as they wear on, and you might find yourself headbanging without realizing you'd started. Get the vinyl rips here or here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SLAB! - Sanity Allergy

Here is the elusive final album from the mighty SLAB!, Sanity Allergy, on Ink Records, 1988, ten more reasons to get excited about Slab's resumption of operations:
  1. Last Detail
  2. Fourth Warning
  3. Station KY
  4. Son of Sloth
  5. Born in a Wreck
  6. Sanity Allergy
  7. Cancer Beach
  8. Switchback Ride
  9. Land of the Midnight Sun
  10. Visiting Hour

These are some of the heaviest grooves ever committed to vinyl; the beats and scraping guitars and menacing vocals really do hit like slabs of granite, and I mean that in a good way! The uptempo instrumental "Son of Sloth" has the sheer animal vigor that more modern "action music" groups like The Crystal Method can only aspire to. The other uptempo track, "Cancer Beach," is catchy as hell with a killer bridge; don't listen to the people who slag it off! Get a vinyl rip of Sanity Allergy here or here, and keep an eye out for a new Slab album (which will not be posted here--support the band and buy it!).

See the delightfully-named blog Cliff Richard's Neck for Slab's first collection, Music from the Iron Lung, and their 1986 Peel Session.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pleasure and the Beast

Pleasure and the Beast was the band formed by Robert Pereno and L.A. (Lowri-Ann) Richards after the breakup of Shock. Shock is best known (when they are known at all) for their pulsating electro cover of the Glitter Band's "Angel Face" (which appeared on the popular Blitz new-wave compilation on RCA)--

Robert Pereno is the frontman, looking and acting uncannily like Will Arnett as G.O.B. Bluth, and one of those women is L.A. Richards. (Also seen are robotic mime duo Tim Dry and Sean Crawford, who became Tik & Tok after Shock disbanded, and went on to record several records of prime minimal synthpop on the Survival label.) Pleasure and the Beast recorded only two singles during their short career. The first, "Dr Sex", was released in 1983 and was produced by Jimme O'Neill of Fingerprintz (and later Silencers) fame. The 12" release, offered here, has an extended version of "Dr Sex" and four additional songs. The title track is upbeat synthpop with lecherous overtones; Pereno and Richards seem to be positioning themselves as a raunchy, new-wave Captain and Tennille. The next two tracks, "Snake" and "Creep", hit a gothic funk groove not unlike early Brilliant; "Rock the House" has a glam-rock shout-along chorus that echoes Shock's glam influences; and the record closes with the pseudo-liturgical "Hymn". The band is listed as Pereno and Richards only, though there are two women with Pereno in the back cover photo; no musicians are credited. For their second release, 1984's "Gods Empty Chair", Pleasure and the Beast expanded to a real band: in addition to singers Pereno and Richards, there are Marty Williamson (guitars), Cheyne (bass), Simon Ellis (keyboards), and Martin Hanlin (drums). This record, produced by Rusty Egan (Visage) marks a turn away from sleaze and toward more "serious" pop. "Gods Empty Chair" sounds like a second-generation copy of New Order (or a copy of Secession), while the B-side, "Sometimes", has a more intense sound in the vein of Killing Joke. Not bad! It's a shame they never made any more records. Robert Pereno went on to have some success as a DJ, but I don't know enough about that to expand on it; I don't know whatever happened to L.A. Richards. I don't have the 7" releases with the single edits, but you can get rips of both 12-inch records here or here.